Issue 26, Winter 2014/Spring 2015
Click here to read more about this image and about Laura
by Susun S Weed
Herbal medicine is the medicine of the people. It is simple, safe, effective, and free. Our ancestors used - and our neighbors around the world still use - plant medicines for healing and health maintenance. It's easy. You can do it too, and you don't need a degree or any special training. Ancient memories arise in you when you begin to use herbal medicine - memories which keep you safe and fill you with delight. These lessons are designed to nourish and activate your inner herbalist so you can be your own herbal expert.
In our first session we learned how to "listen" to the messages of plants' tastes. In session two we learned about simples and how to make effective water-based herbal remedies. The third session helped us distinguish safe nourishing and tonifying herbs from the more dangerous stimulating and sedating herbs. Our fourth session focused on poisons in herbs and entered the herbal pharmacy to herbal tinctures, which we collected into an Herbal Medicine Chest. Our fifth session found us still in the pharmacy, learning how to make and use herbal vinegars for strong bones and healthy hearts.
In this, our sixth session, we remain in the herbal pharmacy and turn our attention to herbs in fat bases. We'll explore fresh infused oils, ointments, salves, and lip balms, essential oils, and even herbal pestos.
by Morgan Daimler
"Badb and Macha, greatness of wealth,
Morrigu — springs of craftiness,
sources of bitter fighting
were the three daughters of Ernmas."
- Lebor Gabala Erenn, third redaction
The Morrigan is a Goddess who fascinates many people. In the modern world she is found in many guises and is said to rule over a diverse array of things; in the ancient world she appeared in certain forms and was associated with specific activities and qualities. The picture of the ancient Goddess does not always line up with the modern image embraced by so many, creating a shifting mist that a follower of the Morrigan must wander their way through. It can be a great challenge to find this powerful and vital Goddess in our modern world, so disconnected from the ancient one that the Morrigan comes from. Those who seek her are seeking for something solid yet often find only shadow and dream, but are drawn on in their quest by the sound of ravens calling.
The complexity of the Morrigan begins with her nature. She appears in mythology as one individual Goddess, but her name is also a title applied to her two sisters, Badb and Macha, her nieces Fea and Nemain, as well as several other Irish Goddess at later points. She is the Morrigan, but so sometimes are they; there is no hard and firm boundary, no easy line to draw to separate one from the others. We also see the three sisters, Morrigu, Badb, and Macha, referred to collectively as the tri Morrignae, or three Morrigans. So the first step in finding the Morrigan is beginning to understand the fluid nature of the title, and the difference between the title when applied to other Goddesses and Morrigan as an individual. For some people she will always be one Goddess with several names, one core being who can be expressed in different aspects. For others she is the Morrigu but there are also other Morrigans who are similar to her in nature and power but are uniquely individual beings. It is impossible to say which view is correct; we can only seek to find our own understanding of her. What is the Morrigan in your view? How do you understand her nature?
By Georgina Sirett-Armstrong-Smith
January – June 2015
New Year World forecast 2015
With the Cardinal Climax very active in 2014 - that was a difficult year!
I often hear people say "Oh, next year will be better... ". No... what I can say? It will be different.
The Cardinal Climax began in 2008, which was the beginning of perhaps one of the most significant astrological configurations that will ever affect us in our lifetimes.
Again I feel that in 2015 we will see more problems... this time though from Space. I believe a few meteorites are heading our way and we may get a hit: not like the film Armageddon – but something reasonably significant and of concern. So just as well they managed to land a craft on one in 2014 for good practice. Perhaps NASA knows more than I am predicting.
by Laura Bell
The Morrigan is a complex topic, with many of us unable to agree on what or who she is or isn't. She is a mystery. Her many myths make up a complex tapestry. Even the people who wrote these myths cannot seemingly agree on who makes up The Morrigan. It changes depending on which story you read. I believe to truly understand Her (or try to) we have to experience Her for ourselves.
To me, the Morrigan started out as a singular Goddess. The first Goddess, in fact, that I had ever read about. I was only eleven years old and had somehow found myself on a Pagan path. The first 'witchy' book I bought had a small paragraph about Morrigan in it. I enjoyed wearing black and Gothic jewellery at the time and Morrigan seemed to resonate with me. I knew nothing more about her for many years other than her colour was black, she was the Goddess of war, her animals were the crow and raven and you could ask her for protection. But that was OK, I was very young. I might not have known lots of written information, but my soul knew her. I felt protected and mothered by Her in high school, when I was bullied. I would smile each time a crow or raven flew by, knowing Morrigan was near.
by Hannah Spencer
The ever-changing face of the Moon has provided an enigma which humankind has spent millennia trying to solve. In 1962 a carved bone, around 35,000 years old, was found to be engraved with the phases of the Moon; and the riddle continued into the twentieth century where the race to the Moon came to epitomise pioneering development in science and technology.
Modern astronomers know, as ancient cultures have always believed, that life is dependent on the Moon. The Moon is approximately a hundredth the mass of the Earth: exceptionally large when compared to the relative sizes of the satellites of other planets. By comparison, the largest moons of Jupiter – over 300 times the size of Earth – are only slightly bigger than our Moon. The impact of the Moon's very tangible gravitational pull stabilises the Earth's orbit, creating a constancy in environment and climate that has enabled complex life to develop. Without the Moon, likely we would not be here. And its influence in other ways – the tides being the most obvious – are also vital for many aspects of life.
by Sue Oxley
Lourdes is a very complicated place. In many ways it is the Glastonbury of France, in that the veils are so thin there that it's not surprising it's the most famous visionary town in the world. In Lourdes, when you close your eyes, the ease of meditation or prayer is startling. It is like jumping down into a river to reach the Goddess and being carried along towards her on a fast tide. In fact the element of water and its corresponding attributes of love, emotion, healing and rebirth flow through both the story of the visions and the experiences of people today. It allowed me on one special day to feel a really strong confirmation of my priestess role through the element of water, and the healing power of the Virgin.
Lourdes is, in fact, three different places. On the top of the hill above the River Gave is a very smart French town, with a Black Madonna in its spare and beautiful church and a really good market. Between the town and the Domaine – the Virgin's place – is a steep hill which is full of images of the Virgin from the heartbreakingly beautiful to the most dreadful sparkly tat, and lots of other stuff for pilgrims. The hill also has restaurants and bars where the food is shockingly bad for France, except, surprisingly, for the English-run cafe, where lovely pastries and really good tea is served. It always amazes me that the French - people who can produce wonderfully delicious and complicated food - can't make a decent cup of tea.
A Short Story by Carolyn Lee Boyd
While Penelope was being born in a small fishing village in the far north, a storm ascended from the surface of the ocean herself. Howling, raging, cursing, the relentless waves scattered the frail fishing boats that had sailed out on what had that morning been a fine summer day. From that day forward, water turned her wrath on Penelope's life. The roof over her bed always seemed to leak constant drips onto her face, whether she was at home or visiting, until water became to her a terrifying living being full of unknowable motives. More than once she tumbled out of the family fishing boat and had to be rescued, though this impelled her to learn to be a strong swimmer. Finally, as a young woman she won a scholarship to a university in the south but a month before she was to leave, a hurricane ravaged the campus and it closed indefinitely. "The ocean claimed you as a baby," her great-aunt told her, "and she will never let you go."