Pagan Parenting: The First Year

pagan parenting

Like everyone else, the moment I saw that second pink line, I knew I stood on the brink of complete transformation.

Very soon thereafter, I began to think deeply on how I planned to introduce and cultivate a spiritual life for my child.  .

Something about the label “pagan” made me uneasy when applied to my child that never made me uneasy as applied to myself.  It’s not really a word I identify with, but more of a shorthand that roughly describes the same spiritual “neighborhood” I live in—the way people who live in Tyson’s Corner just say they live in DC because no one knows or cares where McLean, Virginia is and it’s just easier to name a close-enough place.

But I felt more sensitive about labeling my child this way.

So I decided to focus on what I call “natural” parenting.  If you are interested in taking your baby down a more progressive, integrated spiritual path, but you think it’s too early, think again!

There are lots of ways to begin.  Here are some ideas that worked for me.  Obviously, your mileage may vary, but I hope to at least inspire you.

Spend time outside.  Developing a connected relationship with nature never comes too soon.  Don’t just strap your baby in a stroller and keep him there.  Find a sunny spot in the grass and let him roll around (avoid commercial lawns, which tend to be loaded with pesticides).

Work on your “psychic” connection.  Or whatever you want to call it.  The first year makes a great time to promote your unspoken bond because . . . well, babies don’t talk.  Once they learn, their thoughts are, in many ways, limited by the constraints of language.  Lay your baby on your chest and synchronize your breath to hers.  Try baby sign language.  When she’s crying and you don’t know why, stop, think, and pay attention to her cues.   Sometimes, just “listening” to my baby’s non-verbal signals surprised me with insight!

Try mommy & me yoga.  So many benefits come with some quiet, physical closeness.  Mommy & me yoga classes are playful, meditative and fun.   And if your little one freaks out, everyone in the room will understand, which takes the pressure off “controlling” his outbursts.

Include your baby in your rituals.  Try something simple at first.  A smoke-free smudge, or just bring her out under the full moon and let her enjoy the experience.

Celebrate the Sabbats together.  Try to celebrate the Sabbats on her level (see Baby’s First Mabon).

Make a “sweet dreams” sachet.  All first year parents await the night when baby lets them sleep through it!  Try filling a sachet with sleep/dream herbs and/or calming gemstones.  Hang it over the crib securely out of reach.  It can’t hurt!

Bless your baby’s blanket or lovey.  Anoint them with a diluted blend of olive oil and light essential oils for protection.

Try making your own baby care products.  Be sure you really know your herbs and oils, that you are extra cautious about common allergens and whatnot.  But making your own natural baby products connects you to what you put on your baby’s body.

Focus on natural or organic solids.   Have you ever gone in the baby food section at the grocery store and looked at the ingredients in Gerber Graduates?  I was stunned to learn that it’s even legal to market foods so loaded with preservatives and artificial ingredients to young children.  Regard your baby’s body (and your own!) as a temple.  Choose simple, natural foods to introduce.  Even if you don’t have time to cook every day, it’s almost as easy to cut up an apple as it is to pop something in the microwave.  The beauty is, they don’t know what junk food is, so they don’t miss it!

Finally, celebrate that first year with an outdoor cake smash!  We didn’t do a party, which seemed to me like it was really for the parents.  Which is fine!  But the idea of planning, making favors, invitations, ect didn’t do anything for me or my husband.

I wanted to do something to mark the occasion, so naturally, I consulted Pinterest and decided nothing seemed to have more potential for a crafty little witch than a cake smash.

IMG_9836.jpg

You can use herbs in the cake that have meaning to you, or decorate it with whatever happens to be in season to honor The Wheel of the Year.

I chose blackberries for their protective properties.

IMG_9842

IMG_9993

I love having a spring baby, and I recall noting what wildflowers were in season when he was born last year.  I feel nostalgic now seeing them come back, and I think it might be nice to teach him that when he sees those things, it’s a “sign” that his birthday is coming.

Common grape hyacinth is one of my favorite wildflowers.

grape hyacinth

Wild violets can even be candied and put into cakes and cookies.

wild violet

I also love tulips (we even named our dog after them!) and I plant them everywhere in the fall just so we can watch them come up now.

pink and yellow tulips

mabon incense 3

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

10 Magical Ways to Use Your Chalice

There it is, on your shelf, where you’ve been neglecting it for many moon cycles.  It’s time to dust off this classic altar piece and bring it back into your ritual rotation.

IMG_1603


If you’re lacking inspiration, try using your chalice . . .

To pour libation.  Pour any liquid libations, like wine or juice, from a chalice for an elegant touch.

To collect rainwater for blessing.  Leave your chalice in the rain for pure, natural water to use in making moon water or herbal infusions.

In binding rituals.  If you have a small coven, and it doesn’t weird you out to drink from the same cup, Chalices are a lovely way to seal the bonds of sisterhood.  Choose a blended wine, pass the chalice around the circle, and have each member pledge their friendship to the people next to her.

In handfasting ceremonies.  Similarly, add a “unity chalice” in place of the unity candle at a handfasting ceremony.  The couple each pours some wine into the same chalice, and then they each drink from it.  We used this idea at our vineyard wedding for a rustic touch and it worked out beautifully.

For scrying.  Fill your chalice with water, then add dragon’s blood ink or another dark ink to the water.  Take it outside under the full moon and use it exactly as you would use a scrying mirror.

In place of a cauldron.  If your chalice has a heat-safe finish, place a charcoal disk inside and burn your ritual herbs in it.  The visual of smoke rising from the chalice adds a mystical quality that I just love!

To dress up cakes and ale.  Don’t use plastic or disposable cups for cakes and ale!  Chalices make everything feel so much more witchy.  Serve your cakes on a formal serving plate and add chalices for a classy ritual that would please Martha Stewart herself.

To float candles.  If you are working with the energies of fire and water, floating candles inside a chalice makes an effective way to blend these elements.

To cleanse gemstones.  Leave your gemstones or crystals in your chalice with water and place in the moonlight overnight to cleanse and charge them.  Just be sure you know your stones!  Some dissolve in water!

To blend potions.   Blend small batches of oils, infusions or brews for immediate use in your chalice.

mabon incense 3

What’s New at Moody Moons?

Check out the latest handmade items from Moody Moons.  Click on the picture to go to the product page for a full description.

Get ready for Beltane!

Hand-rolled in herbs, flowers and oils chosen for their sacredness to the holiday of Beltane, this gorgeous pair of ritual candles makes an elegant edition to any Beltane altar or spring ritual.


Also available, Moody Moons signature Beltane incense is back in stock.

 

 

 

Introducing Moody Moons goddess line.

Gorgeous drop earrings with goddess pendants!  Perfect to wear for ritual, festivals, or every day adornment.

Fresh from the workshop!  Goddess candles.


And for all you early planners, Moody Moons already has Litha/Summer Solstice items in stock.  Get yours before they are gone.  Pre-order now and forget about it!

Summer Solstice Incense

Save

Save

A Modern Witch’s Guide to the Magic of New Orleans

A growing interest in pagan travel inspired me to start my latest category, aptly titled Pagan Travel.

In this series, I hope to share with you my experiences in exploring local traditions around the world from my perspective as an interfaith witch.

From festivals to small, street corner shrines, my interest in local religions feels innate.  The passion, beauty and spectacular diversity of spiritual expression across cultures has left me breathless, mesmerized, and sometimes moved to insight.

My trip last month to New Orleans refreshed this sense of wonder.

a modern witch's guide

IMG_1354

Nowhere does local religious tradition thrive more colorfully than in what has perhaps become my favorite city in the US.

Naturally, we had go on a ghost tour.  No matter how you feel about spirits, or cheesy, theatrical ghost tours, or what your thoughts are on the afterlife, no one should pass up the opportunity to follow a local around the French Quarter at dusk and listen to some classic New Orleans ghost stories.

IMG_1136

Our guide was . . . passionate about what he does.  LOL

bw ghost tour guide

We heard all the traditional tales, like the dubious legend of Madame LaLaurie and, of course, the famous haunting of Hotel Monteleone.

IMG_1173

But I learned plenty of new ones.

In fact, it seems every bartender in town has a tale to tell about ghosts in the rafters, ghosts in the wine cellar, ghosts haunting every dusty, 100-year-old trap door in the closet.

Particularly, the bartender at this historical tavern regaled us with legends of drunken spooks.

IMG_0788

But first, a magic tonic with an infamous past.

absinthe spoon

IMG_0838

IMG_0839

IMG_0805

IMG_0847

Notorious for driving Edgar Allen Poe further into the rabbit hole of eloquent delirium, absinthe sparkles with the mysterious allure of 17th century poets and mad painters.

I love the mythical glamour of this centuries old elixir.  It is all the things many people imagine the occult to be: dangerous, intoxicating, magnetic.

But to me, absinthe calls to mind all the magical properties of its key ingredient, wormwood; herb of seduction, dark matters of the heart, and prophetic dreams.

I asked the bartender the same question he probably gets several times a night:

“But it isn’t real absinthe, right?”

The bartender explained that the modern absinthe now legal in the US contains much lower concentrations of the key (and highly toxic) ingredient, thujone, than Victorian-era versions.  I leave it to you super nerds to argue whether or not the modern stuff is “real.”

But though you may not see swirling green fairies on your way home from Frenchmen’s Street, many people report experiencing vivid dreams after a night of drinking modern absinthe.  Given the role of wormwood in witchcraft, I found this a very interesting rumor.

No exploration of the spiritual side of New Orleans would be complete without at least touching on the subject of voodoo.  I have little to say.  Voodoo seems to be one of those occult practices that’s impossible to talk about without pissing people off on all sides, and to me, those discussions aren’t productive.  I’ll just say that I enjoy the pride with which this tradition is celebrated in New Orleans, and the open references to it, from kitschy souvenir shops to the altars of serious, dedicated practitioners.

IMG_0728

IMG_0717
IMG_1384

IMG_1376

Finally, the eerie splendor of New Orleans’ crumbling, historic cemeteries provides a transcendent place to contemplate otherworldly matters.   Haunting and strangely beautiful, wandering between the cracking concrete monuments felt like drifting through an earthly purgatory.

IMG_1324 flip.jpg

IMG_1295

IMG_1310

mabon incense 3

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Ostara with a Kitchen Witch: Cabbage Dyed Ostara Eggs

Every year, I try to do something inspired and kitchen witchy for this most decidedly food-friendly holiday.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the concept of naturally dyed Easter eggs floating around Pinterest the last few years.

I thought this made for a perfect Ostara activity.

I tried tumeric, spinach and cabbage.

Spinach was a dud.  I boiled and boiled, but the dye wasn’t strong enough.

Tumeric worked okay, but it stained everything!  I can see why they use this in India to dye cloth!

But the humble cabbage, at 79 cents, proved to be both the cheapest and most effective option.

IMG_1571

The idea is pretty basic.  Start with a base for extraction.  In this case, we have our head of red cabbage.

IMG_1466

Shred it and place it in a pot with a 1 to 1 ratio of water.  I did 4 cups shredded cabbage with 4 cups of water.

IMG_1470

Meanwhile, make your hard boiled eggs.  Some recipes call for boiling the eggs with the dye, but I like my eggs cooked a certain way, so I did them separately.   (Place eggs in pot with cold water, bring to boil, turn off heat, let them sit for 10 minutes in a covered pot, then rinse with cold water—perfect every time!)

IMG_1504

Once your dye is done, allow it to cool and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar per cup of liquid dye.

Then submerge the eggs in the dye for 24-28 hours in the refrigerator.

But before you do that, there are some creative options that I didn’t try.  The internet rumor is that if you write or draw on the eggs with crayon, it won’t dye there.  You can imagine all the possibilities for spell work there!

I wanted to keep my eggs as natural as possible, so I skipped this, but I might try using beeswax in the future for a similar effect.

I really loved the way the dye turned out.  It felt so earthy and wholesome.  I see myself using this for a lot of things, maybe even cloth.

IMG_1525

And there you have it!  Charming, naturally dyed eggs for your Ostara ritual.  Use them on the altar as an offering, or for your Ostara meal as a beautiful table decoration.

egg banner

With eggs on sale at my market for 28 cents a dozen, my total cost for this project was a mere $1.08.

mabon incense 3

[Guest Post By My Wild Way] Old Wives Tales: A Little Bit of Magic

Hollie from My Wild Way agreed to share with us a little magic in the form of folklore  She lives in the south of England and first began learning about magic from her aunt when she was young. She has always felt drawn to the wild way of life and now shares her pagan journey on her blog.

Old wives tales have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  They are very common in Britain and are part of our heritage. I wanted to share with you some of the tales I have grown up with, and still guide my life today.

There are some that seem to be just a way to scare children into behaving appropriately, such as “If the wind changes while you are pulling a face, it will stay that way”.  To me, this just sounds like someone trying to stop you making rude faces.

The sayings I want to share with you the ones that seem to have a little bit of magic behind them. Those that when you hear them, you know they are rooted in history and folklore. They bring a sense of wonder to the everyday and are a gift from the wild people who came before us.

2 (1)

If the cows are lying down it is going to rain– one of my favourites! If you live in a rural area I hope you would have heard of this one. It is quite self-explanatory, if the cows are lying down then we are to expect rain. Now, I know what you’re thinking, I live in England so it does rain a lot. But I have to include it as I was brought up hearing it, I can’t vouch for its legitimacy but if I see a group of cows lying down then I do always expect the sky too soon pour.

2 (2)

This next one takes on the form of a rhyme, I am aware that there are several different variations of this but here follows the one I grew up with;

“Red sky at night, Shepherds delight,
“Red sky in the morning, Sailors warning”

This means that if the sky is a beautiful red hue in the evening then we are to expect a lovely weather the following day. If it’s a red in the morning, then we are to expect bad weather throughout the day (a warning to sailors that there will be a storm). I still live by this one and to my knowledge, it has always been correct!

If you purchase a purse/wallet as a gift for someone, you must always place in it a piece of silver. Now that our money is no longer made of silver, we use the equivalent of a 10p or 20p piece. This is to bring good fortune to the receiver while they use their gift and to this day, I have never been given a purse which doesn’t have a silver coin inside.

1

When I was younger, I learned this one; my parents took my brother and I to view a house they were interested in buying. The house was lovely, but there were spiders and cobwebs everywhere. My dad is scared of spiders and needless to say they did not end up buying it but I did learn this little gem from the owner. The lady went on to explain that it is unlucky to remove spiders and their cobwebs from your home during the month of September and October. I had never heard of that one before or since visiting the house, but I love that this knowledge has been passed down throughout the generations in her family and that she still lives by it. Therefore spiders are safe in my home during September and October.

If your ears are burning then someone is talking about you. I would place money on this that if you were to walk into a room of people (in England) and state that your ears are hot and red, someone would tell you that you are being talked about. This is just taken as fact in my neck of the woods.

I hope you have enjoyed the few that I have shared. I find them so interesting because they are Folklore, they have absolutely nothing to do with science and are based on reading the signs that nature gives you. As the name suggests they are the sayings of the women of the village, the ones who were most likely witches.

mabon incense 3

Save

10 Spring Crafts for Wiccans

With just a few more weeks of winter ahead, the earth already begins to warm and wake up, pushing up delicate baby green grass and soft, pastel-colored bulbs.

Spring is almost here!

Here are a few activities to get you inspired for the coming season.

spring-crafts-for-wiccans

1.  Try a bird feeder wishing spell.   Choose a spring fruit and hollow it out (grapefruits are nice).  Fill it with appropriate herbs and stones and close it up, securing it with a ribbon or string.  Carve symbols in the flesh.  Cover with peanut butter and bird seeds and hang it somewhere it your yard under the full moon.  Every time a bird comes, imagine it is carrying your wish to the heavens.

2.  Decorate eggs naturally for Ostara.  Rather than using the dye kits to decorate your Ostara eggs, try using natural dyes like tea, blueberries and other naturally occurring pigments.

3.  Make an “enchanted” flower bouquet.   This one is particularly fun if you’re knowledgeable about the local flowers and plants.  Choose a theme, like “love and attraction” or “home blessing.”  Go on a nature walk and pick out local flowers, herbs and plants that you associate with this theme.  Leave it in your kitchen to bless your home with the energy.

flowers

4.  Head to the farmer’s market to cast your first kitchen witch spell of the season.    Living close to the earth starts in your kitchen!    Search the farmer’s market for the freshest natural, sustainable spell ingredients and design a ritual around what you find.

IMG_8014e

5.  Make an outdoor pillow with a twist.  Pick up some outdoor fabric (available at most fabric stores during the warmer months).  Throw in a pinch of lavender, mint or dried lemon rind and leave it in your coziest outdoor living space to bless the garden.

6.  Make your own bath magical products.  If you enjoy whipping up your own bath band beauty products from natural, wholesome ingredients, try making them with magic in mind.  Spring is prime time for beauty spells, so get cracking before the season slips away!

lavender rub

7.  Make some new ritual wear.  Good with a needle and thread?  Try making your own ritual robe.  Choose a flattering pattern, select a pattern or color for your robe that speaks to you and go to town!  Get creative.  You can even add beading or buttons with moons or other symbols.

8.  Plant a magical garden.  You’ve always meant to do it.  This is the season!   If you’re intimidated by the green arts, start small.  A simple window box will do.  Choose herbs that are easy to grow and magically useful.  The possibilities are endless.  Bury gemstones in it, choose garden ornaments and symbols with meaning to your practice or create a space for your moon rituals.

9.  Create a spring altar piece.  The craft stores are full of items perfect for making an altar piece for the spring season.  I craft these little boxes last year, and they were a hit on my retail site.

ostara altar box with nest

10.  Craft your own dandelion wine for libation or cakes/ale.  I love the potent spiritual power of making my own wine for libation.  I also enjoy getting creative with the cakes/ale portion of a ritual.  Dandelion wine makes an excellent spring-themed substitute for Ostara and spring moon rituals.

IMG_4920

mabon incense 3

 

Save

Save

Save