Category Archives: Books I’m reading

Winter Solstice/Yule/Christmas books I love…….

Greetings!  I can’t believe how fast this month is flying by!  I have been so busy preparing for Yule and Christmas that I haven’t had time to write her as quickly as I would have liked to after my last post.  However, I’m about done shopping, most of my Holiday cards are mailed, and I’m ready to start wrapping soon.  It has been softly flurrying here today, quite cold and the Full Moon is peeking thru clouds..looks like it might clear up yet tonight.  Blessed Full Moon to you all by the way!!   I have lit a fire, my healing candles are going, incense burning..my feet are up and I just drank a very delicious eggnog milkshake my hubby brought home for me from Steak and Shake…so so good!  A wonderful way to spend a Full Moon evening.  Later, I’ll go out and spend some time with the Goddess, cleanse a few things, and I’m hoping to catch some Full Moon snow water in a jar.  The Yule Full Moon is to me, a very powerful Full Moon, and I intend to take in that energy to help me get thru this busy and sometimes stressful time of year! 

So, I have several books about Yule, Winter Solstice, pagan customs etc that I just love and I refer to them often.  So let’s get started doing a bit of show and tell……

 

The Winter Solstice….The Sacred Traditions of Christmas  by John Matthews. 

Despite the word Christmas in the title, this book is about the Winter Solstice, how Christmas came about, and the history and lore surrounding the whole Season. Each chapter provides cross-cultural connections to the ideas, customs, and icons of Christmas.  The book starts out discussing Solstice celebrations and lore across the world where the celebration of the Return of the Sun takes place from Egypt, to Rome, to Europe and America.  Saturnalia, the Mummers, the Morris Dancers are all talked about.  At the end of each chapter, there are suggestions for faith-free activities you can do to celebrate the Season..or you can incorporate your faith as you wish.

  The Child of Wonder chapter talks about the different gods across the ages..such as Apollo, Mabon, Osiris, Mithras and yes, Jesus. It talks about the Wise Men and the Star and the Nativity.   The Green Bough chapter discusses the symbolism of the tree, the evergreens, holly, ivy, mistletoe and of course the Yule Log. In Old Sir Christmas we are introduced the the “Santa’s from around the world.  The Solstice Animals …tough chapter for an animal lover…it’s about the slaughter of animals and the rituals about it…for food for the long Winter. I love the activity at the end of this chapter though..how to make soul cakes.   Lastly, the 12 Days of Christmas ….I especially love this chapter. This is not about the carol we all know, but about the true 12 days..from Dec 24 night to January 6th.  There is Snow day, Boxing day, The Feast of Fools day, Bringing in the Boar day and others.  Each day has an activity or ritual you can do to honor the day.  I have incorporated some of them into my own celebration. 

Thruout this book, there is beautiful artwork, drawings, photos….poetry, quotes, recipes and rituals.  I just love this beautiful book.  I suggest you will love it too!!

Pagan Christmas…The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide….by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling. 

 This book is a beautiful book..about the Ethnobotany (the study of plants) of the Season. It’s about the traditional uses and symbolism of the Yule Season plants…like the fir tree, mistletoe, holly, ivy, evergreens, laurel, yew…even tobacco and mushrooms!   There is info galore on the plants themselves, photos, how and why they are used in ritual, for decorating..ways to use them such as making incense, decorating your home etc.  There are stories from Befana to the Wise Men, From St. Nicholas to Woten.  I especially love all the incense recipes as I love making my own.  Another great book you will learn so much from!

Yule…A Celebration of Light & Warmth…by Dorothy Morrison. 

I love this book and Dorothy Morrison 🙂  This book is chock full of everything about the Solstice.  It has holiday lore from around the world, history, crafts, and  recipes. She explains the traditions behind the symbols of the Season, such as the tree, bells, evergreens, reindeer, gingerbread and lights amongst others.

She talks about the superstitions, and omens that surround the holiday in different countries.  She has some rituals and simple charms you can do as you get ready to celebrate.  A chapter on decking the halls, with craft projects to do.  My favorite..a tree blessing right before you decorate the tree.  There is ideas for parties and gift giving…how to’s included. 

There is a chapter on her personal celebration and a great chapter on things you can do to celebrate every day of the month of December. The final chapter is about is tips on cleaning up AFTER the holidays…what to do with your popcorn strings, how to store your decorations etc.   Also, I love her poetry and there is poetry she has written and  poetry others have written thruout the book. This book is a real keeper!!

The Wheel of the Year..Living the Magical Life…by Pauline Campanelli

This book takes you on a month-by-month journey of the Wheel of the Year and how it is celebrated by Pagans and the Campinellis’ themselves.  Every chapter starts out with a beautiful description of the month and what is going on in nature etc during that month.   December..the Yule month of course…has in it … The Magic of Mistletoe; The Ritual Burning of the Yule Log; Magical Uses of Ashes from the Yule Fire; A Ritual for Cutting Sacred Fir; The Pagan Symbolism of Santa Claus. It talks about wreaths, birds, ornaments and the Oak Moon.  There is a Bayberry Candle Charm, a Yule log ritual, and a cutting the tree ritual.  It ends with some info on New Years Eve and Father Time! 

This book has something for every month and it is one of my all time favorite books..If you don’t have it..it’s a must for your witchy library!!

Sabbats..A Witch’s Approach to Living the Old Ways….Edain McCoy

Edain’s book is awesome as well.  Again, each chapter is about a Sabbat..starting with Samhain and going thru Mabon.  For Yule, she discusses the history and customs and how some of the customs have been preserved in various cultures.  The discusses the fight between the Oak King and the Holly King, the Celts and Druids use of evergreens, the symbolism of the wreath and tree, and again, of course, the burning of the Yule log.  There are recipes for sugar and gingerbread cookies, rituals, some craft ideas and how to make an edible Yule log ..yummy!  There is a nice pathworking meditation that I really love!  There are some correspondences, foods for Yule and a bit about how old christmas carols often have pagan symbology in them.

I love this book …again, a must have! 

Ok…those are my main books….some honorable mentions…..

Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham.  ….for recipes for Yule

Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson…again for recipes, a meditation, and a ritual or two…very nice! 

Moon Magick by DJ Conway….Lovely book..a chapter on the Cold Moon, recipes, crafts and a Winter Solstice ritual. 

So these are some of my favorites.  My wishlist would be for more children’s book about Yule and more for us grown- ups too 🙂  Whether you celebrate the Solstice or Christmas..there is something in these books to help you to celebrate it in a beautiful, meaningful way.  The Season is rich in tradition, lore and history..a most beautiful time of year.

If you have a favorite book not listed here..I’d sure like to know about it!  Please write me here and let me know!

My next blog post ..soon..will be recipes.  I’m gonna start gathering them this weekend!  and I’m actually going to be baking this weekend with my daughters and granddaughter.  ah….another beautiful memory in the making!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

10 Comments

Filed under Books, Books I'm reading, History, Holiday, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Seasons, Winter, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Playing with Herbs…….

Merry Meet again my friends.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend planned.  After the amazing weekend I had last week, I’m pretty much planning on  reading, crocheting, puttering and just taking it easy.  I had so much energy this past weekend and then as the week has gone on, I’ve felt a bit drained and tired.   I bet many of you have felt that way as well.  I’m planning on making some bread and my delicious veggie soup on Sun day. I also have some new herbs I need to get put into jars and labeled. Speaking of herbs, I spent a couple of days this week making some tinctures, oils and a healing salve.  Thought I’d show you some pics and talk about it a bit here for you.

I have decided to bring out my “green” witch a bit more by really diving into learning more about herbs for medicinal purposes…not just for magickal purposes.  My daughter Kate and I have dabbled in it in the past and we are both interested in doing more then dabbling.  My friend Mossie and I (Hi Mossie!) also have decided to make potions and lotions together..though she is in Canada and I am here in Ohio..LOL! We have discussions and decide what we are going to make together.   I have been purchasing books like crazy and weeding thru what I would realistically not only make, but use on a daily basis.  I have some new favorite herbal books and I’ll talk about those in time….in my library and/or here in the blog text.  

So this week I made three tinctures, two oils and a lavender/tea tree oil antiseptic salve. I gathered my supplies and got busy. Now tinctures are very simple as I’m sure many of you know.  You can use just about any herb, I use dried, about 1-2 ozs depending on the weight of the herb.   Place the herbs in a jar that has a twist lid (I love canning jars for this), and add 100 proof vodka to fill the jar.  You can also use 80 proof and you can use Rum instead of vodka.  Rum will actually help to “sweeten” herb tinctures that will have a bitter taste like stinging nettles.  Shake the jar well to mix.  Always label your tincture with the name of it and the date.  Now just put it on a shelf for 6 weeks.  The first week I shake it every day.  After that I give it a shake every couple of days.  After 6 weeks, strain the herbs out of the tincture.  Bottle it and you are good to go. 

I made three tinctures..Valerian which will aid sleep, Yarrow which has antiseptic properties and will bring down blood pressure, and stinging nettles for my seasonal allergies.  In 6 weeks I’ll be able to start taking a dropperful every day.

I also made calendula oil and St. John’s oil….both which will be made into salves in a few weeks.  The instructions are the same as for tinctures.  You can use any kind of oil you like.  Grapeseed, virgin olive, almond, sunflower, jojoba.  For my purposes I used organic grapeseed but any of these oils will do.  The other thing I did a bit differently was that I gently warmed the oil with the herb in it to give it a good start in releasing the good stuff from the herb. 

This is the calendula…isn’t that pretty?  and it smelled wonderful!  When the oils are ready, I’ll show how to make the salves from that oil here on my blog. Here is my finished jars.  So now I’ll just be shaking them and opening them to smell them etc.  You may need to add more vodka or more oil if necessary. I’m pleased with my work! 🙂

Today my daughter Kate and I made our lavender/tea tree antiseptic salve.  This salve is good for anything going on with your skin..from dry red skin to minor cuts and scratches.  Good stuff..we use it alot and it smells great!

For this recipe I used about 1 1/2 cups of jojoba oil, 2-3 ozs of beeswax beads, 20 drops of tea tree oil, 50 drops of lavender oil, and a 1/2 tsp of vitamin E oil. Now you can use another oil like peppermint or wintergreen instead of lavender if you’d like, but the tea tree oil must stay.  You can adjust also how much of each you put in the mix…make it smell the way YOU like it!  Gently warm the oil and the beeswax until the beeswax melts.

Drop in the essential oils and vitamin E oil and stir well.  Pour quickly into clean dry jars before it sets up again.  This is my beautiful daughter Kate doing just that.  (and yes, she is carrying my grandson Charlie Matthew who will be here in about 9 weeks!)  Can’t wait! 🙂

It only took about 20 minutes for it to set up then.  Be sure and label and date the jars.  With the tea tree oil being an antiseptic, this salve lasts a long time.  But it won’t because you will find lots of uses for it! It’s great on diaper rash too! 🙂  I keep the ingredients to make this in my home at all times. 

If you haven’t worked with herbs before…these are some of the easiest ways to start.  Be sure to learn what the herbs will DO for your body and be sure always that they don’t interfere with any prescription medicines you’re taking and that your doctor knows you’re taking them.  I hope to use these remedies to REPLACE prescription meds eventually.  There are so many great videos on youtube, online herbal classes etc to help you get started.  Your local herb shop or health food store will also be a great place to find what you’re looking for and to get valuable information.  And Books…there are so many books about just this thing.  Here is some of my favorites…..

-The New Age Herbalist by Richard Mabey

-The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood

-Judes Herbal Home Remedies by Jude C. Todd

-The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green

-The Herbal Home Remedy Book by Joyce Wardwell

-The Wild & Weedy Apothecary by Doreen Shababy

-Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar

and anything by Susun Weed

I’ll be talking alot more about herbs and remedies as my dabbling turns into serious learning.  I have even signed up for an online course..though basic..it’ll be a great place to start.  To give me a good foundation to move on to possibly becoming a Master Herbalist.  For now, I’m a green witch..still learning and enjoying the process!  Anybody care to join me? 

“We have finally started to notice that there is real curative value in local herbs and remedies. In fact, we are also becoming aware that there are little or no side effects to most natural remedies, and that they are often more effective than Western medicine.”
Anne Wilson Schaef

Blessings and Light, Autumn

27 Comments

Filed under Books I'm reading, Daughters, Discussion, Family, Herbal remedy, Herbs, Photography, Quote

Countdown to Ostara……..

Merry Meet everyone!  I hope you all had a LOVE-ly Valentine’s Day.  Mine was very nice..hubby spoiled me and I spoiled everybody else!  I am having Spring fever big time for some reason.  I normally love Winter..as I’ve written here before…but something about this year has put me in the mood for Spring earlier then I usually am.  It might be that we are having some balmy weather right now for Ohio.  We have hit 50* today and 60* then next two days.  It rained this morning a bit, melting all that dirty snow, and the Sun just came out.  I actually just put my rosemary tree and my new gerbera daisy plant outside to enjoy the sun a bit….it’s warm enough to do so.  I also am seeing all the seed packages and pots and garden tools coming out at the local garden centers and I have already been looking to see what I want to plant this year.  So Spring is coming..hold on to that thought!

Along with Spring, comes the next Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year….Ostara.  Ostara is also the Spring Equinox…when Night and Day are again balanced  and the Earth swells with new life.  In ancient times, people celebrated the arrival of spring, and the Goddess Eostar, or Eostre, whose symbols were the egg and the hare, both representations of the Great Mother. “Ostara is a festival of fertility and resurrection, the union of sun and soil, a time of planting, mothering, and tending to young children and animals.  At the Spring Equinox, the God and the Goddess are now equals, and they dance together across the Earth.  Wherever they step, flowers appear and bloom beneath their feet, and sorrow turns to delight as the world is reborn.” *

This is the time of re-birth.  Animals are bearing their young, shoots are growing up from the ground, grass is greening, trees are sprouting leaves and our hearts feel lighter with more daylight and warm breezes and the smell of the rich earth as  Mother Earth wakes up.  Ostara is a wonderful time of year and celebrations are light and centered around the outdoors.  The Correspondences of Ostara are:

*Element/Gender-Air/Male

*Threshold-Dawn

*Symbolism-Greening, sprouting, balance of light and dark, The God comes of age, union of the Lord and Lady, fertility, birthing, beginning,

*Symbols/Tools/Decorations-Colored eggs, baskets, rabbits, lamb, shamrock, butterfly, cocoons, sprouting plants, violets, lily, spring flowers, new clothes.

*Herbs-Daffodil, jonquils, woodruff, violet, iris, narcissus, peony, acorns, tansy, cinquefoil, crocus,  dogwood, irish moss, ginger, honeysuckle, jasmine, rose, strawberry.

*Incense/Oils-Jamine, rose, strawberry, african violet, sage lavender, ginger, magnolia, broom.

*Colors-Gold, light green, grass green, robin’s egg blue, lemon yellow, pale pink, anything pastel.

*Crystals/Stones-Red jasper, rose quartz, moonstone, amethyst, aquamarine, bloodstone

*Customs/Activities-Planting seeds or starting a Magickal herb garden, taking a long walk in  nature, coloring eggs, bird watching, egg hunts,  starting new projects, wearing green or pastels

*Foods-Leafy green vegetables, pumpkin, sunflower and pine nuts, dairy,  fish, hot crossed buns, sweet breads, hard boiled eggs, honey cakes, seasonal fruits.

*Gods-Green Man, Youthful Gods, Warrior Gods, Dagda, Cernunnos,  Pan, Adonis

*Goddesses-Eostre, Ostara, Maiden, Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Minerva, Youthful Goddesses,  Faerie Queen, Lady of the Lake, the Green Goddess

*Spellworking/Rituals-Spellcrafting, invention, new growth, new projects, seed blessing, herb  garden, herb blessings

An ancient Ostara custom was to dye eggs red, the color of life-force and regenerations. Make “oracle eggs.”  Draw magickal symbols on hard-boiled eggs with paraffin or white crayon.  These can include astrological signs, runes, and symbological signs such as the pentacle, or a moon or a sun.  Fun to do with a grandchild 🙂  You can  celebrate Ostara with fresh spring flowers, bouquets of freesia, daffodils, lilac, and tulips, and herbs such as clover, lemongrass, and mint.  Collect rainwater  and steep it  overnight in the light of a full Moon.  Use it for your holy water or water your houseplants with it.  Play favorite childhood games.  Blow bubbles, play hopscotch and jacks, and jump rope.  Bring out your inner child and let her play.   Bless the seeds for your garden, and envision health, happiness, and prosperity growing for you in the warmth of the Sun.

I will be posting Ostara recipes, rituals, pics of my altar etc in the coming days.  A book  I highly recommend you read is written by Edain McCoy…its a plethora of information about Ostara..I really enjoyed it.

So my friends, Spring and Ostara are coming.  Soon the days will be longer, the rains will come, and Mother Earth will wake up and start spreading growth and warmth all around us.  We have almost made it thru another Winter!  Think about shopping for some new lighter clothes, get out your seed catalogs, go buy a bouquet of tulips, take a walk, gaze at the Moon…Watch Spring unfold before your eyes.  That is what I’ll be doing…right along with you!

I come, I come! ye have called me long, I come o’er the mountain with light and song: Ye may trace my step o’er the wakening earth, By the winds which tell of the violet’s birth, By the primrose-stars in the shadowy grass, By the green leaves, opening as I pass.
Mrs. Felicia D. Hemans

Blessings and Love, Autumn

*References…..Simple Wicca by Michelle Morgan and my own BOS.  All pics on this post are from the internet.

11 Comments

Filed under Books I'm reading, Garden, Goddess, Herbs, Mother Earth, Nature, Ostara, Quote, Spring

A Book review and signs of Spring……….

Merry Meet friends.  It has been quite  a week ..weather wise around here.  On Imbolc Eve, we got a huge ice storm…lots of heavy ice, slippery roads, trees cracking and breaking from the weight of the ice, and power outages.  Yes, we had a power outage..the lights went out about 11:30pm that night.  We lit candles, brought in a kerosene ceramic heater to warm the lower floor rooms and hoped for the best.  By the next morning..power outage looked like it was going to last for awhile.  We ended up heading over to my daughters for the day and stayed warm and had a lovely visit with my daughters and granddaughter.  Lights came back on at about 5pm and life got back to normal.  It was Imbolc…my ritual ended up being very simple as I was so tired from lack of sleep LOL…but I threw open the doors and invited in Brighid and it was a Blessed Imbolc after all.  I hope yours was too!

A couple of months ago..a facebook friend of mine..Tracy Jeffery..from Australia…posted a link that caught my eye.  I went to look at it, and discovered that she had written a children’s pagan book…called “Kite Magic….A Tribute to the Element Air”.  I looked at it, thought that I would order it for my granddaughter and then, you know, I kind of forgot about it.  A couple of weeks ago, she posted a comment here on my blog and mentioned the book and that she would love for me to review it here.  So I promptly contacted her, ordered the book and I received it, read it and loved it.  So Tracy, thank you for your delightful book and I can’t wait til the other element books are written.

Kite Magic is about a little girl named Alana, 4 years old, who receives a rainbow kite for her birthday.  Her Nanna takes her to the beach to fly her kite. (Now I am called Nana by my precious Lily so I loved that right off ! )  Nanna wears a shawl and a sunflower hat (which I love!).  But despite Alana’s best efforts, she can not get the kite to fly….there isn’t enough wind.  She is taunted by 3 boys because of it.  Alana becomes sad and discouraged..her rainbow kite just wont’ fly.  Now her Nanna..a wise crone…tells Alana that she can make it windy by calling on air.  Alana does just that..with her Nanna’s help ( a beautiful charm here too).  Their magick blends together and spirals upward and Air answers in a delightful way.  The descriptive words of the magick wrought were delightful to me and I think any child would be entranced as well.  Those boys who taunt her…well they get a bit of Karma as well in a very funny way!  I thought this book was charming..filled with magick and vivid images.  I also loved the illustrations by Danielle Rawnsley-Galistan..bright colors and attention getting for a child.  I can’t wait until the next books come out.  I highly recommend the book..pagan books for children are pretty hard to come by.  For this book visit www.paganchild.com.au

I have been looking for signs of Spring..to no avail around here.  We have had one of the snowiest winters I can remember.  Not so much in huge amounts, but in constant amounts..keeping the ground white all winter long.  Today, more snow.  But recently, I have had visitors to our koi pond in our yard and just had to snap a few pictures.  Signs of Spring?  I still think so…but they are around here all winter long now…but seeing them makes me smile.

Lovely birds don’t you agree..I love the grumpy look on the one looking right at me! LOL

Then this morning..more visitors…7 deer walked across our yard…it was so magickal.  I feel such an affinity with them.  I see them as so magickal and majestic…my heart soars when I can be that close to them!  Here’s a  picture  I caught before they went up in the woods.

Sorry for the misty pics but well, it was a misty morning! 🙂  I have heard many of my facebook friends talking about signs of Spring around their homes..so I know that Spring is coming soon.  To feel the Sun warming the Earth, to see shoots peeking up thru the brown earth, morning bird song, the smell of the grass greening….I can’t wait for those days.  I know you all look forward to those days as well.  Spring is Hope Eternal!

Blessings of Love and Light, Autumn

6 Comments

Filed under Books I'm reading, Granddaughter, Imbolc, Mother Earth, Photography, Spring

Day 4…..more cleaning!

Good evening lovelies!  I had a nice day today…very busy and productive as well.  I had some errands to run this morning and I hit Target and got new bright green storage containers and some new olive oil/vegetable oil bottles for my stovetop.  I bought fresh oils…organic of course..and filled them and they look great!  The storage containers will be used in different areas..some I used today, the rest will be used in my linen closet when I get to it.  I sure hope you all aren’t getting bored with my cleaning posts.  Blogging about it and posting pics is part of the program my daughter is doing and I want to do it as well..and its sooooo motivating for me seeing the before and afters pics. 

So today, all my work was in my kitchen. I had planned to do under my sink and a drawer but ended up doing quite a bit more..took me about 40 minutes maybe.  So here are the pics..they speak for themselves.

After….

Before……

After……

Before…..under kitchen sink….

After……

Before……medicine drawer…..

After……

Before…..baking drawer….

After……….

I actually did my dishtowel drawer and a cupboard where I keep my teas, seasonings etc…but didn’t take pics so as not to bore everybody…so I was pretty productive today.  I also wiped down the fronts of all the cabinets and of course wiped them all out.  As I said, this took me about 45 minutes..and I just love opening the drawers and seeing how great everything looks.  I’ve never had super messy drawers and I’m pretty good about cleaning them out..here and there…but doing this project has been great and getting so much done at once is great!  I’ll be so ready for Imbolc very soon! 🙂

I have to show this pic as well…this is my kitty Jasper…now you will have met both of my beautiful fur babies…..

We adopted Jasper from a humane society about 6 1/2 years ago…Harley and Jasper are good friends, play hard at night, and love to hang out in my altar room when I’m working there..which I love!  They also love to stay close to us and they lay on my daughter Sara’s bed with her very often..which she loves.  I love dogs too though we have lost both of our dogs now..at the age of 15 and 13.  But I have to admit that I feel such an affinity with cats..and I’d have more if my hubby would let me 🙂  I’m working on that! LOL

Today I recieved another witchy book in the mail I had ordered recently…Doreen Valiente’s “An ABC of Witchcraft”…I have not read any of her books yet and I’m anxious to dive into it!  I had to buy it used..but its in great shape..has that good old book smell! 🙂  One of the things I’m going to be adding to my blog is book reviews.  As I finish a book, witchy or otherwise, I’ll talk about it here.  (Thanks for the idea Owl and Tracy!) I think one of the things that all witches and pagans have in common…is that we all love to read and learn.  We all love books and knowledge.   If you quit reading and learning, or think you “know” it all and don’t need to read anymore..well, in my opinion, you stop growing.  So I plan on reading as long as there are books out there I haven’t read! LOL

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Thanks for putting up with my cleaning pictures…I won’t post them everyday…I promise!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

8 Comments

Filed under Books I'm reading, Cleaning & Organizing, Photography, Quote

Days 2 & 3 Cleaning & some of my books………

Merry Meet everybody!  Hope that you have all had a nice weekend.  It is VERY cold here…negative chill factors, high of 15* but it’s been sunny and I have been enjoying seeing the Moon Goddess the last few nights.  Yesterday I worked on my Book of Shadows and my sister was here and helped Sara work on hers as well.  I love working on it, seeing all the information I’ve collected for years coming together to make something I not only will enjoy having and using, but can pass down to my daughters and grandchildren.  Soon I’ll post a few pics here and talk about how I have gone about doing my BOS.  Today, my hubby and I had breakfast out, bought stone tile to redo our shower, grocery and then home for football and hanging by the fire.

Yesterday, I was having so much fun working on my BOS I did not get any of my 14 days of cleaning and organizing done.  So today I did double duty! 🙂 I started with a kitchen cabinet that had everything from recipe boxes to supplies for making my herbal remedies.  Here’s the before pic……

Sorry about the blurriness..not sure why.  This was fairly easy to clean up..but where was I going to put my herbal supplies?  Here’s what it looked like after….

LOL  this is my kitty Harley..a stray that came to our back door about 6 years ago..and stayed 🙂  She thinks it looks good.  I have room for more stuff now!  I took all of the herbal remedy supplies and put them in the space in another cabinet I had cleared some time ago for that purpose..looks like this:

Hummm got room for more supplies too 🙂  Next I cleaned out a drawer in my parlor coffee table..I had to find some place to put all the pretty papers I use in my BOS, and my granddaughter Lily’s coloring books and crayons.  Before:

Afterwards:

Ok..these were all pretty simple.  Now, I was on a roll so I tackled our entertainment center in the parlor.  This cabinet has our tv and other components, but it has these great hidden shelves where I keep my printer, printer paper, and lately..I have been shoving my witchy books in there too..the ones I’m studying from, the ones that are new and I haven’t read yet, and the ones that I refer to often.  Here’s the cabinet before..its bad  LOL..

I am almost embarassed to show that…really bad.  But I worked on it and came up with the idea of doing away with the CD racks on the 2 shelves on the left and turned them into flat shelves that would pull out….Perfect for holding my printer and easy access.  Here is the after:

I am sooo pleased with this job.  Before I go on to talking about my books a bit..if I know all you witches out there..you want to see what books I have..Right?  LOL  I am that way, always scouring peoples bookshelves..even the ones in pictures.   Anyway, this 14 days of cleaning is coinciding with my daughter Kate’s blog and I wanted to participate …but I am reaping so many benefits from it.  A feeling of accomplishment, drawers and cupboards I don’t mind if somebody looks into..and I’m getting my house in order for Imbolc cleaning!  I also am getting rid of junk!  Taking things out of here that aren’t needed, used, loved..well its a good thing.  I take them to goodwill where it becomes someone elses treasured find!  It really only takes a few minutes to do this…a drawer or two, a cupboard, a closet…and by the end of 2 weeks..I am going to throw open everything, give it a good smudge, and I am ready for Imbolc! 🙂  You should think about doing it too..you won’t be sorry.

Ok..here are some pics of my books:

What do you think?  Pretty good books huh!  I can’t wait to read all of the ones I haven’t yet.  This is not all of them either..I have two shelves full in my bedroom as well…ones I have read..well mostly!  These are more of the newer ones I’ve gotten recently or the ones I’m studying from..like the runes and the tarot books.  I love when I get a new pagan book or discover a new author and I often ask the question on my facebook page..what are you reading?  To get great ideas for books I need to read.  I keep a list in a notebook and refer to it often.  I also visit our half price bookstore for some on my list at great prices.  I have always loved to read, but I especially love to read while I’m LEARNING!!  Its just the best thing ever!

So after all my great cleaning and cooking and busyness today..I’m going to curl up by the fire with one of these books……and read.

Blessings and light, Autumn

*Sorry about all the pics but I’m working on learning how great my new camera is too…LOL

9 Comments

Filed under Books I'm reading, Cleaning & Organizing, Imbolc

Yule traditions and symbolism…..

Merry Meet lovely friends!  I am sitting in my easy chair with a warm glowing fire going, my daughter in the chair next to me, chili in the slow cooker, hot tea (cinnamon) in my cup and decided to write a blog post.  It has been snowy again today..we have about two inches of snow so far with more expected as the week goes on.  Winter is here no doubt!  Temps in the mid 20’s during the day, windy, brisk..and I just love it!

Earlier this week I pulled out three books I have on Yule..one is Dorothy Morrison’s book “Yule..a celebration of light and warmth.” and “The Winter Solstice.the sacred traditions” by John Matthews, and “Pagan Christmas”  by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling….all three are great books and contain a huge amount of information, history, recipes, crafts & rituals for the Yuletide season.  A common theme all 3 books is the symbolism behind our much loved “stuff” we put all over the place at this time of year.  Thought I would discuss a few of them!

Bells– Pagans, at their festivals, would originally ring bells to drive away the “demons” that surfaced during the cold, dark time of the year.  Christians are taught in the bible “to make a joyful noise”.  Bell ringing seemed to fit the bill.  Have you ever heard a bell ringing choir during a christmas eve service or mass?  Very beautiful.  Bells are very much associated with the season.

Candles-As a witch, the symbolism of a candle is about representing the element of fire, and representing God and Goddess and sends healing and protection when needed.  Candles are thought to have originated in ancient Rome when they gifted them to each other during Saturnalia.  The flame was thought to chase away dark winter demons and urge the Sun back into the sky.  At this time of year especially, my home is alight with candles to add warmth and light to my home.

Evergreens– Evergreens were used to decorate homes and halls dating back to the earliest Winter festivals.  Because the green never fades, they were thought to have power over death and destruction.  That power was again thought to chase away the winter demons and urge the Sun to come back. Evergreens in winter gave the pagans hope for a return of the light and the renewing power of the goddess nature.  I love to bring in the greens for their wonderful scent also!

Holly–  Holly has vibrant green leaves and bright red berries during the winter’s cold, providing a beautiful symbol of rebirth. The Celts gathered holly branches and placed them in their homes the night before the winter solstice as protection against sorcery, lightning, and death.  In Scandenavia, it was believed that holly would bring luck to the house.  In Roman Bacchus, holly was the female counterpart to male ivy and this is why wreaths were made of both and hung on the front door.  Pagans believe Holly is Masculine to Ivy’s feminine.  With this multilayerd symbolism, the holly is indeed the crown jewel of evergreens.  This is why the Green Man wears a crown of holly.  I have beautiful holly bushes in my own yard and can cut fresh stems thruout the season. 

Mistletoe– Sacred to the Druids, the berried mistletoe symbolized the semen of the gods, and was used to bring about great fertility and abundance.  Brought into the home and hung over doorways, it also protected from evil.    Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?  Norse legend  says that Frigg, loved her son Balder so much that she couldn’t stand the thought of something happening to him.  but Loki (the God of Mayhem) fashioned an arrow out of mistletoe and gave it to Balder’s blind brother.  The arrow was shot and Balder fell dead.  Frigg’s tears restored Her son to life, and in her happiness, she declared the mistletoe plant a symbol of luck, love and promise.  Kissing under the mistletoe means you are receiving Frigg’s blessing.  I think it’s also very romantic and fun!

Reindeer– Pagans believe the reindeer symbolizes the horned God Cernunnos.  Others believe they represent the stags that drew the Norse goddess Freya’s chariot..either way, reindeer have pagan origins.  And how would Santa get all over the world without them??? 🙂

Wreath–  A circle of greens…to a pagan a perfect symbol of  the never-ending cycle of birth, death, and re-birth.  Often used to represent the Sun as well.  The Romans gave wreaths during Saturnalia as a gift to symbolize goodwill, friendship, and joyfulness.  To me, nothing says Yule/Christmas more then a wreath on the front door.  And now many people keep a wreath on their door all year long..decorated for the various holidays or seasons.

Yule Log– The Celts adorned a log (symbolizing the Oak King) with evergreens (symbolizing the Holly King) to signify the  death of darkness and the warmth of the sun during the newborn  solar year.  According to tradition, the log should be burned continuously for 12 days, and a bit saved  to light the yule log for next year’s fire.  I burn my Yule log on Winter Solstice night.  I decorate it with greens from my own yard.  I also make a tabletop version…holes have been cut to support tapered candles in red, green and gold.  Covered in greens, pinecones and a big red bow!

In her book “Yule”, Dorothy Morrison has a beautiful chant to say while burning your Yule log…

Old King we thank you for all you’ve done

For lessons learned and victories won

We must however, bid you adieu

For your reign is finished, it’s over and through

Come forth young King of newest light

Be born with ease; grow strong and bright

Gain strength and stature in the sky

Shed your warmth on us, now from on high!

Now, while decorating  for the holidays, you will know the meaning behind the items you place so lovingly around your home.  You are bringing magick into your home, celebrating rituals that have been practiced since ancient times.  Warm bright candlelight, the smell of pine and fir, the family gathered for wassail while the Yule log burns.  Whether you celebrate Yule, Christmas, Hannukah…the feeling this time of year is universal.  It is approached with great love and  joy.   Take the time to celebrate the Solstice…you will make a new tradition in your own family that will be passed on to your children and grandchildren.  Blessings to you and yours, Autumn

4 Comments

Filed under Books I'm reading, Family, Nature, Ritual, Uncategorized, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas