Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Ponderings in Poetry

Poem from Volume 1, Issue 5 - Lammas 2019

She Sees in 3 Directions

this stars past she would not let me sleep
sweet barren maiden of the deathly deep
birth-life-death, maiden-mother-crone
stars came to be, so you'd be not alone
and your will and cosmic energy brought forth the gods
they chose to bring about man, doomed against the odds
though many lost their way, I honour you with written word
I cherish you in art, while most haste away from the herd
Hekate bring us home, we wander lost, bring us to light
we've waxed and waned in the dark, suffered endless night
You've awaken me, there must be a reason
I will not accept just be treachery in season
She sees in three directions, and toys with what is to come
She knows all but shares nothing, misunderstood by everyone
Newly born-dead, with a full life lead, there is no afterlife to dread
She knows it's all now and it's all then. She lives on as she lays dead
Evolved beyond body, slithering through time and space
She belongs everywhere, yet has no final resting place
Hekate, hound, horse, with serpent's heel and hook
Gazing upon present day, shocked and shunned she shook
But it is just a phase, Persephone will come again
Apocalyptic cleansing will wash away their pain
Which scars Gaia's pock marked and hollow shell
The Queen of the Underworld knows THIS is hell
Shine in darkness with your torch and endless grace
Guide us through crossroads and help us to save face
We have murdered our maiden mother crone
Where once we were cradled, we sit all alone
And thus we are lost, without keys to other realms
We drift onward endlessly, with no man at the helm
Poseidon is poisoned, a sign of the beginning of the end
And soon against Hades' ghastly ghouls we must fend
But pity us now, and note those who try to mend unintended inattention
We white witches, weak and wary, weep, whoop and welcome intervention
Speak to us in spirit, Oh Goddess of Magick, lead us to no longer be asleep
We beseech you, bring us to where we all can relate on a level more deep

Poem by Victrix Oracle

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Holding Sacred Space


Article from Volume 1, Issue 4 - Litha 2019

Turtle Island

We, as residents on Montreal Island, and really most everywhere across Canada, live on land that is sacred to many peoples and cultures, unceded land, land our ancestors stole and defiled and built upon… desacralizing it for a predominantly secular contemporary culture and tons of other religions who now have claims of their own to this land. How then can we make up for these terrible crimes against both Nature and the early peoples of North America? Clearly, we are not likely to be able to just give it back the tribes. How then can we make restitution?
Holding Sacred Space/Place starts with this sort of recognition. Who lived where you are standing now? What was the land used for or recognized as? How did those people honor it? As an exercise, let us do this for Montreal Island. This island (and the whole of North America really) was once called Turtle Island. The legend goes that land was deposited on the back of a turtle and eventually was able to sustain people and other creatures. This is the land we are on right now. There are many variations to this legend by the many various Indigenous Peoples, a creation story. Most common versions are heard from the Ojibwe, Cree, Haudenosaunee, Algonquin, and Iroquois peoples. Montreal was a spiritual place of meeting and exchange between tribes, a place of trade. The land, the rocks, and trees were all sacred. The wildlife, too, was sacred: Turtle, Loon, Muskrat. Honoring starts with recognizing all this and respecting the original name: Turtle Island. When holding a public event or service, ritual, or even a private activity; take a moment to thank the land you are upon, apologize for it having been and remaining unceded, honor it with its original name (if you can), ensure it is a clean space before AND after you use it.
“We recognize that Montreal is unceded land belonging to Turtle Island’s Indigenous peoples and we are but guests upon it.”

Non-Physical

Holding Space/Place does not need to be a physical location. Holding space can refer to time, such as the silence we hold at 11am for 11 minutes on November 11th for Remembrance Day, the silence we hold at a funeral, or the silence we hold during a Dumb Supper at Samhain. Holding space can be the sanctity within a councelling session or a healing circle where permission is granted for safe sharing under a promise of confidentiality and compassion. Holding space is also evident in such things as community gatherings, radio/podcasts, and magazines (like WynterGreene) that provide and ensure space and place for voices to be heard.
An example of this last (excluding WynterGreene) is a new grassroots zine called ‘Holy Matter/s’ by Camellia. As stated in the first volume, this zine is her “effort to connect witches around the world in community, conversation, and compassionate growth.” It is full of amazing art, literary quotes, stories, recipes, personal essays, poetry, advice, and more. I personally enjoyed seeing a contributer’s playlist as I find music a great inspiration for writing. The wisdom and shared experiences within are deeply personal to the authors. Holy Matter/s holds a sacred space and place for voices to share in their Pagan experiences.

Divine Space

On a more private note, you can hold space/place for the gods, spirits and ancestors within your homes. Setting up a shrine is the way to do this. Who/what are you honoring? Choose an appropriate place in your home for your shrine. For example, don’t set up a shrine to a cooking deity in your bathroom! Bathrooms are for water spirits and deities and spirits of cleansing. What goes on a shrine? Images, objects, or statues that represent who/what you are holding space/place for. Decorate it thematically according to correspondence related to that entity. Think about what they like as possible offerings. Finally, does the being have a particular day or time if worship or honoring?
For example, I have a shrine in my office dedicated to both the spirits of Tea and Momiji (Japanese maple tree). It is decorated with a cloth that has a momiji leaf motif. Upon it are: tea cups, momiji art, a tiny tea book. Regular offerings of tea and incense are made at it. I offer meditation and worship once a month at the first light of the waxing moon (new moon). I hope space for the spirits then in ritual. I drink tea to them and with them. This shrine is still a work in progress as I have yet to mouth a larger art about tea and paint the kanji for Momiji and frame it. It is important to maintain a shrine, keep it clean, freshen the offerings, and sometimes adjust the décor.



For Someone

Holding space is a valuable tool for healing, counselling, and connecting with other people. According to the article “The Sweetness of Holding Space for Another” published by HuffPost, when you hold space for someone, you bring your entire presence to them. You walk along with them without judgement, sharing their journey to an unknown destination. Yet, you are perfectly willing to end up wherever they need to go. You give them your heart, let go of control, and offer unconditional support.” Holding space is a sacred act of love and support for someone (even yourself). It is committing time to be with someone in need, being with them in whatever capacity they need you to be.
                Sometimes that is just being present in their life, letting them know you are there. Sometimes it is “doing the hard stuff” by showing up with food or being prepared to help them clean their home because they have stopped being able to cope and to do the basics for themselves for a time. Sometimes it is sharing tea with them or taking them out to change their headspace. Sometimes it is helping with child care, or elderly care. Sometimes it is holding them tightly while they cry. It is giving them permission to take time in a safe place to fail or breakdown, knowing they are loved and permitted to take the time they need to piece themselves back together.
                It is actively listening without including yourself or your opinions. Provide safe space (sacred space), listen (past your own defenses and ego), and permit or validate the emotions of the person for whom you are holding space. Unless you are holding space for yourself, it is NOT about you.
                Some key concepts for holding space…

  • Safety
  • Let go of your ego
  • Full attention / active listening
  • Validation & acceptance
  • Compassion & non-judgementalism

Can we actually hold space, even sacred space for ourselves? YES!! And we must! Everyone needs a little “me” time. Holding space for yourself is critical to self-care. But how do we do this? It seems so obvious how to hold sacred space for unceded land; how to hold sacred space to offer voice to people to express themselves; to hold sacred space for deities, spirits, guides, totems, and ancestors; or to hold sacred space for someone else. You can most definitely hold space for yourself. No, this is not a selfish act; it is an act of self-love. It is important to permit yourself some personal time to sit with yourself and be fully present for yourself. It is important to listen and reflect on your own health, emotions, and mental state. It is important to hold space for yourself to recharge and work on yourself so you have the capacity to be there for others when they need you.

Let me say this again because we all need to hear it LOUDLY!

It is important  to hold space for yourself.

You are important.

You…. Are…. IMPORTANT!

~ by T. Scarlet Jory

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

X Marks the Blót


Article from Volume 1, Issue 3 - Beltain 2019
 
In the title, I referenced the Elder Futhark gebō, meaning gift and denoting exchanged powers.  It seemed appropriate when discussing a blót, since it often involves some sort of giving and gift-returning.  After all, Hávamál 42, of the Poetic Edda, tells us to “pay back gift for gift.”  Blót is Old Norse for blood, and in ancient times, the participants in the blessing were indeed sprinkled with the blood of an animal sacrifice.  Nowadays we may be more prone to using animal-shaped cookies or breads, or we give other things to honor the Mighty Ones, at various celebrations in the wheel of the year, to strengthen our bonds with them, much as we might give a birthday or holiday gift to a friend or relative.  Sometimes we also ask for more than just their goodwill and friendship, or we do a separate ritual, for magical purposes, to barter for a specific need.  Even though we are expected to do for ourselves and not whine to the gods to make things happen for us, there’s nothing wrong with offering something of value in order to get something we want!

As for an actual blessing (or blót or ritual, depending on how you want to call it), not much is required, and much is adaptable according to what’s available.  You need an altar.  Ideally, this is a wooden “stall” indoors or a stone “harrow” outdoors, and ideally, blóts are done outside (difficult at best in some of our harsher weather).  Then there should be some sort of drinking vessel, such as a mead horn, but it can be a flagon, chalice, mug or cup.  Of course, this means something to drink is needed, and it can be mead, wine, beer, fruit juice, or whatever feels appropriate.  Next is a blessing bowl.  I prefer a wooden one.  I imagine it would be fine to use metal or ceramic or other natural material, but I’d avoid plastic, out of respect.  The last thing is a piece of evergreen, and even in the city, you can usually find something suitable in a park or even in someone’s yard (but ask permission, please).  Pine, spruce, juniper, fir, live oak, yew and cedar are pretty common.  If you rinse off after use, it can be kept for next time, too!

The fundamental form of the blót can be tweaked to suit any celebratory or magical aim, and to honor or entreat any deity or wight.  First comes the Hallowing, similar but not identical to the Wiccan circle casting.  While it does serve to place us apart in space and time, there is no saluting the elements.  We do make the hammer-sign (vertical line, then horizontal line under it, like an upside-down upper case letter T) in the four cardinal compass points, starting with North.  What is said can be simple, such as “Hammer of Thor, bless this place,” or more elaborate.  I say, in Norse, “Hammer in the North (then East, South, West), hallow this stead and keep out ill.”  I also like to add extra warding for under and over me, as well as “in Midgard.”  Upon returning to the North, you would say a final announcement that the stead has now been made holy and protected.  If you are lucky enough to be able to keep a permanent sacred space, the Hallowing is unnecessary every time.

Next comes the Reading.  Here we read out or recite something appropriate to the subject of the blót.  For example, the story of Idunna’s apples (section 26 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning) might be told at the Eostre blót.  After the Reading is the Rede.  The celebrant, or speaker, will tell us of the link to the reason for the blót.  Then comes the Call, when we invite the Mighty Ones (gods and/or wights) to join us as we honor and respect them.  The speaker might say the name of a deity or class of being, followed by a few meaningful words like “Thor, your hammer protects us” and then others present would add “Welcome Thor.”  The Call can go to as many or as few as appropriate to the purpose at hand.  After this first welcome, the speaker then shares further remarks about them, often a well-known kenning.  It could be something like “Jotunn-bane” for Thor, and again, the others would say welcome.  It could be wrapped up by a few words re-referencing the purpose, ending with a hearty “Hail Mighty Ones.”

The Loading permits us to imbue our drink with our own energies and the powers of the Mighty Ones who have joined us.  We visualize the power going into it while it is being poured into the horn (not super-filled, as the remainder of the speaker’s first drink is poured into the blessing bowl).  This is accompanied by a few words describing what we are giving, what we are hoping from the gods, and how it ties in with our purpose.  The Drinking of the energized beverage permits its power to enter us and help us to achieve the goal of the ritual, be it a specific need or a general blessing that will channel into us for the most appropriate benefit.  The speaker drinks first, then empties the rest into the blessing bowl.  We then refill the horn to pass among the others.  Don’t worry: this does not mean the energy has been removed.  I believe it remains in the horn and charges the refill, and it also gets distributed in the next step!  Before drinking, each person makes the hammer-sign over the horn.

After all have drunk (and we must be careful to not drain it completely, because this remainder too goes into the blessing bowl) comes the Blessing, and this part is why you may wish to step back if wearing hard-to-wash clothing, because the speaker, while speaking words of blessing on all the folk, will take the evergreen and sprinkle the blessing bowl liquid on the altar and on you!  Then we have the Giving, when we give back to the gods or wights their share of the power that we put together.  If we are outdoors, the speaker goes to the east of the altar and empties the blessing bowl on the ground.  My feeling is that you can tweak this location and perhaps choose a particular tree or some spot in your garden or some other place meaningful to you.  The speaker reiterates the purpose, naming the Mighty Ones from the Call in a few words, then goes back to face North at the altar.  If indoors, this can wait till after the gathering ends.

The Leaving brings us back into regular space and time as we announce that our work at hand has ended.  The speaker may wax eloquent here, or regale us with only a few well-chosen words that describe the feeling of being true to the Mighty Ones and true to ourselves and our folk as we return to our everyday path.  You will note that there is nothing done like “taking down the circle” which is why I always have trouble coming up with something when I help to do North for the community rituals!  It is pleasant to share food, drink, and fellowship after a blót, and sometimes a symbel may happen, passing the horn and speaking oaths, boasts, poetry or singing.  Such are more meaningful in symbel because they are bound to the Well of Wyrd, but that is another story.

References

Faulkes, Anthony (Trans.) (1995). Edda. Everyman. ISBN 0-460-87616-3
Gundarsson, Kveldulf (1993) Teutonic Religion.  Llewellyn Publications.  ISBN 0-87542-260-8
Hollander, Lee (Trans.) (1990). The Poetic Edda. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-76499-5
Thorsson, Edred (1993). Northern Magic.  Llewellyn Publications.  ISBN 0-87542-782-0
 
Terrie, Grá-auga: Frowe of Island Mountain Hearth, widow of Dave the Mead-Master, vitka, seidhkona, spakona. Started the Montreal pagan community newsletter back in 1991. Elder of Skergard and Montreal Pagan community. One of three founders of Althing Canada.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Nostalgie, from the inside out

Article from Volume 1, Issue 2 - Ostara 2019

The egg of my spirituality cracked in my teenage years with the discovery of Wicca, witchcraft and paganism through the first witchy store I ever went to: ‘Le Mélange Magique’.  There, a whole new perspective on life was born within me.  Back then, I subscribed to the ‘8 Sabbats’ magazine and bought a few books to learn the Craft in an eclectic solitary way. Mon quotidien, encore aujourd’hui, se vit principalement dans la langue de Molière, mais mon monde spirituel s’est forgé dans la langue de Shakespeare.  What a Magical Blend! 
 
La boutique ‘Le Mélange Magique’ n’a malheureusement plus pignon sur rue, mais l’écho de sa magie résonne encore.  En apprenant que le magazine ‘8 Sabbats’ figure dans l’arbre généalogique de ‘WynterGreene’, une douce nostalgie m’a envahit.  L’arrivée du printemps et Ostara représentent la renaissance et la vie qui sort de sa dormance hivernale.  La roue des saisons est en fait une spirale : le printemps reviens chaque année, enrichit de l’expérience des saisons précédentes.  Nous avons parfois l’impression de tourner en rond, comme la roue des saisons, mais une perspective légèrement différente laisse entrevoir la richesse du changement à travers ces cycles en apparence redondants.
 
My nostalgia is not a backward spiral, but a deep reverence when I think of the long spiraling road I’ve already walked.  My egg took many years to hatch (not easy when you’re solitary and internet is but the embryo of what it is today!), and even though that first crack was over 20 years ago, I’m still feeling like I’m still barely at the chick stage now.  There are so many things I still have to learn, experience, change, integrate and transmute.  The winds are changing.  The growth of the world is quickening, with all the challenges it brings for every one of us and the global village we are part of.  With our empowering spiritual viewpoint, I am deeply convinced that we are going to be a big part of the change.  We are all turning the wheel, aren’t we? The fancy witch’s wheel that spiral forward, ever stronger at every completion of a cycle.  More eggs will hatch from our growth and wisdom, bringing their own unique ingredient to the witches’ brew.  
 
Longue vie à ‘WynterGreene’!  Merci à tous ceux et celles qui entretiennent le phare en se renouvelant courageusement et constamment.  C’est grâce à vous que la roue peut tourner et que davantage d’œufs alchimiques peuvent éclore.
 
Vetwitch: I have been an eclectic solitary witch for more than 20 years. I am a book lover, plant and garden enthousiast and fascinated by all life forms. Je pratique la médecine vétérinaire générale des animaux de compagnie complémentée par l'acupuncture et l'herbologie chinoise vétérinaire.
 

Monday, 17 June 2019

Litha Delay

We apologize doe the delay of the Litha Issue. 
Summer snuck up on us so very swiftly. 
The issue will be available by PDF on Monday, June 24th. 
There will be no print copies this summer. 
If you really want a print copy, please contact us.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

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Saturday, 11 May 2019

Tentes Rouges


Wyntergreene Vol. 1• Imbolc 2019

Au cours de l’histoire, les femmes ont toujours eu un moment au cours du mois pour se retirer entre elles pendant quelques jours, lors de leurs menstruations. Si la tente a eu plusieurs fonctions au cours des âges, c’est principalement son évolution et histoire que je vous présente ainsi que l’impact qu’ont eu dans ma vie les tentes rouges. 

Il est généralement accepté que les tentes rouges ont toujours existées, sous une forme ou une autre à travers le temps et l’espace. Les dernières traces connues de la tenue des tentes rouges, pour la société occidentale, semblent s’arrêter avec les balbutiements du christianisme, alors que les traditions féminines avaient encore du poids. Ainsi, une fois par mois, possiblement lors de la lune noire, les femmes d’une même tribu ou village se retrouvaient entre elles dans un même lieu, la tente rouge, lorsqu’elles étaient menstruées. Tel était le but originel de la tente rouge : fournir un espace de retrait, support et repos aux femmes pendant leurs lunes. La tente servait également de lieu d’enseignement et de transmission des savoirs traditionnels féminins, que ce soit à propos des enfants, des soins courants ou encore des relations conjugales. 

Avec la montée du christianisme et la dissociation avec toute chose associée au corps qui a suivi, ce ne fut pas très long avant que les menstruations deviennent un phénomène indésirable et impur. Au fil du temps, les menstruations devinrent donc un état a caché, indésirable et « sales », puis finalement tabou (encore aujourd’hui, discuter de ses règles ou de menstruations en public peut rendre l’entourage inconfortable). Parallèlement, les sociétés amérindiennes maintenaient cette tradition du retrait en place avec les moonlodges.
 
Si le retrait de la vie quotidienne est une tradition qui survie toujours aujourd’hui, pour de nombreuses communautés, ce moment a perdu le sens sacré qu’il a déjà possédé et sert surtout à justifier un retrait des femmes à participer activement à la vie de leur communauté, et les éloigner de certaines fonctions de pouvoir, religieux ou profane. À ce titre, plusieurs femmes en paie encore aujourd’hui  le prix, les préjugés entourant les règles menant occasionnellement au décès de certaines femmes en raison des conditions atroces de leur retrait. 

C’est à partir des années soixante, en Amérique du Nord,  qu’un changement s’est opéré dans les perceptions de ce que sont les tentes rouges et les moonlodges pour une raison plutôt simple : les femmes ayant maintenant accès à l’éducation supérieur et pouvant mener elles-mêmes leurs recherches ont aussi eu accès à ces tentes et ainsi permettre une résurgence de cette pratique en plus d’y apporter un éclairage positif. Et ce qui est peut-être de plus grand intérêt pour la communauté païenne, c’est que le regain de popularité qu’on connut les tentes rouges soient associés en grande partie à l’émergence d’une spiritualité associée à la Déesse et centrée sur le Féminin, pratique qui offre également des rites qui respectent tant le corps de la femme que ses rythmes. Cette spiritualité permet également aux femmes de célébrer des rituels qui respectent leurs vécus et parcours, que ce soit en soulignant la perte d’un enfant que la fin des lunes. 

Il est aussi intéressant de noter que le roman publié par Anita Diamant en 1993, La Tente rouge (ou sous son nom original en français, La Fille de Jacob) a permis de ramener dans l’imaginaire des femmes un lieu qui offre la même richesse, que ce soit par les liens qui unissent les femmes, ou la richesse du décor, tel que décrit dans le roman. De nombreuses tentes ont jailli par la suite, au point de devenir un phénomène mondial et qu’un documentaire sur le sujet soit réalisé, The things we don’t talk about [www.redtentmovie.com].

Les tentes rouges ont évolué et ne sont plus seulement qu’un endroit où se réunir lorsque les femmes ont leurs lunes. La première tente à laquelle j’ai assisté s’est tenu il y a plus de cinq ans chez Charmes et Sortilèges lorsqu’ils ont célébré leur dixième anniversaire. À la fin de la tente, j’ai ressenti un magnifique frisson me parcourir, en nous tenant par la main; j’ai ressenti la puissance du féminin, la force (méconnue, sûrement) des femmes et c’est devenu ma motivation. La tente fut un magnifique moment de partage et de découverte, et je me suis littéralement sentie happée par cette tradition…  À mon tour, alors, d’offrir aux femmes un endroit comme celui-là, un endroit où elles pourront être elles-mêmes, et partager sans crainte et contrainte sociale. 

Il m’a fallu un an avant de mettre sur pied ma première tente, mais ce fut une expérience franchement enrichissante et m’a donné la conviction que je faisais le bon choix. Aujourd’hui, j’en suis à ma quatrième année d’animation de tentes rouges, et depuis deux ans, j’ai commencé à animer des tentes roses, destinées aux jeunes filles de 10 à 16 ans. 

Si les tentes rouges prennent différentes formes, et que plusieurs au Québec se tiennent dans un cadre associé à la périnatalité, j’offre principalement un espace aux femmes pour être elles-mêmes et partager leur succès, embûches ou simplement leur quotidien. En plus des partages, nous prenons une partie de la rencontre pour une activité soit liée à l’art-thérapie, une méditation guidée ou cérémonies en lien avec un thème déterminé.  

Une autre particularité de la tente est que nous prenons un moment, lors de l’ouverture, pour rendre hommage à nos ancêtres maternelles, en les nommant. Si l’exercice semble simple, comme ça, je vous invite à le faire : nommez votre « lignée » maternelle, en commençant par votre mère, votre grand-mère maternelle, etc. Alors? Jusqu’à qui avez-vous nommé? En toute honnêteté, je ne me rends pas plus loin que mon arrière-grand-mère… 

Ultimement, les tentes m’ont surtout permis de créer une communauté de femmes franchement fantastiques, et qui se supportent l’une et l’autre, à travers le meilleur, le pire et le banal. Et le plus magnifique? C’est qu’elles aussi découvrent, lentement mais sûrement, la puissance du Féminin. 


par: Marie-Anne Poulin
Je suis massothérapeute certifiée depuis 2014,  et m’intéresse à la santé sous toutes ses formes depuis plus de vingt ans. C’est tout naturellement que j’ai incorporé à ma pratique professionnelle les tentes rouges, en vigueur depuis plus de 4 maintenant.