ritual

Moon Days

When I went to buy my pocket diary for 2018, I noticed many of them had the first day of the week as Sunday. This was disturbing to me, as I think of Monday as the start of the week and Sunday as the end. When I look at my page a week diary, I like to see what I have planned for my weekdays and weekend in one glance. I don’t want to have to turn a page to see what is happening on Sunday.

As I checked diary after diary I was losing hope that I would find a diary with my preferred formatting. Finally, at the bottom of the pile, I found one! I was so happy – especially as the cover was black. In fact it’s exactly the same brand as my 2017 diary. I’ll have to start looking much earlier for my 2019 diary as it seems I’m not the only one who wants to start their week on Monday.

Starting the week on Monday is more than just a way of staying in tune with the common separation of working and leisure days. Monday is named after the Moon and, as it is lunar cycles that resonate most with me, it seems fitting that I begin my week on the Moon’s Day. I was happy that 2018 began on a Monday as it reconfirmed my lunar commitment. January 1st was also the eve of the Cancerian Full Moon. The monthly lunar cycle is very time specific so you need to make sure you know where the Moon is in your time zone. When I give Moon cycle dates they are for Melbourne, Australia. Having January 1st fall on a Monday and on the eve of a Full Moon is a wonderfully powerful way for me start a new year.

As part of my new year celebrations I am going to try a ritual which I just found out about. I caught up with one of my friends a couple of days ago and she told me she spent New Year’s Eve in a forest with a group of “alternative” friends. 🙂 Sitting by a campfire they introduced her to a ritual called “Rose, Thorn, Bud.” The rose represents what came to fruition in the year just passed, the thorn represents the snags that held us back and the bud symbolises a seed that has been planted and will hopefully bloom in the new year. After telling me her Rose, Thorn and Bud revelations Jenny eagerly asked me what I thought mine were. I thought about it and gave her an answer, but what I was really thinking was that it was a beautiful ritual and I wished I knew about it before New Year’s Eve and not after!

Luckily, living a Pagan life means there are many times of the year when we can celebrate a symbolic New Year’s Eve. The upcoming Capricornian New Moon is one such time. It’s a perfect night to devise your own version of a Rose, Thorn and Bud ritual.

Pagans love ending their rituals with food and drink. I thought I would make it easy by combining the two in a cherry and wine offering. Cherries are part of the Rose family so they are a perfect food to enjoy after a Rose, Thorn and Bud ritual.

Cherries in Red Wine

IMG_5323a

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup red wine (I used Shiraz)
1 cup pitted fresh cherries (about 225g / 8oz)

Instructions
Bring the water and brown sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan.
Add the red wine and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the cherries and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Cover and allow to cool before refrigerating until cold.
Serve in cups so you can drink the wine after you’ve eaten the cherries.

A Breath of Frankincense

I found myself in a catholic church this week and no I didn’t burst into flames!

I did what I always do – fall over the kneeling rail, then sit down and take in my surroundings.

When it comes to religion and spirituality I’m a bit of a Fox Mulder – I Want To Believe. But no matter how many brushes I’ve had with deity, I’m still an agnostic bordering on atheist. Basically I’m a gothic, pagan, agnostic, witch. It’s often a hard road to travel! So I’m always stunned at how I feel when I enter the more pagan of the churches – those that still have pomp and ceremony.

As I looked around I admired the artworks, the statues, the stained glass windows, the architecture and the outfits. When the incense started burning and the smell of frankincense filled the church, I felt a deep sense of peace, of familiarity, of coming home. That smell of frankincense took me back to the churches of my youth. Not catholic ones but orthodox ones.

My earliest memory of going to church was being told that I had to kiss the portraits of the saints as I went in. I couldn’t do it. Not for religious reasons but for cleanliness. I mean how many people had kissed those saints before me? Three planets in fastidious Virgo overruled any fear. I would lean down and pretend to kiss the saints – but my lips never touched the glass!

After braving the gauntlet of glassed saints I would have to endure the boring sermons filled with fear and retribution. I rarely listened to them. I was too busy checking out the really scary elements in the church – the women – or as many of them were whispered to be – witches!! Some of them were clad in spooky all black outfits; their heads covered with black scarves. Others were dressed in normal clothes. They were feared and respected for they could do something that the male priest trying to preach to them couldn’t do. They could cast curses. Throughout the service the thurible would waft the deep, intoxicating smell of frankincense down the aisle and into my soul.

After the service we would mingle outside, trying desperately not to offend the witchy women. It’s what I remember most of those orthodox days; the powerful women and the smell of frankincense.

We stopped going to church as a family early in my youth. The orthodox days were replaced by the catholic years. For some reason many of my school friends were catholics and catholics joined our family. I happily went to all the major celebrations, enduring the sermons by closing my eyes and smelling the frankincense. The catholic years intertwined with the pagan years but those pagan celebrations are a tale for another day.

Now I find myself back in a catholic church. The scent of frankincense fills my senses. I’m dressed in black and have a red shawl draped over my shoulders. Many attending this service know what I am. They know I’m a witch. I’m now one of the women I once feared.

ethiopian coffee

a treat for the senses

coffee & frankincense

a perfect blend of worship – traditional ethiopian coffee served with a side order of frankincense