Wisdom from Grandmother Moon – Inner Journey Events

Such a glorious week and such a glorious colorful time of the year (sorry, my Northern Hemisphere entrainment is showing!) as we approach astrological Autumn… a New Moon on Tuesday followed by the Autumn (Spring in the SH) Equinox on Thursday, September 22nd.

The Equinox has inspired my theme for this lunar month: Balance. If this theme works for you, wonderful! If not, choose another theme that resonates with you… perhaps one inspired by your Dark Moon reflections on last month’s journey.

In what is a hectic world for many, Mama Earth and Grandmother Moon give us many “prompts” throughout the year to reflect on our own balances… work/play, self/others, spiritual/ secular, etc.

Twice a month, La Luna moves into the Quarter position, when She is half-light, half-dark… a potent example of the fleeting Yin-Yang balance. And twice a year, we experience the Equinox when Mama Earth herself is in balance with Father Sun… The days and nights are equal lengths, and we change seasons astronomically, from Winter to Spring and from Summer to Autumn.

Wisdom from Seanmháthair Gealach (Grandmother Moon) for your monthly lunar journey

Source: Wisdom from Grandmother Moon – Inner Journey Events

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New Moon in Virgo 2017 Energy Report for the Blood Moon Cycle — Spirit de la Lune

Happy New Moon!  Happy New Moon in Virgo!The seasons are changing, and we are preparing for fall and winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. As the seasons change, we too may be feeling drawn inward towards our own personal shifts and transformation.This New Moon in Virgo supports both i

Source: New Moon in Virgo 2017 Energy Report for the Blood Moon Cycle — Spirit de la Lune

Handfasting {More Thoughts}

We came across this dialogue that intrigued us immensely. We did not correct the spelling so it is in its original form.

More thoughts about handfasting:

These articles were posted on the Celtic Christian Mailing List

From: Father Sean, written in March 1988 and re-posted May 1999:

Hand-fasting is a symbol used in Celtic and other cultures to express
marriage. It is non-religion-specific, meaning it is not pagan or
Christian. It is just human. The symbol can be used by anybody,
since it expresses part of the reality of matrimony.

As we use it in the Celtic Catholic Church, during the ceremony, the
couple join hands and their hands are loosely tied by a rope. I have
seen this done several times in the Episcopal Church using the end of
the priest’s stole. The handfasting lasts only for a few seconds,
really, while the couple exchange their vows.

We also use some other symbolic actions which may appear pagan but
which are not.

The couple exchange some symbolic objects:
*the husband gives the wife wheat “to provide for our home”
*the wife gives the husband some woven cloth “to provide for our home”
*the husband gives a dagger, “for the defense of our home”
*the wife gives a Bible, “for the defense of our home.”

At the end of it all, they turn to leave and are confronted with a
broom which has been put in their path. They have to get over it
somehow (we leave the details up to them — they can walk over it
together or he can carry her over it.) This is a symbol that what
marriage is about is who sweeps the floor, etc. It is not just pretty
dresses and romance. You will see this particular symbolic action in
Celtic and African cultures. It has no pagan connotations, really,
just practical ones. (More about “Broomstick Weddings”)

In Christ,
Fr. Sean
Saint Colman of Lindisfarne Celtic Catholic Church
Riverside, California

Justin Griffin wrote:14 May 1999

Handfasting is basically an old pagan custom. On Bealtainne, the
couples that wished to be married were gathered together before the
fire. The local Druid(s) would then perform the ritual of
handfasting. It’s actually a pretty simple ritual. The left (I
think, its been a while) hands of the couple are clasped and bound
together with a cord(usually green). They exchange something similar
to wedding vows. At the end of this, they are considered married
according to law. The handfasting is a trial marriage. It gives the
couple the chance to see if they can survive marriage to each other.
The handfasting usually lasted either a year and a day or until the
next Bealtainne(it varied). At this time, the couple could either
split as if they had never been married or could enter permanently
into marriage. Handfasting was considered less serious than
marriage, and thus easier to break off, because no actual vows were
exchanged until the actual marriage. As we all know, vows are very
important to the Celts.

“BJM” wrote 14 May 1999:

As far as I can recall, and I would have to check my sources, but
handfasting was actually invented after Christianity made it to the
Scottish highlands, but before priests were always readily available.
When a couple was to plight their troth, as it were, this was publically
announced by means of a public ritual in which their hands were fastened
together (by tying). When the priest came ’round (in circuit-rider
fashion), the proposed union was finalized by marriage.

The fact that it’s not an “official marriage” meant that it was ripe to
be picked up by any subculture that was infatuated with Gaelicky stuff
and less than infatuated with “official marriage”.

The following is from Sharon Krossa
http://www.stanford.edu/~skrossa/medievalscotland/index.html
who did her PhD Dissertation on Scottish
marriage customs, history, and law:

As long ago as 1958 Anton wrote a very thorough article [Anton, AE
(1958) Handfasting in Scotland. _The Scottish Historical
Review_ XXXVII.124: 89-102] that carefully examined the origins of
the myth of “Celtic trial marriage” and clearly demonstrated that
it derived from modern misunderstanding of historical Scottish
betrothal and marriage.

The term “handfasting” comes from the medieval Scottish (and English)
tradition of joining the hands of the couple as part of the public
betrothal proceedings. It is a *late medieval* term (and so what I
explain below is true for late medieval Scotland.) In Scotland it was
*not* a kind of marriage, either permanent or temporary. (I emphasise
this because many people, including myself until I started researching
the subject, are under the misconception that it was some kind of
trial/temporary marriage.) The real medieval practice was that
handfasting was a synonym for *betrothal*, that is, for getting engaged
to be married. IT WAS NOT MARRIAGE! Not _historically_. If modernly the
term is also used to mean a form of marriage, it is completely unrelated
to the historical practice. Anton [in Anton, AE (1958) Handfasting in
Scotland. _The Scottish Historical Review_ XXXVII.124: 89-102] gives
some nice primary-source details on the form of marriage ceremonies, and
references to procedures used. It seems that the major difference
between a handfasting/betrothal and a marriage ceremony is that, at the
betrothal, the couple promises to get married in the future while, in
the marriage ceremony, they consent to marriage in words of the present
(and thus, well, actually get married). The forms as quoted in Anton are
remarkably similar, with really only a change in the tense of the
couple’s promises. Who says words aren’t powerful? Make a slip of the
tongue, and a couple could end up married instead of just betrothed!
Here is the lowdown on the *historical* practice of handfasting:

If, in medieval Scotland, a couple consented to marriage in the present
tense, then they were *married* — they were not handfasted, they were
*married*. It did not matter if there were any witnesses or not.
Witnesses only made it easier to prove. It did not matter if a priest
was present, or not. It did not matter if the marriage was blessed, or a
mass followed, or not. It did not even matter if the marriage was
consumated, or not. (This was true in Scotland until 1940.)

If, in medieval Scotland, a couple formally became betrothed, that is,
promised to marry each other sometime in the *future*, with witnesses,
marriage contract, and ceremony, then they were handfasted, that is,
they were *engaged* to be married. They were *not* married.

—–begin quote—–
A Scottish protocol narrates that on 24 July 1556, the Vicar of Aberdour
‘ministrat and execut the office anent the handfasting betwix Robert
Lawder younger of the Bass and Jane Hepburn docter to Patrick Errl
Botwell in thir vordis following: “I Robert Lawder take thow Jane
Hepburne to my spousit wyf as the law of the Haly Kirk schawis
andthereto I plycht thow my trewht and syklyk I the said Jane Hepburne
takis you Robert Lawder to my spousit husband as the law of the Haly
Kirk schaws and therto I plycht to thow my trewth,” and execut the
residew of the said maner of handfasting conforme to the consuetud usit
and wont in syk casis.’ What this ‘consuetude’ was may be gathered from
a protocol on the sponsalia of David Boswell of Auchinleck and Janet
Hamilton, daughter of the Earl of Arran. After the consents had been
exchanged ‘the curate with the consent of both parties with their hands
joined betrothed the said David and Janet who took oath as is the custom
of the Church’
—–end quote—–

Note that a “protocol” here refers to a protocol book of a notary public
— that is, the book that a notary public used to keep a record of all
the documents he wrote up. Also, in the quotes above “spousit” means
“bretrothed” (see the Concise Scots Dictionary s.v. “spouse”).

If, in medieval Scotland, a couple had sex after a promise of future
marriage, whether this promise was made publically at a formal
handfasting/betrothal ceremony or was made privately with no witnesses
at all, then the couple was *married*, not handfasted, but *married* —
_permanently_ married. This is because the act of sex after such a
promise of future marriage was considered to amount to present consent
to marriage. And all it took to get married was for the couple to
consent to it in the present tense. (This was also true in Scotland
until 1940.)

If, in medieval Scotland, a couple were married, they were married for
*life*. There was no such thing as trial marriage. There was no such
thing as marriage for a year and a day. There was either being married,
or not being married. Once they did the being married bit, they stayed
married till the day one of them died. The only way out was to prove
that they were never legally married in the first place. That means, one
or both of them were either too young, too closely related to each
other, impotent at the time of their marriage, or already married to
someone else at the time of their marriage. Even if they were too young,
if they didn’t stop living together as man and wife the day they became
of age (12 for women, 14 for men), then they were considered legally
married from then on (amounts to present consent, again). It is not
until the Reformation (which occured in Scotland in 1560) that divorce
and remarriage became a possibility.

I’ll also note that there isn’t any evidence for a “year and a day”
aspect of betrothal/handfasting in the period evidence. (Note also that
in period, “a year and a day” from 11 July 1528 would be 11 July 1529 —
they didn’t count by 24 hour periods, but by, umm, days — can’t think
what else to call it — whole or partial between one date and the other,
including the start date and end date.) The “year and a day” aspect of
the _modern_ handfasting myth appears to come from a misunderstanding of
Scottish property and inheritance law. In late period Scottish
inheritance law, a widow or widower had the right to a part of their
late spouse’s real property (until they too died — after which it would
revert to their spouse’s heirs). However, if the couple had not been
married for a year and a day (that is, in modern terms, a year) when one
of them died, the surviving spouse did *not* get a share of their late
spouse’s real property. The exception to this was if a child had been
born to the couple before one of them died, in which case the widow or
widower *did* get a share.

You will note that this has nothing to do with betrothal/handfasting,
and the only parting of the married couple involves one of them dying.
But this appears to be the source of the “year and a day” aspect of the
modern misunderstanding of historical handfasting.

I’ll also point out for your amusement that *in period* if a
betrothed/handfasted couple had sex, they automatically became *married*
— permanently married. Something to entertain yourselves with between
your handfasting and wedding. 😉 [Mind you, the church didn’t like
marriages made in this way, although they recoginized them as legal. The
church liked to have such couples go through the religious service as
well, even though they were already legally man and wife. This didn’t
make them any more married, but it did bring them into obediance to the
church.]

All of the above is, of course, in a Christian context, because Scotland
was a Christian kingdom in the Middle Ages. The above forms of marriage
were recognized by the medieval Christian church. As far as I am aware,
there is no information whatsoever about marriage practices in Scotland
prior to its Christianization. If someone has some primary source
information about pre-Christian Scottish marriage practices, I’d love to
know. But note that I’m looking for primary source information — not
some secondary source, be it a web page or book, that makes
unsubstantiated claims based on some other web page or book making
unsubstantiated claims. (A secondary source that refers to the primary
sources would, of course, be welcome.)

PS Scotland was not the only place to practice handfasting. England
(note that’s England, not any “Celtic” culture) also had handfasting. It
may be that in England that the term handfasting was also used to refer
to permanent Christian marriage as well as betrothal, but so far I
haven’t found anything that clearly indicates this. Note that the
marriage law in late medieval England was essentially the same as that
in Scotland — all of Roman Catholic Europe had more or less the same
marriage law because marriage came under the jurisdiction of canon
rather than civil law.

Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 07:59:01 -0700 (PDT)
From: sindach <sindach@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Jumping the Broom

I have always suspected this custom came from Wales! I
have read about what was called the ‘besom wedding’,
an unofficial custom that was considered quite lawful
in parts of Wales until recent times. A birch besom
was placed aslant in the open doorway of the house,
with its head on the doorstep and the top of its
handle on the door-post. First a young man jumped over
it, then his bride, in the presence of witnesses. If
either touched or knocked it in any way, the marriage
was not recognised. In this kind of marriage, a woman
kept her own home and did not become the property of
her husband. It was a partnership, “cyd-fydio,” rather
than an ownership. A child of the marriage was
considered to be legitimate. If the couple decided to
divorce, they simply jumped back over the broomstick
again, but this could only be done in the first year
of marriage. If a child had come, it was the father’s
responsibility.
Mischievous boys played with this symbolism by placing
a birch broom over a doorstep before an unmarried lady
went out of the house. This was supposed to make her
pregnant before marriage!
As late as the 1920s in Surrey, a conversation was
recorded wherein a man whose wife was away said
jokingly to a young woman: “I shall be putting the
broom out of my chimney if she stays away much longer.
Will you come in and do for me?”

sindach

=====
Trí bhua an tsionnaigh:
Súil bhiorach
Cluas aireach
Eireaball scotach

Follow-up

Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 16:08:28 -0700 (PDT)
From: sindach <sindach@yahoo.com>
Subject: more on broomsticks

While looking in vain for references to my last post
on broomstick weddings, I came across the following in
“Welsh Folklore” by T. Gwynn Jones, Methuen and Co.,
London: 1930, and I quote it because it raises a
number of points of interest – at least it does for
me! – especially the allusion with the story of Math
and a possible druid connection:

Another term for unlegalized unions, found in all
parts of Wales, is priodas coes ysgub, priodas coes
ysgubell, broom-stick wedding. It is not without
significance, perhaps in this connection, that besoms
in Wales are made of broom as well as birch, and that
the go-between in Breton is called “bas-valan”, “he of
the broom-staff.” The association of birch with love
in Welsh poetry and lore is also of significance, and
one wonders whether the element llath, “wand, staff”
in the term llathlud in the Welsh Law, may refer to
the practice of stepping over a rod, especially as a
bent rod is a chastity test in the tale of Math. A
Caernarvonshire custom, for which no source is given,
is thus described: “When the parents consented to a
marriage, the oldest man in the district was called,
and the young couple was asked to leap over the besom,
made of oak branches, which the old people called
ysgub dderwydd. It would be interesting to know
whether any “old people” still remember the practice,
and whether “ysgub dderwydd”, “druid’s besom” is
anything but a late improvement upon ysgub dderw, “oak
besom,” which, in any case, would be useless for the
ordinary purpose of a besom.”

Celtic Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony in modern western traditions tends to have more in common from one nation to another than there are differences. Even most of the prevalent customs such as the bride’s white dress, rings, wedding cake, flowers, and attendants as well as the feast and pranks played on the couple as they make their final exit are pretty much universal. Every ethnic group has its own peculiar customs and variations but if we were to drop in on a wedding in a strange land where we did not know the language, be it Lebanon, Finland, Argentina or the remotest and most Gaelic island of the any of the Celtic nations, we would probably have a pretty good idea of what was going on. In planning a wedding with a Celtic theme or incorporating traditions from a Celtic heritage, the basics of your ceremony will be what the Church and State insist upon. Your wedding will be special regardless of the trappings and ornaments you choose because it is your wedding and because of that special person who you are promising yourself to. Weddings are a time when families look back at their roots and dream about their future. Our customs and traditions are one way we express who we are.

If you research quaint marriage customs from the past, much of what you will find describes the folkways of largely pastoral, rural or village people. Courtship is under the scrutiny of parents, family elders or match-makers, although escaping that scrutiny has been a challenge that was frequently and boldly accomplished both in fairy tales and in real life if boys and girls have had eyes for each other. After consent and eligibility are established and the date is set, preparations for the festivities center mostly around preparing to entertain and provide refreshment for the guests. In this way, little has changed. In the old days most couples grew up within close distances and the gathering of guests would probably draw friends and relatives who would travel for many hours to attend, by walking perhaps twenty or thirty miles. Feasting, drinking, dancing, drinking, blessings, gifts and drinking would occupy two or three days. Well, maybe not everyone did that much drinking, but the Celts do have a reputation. The details vary as for location and time period change. Except for the twenty-mile hike, when people who grow up in small communities marry one another, little has changed.

What has changed for many is that as modern people live and move in areas of greater population density and with more frequent migrations between communities, it has become increasingly unlikely that the bride and groom’s families already know each other, much less live in the same neighborhood. Couples are likely to come from different religious, social or ethnic backgrounds. The melting pot of a mobile modern society has tended to dilute our traditions. Meanwhile, a whole industry has grown up catering to various aspects of weddings and encouraging extravagance and novelty. Rather than follow the strict script of simpler times we have many more choices in how we now conduct our weddings.

If you compare a wedding to a meal, the entrée, that is the meaning of the vows is one of the great bedrocks of our culture, unchanged for centuries. The choices of side dishes and condiments, however, have multiplied geometrically in the past half-century.

Many of the rustic wedding customs of our ancestors do not travel very well to our present times. If you break a shortbread over the head of the bride or groom as they leave the church what are the chances that the unmarried youths present will scramble to eat a bit of it off the ground to ensure a good match for their own marriage? Cutting the cake over the seated bride’s head at the reception has replaced this tradition. It was also customary to salute the bride and groom by firing guns in the air outside the church. Try that in the suburbs! If you did have your wedding at a venue where you could use firearms, what statement would you be making? Chances are at least some of your guests would think you are a gun nut rather than a traditionalist. Honking the horns of the cars in the procession from the church replaces the guns.

In some locations, the couple would spend their wedding night in the barn. The bride’s girl-friends would dress her for bed and tuck her in and then the male guests would enter and kiss her good night. The great sport was made of delaying and harassing the groom before he could join her. The couple could then expect pranks and peeping until everyone was too drunk or exhausted to remember. Our grandparent’s generation planned their weddings with an escape in mind from this kind of tradition. The tin cans tied to the get-away car evolved from this custom. Kidnapping the bride or groom is occasionally still attempted at some of the rowdier weddings. The salmon leap was the traditional way the groom joined his bride in the wedding bed. To do this he should crouch on the floor and then spring into bed in a single leap symbolically imitating a salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

There are old customs for good luck that are fun to follow. “Something old, something new, Something borrowed, Something blue, Silver sixpence in her shoe” (or “a penny in her shoe”) is fairly well known. For people of Celtic heritage who live in new lands, this is an opportunity to include something sentimental that relates to their heritage. An heirloom from the old country, if available can be used as something old or something borrowed. An Irish coin, or for Scots and Welsh an old British sixpence or penny can be worn in the shoe. Stock up now, the Euro-Dollar will not be as poetic. Something new items also can be chosen for their cultural significance also. Keep in mind the theme of a continuum that a heritage wedding implies. With an eye to the future, the brooch or pendant that is something new for the present wedding can be loaned at a future wedding and might be the something old at the wedding of your daughter or granddaughter.

It is bad luck for the bride and groom to meet on their wedding day before they meet at the church. It is good luck to take a different route leaving the church than arriving at the church. This signifies that life is different now for the bride and groom.

Musical traditions travel through time much better. Having a piper lead the bride to the church or down the aisle is a certain and reliable way to dress the occasion with heritage. This is probably the most common way to honor the bride and groom that gives the wedding a Celtic flavor. There is no single standard way to incorporate a piper in the wedding. Piping arrival or departure is the most common and goes back to the tradition of clan chiefs having personal pipers leading them with ceremonious fanfare. Sometimes they play outside as guests arrive or afterward as the receiving line forms. If communion is served at a wedding, a piper or other Celtic musician can play during that time also or pipers can play a wedding march processional and/or a recessional. You can find a bagpiper almost anywhere in the world at by searching at sites like gigmasters.com

Celtic music at the reception is another great idea. A ceileigh band that can play for dancing is great fun or there are groups that specialize in mellower sorts of Celtic music. Pipers again are frequently engaged to play when the couple arrives at the reception site, during drinks before the meal or as the couple leaves the reception. Hiring a piper to play as you leave the reception can be difficult to arrange if you do not want to lock yourself into an exact time, but it is one of the most traditional times.

Wedding clothes are another opportunity to incorporate some tradition. The bride’s white gown has become so traditional that many cannot imagine anything else but this is relatively recent development in the Celtic lands. The white dress is a cosmopolitan fashion that has become practically universal in these days of mass communication. In the 19th century colored bridal dresses were quite common at country weddings.   Kilts for the groom and attendants can be hired for weddings if they do not own their own. This is commonly done in Scotland these days and kilt hire is becoming available in other parts of the world as well. The wearing of kilts by those who were not brought up to it, and especially outside of Scotland should be considered carefully and thoughtfully. A man should not consider wearing a kilt for the first time at his own wedding if he thinks it might make him feel awkward or foolish. It takes a certain bearing to wear a kilt with confidence. The groom will probably have enough butterflies in his stomach just because he is getting married. The book So You Want to Wear the Kilt by Scotty Thomson is recommended reading.

In Scottish weddings where clan ties are strongly felt it is customary for the groom to pin a plaid or sash of his family tartan on his bride after the exchange of rings. Celtic design or traditional dress can be incorporated into the attire of the bride’s maids’ dresses as well or their jewelry.

The big wedding is not the only way to become man and wife. Eloping, marrying in a private ceremony or just shacking up until everyone thinks of you as married have all been practiced with various levels of acceptance or disapproval over the centuries.

Medieval marriages were, at least in theory, sanctioned and governed by the Christian church. The doctrine of the sacramental nature of marriage maintained that the institution was (and still is) a vehicle of divine grace. Early formalities of church weddings consisted quite simply of the couple meeting at the door of the local church, but outside it, to receive the blessing of the priest. Marriages that were not blessed by the church were still considered valid and in remote areas where priests were scarce people were still married. Marriages that were entered into informally were frowned on by the church, but the concept of “Common Law” marriages existing simply because the parties lived as man and wife were relatively common. The Council of Trent in 1563 established the requirement that the celebration of a marriage must be blessed by a priest before at least two witnesses. Both civil and ecclesiastical laws governing marriage in European countries evolved to discourage informal and secret marriages.

Banns of marriage were required in areas under British rule, including Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The banns consisted of an announcement in church for three Sundays prior to the wedding. This prevented people from marrying in haste and also gave any who might object time to learn of the match. Giving a fortnights notice to the registrar is still a legal requirement in Britain. Three months is required in Ireland. Waiting periods are common in most jurisdictions of the English speaking world, with the famous exception of the State of Nevada.

Banns were a much more thorough way of asking anyone who might object to “speak now or forever hold your peace.” If you ever wondered what objections were valid they are that either of the parties is already married, they are under the age of consent, they are too closely related or if either has concealed injury or disease that would make it impossible for them to have children. These are also grounds for annulment.

At the time of the Protestant Reformation, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were all under English rule. Canon Law, the law of the church governing marriage was no longer universal. King Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church in part so that he could rewrite marriage laws and divorce Catherine of Aragon. The creation of new Established Churches leads to hardship and resentment by those who remained loyal to the old Catholic faith as well as other sects that emerged. Catholic family history can be difficult or impossible to trace since their weddings and baptisms were not registered in the Established Church and were therefore not accorded the same status of the public record. This situation was improved in the mid-1800’s when marriages performed by secular registrars as well as ministers of religious communities other than the official state church were granted full legal recognition in the United Kingdom.

In Scotland Marriage by Declaration was once quite common and remained legal and valid until 1939. All that was required was that the couple declares their intentions before two witnesses. The problem with Marriage by Declaration was that occasionally there were misunderstandings and deceptions that proved messy. Issues of sobriety at the time of the declaration as well as the possibility of misunderstandings about whether the declaration was of betrothal or actual marriage could put the relationship in doubt, lacking reliable witnesses. Since the transaction was informal and unrecorded it could be difficult to prove the legitimacy of offspring and rights of inheritance if either party abandoned the relationship. Eligibility to marry could be cast in doubt if a previous marriage was alleged but could not be proved. The old practice of English couples running off to Gretna Green to the Scottish border to be married by the blacksmith, under the more expedient Scottish law presents an exciting and romantic scenario. Gretna Green is still a very popular wedding destination but nowadays prior notice must be filed with the local registrar.

Our knowledge of what common folk did at their weddings prior to living memory is limited to very few accounts recorded by travelers in the 19th century. Prior to then what the common folk did was of no interest to the literate. Many married with very little fuss. Established Church records are very good for weddings and baptisms going back well into the 18th century. It is quite common for baptisms and marriages to be recorded on the same dates which lead one to conclude that many couples sort of drifted into marriage and made it official only after the fact of their relationship was manifested in a flesh and blood child. On the other hand, betrothals could be cause for celebration and often as formal an occasion and good time a party as the wedding itself. Just as today some people got married quietly while others made the event a memorable celebration that involves many friends and relatives.

Dave “The Exile” describes a typical Scottish wedding circa 1950, from the SCT-INVERNESS Genealogy Mailing List:

The banns were read, and posted over the appropriate period, the couple turned
up, were married, stopped for photos on the church steps, then got in the car,
threw out haepennies for the kids and sped off to the reception where they got
drunk, there was a fight, the women cried, the men laughed, the pipes played,
drunks spewed, women yelled at their men and eventually dragged them home, there
was dancing drinking and feasting. Just like everywhere else. (Remember a
Scottish funeral is merrier than an English wedding.) I was shocked at my first
Canadian, and then American weddings. People were so well behaved. Ach well then
the piper started and it was back to life as normal.

Handfasting

Much has been made of the revival of the custom called handfasting, perhaps too much. In some places and times (Medieval Scotland, Northern England and perhaps Ireland) it seems to mean betrothal and in others genuine marriage. Many interpret it as a trial marriage or a step beyond betrothal but not nearly as permanent as marriage. It is often repeated that this handfasting is for a year and a day.

Appealing as the “trial marriage” concept of handfasting is too many, the “revival” of the practice is a case of life imitating fiction. The literary source for the “year and a day” originally comes from Sir Walter Scott.   The popular Outlander series by Diane Gabaldon is just one of more recent examples of ideas about handfasting entering  the popular imagination through historical novels. A year and a day was the period that a couple must be married for a spouse to have claimed to a share of inheritable property in case of the death of the other spouse. Misunderstanding of this fact combined with confusion about the celebration of betrothals in medieval times lead to the modern myth of the Celtic trial marriage.

Never-the-less the mythical “trial marriage” handfasting is now pretty well established in some circles. Handfasting, according to the historical novel tradition would normally lead to regular permanent and valid marriage but if either party chose to leave, the relationship was null. Even if children had been brought forth these children were considered lawful offspring of both parents. Neither would be prevented from seeking marriage to another after the handfasting was dissolved. Handfasting in a manner reminiscent of marriage by declaration is advocated by modern pagans and historical reenactment enthusiasts, sometimes as an off-the-books substitute for legal marriage, sometimes as a supplement to a legal wedding. Handfasting, it is claimed is a holdover from pre-Christian Celtic marriage laws. It should not be surprising that in this day and age when sexual partnerships often avoid the commitment of permanent monogamy, that a fantasy state of non-marriage should appear. If trial marriages existed in medieval times as it is claimed, they were just the sort of unregistered, off-the-books affairs that would be impossible to document historically. Thus the possibility that such arrangements once may have been being used to justify arrangements that are made to order for lovers wishing to live together in a partnership recognized by like-minded friends, but without the blessing of church or state.

Handfasting can be part of the religious or civil wedding ceremony. The hands of the bride and groom are joined as in the familiar scene as the person officiating the ceremony asks “Who gives this woman to be wed?” and then takes her hand from her father or whoever is giving away the bride and clasps it to the hand of the groom. In olden days the priest or minister would wrap the clasped hands at the end of his stole to symbolize the trinity of marriage; man and woman joined by God. With God’s grace in time, another trinity would be manifest; mother, father, and child. The Celts have always been good at seeing things in threes. This symbolic binding together in marriage evolved into the practice of wrapping the clasped hands with a cord or an embroidered cloth, usually made especially for that purpose. Handfasting in this manner is a legitimate part of a legally valid marriage, rather than a substitute for it.

It should be cautioned that while brides and grooms can be very creative with their vows, clothes, locations, music and religious content of their weddings, laws of the state and church still apply. It is a crime for clergy to knowingly perform marriages that would not be legally binding or to perform marriages and not record them properly with the state. If you ask a real ordained minister, who is licensed by the state to perform marriages, to bless a handfasting that you do not want to record as a legal wedding you are on very thin ice unless you make it very clear that it is a betrothal. Religious sects have rules about what they allow as well.

There are two reasons when it is OK and even advisable to have a second informal wedding ceremony that would not be registered with the state. When a couple joins or returns to active fellowship in religious faith after having been married outside that church they may be wed again according to the form and tradition of the sect they wish to have blessed their marriage. This commonly happens when a couple wants their existing marriage to be recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, but they may desire to reaffirm their vows in a religious ceremony in any faith, either because they are just now converting to it or for some other reason they did not have a religious ceremony at the time they first wed. This wedding is usually done privately. It need not be recorded with the state since as far as the state is concerned the marriage already exists. It is increasingly popular to renew wedding vows, usually on an anniversary. This can be a very touching ceremony and again there is no need to record the event with the state or comply with any of the legal requirements of a regular wedding as the marriage is already recorded.

How To Make A Wedding Broom

The wedding broom is popular amongst both the Celtic and the African ceremonies.

Brooms are often stored by the front or back door of the home, and thus a broom can symbolize a threshold, leaping from your old single life into your new married life. This is similar to the tradition of carrying the bride across the threshold of a new home.

The handle of a broom is somewhat phallic in shape and the brush is shaped somewhat like a woman’s skirt so these two things combined can symbolize fertility and union.

A broom also symbolizes the daily routine of marriage such as cleaning the floors, taking out the trash, making dinner, and caring for one another.

Gather your materials

Gather-your-materials

The whole length of the finished broom should be long enough that everyone jumping it has a bit of broom to in front of them. I’ve seen many photos of people jumping a broom that is so short, only one person is actually leaping over the thing. So, stand side by side and measure the length across your shoulders. Adding the broom skirting will increase the overall length and some of your handle will be disappearing into the skirting, so keep this in mind.

Start gathering sticks, lots of sticks. Look around for attractive trees, and remember to thank the tree before you cut. We decided to gather from trees on our property. It’s nice to have something from home.

The most important stick is a sturdy branch for your handle. Find one that feels not too thin and not too thick. The handle should be from a hardwood tree.

The skirting twigs are best coming from softer wood trees as they are more flexible and easier to work with. The twigs for the skirting should all be roughly the same length and fairly straight. You can also use rushes, grasses, flower stems, silk or dried flowers, and so forth in addition to the twigs in the skirting.

De-bark and stain or paint the handle

I did a rough de-barking, and then put some nice dark stain on ours. This really stands out from the red toned skirting sticks I was able to find. If you decide to remove the bark, sand it, then paint or stain, this will add days of work to your project. To avoid the extra man hours and all that sanding, you could simply find a branch with attractive bark and leave it natural.

If using the hot glue method, you will burn your fingers.
If using the hot glue method, you will burn your fingers.

There are two ways to attach the skirting

  1. One is to make your skirting separately, bundling it all together and then wrapping it firmly with wire. After which you insert the handle up through the skirting, from the bottom, and force it through with some good thumps on the ground.
  2. The other is to tie the skirting directly onto the handle a layer at a time. This is the way I went, as it’s easier to get just the right look. To do this I used a combination of strong fishing line and hot glue gun magic. My man helped by showing off his ability to tie fisherman’s knots while I held the twigs in place.
I used feathers and flowers to match my bouquet.

Make it pretty!

You can add decorative touches with a dab of hot glue and insert them into the skirting. Then the line and glue can be hidden under ribbon, cloth, wire or twine. I also added some decorations to the top of the broom to even it out.

That’s the basics, folks. Now you can add your own personal touches and have a wedding broom just as awesome as the rest of your wedding!

I laid this in the snow for you people, enjoy the photos!

What do you DO with the thing after the wedding?

What do you DO with the thing after the wedding? You hang it, of course! They look great over a doorway, or above the mantle, even better if crossed with a sword.

Mother Symbols

No single universal symbol for mother exists – that would be impossible. The Mother can be found everywhere, from the heights of the planets down to the Earth’s surface. Each person and creature on the Earth have a mother, making it reasonable that we each would have different, distinct ideas about what characterizes them.

Symbols are unique and personal to each of us, so there are no right or wrong interpretations. Because of this, the symbols associated with her are seemingly infinite. However, some are more common and prevalent than others, which are detailed below.

celtic gods and goddesses

Triskelion Symbol

The triple spiral, also called the Triskelion symbol, is an ancient Celtic symbol with many spiritual aspects to it. However, the mother is definitely one of the strongest, as the branching out of the spirals is strongly indicative of the phases of womanhood: maiden, mother, and crone, all of which are connected.

As a young maiden, a woman experiences her innocent and pure state before progressing onward to her time of motherhood. During motherhood, a woman acts with compassion and as the primary nurturer. As is the nature of life, one must grow old. For a mother, this phase is symbolized by a crone: the wiser, more experienced feminine state.

Goddess Symbol As A Mother

Another popular personified symbol of the mother comes in the form of goddesses. Depicted as a full moon with a crescent on either side, the Mother Goddess also focuses on the three aspects of womanly development (maiden, mother, and crone). This interpretation comes from the ancient Greek astrology, who associated each phase of womanhood with a different goddess: the maiden phase with Persephone, the mother with Demeter, and the crone with Hecate. Like the triple spiral, these moons, too, symbolize the different phases of a mother’s life and the traits that she exudes during each of them. Furthermore, the three moons may also represent the natural life cycle of birth, life, and death that all things experience.

Goddess Laxmi In Hinduism

In Hinduism, Lakshmi is considered the mother goddess. Beautiful and benevolent, Lakshmi is considered the goddess of light and good fortune and luck: the mother of all kindnesses. Represented by the lotus, Lakshmi and her yantra facilitate all that is good and progressive in one’s spiritual life. In this way, she is nurturing our spiritual and mental faculties.

Kachina Hopi Mother Symbol

To the Hopi Native Americans, Kachina symbols are very sacred spirits that make their presence known on Earth during the winter and summer solstices. The Kachina associated with being a mother is thought to be a crow who appears with a basket full of sprouts to symbolize seed germination- a miracle if it occurs in the winter. Like other maternal figures, she is nurturing, loving, and offering.

Tapuat Hopi Symbol

The Hopi also use the Tapuat to symbolize maternal energy. It is depicted as a labyrinth in order to represent the attachment of a fetus to its mother, the stages of life, and a path of moving and growing up. In the center (or the amniotic sac), we begin our journey through life as our mothers’ bodies work endlessly to nourish us. From there, we extend outward through the maze, finding our way with the help of her maternal guidance.

Turtle As A Mother Symbol

Other Native American groups recognized maternal properties in the turtle. In many Native American folk legends, the turtle is the physical manifestation of Mother Earth, who is honored for saving mankind from a Great Flood. She is stoic and silent, moving gently and gracefully, demonstrating a calm demeanor while channeling a sound intuition. As the immortal mother in the body of a turtle, she carries the heavy burdens of life on her own, just as a mother tries to do for her own children. Additionally, some believe that the thirteen sections of the turtle’s underbelly correspond to the thirteen moons and, as we know, moons are extremely feminine and maternal in nature.

As with all symbols, interpretation is subjective. If something speaks to you of maternal energies, listen to it.

September Symbolism

Our gorgeous daughter Ashley November is getting married this Thursday, September 14, 2017. A small ceremony to convey their endearing love for one another and the commitment that shall pass forever. I truly believe they have been partner’s in previous lives and shall continue as ordained by the cosmos. Next summer we are having a true Viking handfast ceremony for them up in our favorite forest location high in the Ashley National Forest {hint: Ashley was named after this national forest and for the month of November she was born in}. I thought it would be fun to find out just what the month of September meaning is.

Ashley November Aug. 2017

September Meaning & Symbolism

The symbolism of September month focuses on refocusing our energies. In the Northern Hemisphere, it signals the beginning of autumn, while it kicks off the spring season in the South. Like the other months, its name comes from the ancient Romans. It comes from the Latin septum, meaning “seven“. This might strike you as odd since September is the ninth month of the year.

Originally, though, when March was the first month of the year, September came in at number seven. Once January and February were added to the beginning of the year, sometime around 150 BC, September became its current number nine. However, it kept its same name – perhaps because it was already circulated and in popular use. Originally, September had 29 days. With the Julian reform, though, another day was added.

Numerological Symbolic Meaning Of September

The numerical position that September month falls in is highly important to interpreting its spiritual and symbolic value. First, we can look at its original number: seven. Lucky “seven” is indicative of pure perfection.

It is also symbolic of a secure sense of safety and rest. Fittingly, “seven” combines the important numbers of “three” (lucky, heavenly) and “four” (Earth, body) to form a power number or the “Septad”, to the Pythagoreans. “Seven” also occurs naturally, like the other numbers, in the form of the colors of the rainbow and number of days in a week.

Because of its association with the mighty planet Saturn, the September symbolic meaning has been revered across cultures and time for its connection with magic. Although its interpretation as lucky can certainly be true, the spiritual nature of “seven” goes further than that. It speaks to our scholastic side and encourages us to strengthen our minds and focus in order to “solve the mysteries” of life.

By invoking this number, we can activate our imaginations and combine them with conscious, detailed thought to find solutions to problems. With a deeper understanding of number 7, one can utilize its gifts and incorporate its positive energies in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Again, “seven” was also considered to be the luckiest of numbers.

Once September’s position changed, it gained potential symbolism with its new number, “nine”. “Nine” is believed to be the number of wisdom and magic, although many ancient people considered it to be unlucky, as it is one less than the perfect “ten”. However, some view it as the number of completion and fulfillment, as it is thought to symbolize the heavens and afterlife. Its connections to magic and higher levels of thinking have made it sacred to many groups of people, as well.

Fitting with its physical position on a number line, this number represents the ultimate attainment of enlightenment, accomplishment, and satisfaction. By recognizing these personal achievements, we can see that we have achieved a position of influence. Thus, “nine” concerns our intellectual power and abilities and encourages us to use our inventiveness to commandeer any situation in order to make a positive difference.

Spiders as Spiritual Guides

I know many are saying “Ewww”. Autumn is a great time to learn about spiders as many are attempting to come inside before the weather becomes too cold for them to survive.

Last night my daughter and I had flashlight’s in hand searching around our house and the apartment complex we manage looking for the many types of arachnid that dwell among our corners, eaves and under a rock. To say the least our neighbors and tenants think we are beyond crazy! My favorite as long as I can remember is the cat spiders.

Orb WeaverHere is a unique aspect of our eight-legged friends.

Spiders in Druidry:

As we all know, Druidry is a spiritual path based on Nature. The knowledge we have can be found everywhere. In Druidry, the Spider represents The Bard, the Ovate and the Druid. As a Bard it produces works of art as depicted in the many kinds of webs it can produce; as an Ovate seer, to determine the best spot for the web or hideout for the hunt, and the lessons the animal teaches us shows us the Druid side of Spider lore, or as some call it, Spider Medicine.

The Spider is the guardian of the ancient languages and alphabets. Every society has had myths about how the different languages and alphabets were formed. One example is the Ogham. The Ogham can be found in the Web of a Spider. This is why the Spider is considered the teacher of language and the magic of writing. Those who weave magic with the written word probably have a Spider as a guide.

I have found that we can learn much more from the webs and their makers, the Spider. According to Scottish Legend, King Robert the Bruce of Scotland hid in a cave where he saw a persistent Spider weaving her web.The story about Robert the Bruce, the cave and the Spider is well known to all English or Scottish school pupils. However, outside the Isles it may not be this well known, so here is the story.

King Robert the Bruce I was born at Lochmaben Castle in 1274. He was Knight and Overlord of Annandale. In 1306 he was crowned King of Scotland and henceforth tried to free Scotland from the English enemy.

After being defeated at a battle, Bruce escaped and found a hideout in a cave. Hiding in a cave for three months, Bruce was at the lowest point of his life. He thought about leaving the country and never coming back. While waiting, he watched a Spider building a web in the cave’s entrance. The Spider fell down time after time, but finally he succeeded with his web. So Bruce decided also to retry his fight and told his men: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again’.

Old legend as told

The lesson the spider is teaching here is persistence. King Robert the Bruce of Scotland and his army had this strong persistence and determination until they finally beat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. And this is an important yet simple thing a Spider can teach us.

The Spider as an animal is a spiritual teacher in its own right. For example, the Spider’s web is a constant reminder of the eight festivals. This is easily seen in the wheel webs some Spiders weave. The strands of the web, like the spokes of a wheel, are straight from the edge to the middle and do form the eight fold wheel. That same web also shows the pentagram and the levels of spirituality known in Druidry as Annwn, Abred, Gwynvyd, and Keugant.

The Spider is The Bard, the Ovate and the Druid rolled into one. Let’s take a look at the lessons from the Druid Spider by contemplating its web.

Seeing the Spider weaving the web, it signals to us that we must weave our own lives. The Spider as a guide (or totem, familiar, etc…) serves as a reminder that our choices construct our lives. When the Spider appears to us, it is a message to be mindful of the choices we are making. Then ask yourself:

How are my choices affecting my life?

How can my choices improve my life?

How are my choices affecting others in my life?

Spiders and their webs draw attention to our life choices, but that is not all. They also show us how we can manipulate our thinking so we can construct the life we want to live.

Spiders make us aware of the amazing construction of their webs. They are fully functional, practical, and perfect in design. Spider webs serve as homes, food storage, egg incubators and are almost limitless in their functionality. When we take a good look at this diversity, we can also look at the web-like construct of our own lives. How do we get the most effective life?

We can derive even more Spider symbol meaning when we consider certain subtle characteristics that represent ancient symbols of infinity. When we take a look at the Spider itself and consider most Spiders have eight eyes and all have eight legs, we can see that the Spider also shows the meaning of the number eight, which involves cycles, the passage of time, evolution and, as mentioned before, the eight fold path of the year.

Spiders are also found to be connected to Halloween or Samhain. This is because Spiders are related to death because of the venom they carry. This venom is of course also used as a basis for the antidote, connecting the Spider both to death and rebirth and thus she stands for the completion of the circle.

The Spider teaches us to maintain a balance – between past and future, physical and spiritual, male and female. The Spider also teaches us that everything we now do is weaving what we will encounter in the future. In the tarot deck is a card – The Wheel of Fortune. This is a card that has to do with rhythms – the rise and fall, the flow and flux. It is linked to the energies of honor and fame, and the sensitivities necessary to place ourselves within the rhythm of Nature. Meditation upon this card would be beneficial for anyone with the Spider as a guide.

The Spider, because of its characteristics, has come to be associated with magic and the energy of creation. It is a symbol of creative power, reflected in its ability to spin a silken web. It is also associated with keeping the feminine energies of creation alive and strong. This has ties to the characteristics of some Spiders, i.e. the female black widow, which will kill and eat the male after mating has exhausted it.

The Spider is also associated with its spiral energy, the links with the past and the future. The spiral of the web, converging at a central point, is something to be meditated upon by those with Spiders as a guide. Are you moving toward a central goal or are you scattered and going in multiple directions? Is everything staying focused? Are you becoming too involved and/or self-absorbed? Are you focusing on others’ accomplishments and not on your own? Are you developing resentment because of it – for yourself or them?

If a Spider is a guide in your life, ask yourself some important questions. Are you weaving your dreams and imaginings into reality? Are you using your creative opportunities? Are you feeling closed in or stuck, as if in a web? Do you need to pay attention to your balance and where you are walking in life? Are others out of balance around you? Do you need to write? Are you inspired to write or draw and not following through? Remember that the Spider is the keeper of knowledge and of the primordial alphabet. The Spider can teach how to use the written language with power and creativity so that your words weave the web around those who would read them.

Spiders in Druidry are linked with the Goddess, some Gods, the wheel of the year, spinning, weaving, each individual human, the world, creations, and creation.

Spider Totem

Spiders in other cultures:

Spiders are very delicate creatures that play an important role in the myths and lore of many peoples as the teacher of balance between the past and future, the physical and spiritual. To the Native Americans, Spider is Grandmother, the link to the past and future. In India, it’s associated with Maya, the weaver of illusions. With its gentle strength, Spider spins together the threads of life with intricate webs. Spider knows the past affects the future and visa versa. It calls us to make use of our creativity and weave our dreams into our destiny. If you want to make a deeper connection with your Animal Totem, fill your environment with images of the animal to let the animal know it is welcome in your space.

Among the various Native American traditions, spider medicine has been known to represent creativity. Her eight legs represent the four winds of change and the four directions on the medicine wheel, while her body is in the shape of the infinity symbol, which represents infinite possibilities. Spider was said to have woven the alphabet, creating the means for people to communicate and record their history through language. Just like the Greek myth of the Fates, three women who weave the tapestry of life, spiders are said to weave the creative forces that bring forth the intricately symmetrical patterns of our lives.

Of course, I must not forget the Greek myth of the maiden Arachne and the Goddess Athena. In the myth, Arachne claimed that she was a better weaver than the Goddess Athena. After winning from Athena, she was turned into a Spider and she and her offspring became the best weavers in existence. Nor must I forget to mention the West African and Caribbean trickster spirit Anansi, also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy whose story is like the tricksters Coyote, Raven or Iktomi found in many Native American cultures and Loki found in Norse mythology. Anansi literally means spider. These tales show spider teaching skill and wisdom in speech, slave resistance, and survival as well as teaching mankind the techniques of agriculture and so we see again a kinship in spider’s lessons reaching many cultures in a profound way.

Practicum

This practicum is designed to get to know the spider a little better.

Perform this while in your Sacred Grove after performing your Light Body exercise or in a state of meditation or visualization.

In your mind, you see an open place with one exit. From that exit, you see a small garden Spider approaching. You follow the Spider and you see that she walks to a tree. In that tree, she starts to weave a web blocking the exit. The spider weaves her web so steadily that fascinates you and soon you realize that the weaving itself is a meditation. With that weaving, you imagine her as a creator weaving the whole universe and you also imagine her as a dream catcher weaving the net to manifest our deepest desires. When the Spider is finished weaving, she sits in the middle of the web and she starts her teaching to you. She ends her teachings by telling you that she weaves a new web every day. She tells you that she takes down the web when it is ruined and begins again every day and she never has to think about it, she just spins her web with great care.

After giving her lessons to you, she takes down her web blocking the exit and leaves. By doing so she is signaling that it is time to end your meditation or visualization.

Eisteddfod

Grandmother Spider Steals the Fire. A Mississippi Choctaw Legend

The Choctaw People say that when the People first came up out of the ground, People were encased in cocoons, their eyes closed, their limbs folded tightly to their bodies. And this was true of all People, the Bird People, the Animal People, the Insect People, and the Human People. The Great Spirit took pity on them and sent down someone to unfold their limbs, dry them off, and open their eyes. But the opened eyes saw nothing because the world was dark, no sun, no moon, not even any stars. All the People moved around by touch, and if they found something that didn’t eat them first, they ate it raw, for they had no fire to cook it.

All the People met in a great powwow, with the Animal and Bird People taking the lead, and the Human People hanging back. The Animal and Bird People decided that life was not good, but cold and miserable. A solution must be found! Someone spoke from the dark,

‘I have heard that the people in the East have the fire.’ This caused a stir of wonder, ‘What could fire be?’ There was a general discussion, and it was decided that if, as rumor had it, the fire was warm and gave light, they should have it too. Another voice said, ‘But the people of the East are too greedy to share with us.’ So it was decided that the Bird and Animal People should steal what they needed, the fire!

But, who should have the honor? Grandmother Spider volunteered, ‘I can do it! Let me try!’ But at the same time, Opossum began to speak. ‘I, Opossum, am a great chief of the animals. I will go to the East and since I am a great hunter, I will take the fire and hide it in the bushy hair on my tail.’ It was well known that Opossum had the furriest tail of all the animals, so he was selected.

When Opossum came to the East, he soon found the beautiful, red fire, jealously guarded by the people of the East. But Opossum got closer and closer until he picked up a small piece of burning wood, and stuck it in the hair of his tail, which promptly began to smoke, then flame. The people of the East said, ‘Look, that Opossum has stolen our fire!’ They took it and put it back where it came from and drove Opossum away. Poor Opossum! Every bit of hair had burned from his tail, and to this day, opossums have no hair at all on their tails.

Once again, the powwow had to find a volunteer chief. Grandmother Spider again said, ‘Let em go! I can do it!’ But this time a bird was elected, Buzzard. Buzzard was very proud. ‘I can succeed where Opossum has failed. I will fly to the East on my great wings, then hide the stolen fire in the beautiful long feathers on my head.’ The birds and animals still did not understand the nature of fire. So Buzzard flew to the East on his powerful wings, swooped past those defending the fire, picked up a small piece of burning ember, and hid it in his head feathers. Buzzard’s head began to smoke and flame even faster! The people of the East said, ‘Look! Buzzard has stolen the fire!’ And they took it and put it back where it came from.

Poor Buzzard! His head was now bare of feathers, red and blistered looking. And to this day, buzzards have naked heads that are bright red and blistered.

The powwow now sent Crow to look the situation over, for Crow was very clever. Crow at that time was pure white and had the sweetest singing voice of all the birds. But he took so long standing over the fire, trying to find the perfect piece to steal that his white feathers were smoked black. And he breathed so much smoke that when he tried to sing, out came to a harsh, ‘Caw! Caw!’

The Council said, ‘Opossum has failed. Buzzard and Crow have failed. Who shall we send?’

Tiny Grandmother Spider shouted with all her might, ‘LET ME TRY IT PLEASE!’ Though the council members thought Grandmother Spider had little chance of success, it was agreed that she should have her turn. Grandmother Spider looked then like she looks now, she had a small torso suspended by two sets of legs that turned the other way. She walked on all of her wonderful legs toward a stream where she had found clay. With those legs, she made a tiny clay container and a lid that fit perfectly with a tiny notch for air in the corner of the lid. Then she put the container on her back, spun a web all the way to the East, and walked tiptoe until she came to the fire. She was so small, the people from the East took no notice. She took a tiny piece of fire, put it in the container, and covered it with the lid. Then she walked back on tiptoe along the web until she came to the People. Since they couldn’t see any fire, they said, ‘Grandmother Spider has failed.’

‘Oh no,’ she said, ‘I have the fire!’ She lifted the pot from her back, and the lid from the pot and the fire flamed up into its friend, the air. All the Birds and Animal People began to decide who would get this wonderful warmth. Bear said, ‘I’ll take it!’ but then he burned his paws on it and decided fire was not for animals, for look what happened to Opossum!

The Birds wanted no part of it, as Buzzard and Crow were still nursing their wounds. The insects thought it was pretty, but they, too, stayed far away from the fire.

Then a small voice said, ‘We will take it if Grandmother Spider will help.’ The timid humans, whom none of the animals or birds thought much of, were volunteering!

So Grandmother Spider taught the Human People how to feed the fire sticks and wood to keep it from dying, how to keep the fire safe in a circle of stone so it couldn’t escape and hurt them or their homes. While she was at it, she taught the humans about pottery made of clay and fire, and about weaving and spinning, at which Grandmother Spider was an expert.

The Choctaw remember. They made a beautiful design to decorate their homes, a picture of Grandmother Spider, two sets of legs up, two down, with a fire symbol on her back. This is so their children never forget to honor Grandmother Spider, Fire bringer!

As Autumn Approaches…

As autumn approaches, it brings with it shorter days and cooler nights. This makes it the perfect time to experiment with warming essential oils, such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom, and black pepper.  One of my favorite combinations contains cassia (cinnamon), clove, and sweet orange essential oils.  It just smells like autumn to me!  You can diffuse this blend or add a few drops of each oil to an oil burner and let the scent fill your home. You can also mix these oils into a water-based spray.  When doing this, I like to add some Moss Agate chips or small tumbled stones to the bottle.  Moss Agate is a stone of rebirth and is great to use during seasonal changes.

Autumn also means the start of the school year for those with school-aged children, or for those who recently returned to school as students or teachers. This can usher in seemingly endless rounds of colds and sniffles.  Lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, and lavender essential oils are naturally antibacterial and anti-viral, so stock up on these oils!  An added bonus of keeping lavender oil on hand is that it is very calming and can help homework time go much more smoothly, especially when paired with Blue Calcite or Yellow Calcite. Try keeping your bottle of lavender oil in a dish of Amethyst chips or tumbled stones to keep it charged with extra healing energy.

Autumn is also a great time to work on grounding your energy.  The energy of summer is very relaxed, but that can sometimes lead to a feeling of disorganization.  Autumn is a great time to rein things back in and get projects underway.  Try using a blend of lavender, Atlas cedarwood, and frankincense essential oils to bring in focus and motivation. I like to combine this blend with the energy of Fluorite since it is great for helping to stay organized and mentally sharp.

I, for one, am looking forward to the promise of cooler weather and the calmer, more organized days…autumn is my favorite season!

Aster: September Birthflower

COMMON NAME: aster
GENUS: Aster
SPECIES, HYBRIDS, CULTIVARS:
Most hybrids were developed from A. Novae-belgii and A. Novae-angliae.
‘Eventide’- purple; 4 to 5 feet tall; from A. Novae-belgii, ‘Harrington’s Pink’- light pink; 5 feet tall; from A. Novae-angliae. Dwarf forms also available.
FAMILY: Compositae
BLOOMS: Fall
TYPE: annuals and perennials
DESCRIPTION: Small daisy-like flowers come in shades of pink, purple, and red. Yellow centers contrast beautifully with the colored ray flowers. Taller varieties grow to be 36 to 56 inches tall. Dwarf varieties grow as short as 8 inches.
CULTIVATION: Plants should be divided in very early spring and replanted immediately. Native species come very easily from seed but might not stay true to the color of the parent plant. Asters are adaptable to varying environmental conditions but perform best with full sun and ample moisture.
Asters are ancient wildflowers that were considered sacred to Greek and Roman deities. Two myths told of the origin of the aster. The first said that Virgo scattered stardust on the earth, and fields bloomed with asters. The second said that the Goddess Asterea looked down upon the earth and saw no stars. The sight saddened her so that she began to cry, and where her tears fell, there the asters bloomed.
Known as starwort in England and Germany and as an eye of Christ in France, asters have always been thought to carry magical powers. In ancient Greece, aster leaves were burned to keep away evil spirits and drive off serpents. An ointment made from asters was supposed to cure the bite of a mad dog.
Virgil wrote that asters boiled in wine and placed near a beehive would improve the flavor of the honey.
In 1637 John Tradescant, Jr., took native asters from America and introduced them to Europe. Europeans liked this wild member of the daisy family and it soon became a favorite garden flower. Two of the most popular asters the New England aster {A. Novae-angliae} and New York aster {A. Novae-belgii}. The species name for New York aster is “New Belgium” because New York was originally called New Amsterdam; the Dutch were the first to settle that area, and Holland was at one time included in a Roman province called Belgica.
Purple asters were often used to dye wool a greenish gold color.
Aster is the flower chosen as the floral emblem for September.
The Chinese asters are not true asters but are in the genus Callistephus. Jesuit missionaries found these plants growing wild near Peking. They sent plants back to Europe and since they resembled asters from America, they were nicknamed Chinese asters. Seeds from these plants were sent to Paris in 1728, and the first plants were grown in Versailles. They were soon hybridized to produce double and even quadruple florets. So enthusiastic were the Germans about hybridizing this plant they were sometimes known as German asters. By 1750, it was said that Chinese asters grew from Scotland to the Rhine. They were introduced to America in 1806.
Chinese aster comes in so many subtle shades that it is a symbol of variety. It was planted in Chinese gardens in pots with one shade blending into another and was said to look like a rainbow. The genus name is from two Latin words, kallistos, meaning “most beautiful,” and stephos, meaning “crown.”