Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Litha Service

I’ve grown tired, after several years, of referring to my Witchlings as such instead of by a name so from now on I will use the following names for them.  Lugh is my oldest and Loki is my youngest.  For anyone who’s missed it Odin is my husband.  Lugh’s preschool was really good at accommodating the fact that they had a nontraditional student and they didn’t make him feel left out during the holidays.  His elementary school is a different story all together.  It’s a public school but instead of a winter party or just general holiday party they do full out Christmas from mid-November until winter break.  There were tons of Christian activities that we didn’t want our son participating in.  We have enough trouble with his grandparents confusing him he doesn’t need bombarded with more conflicting information.  I knew that, for the first time, they were making him feel different and weird.  They made him feel like there was something wrong with HIM.  I could tell he needed a sense of Pagan community but didn’t have a way to offer it to him at the time. 

Many of you will know that I’ve recently had the opportunity to start going back to the U.U. that is closest to me.  Our U.U. has a very high percentage of folks who identify as Pagan.  This past Sunday Lugh and I attended the Litha service.  The flower communion service began to give him a feeling of belonging but the Litha service was invaluable to him.  When everyone in the room echoed “Blessed Be” Lugh lit up and turned to me.  “Mommy, that’s the thing we say,” he beamed.  Even though I told him that there would be other Pagans there that was what made it click for him that he wasn’t alone.  He finally felt that sense of community that he needed.  He wants to keep going to the Sunday services and he’s told me that he wants to go along to drumming circles as well.

The Litha service was wonderful.  A circle of candles was lit.  Offerings where left for the fae.   We colored mandalas.  All of which Lugh dug.   Lugh also discovered that he likes Enya.  The service reminded me to let the energy of the sun burn away all of the unwanted energies in my life.

I hope that we’ll be able to keep going both for him and myself.  Odin has a job interview today and if he is successful it will make it hard if not impossible to keep going.  It may be possible for me to take Odin to work so that I’ll have the car but I would need my mother to watch Loki while Lugh and I go.  That could prove difficult.  Loki is just too young and squirmy to go.  They welcome children of all ages there but to keep Loki out of trouble I’d have to watch him in the children’s area which would mean Lugh and I would essentially be there but still miss the service.  Hopefully the gods will help us make it all work out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Drunken Drummer

Last night I went to a dinner and drumming circle at the U.U.  I was expecting a night of raising powerful healing energy, but the whole night became tainted.  I knew from the Sunday service that there was dissension amongst the ranks but I didn’t know it would erupt last night.    I don’t know the whole history or the whole story at all.  What I did see last night was someone drunk and inappropriate and someone else calling him on it.  Now both parties were in the wrong the one confronting the drunk should not have made a spectacle of the situation especially in front of someone newer to the congregation.  The thing was though that the confronter had valid points to the extent that I had to work to hold my tongue.  A large part of the problem was that apparently the U.U. has a rule that permits having one glass of wine at functions.  A person there kept refilling his glass while making fun of the rule saying, “I’ve only had one GLASS.”  The thing is he was loud and making inappropriate jokes and clearly over the legal limit to drive.  It was the over the legal limit part that I really wanted to jump in on.  I even contemplated watching which car he got into and then calling the police to report a drunk driver but I had to leave before he did so that wasn’t an option.

I had thought about taking my oldest to the drumming circle but decided I would go to one by myself first to feel out if others brought their children.  There were indeed two children there to witness all of this and I was so glad that I had not brought my son.  I will take him to the next one but only because I know this can’t happen again because it was the drinker’s last time at the U.U., he’s apparently moving to Idaho.  I was so disgusted at the situation that I actually got up got my purse got my keys out and thought about just leaving before the drumming had even started.  At this one of the members started unpacking the drums and said to the two men, “I’m starting the drumming to cover over this.”  Another member came over to me and apologized for their behavior and assured me that this was not typical behavior. 

We drummed and though the drumming itself was wonderful it couldn’t clear the cloud that hung over the night.  

Monday, June 15, 2015


We’ve started a new non-spiritual tradition in our house.  Every weekend we watch a scary movie with our oldest Witchlings.  He’s six and as is typical of his age he wanted to start watching scary movies.  About three weeks ago we watched the movie Ouija.  Since then he has been persistently pestering me to use our Ouija board.  I have mixed feelings on this.  I don’t believe that the Ouija board is a “door to Hell” probably because I don’t even believe in Hell.  But I don’t believe it’s a door to the spirits either.  I believe it is a way to communicate with our unconscious mind.  The Smithsonian has an excellent article on the history of the Ouija board that you can read here http://confessionsfemdm.blogspot.com/2015/06/demonic-dm.html

At one point in time it was common place for people to use talking boards on a regular basis.  They were quite ubiquitous and popular among even Christians because in those days they believed that it didn’t go against the Bible’s teachings.  The board road the Spiritualism movement to great fame and they were so common place that even Norman Rockwell did a painting featuring an Ouija board for the Saturday Evening Post.  They were seen as positive tools to make connections with those on the other side.  The Ouija board was really a symbol of hope up until the movie The Exorcist appeared in theaters.

After this pivotal point the reputation of the Ouija board made a radical turn.  The movie scared the pants off of people and transformed what was a wholesome family activity into a “tool of the Devil.”  Suddenly churches that once condoned the use of Ouija boards now condemned them.  Overnight the Ouija board went from friend to foe.

I don’t believe there’s any harm that will come to my son if I let him use the Ouija board since I don’t believe it is a tool to commune with spirits, good or bad.  What I worry about are the social implications.  He’s on summer vacation right now but what if when he goes back to school he tells other kids or the teacher that he’s played with an Ouija board?  He already has to deal with being the only Pagan there I don’t think he needs anything else to make him different.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

To the U.U.

I haven’t written in a while and I’d really like to get back to writing on a regular basis.  My goal will be to try to write at least one new post a week.

Yesterday I took my oldest Witchling to the U.U.  It was his first time there and my first time back there in quite a while.  I’ve been wanting to go regularly but it isn’t close and I just haven’t had a way there until now.  It was my first opportunity to go back and it was flower communion which I felt would be a good intro for my son.  I told him that there would be other folks there like us, Pagans, and the idea thrilled him.  He’s six.  Over the last year and a half I’ve seen a real need in him for community.  We tell him there are others like us but I’ve known for a while that he needs to SEE others like us.  Our U.U. has quite a fair amount of Pagans who attend it and they had a group dedicated just to the Pagans who attended.  Unfortunately the group has kind of dissolved because they couldn’t get a cohesive schedule but many of the members still attend the Sunday services of the U.U. 

Even if everyone there isn’t Pagan the U.U. ideals and practices are very much in line with our beliefs.  I wasn’t sure how he would do, my children aren’t ones for sitting still for long periods of time but he impressed me.  He didn’t sit still the whole time and he wasn’t silent but he was surprisingly respectful for having never been in a situation like this before.  If he got up to change positions he did so quietly.  Throughout the service he asked me questions but he had the good sense to whisper them quietly to me.  There were times during the service where I thought we’d lose him but he stayed engaged.  I thought we might lose him during the songs because he can’t read well enough yet to follow along but I held the hymnal so he could see and pointed to each word as we sang it.  He couldn’t sing along but he kind of hummed along.

After the service was over I asked him if he liked it and his answer was yes and he immediately asked if he could come back again.  I won’t be taking him next week as the service will be a video of the service being held in Pittsburgh.  I don’t think he’ll be able to stay engaged watching a tv screen or else I would take him.  The week after the service is for the summer solstice and I’ve promised him that he will go back for that one.  I don’t think I’ll take him with me every Sunday but I’ll pick the services that I think he’ll be the most engaged in and take him to those.  I don’t want this to be something he has to do.  I want it to be a choice he makes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I’m not sure why but I’m particularly looking forward to Beltane this year.  Normally it’s a bittersweet sabbat for me as it also happens to be my birthday and I struggle against getting older.  That’s a topic for another blog post though.  This year I’m really looking forward to it and I think it’s because my Witchlings are really psyched about it this year.  Normally our Beltane activities take a backseat to my birthday because we have my non-pagan family over, which makes it kind of hard to celebrate.

This year things will be different because the Witchlings want a bigger Beltane celebration.  I think this is partly because I do what is basically a home Sunday school for them and our topic lately has been the eight sabbats.  For their age group (three and six) I focus more on the faery aspect than the fertility aspect but I do delicately include both.  When I talk about fertility with them we discuss the fertile earth and growing things.   I do not take the view expressed in the book Celebrating the Great Mother A Handbook of Earth Honoring Activities for Parents and Children.  In fact I don’t recommend the book at all.  I’ve seen it recommended all over the web, which is why I bought it.  I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to find that the Beltane section revolved around sex.  Now I believe in having open dialogues with children but my children at three and six are not ready to discuss sex and until they are I’m not going to push the topic on them.  If you feel as I do then I recommend the book Circle Round Raising Children in Goddess Traditions.  The explanation of Beltane given there suits the way I discuss things with my children much more eloquently.  As part of celebrating the fertility of Beltane we’ll be making a trip to the greenhouse and picking something to bring home and plant.

We’ve also talked about different kinds of fae that they may see and if the weather is good we’ll go to the park for them to do some faery watching.  Every year we leave an offering for the fae, in years past it’s been an offering of milk in the garden.  This year our six-year-old wants to make my birthday cake and leave some of it for the faeries.  I’m glad he’s getting involved and wanting to enrich our traditions.  There aren’t many GOOD books on the fae; the best one I can recommend for you to share with your children is The Faery Garden by Beatrice Phillpotts.  It is intended for adults but there are stories about faeries you can share with your children and instructions for planting your own faery garden which children love being involved in.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tarot Lesson 6

Now we get down to what you’re really here for, reading the cards.  You’ve done all your homework and you’ve set the mood.  The first thing you’ll need to do is decide what layout or spread you want to use.  You’ll find spreads in the pamphlet that came with your deck.  If you visit my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ravenrin, and go to photos, albums, tarot, you’ll find an album with several different spreads.  You can also type the words “tarot card spreads” into a Google image search.  Find one that speaks to you.  I learn new spreads by using note cards.  I turn them the same direction as the tarot cards and write on the bottom what that position means.  I then lay out the note cards and then lay out the tarot cards over the note cards for easy reference.

Before I begin a reading I do the following chant by Eliza Fegley while holding the cards in my hands.   You can choose any sort of blessing or chant you like.  It’s important to do something like this, it serves as a trigger for your abilities and it lets Spirit know you are open to receive messages.

Cards of Fortune.
Visions past and
Sights of future.
Guide my thoughts
Upon this night
And show the pathway
Clear and bright.

Second I shuffle the cards and then I deal them out.  This is a little different from the norm because I do most of my readings by phone or online.  If you are reading in person many readers have the client handle the deck in some way.  Some have them shuffle the deck, some just have them “knock” on the deck, and many have them cut the deck before they lay out the spread.  The choice is yours.

When reading the cards you don’t want to simply recite the cards’ meanings.  Tell a story with the cards and don’t be afraid to let your own natural abilities fill in any blanks.  When starting out do readings for friends and family.  You’ll find more people than you think who will want a free reading to let you hone your skills.  I think the most important thing that you and your clients need to understand is that what you see in the cards is not absolute.  The tarot merely tells you what the most likely outcome is if you maintain you current course of action or inaction.  We have the power to change the outcome by making choices. 

Idealy you won’t schedule your readings back to back, though that isn’t always the case.  After I read for someone I perform some deck maintenance by cleansing the cards.  Also I like to ground my energy.  You can do this by touching the ground with the palms of your hands or I release the energy through my feet touching the ground.

How often should you read for a person?  There are differing theories here.  Psychic hotlines will encourage folks to get readings as often as they can.  Even daily.  In my opinion this is not a healthy practice.  My rule is once a month.  If someone is working through a difficult time or a crisis I might say once a week max.

Keep a journal of your readings as I outlined in lesson 1.  When you look back on it you may find that you read better during a certain time of day, during certain weather, in a certain emotional state, or during a certain moon phase.

My last recommendation when learning the tarot is to do a daily draw for yourself.  Make it part of your morning routine and then look for that energy during your day.

With practice reading tarot cards can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Tarot Lesson 5

This lesson is about getting ready to do readings. 

We’ll begin with what I call deck maintenance.  The first thing you want to do is cleanse your cards.  There are many different ways to do this, I will cover my preferred method which is to smudge them.  Light some white sage, either loose leaves or a bundle, and pass the cards a few times through the smoke.  Do this until you feel their energy is clean.  The next part of deck maintenance is to charge your deck.  This is optional but I recommend it.  Again there are countless ways to do this so I’ll just touch on a couple.  The first is to set the cards in the full moon light.  Another is to ground and center, holding the deck to your heart chakra imbue it with your intent.  Lastly, deck maintenance extends to how you store your cards.  I store mine in a wooden box, purchased at a craft store, that I painted.  In the box with my cards I keep a piece of smoky quartz and a piece of Apache tear to keep the deck’s energy clear.  You can store yours in a box or more traditionally in a cloth bag, either is fine.  Just make sure to store them in a safe dry place.  Treat them with respect.  Deck maintenance is something you will need to keep up with for your cards to work properly.

I’ll note here that there is a myth that your tarot cards must be given to you as a gift and you can’t purchase them on your own.  It is just that, a myth.  For more on this topic and how to choose a deck for yourself visit my post on the subject at http://ravenrinspagannest.blogspot.com/2014/09/tarot-gifting-myth.html.

Now let’s set the mood.  I think the most important thing is not to go overboard.  You don’t want your client to be distracted by an overwhelming d├ęcor and not be able to focus on what they are there for, your reading.  You should do your readings in a quiet, comfortable, safe space.  Setting the mood means different things to different people so try different things.  Keep what enhances your readings and leave out everything else. 

Some ways to set the mood…
Music (played low)
Incense or sage
Dimmed lighting

You may have a certain style of clothing you like to wear or maybe a perfume.  When it comes to smells (incense, sage, perfume) remember less is more and there are people that are allergic to such things.  Honestly you can read tarot just about anywhere but you may find that certain mood enhancers also enhance your readings.

When you are ready, move on to lesson 6.