Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Rite of Wood

Beech Tree

Yew Tree

Books and The Pursuit of Knowledge
In Silver Ravenwolf's book, Hedge Witch, the Twelfth Night Ritual is the power of wood.

The personal affirmation is-
Through personal education, I open the door to Knowledge.
Every day I will seek to learn something new and beneficial to my well-being.

She writes that one must concentrate on wood ( trees) and associating their energy with the longevity of Spirit and the protection it offers to plants and animals.

I think of this rite as a call for one to think about Gaia, Mother Earth, and her other children  that we share space with here....the plants and the animals. That by acquiring knowledge of them we educate ourselves to better preserve and serve  them and Mother Earth.

She also discusses animal symbols; how various cultures  over centuries have associated good fortune and personal luck with them.
She challenges you to look for your personal Hedge Witch lucky animal symbol.

My previous posts on Owls are connected to this rite. One overlaps the other and I find myself drawn to learn more about them both.

S.R advises that if you are spending some time on this rite say a week or so make potpourri or magickal sachets using barks, leaves, flowers and essential oils or decorate a wreath that matches the magical correspondences of what you desire to bring into your life.
Remember accepting your desire is just as important as formulating it and the act of creating it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Owl's Hill Sanctuary

Owl's Hill Sanctuary Nature Park sits in a small valley between three large rolling hills. The valley has mostly wooded slopes, a winding creek,a flat corn field in the center of the valley and along the southern slope a grassy knoll that has several picnic tables set up.
 To enter the park you take a road that rises upward. At the entrance the road winds down to the valley's floor. To the  east northeast stands a park pavilion having a concrete floor, rough hewn posts, open roof rafters and a ceder shake tiled roof. Eight picnic tables lined up in two rows of four fill the center of this outdoor room.
  A massive stone fireplace stands at the eastern end of the pavilion. Above the mantel piece an owl is carved into the stone and the two andirons in the fireplace have owl finials. Around the perimeter of the concrete flooring, there are pressed indentations of all kinds of tree leaves , animal paw and hoof prints and bird prints.

 We arrived  half an hour earlier than we needed to for the Solstice Owl Walk/Hike.
I wanted to be able find the place before it got to dark. We had dressed in layers for the cold and I wondered if I had put on enough layers. There was a small wind blowing.

 We were able to meet one of the volunteers who takes care of the injured owls the sanctuary protects. She was also preparing our dinner. The event included a meal before we left on our walk
They have five owls they nurse at the Sanctuary, a barn owl, a barred owl, a great horned and two little screech owls. They live in large outdoor cages. All have been injured to the point they can't be released. Because it was dusk and feeding time for the owls when we arrived; we were able to view the owls while they were active.
As we passed by the great horned owl's cage, I stopped and looked him over while he looked me over.
His eyes were large and golden. He bobbed his head a little and hissed at me.
Yes, hissed at me just like a cat hisses.
 I was surprised. I didn't know owls hissed! Later the volunteer told me Andromeda hisses at everybody.

Five couples came for the hike as well as our instructor/leader and his wife.
   After we had eaten and had introduced ourselves to each other, the leader gave us an informal talk about the Winter Solstice and owls and their habits in the woods.
It was full dark now. An almost full moon was rising but because of a high layer of cloud cover, the moon looked as though someone had drawn a gauzy veil in front of it.
We took a" naked eye" star watch/gazing-looking for owls hike, meaning no flashlights, candle lights or binoculars.
     Our leader instructed us on how to walk in the woods, high careful steps and no hands or arms outstretched from our sides. It would be to easy to get scratched or tangled up in something.
 He did assure us that after five minutes or so our eyes would become adjusted to the dark and we would be able to see much more than we would have thought we could.
 He also demonstrated several owl calls. He was very good and I was impressed.

As we began our walk I could hardly see where I was going. I thought "Oh good, Nothing like stumbling around in the dark out in unfamiliar woods"
But as we moved slowly through the valley my eyes did begin to adjust. Down in the valley walking among the trees, the sound of the wind moving through the tree tops was marvelous.
We stopped in a spot and our leader whispered to us he was going to try calling a barred owl. Some of us were instructed to stand looking in different directions. If one comes, it will come silently and not from the direction of it's responding call, our leader explained.
On his fourth call, we heard a response. We waited five minutes anxiously looking for any movement in the tree tops.
Nothing, so we moved on.
We passed a large tree log near the trail. The lichen growing on the tree glowed softly. We  were told that many types of lichen glow in the dark. It was magical.

Toward the end of our walk, Hubby and I stood close together holding hands, out in the woods, in the dark and gazed up at the soft glow of moon.

There may not have been any active owl sightings but this was undoubtedly the best walk in the woods I've ever taken.
p.s. having come early, Hubby and I were able to view the owls. The Others didn't have the chance to.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Owls and Such

When I began my journey on The Path, my reading lead me to the study of animals as familiars, guides and totems.
Webster's New World Dictionary gives these definitions to the words totem and familiar:

Totem-n[ Algonquian], 1. among primitive peoples, an animal or natural object considered as being related by blood to a given family or clan and taken as its symbol.
Familiar-n ) formerly a spirit believed to act  as an intimate servant.

At the time I was considering what my totem animal maybe.
I was studying Silver Ravenwolf's book, Hedge Witch, spells, crafts and rituals for natural magick. In the Twelfth Night ritual,she discusses associating the energy of Spirit with longevity and the protection of animals and plants.
The affirmation for this ritual is:
Through personal education, I open the door to knowledge. Every day I will seek to learn something new and beneficial to my well-being. Silver's symbol for this ritual was a tree or grove of trees.
She talks about  various cultures that have over the centuries associated good fortune and personal luck with animal symbology.
She challenges you to look for your personal Hedge Witch lucky symbol and learn all you can about the animal.
I began looking for my lucky animal symbol. It was Spring and I would find a feather every time I took a walk around my neighborhood. It made me curious about birds and how they are connected to magick.

I took a trip to my local book store and found a brand new copy of Adele Nozedar's book, The Secret language of Birds, A Treasury of Myths, Folklore and Inspirational True Stories.
It was sitting in the Bargain Bin and was priced $2. Synchronicity at work!

In doing my reading and research I felt drawn to the owl.  We had owls living in the small grove of woods behind our home. Hubby and I would listen to them call in the night. Occasionally we were lucky to get a glimpse of them sitting high up on a tree limb in the dusk.

 S. Ravenwolf instructs that the animal energy closest to yours will show up in the oddest of places.
 I wondered was the owl my animal energy?

 Not to many days later I had to stop by the grocery store and pick up a few things. As I walked by the magazine rack, a large owl starred at me from the cover of a magazine. It stopped me in my tracks.
Of course I had to buy the magazine.
Several days later Hubby and I were driving down the highway when a large truck pulled in front of us. It's logo was an Owl.
When I discovered a large feather on the sidewalk in my neighborhood and learned through research it was an owl feather, I knew beyond a doubt the Owl was my lucky animal symbol.

Fast forward several years and here I sit in my new little house in a different state.
 One of the magickal things I have wondered about was my animal energy. Would it change or would the owl still resonate with me?
 Was there,would there be owls here?

Two weeks after we moved in our home, Hubby and I had to take a hall table with a cracked leg to a local repair man's shop. Driving through the countryside was marvelous.
As we pulled into the man's driveway, I noticed he had an owl statue sitting on a post in his yard. I pointed it out to Hubby.
A few days later I had gone to our mailbox to collect the mail. It was sunset and there were Mare's Tails clouds sweeping across the sky that were the most gorgeous shade of  orange sherbet.
I had to stand back and look at them they were so beautiful.
As I followed one clouds outline against the sky, I spied on top of the roof of a house two doors down from us an owl.
It was a statue but just the same I had never noticed it before.
That evening as we read the local paper I learned that there is an Owl Nature Sanctuary very near to where we live and that they were going to have a Solstice Night Owl  Watch and Hike.

We are going I told Hubby and that's another story!...

to be continued......