Seeking Unity in Diversity

Author: Widdershins (page 2 of 14)


THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE’S LIST OF RECOGNIZED RELIGIONS HAS NOW DOUBLED. The United States Department of Defense, in its quest for diversity in military chaplaincy, has announced an increase in the recognized religions list. In addition to a number of other religions, it has officially recognized Humanism.
The United States military previously recognized only about 100 religions. The brand new list recognizes 221 religions. The list of new beliefs includes earth-centric faiths, like Asatru, Druid, and Heathenism. Eight Protestant groups have been recognized as well. Thanks to the new order, Jewish servicewomen and servicemen could now select among Reform, Orthodox, and Conservative and not forced to tick only “Jewish.” According to Josh Heath, a co-director of Open Halls Project, an organization that supports earth-centric faiths and heathens in the military, the newly recognized entities will find it much easier to apply for holidays and keep their own unique religious items inside the barracks.

This move means those servicemen and servicewomen who identify themselves as adherents of minority faith groups can now enjoy the same protections, privileges, and rights which were earlier granted to members of bigger faith groups. The move came after Armed Forces Chaplains Board or AFCB made a thorough review of the faith groups recognized by the department. It then recommended that the faith groups’ list should be expanded to better mirror the intent and language pertaining to section 533. It was then recommended by the AFCB to add new belief groups and faith to standardize and also better identify the religious preferences as recognized by military services. The AFCB believes these changes will help religious support planning of the military services through better tracking of more belief and also faith systems. They will also offer a more accurate demographic data pertaining to religious groups. It will also help the military to plan better when it comes to religious support within the armed forces.

The changes will also offer a better quality assessment of the requirements and capabilities of the Chaplain Corps of the Military Service.Humanist organizations have applauded the move. They were pushing for such a recognition for ten years. According to Jason Torpy, the president of Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, the new listing goes beyond humanism and is a victory for diversity. He said his Military Association is all set to help in “chaplain outreach” so that existing and future military chaplains could be trained in humanist needs and beliefs.

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WICCA SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY BECAUSE IT INCREASES SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT AND INSTILLS GREAT APPRECIATION AND CONCERN FOR THE PLANET AND ITS RESOURCES. “Witchcraft is a spiritual system that fosters the free thought and will of the individual, encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature thereby affirming the divinity in all living things.” Witchcraft involves the belief that the divine is present in nature, and everything from animals, plants, trees, and stones should be honored and respected. Wicca, or practitioners of witchcraft whom sometimes refer to themselves as witches, are very tolerant of other religious views. Wiccans are commonly misjudged by others due to a lack of understanding, therefore Wiccans do not typically involve themselves in criticizing the beliefs of others. Wicca should be taken seriously and respected because although its nature is severely misconstrued, it increases spiritual development and instills great appreciation and concern for the planet and its resources.

Due to a history of misunderstood information, a considerable number of people deny acceptance of Wicca and witchcraft. Although it is predominantly peaceful, it has fallen victim to ignorance. People commonly tend to judge the religion based off fictional assumptions or false information. The typical representation of witchcraft portrays a witch having a villainous role. From the seventeenth-century Salem witch trials, to modern media, the truth about Wicca remains incognito. As a result, witchcraft is generally seen as evil or for devil-worshipers. Another huge factor in why Wicca is seen in such a sinful way is due to conflicting religious views. There are many individuals that are extremely faithful to their own beliefs.

The views of Christianity, for instance, have a predetermination set in stone that steer Christians away from associating with Wiccans: There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.(New King James Bible, Deuteronomy 18 10-12)

Disregarding other religious reasons, common misconceptions about Wicca can be understood after looking at a survey conducted at Macomb Community College, in Clinton Township, Michigan. As seen in the figure above, the evidence concluded that of the twenty students who participated, 85 percent of them were not familiar with Wicca. Although the religion may be heard of by many, it is understood by few….

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5 Reasons All Feminists Should Try Witchcraft -Jasmine Garnsworthy

It’s Thursday night, and I’ve just arrived at my second event for the evening: the launch of a new health- and tech-focused mattress brand. After the publicist excitedly spells out the features of the mattress (Wi-Fi–enabled, impressive), she takes me to try a “sleep cocktail” and then to have my palm read. This is my second occult-ish experience of the night—I just left an activewear launch in Tribeca where a tarot card reader counseled me on stress and my “grounding chakras.” Yesterday, I received an invitation to a lipstick launch complete with a witch-led workshop on casting love spells. Next Tuesday I have a Victoria’s Secret event during which the invitation promises attendees will have the opportunity to “shop the latest Dream Angels collection” and “have [their] auras read.”

I’m not telling you this because I like to overshare my agenda. As an editor, I’ve always found health and beauty media launches to be a breeding ground for the next big wellness trend. I remember coconut water and chia bowls being served at fitness studio openings long before both landed on hip and healthy cafe menus. Smoothie bowls were eaten at just about every launch throughout the final months of 2015 before they really blew up on Instagram. Now, it seems witchcraft—and in fact, everything occult—is infiltrating the mainstream wellness space.

Women, wellness, and witchcraft have been intertwined for ages—since before the Bible. There’s a long and troubled history here: Witches were essentially herbalists, midwives, and healers until the patriarchy and Christianity brutally spun witchcraft as evil. Violent witch hunts convulsed Europe throughout the 15th to 17th centuries, killing millions of women—some feminists even question whether witch hunts were really just women hunts—until the 1700s.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and a political climate in which threats to women’s reproductive health rights are a major talking point, and we also see witchcraft gearing up for a resurgence. Self-proclaimed modern witch, and owner of home and healing store says this timing is no coincidence: While a politically motivated feminist movement grows and also becomes increasingly inclusive, she says, “the witch is a good archetype of that strong, powerful, gives-zero-f*cks attitude that women are trying to channel right now.”

More insiders I spoke with expand the concept of modern witchcraft to not just include traditional ideas of herbal healing and holistic medicine but also other less tangible ways to spiritually and physically recharge in times of political uncertainty crystal healing, energy healing, tarot card chakra work, meditation, spell casting, smudging, lunar rituals, and astrology. Essentially, it’s all about self-care—something even the most cynical person can get behind.

Ahead, we break down five ways to integrate a little witchcraft into your wellness routine.


Emily Thomas, witch and founder of a space for magic, crystals, and alternative medicine, wants you to rethink spell casting. There will be no cauldrons; expect no cackling. Instead, this modern breed of magic centers around mindfulness and being intentional about how you spend your time. “The wellness community is becoming a spell-friendly place because we’re more and more interested in attaching mindfulness and meaning behind what we do,” she told me over email. “Why take a regular bath when you can infuse it with sea salt and herbs for energetic purification after a bad day? Why not channel a meditation toward the well-being of your friend who is sick?”

An easy thing to do at home that Thomas says can bring a little magic into your life and open yourself up to love and romance is to blend a few drops of rose, ylang-ylang, and jasmine into a base oil like or sweet almond oil. “If you can get your hands on some crystal chips put some charged emerald and rhodochrosite into your mixture,” she suggested. Use it to massage your body or to make candles.

“The essences of rose, ylang-ylang and jasmine all work toward opening us up to feel love. They’re connected to the element of water, which supports connections, beauty, and healing,” Thomas explained, adding that emerald is a favorite for “releasing our fear of being vulnerable to others” and is a “potent unblocker for good vibes coming in and out.”


It’s 2017, and “Fitcraft” is an actual thing that exists—only in Brooklyn, admittedly, but I bet it starts to catch on in other major cities. Led by self-titled “fitness witches” Shanda Woods and Russ Marshalek of New Jack Witch, the class combines yoga, rituals, personal training, “ecstatic dance,” meditation, and “f*cking great music” for a workout Russ says will make you “sweat, connect with yourself, [and] be empowered.”

So why the need to mix fitness with witchcraft? It’s all about empowerment through exercising the body and mind. Russ explains, “In the current sociopolitical climate, empowering others to live their best lives through self-actualization and self-improvement—witchcraft and fitness—[is] incredibly important and, well, empowering. Also, exercise is a ritual; it’s a spell; it’s an actualization of self,” he told me.

If you can’t make it to BK for a class, Russ says you can integrate the basic concept into your own workout regimen by “[setting] an intention at the start of the workout that you draw on to push yourself. Focus on breath and repetition, as that mindfulness is what grounds the practice in ritual, and be grateful for your body.”


In case you haven’t realized by now, modern witches are very into sending out and receiving good vibes. And one way to do that, says Feldmann, is to spray a crystal-infused concoction of essential oils around you. “The first product I ever stocked in the Hauswitch store and one of my personal favorites is called Boundaries in a Bottle ” she told me. The spray is witch-crafted on the full moon eclipse to “purify and protect you and your surroundings” with essences of black tourmaline, smoky quartz, yarrow, devil’s club, echinacea, and other “magical gem and plant essences.” Basically, you spray it whenever you’re coming into contact with other people and don’t want to absorb their bad juju.

Before you roll your eyes—and yes, I know it’s tempting—even if you don’t buy into energy healing and the power of good vibes, remember that the very act of being intentional about your own positive energy can go a long way toward making you feel good. And hey, it’s also scented, so at the very least, you’ll smell great.


Is there anything more achingly millennial than having a healer use tarot cards to unblock your chakras? Melinda Lee Holm is a tarot reader, jeweler, and crystal guru with 25 years of experience in the metaphysical arts and, unsurprisingly, is also mega fan of using tarot to bust stress, achieve your goals, make good decisions, and bring positive energy into your life. “Calling on tarot archetypes to light up energy centers can be extremely effective, especially in combination with candle work and crystal therapies,” she told me.

Specifically, if you are feeling confused or unable to make a decision about something important, tarot readers will focus on your sixth chakra (third eye) and third chakra (solar plexus). “The third eye is where our intuition comes in, our inner knowing. The solar plexus is where our confidence and sense of self lives. If there are issues here, then even with a keen intuition, we’ll have trouble trusting the intuitive answers,” she told me.

If you want a DIY fix, Holm suggests taking the “High Priestess” card and the “Sun” tarot cards, placing them somewhere in your home or office where you would regularly look, and also taking a few moments to meditate on the images each day. Together, they are connected with intuition and the center of the body.


Crystal healing has been slowly working its way into mainstream wellness circles for a couple of years now. The concept itself is simple: Each shiny stone carries different properties that can work to heal the mind, body, and spirit. They also happen to look great in a flat lay, which is probably also why so many wellness bloggers are integrating crystals into their #aesthetic.

Seeress and shaman Deborah Hanekamp of Mama Medicine told me that rose quartz is one of her favorites for anyone new to the practice “because it opens us to our love, and love is always a wonderful place to begin.” Feldman, on the other hand, suggests meditating while holding dark crystals like tourmaline or garnet to “align your body and energy centers” and feel more grounded.

Crystal therapy isn’t just limited to meditation. Hanekamp suggests a bunch of ways to incorporate crystals into your life: “Put them in your drinking water, hold them, place them on your heart, sleep with them under your pillow, and put them in your bath.”

Beauty brands are also embracing the healing properties of crystals, infusing their cremes and serums with gemstones. Take Gemstone Organic Rose Quartz Skin Créme, for example, which claims to bring the user “loving energy” while also hydrating skin, or Glow by Dr. Brandt Ruby Crystal Retinol Hydracrème that incorporates “micronized ruby crystals” to revitalize skin and “blur imperfections.” Of course, if you would like to save yourself $60, you could just style a geode on your desk, ‘gram it, and call it a day.

What’s your take on witchcraft wellness? Are you for or against it? Tell us in the comments!


A Bit about Ostara

On the equator, at the moment of both the Vernal (Spring) and Autumnal (Autumn or Fall) Equinox, the lengths of night and day are equal. In Latin, that’s what the word equinox means: equal (equi) night (nox). Humans have been aware for thousands of years that light and darkness balance at the Equinoxes; this balance, and, by extension, the balance of other aspects of our lives, have long been a focus of Spring rituals.

Ostara on or around march 21st (sometimes spelled Eostara or Eostre) is named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring. Her sacred symbols are eggs and hares. Not surprisingly, She’s a Maiden Goddess rather than a Mother or a Crone. she is the namesake of the Christian holiday Easter. pagans celebrate Her festival is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring. Her name is thought to mean “to shine”, therefore Eeostre is seen as a goddess of the dawn. However it is also thought that Eastre is the ancient word for “spring”. There are also links to the name Eostre and “east”, the direction of the sky where the sun first rises, which gives Eostre the name “Eastern Star”. Eostre is connected with growth, renewal, abundance, new beginnings and fertility. As symbols of rebirth and fertility, eggs and rabbits are sacred to her, as is the full moon.

Eostre represents the transitional time between childhood innocence and adult passion, and reminds us that life is full of untold possibilities and adventures.

Through her association with dawn, Eostre may be related to the Greek Eos, Roman Aurora, or Indian Ushas. In some Pagan myths, the idea is that the Goddess has been taken, or takes Herself and Her buds and flowers and fruits, into the Earth, to the Underworld for the Winter, and is rescued or returns of her own accord in the Spring, which explains why everything sprouts and buds again.

Most pagans and wiccans acknowledge the role of the Sun (God) in all of this: as the days get warmer from Yule, the Earth thaws, and there’s enough light and warmth and water for things to grow again. Wicca respects the myths that come from other cultures, We tend to see various goddesses as aspects of the Great Goddess, so we’re more likely to speak of the Goddess resuming Her Maiden aspect than of, to borrow a Greek example, Demeter recovering her daughter Persephone from Hades’ arms

though the christian easter was born from the pagan eostre: the dawn goddess of fertility, or ostara, they don’t fall in the same month every year, they share at least one custom every year, and it’s a custom that predates both Wicca and Christianity. We know that the Romans also dyed eggs, using bright colors to encourage the growing Sun to keep growing, to tip the Equinox’s balance from darkness to light.

At Ostara, it’s likely that we need to catch our breath and our balance. (If we look carefully, we see that most Ostara customs are concerned, one way or another, with balance.) We need to take some time to breathe deeply and relax, to reorient ourselves toward the waxing light, to set worries and wish-we-hads aside and think about what we can do with what we have, and how what we do now will affect what we have to work with later on.

Our inner gardens need tending as much as the ones in our yards or on our patios. Our minds need clearing as much as our closets and garages and basements need cleaning; our hearts need encouragement as much as the dining room needs a new coat of paint.

The goddesses of springtime, Persephone, Ishtar, and Ostara, bring us the message of awakening and personal growth. Their gift is the motivation and the energy we need to pursue our dreams. As the tender green buds begin to leaf out around us, our own lives are refilled with vital energy.

Spring is the time to make room in our hearts for a passion for all things new. And it helps to use a little bit of magic and new ideas. Since our own bodies and spirits echo the earth’s changes, spring is an ideal time to head out in new directions.

Has any stagnation or lethargy crept into your life? Let it go! Now is the ideal time to open yourself to all things that facilitate your growth and evolution. whatever you do, don’t let your perception of any “lack of capability” stand in the way of your hopes and dreams.

Ostara and the Dance of the Bunnies

In the dawn of the age of man, when the tribes of men were new formed, and taking their first halting steps upon Midgard, Ostara was often seen bringing the springtime to field, forest and fen. The tribes of men watched with amazement as Ostara would walk upon the earth, and it would rouse to wakefulness behind her. As she walked did the first shoots push aside the snowmelt rubble and greet sweet Sunna’s sunshine, as she smiled the first flowers would blossom, and the air turn sweet and fresh. At her side flew a white bird, graceful and joyous. Always the song of her companion bird would call the spring birds from the far south, to return again to the northlands, and with them bring the ocean breezes that fire the hearts of young men.

The tribes of men were thankful to Ostara, and wished to give thanks to her in a way that was pleasing to her, and for this, they watched the rabbits. All winter long, Ostara sleeps, for she cannot abide the touch of Ymir’s get, and flees the coming of the snow. When Sunna turns her face again to the world, and the snows and Frost Giants retreat back to their mountain fastness, the rabbits call Ostara to wake. In the spring, the rabbits dance. Upon the earth in wild abandon, the rabbits wassail hard, and in their joyous measure stir the sleeping Ostara, for her return brings the spring.

Year on year Ostara waked to the dancing of the rabbits, year on year her graceful companion bird would watch the dancing rabbits, and hunger to join their measure. In a year known only in song as the year of the rabbit, came the great change. In that year was grown a rabbit of heroic proportions, a champion of his breed who scoffed at foxes, and defied falcons in his strength. His eye was taken with the gentle bird of Ostara, for her grace and beauty called to him as no she rabbits could. Come the spring in the year of change, he danced for her. He danced with the wild abandon of his breed, he danced with the fire that Freya grants to lovers, and the rage Odin grants the doomed.

It was a dance of dances, from a champion fired by a love that could not be, and it cast a spell more powerful than any spaewitch’s rune. While Ostara laughed at the display, her companion watched transfixed; her bird eyes fixed like a hunting falcons, her head bobbing with the measure. No longer able to contain herself, she flew from Ostara’s shoulder and lit upon the ground. At first stately in feathered grace, then swiftly in wing fluffing abandon she danced with her feathered suitor. Round and round they danced, as wild as any Alfar circle, as lit by Freya’s fire.

No longer smiling, Ostara watched her companion dance with her furred lord. It was clear her bird had lost its heart to this rabbit prince. Striding forward to the circle, Ostara halted the dancers with a glance. The rabbits trembled before the gaze of the goddess, but the champion stood forth fearless in his love, the white bird at his side. Ostara smiled softly, and the bird bowed deeply and sang a song of love; love for a friend of long centuries, love of a woman for a man; love that would trade eternity for fulfillment. Ostara heard the song, and her heart was moved. She knelt and kissed her companion, and when she rose again, there was only a shining she-rabbit in a pile of soft feathers.

When Ostara walked away, the rabbit champion took his new won love into the warren, and her new home.

As the snow retreated, the rabbits began to dance again, to wake Ostara. In the wake of the Year of Change, Ostara woke sadly. She walked upon the world alone, and her coming brought no life; for her heart was heavy. The tribes of man were worried, for the spring brought no life, and the priests and wise woman said to watch the rabbits, for they held the secret of this dire spring. The fastest and best hunters coursed the land, not to kill, but to watch the rabbits for the secret of the dire spring.

When Ostara reached the lands of the champion, and her lost companion, she beheld all of the rabbits in a dancing circle, and in the center two rabbits stood before a mound of feathers. As Ostara neared, the dancing rabbits parted, bowing her in. As she gazed with sadness on the aging of her now mortal former companion, the two rabbits stood aside showing Ostara the secret they concealed. Inside the nest of feathers were a dozen eggs, one of which was busy trying to hatch a wiggling little bunny.

As the bunny burst forth with a triumphant cheep! Ostara’s heart melted like the departing snow, and she began to laugh, picking up this flop eared chick, she danced a merry measure with her rabbit folk. As she danced the spring burst forth, the field erupted with flowers, the trees grew bright with new growth, and the sky full of song from the returning birds.

The hunters carried word of this back to the several tribes of men, and it was whispered amongst the wise how not only the dance, but an offering of eggs won Ostara’s heart and brought forth the spring.

Henceforth Ostara was honoured by the tribes of man with offerings of eggs in spring time. Here ends our tale for today.

Winter fire festivals in the UK celebrate Viking heritage

UNITED KINGDOM — Winter in the UK is often a dull and dreary affair. The winds are cold and biting, the skies are grey and loaded with drizzle. Any snow, with its temporary sense of wonder and magic, tends to be short-lived. So what do we have to get us through the Winter Fire festivals!

Britain, Scotland in particular, has a long history of winter fire festivals to mark the end of Yuletide and welcome the returning spring and days of more sun. Two well-known festivals are the Burning the Clavie and the world famous Up Helly Aa. Burning the Clavie takes place in the Moray region and harkens back to the old custom of tar barrelling. Up Helly Aa is described by Bryan Peterson of Shetland Arts as “36 hours of lawlessness, where by-laws are bypassed, marital vows are suspended and health and safety becomes very subjective.”

Peterson adds: “For many Shetlanders, it’s bigger than Christmas and New Year put together.”

Over recent years, the Up Helly Aa festival has seen an explosion of popularity. The event, whose name roughly translates as “End of Holy/holiday time for all,” marks the end of Yuletide on the Shetland Isles. Its date can alter as it is celebrated on the last Tuesday in January.

The Up Helly Aa tradition is an old one and originally involved the practice of tar barrelling, where barrels of tar were set alight and rolled around the streets in a procession with accompanying mischief making. This is likely to be a nod to the Lord of Misrule antics that often traditionally accompany festivals around such as this time. Since Christianity’s arrival, these traditions have been more associated with Epiphany.

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Partisan Pagans

They cast spells and they cast ballots. In Indianapolis, they hexed Donald Trump, taking to Instagram with grainy photos of Beelzebub. In New England, Vermont’s Feminists Against Trump — a group of college professors — cast spells of love to “destroy the Great Orange One.”

In Brooklyn, Portland and beyond, black-clad activists identifying as witches — finding inspiration in the 1960s feminist group known as the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (W.I.T.C.H.) — marched amid a sea of pink “pussyhats” during the Women’s March. They clasped hands, and with lips snarled in a spell, declared in unison that they would resist.

Feminists the nation over are reclaiming the word “witch.” Some identify with the word simply as a means to invoke power, to take back a history of violent persecution against women. Others are becoming public with their faith, with their practice of witchcraft.

In Spokane, however, many area witches traded in their black pointed hats for red baseball caps. These witches — both women and men — came out of the broom closet and went public with their pro-Trump politics. The election of Trump has divided not only families seated at the dinner table, but covens of witches from the four corners of the earth.

“People are so divided politically, even amongst us witches,” says Lola Stardust ( her “craft” name), a 45-year-old Spokane homemaker. “There is a certain stereotype that all Christians are conservative, right-wing, and that people running around casting spells in the woods are bleeding-heart liberals.”

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Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) is one of the world’s most famous astronomers. He defended Copernicus’s sun-centred universe and discovered that planets move in ellipses. A planet, NASA mission and planet-hunting spacecraft are named after him.

Yet in recent years Kepler and his family have appeared as dubious, even murderous people. In 2004 for example, a team of American journalists alleged that Kepler systematically poisoned the man he succeeded at the court of Rudolf II in Prague: Tycho Brahe. He may well be the scientist with the worst reputation.

But the majority of slurs concern the astronomer’s mother, Katharina. Arthur Koestler’s famous history of astronomy, The Sleepwalkers, where Katharina features as a “hideous little woman” whose evil tongue and “suspect background” predestined her as victim of the witchcraze.
Then there’s John Banville’s prize-winning historical novel Kepler, which vividly portrays Katharina as a crude old woman who makes a dangerous business of healing by boiling potions in a black pot. She meets with old hags in a kitchen infested with cat smells. Outside in her garden lies a dead rat. Kepler desperately tries to hide his mother’s magical arts from his wife as they visit and Katharina searches for a bag filled with bat-wings. This horrendous mother is scary, disgusting, and probably a witch….

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The etymology of the word “rune” means: “to carve, or to cut.” In Low German the word is “raunen.” As the runes were cut and carved into wood, metal or stone, the word “rune” was analogous to the rune letters themselves. Their form and shape varied according to the materials.

For example, runes carved into wood had more straight lines than the more rounded rune shapes inscribed into granite.
In Northern Europe the runes were actively used for a thousand years approximately between the ages of 150 CE to 1100 CE, and like any writing system, they were used as a reliable form of information storage and as a verbal representation.

After 1100 CE they were replaced by the Latin writing system with the incoming colonization of Rome.
However, when we study the runes and runic objects, we do not only come across linguistic patterns representing practical information such as accounts of dates and names, we also come across “non-linguistic” inscriptions which represent magical symbolism and incantations of protections, blessings or curses.

The most famous example is the rune trio ALU. This trio is seen carved in brooches and magical bracteate (thin single-sided gold discs worn as jewelry in Northern Europe during the Iron Age), the motifs on the discs are of Northern mythology with icons giving protection.

Inscribing weapons and tools with runes was a widespread magical practice. Reading the Poetic Edda, the Sigrdrífumál mentions “victory runes” to be carved on a sword, “some on the grasp and some on the inlay, and name Tyr twice.”

These examples reveal that the runes contained in themselves an old magical form and tradition: each rune had a potent symbolic meaning and had an underlying purpose.

But sadly, as the runic writing faded away, so did its magical use and today we only have a few echoes left from this “thousand-year-long” history.
Professor Sigurd Agrell dedicated his whole life to try and uncover the magical and non-linguistic significance of the runes to regain some of the knowledge that we had lost.

The subject of runes and language is vast, but I am hoping here to leave the reader with a glimpse of the magical information that Professor Agrell revealed to us in the 1920’s, and how it can offer us an understanding of the many layers of the meaning of the runes.

What he set out to study first was the sequential listing of the rune alphabet itself— this is the basic A to Z, and to find out how the runic letters were organized. The rune-row and sequence can only be found in three places: the Kylver Stone, the Vadstena bracteate, and the Grumpan bracteate.

When we approach these talismans and carvings something unexpected happens immediately – and here lies the first part of Professor Argell’s uncovering: when you look closely at the Kylver stone rune-row, the runes have a different sequence of letters than the other amulets.

For example, on the Kylver stone the rune ODAL is the last rune and on the Vadstena and Grumpan bracteate the rune DAGAZ is the last — both runes have shifted positions, comparatively it would be as if suddenly the Y was listed after Z in our own alphabet.

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Imbolc Poems









By Jill Yarnell

So the skies rumbled and the snows came,
And everywhere down through the centuries of this gray night,
Came women gathering to pray,
And to sink their hands into the dark earth.

They gathered seeds and prepared them for planting,
They meditated in the icy darkness,
And they celebrated the lambing of the first ewe,
To hasten spring.

And when through the earth they felt the stirring,
They sang songs encouraging the tiny seeds to grow.

In the dark, wet soil you can smell their work still;
They are digging along beside us. Listen!

The north wind carries their song across the snow,
This Imbolc night.

As the Earth prepares for Spring,
Wise women gather in circles to await the promise of new life,
And to sing praises for the green earth.

And so do we, here now,
This year, and every year.

Welcome Imbolc!









The Circle and the Flame: in celebration of Imbolc

By Stephen Craig Hickman

The Circle and the Flame for Imbolc
Wolf moon rises, broken promises
are healed and the feast begins:
as they say, “in the belly”,
the wintry light is pregnant
with Summer’s milk and flowers;
ewes’ udders waken light
and all the wights delight;
Tribe and Land, language and rocks,

meet in the circle of this flame:
the bones of earth, elemental nooks
of all the circle’s measure
hold the ancient tribes in bondage
to the laws of fealty;
knowledge of this old way
begins in words borne of valor:
deeds of ancient warriors dying
for the people of the Land;
remembrance of this light,
the women show their troth
sewing banners of the woolen cloth
with twisted threads of memory
to hold the thoughts of poets strong;
spider, asp, and wasp; thistle, gorse, and nettle:
all children of the goddess lands:
keepers of its mysteries;

Niall of the Nine Hostages knows this truth:
the Old Crone cast her eye upon him,
and he recognized the green spark of goddess tears;
the center holds, the Bilious, the World Tree:
golden leaves waving above
gathers the tribes into the inner circle;
so in the dead month, under the wolf moon
we celebrate in feasting,
when raven’s nest and lark’s sing,
and rain brings lambs to birth;
for then the Old Woman of the year,

Cailleach, rises with her white wand,
a bride of spring, breathing power
into the Winter King, releasing him
from his dour sleep of harsh snow,
while serpent lords scatter
to the four winds of time,
knowing their time is at an end;
then the “Exalted One”, Brigid,
golden haired, encircled by children
comes among her people
to celebrate the Feast of Imbolc!

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