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Personal Saints

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When most people think of saints, I think they conjure an image of individuals who have achieved an almost demigod status in Catholicism. 

The most basic definition of saint I can find is : An individual who exemplifies virtue and sanctity.

Saints are not exclusive to Christianity. They are found in every religion that I looked up.

Saints are supposed to inspire adherents ..to give them something to aspire towards. Otherwise what’s the point of exemplifying?

There’s also nothing saying that a saint have to be human, such as in the case of St Michael, who is also an archangel or the case a Brigid, a goddess turned saint.

So I have modified the above definition to what I feel is a more open definition: A saint is an entity who has characteristics or abilities that others find admirable and wish to emulate and incorporate into their lives or call upon when needed.

I have always liked the idea of Saints in spirituality. They are kinda like the superheroes of religion. They are reachable and accessible. They are on a closer level with adherents than deity in many religions. Now I know one of the main precepts of most pagan spirituality is that deity IS relatable and accessible to us. So why am I going on about saints?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought for some time now to the notion of personal saints. I think that pagan spirituality is far too varied to try to come up with a list of saints that epitomize paganism, everyone’s got their own opinions However it is possible to grant sainthood to individuals that you have great esteem and respect for. Individuals who have made a mark upon you and, in your opinion, upon the world. Individuals who you could call upon to aid you.

So what’s the difference between calling someone a saint and calling someone a hero?

…. nothing really

But I do think that slapping the label of saint in front of someone’s name, that you hold very important, changes how you think about them a little bit. Sometimes formal titles make all the difference, that can be good or it can be bad. In this instance I think it might add a measure of awe and reverence to an individual you admire. Using that title when talking to others can also reflect and impress upon them exactly how deeply you care about that individual.

A word of caution, a title such as saint can also imply something similar to perfection. In my opinion nothing is “perfect” everything has flaws and quirks even those that you would bestow the title of saint upon. Everyone has done something wrong or bad during their existence. The questions you should ask about a possible saint are: Is the wrong that they have done forgivable? Has the good they have done outweigh the wrong? Your opinion is a perfectly acceptable answer to these questions.

A list of personal Saints can grow and change as your life does. You may devise rituals and specific offerings to your saints. You might even come up with your own specific feast days for them. You also might do nothing at all other than acknowledge them as your saints.

As of right now my list of saints is pretty small.. 2 actually. St Tesla and St Clause. I won’t go into why for either of them right now as I’m planning a post about St Clause very soon.

Just a little somethin’ for y’all to ponder.

My Samhain went as I had hoped. I did not do everything I said I was going to do but I still felt satisfaction, closure, and determination to get through the long, dark, cold months.

The day of my last post I was pruning back some Black Eyed Susan at work. It occurred to me that they would make a lovely deathly bouquet. The long dry stems, the withered leaves, and little black seed heads looked great bunched up together.  they looked as if they had been left on a grave too long. The thought seems to be a perfect offering reflecting my views on the season.   I created 3 bouquets from all the cuttings and still had a very very large amount left. I took the remaining deposited them at various points along the edges of the woods… another offering of sorts unto itself… my hope would be that the seeds too crude and grew next year.

While leaving small tangled bouquets here and there, I walked into a small Paw-Paw patch. Just the day before was our first heavy frost of the year. Many of the popas along the edge show the kiss of the cold, their leaves were dying fast. Slightly farther in the leaves were still green sheltered from the frost by the towering trees over head. There, untouched by the chill, hung a lone ripening fruit. I took it as a sign that this too was part of my offerings. The next morning long before the Sun rose I went out to my little altar and I laid the fruit bouquet there for any hungry spirits that wandered by.

That afternoon my family and I celebrated the last harvest by bringing in our last harvest. We dug sweet potatoes from the cold earth. The very last 4 weeks of work now overgrown and withered garden. We talk some of the sleeping earth, the darkness, and the awakening and renewal of the earth in spring.

The next evening I began more festive and energetic activities to mark the Samhain. I really enjoyed the secular celebration of Samhain. Rather the celebrants realize it or not they are giving energy to the holiday and making it easier for spirits to move about and for us and them to cross worlds. Samhain isn’t all about somberness and mourning. It’s also about embracing the darkness. To recognize that we all have dark sides and that’s okay. That loss and death can be marked with both smiles and tears.

My little ones and I sat down that evening begin making our pinata. As I had stated my theme was to be a Day of the Dead skull. The came out looking pretty good. We stuffed it with a few treats and some fortunes. They sat down and made ghosts, pumpkins, spiders, and worms out of paper to add to it.

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The next day I bought a pumpkin. Unfortunately money was a little tight this year and we were unable to go to a patch to pick our pumpkins nor the little ones able to get little pumpkins of their own.

Yet this is a special year anyway because this was the first year they would help carve the pumpkin. We sat down to begin drawing faces that we wanted to carve the pumpkin. Then Mama, in her infinite wisdom as the Pumpkin Queen, mixed and matched pieces from all 3 drawings to divine the face of the spirit of our pumpkin.

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Samhain for us is a bit like Christmas. Unfortunately I had to work that day but I made arrangements to get off of work a couple of hours early. We counted down the minutes till I got home. Mama and the little ones pass the time by making candy coated pretzels splattered in “gore”. Just a side note candy coated pretzels are one of my all time favorite treats…yum.

Once I got to the house the little ones donned their costumes. Link and Navi from the Legend of Zelda. A few pretzels for snack and then it was outside to bust open my skull. It didn’t take very long… Next year I need to make it thicker.

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But they had a good time and I had a good time wearing what was left of the skull!

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Then it was off to trick or treat! A town near our home does a really wonderful safe Halloween. They closed down all of downtown Main Street to traffic so your little ones and you don’t have to worry about dodging cars. They even set up games and a moon bounce in the street. Merchants, police, fire, rescue, politicians, and other groups all give out candy. Gleeful costumed people covered the street. The atmosphere was highly charged, Peking the interest of more than one invisible participant. I felt them merrily moving among the crowd or peering curiously from a shadow or around a corner.

I did have one bit of strange fate occur to me that night. I lost a piece of jewelry that was very special to me. Now this could be upsetting but considering the night it occurred I know it to be a sign. Many months ago I made a small charm to wear from the bottom of my braid. It not only represent my craft but was also a protective amulet.

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For sometime now it has been trying to get lost. So I had been considering either adding things to it or remaking it completely. Its energy in connection with me was waning so its departure was no big surprise to me. Maybe it will bring some other Halloween goer luck or maybe some spirit fancied it. Either way its link with me was broken so no ill will come of it being in someone else’s possession.

This year’s Samhain really boosted my resolution and fortitude to face the coming dark times both around me and within me. I hope it is done the same for you. Blessings on you and yours.

I’ve never been one to go in for real big celebrations. Trick or treating and a bonfire is usually all I ever do for Samhain.  This year however feels different. I want to do more. I’m not going all out and make my life and my house look like Samhain threw up all over it. But I do want to do more.

I want to do things that reflect my views on Samhain, Autumn in general, the end of summer, and the dying of the light.

We always get a large family pumpkin. We then sit down and design a face every year and that is what I carve. The kids get smaller pumpkins and they usually paint on them. This year I think I’m going to make a few lanterns from cans, cut to resemble skulls. I’m going to let them burn in rememberance of the dead. 

It may sound a little odd but I’m also going to do a pinata this year. Its something my little ones enjoy and I really want to incorporate them into my celebrations. My mind started thinking on the idea when I saw a sun pinata at the store. I thought it would be a great way to say farewell to the sun. But anyone who reads this blog knows I like making things and the Sun pinata didn’t quite capture how I feel about the season. So I’m going to make one that will hopefully looks kinda like a skull and give it a day of the Dead paint job. Making it will also allow me to have a project with my little ones that is involved with the season. I’m going to stuff it with some treats yes but there’s also going to be some other things. Things for divination, like fortunes and runes to foretell the coming year.

I won’t be doing it but for a Samhain party or something I can see also adding little packets of magical herbs, stones, or other magic items.

As well I’ll be doing my bonfire. I already mentioned lighting the lanterns for the dead but I’ll also be leaving out food to feed them on their night out.

As of today I still have not started implementing all the things I want to do. I’m hoping to find time in the next couple of days…. procrastination is as always a real problem for me. Maybe I should offer that up to a passing spirit, let them take that problem away for me, back to the Nether. In fact I got a whole list I could send with one, if one was gracious enough to take them for me..

The season has me in an awesome mood. Probably my two most favorite trees in the entire universe are now gifting us with their bounty. The nuts of the black walnut and hickory are ready. They fall off the trees in the breeze with a resounding “thunk” as a hit the ground, or the unwary individual. The squirrels are happily busy gnawing away husk and shell. Then burying their hard won treasures like little bushy tailed pirates.

The black walnut (Juglans nigra) is a true walnut and found in the mid-atlantic to midwest regions of North America. Though it appears to be greatly abundant here in the Appalachians but it seems to be less so in eastern parts of Virginia.

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The nuts are edible and quite good for you but is trying to obtain. The husks stain everything they touch. On fact for centuries they have been used for dying. The shells are hard as rocks. One has to be very skilled not to completely obliterate the nut meat within.

The heartwood is gorgeous, a deep earth brown that needs nothing more than a costing of oil to bring out its true beauty and luster. I love working with black walnut. I use it for everything from making jewelry, wands, athames, toys, spoons, and slingshots … yes I said slingshot I love to slingshots… in fact one day soon you’ll see a whole post on what I feel is the magical significance of a slingshot.

Hickories are comprised of several species of the family Carya. They are found throughout North America.

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Like the black walnut, the nuts of the hickory are edible. Though they are even more rarely eaten as the black walnuts. Personally I like them. Everyone is always after the hickory smoked taste at barbecues. To me the nuts taste very much like that.

What hickory is most prized for is its wood. Hickory is the strongest and toughest wood in North America. Its applications are nearly endless, most notably and probably most heavily used in the construction of tools. The wood tends to be very straight grained but can be very trying to work with.

Another tree I am real fond of is a secret even unto many southerners. Tucked away in deep hollows and forgotten places is the diminutive and shadowy Paw-Paws.

Paw-Paws ( Asimina triloba) is, to my knowledge, the largest fruit native to North America. Paw-Paws are an understory tree found in the eastern and midwestern US in to Canada . They thrive in well-drained soil such as drain swails and other similar places. If you don’t know what a Paw-Paw is or never heard the expression “Way down yonder in the Paw-Paw patch” You are missing out on a real southern treat. In the spring Paw-Paw flowers hang brown and limp, hidden away beneath its own leaves, from the light of the sun. They fill the air with the smell of decomposing flesh, the scent of death, to attract its pollinator, the fly.

Paw-Paws ripen at the end of September to the beginning of October here in the Appalachians of Virginia. The trees here are not very prolific out of a dozen trees you might get one that has one or two fruits on it. You may spend some time just finding a patch let alone harvesting just a few pounds.

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Paw-Paws do not keep very long. Their shelf life and texture are comparable to a banana. This also gives rise to many of the other colloquial names for Paw-Paws. To me Paw-Paws have a texture similar to an overripe banana. The taste is unique something like custard and very delicious. Most commonly they are eaten fresh but I do know people who make Paw-Paw wine and I believe you can make a preserves from them as well.

In my magical practice I think black walnuts and hickories have strong and protective properties and are thus related to earth. Black walnut however is more often used in ornamental and less utilitarian functions. As well the tree also likes more wet conditions as its habitat, so I also relate to the element of water.

Hickory has an association with craftsmanship. As well it has been used in the manufacturing of bows and other weapons giving it an aggressive quality as well as strength and protection. In my practice I associate it also with fire. I do give both more masculine qualities they both feel very masculine to me… Many of the items that I make out of black walnut and hickory are decorated and dedicated to Herne the Horned One.

You will not find Paw-Paws on any magical correspondence list that I know of. They have a very feminine feel about them. Paw-Paws to me are magically linked to hidden realms, the unseen, and death. They flourish in wild and untrod places. It revels in darkness, and embraces the imitation of death and decay. The American fruit of the underworld… I would gladly offer it up to feed the honored dead or those that stand at the gates to the Nether. Especially at this time of the year when we pay homage to the other side.

The ripening of the fruits of these three trees mark the arrival of autumn more so to me than any date or a calendar. They epitomize the mournful and waning aspects of these last days of the Sun. They bring to my attention the shift in the season around me and within myself. Welcome autumn.

Well so much for a post every two weeks!! My life over the last two months had a massive upheaval. I’m not going to go into the details of what has been going on. I will say that the reason for the upheaval was completely my own fault and I am bound and determined to correct it.   That being said my spirituality and my magic has been with me throughout it all.

Lughnasadh and Mabon have come and gone. Though they were quiet they did not slip past me unmarked. Autumn seeps into the land. The air is cooler. The leaves on the trees are worn, some have already begun their decent. They cluster in small out of the way places, an omen of what is to come.

Autumn by far is my favorite time of the year. Spring is all about getting ready and summer is all about getting through. Autumn is about winding down, about relaxing. Its a time to reflect on what you have done. A time to think about what you could have done better and smile and congratulate yourself on what you did acomplish. I think that’s why they’re so many festivals in autumn. It’s the golden days, the twilight. The day’s toil is at an end for gods and men. Time for family, friends, and fun.

How we celebrate the autumn in the good ol’ US of A I think truly epitomizes how I look at the season. Harvest festivals are abound in this country, celebrating what you grew, what you put up, and what you made. There are competitions and games of every manner to award achievement and skill. Then of course there is the food! Autumn is truly the season of plenty. All the delicious, fatty, sweet, and savory foods. The smells and the flavors call to us. Beacon to us to instinctually put on a few extra pounds. To prepare ourselves for the cold, lean times ahead.

The feelings of community and togetherness are openly present in the shorter and cooler days of autumn. People are friendlier, more jovial. Without the hustle of spring or the heat weariness of summer, folk are more relaxed and inclined for fun. Myself included in that.

I look forward to the autumn, its slower, golden days. I welcome it and I welcome the thoughts, feelings, and activities that it brings with it. I welcome its changes, blessings, and portents. Good medicine for my soul especially with all that I’ve had going on. Thank you autumn.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my workshop making all manner of things some are items that I intend to sell. I’ve been trying to think of more unique things that I can sell that set me apart. The fact is the internet is full of pagans trying to make a living being pagan. I have stated it before, I don’t want to get rich but there aint no point in trying to sell online if I can’t make a single sale. If I am offering the same thing as everyone else out there, then what is the difference if a person buy from me or someone else? If I can’t always offer a unique type of item or service then whatever services or items I do provide need to be special and worthwhile. I am also going to aim more at the southern folk magic ( particularly Appalachian magic) and traditional witchcraft areas for my business. The area is not completely flooded yet but I understand being in such a small niche limits my possibility of sales.
I am planning on selling some herbs, but most of that can be acquired easily from any number of pagan website. What I do plan to sell are things that are not readily cultivated. Plants that have to be foraged for.

While I am a very good finder and wildcrafter. You are going to see much more of my making abilities in my “shop”.

One of the things that will kinda set me apart is that I like to work with local items especially things that I found. It won’t always be the case, things say like wands, I like to make from local woods and white quartz I come across. I have a couple of nearly completed ones on my workbench right now. As well as a prototype magic knife that may also appear in the shop. I have a few other ideas as well some of them of a more arcane mechanical nature. I don’t want to share any of them right now. I consider them to be among my most unique ideas and the ones to have the best chance for making me any money. So they will not be revealed until I have some more R and D and they make an appearance in the shop.

As far as services go I’m still debating if I want to offer them online or not. For some time now I’ve been advertising my services on Craigslist. My debate is not whether or not to sell my services online but to actually perform them through online means. Things such as online readings have always seemed impersonal to me. Because I consider reading for someone to be a very personal thing.

My advertising through Craigslist has so far been fruitless. I’ve had people with interest contact me but none of it panned out to actual work.

In truth I kinda have this idea. I would like to work close to the community I live in. Granted most of the community “officially” does not sanctify nor believe in what I do, but we all know that that is not really true. People who have made public claims of disbelief in magic many times seek out magic practitioners for their needs. So I would be walking a line. Working from the background, in the shadows. Which makes it very hard to build a clientele… but slow growth usually means strong rooted.

The process of getting started is very slow. My personal issue with impatience is hard to hold back.. but I am serious about trying to do this for a living. To do that I have to do it right so that means a lot of preliminary work. I’m not going to be so bold as to set a deadline for myself. For now I’m just going to continue to make and plan. I’m going to let this grow naturally to let my course fully visualize before my eyes. It’s worth it

I can’t believe it! It’s been one year of nearly almost semi regular posting… for me that’s a record. It’s definitely not a lot of posts, 18 at last count. But I stuck with it it didn’t call by the wayside and be discarded like so many other blogs out there.

It has definitely been a good experience for me. I have been going through some pretty major life changes in the last year, much of which I am NOT going to go into detail about here… much too boring. I will say that my spirituality has been a main focal point in all that change. Blogging has served to help strengthen my spirituality and has also been an outlet for that strengthened and spirituality.

At this one year anniversary I’ve been reflecting on the nature of the blog. It’s filled a lot with my views on my spirituality. In the future I would like it to include more posts about my day to day practices. Post about the little things, small devotionals, little habits, things that you do without too much thought or flare. I feel like that it is in the bits and pieces of a witch’s practice that you can really truly understand the individual. I would also like to post more about my arcane mechanics and my “hillbillyism” in general. These are aspects of me that I feel are important and ones that I feel I need to share.

18 posts in a year is not bad… 19 if you can’t this one but I would like to get better about posting I would like to see a post about every 2 weeks. In truth I’m not a very good communicator. I have a hard time sharing thoughts just for the sake of sharing thoughts. But I think I can handle 26 posts in the next year. I would also like to do more to increase the presence of my blog. I am sure someone out there has to be interested in what I have to say. Just so you all know, comments and feedback help to facilitate me to post more so… hint, hint, wink, wink.

So in closing I want to thank all the readers that are reading my blog. I see the stats I know there are some. I am grateful to the whole pagan blogging community it was their inspiration and blogging that encourage me to do it myself. I am looking forward to another year and a positive this one will be better than the last.

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