Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Invocation to Dionysos

Lord of wine and liberty,
Joy and dance and revel among us
O giver of life's sweet ecstasy.

Free and wild and strange and strong,
Enliven our minds, enrapture our bodies.
O Lord, we pray you hear our song.

-M. Ashley

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To Zeus, Father of All

The following is a daily prayer that I developed based on the many different versions of The Charge of the God. In my personal devotion, I find it works well for Zeus.

Beloved Father, Begetter of All, Great Lord of this Earth, Keeper of the Mysteries of Life Ever Reborn, yours is the flame of desire--yours the gale of action. Yours is the promise of peace--yours the law of Harmony. Teach us this day to live your law--to keep pure our highest ideals, that nothing or no one may turn us aside from our Divine Inheritance--from communion with you. Grant us an awakening of our bodies, that they may rise to answer both our wild natures and our cultivated arts. Bless us to know ourselves as you know us--in all our perfect mortal imperfections--and to love ourselves and our fellows because our hearts and vision have been so filled. Grant us this day of your courage and hope, your vision and depth, your action and stillness, your wisdom and abundance.  As we seek for you in the wild flesh and forest of the Earth, let us also seek within ourselves, and let us ever remember the greatest of all truths--that as we live, die and live again encircled by you, so you live, die and live again enfolded within us.

So it is, and so it shall be, forever and ever, Blessed by the Mystery.

Monday, January 17, 2011

To the Source of All Living

The following is a daily prayer I developed based on Doreen Valiente's Charge of the Goddess. It could rightly be used for just about any Goddess in the pantheon, but personally I most often use it as devotion to Demeter or Hera.
Beloved Mother, Source of All Living, Light and Life of Worlds Without end, yours is the ecstasy of the Spirit. Yours is joy unto all. Yours is the everlasting law of love. Teach us this day to live your law--to keep pure our highest ideals, that nothing or no one may turn us aside from our Divine Inheritance, from communion with you. Bless us with an awakening of our souls that they may heed your call and arise unto you--that we may know ourselves as you know us, in truth, and love ourselves and our fellows all the more because our hearts and vision have been so filled. Grant us this day of your balance, your beauty and strength, wisdom and abundance, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence. As we seek for you, let us also seek within ourselves, and let us ever remember the greatest of all truths; that as our lives flow from within you, so you live and flow within us.
-M. Ashley

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Inquiring Pagans Want to Know

In the fine Hermetical tradition of good artists borrowing and great ones stealing, I lifted this Pagan questionnaire from the fabulous blog written by Peter Helms' who, I believe, nipped it from, where it was originally snagged from Songs from the Wild Wood. Even if all of these questions don't apply to you--such as the ones about vampires having absolutely NOTHING to do with my spirituality--there are several in there that are important for all Pagans to answer so as to clarify their spirituality in their own minds. At least that's what it did for me. 

Do you have a magical/Pagan name?

No. I believe very strongly in the importance of authenticating your spiritual intentions by using the name you’ve used all of your life--the name that has the most “you” in it so that your spiritual practice is truly yours and does not belong to some fairy tale self you’ve concocted out of silver moons and raven’s feathers.
What does it mean? 
My actual name, Michelle, means, “Who is like God?” Whether there should be a question mark or a period at the end of that is much debated. I prefer the question mark as I feel there is so much more depth there.

How did you find Paganism? 
I found Paganism by way of two magnificent books: The Red Book and The Body Sacred. Those led me to Wicca which, in its due course, led me to Hellenism.
How long have you been practicing? 
I have been practicing since December of 2006. Crazy that it has been over four years already.
Solitary or group practitioner? 
Mostly I celebrate my Hellenism alone or with my fiance, but I do often get to celebrate just general Pagan grooviness in small groups.
What is your path? 
I consider myself a modern American Hellene--which is to say that I take all the fabulous information and diversity of culture to which I am privy as an American and mix it together over a base of solid Hellenic revivalism. I am much more a “spirit of the law” person than I could ever be a “letter of the law” type.
Are you out of the broom closet? 
Being as I’m pretty sure I’m not a witch in the neo-traditional Wiccan sense, I see no need to be in a broom closet.
Who is your patron God? 
I am a Hermes girl down to my bones.
Who is your patron Goddess? 
I have a very special and unique relationships with Hestia, Demeter and Hera.
What Gods do you worship? 
I worship the Gods of the Greek pantheon.
Do you fear darkly aspected Gods/Goddess, or rather respect them? 
I believe all Gods/Goddesses have aspects both dark and light. I worship my Divine Family in all their aspects.
Do you worship the Christian God? 
I respect Yeshua as a teacher and great one in spirit, but I do not worship him as a God.
Do you ever worship animals? Or plants?
Do you regularly commune with nature?
I listen to the world around me and love to watch the stars. Not sure though if that counts as communion. 
Ever walked barefoot in the woods? 
No. Too afraid of hookworm and other boogies my eyes are too poor to warn me of.
Taken a camping trip just to talk to nature? 
No. Although Demeter and I have a beautiful relationship, I am not, by nature, a nature girl.
Describe the moment you felt closest to Mother Earth? 
Lying on the floor of my last apartment and trying to stay so still I could feel the earth move.
Do you have a familiar? 
Yes, in a way my oldest dog DannyBoy is like a familiar--but more like a guide and protector as any good dog should be.
Have you ever called upon the powers of an animal in ritual? Or a plant? 
Do you hug trees? Give them gifts? 
I have touched the bark of a tree and offered libation to the dryads that resided there.
What is your favorite flower to work with? 
Can’t say I’ve ever worked with flowers.
What is your favorite tree to work with? 
I haven’t really worked with trees themselves, but again, have offered libations to dryads.
What is your favorite holiday?
Halloween, though I keep it entirely secular. The actual cross-quarter is on November 7, so I do my last harvest rituals then and keep my Halloween for just out and out fun.
What is your least favorite holiday?
I have never really connected with midsummer celebrations.
Have you ever held a ritual on a holiday? 
Ever taken a day off work to celebrate a Pagan holiday? 
Do you celebrate Yule on the 21 rather than the 25? 
I celebrate the Winter Solstice on the 21st and I celebrate a secular Christmas with family and friends on the 25th. That’s right, I’m lousy with holidays!
Have you ever felt the veil thin? 
Often. This feeling is more tied to prayer than any specific holiday.
Ever danced the Maypole?
Know what the Maypole symbolizes?
As with just about everything in Paganism, it’s a phallus of course.
How do you usually celebrate the Pagan holidays? 
With ritual, feast and celebration.
Do you use Tarot? 
Not very often anymore, though at one time I practiced daily.
Do you use runes? 
Do you use a pendulum? 
Do you use dowsing rods? 
Do you use astrology? 
I’m not sure how one “uses” astrology, but I do know a good deal about it and am eager to learn more.
Any other form of divination? 
I have been given the gift of lucid dreaming which often contains oracle for both myself and others.
What was the first spell you did? 
I believe it was a spell for breaking with the past. It didn’t work.
What was the latest? 
I really don’t remember. It’s been three years or so since I did my last spell.
Ever done a love spell? 
No. I don’t really believe in spells as they are commonly understood. I believe any magic we experience comes from our own psychological efforts.
A job spell? 
A healing spell?
No, though I have sent healing energy to friends and loved ones in need.

What was the most powerful spell you’ve ever performed?
I did a money spell once that completely backfired so as to teach a very important lesson about my relationship to that art. 
What deities do you usually call on? 
In anything I do, I ask for the aid of all my Divine Family.
Do you believe in Vampires? Werewolves? Shapeshifters? Elves? Faeries? Dragons? Nymphs? Sprites? Mermaids? Satyrs? 
I believe in Nymphs, Dryads, Naiads and Nereids as representative of the spirit of the natural world.
Ever “seen” any of the above? 
Ever talked to any of the above? 
Yes. I used to talk to the dryads in my tree, but I think of that more as a form of prayer. 
Ever used any of the above in magic? 
I don’t “use” members of my Divine Family.
Do you have one of them as a personal guardian?
Do you see a rabbit, a man or a woman in the moon? 
A woman--the Goddess Selene.
Own a cat? 

When you meditate, what does your happy place look like? 
A beautiful breezy farmhouse filled with family and love.
Do you work with Chakras? 
Do you believe in past lives? 
Yes, but I believe in future lives more--go figure.
If so, describe a few briefly: 
Do you believe in soul mates? 
Absolutely--and I have found mind.
Do you have a spirit guide? 
Hermes has always been my good guide and close companion.
Is it always love and light? 
No--and I am grateful that it is not because, if it were, love and light would be a lot less precious.

Invocation to Hephaistos

Father Hephaistos, 
be here among us.
Mighty and gentle Lord, 
I lay my hands in yours.
Teach me your art.
Enflame my heart.
Father, I am yours to mold.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gods Diverse and Innumerable

I believe that there is a single source through which all Divine power and physical creation has and continues to flow. I call that power Truth. I also believe there are beings, like ourselves, countless in number, who are at various stages of evolution toward that source. I believe there is a dynamic of ascended master to apprentice between us and those beings we revere as Gods, Guides and/or Angels and that they seek to interact with us in this life as teachers, companions and advocates.

These are the beings through which the various powers of Truth flow into our lives. For me, the power of righteous and empowering anger against those who have hurt the helpless flows through Mother Hera. For someone else, this same power may flow into their lives through Mother Kali, Brigid, or Christ. Although I believe their power all comes from the same source, I am beginning to realize that this does not mean all representations of that power necessarily come through a single being called by many names. Imagine if you will phone operators answering calls and concerns about abuse of the helpless where each call is routed directly to the being who best connects with the caller and most fluently speaks their language. I think the Romans, and I would guess all ancient Pagans had this idea, were absolutely right in their belief that their Gods were not the only Gods that everybody else just put different names on. They believed each nation, each people, each family and even each individual had their own unique Gods that served and protected them. They believed the heavens, the earth and the underworld were all populated with Gods just as diverse and innumerable as the worlds are populated with people.

This is a huge point in the development of my personal cosmology. I always felt it was somehow doing my Divine Family a disservice to even recognize the names of other deities without adding "also known as...". I realize now that mindset was a vestige of my Judeo-Christian upbringing. Somehow I need to get it through my consciousness that my Gods are not jealous and do not teach that salvationfor all comes only through them. (In fact, my Gods hardly ever use the word "salvation" at all.) My Divine Family, mostly of the Greek pantheon, are perfectly happy sharing space with the Gods of others. Just as a temple was erected in Gaul with Mercury grinningly sharing the sacred seat with Rosmerta, so the temple of my comprehension may be devoted to the Deities who know and love me best while being warm and welcoming to any and all other deities who happen to pass by.

Blessed by the Mystery,

Invocation to Hestia

Invocation to Hestia

Hail Hestia,
Ancient heart Mother
Goddess of the Spiritual Flame,
We thank you for your constant love and care.
We ask that you come and dwell here.
Make of our home your home.
Make of our hearth your hearth.
Make of our temple your temple.
Make of our hearts one heart, your heat.
Hail Hestia!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crafting a Hearth Tradition: Intimate Magic, Everyday Spirit

As I proceed along the path of trying to develop a personal Hellenic Witchcraft tradition radiating out from sacred home and hearth, I am beginning to learn that part of having a "hearth" tradition is using what you have around that hearth to create your rituals and work your magic. In days gone by, the wise women and men of the village didn't go by Ye Olde Occult Shoppe to get their spiritual supplies. They used the cauldron in which they also cooked dinner, the besom they also used to sweep the house, a wand from a felled tree branch, a blade they also used to prepare meals--and on and on. Because these tools were consecrated to magical purposes as well as used in everyday life, I imagine it brought a great deal of depth to the daily chores. Every time they swept the floor it was an act of both physical and spiritual cleansing. Every time they cut into an apple or trimmed the fat from a piece of meat it reminded them of they cycles of life, death and rebirth.  I am a big proponent of things becoming spiritually significant not by being put away and hidden from view and/or use, but by them being handled, used, and thought upon daily--by them witnessing and absorbing the energies of the household's life. How better to imprint your own energy into an item than exposing that item to your energy as much as possible?

This is what I would like to duplicate in our family tradition--using what we have on hand to make our spirituality more intimate and our everyday work more spiritual.


Blessed by the Mystery,
-M. Ashley

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Childhood Makeup of a Mercurial Life

I've been thinking a lot about my Great Aunt Kay lately. She passed away nearly twelve years ago. I miss her and I feel her influence in my life all the time. She and my Great Uncle Chuck provided the safest place I knew as a child. When it would thunder I would crawl into bed with them. Even when it didn’t thunder I would crawl into be with them, scooch in between them and sleep happily. I got to doing it so much they called me “the blond bomber”.

I remember once my friend and I saw a show on TV where they promised people free makeovers and, refusing to let the person look at themselves while they put the makeup on, they made them look like clowns or crazy streetwalkers. We decided it would be a good idea to do the same to Aunt Kay. She had an old makeup box full of groovy sixties makeup--greens, yellows and oranges. She ended up with yellow eyeshadow that extended above her eyebrows and coral shaded cheekbones that went pointedly back to her ears making her look a bit like an elf. When we first gave her the mirror to look at herself, she said, “Oh my!” and you could tell for a moment she wasn’t sure how to react--her first concern not not being her clown face but whether or not reacting to it as a clown face would hurt our feelings.

Had we intended to use lip gloss to highlight her hairline?

My friend and I burst out laughing and she did too--a breathy laughter mixed with relief that no, these children knew better.

What we didn’t know however was how hard it was to get makeup that old off of someone with such fragile skin as hers. Now that I think about it, it was a fitting revenge in a way--after we had all laughed about it, my friend and I went to wipe it off and couldn’t get one bit of it to budge. She let us prod and pull and near panic before she told us that she had some cold cream that would take care of it with no problem.

Now, right at this moment, twenty years later I am realizing that this might have been intentional--a little practical joke gotcha back--letting us develop heart palpitations--letting us suffer just a bit before telling us she could fix it. My Aunt Kay was like that--a slightly shady, impish, extremely intelligent and sharply humored lady--a lovingly Mercurial lady who impressed that presence onto my life from my earliest years. No wonder I delight to hear the laughing leaves dancing in the wind and feel my heart lift to bask in the endless prairie sky. I'm a Hermes girl and have been, apparently, for a very, very long time.

Blessed by the Mystery,