The Concrete Jungle (9.29.2021)

It’s September. There’s a hint of Fall in the mornings. (ast night I dragged out my faux-fur throw and put in on top of my bed. Toasty.) But by mid-day it’s warm again. We’ll be into the high 80’s later this week. Meanwhile, the Concrete Jungle is still lush and full of life.

We hung some new lights. It’s like a fairy land out there…and many of the flowers just POP!!!

Earlier this year I pledged to plant a bee-friendly, butterfly-friendly garden. I’m very happy to report that we have bees and other pollinators visiting every day – and have seen butterflies twice!!! (Little buggers are too fast for me to capture on film.) The Wildlife Mötel has also played host to a variety of other wildlife this year – much to Ramses’ delight!

Hope your little slice of (outdoor) heaven is just as inspiring!

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5 of Swords and 4 of Pentacles

Fear is irrational in nature and does not necessarily reflect the real situation,
but rather touches our most instinctive worries.
[1]

The Lord of Defeat is the 5 of Knives (Swords) and symbolizes vanquishing phantoms, irrational fears, and nightmares. There is truth in the saying by Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Whether your demons are concrete or illusionary (such as “fear porn” – or my favorite “doom porn”) slay them where they stand.

Key concepts for the 4 of Skulls (Pentacles): Defensive strength, power and manifestation, standing steadfast and not giving an inch, holding on to what you have and not letting go. This can relate to material possessions, inner/external energies that do not support our true values, or our belief system. Although it’s important to remain open to other points of view and not rigidly adhere to one way of thinking, also realize it’s not your purpose in life to change someone else’s way of thinking or being. Another aspect of the 4 of Pentacles is knowing when it’s in your best interest to let go…of giving up the need TO control (which is really about FEAR) and trusting that the Universe always has your back.

Another person will change when they are damn good and ready.
And not a moment before.

Moonwater Silverclaw

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[1] Daniels, Ian (2010). Phantasmagoria. Llewellyn Publications. p. 240.

Celebrating Fall ~ Mabon Style

Tomorrow is 2021’s Autumn Equinox but you wouldn’t know it around here. We’re having our usual late-in-summer Summer by ushering in a heat wave. (Not that I’m complaining.)

Mabon’s predecessor, Michaelmas, came about as a recognized holy day during harvest season as a means of subverting the Pagan harvest traditions by entrenching them in church doctrine. In 1011 the Christian church established September 29th as the feast of Saint Michael, to honor the protecting archangel as the leader of God’s heavenly host of angels, and to honor his triumph over Lucifer. Michaelmas evolved from a feast day into a day of conducting serious end-season business. In the 20th century, as Protestantism became dominant, Michaelmas then became England’s Harvest Festival. On this day farmers bring in baskets of their bounty to local parishes, where vicars bless the crop, and the baskets are then delivered to local food shelves and families in need. Harvest Festival remained a Pagan tradition, and Michaelmas often served as a Christian mask for the preservation of ancient practices.
[source]

Like the Spring Equinox, Autumn Equinox (Mabon) is that time of year when the day and night are of equal lengths. It marks the beginning of the dark phase of the year: the first day of Fall. This holiday is when we honor the Goddess as she enters cronehood. A day to reflect, remember, and look within. Even in today’s hectic world it’s important to set everything on pause for just a moment. Go somewhere quiet and take a deep breath – outside in nature, if possible. Close your eyes and reflect on all you’ve accomplished this year and the blessings received. Your life IS bountiful so take this opportunity to give thanks, for Mabon is known as the “Witches’ Thanksgiving”.

Ceremonies involving the spirit world are also observed, for the veil between the living and dead is gossamer thin. In Ireland, people would make pilgrimages to burial grounds and pay respect to the deceased – which sounds similar to the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos celebrated on November 1st. You don’t have to travel to your loved one’s grave to honor them – and you certainly don’t have to be Irish! Set out photos of those who have passed – perhaps light a white candle – and raise a glass of wine (or spiced cider) to each, while remembering how much you loved them and how much love they gave you in return.

In Ireland they believe it’s bad luck to eat blackberries after Mabon, so wines made from any other berry are permissible to consume including heather wine which is made from a flowering plant.

Goddesses: Morrigan, Morgan, Persephone, Hecate, Lilith, and Pomona
Colors: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, gold, and black
Incense: Cinnamon, sage, clove, pine, and myrrh
Stones: Yellow agate (joy and prosperity), amber (protection and positive energy), cat’s eye (luck), and sapphire (psychic protection and wisdom)
Decorate your altar (or table) with pumpkins, gourds, pine cones, acorns, corn husks, vines (such as ivy), dried seeds, and horns of plenty.
Traditional foods include breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates (symbolic of Persephone), and fall vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. Don’t forget the wine!
I made Mabon Apple Cake (recipe below) for the first time last night and it is the bomb!! A snap to make, too.

⛤ Mabon Blessings to you and yours. ⛤


Mabon Apple Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups finely chopped apples* (about 6 big apples, Jonagold is recommended)

Preheat oven to 350&#deg;F.
Grease and flour a 13 × 9-inch pan.
In a large bowl mix together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla with a spoon until smooth.
Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon, stirring just until blended.
Mix in the apples. (This batter will be stiff. I had to switch from spoon to my hands to incorporate the apples.)
Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Bake 40 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the edges are beginning to pull away from the pan. (Start testing at 40 minutes but don’t overbake.)
Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack.

This is a moist, delicious cake that keeps well at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of llewellyn.com

I served it up warm with a drizzle of half-and-half but it’d be great topped with whipped cream OR Talenti Madagascan Vanilla Bean ice cream.

*Next time I’m substituting one of the apples for a mix of raisins and chopped pecans.

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Shine on, Shine on Harvest Moon*

Arriving on September 20th at 4:54pm (on the West Coast) this year’s Harvest Moon will be in the sign of Pisces. A “Harvest Moon” is the name given to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumn Equinox (September 22, 2021). According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac around the Autumn Equinox the moon rises soon after sunset, casting a bright light. The name “Harvest Moon” comes from the farmers who worked by the light of the moon to complete their harvest of summer’s crops.

The Moon is Yin (feminine) to the Sun’s Yang (masculine) and governs our emotions, intuition, psychic abilities, and the subconscious. The light generated by Full Moons illuminate that which was previously hidden or not fully acknowledged. When the moon is full emotions are amplified, but she also exposes secrets and reveals hidden agendas. In Pisces (which is ruled by Neptune, The Planet of Illusion) we may see deceptions or false perceptions being exposed. Read between the lines. Listen to your gut. Pay attention to clues given in your dreaming state. Your psychic abilities will be heightened.

The astrological sign of Pisces (The Dreamer) is the 12th sign of the Zodiac marking the end of a cycle. Full Moons also indicate the end of a cycle and this one wraps up everything that began with the New Moon (Pisces) of March 13, 2021. It’s harvest time. Pisces rules the 12th House: The subconscious and unconscious and what remains hidden from conscious awareness; mysticism and the occult. It is referred to as “The House of Darkness” and often associated with challenges that involve deprivation, loss, isolation, hospitals, prisons or institutions, hidden enemies, fear of death or illness, self-undoing or secret enemies.

This Harvest Moon falls just one hour after Mercury (communication) trine Jupiter (luck) which imbues it with optimism, generosity, and good fortune! Focus on the positive. The only catch here is the Moon is conjunct fixed star Scheat (Beat Pegasi) which is located on the leg of the Pegasus constellation.

A true malefic, Scheat’s influence may express itself as worry, loss and gain of friends through criticism, extreme misfortune, murder, suicide, and drowning.

Who is the Muse for this year’s Harvest Moon? Interestingly I pulled the 2 of Wands.

The Moon enters the sign of Aries late Monday and the Sun enters the sign of Libra on September 23rd, so I guess this makes sense. Libra is opposite Aries which will cause some friction – but this need not be negative.

The 2 of Scepters (Wands) glorifies our individuality and uniqueness. This card is ruled by Aries signifying a warlike energy and a fierce driving force of Will. Unlike the passivity of Pisces, Mars in Aries is unabashedly assertive in its nature. A time of challenges lies ahead which should be faced head-on and with a clear head.

“The image of Dracula as Vlad the Impaler is illustrated here. He stands in a fortress surrounded by fiery energy; in the background we see a watchtower, a beacon both as a solid place of energy (representing leadership) and as a lightning conductor, illustrating the card’s qualities as a channel for fiery creative power.” [1]

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* “Shine On, Harvest Moon”

[1] Daniels, Ian (2010). Phantasmagoria. Llewellyn Publications. p. 156.

You say Traveller, I say Gypsy

I have the blood of Irish Travellers running through my veins.

Sometimes referred to as “Irish Gypsies”, Travellers are not genetically related to the Romani although both are nomadic societies. It’s very common to refer to Travellers as “Irish Travelers” as their origins can be traced to a sub-society in Ireland. A 2001 study showed that Irish Travellers are a distinct Irish ethnic minority – and have been for at least 1000 years.
Today, Travellers (aka Mincéirs or Pavees) are fairly concentrated in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and some parts of Northern America. In 2017 they were recognized as a distinct ethnic group in British and Irish law. Where once horse-drawn wagon caravans were de rigueur they have given way to mobile homes pulled by motor vehicles. Pavees also have a long history of dog and horse-breeding. (One of the traits I did not inherit.)

Famous Travellers include: Patrick “Paddy” Doherty, Tyson Fury (“The Gypsy King”), Paddy Keenan, and Sean Connery. The character of Mickey O’Neil (played by Brad Pitt) in Snatch is an Irish Traveller.

I’m told this is where my ability to read Tarot cards comes from. Fortune telling. I also have a predilection for cursing – and I’m not talking about using foul language (Although I have a propensity for that at times, too.) – which appears to have been popular with Travellers in Ireland (beggar’s curse).

Bad cess on you. Devil take you. May you never prosper. The first drop of water to quench your thirst — may it boil in your bowels. May the flesh rot off your bones, and fall away putrid before your eyes. May your limbs wither and the stench of your rotten carcass be too horrible for hungry dogs. May you fade into nothing, like snow in summer. May you be accursed in the sight of God, and hated by your fellow man. May you die without a priest. May the Almighty’s curse rest on your children. This, I pray.

More interesting to me are “Cursing Stones” perhaps because I like to put things down in writing. Ireland boasts of the greatest collection of wishing and cursing stones anywhere in the world – the Blarney Stone being the most famous.

A Cursing Stone

Just as Pavees (or Irish Travellers / Gypsies) represent an ethnic minority within the British Isles, Pavee Wizards are, very much, a minority among the wizarding community. Most Pavee Wizards demonstrate a distinct mixture of the culture of both the Pavee and Magical worlds.

All Pavee Wizards can trace their lineage back to a handful of wizards who, during these times, left the settled life and chose to intermarry with Irish Travellers. Over many generations of marrying muggles, what wizarding genetic material there was became increasingly dilute. In the modern era, the wizarding blood is so dilute in most Pavees that Pavee Wizards are even less prevalent in the Irish Traveller populations than Wizards are in the population of Britain as a whole.

[source]


Although Britain counts many more witches in their history than does Ireland, the Emerald Isle does have a few famous ones of their own. (Although none were “Irish Gypsies” I thought it would be appropriate enough to include them in this Post. Being that I’m Irish and all. And a witch…)

  • Florence Newton (fl. 1661) – also known as the “Witch of Youghal”.
  • Bridget Ellen “Biddy” Early (née O’Connor or Connors; 1798–1872) was a traditional Irish herbalist who dared act against the wishes of the local tenant farmer landlords, who then accused her of witchcraft.
  • Dame Alice Kyteler (1263–later than 1325) was the first recorded person condemned for witchcraft in Ireland. (My guess is that she was condemned for her BEAUTY.)
  • Petronilla de Meath (1300-1324). Maidservant of Dame Alice Kyteler, she was charged with being one of Alice’s accomplices and eventually burnt at the stake on November 3, 1324 – the first known case in Ireland or Great Britain of death by fire for the crime of heresy. (Another great beauty and I’m seeing a pattern here…)
  • The Witches of Islandmagee In March 1711, eight women were put on trial and found guilty of witchcraft. The women were put in stocks and then jailed for one year. The Islandmagee witch trial is believed to have been the last witch trial to take place in Ireland.
  • Bridget Cleary (née Boland; 1869–15 March 1895). In 1895, believing that she had been abducted by fairies, Bridget Cleary’s husband killed her and claimed that he only killed the changeling which had been left in her place by the fairies. Bridget was either burned to death by her husband or he set fire to her body immediately following the murder. Either way, the trial received extensive press coverage.

Casting the “evil eye”.

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