Thursday, April 17, 2014

H is for Hair

She stands before the altar, arms raised toward the full moon.  Her long hair flows down her back and ripples in the gentle breeze.   The wind picks up and a dark cloud covers the moon.  In the distance, a rumble of thunder is heard…
Diligently working by the light of the fire in the hearth, she sews some of his hair into the poppet...

Hair, especially long hair, has been connected to magic, psychic abilities, and physical power for a long time.  In many belief systems, hair is considered magical or connected to one’s spirituality or essence.  

  • Torah-observant Jewish woman cover their hair after they are married because they believe that their hair becomes magically charged after they ‘know’ their husbands.  
  • Sampson attributed his strength to his long hair.    Once it was shorn by Delilah, he became weak and vulnerable.
  • Members of various Native American tribes keep their hair long.  You may be familiar with the article about soldiers in Vietnam losing their sixth sense once their hair was cut.
  • Hair is a part of spells in certain traditions and practices, particularly in hoodoo.
  • From a yogic point of view, hair can help raise Kundalini energy.
  • Buddhist monks have shaved heads, a physical symbol of their renouncing the, well, physical.  
  • Witches are often depicted as having very wild, long hair.

Superstitions around cutting hair include burning the hair that has been cut.  This is so no one can take your hair and work evil against you.  Also, it is/was believed that if a bird used your hair for its nest, you might go insane, or at the very least, develop a nasty headache.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  For centuries – millennia- hair and spirituality have been connected.  So what’s so special about a bunch of keratin growing from the scalp?   What is the connection between hair and spirituality? 

From my perspective, since hair is connected to the scalp, it has a connection to the crown chakra.   As it is dead material, I don’t believe that the hair itself necessarily holds a lot of power, but I think it helps protect what is there.   On the other hand, others believe that the hair does hold the life force of an individual.

Personally, I haven’t cut my hair in quite some time.  I also cover it when I’m in public (and much of the time around the house).   I do this for several reasons, with one of the biggest being to protect my energy from outside influences.     I don’t think it has anything to do with a sixth sense.  In fact, I’m not sure how sharp my sixth sense is.  Sometimes it seems pretty spot-on, but at other times, I am waaaaaaaaaaaay off.    My loose, flowing hair has never caused a storm. 

Some groups insist on loose hair without pins or adornments during a ritual, but I’m not comfortable with that.   I feel very exposed, vulnerable, and nearly naked without my head covering.   Another reason I like covering everything up is because I have almost always been known as “the chick with the hair”.   People used to get my attention by pulling on my hair.  Bullies on the bus put stuff in my hair or snipped pieces of it.  I prefer to preserve my energy and protect myself from other people’s crapola, but that’s just me.   I also wear a covering in honor of Hestia, about whom I thought about writing this post.

I keep my hair long because I like the way it looks (even though I’m just about the only person who sees it), and because I feel that it is an extra layer of protection even though I don’t think it really holds much energy itself.    Covering everything with a scarf is the other layer of protection.  It also helps me focus more on the spiritual side of life.  It reminds me that the Divine may exist all around me. 

How do you wear your hair?  Do you cut it, or do you let it grow?  (I suddenly have “Hair” running through my brain).  Do you connect it with your spirituality at all?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

H is for Handfasting

Handfasting can either take the place of or be incorporated into a wedding ceremony amongst Pagans, Neopagans, Wiccans, what have you.  It can be for a year and a day, for a lifetime, for ‘as long as love shall last’.  In the past, it was more of an engagement period.  Generally, once the people who are being married have declared their intent, their hands are bound with a cord, symbolically joining them together.

I chose ‘Handfasting’ as my topic for this week because it’s something that has been on my mind for a while.   I’m not engaged or anything. In fact, I never have been.  I’ve only dated a couple of people in my lifetime, and now I’m with my Aussie.  We’ve been together for a couple of years and a bit, but we can’t get married yet.  Why?  Well…that’s another story for another time.

I rather like the idea of a handfasting or even jumping over a broom as part of a wedding ceremony.   I have put a lot of thought into how I would approach such an event, and I will present to you some of the ideas I have had.  A handfasting can be incorporated into any marriage, whether it be opposite sex or same sex.   For my purposes, I will be referring to what my partner and I would do.

First, we would be separated for three days.   The time spent apart serves as a way of strengthening the desire to see each other and to be joined.  ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and all that. 
The day before the ceremony, for approximately 24 hours, there would be fasting.  Not a strict fast, mind you (we can’t have anyone fainting or hangry at the altar), but one in which lighter, less grounding foods and beverages are consumed.

Three days before the ceremony, on the first day apart, a candle should be lit for personal deity.   This would be a time of reflection, prayer, and meditation. 

Two days before the ceremony, a candle should be lit for the bride or groom’s partner.   This would be a time of reflecting upon that person’s traits, influences, etc.  Time should be spent reflecting on the relationship.

One day before the ceremony, a candle is lit to ask for blessings upon the union.  Again, more reflection, meditation, prayer, whatever.    On this day, all three candles should be burning.    You can save the candle stumps and use for part of the ceremony or for a private ritual, if desired.

The ceremony itself would take place outside.  Friends and family members would be part of the circle, but not the circle where the elements/quarters are called or anything like that.  That would possibly be taken care of before the non-Pagans in the family gathered together.  I’d like the area to be swept and saged beforehand.   Once everyone has gathered, the person performing the handfasting would light one candle to welcome the divine/God/Goddess.   I think the bride and groom should light a candle together at some point either before or after being joined at the wrist.  It would be a way of stating intent and welcoming and thanking any spiritual presences. 

I’m not big into the idea of bridesmaids and such.  I would rather have a very small gathering of family and close friends together in a circle around us as we recite our vows (which we may possible compose ourselves).  

I would most likely ask my Sister to perform the ceremony because she is my Sister and I love her very much.  She also has a gorgeous singing voice, which might come in handy later.   In lieu of gifts, I would ask guests to provide us with entertainment, hugs, and kind words and thoughts.
For me, the highlight of the ceremony would be the binding of the hands to symbolize joining our lives together.  I think a few trips around the circle would be in order.  The cord can be removed after the ceremony is over and the circle is closed.  

After the ceremony, the party would begin.   As a kitchen witch, I have put a lot of thought into the feast.  Since we would only plan for around 50 people at most, I would most likely prepare the food with some help from volunteers.   That would be my way of thanking our guests for attending and participating in the event.

I dream of a wedding around or shortly after Samhain.  That way, our ancestors could more easily attend.  We would have a separate altar for them, and our guests would be allowed to participate in this part of the ceremony by bringing pictures, mementos, or simply writing down the names of loved ones who have parted. 

I’ve sat down and planned seasonal menus for handfastings throughout the year, and I am going to share my autumn wedding feast menu with you all.  Some of the offerings are marked with a “v” to indicate vegetarian.  I don’t think I have any vegans in my intimate circle of friends, but of course I would make something lovely for them if I knew any.

Le Menu:
Tartlets with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, thyme, caramelized onions, pine nuts –v.
Cream of wild mushroom soup
Bacon-wrapped rolled turkey breast cutlets with (chestnut) stuffing
Butternut squash lasagna – v.
Roasted vegetables – broccoli, carrots, parsnips, squash, potatoes
Mixed seasonal greens with red onion, apples, candied nuts, pomegranate dressing (Persephone’s Salad) –v.
Hazelnut pie (similar to pecan) (cornmeal crust)
Baked apples with vanilla bean ice cream
Mulled wine and cider; beer
Spiced tea and coffee

So there you have it.  That’s what I would do on the days leading up to the handfasting, what I would serve, and of course, the significance it holds for me.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

F is for Forgiveness (or not) Warning: Contains rather colorful language

F is for Forgiveness

I was inspired to write this entry by a Facebook post.  One of my cousins was tagged in a Throwback Thursday post by someone I remember quite well from middle school and high school.  He and his brother (along with many others) made my life a living hell.  I was teased and called names.  They put things in my hair or would cut pieces of it.  These people that I remember are, quite frankly, stinking piles of shit.
We’re all probably familiar with the saying “To err is human. To forgive, divine.”  Well, if that’s the case, I will never achieve a state comparable to that of the Divine because there are some people I absolutely refuse to forgive.  In fact, I wish nothing but the worst for those assholes.

The thing that I find absolutely hilarious is how Jesus lovin’ they seem to have become over the years.  Oh, really?  Where was this love of Christ and his teachings when you were calling me a gorilla because I have PCOS?  Where was this divine universal love when you were making fun of my weight? 

F is also for Fuck You because that is what I would say to any of them.  I commented earlier tonight that if any one of them were on fire, I wouldn’t squat to piss and put out the flames.  They are foul, odious excuses for human beings.  They are wastes of flesh.  Fortunately, at least a couple of them have died since we graduated.  Good.

You know what, motherfuckers?  While you have your pretend religious beliefs, dead-end jobs, ugly kids and worthless miserable existences, I have a Master’s Degree, a career, and friends and family who love me for who I am, no matter what I look like.  I didn’t ask for PCOS or any of the accompanying symptoms – weight gain, hirsutism, etc.    I didn’t choose that, but YOU chose to be fucking assholes to me because of it.  

If I had a dick, I’d tell you to suck it.  Eat shit and continue dying off.   I forgive people who deserve it. You do not.  If you’re so full of the love of Christ, you should beg ME for forgiveness. 

End of vitriolic ramblings. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

About to Open Etsy Again

Last year, I sold handmade clay kitchen witch figurines in my Etsy store. Recently, I took to the kitchen to whip up some products that will keep you feeling like the silky-soft goddess that you are.   I will soon be re-opening the store and listing some handmade skincare products.  So far, I have made some tattoo balm, whipped body butter, and deodorant.

I will post a link once I have things photographed to my liking and listed on the site.

Edit:  Up and running!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

D is for Death

Winter is still upon us.  In a time when we should be looking ahead to spring and birth and light, this blog post will focus more on the darker half of the year.  Death knows no season, but for many Pagans, autumn and winter are the seasons that represent endings.  Endings come in many forms. Relationships and friendships end. Good books end.  Life ends.  The end of life is my focus for this post.

I don’t really know for sure if death is the end of everything, or if it’s the beginning of a new chapter.  What I do know, however, is many people and animals that I love have passed from this existence.  Death is something we are faced with everyday, from your bacon sandwich to the spider you just whacked with a newspaper.  It’s not something we can escape, and as the saying goes, ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!’

Instead of dwelling upon the illnesses and accidents that  take us away from this life, it is far preferable to focus on life and living every day to the fullest.  That, as we all know, is much easier said than done.

I look at Samhain as a gift.  It is a time for us to remember, to visit with ancestors, to laugh and cry, and even to be angry if that’s how you heal.   It has always been my favorite day.  As the veil thins leading up to Samhain, I become more and more excited. Will someone visit?  Will I see something for the coming year?   And then I ask the other question: What am I going to cook?

Samhain has lots of traditional, seasonal foods.  Likewise, different cultures have many traditional foods for funerals.   I believe that grieving is very draining and that one should eat for strength during a period of mourning, even though it’s normal to have no appetite during that time.

For Samhain, traditional foods include pork, apples, pumpkins, root vegetables, and nuts like hazelnuts/filberts.    Those are fine, delicious, grounding foods.  The key word here is ‘grounding’.  Some may believe that it is better to be grounded on Samhain, while others would prefer to be less fettered and therefore better suited to receiving visitors from beyond the veil.

Others prefer to offer their ancestors foods that they best loved in life, as a way of enticing them to visit. My thoughts are as follows:  The living may wish to eat a light meal and offer the heavier meal to the spirits of the dead.  This may allow the spirits to stick around longer and the living less grounded and perhaps more aware of the spirits on this night.

(Before Samhain, a fast may even be in order.  What I try to do is a fast for a day before Samhain, but not a total fast. I can’t not eat. It gets ugly, believe me.  It can be juice or very light foods, preferably without animal products.)

Now, yes, cooking for both the living and the dead does require two menus, but the dishes can have a lot of similar components.  After you set out the food for the spirits, the leftovers can be wrapped up and kept for the next day for the living.   

Below are a couple of menus to get you started:

For the spirits:
Fried fish
Rosemary roasted potatoes
Carrots and cabbage with caraway seeds
Beer bread
Apple tart

And for everyone else:
Fish stew
Sauteed arugula
Fried apples
Rosemary cookies

Autumn is the season of water, emotions, introspection, and communication with the other planes of existence.  That is why I chose fish. 
I chose arugula because of its bite.  A bitter green would work here as well.
Rosemary is for remembrance.
Apples are a traditional Samhain food.
Carrots and cabbage may be traditional money-drawing foods, and while spirits don’t need money, a little extra prosperity in the next life can’t hurt, right?

**I realized that recipes for everything would make this post entirely too long, so please check back for those!