Thoughts from the Editor…

It’s that time of year…spring planting! Just last week we were gifted a bit of warm, beautiful weather here at home, and I got the itch to plant seeds. Every year, I’ve grown a lush container herb garden that has thrived with minimal problems. I always start my seeds in a “Jiffy” kit, and it seems like a miracle how quickly they grow and are ready to be transplanted to the containers. Of course, some of my seeds, like the chives and sage, return on their own in their containers, but with many, I prefer to start fresh; particularly with any pots that have proven to need new soil conditions.
I’ve broadened my horizons this year, not only in growing new herbs I had not yet tried such as Oregano and Thyme, but I am making the tentative venture into vegetable gardening! I’m astonished at how quickly my tomato plants are growing, as well as my onions and hot Serrano peppers. I can not wait until May, when I can safely plant my outside garden and reap the benefits of my work.
Many of you who read my newsletter, I’m sure, have joined the movement to reduce your carbon footprint. From recycling to reusing, it is vital that we remember how important our planet is and make the small steps to prepare for our future. By growing your own veggies, you save on the costs of shipping them to stores from all over; you do not pay money for items that were surely grown through the use of water-supply damaging pesticides; and you know without a doubt where your veggies came from and how they were handled. Plus, nothing is quite as rewarding as watching something you’ve nurtured, grow. The information to help you succeed as a home grower is out there; it’s possible, and it’s fun!
Here’s my challenge for you: what fantastic information do you have for other gardeners? A cool way to compost? The best mulch for moisture? Tips to growing tricky plants? Email me anything you have to say about gardening, and if I get at least a couple responses, they’ll be posted in the April newsletter! If you have a success story about home gardening, or beautiful pictures from your backyard grocery, send them in!
Also, I’d love to find some regular contributors, whether for pictures or written works. If there’s anyone who feels an affinity with Stones and would like to do the “Stone of the Month” section, please email me. (Also, Herb of the Month, God/Goddess of the Month.) Submissions don’t have to be long or perfect. If you have a good piece of seasonal non-fiction, or fiction, or a guided meditation you would like to share, please do. I’m also looking for seasonal recipes and spells to publish each month. It’s just a matter of tossing together an email and sending it to witchywanderings@gmail.com….I hope to hear from you!
As the Wheel turns to warmth, sunshine, and green, growing things, may the Goddess bless your homes with abundance :)
Heather
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OSTARA
The Spring Equinox is a time of new life and new beginnings. Day and night are equal on this day, and the breath of balance surrounds us. On the Wheel of the Year, we are opposite Mabon, the Witch’s Thanksgiving. No other time does it seem more perfect to be thankful than at Ostara, as the world bursts into life around us and we leave behind the barren winter.
Whether you call it Ostara, Eostre, the Vernal Equinox, or Alban Eiber, the Equinox is a time of burgeoning warmth, fertility, and happiness. The young god has reached maturity alongside the youthful goddess, and together they seek to find completion. Because of this, it is relevant to enact the Great Rite during ritual for Ostara. While some committed couples choose to carry out this act in circle together, it is just as magickal to do it symbolically with your chalice and athame. As with anything in magick, sexual acts in ritual should always be consensual and between two mature partners who are committed to each other, or the magick.
Also at this time of year, magick meant to heal and protect the earth is potent. For the witchy gardener, draw on the budding energy of Mother Earth to draw abundance, success, and health for your seeds before planting them.
Somewhere a while back, I read that the practice of hunting for eggs at Ostara can be symbolic of forging our own paths. As we are responsible for our own happiness, to find the path meant for ourselves, so too do we search for the eggs that represent a melding of the god and goddess – whites and golden yokes. Host an Easter egg hunt at your home for pagan and non-pagans alike. Remember, all life comes from eggs, so search for them reverently.
In honor of the holiday, serve goat cheese and white zinfandel or milk and bread with honey for cakes and ale.
Quick correspondences:
Gods: Baal (Phoenician), Dagda (Irish), Ganymede (Greek), Tammuz (Babylonian)
Goddesses: Aphrodite, Artemis, Gaia (all three Greek), Blodewedd (Welsh), Eostre (Germanic), Freya (Scandinavian)
Colors: pastel shades, grass green, robin’s egg blue
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Dance for the Earth
Dance is universal. The fluid movements of our arms and legs, swaying with the beat of steady music…how much earthier can you get without digging in the dirt?
“The Order of the Whirling Dervishes is one branch of the vast Sufi tradition of Islam” according to one website (listed below). Whirling dervish…just the label makes me want to dance. These amazing devotees can be found on the streets in Turkey, eyes shut and bodies twirling, the right hand open to the sky to receive God’s blessings, while the left hand is open to earth to share those blessings. The website goes on to explain “by revolving in harmony with all things in nature — with the smallest cells and with the stars in the firmament — the semazen testifies to the existence and the majesty of the Creator, thinks of Him, gives thanks to Him, and prays to Him. In so doing, the semazen confirms the words of the Qur’an (64:1): Whatever is in the skies or on earth invokes God.”
The swirling dance these people perform is a spiritual act, not a performance. Their ritual of dancing unites the mind, body, and heart for them, and dancing in ritual can do the same for a witch. When I think of the goddess, I want to sing and dance; I want to create for Her.
This Ostara, dance to bring about the awakening of the earth. Choose music that makes you want to move. How you dance is up to – if you want to whirl like a Dervish, leap like a ballerina, or tap dance across the asphalt, do it. When you dance with the Goddess, you are dancing for yourself, too. Find music in which you can lose yourself; when the first notes begin and your body joins in, open your arms to the sky, move your hips, and dance!
Stemming from Teutonic history, it was customary for people to buy new clothes for the springtime. Even today, it is a happy occasion to bring out our spring and summer clothes; to shed those heavy sweaters and jeans in favor of shorts and flip flops! As part of your dance for the earth, invest in a new outfit – something pretty and springtime-y like a sun dress in pastel. Whirl, and glide across the cool, spring soil; feel the power and let it fly.
Sources:
http://www.whirlingdervishes.org/whirlingdervishes.htm
For further information on the Whirling Dervishes visit http://www.allaboutturkey.com/dervis.htm
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Moon Phases, March 2011
New Moon – March 4, 20:46
First Quarter – March 12, 23:45
Full Moon – March 19, 18:10
Last Quarter – March 26, 12:07
Times in UT, from Universe Today
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Storm Moon of March
Other names: Seed Moon, Moon of Winds, Plow Moon, Worm Moon, Lenting Moon, Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Moon of the Snowblind
In honor of Ostara, leave a big pile of colored thread pieces for the birds to use in their nests. Wear green to symbolize the sprouting earth (and St. Patrick’s Day!) As wonderful a time of the month as the full moon for a witch, it’s even lovelier to remember March’s moon as that which heralds coming warmth! Take the time to get outside. Enjoy the changes in weather – notice them; see how the seasonal shift reflects itself in your own life and attitudes, and be thankful.
Types of ritual for this month:
*Ritual to unleash the talents dormant inside you
*Protection magick for storm season
*Magick for balancing and centering
*Purification of the home
*Bless your gardening tools
Correspondences:
Flowers: jonquil, daffodil, violet
Stones: Aquamarine, bloodstone
Tree: alder, dogwood
Power flow: growing, prospering, exploring, new beginnings, balance
Source: Moon Magick, DJ Conway
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What to Know When Buying Eggs
Nowadays, we can find so many different kinds of eggs hanging out on the supermarket shelf. “Cage free”, “free range”, “free roaming”, “organic”, etc. etc. etc. But, do you really know what any of this means? I didn’t. It’s easy to believe these fluffy terms mean the hens happily wander green meadows with plentiful, healthy food. The truth is, that’s not really the case.
The terms “cage free”, “free roaming”, and “free range” are not regulated by the government, but by third parties. According to the article (sourced below), “free range” means the hens live in a large open warehouse rather than in cages; but with limited access to the outdoors, usually on concrete. Nor does “cage free” mean they have access to the outdoors. Neither indicates that the hens are humanely treated and provided with clean, fresh water and food.
“Certified humane.” You would expect this means the hens are treated the way you would treat them at home, but this is unfortunately not the case. It is regulated that they have access to clean water, and are not caged, with available nesting areas. However, debeaking is allowed – certainly not humane, in my opinion.
“Certified organic” means organic as we know it, but here’s what you don’t know: debeaking and forced molting by starvation are allowed under it. Organic does not mean humane.
So, unless you can find a carton of eggs in your local chain grocery that is marked with all of the above, you honestly don’t know from where those eggs hailed. If you really care about the eggs you’re eating, and the people who you are supporting by purchasing them, you’re best bet is to find a local supplier. Visit their farm, see the conditions in which their hens are kept, and work out a deal. You can even take your own carton and get a discount at a lot of local farms. Run a search for yearly farmer’s markets to find a steady supply for six months out of the year, or better yet, raise your own chickens!
Read more about commercially produced eggs at http://www.motherearthnews.com/Sustainable-Farming/2007-04-01/How-to-Decode-Egg-Cartons.aspx?newsletter=1&utm_content=03.02.2011+SLCS&utm_campaign=SLCS&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email
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Eggs and Witchcraft
Simple magick using eggs….
*Bury them beneath barns or animal houses for livestock fertility
*Smash and bury an egg in your garden to encourage growth.
*Place one beneath the bed of a couple working towards a baby
*Save eggshells from cooking, wash them well, and crush them fine in a mortar and pestle – save for use in spell talismans.
*Decorate empty eggshells and hang from trees around your property to bring abundance.
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Spell of the Month
Worry Eggs
Eggs are a breakfast staple in most households. So, what do you do with all those shells after you’ve cracked them open and emptied the contents into your morning skillet?
Fill them up with something else, of course!
Rinse both halves of your shell very well before using them. The only things you need for this spell are the shell, some red thread and scissors, and yourself!
You can cast your circle or just do it standing over the kitchen sink, however you feel appropriate. Cup the bottom half of the egg shell between both your hands. Close your eyes and think of something you want to release from your life. It could be a lost relationship, a bout of negativity with a coworker, or anything that is causing you distress. Slowly let go of this, pushing it into the egg where it settles in the circular bottom. Let it fall from you until it’s gone. Place the other half on top and wrap the string vertically (carefully! Don’t break the shell!) around the whole egg, tying it to keep it together (it doesn’t have to be perfect.)
Take the egg outside and plant it in the ground. Say something simple and sweet like: Egg of worry, convey my need; Mother Earth, bring me peace. The cool soil will accept the nutrients from the shell and your worries, Mother’s embrace taking the worry from you. This is a quick, easy spell that you could do any time you need to release something.
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Quote of the Month
I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.
Ruth Stout
Gardening Writer
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Did you know?
Even those people with the blackest of thumbs can grow herbs in a container garden. Many of the popular herbs for culinary uses such as rosemary, basil, sage, and chives are super easy and low maintenance. With little effort, you can have a steady supply of these for months, and if you choose, throughout the year inside. While you can pick up seedlings at a garden center, they’re just as easy (and cheaper) to grow from seed. My first year trying, I used cheap plastic pots filled with a 3:1 mix of potting soil to peat moss. I started the herbs in a seed starter, transplanted my seedlings into the well-watered pots, and stuck them on a table on my back patio where they got a full six hours of sunshine every day. Within weeks, I had a lush garden of herbs. Never let the soil get too dry and crumbly (in areas of high heat, a layer of mulch like straw can help retain moisture) and inspect them daily for diseases and pests. Most problems can be nipped in the bud (pun intended!) with early detection. Do your research to learn which plants are happy with what amount of sunshine and water, prune often, and enjoy the taste and smell of these wonderful plants. Happy gardening!
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The Ostara Altar
Sheep, rabbits, and chickens, oh my! A list of items for the Ostara altar:
*Eggs
*Birds, particularly the Robin
*Bees and Honey (as an extension, Mead)
*Butterflies
*Bunnies and Hares
*Flowers
*Flower Faeries and Garden Gnomes!
*Lambs, Goats, Rams (Horns)
*Equal armed cross
*Baskets, filled with grass and eggs as a symbol of the goddess’ womb
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Stone of the Month
Bloodstone
The birthstone of March, this stone varies in shades of green with red spots. The red spots, like drops of blood, give the stone its name. It is also known as Heliotrope, from Greek words mean “sun” and “turning.”
Bloodstone’s greatest magickal property is that of healing. It is believed to better circulation throughout the body, cleanse the blood, detoxify, and help the immune system fight infections. In its property as a detoxifier, it’d be a great stone to carry as a talisman when going through a body cleansing fast.
Stemming from folklore, it is also known as a “guide” stone, said to audibly guide its user. It would be good to use in ritual where you are attempting to find an answer to some question.
With this stone, one can banish evil and negativity. Walk through your home, inscribing pentagrams with it in the air before all the doors and windows: a simple, no-fuss way to keep negativity away from your home.
Source: http://www.galleries.com/minerals/birthsto.htm
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Herb of the Month
Thyme
This common kitchen herb is not only tasty, but has numerous magickal uses. It’s easy to grow and care for at home, either outside in the garden or on a sunny kitchen windowsill.
Thyme is a feminine herb ruled by Venus that is associated with faeries. It can be used in magick for the following purposes:
*Cleansing, consecration, and purification of tools, space, or person.
*To promote clairvoyance in dreams and divinations
*To stave off nightmares
*Happiness, healing, love, money, and protection
Ancient Egyptians made use of thyme for embalming, while Ancient Greeks used thyme in their baths and temples to promote courage. Spread of thyme through Europe is attributed to the Romans, who used it to purify their temples and add flavor to their cheeses.
Thyme is used widely in meats, stews, and soups, but has the best flavor when paired with lamb, tomatoes, and eggs. Thyme also has many wonderful medicinal properties, including brewing a tea of it for bronchitis or cough. As with using any herb in medicine, always consult a proper book or person before using.
Source: http://windspirit57.tripod.com/id4.html
Image http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/bookofshadows/ig/Magical-Herbs/Thyme.htm
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God of the Month
Thor
Best known as the god of thunder, Thor is the son of Odin, the Norse Father god. He is considered the strongest of all the Norse gods, and is usually portrayed as large, powerful, with red hair and beard. His followers were more devoted to him than even Odin because his temple didn’t require human sacrifices; so he earned the title of protector to the common man.
Norse belief said that Thor rode a chariot drawn by two goats during a thunderstorm, and the lightning flashing was from him brandishing his hammer, Mjollnir. He had a hot temper and would take it out on the giants, the enemies of the Norse gods, by smashing their heads in with Mjollnir.
Followers of Thor often wore hammer shaped amulets. Even after Christianity arrived, crosses depicted with hammers could be found.
For more information, see http://www.mythicalrealm.com/legends/thor.html
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Goddess of the Month
Flora
The Roman goddess of flowers, fertility, sex, and blossoming things, particularly those that bear fruit. Flora comes from “floris” which is Latin for “a flower.” A festival, the Floralia around April 27th, was a Roman dedication to her, to celebrate life and mating. See this link here http://www.thaliatook.com/OGOD/flora.html for an even better look at this goddess than I could ever hope to write!
Call on Flora when you’re hoping to conceive, to spice up your sex life, or to bring abundance to your life. Or, just dance on the blossoming earth in her honor!
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