Thursday, June 20, 2013
Summer Solstice or Midsummer
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Witches connect each plant—herb, flower, and tree—with specific magickal properties. Sage, for example, is used for purification rituals. Mint and parsley can be added to prosperity talismans to attract wealth. White snapdragons ensure protection and roses play an important role in love magick.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
This fiery goddess is often depicted with flaming red hair, tending a bubbling cauldron over a blazing fire. This image symbolizes inspiration and creativity, which are Brigid's gifts to humanity. Imbolc means "in the belly" and the cauldron, representing the womb where creativity is nurtured, is one of her tools.
Pagan sabbats follow solar cycles and Imbolc is the first one celebrated after the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year). Some Pagans mark Brigid’s Day around February 5, when the sun reaches 15 degrees of Aquarius. Daylight is increasing now in the northern hemisphere, winter is on the wane, and spring's renewal is promised. Thus, Imbolc is a reaffirmation of life and a time for planting "seeds" that you want to ripen as the year matures.
Celebrating Brigid's Day
Fire is the central feature at Imbolc and a ritual celebration often includes lighting a sacred fire. In Celtic Pagan tradition, this fire burns the wood of seven of the trees considered to be sacred––ash, oak, holly, yew, alder, hawthorn, elder, rowan, and pine. If you are celebrating the holiday with other people, give each person a candle. Form a circle around the fire (or a large pillar candle set on an altar if building a fire isn't practical). Also place a cauldron filled with sand or earth on the altar.
Each person in turn lights his/her candle from the central flame. When all are lit, one person begins by stating a "seed" wish for the coming year. Go around the circle, letting everyone affirm for what s/he wants the year to bring. As smoke from the candle flames rises toward the heavens, it carries these requests to Brigid. Songs or prayers of thanks may also be offered at this time. You may wish to read poems written by the members of the group. When you are ready to open the circle, place the candles upright in the cauldron and allow them to burn down completely.
Because Brigid is the goddess of inspiration and creativity, you honor her by firing your imagination. I always spend her day engaged in some form of artistic activity, usually writing or painting. Some friends of mine bake, some play music, others fashion wreaths of greenery and pinecones. If you possess smithing skills or healing powers, this is the perfect opportunity to use them. Even if you don't consider yourself an artist, Brigid's Day is a time to give your imagination free rein, to share your ideas and vision with others, and to lay plans that you want to materialize during the year.
(from my book Magickal Astrology, published by New Page Books/Career Press)
Friday, January 13, 2012
Sex & Spirit: Part Two
In my way of thinking, the so-called “sexual revolution” that began when you and I were young women was well-intended, but it destroyed the mystery. It took the bubbles out of the champagne. Giving yourself permission to have sex with anyone who piques your interest at the moment may be “liberated” but it’s not likely to lead to a genuine, fulfilling, meaningful, loving, and truly erotic experience. Passion, joy, and magic are inherent in sex––why else has sex fascinated us for millennia? Even our most enduring symbols, including the cross and the Star of David depict the union of masculine and feminine forces (a topic too lengthy and involved to discuss here, but perhaps in the future).
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Sex & Spirit
This is the first in an ongoing series of conversations between writers.
Kathleen: Skye, you and I have known each other for quite a few years now and, though what we write about is very different,
we deal with a lot of the same themes. I recently read your book Sex Magic for Beginners and, even though I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the subject, I was struck by the way you link the power of sexuality with the spiritual. I don't mind telling you I've gotten a lot of criticism over the strong sexual and spiritual themes in my novel Each Angel Burns. There are a lot of people who find strong sexual and spiritual themes incompatible.
Skye: Over the centuries, sex-negative religious forces have tried to separate body and spirit. In the process sex was robbed of its sanctity. But this wasn’t always the accepted view. Tantra, which began in India some 6,000 years ago, is the mystical path of ecstasy and its rituals glorify sex as the union of the Hindu deities Shiva and Shakti. The ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Celts, and many other cultures also incorporated sex into their spiritual practices.
Sex magic, as I discuss in my new book, merges mind, body, and spirit. Although people perform sex magic for a variety of purposes, one reason is to assist spiritual enlightenment. It’s my opinion that our sense of isolation and our longing to reunite with Spirit is the root of human pain and suffering. During sex, we reconnect for a short time with the cosmic pulse of life. We glimpse our divine nature and our union with all that exists in the universe.
Kathleen: I think those are beautiful ideas but I often wonder how many people are in the kind of relationship that can support that. I know you have a section in your book on solo sex but for people already in a relationship, how do they deal with this if their partner isn't interested? In my experience the biggest problem where sex is concerned is the all-too-human desir
e for emotional connection with the partner and an on-going relationship. In my novel The Old Mermaid's Tale one of the characters, an older woman, tells a younger woman, “Never give your body to anyone who doesn't love you with all his heart. It kills the soul and robs you of your beauty and your dreams.” I think that is especially important to consider now in the era of “hooking up” and “casual sex.”
Skye: I agree with your character in The Old Mermaid’s Tale, which BTW I think is a terrific book and one I hope we can discuss in future conversations. In my opinion, the difference between casual sex and sacred sex is like the difference between a McDonald’s hamburger and a chateaubriand. I’ve never eaten a fast-food burger and I’ve never had a one-nighter. Unfortunately, most people opt for quick-and-easy rather than quality, and settle for far less than they could have. Our contemporary, blasé attitude toward sex renders meaningless the most potentially powerful and magical experience human beings can know. Casual sex is just as destructive as the Victorian era’s restrictiveness. Both squeeze spirit out of the picture, and prevent the possibility of genuine intimacy, joy, and transcendence.
From a magical perspective, the drawbacks are even worse. Keep in mind that sex is inherently a creative force. Sex magicians believe that with each orgasm you create a “magical child” in the etheric world, whether or not a flesh-and-blood baby results. The thoughts and emotions you hold at the moment of orgasm plant a “seed” in the cosmic womb, and that seed materializes based on your thoughts and feelings at the time. What were you thinking/feeling the last time you had sex? What kind of “child” would result from that?
There is a scene toward the end of Each Angel Burns where the two lovers, both of whom are in their fifties, have a highly intimate encounter, that brought down the wrath of quite a few reviewers! I got a scathing review on Amazon over it and one popular Christian reviewer said it was appalling that I spoke of sex “in sacramental terms.” I wonder how you view non-explicit love scenes that are infused with the sacred and how they compare or contrast to most popular erotica.Kathleen, you’re right that many of us aren’t in relationships that support the sacred nature sex––our partners may not even realize such a thing exists. We’ve been taught that love, intimacy, and vulnerability equate with weakness and we’ve learned to hide our feelings. Many men, especially, have also been trained to see sex as conquest, a mark of their prowess, but that sense of one-upsmanship prevents the balance that’s inherent in union. Opening ourselves to true intimacy––not only with our partners, but with ourselves and with the Divine––is essential to fulfillment.
Even if you’re in a relationship that doesn’t recognize the spiritual dimensions of sexuality, you can personally approach sex as a sacred, ecstatic, transcendent, loving, and joyful experience for yourself. Or, you can find another partner who shares your perspective. Solo sex can generate magical results, just as any sex act can, but it won’t keep you warm at night. Sometimes you can encourage or entice a lover to follow your direction, but be aware that fear of letting go, of trusting the unknown, and of being vulnerable may intrude and block your efforts. The choice is really up to each individual.
Kathleen: Sex is such a loaded issue for most people. Even people who profess not to follow a particular religion or spiritual path have a lot of trouble dealing with it. I know that you write erotica, I've read parts of yourTarotica book, and, as you know, I've tried writing erotica but I just have no gift for it. I think it is because I do regard sex as a sacred and powerful force that I find most erotica to be counterproductive to that. I struggle with it because I love writing sexy, romantic scenes––I've had people tell me the scene between Clair and Pio in the backseat of the Thunderbird (in The Old Mermaid's Tale) is one of the hottest scenes they've ever read. But it's not explicit. It's more about what the two people are experiencing than putting Tab A in Slot B, so to speak.
Skye: I think one of the reasons sex is such a loaded issue for most people is that it touches on what’s real and profound and, yes, sacred in all of us. It brings us into dimensions beyond what we normally confront. It connects us with our vulnerability and our power––two sides of the same coin––and that can scare us silly. Sex, if you let it, takes you out of the mundane world and catapults you into the mystical realm––and that can be unnerving for many people. Sacred sex brings you up close and personal with the real deal, and it truly does rock your world.
Kathleen, I love that scene in your book Each Angel Burns, for several reasons. First, it shows that sex and passion don’t end in middle age––in fact, they can become more joyful, genuine, and intense later in life. I’ve always admired your ability to express these sentiments through your characters. Second, I think it’s more erotic if the writer doesn’t tell all and instead allows the reader to project his/her own emotions and fantasies into a situation. Holding back can heighten the experience. Remember that beautiful erotic scene in The Age of Innocence where Newland Archer kisses the wrist of theCountess Olenska? Within the strict confines of their Victorian culture, this daring foray is far more sensual than any X-rated film today.
I don’t know if I can speak intelligently about popular erotica today––it’s such a broad topic, and in the publishing world it has a multiplicity of subsets. I don’t agree that you have no talent for erotica––quite the contrary. I’ve read some of your erotic literature, including “Gone Fishing” which was published in Ravenous Romance’s Green Love Anthology––a highly underrated collection of erotic fiction––and found the story sensitive, sexy, and real. Our ideas about erotica are highly personal, and they keep evolving. Today’s erotica is yesterday’s hard-core porn. An old question asks what’s the difference between erotica and pornography? Answer: Erotica is something you find sexually enticing. Pornography is something another person finds sexually enticing, but you find disgusting. It’s all personal perspective.
But to answer your question, I think most popular erotic literature lacks the sacred dimension, and for me, that leaves it flat and mechanical. Sex is inherently magical. Sex is a sacrament, perhaps the holiest of all acts. Without it, none of us would exist. Maybe it’s no surprise that your reviewer missed this, but our ancestors were very aware of the sacred power of sex and they honored it in multiple ways. We can still do this today. I hope we will.
To be continued...
Monday, December 26, 2011
What Can We Expect in 2012?
You’ve heard the dire predictions for 2012, supposedly based on the Mayan calendar which doomsayers tell us predicts the end of the world on the next winter solstice. But how accurate are they? What can we really expect in the coming year?
First of all, astrologers don’t believe the Maya meant that the world would end on December 21, 2012. Instead, their ancient calendar pointed to the end of an astrological age. Each age, according to their calculations, lasted about 25,500 years. This corresponds to what astrologers call the precession of the equinoxes, meaning the amount of time it takes the spring equinoctial sun to move backward through the zodiac and arrive again at the same point from which it started. (Of course, the sun doesn’t really move, but that’s how it appears to us from our vantage point here on Earth.) Thus, 12/21/2012 signals the true beginning of a new age: the Age of Aquarius.
The Number 11
It’s interesting to note that 12/21/2012, from the perspective of numerology, is an “11” day––the number of Aquarius. Aquarius, as you may know, is the eleventh sign of the zodiac, but there’s more to it than that. When you add the digits of the date (1+2+2+1+2+0+1+2) you get a sum of 11. Numerologists consider 11 to be a “master number.” Master numbers resonate with intensity. They offer increased possibilities for growth, awakening, and accomplishment. They demand more from you and require you to function at a higher level of awareness.
Eleven is the number of the visionary, the avatar, the inventor, the person who leads by offering a positive example. It’s also linked with humanitarianism, equality, balance, truth, and integrity. In the Tarot's major arcana, the Justice card is number 11.
When we’re under the influence of the number 11, we may experience lightning-like bursts of insight or situations that propel us to act quickly, drawing on intuition as well as intellect. The repetition of 11s, as in 11:11 or 11/11/11 (a date we experienced last month), can be seen as a portal into other worlds or realms of consciousness.
What all this suggests is that in the coming year we’re likely to witness conditions that will require us to think outside the box and to address problems with a more elevated and expanded vision. We’ll have to be more honest with ourselves and others, and behave with greater integrity. We’ll be called to make changes that benefit humanity and take into account the good of all, not just a few. We’ll see continued efforts to right wrongs and establish more balance between the haves and the have-nots. In short, 2012 sounds a wake-up call for all of us and offers us an opportunity to usher in the long-awaited Age of Aquarius.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
By now, many of you have heard of Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old who self-published her e-books on Amazon and soon became a bestselling author. In January 2011, she sold nearly half a million books! Like many writers, Hocking tired of the long, discouraging process of trying to find a traditional print publisher to take on her novels. So she did it herself––like many writers before her, including Benjamin Franklin, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf and, more recently, Stephen King, Deepak Chopra, and John Grisham.
E-books and Amazon’s Kindle program offer writers of all types to speak directly to readers, without going through the middleman. In 2010, 20 million people read e-books. Not only are e-books convenient, cheaper than print books, and instantly available, they’re environmentally friendly, saving trees and waste.
One of Hocking’s keys to success is her price point. By selling her books for $.99 to $2.99, she encouraged readers to take a look. She’s not the only author to utilize this method––or the only one to succeed. When you sell your e-book on Amazon for $.99 you only receive $.35 in royalties per sale. That’s not much, but if you sell 500,000 copies it adds up to big bucks. And in case you’re wondering, many authors only get about that much from the sale of a traditionally published paperback.
So, I decided to give it a try. My mystery Hidden Agenda, which in print form won the Kiss of Death Award (given by the Romance Writers of America’s mystery chapter), is now available as an Amazon e-book for $.99. A mix of murder, magic, astrology, and romance, the novel has gotten great reviews, both online and in print media. I hope you’ll choose to read it. Please share your thoughts with me if you care to do so. And please consider writing a review on Amazon.com if you feel inspired.
By the way, you can still purchase signed, first edition trade paperbacks from my website for $9.99 (quantities limited) if you prefer.