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August 17th. 2014 ...

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Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3

Author: The Redneck Pagan
Posted: March 10th. 2013
Times Viewed: 4,081

And finally the cream of the crop of the stupid things I did that make me shudder to this day:

4. Bonfire on the Hill: This was yet another one of my Year-and-a-Day flubs. I think I really understand why many witches insist on the Year-and-Day period: it gives you enough time to do some really stupid things and -- if you live through them -- then you’ve earned your broom! Anyway, it was June and the Midsummer Solstice was on its way. I had read a book that talked about bonfire jumping (this book talked about bonfire jumps at all the Sabbats) and had a great ritual for honoring the sun that I wanted to try out so I took great pains to write it into my own ritual. I then rewrote it several times.

Now the next day I was going to be leaving in the morning to go work for two months at a Summer Camp in another province and I wanted to do the ritual rather early in the evening so I would get to bed early. I woke up early that morning and finished packing for my trip, and then re-read my ritual notes for the night and packed up all my supplies in my Rubbermaid tote of magic (I used that thing for years -- with a lid and a handle it was great -- until I found a great leather bag to use) .

I decided to do the ritual around 9 at night in my dad’s back yard, but ran into a small problem. You see, it was a lovely warm evening with just a light breeze cooling everything off. Everybody and their dog was out and enjoying the evening. I can’t say that I blame them; here in Canada winter comes around mid-October and will cling on until May. It is not unusual to have a snowstorm during the May Long Weekend! I stepped out onto the deck and had three different sets of friendly and curious neighbors proceed to wave to me.

Well crap, this is not going to work. I really do not want a bunch of neighbors watching me as I clumsily cast my circle and perform my rituals… I am going to have to think of something else. At that time, my neighborhood was still rather new and just across the street from us was a big field with several built up dirt hills. They had not started the construction of the new subdivision yet so I had lots of room to find a spot for the ritual. So I grabbed my script, my tote and the brass cauldron I had got at a thrift store. I double checked my list and then told my parents I would be back in an hour.

I went across the street and ran into my brother on his bike and, since he asked, told him what I was up to. He wanted to ride his bike in the field and offered to keep an eye out for trouble. I went to the top of one of the mounds (having read about the fires being on a hill top) and proceeded with my ritual. I placed sticks and grass in the cauldron and then proceeded to light it. It worked out rather well; the fire was contained and, as I had recently given up on the dress for my rituals, in shorts and a t-shirt I did not have any problems. The fire was nice and chipper, and I could see the sun starting to dip to the west… and the police car driving down the road and the lights coming on.

Oh, Hell! I am in for it!

Having nothing to douse the flames, and being in a state of alarm, I bumped the cauldron over and began to kick dirt on the flaming sticks. I threw everything into my tote as my brother came speeding up the hill on his bike freaking out over the fact that the cop had his lights on and was driving towards the construction road. I shoved a few things at him and told him to peddle his assets home. I grabbed the cauldron, and then dropped it as I singed my hands. I grabbed the blanket I had been sitting on and wrapped it around the cauldron. Picking up the last of my things, I flew into the tall grass and into the wooded area at the bottom of the hill. I stayed low to the ground as I snaked my way home. Once I got home I went out onto the deck and could see the police officer walking across the top of the hill where I had been five minutes prior. I had escaped just in time! My dad walked onto the deck, looked at where I was looking. I think he suspected I might have had something to do with the police officer up on that hill because he said, “If you get arrested, I don’t know you”.

3. Bell Sleeves: I hate to have to sound like a broken record, but this one also makes the list of Year-and-Day flubs. In Central Alberta, Imbolc can often be one of the coldest times of year. It is not uncommon to see -40 degrees Celsius on a February night (to which I say kudos to all the ranchers around here. Calving season starts in February. Lots of ranchers are out amongst their cows making sure that if they are ready to give birth that help is at hand and keeping a watchful eye out for prowling coyotes.) Anyway, I was really not feeling the Sabbat, I mean really not feeling it.

That particular year had been very cold indeed and it was hard for me to really think about Imbolc being the beginning of warmth again. The days were getting longer it’s true, but it wasn’t very noticeable and people up here tend to get grumpy in February (or really hung over from all the New Year’s parties and getting their Christmas credit card bills) . I was not exempt from this. It was cold and dark and I was in the middle of a really hard class in college that was testing my brains, patience and ability not to have a screaming fit in a room full of people.

I spent several days at the end of January being a miserable pain in the assets to everyone around me, moping, grumbling and, to quote a character from a television show, “general carrying on cranky”. It was to the point where my brother asked me one day, “Don’t you have some voodoo spell or something for this?” (My family, while very loving and accepting, runs on sarcasm) . I finally decided to pull my head out of my derrière and get back into a good mood. And what better for that than learning to love and appreciate the wheel of the year and my place on it!

I pulled out my books, determined to write a beautiful Imbolc ritual to get me in tune and grateful for the gifts of the season. I also went on an Internet search for some nice altar set-ups. I found a beautiful one with some taper candles on it and wrote my ritual around the set-up. I bought special scented candles and treated myself to a nice bath bomb for my pre-ritual soak. Two days before the ritual, I cleaned out my closet and had two full garbage bags of clothes to get rid of. I also made sure my ritual dress was clean and ready to go.

In my bedroom late Imbolc night, I cast my circle, and prepared my ritual. I even blessed the clothing in the garbage bags so that the next person who got them would find warmth in them. I blessed my room and then prepared for the candle lighting. All four candles were lit (in addition to my illuminator, quarter and deity candles) . I threw both arms up in the air over the altar preparing to launch into a devotional to Brighid (Irish Goddess of Fire, Smith craft, poetry and childbearing. Imbolc is Her sacred time) . I suddenly realized that it was really warm in the room. I put my arms down for a second. My right one felt really hot. I looked down and yipped! The belled sleeve from my ritual dress was ablaze!

I immediately grabbed the water on the altar and threw it on the sleeve. I also dropped down and in the confined area rolled until things felt cool again. I ripped the crunchy sleeve up and was relieved to see that while I no longer had hair on my arm, I still had skin. Tucking the sleeves up, I finished my ritual, thanked the Goddess of Fire for not burning my body and opened the circle. The Halloween Costume Ritual Dress became a wonderful rag for polishing my boots and cleaning my tools and I have since practiced rituals in Yoga Pants and practical shirts. I currently have my eyes on a lovely dress that I might wish to use as a ritual dress; it fits tight to the body from the waist up and the sleeves fit tight to the arm.

2. Flowing Hair and High Heels: After I determined that I wanted to do the Year-and-a-Day, I read about the requirements. All the books suggested a ‘dedication ritual’. So, being eager to do things the right way, I wrote one! I worked hard at it, reading several books to get the right ritual down, making sure all my colors were right (from candles right down to my undergarments… yes, I am that nuts) . I did not have any ritual clothing as of yet but I figured that I would get them when Halloween costumes went on sale in the next few weeks. (I did my dedication at Samhain; seemed deliciously perfect at the time) .

Not having the ritual clothing, I decided to wear my best clothes, including a pair of high heels. I even took the time to apply a “full face” of makeup (I only ever wear a full face of makeup for important events and decided that this counted as such) . The night before I had braided my hair and before the ritual I brushed it out so it was full and flowing, just like the images of priestesses I had seen in movies and had visualized.

The time came, and with my family firmly tucked into bed I prepared my ritual space (My family knew what I was up to. The first time I went to do a ritual my younger brother popped himself a bag of popcorn, sat down to watch me, and provided a running commentary on what I was doing) . At the time, my bedroom was a small room in the basement and so my space was limited. I used my bedside table as my altar, placed a picture I had photocopied of the God and Goddess on the table, and placed the deity candles on top of it.

I cast my circle and lit the candles. I called the quarters and then the Gods. I prayed for a long time and then pulled out the Charge of the Goddess and read it aloud. I stated my intent, and then lit a candle I had set aside as my dedication candle. After thanking the Gods and the elements, I closed the circle and began to clean up. As I walked around my altar I went to lean down to blow out the candles… wobbled on the high heels and heard a lovely fizz. I jumped back from the altar as the smell of singed hair filled the space around me and my face felt rather warm. Looking down I noticed that my hair on the left was almost three inches shorter than the other side!

I said nothing and cleaned everything up. The next morning I pulled my hair into a ponytail and announced to my mother that I wanted to borrow the car and go get a haircut. I said I wanted to get a few inches taken off to make it more manageable. She gave me her keys and I raced into town. I went to three hairdressers before I found one who could fit me in. The hairdresser looked perplexed at the chunk of charred hair before her. I said “Halloween party, one too many”. She cut the rest of my hair and on I went. I got home and showed my mom my hair as I handed back the keys. As she took them back she looked at me and said, “Nope, can’t even see where you burnt it”, and left the room, leaving me standing there looking like a cod. (I also relearned the lesson to never try and pull one over on my mother) .

1. Methyl Hydrate and my cauldron: Picture this: a gentle Yule night. After learning in an earlier example that an outdoor ritual in -20 is a bad idea, I checked the Weather Network and discovered that the time I had planned to do my ritual would be very cold. Feeling rather smug at how intelligent I was, I determined that an indoor ritual would have to do. Now the ritual I had planned involved having a little fire in our fire pit and burning some papers on which I had written down things I wanted to be reborn within me.

I decided that a small fire in the cauldron would be a great idea. It would allow me to have the same effect as the fire in the fire pit and I would not have hypothermia. Now I did not want to have a lot of smoke (previous lesson on sage) , but my really outdoorsy friend (my future husband) had been telling me all about this awesome stove he bought and that it would burn Methyl Hydrate (a type of Alcohol based liquid fuel) , it was lightweight, the fuel was cheap, burned well, was odorless and no smoke. After trying his stove, I had gone out and bought my own, along with the fuel. So I dug out the fuel and put the bottle next to my cauldron.

I made my ritual space (my bedroom in my dad’s basement was rather large so I had a very nice sized circle) , placed candles at the four quarters and a few illuminators where I had set up a small table as my altar. I cast my circle, called the quarters, the Gods, recited some poetry then got ready for the working. I sat on the floor with my cauldron and carefully poured the liquid into the cauldron. I then lit the match and dropped it in…

WOOF went the fireball! It almost touched the ceiling and it got very hot, very fast!

My dogs, who had been sleeping in the corner, woke up and upon seeing the fireball in the middle of the floor proceeded to lose their cheese! They ran in circles barking, trying to get close to me, knocking things off the altar (a very wobbly table) and almost singeing their tails on the quarter candles.

I panicked. Actually, I freaked right out of my skull! I jumped to my feet in full fledged freak out and kicked the cauldron over… drops of the alcohol flew onto the carpet and the flames followed right behind it. I began to do the most amazing version of pajamas-clad River Dance as I stomped the flames out. I then had to right the cauldron, while it was still aflame to keep it from spilling. I retrieved the cauldron lid (lesson from the bonfire on the hill top) and dropped it on the top and proceeded to wait 20 minutes before I dared to open it. I quickly closed down the ritual and began to clean up the destruction. In my hurry I didn’t notice the dogs sharing the upset plate of ritual cakes. They stuffed themselves so fast that the female dog ended up getting sick all over the carpet ten minutes later... so I ended up scrubbing scorch marks and doggy upset out of the carpet. I even had to cut out a few of the extra crispy strands. To this day, I have not told my dad what happened…

My husband happened to note that most of my mistakes have to do with fire… I wonder if perhaps there was an imbalance there… you know, fire being the element associated with passion, energy, etc. Hmmm… Or it could also be my arrogance in thinking that I was the one in control of the fire, when really fire is a tool to be respected and honored! Either way, there is a lesson in this, so…

For the love of the Gods, PLEASE learn from my mistakes!

Yours Humbly,

The Redneck Pagan





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