This one’s for the Girls….

Hey Ladies,

You all know who you are and how dear your are to me and how much I love you.  You have been my friends and confidants and co-conspirators over the years.  Dear dear adopted Sister of my queer heart and soul.  So when I was surfing the net today and found this post about the Krewe of Muses at the StregaNola blog, I thought of all of you.

So this year, remember to raise a glass in Toast to the Ladies of the Krewe of Muses, and perhaps pour a Libation to the Muses that inspire us all

And heck, who knows, We may have to get ourselves together on a Pilgrimage to watch this particular festival someday…



And let us neither neglect the Heathens on the list of sisters… nor fail to revel in our warped senses of humor, cause we don’t want to get so weepy or sentimental that we fail to remember that we both can rock and, when the situation demands, kick butt!

(I know, I know, not the rockinest hardest driving version out there, but I first heard it live, and much more rocking/hard-driving from Heart a couple of years ago…and this was the best audio quality with the all important first lyric in their version…)

PS- there is some excellent blogging going on over at the StregaNola blog, check them out!!

Rekindling my Sacred Fires

As the annual Brighid Poetry Slam messages out there have probably already high-lighted for us, Imbolc-tide is upon us once more.  Depending on your individual faith or path as a Pagan, Imbolc or Oimelc can mean many different things.  Those meanings also change depending on matters of where you live and whether you celebrate as a Solitary Pagan or in a Group, and whether your Faith or Path even observes Imbolc or if it’s one of those Holidays that you sometimes go out to a community event for, simply for the Pagan fellowship, or to humor a friend; but for me it has come to be The Festival of Rekindling…

Growing up, and becoming a Witch, in Anchorage,Alaska early February was that time of year where you really started to see and appreciate the returning of the daylight.  In late February/Early March you also had the excitement of the approaching Fur Rendezvous, an annual Winter Carnival held in Anchorage.   So for the longest time Imbolc was a celebration of the returning light and of the first stirrings of the return of light and life and activity after the mad rush of celebrating the Beloved Living at Yule.

The last few years, though, I have had trouble figuring out what Imboc means to me.

Living in Florida the returning of the light is much less a dramatic or sought after turning of the Wheel, and it’s kind of difficult to get into its associations as celebrating the first signs/stirrings of spring when the citrus harvest is finishing up and the Strawberry harvest is on its way… part of my ongoing journey as I seek to truly understand this strange new sub-tropical world of mine.

Imbolc meaning “In the Belly”; Oimelc meaning “ewe’s milk.  Birth, beginnings, creativity, and renewal… those begin to feel closer to the truth of this Sabbat for me.   Though I don’t have much,  except that of a 1/4 Irish lineage, of a relationship with Brigid whose festival Imbolc is widely honored as, She is the Goddess of Sacred Fires and Sacred Springs.  Smithcraft, Arts and Crafts, Poetry, Spirituality, and Healing, Nurturing, Hearthcraft.

These feel, in that deep part of my soul that is touched by the sacred, like the right track…

So before I went to bed this morning (one of the many hazards of an overnight job…) I turned off the computer and the phone, I lit a stick of incense and before I blew out the flame used that stick to light a candle.  I sat holding the candle-glass cupped gently in my hands and meditated a bit.  I sought, not silence really, but clarity.  I let my mind wander over the last few days…

I thought about the New member’s potluck at First Unitarian, how enjoyable it was even though I am clumsy at best at social mixers with large groups of people.  I thought about meeting my sponsor/mentor Mary and talking with here about things around church.  My mind turned to the words of the Chalice lighting  we use at our U.U. Church

“In the Light of Truth,

In the Warmth of Love,

We gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.”

(and for those of you who are thinking “isn’t the Chalice a tool of water?!” Yes, it is, but there’s more than one way to wield a symbol and a tool!   Here is a link about the Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist flaming Chalice)

My mind also thought about how very, very much I enjoyed cooking my variation of Mom’s Classic Greenbeans (a Stewart family Holiday classic!)  for the Potluck; and how eager I was to volunteer to help my mentor Mary by volunteering to put together a Jambalaya for the New Orleans themed coffee hour…

I really do love to cook and it feels good to be able to use the skills and knowledge of years of work and study, and my recent schooling, in a productive way.  I actually see a lot of my future work in Community Building in the Pagan Community as a way to take those experiences and skills and offer them in Service to others… fundraisers and social events of all sorts!

I am really a hearth-Witch at heart I think, not necessarily limited to my own home; more that I am deeply drawn to and my gifts seem to lay in matters of Hearth and Community building.

Thoughts of the Hearth transition my thoughts from my Witchcraft to my Hellenic Polytheism and naturyally bring to mind Hestia.  She who IS the Hearth, and the Hearth Fire, the Sacred light giving, nurturuing, nourishing fire in our homes and lives.  Given this long present, but not entirely acknowledged or understood grounding I have in matters of the Hearth,  I need to find a way to honor Her especially as I seek to Honor the Theoi Ktesioi, the Gods of the Home,  in the coming year on the Noumenia and in my life.

THE THEOI KTESIOI were the gods of house and home. They were led by Zeus protector of the home (Ctesius) and of the family courtyard (Hicesius) along with Hestia, the goddess of the hearth. Hecate and Hermes were also important household gods who protected the gates and entranceways. -from an entry at

Chronologically, my thoughts carried me to the next day and back to thoughts of Witchcraft.   Waking up early at 3pm and performing my first, full and formal Witches Circle in…. well, in ages.  I remember how wonderful it felt to finally and formally welcome them into my live and works and to share with the Guardians of the Watchtowers in the Blessings of the Lady and Lord.  I had not realized how much I missed the immediacy and intimacy of my connection and communion with Them in a full Circle.

Then after Circle there was the mad rush of shopping for and prepping the ingredients for the Jambalaya, then work from 11pm-7am, then rushing home to actually cook the blessed dish, then off to Church to help with the coffee hour and to act as a Greeter.

My thoughts ranged over how much I am enjoying being involved in a community once more, and how eager I am to use my talents, experience, and education in service to that community.  Not only First Unitarian, but also the Mystic Grove, which is the Pagan/Heathen Affinity Group at the Church.  I am in that tricky stage of getting involved, but trying to not over commit myself or over extend myself… very tough to do for me, and from some of the conversations I’ve had with others at the Church I would guess U.U.’s in general.  This congregation, at least, seems to have a lot of that ‘somebody should do something about this’ energy that is so familiar to me…

I had to laugh to myself when someone described a Unitarian Universalist congregation like “herding cats”, how many times had I heard that phrase used to describe Pagan community… many!

I also, oddly enough, thought of the new involvement I have with a table-top role-playing group, getting my geek on and making new friends and reveling in the creativity and imagination of this cherished and long neglected hobby….

So for me the Festival of Rekindling is a time renew and recommit to those things that nurture the self and nurture and reconnect us to the wider world.  To take pleasure in our creativity, to explore and contemplate our new beginnings or what we might begin as the Wheel turns.  To celebrate the return to life and activity after the period of rest after the Winter Holidays.

As I breathed in my meditations by the light of that candle’s flame, focusing ever so slightly on the out-breath, I imagined breathing onto a charcoal or onto kindling, nurturing the fire with my breath to bring it to fullness and life…

Then after some Still and Sillent meditation, I blew out the candle, and welcomed the light of dawn.

“we extinguish the flame,

But not the light of truth,

The warmth of community,

Or the fire of commitment,

These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.”

May your Hearth and Home be blessed,

May you have food and clothing to warm your body,

May you have good friends to share your blessings with to warm your heart and soul,

May you find beauty and inspiration and creativity in your journey,

Blessed be!

And, as always,



Hekate and Hellenic Polytheism on the New Moon

Dear Friends and Pagani,

Tonight it begins…

I have made to myself a promise to deeply engage my spirituality & spiritual practice, and my religious practices, this year.  As I walk many religious roads this is a challenge, but tonight I begin to re-engage with Hekate, and really engage for the first time in a focused Hellenic rite for Her… a couple of days from now I will be engaging in my first formal Noumenia observance…

To start here’s a video to help me get into the mood…

This is the music that I will be listening to after I shower, shave and lay out some nice clothes… from the interesting band Daemonia Nymphe, a Greek band that uses ancient instruments and sticks to largely ancient and Hellenic Pagan themes…(info on their myspace and lastFM pages…)

I will post updates to this post tomorrow a little bit later, with more details.

… a little bit later!

So I started by shaving and cleaning up and changing into some clean, nice clothes. I had set up a candle, an incense stick (lavender) and holder, a length of rope braided into a rough flail, and my Athame, onto an small wooden chest with a purple cloth over it… although I need to get some good saffron yellow cloth since that color is associated with Hekate.

Now the fact that I include my Athame (a ritual dagger from Contemporary Religious Witchcraft) in a ritual to Hekate is going to cause some Hellenic Polytheists some wariness, or sneering condescension from the more fundamentalist minded.

In my researches I have found Daggers and Flails listed as items symbolic or associated with Hekate (I have yet to find any truly evocative Keys, which are also associated with Her) and using my Athame is both practical and symbolic.   First off, I just don’t have a huge supply of daggers to chose from and my Athame, in my case an all metal kris-style dagger with a dragon shaped handle is what I have on hand; of course the fact that it is not only symbolic of my will and identity as a Witch helps.  One of the most famous Witches and worshipers of Hekate (if not a very good model of healthy relationships or evenness of temper) in ancient literature is Medea; who is also associated with dragons.  Then too the Athame is used to draw a Circle, to make boundaries, so it partakes of some of the same limnality that The Night Wandering Maiden does.   All of these speak deeply to that core part of the soul that must be engaged for successful religious ritual.   So for me, when I am honoring Hekate, this bit of cross-over will work, at least for now… She hasn’t made any objections if She does, or the Lady and Lord do, I will find some other way.

Anyway, I set the altar up, cleaned up while maintaining silence, preparing myself to make an Offering to Her.  I lit a candle and listened to the music from the above video.  Then while the music was playing I turned off the screen and simply listened for a bit.  Once the music stopped I set myself before the altar and raised my arms in the Orens Position, as was done in prayers in the Ancient world; and, reading from a placard I have made I spoke the words of the Orphic Hymn to Hekate and lit the incense in offering to Her.  I then read my own invocation/hymn to Her in offering.

I thanked Her for her Guidance and Presence and Blessings in my life as I sought to honor the Theoi and understand and seek the Mysteries.  I asked for her guidance in how to approach the upcoming Noumenia and the worship of the Theoi and Spirits.

At this point I had the strong impression that I should get some barley to scatter for the next time I approach any of the Theoi in sacrifice; I also got the sense that She would urge me to wait a while, and study some more of the right practice and of the Gods of the Noumenia, and the Theoi in general, before engaging in that ritual.

I blew out the candle, and simply sat in darkness and silence for a while.  I ended my time with Her by simply saying “Thank You.” with my arms in the Orens position once more.   Then I left the room by backing out of it to give Her some privacy to enjoy the incense offered unto Her.

I will be reading more of my just recently received copy of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored and Greek Religion, and doing some more study online.  I will also be lighting a stick of incense in memory and honor of the Theoi on the Noumenia rather than the more formal observance I had been contemplating.

That’s all on the topic for now,



New Moon, Noumenia, and Me.

Dear Friends and Pagani,

A stick of incense burns upon my altar.  An offering unto the Theoi on the Noumenia.

In ancient times the Noumenia honored Selene, Apollon Noumenios, and The  Household Gods; including Hestia, Zeus, Hermes, Hecate, Appolon Ageieus, the familial Agathos Diamons, and ones honored Ancestors.   Many contemporary Hellenic Polytheists will take this time to honor and make offerings to all of the Theoi.

Technically I am three days late, as the first sliver of the waxing moon, which the ancients considered the New Moon and the start of the new month; however it was on a walk earlier this evening that I caught my first sight of the moon since the astrological New Moon.  It helps that I am being inspired by recent discussion of how to handle food offerings on the Neos Alexandria ~ discussion group on Yahoo.

The basic discussion was that once food has been offered to the Gods, it becomes blessed as They partake of its essence, and then the worshiper may eat the food offered to the Gods.   (the general feel, based on UPG and some historical sources, is that food offered to the Dead is better left out in the woods or perhaps burnt)  Because of my current financial status I have to rely on discussion groups and online sources of information about my worship of the Theoi.  Although admitedly almost 40 years of being a history geek have certainly helped to inform my online research… and I am finding a little money here and there to start buying books to increase my knowledge and understanding.

And still I practice.  I pray to Them, I make offerings of incense, and now apples, and water… maybe some juice or wine….  Practice, practice, practice… Pray, sit in meditation, breathe into my Center, going for walks, writing out my thoughts and feelings and doing my best to become the best me I can be; both for myself and for the Gods.

“Every day, in some small way, I reweave myself, I rebuild myself.”

I am not only dealing with the recent break-up of my increasingly mis-named Life Partnership with the Big Guy; I am dealing with all of the old patterns and hurts that I have acknowledged for years but never really wrestled with, everthing that came roiling to the surface after the break-up.

I am doing it though!  I am finding my way.   I am learning who I am and what is important to me.  I am building my spiritual and religious practices and figuring out how to work within and build upon my relationships with the Theoi, and with the Lady and Lord of the Witches, and the other Gods who I encounter and have encountered in my journey.

I am learning how to budget, and how to eat properly, and how to date and laugh and live and love; both again and for the first time.

For all of these blessings, and all of the blessings in my life, I thank the Gods.  I offer my words and sweet smelling incense unto Them.



The Fire & The Chalice

So at the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, our services start and end with the lighting and extinguishing of the Flaming Chalice

In the light of truth, and in the warmth of love, we gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.


We extinguish this flame, but not the light of truth, the warmth of community, or the fire of commitment.  These we keep in our hearts until we are together again.

I find something powerful and moving and evocative within this simple act of gathering together with others in celebration and observance and sharing our religious and spiritual seeking.

The Mystic Grove, the Pagan group at F.U.C.O., has a round-robin/volunteer approach to ritual leadership.  Our Lammas was a Khemetic (Egyptian Polytheist) ritual.  I’m not sure how much was Ancient Egyptian ritual structure and how much was Neo-Pagan.  There were definitely elements of the ritual that were reminiscent of the Neo-Pagan/Witchcraft ritual structure that I am so familiar with…. (note to self research Egyptian rituals!)

Anyhow, it was a wonderful ritual (and evening), it has just gotten me thinking.  The experience of that ritual has me contemplating Witchcraft and Hellenic Polytheistic riutals in a U.U. Context.  It seems to me that it is important, if one is to craft a ritual as a Pagan U.U., to integrate elements from both traditions into ones ritual.  It is also important to be able to clearly identify what element of ritual comes from where…

It was in reading up on Hellenic Polytheism and ritual and the Noumenia, that I started really examining Hestia’s place in things, and this has started me thinking about the nature of Sacred fires and fire as a spiritual and philosophical and religious metaphor… bear with me….

“HESTIA was the virgin goddess of the hearth (both private and municipal) and the home. As the goddess of the family hearth she also presided over the cooking of bread and the preparation of the family meal. Hestia was also the goddess of the sacrificial flame and received a share of every sacrifice to the gods. The cooking of the communal feast of sacrificial meat was naturally a part of her domain.” ~ from Her entry at

You can also read of Her here, here, here, and here…

If you read of Hestia, you learn She is known as The First and Last, and that rituals include offerings unto Her before and at the end of the other offerings.  Many sources will tell us that this relates to how Hestia was the Firstborn of Cronus and Rhea, and the Last of the Gods and Goddesses vomited forth before he is dethroned by Zeus.

I think it goes deeper…

The altar fires at the Temples of the God’s, upon which Their offerings were made, were kindled from the municipal hearth; which by the nature of the hearth in ancient Greek society was an sacred place for Hestia.  It’s not just that Hestia is the Goddess of the Hearth and the Altar, She IS the fire, the sacred, mysterious, life giving and light bringing fire!  She was honored with the first and last offerings in Sacrifices.  For it was only through HER, and Her presence AS fire, that proper offerings could be made!

She isn’t just the fire that cooks, She is the Fire that lights the world, the light of which we learn to read, the fires of inspiration…..She is, and partakes of, all the things that Fire is and can be…

In U.U. (at least at F.U.C.O) and in Hellenic Polytheism we begin and end with fire.  Remembering, Rekindling, and committing to Remember the essentials…

Pagan Values: Xenia, Xenos, and The Theoxenia

Hospitality, Friendly-Strangers, and Honoring the Divine

So having made a place in my life and heart for Dionysus, and having recently graduated with an A.S. degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Management, one of the things that has caught my eye about The Bull Roarer is his place as one of the Theoi Daitioi, or the Gods of Feasting.  Out of this fact, I have as a part of my budding Hellenic Polytheistic studies, and as a personal way of honoring Him, been learning about foods and feasting in a cultural and social and religious context in ancient and modern Greece.  This has also led me into research for a long term project for a written piece about food and wine and their use in Pagan events and rituals in feasting and offerings.  Which is how I learned of Theoxenia.

Theoxenia is a ritual feast honoring a God, or Gods, in Hellenic Polytheism.  The basic outline of this ritual ~ which differed from the feasting related to the more usual  sacrificial rights (Note: for most contemporary Hellenic Polytheists, being raised as city or suburban kids, modern sacrifices are in the nature of prepared food being burnt and offered.) ~ of having a feast with a place at the table (or in the Hellenic mode a dining couch reserved for) a God or perhaps several God; this has been adopted and adapted by contemporary Pagans in a number of ways, both for honoring the Gods and for Honoring the Beloved Dead for those that observe Samhain.

Theoxenia is the act of hosting or showing a God or the Gods hospitality or Xenia, which is the Greek concept of hospitality.  This attitude of treating the Gods like honored guests, is actually one that I first saw fully articulated in Deborah Lipp’s The Elements of Ritual…, where she makes extensive (and fabulous) use of the Honored Guests Metaphor.  That in a Wiccan Circle Witches should treat the Gods, and Spirits, called upon like honored guests… seems rather simple doesn’t it? 

I think that the same holds true for other forms of Paganism, and that this developing of a relationship with the Gods, however we concieve of Them, is a practice common to many forms of Paganism.  It certainly seems to be so in my experiences with Gods, and in what I have read of others expereinces of the Divinities.

Earlier I said that Theoxenia is showing the gods hospitality or xenia, Xenia is the greek word/concept for hospitality.

“Xenia consists of three basic rules: The respect from host to guest, the respect from guest to host, and the parting gift (xenion, ξεινήιον) from host to guest. The host must be hospitable to the guest and provide them with food and drink and a bath, if required. It is not polite to ask questions until the guest has stated their needs. The guest must be courteous to their host and not be a burden. The parting gift is to show the host’s honor at receiving the guest. This was especially important in the ancient times when people thought gods mingled amongst them. If you had played host to a deity (a concept known as theoxenia) and performed poorly, you would incur the wrath of a god.”

Now, I don’t think we need to be too formal, or bound by the forms, that Xenia took in ancient times.  I do think that remembering that Hospitality is a 2-way street an ongoing relationship between Host and Guest, and not merely an obligation on the part of the Host, is key and would help sort out a LOT of drama in the Pagan movement!  Not only face-to-face at events and rituals, but online as well!


Main Entry: gast·blog·schaft
Pronunciation: ‘gäst-blog-shäft Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): pluralen
1 a :
responsibility for hospitable treatment, or response, exhibited by a blogger to readers’ comments 1 b : a blogger’s respect for readers that includes a commitment to accuracy; a tendency to respond to readers’ comments with consideration and a level of respect commensurate with that expressed by readers
2 : a blog commentor’s reciprocal responsibility to comment with the courtesy and respect shown by the blogger
3 : the aura or atmosphere of fun, engaging interaction created by such commitments to respect by bloggers and readers

~ Bernulf from A Heathen Blog: Expanding Inward

Now just as I think we could keep certain things in mind in our relationships with the Gods, and our relationships within the bounds of Hospitality, I think we could examine how we view/interact with one another.  I think too often we in the Pagan community have had pendulum swings of how we view others in the movement ~either they agree with us in every particular or they are teh fluff-bunny or the enemy~ which is where we come to Xenos, which is a complicated Greek word that can range in meaning from “foreigner” to “Stranger with/to whom I have a ritual/social obligation”…

“Xenos can be translated to both foreigner (in the sense of a person from another Greek state) as well as a foreigner or traveler brought into a relationship of long distance friendship. Xenos can also be used simply to assert that someone is not a member of your community, that is simply foreigner and with no implication of reciprocity or relationship. Xenos generally refers to the variety of what a particular individual can be, specifically guest, host, stranger, friend, and, as previously mentioned, foreigner.

The ambiguity of the meaning of xenos is not a modern misunderstanding, but was in fact present in ancient Greece.”

A lot of us are still getting to know one another, and despite the “comming home” feeling so often cited in discussions about how and why one came to Paganism, and depite the goal in some Traditions of Paganism of finding a Family, instant family doesn’t happen… even in a family of choice…

So lets take a few moments to examin how we are relating to our Gods and to one another…