Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

Now is the time to plan out your New Years Resolutions... and then Stick To Them! You are worth it, so don't give up on yourself!
About 3 years ago I made a resolution to become a Healthy Weight for my body type, and I worked at it. I lost almost 100lbs (97lbs to be exact) over the next 2 years, and the last year I have been working at maintaining the healthy weight. I am worth it, so I am not going to give up on myself and let myself gain back any of the weight.
What I want you all to do is to make a resolution, and then stick to it! If you want to be the best that you can be, take it one step at a time and narrow your goals down into manageable steps.
For Example, For loosing weight I broke it up into many different steps that took years,
  • Find out what is my Ideal/Healthy body weight
  • Count Calories and Log Food
  • Lose 20lbs
  • Cut Out Soda
  • Get some Exercise Every Day
  • Work on Self Esteem
  • Cut Out Fast Food
  • Lose 20 more lbs
  • Eat More Nutritious Foods
  • Lose 20 more lbs
  • Be Adventurous and Try New Foods
  • Research More about healthy weight loss and keeping weight off
  • Lose 20 more lbs
  • Eat Less Candy/Sugar
  • etc.
These steps sometimes came easy, and other times I had to work really hard at them. But I didn't ever give up (even when I had slip-ups) because I knew I was worth it. I wanted to be healthier and happier, so I did what I could in order to make it a reality.
What I'm trying to say is, Set a Goal, then work on it until it becomes reality.

My Resolution this year is to let things go. I want to be able to stop holding onto things that hurt me and not let things ruin my mood as often.


Friday, December 23, 2011

The Pagan Symbols of Christmas Part 5

The Pagan Symbols of Christmas Part 5
 Caroling: *Saturnalia was a festival held between 17th and 24th December, which began in the days of the Roman Empire. This was a week of feasting, gift giving and an excuse for an orgy during the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice. The objective of the debauchery and dancing around (carol) was to give the sun a nudge and send a message to Mother Earth to begin reproducing for the spring.
*The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.
*Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles. The word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy! Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived!
 12 Days of Christmas: *The log was the center of the trunk of a tree that was dragged to a large fireplace where it was supposed to burn for twelve days. From this comes the twelve days of Christmas, immortalized in song and Bill Shakespeare’s very Pagan Twelfth Night. The festival of Twelfth Night is part of the Roman Saturnalia, the Feast of Fools and there can be little doubt that the license that marked this occasion had its origin in very ancient pagan customs.
*You may have heard of the 12 days of Christmas which begin on Christmas day and end on January 6. This originally came from the 12 days of Yuletide which began at sunset on December 20, known as Mother Night, and ended on the night of December 31, the Night of the Oak King and the Roman day of Hecate. There is no coincidence that the true Twelfth Night is now celebrated as New Year's Eve and with the same old revelry as when it was known as Twelfth Night. Typically, the Christians changed the date to January 6 in hopes of doing away with the Pagan revels of the night.
*The familiar Christmas carol, "The 12 Days of Christmas" is part of a goal-setting ceremony meant to cause transformation in the practitioner's life. Like a plot twist from "The DaVinci Code" the practice was kept secret and passed forward only from one teacher/guardian to the next. The author, informally known as Rain, said, "The 12 gifts spoken of in the song are actually symbolic references. In times of old the ceremony had to be camouflaged inside of a Christmas carol so as to avoid the persecution and death of its practitioners by the religious establishment of the day."
 Christmas Cookies/Gingerbread Men: *Many practicing Pagans end their Sabbath rituals with Cakes and Ale. Cake is a misleading term since they are usually cookies and sometimes breads. On Midsummer and Yule (as well as some lesser Sabbaths) the cakes are shaped into a man to symbolize the god (Oak and Holly kings).
*Ginger was an herb sacred to both Appollo and Sol, Sun Gods from the Greco-Roman pantheon. Even though these Ginger Cookies are thought of as German confections, they probably have their roots in ancient Rome. The Man shape is supposed to represent the God, (in this case the Oak King) as he gets slain by the Holly King.
*Recipe for Gingerbread Men
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Cup Dark Molasses
¾ Cup Shortening
¼ Cup Butter
4 Cups Flour
2 Eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp Cinnamon
¾ tsp ground Cloves
1/8 tsp Allspice
4 tsp Ginger
1 ½ tsp Baking Soda
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients except the flour. Add the flour slowly and mix until dough is slightly stiff. If the mixture is too dry add a tsp or 2 of water. If the dough is too wet, add a little extra flour. Roll out the dough on a floured cutting board to about 1/4in thickness. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10 mins. Let them cool on wax paper or a cooling rack before decorating.
Wassail: *A wassail is a salutation of good health or well wishes by means of a toast. The drink is a mixture of mulled eggs, curdled cream, apples, nuts, and spices. Usually poured from a punch bowl while exchanging Christmas greetings.
*Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Pagan Symbols of Christmas Part 4

The Pagan Symbols of Christmas Part 4
Candles/Lights:  *Ancient Romans lit candles to ward off evil, and to convince the sun to shine again. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year.
*Possibly stemming from celebrations of both the Persian sun god Mithra and Roman god Saturn, among others, the tradition of adorning homes inside and out with lights and candles arose with a simple desire for warmth and light during dark winter nights, and tributes to the various pagan gods that were believed to be responsible for keeping that big yellow orb floating in the sky.
*Candles, of course, have long been a typical item in Wiccan rituals.
*From the earliest Roman festivals and pagan rituals, through Europe and Africa to the Americas, candles and their humble light have been one of the key factors in the celebration of the winter holidays.
*As a witch, the symbolism of a candle is about representing the element of fire, and representing God and Goddess and sends healing and protection when needed.  Candles are thought to have originated in ancient Rome when they gifted them to each other during Saturnalia.  The flame was thought to chase away dark winter demons and urge the Sun back into the sky.
Red/Green/White: *The traditional Christmas colors of red and green, being complementary colors, represent the fertility of the male and incubation by the female. Pagan decorations still seen around Christmas include the red berries and green leaves of holly, mistletoe and wreaths.
*On Winter Solstice Asar [Osiris] dies. Aset [Isis] with the magic help of Nebt Het [Nephthys] creates a Djed Pillar [artificial penis] for Her husband and impregnates Herself. For three full days (December 22-24) Asar lies dead and the Twins grow in Aset’s belly. On this day (December 25th) the Twins are born, the reincarnation or resurrection of Their Father. The green tree is a symbol of the green-skinned Asar, God of fertility and vegetation. The colored lights are symbols of Aset, Goddess of magick and divine light. Red, green, and white are the traditional candle colors of Bast (this was Her birthday alone for several thousand years of early Kemetic history), later being adapted to red for Aset (the color of the Mother’s menstrual flow), green for Asar (the color of vegetation), and white for the Twins (the color of pure light).
Stars:  *A five-pointed star, the pentagram, symbol of the five elements, was placed atop the tree.
*The Star of David, the Jewish six-pointed star we put on top of the tree, symbolizes the perfect union between male and female. The inverted triangle represents the feminine (Shekinah); the upturned phallic triangle represents the male (Yahweh).
*In Germany and in Amish lore, the 5-Pointed Star provides protection from fire and lightning or a protection for livestock, good fortune, hope, love, fertility, energy and harmony. The Eight-Pointed Star symbolizes goodwill, good omens, light and protection. The Triple Star represents good luck, success and happiness.
*Before becoming a prominent symbol of Judaism, the six pointed star was used by alchemists and was said to have been used by Druid priests as protection against evil ghosts.
Bells: *Bells were rung at pagan winter celebrations. It was thought that evil spirits could be driven out by loud noises, and bells often accompanied singing and shouting.
*The Pagans jingled bells to scare away evil spirits and to cleanse the area.
*Pagans, at their festivals, would originally ring bells to drive away the “demons” that surfaced during the cold, dark time of the year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Yule (EWE-elle, YOU-ull) takes place December 20th-December 23rd
         Also known as the Winter Solstice, Yuletide, Yule Time, The Longest Night, Festival of Saturn/Saturnalia, Solstice Night, Yule is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day.
        This is the time when the Goddess gives birth to the Divine Sun child who shall be both child and eventually lover and father of the next child in the cycle.
        On this night, our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth. Many of the customs and traditions of Yule are now celebrated as Christmas traditions. So this time of the year tends to be one of the easiest (besides Samhain/Halloween) for Witches to celebrate without trouble.
Songs: Deck the Halls, Here we come A-Wassailing, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire), 12 Days of Christmas, The Holly and the Ivy, Jingle Bells, I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In, Lady Greensleeves, Carol of the Bells (I know this some of these aren’t exactly Yule, but they have Yule symbols within them).  
Activities: Feasting, Making plans for the upcoming year, Caroling, Burning the Yule Log, Wassailing the Trees, Decorating the Yule Tree, Exchanging Presents, Kissing under the Mistletoe, Light candles in the house to welcome the new light, Volunteer/Donate, Meditate, Fill Bird feeders, Ringing Bells, Bonfires, Engage in a Fertility Ritual under the Mistletoe, Reenact the Fight between the Holly King and the Oak King, Make a Bûche de Noël (traditional French cake shaped like a Yule Log), Storytelling, Pathworking, Roasting Chestnuts, Make a German Christmas Cake and divine the symbols hidden inside, Make an Outdoor Yule Tree for the wildlife (Decorate a live tree with strings of popcorn, pine cones with peanut butter and seeds, apples, and cut out shapes in bread and let them go stale, then string them up).
Foods: Cookies, Nuts, Pork, Fruits, Turkey, Ginger Tea, Spiced Cider, Wassail, Eggnog, Beans, Roasted Chestnuts, Apples, Pickles, Venison, Roast Foul, Ale, Red Cabbage, Potato Pancakes.
Crafts: Making Candles, Make a Yule Log Candle Holder (drill 3 holes into a log and display a red, green, and white candle. Decorate with Holly), Baking Cookies, Making Evergreen Wreaths with pine cones and fruit, Make Pine cone ornaments, Cross Stitching, Make/Bake gifts for loved ones.
Colors: Red, Green, Gold, White, Silver, Yellow.
Symbols: Wreaths, Evergreen Boughs, Yule Log, Mistletoe, Holly, Evergreen Trees, Bells, Cross, Apples, Ice, Baby, Fire, Snow, Grain, Sun, Pine Cones.
Stones: Ruby, Emerald, Bloodstone, Garnet, Diamond.
Herbs: Evergreen, Bayberry, Ivy, Sage, Oak, Pine, Frankincense Holly, Mistletoe, Laurel, Yellow Cedar, Blessed Thistle.
Incense: Pine, Cedar, Cinnamon, Bayberry. 
Gods: All Newborn Gods, Sun Gods, The Green Man, The Oak King, Apollo, Mabon, Lugh, Ra, Odin, The Horned One, The Divine Child, Mithras, Sol.
Goddesses:  Mother Goddesses, Triple Goddesses, Brighid, Diana, Demeter, Isis, Gaea, The Great Mother, Tonantzin, Holda, Bona Dea, Ops, Lucina, Befana.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Pagan Symbols of Christmas Part 3

The Pagan Symbols of Christmas Part 3
 Mistletoe/Kissing under Mistletoe: *Two hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Druids used mistletoe to celebrate the coming of winter. They would gather this evergreen plant that is parasitic upon other trees and used it to decorate their homes. They believed the plant had special healing powers for everything from female infertility to poison ingestion. Scandinavians also thought of mistletoe as a plant of peace and harmony. They associated mistletoe with their goddess of love, Frigga. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe derived from this belief. The early church banned the use of mistletoe in Christmas celebrations because of its pagan origins.
*The vines and berries of mistletoe were sacred to the ancient Druids who used them in their sacrifices to the gods as well as to celebrate the winter solstice.
*The mistletoe, which was also believed to have miraculous healing powers, was placed over doorways to ward off evil and bestow health, happiness, and good luck.
*Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual.
*Mistletoe was also hung as decoration.  It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it.
 *Sacred to the Druids, the berried mistletoe symbolized the semen of the gods, and was used to bring about great fertility and abundance.  Brought into the home and hung over doorways, it also protected from evil.    Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?  Norse legend  says that Frigg, loved her son Balder so much that she couldn’t stand the thought of something happening to him.  but Loki (the God of Mayhem) fashioned an arrow out of mistletoe and gave it to Balder’s blind brother.  The arrow was shot and Balder fell dead.  Frigg’s tears restored Her son to life, and in her happiness, she declared the mistletoe plant a symbol of luck, love and promise.  Kissing under the mistletoe means you are receiving Frigg’s blessing.
 Holly: *Holly is a shrub with spiny leaves and red berries. The leaves remain green throughout the year. Pagans thought its greenness was a promise that the sun would return.
*Druids once believed that holly, with its shiny leaves and red berries stayed green in Winter to keep the earth beautiful when the sacred Oak lost it leaves.
*Holly was the sacred plant of Saturn and was used at the Roman Saturnalia festival to honor him. Romans gave one another holly wreaths and carried them about decorating images of Saturn with it.
*Holly berries were thought to be a food of the gods.
 *A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to visit the residents.
*Holly has vibrant green leaves and bright red berries during the winter’s cold, providing a beautiful symbol of rebirth. The Celts gathered holly branches and placed them in their homes the night before the winter solstice as protection against sorcery, lightning, and death.  In Scandinavia, it was believed that holly would bring luck to the house.  In Roman Bacchus, holly was the female counterpart to male ivy and this is why wreaths were made of both and hung on the front door.  Pagans believe Holly is Masculine to Ivy’s feminine. With this multilayered symbolism, the holly is indeed the crown jewel of evergreens.  This is why the Green Man wears a crown of holly. 
 Evergreen Boughs: *Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings, representing fertility.
*Evergreen leaves symbolize life, even in the severest winters, and the circle symbolizes immortality.
*The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not "die" thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine).
*Evergreen trees and other plants that stay green all year round have always carried a special meaning for the various peoples of the world. Long before the advent of Christianity, peoples of many ancient civilizations decorated their homes with pine, spruce, and fir trees. In many of these cultures, it was believed that evergreen boughs, hung over doors and windows, would fend off evil spirits and diseases.
*Ancient peoples who worshiped the sun as a god believed that winter came when the sun god became sick and weak. The celebration of the winter solstice marked the time when the sun god would begin to regain his strength and evergreens served as reminders of the coming spring when the land would be green again.
*In Great Britain, the woods priests of the ancient Celts, the Druids, used evergreens, holly and mistletoe as symbols of everlasting life during mysterious winter solstice rituals. They also placed evergreen boughs over their doors and windows to ward off evil spirits.
*Evergreens were used to decorate homes and halls dating back to the earliest Winter festivals.  Because the green never fades, they were thought to have power over death and destruction.  That power was again thought to chase away the winter demons and urge the Sun to come back. Evergreens in winter gave the pagans hope for a return of the light and the renewing power of the goddess nature.