Webs of Woven Words, Threads, Stitches and Enchantments

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tarot, Eleusis & stitching

Another Sunday! Yesterday I spent the day stitching and re-reading The Homeric Hymn to Demeter (Translation, Commentary & Interpretive Essays by Helene P. Foley) along with tidbits from The Road to Eleusis (Wasson, Hoffman & Ruck.) To experience those mysteries, to know the secrets, I have a great longing for them - perhaps, someday, in someway, I will know what I need to about them.
Then I take this little test... and while this result is, of course, no surprise to me, there is Demeter! As usual for me, these mysteries seem to appear when I least expect them.
As for stitching, the nativity is moving along and I plan to do more today. I am hoping to do a little bit of something else as well, because I have a short attention span where stitching is concerned (other things also) so I need to move around to different projects.
Perhaps another nap! I love an afternoon nap. It is cozy and refreshing especially when followed by a lovely cup of Earl Grey. That is what Sundays are for, pleasures and comforts.

You are The Empress Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation. The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents, beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful. The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Lovely Morning

This morning as I sat at the computer, I heard the chirping of the baby ducks that visit us almost daily, both morning and evening. Of course, we generally give them some bread so they do like to visit. They are getting bigger every day. This morning the mother duck was not out there with the babies and I was a little worried. However, after a few minutes, I looked up and across the sky, rather low to the ground, is a duck flying toward us - the mommy! All is well in their world.

I also heard the screeching of a squirrel - this is not unusual either as the squirrels and birds are constantly arguing. This morning, one of the birds was dive-bombing one little squirrel, pecking at her repeated as the squirrel ran. Later, after our ducks left for their daily wanderings, the squirrel came right up to where I was standing and just stared at me. I got her some nuts and she was very pleased. This one is very brave and doesn't run from people.

Other items on today's agenda - the making of apricot butter. Every June I make this lovely, golden fruit butter which is so simple and delicious. Just sugar and fruit cooked over a low flame for about two hours and then put in jars and processed in a water-bath. Delicious all through the year on toast or shortbread or even chicken! The apricot butter is a very welcome gift at the Winter Solstice.

And... stitching my mother's solstice gift. Only time will tell if she gets it this year or next. I am stitching the Victoria Sampler's Heirloom Nativity Sampler. Yes, I know - a witch, married to a Jew, stitching a nativity sampler for her Catholic mother!!! They've burned women for less! What can I say, I love my mom and she loves Madonna images and related items, so I want to do this for her.I have also been working again on the Salem Remembered sampler which I started last year, but put down and never got back to. I love that sampler, but I've got to get the nativity done. I will take a break now and then to take a few stitches on this piece.

Blessings nine!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Vestalia - June 7th - 15th

The Vestalia was a Roman celebration of purification, preparation of first fruits and honoring of Vesta, the Roman Goddess of the Hearth.  To celebrate the Vestalia, the Vestal Virgins, Roman priestesses of Vesta, made mola salsa (a holy cake). They walked to a sacred spring, fetched water,  then carried it in special jugs with a base designed to tip the jug over if it was set down. The water for the mola salsa was never to come in contact with the earth. The salt used to make the cake was also prepared in a ritual fashion. Brine was pounded then baked in a jar until it formed a rock so hard that the Vestals had to use an iron saw to cut it.  Grain used for the cakes came from ears of spelt gathered on the 7th, 9th and 11th of May. From these ingredients the Vestals made the mola salsa which were then offered to Vesta. 

The Vestalia continued for 8 days, during which time women would enter the temple to worship. They  dressed simply, removing their shoes before entering and bringing offerings of ordinary foods, baked in their own hearths. Only women were permitted to enter Vesta's temple - with the exception of the Pontifex Maximus.

Also honored were bakers and millers. Millstones and the animals used to turn them, were dressed with garlands of violets and small loaves.

A Ritual for the Vestalia

This is a ritual of purification and renewal. Tidy your home, especially the hearth or kitchen stove, which will serve as your altar. Gather the following items:

a new white candle - any size you like
matches or lighter
wine, juice or tea sweetened with honey and spiced with rose petals, rosemary and cinnamon
bread or cake that you have baked yourself - eg. - a simple beer batter bread, zucchini bread, blueberry muffin, carrot cake.
Fresh, ripe summer fruits
small bowl with a pinch of salt, barley and rosemary
another bowl with rose petals, rosemary and barley

Bathe, dress yourself in white, cover your head with a veil.
Bring your mind and spirit to the sacred place that is ritual.

As you light the white candle say:

This flame I kindle in Vesta's name,
It is part of Her eternal flame.
It lights my heart, my mind, my spirit.
Vesta, I call Your name & remember You.
In all fires, in every flame, I know You.
I remember and honor the Old Ways.
I strive to grow in wisdom, may You guide me.
I reaffirm my commitment to the Old Ones, 
May You grant me determination to continue the journey.
I acknowledge my connection to all beings of the Earth,
May You assist me in making strong that connection.
Grant Your blessings, Vesta, oh Sacred Flame,
Upon my hearth, my home, my family, my life.

Go outside your home and pour a libation of sweetened, spiced wine, juice or tea upon the ground.

In Your honor, Vesta, Beloved Guardian of the Hearth,
I offer this libation to You.
Accept now my gift of sweetness,
I offer it in honor and love.

Make an offering of some sort of bread or cake you have baked yourself and some first summer fruits. As you lay the offering on the ground, sprinkle the bread or cake with rosemary and a pinch of barley and salt.

Vesta, Beloved Guardian of the Hearth,
Accept now these offerings from my heart,
Bread from my own hand, and ripe fresh fruits,
I offer them in honor and love.

May You find favor with this Daughter of the Hearth.

Return to your hearth (fireplace or kitchen stove) raise the bowl with the rose petals, rosemary & barley
and say:

Here, upon my home's shrine to Vesta, a gift for the Guardian.
May You, Sweet Vesta, find favor with this Daughter of the Hearth.

Leave the bowl on the hearth or stove and let the candle burn as long as you can.

May Vesta's blessings be upon us!

Ritual & invocations copyright 2009 E A Kaufman