Yule (Lore from our 2011 Open Ritual)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
by Aislin

Yule, or the Winter Solstice, is traditionally celebrated around the 21st or 22nd of December. The wheel of the year brings us to Yule and the God (who died at Samhain) is reborn. Winter Solstice marks a point of dramatic natural change at most places on Earth. One of the most common themes that is played out during this part of the year is the Celtic battle between the aging Holly King (who represents the darkness of the old year) and the young Oak King (who symbolizes the light of the new year). Winter Solstice marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year. From now until Litha, the days will begin to grow longer as we welcome back the returning Sun. On Yule, we honor the Goddess, Mother Earth, for giving birth once more to the Sun.

People around the world celebrate this time of year with varying traditional festivals such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Yule. For this reason, Yule is one of the most widely celebrated of all of the sabbats. The customs and lore have deeply invaded popular cultures and mainstream religions and virtually every culture in the Northern Hemisphere acknowledges this time of year as special in one way or another. It is widely believed that many of the traditional symbols marking this part of the year are actually taken from ancient pagan traditions. For example, the traditional Christmas tree is believed to originate all the way back to the Greeks and Romans of the 8th century. Santa Clause, or Kris Kringle, may actually have his origins in the Aryan God Odin, Lord of the Winds. Wassail comes to us from the Anglo-Saxons and means to hail or salute. Trees were sprinkled with a mixture of eggs, apples, wine, and ale and this was believed to increase fertility and good fortune for the coming year.

Many gods and goddesses were celebrated and hailed during this time of year. Among the gods were Apollo, Balder, Father Sun, Father Winter, Jesus, Saturn, Mithra, Oak King, Odin, Ra, Thor, Woden, and Zeus. Among the goddesses were Demeter, Frigg, Freya, Isis, Mary, Sophia, Mother Night, and Lucina. This year, we have chosen to celebrate Frigg and Baldur. Frigg was a Norse Goddess who had the power of prophesy but she did not always reveal all that she knew. Her name means “love” or “beloved one.” She was the goddess associated with the end of the year, as she sat at her spindle and wove the destiny of both the gods and man. Frigg was also the mother of Baldur, whose father was Odin. Frigg saw the destiny of her son as well as his coming death. She set about to change his destiny and she extracted a promise from all living things that they would play no part in his death. However, she overlooked the Mistletoe plant, which she believed was insignificant. Loki, the Trickster, saw her error, and he made a dart from this poisonous plant, which eventually found it’s way into Baldur’s heart. Hermod, Baldur’s brother and messenger of the Norse gods, felt the pain of his mother over the passing of Baldur and travelled to the underworld to appeal to Hel. She told him that she would only release his brother if all things in the world, living and dead, wept for him as well. All things took pity on her and wept, except for Loki who refused to mourn. Therefore, Frigg and Hermod were ultimately unable to rescue Baldur. However, Frigg is worshiped as a great mother who tried to save her son and she protects all women who are pregnant and giving birth. Tonight, we honor both Frigg and her son Baldur.

Yule by Any Other Name

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
by Ivy

Webster’s Dictionary defines Yule as: the feast of the nativity of Jesus Christ. Many other dictionary sources cite similar definitions. So, at first glance, Yule doesn’t seem like it would be a holiday for Pagans to celebrate. After all, think of all the Christmas carols that speak of celebrating yuletide, and bringing Yule cheer!

However, Yule wasn’t always associated with Christmas, and the birth of Christ. Prior to the birth of Christ and the development of the Christian religion, many native people celebrated a winter holiday that occurred on or near the winter solstice. The winter solstice happens on or around December 21 (20-22) each year. The winter solstice marks the longest night of the year. Most ancient European people celebrated this holiday with festivals, each similar to one another, but very different.

The most well-known Pagan winter festival is the festival of Saturnalia- the birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The Romans celebrated this festival with friends and family in homes decked with laurel and holly. Evergreen boughs were brought into the home and decorated temples as a sign of the cycle of life. No criminals were executed during this time, and schools were closed, and the people rested. Good luck gifts were exchanged with friends and family, and the season was a time of goodwill. Parades and processions through the street were very common during Saturnalia. In the area of Scandinavia, it would be dark for days during the winter months. During this darkness, scouts would be sent to the mountain tops to watch for any sign of the rising sun. Many people would light candles in their windows to help encourage the sun to return. Once the sun returned, the scouts would return to the villages with the good news. A great festival would be held. This festival would be called Yuletide and people would celebrate with bonfires and feast around the Yule log.

The people in the Mesopotamian area celebrated a new year’s festival around the Winter Solstice called Zagmuk. The people of Mesopotamia believed in many gods, but above all, they wor- shipped a chief god, Marduk. They believed that Marduk would do battle with the demons of chaos. During Zagmuk, the people planned to assist Marduk. According to tradition, during this 12 day festival, the King is sup- posed to die as a sacrifice, and return to fight alongside Marduk. However, instead of the king actually dying, the people would dress up a criminal and treat him as royalty for a day. Then, the criminal was slain, sparing the king, but yet aiding Marduk in his fight.

The Persians and the Babylonians celebrated their festival of Sacaea. Their festival was very similar to Zagmuk. One interesting highlight of Sacaea is that during the festival, masters and slaves would change places. Also celebrating a similar holiday were the Greeks, who made sacrifices to aid the God Kronos, who would be gearing up for battle against Zeus and his Titans. For many years, Christmas was celebrated on various dates from December to April. In 350 CE, Pope Julius I decreed that the official date of Christ’s birth was December 25. Many scholars disagree, but since 350 CE, Christmas has been celebrated on that date. Even though most people no longer practice the ancient Pagan festivals, the winter traditions of olde are still evident and practiced each holiday season. Next time you see a Christmas tree, a pile of presents, or lit candles in a window, know that these traditions transcend centuries of celebrations.

Ritual Gathering Dos and Don’ts

Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's a quick and easy list of ritual circle/ gathering etiquette. This may help those new to the craft, or new to group ritual situations. Blessed be!

  • Arrive on time. If you are unable to make the circle, notify your host if they think you will be attending
  • Ask questions before the circle if you have any
  • Dress appropriately
  • Try to follow along with the hosting groups ritual actions as best you can – usually much will be explained beforehand
  • Repeat whenever someone says “blessed be” or “so mote it be” (usually)
  • Ask one of the coven members for help if you feel ill during the circle
  • Participate to the best of your ability
  • Ground and center and do your best to get in a ritual mindset
  • Be polite and appreciative- your hosts have put a lot of work into the ritual- especially if they aren’t asking for donations, at least be polite and appreciative
  • Bring what is asked of you- if it’s potluck, bring a dish, if it’s a donation, bring a donation
  • Walk deosil (clockwise) within the circle whenever possible

  • Let your issues with another guest flavor the event- keep your drama to yourself
  • Pick up, touch, or move something on the altar that isn’t handed to you, unless you are instructed to do so
  • Break the circle- don’t put anything outside of the circle once it’s been cast, nor move in and out of the circle
  • Speak out of turn once the ritual has begun- laughs are fine when appropriate, but don’t have conversations
  • Be disrespectful to your hosts or other guests
  • Leave your cell phone one, or bring it into circle
  • Bring guests, unless you check with your hosts, first
  • Enter the circle drunk or high
  • Bring your children, if you haven’t cleared it with your hosts
  • Ask questions about the ritual, during the ritual
  • Take photographs during the ritual, unless you’ve cleared it with your hosts
  • Cut a door in the circle yourself- speak with one of your hosts if you need to leave the circle. You most likely won’t be readmitted.

Eighth Annual Friends and Family Yule Circle

Sunday, December 18, 2011
Last night we held our eighth annual Friends and Family Yule Circle, here in La Mirada. We invited new friends and old, and honored Frigga and Baldur under sprinkles that ended up being a light rain. Our ritual included charging a yule log filled with our wishes for the new year. Large holes were drilled in a thick log, and we placed paper inside the holes. Following the circle, we placed the log in one of our fire pits. After everyone left, the sisters of the coven kept vigil until the early hours, ensuring it burned completely.

In addition to raising charged energy for our yule log, we also did an adaptation of a blot-  a toasting circle. We've never tried anything like this before, our rituals tend to be pretty serious and quiet, but we had a great time. It was raining on us, however, so we decided to cut the meditation out- as it would have been difficult to concentrate, and there was no sitting on the ground to be had. Because we cut the meditation out, I'm posting it below, as our sister Rayne wrote the beautiful piece, and it's not fair that it would go unread.

After ritual, the altar was removed, and a conversation fire pit was brought out. Of course, as soon as ritual was over, the weather was much better, and our fires were toasty and warm. Though it rained, our candles didn't go out! All in all, 23 people attended our event, and we had around 16 people in our circle (if I counted correctly) - I believe that's our largest circle yet. We'll most likely be holding our next open circle in the Summer. If/when I see pictures of our gathering, I'll post them. Thanks to our friends and family who attended... Blessed be!

See the Yule meditation below:

Sit or stand comfortably. Start by taking a deep breath to the count of 4....Hold it in a few seconds and release it slowly....As you release your breath focus on all of your muscles relaxing. Starting from your head...to your shoulders...your arms and middle...your legs....all the way to your toes.....With each breath relax a little more...Feel all the stress and worry from your day float away....just relax.

As your third eye comes to focus you find yourself on a snow covered path...The snow that has fallen is fresh and it looks like nobody has traveled this path since the snow started. Take a moment to feel the air around you...cold and damp...You bring your cloak closer around you as you start walking down the path....As you walk you notice an object hanging from one of the tree limbs...As you get closer you notice a pretty yellow stone on a ribbon. You wonder for a second why it is there and why it isn’t covered in snow. This thought passes quickly as you reach up and grab it and put it in your pocket.

Continue down the path...It starts to slope slightly down hill....At the end of the slope you come to an opening where there are no trees. You can clearly see the sky. As you look around you notice a woman sitting in the middle of the clearing. As you move closer you notice the woman looks kind and motherly. You approach her and ask her name. She says “You know me child, I am Frigga. I’m here to help you see what’s to come.” You take a seat in front of her. Somehow you hadn’t noticed the smoothed stump there before. Listen as the Goddess tells you the things you need to know for the coming year. ........When she is finished you remember the stone that you put in your pocket earlier and offer it to her...Frigga smiles and thanks you for your offering.

You turn to walk back and you hear her remind you of what she said before. You smile to yourself realizing you have the knowledge that will help you into the new year...Find your footprints in the snow and head back up the gentle slope and down the path.....When you get to where you started take a moment and start to become aware again. Breath deeply and when you are ready open your eyes......

Reflecting on a Year of Loss: Embracing Sunshine

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

By Ivy

I don’t know about you, but it feels as though this year has been one of loss and heartache, at least for my family and friends. We’ve had loved ones pass away, both sudden and expected, but it’s never, ever easy. Others have been diagnosed with scary illnesses that may endanger their lives. I can only imagine how tough it must be for them to keep their spirits high. Many of my friends have also faced financial loss- of jobs, and homes, and other issues of security.

I was reading on the myth of Frigga and Baldur, as those are the deities we plan to honor at the coven’s annual open Yule rite, and one lesson jumped out at me.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, what we want is not in the cards; it’s out of our hands.

Baldur is the son of Frigga, a Norse goddess associated with motherhood and the sky. They lived in Asgard, and Frigga and her husband Odin ruled over the Aesir, the principle race of the Norse Gods. Frigga began having awful nightmares about her son, Baldur, dying before his time at the hand of his blind brother, Hod. After conferring with Baldur, it was known that he had been having very similar dreams. Odin invoked the prophetess Wala, and she also confirmed that Baldur was destined for the Otherworld before his time. Frigga, panicked, took the names of every living thing and set about visiting them to gain their oath that they would not harm Baldur in any way. Having received the oaths, they threw a lovely banquet in celebration. The other gods threw objects at Baldur, as it was entertaining to watch them hit the god, but Baldur remained unharmed.

Loki, the trickster, dressed as an old woman and cornered Frigga at the party, asking her questions about the oaths taken to do no harm to Baldur. He asked many questions until Frigga told him quietly, that the only oath she did not receive was that from the mistletoe, as she felt that it was too small and innocent and was unable to do harm to her son. Loki took that information and fashioned an arrow out of mistletoe. He then asked Baldur’s brother Hod why he wasn’t participating. When Hod replied it was because he was blind and couldn’t shoot arrows like the others in fear of harming anyone, Loki offered to help. Hod took the arrow from Loki and notched it in his bow. Loki helped Hod aim the arrow and shot it at Baldur. His aim was true, and Baldur died, fulfilling Wala’s prophecy. Aldur’s wife, Nanna died shortly thereafter, of a broken heart.

At the funeral, Frigga and Odin sent Baldur and Nanna to the Otherworld in a burning boat. Receiving the boat was Hel, the Goddess of the dead. Never had Asgard grieved so much. Frigga was inconsolable. Hermodur, the divine messenger was so touched by Frigga’s grief that he went to try to persuade Hel to let Baldur return. He rode for nine days on Odin’s eight-legged horse until he reached the realm of Hel. Hel didn’t want to give up Baldur, as it was well known that once one enters Her realm, that they will never return to the realm of the living. Finally, Hel broke down and agreed to release Baldur and Nanna, but only if every living creature upon the earth would cry tears for Baldur. Driven by hope, Hermodur raced to Asgard to give Odin and Frigga the news. Frigga implored every creature to cry tears for her beloved Baldur, so that he might return once again to Asgard. Every creature cried. Every creature, but one. Loki had transformed himself into a giantess, Thokk, who refused to cry for Baldur, and so Baldur still sits in the realm of the goddess Hel, and will remain there, until the end of the world, Ragnarok.

No matter how hard Frigga tried, and no matter how many tears fell for Baldur, he remains with his wife in the Otherworld. He’s not hurting, he’s not in pain, he’s waiting to be reborn in the new world. Like Frigga, we cope with the possibility of loss by trying to circumvent it, in any way we can. With treatments, and love, in energy and in prayers, we try to control the situation. This is natural and good, and within our means to do so. Sometimes it works out in our favor, and sometimes it doesn’t. Still, I can’t help but feel as though we get some sort of cosmic “credit” for trying. That the energy we put toward the health of our loved ones, financial stability or happiness is thrown out unto the universe. Not only may the universe apply it where we hope, but also, that this energy, with our pure and good intent might come back to us in some way, guided by the law of return. Perhaps this might be in the smile of a child, a message from a loved one, or in the warm, loving energy of family at the holidays.

It’s important that we acknowledge our loss, but it’s also important that we do not allow our losses to cloud our lives permanently. Depression and sadness is part of loss, it’s part of the grieving process, and it’s crucial that we allows ourselves this time to go through the cycle. However, we shouldn’t allow our loss to completely take away our ability to see good in our lives. The gods will things beyond our control- and we aren’t always going to understand it. It's not easy to move past it, it seems like a new lesson every time. But we should do our best to live our lives the best we can, finding our joy wherever possible.

Open your heart; do not shut it completely, waiting for another loss to come. There will always be loss, such is the nature of life. But there will also always be love, always be sunshine. Don’t let the possibility of shadows chase away your sunshine. Live in the moment, love your family, appreciate what you have today- and embrace your sunshine.

December 2011 Meeting

During our December meeting, we cemented in our plans for our Friends and Family Yule this weekend, and instead of our all-coven meeting, we attended the Solstice Party for the SoCalSisterWitches yahoogroup. It seems as though we have lots of RSVPs for this weekends ritual. We also discussed our chosen patroness for next year, as well as our goals and ideas for next year. Soon, the new year will be upon us, full of change and growth!

November 2011 Meeting

Sunday, November 20, 2011
Last night was our November meeting. During the inner court meeting, we hashed out details for our open Yule ritual, and discussed current and possible future Shadow Sisters. Once our Shadow Sisters arrived, we talked about divination, and broke off into pairs for 15 minute readings. Switching and rotating, each sister received three readings from the other sisters. The main reason for the divination night, was so that everyone became a little more comfortable with reading for other people. It went great, even though we had to rush indoors as it started to rain. Everyone learned something, either about themselves through the readings of others, or about how to give readings to other people. This will definitely be on the agenda for 2012!

Evocation of the Mother- November 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011
Evocation of the Mother- November 2011
by Ivy

Bright mother moon,

Hung high among the treetops,

You shine through the cold November sky,

You are the mother.

Your breath is the crisp wind tearing leaves from their branches,

Scattering them onto your body, the earth,

You are the goddess.

As you illuminate the path on which we walk,

We ask that you be present in our circle this night,

You are who we honor.

Embrace us with your arms of protection,

Return to us the love we offer to you,

Guide us on the path, chosen by our will,

And be here with us this night.

Observing Our Environment Between the Sabbats

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Observing Our Environment Between the Sabbats
by Beth

Living in Southern California we have a much less of change of seasons than our ancestors. Pagans from the earliest times have celebrated the changes of the seasons from the new year to the new harvest to the frost. We also celebrate the sabbats and create a celebration to honor the changes, but how can we increase our ability to be in the flow of the earth’s cycle?

Starhawk talks about the 9 ways of observing in her book The Earth Path. She was inspired by the permaculture movement in particular Bill Mollison who refers to permaculture as “ a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.” Permaculture lends itself well to the all encompassing earth tenets of the pagan traditions. They both in turn can inspire us to simply take notice and live within instead on top of our environment.

1. I wonder – What makes the sky bluer today than it was yesterday? Why was it cloudy tonight? Why does the moss grow on that side of the tree?
2. Observing Energy – What creates energy? Where is it coming from?
3. Observing Flow – Where does our water come from? Where does it end up?
4. Observing Communities – What makes certain flowers thrive well together? How do the bees interact with the flowers
5. Observing Patterns – From the spider webs to the tree branches to the bark on the trees, how do these patterns interact with each other in our environment?
6. Observing Edges – Where do things end? Where do they begin?
7. Observing Limits - Is there something lacking? Where is the end? Is it then end of our yard? Is it the park nearby? Where the limits in our personal environment.
8. Observing from Stillness - Sit still and see what you can observe. What can you hear? What is right in front of you that you never noticed?
9. Observing Past & Future – How did the trees look 6 months ago? How do they look today and what will they look like 6 months from now?

If we all take the time, even if it’s one observation a day or all 9 once a week to really focus on what is going on in nature or even in our own homes, we will become more a part of our environment and in tune with the changes that are going on with our own seasons.

Samhain 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011
We held our Samhain ritual last weekend, where we ended a cycle, honored our ancestors, and were cleansed for the new year. The time between Samhain and Yule is a time of rest- some call it "Witches Rest." It's the time for us to hunker down- the calm before the storm that is Winter. Although, most of us are not resting, as we shop for holiday gifts, or get to work on homemade gifts.

Here are a few photos from our Samhain celebration! We were blessed with the presence of three of our Shadow Sisters for our Samhain circle!

Our ancestor altar, before we added our ancestor's photos and candles.

Our ancestor altar, lit.

What our ancestor altar looked like- taken with flash.

Our ritual altar, before the rest of our accouterments were added.

Fire of Transformation!

Pre-ritual preparation.


Our ritual altar, post ritual.

Potluck Feast!

We had roasted veggies, red potatoes, cheese potatoes, black bean and sweet potato tacos, vegan meatballs in some awesome tasting green sauce, edamame salad, vegan chicken and dumplings, and quinoa (I think?), and Beth made amaretto doughnuts for our cakes (and dessert). Prior to ritual, we had bread, goat cheese, mushrooms, and veggies. We know how to feast.

October Esbat 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Last night, we celebrated the Hunter's Moon. Prior to the ritual, we had a short inner court meeting where we did some housekeeping and planned meeting content for the next two months. Our ritual consisted of a bit of healing and connecting with our spirit guides. Due to the content of the ritual, we did our ritual inside, and it was interesting to adapt to the smaller space. But if there's something we're good at, it's adapting. And potlucks.

Who is Demeter?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Demeter (pronounced de-meh-ter, or dee-meh-ter, not dee-meeter) is most widely known as a Greek goddess of the harvest, and mother to Persephone. An agricultural goddess, it’s said that when Hades kidnapped Persephone, Demeter abandoned her role as bringer of the fruit, and instead searched high and low for her daughter. This abandonment was said to bring about the first winter and with Persephone’s descent each year, this is the impetus to turn the wheel. This is the myth that we usually see at or near most Pagan harvest festivals. But Demeter has a few lesser known aspects.

Some of the earliest writing about Demeter describe her as a triune goddess, maiden, mother and crone. In her maiden form, she was known as Kore, a name later ascribed to her daughter, Persephone. She was known as an mother goddess of Abundance, and also as a Goddess of destruction as the Crone. She is usually evoked as a mother goddess in modern Paganism, but as most know, mothers, while kind and nurturing, can also be forces to reckon with.

In another archaic myth, Demeter was pursued by Poseidon while in her divine form of a mare-goddess. Hoping to disguise herself among the horses of King Onkios, she hid. But her divinity shone bright among the stallions, and she was raped by Poseidon, who had taken the form of a horse. She was furious at Poseidon, but her anger washed away once she bathed in the River Ladon. This led to two of her epithets- Demeter Erinys (Implacable Demeter) and Demeter Louisa (Bathing Demeter).

She also seems to be related to several Minoan goddesses. One of these the poppy goddess, as the Minoan poppy goddess wears seed pods, and it’s thought that Demeter brought the poppy from her cult at Crete to Eleusis. Another correlation found to Minoan goddesses was found in Arcadia- she was worshipped as a Great Goddess: a woman with a horse’s head with hair of snakes. One hand held a dove, the other a dolphin.

Demeter teaches us several lessons, the first being the lesson of motherhood. Now, not all of us will be mothers, but we all can learn the lesson of the mother- caring for something important to us. Some of us are mothers to fur-babies, some of us mother our friends, or nieces and nephews. We nurture and care for our babies, and Demeter teaches us that when someone wrongs our kids, or someone hurts our children, that it’s time to act. No matter how hard we try to protect our children, situations will occur where we find ourselves in the position to protect our loved ones, and the mother will defend their child – sometimes to the death. Whether it’s a broken arm from a skateboard incident, or a physical attack- the mother’s instinct is to protect the child at all cost. This protective anger is a Demeters gift, and ingrained within our spirit. Another lesson that Demeter teaches us is the down-side of single-minded focus. When Persephone was abducted by Hades, the Lord of the Underworld, Demeter abandoned her place as she who made the plants grow, and instead set off looking for her daughter. She was upset, saddened and focused on her daughter, and because all of her energy was focused on this, all of the crops died, giving us the winter that we must prepare for each year.

In addition to the lessons that Demeter shares, we focus on the lessons of the harvest during this transition from summer to fall: being grateful for the harvest, storing food and preparing for the winter. The cycle of the year ends, and we prepare for the beginning of the next cycle. It’s time to review the choices we made this past year, and deciding whether the outcome is one of your liking. The new year is fast approaching and it’s time to decide what to leave behind, and what we look forward to. We leave past grievances behind, and look forward to the light of the Sun on our path at Yule.

The Goddess Isis

Friday, September 23, 2011
by Beth

Isis was a teacher, mother, wife, protector. She is considered a faithful wife and loving mother, and friend to people in all walks of life. She embodies many of the qualities that provide us with a template for feminine empowerment. Isis was manipulative when she tricked Ra into telling her his true name, and as she cured him, but through her manipulation she became more powerful. Isis shows us the power of female spirit.

Isis is known to have taught many secrets to her people, the secrets of growing crops, how to use medicines to cure, she is a giver of knowledge and light as the mother of the Sun.

She reminds us that we need to renew and reconnect with people and remember who we are, to work on our relationships and to pay credence to our emotions. Isis allows herself to feel her own emotions.

Isis is the mother protector of all things. We see the themes of death, rebirth, love, empowerment, creation, loss, death, rebirth.

Isis teaches us to reconnect. From Isis we learn that it is okay to grieve, to cry, to show emotion. The celebration of the flooding of the Nile is dedicated to Isis. It is said that the Nile floods because she shed so many tears over the death of her beloved Osiris. She broke down after Set tricked him in to getting in to a coffin and floated him down the Nile. She went in search of his body. Once she found the body, Set learned where she hid Osiris and cut him into 14 pieces, throwing the pieces to be eaten by crocodiles.

In some versions of the myth, she becomes a sparrowhawk and fans life back into Osiris. In others she pieced him back together and created a phallus out of wood or gold, depending on the version of the myth. One common thread is that her patience and perseverance aided her search for Osiris’s body.

Her powerful love was able to recreate him and through that rebirth they magically created a child, Horus. Osiris went to live in the underworld after his death, but still watched over Isis and Horus. Isis is a creator of life in terms of birth with her son, and rebirth with her husband.
She is the magic that exists in every woman, she is simplicity, she is born of Chaos. Isis is everything except complacent and we can learn every day from her lessons. She is not a woman weakened by emotion, but a goddess empowered by her ability to experience emotion. She can aid us in our daily lives if we only remember that she created her own power.

Comparison of Sabbats to Holidays of Other Religions

Friday, September 16, 2011
Note: if you know the source of the posted image, please let me know so I can give credit.

Comparison of Sabbats to Holidays of Other Religions
by Aislin Lumina

The sabbats, the eight holidays of Wicca can be compared to the holidays of other major and minor world religions, both historic and present day. To facilitate the ease of this comparison, I will explore each sabbat separately and in turn. We will begin with Samhain, considered by most Wiccans to be the start of the New Year.


The final of the three harvest festivals, Samhain traditionally falls on the 31st of October. The original intent of Samhain was to honor the third and final harvest of the year, the meat harvest, in preparation for the fast approaching winter. For the ancient Celts, this was the Feast for the Dead. During the Reformation, the Church tried to convert the holiday to observance, feast, and prayer for the Catholic pantheon of Saints. Originally, this holiday was named Michaelmass by the Church, in honor of St. Michael. However, the holiday was so pervasive to the pagan tribes, it was later changed to All Hallows Eve or Eve of All Saints, to precede All Saints Day on November 1st. This is still a very holy holiday today in Catholicism. The most well-known holiday in the Western world to compare with Samhain is All Soul’s Day, or All Saints Day, which along with Mexico’s Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertes, falls on November 1st. (Ravenwolf, 1999). In Mexico, El Dia de Muerte is celebrated two days after Samhain on November 2nd, as a time to honor ancestors through drinking and feasting.


Yule, celebrated on the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, around the 21st or 22nd of December, is a festival of light that can be compared to similar holidays throughout the world. For pagans, Yule celebrates the birth of the Sun God from the Goddess, a promise of new life in the world. During the Christian conversion, the Christians moved the date of the birth of Jesus, the Christ child, from the summer to the 25th of December so it could be nearer to the pagan celebrated Yule. This, they believed, would make the conversion easier. Many of the pagan Yule traditions, such as evergreen trees, gift-giving, feasting, candles, and wreaths were incorporated into Christmas, virtually unchanged (Morrison 2002). The Jewish “Festival of Lights,” Hanakkah also falls around this time in December (though dates vary year to year). A relatively new holiday, the Afro-American festival of Lights Kwanzaa, is also celebrated at varying dates in December. The Native Americans of the Southwest United States call the holiday “Soyalanwul,” to give birth to the new year and new life (McCoy 1994).


Imbolc, most often associated with the Celtic goddess Brigid, is celebrated on February 1st or 2nd. From the word “oimelc,” or “ewe’s milk,” this holiday refers specifically to pregnancy of the sheep, but more generally to the mother earth “quickening” to life. In the cold and dead of winter, this was a holiday of hope for light to come. In ancient Rome, this time was dedicated to various mother/lover deities over the years including: Vesta, Juno Februata, Aphrodite, Artemis, Venus, and Diana (Arynn 2001). As mentioned previously, the Church was much interested in moving it’s holidays to the dates of the pagan festivals during the Reformation. And so, Candlemas became a Catholic holiday, celebrated on February 2nd, to worship the Church’s St. Brigit. The Feast of Isis occurs in Egypt from January 31st to February 3rd, and there is also a Yoruba/Santeria feast day to honor Oya on February 2nd. Chinese New Year, though varying dates year to year, also falls around Imbolc (Arynn 2001).


Falling on the Spring Equinox, approximately March 22nd, Ostara was named for the Virgin Goddess of Spring in Ancient Germany (McCoy 2002). Because the Church could not eradicate yet another pagan holiday, they incorporated many of the pagan traditions, such as eggs and rabbits, into the Christian Easter, which falls around the same time and derives it’s name from the pagan Ostara. In Celtic Cornwall and Wales, Ostara was changed to “Lady Day,” and celebrated the return of the Goddess after her winter hibernation. The lamb, another sacred symbol of the Spring goddess at Ostara, was incorporated into the Jewish Passover, which falls around the same date (McCoy 1994).


The old Celtic holiday of Beltane falls on May 1st, or the first full moon closest to May 1st on the Celtic calendar. This is a celebration of Spring and love, in which revelers dance around the Maypole, as a symbol of fertility and a hope for fertility of the land. Balefires are lit (or as they are called in Norway, Balder’s fires) (Mccoy 1994). The revelers would jump over the fires as yet another symbol of the fertility and regeneration that the season of Spring brings. Renamed May Day, this holiday still persists in parts of Ireland, where cattle are guided between balefires, to ensure their productivity for the coming year (Grimassi 2001). Walpurgis Night, a Germanic holiday celebrated from April 30th to May 1st, was a fire festival when witches supposedly held a huge ritual. The Christians later named the holiday after St. Walpurga in an effort to “Christianize” this obviously pagan holiday (Grimass 2001).


Midsummer, known as Litha to many pagans, is the holiday that falls at the Summer Solstice. Midsummer has always been a festive time, for many of the world’s civilizations. In the Christian calendar, June 24th has been named St. John’s Day. The fires that are burned during Midsummer, to them, became known as St. John’s fires, who the Christians attributed them to in reverence. St. John (John the Baptist) is prayed to on this night for having baptized Jesus and named him The Savior (Franklin 2002). Other cultures in history have long celebrated Midsummer (the longest day of the year), including Mesopotamia, Greece, Northern Africa, and Eastern Europe.


The word Lughnassa comes from the Gaelic word “nasad,” meaning “games or assembly” of Lugh. The first of the three harvest festivals, this was the festival to celebrate the first harvest of grain. During the Reformation, this summer festival greatly died out, though in some parts, the festival was renamed Lammas by the Christians, meaning “loaf-mass” (Franklin & Mason 2001). The Native Americans have long celebrated a day in early August, devoted to the Corn Grandmother. In Ancient Rome, a similar grain festival celebrated the grain goddess Ceres, and even in North Africa, the Egyptian Sun goddess Isis is still celebrated near Aug 1st (Franklin & Mason 2001).


The second harvest festival, Mabon (the fruit and vegetable harvest) falls on the Fall equinox, or in the Celtic calendar, the closest full moon to the Fall Equinox. The Ancient Greeks celebrated Dionysus during this time, the god of vegetation. In China, they still hold a festival, called the Mid-Autumn festival, and in present day India, the Autumn Navrati (Nine Nights) is celebrated to worship the Hindu goddess Durga, who was a vegetation goddess (Madden 2002). In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year, falls around this time. Foods such as apples, pomegranates, and hallah bread with raisins are served in celebrations of the fruit harvest (Madden 2002).

Arrynn, Amber & Azrael. Candlemas. Llewellyn Publications. 2001.
Franklin, Anna & Paul Mason. Lammas. Llewellyn Publications. 2001.
Franklin, Anna. Midsummer. Llewellyn Publivations. 2002.
Grimassi, Raven. Belane. Llewellyn Publications. 2001.
McCoy, Edain. The Sabbats. Llewellyn Publications. 1994.
McCoy, Edain. Ostara. Llewellyn Publications. 2002.
Madden, Kristin. Mabon. Llewellyn Publications. 2002.
Morrison, Dorothy. Yule. Llewellyn Publications. 2002.
Ravenwolf, Silver. Halloween. Llewellyn Publcations. 2001.

Dionysus Evocation for Mabon

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Great Lord Dionysus,
Twice-Born son of Zeus and Semele.
Student of Rhea,
He who honors and promotes the fruit of the vine,
Lord of wine and drink
Ruler of harvest and agriculture,
Lord of the fertile earth, and of growth.
We call to you, and ask you to be present at our rite of Harvest Home.
Bring balance to our gathering, and bless us with your presence.

Meditation for Mabon

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths.
And find yourself in a summerwood.

There is a well-used path at your feet.

Follow this path; enjoy the calls of the lark and robin. You see a clearing in the trees up ahead. In it you find a meadow full of summer flowers. There is coolness in the air, a sense of being on the cusp of change.

Autumn is here. You start to notice that the grass is browning beneath your feet and some of the leaves on the trees you just walked past are dying. The night seems to be creeping in sooner then it had before and your senses tell you that its going to be lasting longer from now on. You wrap your cloak around yourselves more tightly as the chill of the evening air has found its way to your skin.

Returning in to the wood to take refuge from the ever-chilling wind you sit beneath a large tree. Looking up you gaze into its changing foliage. Still mostly green, but you see many hints of brown, orange and yellow. Suddenly the tree seems to let go of one of the brown leaves and you watch it tumble through the air and land on the ground before you. Only to be gathered up by the invisible wind a swept out into the meadow.

Autumn is here.

Sometimes autumn seems the hardest season of all. A season of change. A season to take stock of our own personal harvests, and release the things we cannot keep.

These things that we give up… that we let go of… these things that die in the autumns of our lives… are never really dead. They are within us. They are a part of us. They are us – for we are not the same people we were before their coming.

Now is the time to rejoice in the gifts you have been given, and free them to return to their Source with your love and gratitude. Let them ride into the meadow on the backs of the falling leaves…

When you are ready take one long cleansing deep breath and open your eyes.

September Esbat

Wow, the year continues to just fly by! I can't believe we're almost to the middle of September. Last night the Harvest Moon rose to her zenith and we celebrated her, and performed a house cleansing/blessing for one of our coven sisters last night. The picture here, is of our altar, with Lucky, the requisite (and outgoing) black cat! One of the most interesting things about last nights ritual and house blessing is that Eggy Sue came out to play after the house blessing. I haven't been able to pet Eggy Sue since Aislin moved into her apartment. When people come over, Eggy Sue usually hides under the couch. After the ritual, she came out, let me pet her, and even rolled around on her back. She sat at the back door, watching us, too. It's nice to see results, especially when they are practically instant.

Witches Day Out at LACMA

Sunday, September 04, 2011
This afternoon, we met and visited the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA. The exhibit included, not only artwork and early sketches, but also props from the films, a pretty cool black lit area, and more. We then had a late lunch at Swingers in West Hollywood, which has a GREAT selection of vegan and vegetarian food. Coming home, Ben (my hubby) and I saw a pretty rainbow in the sky! A great witches day out! :)

August Meeting

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Last weekend, we had our August meeting. We discussed upcoming events for next month- September esbat, Mabon and Pagan Pride Day, as well as other coven business. Rayne presented her Magickal Maintenance: Protection workshop, and Beth led us in a beautiful working for Aislin and myself (Ivy). We may be a hierarchal group, but we are extremely synergetic - each of our sisters has ideas, experience, and intution to contribute. Blessed be!

August's Full Moon

Monday, August 15, 2011
We had a lovely full moon ritual and meditation Saturday night, after catching up for quite awhile. Hope your full moon was as lovely.


Monday, August 08, 2011
This year's Lughnasadh theme was corn: we honored John Barleycorn, told an Native American corn story, did a short working with dried corn, had a lovely guided meditation, and more! We also asked for the gods' blessing of our vegetables, which we then ate as part of our feast. This ritual was open to our family and friends and we thank everyone who came and participated with us!

July Meeting: Healing Class

Monday, July 11, 2011
Our July meeting was this past weekend. The inner court discussed our full moon celebration this week, as well as our open Lughnasadh ritual. Rose, one of our Shadow Sisters joined us for our all-coven meeting: a class on healing. We covered an introduction to energy, chakras and meridians, popular healing modalities, keys to writing successful healing workings, and then I set up the table, and we practiced hands on energy healing.

Next month is Rayne's workshop!

May Full Moon Altar

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Demeter, we praise and honor you!


Monday, May 16, 2011
For Beltane, we had our annual retreat. Due to many different factors, our retreat took place at one of our coven sisters' homes. In addition to our Beltane ritual, we made lotions, learned about astrology, made scrying mirrors, did some witchy shopping, practiced scrying, sung karaoke and had a lot of fun. As always, we ate well, with homemade doughnuts and fruit, yummy sandwiches, fajitas, chili, mini pizzas and more. All in varying shades of vegan-ness. Also, I personally learned that iguana's love vegan cornbread. We had a lot of fun.

Witches Day Out at the Arboretum

For our May all-coven meeting, we visited the LA County Arboretum in Arcadia. The Arboretum is an oasis of trees, beautiful gardens- including rose and herb gardens, and a few gorgeous waterfalls. It also is home to LOTS of peacocks. The peacocks acted as thought hey were used to posing for cameras- spreading their tail feathers and rotating around. If I didn't know better, I'd think they were trained. It was a very beautiful afternoon spent together. Afterwards, we headed over to Barney's Beanery in Pasadena for a few drinks and snacks, while laughing about boys and geography.

Our Membership Process

Saturday, April 16, 2011

We are always accepting petitions for Outer Court membership, though we may not have any positions open.

To join us, you must first meet the following requirements:

1) You must be 18 years of age and older.
2) You must be free of chemical illegal drugs.
3) You must have at least a basic knowledge of Wicca and Witchcraft.
4) You must be of an open mind, kind hearted and unjudgmental. 
5) You must be within driving distance of the LA/NOC area
6) You must be able to attend at least 85% of all meetings, classes, events, rituals and workshops.
7) You must have internet access, for most correspondance will be online. 
8) If you have a mental illness, you need to be on medication.

Joining a coven is a big step and a commitment, and should not be taken lightly. Take some time to think about it, and make sure that it is the path you wish to take.

1) Download the petition, fill it out and send on to barefoot witch @ gmail dot com (eliminate the spaces and the dot should be an actual dot, and all that). Its in Microsoft Word, if you need it in a txt file, email Ivy, and she'll send it to you. 

2) If we believe that you may make a good match with our coven, the High Priestess or officers will ask you some more questions and may schedule a meeting with you. After the initial meet, if you are still interested in our coven you may be invited to join our congregational group the
Shadow Sisters. 

3)  If you will be a good fit with our group, you'll be invited to join our outer court and dedicate to the coven.

4) Outer Court members will be expected to come to open esbats, sabbats, Wicca 101 classes, all coven meetings, and social functions. Outer Court members will not come to inner court meetings, working rituals, closed esbats and some in-coven trainings. Outer Court members will be invited to most camping trips and festivals. Outer Court members are expected to contribute dues (Sliding scale $5-20 a month). Outer Court members will take part in a dedication ritual. Dedication to the coven does not lock one into coven membership in any way, and dedicants are free to leave if they feel the coven is not for them after all. Likewise, the coven is free to release dedicants, if they feel as though the dedicant will not be a good fit.
5) Outer Court members may be invited to join the Inner Court, and if so, will be initiated into the coven, earning the first degree in the Twilight Tradition.

Shadow Sisters

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Because I'm sure the question will come up at some point, I wanted to write a short note about our new congregational group, Shadow Sisters. This very small group of friends and aspirants will be joining us at some gatherings. We will still have our open events for everyone (guys included), but this group will enable us to sustain a close relationship with our aspirants (as well as some of our closest and oldest friends), without the commitment that dedication entails. The coven bylaws have been amended to reflect this group, as well as their place within the coven.

April Meeting

Sunday, April 10, 2011
We got a lot done during last night's meeting, as well as our usual snacking and sipping. 

We secured alternate plans for our Beltane retreat, figured out what we'd do during this retreat (and our Beltane ritual), and discussed plans for an invite-only "congregational" type group- like a casual OUTER outer court. We also approved corrections to the bylaws in order to create this group. After we took care of this business, Beth led her kitchen witchery workshop and we created a face/body scrub, a foot scrub and a body scrub to take home with us. 

Facebook URL Change!

Thursday, March 31, 2011
 You can now find us on facebook with a shorter URL: http://www.facebook.com/twilightmoon coven. Blessed be!

Ostara 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Well, the first day of spring was hailed by a storm in our neck of the woods. Luckily, we didn't get to much of it last night during our ritual. The Spring Equinox can be celebrated with a ritual of balance and rebirth, and the mother showered us with sprinkles last night as we celebrated our rebirthing (which went fabulously with Aislin's meditation). We had our regular post-ritual celebratory potluck of course, and it included a vegan casserole, colcannon, deviled eggs, cheese (both goat and moo) and crackers. It was a really fun night, and I feel blessed to be a part of such a wonderful spiritual family.


Our Coven Symbol: The Fleur de Lis

Thursday, March 10, 2011
When one thinks of Paganism, Wicca and witches, many symbols may easily come to mind. One that may not, is the fleur de lis. The fleur de lis is the symbol that we’ve chosen as our coven symbol. This symbol represents us in many ways. The fleur de lis is sometimes called the flower of life, or the flower of light, and it refers to a lily (or an iris).

We are connected with an ancient time, a time of many gods: the symbol has been found on many ancient pieces of pottery and other artifacts dating back to Mesopotamia

We honor both male and female divinity: The lily is a representation of not only femininity and the goddess, but within the lily, one can also seen a symbol of male divinity, as well.

We honor our sexuality and our bodies: While it may been seen by some religions as a symbol of chastity, in the Greek culture, the lily was seen as an erotic flower. It’s also known as a symbol of birth, and motherhood- It’s said that Hera’s milk, while suckling Hercules, overflowed, creating the Milky Way in the heavens, and the white lily here on earth.

We may be different from one another, but we are all beautiful, and are all connected by common threads: Lilies come in all shapes, colors and sizes, but they are all lilies, and are all beautiful.

Call and Response for Ostara

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

This is a call and response reading that I wrote, adjusted for a six person group, but could be done as a solitary, as well!

Reader 1: Seeds of spring ride on winter winds,
We circle round with kith and kin

ALL: We celebrate the renewal of the earth (R1 lights R2s candle)

Reader 2: Butterflies flit from flower to flower
The Mother has refreshed her power

ALL: We celebrate the renewal of the earth (R2 lights R3s candle with hers)
Reader 3: Posies bloom from buds unseen
To hearken forth the flower queen

ALL: We celebrate the renewal of the earth (R3 lights R4s candle with hers)

Reader 4: Rays from God upon our face,
They hold us in their deep embrace

ALL: We celebrate the renewal of the earth (R4 lights R5s candle with hers)

Reader 5: Birds chatter up in branches high,
Sharp and sweet, we hear their cry

ALL: We celebrate the renewal of the earth (R5 lights R6s candle with hers)

Reader 6: We soon look forward to longer days,
Mirroring the ancient ways

ALL: We celebrate the renewal of the earth (R6 relights R1s candle with hers)

Reader 1: While day and night are of equal length
May the Goddess bless us with her strength

ALL: We celebrate the renewal of the earth! (R1 lights central candle)

Roasted Red Potatoes

Wednesday, February 09, 2011
I made this recipe for Imbolc, instead of potato soup, as Aislin was making vegan beef stew. They turned out rather well.

Roasted Red Potatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover a baking sheet with aluminun foil.
9 red potatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons (to taste) minced garlic (mine is in a jar)
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (I used 4 long fresh sprigs, minced)
4 tablespoons olive oil

Wash red potates and cut them into quarters. I ended up cutting the larger quarters in half to make smaller pieces. Place potatoes in bowl and add everything else. Toss in the bowl until everything is coated evenly. Lay out on the baking sheet and put into the oven for 35 minutes.

Imbolc 2011

Monday, February 07, 2011
We certainly had an action –packed Imbolc weekend.

Friday night, we got together at Chelsea’s and Jase from Night and Day Massage Arts came out and we had an evening of massage. Chelsea had transformed her living room into a relaxing candlelit temple. While Jase massaged each of us, the rest of us sat on the back patio and talked, and ate the myriad of munchies that we all brought. It was a very goddessy night, and a great prelude to our Imbolc celebration the following evening.

Saturday evening came, and Imbolc was upon us. Our ritual focused on Brighid and Diancecht, and wells of healing and light. This was also the first time we’ve honored the goddess we’ve chosen to focus on for the year, Artemis. Everyone contributed to a beautiful ritual. Our feast included vegan beef stew, roasted red potatoes and a phyllo and seitan dish. Dessert was Greek honey cakes, and strewsal doughnuts. As the night grew deeper, we dissolved into noisy giggles and the fun continued into early morning, as it is wont to do when we get together.

Our next event is our open event, Night of a Thousand Goddesses on 2/19. All information is found on our events page, and address information will be sent to those who RSVP yes.

2011 Outer Court

Monday, January 17, 2011
This Spring, the Coven of the Twilight Moon will be opening our outer court to a few new members. If you are interested in being part of our coven family, feel free to fill out our petition here and send it to us. The cut-off date for petitions will be March first.