Fireflies and summer sun in circles round we become as one. Singing songs at magick’s hour we bring the winds and timeless powers. Turning inward, hand in hand we dance the hearth to heal the land. Standing silent, beneath the sky we catch the fire from out God’s eye. Swaying breathless, beside the sea we call the Goddess so mote it be!
I love, love, love these long, sun-kissed days just around Litha, when I wake up bathed in golden light and fall asleep while it's still barely dusk. For this year's celebration, I'm making Aprhodite's Cakes, which use just a hint of rosewater (now available at Whole Foods so don't give me that "where the fuck would I buy that?" stuff) from a recipe that I pulled, years ago, out of Sage Woman. Surfing the web, I was delighted to find a post by the original author.
Remembering that all acts of love and pleasure (including, especially, eating) are rituals of the Goddess, you should go read the whole thing.
Here's a tiny taste:
[Rosewater] is particularly effective when combined with its kin, the bramblefruits: raspberries and blackberries. Because they are cousins to roses, these fruits really shine when they are kissed with the essence of the Queen of Flowers. Rosewater is subtle with these fruits, sliding into the flavor mix like a nymph sinking into water, until she is but a shimmer beneath the surface: you know it is there, but you cannot tell what it is. It is only a flowery scent, a flicker of something familiar that is just maddening to the senses, but that cannot be grasped: the nymph dances laughingly beyond the satyr’s reach.
Last year, my friends, the very friendly and very healthy hippie organic farmers at the farmer’s market, had a banner crop of blackberries, so they were selling these plump, shining beauties for next to nothing. These berries were so soft, so yielding and so full of sugar, that you could barely pick them up without bruising them and being stained with roseate juice. Just driving home with them filled my car with a miasma of sweetness, and when I brought them into the house, my kitchen smelled like the very tumescent essence of summer Herself.
I ate some by themselves, but I also decided to create a fitting frame for these lovely wonders. I baked a batch of sweet cream scones, a very rich and short pastry that is still moist, due to the addition of cream. They are not overly sweet however, because they did not need to be: the berries were dripping with fructose by themselves. I took some of the berries, the prettiest, and left them whole. The others, I macerated with just a touch of sugar to get them to release their juices, a squeezing of lemon juice to balance the sweetness with a note of acid, a goodly dollop of Chambord to add richness, and a few crystalline drops of rosewater to deepen the flavors.
I split the scones while they were barely warm, and spooned macerated berries over the first layer, then laid a spoonful of softly whipped, barely sweetened cream over it. I capped it with the top of the scone, added another spoonful of berries and juice, then the cream, and topped it all with three whole, perfect berries.
The recipe for Aphrodite's Cakes is available at the link above. The one bit of advice that I'll give is to use about half as much rosewater as you think you should use. There's a very, very, very fine line between an orgasmic sense that you're consuming the essence of a water nymph dancing just outside the grasp of saytr and a "need to go get a drink" sense of having consumed perfume. But, seriously, how can you not make them when you read this:
Chef Rainer, who is also from Bavaria, took a bite, and had a bit of a swoon. He finished it, opened his eyes, and said, in his accented baritone “It is like going to Church. It is better than communion. What do you call it?” I said, “Aphrodite’s Cakes.” And he smiled, and said, “Which would you rather eat, Christ, or Aphrodite?” I don't know about you, but even as a very straight woman, I know the answer to that.
Katrina Messenger once told me that magic workers who ignore their dreams put their spiritual growth at peril (or words to that effect). I've been working with my dreams ever since.
One of the first, slipperiest, and most challenging things for many of us to do is to remember our dreams. Not those great, big, life-changing dreams that you can't help but notice, but our every-night dreams. Gotta know what you dreamt before you can easily work with it. There are lots of suggestions for how to begin to better remember your dreams: tell yourself before sleeping that you'll remember your dream, keep a pen and journal by your bed and write it down as soon as you wake up, etc. I've tried lots of things.
I find that if, before I move physically, I can tell myself the story of the dream, often starting with the last little bit and remembering backwards, tell myself the story in words, I can keep the dream from slipping -- as our shadows and unconscious fears half want for it to do -- back into oblivion. Once I move (roll over, get up to pee (I'm an old woman!), turn the pillow over), I tell myself the story another time or two, trying to "see" the dream and recapture the "feeling" of it, often managing to remember another detail or two. Finally, I tell myself the story again, paying special attention to the words that came to me when I was telling myself the story. My subconscious likes to communicate through (or hide its messages behind!) synonyms, puns, word games. Thus, a dream about "one deer" may really be about a "dear one." A dream about a bridge may be about "Brigid," a dream about business on the river "bank" may be about my finances. Then, I look carefully for Goddesses, Gods, archetypes, Tarot. That old housewife in the thatched house in Ireland may be Brigid. That cool Japanese woman with long hair, a younger lover, and a house full of fountains and gardens may be Kwan Yin. That African American woman with green skin in the doctor's office may be Green Tara. That swan that carries me and my six male concubines (swordsmen) to the cave may be, duh!, the Six of Swords.
Then, I often slip back into that not-quite-asleep-not-all-the-way-awake place and "re-enter" the dream. I then "dream" the outcome that I want. For example, a very common dream for me involves being somewhere and trying to get to somewhere else, running into one obstacle after another. (Lately, this has morphed. I'm on a cell phone trying to call someone and the contacts list won't come up, I can't get a signal, I can't find the number, I call but nothing happens, etc. I blame Apple, for making me switch from Verizon to AT&T.) When I wake up from one of those dreams, I go back to the, for example, train station, but, this time, I decide ahead of time that there will be an "Arrivals/Departures" board that gives accurate information. When it tells me to go to Gate 8 1/2, I go there, the gate is there, the right train pulls up (and this time, it looks like the Hogwarts train, damn it; it's my dream; I don't have to take Amtrak! and Younger Self works best with strong images), I get on and easily find a seat, enjoy some scenery, and arrive safely at my destination. Someone I love is there to greet me and help me with all of my baggage (double entendre intended).
Years of practice have yielded the result that I can now, sometimes, even before waking up, realize that "I'm having that dream again. I need to pull into the gas station that has a lovely lady working behind the counter, the one whose maps always show me exactly how to get where I need to go. I should throw the old Slim Jims at Coyote, Trickster, who's hanging by the door, to divert Her, and then run into the store." Then, when I wake up, all I have to do is go back, thank the cashier, pay her a bit extra, ask her to show up the next time that I need her, hide a pack of Slim Jims near the door for next time.
I had a variation on this dream the other night.
It was snowing (and, in real life, with my little car, I HATE to drive in snow). I generally avoid it at any cost, but, in this dream, it wasn't expected to snow, yet when I leave wherever I've been, there's snow on the ground. I get in my car and begin to drive home, but it's dark and I'm having more and more trouble even seeing the road. I try blowing hard on the window, but that only fogs things up, and now I have no idea where I am or how to get home. It's pitch black; I don't even know if I'm still on the road. I decide to pull over to what feels like the side of the road, get out my GPS, and plug it in. It will make a little light and will tell me where I am and how to get home. I do pull over and now I can see that I've pulled, at a bit of an angle, into someone's driveway. It's late February; there's no more snow. I pull out my GPS and by now I can see pretty well. It's a small house, poor but respectable neighborhood, with a window in the front of the house through which I can see a beefy guy watching tv in a recliner. I plug in the GPS, program it for home, and begin to back carefully out of the driveway.
It's at this point that the guy in the window looks out and sees me. He's enraged -- in a way that doesn't surprise me, that reminds me a bit of my father and a bit of most white men in general -- that I've dared to pull into his driveway. "Hey! You! Quit pulling in here and messing up our yard and our furniture!" he screams in rage, getting up and heading for the door so he can come outside. He's furious. I say, calmly, and somehow resignedly, "I'm not messing up anything. I'm just trying to get home. Calm down. Have a nice day." I begin to drive away, but he's following me, running after me, yelling and screaming and demanding that he has the right to question me. I feel horrible; this feels too familiar, that I'm trying to fix a problem and getting yelled at for it. My nice, calm response didn't soothe the savage beast; it didn't save me.
Next, I'm running from him, through a walled alley, between buildings, out into a crossroads. He catches up with me there, I turn to face him. Looking at him, I realize he's an old guy in a grey sweater, not quite the beefy, strong guy I was so scared of. I say, "Fine. What do you want?" This is a victory for him. Meanwhile, I'm looking around and realizing that we're near a small corner market, but more or less alone on the street.
At that point, I woke up, heart pounding, still terrified, really upset. It was one of those "I need to get somewhere" dreams, I was about to work out a solution, and unjustified, raw, male anger sidelined me.
So I told myself the story a few times, got up and splashed water on my face, grounded, did some deep breathing. I suddenly realized: I met this scary person at the crossroads. That's Hecate's ground. No way I'm not the stronger party in that location; my Patroness loves me and I KNOW this territory. I may have no idea where I am, but I am never lost where three roads meet. I'm at home. Then, I paid attention to the words. Blowing hard on the window just fogged things up. This guy is a blowhard, his anger and sense of entitlement fog things up, but I can use tools to achieve clarity. I know it may sound silly, but it was at this point that I began to really calm down.
In Kissing the Limitless, Thorn Coyle suggests a technique for dealing with our demons. Fairly sure this angry guy is one of my demons, I sat in bed, grounded, and called the Elements, my allies, my Goddesses, cast a circle as I've done thousands of times in my life. I cast a double triangle in front of the circle, bound around with words of security, protection, my own "entitlement," and I summoned the demon -- both in his terrifying, beefy form and in his "real" form, a grey old guy, standing in a ratty sweater near a corner market facing me and trying to keep his image as a scary guy --into the triangle. I said, "Well, it's three in the morning, you've awakened me from a deep sleep and you've fucked up my almost-successful attempt to get myself home in the middle of one of my 'can't get where I'm going dreams.' You must have a pretty important reason for being here, something pretty important to tell me. I'm listening."
We had a decent talk, although, like most demons, this one has trouble speaking clearly, is hesitant to tell what he knows, tries to hide or misdirect, and then grudgingly gives up what he knows while still trying to appear sly. In the end, he told me what I needed to know. Next, I asked him where all of his energy came from and all that I could get was that he believes that he is entitled to it. So I thanked him and told him, "I'm going to send you back to your recliner. I want you to sit there for as long as you need to figure out how you can help me instead of terrifying me. I'd like to use all of the energy bound up in you and my fear of you. I'm sure that you and I will speak again." He left, and then I opened his triangle, thanked the Goddesses, allies, Elements. I opened my circle, lay down, and slept like a baby for five more hours.
What I still can't figure out, though, is what that corner market is all about.
I'll just say this, and it will just piss everyone off, but I'm under a geis like Cassandra. For the millionth, predictable, partiarchially-determined time, people went for the cool, suddenly "likeable," younger, inexperienced guy over the mean old woman who'd paid the dues that they ( and by "they" I mean the patriarchy) always used to tell us ( and by "us," I mean women) that we had to pay to get the job.
I've seen this a million times in my career.
And the result is always the damn same.
And, so, since I'm in full "piss everyone off" mode, thanks so much to all of those young, "post-feminist" women who made fun of us old broads in our "boxy blazers" and voted for the "cool guy" sure that they, they, they were too special to need to work with "old" feminists.
Dude. I know that this is going to come as a shock to you, but . . .
For example, in an audio commentary I noted the blatant paganism at the 2006 games in Greece where the ancient gods were not so much depicted as curiosities of mankind’s religious history with the possibility of a few moral axioms derivable occasionally from these myths when approached as literature. Rather, adoration of these entities was approached as a viable system of belief around which humanity could draw ongoing sustain inspiration moving the world towards cultural unification.
. . . but worship of the ancient Gods and Goddesses IS a viable system of belief around [sic] which humanity can (and does) draw ongoing sustaine[ed] inspiration, moving the world towards, if not cultural unification, then peaceful coexistence.
Am I buggin' ya? I don't mean ta bug ya.
But, in the end, as is so often the case, it's really all about racism:
Though there are numerous jokes that could be made about these two, the important issue is the role guardian spirits and orcas that transform into white bears play in American Indian mythology and belief systems. From as much hoopla that is being made about so-called "native populations" of the Pacific Northwest, one would assume that not Whites lived there or at least ones that did not go around with their shoulders slouched and their heads hunched for simply being White. Since Whites pay taxes too and are less likely to be on the public dole, shouldn't they get some kind of honorable mention for contributing to the culture or at least the economy of the area?
Enjoy your long, slow, walk into extinction. Our grandchildren will no more understand your paranoia than they understand why doctors used to bleed sick people.
From Wikipedia: Bloomsday (Irish: Lá Bhloom) is a commemoration observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses, and 16 June was the date of Joyce's first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, when they walked to the Dublin village of Ringsend.
I love flowers I’d love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven there’s nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying there’s no God I wouldn’t give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why don’t they go and create something I often asked him atheists or whatever they call themselves go and wash the cobbles off themselves first then they go howling for the priest and they dying and why why because they’re afraid of hell on account of their bad conscience ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they don’t know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a woman’s body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldn’t answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didn’t know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the Jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharans and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
So only a few more precious days of longer and longer sunlight and then we reach the Solstice. At that point, will we or nill we, the days will begin to get shorter and the nights will begin to get longer and longer. After last Winter, I've especially treasured this Spring: warm days, the growing plants, the extra daylight hours to sit out on the porch and sip iced tea. Be nice to me, Summer. This ain't my first time at the rodeo.
The coming week, especially with the waxing Moon, seems like a great one to make an All-Out-Push. Go back to the goals you set at Samhein and take stock. Are you where you'd hoped to be? What could you accomplish if you gave it all you've got this week, between now and the Solstice? What if every single day this week you: did your daily practice, met your exercise goal, worked at getting your finances in order, were kinder to yourself [insert goal here]?
Yeah, of course, slow, steady, regular progress is how most things happen and it's what we all strive for. But in my world, at least, shit happens. A crunch at work means there's not time for much beyond working, sleeping, and the basics. A bad cold sends me to bed for days and, even when it's over, it takes a while to get my energy back. I get discouraged. And it's long been my experience that having a week (or even a day or an hour) devoted to the All-Out-Push is a great way to jumstart stalled goals, revitalize my practice, make enough progress to get me motivated to hang in there for the longer haul. Maybe you can't keep this pace up forever (or maybe you'll find out that, indeed, you can do a lot more than you thought you could do). But that's not the point. Just find out what it means to go all out on your promise to yourself.
What could you accomplish by the Summer Solstice if you devoted this week at an All-Out-Push?
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."