Blogging to Build Your Business

When I left off yesterday I had told you about an organization called Pagan Packs that I had signed up for in hopes of finding more tools to help me with reaching my goals for the two organizations that I run as well as my business.  I’m working through those tools now.  One of the tools that someone posted about on the Pagan Packs forum is something called the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  

The UltimateBlog Challenge is a challenge you sign up for that challenges you to post 31 blog entries during a 31 day month.  (I’m not sure if the challenge changes to 30 posts in a 30 day month or not).  Once you sign up, you are then expected to not only post your blog entries but begin to tweet and share your blog as well as read, comment and share other blog entries by other contestants.  The idea is that the accountability helps you get your blog entries up there and the sharing helps you all promote your blogs so that you get more traffic, more followers and better results from your blog.  There are also tons of articles and suggestions on how to maximize the effects of your blog contributed by the organizers of this challenge as well as by other contestants.  

I signed up for this challenge and have started reading through the material provided.  I’m going to share some of the information I’ve found while researching blogs below. 

The first question I always hear is “Why do I need a blog?”  From all the research I’ve been doing into the people that are successful at running these businesses I’ve noticed there is almost always a blogger attached somehow.  The internet has significantly changed the way people do business.  A few years ago I was more apt to listen to sales people to try and find out information on a product I was interested in.  Now, my first action is to go to my search engines and look for articles or reviews on the product.  If there is a blog about a product or by a business owner, I read it.  A blog can be your best marketing tool whether you are promoting your services, your product, your store, your music, your art, your craft or yourself. 

Let’s say you are a musician that doesn’t have a contract with some recording company that has its own marketing engine promoting your music.  Then you are not only the artist, but the manager, promoter, road crew, and every other hat that needs to be worn to keep your business growing.  So you need to create a relationship with your fans that will get them helping you promote your music.  Start a blog.  Share the blog on your social networking sites and your email list with your fans.  If you are saying interesting things they will be sharing it with their friends and you will gain fans.

Okay, not a musician?  What about an online retailer?  A blog that gives interesting little tidbits about different products or about events you’re going to will catch people’s interest and have them looking for you at these events.  Building a relationship with your customers has them thinking of you first when they are looking to purchase a gift.

If you’re product is yourself then that is more reason to build a relationship with people.  Blog about interesting topics to give them a sample of what you would speak about at their event.  Show off some!

Achieving My Goals

How many articles and columns and blogs have we all read on New Year’s resolutions this past week?  I know I’ve stumbled upon quite a few while working on one project or another.  So, what’s one more?

I had a nice afternoon with a couple of friends earlier this week and one of the topics that was brought up was how we can achieve goals we have in common without adding more work to our already slammed schedules.  In fact, in a perfect world we would both like to reach these goals and even find a smidge more free time in our schedules.  Asking for the sky? Probably. 

One of my goals includes better promotion of my business and the two organizations that I run as well as one of which I’m on the governing board.  So, on the long drive back from my friend’s home I started researching this very problem.  Better promotion – less time.

I first found a link that a friend had posted on my Facebook page for a company called PaganPacks.  This not-for-profit company brings Pagan business owners together for the express purpose of helping each other promote their business.  Now, those of you that have businesses that have been a part of my orbit will know that helping pagan-owned businesses grow is a pet cause of mine.

So, Pagan Packs does this in several ways. 

1 –Pagan Packs and Fillers.

They have one program where business owners exchange something they call “fillers” to distribute.  From what I can gather, you can order the Pagan Pack bags from their website.  You join the yahoo group and send business cards, flyers, samples, whatever you want to contribute to the pack to whoever is doing a festival, has a store, a gathering, what-have-you.  It works kind of like the swag bags that we do at the festivals that North Georgia Solitaries puts on.  We let our vendors and sponsors put items in the swag bags and we hand them out to everyone at the festival.  The difference is that these go out to festivals and stores across the country where other participating business owners are.

2 – Webinars

They have webinars where they share tips on things like shopping carts, blogging, advertising, etc.

3 – Online Faires

They do these free online faires that involve some presentations and giveaways.  It appears that the vendors that sign up to do them get a chance to make a presentation as well and interact with the customers that attend the faire.  I haven’t attended one yet but I plan to attend the next one they put on as an attendee.  I’ll see about signing up for one as a vendor after that. 

4 – Ad sharing

They have a special group for ad sharing.  You have a place there to post ads and specials and advertise whatever is going on with your business. 

5 – Sharing of resources through the databases

I’ve browsed through their databases and found some vendors that offer drop shipping so other vendors can sell their items and both vendors make money.  I found a database on vendors that offer goods at wholesale prices.  There is a database of members that offer Affiliate programs.  There’s a place for members to list their social network links so other members can like, share, follow, etc.  and more. 

So, I signed up for Pagan Packs and spent a couple of days reading back through their archives and getting a handle on the rules of how this works.   I’ve already found a couple of things to help me with my goals.

One of my goals includes more active blogging.  So we’ll talk next time about what tips I got to help me with that.


Several years ago I did a short-lived series on another blog on various herbs and their uses.  There are plenty of sites out there that tell us all about their medicinal uses and plenty out there that talk about their correspondences.  I thought perhaps I could share some of the ways I’ve used particular herbs in my magickal practice.  I welcome anyone that wants to post here and share ways that you’ve used some of these herbs.

Today I chose mugwort to talk about.  It could be because I have had the distinct experience of having an over abundance of it for a while.  I had ordered it in bulk to be used at an event that ended up not happening so I had more than my fair share of it.  I’ve given it away to other witches for use in their practice and it’s kind of become a running joke.  I started looking for creative ways to use it. 

I’m always amazed at how versatile this herb can be.  I once heard someone call herbs that can be used for many different purposes void herbs.  I really could not get my mind around that.  The word void brings up a vision of an herb that is just filler and not an herb that has so many great powers to call on.  Mugwort is one of those herbs that can be used for many different purposes depending on what your needs are.  That, in my opinion makes it a powerful herb, not a void herb. 

I’ll start with a favorite of mine.  I have always loved a good cup of chamomile tea.  My husband turns his nose up at the smell of it but even he admits that after a cup of chamomile tea I’m so relaxed I’m practically purring like my cat.  I used to drink chamomile just to relax a little at the end of the day.  Last year I began having some insomnia and found that having a cup of chamomile and mugwort tea helped me get to sleep easily.  It has the added benefit of helping me with some digestion problems I started having around the same time.  (can anyone say stress?)  After reading about how bitter mugwort tea would be I tried it by itself to judge for myself.  I really didn’t find it bad at all.  I do like it better with the chamomile. 

Other medicinal uses for mugwort are to treat stomach ailments such as indigestion, constipation and bloating, worms and intestinal parasites as well as a treatment for gout, nervousness, colds, asthma and depression. 

A warning should be made that pregnant women should not take mugwort and as with any holistic treatments, please consult a physician as your symptoms may be indicative of something serious. 

Now, on to some magickal uses for this versatile herb. 

Stimulate dream intensity:  You can drink the tea made from it or try putting it in a dream pillow and cuddle up to it when sleeping.  It has an earthy herbal scent so you might want to add something like lavender to the mix to give you a sweeter scent and the scent of lavender is good for sleeping as well.

Energetic clearing:  Burn dried mugwort to clear a space of negative energies. 

Astral travel:  Place a bundle of dried mugwort under your pillow to assist with astral travel.

Dispel nightmares:  A bundle of dried mugwort under your pillow can help you dispel nightmares.

Scrying:  Drink some mugwort tea before scrying.  It can help open your psychic channels.  Clean your scrying tools in an infusion of mugwort.  Sprinkle some mugwort on the table where you are doing a reading or fill a small pillow with mugwort to rest your crystal ball on.  I keep a bit of mugwort in the box where I keep my crystal ball, tarot cards, pendulum, scrying mirror and other divination tools.
Protection:  Mugwort has been used to protect against demons, wild beasts, poison and sunstroke.  In China, mugwort has been hung around the home in bundles to keep away evil spirits.  In Japan, mugwort has been burned to remove evil spirits of disease.  An incense including mugwort can be burned to protect the home. An amulet or mojo bag stuffed with mugwort is said to protect the traveler from misfortune.
Mugwort is quite a commonly used and powerful plant, and an essential component of any Witches herb cabinet.  It is a versatile and powerful herb that has a multitude of uses.  I would love to hear different ways you use mugwort.

Atlanta Pagan Pride Day 2011


Atlanta Pagan Pride Day 2011 has finally come and gone.  What a day!  North Georgia Solitaries and the Pagan Assistance Fund had a booth out in the parking lot in the spot we’ve come to think of as our “regular” spot.  We arrived around 6AM to find everything dark and no one there yet.   We drove down the street and got some breakfast to munch on in the car and got back about the time the organizers were arriving.  They let us know where to set up and it all began.  We unloaded the vehicles so they could be moved out of the way and helped a few other vendors get unloaded so we could keep the parking lot as clear of cars as possible during set-up. 

Setting up the PAF booth

Then the fun began.  Vendors got set up and opened up for business.  The Pagan Assistance Fund booth was full of all kinds of goodies.  We do a collaborative effort where our members get together and sell items they either make or purchase with a portion of the sales going back into the Pagan Assistance Fund.   A real community effort.  We have members at our booth from as far away as North Carolina contributing to that effort.

Atlanta Pagan Roundtable

I had connections with several organizations that were representing at PPD.  The booth we put together for the Pagan Assistance Fund and North Georgia Solitaries, of course.  I am a board member on the Church of the Spiral Tree which had a booth next to the PAF booth.  I’m a member of the Dogwood Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess and the Atlanta Pagan Roundtable which each had booths inside the building.  I really enjoyed spending time talking with people about all of those organizations throughout the day.

The organizers of Atlanta Pagan Pride have really done an outstanding job of organizing things even to the point of arranging for a parking waiver for vehicles to park up and down the street in what is usually a no parking zone.  There was a police officer on site at all times to insure the safety of the festival.  

Lord Luminias and his PPD bling!
Workshops included Paths and Practices presented by Melanie Marquis, Tara Dance Practice presented by Sarah Salamander and Anahata Iradah and Sacred Chanting presented Ian Baccio.

There was a lovely children’s ritual on the playground that included each child receiving a piece of yarn. They were instructed to go out into the community and tie the yarn around someone else’s wrist as a sign of community ties. I was blessed to have one young boy come find me and offer me his yarn. I’ve got that piece of yarn on my altar now to remind me that it is important to teach the children about community. 

PPD provided a wonderful Mabon Ritual focused on harvest and universal peace.  Participants entered through the elements and had the opportunity to participate in an earth based dance of universal peace led by Anahata.  

Performances were given by Emerald Rose, Celia and the Cross Cultural Dance Company.  Emerald Rose had people dancing in the aisles as usual.  Celia had the audience laughing and playing with TrestleFoote Fairie's appearance and announcement of her current run for president.  Celia's performance included a duet with Arthur Hinds of a song called “Give It Away”.  Celia wrote the song and is working on putting together a group of artists to be featured singing it.  She plans on donating that song to the Pagan Assistance Fund for use as a fundraiser.  

I’m not sure what the final numbers were on how many people came through.  I do know this.  The Pagan Assistance Fund booth had steady traffic all day and there always seemed to be lots of people milling about everywhere.  You can bet that both North Georgia Solitaries and the Pagan Assistance Fund will have another booth at Atlanta Pagan Pride 2012.

Savannah Pagan Pride Day 2011

We started our day by getting up around 2:30AM to get showers and coffee and head across town to pick up another North Georgia Solitaries member and Celia so we could hit the highway south.  We were on the road around 4:00AM.  I checked the time as we pulled in at Michelle Bryant’s apartment and saw that so far we were right on schedule.  She was ready to go so we stayed on schedule as we headed over to pick up Celia.  We traveled quietly for a couple of hours.  I worked on my laptop while David drove the others dozed a little on and off.  We stopped in Macon and got some breakfast and stretch breaks.  I expected the trip to be a really long one but we ended up arriving at the park in Savannah before the organizers or vendors even the delivery of artificial turf to protect the grass arrived.   While we sat in the van discussing whether or not we were at the right place my phone buzzed with a text from Lord Cheiron who just always seems to be psychically tuned in when I need him.  He told us where the vendors would be so we could park accordingly for unloading.

It wasn’t long before the organizers showed up getting busy directing the unloading of the artificial turf and directing vendors where to unload and set up.  Before we knew it there were people everywhere.  They had the vendors set up in kind of a long circle facing each other.  I really liked that set up.  It gave those of us that were at the tables a chance to see everything else that was going on all day.

Dogwood Local Council of the CoG

As people were getting set up we searched the crowd looking for our friends with the Dogwood Local Council booth.  We found them on the other side of the vendor area setting up a table in the sun.  The heat was already building so we insisted they move over to share our space in the shade.  Besides, the event would be more fun with more of us that knew each other together.   We ended up giving up our canopy for the stage as it was also in the direct sunlight.  I didn’t get the names of the nice men that helped move the canopy but if they see this, thank you.  They pitched it without complaint and helped us move it easily without having to take it down. 

Opening ritual was lead by Lady Belladonna of the WiccanSeminary.Edu in the center of the area.   That was really nice because it gave those that needed to stay with their booths a chance to feel involved and a part of it.  As Lady Belladonna led everyone into creating sacred space for the event the energy around the event changed to a more spiritual feel.

Celia working her musical Magick

Celia went on for her first performance in the early afternoon.   As she sang her original song Please Bless This Space adding layer after layer of harmonies and sounds to it, people stopped what they were doing to listen to this beautiful voice.  For those that haven’t heard her perform live, her voice is awe-inspiring.  This was the first stop on her Georgia tour.  You can find the rest of her tour listed on her Reverbnation page.  For all you music lovers out there, become a fan of Celia and your favorite artists on Reverbnation and get updates on new releases and sometimes even some free downloads. 

Lord Cheiron's Psychometry Workshop

As usual, I wasn’t able to get time to do all the workshops I wanted to see.  I did get to sit in on Lord Cheiron’s Psychometry workshop.  He explains everything so easily that everyone was fascinated.  He had a really good crowd gathered around him to learn how to hone their skills.  I always love workshops that actually give you something to try rather than just lecture you on the history of something and how to do it.  He did just that. He told us enough about it to know what it is and then focused on how to learn to do it.  He allowed everyone the chance to try it and we saw some really good results. 

The rest of the day had other workshops, shopping and shows.  They had a magician doing some wonderful sleight of hand, a reptile show, belly dancers and more music.   The storms, promised by the weatherman didn’t show until the very end of the day after the closing ritual led by Grandmother Elspeth took down the sacred space, so not much had to be missed due to the weather.   I would bet that if they had planned all the entertainment for before the closing ritual we might have held the storms off altogether.   There was some powerful magick going on during the day. 

Vendors in action
I love going to Pagan festivals and am particularly fond of Pagan Pride Days or any festivals that promote community.  This one was no exception.   We drove almost 5 hours to get to Savannah for their PPD and it was definitely worth it.  We are already making plans to attend next year.  Next year marks their 10th anniversary and they are already making plans.  Save the date – September 29, 2012.  Fiona Horne will be making an appearance in Savannah.

Celia Comes to Atlanta

Some of you may be familiar with Celia.  She is a singer/musician/songwriter/comedienne (there is just no one word to describe her) that travels the country performing and wowing crowds at churches, festivals, clubs, coffee houses, etc.

She is coming to Georgia this weekend and will be here through next weekend.  In the Pagan community she is most well-known for her song “Symbol”, which was adopted as the anthem for the Veteran Pentacle Quest spearheaded by Selena Fox.  She does so much more than that.

I first booked Celia for the Pagan Pathways Festival after seeing her video of her performing the song “Symbol”.  It was such a touching video that spoke to me about the many battles we Pagans have with discrimination.  Once I saw her do a complete show I was completely bowled over.

She does some music that is so spiritual in nature that it would be appropriate at any church or spiritual festival regardless of what faith is practiced by the crowd.  She has some other beautiful Celtic music that just gets the toes tapping.  Then there is the Trestle Foote Fairie.  What can be said about Trestle?  Somehow, right on stage with everyone watching, this elegantly beautiful redhead transformed herself into this cute fairy in pink.  Trestle is this na├»ve funny little soul that says things full of double-entendre that keep the audience in stitches.  A couple of favorite songs sung by Trestle are “Dr. Bronner’s Makes Your Hoo-Hoo Tingle” and “My Pussy”.    

I was so taken by Celia, the person, that once she got back to her side of the country I joined her “Tribe”, several friends and family members that work towards helping Celia, an Indie artist, get her music out in front of people.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Celia this last year and was thrilled when she wanted to come back to Atlanta and play at two of our local Pagan Pride Days.  She is a joy to spend time with as well as an entertainer not-to-be-missed.   If you get the chance you should not miss her while she is here.  She hails from New Mexico and currently Arizona so she doesn’t get to the south often.

Celia’s schedule while she is here in Georgia is as follows:

Saturday, September 24 – Savannah Pagan Pride Day – performing several times throughout the day
Tuesday, September 27 – Cosmic ConneXion – appearance and signing
Wednesday, September 28 – Trilogy Bookstore – appearance and signing
Thursday, September 29 – Phoenix & Dragon Bookstore – concert – contact Phoenix & Dragon for tickets
$12 advance - $15 at the door
Friday, September 30 – Harmony Learning Center, Tucker, GA –  concert - tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.
$12 advance - $15 at the door
Saturday, October 1 – Atlanta Pagan Pride Day
Sunday, October 2 – Harmony Learning Center – teaching Laughter Yoga & The Voice – tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite.

$50 for a full afternoon of instruction and practice

She will also be doing some private concerts and offering some private voice lessons while she is here.  If you are interested in a private concert or voice lesson you can contact me at

Church of the Spiral Tree's Earthdance


Earthdance by the Church of the Spiral Tree was held at TheLodge at Turtle Lake in Camilla, GA last weekend.   When you turn off the highway onto the winding dirt road you can feel the hustle and bustle of civilization being left behind.  By the time you wind your way through the trees and get to the clearing where the lodge is you are in a different world surrounded by woods and nature.  The lodge is situated in a large clearing and had tents scattered around it this weekend in a relaxed, casual manner.  There is a small building next to the lodge that can be used for sleeping for those that don’t want to set up tents.  At the back of the property sits this cool bus that is set up to act as an odd cabin of sorts.  A large carport  is nicely sheltered and could be used for workshops, an eating area, a shaded gathering for relaxing, or anything you like.  The Lodge itself has a fully equipped kitchen, a wonderful bathroom with a garden tub and a smaller room for additional sleeping.  There is a large deck that goes around the building to provide a great place for relaxation or as it was used this weekend, for a stage.

The atmosphere is relaxed and feels more like joining a family get together than entering a festival full of strangers.  People greet you as if they’ve known you for years.   On one side of the clearing, people are busily building a sweat lodge for later use.  There is a concert provided by Lucidian, a wonderful duo singing everything from pagan classics, to some old favorites from the charts and movies to originals from their own albums. 

The schedule for the weekend has all kinds of fun things to do, a Walkabout & Craft Class, workshop on Bach Flower Remedies, Drumming Class, Joyful Noise Chant workshop, History of Purification Sweat Lodge Ceremony, Tarot workshop, and an Irish Dance Demonstration.

The vendor, Bio-Buzz, had several tables fully loaded with all kinds of metaphysical goodies.  Their store located in Albany (newest drop-off for Toys for Yule by the PaganAssistance Fund) has a surprisingly wide range of stock displayed in a deceptively small building.   From the outside, the building is brightly colored with hand painted art on the front and the side.  It doesn’t appear to be a large store until you get inside.  As you walk through the narrow rooms they seem to go on and on and every nook is filled with different things to look at.  The scent of the incense from the back draws you through the store as you are constantly turning your head to try and see it all.  If you are ever in Albany, you owe it to yourself to stop in at see the store for yourself.  Bio-Buzz, 612 N. Slappey Blvd, Albany, GA  (229)438-5878.

Wonderful Mabon Celebration with NGS

What another fantastic day! North Georgia Solitaries celebrated Mabon on September 11, 2011 at Red Top Mountain State Park Pioneer Campground. The private campground, with its long history of use by local witches, is situated on Lake Allatoona and has a quiet energy that can be felt easily. It is not hard to sense where different groups have held circle. NGS has been celebrating there for over 6 years.

The afternoon started with the craft activity of making masks. There were masks for children as well as adults so everyone worked on decorating masks while a discussion was held on the use of masks in ritual. There were many creative masks made by children and adults. One industrious child went out and found a huge leaf and made a Greenman mask out of the leaf.

While the glue on the masks dried everyone proceeded down to the sacred space where Michelle Bryant and I led a workshop on cleansing sacred space. There was a table full of tools for everyone to try out including the children. It was so much fun watching everyone using the different tools.

During the day in a quiet area you could find an altar set up in memory of September 11 to mark the 10 year anniversary of that tragic day.  There were photos of the World Trade Center before and during the attack, photos of the Pentagon and field where Flight 33 went down in Pennsylvania.  There was a fireman's shirt, a police officer's badge, a marine pin and a small military figure to represent the emergency workers that worked so hard to save people.  The memorial was not only there to remind us of the lives lost but to remind us that intolerance can easily be turned into something deadly and horrific.  Many people spent some quiet moments at the altar reflecting and lit candles as a memorial.

Ritual was held in the circle with participation from everyone including the children. Parts were handed out to people in attendance. The children got to walk with the gatekeeper and help cast circle and hand out stones for everyone during the ritual for the magick that was worked.


North Georgia Solitaries is holding their Samhain Celebration on October 29 at Red Top. They will be holding a Trick-or-Treat Walk for the children, carving pumpkins, a blanket trade, ritual and drum circle. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for teens and $2 for children. Adult tickets can be purchased at a 20% discount if you purchase before Oct 1 and use the coupon code EARLYBIRD .

A Witch's Experience with the World Day of Prayer

What a wonderful experience I had last week. And all due to a connection I made with someone on Facebook back in May. I started conversing with MojoMan on Facebook about vending at some of our festivals. He told me about this church he attends that is open to Pagans and this day they celebrate in September. Unity of Gainesville Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer by setting up different prayer alcoves in their sanctuary. Each one of the alcoves is done by different people with some different type of prayer in mind. He told me that representatives of all religions and faiths are welcome to set up a prayer alcove to show how they do prayer and connect with Spirit. That got those wheels going in my head.

While I’m always looking for new things for North Georgia Solitaries to get into I thought that something like this would be better served if we could do something that showed a diverse representation of Pagan beliefs. So I turned to an organization that I’ve become a member of and asked if they would be interested. The Dogwood Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess took on that project enthusiastically and had it organized in no time as a part of their Interfaith Outreach. They not only arranged an alcove to be set up, but organized the day in shifts so that there was someone there from our organization for most of the day for questions and to participate in whatever the church had planned for the day.

My shift was the evening shift. I had requested that shift because my Facebook friend had indicated that he would be there around 7PM so I wanted to get a chance to meet him in person. We got there and were greeted immediately by Rev. Sydney Magill-Lindquist, the minister at the church. She was so friendly and seemed to be genuinely excited to have us there. She told us that I was scheduled to lead a prayer at 7PM just before they were to start a drumming circle. She showed me the schedule they had worked out for who was leading prayers throughout the day. I saw that three more of our DLC members were on the list for earlier in the day.

I led a short prayer after calling the elements and the Goddess and God. When I ended the prayer I was gratified to hear a chorus of voices calling out “So Mote It Be.” That was such a surprise. I knew one of our DLC members was in the room and one more Pagan, but there were definitely more voices than that calling out those familiar words.

The sanctuary was set up with prayer alcoves of all kinds. There was one for cleansing water, a Zen Garden, a Native American display, one for motorcyclists, angels, a memorial for those that have crossed, one celebrating the birth of Jesus, and one that really touched me. A little girl was sitting at one of the alcoves when I made my way around and asked if I could tell her what to do at that one. So I went over and sat down and looked around. They had a mirror set up for you to look in and an affirmation set up for you to say to yourself that all begins with “I am…” The words that follow are all wonderful empowering words. I read each statement to her and she looked in the mirror at herself and repeated the words. She asked a couple of times what something meant and then looked back at the mirror and repeated them very seriously. It felt as if she were examining the words and her reflection to see if they fit. That was a truly powerful experience.

Of course, the alcove set up by the DLC was my favorite. They did such a good job of representing many traditions. They had all the elements represented, some music, an altar complete with besom, and a basket with some brochures to explain who we are. Rev. Lindquist said that there were several people that spent quite a bit of time sitting in our alcove.

I want to thank the Unity of Gainesville Church for allowing us to be a part of such a powerful day, my fellow DLC members for moving so quickly in Interfaith Outreach, MojoMan for telling me about this day in the first place and everyone at the church that made me feel welcome.

Getting ready for Imbolc

As I was working on getting things ready for North Georgia Solitaries' Imbolc celebration, I looked over some notes in my book on Imbolc traditions. I thought it might be fun to join every other witchy forum, blog and facebook page and post some Imbolc traditions.

We prepare for renewal and growth at Imbolc by ridding ourselves of the old and making way for the new. This is the halfway point of the dark half of the year. Consider what it would have been like to live back in the days when you only ate what you raised. At this time of year, the harvest is far behind you. The days are short and cold. You and your family have eaten a good part of the food you put away for the winter. You are keeping a wary eye on how much food you have left and how much longer the winter will last. You start to see little tips of green plants sprouting through the snow. You start to get a few sunnier days as the days grow longer. Farm animals are giving birth. Suddenly, there is hope. Hope that your family will make it through the long winter. These are some of the reasons we celebrate Imbolc. Other names for this festival are Feast of Lights, Feast of Torches, Feast of the Virgin, Feast of the Waxing Light, Festival of the Ewe's Milk, Festival of Lights, Imbolgc Brigantia, Lupercus, Candelaria, Snowdrop Festival, Greater Sabbat, Solar Festival, the festival of the Maiden Brighid and the basis for Groundhog Day.

Imbolc Traditions

- Burn Yule greens to send Winter on its way
- Corn dollies were created from oat or wheat and rest in baskets with white flower bedding. Girls would carry them from house to house where gifts were bestowed upon the dollies.
- Make the Bride's Bed on February 1 - add the corn or wheat doll made the previous Lughnasadh dressed in white or blue wearing a necklace to represent all seasons. Lay her in a basket decorated with ribbons next to a fireplace (if you have one). Light white candles on either side of the basket. Say words of welcome to her. Lay a wand, decorated with white and blue ribbons beside her to represent the coming of the Sun God. Say words of welcome to him. Let the candles burn for a while - snuff out before going to bed. The next morning, look for any marks in the hearth dust (sign of activity of the Lord - early Spring) - remove the dress, scatter the wheat outdoors or if corn doll - hand in a tree for the squirrels and birds.
- On Imbolc Eve, leave buttered bread in a bowl indoors for the Fairies, who travel with the Lady. Dispose of the next day as the essence is gone.
- Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara.
- Cleanse your magick work area with an incense of rosemary and vervain
- Cleanse your home by carrying a white candle and sandlewood incense throughout.
- Make dream pillows stuffed with batting and herbs for everyone in your family
- Brighid's Crosses are created from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity.
- Hearth fires were put out and re-lit.
- Place a besom by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new.
- Light candles and place in each room to honor the re-birth of the Sun.
- The plough is a traditional symbol of Imbolc. In areas where this was the first of ploughing, a decorated plough was pulled from home to home. Costumed children would follow, asking for refreshment or money. If they were refused, the house's front garden was ploughed over. In other places, ploughes were decorated and whiskey was poured over them.
- Cheese and bread can be left by your tools as offering to the nature spirits.
- Make a wand out of stick and decorate with acorns, bells, gold, yellow, green and brown ribbons or yarn.

Traditional Imbolc Correspondences

Symbols - white flowers, snowflakes, besoms, candle wheels, Brighid crosses, wands, ploughs
Colors - white, light green, yellow, brown, pink, red
Crystals - ruby, garnet, amethyst, bloodstone, turquoise, and onyx
Flowers - violets, wisteria, heather, iris and white and yellow flowers
Herbs and Incense - bay leaves, angelica, cinnamon, basil, celandine, myrrh, coltsfoot, laurel, vanilla, blackberry and tansy
Food and Drink - all dairy products, breads, cakes, scones, muffins, raisins, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, greens, bell peppers, onions, garlic, herbal teas, ale, mead and spiced wines

If you happen to be in the north Atlanta area next weekend, you might consider joining us for our celebration. It will be a family ritual, complete with something for the children. One of our more active members is hosting it at her home so directions will be sent to everyone that signs up in the database on the NGS Yahoo Group.

Hearth Magick for today's Hearth

This time of year is a great time for reflection. We are past the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the weather invites us to stay indoors. The daylight hours are shorter so we have more time in the darkness. Even the hours when the sun is up are not as bright as the other seasons. Many of us have fireplaces and try to spend as much time near them as possible. This is a great time for hearth magick.

Hearth magick is often thought of as kitchen magick. Hearth is a symbol of the womb. In the days of old the hearth was the focal point of Pagan life. Food was prepared in the hearth, family time was spent there and some ancestral shrines were place over the hearth. Spirits were said to gather at the hearth. Vesta, the Roman Goddess was connected to the hearth and home. She was the symbol of divinity within a living flame. The family and the fireplace were the territory of the mother in the home. She was one that tended the fire, keeping the flame alive. With no matches or lighters in that time, keeping hot embers was an important role.

Today, we are going to focus on magick for the hearths of today. Most of us have our fireplaces in our family rooms so that is where our hearths are located.

Let's think about the word "hearth" for a moment in today's context. It is pronounced "harth" like "heart". It is often at the heart of the home. When someone speaks of the hearth, it often brings to mind the picture of a fireplace with a cozy fire and people gathered around it. At least that is the picture that comes to my mind. When growing up my family would often spend time sitting near the fire playing board games or putting together puzzles, watching tv together, reading or just enjoying the warmth of the fire.

With that in mind, let's explore some of the things you can do magickally at your hearth.

- Toss a handful of oak leaves, cloves, holly, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, or nettles onto the smoldering fire to protect your home.

- Place a besom (broom) near the fireplace to block negativity from entering the house through the fireplace.

- Place a design of three concentric circles (circles that share the same center point) above the opening to protect the home by the Triple Goddess.

- Hang a pouch containing grain from the early harvest over the mantle to call on the god Lugh to protect the home.

- Dry herbs by hanging them near the hearth.

- Scry by gazing into the fire for visions.

- You can predict the future by looking at how the wood burns.

- fire has the energy of transformation - write changes you want to bring about (things you want to bring into your life or things you want to banish) and burn them in your fireplace along with an herbal offering to the gods you are calling

Look into the energies you want to harness and use your imagination. Come up with ways you can work hearth magick in your home this winter.