Category Archives: Paganism

Elements of Ritual by Mari Powers - Mimosa Books & Gifts

Ritual: The Elements of Creating Ceremony

Ritual: The Elements of Creating Ceremony

By Mari Powers

The handout I share when I am teaching ritual and ceremony is an outline, and a sort of shopping list. I have learned from many expert teachers who know how to make a ritual rock. So this is a distillation of what I learned and what came from within or through me. It is meant to be passed on in the context of a class, yet I felt was useful to a greater audience. If you would like me to help you craft a ceremony or to facilitate a special ritual for you, I am available through Mimosa several times a week to consult. (I am interchanging the words ceremony and ritual in this brief article.)

Elements of Ritual by Mari Powers - Mimosa Books & Gifts

There are lots of choices on this crib sheet. What is selected and how it varies is a matter of the type of ritual, the audience, size of location and whether it is a solitary, small group or large group ritual. (And yes, even solitary rituals have an audience: the non-humans we invite.) A wedding, a child blessing and a memorial service are ceremonies. There are seasonal rituals, ceremonies honoring beloved ones, initiations and other rites of passage — and many more. Yet they all follow the same pattern for me.

Ritual is ceremonial and custom. When something called a ritual is codified, stagnant, I think it becomes more of a rigid practice than it is a true ritual or ceremony at all. Yet, many true new ceremony weavings can contain elements of regular practice and share traditions for their type. A wedding includes vows. A memorial includes memories shared. A seasonal ritual works with elements of time, location and is generally communal. It is a paradox.

The esoteric elements of ceremony are generally experienced and handed down orally. It is also important to note that a spiritual daily, weekly, monthly practice is not ritual or ceremony. It may follow a similar form yet the intention is much different. The intention is to improve the quality of your spiritual life. Rituals also do that, yet the intentions are much more narrowly focused and reap transformational benefits of a different type. Improving on something that anchors, nurtures and sustains is a practice. Ceremonies are one of a kind, even mixed with some traditional or repeatable elements as a part of the whole. And of course you can use some things from your spiritual practice in ritual or ceremony. Especially when you share practices with kindred.

The lines blurry some, and I wanted to be specific in language to distinguish the two. Not all people who can facilitate ritual have a regular practice, though it may be rare. Not all people who have a regular practice can, or choose not to, do ritual and ceremony.

Essential Elements of Ritual and Ceremony

Intention: It’s best to focus on one, or two at the most. State your intention clearly.

  1. Create sacred space
    1. Cast a circle
    2. Call in deities
    3. Call in Elements
    4. Drum with intention
    5. Welcome and Greeting
    6. Create an ambiance
    7. Meditate
    8. Chant communion into being
  2. Focus energy
    1. Chant
    2. Focus on talisman
    3. Repeat affirmations
    4. Read a poem
    5. Listen to a song
    6. Invoke or Evoke, Aspect
    7. Guided meditation
    8. Visualize, speak and will
  3. Become magically active; raise energy
    1. Like waves
    2. Like a peak
    3. Drumming
    4. Singing
    5. Sharing from the heart
    6. Dancing
    7. Guided Visualization
    8. Charging objects
  4. Direct energy
    1. Use Feri Flame
    2. Reiki
    3. Will and visualization
    4. Shout it out
    5. Blow it out
    6. Hum
    7. Chant
    8. Stop drumming
    9. Crystal bowl
  5. Open sacred space, ground and center
    1. Poem
    2. Music
    3. Touch the Earth
    4. Guided visualization
    5. Alignment
    6. Tree and Root
    7. Devoke, Hail and Fare Thee Well
    8. Give thanks
    9. Share
    10. Open Circle
    11. Blessings
    12. Feast
    13. Praise
    14. Hugs

* State intention(s) clearly upfront.

* Use as many sensory elements as possible.

* Preparation of space and tools is simply a pre-ceremony task, after Intention and adding or changing after outline is complete.

* The first rituals were Sacred Theater to connect with / honor the ancestors and mark important individual and communal life events.

Moon Calendar for 2019


Humans have always used the moon and sun to keep track of the dates and seasons. The Moon, the night sky’s brightest celestial being, is an essential part of our lives. The Moon pulls and pushes on our oceans, creating the tides, and helps keep the Earth’s orbit stable. Its gravitational pull reaches all the way into the Earth’s core, slowing down the rotational speed. The Moon literally keeps our planet in check, constantly pulling and pushing, as if we were engaged in a mystical ballroom dance. Yet even before knowing how much it controls our lives, we gave the Moon meaning.

A Full Moon occurs approximately every 28 days, which is the time the Moon takes to travel around our Earth. As it makes a full rotation in about the same amount of time, we always see the same side — the beautiful, cratered, and battered side. In it, some cultures see rabbits, or men, or a lady. But whatever they see, it’s something magical.

Many myths and legends surround the Moon, and every culture has its own idea. The Chinese believed there were twelve different moons, all made of water, each with its own month and meaning. The Algonquin tribe of North America also gave the Full Moons names and meanings, and these are still popular in North America. They used the Moon to tell the seasons, and to know the best times for planting crops and hunting. Many cultures see the Moon itself as feminine, helping women with fertility; since the moon’s orbit is about the same length as a woman’s menstrual cycle, it can help her make an educated guess about when she might be ovulating.

The Moon’s many phases are essential to Wiccan and Pagan practices. Each stage of the moon brings new and different energy to their magic, and certain spells work best at certain times. One common practice is known as Drawing Down the Moon, the purpose of which is to fill yourself with the Full Moon’s divine light, or Essence of the Goddess. Anyone can invoke Her, by simply looking up and willing Her Essence. Taking in the Full Moon’s energy helps increase self-confidence, release all worries and stress from one’s body, and essentially clear oneself of negativity. Drawing in the Moon’s energy is beneficial for all souls, helping one release the negative and accept the positive. It’s about directing energy in a positive way.

You can use any amount of Moonlight to fill yourself with Divine Light. Different phases have different meanings, so it’s important to be really clear with your intention when drawing in the energy. Each Moon Phase reflects a different face of the Goddess.

Phases of the Moon

new moon New Moon/Crescent Moon: The Moon is dark. Now is the time to seek new knowledge and new beginnings. Start fresh, try something new — perhaps a new project.
waxing moon Waxing Moon: The Moon’s light is starting to grow. It’s the time for abundance in your life. Invoke Her light to bring Good Luck, attract love and conceptualize new ideas.
first quarter moon First Quarter Moon: This is a time of action. If you’ve been meaning to do something, now is the time to do it.
waxing gibbous Waxing Gibbous Moon: There is forward momentum as the Moon moves into her fullest phase. You’ll start noticing results from your new beginnings now.
full moon Full Moon: The Moon is at the peak of her energy and the most positive. This is the primest time to take in her divine light.
 disseminating moon Disseminating Moon: As the light begins to fade, energies turn inward. It may be a good time to hold off and bide your time. Reflect on what you’ve learned.
 third quarter moon Third Quarter Moon: Now is the time to polish your skills. Use what you have and make the best of it. Look over your work, and make it better. Get rid of anything that just isn’t working in your life.
balsamic moon Balsamic Moon: Now that she is reaching her final stage, it is time to release all of your pent up energies. If you’ve been unhappy at your workplace or relationship, now may be the time to let go.
teensy waning moon Last Waning Moon: The Full Moon is passing and the light is growing smaller. This is the time to banish addictions or problems that cause you anguish.

Full Moons 2019

January 20, Lunar Eclipse/Full Wolf Moon: The name comes from the sound of howling wolves during this full moon. The wolves remind us to confer with our pack in times of great challenge, and honor our traditions. Wolves are very vocal beings, communicating openly and often. Not just through literal vocalization but also through body language and eye movements. Express yourself during this Full Moon. Full Moon Zodiac – Leo: This Full Moon in Leo is the time to invoke the energy of the Full Moon for courage or fertility.

February 19, Full Snow Moon: Another nickname for this moon is the Hunger Moon, as there is also a lack of food during this month. The amount of snow was usually so high in this month that even hunting was near impossible. This Full Moon is a time to come together with your loved ones. Full Moon Zodiac – Virgo: The Full Moon in Virgo is a good time to manifest employment or the invoke her energy for health and dietary concerns.

March 20, Full Worm Moon: As the snow melts, the ground is going through repeated stages of thawing and freezing, and earthworms start to peek out. This moon is also called the Full Sap Moon, as it is the time to start tapping Maple trees. It is also known as the last Moon of Winter. It is a time of renewal as the Earth begins to wake up from its nap. This Full Moon is about rebirth and fertility. During this time of the Full Moon, try branching out, try something new. Full Moon Zodiac – Libra: A Full Moon in Libra means good news for invoking Her power for artistic creativity. It’s also good for working with personal relationships as well as emotional balance.

April 19, Full Pink Moon: This name comes from the seasonal blooming of pink phlox, a bright explosion of color. This Full Moon is also known as the Egg Moon or Sprouting Grass Moon. During this time you may be feeling a little flighty or ungrounded. The Earth has been frozen, but now the earth is soft once more, and it’s time to ground yourself. During this Full Moon, imagine roots coming from the bottom of your feet and spreading deep within the dirt and sediment. You are strong and balanced, like a are beautiful tree.  Full Moon Zodiac – Scorpio: Scorpio’s Full Moon allows for one to go through transformations. Also helps one work in using Her Divine Light for sexual matters.

May 18, Full Flower Moon: This Full Moon represents the end of spring and the welcoming of Summer. Because of the abundance of flowers and life, Faeries are prominently found. Communication to the Faerie Realm and the trees is heightened. There is a strong power flowing from the trees and plants during this Full Moon. There are myths that flowers grow in the moonlight and even dance. During this Full Moon the Faeries remind us to relax a little and enjoy life. Creative energies are flowing. Full Moon Zodiac – Sagittarius: This is a good Moon to try invoking the energy of Divine Light in aid for legal issues, publication, traveling and revealing the truth.

June 17, Full Strawberry Moon: The name evokes strawberry picking season, but this Full Moon is also known as the Rose Moon in France. In this prime season both roses and strawberries are at their best. During this Full Moon you will need to strengthen yourself and fix your inconsistencies. It’s a good idea to remember to reward yourself for all your hard work, and know that you are essential. Full Moon Zodiac – Capricorn: The Full Moon in Capricorn is excellent for using the Moon’s energy to bring you ambition and success in career and political matters.

July 16, Full Thunder Moon: Also known by the Algonquin tribe as the Full Buck Moon, because this is the time when bucks’ antlers grow a lot. It’s also very stormy, which means there is a lot of energy flowing around. It’s important to ground yourself, but to embrace this surge of energy as well. Use the more tranquil storms to carry you to another plane and meditate. Try manifesting or simply just sitting quietly and enjoying the sound of rain. Open yourself up. Full Moon Zodiac – Capricorn: The Full Moon in Capricorn is excellent for using the Moon’s energy to bring you ambition and success in career and political matters.

August 15, Full Sturgeon Moon: This Moon is also referred to as the Red Moon in honor of the hot summer days that are beginning to fade. The Algonquin tribe named it for the lakes and rivers being abundant with fish. This Full Moon is the calm after the stormy weather. It’s a great time to strengthen your relationships. Hang out with friends, and even make new ones. Give thanks for all you’re grateful for. Pamper yourself and your loved ones. Full Moon Zodiac – Pisces: This is a good time to work on psychic abilities and your creative outlet.

September 13, Full Harvest Moon: This Moon also goes by the name of Full Corn Moon (as you may have heard in the famous Disney Pocahontas song “Colors of the Wind”.) It is a time of harvesting crops before the cold sets in and the ground freezes. If this Full Moon appears in late August, it’s known as the Full Harvest Moon; if it occurs in early September, it’s known as the Full Corn Moon, since this is the time to pick corn for winter storage. This is a time to let go and forgive, and for abundance and growth. Out with the old, in with the new. Full Moon Zodiac – Pisces: This is a good time to work on psychic abilities and your creative outlet.

October 13, Full Hunter’s Moon: Known as the Harvest Moon if it falls close to the Autumn Equinox, though the Algonquin tribe referred to it as the Full Hunter’s Moon, as this was when they hunted game for winter. It’s also known as the Full Dying Moon, to symbolize the dying of the old year, to lull the Earth to sleep for the Winter. This is also a great time to communicate with animal spirits and to find your animal guide or totem. You may have been born with a Spirit Animal Guide, or you may have instinctively picked one. Full Moon Zodiac – Aries: Now is the time to invoke the Goddess’ skills in leadership. She will help you become the leader you want to be with all the authority you need.

November 12, Full Beaver Moon: The Algonquin tribe would trap and kill beavers during this month, in order to use their fur. This is a time to protect yourself. Surround yourself in white light, and remember to love yourself. It’s good to try to ground yourself before the warmth of the world fades and the long winter comes. It’s important to remember the Sun will keep shining. So be the Sun, and shine. Full Moon Zodiac – Taurus: Now is the time for manifestation of love or material things. This is a great time to ask for things we want.

December 11, Full Cold Moon: Otherwise known as the Long Dark Nights or Full Yule Moon. During this month the nights are long, dark and frigid. We remember those in need of warmth, and sitting with our loved ones before the blazing fire we are reminded that there’s love and warmth even in the cold of winter.We are not alone. We protect each other; we are the Sun. We celebrate that the year has come full circle, knowing that soon the Earth will warm and breathe again, full of new life. Full Moon Zodiac – Gemini: This is the best time to work on communication. You can use this energy to manifest travel time or even help with your writing.

For more information like this, consider signing up for Mimosa’s newsletter. It’s free, and you’ll even receive a free ebook too! You can check it out here: Free ebook & newsletter

Pagan Resource Directory

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Category: Paganism



for the Madison Area

Prepared by: Mimosa Books & Gifts

260 W. Gilman, Madison, 608/256-5432,

and: Madison Area Pagan Pride Day

Mimosa Lotus Logo

Websites & Online Classes

WitchVox publishes a spectrum of articles and informational essays, and also keeps local listings of pagan individuals and groups who want to get in touch with others.

PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans. 

Reformed Congregation of the Goddess has online course. This is a multi-tradition women’s path fostering “belief in female divinity and a commitment to positive spiritual practice.”

Quareia, a newer school of magic, has a comprehensive online course. If you’d like to know more about this program before signing up, here’s a helpful blog post: How to Work with Quareia International online academy founded by the Correllian tradition, with a huge selection of courses, as well as opportunities for mentoring and group activities.

The Wild Hunt is a website for Modern Pagan news & commentary.  

Related classes & schools:

Madison Psychic Institute, 608-444-8406, Patti Bee. Psychic training courses.

Love and Light Healing School, 260 W. Gilman Street, Madison, 53703, (608) 254-4685, The place to go if you want to learn about crystals.


Madison Area Pagan Pride Day A free one-day gathering open to everyone, with rituals, workshops, vendors, kids’ activities, food and more.

Pagan Spirit Gathering A regional midsummer gathering that features workshops, music and ritual for a week in the woods.

Threshold, 2717 Atwood Ave, Madison, 53704, An events space on Madison’s east side. Their workshops include circle and tarot.

Groups, both In-person and Online

Elemental: a Madison group which offers local gatherings to the Pagan community that are open, affordable, and accessible to everyone. They host sabbats, rituals, workshops, discussions, and potlucks which anyone is welcome to join. Their Facebook group is Elemental in Madison, and their email is

Madison Area Pagan Discussion Group: A group that meets monthly at a restaurant in Madison to chat, organized via Facebook.

Pagan Announcement List shares information, and announcements about events in Wisconsin, Illinois & Indiana (from what I’ve seen, mostly Illinois)

Circle Sanctuary: Wiccan church and nature preserve, with regular rituals, classes, workshops and many other activities. In Barneveld. They present an annual Winter Solstice celebration at the First Unitarian Society.

Sweetwood Temenos is an outdoor space set aside for ritual use by members. They also host events.

Reformed Congregation of the Goddess is a multi-tradition women’s path fostering “belief in female divinity and a commitment to positive spiritual practice,” with both online classes and in-person meetings.

CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) is a group in many Unitarian churches that hosts events and meetings, including the First Unitarian Society in Madison.

Deeply Rooted Pagan Church, 7021 Bungaloo Road, Athens, WI 54411, 715/574-5288 715-613-7727

Ancient Mother Moon Lodge, 6020 Kristi Circle, Monona WI, 53716, 608-279-5225, Dianné Aldrich. This sacred space hosts classes, events, ecological projects, and a monthly moon lodge. It’s mostly a women’s space, but some events also welcome men.

Earth Traditions, Deerfield, IL, 847–456-4833, This group specializes in psychopomp training and services, though they hold other rites of passage as well. They describe themselves as a place where pagans go to connect.

Milwaukee Pagan Unity Council, This organization supports pagans in the Milwaukee area, promoting education and understanding among people of all paths. They support or host various get-togethers in the Milwaukee area, and post related events hosted by others on their Facebook page.

Retail: At Mimosa, we try to stock things most pagans use for their practices, but we don’t have everything. Check out these shops too:

House of Magick, 4726 South Packard Avenue, Cudahy, WI 53110-1430, 866-462-4425 , He’s got lots of herbs and ritual items. clothing with pagan themes, handpainted by Kayla Garland.

Poison Apple Printshop: Original designs in art, jewelry, altarpieces, clothing & patches.

Karner Blue Candle & Supply, 1915 Monroe St., Madison 53711, 608-258-2558.. Candle-making supplies & classes.

Recommended Books

There are lots of great books out there. Here we’ll just list a few of the ones that have been especially helpful to us and our customers.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions, by Joyce & River Higginbotham. A basic book for those exploring various traditions, whether they believe this is their path or just want to learn about it out of curiosity. Includes exercises.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Scott Cunningham. A classic for those practicing outside a coven.

Wicca for Beginners, Thea Sabin. A clear introduction to the basics of the Wiccan path.

Essential Asatru, Diana Paxson. An introduction to northern traditions.

Green Witchcraft, Ann Moura. This is a series of books focusing on folk magic, fairy lore, and connecting with nature.

A Witch Alone, Marian Green. An experiential guide to self-discovery via the pagan path.

The Spiral Dance, Starhawk. This classic was key to introducing the Goddess tradition to modern America, helping spark the birth of neopaganism.

Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler. Another classic, focusing on the history of the neopagan movement.

Spero Publishing, a local publisher, produces “A Child’s Eye View” series on a number of topics that give a great overview for adults, teens and older children. Topics covered include Wicca, Heathenry, Irish Paganism, Fairy Faith, and Druidism. These books are compact and inexpensive.


Witches & Pagans: A national magazine with articles, interviews, reviews, classifieds, and some often rather odd letters. They have additional articles at their website, Pagan Square.

The Spirit: Free pagan e-zine from Spero Publishing. To get on their mailing list, contact

Circle Magazine: A publication of Circle Sanctuary, with articles centered around a quarterly theme.

For more information like this, consider signing up for Mimosa’s newsletter. It’s free, and you’ll even receive a free ebook too! You can check it out here: Free ebook & newsletter

The Ha Prayer, or Aligning the Triple Soul

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Category: Meditation, Paganism
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My Version of the Ha Prayer, the Sacred Dove, or Aligning the Triple Soul

by Mari Powers

In many traditions of the Craft, and in many new and old Pagan religions, we acknowledge and recognize the triple form of many Goddesses, and some Gods. In the Feri tradition, we believe in the tripartite nature of our own souls. This mirrors the beliefs of the indigenous people of Hawaii, who practice the native religion involving the Kahuna, and in the ancient religions of Egypt, where people also were believed to have a triple soul. Even Hinduism has a belief in the three parts of the human soul. To my knowledge, only the Feri branch of the Craft believes this, and it came to the founders, Victor and Cora Anderson, from the Kahuna tradition. Each Feri teacher I have read teaches the Ha Prayer to help us align our triple soul. In true Feri “tradition”, each has written it a little differently. When I began to practice it, it changed a little for me as well, and it is this version I will share here.

Aligning the triple soul is somewhat like centering and grounding, yet it is also much more. It gives us the energy to work our true will, as our child self and emotional body openly communicates with our thinking self, and for lack of a better term, our “over soul” as well. It feeds us what has been called manna, chi, and the life energy from the multiverse itself, to our body, heart, mind and soul. Then it gets them all working together and creates harmony in ourselves and our will behind our prayers.

Though we refer the triple soul, and sometimes the triple will, we feed the body first. The number four is a number sacred in the ancient Hawaiian religion, so the aligning our tripartite soul involves breathing and holding the breath in rounds of four. This is the way I do this exercise:

I take three or four slow clearing breaths and clear my mind. I then begin breathing in the life force to the count of four, hold it for four counts, breath out for four counts and hold the emptiness in my lungs for another count of four before beginning another round of breathing. I do the whole breathing cycle four times.

Now for the rest of the exercise, that requires visualization and energy work. On the first round of breathing, I feed my physical body. I draw energy from the earth and air into my body on the inhale, on the hold, and on the exhale. On the second empty four count hold before my next breath, I energetically bond the energy in my body for strength and health.

This is different than a lot of breathing exercises in that the exhale feeds me. Many breathing exercises, like cleansing breaths, involve a sort of in the good and out with the bad type of visualization. For me, the inhale, the first hold of the energy, and exhale all feed me. The second holding to the count of four with empty lungs, fixes the energy in place.

On the second round of breathing, I feed my emotional body. I visualize this as a close aura of blue light energy, about two inches all around my physical body. This body in Feri is sometimes called the Fetch, the Sticky One, or the inner child. I draw energy from the blue fire in the belly of the earth and air into my body on the inhale, on the hold, and on the exhale. On the second empty four count hold before my next breath, I energetically bond the energy in my inner aura for strength and health.

On the third round of breathing, I feed my mental body, or thinking self. I visualize this as a luminous golden light egg all around me, extending out a foot or so from my physical body. As I fix this energy in place, it empowers my mind, (and second part of my triple soul), with clarity and the ability to focus my thoughts.

On the fourth and final breath, in what may be one, or the beginning of four rounds of breathing, I visualize a white dove above my head. This dove represents my connection to the greater multiverse, and my own personal over soul. I draw in air and waves of manna like water, then lift my head back, and blow up and out the combined manna collected into my sacred dove above my crown chakra.

If I am only doing one round of breathing, I begin blowing with a “Ha”, and finish emptying my lungs, by blowing upwards through my mouth in a breath like the wind. If I am doing a round of four breaths times four, I simply blow the air like the wind to my sacred dove on the first, second and third rounds, and save the “Ha” sound for the fourth and last round.

After the final breath with the “Ha” sound, I make a prayer. I then say, “What is this flower above my head?” (For me it is almost always the Lotus Flower, though sometimes it is the Rose.)  I ask, “What is the work this Gods would have me do?” I contemplate the answer(s). I then state, “I would know myself in all my parts. My triple soul is aligned. I am whole”. If I need to verbalize a specific prayer, I do. Then I say, “It is done.”

The Ha Prayer is used to align the triple soul. Any prayer said with it acquires all the manna gathered and shared. If there is no specific prayer, this alignment gives me a deep sense of relaxation, a connection to the greater multiverse and a sense of being whole. If there is a prayer, I have the same sense, yet also know that my prayer has been heard and will be answered in a positive way. When my triple soul is aligned, all prayers are good and have power.

Most of the time, I do this without a specific prayer in mind and verbalized, and simply enjoy the benefits of increased manna and a sense of relaxation; I am in alignment and at oneness.

(c) 2014 Mari Powers

Image via Wikimedia Commons: Contemplation, by Ghassan Salman Faidi

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One star to rule them all: The meaning behind pentagrams and pentacles

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by Cathy Douglas

We don’t often see product recalls at a metaphysical shop, but recently we had to pull some mini candle holders from the shelf — not because they were broken, but because the pentacle symbol on them was printed upside-down. It wasn’t a case of physical safety, but one of taking symbols seriously.

Pentagrams and pentacles are two different things. A basic pentagram is a five-pointed star, whereas the word “pentacle” can refer to a number of things. It used to simply mean a plate bearing a magical symbol, and was part of the occult tradition of the Renaissance. In our day it’s come to mean one special symbol: a pentagram enclosed within a circle of protection and synthesis.

Both the pentagram and pentacle are positive symbols in which the top point of the star, representing Spirit, rules the other elements (earth, water, air and fire). In combining the four physical elements with Spirit, this sigil implies a connection between the material world and the spirit world — our wills connected with the four elements. This synthesis goes both ways: the human spirit has the potency to affect the material world, while at the same time humanity is part of the natural world and of Gaia. In this way, the pentacle symbolizes both magic and protection.

So, what’s so bad about turning the five-pointed star upside-down? Metaphysically, this would represent allowing the natural elements to “bury” Spirit, or worse, could imply using magic while disregarding the greater good. A pentagram turned point-downward has also been used as a sigil of the goat-like demon Baphomet. Most of us would just as soon stay away from such symbolism, or at most relegate it to t-shirts advertising heavy metal bands.

Though pentacles and pentagrams symbolize good things, that doesn’t mean they’re without controversy. As recently as 2007, the U.S. Veteran’s Administration refused soldiers and their families the right to select a pentacle as one of the official symbols that could be displayed on a tombstone at Arlington Cemetery and other U.S. military burial ground. Overturning this prohibition was a big win for religious freedom.

Pentacles are also one of the suits of the tarot. Originally this was the suite of coins; recasting it as “pentacles” was an innovation of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck. Arthur Waite and Pamela Colman Smith came across the pentacle as Golden Dawn initiates. In the Golden Dawn, the four elemental weapons of the adept correspond to what have become the four tarot suits: the wand of fire, the cup of water, the sword of air, and the pentacle of earth. These in turn may have evolved from the four weapons of the Tuatha dé Danann, reportedly of druidic origin: the spear of Lugh, the cauldron of Dagda, sword of Nuada, and stone of Fál.

In modern Wicca (and similar neopagan traditions), the pentacle is an important symbol, representing both earth and the synthesis of elements. Patterns of five are rare in inanimate nature, but common in living things: the five senses, five fingers, five flower petals, etc. A natural pentagram form is visible in an apple, which when sliced through the center reveals its seeds in a perfect, five-pointed form. The seed itself is, of course, symbolic of mystery and rebirth.

As a religious symbol, the five-pointed star dates back to followers of Kore, an earth goddess worshipped from Europe through northern Africa since ancient times. (The word “kore” is ancient Greek for “young woman or maiden,” which was how they addressed Persephone.)  Later Roman followers, who worshipped the goddess Ceres, called this shape the Star of Knowledge. Christians adopted the Korein, her feast day, as the feast of Epiphany, and borrowed the five-pointed star to represent the Star of Bethlehem and the five wounds of Christ.

A pentacle, often in the form of a plate, is also one of the basic tools of a Wiccan altar. The current form is shaped a lot like those of the Renaissance, but now usually features a pentagram as its central symbol. People also personalize it with astrological symbols, runes, or really any symbol that has personal meaning.

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Pagan Spiritual Practice

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Category: Paganism
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by Ljot Lokadis

I know a lot of Pagans who have very strong feelings about spiritual practice – and usually these feelings are negative. For instance, I’ve known a lot of people who argue that to pray is to debase oneself, that no kind God would ever request offerings … and so forth.

A lot of these conceptions of what religion is and should be come from our religious upbringing. Paganism, Polytheism, and the New Age movement each consist largely of converts (very few of us were brought up in our belief system). Because of this, we all spend some time defining ourselves in relationship to the faith we no longer belong to. If the religion of our upbringing held that prayer is important, we shy away from prayer. If the religion used the word “worship,” we recoil from the word and the idea. If there was an emphasis on service, or on full-time clergy, we avoid these, too. It’s understandable that we flinch at these this way, especially since so many of us identify the religion of our upbringing as abusive, or its power structure as stifling. But prayer and regular religious rituals are things that sustain us and remind us of the place of the Gods, spirits, and ancestors in our lives. To throw them out entirely just because they’ve been misused is to deprive ourselves of valuable tools for creating spiritual connection in our lives.

A spiritual practice within the faith of our choice isn’t and shouldn’t be stifling. It should be a thing that reflects your experiences, and shapes itself to fit your needs. It isn’t a matter, as it was sometimes in our original faiths, of what prayers are best to say, or what posture is best to assume while praying, or unquestioningly accepting the edicts of a religious hierarchy, or anything like that. You can create the structures that will best sustain you, using your own comfort and your intuition, and historical and modern sources. The point is to be engaged – it doesn’t matter what that engagement looks like. The belief that everyone’s spiritual practice should look the same doesn’t have a place, here.

Prayer is nothing more than talking to the Gods, the spirits, and the ancestors. It can mean debasing yourself – just like how “talking to a human being” can mean debasing yourself — but prayer can just as easily mean expressing your thoughts, sharing your feelings, asking a favor, apologizing, or telling a spirit that you love Them. Praying reminds us that the Gods, the spirits, and the ancestors are in our lives, and still care for us.

And offerings? Pagan reluctance around offering practices seems to come from a different place, in my experience. Some mainstream religions make offerings still, but not many. We view it as an archaic thing, something that we don’t need to do as modern Pagans and Polytheists. It’s been written off in so much of modern Western culture as a superstitious way of appeasing a God or a spirit’s wrath, when actually most offerings are love-gifts. When you give a gift to a spouse or a friend, or you do them a favor or you invite them to dinner, are you appeasing their wrath or giving in to their demands? (If you are, I recommend consulting with a relationship counselor …)

Gods, spirits, and ancestors are people like you and me (even though They’re much bigger!). They will speak, if you speak to Them and listen. They will come into your life and your home, if you invite Them in. In a world that’s so hostile to Pagan, Polytheist, and other esoteric religious practices, it’s easy to run away from the kind of dedicated contact over time that can breed a close relationship to the spirits that you hold dear. But cultivating a practice of prayer, of meditation, and of ritual is a wonderful way to deepen one’s religious experience, and I encourage everyone to give it a try.

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“Routes Along the Pagan Path” by: Jared Hughes (Xerxes Obere)

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Category: Paganism
Written by Mimosa
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Many of the wiccans and neo/meso -pagans out there are, from what I see, mostly solitary. They have a private practice, one that they can morph and mold into the best practice for the self. They do this with the dedication that they feel to the craft and to the old gods. Being a solitary practitioner doesn’t mean that you must work by yourself, as might have been the case in the old days. You can work with others more often now, as an increasing number of people practice pagan faiths. Wicca1

However, you needn’t always work with a group, as some enjoy practicing alone, on their own terms. If you decide to work with others, you can always do this and still be solitary and work with a group. In this case you would be a celebratory or congregational member of a group instead of an initiated member. This means you celebrate and work with other members, but are not an initiated member of any tradition. Many people would prefer to stay out of the dogmatic or hierarchic aspects of traditions that are out there. This could mean working with a small family group or a larger temple/organized group from a tradition. This could include simple weekly meetings, devotionals, counseling or whatnot, as well as the sabbats/esbats and the like. Whatever it is that you are looking for is what you should set your mind to and look for within the local groups. Find out if they are well enough for you to be a part of in any aspect, even if the celebratory/congregation.

Now the last portion would be for those who want to be a part of either a national/world or regional group that has its set rituals and ceremonies and a full calendar of sabbats and esbats along with any other rites of passage. Most traditions have you start off your training as a dedicant, meaning that you have dedicated yourself to the path that you have chosen and opened your life up to the old gods. When you of start your training you are considered a neophyte, which is the lowest member of training. For all purposes, you would be considered a member while you are going through the training process for the first circle of the tradition or sect you plan to join. This training is standard, and you can use this training as information only, or go on to become a member of the coven/group. As I said, this is your own decision and you are the only one who will know if you are really ready for the path. Your training will usually take a year and a day. This isn’t always how it will go—while it will seldom be shorter, it can often be longer if your mentor/teacher thinks that you need more time. Some people already know much of the information, so your mentor/teacher will give you other assignments to make sure you understand and know the information that will be needed.

After your standard time you may go to the elders of the group and request that you get your initiation. Usually, at that point, they will give it some thought and either give you a final test and decided, or decline and have you train longer. I will not say anything on the actual process of initiation, as it is different for all people; the feeling you should get is one of rebirth and growth spiritually and any other aspects.

The first degree is only the starting portion of the clergy/priestly aspects, not the end but the beginning–that is, if you wish to go further within the process of the priesthood. The second degree within most traditions is the full-priest aspect. The one who is more adept and knowledgeable within the craft will now to be able to lead groups and help mentor take more active role within the temple and start leading more so then the first degrees. The second degree I find to be more of a calling, and many do not have the call to become more leaders and teachers within the craft, and also within the wider pagan community. This aspect of the craft can take anywhere from another year and a day to five years of additional training, depending on the structure of learning that your mentor and tradition call for. With the second degree you are more able to begin gathering students and others who may wish to hive off from the original coven and start a new one within the original group, of course with the blessing of your high priestess and council of elders.

The last of the degrees is the third degree. This is for the people who have the calling to really be the face of the neopagan community as a whole, and to be out in the wider community helping others and guiding pagans and non pagans together. The third degrees are the high priesthood, the ones that are looked up to and regarded as the ones who all others within the groups should look up too.

Third degree is definitely not for everyone. This is the priestly path for people who have the calling to go above and beyond just the normal grouping of pagans, to do anything and everything to help teach and guide, and to promote the acceptance of the community to the worldwide community. If this is your vocation, be ready for a long haul of learning and growth. In all, the standard learning process can take three years and three days or longer, depending on how you learn as well if the teachers/mentors or high priest/ess give the consent going up the ranks in the group.

This is not, by any means, for everyone within the neopagan community. Many are happy staying solitary, or working with a home group with close friends and family. Many out there may be quite fine with combining all three together, or be happy doing private work. You may want to work with a group privately, or a tradition’s group and go through initiation, to help the community along with your spiritual growth yourself. The decision is always yours and should never be a decision that has been made because of opinions of others.

Anyone can self-initiate, as there are many books out there with appropriate ceremonies. A private self initiation giving your life over to the old gods and celebrating them is how the original pagans did it, and it works/worked for the new pagan elders that started the re-emergence of the pagan way.

Blessed be!

Click Here to Visit Jared Hughes’ (Xerxes Obere) Website.

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