Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop

I don't know about any of you, but half of my anxiety about blogging, comes from 1) just writing to the general public; 2) Creativity and working through "page-fright" and probably the biggest reason; not getting encouragement, wisdom and empathy from fellow bloggers; even though I'm really fortunate to belong to this blog where each of us are really supportive of each other and our whole process.

Mama Kat has a great blog and I just read today about "The Writer's Workshop" which sounds exactly like what I need and I think many of you out there might benefit as well. Here are the directions for writing and being a member of the workshop and by the way, it's open to everyone...

It’s never to late to jump in!! Here is what you must do:

  • Choose a prompt that inspires you most from the list of prompts I provide each week and think about what you’re going to write.
  • Write.
  • Come back Thursday and paste the URL from the workshop post into the Mister Linky that will be up…this way anyone can click on your name and head over to your place to see what you wrote. Likewise, I encourage you to click on at least the three links above your name so that you can read what other people are writing and learn more about them.

She's a former high-school English teacher so knows of what she speaks. I'd love to see your writing and hopefully you'll be a fellow writer at this workshop.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ain't no Cure for the Summertime Blues

The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder. ~Virginia Woolf~
I used to love Summertime when I was little. The feeling of the hot pavement smarting my feet, walking by houses in the early morning smelling the sweet and fresh perfume of new cut grass, and the freedom of not having to do any homework and playing outside until the sun stayed awake later than usual. That all changed for me when I was eleven years old.

My older brothers, every Summer went to a sleep away camp,
 in this gorgeous area of the local mountains, where they rode horses, had a dance every Saturday night with a vintage jukebox where songs like "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" were played over and over. They formed crushes on girls, that were bittersweet when their time at camp came to an end. I envied them for all the fun they had, but I always went to a day time summer camp that went to the beach every day and I would swim in the ocean pretending I was a mermaid.

On the summer when I turned eleven, it was my turn to go to Calamigos. My brothers were six and eight years older than me, so their time at camp was over, they had moved on. I was terrified at first at the thought of sleeping away from home and being away from my pets, (notice I didn't say my parents), but I had no choice. I ended up having the best time and not wanting to come home. I too, formed my own crushes and loved having the reputation of being Eric and Tony's little sister to the counselors who knew them. I rode horses until I was so sore, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. Camp became my new paradise. There was a parent's visiting day for the campers each summer session and my parents would always show up first for my brother's than it was my turn to see them. The visit was fun as I showed them around the camp even though they had seen it so many times between my brother's parents day and now me.

On the day that I came home, I was overwhelmed with this sadness that I had to say goodbye to my new family, I had made at camp. In the car going home, the first thing my mother said to me, after she briefly asked me how I enjoyed camp, was "You know how sometimes parents don't get along, like Gina's parents?" Gina was a a girl I went to school with who's parents were going through a "separation" which eventually lead to divorce. Back then, divorce wasn't as common as it is now and we were all shocked at the thought of a marriage breaking up. "The Brady Bunch" or the "The Partridge Family" may have been the ideal model of a blended family, but I knew those were just television shows and no way would that ever happen to my family.

My heart started hurting, my heart started racing so hard and I became immediately nauseous because I just knew what my mom was going to say next. "Well, your father and I haven't gotten along for a long time and he's moved out of the house." Just like that! Like many families, we were a family of secrets and never spoke about things that were unpleasant or disturbing. We looked like the ideal happy family from the outside with the desired two boys and a girl, dogs and cats and a literal white picket fence surrounding our front yard.

I came home and everything that was familiar and comforting was gone. I had stepped into a new book, where I didn't know any of the characters and I was lost like Alice. My family would never be all together in the same room or event. What a nightmare. It was after that, I never trusted Summertime again as being idyllic. It's interesting how trauma lays deep within our psyche and body, just waiting for the right trigger and jump out at us like a Jack in the Box even though intellectually we think we may be prepared.

Why I'm talking about this, is because Litha/Summer Solstice just happened and every year it fills me with the same dread of remembering that Summer. I've worked through a lot of the emotional issues through therapy, journaling, group counseling etc...but I never can quite end the pain. Summer is pushed by the popular media as being the time to go out there, have some fun, go on vacation and act like there's no tomorrow. And I have had many fun Summers since I was eleven. I wonder though if people really knew the lore and mythology of the Oak King and the Holly King fighting over the love of the Goddess, would they be all smiling shiny-happy people? Our ancestors knew that soon it would be time, to gather the harvest and prepare for the Fall and Winter when food would be more scarce and the light of day would be filled with a darkness. Imagine the energy of the Oak King, being like Robin Hood, the Green Man. Full of youthful energy, virile, strong and gleaming.

Then there's the Holly King, Saturn-like, older, wise, more stern and melancholy. We have this picture of the Holly King today as being more like Santa Claus than when he first arrived on the scene. But, it defeats the purpose of denying what he really stands for symbolically and externally. Mary on her blog "Avalon Revisited" wrote a wonderful post about the Holly and the Oak king that I urge you to check out so you can learn more about who they are and their story.

I've learned to accept the duality of myself with the youthful Oak King and how he serves to teach me of how joyful Summer can be despite the past. If I don't honor him, I stay stuck in sorrow and pain. And then the Oak King reminds me, that we must all descend into our own darkness for insight and wisdom. The trick is to live in the present, knowing that the cycle of life has to include a death for rebirth. The Holly King in the image above tenderly holds the new baby, the Oak King when he hasn't grown old enough to engage in battle for the Goddess. Our feminine energy that loves both and is receptive to the offerings they bring her.

I need to find some type of ritual to "hold the tensions of the opposites" as the great Dr. Carl Jung said. Do any of you have ideas about how I can do this? A ritual for letting go and still remaining open to the joy that can happen? I don't want to stay stuck in the past unable to move forward because of sorrow. I would really appreciate hearing your experiences and possible ideas for me. Thank you.

When the heart grieves for what is lost, the spirit rejoices over what is left" ~~ Sufi Epigram

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Quiet Celebration

Monday morning I arose early as I usually do. Just a bit before daybreak. The sun had just started to rise and the twilight before was still present. As the sun slowly made it way to break the horizon, the soft pink hue caused by the few clouds that lingered in the sky began to replace the present twilight. A stillness could be felt as I sat on the steps of my back porch, stroking one of my many cats who seemed to be glad just for the presence of human contact.

Midsummer was finally here. The Summer Solstice had begun. I knew it would be a day filled with sunshine for a longer period than any other day of the year. The peak of the year had been reached and after today the decent into the darkness would begin. I found it funny that we seldom think of the first day of summer in such a sense. The sun shines brightly and the days continue to run long even though a few minutes are shaved from its possession each day. When the time comes that we finally do realize the shortness of the sun’s presence we wonder where the time has gone and why we did not realize it sooner.

Yet for many we look at the days preceding Midsummer as the ones of light. For we know that it is the peak and there is no place left to go but down. Many gather on Midsummer’s eve to say their farewells to the Oak King who represents the waxing year; and welcome the Holly King which represents the waning year. Certain plants are gathered on this night by the light of the moon above, as they are believed to harbor magical healing powers at this time. Midsummer is also an opportune time to experience the fae. It is at this time that the Feast of the Fairies Festival takes place. It is a day when the portals between the two worlds are open and the fairy folk walk among us. Whoever welcomes them and shows them kindness,  the fae in return will bless with wisdom and joy.

Hugh bonfires are built and burnt as a means to protect those who have joined to welcome the dawn and the Summer Solstice. It is believed that spirits, especially those who are evil, roam freely as the sun turns itself towards the south once more. The bonfires are a means of discouraging them from coming into the midst of the celebration. This is a good time for magic and purification rites as energies are strong.

I have always dreamed of being on the great mound at Stonehenge as Midsummer begins. To be among the many who gather to greet the dawn. At this time observers are allowed to approach the great stones. I have heard accounts of the electric energy which flows from them and would love the opportunity to experience its strength. A trip to the Glastonbury Festival which is held each year around the Solstice would also be a treat. Maybe someday.

As for this year, my celebration was a quiet one. A treat for the fairies was placed out under the elm in its usual place on Midsummer’s Eve. A few choice herbs were gathered as the sun set and the light of the moon could be seen. The next morning was one of silent meditation by me and the cat I previously mentioned. Together we welcomed the sun to frolic in its glory. We welcomed the Summer Solstice much like a cat and an older woman would; in silence, with a plate of milk and a stout cup of coffee.

As Summer spirals its longest dance,
May we be cleansed.
As nature shows bounty and beauty, m
May we be blessed.
Blessed Midsummer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wishing all of you an Enchanted Midsummer's Night Dream!

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
~A Midsummer Night's Dream; William Shakespeare~

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Godess & God given names

I think we all hope that we will receive a special name from the goddess or god  and sooner rather than later. And it is a special moment when it happens. I certainly tried to push it & contrived to use one name or another but they weren't mine & I knew it. When the lady gave me mine I was sitting in bed doodling and making sigils &just like that, the name just popped into my head & I knew that I had been given my name. It is a pretty, two syllable name that only she & I know, oh & the god, too. I had meditated & burned incense & asked & probably whined a bit, too but when I wasn't really even thinking about it, bingo! I had my  name. It also has absolutely nothing to do with my magic or the spells I do or the gods & goddess' I worship, either. It is not even a name I would have picked, but that's okay because I wasn't supposed to pick it myself anyway. It was a gift from my goddess & god.  It will happen to you, too. The goddess & god are probably waiting for just the right one that suits you & only you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Replies to Questions

Vintage Witch Fortune Teller 

Hi everyone, I thought that instead of people going through the comments and then looking for the questions and comments we reply too, I would start this post. My eWitch sisters will put their answers in this post as well and we keep going. You can just keep posting comments and we'll respond to this post. I hope that makes sense, sometimes my brain goes faster than my thoughts, or is it the other way around? hmmmm....Anyway, first question

Sherry aka AutumnTurtle said...
I have a small apartment, I have a two teired desk in my bedroom I want to make into an altar, maybe seasonal on top and everyday on the main level, any suggestions would be great. My cats love to eat my plants and flowers so I have to go with pictures I need help to make this a usable area.

Sherry, I have two very mischievous and inquisitive cats myself, so I totally understand what you're asking. First I have different altars around my place, some that aren't accessible to my cats. But I also have a huge altar dedicated to Bastet the Ancient Egyptian Goddess who is a protector of Cats and Women. On this altar, I have a catnip plant and one of those little pots of cat greens they love to chew on. I ask Bastet For her protection for my cats every day. I have other unbreakable small cat figurines and actually some of Bella and Sele's toys. Maybe you might want to create one altar for them and yourself this way. 
"People that hate cats will come back as rats in their next life." ~Anonymous~

Vienne said...
I have a practice which stretches back for many years. In that time, I feel I have been "adopted" by two deities, Bast and Thoth but I have never been shown my god-name, or at any rate meditation has never revealed it to me. Have you any recommendations for discovering same?
Vienne, are you asking about a magickal name you use for your spiritual path or are you asking about which specific deity has "adopted" you. When I get a little more information from you, I can try and help you with what you want to know. As far as Bast and Thoth being two of your "patrons/parents", wow! You couldn't have asked for amazing deities to adopt you. Esp. Bast, who has also "adopted" me, I really like your choice of how you connect with them : ) "People that hate cats will come back as rats in their next life." ~Anonymous~ Wendy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ask eWitch!

It's 'Ask eWitch' week here on the blog! New to your path? Have a question about Wicca? About Paganism? About life and general? Need suggestions for setting up your Altar, or a good recipe for honey cakes? Listen, we don't have all the answers, believe me, but we may be able to point you in the right direction! So leave your questions, great and small, in the comments, and someone from eWitch will seek out the answer!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Healing the Waters and Saving the Whales

Humpback Whale
 "Farewell to Tarwathie" by George Scroggie

Farewell to Tarwathie
Adieu Mormond Hill
And the dear land of Crimmond
I bid you farewell
I'm bound off for Greenland
And ready to sail
In hopes to find riches
In hunting the whale

Someday our whales will be gone, only a memory like the Mammoth's, the Dodo Bird and all the other creatures that are now merely legends. Why am I posting about whales? They've been appearing in my life both in the dreamtime and the waking world in a fascinating synchronicity. I also know with the oil spill and all the blog posts about "healing the water" I had to write about the whale or I wouldn't be paying attention to my soul.

Farewell to my comrades
For a while we must part
And likewise the dear lass
Who first won my heart
The cold coast of Greenland
My love will not chill
And the longer my absence
More loving she'll feel

When I was a teenager I would visit my father who was divorced from my mother at his condo. in the Marina Del Rey. An area in Southern California, that lays right on the West Coast Ocean.We both loved nature and every year we would go out to see the whales migrating on one of the whale watching boats. When a whale emerged I was both fascinated and terrified. But, I was always a different person for the better after seeing them. I haven't been out on a whale watching tour since then, yet, I still see the whales swimming and emerging in my dreams, while I can hear their mournful songs in the background.

I once attended a lecture about our animal spirit guides or as some call them "totems."
The speakers addressed not the animals we were most drawn too, but the animals we were most frightened of as they were our greatest teachers and taught us about those places in ourselves that evoke fear, shame and all the other shadowy qualities we'd rather not face. My shadow animal for the past few years has been the whale. I have an occurring nightmare about being swallowed by a whale. Yes, like Jonah and Pinocchio. I am blessed to be in therapy with a Jungian therapist who specializes in the dreamtime and I always bring my dreams to her to see what insight she may have, that I may not have thought of. We both came to the understanding that being swallowed by a whale (always a Humpback) meant I was drowning in the clinical depression I have and felt helpless and hopeless. I haven't had those dreams ever since I talked them over in counseling and now I have a new relationship with whales externally and internally.

Our ship is well rigged
And she's ready to sail
The crew they are anxious
To follow the whale
Where the icebergs do float
And the stormy winds blow
Where the land and the ocean
Is covered with snow.
One of the reasons is because of the movie "Whale Rider" that I've watched over and over again. The story evolves around a young Maori Girl and her tribe in New-Zealand and the legend of Paikea the ancestor of the Maori's who was saved from being killed from his brother by a whale and made a pact with them that a male of the tribal leader would be the protector of the whales as long as the Maori's existed. We meet a female "Paikea" who is the grand-daughter of the chief who is the newest Paikea instead of the traditional male. There's so much more to this story, so I strongly urge you to either read the book, see the movie or better yet do both. When this movie first came out, I was mesmerized by the beauty and message of the movie. I have the movie poster in my bathroom which is painted an ocean blue and I keep thinking about Paikea and her story. 'What could I do to help protect the whales?', I ruminated about.

The cold coast of Greenland
Is barren and bare
No see time nor harvest
Is ever known there
And the birds here sing sweetly
In mountain and dale
But there's no bird in Greenland
To sing to the whale
And then I started to watch the television series "Whale Wars" on the Animal Planet channel and became obsessed with it. The show documents the people who are the true warriors of the ocean in their ships and their battles to stop the Japanese who are slaughtering the whales in the name of scientific research. The show is gritty, bloody, heart-wrenching and shows the dark reality of how the whale is on the list for one day becoming extinct. To watch these whales, come up to the boats, curious, playful and graceful breaks my heart when a minute later, they are pursued by the Japanese ships and seeing the blood pouring out into the ocean staining it a violent red. You can't be faint-hearted to watch this show which I am, but I can't turn away any more and pretend that everything is being taken care of. So, I've read up on the killing statistics, the whaling laws, and the impact that everyone will suffer from should the whales all be killed off. It's scarier than anyone could possibly imagine. I'm not trying to preach or scare anyone into taking action. And I'm not about to head off to one of the ships to fight for the whales. I'm not that brave. But there are small actions that I and everyone else can take to help the whales. If you've never seen the show "Whale Wars" I've included a video that shows just a small but graphic view of the immense determination and strength these people are taking to defend the whales.
There is no habitation
For a man to live there
And the king of that country
Is the fierce Greenland bear
And there'll be no temptation
To tarry long there
With our ship under full
We will homeward repair
So when talking about "healing the water" which has been so beautifully written and blogged about, I'd love for you to think about warm-blooded mammals like ourselves who nurse their young, sing to each other, have an intelligence that surpasses most humans and are vital to not only the ocean's well-being and balance but our own as well. I've listed a website "Care 2" that has some wonderful petitions and information about whales. Just type in "Whales" in the search-box on the petition site for the latest petitions.  Please at least take a look at the information and when praying and blessing the waters for healing, include the whales and all other creatures of our waters that are suffering and need all the help they can get. By the way, today is "World's Ocean's Day" and I couldn't think of a better post to honor the oceans.

Farewell to Tarwathie
Adieu Mormond Hill
And the dear land of Crimmond
I bid you farewell
I'm bound off for Greenland
And ready to sail
In hopes to find riches
In hunting the whale

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Religion: You're doing it right!

LunThe idea of one God, one single ‘right’ deity in a world of thousands of cultures with millions of deities has always seemed ridiculous to me. Or at the least, unfair. Wouldn’t it be a piece of cake for one all knowing, all powerful God to make pretty sure that EVERYBODY believed in Him? Why allow us even the possibility of worshiping Someone Else, if He’s such a jealous and vengeful God? Does that make sense?

So, when I was a young person full of unanswered questions trying to figure all this out, it occurred to me that if there wasn’t just one ‘right’ answer, then pretty much everyone had to be right. That’s right, you heard me, you’re all doin’ it right. Give yourself a pat on the back. Seriously though, I think it’s like this: an all powerful, all knowing, creative force in the universe is probably so complex that our animal brains wouldn’t even be able to comprehend it. So we put faces on this power that we CAN comprehend. We give it names, we find the aspects of it that we need or desire to commune with. For me, every God or Goddess is simply an aspect or facet, a way for us to access the love and creative power that surrounds us.

One facet, or aspect, that I turn to most is a Goddess called Scathac. According to ancient Irish myth, Scathac is a Scottish Goddess from a time when Gods walked the British Iles like men. Scathac is a warrior woman, teaching Cuchulainn, a great Irish hero. Because she knows the ways of war and the human body, she also knows the arts of healing and magic. It’s this dichotomy that appeals to me. As a martial artist myself, I love the beauty, spirit, discipline of the martial way. On the other hand, I have no desire to become a soldier, to kill or hurt anyone except in self defense. Likewise, I like healing people and study herbalism and other types of remedies.

I appeal to or approach Scathac for all sorts of issues - when I need strength, spiritual or physical; when I seek protection or healing for myself or others. Because Scathac was a strong, independent woman who rules her own fort, I come to her when I need to fight for my own things, like keeping my home. I worship her through prayer, but I also will dedicate performances of martial skill to her. I decorate her altar with healing herbs from my garden as well as small, beautifully made weapons. Scathac, in the myths had a daughter, so at times I will come to her seeking the emotional love and support of a mother, as one of her warrior daughters.

There are other Gods or Goddesses I worship or pray to at times, including Lord Ganesh and Kwan Yin. It is Scathac, however, who identify with the most. She is the facet of the creative forces that I most seek to emulate, and identify with.

Thank you, Hannah....

 ~In Black Water Woods~

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulder

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

~Mary Oliver~

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Touch the Water, Heal our Land

I am sure that many of you have seen the many posts which have been generated by the compassion of Hannah at Divining Women.  She suggested that this Saturday on June 12th when the moon is new that any and all who wish to participate go to the water, any water, and give your love, strength, power, and blessings back to Mother Earth to help in this great crisis caused by the oil spill in the gulf.  The word is spreading quickly to people all over the world.  You are invited to join us and pass the word on.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book Review: The Writing Diet

The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size
Written By: Julia Cameron
Published By: Penguin Group (USA)
Page Count: 256
ISBN-13: 9781615594993
ISBN-10: 161559499X

Publisher’s Comments: Use writing to take off the pounds! Over the course of the past twenty-five years, Julia Cameron has taught thousands of artists and aspiring artists how to unblock wellsprings of creativity. And time and again she has noticed an interesting thing: Often when her students uncover their creative selves they also undergo a surprising physical transformation— invigorated by their work, they slim down. In The Writing Diet, Cameron illuminates the relationship between creativity and eating to reveal a crucial equation: Creativity can block overeating. This inspiring weight-loss program directs readers to count words instead of calories, to substitute their writing’s “food for thought” for actual food. The Writing Diet presents a brilliant plan for using one of the soul’s deepest and most abiding appetites—the desire to be creative—to lose weight and keep it off forever.

My Review: Author and creativity expert Julia Cameron is not a doctor or dietician, but she did notice something interesting about the students in her workshops.  As her students were tackling the blocks to their creativity, they were beginning to slim down before her eyes.  “The Writing Diet” is the product of that observation.

Cameron explains her belief about how people use food to block out parts of their lives.  In many cases, overeating also blocks the person’s creativity and causes them to drop into a deeper food-filled depression.  The author developed seven tools to help get readers back on the path to fulfillment and wellness.

The book is broken up into two parts – the first section explaining the tools while the second part talks about situations you may find yourself and solutions to potential problems you may face on the diet.  Each section is followed up with topics to think about and questions for you to answer for yourself.

What I like most about this book and the diet within is that it was created to be used in conjunction with another food-based diet.  Whether you are already on Weight Watchers, South Beach or doing your own thing from home, the tools in this book will add value to that effort.  Even once you have met your goal weight, extended use of the tools will make sure you stay slim and keep your creative juices flowing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thought for the Day - Cats

"You will always be lucky
 if you know
 how to make friends with strange cats."
Colonial proverb

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Familiar by any other Name

Little Girl and Protective Cat
I've always had at least one cat familiar in my life and vow I will never live without one. Yes, even when I was a little girl and my peers were playing with "Barbie" dolls, I played with my cats, who were my kindred spirits and confidants. I've blogged before about how my mother "introduced" me to magic, not on any formal level, but she was a witch and had an intelligence and love for animals that I inherited from her. Like most other childhoods, I had nightmares, terrors and anxieties, I couldn't trust any adult or other child with my secrets, so I turned to my cats. We always had at least one cat and a few dogs for our family. I loved my dogs and would play with them for hours outside, but it was my cats, I turned to, for my inner-world of thoughts and feelings. In archetypal language, the cat represents the feminine, intuitive, secretive and magical. Before anyone objects that dogs or other animals can't represent the feminine or there aren't cats who are more like dogs, I agree. My son has a cat who is completely opposite of what a "typical" cat is supposed to act like. He likes to hang out with dogs if there are any, he comes up to greet anyone he meets with a loud, demanding voice, and I doubt he'd have any patience for the workings of magic. In my life, cats represent the feminine spirit. I'm not the only one who matches cats with the feminine.

The Burning Times
 During the Burning Times, cats, especially black ones, were associated with the witch as her or his counterpart. The black cat could slip through the night unseen, when one looked at it's eyes, you can see the moon and a cat holds secrets that we can only guess about. I can understand why so many fearful, ignorant people who were terrified of the Goddess in her many forms. Notice, I didn't say, that the cats were owned because everyone who owns a cat agrees with the saying, "Dogs have Masters, Cats have Staff," and isn't that true? 

There are of course many different animals besides a cat that can be a witch's familiar. In the play "Macbeth" the Wyrd Sisters had "Paddock" a toad, "Harpier" an owl, and "Grimalkin" a cat. In the book and movies of "Harry Potter" all the students as well as the faculty have familiars, cats, rats, owls, bees, dogs, bees even.The black cat just seems to personify a witch. So don't feel too badly if you don't have a cat familiar. Really any animal "companion" as Mother Moon so beautifully wrote can be your magical partner in crime. However, not every animal is destined to be a familiar. 

I live with two very beloved cats who are sisters, Bella and Sele. Bella looks exactly like Mother Moon's Jimbo, right down to the exact size of the white diamond on the chest. She's elegant, leggy, athletic and extremely moody, like her mother. She would love to venture out under the moonlight if I let her outside, which I don't. She sits in the window communing with the moon and then whispers into my ear mysteries and dreams. Sele is a tuxedo kitty (black and white patches) and is Bella's opposite. All she wants to do is play, eat and sleep. In that order. If I tried to perform any magic with her, she'd run under the bed in fright. I love how Lynelle wrote about her cat "Cici" who can always put a smile on her face, that's Sele!

Bell, Book and Candle
It's strange how often I wake up from a horrible nightmare choking, gasping for air and burning hot. I have a continual dream about how my cats and I have been burned in my house. Knock on wood, I have never had or never will have that happen to me. I can't watch or read anything about any animal being harmed, especially a cat. That's when the real witch in me comes out as I chant a curse aloud to those perpetrators. Animal familiars were also known as "imps" because they were believed to be one of the devil's minions send to a witch as a messenger.One of the most famous names for a familiar is,  "Pyewackett." This name has been used for cat familiars in fiction throughout the ages and continues to be one. One of my favorite Pyewackett familiars is from the movie, "Bell, Book and Candle." The television series "Bewitched" was based upon this movie. The infamous, witch hunter, Matthew Hunter said that, "Pyewackett, was a name no mortal could invent."

The plagues that happened in the fourteenth century killing over 25 million people, 1/3 of Europe's population was believed to have come from fleas that lived on black rats which then infected everyone. I believe in karma, not as a principle to bring about vengeance or an event to justify the means, but I can't help but think that after all those seven million and plus who were killed as witches along with their animals that a horrible justice was served.

Witch's Crede
I always keep in mind with any type of magic I perform one of the oldest witch's credes, "Three by Three by Three." This means that whatever thought or action either positive or negative projected onto another can come back to you in threefold strength. Please know, I am not saying in any way that what happened to all those victims of the plague was deserved or justifiable. Most of the victims were the youngest children or the oldest citizens. Not the most likely to have been part of the witch hunt. In fact, the greatest population of people who were persecuted as witch's were the elders. Magic is powerful and the responsibility of working with a familiar is not to be taken lightly. They are able to access worlds which most humans can't. They stir the inner-cauldron of an instinctive animal realm which must be used with great consciousness and care. But most of all, our familiars bring out the best in us...Patience, humour, humility and a wisdom that is a sacred gift. I don't know where I would be if it weren't for the familiars I have loved. Blessings upon you and your familiar in whatever form they take.

Witch and her FamiliarsHow to Name Your Familiar 
When the devil brings him, like a Christmas puppy, examine his downy fur and smell his small paws for the scent of sulphur. 
 Is he a child of hell? O clearly those soft brown eyes speak volumes of deviltry.
O surely those small pink teats could suckle witches.  O those floppy ears hear only the devils hissing.
O that small pink tongue will lick at your heart until only Satan may slip in.
A fuzzy white dog? Name him Catch.
A little black kitten? She is Jamara
A tiny brown rabbit? Call her Pyewackett
Beware, beware-the soft, the innocent, the kingdom of cuddly ones-All these expose you to the jealous tongues of neighbor's flames, all these are the devil's snares!
~Erica Jong~

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Joy of Familiars


A familiar, what exactly are they? I thought that I had a fairly good idea yet wanted to double check to make sure. In researching the many definitions of the word I came to the conclusion that it sort of depends on what your belief system is. More precise, what your religion preference may be.

I had always considered a familiar to be an animal that was ones companion. When I say companion I mean much like a friend. They listen, seem to understand one’s moods, and even at times seem to communicate in their own special way. Not all animals are familiars. And I tend to believe that some who are familiars are not realized by the people who tend them. I have been around many a pet who seems to have a watchful eye over their master yet their master is oblivious to this.

What a treat these people are missing. Animals can be some of the best friends a person could ever have. From the loyalty of a dog to the in your face truth of a cat, they see so much more than many humans give them credit for. In my life, my companions or familiars have mostly been cats. And in the lore of familiars it is the most common; the black cat being of course the most common. The fear once that all cats were actually witches was one of the main reasons for the cat massacres that happened during medieval time in Europe.

Although the Christian view of a familiar is one of demonic leadership and one that is ultimately fueled by Satan, I myself tend to think differently. I believe they are animals who possess a special psychic attunement which give them the ability to interact more closely with people who are willing to be open minded enough to listen. Although the communication that one may share with an animal whom they believe to be a familiar is quite different than most are used to, if one is attentive they will easily be able to see it.

Such wisdom is there for us to learn from animals. We boost as humans that we are the only ones with working minds that can reason and make decisions. Yet we continually make the same mistakes over and over. We fill our lives and minds with mundane worthless stuff which many times keep us from seeing the simple morsels of truth that lie in front of us every day. If you have not had the pleasure of experiencing the delight of a familiar I urge you to give it a try.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

From Bon Temps to True Blood: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I rented the first disc of HBO’s original series True Blood from Blockbuster.  We sat there in front of the TV together for a few hours, completely enveloped in a reality where Vampires have made their presence known to humans and are fighting for their right to “live” with humans in society.  Without a second thought, we returned the DVD and went to purchase the first season for ourselves.  Once we were done with the first season of the show, I bought and read the novels by Charlaine Harris that the show is based on. 

Since I just finished the latest one, “Dead in the Family,” second season just came out on DVD and with the third season of True Blood starting soon, I thought I would share with you the tales of the fair-haired Sookie Stackhouse and her life with the creatures that go bump in the night.

And please note that the books are nowhere near as racy as the show and that the show does not follow the books exactly.

Dead until Dark
Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out....
Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn't such a bright idea.

Living Dead in Dallas
This is the second book in Charlaine Harris' popular Southern Vampire Mysteries series. Telepathic vampire maven (and cocktail waitress) Sookie Stackhouse has been tasked with locating an abducted vampire and suppressing an upstart anti-undead religious cult.

Club Dead
Sookie's boyfriend has been very distant-in another state, distant. Now she's off to Mississippi to mingle with the underworld at Club Dead-a little haunt where the vampire elite go to chill out. But when she finally finds Bill-caught in an act of betrayal-she's not sure whether to save him...or sharpen some stakes.

Dead to the World
When cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse sees a naked man on the side of the road, she doesn't just drive on by. Turns out the poor thing hasn't a clue who he is, but Sookie does. It's Eric the vampire--but now he's a kinder, gentler Eric. And a scared Eric, because whoever took his memory now wants his life.

Dead as a Doornail
Small-town cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has had more than her share of experience with the supernatural—but now it’s really hitting close to home. When Sookie sees her brother Jason’s eyes start to change, she knows he’s about to turn into a were-panther for the first time—a transformation he embraces more readily than most shapeshifters she knows. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population, and Jason’s new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now, Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who’s behind the attacks—unless the killer decides to find her first…

Definitely Dead
Sixth in the Anthony Award-winning Southern Vampire series. Spiked with a frothy fusion of romance, mystery, and fantasy, this bestselling series sends the supernaturally gifted cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse to New Orleans, where she has to deal with the legacy of one of her own family and a host of potentially dangerous characters.

All Together Dead
Betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse must now not only deal with a possible new man in her life-the oh-so-handsome shapeshifter Quinn-but also contend with a long-planned vampire summit. With her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans, the local vampire queen is vulnerable to those hungry for a takeover. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she'll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe.

From Dead to Worse
After the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina, and the manmade horror of the explosion at the vampire summit, Sookie Stackhouse is safe but dazed, yearning for things to get back to normal. But her boyfriend Quinn is among the missing. And things are changing, whether the Weres and vamps in her corner of Louisiana like it or not. In the ensuing battles, Sookie faces danger, death-and once more, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood ceases flowing, her world will be forever altered.

Dead and Gone
Except for Sookie Stackhouse, folks in Bon Temps, Louisiana, know little about vamps-and nothing about weres. Until now. The weres and shifters have finally decided to reveal their existence to the ordinary world. At first all goes well. Then the mutilated body of a were-panther is found near the bar where Sookie works-and she feels compelled to discover who, human or otherwise, did it. But there's a far greater danger threatening Bon Temps. A race of unhuman beings-older, more powerful, and more secretive than vampires or werewolves-is preparing for war. And Sookie finds herself an all-too human pawn in their battle.

Dead in the Family
After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she's angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he's under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie's connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry...

If you have read any of these books or are a True Blood fan, we would love to hear what you have to say about the series.

Happy reading!!


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