Tlachtga

This is the story of Tlachtga. Her name means “earth spear.” Her story gives us the name for a famous place in Ireland where to this day, the rites of Samhain are held in her honor. This location is called the Hill of Ward and it is near Tara. At this gathering Druids would light the bonfire on Samhain, from which embers were carried far and wide and were used to light the new fires for the new year. The location of the celebration was critical because they believed it to the place where this world and the Otherworld were the closest together.

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Feeding the Dead

Feeding the Dead

Most people love this time of year and I share much of that. Living in South Central Texas we only have two seasons, with a perhaps two to three weeks in between what we laughingly call spring and fall. Because the winters are not harsh here, the step into spring feels different from those whose winters are frozen for months on end. We do experience some relief when our temperatures finally drop a bit in October. Even then those drops are only teasers. When we do finally get a briskness in the air in the wee, early morning hours of dawn but when the sun rises overhead, any memory of that coolness is forgotten. This morning at 5:30 am, when I woke, it was 54 degrees. I stepped outside to smell and feel the air, so clean and cool. And yet, now it is 85 degrees and rising, it once more feels like summer. We don’t have the sudden frosts that turn our trees to vibrant reds, yellows and browns. Yes, the leaves eventually turn and fall to the ground, but we have no heavy freeze and so our colors are pale compared to those in the North and colder climates. Continue reading

The Sacred Boar and the Dark of the Year

For the last few weeks I have been feeling the presence of the Boar. This would not be completely out of the blue as the Boar is the sacred animal for this lunar cycle of Gort – representing tenacity and ruthless strength. In my spiritual practice, I travel into the Otherworld and typically discover allies with animals. My first step in getting to know an animal that has become present, I do the research.

Celtic Boar

Wikimedia Commons

“The Boar is the beast of death,” (Graves, 210), and much of what we read about Boars and pigs is in general connected with death. Death is a concern in most religions and contemplation of death takes on a special vividness and immediacy. The Boar is, among other things, a devourer; it is a menace to crops and to people, it is voracious and it is omnivorous. Even the goat will not eat meat, its young, or manure. Continue reading

To Every Season

We are closing in on the last of the season of abundance. Wherever we look we see Her harvest around us. Purple grapes hang from their vines. Branches hang heavy from the weight of fruit and sweet nuts. All the forces of life have done their work ~ the sun ~ the rain ~ the earth ~ the wind ~ all have added and blessed everything with fruitful abundance.

We have reached the time of the harvest. The shadows of the day are lengthening and our growing season is drawing to a close. We reach out claiming our rich rewards ~ our bountiful harvest.

If we are lucky we will see a show of beautiful color, the trees bursting forth in dazzling color of ~ reds and golds ~ yellows and oranges ~ in final preparation for plants to move into their resting season. The minerals of the Earth fed these living things, giving life in the spring followed by summer, with flowers blooming into fullness. Finally, heaviness swelling, they return the body to the earth in this deepening autumn. We begin a season of quiet rest.

We are not unlike our kin of the plant kingdom. We plant our feet on this firm Earth as well. We live in similar cycles, first with fresh adventures, new ways to grow, new plans all bursting within us. We move into the summer of our work ~ the blossoming forth of our dreams into reality, each promising a fruitful harvest following our hard work. The visible signs of what is yet to come hold promise, a thread of light that runs through everything in the Universe, a promise without which we could not ever begin again with hope for new endeavors, just as the trees, without it, would not bloom in the spring.

As we move deeply into our own experience, we feed on what nourishes the soul, we expand to embrace new ideas, concepts, visions, pleasures, and sorrows. Much like the trees reaching higher and wider, we expand our view. Just as the plants, we struggle in the summer of the cycle for growth and expansion.

In our cycles of growth, inevitably there comes a time when no matter what our involvement or dedication, a change comes. Somehow no matter how much we try to resist, some important process within us stops and we cannot move forward.

This is not an indication that all is lost or even that the growth is over. It is simply a sign of change. The trees know the change is upon them when the day grows shorter and the temperature begins to drop; and if these signs do not speak loudly enough, the first frost brings home the message. We know the summer of expansion is at an end when we can take in no more, when no fresh understanding unfolds, or when the heart has gone out of the experience.

It is time to pause in our growth, to rest from our steady seeking. We must put aside our books, come home from our adventures and just sit by the fire. In the closing of this cycle we, too, must let the quiet enfold us while the fruit of our searching ripens. We must take the time to gently search within ourselves for the full harvest of our experiences.

As I am writing, I am singing this in my head …

Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

To know the cycle of nature is to know our own cycle. Every season has its purpose. When a cycle of life becomes autumn for us, we are not delaying new growth by taking time to rest in the sweet wonders of our experience. Before we look ahead to the promised spring, before we hurry on to our next project, let us take counsel with ourselves, and take part in the rich reward that is the true fruit of our seeking; let us celebrate the harvest and rest awhile in these the lengthening shadows of autumn.

Many Blessings,
Bendis

One Red Leaf

It seems to me that the goal of most people is to be happy. We seek it ourselves and hope that those we love find it as well. Happy is an elusive state. At best it is hard to define – what is happy anyway?

As young adults we may seek happiness in alcohol and parties, perhaps even in drugs. We hope to find it in our careers and certainly in the unions we make and partners we choose. Happy is to be pleased, or glad, over a particular thing. The dictionary associates a state of happiness with contentment as well as with the experience of joy. And it also says that happiness is associated with good fortune or luck.

I think the last is very telling about happiness. It says to me that no matter how we live our lives, no matter most of our actions, so long as they are done with good intent, happiness is a random emotional experience.

Even more random is a state of joy. Certainly experiencing joy brings feelings of happiness. For me, however, joy is larger, something bigger than happiness. It is more fleeting and certainly is random and unpredictable.

When I look back over my life, I clearly remember many moments of joy, the birth of each of my children, heart soaring moments of bliss. Even small joys, those that can be found in each day if we are open to them remain fixed in our memories. Moments of beauty seen in another human being, breath-taking glimpses into nature such as a red setting sun, a pounding ocean, or even the small features of a small black beetle.

There have been times for me, when plagued with worry, loss of work, aloneness and fear, that when they seemed to drag on, I found that what made them telling for me was that they were periods in my life entirely lacking in joy. I also came to recognize that it wasn’t what triggered joy that was absent but simply my lack of awareness or openness to see and feel it.

I had one of those times that I remember clearly. It was about this time of year, which is probably what has triggered me to write about it. I was turning cold and the leaves were falling from the trees as they prepared for their time of quiet. I was having a “pitty pot” day. Feelings of doom and gloom and longing already for spring, even though we had not yet even experienced winter. I was thinking about all of these feelings and recognizing how little joy seemed to be in my life at this moment. Walking along, I looked up and right at that moment a beautiful red leaf fell from an ornamental pear tree in front of me. I watched as it gracefully dropped to the ground. As it fell, with pristine clarity, I felt overwhelming feelings of elation and joy! Out of nowhere, and randomly, came the totally certainty that in that one moment – I had found my joy!

red-leafOne red leaf
Falls to the ground,
Before me a moment of total clarity
And the experience heartfelt joy.
A heart lifted
From the darkness of persistent gloom.
A day brightened
In utter simplicity – one red leaf.

 

As we enter into this season of festive celebrations, as Thanksgiving Day approaches, let us all remember the joys of the past, those moments that light us through the darkness. Let us give thanks for those perfect moments, given when we least expect them. And let us remain open to seeing and feeling them in the coming days. May we find those moments of joy everywhere!

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Dianic Craft, Celtic Shamanism, and Feminist Dianic Wicca and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

The Descent of Inanna to the Underworld

Inanna provides a many-faceted image of the feminine. She is a goddess of order, fertility, grains, love, war, heaven and earth, healing, and emotion. She is called the “Lady of Myriad Offices”. Most of the powers once held by her, “the embodied, playful, passionately erotic feminine; the powerful, independent, self-willed feminine; the ambitious, regal, many-sided feminine” were eroded by the patriarchy throughout time.

Her descent to the Underworld is a valuable story at any time of the year but even more so here as the wheel turns fully into the dark of the year. During the dark of the year, we are to turn inward, our most introspective work is to be accomplished at this time. It is vital that we enter the darkness as did Inanna, bare and bowed low.

Inanna’s most important myth begins with the great goddess opening “her ear to the Great Below”.

“From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above the goddess opened her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above Inanna opened her ear to the Great Below.”

In the Sumerian language, the word for ear and wisdom are the same. Enki, who is the God of Wisdom, is said to have his ear “wide open” indicative of being fully receptive. The message here is that Inanna’s primary reason for traveling to the Underworld was to seek wisdom and understanding.

What this meant was that Inanna had to abandon everything she knew, everything she possessed, all of her powers in heaven and on earth to gain this wisdom and understanding.

“My Lady abandoned heaven and earth to descend to the underworld.
Inanna abandoned heaven and earth to descend to the underworld.
She abandoned her office of holy priestess to descend to the underworld.

She gathered together the seven me.
She took them into her hands
With the me in her possession, she prepared herself:

She placed the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, on her head.
She arranged the dark locks of hair across her forehead.
She tied the small lapis beads around her neck,
Let the double strand of beads fall to her breast,
And wrapped the royal robe around her body.

She daubed her eyes with ointment called “Let him come,
Let him come,”
Bound the breastplate called “Come, man, come!” around her chest,
Slipped the gold ring over her wrist,
And took the lapis measuring rod and line in her hand.”

She gathered all of these things as a means to protect herself. Each of these adornments is worn at one of each of the seven chakras. She traveled to the Underworld and when she arrived she met with Neti and demanded to speak with her Sister Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is the place where potential life lies motionless. When Neti described Inanna and how she looked as she waited at the outer gate, Ereshkigal was not pleased.

She sent Neti to defend her. Ereshkigal wanted Inanna to experience what it is to be rejected, to enter only when she is “bowed low”.

At each gate, Inanna is asked to remove one item and when she asks why, she is told,

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned.”

She is deprived of her godhood, her connection with heaven, her ability to manifest, her feelings of ecstasy and rapture, her emotional being, her will and her sexual role in life. All of these represent who she was, as a queen, a holy priestess and as a woman.

Naked and bowed low, Inanna entered the throne room.

“Ereshkigal rose from her throne.
Inanna started toward the throne.
The Annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her.
They passed judgment against her.
Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
She spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt.

She struck her.

Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall.”

It is here, at this point that we end this part of the story, for Inanna must remain in the Underworld until it is time for Her Return. Her transformation as a result is not something that happens quickly.

And so it is that we too, as we enter the dark time of the year, must shed what we hold too close. We must step out of ego, let loose all of the things we think we know or understand. We must present ourselves to the dark, laid bare and bowed low. For it is in this state that we open to wisdom and great knowledge. We too, must turn our ear to the Great Below.

Wolkstein, Diane and Kramer, Samuel Noah, Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1983

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, and Feminist Dianic Wicca and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

Letting Go

For the last year, I have been scheduled and planning a trip to Brazil, having been invited to speak, plus do a workshop at a conference in São Paulo and then two workshops in Brasilia. Four weeks ago, and three days after a Pertussis vaccine (needed before I could see my new great-granddaughter), I was hit with bronchitis which exacerbated an acute flare of my asthma. I was in the ER three weeks ago, but went home trusting that the steroids would work. They did not. So Sunday (the 15th), I once more bit the bullet and headed to the ER, now in a panic, unable to breathe.

They admitted me and here I am. Stressed and struggling to breathe, I quickly learned that I was never going to be able to be far removed from oxygen again, bringing up the issue of what to do about my trip, not really being able to get oxygen in Brazil and cost prohibitive to take it with me. My Sisters and dear friends here were all so generous trying to help keep my dream alive, while those in Brazil were being much more real about concerns for my health and what the trip could cost me, health wise. I think those here just really wanted the trip for me, as I did, and I love them for that.

All of this was adding to my stress and I was not responding to treatment as they hoped.

Yesterday, my dear friend, Brother, in the Craft, asked me to please not come. He offered another trip when I am better. At those words, I was able to see the wisdom of what was being said to me and I cancelled my trip, for now. So many wonderful things were going to happen on this trip – the speaking engagements, seeing my friends and chosen family there, plus I was being ordained as a priestess in the Fellowship of Isis, a dream of many years. A lot to let go of, but I did. Hopefully, not for too long.

What happens when you let go? The space is now cleared for what I really need. My healing process immediately improved. I left Intermediate Care yesterday afternoon and am now in a regular care section, which means I am getting better. I still cannot detach from oxygen, but that and its meter are now the only things attached to me, so I can get up and do for myself for much of what I need. I am breathing deeper, strangling less and my stress levels are nearing normal. I am hoping to go home Monday, the 23rd, as they wean me down from so much oxygen, finish the antibiotics and wean me off the steroids.

I am sharing all of this because many times we all can forget about the value of “letting go.” We focus so hard on what it is that we are being told we must give up, that we lose sight of what is most important and that many times, simply by that one thing – letting go – what we need most will be given to us.

I am grateful that I have not lost my trip forever. I am grateful for the wonderful advice my wise friends have all offered and all the generosity of support from everyone. And finally I am grateful for the space so clearly received so that I may return to better health.

So when you are faced with having to let go of what appears to be necessary and so very special in your life, remember that opening that can come with that one simple step of letting go.

Blessings are often quite hidden until you allow yourself to reveal them.

***Footnote – I am home and feeling great – Nothing like oxygen! I am breathing better than I have in a very long time. MY ADHD mentioned in the last article is gone and even my hair has turned from brittle to silky!!!

She Changes Everything She Touches

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….
As a way of entry to this post, I wish to let readers know that this is written as a critical part of the work shown below. It is the work of an accomplished priestess and how she has been reminded as to what she knows about manifesting wants and needs in her life. It is personal and it is real. In my professional life I was big on accountability and know that it applies to my magical life as well. This post therefore witnesses my intentions!

I have been feeling horribly scattered lately, almost as though I have acquired ADHD in my old age. Each day is incredibly busy and yet at the end of the day, when I reflect on how busy, I realize I have not gotten anything productive done! I have a lot of irons in the fire and recently have added even more. I added them because they seem important, as they might prove helpful to me for accomplishing some of my goals.

So, I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day, lamenting about this as well as other things that I wish to develop in my life that have to do with family and friend connections and spending more time with in-person relationships.

At the end of our conversation, in which my friend used her skills at listening, she remarked, “Bendis, you are a remarkable woman and have accomplished so much in your life. You have shared marvelous things with your students, but in listening to you, I can clearly see that you have not used what you teach in your own life.”

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

I stopped and took in what she had just said and realized that she spoke the truth. When I have used my own skills at manifesting, magic happens. I am a very good at manifestation. How could I not apply what I know to my own life? Of course, it is all part of the apparent ADHD that I really don’t have. What I have is a lack of goal setting, a lack of organization. I knew I had to create an action plan and include in it, a heavy dose of manifestation magic that has been lacking.

A synchronistic event followed on the very next day when I attended an all-day training that is part of my part time job with local digital inclusion efforts. The topic for the day was Goal Setting and Goal Achieving. Step-by-step I was taken through a process that is identical to what I teach my students when they first come on board in my mentoring program. Duh! Did I need a two by four?

I was encouraged to pick one goal. That immediately put a road block in front of me because I had at least five goals that sat at the top of my list, not one of them any less important that the others.

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

So here is what I am working on:

Goal Setting and Achievement

Part One – Self-Analysis

Where are you right now in terms of your goals and satisfaction level?

I am not where I want to be. I am feeling scattered. I feel completely disorganized. At the end of the day I feel as though I have not accomplished anything.

What do you feel needs to be done?

I want to improve my writing skills. I am a published author but I want to find more venues to publish my articles. I am exploring art as a therapeutic process and want to make time for it. As a teacher/facilitator of personal growth I want to add audio and visual medium to my classes I teach. I want to finish my new school, Dancing with Goddess. I love to learn and need to complete the classes I have started. I need to make sure to allow time for spontaneity in case social opportunities arise because I need to strengthen my support system here where I live.

What are your professional liabilities and weakness that you want to minimize and/ or eliminate?

I am currently not at all organized. I have great organizational skill that I am not using. I have not created a schedule for myself in order to complete things. I am spending way too much time on things that are not productive. I am not practicing what I teach!!! I am not using my magic!

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

Goals and Action Steps

Goal # 1 My Own Learning Path

1. Create time slot on schedule
2. Start the classes
a. Do 2 – 3 units per week on #1 priority classes
b. Fill in, if time is available, with fun ones
3. Stay on track

Goal # 2 My Online Schools for Others

1. Create time slot on schedule
2. Figure out how to get classes to front page
3. Figure out payment set up
4. Networking

Goal #3 Personal Support System

Friends

1. Pay attention to what opportunities are right for me
2. Make sure to go
3. Show appreciation – follow up with “thank you” and express the desire to be included again.

Family

1. Express needs to family
2. Be supportive of theirs as well
3. Communicate often

Goal #4 Writing – Improve & Publish

1. Create time slot in schedule
2. Write every day
3. Network to find places to publish blogs and anthologies
a. look for anthologies (books) to write for.
4. Use books on hand for writing improvement

Goal #5 Get Healthy – Lose Weight & Workout

1. Begin a different eating schedule – breakfast early
2. Stop eating by 7:00 pm
3. Eat small portions – use small plate
4. Plan menus ahead
5. Schedule 1 trip to 24-Hour fitness weekly
6. Walk 2 days weekly

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

Magical Goals and Action Steps

Goal # 1

Create an altar in my home where I can sit at the beginning of each day to plan and review resources and again at the end of each day to review what has been achieved.

Goal #2

Create a Vision Journal to set intentions and record achievements. The Vision Journal will live on the altar.

Goal #3

Include art each week at least on one day for 2 hours. Include magical intent built within art pieces.

I am currently creating my calendar, with a plan to make each day look as if I am going to work. My job is to accomplish the goals I have set out for myself. I will go to work at a certain time, accomplish my listed tasks for the day and then close my business day. I will allow for flexibility and spontaneity should I have an opportunity for social engagements that will build my support system.

I will be posting this on my own personal blog Her Breath along with follow up as I accomplish these goals. I will make every effort to include any changes I make as well as fun magical things I will be doing to make these goals manifest in my life!

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

Connection

As an introvert, I do a lot of listening. However, I have noticed that when I am in a group and think I am listening, quite often I have tuned out and am lost in my own thoughts. That doesn’t happen near as often when I am with one person, sharing in conversation.

Clearly there are times when I am with someone who is a “talker” and our conversation is mostly a monologue. I find this need to talk comes either from being alone most of the time or from not being listened to by anyone. So when I care about someone, I simply listen as the rattle on. Pretty soon however, the pace slows down and the content of the conversation takes on substance and if we are lucky a true conversation can begin. If it doesn’t, then at least the other person who needed to be heard got a chance.

There are other conversations that we can have that we might call discussions. In these two or more people tackle a subject, tear it apart, analyze it, chew it up and finally spit it out. The whole idea is to analyze the subject, look for answers, agreements or results. These discussions can be extremely stimulating.

Then, there is what we call a dialogue. You might think that discussion and dialogue are the same thing but in truth, dialogue happens in a uniquely different way. The meaning of the word dialogue is “words flowing through.” This is really very different from discussion. Here we have a completely open-ended exploration where all parties enter with the spirit of inquiry. A discussion is something that arises out of the intellect and a dialogue comes straight from the heart.

We can see the difference quite easily if we look at how we might approach a conversation about a truly “difficult” subject, one that has many emotional triggers for the people involved. If this is the case, discussion would build walls between them, when dialogue offers the hope of true understanding.

Listening to another is for most, a learned skill. Listening and truly hearing can be the most valuable gift we can give another. Listening involves letting go of the need to speak, the need to counter, the need to give advice and to simply open and receive what another needs to say to us. In requires that we become still and open to receive. We suspend our judgments and assumptions, and listen to understand rather than agree.

Certainly, in this process of listening, we can offer acknowledgement of what is being said along the way but we don’t take away the conversation from them. We give of ourselves in this way to allow the other to unfold. For me this is “heart listening.”

I have found, for myself, that this kind of listening becomes a gift for me as well. When I can open myself in this way to another, my soul is able to touch their soul in a sacred communion of being.

When I deeply listen to you
it is as though
all the walls I have built around myself
disappear.
That space between us
no longer exists
as a boundary between strangers.
The oneness of who we are
and the whole of who we are
create new patterns of being.
When I deeply listen to you
understanding and a deep knowing
of our shared experience
connects me to you in a way that is holy.

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Feminist Dianic Wicca, European Witchcraft and Druidic Shamanism. She mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.