The Full Snow Moon

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Tonight is The Full Snow Moon (also known as the Storm, Chaste, Quickening or Hunger Moon). It is our wake up call. During this time, all in nature is pure and full of potential. The hibernating creatures are beginning to slowly arouse themselves, quickening their heartbeats, and creeping out of their dormant period. Mother Earth is gently awakening, full of new possibilities. The Snow Moon uses the same force upon us.

There is a gentle pulling upon our consciousness at this time, we become aroused to the latent forces within ourselves – now is the time to turn the mirror in upon ourselves, and see what is reflected. A time to grasp the buds of new paths and ideas, and like nature, be prepared to welcome life anew.

February’s Full Moon is in Leo, this is the sign of ambition and confidence, you should feel a rush of energy and want to get things done. The Leo Full Moon message is to awaken to your heart’s desires and act on your truth, figure out what it really is you want from life, then work out a bold plan to achieve it.

The Leo Full Moon can be emotionally charged. Leo is larger than life. Leo rules big emotions. Leo rules drama. You may feel overly sensitive to the remarks and actions of other people. This Moon can bring out the drama Kings and Queens in all of us. The Leo Full Moon may feel pretty intense. If you like intense, you may well enjoy its spark and energy, but if you’re already feeling somewhat jaded and in need of a rest, it might be a good time to lay low and let the world pass you by rather than engaging too deeply with it.

The Full Moon will be very bright tonight as it highlights our lives and shows us underneath the masks we all wear on a daily basis. This is a time to harness your inner power and your strengths and look to the future, make plans, and think positively. The cosmic message is to balance your heart with your head. Find the middle ground in your relationships. Live from your heart. Yet, be practical in your approach to your dreams and goals. Plant the seeds of fate within ourselves and watch them develop over the coming months.

Have a blessed Full Moon. May the Goddess watch over you.

*Full written credit goes to Wicca Teachings*

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How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”…

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How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”

In the very near future, I will be spending a huge chunk of my time in Israel. It will be nice not having to explain holidays to anyone or explaining why Christmas is just another day to me. For now, in the suburbs of a predominantly Irish and Italian neighborhood with a good 20 churches in pretty much every direction I turn (I wish I was exaggerating), I am still explaining myself. I have no idea why people still think their religion is the only one that exists on this planet. I’ll never understand it!

I am completely respectful of other people’s religious beliefs and their holidays, so long as I am not subjected to them in a means to try and convert me, but my spiritual beliefs and holidays are often met with some extremely disturbing questions, as opposed to the few I have received recently that were honest, curious, and filled with excitement for knowledge. They were by no means offensive. When a person is open and honest, and interested, it makes it so much easier for me to be me, as opposed to feeling like I have to repress my thoughts.

A few weeks ago someone wished me a “Merry Christmas” and received my usual response, which is that I do not celebrate Christmas. This is someone whose establishment I frequent once or twice a month, and not only did she look like I’d just kicked her, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me. I had to explain that I celebrate Chanukah and Yule, and that I am not Catholic or Christian. She was incredibly confused, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me with a wish for a good holiday. Me, I simply like to be clear with people. I am not trying to offend anyone, but if you’re going to wish me well, wish me properly. Don’t make assumptions and please, don’t tell me I “don’t look Jewish”. I don’t even know how to answer that one without telling you off, and because I come from a rich ancestral well of knowledge and an incredibly deep DNA pool, I can assure you that we come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. We are all distinctly unique, some more than others.

Growing up, Christmas was not a word used much in our home. Not for any other reason than the simple fact that we’re Jewish. We had many Christian and Catholic friends, some who understood and some who did not, that we ourselves did not celebrate the same holiday, nor did we share the same spiritual or religious beliefs that they did. It is extremely disturbing to me that in 2013, any Jew still has to explain themselves.

People like to quote the Bible at me, and they are generally New Testament folk. They’re the kinds of people that don’t realize exactly how “new” the New Testament really is. I, myself, do not adhere to anything outside of the Old Testament. Even that kind of loses me at times. Prayer is an amazing thing, but I like to stick to my own path when it pertains to anything of a spiritual nature. I am not trying to change or convert anyone.

Today is simply December 25th to me. It’s not a holiday, but it IS my Great-Uncle’s birthday. He passed away 15 years ago, but I still remember him very clearly. I remember the last things he ever said to me, and I remember how silent this time of year became after he passed away. For several years prior to his passing, myself and two other family members would try to spend the day with him. Even though he had long since stopped acknowledging his own birthday, he still loved going out to a nice restaurant and enjoying good food, good company, and he told stories like nobodies business. They’re the kinds of stories you want to hear from someone over the age of 80, because you know that no matter how much time passes, you will never hear such stories again.

After he passed away, the tradition maintained in my home on Christmas Day was movies and good food. Either we went to the movies and came home to a really great meal, or we stayed home with a pile of movies and made a meal together. Almost always, it was homemade Italian food from scratch, or Chinese food from the best place in the area.

To know me is to know that I make killer Italian food. It’s something I love doing, but I am just as comfortable making Asian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, and pretty much anything else that I have mastered in all my years of cooking. Nothing is impossible, but I am an epic lasagna failure. It’s the only thing I make that falls apart, so I’ve stopped doing it. It is never inedible, it just never does what it’s supposed to do. Despite a family recipe for veggie lasagna that has been passed down for four generations, I completely and utterly suck at it. It’ll probably be another ten years before I attempt it again. It takes time and patience, and we all know I have no patience.

Over time I have found that people really seem to be offended whenever I clarify that I do not celebrate Christmas. They look at me like I kick puppies, torture kittens, steal winning lottery tickets, and am just, on a whole, not a good person. I look at them with the knowledge that, for over 5000 years, my people have not celebrated Christmas. It’s not on our calender and it’s not in our religious texts. It’s perfectly ok to not share the same religious beliefs. If we did, we’d be living in some kind of bizarre utopia. That’s not a world I can imagine functioning in. Differences make the world go ‘round. We can either choose to come together and learn from one another or we can continue fighting in the name of religion. The choice, however, is generally not ours to make because those that govern our respective countries are a huge part of why organized religion is failing. I could go on, but I won’t, or I assure you, I will offend you.

One year a family friend (one of my brother’s best friends at the time), on leave from the Army, wanted me to convince my brother to come to midnight mass with him. I, personally, do not spend time in churches. It has never been my thing. My brother politely declined, but as his friend became more insistent he finally said “Look, there’s a Jew hanging from a cross in no less than 7 places in there. With that track record, I don’t care to be the sacrifice sometime between midnight and 2 a.m.” We ALL laughed, and no one was offended.

This very same friend asked us about Christmas trees, genuinely wanting to know “If we put up Christmas trees, what do Jewish people do?” Never one to miss an opportunity, I turned around and said “We put up a Chanukah Bush, John.” He nodded and said “Oh, ok.” I said absolutely nothing for a few minutes, everyone was in on it because they’d heard me do this little bit before. Finally, after suppressing serious laughter to the point where I almost hurt myself, I admitted to him that I was just fucking around with him, that there was no such thing as a Chanukah Bush (though I admit, I know some people that put one up because they love Christmas trees, but don’t celebrate Christmas). Again, laughter ensued. You have to really know me to know that I will joke like that with the people that know me best, and that, while inappropriate to some, I am careful what I say in mixed company because I don’t go out of my way to be hurtful to others. I do like to be very clear though, that’s just my way. Humor and clarity.

Approximately 11 ½ years ago, Wicca was introduced to me. It is the perfect blend of a nature based religion steeped in Kabbalistic teachings. Kabbalah is Jewish Mysticism. If you don’t know what that is, use a search engine. That will explain it more clearly for you.

For me, Wicca was like coming home. It was pretty much everything I had been raised around, especially a love for animals and nature, and the elements. Part of the Wiccan Rede is “An it harm none, do as ye will”. There is no governing body, you govern yourself, and the Wiccan Rede tells you “So long as you are not harming anyone, do as you will. Live your life.” It is laid back and calm, and it brings an extra level of peace to my life. Even my Rabbi is comfortable with my spiritual beliefs. He’s one of the most open people I have ever met, so I feel supremely comfortable being myself and speaking my mind around him. Until I met him, I had NEVER been in the presence of a man of God and not felt judged. However, my Rabbi is unique. He too, is from a foundation of “You’re not harming anyone by being you. Live your life.” In this, I always feel incredibly blessed.

Almost all of my friends are religiously different than I am, and that is beyond ok. I am not sitting in judgement of them or their beliefs. I want them to be their authentic selves, and I can only hope they want the same for me. I have friends that are Jewish and friends that are Wiccan, so I don’t feel spiritually deprived in any sense of the word. We should all celebrate what we believe in and do so with those we love. We should wish the people in our lives well EVERY DAY, not just during the month of December.

So Lisa, exactly how does a Jewish American Wiccan “celebrate Christmas”? Simply put, I don’t. I ignore the insanity of my neighbors, all of whom DO celebrate Christmas, and I go about my day. I will bake Cranberry Orange scones for breakfast, I will do laundry and maybe enjoy a movie. I will play with my fuzzy little Princess. Later on, I will be making a nice meal for the family I am spending my day with. I might even get some writing finished, if I’m feeling up to it. Basically, anything goes. It’s just another quiet day for me. After years and years spent taking care of others, quiet days are something I really treasure.

Wishing you & yours a beautiful holiday season.

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Happy Yule!

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What is Yule?

Yule is celebrated on the 21st of December and falls on the Winter Solstice.

In Wicca we celebrate 8 Sabbats throughout the year, these are Solar festivals which mark the changing of the 4 seasons and the 2 Equinox (Spring and Autumn) and 2 Solstices (Summer and Winter).

On the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year, there is a great battle between the two Sun Gods,  the Lord Of Darkness (the Waning Sun) and the Lord Of Light (The waxing Sun). On the Summer Solstice, the Lord Of Darkness wins the battle and becomes ruler of the skies. The days will then begin to get shorter and the nights longer, it becomes cold, the earth begins to die and become barren of any growth or vegetation.

The Goddess goes through 3 stages throughout the year. In spring she is a young maiden, young and fertile.  The Lord of Light is also young and wild. In late Spring/beginning of Summer, the Goddess and the Lord Of Light marry and mate for the first time, and the earth starts to blossom and bloom at their union. The Sun Gods’ light is very powerful and takes a lot of energy, but by late summer The Sun God is weak and the Goddess is heavily pregnant with the abundance of the harvest to come. The Dark Lord lies in wait in the underworld for the Sun God to become weakened and on the Summer Solstice he rises from the underworld to fight the Lord of Light, and he wins. It takes until Samhain for The Lord of Light to descend into the underworld (Which is the Goddesses womb).

The Goddess, now in her mother phase, gives birth to the harvest, and at the end of Autumn the Goddess is in her Crone phase, as the wise old woman who watches over earth and mankind.

On the Winter Solstice (Yule), The Goddess, with her last ounce of energy, gives birth to the Lord Of Light, his power and strength are so strong that he knocks the Dark Lord from the sky. By giving birth to the Lord Of Light, the Goddess sacrifices herself and dies, going into the underworld to rest until she is reborn as a young maiden once more in the Spring.

On Yule we celebrate the return of the Lord Of Light. We look forward to the days getting longer and warmer in the months to come. To encourage the Lord Of Light to shine we remind him of times when we had plenty, we have big feasts, decorate our homes with evergreens to show that life still grows, even when the earth is barren. We put shiny things around the home, and light fires and candles to represent the God of Light and encourage him to grow.

Yule is a time to have a great feast and give gifts to friends and family to show our gratitude for them, but if all your friends and family celebrate Christmas, then it is fine to have your feast and gift-giving then, if you choose.

You should decorate your altar with seasonal fare, wrap up well and go for a long walk to a park or woodland, and pick up any seasonal twigs, acorns, nuts, feathers, stones, and rocks that you find, and put them on your altar. Adorn your altar with fruits, mistletoe, holly, evergreen shrubs, and branches. Give offerings of mulled wine and spices to the Goddess and give offerings of Light to the Baby God.

Mainly on this day we give thanks to the Lord of Darkness, for keeping us well through winter and say goodbye to his rule. We give thanks to the Goddess for her sacrifice to ensure ours and the earth’s survival, and we celebrate the return of the young Lord of Light, still growing and becoming stronger day by day.

Use this time to meditate and set plans and goals for the coming year, show gratitude for all you have, and all the people in your life. Light a fire using a Bloc na Nollaig (Yule Log) made from Oak wood and make wishes into the flames for the coming year.

Tonight is the Winter Solstice and will be the longest night of the year, it is a magical time of transition. After this day, the nights will start to get shorter and the days will become longer. As the waxing Sun grows in strength in the coming months, the earth will start to blossom once more.

I hope you have a fantastic Solstice and that it will be filled with magic, merriment, and light. Blessed be.

 100% Credit goes to Wicca Teachings
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The Mourning Moon

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In November, the Mourning Moon is upon us. It’s also known as the Fog Moon or Snow Moon, depending on where you live. Some Native American tribes referred to it simply as The Moon When Deer Shed Antlers (although in most regions, it’s more accurate to say they’re shedding their velvet – a buck doesn’t usually lose antlers until later in the winter, unless you’re very far north.). In the early Celtic society, November was the beginning of the new year. Why not use the magic of this moon phase to celebrate new beginnings?

Correspondences:

  • Colors: Gray, blues
  • Gemstones: Lapis lazuli, turquoise, topaz
  • Trees: Cypress, alder, hazel
  • Gods: Bastet, Isis, Kali, Hecate, Astarte
  • Herbs: Thistle, betony, verbena, fennel
  • Element: Water

This is a time of washing away the baggage of the past and letting it go. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to focus on the joys of the future. During the Mourning Moon phase, say goodbye to bad habits and toxic relationships, and get a fresh start for the new year. Work on developing and strengthening your connection with Deity.

 

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*I take no credit for this information. It’s simply my monthly Full Moon post. I cannot, for the love of God, remember who wrote this, but when I am able to locate my notes, she will be fully credited.*

 

 

Blessed Samhain & Happy Halloween

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Today is Samhain. It is one of the most important of the 8 Sabbats as it is the Pagan New Year. The wheel of the year has turned full circle and a new year begins. The word ‘Samhain’ means Summers end. It is pronounced ‘Sowin’. Samhain is the third of the harvest festivals, only this isn’t a harvest of crops or grain, it is the harvest of flesh. It was the time of year when farmers and families would slaughter cattle and preserve the meat to last through the cold winter months. Samhain is a festival of death as it is the death of the year and of the waxing Sun. It is also the death of the earth when Plants, seeds, and acorns are now slowly descending underground to ready themselves to be reborn in Spring. Animals will start to hibernate, and the earth will appear barren as it sleeps through the winter months.
Earth energies are being pulled inwards at this time, and this is the time we should also be looking inwards at ourselves. Contemplate the year we have had and the lessons we have learned, whether they were good or bad, what can we take from them and use in the future. The God of the waxing Sun descends into the underworld opening up the veil between the two worlds of the living and the dead. At Samhain, spirits can commune with the living and visit us. We remember our ancestors, the people and pets who have died, and we honor them by placing pictures of them on our altars (you do not need an altar to be Wiccan) and invite them to join us. We should also adorn our altars with seasonal fare such as fallen leaves, twigs, acorns, nuts, turnips, and pumpkins and offer these as gifts to the Triple Goddess who is now in her crone phase. She is the wise, dark mother of knowledge and days past.

Although a time of death, Samhain is also a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. It is a time of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, to start looking forward to our future. On Samhain we should light a fire, as this is primarily a Celtic fire festival where the villagers and townsfolk would light giant bonfires to say goodbye to the God of the waxing Sun, and to thank the Goddess for her gifts bestowed upon the earth. There would also be big feast with stews, corn, and breads, and we would give thanks for people in our lives and show gratitude for all that we have, and give thanks to the people who are no longer with us and invite them to join us at the feast.

Light a candle tonight and put it, safely, near a window facing West to light the way for our lost loved ones and invite their spirits to visit us.

Today is a great time for divination, for doing tarot readings, looking to the future, and asking ourselves how we can improve our lives and move forward for the coming year.

Have a Blessed & Safe Samhain/Halloween.

*Written credit in full goes to Wicca Teachings*
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Rosh Hashanah 2013

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For those who maybe haven’t picked up on it yet, I am Jewish. 100% through and through because, even though I disagree with varying viewpoints at times, I believe in a spiritual deity, and it’s drastically different from the church and its teachings.

I am not posting this in an attempt to convert anyone, because that’s not my deal at all, but I am posting it to share and explain.

In late 2002, while studying Psychology & Comparative Religion, I stumbled upon Wicca as a 2nd “faith”, if you will. Growing up with Kabbalistic Judaism, which is Jewish Mysticism for those of you who only hear Kabbalah and think of Madonna or Demi Moore, Wicca sort of brought it all home for me. It made sense out of all the things I’d been raised to believe and it made sense for my every day life. It brought me to a peaceful, calmer, happier place. A place I really needed to be considering how difficult my life had been up until that point.

Obviously there are differences between the two religions. You have a monotheist belief system, but because I grew up believing in duality of God and Goddess, Wicca, as a polytheist belief system, makes sense to me even within the confines of Judaism. I see them as being incredibly intertwined most of the time.

To be clear, I don’t practice either faith for shock value or to attract attention. I do it because it’s my spiritual path and it’s part of what makes me who I am. I’m spiritual as opposed to religious, but I have members of my family that are Ultra Orthodox and barely acknowledge my existence because I’m not “Jewish enough” for them and their way of life. We pretty much all grew up Reformed, yet they are now somehow superior to the rest of us. You can’t help, but roll your eyes. I respect their faith, but they can’t respect mine. It’s a good thing they haven’t seen my tattoos, they’d probably drop dead and spit.

My wish for this New Year is for my family & friends all over the world to have a better, happier, stronger, more secure year than the one we are leaving behind. Less struggle, more happiness. Less pain, more days where we can feel like we’re truly part of the bigger picture. More healing, less torment. More listening, less ignoring. More compassion, less negativity.

To my Rabbi, thank you for being there for me over these past six years. It has made such an immense difference having you be a voice of reason. To Shani (my sister from another mister) in Israel, I love you and I’m thinking of you.

For those of you who do not celebrate this holiday, my wishes for you remain the same.L’Shanah Tovah!

 

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A Blessing…

A Blessing

“For Equilibrium, a Blessing:

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.”  ―John O’Donohue  

Prayer…

Prayer

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”  ―Oswald Chambers

This is all too true.