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November 2014

November 2014 moon events include a Full Moon on November 6. Enjoy the cooler temperatures by gathering outdoors with family and friends for a bonfire or a night time walk on the beach. If you’ve never seen the full moon rising on the beaches of Florida, you’re in for a treat! The New Moon occurs on November 22, after which we begin looking forward to even more gatherings to celebrate Thanksgiving, on November 27. Thanksgiving is often celebrated with turkey, mashed potatoes and football, but that’s certainly not the only way to observe the holiday. It’s important for adults and children alike to learn that people all over the world have much to be thankful for. On November 16 1995, the United Nations agency UNESCO launched International Day for Tolerance. UNESCO quotes

“ Education for tolerance should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and should help young people develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning. The diversity of our world’s many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities is not a pretext for conflict, but is a treasure that enriches us all. “

This year, ask your friends and family attending a gathering to contribute a dish or a story that reflects the cultural history of themselves, a spouse or a parent. The greatest thing to be thankful for is not just an abundant feast, but to live in a time where you can celebrate with a kaleidoscope of cultures around one table.
Blessed be!

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October 2014

October’s Full Moon arrives early in the month, on October 8th. There will be a full lunar eclipse on this evening, partially visible here in Florida as the Moon is setting to the West. On this evening, the Jewish  festival of  Sukkot will begin. During this week long observance, a temporary shelter called a Sukkah is erected for eating, praying and sometimes sleeping in. This is a great time for all to reflect on structures and patterns in your life that have served you for a short time, and can be cleared away now, to make our work more fruitful.

The New Moon falls on October 23, the same day the Sun enters the astrological sign of Scorpio. Leading up to the time of year where Samhain is observed, a time of honoring ancestors, it brings to mind the story of the Scorpion Men in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The heroic Gilgamesh convinced the Scorpion Men to let him pass the guarded gates of the Netherworlds in search of his ancestor. Reach out to your ancestors by creating an altar or a shrine with photos of loved ones past or decorate it with things that remind you of them. Keep your ancestral connection strong and alive.

To balance out the lunar eclipse at the beginning of the month, a partial solar eclipse will visible in North America on the day of October 23rd. This is when the Sun can cast a shadow on your inner most self. Take care of unfinished business as you move into the dark time of the year, when you can now focus on yourself, family, hearth and home.

Blessed Be!

September 2014

September is upon us now and with it the traditional harvest season. The full Harvest Moon falls on September 9th. On this day in China and in many other places in Asia, The Mid-Autumn Festivals begin. Celebrations and traditions vary, but the commonality is the making and sharing of specially made mooncakes and gazing at the moon.

The fall equinox occurs on September 23rd, heralding the beginning of Fall. Ancient agricultural societies marked this event with solemn rituals. Harvest rituals are one of the oldest forms of religious ritual. We can still see the agriculture deities that were honored today, like in Greece,  where Demeter was depicted on a frieze in the Parthenon. In Egypt, colorful images of Osiris are preserved in tombs and a hymn to Tammuz can be found recorded in cuneiform, the oldest writing script in the world. The New Moon follows on September 24th. At this time of turning inward, reflect on not only the harvest, but the things that continually need tending in your life. After the sun sets on this day, The Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah will be observed. This is also a time of self-reflection and renewal.

One of the benefits of modern technology is the ability to virtually travel around the world, to literally zoom to someones door step and see how they live and celebrate the change of season or religious holidays. The ability to reconnect with traditions from the lands of your forebearers or to discover a tradition that resonates deeply with you is indeed a harvest. We can reap the benefits of the technology that  has become very much a part of modern life.

Blessed Be!

Lammas 2014

Summer marches on! On August 1, Lammas or First Harvest is celebrated by many. We stand now preparing to harvest what we’ve worked so hard on all year and reflect on the sacrifices we made to get there. Share these experiences, as you would a harvest feast. This is the time of year where children are preparing to return to school and you can build on that theme by teaching what you have learned to others. Gather with your friends and have a home workshop featuring a favorite hobby or share it at larger venue. The social experience can be the greatest reward.

We’ll see the Full Moon Grain Moon on August 10th. The moon will be in Aquarius and this sign is well known for being visionary and unique. Use this time to launch something artistic, a creation of your deepest ambitions. Surpass your fear of doing something bold and new by using the strength of Leo, as the Sun continues in this sign until August 22nd. This full moon is followed quickly by the Perseids meteor showers that will peak between the 10th and the 13th. Go outside at night to enjoy the beauty and reflect on the connection between the earth and sky. The New Moon arrives on August 25th, in the Sign of Virgo. The new moon is the classic time to start a new endeavor, so the highly organized sign of Virgo will work to your benefit, whether you’re sending children off to school or deciding lead a class yourself. Best of Luck in your new ventures and Blessed Be!

June 2014

June, the sixth month of the current Gregorian calendar and the first month of Summer, derives its name from the ancient Roman goddess Juno. June is known as the month that kicks off the summer season, but here in Florida, we are already feeling deep into it. As temperatures soar and the afternoon rains begin, it becomes a time of retreating indoors. Our friends in the northern states found themselves snowbound in such a way last winter. While inside, dedicate some time to crafting and creating, play board games with loved ones. When you spend time outside, take advantage of the sun at it’s height. Celebrate the Summer Solstice on June 21st and capture some solar energy by placing a stone or crystal outside. Visualize it being imbued with positive energy, vitality and healing. Keep it for yourself or give it as a gift. During a gentle rain, channel your childhood and join someone in the rain for a joyous, cleansing dance outdoors. The Full Moon Strong Sun Moon occurs on June 13th. Take advantage of the cooler evening temperatures to walk outside and notice some of the plants that flower after the sun sets, like the night blooming Cereus. This unusual cactus, which is at it peak in June, is often found climbing vine-like around a tree. This month’s new Moon occurs on June 27th in it’s watery home of Cancer. At this time, try to sink into the deeper meaning behind what’s lived on the surface.


Blessed Be!

FPG 2014

 

Florida Pagan Gathering Beltaine 2014: Back to Our Roots was held April 30
– May 4 in Lake Wales, Florida. This year, I had the opportunity to meet
headliner Orion Foxwood. Orion graciously hosted three workshops, ‘The
Witch and the Faery: Alliance of the Unseen’, ‘The Candle and the
Crossroads: Doctoring the Root (Spirit) in American Southern Conjure and
Root-Work’ and ‘Boats of Flesh on a River of Blood: The Roles of Ancestral
Spirits’. During the workshops, he mentioned he was working on a new book
to be published in February 2015 by Weiser Books. “It’s based on my
original teachings and old style witchery”, Orion stated. I was also
interested in how festival headliners decided the workshops they would

present. Orion replied, “I simply asked the spirits. I wanted to give vitality to the theme and tune into the spirit of the gathering”. Orion Foxwood can be heard regularly on the podcasts Conjure Crossroads and Old Style Conjure and for further information on Orion and his publications please visit http://www.orionfoxwood.com/.

The event headliners also included Janet Farrar, Gavin Bone, Aaron Leitch,
Dr. Todd Berntson, Grey Ghosthawk and Fred Wood. The time and travel
involved in coming to share is greatly appreciated and so many people are
wiser and more confident now, thanks to these dedicated teachers. Musical
guests Murphy’s Midnight Rounders provided entertainment with two concerts
and the Shiny Happy People Drum Tribe hosted not just an amazing nightly
drum circle but held multiple workshops. 31 additional workshop presenters were on hand to fill 3 days with diverse lessons, demonstrations and hands-on learning. The traditional maypole event was elevated to the spectacular with Father Skylodge and Sisterhood of the Shield’s performance of the Haka war dance, including 3 young adults who spent the weekend completing a coming of age rite of passage that concluded with a Celebration of the Victorious, where they were presented to the community  as new adults at Saturday evening’s fire circle. Main ritual was presented by Circle of the Sublime Elm of Orlando and Druid Ancient Earth Grove of Eustis, honoring Aine, the Celtic Queen Under the Mound and Aengus mac Og, the Celtic God of Love.
On Friday, a Round Table discussion was held and all in attendance were
invited to speak to recent issues surrounding Florida Pagan Gathering.
Attendees were invited to speak to problems encountered at the festival and
most importantly, a division in the community regarding the presentation of
workshops by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. In response to privacy concerns of
participants, recording of any kind at the event was forbidden. For many,
it was the first opportunity to put a face and voice to the wide array of
comments on social and news media. FPG staff, guests, headliners and organizers (past and present) shared not just their words but their emotions in the 2 hours that followed. Organizers encouraged communicating respectfully and finding clarity in the midst of so many visceral emotions, fear and heartbreak. By coming together to share so deeply with people who for the most part may be strangers, the community has shown a level of caring and a commitment to change that other communities may never experience. A great deal of pride and respect should be taken and given.


Events such as Florida Pagan Gathering are for many the only opportunity they have to network with other pagans and pagan resources. All magic-practicing communities, including the pagan community, have struggled for many years for equality through the legal and social justice system. We have long come together to defend the rights of pagans in the face of injustice and disrespect. The rights afforded to us in at least the last 50 years must continue to be upheld as we reclaim what was once torn down and forbidden.

Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain will be held November 5 – 9. For more
information, please visit http://www.flapagan.org/.
The first day of May is celebrated as a national holiday in many parts of Europe, bringing with it old traditions of May Poles, dancing, music and flowers. Also known as Beltane, it celebrates the themes of fertility and beauty. Have you heard of the lore of rising at dawn on May Day to wash in the morning dew? The man who washed his hands in the dew of May Day gained skill in opening knots and locks, in mending nets and disentangling ropes. The woman who did like-wise could unravel tangled threads with ease. The plainest girl will be beautiful if she rises early on May Day and bathes her face in morning dew at sunrise. May Day is a beautiful day to surprise someone you love with a bouquet of flowers.
Mother’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday May 11th. While Mother’s Day is a 20th century creation, the honoring of motherhood and creation can be traced to ancient Roman festivals celebrating Cybele, Demeter and Lucina. Motherhood has meaning beyond giving birth. Anyone who nurtures, protects and creates embodies the spirit of the mother.
May’s full moon is called the Full Flower Moon and will occur on Wednesday, May 14 in the sign of Scorpio. This can be an emotionally intense combination. We can decide how our emotions will flow in this watery sign. Will we burst like a dam or gently water the things we have planted? Examine how your emotions control your decisions.
This month wraps up with a new moon in Gemini on Wednesday the 28th. This is a sign of communication and intellect. Find someone to share your ideas and ambitions with and create new partnerships using the energy of the Divine Twins.
Blessed Be!
http://www.horizonsmagazine.com/ – Thank You, Andrea!

The Florida Herbal Conference 2014 was held February 28th to March 2nd at YMCA Camp Winona in DeLeon Springs. The beautiful lakeside camp was the perfect setting, under majestic oaks along Lake Winona.  I was so excited to be invited to attend as part of a work exchange program. Numerous classes and workshops were held throughout the weekend and were organized into the themes of Kitchen and Garden, Clinical Practice, Meet the Plants, Herbal Traditions and Mind Body and Spirit.  Keynote speakers David Winston and Susun Weed hosted intensives and brought with them  wisdom of the history of herbal medicine in America and spoke passionately about practice continuing to be unregulated and accessible to all. “Starting in the 1960’s, there were only about 4 books available on practicing herbal medicine”, said Susun Weed. “The many herbal conferences being held  now have sprung from a single one and our dream is that the herbs and plants continue to be the people’s medicine”. Additional activities included the inspiring vocal resonance of The Beautiful Chorus and sacred drumming at the camp fire circle.  The event opened and closed with beautiful and moving ceremonies and vendors were on hand to offer not only their quality wares, but to share even more knowledge. A youth program was made available this year and was well attended. Many attendees took advantage of the spacious camp to pitch a tent a enjoy the experience of camping, cooking dinner outside or joining up for nourishing meals served by 3 Suns Bistro.  I was privileged to make new friends and connections and was pleased to see that many people traveled from out-of-state to attend.  Event organizer Emily Ruff, director of the Florida School of Holistic Living, along with Patty Coulton and Lesley Greene and their knowledgeable staff organized an unforgettable event and I’m looking forward to next year. As Emily likes to say, if anything can go right, it will! For more information visit http://www.holisticlivingschool.org. The 2015 conference will be held February 27th to March 1st. Hope to see you there.

flherbalconference2014 Photo credit: Roger Prince

Church Of Iron Oak, ATC held its 23rd Athame Makers Workshop January 24th to January 26. During this two day workshop, participants are given the rare opportunity to craft an athame, a ritual blade, in sacred space in their choice of ways. Experienced smiths and crafters from Church of Iron Oak and The Guild of Govannan lend their experience to assist in creating a personally designed blade through either forging or casting into a mold. Along with the metal work, many choices of exotic woods are available for handles and a very well equipped workshop never fails to help produce professional looking and very treasured work.

Church of Iron Oak was committed to the smith path from it’s beginning. The Smith Path refers to the principle that each person can reach their goals in life by their attitude and their work. “We were already doing smith rituals and holding workshops to make rituals tools in sacred space”, said Lord Paracelsus, Principle Minister of CIO. “We wanted to teach how to connect with and feel the transformation of spirit”. Over the years, this workshop has drawn participants from across the United States. “It was amazing! Fantastic and transforming”, said Amber Moon of Central Florida Pagans. “Jump on it when it’s available again”.

The workshop opens Friday evening with a ritual called The Opening of the Forge. This ritual is based on an ancient Mesopotamian rite recorded in cuneiform the the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Lead Smith, Second Smith and Forge Smith lead the ritual by consecration of the participants, the recitation of The Making of the Forge from the Library of Ashurbanipal, a reading from the Enuma Elish, the creation story of the succession of the Gods and the Nanurbi, a cleansing of the ground on which the forge stands. As the fire is stoked and ready for forging, attendees begin an ancient fire chant in Babylonian and when the Forge Smith signals the ready, each person steps forward and gets a chance to hammer piece of steel. This popular ritual is attended by both young and old and inspires many to sign up for future workshops.

When the athames are completed, the Smith Gods are thanked for their help. At this time, the tools are consecrated if the intention is for the creator to use it in ritual. A Release of Product ritual is performed if the tool the participant created is intended to be given away. The Release sends it on it’s way with your love and blessing.

The smith path requires humility and will. “Each participant is consecrated with the Blood of the Forge (a tiny bit of coal dust dissolved in olive oil) and is charged to have humility and will before the Gods of the Smith,” said Lady Dragonstaar, HPS and Principal Minister of Church of Iron Oak. “To have will to continue in the face of adversity and humility to recognize when the path has become irrevocably blocked and must find another way. They are further charged to have focus in their work.

“In more than 20 years of workshops, we have never had a student injured in the process of making their athame in spite of handling unfamiliar and dangerous items such as molten metal, high-speed sanders, band saws, and lathes.”.I was honored to have the opportunity to attend in 2013 and forge an athame. If you would like more information on this workshop or any others hosted by Church of Iron Oak, please email scribe@ironoak.org

Ostara 2014

March 2014 begins with a New Moon on March 1st and ends, like January in a very unusual way, with a second New Moon on March 30th. This second New Moon is often referred to as a Black Moon. New Moons are often a time to consider a new work or endeavor but a Black Moon can be a time of divination, introspection and quiet reflection. The Full Sap Moon occurs on March 16th, so named as now the trees, dormant for winter are preparing to blossom. Take some time to imagine that you too are drawing up energy from the Earth, ready to blossom and be beautiful!

In the time in between these New Moons, the Spring Equinox occurs. After this day of equal light and dark, the days will slowly begin to grow longer. The Spring Equinox is often observed as Ostara, in honor of the Germanic goddess Eostre. Ostara is observed with the gathering of flowers and decorating eggs. Carry the traditional symbols of fertility a step further and decorate eggs with more than just color, inscribe them with your wishes and intentions. Bury them in the earth to ‘grow’ your intentions.

Spring in Florida is a time of fun and adventure. Many fairs and festivals are held this month as artisans and vendors escape the still frigid north to enjoy our early spring. additionally, the Pre-Lenten Carnival season is observed here and in many parts of the world. In another occasion of color and joy, on March 17th the Hindu festival Holi will be celebrated.

Welcome to March and go forward into the lighter time of year with the themes of anticipation, color and love.
Blessed Be!