Everyone sits on the floor or in chairs, as comfortable and practical, and shares, as
appropriate, wit and wisdom, advice, etc., on the practicalities of menstruation, how to
of sanitary napkins, how to carry and deal with them at school and work, misconceptions and
fables concerning menstruation and what the facts are, importance of sexual responsibility and
possible risks, how to keep a cycle calendar, etc. Small gifts of red are given to the daughter at
this time, and every effort is made to encourage her to be open and frank about her menses,
developing womanhood, and her role as a woman in the community or household. Lots
of good, positive vibes and feedback from everyone!
1 Ritual words in quotes are taken from an article by De-Anna Alba about
- by Norhala
Born miles apart in time and place,
Yet borne of Mother same, by
blood and water, we entered this
Earthly plane as sisters.
Kindred souls, spirits twinned in the ethereal realm
Where all substance spins and twirls in never ending dance,
Glowing personalities, individual, eternal,
Awaiting the call to this sphere, these forms.
You first, to begin the learning, to take first ,
Steps along the path, gathering knowledge and light
As a honeybee gathers nectar from roses, delighting
In sweetness and promise, enduring thorns.
Not easy, those early lessons of this life,
This frame--but learning, you grew strong in heart,
Body, mind, vision--"Insatiable curiosity"
Led to knowledge, wisdom, understanding, compassion.
"Such a strange, different child," I heard them say,
And looking within, I knew the truth--the
Dull amusements and blind acceptance of those
Around me galled, pushing me to ever seek within, beyond.
Challenges, trials, opportunities to grow, to
Expand heart and soul and mind came also--while
Not easy, leaving as their mark greater empathy,
Capacity for love, a hunger for inner light.
We met--by chance, perhaps, or perhaps by design of
She who is all-wise, and like recognized like--
As kin long parted, so much to say, to share, to give--
Words and emotions trip over themselves in the flood.
So different--so much the same! Nneither fitting the expected
Mold, the assigned niche--strength, pride, independence
Prevents that servitude so oft demanded, often misunderstood
Even by those whom blood requires we should name 'sister.'
While our separate Paths, Traditions converge, diverge, move
Onward and upward, we feed and nurture and teach each other,
Our communities, finding in our roles dignity, fulfillment,
Easing frustration, sharing joy, sorrow, weight of responsibility.
So often I stand in awe, overwhelmed by your depth of knowledge,
Your commitment, your soul-deep caring for those in your charge--
I hunger, thirst for our sharing, realizing the magnitude of my
Own ignorance, longing to fill my own cup that I may succor others.
I treasure our friendship, and feel greatly blessed to have you
A part of my life. May we go on, Sister, and continue that which
Has been--which shall yet be--something very special!
Happy birthday, Pat, and may your every wish be realized!
The constellations to watch for from the late fall, through winter and into spring are
Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Monoceros, Gemini, Auriga, Pleiades and Lepa.
The easiest constellation to find is Orion. Orion is known as the handsome Roman hunter
that Artemis, the moon, was in love with. Her twin brother, Apollo, the sun, was jealous and
sent a very large scorpion to track Orion. Orion was no match for the scorpion and went into the
sea. Apollo tricked Artemis by telling her that the man down by the sea was the one who was
harassing one of her priestesses. Artemis, the great huntress, aimed her bow and killed Orion.
Her skill was legendary and she could aim with accuracy at great distances. When she realized
her error, she turned Orion into a constellation in the sky to be permanently chased by a
Orion is also known as Spider Woman by the Hopi Indians of North America, and the
belt of Orion is known as Frigg's Distaff by the Viking Norsemen. Hopi Indian mythology says
that Spider Woman was responsible for unraveling the moon when it wanes and then rewinding
the thread when the moon is waxing.
The brightest star just above the southern horizon is Sirius, which is part of the
constellation Canis Major. The next brightest star above that to your left looking south is
Procyon, which is a part of Canis Minor. Above that you will see two more bright stars which
make up Gemini. These are probably the easiest stars to see, unless you are way out in the
country where street lights and car lights are scarce! Then you just might make out each
constellation. Near a big city it is also very difficult to make out the knife on Orion's belt, but
usually the rest of the seven distinct stars are easy to see.
The stars in this southern section of the sky are really unique because they are also
colorful. Some see Sirius as bright blue instead of bright white. The stars of Orion's Betegeuse
are red, and Rigel is blue-white. Procyon of Canis Minor is yellow.
Last but not least are the Pleiades, known as the Seven Sisters or as the Muses. Get to
know and recognize especially Orion and Pleiades. Orion is seen in the night sky in the fall late
at night towards the East. As fall and winter come and turn into spring, the constellations move
through the southern sky from the East all the way to the West. We celebrate Beltaine in May,
and this is the last time the constellations of Pleiades and Orion will appear until late next fall.
The true day of Beltaine always fell on the last day that Pleiades could be seen, and marked an
important spoke of the Eight-Spoked Wheel of the year.
Brueton, Diana. Many Moons, The Myth and Magic, Fact and Fantasy of Our
Heavenly Body. 1991. Prentic Hall Press, New York, NY.
Krupp, E.C., Ph.D. Beyond The Blue Horizon: Myths and Legends of The Sun,
Moon, Stars, and Planets. 1991. Harper Collins Publishers, Now York, NY.
Pearce, Q.L. Stargazer's Guide To The Galaxy. 1991. Tom Doherty Assoc.,
Pennick, Nigel. Practical Magic in The Northern Tradition. 1989. The
Hammersmith, London, England.
Raymo, Chet. 365 Starry Nights. 1982. Simon and Schuster, New York,
by Muirghein uí Dhún Aonghasa (Linda
Rowan moon is a time to get grounded, to work on interpersonal and communication
skills, and to balance one's own energies. However, after all the rush of the holidays and the
hectic new beginnings of Birch, this can be difficult. Sometimes one just wants to withdraw into
oneself, much like the groundhog runs back into his hole when he sees his shadow on Groundhog
Day (which always falls in Rowan). The pressures of the real world can seem overwhelming,
and a person who is normally strong can begin to feel exhausted. Fortunately, there are Bach
Flower remedies for just these feelings: Clematis and Elm.
Clematis types show the following symptoms, in varying degrees: a vacant,
look; indifference; inattentiveness; preoccupation; dreaminess; and drowsiness. Clematis people
are absent-minded daydreamers, and live more in their thoughts than in their actions. "They lack
concentration because their interest in things of the present, and often in life itself, is but
half-hearted. They avoid difficulties or unpleasantness by allowing their attention to wander, and
withdrawing into a world or illusion and unreality."1 When they become ill, they
make little or
no effort to get well, because they have so little interest in life. It almost seems as if they would
not object to dying, although they would take no direct action towards this. Dr. Bach called this
state a polite form of suicide."2
The Clematis people prefer to run their own 'films' in their minds, rather than participate
in reality, to which they attach little importance. They have poor memories, because they just
don't care enough about what's going on or being said to remember it. They may even pass a
friend on the street with no recognition. A Clematis type may run to the kitchen, bump into the
door frame because of poor body orientation, and then be unable to remember what he wanted.
Usually Clematis folks are heavy sleepers, and may be very pale. They enjoy napping, and can
fall asleep almost anytime; while watching TV, in lectures, etc. Since they use up most of their
energy on the inner planes, there can be too little physical energy. A Clematis person will never
become violent, or show aggression or anxiety. "Good news is often received with the same
irritating indifference as ill-tidings."3
The Clematis state can occur in any of us whenever the mind is occupied with problems;
joys or worries can also draw our attention away from the present. Upon taking Clematis, one
will begin to have a lively interest in things. The mind will be under control, and one will be
able to bring imaginings to a physical reality. Clematis strengthens the bonds between the
physical body and the other levels.
Clematis (Clematis vitalba) flowers in the summer, and is prepared by with the
method. Gather flowers by their stalks from as many different plants as possible, and cover the
surface of the water with them4.
Elm is for those who at times feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of their
Sometimes one feels that his efforts are inadequate; this can cause feelings of despondency and
exhaustion. Elm types are very capable, efficient and intuitive, and often hold positions of great
importance and responsibility. They may be doctors, teachers, community leaders, or mothers.
Other people rely on them to make decisions, and they may be the only persons suited to a
particular job; even to the point of being indispensable. Elm people know that they are capable
of doing what is required of them, and they know they can do it well. Yet there may be times
when the magnitude of the responsibility makes them feel it is humanly impossible for one
person to accomplish it and they may feel they aren't up to the task. Sudden exhaustion, physical
and mental, can occur from an over-striving for perfection, and can cause a temporary loss of
Elm people sometimes forget that they are only human, with personal needs and physical
limitations. They may feel driven to shoulder up their responsibility, regardless of their personal
situation. "What he is forgetting is that everybody is in the first place responsible to himself, and
must first of all meet the demands of his soul, and only then the expectations others may have as
to his role."5
"The Elm Flower energy has aptly been termed 'psychological smelling salts.' Elm will
lend strength to the strong in moments of weakness. It will rouse them from their dream of
impotent inadequacy, making sure they have both feet on the ground of reality again. This will
provide clear vision again, to see problems in the proper proportions and be aware of one's
capabilities. One knows who one is again, and that one will cope again."6
Elm (Ulmus procera) flowers in February and April, and is prepared by the
method. Pick the twigs with the flower-clusters about 6" long, from as many trees as possible,
enough to fill the saucepan about 3/4 full7.
1 Chancellor, Dr. Philip M. Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies.
1971. Keats Publishing,
Inc., New Canaan, CT, pg. 76.
2 lbid, pg. 76.
3 Scheffer, Mechthild. Bach Flower Therapy - Theory and Practice.
1981. Munchen, West
Germany, pg. 73.
4 Weeks, Nora, and Bullen, Victor. The Bach Flower Remedies -
Illustrations and Preparation.
1964, C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd., London, England, pg. 40.
5 Scheffer, pg. 83.
6 lbid, pg. 83.
7 Weeks and Bullen, pg. 60.
by Muirghein uí Dhún Aonghasa (Linda
Ash moon is a time of movement, of reawakening after the cold winter months. The
Yang energies are just below the surface, waiting to burst forth with the Spring Equinox. These
energies can lead to tension within ourselves, causing us to feel restless and impatient, and even
to lash out at others when they don't do things our way. Ash energies can also fill us with
frenetic energy, at just the time when we need to be calm, to try to reach an inner stillness. There
are two Bach Flower Remedies which will help with these energies: Impatiens and Vervain.
Impatiens is for people who are quick in mind and action, who make instant
and who like to work alone because others' slowness may hold them back. They may finish
another's sentence, or even grab things from someone's hands if they aren't quick enough to suit
them. The Impatiens person may adapt to the slower pace of others, but this leads to frustration,
and also requires a great deal of energy, thereby causing constant mental tension. Impatiens
people are quick to anger, but just as quickly cool down. When they are in the position of
leaders or bosses, they are not always popular; those under them may feel they are being pushed
by a slave-driver. However, Impatiens people usually have no ambitions to lead, preferring to
work without outside interference; their independence is very important to them.
Impatiens people are accident prone; they may cross the street without looking at the
traffic, and get hit by a car, or run into things by not paying attention. They also tend to
carelessness when their temper flares up; slamming doors on their fingers, grabbing a hot skillet,
breaking a glass and cutting themselves. The mental tension of this state can also manifest in
physical symptoms; sudden cramps, indigestion, pain, or spasms.
The Impatiens person, in his excessive self-willedness and self-imposed limits, forgets
that everyone is a part of a great whole, and that we all depend on each other, even on those who
seem less capable. He also doesn't consider that anyone who is more capable should put their
greater gifts at the service of others, and help them in their own development. "Impatiens people
have to learn to do what is hardest for them: to hold back from active involvement, to let things
happen, to practice patience."1
In the positive state, Impatiens types have great empathy, gentleness, and sympathy
towards others. They understand the different natures of others, and are tactful in putting their
gifts, i.e., their quick minds, decision-making abilities, and intelligence, at the service of others.
Above all, they are patient and tolerant2.
Impatiens (Impatiens glandulifera) blooms in late summer, and grows on
river and canal
banks and. in low-lying , damp soil. Prepare Impatiens by the sun method, and use only the
mauve flowers. Pick each flower separately by its stalk from several different plants,
the palm of your hand with a large leaf first. Cover the surface of water in the bowl
Vervain is the remedy for extreme mental energy which show themselves in
stress and tension. Vervain types may force themselves by pure effort of will to do things that
are beyond their physical strength. They are tense and nervous inside and out and flare up with
anger when things don't progress as well as expected. When this happens, they may get more
involved than before in their work or project, and push themselves even more. They may force
themselves, by pure will, beyond their physical limits. They'll never allow themselves a free
minute throughout the day, and get only a few hours of sleep at night.4
This same tension and over-effort tends to make Vervain types fanatics, reformers,
converts, and martyrs for a cause, usually a positive one. They may be filled completely with an
idea, an inner flame, and be unable to rest until they've convinced everyone else around them of
it. Chairpersons of welfare, social and political organizations, who sacrifice their free time and
their energy to the 'good cause,' exemplify this type. They feel totally dedicated to their roles,
and try to win over everyone to their way of thinking, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. In
their eagerness they tend to overdo things, and bombard the other person with their arguments,
usually quite undiplomatically, without letting the other person have their own say.
Vervain folks live on their nerves, and are high-strung. Usually they are quick in their
speech and movement, and thin and wiry in body. Sometimes they are so keyed up that, even if
they wanted to, they wouldn't be able to relax. This nervous and muscle tension is seen in their
excess of physical energy; sometimes gripping a pencil so hard that it almost snaps, and
pounding up and down stairs quite loudly. They are not so accident-prone as Impatiens types,
but their mind may be ahead of their body, causing them to literally fall over
The person in the negative Vervain state, while filled with positive energy, has not
learned how to use this energy effectively and efficiently, but rather squanders it
indiscriminately. They need to spend some of their energy taking care of their physical selves.
They also must understand that they don't need to over-sell an idea, which will often turn people
away, but let the idea carry itself It is much more convincing if one embodies the idea, if one 'is'
the idea, rather than simply and constancy extolling it.
Upon taking Vervain, the person become calmer and wiser, and is able to know his own
mind. He realizes that others have a right to their opinions. The positive Vervain type has a fluid
mind, and is ready to listen to others, and even change his opinions when convinced of the need
to do so6.
Vervain (Verbena officinalis) flowers from July to September, and grows by
dry waste areas and sunny fields. Gather the flowering spikes above any fading or dead flowers;
choose the younger plants so there aren't too many unopened buds above the fully opened
flowers. Prepare by the sun method7.
1 Scheffer, Mechthild. Bach Flower Therapy - Theory and Practice.
1981. Munchen, West
Germany, pg. 112.
2 Chancellor, Dr. Philip M. Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies.
1971. Keats Publishing,
Inc., New Canaan, CT, pg. 122.
3 Weeks, Nora, and Bullen, Victor. The Bach Flower Remedies -
Illustrations and Preparation.
1964, C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd., London, England, pg. 34.
4 Scheffer, pg. 166.
5 Chancellor, pg. 191.
6 Chancellor, pg. 192.
7 Weeks and Bullen, pg. 38.
REFLECTIONS ON A LIFE'S
OR HOW I BECAME A PAGAN
Hi ya'll; Nion here. I thought I would share with you my perspective on how I became a
Pagan. Why, you may ask, would I want to do this? Well, my reasoning was that by putting my
spiritual meanderings on paper, I can better understand and internalize my own present path.
I, as many Pagans have done in the past, started out in the Judeo-Christian faith, being
brought up Roman Catholic. I even made altar boy for a while (ha!). My schooling was in
parochial schools until my high school freshman year, so having the Brothers and Nuns (who, by
the way, didn't believe in sparing the rod for infractions to authority) drum in the everpresent
catechisms along with the three R's was a daily occurrence.
But, about 4th grade and beyond, my religious utterances were really by rote with no true
belief behind them. I just didn't feel anything inside when I said my 'prayers' or thought about
'sin' as a good little Catholic boy should. In fact, when confession time (a Catholic rite to
become cleansed of willful sin) rolled around, the many many instances of juvenile
along with a little exaggerated story telling here and there made me well-acquainted with
spouting acts of forgiveness and endless rosaries for penance. BUT IT DIDN'T MEAN
ANYTHING to me. I just didn't feel or believe any of it, and since lightening didn't strike me
down or the earth open and swallow me up, I guess I spiritually evolved as an agnostic.
When I became 18, I graduated from high school, and within three months joined the
military to see the world. Uncle Sam gave me two years' paid vacation (which I couldn't even
take) in sunny, muggy, and grubby Vietnam, where I very quickly lost what little I had left of
religion and became thoroughly atheist. In my mind, there AIN'T NO GOD with all the blood,
gore, death, and man's inhumanity to people that I saw those two years, and to me, NO
all-mighty and ever-present deity could ever permit those or any other acts of violence and death
religion's name or a god's name, no matter what faith it was from.
Well, I survived the military and actually stayed in for 20 years. I retired older, and
probably not too much wiser, still muddling along life's pathways. In the 20 years of military
life and service here in the United States and many other countries, I have gone to other religious
services to see what everyone had to offer. But I never found a niche that I found comfortable or
Nonetheless, there has always been some void that needed to be filled with something,
Through the years, the closest I have come to peace was sitting on the Oceanside sand with the
waves lapping at me; or running naked in the foam of the sea; or sitting on a rock contemplating
the sunrise or sunset. Or listening to nature's constant chatter in a forest glade or a meadow, the
wind rustling in the leaves and branches, the insects' buzz and drone, the birds or squirrels at
play; or in observing the Southern Cross or the Milky Way on a crystal clear moonlit night. All
of those instances have drawn me to Mother Nature as an entity that I could relate to and that I
felt right with.
I guess I have always been a daydreamer, an avid science fiction nut, and a sword &
sorcery fan. (Robert Heinlien was, is, and ever shall be, my hero, whose writings of lifestyles
seemed to mirror how I wanted to live.) I always seemed to be somewhere else when I was
supposed to be doing chores or classwork. I'd be the first one to go if E.T.s wanted our species
for a goodwill exchange, or to live in space when it came time for everyone to be able to do so.
Over the last 5 to 10 years, I have been reading more and more of New Age philosophy, the
Occult, and other alternative lifestyles; and the writings of Raymond Buckland, Scott
Cunningham (in particular), Margot Adler, Silver Ravenwolf, Amber K., the Farrars, and
Starhawk have fascinated and appealed to me as a way of living and a way of relating to the
environment, to others, and most importantly, to myself
About 18 months ago, I was browsing through the local weekend flea market, and a
particular booth caught my eye. A young woman was selling pentagrams, ankhs, jewelry,
bumper stickers, and weird books. I stopped and became fascinated with her wares, and took
about 30-45 minutes working up the nerve to try and talk with her about my interest. (You must
understand that I am smack dab in the middle of Bible Belt country). She was amiable for
discussion, and in the course of conversation gave me a phone number for a more extroverted
and vocal Pagan who talked with me at length, and who eventually invited me to an ongoing
open circle where I saw first hand what a lunar celebration was all about. I loved it. After about
10 months of going every month, talking with the various participants of different traditions, I
decided that I wanted to be a part of it all. So, last June's rainy, muggy, steamy full Dryad moon,
in the woods, standing naked within a stone circle in front of an oak tree, I dedicated myself to
our Triple Goddess and Her Consort, in tile presence of the elders of the Church of Rhiannon
As I travel the path that I have chosen, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks and
appreciation for those who had patience and understanding, and who were always willing to talk
with me. I want to thank Shadowcat, Coll, Oak, Ailem, Raincrow, and all the others who helped
guide me on this new path. Blessed Be.
by Brighid MoonFire
Recently, I was accused of living in the 13th century. This was a statement that quite
puzzled me, and at the same time infuriated me. But to fully understand the situation, you must
first have a small history lesson.
Back in the days before my husband and I were married, he approached me with the
question of telling his siblings that I was a Witch. After much discussion, it was agreed upon
with certain conditions. The top priority was that neither set of parental units, both being
Catholic, would be told. The last thing we wanted was to be dragged out of our beds and be
exercised to expel the demons among us, or to lose a family member due to a serious heart
The problem began when one sibling told her spouse. While very much open-minded, he
does have the tendency to talk quite a bit, so we informed him of the need to keep quiet on this
issue. Months later, in a public restaurant, he blurted out to one of his friends that I am a Witch.
After hard kicks to his shinbone from the entire table, there was a long discussion of why I am
secretive about my religion.
Then, two weeks ago, my father-in-law watched a program about Witchcraft, its history
and how it fares in the 20th century. He remembered my very unusual wedding, put two and two
together, and asked ol' loudmouth if I was a Witch. Now while it was never my intention to
have someone point-blank lie, a little discretion here with an "I don't know," or "It's none of my
business," or a few other phrases here would have been better than "Uhm, yeah."
Well, I was told about this indiscretion, and needless to say, I was quite upset. This is
when I was accused of living in the 13th century and not standing behind what I believe in. After
all, if I am not ashamed of being a Witch, then why don't I just stand up and announce it to
Why? Because there is a very good chance I would lose my job. There is an even better chance
my husband would lose his job. I also live in an area where my house, my land, or my animals
could very well be harmed or destroyed. Why indeed. In many ways, people haven't changed
much in their ideas of prejudice and bigotry since the 13th century.
This leads me to the question of morals and ethics, and questions regarding the
fine-tuning of the Three-Fold Law. Now while most Witches rely on the Three-Fold Law that
basically, whatever you do, be it good or bad, will come back to you three-fold, I have always
understood it to include self-defense as the only exception ("Unless in self-defense it be, ever
mind the rule of three"). Granted, most of us would agree easily that if someone is trying to kill
you, of course, you're going to fight back and try to stay unharmed and alive. That would be
self-defense. On the other hand, does self-defense include you protecting your mate, your home,
land, or your animals from the same harm? Where exactly does it end? For some, the casual
tearing down of trees to put in, say, a new phone line is nothing, while some of us are out there
instructing the workers exactly where they can and cannot dig, so as not to cause harm to the
trees. Is this a type of defense? Some say yes, others no.
For many of us, secrecy is mandatory among much of the community. It has to be until
certain stereotypes change and a greater level of understanding and neighborly love has been
achieved by a greater number of people. The trick is we are the ones who will bring about that
change in people, but to many people we will blow that chance if they are met first with the
announcement "I am a Witch," instead of getting to know us and respect us. Then
reveal ourselves to them, they begin to question their own stereotypes. Many will change, yet
some will be too set in their own ways and refuse to. You must be ready for this denial and for
The best way to decide if it is right to tell someone is to ask yourself and ask for the
Mother's guidance. Search out how you really feel about this person. Take a completely
unbiased perspective of the person. Are they gossips? Do they feel they gain power by sharing
secrets? Are they respectful of others? Would you be willing to enter a Circle of Perfect Love
and Perfect Trust with this person? If this last answer is no, you might be better off not telling
One thing you must think out, though, is this: somewhere along the way you'll probably
tell someone you shouldn't have--are you ready to deal with those implications now?
For me, I have yet to discuss things with my father-in-law, mainly because we just can't seem to
get schedules cleared at the same time. My brother-in-law doesn't really want to talk to me
because I had to first take some time to calm down so I would be able to discuss things
rationally. Now it appears it's too late; he insists he did nothing wrong. And I learned that
whatever is told to my sister-in-law in the strictest confidence will be told to her husband. For
now, I will tread the waters of family conflict and turmoil, and work for protection for my
and those who live there.
WHERE HAS ALL THE WATER GONE?
Water: one of the four Elements, and the life, blood for almost every organism on our
Mother Earth. It's no wonder that we think of it as sacred. Most of us can turn on a tap and
experience the miracle of water on demand, but mankind's misuse of water is coming back to
haunt us all. I'm sure everyone is aware of the need to use our natural resources wisely, but few
are aware of the magnitude of the problem. 'Our Mother needs our help. Here are a few
The Colorado River, which carved the Grand Canyon, was once a mighty watercourse.
Its waters pour through the Rocky Mountains, and they once emptied into the Gulf of
California; however, they no longer make it that far. The Colorado now empties into
thousands of bathtubs, farms, and casino fountains across the West. What are the consequences
to our Mother Earth? Ask the Cucapá Indians. They were once known as the River
when the river still made it to them. Their once-rich land is now filled with garbage and
occasional swamps of filthy water. The tribe has only 85 families left1.
The Suwannee River in Florida is suffering from extreme pollution due to dairy cattle and
unsafe septic tanks. The pollution reached such high levels that oysters taken from the river
caused food poisoning, and the Food and Drug Administration was forced to shut down the
area's oyster trade2.
Florida has a lot of very unique qualities: one of them is its wetlands; another is its
rapidly growing population. The population of southern Florida grows by about 1,000 people
per day. Each of these 1,000 people use about 200 gallons of fresh water daily. This means that
the state of Florida has to find 200,000 more gallons of water per day. Staggering, isn't it? In
some areas of Florida, residents can receive a $45 ticket for illegally watering their lawns, but the
demand for water is not the only problem facing Florida's waters. Another is the massive
amount of pollution, much of which stems from agriculture. There is runoff from fertilizers and
insecticides, as well as waste from the dairy cattle industry. Lake Okeechobee is the recipient of
waste from about 45,000 cows, each of which produce the same amount of waste as that
produced by 22 humans. Lake Okeechobee is contaminated by about 1 1/2 tons of phosphorus
each day from cattle and other sources.
Another of Florida's water problems is that its natural cycle of water has been almost
completely rerouted by technology. Around 1900 the Everglades covered almost every bit of
land south of Lake Okeechobee. More than 60% of these wetlands have now disappeared. The
reason? Man wanted to tame the swamp and make it livable. Around the turn of the century,
Florida's governor, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, promised to drain the Everglades. People
didn't think of things the way that we do now--his promise to drain the Everglades probably
helped his political standing. Unfortunately, it was one of those rare political promises that
actually got fulfilled. Using canals, dams, dikes, and other technology, southern Florida's
wetlands became farmland and cities, and much of the native flora and fauna became
endangered. It seems beyond solution now3.
The war in the Persian Gulf was more a war against Mother Earth than a war between
people. When it was over, about 600 square miles of the sea was covered with the largest oil
spill in history. The spill covered about 300 miles of coastline. About 6,000,000 barrels of crude
oil were deliberately spilled, but what most people don't know is that before the war, about a
quarter of a million barrels of oil were spilled into the Gulf each year. Beaches there are paved
for miles by "tar mat," a crust of previously spilled oil and sand which forms a sort of pavement,
so hard that one can actually drive on it!4
In the former Soviet Union, there is a lake known as the Aral Sea. It was once almost as
large as America's Lake Superior. Between 1973 and 1989, the Aral Sea dropped from the
fourth largest enclosed body of water in the world, to the sixth largest in the world, losing the
equivalent of 1 1/2 times the volume of Lake Erie. By the year 2000, it will have shrunk to
two-thirds its current size. In the vast areas that were once a part of the Aral Sea's lakebed, all
remains are immense salt wastes. In towns that were once on its shoreline, one can see boats
sitting in a sea of dry salt that extends as far as the eye can see. The water that is left is much too
high in salt content to support much life, and every one of the Aral's 24 native fish species is
gone. The people in the villages speak of the times before the water went away, and now that it,
along with the fishing that came with it, are gone, the people are poor and hungry. The land is
plagued by storms of salt, similar to dust storms, that bring with them throat cancer, malnutrition,
and a host of other maladies. Why did all of this happen to the Aral Sea? So that the USSR
could become self-sufficient in cotton production. The two rivers that fed the Aral Sea were
drained to water cotton fields in the name of self-sufficiency and export
The former USSR was guilty of much more than just the draining of the Aral Sea. In the
race for power, the Soviet government pushed technology to its limits while ignoring the
consequences to our Mother Earth. The total damage may never be known, but we now know
some of the things that were done behind the Iron Curtain. A small bomb's worth of
radioactivity was knowingly dumped into a river that supplied many peasants with water. There
was wholesale dumping of nuclear waste into the sea. In order to build underground gas
reservoirs, the Soviet Union detonated 15 atomic devices underground; some were detonated
near villages. "The Soviet Union pulled the nuclear trigger 116 times for peaceful purposes such
as mines and canals."6 The Kola Bay is the earth's most nuclear region. In this
Arctic region, 14
reactors were dumped, one disabled nuclear sub sank, and 17 other vessels which were
contaminated were sunk. According to Norwegian scientists, the food chain in the Arctic Ocean
may be radiation-contaminated. The Earth will not recover from its bout with the Soviet Union
for many generations, if ever. In the former Soviet Union, a clean glass of water is not easy
While we as individuals cannot remove the radioactive waste from the Arctic Ocean, or
refill the Aral Sea, we still need to be aware of the damage that has been done to our Mother. All
we can do is learn from these examples so that we can see what is going on around us, and unlike
the Soviet peasants, who were misled by the propaganda of a government that they were forced
to trust, we can fight to keep our planet healthy.
There are also things that you can do on a smaller scale to help. Do you know where the
water in your tap comes from? Are you draining a river when you leave the garden hose on?
Are you contaminating your local water table when you pour out that extra flea dip? Does your
septic tank meet safety standards? Are you doing what you can? Our Mother provides us with
everything that we need to thrive. Do not take more than she can give.
1 "Water and the West, The Colorado, a River Run Dry" by Jim Carrier.
Geographic; June 1991; Volume 179, No 6.
2 "Blackwater Country" by Richard Conniff. National Geographic; April 1992;
Volume 181, No
3 "Florida Watershed" by Nicole Duplaix. National Geographic; July 1990;
Volume 178, No 1.
4 "The Persian Gulf, After The Storm" by Thomas Y. Canby. National
1991; Volume 180, No 2.
5 "A Soviet Sea Lies Dying" by William S. Ellis. National Geographic; February
177, No 2.
6 "Pollution in the Former USSR" by Mike Edwards. National Geographic;
Volume 186, No 2; pg. 81.
THE EIGHT-SPOKED WHEEL OF
by Muirghein uí Dhún Aonghasa (Linda
The Eight-Spoked Wheel of the Year consists of the eight sabbats which modem witches
celebrate. The Equinoxes and Solstices, while the most well-known to the general population,
are actually the minor sabbats. The Cross-Quarter days are the major sabbats, and are halfway
between the Equinoxes and Solstices; on February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1. Thus
there are approximately 90 days from one Cross-Quarter to another (i.e., February I to May 1),
and roughly 45 days in between a Cross-Quarter and an Equinox or Solstice (i.e., June 21,
Summer Solstice, to August 1, Lammas).
The Cross-Quarter days are traditionally celebrated on the Ist of the month; they do have
astronomical dates, however. On a calendar, find the preceding Solstice (or Equinox), count the
days to the next Equinox (or Solstice), and divide by half. That day, usually the 45th or 46th, is
the actual astronomical date of the Cross-Quarter.
Much mythological and esoteric lore is attached to the sabbats. In the Faerie Faith
tradition, and according to Robert Graves1, the two halves of the year are ruled
alternately by the
Holly King and the Oak King. The Oak King is born, or begins his rule, on the Winter Solstice,
and rules till the Summer Solstice, when he is killed by his rival and tanist, the Holly King. The
Holly King then rules the dark half of the year, June-December, till his subsequent death at the
Winter Solstice, either by the hands of the Oak King, or just of old age.
The Oak King, whose colors are green and gold, corresponds to the Christian savior,
Jesus, who is also born at the Winter Solstice. He is the Sun King, the one who brings the light.
He rules the green and growing things, and his peak of power is at the apex of the sun at Summer
The Holly King, whose colors are red and gold, is the Oak King's tanist, or other self He
is the Set to Osiris, the Apollo to Adonis, the Judas to Jesus. Unable to integrate with his twin,
he kills him, and takes his place for half the year. He rules the dying, sleeping half of the year,
and his death, or transformation into the Sun King, occurs at the time of his greatest strength, the
Winter Solstice, when the light is the weakest.
The year is also divided along another line, from Spring Equinox to Fall Equinox (see
diagram). The time from September 21 to March 21 is the Yin half of the year, while the time
between March 21 and September 21 is the Yang half. At the Equinoxes, the light is equal;
therefore the energy is equal, too. The Winter Solstice, being the time of least light, is the peak
of the Yin, female energy; the male, Yang energy peaks at the Summer Solstice when the days
are longest. You may notice this change in energy in yourself. do you feel like hibernating in the
winter, when all is cold and dark, maybe curling up with a good book or watching movies?
Come the spring and summer months, however, you may feel more like going outside,
swimming, hiking, camping, being more sociable and extroverted, and less like pursuing
While the Equinoxes mark the time of equal energy and light, we don't actually feel the
shift from Yin to Yang (or Yang to Yin) till May I and November 1. This is because of the
phenomenon of the 45-day lag. Although December 21 is the shortest day of the year, the
coldest part of winter isn't until February, 45 days later. Likewise, although September 21 is the
time of equal Yin and Yang, the energies are manifested 45 days later on November 1, Samhain,
when, mythologically speaking, the 'gates to the underworld' are opened.
The opening of the gates to the underworld refer to the beginning the Yin energies, when
the energies 'descend into the earth.' Six months later, on May 1, Beltane, the gates of the
underworld are closed, and the energies return to the aboveworld, as symbolized by the May
Pole. Basically, although the energies actually shift from Yang to Yin on September 21, the Fall
Equinox, and from Yin to Yang on March 21, the Spring Equinox, we don't perceive this shift,
termed the 'opening' or 'closing' of the gates of the underworld, until the Cross-Quarter days,
November 1 and May 1, 45 days later.
The SabbatsThe year, as marked by the sun, begins at the Midwinter Solstice, or Yule, on December
21. The light grows, the days start getting longer. The Holly King is sacrificed, and the Sun
King, or the Oak King, is born, and begins his rule of the light half of the year. This sabbat
corresponds to Christmas.
The first Cross-Quarter day is Candlemas, on February 1. This is also known as Brigit's
Day, or Imbolc. Although the days are longer now, this is the coldest time of the year. This is
also lambing time for sheep. Corresponds to Ground Hog Day.
Spring (Vernal) Equinox, March 21, is also known as Ostara. Equinox means 'equal';
equal light and dark. The energies of the year are now equal also; an egg can be balanced on its
end. When the Gates to the Underworld are actually closed. Corresponds with Easter.
Beltane, or May Day, May 1, was anciently known as Walpurgis. This second
Cross-Quarter day is the day when the Gates to the Underworld are perceived as being closed,
Yang half of the year begins. This was a major festival of the Celts, second only to Samhain.
The midpoint of the year is the Midsummer Solstice, or Litha, on June 21. This is the
peak of power of the light; now the days begin getting shorter. The Oak King is sacrificed; the
Holly King begins his rule of the dark half of the year. Corresponds to St. John's Day.
Lammas, August 1, is also called Lugnassad. A late-comer in the Celtic calendar,
Lugnassad is named for the sun-god Lugh. Being an agricultural festival, it is the time of the
harvest. It is also the hottest time of the year. Corresponds to many harvest festivals, including
Michaelmas, before it was moved to September.
Fall Equinox, September 21, is also known as Mabon. The energies of the year are again
equal-an egg can be balanced on its end. When the Gates to the Underworld are actually
The most important festival of the Celts was Samhain, celebrated on November 1. It was
commonly known as the Vigil of Samhain, and lasted 48 hours from October 31 (All Hallow's
Eve) through November 1 (All Saint's Day). When the Gates are perceived as being opened, and
the Yin half of the year begins. The Celtic (and witches') New Year. Corresponds to
1 Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. 1948. The Noonday Press,
New York, NY.
BUBBLES FROM THE
BOOK REVIEWS, ETC.
The Witches' Hammer, a novel by Jane Stanton Hitchcock. 1994. Penguin Books,
York, NY. Hardcover, $21.95."The Malleus Maleficarum was published in 1485, accompanied by a papal bull
Innocent VIII, sanctifying it with supreme Church authority. It was the law of the land in both
Catholic and Protestant Christendom for over two hundred years." (From The Witches'
- Reviewed by Stormy
The main character is Beatrice O'Connell, a divorcee, suffering from a lack of self-esteem
in the beginning of the book and recovering from the effects of betrayal by her ex-husband in
their past relationship. Through a series of events and encounters she emerges as a completely
modem feminist. She also realizes the true meaning of the Malleus Maleficarum. and
thinking still exists today. This is a fictional mystery piece which I highly recommend.
According to the author, "All women are witches!" I really enjoyed reading this book and could
not put it down until I finished.
Talk to Your Plants, by Jerry Baker. 1973. Pocket Books, New York, NY.
Softeover, $4.95.When I first saw this book's title, I figured it was a new-agey type book on gardening;
talking to your plants, helping them grow better, infusing them with good vibes, etc. Instead, I
found a wonderful little book on plants, of all sorts. This book covers vegetable
growing fruit, nut and shade trees, what type of grass to plant in your yard, edible weeds, herbs,
berries; in short, everything you could want to know about growing anything. A very practical,
readable book for anybody who loves the outdoors.
- Reviewed by Muirghein