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The Year of the Women

Pat Camarena-Rose Barbary

 


This has been, for me, a year and a few months of the women. Whether it was in politics or in magickal communities, women have shown strength, courage and aptitude. I have lost wise elders, rekindled old friendships, and marveled at the fortitude, prowess, and gumption of the younger women. My journey this year was one of discoveries.  I discovered what life comes from death.  I uncovered the courage to run for political office. I marveled at how talented the women of all ages are in the neo-pagan movement. These were the many sad and bitter-sweet and euphoric experiences of my year and a few months to date.

To death, I have lost some great friends, starting with Morwen Two Feathers, who I have known since she was Paula Swilling in the early 80s. We were hand fasted to our partners and had our sons within a few months apart. We were involved in leading EarthSpririt workshops and clans during those same times.

She lost her battle to cancer far too young. And then but a month later, I lost Anna Pecora, friend and covener unexpectedly. 


Within a year of Morwen’s passing, I also lost Dorothy Emerson, minister and confidant. Dorothy was an author of many books on spirituality. Her last book, Sea Change: the unfinished agenda of the 1960s was just published in 2018. She hand fasted my late husband and I in 2009 along with a Gardnerian priest and priestess. She was the one legally a minister in Massachusetts who could sign the papers so that my husband Kirk and I could start our new beginning. She also was present at the ending of that era in my life. She presided over Kirk’s memorial in 2009. 



Then recently, came the loss of Sue Curwitz Arthen, an elder and adviser from the EarthSpririt Community. This was another elder who lost her battle to cancer. So many blows to my heart.

But it was a year of finding great gifts through the sadness. Through Morwen’s death, I rekindled my friendship with Kathleen Exar. You see, all three of us had weddings, and then babies together. Not to mention that our careers were in full swing. That was then. This is now. The Strength card in Jennifer Moore’s, The Healing Tarot, is Kathleen in her prime. Kathleen posed for and radiantly depicted the essence of strength and force of will during her days performing in a dance troupe. That was then. However, suddenly after Morwen’s death, Kathy’s path took on even more force. Now, retired from teaching dance in high school, Kathy got her dancing, performing and magick duds back on. She started doing readings and rituals and her own choreographed performances again in Salem. She is often at Nu Aeon there and is back in full swing. Best of all, now we chat again and cheer each other on like we used to, decades ago.


I could not find anything positive about Anna’s death until I started planning a forthcoming death workshop, we now call Death and Cookies. We had one a few months ago and we talked about the weird phenomena that occurs after death to survivors of the deceased. This move from the Death Café protocol of not having themed workshops, was inspired by Anna’s death. Later this year, when Anna’s house was being sold, some if her items were put up for sale also. It occurred to me that if we used her good china for the cookies and tea it would be cool, and she would have loved it. So. Thank you for that, Anna. You what have added Anna classiness to an event that needed some distinction. Thus, instead of Death Café it is Death and Cookies with real china teacups and dishes.


Dorothy and Sue’s passing rekindled my flame for Interfaith work, which has always curled my toes (in a good way). Their inspiration, Dorothy as a witch and Unitarian Universalist Minister and Sue as an active participant in the Parliament of the World’s Religions, reminded me that I have a cause I truly believe in…that all religions are valid to the practitioner and we must honor that. Much of the world’s despair and hatred stems from not respecting and acknowledging other religious paths. In a quest for truth, we ignore that it all goes to the same post office. This summer, my husband and I were asked to speak at an Interfaith event at a local Gay Pride.

This was the year of the very active and very much alive woman as well. I attended the Magical Women Conference in London, a now yearly event hosted by Sue Terry Erzebet Barthold.


This was an empowering experience, mainly because all the presenters were renowned women of all ages. Why is this such an important event?

This is why. Like many women, I too have been too have been subjected to the influences that patriarchy and its usual behaviours have exhibited. You would think that after over 30 years if being a witch and then a high priestess, these actions would not be prevalent in my life, but still they are. Sometimes at our store I am not asked for advice. Advice is sought from my partner first. Granted, my role is events coordinator and spell kit creator and blog post writer primarily.  And, I take care our mundane needs, such as pay bills, deal with Insurances, medications, health appointments and generally keep the household sane. However, to have others ignore the very core of my being which is magickal, gets exasperating at times. People seek out theory rather than practiced knowledge sometimes. And that is a facet of a patriarchal culture. Women do with heart. Men do with thought. Earth and water, Fire and Air. It’s easily relegated to the Queen and King Court cards in a Tarot deck, the Queens being Water (or heart and emotion) combined with the other elements; air, fire, earth). This is opposed by the Kings being Air (or intellect and thought) combined with the other elements, fire, water and earth).

Since all the presenters were women, the conference was empowering to the point of being overwhelmingly emotional. I found myself noticing the manner in which these women spoke. Incredible knowledge was shared but not from theory. It was not from a place of the head, but it came from the heart. The heart had spoken to these presenters and they had taken that heart sound and transferred it into the mind to present it through that filter. Not the other way around. This was the main focus. The heart was not just concerned with immediate desires but the fate of the many, the fate of the planet and her children. And also considered was what is to come, the fate if the Earth’s future and our children and their children’s children. Women spoke their concerns and fears in a heart song that was translated into thoughts; magical and mundane approaches; and practice and science.

Let me give you examples. At the first workshop I attended, Brontë Mansfield spoke about the late Margot Adler, whom I had met many years ago. This young journalist was researching the wise and wonderful NPR witch. I had tears in my eyes remembering Margot and feeling the strength of her influence on this young woman. It felt like a complete full circle as she had long ago inspired me as well. Brontë, a novice journalist, spoke about her fascination with Margot as someone she could relate to, from a heart place, to aspire to walk in her footsteps. Margot had paved the way of a witch renowned journalist whose mundane path included that of an Earth protector and advocate.

Soror Mimm spoke of the founding women of the Golden Dawn who played major roles in the movement with their strength and knowledge yet, who get little acclaim. She gave voice and recognition to those forgotten women who were inspirational in the development of this largely male fraternal order. She spoke proudly of the present women of the Golden Dawn and of her vision for women in the future.

Alkistis Dimech, who presented on body movement and trance was downright openly fearful of the future of mankind and pleaded for us to pay attention to what was happening. She told the audience of a frightful vision she’d had during her trancework.  I honestly wonder if the vision of what she saw was not a premonition of the burning Amazon rainforest.

Other presenters such as Rave Schwarz, a ritual and laboratory alchemist spoke of a new alchemy but based in the change within and stretching it into a change without. Changing the vibe of our planet’s group mind...one person at a time, beginning with the women. In her discussion, she pointed out that women are largely ignored as scientists and inventors. Women need to reclaim alchemy and make it our own. Like the other presenters, the future of the planet was foremost in her mind with change from a disastrous possible future to a positive outcome being the ultimate form of alchemy.

Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki spoke about the youth. She noted the lack of books we had to learn from as opposed to the deluge of reading matter out now for the 21st century common practitioner. She implored us to guide but to allow the youth to learn as they researched and to allow them to go forward without giving them too much scrutiny. She pointed out that progress is made in letting it happen. Change happens and it is a good thing. Dolores spoke as an elder not fearful of the integrity of future witches and occultists. The future after all belongs to those who come next, not us.


Chaweon Koo spoke of the Shamanism of South Korea and its influences on modern life. So ingrained in the very culture of the people is the magick practiced of old, that it has given rise to the acceptance of Western Magick. This has led to our impact on their music, art and dance in present day South Korea. In turn, their acceptance of such has begun to influence us in the Western world with the rise of Korean modern music and use of their healing remedies.

Liz Williams took us through the history of Jane Ellen Harrison, author of Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion, published in 1912.This book introduced the concept of one single great goddess suggesting the Earth Mother of the year god. This ideal set the stage for the modern Wicca of today.

And finally, I experienced a living spell for love.  An audio-visual presentation by Sharron Kraus left all with a feeling of hope and realization that magick works. At the end of the presentation she shared the outcome of this creative spell of music, song, art and vision as she named her partner whom the spell had manifested. The heart felt, the creative mind wove, and a love was revealed.

A main theme of the conference was those that have gone before and the legacy they left us. But in every talk was stressed a future we need to make definite. From the past, women learned and executed their dreams and vision such as those of Christina Oakley Harrington, founder of Treadwell’s bookstore.

Later this June, I had the opportunity to revitalize an acquaintance that developed into a friendship. This took me by surprise. I had known Phyliss Curott from my early involvement in NELCOG, the New England Covenant of the Goddess, a territorial faction of the Covenant of the Goddess. I had the opportunity to meet with her again.  And was it too much of a coincidence, that her focus after learning so many more paths of the Occult and being a Gardnerian priestess, had led her to focus on healing the planet. She too spoke to me of how it is in our hands, the women.


In conclusion, this is why women need to be able to exercise their creativity, visions, sciences and nurturing natures. We need more women leaders. There is a current right now. It is prevalent in our US Congress. It is the women that speak frankly, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose fight for the Green New Deal focusses on our Earth and its preservation.

We come from the heart, from the gut and translate that into action for the greater good. Competing with men just gets us to where we need to be. But that is not the focus or the goal. The goal is to get to that heart place that nurtures our planet and her inhabitants, one and all.

 

 

 

 



What’s in a name: The Court Jester Series Incenses

 

If you have ever burned any of our Luna Ignis Incenses, you know that they are one of our most popular items. They are made with our own herbs and resins from our apothecary, as well as other delights.  Many also contain a spirit of some type, such as wine.  In future blogs we will feature our other incenses and oils and powders and how we choose the names and why we name them as we do. But this first in a sequence of blogs, will focus on our Court Jester Series which is about to get the final incense type added to the group.

Currently we have Chalice from the Palace, Vessel with the Pestle and Flagon with the Dragon.  Our next in the series is Brew that is True, a suggestion from a customer!

So, let me tell you how this wonderfully aromatic set of fine herb incenses got their names.

Actually, the names came first for Chalice and Vessel.  These blends were based on the 50s movie, the Court Jester, starring Danny Kaye.  I wanted to name a group of incenses after the riddle exchange between the characters that defines the movie. 


It goes as follows:

Hawkins: I’ve got it! I’ve got it! The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?
Griselda: Right, but there’s been a change. They broke the chalice from the palace.
Hawkins: They broke the chalice from the palace?!
Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.
Hawkins: A flagon?
Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.
Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.
Griselda: Right.
Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!
Hawkins: The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
Griselda: Just remember that.”

So, I dreamed up different purposes for these two incense blends. And then they were created using our know how of herbalism and Paul’s expertise on blending.


Chalice from the Palace is an herbal blend that contains specific herbs and resins that are light and airy.  They bring harmony and positive vibes. It smells literally heavenly.  You can almost hear angels singing as the stuff burns in your burner, a customer said to me. Now what you see or hear when you burn our incenses is not something we dwell on.  But it’s great for family gatherings, Yule feasts, weddings, important negotiation meetings and the like. I often tell customers to use it when they are having a big get together where not everyone gets along…but they all must be there. I told Paul, it needed to have white wine in it. And so it was.

Here is the spell:

“Creature of Air and Fire, bring me my desire.  Let the forces of the light be by me and in my sight.  Let the glow of bright light day envelope me to show the way.”

Now we simply had to have Vessel with the Pestle to counterbalance the light and airy.  So …again from our wonderous apothecary, we got to work choosing the right herbs and resins to bring forth a more seductive and darker blend since the poison as supposed to be in that goblet originally in the movie, or so the riddle says.  But having a good feel for the dark and all its awesomeness, we decided this blend would be seductive, not poisonous.  Red wine was added to this one. And it became a good incense for enjoying quiet introspective moments, or for plotting and planning a battle and also for getting into the mood, if you catch my drift. Here is the accompanying spell:

“Creature of Air and Fire, bring me my desire. Let the forces of the night be by me and in my sight. Let the darkness stir and go forth in power and might and let me be the victor in this fight.”

Both sold remarkably well. And people bought them together, so we created a gift kit with both blends and thus a new spell for using them together for balance was created:

“Creature of Air and Fire, bring me to an equal plane, that I may be the whole of me and let no forces be profane.  I am of earth and of sky. This is the whole of I.”

So, a customer said to us, “What about Flagon with the Dragon?”  Well I squeed with delight over this one, because being a Leo, I knew just what we could do with this blend!


It is meant to give you a spark to ignite your inner flame, your will, if you will. Its for fiery ambition and drive.  Thus, we added some Fireball whiskey to it!  I tell customers to use it when they are stuck with inertia or to prep with courage to leave a situation or to start a new endeavor.  Here is the spell:

“Creature of Air and Fire, ignite and inspire with your sizzling blend.  Let the forces of Ambition fill me with vigor. So, I can tackle tasks at hand and passion will be at my command.”

Actually, in all practicality you can blend Vessel with Flagon.  I wrote no spell for that one because you probably would not need words when burning these two together, if you know what I mean.  What you do in your own rooms with this concoction, is your business!


So now we sold the 3 together in a gift set.

And that customer that I mentioned at the beginning, inquired hintingly, “Are you making the brew that is true?”

And that’s the exciting thing I couldn’t wait to share with you.  I already wrote the spell! You know our Confusion candles? The candles you use when you want others to forget about some misdeed you did?  You know about deflection spells, right?  The kind you use to hide from the law or have people focus on something other than what you may have said in the heat of the moment?  How about revealing spells?  Someone is concealing something from you that you just have to know about. Well this incense blend can be used for both purposes to conceal or to reveal.  We are busily searching our apothecary for the right herbs….and it will soon be revealed to you in our next Incense Blending Class in June!  Here is that spell:

“Creature of Air and Fire, bring me power to reveal or conceal as I desire. Discover your truth, I can. Discover my truth, only what I want you to see.  This smoke will confuse you but not me.”

So that’s the story behind our very popular Luna Ignis Court Jester Series of incenses.


Lammas/ Lughnasad
By Pat Camarena Rose Barbary

 

Lammas, also known as Lughnashad, is celebrated on August 1 in the Northern Hemisphere and February 2 in the Southern Hemisphere. Lammas is the Sabbat of the first harvest, at which time the first grains were harvested, breads were made and the bounty was seen in all the land. In my more youthful days in the Boston area, it signaled the happy time of the “Armageddon Games” for our festivals there included a sort of Olympiad where we could compete in anything ranging from best amateur high jump to best poetry.  And while tongue and cheekly Greek in nature, we honored the tradition of Lammas/Lughnasad with rituals and harvest feasts.

And as Paul is a Winter Solstice baby, I am a Lammas baby.  It seemed that every Lammas celebration weekend fell close to my birthday, so while it signaled the close to end of summer, it also brought the promise of a new year, so like any self-respecting Leo, I took this revelry personally. This energy is in a nutshell what Lammas is all about. You sow in Spring. You nourish your growth during summer and you reap your first harvest at Lammas.  At the Autumnal Equinox, you feast on your final Harvest and get your stores of goods ready for the Winter.  Yet, it is as much about the self as it is about the land.

Lammas is a time to ask for further abundance and to expand what you have already reaped into something even better and as there is always polarity in such actions, it is a time to cut the chafe out and get rid of or bury what is not wanted to make room for new growth.

To make an analogy to the land of this cutting away the chafe, think of the Wicker Man and the legend of John Barleycorn and also the novel of Harvest Home. In all three sacrifices are made.  What is not needed is destroyed and the land prospers once again. (If you want to see a ritual devoted to the John Barleycorn legend, come to our Lammas event on Saturday, Aug. 5.)


The origin of Lughnasad is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and has pagan origins. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. Lughnashad means "Games of Lugh", since sports and recreational competitions were realized in his honor, as a valiant warrior. It involved great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests (which is why we had Armageddon in Boston), feasting, matchmaking and trading. There were also visits to holy wells. Offering of the first fruits, a feast and the sacrifice of a bull and a ritual dance-play in which Lugh seizes the harvest for mankind and defeats the powers of blight.

Lammas is a word for bread dough. It literally was made with the first grains of the season and thus considered sacred because of the promise of more to come. This Harvest needed to last through the winter months.  Think Lord of the Rings.  “Lembas” is a special bread made by the Elves. It is very nutritious, stays fresh for months when kept unbroken in its original leaf-wrappings, and is used for sustenance on long journeys. Hmmm.  And if you want a Lammas bread recipe and  a spell, follow those links.

Ok, one last word on a bit of the headier side.  The OTO has also jumped on our witchy bandwagon following the logic of Aleister Crowley.  Don’t freak, ceremonialists, for I am a respectful member of the OTO but credit needs to be given where credit is due.  “The Sabbats are eight points (our Wheel of the Year) at which we connect the inner and outer cycles: the interstices where the seasonal, the celestial, the communal, the creative and the personal all meet. As we enact each in its time, we transform ourselves. We are not separate from each other, from the broader world around us: we are one with the Gods.”  So, they have created rituals to coincide with our Sabbats.  The Lammas one is the Feast of the Lion-Serpent (very apropos for us Leos) in which there is a bull and a virgin and an empress.  

And there is bread. Towards the end, the ritualists partake of the “feast” and say, “Thus I sustain my hunger.”  This ritual is performed during the second decan of Leo, from August 2 to August 12.  Our coven performed this ritual adding only, “El pan es para la vida. No tires el pan!  Ay,ay! Vida mia.” (from the kid’s book Bread Is for Eating by David and Phillis Gershator.

 

Happy Lammas/Lughnasad reaping and releasing to make way for more and happy birthday fellow Leos!