Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Faery Lineage and Irish Mythology — The Tuatha De Danann

The Tuatha De Danann, which is often translated to mean ‘tribe of Dana,’ were the people of the Goddess Dana. Sometimes, they were considered to be the people of the god whose mother was Dana. The ancient Celts called them the Sidhe, the spirit-race of ancient Ireland. They are the source of the Faery Lineage.

Who Were the Tuatha De Danann?

The origins of the Tuatha De Danann are quite unclear. However, according to the traditional history of Ireland, specifically the Mythological Cycle, the Tuatha De Danann were the fourth waves of invaders to come to Ireland, conquering the Fir Bolg. Eventually, they would be challenged by the Milesians, and take refuge in the Underworld. They were to become the gods and goddesses of Ireland, worshipped, respected, and sometimes feared.

When they retreated, they moulded the Underworld to suit themselves. Their country of choice was Tir na nOg, the Land of Perpetual Youth. They lived here in beauty and joy, never aging, and never knowing pain, disease, or death. They were masters of sorcery and magick, and the Celts often said that the Tuatha De Danann had been sent from the stars to teach humanity about love and living in harmony with nature.

The Tuatha De Danann and the Faery Lineage

The Tuatha De Danann became a Faery people of Ireland, and many were great warriors under the High Kings of ancient Eire (another name for Ireland). Some of them even became a part of the legendary fiana. However, in time and with the changing beliefs of the people of Ireland, they began to dwindle.

Eventually, they lost the awesome power they had once possessed. They shifted with the Celts, and became the Daoine Sidhe and the Fenian Heroes. The Daoine Sidhe retained some of their god-like stature, while the Fenian Heroes were the poets, the romantics, and the warriors of the Tuatha De Danann. In time, even these incarnations would shift and change, eventually resulting in the modern view of the fairy.

These immortal characters greatly enriched the lives of the Celts. As fantastical creatures of magick, the Tuatha De Danann were the focus of songs and tales for thousands of years, and eventually became the stuff of legends and fairy tales, even into the modern era.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wiccan Sabbat Ritual Recipes — Butterflied Lamb Recipe

One of the traditional foods for Imbolc, which is celebrated on February 1st, is lamb. Lamb can be prepared in many different ways and using many different herbs and spices. This recipe, which is designed to be prepared on a grill or barbeque, has been created specifically with Wiccans and Pagans in mind, using some of the spices of the season to make this dish more festive.

Ingredients For Butterflied Lamb

Have the following ingredients close at hand:
  • 4 lbs boneless leg of lamb
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup mustard, coarse grained
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
To make preparing the lamb easier, ensure you have gathered all ingredients beforehand.
Preparing Butterflied Lamb
Before you begin your preparation, you will have to butterfly your leg of lamb. This is a simple enough process and can be done in just minutes. Slice the lamb approximately every inch or so, but only cut about halfway through the meat. Certainly do not cut any deeper than three-quarters through, or the meat will fall apart on the grill. Not only does this enhance the presentation of your dish, but it decreases cooking time. At some supermarkets and many butchers, you can purchase lamb that is already butterflied.
Combine the vinegar, mustard, garlic, rosemary, salt, black pepper, and olive oil in a large glass dish. This dish should be large enough that the entire leg of lamb can rest comfortably. Add the leg of lamb, and turn to coat completely and evenly. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least eight hours. The flavor of the lamb will be enhanced if you let it marinade longer, perhaps as long as two days.
When you are ready to cook the leg of lamb, remove it from the marinade. For health reasons, discard any remaining marinade. Grill the leg of lamb on a covered grill over medium briquettes for twenty-five to thirty minutes. Turn the leg of lamb at least four times during the cooking process. Before removing it from the grill, check the thickest portion of the lamb for desired doneness.
This recipe makes eight to ten servings. Butterflied Lamb is a favorite of many Wiccans and Pagans around the time of Imbolc. Though it can be served all year round, it is especially appropriate in the winter, as it is warm and savory. It will make a wonderful addition to any table, especially when paired with young fresh vegetables or omelets.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Types of Animal Totems

Totem animals are sacred spiritual guides who will instruct and protect you when you need them most. They have skills and abilities that can help to deepen your understanding of yourself and your own inner strength. However, most people do not realize that there are different types of totem animals, and that each has something unique to contribute. In general, there are four types of animal guides:
  • Life totem;
  • Message totem;
  • Journey totem; and
  • Shadow totem.
The Life Animal Totem and Its Significance
A life totem is the animal that follows your throughout your life, in a spiritual sense. This animal’s primary purpose is to protect a child, guide an adolescent, and wait for instruction from an adult. Its purpose will change as you grow and expand, but usually, your life totem will not change as you mature.
There is an exception to this, however. Emotional trauma that alters your very nature can sometimes cause a shift in life totems. For example, a child who loses a parent will sometimes change life totems. A parent who loses a child will almost always receive a new totem. Divorce is another common trigger.
This is not to say that these events will cause your life totem to change. But it could, so if you know who your life totem is, and you do experience emotional trauma, you would be wise to search within yourself to determine if your life totem is still the same.
The Significance of the Journey Totem Animal
Not everyone has a journey totem all of the time. This is because everyone undergoes different journeys at different times, and the purpose of the journey totem is to guide you through these journeys. For example, if you are recently divorced, the panther may become your journey totem animal until you are through this difficult time, and then it will fade away until it is needed again.
The purpose of the journey totem is to aid and assist you in completing your task. If you listen to your journey totem, you will find that you receive advice that can help you, but only if you heed it. If a journey totem is ignored completely, it may abandon you before your journey is complete, so make sure you respect and honor your journey totem.
The Immediacy of the Message Animal Guide
If you receive a surprise message from an animal spirit that does not usually visit you, then you have just received a message from your message totem. Message totems are very short-term, and usually only stay long enough to deliver their messages.
Some people experience these types of ‘visitations’ every day, others much less frequently. If you do receive a message from an unexpected totem, then you should heed it immediately, for the message is probably important to the present, not the future. These messages are usually received at the tail end of a dream, or sometimes immediately upon waking.
The Importance of the Shadow Totem Animal
The shadow totem is perhaps the totem that has the most impact on an ongoing basis. This is the totem that hunts and stalks you throughout life, trying to bring you down as a hunter would its prey. If you hide from or ignore this totem, it will continue to haunt you, looking for an opportunity to strike. The shadow totem can describe fears and anxieties, and is often an animal that truly frightens you.
If you wish to be free of it, you must discover the identity of your shadow totem. Confront what this totem represents, face your fears, and accept this totem as a part of you. If you can do this, then the shadow totem becomes a friend and companion, instead of a threat.
Each of these totems has a lesson to teach. And each of them is important in its own way. These totems should not be ignored, but should be sought out for their guidance and their wisdom. If you can find your animal totems, you can access their ancient knowledge.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Mythology of Ancient Ireland — The Faery Lineage

The chief characters in Irish mythology are the Tuatha De Danann. In times of old, these mystical people were often referred to as the Faery. However, the term faery (or, more commonly, fairy) usually brings to mind diminutive little creatures with tiny little wings flitting about the garden. This image, while a part of the Faery Lineage in Ireland, does not represent all that the Faery were.

Who Are the Faery?

The traditional understanding in Ireland was that the Faery were independent beings living in an immaterial state. They were close to humanity, but not a part of it. They were considered to have a kingdom all their own, and they only seldom made themselves known in the physical world.

They were beings with the ability to change their shape at will, made of light and cloud, and so always fluid. Over time, with the changing beliefs of the people of Ireland, the Faery underwent many alterations, from the powerful and awe-inspiring Tuatha De Danann down to the classic Folk Tale Fairy. As this happened, the Faery Lineage was born.

The Faery Lineage of Ancient Times

Up to the Middle Ages of Western Europe, the development of the Faery was almost completely confined to the land of Ireland and its people. There was a great focus on heroism, magick, and romance.

The Tuatha De Danann are the source of the entire Lineage. They were the gods of the people of Ireland, and are considered to be the most superior and pure form of the Faery. They were at their most powerful during the Mythological Cycle. This group eventually branched into two very distinct groups: the Fenian Heroes and the Daoine Sidhe.

The Fenian Heroes were among the most notable heroes in all of Ireland, existing during the Fenian Cycle. Many of them were descendants of the Tuatha De Danann, and some of them were the De Danann themselves. Many of the Fay served as a part of the fiana, and the Fenian Heroes were not considered to be all that far removed from mortal man.

The Daoine Sidhe existed in about the same time period as the Fenian Heroes. However, these were the Tuatha De Danann who truly did remain removed from humanity, who preserved the purest form of Faery magick, and who were still worshipped as the gods of the Irish pantheon. Eventually, however, even the Daoine Sidhe had to change and adapt.

The Heroic Faery was born out of the Daoine Sidhe. These were the ladies and knights of classic medieval romances, the heroes of the great tales of the era, and were very much like the Fenian Heroes. In fact, it could be said that the only difference between the Fenian Heroes and the Heroic Faery is the time period in which they existed in mythology.

Meanwhile, the Fenian Heroes had become the Medieval Faery. These characters were practiced in magick and sorcery. It is here when the first outside influences begin to creep into Irish mythology. No longer are the Faery the powerful and frightening Tuatha De Danann. They are no longer gods. Instead, they begin to grow smaller in size, and with the coming of Christianity, they are sometimes assumed to be evil.

The Heroic Faery makes one last appearance, merging with the Medieval Faery and becoming the Diminutive Fairy.

Fairies in the Middle Ages and Beyond

With the birth of the Middle Ages, the traditional image of the modern fairy was born. The Diminutive Fairy became connected to death and the departed. Sometime in the 16th century, the idea of the literary fairy is introduced. These fairies are nasty little things, demanding their privacy and pinching those who dare to invade it.

The Elizabethan Age brings about another change in the fairy. Instead of a nasty little thing intent on its privacy, the Elizabethan Fairy is mischievous and bothersome, but not particularly evil. These fairies tend to irritate more than harm.

In the 17th century, the Jacobean Fairy makes an appearance. They are so small that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. These little guys have gossamer wings and, purely due to Puritan influences, are regarded as demons or devils.

The 18th century saw a reversal of this idea. The fairies of this era were flowery little fertility spirits. These little Flower Fairies were said to flit and fly in the most beautiful gardens, entertaining children and delighting anyone who chanced to see them. This version of the fairy is still very much a part of modern folk tales.

The 19th century saw the development of the Folk Tale Fairy. These characters were written into stories created for children, and generally featured characters such as the classic fairy godmother. These creatures were relentless moralists. Like the Flower Fairy, the Folk Tale Fairy has persisted into the modern era.

With the coming of the 20th century, the Age of Faery seemed to have truly come to an end. The gods of Ireland had become no more than fairy tales, and most had forgotten they were ever anything more. However, this same century brought about a renewed interest in ancient religions and beliefs, and today, there are those who have resurrected the ancient Faery Faith in a more modern incarnation, with the inclusion of the Elemental Faery.