Sunday, October 31, 2010

Samhain blessings

Back in late spring I wrote about playing in the darkness of God, and the importance of play for adults as well as children.

Now here it is, Samhain, Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, or the Eve before All Soul's Day. And there is no greater day for playing - playing with the memories of one's ancestors, playing with the veil between worlds, playing with divination, prayers, and plans for the New Year.

Traveling tonight, between and among the worlds, I have watched children trick or treat, that ubiquitous Halloween activity; watched young adults work on plans for their lifetime vocation; watched friends struggle to pray and fashion a life and home for self and family. The energy of the dying year - the Celtic year ended on Halloween, is palpable on this ending October Sunday. That we are made of our ancestors and what they built for this whole world, that we are connected to children everywhere, that we can build and fashion futures no matter our age - all are possibilities on this dying night of summer.

I realize that Samhain is a sacred night for many; yet sacred need not prevent play. Whether the wonder of Charlie Brown's Halloween special, or the wonder of wandering streets at night, or the joy of celebrating a holy holiday alone or with friends, I hope everyone gets a chance for some holy playtime tonight. The past and future are here in our hands.

It is Halloween, the veil between that which is and that which might be is thin. Joyously build the future.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Action: Save the Whales (and thousands of other species)

This is an international call for immediate signatures on protecting literally thousands of species threatened by extinction due to human behavior. Please sign here:

Days left to stop mass extinction

The petition is from the international, with the petition in multiple languages, and so PLEASE pass it on. The goal is to present millions of signatures to the Convention on Biodiversity currently going on in Japan.

So please act now. I have a whale totem in my life, and can't imagine this planet without whales. . . for all who follow a pagan/Christian/Hindu/UU/Jewish/Muslim/Wiccan/Celtic Recreationist/Shinto/Buddhist path, the sacredness of all life must be protected.

Sign now.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Coptic Christian Spells

One of the joys of the boundary between Pagan and Christian is seeing the way the lines between the two blend and merge. Hagiography is one wonderful example of this, with pre-Christian devas/deities popping up as saints all over Christian history (hello Bridget!) I recently picked up a book on early Christian magic spells, many citing Pagan and Christian deity, all used daily for over a thousand years in Egyptian Christianity.

The book is Ancient Christian Magic, Coptic Texts of Ritual Power by Marvin Meyer (Professor, Claremont College) and Richard Smith (Princeton University Press, 1999). The authors go to great lengths to address spells for luck, health, sex, protection and fertility within a context of a culture that swirled in the "ocean of cults and sects that flowed around the Roman Empire," before magic became antithetical to Christian belief. Gnostic sects were a major contributor to the magical beliefs of the times, and early church fathers condemned these sects often for that cause. Gnostic spells for ascending to heaven, incorporating Christian sacramental customs, abound. Likewise, to an early Christian, calling on Isis and Osiris in a love spell would be akin to our use of Romeo and Juliet as paradigms today.

These spells are a religious cacophony! The petitioners call on Mary, Gabriel, Michael, Osiris, isis, Horus, Solomon, Zeus, angels, Adam, Eve, and Egyptian deities I have never heard of from Batha to Harmozel! Such religious motley stew had meaning to the petitioners, who included herbs, oils, incantations and special signs and inscriptions with their words of petition, all to create a spell for a desired outcome. While modern Pagans/Christians try to explain their religious paradigms with great care and often little hope of understanding, the Coptic Christian calmly recited:

"Greetings to the powers!
Greetings, cheubim!
Greetings, seraphim!
Greetings to the twenty-four elders of the heavenly church
and everyone who dwells in it.
Greeting to the shining sun!
Greetings you twelve rulers in charge of the houses of the night.
Greetings Harmozel, the great ruler, gathering together the heavenly and earthly beings. . ."
(spell for a good singing voice, to be recited over a chalice, to Harmozel, with specific recipe for a magical ink to use on the properly prepared papyrus.)

No part of this spell includes an apology for using Christian and Pagan deity.

The spells for sexual attraction and love are great fun to read, and include straight and gay petitions. Here, in a particularly sweet spell, a man begs a magical oil to bring mutual love to his intended:

Oil! Oil! Oil! Holy OIl!
Oil that flows from under the throne of Yao Sabaoth! Oil with which isis anointed Osiris's bones, I call you Oil!
The Sun and Moon call you! The stars of Heaven call you. . . and you must make my love be in her heart and hers in mine (like) a brother and sister, or a bear (who) wants to suckle her young. Yea, yea, I (invoke) you, the one whose head is in heaven, whose feet are in the abyss, before whom is (what) is also under the Sheep, behind whom is (what) is also under Draco, the heaven of all darkness is hung. . .

Here the magical call is for a gay lover:

Celtatalbabal. Nnasknekie, by the power of Yao Sabaoth, ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS

I adjiure you by your powers and your amulets and the places whre you dwell and your names, that just as I take you and place you at the door and the pathway of Phello son of Maure, (so also) you must take his heart and his mind; you must dominate his entire body:

He must seek me from town to town, from city to city,
from field to field, from regions to region,
untel he comes to me and subjects himself under my feet -
me Papapolo son of Noe
while his hand is full of all goodness,
until I satisfy with him the desire of my heart
and the demand of my soul,
with pleasant desire and love unending,
right now, right now, at once, at once! Do my work!

Sadly, there are no included spells by women to attract sex or love from a man, though the authors mention they exist! (And we girls wanna see them! The authors do not mention if lesbian spells exist; though if they do, we wanna see them, too!) However, there are spells included by women, including spells to stop unwanted male sexual advances:

O binding of the sky,
binding of the earth,
binding of the mountain,
binding of the water,
binding of the ring of the father,
binding of the ax that is in a hand of flesh,
binding with which Christ was bound upon the wood of the cross!

May the present binding be upon the male organ of N. toward N. He must not be able to release the virginity of No; hemust not become hard, he must not have an erection, he must not ejaculate. . . May the flesh of N. be like a corpse; it must not be able to get out of the tomb, yea yea at once!

Spells abound for healing, for sleep, for safe delivery in childbirth, for protection from illness and evil curses, for good luck in business. Some petitions are to silence sleeping dogs, to bring on menstruation, instructions for amulets to bring power.

To a Coptic Christian, spells were a daily part of life. The use of spells, amulets, power oils, magical inks, all sound more today like a Wicce/Pagan/Witch than a typical Christian. Yet in the early Coptic church, magic and Christian worship were interchangeable. Calling to Jesus, Mary and Osiris were common prayers. Asking the assistance of the powers of the earth and the powers of angels was normal. Trying to be a Christian and Pagan wasn't a question - everyone felt comfortable with both - and more.

Obviously I am offering this vision of Coptic spellcasting as an example of how to explore the boundaries of religious expression. Putting together a religious faith should be a path to a faith that nurtures each of us. In no way am I saying that personal religious expression is the be all and end all of faith; helping others and political action remain central. Yet having a personal faith that fits is itself central to finding the inner resources to put that political action out there.

Coptic Christian Spells offer one model of a new way to express multiple layers of faith.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Morgan Tarot: The Dream

A fun and, well, dreamy card from Morgan's Tarot. The Dream is less easy to interpret than many of the cards I've already posted. Here is Morgan's reading for the card:


The waking dream is not contained in the head of a dreamer, nor is it outside of reality, nor is it in any unknowable space.


So what does it mean??

Well, in this case, much depends on the rest of the cards in your spread. Lots of cards about finding one's true self - quite the theme for this entire deck - and The Dream card becomes another tool for self-reflection and questing. Yet again, in a spread with many cards about future paths, this card can take on other meanings about finding one's way in the decision of life. And in a spread with cards placed as warnings, this card can itself warn against dreaming over doing.

so what you make of this card has so much to do with how it relates to the cards around it.

A good truth about dreaming, by the way. Our dreams can call, can warn, can awaken, can invoke. The Dream's meaning grows from the realities of our life.

P.S. asked for ways to meditate with these cards, I always suggest using nice coloured pencils and filling them in as you like. Enjoy!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Silly quiz time: what kind of flower are you?

Ok, fall is the time to finally get my gardens in shape for winter, and I need to post some great late summer shots of my Bridget garden. But found this quiz and am including it for the fun of all:

what kind of flower are you?

I'm a sunny and easy to care for Daffodil. Ok, I love yellow, so I can live with this!

Enjoy the quiz, and enjoy fall in your gardens!

(and while there, check out the blog: This Garden is Illegal! Great title, lots of fun information, and a great place to browse!