Merry Meet, all. Hummingbird, here. 18-year-old eclectic Pagan who works primarily in stone magick and energy manipulation. Demisexual, with a wonderful girlfriend. Not currently following any deity(s) more specific than Goddess and God, but interested in many pantheons including Greek and Shinto. Attending college with end goal of a degree in Interior Design.

This blog is a digitalized record of my life as a Pagan. It includes spells, charms, meditations, notes on the properties of various magickal items, and my own personal experiences with my practice. Sometimes I post multiple times a day, sometimes it's once a month.

All are welcome here. Please, make yourself at home, and let me know if I can help you with anything. )0(

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 25th, 2015

As a little "thank you" offering, I made a little painting for my altar Monday night. I'd also like to do a bigger one this weekend, if I have the time.

It's obviously a very simple little piece of work, but I feel like it has been well-received. Here's my whole altar at the moment:

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23rd, 2015

The universe is really on my side today. I lost my purse this morning and was freaking out, when my Speech teacher went to use the restroom and found it tucked in the corner in there. I'm not sure how I managed to miss it either of the two times I looked, but whatever. Problem solved.

And then, I gave my speech! I think it went really well; to recap, I had to give a 4-5 minute informative speech about a culture I belong to, so I decided to talk about being Pagan. It seemed like a good opportunity to actually talk about something important. Here's a transcript of my script. I'm going to leave the formatting as-is, because I'm lazy:

Cultural Artifact Speech

I. Introduction: A. (Attention Getter) Merry Meet, everyone. That phrase, “merry meet”, is commonly used in Pagan circles to open a ritual or ceremony.
B. (Background/Need) Paganism, and the many forms thereof, is growing as a religion in the United States. Most contemporary estimates describe the American demographic as being about 1.2 million people. Despite this, mainstream media rarely acknowledges the many branches of Paganism or terribly misrepresents them.
C. (Thesis) As a Pagan myself, it is important to me that people understand something of my religious background. Prejudice and discrimination are serious problems that we face every time religion enters the conversation.
D. (Preview) In opening that dialogue today, I will share some of the most common beliefs held by modern Pagans and a special ritual chalice, as well as where I fit into this conversation.

*** Transition*** To talk about religion, it helps to contextualize what a person actually believes in.

II. Culture: All systems of belief have ideology, and they have practices.
A. Beliefs: Paganism is extremely varied in individuals’ beliefs; it has been said that there are as many branches of Paganism as there are Pagans in the world. That being said, a few elements are common themes through most branches. Pagans are polytheistic, which means we believe in multiple gods. These may be referred to simply as “God” and “Goddess”, or we may choose to call upon a specific deity from a specific region, such as Zeus or Astarte. We also tend to believe in other spirits or energies. Many Pagans accept that there are plant and animal spirits, as well as ones of earth, air, fire, and water. Respect for nature, as well as the idea of reincarnation, feature heavily in most branches of Paganism. We do not have any concept of Hell, but many of us do believe in karma, and that the actions we take come back to affect us in our lifetimes.
B. Practices: Pagans do not have designated church spaces – the majority of our worship is done in the home, or at the homes of Pagan friends. Most of us keep altars which display statues of our deities, candles, incense, and other ritual items. Those following Wicca, the most well-known Pagan subculture, have eight holidays throughout the year celebrating the change of the seasons, human growth and development, and mythological cycles. Non-Wiccans may also celebrate these holidays, or others specific to their deities. We also have a monthly ritual called an Esbat on the full moon, because the moon symbolizes the goddess. Pagan rituals usually call upon the elements and our deities. After that, we worship. This may include singing, dancing, making offerings, or whatever those involved deem appropriate. At the end, the elements are thanked, and we take communion.

*** Transition*** Now that you know a little Pagan 101, allow me to introduce this special drinking vessel.

(You may have seen this before - I've posted pictures of it in the past.)

III. Artifact: There is a communion expression which goes, “Drink. May you never thirst”.
A. Chalices: Chalices are a common feature of Pagan altars and represent the goddess. The cup shape is reminiscent of the womb, and suggests creation and female power. A woman entering into adulthood is often given a chalice as a symbol of her coming of age, and her right to choose her path for herself. Male Pagans are traditionally given athames, a type of ritual blade which is symbolic of the god, and is used to direct energy in rituals.
B. This chalice: I was given this chalice by my Aunt Christine as an eighteenth birthday present. The symbol in purple represents the goddess in three parts: as a young girl, a woman, and an elder. I use it in ritual to hold communion juice.

*** Transition*** Having now seen the chalice, I’d like to take a moment to explain the significance of my religion, and also the chalice in particular.

IV. Significance: Paganism has affirmed my existence in a way which organized religion was never able to do.
A. Culture: I was raised in a Christian household, and couldn’t feel enthusiastic about a judgmental god looking down upon me from heaven. Moreover, I disagreed with a lot of the Bible’s content. I was only twelve when, after doing months of research, I decided that Paganism was a path I connected with. Since then, I’ve been to Pagan festivals and local, Pagan stores. One of my best friends is also Pagan, so sometimes we get together for group rituals.
B. Artifact: My aunt is the only Pagan – and indeed, the only non-Christian – of which I’m aware in my family tree. I always connected to her and her beliefs growing up, and I felt so validated when she gave me the chalice. My choices are legitimate to her, and her support next to my family’s usually unsupportive attitude couldn’t mean more.

*** Transition*** You should now understand the basics of my religion, and why I practice it.

V. Conclusion
A. (Review main points)
Having explained Pagan culture, my symbolic chalice, and some of their significance,
B. (Restate Thesis) I hope that you can respect us for what we believe in, even if your beliefs are very different. I also hope that I’ve cleared up any misunderstandings you might have had.
C. (Concluding Remarks) Merry meet, and merry part, until we merry meet again.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 14th, 2015

I had been going to compose a post today about how St. Valentine was not only the patron saint of love but also pestilence and bees, and then I got distracted by the realization that the Roman festival of Lupercalia runs from February 13th through the 15th.


Some scholars are of the opinion that Valentine's Day was introduced by the Catholic church to try to supercede Lupercalia, but given that there's little to no evidence actually supporting this claim, it sounds like that theory's been pretty well disproven. That being said, there are some thematic similarities, which we will explore next.

Lupercalia was observed to banish evil spirits from the city of Rome, and to purify the city by invoking health and fertility (seeing the "love and romance" correlation yet?). It replaced the earlier spring festival of Februa, which was also a cleansing festival held at the same time (a later Roman god, Februus, personified both the month and the cleansing; the month of February is named for the festival, not for the deity).

The word "Lupercalia" is believed to have come from the Roman "lupus", meaning wolf. Lupercus, a Roman god
often identified with Faunus (the Roman Pan), was god of shepherds, and his festival on the 15th honored the founding of his temple. Ceremonies were held in the Lupercal, a cave on the south side of Palatine Hill, where it was believed Remus and Romulus (the founders of Rome) were raised by a female wolf.

Lupercalia, which literally translates to "Wolf Festival", was directed by priests of Faunus called the Luperci. They dressed in goatskins and officiated the ceremonies. In the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, Mark Antony (historically, the head of the Luperci) bestows a ceremonial crown on Caesar to foreshadow his intent to become king during the Lupercalia rituals.

The festivities themselves involved the sacrifice of two goats and a dog. A pair of young Luperci were then anointed with the sacrificial blood, and the hides of the animals were cut into thongs. The Luperci dressed in the remnants of the skins and ran around the old Palatine city. The citizens would gather to be struck by the thongs - getting hit with one was meant to ensure fertility and ease the pains of childbirth.


Interested in celebrating something a little more Pagan with your partner? I'll grant you, spring cleaning doesn't make for the most romantic of dates (and if you're into getting whipped with thongs, that's your prerogative, but I can't give you a whole lot of advice there, myself). Still, there's nothing stopping you from skipping out on all the hype of the 14th, buying a boat-load of half priced chocolate tomorrow, and then going out to dinner or a movie the evening of the 15th when places will be much less busy. Then there's always the option for a formalized ritual of romance - this asexual hasn't got much for you in the way of sex magick tips, but again, if that's your thing, I imagine there's all kinds of advice out on the web for coming up with creative costuming and dialogue for one heck of a night in.

Whatever you do (or don't do - focusing on yourself and self-care is just as important this weekend as ever), be safe, and have a good time!

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9th, 2015

I'm going to be giving a five minute speech in my speech class about what it's like to be Pagan. It's exciting, but also a little nerve-wracking, because the last time I was that open about my religion in public, I got pretty horribly bullied for it. That being said, my peers here seem to be pretty relaxed and open-minded, so I'm hopeful. We'll be working on our speeches over the next two weeks; I'll probably post my script here when it's done.

In other news, I rearranged my altar again today. After having a wintry theme to it for several months, I've returned it to a more spring-y design, in honor of the warming weather down here, and my hopes that spring comes earlier in the south. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

February 8th, 2015

Way back at the beginning of last semester (I'm going to guess sometime in September?), I was walking across campus when all of a sudden I was struck by an incredibly powerful impulse to just stop and turn. To my delight, I discovered that the tables being set up outside one of the lab buildings, which I had only vaguely noticed out of the corner of my eye, were covered with crystals. As it turned out, the geology club was hosting a rock sale, and I, being the crystal witch that I am, was drawn over there like a moth to a light. I ended up purchasing a chuck of Orange Calcite, about half the size of my palm, for only $3.

Because I am a lazy person, I set it on my dorm room altar but then never did any actual research into its properties. I finally got around to doing that a week ago, but for the aforementioned reason of "I'm lazy" and also because of an obnoxious pile of homework, I never got around to typing up that research. Here it is now, finally.

Orange Calcite

Physical Characteristics: Calcite comes in numerous colors, including white, red, grey, green, blue, yellow, and orange. Its texture tends to be smooth, with a soapy or greasy feeling when rubbed.

In Nature: The Calcite family is a very common group of minerals, and they are found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. The mineral is the primary constituent of limestone and marble, and can be used to neutralize acids.

Chemical Composition: CaCO3

Mohs Scale Hardness: 3 (low)

Can be Found: Madagascar, Brazil, India, Germany

Healing Properties*: Because of its joyful, sunny energy, Orange Calcite can help to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, or seasonal affective disorder. Use it also to strengthen brittle hair or nails, as well as to heal ulcers or diseases of the spleen and kidneys. 

Magickal Properties: Orange Calcite stimulates the Sacral Chakra. Its playful energy lifts the spirits and increases appreciation for the sensuous, be it a piece of music, a soft blanket, or a nice back-rub. The stone helps its bearer to remember that pleasure is pleasure - if you deal with insecurity during sex or other forms of physical intimacy, this mineral can help you to feel more comfortable and confident. It could also be useful to LGBTQAIP+ people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual or romantic orientations. For those seeking creativity, Orange Calcite could give you the stimulating boost you need. Develop your creativity or break out of artist's block with this stone. If you're feeling low on energy, Orange Calcite can help to return your sense of vitality. 

Chakra Association: Second (Sacral) and Third (Solar Plexus) chakras

Element: Fire

Energy: Projective

Planetary Association: Sun

*Magickal healing should never take the place of seeing a doctor and following any recommended prescriptions, actions, or other advice. Magick works best in tandem with physical efforts, anyway, so don't skimp on those check-ups!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February 5th, 2015

I totally missed my Imbolc post. That may have something to do with the fact that I've basically been doing nothing but continuous schoolwork for the last 72 hours and never even had the chance to celebrate. Perhaps I will be able to tonight, depending on how late my roommate is out. I missed Esbat, too, for the same reason, but the moon was absolutely lovely tonight. The sad camera in my phone utterly failed to capture a photo, but it was large and honey-yellow and just sort of hanging in the air while I spent my evening running across campus-town.

In the meantime, I'll leave you all with this video. It's of a sleepy little Peruvian hummingbird snoring. (FYI, it's very high pitched, if those sorts of noises are hard for you to listen to.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26th, 2014

Lionfish Mermaid

A bit of Pagan art for you all. Pretty decent for my first time using Prismacolor markers, wouldn't you say? 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25th, 2015

One of my New Year's resolutions was to start keeping a dream journal again. It's a lot easier said than done - the last thing I want to do when I wake up is write, and I have to make sure to always have a notebook and pen next to me, because I want even less to have to get out of bed to write. That being said, when it's done consistently, the benefits of having such a journal are significant.

One result is that you begin to remember more of your dreams, and more frequently. A month ago, I was remembering almost nothing of anything that happened during sleep, whereas now, I can always at the bare minimum recall some major images and themes. More and more frequently, I find myself remembering dreams in greater detail, and sometimes even having multiple dreams in one night. This is, to reiterate the fact, after only a month. As a practice maintained, you can expect to remember your dreams in detail almost every night.

While interesting from a purely theoretical perspective, dreams can actually tell us a lot about ourselves, and by recording them, we can determine underlying patterns to our mental and physical health, among other things. To put this in context, allow me to explain first that I've been recording my dreams on and off again since middle school. As such, I have a lot of material to examine. Also, I have what I am finally self-diagnosing as a generalized anxiety disorder, which tends to manifest itself as OCD. Bearing these things in mind, I've realized over the course of several years that I tend to dream about water when my emotions are particularly strong about something, and that if I'm headed into a period of especially bad anxiety I dream about drowning. It gives me a bit of a heads up into my mental state and the chance to head things off at the pass, so to speak.

On the metaphysical end of the spectrum, recording one's dreams offers a lot of possibilities. For instance, it makes an interesting means of divination. There's all sorts of spells about placing a given herb under one's pillow to dream about a future lover or some such, but I generally go one simpler - often, a particularly vivid dream may give an indication of how the following day will go. Just two nights ago, I had a repetitive dream about triumph over obstacles, and then yesterday I aced the audition I had been worried about. Also, dreams may involve astral travel or meeting with deities and other spirits.

This barely touches on all the things one can learn; consider it my pitch to you to start a journal if you don't already. Sweet dreams...

Image source

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19th, 2015

Well, I go back to class tomorrow! My fingers are crossed for a good day; both of my Tuesday courses are ones I've been really looking forward to, so hopefully it will be a good time.

After spending about a month's worth of days working on it, I finally finished crocheting my Celtic knot shawl. The pattern is available for free here on Ravelry, if anyone is interested in giving it a go (you may have to make a free Ravelry account to be able to view it). I would rate the design as being of intermediate difficulty, although the knot pattern itself was very easy to follow.

According to the woman who posted the pattern, this design came from a book of Celtic knotwork, and symbolizes human interconnectedness and friendship.

I've always loved these seemingly endless pattern, but realized that I actually know very little about the history of their use. As such, I've done a bit of a Google search to learn more about Celtic knotwork.

These popular patterns, generally presenting a stylized image of a knot as opposed to taking a realism-based approach, are found in the Celtic style of Insular art. Insular artwork - also known as Hiberno-Saxon art - developed in the post-Roman history of the British isles. The name "insular" itself comes from the Latin "insula", meaning island. Most insular art comes from Celtic Ireland, beginning around 600 CE.

While the classic Celtic knot came about after the fall of the Romans, the designs may have been rooted in Roman patterns. In the 300-400s CE, knotwork began to appear in Roman mosaic floor tiles. Similar motifs are found in Byzantine, Coptic, Islamic, and Russian artwork of the same time period; given the growth of trade and cross-cultural exchange in this era, it seems probable that the geometric designs of the Middle East spread along the trade routes of the time and morphed eventually into the Celtic knotwork that we recognize today.

Most of our modern understanding of these Celtic art forms comes from its preservation at Christian hands. Therefore, what we know must be taken with a grain of salt, given the contemporary monks' tendency to try to appropriate local practices and erase any Pagan overtones. That being said, it is clear that prior to the Christianization of the Celts, their artwork consisted of predominately spiral, step, and key patterns.

These designs, and variations thereof, found their way into the illuminations of Christian manuscripts, as well as onto gravestones and other cross-bearing emblems. Much of the modern understanding of the knotted designs comes from the preservation of these pieces.

Lots of websites propose potential "meanings" for different styles of knotwork; however, as with much of the rest of Celtic history, few written records survive to document the actual intended symbolism. There is no evidence that I could find to prove a religious or philosophical association with the designs. That being said, a few relatively standard interpretations stand out. The first is the idea of eternity, which should be mostly intuitive, given the fact that the knots usually are endless. Also, associations with nature, man, and the elements seems to be the widely accepted correspondence. Published books on the matter are likely more authoritative on the subject than uncited sources on the internet, so I will leave it at that.

One design in particular that I will mention is the triquetra.

You may recognize this design - most Neo-Pagans probably do. This simple piece of Celtic knotwork is often used in Pagan circles to represent, for example, the Triple Goddess. In Christian circles, it is taken to represent the Holy Trinity. Many variations on the design exist; for instance, the intertwined circle in the image above may be a more modern version.

To my understanding of it, the usage of the Celtic knot has been so widespread and predominately secular for long enough that it is not cultural appropriation to use the designs in one's work. If I am mistaken in my understanding of this, by all means drop me a message.

At any rate, I enjoyed putting together this miniature history lesson, and hope that it has been informative.

Friday, January 9, 2015

January 8th, 2014

I thought I'd put out another book review, this time of I text I bought at a bookstore while in Iowa with my folks for Christmas. The title is Handfasting and Wedding Rituals: Inviting Hera's Blessing, by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein (2003).

I'd like to preface my actual review by saying that I really, really liked this book. It was incredibly inclusive and accessible, and altogether a thoughtful, well-composed read.

Never having seen a text solely devoted to Pagan weddings before, I immediately knew that this was going to be a take-home item for me. Regardless of whether or not I ever have a handfasting ritual of my own, the fact remains that I have multiple friends who might, and truthfully, it seems important to understand the wedding ceremonial practices of whatever religion one subscribes to. 

The book has a dozen or so subheadings, and the information therein spans everything from party favors and choices of incense to developing Quarter calls which won't freak out any of the non-Pagans in the crowd. In fact, that's one thing among many that the book does very well - developing level one, two, and three suggestions, the authors provide varying levels of Pagan over- and undertones. For example, if one wants a handfasting but also wants to invite one's extremely conservative Christian relatives, Raven and Tannin offer level one rituals wherein the Paganism is there, but it's subtle enough that it shouldn't cause an issue. If one is on the opposite end of the spectrum and wants a hardcore Pagan wedding with as much overt ritual as possible, they provide that, too, in the level three handfastings. Level two rituals are written to be somewhere in the middle - a bit of Pagan Lite, if you will - for people whose family and friends are generally supportive, but would be uncomfortable with an ultra-Pagan ceremony.

Another thing that the book does incredibly well is to develop rituals that any couple can participate in. If one or more partners has a physical disability, but would still like to incorporate the traditional jumping of the broomstick, Raven and Tannin provide accessible alternatives. For all those same-sex Pagan couples out there? Raven and Tannin have an entire chapter devoted to LGBTQ+ handfastings, with specific rituals for transgender, genderfluid, bisexual, and polyamourous couples, in addition to the commonly-acknowledged gay and lesbian relationships. Moreover, for those same-sex couples who want to incorporate the symbolic Great Rite in a way they can identify with, the authors provide solutions. Is your significant other of a different religion? Raven and Tannin take that into account as well, providing examples of how to blend wedding traditions across religious lines for Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and so forth. 

For all my fellow theatre lovers out there, have you considered including a bit of drama in your handfasting? If reenactment of mythological weddings (Hades and Persephone, Janet and Tam Lin, etc.) sounds like something you might be interested in, this book provides sample scripts, as well as ideas for costumes and props.

No book is ever perfect, but in general my criticisms here are minor ones. On occasion, the language used was probably more appropriate to the year in which it was published then present day. Couples may find that the substitution of a word here or there is the only change really necessary.

Also, it would have been nice to see a handfasting included for we Pagans on the asexual spectrum. So much of the language in our rituals, no matter which book one reads, focuses on fertility, sacred sex, and etcetera. I don't take issue with that - in many cases, the language is beautifully poetic - but it's not the intent of every couple to "get busy" after they're married. That being said, most of the rituals are pretty easily adapted by changing a handful of words, so it's not like it's a huge deal, either. 

Anyway, if you have any interest in learning more about handfasting in Pagan traditions, I strongly recommend you check out this book.