Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thirteen Days of Samhain: Day 1

On the first day of Samhain, the Goddess gave to me:

A holy New Year!

October 19       Thirteen moons a’glowing
October 20       Twelve suns a’shining
October 21       Eleven witches chanting
October 22       Ten ancestors calling
October 23       Nine woods a’burning
October 24       Eight sabbat dances
October 25       Seven days a’turning
October 26       Six jack o’ lanterns
October 27       Five elements
October 28       Four pentacles
October 29       Three Goddesses
October 30       Two Horned Gods
October 31       And a holy New Year!

New Year’s Eve is here, the blessed day of Samhain itself. On this, the third and final harvest of the year…the harvest of souls, we give thanks. We honor those that have gone before. We honor the sacrifice made by our Horned Lord, and by all the animals and plants who have supported and sustained us.

May this song enrich your season of Samhain as creating it has enriched mine. Please feel free to share and play the song non-professionally – I only ask that you attribute me as the author and copyright holder.

Blessed be!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thirteen Days of Samhain: Day 2

On the second day of Samhain, the Goddess gave to me:

Two Horned Gods

The God, too, goes through his seasons and phases. He is sometimes seen as the divine twins – the oak king of the light half of the year, and the holly king at the dark half of the year. Each year, they struggle for dominance, but end up only taking each others places in an endless cycle of birth and rebirth. I also resonate with the concept of a third phase – the grain god or corn god…he who is reaped as willing sacrifice that all may be fed. He is also the hunter and the hunted – the prey that often too willingly submits to the predator that life may continue, energy transformed with no loss. He is Protector, warrior, son, lover, Master of Beasts – he is the Horned God.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thirteen Days of Samhain: Day 3

On the third day of Samhain, the Goddess gave to me:

Three Goddesses

Maiden, mother, crone – the cycle of life, the goddess in all her phases, the Earth in all its seasons. The Goddess as Maiden, the Spring, the beautiful stirrings and youth of life. Her innocence and promise are infinitely alluring. The Goddess as Mother, the Summer, fecund with abundance, her life giving womb feeds all. The Goddess as Crone, the Winter, the wisdom gained by many moons of life. Her teachings fill us with strength and give continuity to our community.

Blessed be the Great Goddess, known to all by many names and many faces:

Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inanna, White Buffalo Woman, Selene, Persephone, Aphrodite, Luna, Sunna, Skadi, Artemis, Freyja, Frigga, Cybele.

Naho and Blessed be!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Thirteen Days of Samhain: Day 4

On the fourth day of Samhain, the Goddess gave to me:

Four Pentacles

The sacred pentacle, symbol of our beloved faith. The five elements, bounded around by the circle – protector, giver of blessings. Hoop of power to be taken up by those who walk between the worlds. Symbol of Earth and all its abundance – riches beyond price, security and home.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thirteen Days of Samhain: Day 5

On the fifth day of Samhain, the Goddess gave to me:
Five Elements

Our magic becomes more powerful when we partner with the elemental powers that make up our world. Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit – they are represented in the five points of the sacred pentacle that protects and blesses us. They are represented in the sacred space we create in casting a circle. They are in each of us.

Monday, October 26, 2015


My maternal great-grandfather
The Pagan Experience - Wk 2- October 12: Ancestors. Who are your ancestors? How do you honor them? What will you leave as your legacy as you become the Ancestor?

My ancestors came to America looking for new opportunities. On my father's side of the family, I'm a second generation Italian-American. On my mother's side, a third generation German-American. From what I know of them, my ancestors were the salt of the earth. I don't know anything about my earlier ancestors, but I can only assume that they were artisans and farmers, princes and priestesses.

My paternal grandfather, born in 1900 (Papi), was a polymath - a machinist, electrician, mason, hunter, and dynamite gardener. He came here from our ancestral village, Bonefro, which is in the Abruzzi region of Italy (east of Rome). He was an inventor, perhaps what people now would call a Maker - our property was full of interesting little tools that he created and things he modified or improved. Because of him, our family homestead was immaculately landscaped and full of quirky modifications that weren't always pretty, but always worked well. My grandmother, born in 1906 (Nani), was a quiet woman, and many said that she was totally senile. I never believed it. My favorite memories of her are sitting with her out in the yard under the hemlock tree or cooking in the kitchen. She rarely spoke, but I always felt that we communicated just fine. By the time I was sentient, she had seen a lot of life. My opinion is that she was done talking about it.

Paternal family, early 1900's?
My maternal great-grandfather (Opa), also born in 1900, was a train engineer at one time. He told me stories of life on the rails in Yugoslavia. We were part of that group of Germans called Donauschwaben, which were settlers sent by the Austria-Hungarian Empire to live in the Balkans in the late 1700s. They were called boat people, or people of the Danube, because they migrated on boats down the Danube (Donau) River. He came to America when Serbian Nationalists incited the conflict that led to World War I. Over here, he did many things, among them working at the Yuengling beer factory. He was also a great cook - he taught me how to make blintzes, dumpling soup and other tasty things. Perhaps he learned to cook because my great-grandmother died young. I never got a chance to know her.

So these three people - my maternal great-grandfather and my paternal grandparents, they were a big force in my early life. All were born right around 1900, all migrated here from Europe due to turbulence of one shape or another. All lived through difficult times. All of them lived without electricity and running water for a portion of their lives. They taught me so many things, and I honor them by remembering their stories, practicing the skills they taught me and by having pride in our heritage.

Here are some things I learned from my ancestors:
  1. A small glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away, as long as you eat an apple too. (Opa)
  2. Everybody should know how to garden. (Papi, champion giant vegetable grower)
  3. Always compliment the cook and make it sincere! (Nani, amazing cook)
  4. Pasta and milk cool the mouth from hot peppers. (Nani and man, is there a good story here)
  5. Dean Martin and all Italian crooners are the best kind of music. (Papi, who had homemade outdoor loudspeakers)
  6. Take a walk every day. (Opa, who did so until he was 89)
  7. The early bird gets the best treasures on the seashore. (Aunt Marge, champion beachcomber)
  8. Wear just as much jewelry as you can fit on your body and don't listen to anyone who says no. (Aunt Marge, notorious Black Hills gold collector)
  9. Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. (Dad, who talked to *everyone* we met)
  10. Everybody has a story, including the animals. (Dad, master storyteller)
  11. Making is better than buying. (basically every relative of mine ever)
  12. Family, la dolce vita and tradition are the most important things. (Nani, Papi & Aunt Marge)
  13. The outdoors is a wondrous place to be enjoyed and lived WITH, not feared or dominated.
  14. Have reverence and respect when you hunt, and only kill to eat. (Dad, aka the Deerslayer)
  15. Don't waste anything, ever. Reduce, reuse, recycle. (again, every relative ever)
My colorful immigrant ancestors taught me many things about self-reliance, living with the land, and the importance of family, but they also taught me about America. They believed in the American Dream - this is a place where you can do anything, be anything. It takes hard work, but it can be done. I also feel grateful that they all believed that preserving culture and taking pride in heritage is important, but being part of this place is also important. 

As far as my own legacy, well...I'm a little bit young to discuss that in depth. I hope to leave this Earth in a little better shape than I found it in. I hope to have improved the lives of many more people before I depart this plane. I hope that people fondly remember me and say "she believed in me and encouraged me when no one else did". I hope to leave behind a great work, a body of writing and art and poetry and music that makes you think and laugh and cry and then take a long walk to think about it. Above all, I hope I make my beloved ancestors proud.

Thirteen Days of Samhain: Day 6

On the sixth day of Samhain, the Goddess gave to me:

Six jack o’ lanterns

At this time of year, pumpkins, winter squash and other hearty fare take center stage. We cook with them and are nourished by their hearty goodness. We also love to decorate with them, both displaying them in cornucopias and carving jack o’lanterns.

American folk tradition, that came over from the British Isles, tells us that jack o'lanterns were carved to scare away evil spirits. Those of us who work with spirits know that most spirits are not harmful. So instead, we carve jack o'lanterns to guide the dead to the spirit world.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thirteen Days of Samhain: Day 7

On the seventh day of Samhain, the Goddess gave to me:

Seven days a’turning

Did you know that the days of the week have their roots in Northern European mythology? It’s a funny world we live in, with a mish-mosh of cultures ordering our lives. Months named by the Romans, calendar by the Catholic church, days of the week by the Norse. It’s fascinating, and knowing the history helps me in my ongoing work of re-integrating the sacred into everyday life. To me, this is one of the greatest beauties of our faith.

*Please note that the graphic does not truly paint an accurate picture of history

Saturday, October 24, 2015


The Pagan Experience - WK 1- October 5: Spirit. Kicking off the Month of opening veils (Beltane and Samhain) and the mystery of the Divine….How do you define “Spirit” ?
Spirit is the fifth element, that which binds all together. Spirit is energy. Spirit is vibration. Spirit is sound. Spirit is consciousness. Spirit is what is left when we leave the physical body behind.

In my view, Spirit is mostly the same as the Divine. It is the universal energy, the life-force that forms all beings. We call this energy ki, chi, or prana - this is also Spirit. The Divine is part of this energy too, but I also see the individual deities as faces or archetypes coming out of the universal spirit.

I like to use the metaphor of the ocean. All the universe is an ocean of energy. We are droplets of water in that ocean. We are individual, yet connected. The Gods too, are a part of this. Just as the ocean can present a calm face, it can also rise up in waves or waterspouts to show its power. The ocean is mind-bogglingly large. It is mysterious and deep. We can't fully grasp it. No power in the world is greater than the ocean. It is eternal.

This is the  mystery of Spirit. Spirit is everything, but we cannot comprehend it with our minds. It is too big, too amorphous, too powerful. We can never fit Spirit into a box, but confronting it directly can burn us out like an overloaded circuit. Instead, we give it faces - our beloved Gods and Goddesses. We cloak it in symbolism. We write whole belief systems based on our encounters with it. Humanity must reduce Spirit in order to relate to it.

Spirit is the Great Mystery - limitless, infinite and eternal. Spirit is.

"The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms."

-Lao Tzu

Thirteen Days of Samhain: Day 8

On the eighth day of Samhain, the Goddess gave to me:

Eight Sabbat Dances

I am a witch who honors the eight great Sabbats – the big solar festivals that divide up our year in accordance with the seasons. It is a comfort and a joy to honor the turning of the great wheel of the year. Year by year, my Sabbat celebrations add layers of depth and meaning to my path. I firmly believe that marking the passage of time, investing it with meaning and living in tune with the rhythms of the seasons is a major part of living a healthy life.