Thursday, July 26, 2018

OCCVLT - Herne the Hunter

Cold cast bronze statue of Herne can be purchased here >
Herne the Hunter, the god of the Wild Hunt in English folklore and myth surrounding the Windsor Forest. Something drew me to Herne after reading folklore tales about him in Shakespeare and his tale of his death. What most attracted me to him is that he is protector of both the hunter and the hunted. He is a spirit of the woods, often seen in times of great crisis. He also takes shape as stag spirit or bull, who is sacrificed each year symbolizing the cycle of life, death and rebirth. 

DEATH

There are many versions about Herne's destiny. It is said Herne saved King Richard II on a hunt one day, after he was almost impaled to death by a stag that was terribly wounded. Herne threw himself in front of the animal and paid with his own life. Brought back to life by a wizard named Phillip Urwick, Herne was given an elixir made of magical herbs, and stag antlers of great honor, were tied to his head. The sacrifice paid, was that Herne's huntsman craft would be no longer. In longing doom, Herne escaped into the forest, where he hanged himself from an oak tree - which has long been associated to the Greenman. With the sounds of rattling chains in the distance, his spirit can be seen riding a black stallion, with pack of hounds, on his Wild Hunt with a horn and bow at his breast. 

Writings of a Pagan Witch, had wrote that it is thought that Herne's name may have originated from the actual roar of a stag – perhaps the exact roar right before Herne was killed. Listen to the video below and tell me what you think. 





OFFERINGS:

Offerings include cider, whiskey, or homemade mead. Meat you hunted yourself. Carrots and apples. Burn incense that resembles heavy or mucky scents of the forest like deep pines, earthen floor or leaves. Play sounds of a stag calling as a way to connect with him.

Legend of Herne the Hunter from multiple sources. Original photography by me, Leila Marvel, 2018.



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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Litha Fire Gazing

During the evening of Litha, June 21st, the sun was so strong - the light seemed to never fade away. I spent my time outside amongst nature, side-by-side to a burning bright fire slowly watching the darkness bloom. During certain Sabbats, spending time watching flames is very comforting to me and can be very meditating. The ancient technique of fire gazing can produce surprising results during ritual. Images may appear in the flames that may be symbolic. Here is an interesting article on the benefits of candle gazing - how it opens the third eye and helps with focus and concentration. 

Billowing gray smoke was thick at the bottom of the pit, before a sudden burst of flame dissolved the smoke. Flames danced about, and I began taking photos. Since roaring flames are rapid and every changing so quickly, having a camera can help you see symbols and shapes at a later time. During my hour or so amongst the flames and taking time to burn incense and eat a few s'mores, I took around a hundred photos – below are some of those photos that I found to be symbolic:

THE GODDESS:
The first image shows the flowing goddess with her arm raised, with flowing bell sleeve,  holding something in her hand. The second is who I think is symbolic for Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life, in organic form with her arm forming a branch with a single leaf. 

The Goddess


THE GOD:
The Great one, Pan, the Horned God is my male deity, who showed up unexpectedly in my life a few years ago. Then back in February, during the burning of Yule pines, I also captured him in the flames. The two, I captured on Litha are almost identical images but reversed, and both have a masculine structured chiseled chin.

Goddess & God fire images from burning of the Yule Pines

The Horned God or Batman?


The Horned God


LITHA ALTAR:
Specifically for Litha, I tailored my altar to the Egyptian sun god, and the ankh, the symbol of life. To pay my respects, I offered up sweet honey as a gift to the gods. Honey was a powerful nectar in ancient Egypt, it was used it as a sweetener, a gift to the gods and was medicinal, also as an ingredient in embalming fluid. While excavating Egyptian pyramid, archeologists found honey pots dating back approximately 3,000 years. 



Candle from Earth Goddess Body Shop from the Litha Sabbat Pampering Box



NEFERTITI:
The Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, meaning “the beautiful one has come”, looks as if she is standing in the smoke as a silhouette with her headdress called the Modius, which was originally adorned with encircled cobras as protection from her enemies. She is a goddess of sexuality, fertility and rebirth. During the reign of her and the Pharaoh Akhenaten they introduced the concept of Monotheism which was the worship of the sun god, Aten. 



THE PHOENIX:
The Phoenix, Bennu in Egyptian, has long been associated with the worship of the sun for it’s symbolism of resurrection and the rising sun. The Bennu bird represented the soul of Ra, the bringer of light and god of the sun. During my fire gazing, I was mystified to see the Phoenix, as the sacred Bennu bird destroys itself in the flames and rises from the ashes after building a nest of power to rise from the ashes. The first image looks as if there is a large Phoenix head, slightly off center to the left, with its beak pointed down. The second resembles the Phoenix rising with its wings spread.




ANIMAL SYMBOLS:

The Rabbit: 
The rabbit ears peaking from out of the flames made me smile, as they are one of my favorite creatures. They can symbolize abundance and comfort, but also fertility, and have long been associated with the Goddess, as a totem of Artemis and Hecate, and the sacred rabbit of Aphrodite. Other meanings include the moon, love, success, agility and creativity.  They have long been associated with magic and the ability to cross between worlds and the Fae. 



The Robin:
The Robin throughout history is associated with charity, compassion, good and bad luck, life and death. The red breast of the Robin has a strong association with fire and said to have brought fire from heaven. In Norse mythology, the Robin was a bird of storm held high by Thor. 





The Stag:
The Stag with antlers is associated with fertility of the God, and is a symbol of all wild creatures, especially those give themselves away to serve the life of the people. Seeing the stag, also represents to me Herne the Hunter, the god of the Wild Hunt, who is a nature god who appears as a stag or bull and is sacrificed each year to symbolize life, death and rebirth. I found this most special as I've been fascinated lately with Herne and recently purchased a figure of Herne in Jim Thorpe, PA.



Litha Incense from Earth Goddess Body Shop from the Litha Sabbat Pampering Box



After my evening by the fire and reviewing my photos I was astonished by the beautiful fire symbols, especially those related to the sun. What do you see in these photos?

References:
Abram, M. (2007 June) The Power Behind the Crown: Messages Worn by Three New Kingdom Egyptian Queens. Retrieved from https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1053&context=studiaantiqua

National Geographic. (2015, November 23). Honey in the Pyramids. Retrieved from 

Animal Symbolism. Retrieved from http://www.controverscial.com/

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Imbolc Celebration in Honor of the Goddess Brigid

Imbolc evening was celebrated with my Wiccan friend Lindsay, we got together for a warm midwinter dinner in honor of the maiden Goddess Brigid, who during Imbolc is in the form of the sun and starts to spread her green cloak across the land releasing it from winter. It is this time of year we start to see first glimpses of green and the days start to get longer, as a promise of spring. The dining area was webbed with green and white flowers, along glowing candles to celebrate this festival of light. 

We both we in charge of cooking a few dishes for our celebration (see recipe links down below). We started our dinner with the Imbolc 'Friends Ritual' from the Llewellyn's 2018 Sabbats Almanac, which involved drinking a chalice of wine with wild roses in honor of our ancestors who have died. Dinner was splendid over friendship and filling our bellies with hope of Spring to come. I'm truly looking forward to the warmer weather and the Snow Drops that start popping up – they always remind me of my grandmother. 

SCROLL DOWN for: 
Imbolc colors, candles, oils and Flowers
Recipes / Foods
Symbols for the Sabbat / Goddess Brigid
Imbolc & Brigid Customs / Offerings




IMBOLC SYMBOLS & COLORS:
Candles: white (represents the snowy winter) and green (future and land that will be), pink and blue 
Flowers: snowdrops, willow tree leaves, floral fertility crowns
Oils: cinnamon, lavender, cedar wood, lemon, rose, jasmine, rosemary
Crystals: garnet, bloodstone, amethyst, sunstone
Incense: (fresher scents for Spring) basil, bay, wisteria, cinnamon, violet, vanilla, myrrh

BRIGID SYMBOLS & COLORS:
Aspects of Brigid: poetry, creativity, forge, blacksmiths, healing, medicine, home/hearth, fertility, Cailleach (divine hag, Goddess of Winter)
Symbols: Fire, cauldron, spring, well, Brigid wheels, Goddess effigy/dollies, the bride
Colors: red and white
Animals: white cow with red ears, ewe sheep, wolf, snake, swan (white feathers), phoenix, fox



Tea light candles from: Earth Goddess Body Shop - vegan, natural bath & body products



RECIPES:
Top left to right: wine with rose petals for our Friends Ritual, Baked Brie with Balsamic Rosemary Cranberry Sauce (we used raspberries instead!), Classic Shortbread Cookies, Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken


Other foods for this Sabbat: Dairy everything!!! Seeds, honey bars, seeded breads and cakes (represent new life), herbal teas like ginger, roasted vegetable soups, beer cheese soup, herb and honey butter



Pyramid Tri-pod Cauldron from GrayVervain: Magical Home


BRIGID CUSTOMS:
Custom for women to wear white
Brigid wheels, Brigid Cross: put above or on the door to bless your home (Celtic, Wiccan)
Remove Yuletide greens from home & burn them (Celtic)




OFFERINGS TO BRIGID:
Oatcakes or barmbrack bread
Sacred milk (ewe milk): pour it onto the earth to speed the return of fertility to the earth
Put out food and drink on her eve (Jan 31): buttered bread, milk, grains and seeds



SOURCES & SHOUTOUTS:

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Yule and the Welcoming of the Winter Solstice

Welcoming the season of Yule and preparing for the winter solstice I'd thought I'd share some of my symbolic decorations and meanings behind them.

Many sacred plants are spread around the house both inside and out, including evergreens, in which life is forever present. Evergreens are thought to have power over death and to defeat winter demons such as depression. Evergreen magic: the color of rebirth and renewal include pines, fir, juniper to offer protection. Prickliness of holly leaves are said to ward off evil spirits with Berries for the Holly King. Apples as an offering. Red bows to invite prosperity and good fortune. Pinecones representing the God. 

A celebration of light and fire with candles in white for hope of new light. Pale pinks and whites of the magnolia, to bring love, peace and harmony, along side gold candles for the Sun King. Solar symbols to lure the sun back to earth, for rebirth and return of warmth. White antlers for Herne, Lord of the Trees and protector of the forest, in his form of The White Stag, but also represents Cernunnos, the Celtic god of fertility, animals, life and the underworld. Two goats for Thor, who pulled his chariot. Gaia, the Mother Earth Goddess rests above green pines sprinkled with winter white snow and a dedicated green candle. I've also decorated Dionysus, who is always present in my home, with holly, berries and candles – he is especially deeply rooted during this time of year with the festivities of joy, gluttony and cheer. What are some of your decorations?

Addition to original post: I came out this morning to leave for work, as I usually do. I had noticed two of three apples I had put in my basket we're gone, I set them out as an offering to the Gods for honor and a way to show respect. Now I do suspect animals got to them, which to me is special in itself as provided a meal to an animal who is living on the land. Those two apples will provide nourishment, where it is not certain life will remain in the upcoming harsh winter months. Also, to me this moment filled my heart, but I had shared this with a co-worker who had laughed it, and it really hurt actually, for my beliefs are sacred to me – I would never be the one to make fun of another's beliefs. "What ye send out, comes back to thee."











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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ghostly Painted Woman

A special gem from my grandmother’s attic, actually painted by her herself. I particularly love the folded hands of this 18th century powdered ghostly woman. Perfectly set with false hair and waves that last for days. Translucent blues and caramels are just so pleasing to the eye, she sits inside a large dark oak frame that is soon to rest on my revamped studio of dark navy skies. 


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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Drift with Us: New Men's Jewelry



Keep your eyes peeled for tonight's reveal of more jewelry pieces
from our exclusive new men's jewelry collection 'The Drift'!





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