Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Post of 2012

This is the last post of the year. Normally I spend New Year's Eve thinking about the things I did not do during the year that I wanted to accomplish and everything that I want to do over the next twelve months. I have decided this year to not put no pressure on 2013 (something that goes against my nature). Of course, I am hoping that it is my best year ever and that I look back a year from now knowing that all of my dreams came true. But I'm not...actually, yes I am. I am putting pressure on myself and my life to be the best because that is just how I roll. haha

2011 was, for me a year of endings. 2012 has seemed like a year of lining my ducks in a row, so to speak, for the beginnings that will come in 2013. It has felt like a year for tying up old loose ends and for watering the seeds of new beginnings. To be honest, it wasn't a great year or a terrible one. It was mediocre in a few areas, amazing in others, that sort of thing. I feel like I learned a lot this year but that the knowledge I learned about myself has made me realize that there are many things I need to work on. I was really lucky in love this year even though there were times when it looked like that might not be the case. But again, that was one of those areas where the foundation was laid and over the next year the real building of something more is going to happen. But it's a solid foundation and it's more than I could have hoped for once so I'm grateful for it.

In the next year I hope to do something to improve my health, at least a little. I hope to build up that love I was talking about with the most amazing man I have ever had in my life. I'm also hoping that I've hit on the idea that might land me an agent but let's be honest...I spend every New Year's Eve hoping that is soon in my future. I'll have my bachelor's in psychology around the second week of April so that's one accomplishment guaranteed for 2013. I'll also be starting my Master's. This is the part where I say what I say every year, that I have a feeling 2013 is going to be amazing. Here's to hoping I am right.

I hope that the year brings all of you joy, peace, and prosperity. I hope it is full of magic (real or metaphorical depending upon your views) and light. I sincerely hope that in one year we can all meet back here and compare notes to see that all of us were blessed in every way possible in 2013. Sounds good, doesn't it? Happy New Year, all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blessed Yule

It's that time of year again, my Pagan pals (and apparently some Atheists as well). Tomorrow morning winter will officially begin. Yule, or the Winter Solstice, has been celebrated in different cultures in different ways for thousands of years. It is the shortest day of the year and in many old cultures it was also the last day of the year or it was close to the New Year (with the exception of the Celtic Pagans who saw Samhain as the New Year) so many of the customs and the rituals surrounding this holiday reflect both an honoring of the sun and its 'return' to earth and the hopes and plans for the upcoming new year. 

Since last Yule everything I've posted concerning the Sabbats has been things that I found online. However, for the next turn of the wheel I will be posting information I personally use from books like The Sabbats by Edain McCoy and Book of Shadows by Silver Ravenwolf. The information I give is only a starting point. As Pagans we all have different traditions that we follow, different correspondences that appeal to us, etc. And as a solitary witch I approach the Sabbats in that way as opposed to looking at it from a group perspective as someone in a coven would. Plus, I don't want to post this stuff for Pagans only. I want anyone who is curious to come here and read in plain English about what we do if they want to. Let's face it. As we all know, our rituals got a bad rep long long ago and unfortunately there are still people out there who think that tomorrow witches all over the world will gather in our black hooded cloaks to sacrifice children to demonic forces. If I can make just one person realize that we're not into that sort of thing, that will make me a truly happy witch. 

The mythology surrounding the Winter Solstice today usually centers around the Goddess giving birth to the God. This is directly related to the sun's power again waxing and the days slowly growing longer as the sun is the symbol of the God the way that the moon is the symbol of the Goddess. So this day (and night) usually represents the rebirth of the God, the return of the waxing portion of the year, the New Year for non-Celtic traditions or solitaries who walk a Celtic path, and it is used to honor the triple Goddess. This is a time for meditation and introspection. Many Gods and Goddesses have been associated with this solstice through time but common deities worshiped on this date are all reborn Gods and all spinning Goddesses as the sun is reborn and the wheel of the year turns once more.

The color correspondents for this day are usually red, green, white, and gold. I have heard that red comes from the color of berries on plants like holly that live through the winter; green is associated with the few trees and bushes that did not 'die' in the winter months as they symbolized the promise of rebirth; white is associated with snow and gold with the sun. But I am sure there may be variations on the significance of these colors and what they stood for. Symbols of Yule are holly, evergreen trees, the Yule log, and wreaths. Food associated with Yule are poultry, dried fruit, egg nog, pork, and beans. And cookies of course. Plants of this Sabbat include bay, pine, ginger, Valerian, myrrh, and poinsettia. 

*The ritual I am about to give you is taken from The Sabbats by Edain McCoy with a portion slipped in there from Silver Ravenwolf's Book of Shadows. I'll mark Silver's part to distinguish between the two. In addition to that, I want to clarify that the Goddess is referred to as a Virgin in this ritual in keeping with the original definition of a Virgin, a woman whole unto herself. This word is not used to indicate whether or not the Goddess has had sex. We do have our beloved Beltaine after all.... ;)

A Yule Ritual:
For this ritual you will need a bowl of salt water placed on your altar. Holly and mistletoe are also suggested. Place the holly on your altar and have the mistletoe ready but not visible. Artificial herbs are fine. A Yule log may also be added but it is optional. If you do add a Yule log, put three candles (one red, one white, and one black) in it.

Cast your circle, call your quarters, and invite your deities. 

(The following invocation is from Silver Ravenwolf's Book of Shadows)
Stand before your altar and say:
Morning light will flood the chamber, winter solstice sun. Energy unfolding, Saturn's rule has just begun. Crystals formed of ice and frost freeze field and forest green while mighty Oak and Holly fight for favors from our Queen. The great wheel brings conception, birth and death as days of yore. Each bonfire on a leyline honors what has gone before. Seven planets, seven spheres, seven gates swing open. I lift my arms and call the charge, the incantation spoken! I conjure winter spirits, pour forth the sacred winds. Come hither, oh great fire! The magick now begins! Solar vapors, stormy heavens, clouds of earth and waves unite in your perfection on this, the shortest Solstice day! I hold the key of secrets and the phantoms will avail. The crossroads shimmer open as the rod connects to grail. Seven planets, seven spheres, seven gates swing open. I lift my arms and call the charge, the incantation spoken! Yule logs burning, each spark a blessing brings. Red and green, the sacred blood of past and future kings. Mistletoe and bayberry, winter leaves and resin, spice and myrrh and evergreen connect the earth to heaven. Through scented smoke and sacred prayer I manifest goodwill. Bring peace and joy to everyone and every wish fulfill. Seven planets, seven spheres, seven gates swing open. I lift my arms and call the charge, the incantation spoken.

(The rest is from Edain McCoy)
Blessed be the season of Yule. Blessed be the young Virgin Goddess who gives to her people tonight a newborn God. Blessed be the newborn God.

If you are of a non-Celtic tradition you should next take your athame and walk to the center of your circle saying: Farewell old year. Farewell to the Holly King! Make the sign of the banishing pentagram. Next, say: Welcome New Year! Welcome the Oak King! Make the sign of the invoking pentagram. When you are finished replace your athame on your altar.

Remove the holly from the altar and place it out of sight. Place the mistletoe, the symbol of the Oak King, on top of your altar in a place of honor. Say:
Blessed be the King of the Waxing Year. I pray you will guide your children safely through to the season of warmth and light. 

Take the Goddess candle in your left hand and the God candle in your right, saying: 
Tonight the Goddess and God are reunited. Tonight life begins anew and light begins anew. Blessed be the one light. Blessed be the divine force of creation.
Move the candle flames together so they are one. Spend a moment reflecting on its meaning and then replace the candles side by side on the altar. 

Next, light the Yule log if you have one. Begin at the white candle saying: Blessed be the Virgin, innocent and fresh. Light the white candle. At the red candle say: Blessed be the Mother, fertile and loving. Light the red candle. At the black candle say: Blessed be the Crone, powerful and wise. Light the black candle. Say: Blessed be the Triple Goddess.

Go to the salt water and place your fingertips in it. Anoint your feet, belly, and head. This is the blessing of the triple Goddess. The Virgin is at the feet, the Mother at the belly, and the Crone at the head. You can repeat the words of the lighting of the Yule log at each point. Think about the gifts you want to give this season and what you want from the new year. When you are finished, close your circle.
The circle is open but never broken. Blessed Be!

So there you have the combination I will be using tomorrow in my ritual. I'm also finally starting a tradition I have wanted to start for years. You see, I am quite outnumbered in my house and in my family. I am the only practicing witch. Christmas is the day that my family gets together to exchange gifts and have family time and since I like seeing Christmas as a day set aside for this purpose I have no complaints. However, I have always wanted to give those I love one special gift on my holy day and this year I will finally do that...with my little sister anyway. She is 16 and she doesn't really care why she is getting a present 4 days early, only that she's getting one. It's a win win for both of us. This year is a year to start some new traditions and honor the old ones for me. No matter how you are celebrating it, Blessed Yule! I hope your day is full of mirth and light. :)

Music for The Holidays

I am a bit late with this post. I had intended to finish it before Hanukkah was over but I failed by four days on that. However, I am posting the few songs I could find anyway. Last year I think I separated the songs for Yule and Christmas but this year I am just putting songs on here in a hodgepodge of religious goodness. In fact, this will probably be the most unorganized post of this kind I've ever done. But I feel like this is going to be a fun way of doing it. And I am kind of psyched because this will be the first time I have ever heard Hanukkah or Kwanzaa songs. So let's get our collective holiday groove on, shall we?
Lich'vod Hachanukkah by Chaim Nachman Bialik:

Santa Claus is Pagan Too by Emerald Rose:

Carol of the Bells

The Kwanzaa Song by William Scott:

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah by Theodore Bialik

Solstice Song by Denise Jordan Finley

God Rest You Merry Gentleman by Lorenna McKennitt

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Movies That Rock My December

First of all, Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate it. :) 
It looks as though I will be copying and pasting the post from last year (told you I am a lazy blogger) on this subject. If you missed it last year, great. That means this won't be a deja vu experience for you. I am hoping that maybe, by next year, I'll have something new to add but this year my twelve favorite Christmas movies are the same. I could slip Rise of the Guardians in here because it was an awesome movie but to me it isn't a Christmas movie per say so it can't join the list. I know...I am a stickler for detail. haha 

Alright...without further ado...I present to you my twelve favorite Christmas movies ever complete with satirical commentary from the sarcastic Happy Hippie Witch...

1) A Christmas Carol 

This is my favorite Christmas story of all time. I have watched every version of the movie including the silent movie version (which is available on youtube: ). But my two all time favorite versions are the version with Patrick Stewart (which is still on youtube) and the newest version with Jim Carry. George C. Scott takes third place. I do not watch and cannot stand the modernized versions like Scrooged because to me A Christmas Carol is timeless. It has a moral, a great moral, and there is no reason to fuck with that.

The Silent Version from 1910: 
A Link to the Version with Patrick Stewart (if you want the 3D one, this site has that as well):

2) The Nutcracker

Until last year, my favorite version of this was actually the ballet version that they used to show on television when I was a kid. But now I have a new favorite. The version that came out in 2010 (yes, another 3D miracle I should not watch as an epileptic) is my new most favorite because it was well done, it had Nathan Lane (love him!), the 3D was just bad ass, and it was fun to watch.

The Latest (as far as I know) Ballet Version:

3) It's A Wonderful Life

This is my mom's second favorite (Prancer is her first) and when I was little I loved it. Then when I got to be about 12 I was sick of it. I mean, she did not wait until December to watch this movie. She watched it all...the fucking...time. So for about nine years I refused to look at it, I wanted no part of it, and I swore I would never watch it again. But then when I was twenty one I caught it on television on Christmas Eve and before I knew it, my eyes were glued to the timeless story of Mr. George Bailey and his struggle to figure out what life is all about. Like A Christmas Carol, it has a timeless meaning behind it and who doesn't have at least one good memory of watching this?

The Full Film (Watch while you can. Youtube tends to remove such things.)

 4) Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

When I was about five my great grandmother bought me the set of Christmas cartoons that had this and Frosty and all of those great cartoons from the '60's and '70's in them. I watched the hell out of those movies! As soon as Christmas break started every year, it was time to break out that great little box that contained the movies, get my sleeping bag, and curl up on the floor to watch them. During the holidays I think we all tend to miss those we love who have passed away and since Grandma Betty died in 1996, these movies took on a more sentimental meaning for me. Not only do I love them because they are great and I have a million fun memories of them, I also love them because they remind me of her. I don't know if she knew this but she actually gave me one of the greatest gifts I ever got because here I am, 19 years later, still watching these movies every year. I have passed them on to my baby sister and I will pass them on one day to my kids. And yeah, this one was my favorite (Ah, the love story of Kris and just gets me every time), it has the song I sang to Dakota while I was teaching her to walk (Put one foot in front of the other...and soon you'll be walking 'cross the floor...), and when I watch it I get as giddy as a six year old. 

5) Prancer

As I said earlier, this is my mom's favorite Christmas movie...mostly because she has a major thing for Sam Elliot (which is why I hate Roadhouse) and like It's A Wonderful Life, I spent many years hating this movie and swearing it off forever. But over the last couple of years I have found my love for this movie renewed. Certain scenes (especially the one where Jessica sleds through  the scary old woman's flower bed and first goes inside her house) bring back my emotions that I had watching them when I was little which is what really makes Christmas movies special in my opinion. I used to watch this and think that it was...magical. So it is only fitting that I should watch it now when I am all grown up and childhood magic (you know, the kind of magic that made EVERYTHING look better than it really was?) is lost to me in this life and try, for two hours, to get that feeling back.

6) Rudolf The Rednose Reindeer

First, I must say that I love Hermey. Yeah, I know the movie is about Rudolf and I love him too but Hermey is my elf! An elf that wants to be a dentist kind of sums up the way I felt as a child. I was a misfit, Hermey was a misfit, Rudolf was too...and then...and then...there was a whole friggin' LAND of misfits! For me, the message I got from this when I was a kid was pretty simple. So you happen to be a little weird and you don't fit in. So what? One day you will be a dentist or a toy with an owner or the leader of Santa's friggin' sleigh and that is pretty cool. :)

7) Frosty the Snowman

Frosty was my little brother's favorite of our Christmas movie collection when we were little. It was really cute (and I am glad he doesn't read this because he would probably kick my ass for sharing) because Ryan would cry every time he watched it when Frosty melted. Every single time. And then I would have to be a nice big sister (something I really wasn't when we were kids) and tell him that it was like the song said. He would be back again and it was alright and all that. So when I watch this movie, it makes me think of my little bubby (who now has a baby of his own) crying his eyes out at the temporary death of Frosty. How sweet is that?

Full Movie:

8) Bad Santa

There are some movies that are hilarious the first time you see them and then the more you watch them the more the hilariaty of the film fades until parts that once inspired a big ole' belly laugh only gets a small smile. Yeah...This is NOT one of those movies for me. The first time I saw it I laughed my ass off from start to finish. I haven't watched it yet this year but I will and when I do, I will laugh my ass off from start to finish. I will not watch it on television because it just lacks its huge dose of fucking hilarious censored. And this movie produced one of my favorite lines of all time. I bet you all know what I am going to say because I am me, right? Well, if you didn't guess it, here it is: "Fuck me, Santa...Fuck me, Santa...Fuckk...mmeeeee....Sannnttttaaaaa!!!!" hahahaha Whoever wrote this script, I tip my hat to you because you, my friend are a bigger perv than I am and that is almost impossible! ;)

9) Home Alone

If you were a child in the early '90's and you never slapped your face and screamed like your ass was on fire just once because of this movie....were you Amish? lol This is another one that makes me think of my brother because he loved this movie. The old man scared the shit out of him, though. But more than that, I loved it because I wanted what Kevin had. I wanted my family to forget me all by myself for days. It did not matter if it happened during Christmas...or Valentines Day...or even the 4th of July. I wanted to be home alone doing what I wanted and having a great time with that. This movie also has my favorite version of Carol of the Bells in it. I will only watch the first one, by the way, because I believe that if you lose your kid and leave the fucking state/country without them TWICE CPS should really come and investigate you and you should NOT be rewarded with a movie contract. hahahaha

Let me start with a confession: When I was little I was in love with Chevy Chase. I watched everything he was in and I did so with this dreamy look on my creepy little face because I thought he was adorable. So yeah, Christmas time meant people would show this movie and I could get a little dose of my beloved Chevy. Plus...ummm....this movie was funny as hell.

11) A Christmas Story

"You'll shoot your eye out!" Hell yeah you will but before shooting your eye out, you will have to put up with a sarcastic teacher, a little asshole school bully, a brother who eats dinner like a pig, your mother and father who believe that the word 'fuck' should not come from your mouth no matter how bad you fudge up while helping dad put a tire on, and a Santa Claus that is probably drunk on whiskey and banging the little bitchy elf. Sound like fun? Of course not. Ralphie is my dude. Ralphie did not have an ideal adventure trying to get one fucking thing...just one...that he wanted for Christmas. He had to put up with ALOT of bullshit, ya know? But he persevered  He did not say "Oh one wants to get it for me so I guess I want a sled". Hell no! He did everything he could possible do and in the end he got that Red Rider BB Gun. And yeah, he shot his fucking eye out with it. But I will bet you he went right back out the next day and shot the damned thing at any thing he could find in the back yard that might move. (Part two of the movie was cut out but it was the part where Ralphie developed his street rep as the baddest squirrel killer since those brothers on Swamp People) Why? Because Ralphie knew what he wanted, he did not take no for an answer, and in the end he got it so do I think he will let a friggin' BB in the eye keep him from what he wants to do? Hell no I don't! Ralphie for president!

12) The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorite movies of all time. I actually got it for Christmas when I was 7 (might have been 8) and from the first time I watched it I was enthralled...and in love. Jack Skellington is oh so sexy. Anyway, I am sure you are wondering why it is number 12 on this list if it is one of my favorite movies ever. Well, on my Halloween list of movies it is number one. But this is my Christmas list and while I do watch this movie every year at Christmas time and I do consider it a half-breed (Half Halloween-Half Christmas) the movies I named above are simply higher on this particular list because they are pure breeds and I only watch them all one time a year and they have only Christmas memories attached. 

Next week I will probably do my post on Yule and I will do a post on music for every December holiday I can find music for sometime between now and the Yule post. Should be an interesting experience. :) I hope you've enjoyed my list. I would love to know what movies get you all in the holiday spirit this time of year. I hope you all have a beautiful week and you remember to smile. :) 

I added youtube links where I could. However, all of these movies can be find on the site I gave under A Christmas Carol as far as I know. I have seriously slacked this year from my usual tradition of watching a different movie from the 1st-25th and the only one I have seen so far is A Christmas Carol (the Patrick Stewart version). However, it isn't often that things are removed on there so they should all be there just as they were last year. It's a safe site. I use it all the time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Month of Celebration

I am giving you all a proper rant. Yes, that's right. I am not easing into it and I won't be gentle. Although this time of year was not always my favorite, I have come to love the month of December. I am more excited about the lights, the decorations, and the repeated visions of Santa at this point in my life than I ever was as a small child. But one thing seems to pop up every single year that bugs the hell out of me threatening to kill the damned joy of this, the one month of the year where nearly every religion on earth celebrates something. Now please, if you will, think about this for a moment. People from a variety of religions celebrating holidays all around the same time period that all, despite their different religious beliefs about the holidays, have one thing in common. They are all celebrations of hope, light, peace, and joy. So what's the problem, right? The problem is that instead of accepting that beauty of so many different paths, sending out good energy throughout this month, the people who follow different paths want to fight about who should "own" the month, over which holy day should rule the season. And I am here to tell you that it's total crap. Consider me your Ghost of Hanuyulekwanzamas (try saying that twice) as I attempt to bring back the spirit of December to you all....

Yes, it is true that the first celebrations on earth in the month of December north of the equator were performed by Pagans attempting to symbolically honor the sun in order to "lure" it back to the earth on the darkest night of the year, the Winter Solstice. Now, these particular Pagans knew that the sun was going to come back regardless of their rituals or lack thereof but their ancestors did not. I mean, imagine how scary winter must have been for prehistoric people, those wonderful cave dwelling ancestors of ours. Knowing nothing about science, about the relationship between earth and the sun that brought life to everything, and seeing the nights grow longer, the days colder...They were probably pretty freaked out. And when humans freak out we tend to turn to our concept of God for help, right? So it makes sense that they would do what they could to petition their protective energies to bring the sun back. From all of this Yule, the celebration of the Winter Solstice, was born. 

As we all know, a new religion rolled into town, so to speak, about two thousand years ago and as the followers of these new ways attempted to convert everyone in Europe to their way of thinking, they discovered that trying to take away the sacred days of the Pagan people was a terrible way to persuade them to leave a religion that was everything to them for a brand new way of thinking that was so different from all they knew. So these smart early Christians decided to compromise. They had a holy day already in place to celebrate the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ, who was the son of God. But this holy day was held in August (or July...isn't there some dispute about that? I don't remember...). Still, the concept was much the same. The birth of the sun/son that would bring light and hope to the earth was there, the celebration of the male aspect of deity was in place, and it was clear that this was one holy day that the different groups of Pagans from one end of Europe to the next would not give up. It was perfect. In exchange for their Goddesses the Pagans were given the beloved Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. As for their beloved ancient holy days? The Spring Solstice became Easter and the Winter Solstice, their most sacred time for some Pagan sects, became Christ's Mass or Christmas. 

Have you ever noticed that the custom of decking out pine trees with lights and decorations had nothing to do with the birth of Christ even though it is one of the most recognized symbols of the holiday? That's because the custom goes back long before Christianity existed. The concept was simple. Take a tree that never "dies" and put the things you wish for yourself for the next year on it to draw it near you. By doing this you were honoring the eternal rebirth of the sun and you were taking in the luck of the new year. The lights? A ploy to bring the sun back of course. How about wreaths? I was Christian at one point in my life and I don't recall hearing about the Wise Men bringing wreaths to greet the newborn King. So where did they come from? They are a symbol of the wheel of the year as this was the time of the new year as well. Santa Claus? He has a long and rich history all over Europe. One story of a Santa-like figure even has the gift giver as a Goddess. That's right. Santa Claus is Pagan too....

BUT, my dear Pagan friends, why does any of this matter so much? The history is important of course and it should be remembered by all of us but that isn't what I am seeing every December. The burning times are over. We are free to worship on the longest night of the year without hiding behind the beliefs of others. We are free to put our stars atop our trees and smile at its symbolism. We are free to be who we are. And we are the ones who are always preaching tolerance, right? So what is it about this time of year, a time that is meant to be sacred and mirthful, that makes some among us act a damned fool? If Christianity had not adopted this time of year as a sacred time how much of our old customs do you think we would have today? The Yule/Christmas tree would not be shining bright in your living room, Santa would be banished to obscurity in the frozen land of the North Pole, no festive wreaths would grace your door, and I will guess that no one would get drunk and make out with a stranger just because they stumbled under mistletoe...Ok, perhaps that tradition could have been lost to us without being missed. But you get my point. There were certainly benefits we reap today from the early Christians' decision to have their holiest day just four days (or so..depends on the year and the Pagan path in question) after ours. Now they have theirs and we have ours and if we practiced what we preached we would stop the petty fight to assert our dominance when we should be co-existing as we have fought to do since the last of the witchcraft laws were repealed. 

To wrap up this boring history lesson of sorts: Christ is not the only reason for the season. Neither is the Winter Solstice. If you are wise, if you are tolerant, the reason for the season in general is peace, joy, and love. Certainly if German troops and English troops during World War I could set aside their differences to celebrate those sentiments together on Christmas there is no reason why all of us, regardless of our religions and our individual reasons for celebration this time of year, cannot do the same. The way that I see it, the protective force that watches over us does not care if you call it Jesus, Allah, Zeus, Athena, Isis, etc. It doesn't care if you name no names at all. The reason prayers are answered regardless of one's specific faith is because they are all valid paths toward the same energy. It is how an individual perceives it and the path a person chooses to walk toward it that creates our differences. But differences need not set us apart. And they shouldn't divide us so completely, have us fighting against one another over whose holiday is the most valid, the most sacred, when we could all instead put forth the energy of joy and goodwill toward all for one month. Imagine the things that could come of that. It's what our world needs and it is far more important to the greater good than arguing over who is right. Our December celebrations are connected for good or ill and that does not have to be a bad thing, folks.

In addition to this, I would like to thank those who do not get wrapped up in the religious arguments that seem to occur as soon as the calender rolls around to December 1st. This is especially true if you have a facebook. It's a bit hard not to scream in frustration from the posts that pop up constantly, isn't it? ;)

Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Yule/Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, and if I left out a holiday I apologize. May the season be blessed for everyone. May we all find some peace, some joy, and a big dash of love. And if you do find these things, be sure to pass it on. Smile at a stranger. It's always nice but I have found that on a cold winter's day with the snow flying and the holidays fast approaching, it seems to work more magic than usual. Strange but true. 

In the weeks to come I am going to attempt to re-publish the posts I did last year with the Christmas movies, Christmas music, and Yule songs. The movie post took FOREVER as I recall and I am just lazy enough to try this short cut this time around. If that doesn't work there is always copy and paste and my lazy ass will have to find the pictures again I think. Either way, my countdown to Yule and Christmas (I do not know much about the other holidays, I must confess, but I might round up some songs to celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanza as well if I can find some.) has begun and next week I will bring fun goodies to make up for this serious rant post. If I have offended anyone with my words here I am sorry because upsetting someone wasn't my plan. But if you got pissed off and then it made you think about the possibility that I might have a point, it was worth it to me. 

Have a beautiful week, my blogger friends, and remember to smile. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've neglected the hell out of blogging lately, haven't I? I apologize for that but I hope you have all had a great month and that you are all ready for Thanksgiving whether you intend to spend it with friends, family, or a glass of wine and a good book. For those of you who toss sanity to the wind on Black Friday to get the great deals for Christmas, I hope you have already purchased your football pads and whatnot to keep you from bodily harm on Friday morning. :) We are standing on the threshold of that crazy time of year where stress is king and the frantic pace makes us look back on January second at the blur of the last two months wondering where the time went. If you are of age and you are physically able to do so, take up drinking until it's over. I hear that helps.

As children in elementary school we are taught that Thanksgiving is the day that we celebrate the feast shared by Pilgrims and the American Indians who helped them survive through hard times and a complete lack of knowledge concerning survival in the new land that they found themselves on. However, when you grow up you learn that this feast did not take place in November and that, when one considers the atrocities that befell American Indians as a race in response to their aid of these strangers and the many more who arrived, there really isn't much that should be celebrated on that end. Some people eventually refuse to celebrate the holiday at all because of this but I prefer a different approach. Rather than not celebrating the holiday at all (something that would be impossible with my family because they would drag my ass straight to the table if it came to it) I celebrate it strictly as a day to be grateful. In this way it is no different than the three harvest festivals in my religion except that my entire family celebrates it with me which is even better.

No matter how hard a year has been you can almost always find something that has happened that makes you feel thankful, someone in your life that just makes living brighter, an accomplishment perhaps that you achieved since the last Thanksgiving that once seemed impossible. If you have people to celebrate the holiday with, people you love, you have a reason to be grateful. If you are celebrating alone but you have your health and a reason to be hopeful for the future, count your blessings. Regardless of your views on the Pilgrim feasting bit, you don't have to give up your November traditions. Nifty way of seeing things, huh?

So what am I thankful for this year? *long sigh* I am thankful for the love and support I receive from my family, my friends, the man I love, and my beloved puppy. Life would be hard without love and I am always grateful for it. I am grateful for the roof over my head and the ability to have a feast tomorrow because unfortunately there are many, too many, in America who will spend tomorrow wondering where they will sleep and how they will eat anything. I am grateful for my strength and my determination that sees me through any hard times that come my way. I am grateful for the lessons I've learned that made me a better person and a better witch and I am grateful to be alive to see another holiday season. 

In the hustle and bustle of the last week I managed to discover a new obsession. Ever seen Once Upon a Time? If you haven't and you have a soft spot for the retelling of fairy tales like I do I highly recommend that you do. That show is absolutely amazing. It has all of the elements of a great fairy tale. There is true love, unexpected surprises, plenty of drama, and an evil queen or two. It also has all of the classic princesses only they lack the helpless damsel traits that made them so damned annoying in the old stories. Snow White, for instance, is a bad ass. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and Cinderella are still annoying though but they are not major characters so, considering they made Snow White a thief adept at shooting a bow, I think we can forgive them for that.  I adore Rumpelstiltskin and I think that the way they worked out his love story was pure brilliance. My only disappointment is that they left me hanging without a new episode on Sunday. 

There is yet another thing to be grateful for...Once Upon a Time and the release and the inspiration it provides me. It's the little things that make life worth living, ya know? lol

I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow and that over the course of the next month or so you don't let the stress of the holidays take away from the important meanings that lie behind each. Drink, feast, and be merry. I will attempt to post again before a month has passed....

 The Pumpkin by John Greenleaf Whittier (A 19th century Thanksgiving poem):
Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun, 
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run, 
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold, 
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold, 
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew, 
While he waited to know that his warning was true, 
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain 
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain. 

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden 
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden; 
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold 
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold; 
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North, 
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth, 
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines, 
And the sun of September melts down on his vines. 

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West, 
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest; 
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board 
The old broken links of affection restored, 
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more, 
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before, 
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye? 
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie? 

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling, 
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! 
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, 
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within! 
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune, 
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon, 
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam 
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team! 

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better 
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter! 
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine, 
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine! 
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express, 
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less, 
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below, 
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow, 
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky 
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


With one week left before my beloved Halloween, it's time to post about the religious side of my favorite holiday. It's not all fun and games for the Happy Hippie Witch because in addition to the night of October 31st being dedicated to frolic there is also a very serious side to this night, the aspect of it that was celebrated by the people of Europe centuries ago, the aspect of it that lent to the mainstream holiday most of its symbolism that we see today. Halloween in its religious form is a night to honor those who have passed on to the other side. It is a night to celebrate and remember those you have loved who are no longer physically with you. It is believed by many cultures and religions that on this night the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest and because of this, the night is dedicated to the dead. (That explains the skeletons and ghosts all over the place in our decorations for Halloween, doesn't it?) This night is also the Wiccan new year and the third and final harvest celebration.
My usual routine on this night is to decorate my altar with pictures of my loved ones who are no longer here, to take stock of the spiritual progress I have made (including accomplishments and things I want to work on or focus on in the next twelve months), and I usually burn all of my altar candles down completely on this night and start fresh the following day in honor of the New Year aspect. However, like Beltane, many celebrate this holiday from dusk on October 31st to dusk November 1st and I think I am going to try something new this year and go with that. In addition to this, I have also recently come across a week long honoring celebration from October 24th-October 31st that was posted on facebook and taken from Margie McCarther's book Wiccacraft for Families. I think I am going to try it as well because I liked the idea of it as soon as I read it. I've been doing the same thing for the past fourteen years. I think it's time to spice it up. (For any interested readers out there, I am going to post info on Samhain from the website and the list of who to honor on what date is included there.) is some details concerning this interesting night of the year taken from the above listed site:

Samhain: October 31/November 1 for Northern Hemisphere; May 1 for Southern Hemisphere
Samhain Lore Researched and Compiled
by StormWing, Copyright © 1996 - 2007
Samhain (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) is one of the Greater Wiccan Sabbats and is generally celebrated on October 31st, although some Traditions prefer the date of November 1st. The various names for this Sabbat are Samhain (Celtic), Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas or Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), as well as Halloween, Hallowmas, All Hallows Eve, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Feast of Spirits, Third Harvest, Samonios, All Saints Eve, Celtic New Year, Samhuinn, Celtic Winter, Samana, Festival of Pamona, Vigil of Saman, Vigil of Todos, and Santos. Though this Holiday is celebrated on October 31st, All Hallows Eve falls on November 7th, and Martinmas on November 11th.
The symbolism of this Sabbat is that of The Third (and final) Harvest, it marks the end of Summer, the beginning of Winter. It is a time marked by death when the Dead are honored - a time to celebrate and "study" the Dark Mysteries. "Samhain" means "End of Summer". Its historical origin is The Feast of the Dead in Celtic lands. It is believed that on this night, the veil Between the Worlds is at its thinnest point, making this an excellent time to communicate with the Other Side.
Symbols for representing this Sabbat may include Jack-O-Lanterns, Balefires, Masks, The Besom (Magickal Broom), The Cauldron, and the Waning Moon. Altar decorations might include small jack-o-lanterns, foods from the harvest, and photographs of your loved ones who have departed from this world.
Appropriate Deities for Samhain include ALL Crone Goddesses, and the Dying God or the "Dead" God. Samhain Goddesses include Hecate, Hel, Inanna, Macha, Mari, Psyche, Ishtar, Lilith, The Morrigu/Morrigan, Rhiannon, and Cerridwen. Key actions to keep in mind during this time in the Wheel of the Year include return, change, reflection, endings and beginnings, and honoring the Dead. Other meanings behind this Sabbat celebration include the Wisdom of the Crone, the Death of the God, and the Celebration of Reincarnation.
Samhain is considered by many Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches (especially those of Celtic heritage) to be the date of the Witches New Year, representing one full turn of the Wheel of the Year. This is the time of year for getting rid of weaknesses. A common Ritual practice calls for each Wiccan to write down his/her weaknesses on a piece of paper or parchment and toss it into the Cauldron fire. Other activities might include Divination, Past-Life Recall, Spirit Contact, Meditation, Astral Projection ("Flying"), and the drying of Winter herbs. It is considered "taboo" by some to travel after dark, or to eat grapes or berries.
Spellwork for protection and neutralizing harm are particularly warranted at this time of year, because Samhain is considered to be a good time to boost your confidence and security.
Many Witches use their own personal Besom, or Magickal Broom as a part of their rituals. Some Besoms are structurally different in shape from the flat ones sold today, being round on the end and having a smaller sweeping surface. They can, however, be fashioned flat or however you personally desire. These Magickal Brooms are commonly used for cleansing and purifying Sacred Space, but can be used for many other things... such as using one in place of a Wand, Athame, or finger to project your personal energy when casting your Circle.
Here is a simple way to create your own, quoted from one of Edain McCoys wonderful books:
"Making a Besom"
If you would like a Besom of your own, they are fairly easy to find in craft stores, country markets, or folk art fairs. You can also invest your energies into making one, a good idea if you wish to use it in place of a Wand or other ritual tool.
To make a Besom you will need a four-foot dowel one inch in diameter, a ball of twine, scissors, and straw or other long strands of pliable herbs.
Take the straw, or another herb you have chosen for the bristles, and allow them to soak overnight in warm, lightly salted water. The water softens the straws to make them pliable, and the salt soaks out former energies.
When you are ready to make your Besom, remove the straws from the water and allow them to dry a bit, but not so much that they lose the suppleness you will need to turn them into your Besom.
Find a work area where you can lay out the length of your dowel, and begin lining the straws alongside the dowel. Starting about three inches from the bottom, lay the straws, moving backward, along the length of the dowel. Begin binding these to the dowel with the twine. You will need to tie them very securely. You can add as many layers of straw as you wish, depending on how full you would like your Besom to be.
When the straw is secured, bend the top straws down over the twine ties. When they are all gently pulled over, tie off the straws again a few inches below the original tie. Leave the Besom overnight to allow the straw to dry.
The dowel part of the Besom can be stained, painted, or decorated with Pagan symbols, your Craft name, or any other embellishments you choose. Dedicate your finished Besom in your Circle as you would any other ritual tool.
(The above "Making a Besom" is quoted directly from Edain McCoys book “The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways”, page 36, Llewellyn Publications, 1994.)
The most common colors associated with Samhain are Orange and Black. However, Red, Brown, and Golden Yellow are also appropriate colors for this Sabbat. Altar candles should be black, orange, white, silver and/or gold. Stones to use during the Samhain Celebration are Obsidian, Onyx, and Carnelian. Animals associated with Samhain include bats, cats, and dogs. Mythical beasts associated with Samhain are the following: Phooka, Goblin, Medusa, Beansidhe, Fylgiar, Peryton, Erlkonig, and Harpies. Plants and herbs associated with Samhain are Mugwort, Allspice, Sage, Gourds, Catnip, and Apple Trees.
The traditional Pagan foods of Samhain include beets, turnips, squash, apples, corn, nuts, gingerbread, cider, pomegranates, mulled wines and pumpkin dishes. These are all appropriate as well as meat (especially pork) dishes (if you are not a vegetarian - if so, tofu seems ritually correct).
Some Wiccans leave a plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead. Placement of a candle in a window and burying apples in the hard-packed Earth is believed to guide them on their journey to the lands of Eternal Summer.
According to Margie McArthur, in her book “WiccaCraft for Families”, the following dates are celebrated by many for the entire week preceding October 31st, called "All-Hallows Week":
October 24th - Festival Prelude and Night of Seers - decorate and remember those who have seen the future.
October 25th - Night of Heroes and Martyrs - honoring members of families who died in war and peace, those who have died for their faith.
October 26th - Night of Artists - for remembering those who speak of the Old Ways through the arts.
October 27th - Night of Nurturers - those who keep the home fires burning, caring for those in need of care.
October 28th - Night of Remembrance of Family Pets, recalled and cherished.
October 29th - Night of Remembrance of Forgotten Ancestors, heritage, and origins.
October 30th - Night of the Recent Dead - trip to cemetery.
October 31st - Family Fire Festival

If you are interested in learning more, books like Halloween by Silver Ravenwolf, Seasons of Witchery by Ellen Dugan, and Sabbats: A Witch's Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy are great options for building your own Samhain traditions. Book of Shadows by Silver Ravenwolf also has a great Samhain ritual in it. This is the one I've used as part ofmy celebrationsince 2003. I see this as perhaps the most personal holy day of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year so my only advice if you are new to the religion or to solitary rituals is to create something that feels right to you. You are honoring your loved ones. Do it your way, whatever that way may be. :) 

A link to a chant for your ancestors that is really simple yet powerful:

I will leave you, my blogger friends, with  Samhain Benediction by David Norris. This can be added to your ritual as an ending and it can be found on the last page of Halloween by Silver Ravenwolf. Have a blessed and wonderful week, all.

Samhain Benediction
-David O. Norris

It is time to bid farewell
As this Samhain passes slowly
Soon the dawning will embrace us
And the sunset portal close
Until the turning of the year
We must part for just a while
Yet I know there is no ending
And the golden thread spins outward
To that place where you are going
Until I travel there to meet you
Or you return upon the autumn
On the sacred night of Spirits
When we shall meet again.
Blessed Be!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ten Songs to Get Your Halloween Party Going

And what would Halloween be without the music to get the party started? I'm not talking about the incredibly cheesy crap you get on those store bought Halloween CD's either (sorry...I despise that stuff). I am talking about the good stuff from the movies, shows, and books that make Halloween great. So get ready to groove with me. 

1) The Monster Mash by Boris Pickett
What would this holiday be without The Monster Mash? It has been a beloved part of Halloween since the early 1960's ('62 I believe but I'm not sure) and it's such a fun song that I can't imagine anyone not loving it.
2) This Is Halloween-The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack
Yes, I am partial to this movie and everything related to it, I know. But this song is absolutely great and because of its title and lyrics it has become like a Halloween anthem for my generation. 
3) I Put A Spell On You-Hocus Pocus Soundtrack
I love CCR and I love Marilyn Manson and both versions of this song are great but for me, if you want the best Halloween version of it, the Sanderson Sisters have you covered. It's Bette Midler. How could anyone not love it? haha
4) Jack's Lament-The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack
This is the last one off that soundtrack, I promise. lol Everything I said about This is Halloween could be said again for Jack's Lament. The King of Halloween's woes over his job has become a favorite this time of year for all of us who love the movie. With lines like, "With the slightest little effort of my ghost like charms I have seen grown men give out a shriek  With the wave of my hand or a well placed moan I have swept the very bravest off their feet." it's no wonder. 
5) Come Little Children-Hocus Pocus Soundtrack
I advise playing this as you pass out candy on Halloween night. I can almost guarantee you will soon become the most talked about house on the block. This song was my favorite from the movie when I was little because I thought it was enchanting. Since Sarah Sanderson is singing it to lure children, I suppose that is fitting. I couldn't imagine Halloween without this dark tune. 
6) Skin and Bones
My music teacher in elementary school first introduced me to this song and I absolutely loved it as a kid. It took me years to find it again and last year on youtube I finally found two versions of it. The first was recorded a very long time ago, possibly on the Victrola records they had decades ago, and it is sang by an unknown woman. It sounds very creepy and the video has a slideshow of the pictures that people once took of their dead in various poses so it's more for the grown up's. The second version is more like the one I remember from my childhood. 

7) The Hearst Song
I know this song from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and all of my friends do too. It's a gory little tune but kids seem to love it and I must admit, I am still entertained by it as well.
8) The Ghost of John (Traditional)
I remember this song from childhood but I had forgotten all about it until I stumbled upon a singer who actually does Halloween carols. She did a version of it that I really enjoy and I like that she did this song because it's so old no one knows where the hell it came from (like Skin and Bones) and if people continue to sing it, it can survive for future generations. 
9) Thriller-Michael Jackson
I don't personally think of this as a Halloween song but many people do and it is easy to see why. I mean, that video has been scaring the shit out of kids since 1983. Just about everyone I know from my generation has a story concerning the fear they felt once upon a time because of the video and Vincent Price's creepy part in the song. I personally used to play it to scare my little brother because he was terrified of the song itself and our rooms were side by side so if I turned it up loud enough he could hear it. (Yeah, I am chuckling just remembering that...) So...without further ado...THRILLER
10) The Addams Family Theme Song
Last, but certainly not least, we have one of the greatest theme songs of all time. The Addams Family was goth before there was a name for it. They are the first family of dysfunction, they embrace the macabre, and they are absolutely loveable to everyone but their neighbors and such. Play it once and it will be stuck in your head all day. But it's worth it, right? Get ready to snap your fingers....
That completes my Halloween suggestions. I hope it was as fun for you as it was for me. As I've said before, this time of year is magical for me and it always has been. To me, Halloween is a day where kids can be whatever they want (and adults who choose to believe can too) and anything is possible. So hang your ghosts, stick your tombstones in the ground, and hug your local witch. Because the most wonderful time of the year is upon us again.