"As I travel the aisles of Life, open doors await me"
A Look at Vodun
Within the pagan community there are a number of different beliefs. One of these is Vodun, commonly characterized as VooDoo.
Most will agree that Vodun originated in the African country of Benin, formerly known as "Dahomey". Daagbo Hounon, known as the "Pope of Voodoo" lives in Ouidah, Benin.
For the most part practitioners of Voodoo (much like the Sumerians and other cultures) do not subscribe to the Christian concepts of "good & evil". Rather according to the Vodun; the Lwa, which consists of both the Haitian Vodou spirits and the Orisha or African Vodun spirits can either make life easy or difficult, according to the lessons needed at that particular stage of spiritual development.
This pantheon of spirits are called "Loa" ( meaning "mystery" in the Yoruba language). The Loa often resemble Christian Saints. According to Vodun belief there are literally hundreds of minor spirits. Those spirits which have originated from Dahomey are called Rada; while those who were added later on in Haiti are often the deceased leaders in the new world and are called Petro. The Rada are often considered the more gentler spirits of the two.
A few examples of the Rada are; "La Kwa, Samdi, and Simitye". They are known as the Bawons, and are rulers of the burial grounds. Others are Danbala Wedo and Ayida Wedo - The white snake and the rainbow, to the vodun they are the oldest living beings. Images of St. Patrick and Moses are used for Danbala.
A few spirits on the Petro side are; Gran Bwa Ile, his name means "Great Wood". He is a spirit of wilderness. He is fierce and unpredictable, and a section of the grounds of a Vodou temple is always left wild for him. St. Sebastian is used to represent Gran Bwa. Ezili Dantor - a Petwo lwa, she is the Haitian lwa of motherhood, she is represented by the image of a Black Madonna.She is the vodun goddess of love, beauty, jewelry, dancing, luxury and flowers. She has three husbands, Damballa In Vodun, Damballa is one of the most important of all the loa. He is known as the father of all of the Loa. He is a a Snake God and said to live in the trees near fresh water springs. He is also worshipped as a Fertility God. And of course there are many, many other spirits in the Vodun pantheon.
According to Yoruba traditional belief, there is a chief God known as "Olorun" (Olodumare "Almighty"), who is remote and unknowable. According to the Yoruba beliefs, Olorun created the world and mankind. It is said that originally, the Earth was marshy and watery. The Sky God gave the lesser god "Orisha Nla" a snail shell in which there were a hen, a pigeon, and some earth. Orisha Nla threw the earth from the shell at one small place of the Earth and put on it, the hen and the pigeon. From that place called Ife (which means "wide"), the two animals spread the Earth to create solid ground. After the creation of mankind, the word Ile, which means "house," was added. Humans were created in heaven but only Olorun could bring them to life. Since then, Ile-Ife has become the most sacred city of the Yoruba people.
Practitioners of Vodun believe also that each person has a soul which is composed of three parts; a "gros bon ange" (big guardian angel) a "ti bon ange" (little guardian angel) and Met-Tet, (Master of the head) . The ti bon ange leaves the body during sleep and when the person is possessed by a Loa during a ritual. It is thought that the ti bon ange can be harmed or enslaved by evil sorcery while it is free of the body.
There are several types of practitioners in the Vodun system. Two of these are the "Houngan" (Vodou High Priest) and "Mambo" (High Priestess) They generally confine their activities to "white" magic" such as healing and bringing good fortune . Then there are the "Caplatas" (bokors) They perform acts of "black magic".
There is also the belief in "zombies". Contrary to popular belief, these are not dead folks who have been drawn from the grave. But rather folks who have been given powerful and secret drugs by way of a Caplata. These drugs strip ones self will away, making them a virtual prisoner of the bokor.
There are many other practices and beliefs which are associated with the Vodun system. But as always I have only touched the tip of the iceberg. If you have an interest in this belief system then I strongly encourage further research. I have a saying that "Knowledge is the Key that will Open the Door of Ignorance".
"Eat a third and drink a third and leave the remaining third of your stomach empty. Then, when you get angry, there will be sufficient room for your rage."
Babylonian Talmud, tractate Gittin
The Origin of Strawberries
When the first man (a s ga ya) was created and a mate was given to him, they lived together very happily for a time, but then began to quarrel, until at last the woman (a ge ya) left her husband and started off toward the Sun land (Nundagunyi), in the east.
The man followed alone and grieving, but the woman kept on steadily ahead and never looked behind, until the Creator, took pity on him and asked him if he was still angry with his wife. He said he was not, and Creator then asked him if he would like to have her back again, to which he eagerly answered yes.
So Creator caused a patch of the finest ripe huckleberries to spring up along the path in front of the woman, but she passed by without paying any attention to them. Farther on he put a clump of blackberries, but these also she refused to notice. Other fruits, one, two, and three, and then some trees covered with beautiful red service berries, were placed beside the path to tempt her, but she went on until suddenly she saw in front of her a patch of large ripe strawberries, the first ever known.
She stooped to gather a few to eat, and as she picked them she chanced to turn her face to the west, and at once the memory of her husband came back to her and she found herself unable to go on. She sat down, but the longer she waited the stronger became her desire for her husband, and at last she gathered a bunch of the finest berries and started back along the path to give them to him. He met her kindly and they went home together.
A brief look at Ninhursag; Sumerian Goddess:
She was known to the Sumerians as the Mother of The Gods. She was the daughter of Anu, the king of the Gods. Her lover was Enki. Her lover was the God, "Enki". She is the source of all life. She is depicted as wearing a leafy crown and holding a branch to indicate fertility. And though she was originally a Sky Goddess, she became the Goddess of the underworld. This came about after the seperation of heaven and earth.
An Irish Triad:
"Three things which show a true human: a silent mouth, an incurious eye, and a fearless face."
Members of the "A Pagan Experience" Samhain Chants
Like the wolf that howls at the Sabbat Moon in honour
I do the same in my way
I honour the mourning Lady
Of the moon
Like her I care and mourn the God
I also mourn for those we hath lost
Yet they are not truly lost
Shall they return again
I give thanks to the Goddess
For the harvest
Which is third
Also on this Samhain night
I welcome the spirits an' invite them in
In honour of all on this Sabbat day
See Our Light
Feel Our Love
Feel Our Warmth
On This Night
A Samhain chant:
The earth envelops us
warm and snug entombed
we feel the touch of life
on Samhain etched rune
Below the dead still living
above us you stand alive
come down this day and touch the earth
your life illusion to contrive
I see you in the mirror death
reflected life you aspire
cave in the earth you're sitting
to life anew aspire
The earth envelops us
warm and snug entombed
we feel the touch of life
on Samhain etched rune
Desert Moon (Steve/caricue)
Halloween…..to ….. Samhain
The years gone by,
First slow, then fast
Time slips quickly
Like trick or treaters
From one door to another
Onward and upward
Always in search of
that Higher Self
Open to possibilities
Finally! The right door
Embracing my soul!
Halloween was costumed
Lacked any meaning
But not any longer
Blessings to those
Whose spirits soar high
Bringing me to …..
(submitted by Angie/ MoonShadow)
I hear the calls of sisters past
open your heart pure to cast
A song of honor and song of praise
heard this night and spirits raised
Touch the hearts of those gone before
as they touch us with wisdom more
gentle breezes kiss the trees
Shadows watch the light ones roam
Kiss to the heart, a Hug to the unknown
Featured Recipe: Sticky Toffee Pudding
12 ounces dates, pitted and chopped
2 cups water
2 teaspoon baking soda
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13-by-9-inch pan with waxed or parchment paper. Combine the dates and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda; set aside.
In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add 2 eggs and mix until combined. Add remaining 2 eggs and vanilla. Add 1/3 of flour mixture and 1/3 of date mixture and mix until combined. Repeat until all the flour and dates are incorporated into batter. Pour into baking pan and bake about 40 minutes, until set in center. When cool, turn out of pan and remove paper. Place on serving platter or return to pan.
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948)
Quarter Days and Cross Quarter days
Quarter Days: Equinoxes and Solstices divide the year into quarters
Yule (Winter Solstice) - Dec. 21st. Birth of the Egyptian (among others) Sun God, "Ra".
Ostara (Spring Equinox) - Mar. 20th. - 23rd. The equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator and enters the House of Aries.
Summer Solstice (Lughnasadh) Aug. 1st. To the Irish-Gaelic, Lughnasadh is a feast to commemorate the funeral games of the Irish Sun God Lugh. This is in commemoration of the death of His foster mother, "Taillte"
Mabon (Autumn Equinox) (Sept. 20th. - 23rd. dependant on actual astrological event) The astrological date is when the sun enters the sign of Libra. Also known as the Witches Thanksgiving.
Cross Quater Days: Mid-way points between the Solstices and Equinoxes
Imbolc - Feb. 2nd. This is also the Greek festival of Diana, Goddess of Love.
Beltain - May 1st. The astrological date for this day is when the sun sets at 15 degrees Taurus. This is a time of the Great rite.
Litha - (June 20th. - 23rd. dependant on actual astrological event). The astrological date is when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer. The first battle between the Tuatha De Danann and the Fir Bolgs occurred on this day.
Samhain - Oct. 30th to Nov.1st. Samhain is reckoned when the sun has reach 15 degrees Scorpio.
English Quarter Day Observations:
Lady Day, March 25th. To the Catholics it is the "Feast of the Annunciation".
Midsummer Day, June 24th. Midsummer has been Christianized as the feast of Saint John the Baptist.
Michaelmas, Sept. 29th. To the Christians this is the Feast of St Michael.
Christmas, Dec. 25th. This is the day given in the year 336 C.E. as the birthday of Jesus Christ.
Scottish Quarter Day Observations:
Candlemas, Feb. 2nd. Candlemas marks the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season.
WhitSunday, May 15th. Whitsunday is the Sunday of the feast of Whitsun or Pentecost in the Christian calendar, observed 50 days after Easter.
Lammas, Aug. 1st. Lammas the festival of the first wheat harvest of the year.
Martinmas, Nov. 11th. To the Christians, Martinmas, or November 11 is the feast of Saint Martin of Tours
By Mike Nichols
(Reprinted with permission from the author)
The pentagram, or five-pointed star, may be the most misunderstood religious symbol around these days. Being the most common symbol of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, it has nevertheless been denigrated by movie and publishing industries which seem 'hell-bent' on connecting it with Satanism and other malevolent practices. However, like the Roman Cross or Crucifix, it is only when the symbol is INVERTED that it alludes to negativity. And even then, there are exceptions, as we shall see.
In its usual upright position (one point uppermost), the pentagram is an ancient symbol of protection from evil. Also called 'the endless knot' (in its interlaced form), the pentagram was often displayed on doors, windows, and hearths of houses throughout pre-Christian Europe. It can be traced back to Egyptian and Sumerian cultures, and has even been found on Native American medicine tools. Sometimes mistakenly confused with the Star of David, or hexagram (a six-pointed star emblematic of Judaism), the pentagram is sometimes called the Star of Solomon, especially by ceremonial magicians.
To many, the lower four points represent the classical elements of earth, air, fire, and water, while the fifth point, surmounting the others, represents spirit, the fifth element or quintessence. Thus, the pentagram symbolizes the four elements of the material world connected with, but ruled by, the spirit. When the pentagram is placed within a circle (symbol of unity and wholeness), it stresses our connection with the universe as a whole.
Another interpretation is that there is not one point upward -- but three! In numerology, three is the number of harmony, best expressed in the classical formula: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In other words, it is the middle point that harmonizes the opposing outer points. The Celtic love of triads (the most common form of their 'wisdom literature') has its roots in this model. The upper three points are thus placed above the lower two points, which represents dualistic opposites that cannot be integrated or harmonized (seeing everything in black and white).
Yet another interpretation of the upright pentagram is that it symbolizes the most common view of deity in Witchcraft. The upper three points represent the Goddess in her threefold aspect of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The lower two points represent her consort God, in his twin aspects of God of Light and God of Darkness. However, in all these interpretations, it is important to remember that all the points are connected -- each an aspect of the other, all part of the same whole.
But when the pentagram is inverted, so is its meaning. Thus, an inverted pentagram may represent the physical world (four material elements) in domination of the world of spirit (the fifth element). (This may be why Satanists and other 'demonistic' groups use this symbol.) With two points uppermost, it may also express a Neo-Platonic dualism (the old 'war in heaven', good vs. evil theme) -- as opposed to the Pagan monistic view of reality ('the Force') seen in the single point upward. The most common exception to this rule is that some traditions of Witchcraft (chiefly British) employ the inverted pentagram as a POSITIVE symbol of advanced degree. In this case, the two points uppermost represent the horns of light, symbol of 'the Horned God', consort to the Great Goddess (like the Greek god Pan).
The word 'pentacle', sometimes mistakenly substituted for pentagram, really refers to a shallow dish (usually inscribed with a pentagram) and used as an altar tool by modern Witches, serving a purpose similar to the 'patten' at a Roman Catholic Mass. Common variations of this tool include a dish of earth, a disk of copper, a dish of silver, or a disk of wax.
The suit of pentacles (or 'coins') in the Tarot deck, the Stone of Fal (coronation stone of kings) in ancient Ireland, the sangreal of the Holy Grail processions, and the 'Universal Man' of Leonardo da Vinci, are all related to the pentagram, stressing its ties to the earth and nature, making it a symbol par excellence of an earth or nature religion. The five points also represent the five physical senses and allude to approaching the spiritual realm THROUGH the sensual -- in fact, the meaning of the Ace of Pentacles in Tarot. In numerology, 5 is the number of sexuality, combining the feminine 2 with the masculine 3. Thus, the pentagram also represents the opposite of asceticism.
But wherever the pentagram is displayed, one message is clear: evil has no power there.
Crystal Section: Amber
Amber is used to absorb negative energy and to transmute it into positive energy. Amber is also used for grounding. It is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints. Amber vibrates to the number 3.
Amber is said to enhance the beauty of the wearer. It is used to tap into the power of the Sun, and is good for success, abundance, healing, vitality and joy. It is used as a Good Luck charm by those engaged in battle. It is sometimes burned to clear sacred space of negative energy. Amber is used in purification rites. Its element is Fire and it is ruled by the Sun. Its energy is projective.
Herb Section: Holly (Yerba)
The leaf is dried and used as a tea for fevers, bronchitis,bladder problems, and gout. Steep half an once of the chopped leaf in boiled water for twenty minutes; take one tablespoon per day. Holly can be used as a substitute for quinine.
Holly berries purge the bowels and cause vomiting if taken in large doses. They have been used in the treatment of dropsy and as a powder they have been used as an astringent to check bleeding. The root has been used as a diuretic, though there are more effective diuretics available.
2 pounds white chocolate bark
12 candy canes
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave according to package instructions. Place candy canes in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin into 1/4 inch pieces. Stir crushed candy canes and extract into melted chocolate. Pour mixture onto cookie sheets lined with waxed paper. Chill in fridge until firm and break into pieces. Makes about 2 1/4 pounds of candy. This makes a great gift or treat for a potluck, wrapped in tissue paper in a holiday tin.
2 quarts apple cider
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup apricot brandy
In a large pot, combine the apple cider, confectioner's sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Simmer slowly on low heat for about 15 minutes. Take care that the cider does not boil. Add the apricot brandy and then serve the cider while it is still warm. Refrigerate any leftover cider.
Note: I have used apricot nectar instead of brandy and it wasn't too bad.
Yield: 8 servings
The symbolism of this Sabbat is that of The Third (and final) Harvest, it marks the end of Summer, the beginning of Winter.
Samhain is known as the "Feast of the Dead" (Fleadh nan Mairbh) .
It is believed that on this night, the veil Between the Realms is at its thinnest, making this an excellent time to communicate with Spiritual visitors. One way to do this is to place an empty shirt over a thorh bush. As spirits pass they may choose to fill the shirt. At this time you may communicate with them.
Samhain is one of the two Sabbats each year that this occurs, the other being Beltane.
Single candles are often lit and placed in the window to help guide spirits home.
Originally, turnips were carved out and used as "Jack-O-Lanterns.
Apples were often buried alongside the road for those spirits who had no one to guide or provide for them.
Samhain is the Celtic New year.
Samhain occurs when the sun has reached 15 degrees Scorpio.
Making a Besom
If you would like a Besom of your own, they are fairly easy to find in craft stores, country markets, or folk art fairs. You can also invest your energies into making one, a good idea if you wish to use it in place of a Wand or other ritual tool.
To make a Besom you will need a four-foot dowel one inch in diameter, a ball of twine, scissors, and straw or other long strands of pliable herbs.
Take the straw, or another herb you have chosen for the bristles, and allow them to soak overnight in warm, lightly salted water. The water softens the straws to make them pliable, and the salt soaks out former energies.
When you are ready to make your Besom, remove the straws from the water and allow them to dry a bit, but not so much that they lose the suppleness you will need to turn them into your Besom.
Find a work area where you can lay out the length of your dowel, and begin lining the straws alongside the dowel. Starting about three inches from the bottom, lay the straws, moving backward, along the length of the dowel. Begin binding these to the dowel with the twine. You will need to tie them very securely. You can add as many layers of straw as you wish, depending on how full you would like your Besom to be.
When the straw is secured, bend the top straws down over the twine ties. When they are all gently pulled over, tie off the straws again a few inches below the original tie. Leave the Besom overnight to allow the straw to dry.
The dowel part of the Besom can be stained, painted, or decorated with Pagan symbols, your Craft name, or any other embellishments you choose. Dedicate your finished Besom in your Circle as you would any other ritual tool.
(The above "Making a Besom" is quoted directly from Edain McCoy's book “The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways”.
Faery Section: Nunnehi - North America. These elves are sacred to the cherokees. It is said that they live in underground towns. And assist the indians in their times of need.
Cricks Corner: Greetings folks, on Oct 2nd. my closest friend, Tom Mix, put a gun to his head and terminated his life. I had known Tom for over 20 years, he a Christian and I a Witch. And we closer than blood brothers. And though I am saddened at his parting, at the same time I reserve a great deal of displeasure with Tom. I have always personally believed that this life is but one of many that we have to go through on our way to spiritual perfection. And I have always believed that no matter how difficult the lesson is before us, we have to endure. I fully realize that every reader of this newsletter either has experienced a situation/s or is going to experience a situation where you wish you were not in this realm. Believe me folks, I can personally relate. But we are walking towards death with the very first breath that we take at birth. But to drop out of the class (this realm) prior to your time is just wrong. That is a decision that only Deity has the right to make. No matter how hard the lesson we are enduring at the time, we have to realize and truly believe that the God and Goddess are as close as our hearts. We have to trust that they will only test us as much as we can endure and no more. And folks, as pagans, it is our responsibility to be there if a sister or brother needs a shoulder to lean on for a moment. By helping each other, we will all make it to the next step on the spiritual road.
In closing I would like to say; Tom ole buddy, I miss you my friend, and I personally think that you made a wrong decision. But may Her light shine on your path my brother. And if Deity wills it, our spirits will cross paths again.
Until next time Cailleachs... Crick
An nì chì na big, ‘s e nì na big.
"What the little ones see, the little ones do."
Are you a pagan writer? Would you like to contribute an article to the Whispering Winds newsletter? Please send your comments, and/or submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor in Chief: Crick
Web site: http://whisperingwood.homestead.com/
Subscriber countries: Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Canada, United States, Ireland, Germany, England, Scotland