Make Your Own…

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”
―Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Happy Litha!

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http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/summer-solstice-2014-how-pagans-celebrate-litha-1453412

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/19/summer-solstice-2014_n_5511582.html

However you choose to acknowledge, honor, or celebrate this day, may you be blessed in doing so. 🙂

 

Full Strawberry Moon

Full Strawberry Full Moon

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Friday the 13th may be bad luck for some, for witches and Pagans it’s often considered a magical date. After all, Friday is named for Freyja, a Norse goddess of fertility (sometimes called Frigg). The ancient Egyptians associated the number thirteen with immortality, there were twelve steps on the ladder to eternal life and knowledge; the thirteenth step meant going through death into everlasting life. Upper-class Romans required thirteen guests to be present at weddings as did the Norse vikings.

Finally, thirteen has a strong association with the moon for modern Pagans and Wiccans. There are thirteen lunar cycles each year, and many of us celebrate the Full Moons with an Esbat rite. Thirteen is the traditional number of witches in a coven. You will not see another one of these occurrences until 2049.

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Tonight’s Full Moon, called the Strawberry Moon because of the abundance of strawberries around at this time. It is traditional to eat strawberries on this day. If you have a lover or a love interest, give them roses as this Moon is also known as the Rose or the Love Moon. It is the perfect time to patch up relationships, get married, or find a new love. The June Moon is also known as the Honey Moon because it has a slight amber tint to it, and it is also a time when bees are at their most active.

Tonight’s Full Moon also falls on Friday the 13th. This will not be very significant for many, but for the superstitious it can hold a lot of significance and it won’t happen again for another 35 years, so it is very rare.

This Moon is all about balance, as it is exactly the middle of the year. It is a time to ask yourself what you have achieved throughout the year so far and if you are happy with it. Take stock of all you have and all you wish for, and work out a path or a way to achieve your goals in the coming months. This Full Moon is a great time to list what it is you want from life and to work out what you need to do in order to achieve it. Give your message to the universe and let it know what you want. Let your dreams, hopes, and wishes manifest.

The Moon is in the sign of Sagittarius which is a sign of truth, travel, and ambition. Things that were in the dark will now start to come to light, new truths will be revealed. Use the energy of this Full Moon to explore, make travel plans, see people, or talk to people you haven’t seen for a while. Sagittarius Moon asks us to step into a bigger picture, to look at our ambitions and act on them.

This Full Moon will have our emotions on high alert, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. We will be feeling a little fragile at the moment so be kind and gentle with yourself, don’t be to self critical, try to stay positive and think about all the good in your life rather than the bad. There may be emotional desire to pack up and go off on an adventure to distant lands or visit places that bring up sweet memories. The sign of Sagittarius often feels its passion in travel, visiting new lands, and meeting people from other walks of life.

This is the Full Moon just before the Summer Solstice, which is the height of Summer. The earth is full of energy and life. Use these energies to inspire you, be creative and go out into nature for long walks, see the beauty all around you and embrace all life has to offer. Let the Moon heal and energize you.

Have a blessed Full Moon, may the Goddess watch over you.

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*Most written credit goes to Wicca Teachings. Photo credits to Wicca Teachings.*

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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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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