Now open at 640 Merrimon Avenue, Suite 207. Store Hours are 10 AM to 8 PM Monday thru Saturday. 12 PM to 6 PM on Sunday.

January 2022 Newsletter

January 04, 2022

Asheville Pagan Supply

*Please note-Magical Monthly Boxes will not be available to order until January 17th.

Any online orders after January 6th will not ship till January 17th.

At that time we will be in our new location-640 Merriman Avenue, Ste 207

 

Imbolc (Candlemas, Brigid’s Day) is traditionally celebrated Jan31-Feb 2, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Imbolc is a festival that honors Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), a beloved pagan Goddess who was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. In Kildare, Ireland a women's only shrine was kept to her where, nineteen nuns tended her continually burning sacred flame. She is a Goddess of healing (healers, medicine, spiritual healing, fertility of crops, land, cattle), inspiration (poets, poetry, creativity, prophecy, arts). She brings fertility to the land and its people.

Colors of the Season

*White for purity and the color of milk.
*Green for spring and healing.
*Red for fire and creativity.
*Gold for warmth of the sun and the color of grain.

Plants of the Season

*Blackberry is Sacred to Brigid, the leaves and berries are used to attract prosperity and healing.
*Dandelion “the little notched of Bride”, snowdrop, crocus, acorns, oak tree, oat, chamomile, broom, shamrock, rushes, straw.

Imbolc Symbols

Fire - flames, candles, hearth, Brigid’s cross.
Water - cauldron, springs, wells, snow.
Grains- corn & oat sheaves for making Brigid wheels, Bridie dollies, Brigid's bed.
Animals- white cow with red ears, wolf, snake, swan, lamb.

Suggestions for ways to celebrate

*Blessing candles for use in future rituals and workings during the upcoming year.
*Making Brigid wheels, placing the wheel above or on the door to bless the home & burning last year’s wheel. Also known as a Brigid's Cross it is traditional fire wheel symbol of protection.
*Making a Brigid Doll is an old tradition which can be included in a ceremony and or placed in 'Bride's Bed' to bring fertility and good fortune to the home.
*Putting out food and drink for Brigid on Her eve (buttered bread, milk, grains, seeds).
*Removing Yuletide greens from your home & burning.

Imbolc Ritual

Decorate your altar with the colors and plants associated with the festival. Include a symbol of the season, such as a representation of a snowflake, a white flower, a Brigid’s wheel or dollie. If you live in a region with snow put some in a crystal container and place on the altar. The melted snow can used for the water during the circle casting.

Anoint candles with the Brigid Oil.
Light the candles and incense and cast the Circle.
This is the time of the feast of torches, when every lamp blazes and shines to welcome the rebirth of the God.

I celebrate the Goddess,
I celebrate the God.
All the Earth celebrates
Beneath its mantle of sleep.

Take one of the lighted candles and slowly walk around the circle clockwise. You may want to read or recite a favorite poem.

Stop before the altar, holding up the candle. Gaze at its flame.

Visualize your life blossoming with creativity, with renewed energy and strength. Celebrate with a simple feast of bread, butter, honey, and tea.

The circle is released.

Blessed Imbolc

References
Farrar, Janet Stewart (1987). The Witches Goddess.
Green, Miranda (1995). Celtic Goddesses.
Weber, Courtney (2015). Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess
Cunningham, Scott (1988). Wicca A Guide for The Solitary Practitioner (pages 130 - 131).

Q:  How often should I cleanse a tarot deck, and why is it important?

A:  The cards pick up your energy as the owner of the deck, as well as the energy of every querent (person receiving a reading from you).  Cleansing the deck resets the energy and refreshes the vibration of the cards, so that the energies of the last person receiving a reading do not bleed into the next reading and cause confusion or “muddy” the reading.  

Even if you only read for yourself, your energy is constantly changing.  We often seek answers when we are sad, angry, frustrated or confused.  The residue of the emotional charge we bring to a reading can stay with the cards, and keep your readings from reflecting your progress on an issue.

It is especially important to cleanse a newly acquired deck, because it has likely been handled by so many people during manufacture, shipping, unpacking, and if in a physical store, by the hands of everyone who has considered purchasing that deck.  It will carry all of those energies, and you will need to bond with the deck.  If you receive it as a holiday gift, the gifter may love you, but if they bought it during the stress of last minute holiday shopping, that energy may infuse the deck along with their good wishes.  And the deck just may not resonate with you, in which case, clearing may help.

And you should cleanse it whenever it gets “muddy” - in other words, it starts to give vague, contradictory or confusing answers. 

If cleansing does not change the “muddiness”, it may be time for a new deck.

Many people also cleanse their decks monthly along with cleansing their crystals during the full moon, so that negative energies do not build up.  

There are quite a few different techniques for cleansing a deck, so there is sure to be one that fits you and your preferences.  Next month, I will cover a variety of cleansing techniques and materials you can use.

Pamela Shook has been reading Tarot professionally for over 30 years. She reads at Asheville Raven & Crone on Sundays from 1-6pm, and serves an international clientele online through Etsy

As we have crossed the threshold into the new calendar year of 2022, I thought I would offer some guidance in basic practices in aromatherapy. The bedrock of practical aromatherapy is found in the sense of smell.

All essentials are tested in three basic ways: organoleptically, physically, and chemically. For the average person, physical and chemical testing are out of reach, but organoleptic testing is not.

The word itself, organoleptic means: being, affecting, or relating to qualities (such as taste, color, odor, and feel) of a substance (such as a food or drug, or in this case scent) that stimulate the sense organs. Organoleptic testing as it applies to aromatherapy is then, an assessment of the flavor, odor, appearance and even the feel of an oil.

Essential oils are considered to be volatile, which takes it root from the Latin word volare meaning “to fly,” due to the fact that essential oils evaporate quickly. This is important to know because it plays heavily into how oils are evaluated. As an oil evaporates, the way it smells changes. Sometimes the changes are slight and at other times fairly dramatic.

Essential oils are evaluated on the quality and intensity of their odors, how their odors change as they evaporate, and how diffusive their odor is.

Organoleptic testing can be done simply and easily at home. Generally, paper testing strips are used to apply a tiny amount of the oil to, just a drop or so with roughly 1cm of the strip being dipped in the oil. Then you smell the tip of the strip with the oil sample on it and record your impressions.

Twenty minutes later you revisit the testing strip, smelling it again. Does it smell the same or has it changed? To check this, you use another clean testing strip with a fresh application of the oil you are scenting for comparison. What you will have discovered is the middle note of the oil, which may be slight or not, when compared to a fresh dip that holds the top note depending on the oil.

Several hours later, you repeat the process of scenting the original strip and compare it to a freshly dipped strip. This will give you the base note and allow you to compare it to the top note. Some oils have a very different base note, which is sometimes referred to as the dry-out note. Try this with patchouli and you will find that the scent changes quite a great deal over time, often leaving an almost baby powder type of scent.

You can revisit the dried strip over the course of a day or even longer. Some oils will be all but undetectable after a day or two has passed, while others will be present for weeks, even if only faintly.

The words used to describe the types and characteristics of aroma are very similar to those used for wines and even in culinary practices. While there are specific terms used within the aromatherapy field to describe and define scents and aromas, I would suggest using terms that make sense to you. If you wish to be more in line with the field’s standard, any basic aromatherapy book will provide you with a list—or just ask the Goddess Google!

As I have mentioned before, many oils while each possessing a top, middle, and base note, are often used as a top, middle or base notes when it comes to blends. One of the things you will find in doing your own organoleptic testing is which oils present the best for different uses in a blend. The more you understand the depth and span of an oil and its aroma, the more effective you will be in pairing it with other oils.

So what you need are: 1) a notebook of some variety to record your impressions; 2) scent strips which can be ordered from any major supplier of aromatherapy products, (you can also use a good quality kraft or cotton paper that is thick and not overly chemically treated cut into strips); and 3) a sense of smell and a bit of time.

In keeping a notebook, I would recommend writing down the oil’s common name, and then its botanical Latin name. Record the oil’s appearance, what color is it? Is it thick or thin? And record the time that elapses between each scenting. Leave room to add other details, like where the plant originated in the world and where it grown now, and how the oil is usually extracted. I will be getting into why all of this matters in the coming the months.

Blend for Concentration and Optimism:
5 drops of Rosemary essential oil
5 drops of Lemon essential oil

To apply topically:
Blend with 1-2 oz of Sweet Almond
Shake well before each use

To use as a spray:
12 oz of distilled or filtered water
½ oz of witch hazel or alcohol
Add witch hazel to spray bottle, then drops of oil, and finally water.
Shake well before each use

*A note on safety and how to conduct a skin patch test. As with all essential oil blends, a skin patch test should be done before topically applying. Simply apply a small amount of the blend to the inside of the upper arm. If no irritation develops after 24 hours, then it is safe to use. If at any point during a skin patch test if irritation develops, the application area should be immediately treated with either a dairy-based product like milk or yogurt to halt the irritation. Then the testing area should be and thoroughly washed with mild soap and water and cleaned of the substance applied.

*Please note that no matter how safe and natural you believe essential oils to be, they are not recommended to be applied straight or “neat” directly on the skin. There are a few exceptions for regular use, but even those should only be used that way under the advice of a certified or registered aromatherapist. Young children, the elderly, anyone with a comprised immune system, and those who are pregnant may require a formula that is much reduced in active ingredients. Essential oils of any variety should always be cautiously used around pets, and never used on cats or in any way that would allow them to ingest it—like breathing in vaporized spray or licking it off of their fur.

Recently, we celebrated Midwinter and the return of the light. Daylight hours are now gradually lengthening and the dark hours of night are decreasing. As the dawning of a new calendar year quickly approaches, we turn our thoughts to new beginnings. For Asheville Raven & Crone, as December rolls into January, we will experience not only the beginning of a new year, but also our shop being in a new location! Times of transition can be unnerving and challenging, but they can also be brewing with a sense of adventure and new possibilities.

In 1992, Leonard Cohen released the album The Future. It featured a song called Anthem. Even though the song is close to thirty years old, we can still find deep meaning for our contemporary world in the lyrics.

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be

It is easy for our thoughts to drift into the memories of our past and for our minds to drift through the quagmire of the “if-onlys.” If only I had not brought up that subject in conversation, I would not have had an argument with my best friend. If only I had studied, I would not have failed the exam. If only I had worked a little harder I would have gotten the raise. How many hours do we spend agonizing over words and actions that cannot be altered? Residing in the past can leave us depressed and full of regret.

It is equally as easy to let our minds slip into worries about the future and lose ourselves in the anxiety-ridden land of the “what-ifs.” What if the economy crashes and I lose my job? What if my family moves and I have to change schools and leave my friends? What if my speech at the conference is not taken seriously? When we roam the land of the what-ifs, we create unnecessary anxiety for ourselves over things that may never happen.

In Cohen’s song, the day dawns with an opportunity for a new start and an invitation to leave the things of the past and future alone and to reside instead in the present moment - the only moment any of us truly have. Residing with the what-ifs and if-onlys keeps us from being an active participant in the flow of life. The present moment is the only place where life occurs. It is the space where we work to make a positive difference in the lives of others. The present moment is our North Star. It is our true reality.

Most of us are ready for a new beginning. We have endured a troubled 2021 that has left many of us feeling exhausted and, at times, feeling isolated from our communities. We have witnessed the brokenness of some of our systems and institutions. We have experienced division. However, we can take heart because not everything is broken. There are still close family ties and strong communities. There are still people who are actively working to make a difference in the world around them. Above all, there is still the spark of light from the divine presence that resides both within us and in the world around us. The lyrics of Cohen’s song continue:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

It is also how the light gets out - through the cracks. There are cracks in our lives, cracks in our systems, and cracks in our society because things don’t always work perfectly. Perfection is highly overrated and absolutely unattainable, but the divine presence in our lives can work flawlessly in spite of the cracks.

With the coming of January and the promise of a new year comes the opportunity for a new commitment to personal improvement in the form of internal work. Decades ago, I read a book entitled If by Amy Carmichael. I don’t remember much about the contents of the book, but one idea has stayed with me all these years. Carmichael writes about a cup filled to the brim with sweet water. She makes the comment that the cup will not spill one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly it is jolted. That is quite a bit to contemplate. In this moment, if I was suddenly jolted, what would spill out? What would I hope would spill out and what personal work do I need to do to attain that goal? Considering this cup full of water inspires me to live a more authentic life in the new year.

As we step into 2022, what type of light will shine forth from our pagan community? Will it be harsh and glaring? Healing? Compassionate? Kind? Steadfast? Dependable? Hopeful? Consider that you may be the only pagan a non-pagan ever meets. What conclusions might they draw about pagans from their encounter with you? We have twelve short months to let the light shine.

How will pagans be remembered a year from now as December 2022 closes?

Author Gerri Ravyn Stanfield wrote:

We are the rising sun
We are the change
We are the ones we are waiting for
And we are dawning

We stand on the threshold of a new year. We have an opportunity to carry the Yule light forward - each of us personally and on a daily basis. May we be lights of healing and hope for the world around us and may the divine presence richly bless our endeavors in 2022.


Sky Bridges is an eastern Tennessee resident. She is a former elementary and high school teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (emphasis on French and Women's Studies). Sky enjoys writing, gardening, and living closely to the land.

Deck: The Druid Animal Oracle Deck by Phillip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.

Card: Adder – Nathair (pronounced, nah-hir)

January is likely to offer ample opportunities for both healing and transformation. There is liable to be an emphasis on how energy is used, as well as the ability to release and let go of those things that are no longer needed. The ability to embrace change with grace, and smoothly transition from one phase to another may also depend the ability to see or sense a way forward without overthinking.

This month may also present opportunities to use skills that can be wielded to harm, but instead using them to heal. Moving with the current rather than against it, and taking advantage of chances to provide assistance and healing can provide change for everything and everyone involved.

Bed Blessing Before Sleep

In the name of Brigid,
I stand above my pillow—
Sweetened with lavender and roses,
I stand above my pillow and I bless my head

In the name of Brigid.
I touch my blanket—
Sweetened in the fresh breezes of the morn’s dawning,
I touch my blanket and
I bless my body

In the name of Brigid.
I sit upon my bed—
Sweetened with visions of bliss and good health,
I sit upon my bed and
I bless my sleeping

In the name of Brigid.
As pillow comforts head, as blanket warms body, as bed holds me safe, in Brigid’s loving spirit, I lay me down to sleep.

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