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Archive for August, 2011

Lugh

Lugh

A favorite God

Lugh/Luga/Llew is a pan-Celtic God.  He has the city of Lyons named for him, as well as a pan-Celtic holiday, Lughnasadh held is his honor or in honor of his foster mother Tailtu in August.   He is a god of many skills, granted to him by his mother and he is a god of light, he has a very bright aura like the sun.

Many of my favorite masculine Irish figures are not gods, but rather demi-gods or heroes: Fionn, Cuchulian, Ossian, and Angus.  However, Lugh is all God, so I call him one of my favorites.

We recently held Lughnasadh and we always have an excellent loaf of bread made by one of my coven mates and this year was no different.  It wasn’t long before we had eaten all of him except for the best share which was offered to Him for fertility in our crops.

Lugh Bread

Lugh Bread

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Keeper and Companion

Keeper and Companion painting by Sara Star in sepia tone

A favourite Goddess.

One of my favorite Goddesses is Brigit. I paint her aspect as a Saint quite a lot. And I hope to paint her more in pagan art.

Brigit is so many things, a hearth goddess, a well and spring water goddess, a muse, a healer a forger. I find she is all things relating to creation the spark of inspiration the making and the repairing/treating of the created.

As an artist I find her especially helpful and I think of her often and am devoted to her.

There are so many traditions associated with Brigit. From the Brigit’s mantle that you set out to collect due on Imbolc Eve, to the Brigit’s dolly and bed, to flame cells, to well dressings.

Brigit is my ama chara, my heart kindred friend. I love her and want to be alike to her.

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Sara water 1 by aprilskiver
Sara water 1, a photo by aprilskiver on Flickr.

Picture of nature (water element)

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Magick: The Athame by taterscot
Magick: The Athame, a photo by taterscot on Flickr.

Witchy tools: athame.

In the Celtic mythic traditions, the knife is always paired with the earth element, the sword and the stone, sword and shield, and so on. Swords are fused with powerful abilities and spirits and are magical beings in their own rights.

That being said. I have not found the athame for me yet. I want one that is very simple and unfinished wood so that I can decorate the handle myself and stain it with ebony wood stains.

Other than that I just use scissors and kitchen knives around the house. I use gardening shears outside. So for now the need for special knives or daggers has not come up. However, I am starting to take more of interest in athames and so I will keep a lookout for The One for me.

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A myth or story from folklore.

Here is my own retelling–mostly from memory so it could be quite off in time line and such–of the Morrigu’s role in the death of Cuchulain.  I connected events with characters I thought might be related as in a organization together to give some unity:

The Morrigu

The Morrigu Triptych, Banshee Maiden, Warrior Queen, & Milking Crone by Sara Star

The Morrigu queens wanted to ally themselves with the winning side in the upcoming battle between Queen Madb’s army and the Men of Ulster.

They had a few things to take into consideration.  In the past, their war queen, Emain Macha had cursed the men of Ulster.  The Ulster men had grown into her disfavor twice.  Firstly when she was in hiding in Ulster and living with an Ulster Farmer, and pregnant with twins, she admonished him to tell no one of her.  However, at the King’s horse races he bragged that his wife Macha could run faster than any horse.  Macha begged the men of Ulster to excuse her from the bet because she was heavily pregnant.  But they would not back down, and she was forced to prove her husband’s claim.  Macha won the race and miscarried her twins at the finish line.  Then she cursed the men of Ulster to be weak with the pains of child labor when most needed by their country.

Yet, the Morrigu wanted to give Ulster another chance, perhaps she considered handing them this out because she had wished it for herself that day long ago when she was heavy with twins.  Perhaps despite the men’s treatment of her, she loved the land of Ulster and wanted it to be protected.  For whatever mysterious reason, Macha offered Ulster another chance.

The foster son of Fergus, the  exiled king of Ulster, Cuchulain was free of the curse because he was of divine birth, his father being Lugh.  The Warrior Queens of Morrigu intercepted Cuchulain and offered him victory if he would couple with her.  Cuchulain had already recently lost a battle at the border of Ulster because he was off in a tryst so he angrily denied the robed woman without paying attention to her.

He should have noticed she was a goddess, for she had the red eyebrows and her horse was white with red ears, both obvious signs of the otherworlds.  But Cuchulian was too distracted.  He looked away from her in disgust at her sexual offer and when he looked back, the woman, the chariot and the horse were gone, and he saw a large hoody crow.  He immediately knew his mistake!  It was one of the Morrigu, how could he have missed the signs!  It was too late, he had sealed his death warrent by spurning her.

The youngest fair maiden of the Morrigu waited by a river where Cuchulain would have to ford and she sang his death dirge and washed a spectral bloody shirt on a rock that was clearly Cuchulain’s shirt.  This Banshee was foreboding a second time the failure of Cuchulain and therefore (as Ulster’s only abled bodied man) the loss of the ensuing war to Connacht.

The Morrigu was on the warpath!  She would get revenge on all of Ulster, and on Cuchullain!  She sent three of her witches to intercept him. Cuchulain had a major geis or weakness, he could not eat dog, his totemic animal.  And his code of honor was to always accept food and drink offered to him as a guest.  The Morrigu whispered these secret weaknesses to her witches, and they cooked up a stew of dog.  They waited near the river where Cuchulain crossed and invited him to eat with them.  He received the dog stew and ate it.  It burned his mouth and disabled the s

The Morrigu in her three forms turned each into an animal that would attack and wound Cuchulain.  The watery banshee Morrigan turned into an eel and tried to strangle Cuchulian.  The sovereign Cuchulain turned into a white heifer and came out him and tried to gore him with her horns.  The wild wood Morrigan came at him as a she-wolf and bit at him.  Each time Cuchulian injured her, she was crippled and half blind when they were done.  But he too was weakened.  She would get her revenge yet!  But first she had to be healed.

The Morrigu went together, one is the form of a Heifer, and the other as an old crone woman.  They waited near the battlefield where the Connacht men were preparing for battle.  The third Morrgan when to dance upon the tops of the Connacht men’s swords and call a storm in to aid them in battle.  The old woman Morrigan milked the Heifer Morrigan as Cuchulain passed.  He was hurt and thirsty and she offered him some milk.  Out of gratefulness, Cuchulain offered her healing for each cup of milk she gave him.  The old crone was able to walk, see and was healed after sharing the milk with Cuchulain.

Ultimately, Cuchulain died fighting the men of Connacht and the Morrigu queen came down in her crow form and ate his intestines out of his belly in triumph.  In this way the Morrigu’s wrongs were righted upon the men of Ulster.

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What’s your witchy background?

Little Witch

It all started on Halloween 1983

It began when I was very young, just  a girl and I was interested in witches and sympathetic to them and their familiars in stories–even when they were cast as the bad guys.  My mom encouraged my interest and taught me wishcraft and protection energy work.   She and my father were non-members of a new age eastern christian fusion church, Unity.  I became interested in Druidry and Irish folk custom in college, a few of my teachers were witches and druids in college, and one of my class mates was the priestess of an interfaith coven, and I started to get involved with it.  Her group broke up and decided to go totally Wiccan instead of interfaith. I moved on into a sort of Coptic/Gnostic interest in Christianity, especially iconography and Mary Magdalen and priestess and Mary Mother of God.

From there it was only a matter of time before I became pagan and witch.

Because of my background, I knew a number of solitary witches and magicians.  Friends lent me books, and one trusted friend suggested I find a group.  I shopped around a bit and eventually found Amy as she was founding her new group (she had moved to a new area too far from her old coven).  And we started, the group slowly grew, often it was only the two of us.  We studied together, she taught me a bit, and now it is at six/seven members.  I studied a ton, and I don’t recall exactly why, but Amy and I got interested in mandrakes.

My internet searches for how to grow mandrakes led me to a now defunct forum on Traditional Witchcraft.  I joined and learned and learned and researched and practiced and experimented so I could begin to give back.  Around the same time, I caught wind of Celtic Reconstructionalism–probably through one of the groups I tried out on experimental magic.

I also began to study under Jack Darkhand in the Millennium Tradition he was founding.   It is a Celtic and Witchcraft magic tradition and spirituality way.   I studied intensely his lesson for about half a year, read thoroughly on theory and spent a lot of time building my practice.  Then Jack Darkhand let me know he was dying.   Later on he and I had a small disagreement that led to us not continuing our lessons, but partin on good terms.  He died a year later and I went to his funeral to try and find other members of his tradition, but I did not, his friends told me it was a new tradition and only his widow is privy to more information than I am.  It saddens me know, because I mostly came around to his point of view on the disagreement and all those months of lessons we lost over it.

These three major sources molded me and I continue to work from lessons from all three, Traditional Craft, CR, and Jack Darkhand.  I bring all these things into the picture when I work with the coven and the other members bring their compatible but diverse backgrounds in as well.

It was ten years ago May, that I first got involved in magical and mystical traditions, and 6 years of being a pagan polytheist.

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Used book stores can be just like in the movies and books, musty crowded places run by witches, pagans or at least those who don’t mind carrying a selection of pagan books.  When you discover a used book shop that carries pre-read magic books, you have hit gold!

Vancouver, Washington:

Cover to Cover Books

(360) 993-7777

6300 NE St. James Rd., Suite 104B

Vancouver, WA 98663

Mel runs a great shop, she is very involved with the local community. I have on and off attended the Ghost Town Poetry readings that are monthly at her shop.  There are a few pagan poets who come now and then.  It can be quite inspiring and a good place to meet people.  Cover to Cover has a full wide shelf of witch and pagan books, and a few shelves of other occult and new age stuff too.  Don’t miss the shelves right by the counter, they have local Vancouver area ghost stories and a few occult thrillers by local great Lilith Saintcrow.  Look up and see some original art by local painters. And the best part? Cover to Cover has a bookstore cat, his name is Smedley.

Cover to Cover Cat

Cover to Cover's Cat

Portland, Oregon

S. M. U. T.

(503) 235-7688

7 SE 28th Ave

Portland, OR 97214

No particular reason that I can tell why this thrift/junk shop is called S. M. U. T. (So Many Unique Treasures).  There is some kitschy stuff, some retro clothes, tons of cheap records, and a bunch of paperback books.  I can usually leave with at least two or three old witchy books for 5-10 dollars.  There are so many books and the organization is a little strange, so I can easily end up spending an hour looking through everything for treasures.  One of my favorite finds that combined the kitschy and the witchy was Chant-o-Matics by Raymond Buckland–after getting my laughs out, I traded it in at Cover to Cover to get different books.  Mel got a good laugh at it too.

So Many Unique Treasures

The rummaging to be had at (S)o(M)any(U)nique(T)reasures

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