Friday, March 27, 2015

Rufus and the Magic Box

In memory of Rufus Clark 
Safe journey across the Rainbow Bridge, little friend!

Rufus, the Shih Tzu puppy, was bored. It was a sun-shiney day out, but no one had time to go into the yard to play. Auntie Char-Char was at the grocery store, Auntie Claude was doing the laundry, cousin Keith was working on his computer, and Mommy was busy cleaning and dusting the ritual room. 

He squeaked a few purple snakes and flung a couple of rubber kitties in the air, but nobody came to tug the other end or play catch. He tried digging under the bedroom rug and rolling around underneath, but Mommy just shooed him away, saying he was underfoot. No, there was nothing to do, and the minutes felt like hours. With a heavy sigh, he shuffled off, with head and tail drooping low, to go sleep on his meditation mat in the corner of the ritual area. At least, he figured, he’d be in the same room as Mommy and she might spare a moment to pat his belly or scratch him under his chin. However, as he circled round, kneaded the cotton filled mat into a soft ball, and lay down with a sigh, Mommy didn’t even seem to notice. She was busy with her head stuck in the herb cabinet, dusting and sorting and rearranging the dark amber bottles. 

 At one point, she reached behind her, without turning, and deposited on the floor the prettiest box Rufus had ever seen. It was long and slender, made of wood, and painted in beautiful jewel tones. It seemed to shimmer in the afternoon light. There were pictures on the sides of winged goddesses and green men, and on the top of the lid, a pentagram in gold. Rufus had never seen this before. From his place in the corner, an aroma seemed to reach out across the room and tease his now twitching nose. What WAS that scent? Was it something special? Was this magic box hiding some special treat? Mommy usually left him little gifts and goodies on the floor… was this a little something for him?

As quietly as he could, Rufus got up and approached the box. The closer he got, the better it smelled! Ever so carefully, he took his paw and moved the colorful lid open on its brass hinges. Inside was a variety of small, cone shaped objects. Each one had a different smell, some spicy, some flowery, some like vanilla and honey too! These HAD to be treats for him!

With hungry speed, he quickly gobbled them up, barely tasting the first few bites. The treats didn’t really taste the way they smelled, but neither did many of the treats made for puppies. In less than two minutes he finished them all, and went to lie back down on his mat with a full and contented stomach.

But that’s not quite how the afternoon went.

About ten minutes later, around the time Rufus started to feel a gurgling and a churning in his tummy, Mommy turned around and noticed the empty incense box. She was up on her feet in alarm at about the same time Rufus felt a terrible need to gag, and all those half chewed treats of multiple colors ended up in a rainbow puddle on the ritual room floor.

He felt horrible and, what was worse, the look on Mommy’s face made him cower in fear of being scolded. All he wanted was a little attention, but not like this! Now he was sick, and miserable, and a little afraid. Then, Mommy’s eyes got a softer look, and a sad smile spread across her lips. She carefully placed the now empty box for the magical incense on the altar and fetched a clean rag from her dusting bag. She gently wiped Rufus’ whiskers and nose before cleaning up the mess on the floor.

She sat down crossed legged next to Rufus on his mat, and gently pulled him into her lap.

“That was both our faults,” she soothed, rubbing his ears and stroking the hair out of his eyes. “I should have been more careful, and you should have been less… well… careless!”

Rufus nestled into her arms, and burped. 

Moral: Life is like magic, and not everything is as it appears. Be careful what you taste and ingest in haste, lest you be doomed to taste it again! 

by Katharine Clark
Rufus by Robin Ator

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Flowers "Write" from the Goddess's Garden!

Don't pick the flowers--let them grow, and make these pretty flower pens instead! You Will Need:

  • Silk Flowers 
  • Pens with removable tabs at the end (the pen's body must be a hollow tube) 
  • Glue Gun 
  • Floral Tape 
  • Wire Cutters 
  • Scissors 

 Remove the tab--the small plastic plug at the end of the pen.

With the wire cutters, cut the flower so that there is about a half inch of stem attached to it. Cut the leaf in the same manner (usually the leaf stems are plastic and you can cut it with regular scissors).

Put a few drops of glue from the glue gun at the top of the pen where the tab was removed. One at a time, insert the leaf and flower into the opening.

When the glue is dry, take a length of floral tape, and starting at the top...

...wrap the pen...

until you get to the bottom.

If you still have tape when you get to the end, you can cut it, or continue to wrap upwards until you run out. Floral tape is sticky; when you finish wrapping, gently rub the tape in one direction to seal it.

If you make several pens, you can create a garden display to show them off. Place a block of floral foam in a basket and cover it with tissue paper. "Plant" your pens by sticking each one into the foam, being careful not to scrunch up the tape when you push them in.

Happy gardening!

by Natalie Zaman

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

...from the Pen of the Puca

Whether it comes in or goes out as either a lion or a lamb, March's winds bring changes. Not only does the Spring Equinox come in March, but also the feast of that glorious patron of Ireland, Patrick! 

As they say, everyone is Irish on March 17th. Old movies like “The Quiet Man” will be shown on TV, Irish groups like the Chieftains will make special appearances on morning shows and, for those of you in the area of New York City, there is the traditional parade. Everyone wears green, eats loads of corned beef and cabbage, and drinks everything from green milkshakes to green beer. However, the symbol that rivals them all, from flags to greeting cards, is the leprechaun. Even though there are scads of mythic creatures in Ireland (like yours truly) it is the leprechaun that catches the human imagination, and immediately invokes visions of the Emerald Isle.

The name “leprechaun” may have come from a number of Irish words. It could come from the term meaning “shoemaker” and, in truth, these tiny men have been depicted working hard on a shoe--but only one. Why? This particular fairy can appear in the natural world of men, but really belongs in the world of spirits. Therefore, he has one foot in both realities, and only the mundane world would require a shoe!

The name might also come from the Irish for “pygmy” as they are tiny people. Yet, the explanation I favor is that their name comes from the word “luch-chromain” which means “little stooping Lugh.” As you may know, the old Gods of Ireland were the Tuatha De Danann, or children of the goddess Danu. When men came to our island, the gods went underground to live, but they did not abandon the world above. They often would interact with humans, who described them as “shining beings” or “shining ones.” The brightest of the TDD was the sun god Lugh. To call a leprechaun “little stooping Lugh” was to identify him with the old gods. Who's to say they shouldn't be!

Leprechauns were thought to guard treasure, like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You would have to catch him to make him surrender his fortune, but if you lost eye contact with him for just a moment, he would disappear. Often times, if you DID get his gold, it would turn into a pile of leaves in the morning. This also connects Leprechauns to the old Irish deities. The burial mounds dotting Ireland, especially in the East along the river Boyne, were though to be the entry ways to the world of the gods. These “hills” or “sidhes” (pronounced shees) were rumored to contain all the wealth of Ireland itself, from gold to magical harps and objects of power. A mortal may be taken into the sidhe, wined and dined and bedecked with gold but, in the morning (or even years later, since one day in a sidhe could last a decade or more) he would awaken on the top of the mound in a pile of leaves.

In general, leprechauns love to do mischief, but are considered harmless. Mostly, they like to be left alone. Oh! And all that green they're supposed to wear? In reality, the first leprechauns wore (brace yourselves) RED! Why red? In Irish myth and folklore, red was the color of divinity. See, I TOLD you they could be gods!

Close cousin to the leprechaun is a little creature called the “cluricaun.” The cluricans are like leprechauns “after hours” since they love places that sell strong drink. It's not surprising that they are often quite tipsy. They are very grumpy and have been know to ride on the backs of sheep and dogs at night! If you treat them well, they will guard your wine cellar. If you disrespect them, look out! They can plague your house with mischief and make your grapes turn sour. Taverns and inns don't mind having a friendly cluricaun about, as they will defend your establishment against drunk and dishonest employees.

Just in case you think the Irish are the only ones with leprechaun-like fairies, the Welsh have their own version. Being a mining country, workers felt that the mines and caves were the homes of a special type of leprechaun. If the mine was in danger of collapse, these spirits would rap on the rock walls to warn the miners to get out. As these people migrated to the United States, they felt that these spirits followed them into the mining areas of America. Once again, if collapse was imminent, they would bang a warning on the mine walls. Eventually, these spirits were giving their own name by the Welsh-Americans. They called them “Tommyknockers.” Humm... sounds like a good title for a book.

Have a wonderful Vernal Equinox, and a mild, healthy Springtime. Forgive me for a moment of patriotic pride but... EIRINN GO BRACH (IRELAND FOREVER)!

Slainte, everyone!

by Katharine Clark, Puca by Lauren Curtis

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Farewell to Winter

Grandmother came riding on the north wind right after Samhain. 

She greeted us with a flurry of snow. 

The children ran out laughing and sticking out their tongues to catch the icy flakes, as children have been doing every winter since the first snowfall. 

“Old Lady is shaking Her featherbed!” one of them giggles. 

“The geese are flying!” squeals another, dancing as wildly as the howling wind. 

“The snow tastes like sparkly sugar!” a little girl whispers as she gazes thoughtfully up at the racing clouds. 

And so Grandmother Winter arrived for her yearly visit once again. She spread her white cloak out over the mounds of sleeping brown hills and settled down upon the land. 

Like any old woman, sometimes Grandmother Winter is tender, sometimes she is cross. 

Her silver icicles, the craftwork of her clever hand, can be both beautiful and deadly, crystals or swords. 

Her voice can howl like the banshee or sing like the silver bells do on the longest night. 

And like all grandmothers, too soon she is gone, leaving a trail of flowers and cozy memories in her wake. 

After she leaves, the old people linger by winter’s last fires a little while longer as if to hold onto their own fragile, fading seasons. 

But the children run out once again, chasing the first rainbows of Spring and gathering ribbons for the Maypole.

by Gillian Green, Hekate by Sandra Stanton

Friday, February 20, 2015

Be a Light, Make a Light

It can be hard to see in the dark--but little by little, the light is coming back. In the mean time, you can make a light, and be a light with basic tools and recycled materials. Here’s what you'll need:

  • Tin cans (Any size can works; large like the ones you see at Costco, or small like tuna cans. Just make sure they are clean, dry, and have no sharp edges.)
  • Candle stubs or votive candles
  • Sand or fresh kitty litter
  • An awl or thick sharp nail
  • Hammer

What design would you like the candlelight to make? A pentagram? A crescent moon? Whatever picture or symbol you choose, keep it simple! The design must be reduced to a bunch of dots. After deciding on your design, draw it on the can with a black medium point marker. 

Place the awl or nail on one of the dots. Tap the hammer slowly and carefully to puncture the side of the can. You don’t want to bend the can, so you may have to insert a block of wood, but a stiff piece of Styrofoam will help the can keep its shape. 

Once your can in punctured in your design, pour at least one inch of sand, small gravel or litter into it. 

Center your candle (NEVER leave a burning candle unattended!) and share your light!

by Charlotte Bennardo

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The story of stuff... continued!

Remember the STORY OF STUFF? Well, there's more! Have a look:

As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." ♥