Monday, February 8, 2016

February 2016 Personal Update: Circle of Fountains, Work, Familiars!

Oh January, you were an interesting month. It iced, it snowed, it thunderstormed and, more often than not, it did all of it at the same time. Kansas City winter weather always comes with the question, "How many inches of ice?"  More than likely, if we're getting snow, it's either layered over or under a good inch of solid, shiny slickness.  So really, you don't have to watch for a high snowfall here. You just have to hope your tires have enough traction for a slippery stuff.  Fortunately, I've been fairly grateful that, with the exception of a few below-zero nights, this winter has been relatively mild!  My husband has been pouting that there hasn't been enough snow.  That snow can stay quite where it is.

As I mentioned last month, my dog Artemis absolutely loves the snow.  He's my little water dog, so it makes sense! I posted up a cute picture of Artie's December snow romp and I thought I'd add to it with this month's little dusting run, since we were on the topic.

But enough about the weather.  I'm sure you're more interested in things like...

What my circle has been up to!  Circle of Fountains has some interesting things planned for 2016.  We've been approached by the Lead Organizer for the Kansas City Pagan Pride Day to do their main ritual.  We've also been asked by Gathering of Pagan Souls to open up their festival down in the Ozarks.  Both are happening in September, so we're trying to get a head start on planning both rituals in a way that is both accessible to the public and fun for a large crowd.  We're just in the brainstorming phase as of right now, but our itinerary has us bringing it together throughout March and April, ritual writing from May until July, and practice rituals for two months to hone it.  Our circle has turned into such an amazing, diverse and unique coming together of individuals, so I think we'll do just fine!

In the meantime, we've been having quite a bit of fun!  We've officially started our esbats up and had our first one January 24th.  Also, one of our members started a CF coffee meet where we're going around to different local coffee shops!  Our two Novices had their first lesson in January as well, some of which I may be posting here as I think it turned out to be fairly solid beginner material.  They're currently journaling away until their next one here in just two weeks.

Did I mention that CF's two year anniversary is this upcoming Ostara?  Two years!  So much as changed, but it's all been wonderful changes that have made a huge, positive impact in each of our lives.  I think this is what I always imagined my spiritual path to be like and I couldn't be happier!

Aside from the circle, I've been working away.  Some college events and some birthday parties, and a whole lot of commissions.  Work's been steady - not overwhelming but not underwhelming either.  Just the way I like it.

Honestly, my last few gigs have been a total blast.  My agencies always treat me well and I'm starting to see an evolution in my style of caricatures that I'm particularly enjoying.  I can't wait to dive in to the busy part of the year!

My husband's job has also been quite busy.  I don't ever want to talk too publicly about what he does or where he works, but we did have a hilarious Saturday spent at his job where he asked me to tag along.  This happened:

Proof that I may be traditional (read: up tight) and organized (read: wound like an eight day clock), but somewhere in there is the hilarious person I become when I draw caricatures just bursting to come out.

I've been playing with the idea of starting the transition back to my original hair color.  I've had the red and blonde since 2012, and I don't think I've seen my natural hair color since 2011 (back when I had pink streaks!). I haven't had a fresh dye since October so if I were to ever start transitioning back or changing my color, now would be the time.  I really haven't made any decisions, mostly because this is a fairly big one for me. If I dye out the bleached blonde, I probably won't be able to go back any time soon.  I've got about a month to think on it.

Took this shot off of the first Advanced Spellwork class I had this year.  Half of my circle and I are attending a semester-long Advanced Spellwork and Magical Practice class.  It actually is an in-person class, but the first class was snowed out (probably by the snow you saw in Artie's picture above), so we met online just once.  The class has been interesting so far!  I'm curious to see how or if my practices will change any throughout the course of it.

The familiars have been doing well!  Nothing new to report there.  Artie, our dog, is due for a groom but I probably won't act on it until warmer weather.  Apollo, our little black cat, is as derpy as ever.  Admittedly, while I gave him some quotes here, we're still convinced he doesn't "talk," and just makes noises.

Hermes, our large white cat, has been his sassy self.  He had a bit of a small IBD flare in early January but has otherwise been doing well.

And Zeus is his usual cuddly, social self.  In familiars, no news is typically good news for the better part.  

I have some great beginner articles planned for February, as well as a look at my circle room and maybe finally getting on an updated book list.  We'll see what I can do.  You can see my goal progress on your right - I've been on top of everything so far.  And with that, I think you're fully updated! Caricatures, husband, circle and pets are my life for the better part, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Until next time!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sabbat Box Review: Nature's Renewal - Imbolc

You know what time it is: Sabbat Box review time!  If you haven't followed my posts or seen Sabbat Box before, then today's your lucky day.  Sabbat Box is similar to the Loot Crate concept, only for pagans and witches!  Each box contains a selection of items useful to each specific sabbat and garnered from small businesses which your money supports.  The box's value exceeds the price you pay always, so you can also feel great as your investments double as a bargain.

Sabbat Box is pagan goodies delivered straight to your door!  So let's see what's inside, shall we?

As always, the first thing you'll see when you open the box is the trifold brochure.  This little guy is packed full of details about the items you'll see inside the box and how to use them, as well as correspondences and details about the sabbat itself.  It even includes some reference blogs and podcasts on the back!  Definitely worthwhile to take a look at.

The box begins with a pack of palo santo wood provided by Sun's Eye.  If you've never worked with palo santo before, you're in for a treat.  With a name meaning "holy wood," this fragrant tree is of the same lineage as frankincense and myrrh, and its strong aroma is hinted with a certain citrus and smokiness that you really only think of when you think of palo santo.  Use it like an incense to cleanse and heal your spiritual self - perfect for the renewal holiday!  If you'd like a description of how to use palo santo, the Sabbat Box blog has a fantastic description here.  And if you'd like to pick some up, you can purchase it in the Sabbat Box store.

These beautiful white tapers are a Sabbat Box exclusive item and perfect for purification during Imbolc. White itself represents a clean slate, if you will, giving you a fresh start during this holiday. You might choose to use these candles as a primary ritual candle or as a personal spell candle.  You could carve words, sigils or runes into the candle and even dress it with herbs or oil!  To get your own pair of candles, click here!

Speaking of oil, this holiday's Sabbat Box also includes a vial of Brigid oil by Sun's Eye.  Imbolc itself is a Celtic holiday closely tied with the deity Brigid, the goddess of fire and the patroness of poetry, creativity, the arts and medicine.  This oil could be the perfect thing to dress your candles with (remember - dress outwards to repel and inwards to draw to you), or you could use it for other ritual means, including burning it in an oil burner for incense.  To get your own vial of Brigid oil, click here!

This piece of quartz, sourced from Azure Green, is a great do-anything tool for your ritual.  While clear quartz is great for purification and protection, which makes it a fantastic addition for Imbolc, it also strengthens magickal work and other stones around it.  The quartz also includes a small card explaining its correspondences.  To get your own quartz piece, click here!

As always, each Sabbat Box includes the corresponding holiday's Llewllyn Sabbat Series book.  This one, written by Carl F. Neal, includes all sorts of correspondences and activities for Imbolc.  As I've said before, this is a fantastic resource for the new witch or pagan who's just starting to celebrate the Wheel of the Year.  This makes it a fantastic addition to the box.  Get your copy of Lewellyn's Imbolc book here!

One of the largest items of the box is this gorgeous altar cloth by Eclectic Artisans. This cloth comes in five different styles and adds a touch of color to your altar.  What a fantastic way to get you started on an altar should you not have one or to add to an already existing one!  Click here to purchase your own!

But I've been saving my favorite part for last: This wonderful Lunar Renewal Tea by Cosmophilia Astrological Herbs.  If you've read Witchy Words for even just a few minutes, I'm sure you already know how much of a tea lover I am.  I have an immense teapot and cup collection and have reviewed a multitude of teas in the past.  So, of course, once I saw this pouch, I had to break out my nifty clear teapot and make me a pot!

Cosmophilia was founded by Jaysen Paulson (JayP) in Portland, Oregon, and specializes in organic, wild-grown herbal ingredients. A teacher at the Portland School of Astrology who runs a fantastic podcast also called Cosmophilia, JayP has an extensive history in astrology and herbalism, so this tea is sure to delight.  Containing milky oat tops, oatstraw, alfalfa, raspberry leaf and mugwort, the star of this tea is the vanilla rooibos, which adds an earthy sweetness, and the jasmine blossoms, which give the tea a light floral taste.  This tea isn't meant to smack you in the face with taste - instead, it gently dances across your taste buds.  Use the tea as a pre-ritual activity, a toast during ritual, or for spell work surrounding Imbolc. To get your own resealable bag of Lunar Renewal, click here!

And there you have the Imbolc Sabbat Box! If you'd like to join the Sabbat Box waiting list for subscriptions, click here!  Sabbat Box creators are working their rears off in hopes of being able to offer even more subscriptions but, until that time comes, you can always purchase the items found in each box at the Sabbat Box store located here - no subscription necessary!

Total MSRP of items inside: $51.48
Total savings on this box: $11.93
Total shipping savings: $7.95
Total savings: $19.88
Six pagan businesses supported.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Circle of Fountains Imbolc Ritual and Celebration 2016

This post will cover the Imbolc / February Eve ritual and celebration held by the Circle of Fountains.

Before we begin, a small side note that Liithi Lushede unfortunately did not hold an Imbolc ritual this year. The typical event space for their rituals, the community room above Aquarius, sadly burned in December.  The damage was incredibly severe, but they've been working diligently on rebuilding. It is due for reopening in mid-February, however, so hopefully things will turn up soon!

The Circle of Fountains Imbolc ritual was written by Kira this year!

Kira is our resident Heathen of the group, so she was able to put a Northern twist on the holiday.  Of course, I'm not heathen myself, so if I've made a mistake please let me know!

We began by creating vision boards!  Vision boards are perfect for new beginnings and fresh starts, a common theme throughout February Eve.  This is both a practical and, if you choose it to be, magickal tool for finding focus and clarity on a dream or goal.

Every circle member brought clippings and magazines to help build the vision boards.  Additionally, markers, glue and ribbon were provided.

Our circle came up with some stunning boards focusing on everything from travel to family to careers and more.  If you'd like to see them in better detail, click on the picture above!

We then cleared the dining area and set up for our potluck!  Our circle Nutritionist, Kolika, thought brunch would be a great way to celebrate Imbolc/February Eve.  How fitting for the second holiday of the Wheel!

With our circle now complete, an immense amount of food was available.  See our menu below:

And with that, we ate!

Once our meal was over and we were properly stuffed (and believe me, I mean stuffed), we headed downstairs for ritual!

Kira began by explaining that, as a Celtic holiday, the Norse did not celebrate Imbolc.  However, she utilized two Heathen rituals to create an Imbolc theme: The Blot and the Sumbel.  Before beginning those, we would first call the quarters.

The Norse believed that the world had four directional corners and that, holding up each of those corners was a drawf.  In the east, we called upon the drawf Austri.

In the south, the drawf Sudri was called upon.

From the west, Vestri.

And in the north, we called upon Nordi.

While calling the quarters isn't necessarily a part of Heathen practices, the elements have become a fundamental way we as a group, with all of our various beliefs, connect.  Because Kira so strongly believes in them as well, she felt it was still important to do quarter calls for this ritual.

We then began with the first part of the ritual: The Sumbel.

In this portion, we drank mean from the horn first to a deity, ancestor, spirit or spiritual concept.

Some chose certain gods, such as Selene, Freya or Bast.  Others chose ancestors, such as a grandfather or past figure.  Still others chose to drink to spiritual concepts, such as the home or the elements.

After we drank to our gods, goddesses, spirits, ancestors and so forth, we then passed the horn and drank to an accomplishment.  The Norse believed in recognizing one's achievements was not a negative act of bragging but a way to feel pride and completion in oneself.

Some drank to personal achievements and hilarious stories of the past month.

Others focused on their career or schooling in a more somber way.  Neither way was inappropriate for the ritual.

Once the mead was drank, we entered the next part of the ritual: The blot.  A blot is a sacrifice, typically to the gods but, in this case, whatever each member believed in.  This sacrifice used to be an animal that was then feasted upon, but it's more common today to use mead.

Each member passed the blessed bottle of mead around and stated an oath.  This oath was both a promise that member made to themselves as well as a promise other circle members made to help them with.  They would then sacrifice part of the bottle of mead into a bowl.

Oaths included everything from mental health goals, such as help with depression or being more open, to obtaining a home or a brick-and-mortar for their business.  Once the bottle returned to Kira, the rest of the mead was offered as a dedication to one another as a circle.

Kira then presented each of us with a set of three keys.  During this time of the year, it was common for the Norse to bless their plows for the upcoming spring planting.  However, since plows aren't necessarily in much use here in the middle of urban Kansas City, she instead offered us keys.  Keys are a common tool in everyday life. You carry them around with you any time you're out of the house, and use them to open everything from your door to your car to your journal to your safety deposit box and more.

Our ritual leader then asked us to take the keys and dip them in the sacrificed mead to charge them with the oath we took, not just to ourselves but to one another.

At that point, we closed the circle, releasing the dwarfs at their corners, and then headed outside!

By going outside, Kira could complete the final part of the ritual: Offering the sacrificed mead back to the earth!  And with that, our ritual was complete!

Kira did such a fantastic job with this ritual, and gave us all a taste of her belief system. That's what's so wonderful about our circle: The varying beliefs and practices we incorporate give us such diversity and flavor.  Hopefully, you enjoyed it as much as we did!

From my family to yours, we hope you had a wonderful February Eve!