Blessed Be!

Blessed Be – can either be used to wish someone great blessings or as an expression of agreement, much like a Christian would say ‘amen’ or a Muslim may say ‘alhumduli’allah’.”

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In actuality, Blessed Be should only be used in a very sacred setting such as a ritual circle. When used, one is invoking the blessings of the deity or energy into the person they say it to. Most commonly it is used in the Wiccan five fold kiss to bestow the blessings onto the whole being of an initiate. As I read through many internet pages, blogs and opinions, I surmised that this may not be the entire meaning.

Megan Manson, writer for Patheos says; “the expression just wishes blessings upon someone, from a non specific source.” She goes on to explain that it is not a specific God or Goddess, or even necessarily of a deity at all. My understanding of what she says is it can be taken to mean you have the power to be blessed and that is what I wish or want for you.

Even in the Wiccan community, there is not a clear cut guideline on when to use it. Wiccan priestess Deborah Maynard, who lead the first Wiccan prayer in the Iowa House of Representatives concluded her invocation saying; “Blessed Be, Aho and Amen”. Of course, it could be argued that in this case, she was in her sacred space and invoking upon the attendees the blessings of the Goddess.

From everything I have read over the last few hours of researching, it seems that to most Wiccans, Blessed Be is a very sacred term, reserved for ritual work. However, for a lot of the rest of the Pagan community, the term has evolved to mean may blessings be bestowed upon you by the energies you walk your path with and your own manifestations. Now knowing the origins and the sacred meaning it holds to some, I would have to agree with many of the authors that it is overused in the community.

I feel it should also be noted that there are Wiccans who will only use Blessed Be in ritual and some go so far as to use it only when performing the five fold kiss. This is important to know, as they may feel offended or even insulted if the term is used so casually on a day to day basis. The five fold kiss is a very intimate ritual of reverence between a high priestess and high priest. He kisses her feet, knees, womb, breasts and lips while bestowing blessings on her and the function each part of her performs in worship.

I think it is extremely important to know and understand any term you wish to use either in your practice or daily interactions. In the case of Blessed Be, I feel it’s very good to be aware that some practitioners do not use it routinely and that it has such a deep meaning to them. I have learned that how I was using the term was too casual. We have the terms “Merry Meet” and “Merry Part” for greeting and departure. Not everything needs a secretive Pagan term in response. I will still use the term, but I now know to think about it first, and not follow along with the common misconception that it is a catch all response.

Sources:

Angel Fire. Blessed Be. Author Unknown

http://www.angelfire.com/va2/magwyn/blessedbe.html

Magickal Circle Resource Library. Blessed Be by Colleen

http://themagickalcircle.net/resourcelibrary/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=142#p171

Pagans & Witches. Blessed be: why I don’t say it + origins by Ruby

https://aminoapps.com/c/pagans-witches/page/blog/blessed-be-why-i-dont-say-it-origins/PJvl_6xLfmudppRpJqMRV5mnn4rPGxazBpv

Patheos. The Power of Blessed Be by Megan Manson

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pagantama/2016/06/08/the-power-of-blessed-be/

Thought Co. Blessed Be by Patti Wigington

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-blessed-be-2561872

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Natural Ant Repellant

So, the other day, I woke up to find a line of ants marching along the back splash behind the kitchen sink!  Yuck!  Dearest husband jumps up to go get the ant killer.  Me, being me, says hold up!  Let me look up if there is something without all those chemicals that might get rid of them.  So, I get online and look up all the information.  Then, I get mixing and leave my concoction to steep while I give the kitchen a good clean.

This recipe has a number of strong smelling ingredients, so I used a direct jet nozzle setting, and left a stream of this repellent along the top of the back splash, around the window ledge and in the tiny hole we had seen them going.  Guess what?  It worked!  Not a single ant come morning, and haven’t seen any in the last week.  I’m pretty impressed!

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What You Will Need:

1 cup water

1 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, but any will work)

2 tbsp grain alcohol (I used rice wine, cheap vodka would work too)

1 tbsp Basil

1 tbsp Rosemary

1 tbsp Thyme

2 Cinnamon Sticks

1 tbsp Whole Peppercorns

1 lemon

Quart Sized Mason Jar

Glass Spray Bottle

 

What To Do:

Measure the water, vinegar and alcohol in the mason jar.  Squeeze in the juice from the lemon, cut up the peel and add that too!  Add the herbs, close tightly and give it a good shake!  Shake it up every hour or so for about 12 hours.  Thoroughly strain so you just have the liquid, discard the herbs, lemon peel and any particles left in the strainer.  Put liquid in the spray bottle and spray anywhere in the home you see ants!

We Are Enough!

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Ok, fellow moms, this is for you.  Vent/realization/uplifting post here!  We are not super human!  This morning I have been working on planning my oldest monsters birthday.  He’s going to be 7 and wants a Pokemon Go party!  So, I’m sitting here pouring over invitation ideas, wondering how much it’s going to cost for the different colored papers to make these awesome Pokeballs that open with the party information inside.  Thinking about what I can make for party favors on a budget and how I can artistically decorate a picnic table at the park, keep the flies away and entertain 20 odd 6 and 7 year olds!

And then it started.  That familiar fluttering in the chest.  The lump of anxiety and failure that creeps up through the sternum.  The rapid, beating of the heart that is so forceful you can feel it with your hand as you grab your chest.  Ladies, why on earth do we do this to ourselves?  Who are we really trying to impress?  Your kids friends mom, who you begrudgingly greet 5 times a year at school events?  Your neighbors, who already know you’re not the collected, perfect mom, judging by how many times you yelled over the summer?  The kids who are more interested in who can jump off the highest point on the play equipment?  NEWSFLASH:  WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!

7 year olds do not need completely handmade invitations with moving parts. 7 year olds do not need 2 hours of back to back structured activities. 7 year olds do not need $10 worth of crap toys and candy to take home. 7 year olds don’t need sculpted fruit and vegetables. 7 year olds won’t care if there are hand made Chinese lanterns hanging from a chandelier!

Printed, written out invitations will be fine. Two hours running around at the most awesome playground in the area is all the structure they need. They can go home with memories and a thank you card. 7 year olds will be impressed if they can recognize the characters on a cake they are eating. These kids might notice a themed table cloth under their plates, if I’m lucky!

I GOT THIS! I don’t need to impress anyone other than my child.  And neither do you.  So long as the birthday child has a fun day in the company of family and friends, that is what really matters.  Let’s get back to a super fun birthday party for young kids.  Let them have fun.  It’s not an art studio (unless that’s what they asked for!), it’s not a competition with the other moms, it’s a celebration!

Peace and blessings to all the other want-to-be-pinterest-perfect-but-then-got-real moms out there!

All Natural Surface Cleaner

In my quest for safe alternatives for chemicals used around the home, and reducing our environmental footprint, I came up with this simple to make cleaner.  I first came up with it just messing around with ideas and incorporating my spiritual path into daily living.  Not having much luck in the past with homemade cleaning products, I wasn’t expecting too much from it, other than a nice smell to linger after cleaning with dish soap.  Boy, was I wrong! As an experiment, I used it on the outside of the stove hood, which hadn’t had a proper clean in a year.  To my surprise and astonishment, it made a difference!  A couple more applications, letting it sit for just a few minutes each time, and it actually cut through and got rid of all the grease and dust that had accumulated, and it really didn’t take much elbow grease!  Now I just give it a spritz and a wipe after cooking and it is shiny and clean.

My Little Shadow and Helper!
Safe enough even for the little ones to help

Even though this is one tough cleaner, the ingredients are all natural and perfectly safe for little hands to help with the cleaning.  The worst it will do is sting if it gets into an open cut or the eyes, due to the lemon juice and salt in it.  As mentioned before, we follow a spiritual path that brings us close to nature, so I prefer to use nature itself in my products and recipes.  I also associate with the energies all around us and the deity in all things.  For this product, I use rain water that I collect and strain of any debris or dust particles from the air, and leave it out under the full moon to absorb the energy and blessings of the Goddess.  The full moon is know for cleansing and protective energy, so this is ideal.  For those who follow other paths or religions, or none at all, tap water will, of course, work perfectly well!

So, onto the recipe!

You will need:

Quart sized mason jar with lid
1 quart of water (see above)
1 lemon
1 tbsp dried sage (or a few dried sage leaves, lightly crushed)
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon oil
1/2 tsp lavender oil
Spray bottle to put finished product in

How to make:

Start with the water in the mason jar. Cut the lemon in half and lightly squeeze into the water.  You will want at least a tablespoon of lemon juice.  Slice up the lemon peel and at that to the water, seeds and all.  Add the salt, sage and essential oils and put the lid on.  Give it a good shake!  Leave it somewhere you pass by frequently, such as by the kitchen sink, and shake it up ever time you pass it.  Leave it to infuse for about 24-48 hours, depending on how often you shake and how strong a sage scent you want.

Once ready, strain into a clean container.  I like to strain two or three times through a strainer lined with paper napkins, although cheese cloth would be ideal, to ensure all the sage particles are gone.  Pour into a spray bottle, colored glass is best to preserve the qualities of the oils.  To use, just spray and wipe!

Links contained in this article are affiliate links meaning I make a very small referral on your purchase.  This enables me to buy more things to experiment and bring you more recipes!

 

The Origins of Father Christmas

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Christmas, in many cultures, would not be Christmas without a jolly, rotund man stopping by with gifts for all the good children of the world. Traditionally, he would leave coal or twigs for the ill-behaved children. In modern times, at least in the western world, he seems to be rather lenient in regards to excitable behavior. In the United States, he is known as Santa Claus. This comes from the Danish name Sinterklaas, likely introduced by immigrants in the 1700s. Sinterklaas is a cultural name used for Saint Nicholas. In Christianity and popular culture, Saint Nicholas is said to be the original Santa Claus, or at least the inspiration for the legend we all know and love today!

So, who is St. Nicholas? Saint Nicholas was a bishop in the early days of Christianity. His parents died when he was young, leaving him with a strong conviction in his faith and a healthy financial inheritance. He was persecuted greatly by the Romans for his faith. He took his faith very seriously, but one lesson in particular. To sell everything he owned and use the proceeds to help the poor. One story tells of a poor widowed father with three daughters. In these times, options for women were very slim. If your father couldn’t afford to put up a substantial dowry, you would be sold into slavery or end up labeled a spinster, which was the least desirable option! Anyway, this man was so poor, he was having to tell his oldest daughter that she would be sold to a slave master as he had nothing to offer as a dowry to a potential suitor and he could not afford her keep himself. It just so happened that the bishop was passing by and overheard the weeping father. He returned that night and tossed a bag of gold into the house, either through the window or down the chimney, I cannot find clarification of that point! What is known, is the bag of gold landed in a sock that was drying by the fire. It’s obvious where the tradition and symbolism came from.

As I was searching on the subject of personifications of Santa around the world, I came upon a very interesting article by Dawn Copeman on Time Travel Britain. I am an English woman living in America for over  10 years now. However, I grew up in England with the stories of Father Christmas. Although the traditional character of Father Christmas has quite a few differences to Santa, I was always led to believe they were essentially the same. Ms Copeman alleges that although the stories are now so intertwined that the two are essentially one and the same, this was not always the case! Since I had never heard of these theories before, I found some other sources, one being Wikipedia, but that was very similar wording. The other is differencebetween.info. This one was interesting because it makes Christian references to the claims which confirmed to me that there is truth in it. Not because the claims of Christian references, but because he was known in more than one culture and was even recognized in the Christian rewrites of traditions.

During the ancient midwinter solstice celebrations, a man would appear dressed in a long, green cloak, wearing a head-dress of ivy, holly and/or mistletoe. This sounds, to me, very much like a representation of the Holly King. At this point, he was not named Father Christmas, but was known and understood to herald the festivities and the coming of spring.

When the Saxons successfully invaded the British Isles in the fifth and sixth centuries, they brought much of their language as well as many traditions. One of these was the tale of Father Time, who was also known as King Winter and King Frost. One of the traditions involving this character included someone dressing as King Winter. He would be invited into homes, sat by the fire and given food and drink. This may be where the tradition of leaving refreshment out on Christmas Eve came from. Only, back then, it was said they would be rewarded with a milder winter rather than physical gifts. However, this was when the idea of Father Christmas rewarding an offering of food and drink was incorporated into the character.

The next invaders to take control of Britain were the Vikings, and with them, the tales of the Norse Gods were introduced to the people. Odin, in his form as Jul (Jul tide – Yuletide), would ride his eight legged horse, Sleipnir, over the villages, leading both Gods and spirits in the wild hunt. This was quite a terrifying spectacle for the mortals below, but there was also a nicer side to Jul. He would drop down chimneys where the children had left a shoe or sock full of straw for Sleipner. He would then fill the said garment with gifts and candy. Here we have the, literal, gift giving element to Father Christmas. He also took on physical features from Odin. Once a tall, svelte figure, he was now a lot rounder in the face and belly. Another concept drawn from the wild hunt and incorporated into this Christmas figure was that of traveling the world while barely anytime passed.

With the arrival of the Normans and the components of Bishop Nicholas, the figure of Father Christmas was complete. But his story doesn’t end there! The first written reference was recorded in the 15th century. He heralded the Christmas season and was called into large homes as Sir Christmas to preside over the festivities. He was also known to the Christians to herald the birth of Jesus Christ. However, this was not enough for the Puritans, as Father Christmas and the celebrations were considered too Pagan. So, in 1644, Christmas and Father Christmas were outlawed and sent underground.

Although there was some evidence of the presence of Father Christmas in secret, underground celebration, he was not truly revived until the Victorian Era. He still embodied all of the elements previously mentioned and was usually seen as very similar to the illustration of the ghost of Christmas present by John Leech. He would have been a jolly man, larger than life, wearing a green cloak and holly crown.

Now, back to Santa! Although the creation of Santa Clause based on Saint Nicholas of the fourth century, it was the poem by Clement Clark Moore, ‘A visit from Saint Nicholas’ that really made him popular. The portrait of Santa was initially brought to us by cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1881. His depiction was based on Moore’s’ poem. This image was then cleaned up and perfected as an advertising campaign by the Coca Cola company.

So, through this research, I have proved myself wrong. When I picked this subject to write about, I thought I was researching the many manifestations of the same figure around the world. I thought I was going to prove that this one, central, gift giving legend came from Pagan roots and that was that. I was wrong and happy to admit that. Although Santa Claus originated with Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas is a culmination of may concepts and cultures.

Sources:

Difference Between, Difference between Santa Claus and Father Christmas, Author Unknown

http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-santa-claus-and-father-christmas

Green Global Travel, 30 Fascinating Facts about Santa Around the World by Bret Love

https://greenglobaltravel.com/history-of-santa-around-the-world/

History, Santa Claus, Author Unknown

www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus

Norwegian American, Don’t Take Odin Out Of Yule, Author Unknown

https://www.norwegianamerican.com/featured/dont-take-odin-out-of-yule/

St. Nicholas Center, Who is St. Nicholas?, Author Unknown

www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/

Time Travel Britain, Who is Father Christmas by Dawn Copeman

http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/christmas/santa.shtml

Why Christmas?, St. Nicholas, Santa Claus & Father Christmas by James Cooper

www.whychristmas.com/customs/fatherchristmas.shtml

Wikipedia, Father Christmas, Author Unknown

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_Christmas

Indroducing me

Welcome to my blog.  I thought I would give this another go!  My name is Michelle, and I am a stay at home mom to 3 adorable boys, Chris who started 1st grade, Jon in kindergarten and Tim, my shadow!  We are a fun family, completed by my darling husband Joe.  We have our moments, but on the whole, we are a happy go lucky family.

On this blog, you may find any number of posts and a variety of subjects.  One post may be a humorous moment, one of many in a special needs household of boys, it could be a vent from this overwhelmed mommy, it could be a discussion piece about special needs, or our spiritual path.  You may also find recipes both for food and natural options for household cleaners or body products.

As I said, this is going to be pretty varied, and what I feel like writing about at the time.  I will warn you, I am not a christian *gasp*.  I am spiritual and embrace people of all religions.  My children learn about what ever religion they are interested in at the time, in fact, Christopher went to Vacation Bible School this summer and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I welcome comments on any of my posts, even if they do not agree with my point of view.  I’m always up for a good, informed debate, I just ask you drop the insults and be respectful!MeAndMyBoys

Wishing you all love and blessings,

Michelle

xx