Family Gatherings: How to Cope


…here’s my question.  This Thanksgiving I’ll be required to spend the holiday in the company of conservative Catholic and “born again” in-iaws who are very “in-your-face” with their views.  Is there a prayer or meditation I can do to remain sane and calm in this situation?  Also, is there even a spell to keep them at bay? I’d appreciate any help you could offer.

It’s hard when you have to spend time with people who aren’t as tolerant or respectful of others, particularly at the holidays. Rather than anything magical, my personal tried and true method for dealing with such people, especially when I know it’s not worth engaging them in any sort of discussion about the issue, is to just smile and nod, and then try to steer the conversation to another topic if possible.

It depends to on exactly what sort of things they are saying, but in cases where someone is continually offering prayer or blessings – a simple “thank you” works well. Remember that even if it’s not your faith, the fact that someone cares enough about you to petition their higher power on your behalf should mean something. I realize this is really awkward too, if it’s unwanted and, for some people, it really is a huge issue for them (having unwanted Gods “blessing” them), but sometimes, unless we are willing to make a big deal out of it, it’s easier to just take the words as a sign that they care and let it go. It’s important to note too, that sometimes, people don’t actually realize that they are doing these things. Their religion is such a huge part of their lives that a lot of what they say is simply ingrained habit and not done as a conscious effort to annoy others.

For the more condescending stuff or holier than thou type people, avoiding them as much as possible may be the best option. Of course this may not work if it’s a small gathering, but again, actively looking for ways to change the subject can help. If necessary, spend a little bit of time before the gathering to look up some neutral topics and keep them in reserve for when things get really bad.

In terms of mantras, really anything that is comforting should be fine. It’s hard to give something concrete without knowing more about your practice and beliefs, but would suggest just using a simple “God/Goddess give me strength.” (feel free to state a specific God or Goddess if there is one that you have a relationship with or work with frequently). Alternatively, or in addition to that, you can visualize a shield surrounding yourself which absorbs or reflects unwanted and/or negative comments.

Spellwork is a bit trickier. If you are going to their house or the house of someone who you know would not appreciate you using witchcraft, then I highly suggest avoiding doing anything magical in their house or even directed specifically at them. Obviously, they are being disrespectful to you (and possibly others), but being disrespectful back won’t necessarily make the situation any better. (this of course will depend too on how you feel about performing magic on others without their permission – some don’t do this, others have no issues with it, and for others it’s a mix of the two)

If the gathering is at your house, you could do something directed at having a peaceful day. For something super simple, I’d start by cleansing the area and “sweeping” (visually or actually physically sweeping the house as you go) the house of negative energy. Then visualize the house shielded (similar to personal shielding) from negativity. Alternatively, you can also create a spell directed at yourself for helping to maintain calmness in stressful situations. For something more extensive you can use/modify the following, and particularly if you don’t have a lot of extra time, just visualizing the desired intentions into any food that is made can help make a difference.

PART ONE

Items Needed:

– food item (ideally oil or seasonings or something that you know everyone will eat or that can be mixed into a larger dish) that will be used in the upcoming meal
– container to hold the item

Spell:

– Cast your circle/create sacred space, etc… (or however you normally do your spellwork).
– Take a moment to ground and center yourself.
– When you are ready… place both hands around the container, visualize peace and harmony (or whatever other intentions you want to promote) spreading from you into the food item within. Visualize it permeating the item and visualize those feelings transferring to anyone who consumes it. At the same time, see any negativity being blocked.
– Chant (silently or aloud) three times:

Only peace and harmony will be found
As strife and discord this day are bound
We gather today – joy in our heart
This food we consume must play its part.

– take a few extra moments to continue charging the food with positive energy, then, if you have no other ritual activities, you can banish your circle/end the ritual. Be sure to thank any deities (if called upon) for their assistance.

PART TWO

Items Needed:

– Your blessed food item
– Ingredients for the meal you will be cooking (your choice – as long as the food item you used in the previous step can be mixed in)

Cooking:

– If you are cooking before you guests arrive, you may cast a quick circle around your kitchen area (if you feel called to do so). Sacred Space is always nice and adds to the specialness of the meal. Obviously if you will have other people running in and out of the kitchen (or you are going to be going in and out), then this can be skipped.

– Cook your meal with the food item. Visualize as you mix/prepare it, that the dish is taking on the blessings that you have charged the food item with. See the peace and harmony permeating your meal, see everyone gathered together having a good time.

Serving:

– When serving your meal, take a moment to give thanks for those who are gathered and offer blessings, as appropriate to help continue the positive intentions of the spellwork.

_____________

Hopefully, there is something in here that you find helpful. Here’s wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.

🙂

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Rituals: Thank-you Gifts for Hosts


what does one give to the host of the mabon celebration as a thank you? is there a proper way to say thank you for when one comes to another’s home for rituals?

A lot will depend on how well you know your host/hostess, and of course how much of a budget you have to work with. Additionally, it is important to consider how much effort was involved in hosting the gathering – just a simple hour or two get-together with a plate of cookies, or a full-blown day (or longer) celebration which required extensive planning and/or other costs (monetary or otherwise) provided by those hosting. Though both types of gatherings can be just as meaningful, you don’t want to over or under do it when deciding on an appropriate gift.

With a host that you do not know very well, or if it was an open gathering (more informal) sort of a situation, usually a small gift basket, with some baked goodies or a variety of teas would be appreciated. Even if it ends up being something that they personally can’t use, if they host such things on a regular basis, they will have it for others when necessary. If you know whether or not the person drinks alcohol, maybe even a nice bottle of wine might be appropriate. Decorative items can often be a good choice as well, especially something that symbolizes the theme of the gathering. Another choice would be a potted plant, maybe an herb or other flowering variety that can be used for culinary or witchcrafting purposes.

If you are well acquainted with the host, or know someone who is (and you can ask them for ideas), then you can look for more personalized items. Maybe you know they’ve been looking at a certain statue or ritual tool, or maybe they’ve been in need of extra crafting supplies for spells or other rituals. Particularly if the ritual was fairly involved and required a lot of resources (and you’ve the budget for it), it might be nice to get a gift card to a place that offers a bit of pampering, or just a night out without having to cook, so that the hosts can relax after expending so much time and energy.

In the end, really almost anything will do, if you put thought and careful consideration into it. You don’t want to be too extravagant, but at the same time a gift from the heart will show that you care and that you appreciate the effort they put into giving you a magical night to celebrate the turning of the Wheel.

 

Midsummer/Midwinter Celebrations…


It’s about that time again, and I know many of us are getting ready to celebrate Midsummer (or Midwinter if you are in the Southern Hemisphere), or any number of other holidays that tend to occur around this time of year.

If you have something special planned, we’d love to hear from you – not only what particular holiday you are celebrating, but how you celebrate it, and of course pics are always welcome as well.  In any case, no matter what you are celebrating we hope you have a wonderful holiday!!

Need to know the exact astrological date for the Solstice, check out Archaeoastronomy.com

The Origins of Easter


Something that I’ve noticed at certain times of the year, is the tendency for some Pagans to claim that the Christians stole our holidays. This primarily happens around the Christmas season, but it hops out around Easter as well, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to put a little effort into clearing up some misconceptions that might be floating around.

One thing that I like to point out, is that many of the “Pagan” traditions that have eventually become associated with a particular holiday, are generally due to those Pagans who were converted finding ways to keep some of the comforts of their old practices, while still conforming to their new ones as well.

As to the origins of Easter, the approximate dates for it are actually pretty clearly outlined in the Bible, and it was originally celebrated around the same time as the Jewish passover, as that is when the Crucifixion is said to have taken place. In 325 the Council of Nicea decided on a more precise method of calculation, which in essence combined the two primary methods that were currently in practice at that time – calculating it based on moon phases and having a specific set date. From that point forward, the date of Easter would be on a day following the first full moon, after the Spring Equinox, though it took quite a bit longer for the particular day (Sunday) to be solidified across all communities.

What is important to note, is that although there have been references made to Easter being associated with the Goddess Eostre (primarily due to Bede’s work), it is likely that this may have been an error on his part, or at least not something that had any basis in provable fact. While details are rather sketchy on her existence, it is entirely possible that she was simply associated with the dawn, and new beginnings, rather than Spring itself. Also, historically “Eostre-month” was a month long celebration, rather than any one particular day.

I also find it interesting that in almost all other languages, the term for this particular holiday is Pasha/Paschal (in reference to the Jewish Passover) – even the full moon after the equinox is called the Paschal Moon. So it is only in the English language that there is even any association made to the term Eostre.  All of which makes the argument that Easter is an ancient “spring festival” that has been stolen by “teh ebil Xtians”, a less likely version of what really happened.

additional resource – The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain by Ronald Hutton