Monday, August 22, 2011

Balefire -- Submissions Needed for Samhain 2011

The first (and so far only) issue of The Balefire: A Magical Magazine for the Midwest was very well-received. Granted, that was at Beltaine of 2009, and we have been lax in our duty to get this marvelous, mystical magazinical treasure out to our readers since that time.

By "we," of course, I mean ME. I have have been lax. Mea culpa!

I could give you the reasons (or excuses, as you will) for the delay, but instead, I would like to focus on what we (yes, that still just means me, for now) need to make The Balefire happen for Samhain 2011 (and beyond!).

HELP! Yes, I need help. The magazine is wonderful, and I'm very proud of its vision and voice; but in the immortal words of Velma Kelly, "I simply cannot do it alone." I need a couple of section editors, one or two artists willing to create as-needed pieces to accompany articles, and anywhere from 2-5 columnists whose work would be regularly featured in the magazine.

SUBMIT!! I'm only asking for submission of content. We accept original articles, rituals, poetry, reviews, photographs, art. At this time, we are not working under a thematic structure, but we do ask that material relate to the practice of magic and/or Paganism in the Midwest US. Our regional focus is what makes us unique, and it allows The Balefire to be a resource to practitioners in this part of the country (and world).

Regular sections to which you might consider contributing:
  • Vendor's View -- highlights a brick & mortar, online, or festival-based merchant
  • Festival Forum -- previews and reviews of area festivals
  • Group Guide -- highlights a working coven, hearth, circle, grove or other body (or group of related bodies)
  • Community Services -- recognizes the work of groups or individuals working for the betterment of the community
  • Red Straps -- discusses lore, history, culture and events related to Fire Tribe
Of course, your articles, rituals, tutorials and other submissions are always welcomed. We'll be publishing bi-annually, at Samhain and Beltane, so plan your seasonal submissions accordingly.

For more information, to submit content, or to start talking with me about being a regular contributor/editor, write to me at

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Glaux wrote a wonderful article a couple of days ago on the American Folkloric Witchcraft blog about familiars, both corporeal and incorporeal. It's a topic we've been discussing for some time, and I am very pleased with the article and the information it presents.

Like many Witches, she and I both have corporeal familiars -- animals who are our pets who show a special interest in magic and energy work. Mine is George, one of my rabbits. He's the snarky one -- the Thelemic, free-will rabbit.

Rabbits actually have a long history as Witches' familiars, and Witches often chose the shape of a rabbit for shape-shifting. Both points born out in Judika Illes' wonderful compendium The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft. In it, she says that the animal most associated with European Witchcraft was the rabbit, not the cat. They are associated with the moon in many cultures, with fertility, and with a certain invisibility.

In fact, "pussy" probably referred to rabbit before it ever did to cat --  lepus being the Latin name for rabbit.

There is a record of the names of familiars given during the witch trials in Europe, and "George" is one of the names given. My George was named after George Milton in Steinbeck's classic tale of friendship and tragedy, Of Mice and Men. ("Tell me again about the rabbits, George.") He's a very literary bunny. He eats all the best books.

I also have a familiar spirit (an incorporeal familiar). It is the spirit of an animal I had known in life as a cat -- a black cat who looks like a cross between Glaux's Mr. Jinx and Miss Hex. She was killed just as I began walking the Crooked Path, but members of my household have seen her -- a spectral black cat in parts of the house where Jinx and Hex aren't permitted. I have also seen her as a young woman, just once. Only I have seen her in that form.

Vinalia Rustica 2011

Yesterday's shrine-tending was odd and incomplete. It was good, don't get me wrong. My partners (Glaux and Iron Dragon) and I were joined by another member of Our Haven to work on Aphrodite's shrine and maintain the Great Rite Spiral in which the shrine sits. We did as much as we could possibly do with the materials and folks who were there, but we were missing two people (one of whom had agreed to bring the statue and a weed-eater) and arbor-building materials from a third.

So, the very bright up-side is that we weeded the entire area, laid gardening fabric in the most needed areas, and placed a truckload of mulch on top of the cloth. We had to take apart the stones of the shrine to accomplish it, but all of the area surrounding Aphrodite's shrine is beautiful. The roses are doing quite well, although they are in dire need of the arbor. They are climbers, after all. We cleaned all the offerings on the alter, and I'm properly disposing of the ones that nature has worn down to decay. We mended the little fiberglass statue that a friend had given me years before. I have thought of her as Peitho since Aphrodisia 2010, but it's still right that she's holding the space until the Aphrodite icon returns.

Sadly, the broken Aphrodite icon could not be repaired. We tried. Glaux sat with her for an hour, I think, trying to mend her. Poor headless statue. We've brought her home, where I will dispose of this concrete shell with proper rites. It's very funerary and sad for me.

I have to admit to suffering some disappointment yesterday due to the my friends not being available. I understand two of them -- they were both out of the state, and simply couldn't make it. The third (with the statue and weed-trimmer), though, leaves me not knowing what to think. She's vanished from my contacts, disconnected her blog, isn't answering the phone. I don't know whether I should be worried or hurt. When I talked to her three days ago, all was well.

Ah, me. I don't know. *Laurelei repeats her mantra: "I can only control myself."*

All in all, the Vinalia Rustica work has been successful, but I am not done yet. The remainder of the shrine's spiral needs to be mulched, the stones need to be laid for the spiral, a statue now probably needs to be purchased and installed, and the arbor needs to be built. Iron Dragon and I are going back out on Saturday, August 27th to lay more gardening fabric and mulch. If we have time (and the cypress posts are available) we might also put up the arbor. The stones will have to wait for more time, and the statue will have to wait for more money. Oh, the world's precious commodities!

I want to thank everyone who has donated labor, materials and/or money to the shrine. Your names sit on Aphrodite's shrine within my home, and I pray for her to bless you with her many and abundant gifts!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gearing up for Vinalia Rustica 2011

In my post on July 3, I discussed the needed renovations at the Aphrodite Shrine I help maintain at Our Haven Nature Sanctuary.

Firstly, I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed donations of money and materials to the renovation efforts. I'll keep your names confidential here, but know that they sit on my personal Aphrodite shrine at home as a prayer and a thanks for your generosity, grace, and love toward Aphrodite and this land that honors Her.

Secondly, I'd like to thank the folks who live locally to me and have already come out to help care for the shrine.

Arcadia (our cabin) in April 2010)
Finally, there is a small group of us that are planning on gathering to for a "work weekend" for the weekend when I was going to celebrate the Vinalia Rustica and restore the shrine. That weekend will be Friday, August 19th through Sunday, August 21. Currently, there are four women: Glaux (my sweetie), two of our good friends (Lily Savage and Daun), and me. We're going to have a mini-retreat at the cabin, and we would LOVE for you to join us if you feel moved to do so!

Our projects are going to include:
1.  Weeding and mowing the entire Great Rite Spiral
2. Raising a solid arbor above the shrine
3. Erecting a new statue (if it is available -- which is a possibility)
4. Laying ground cover -- either mulch or something like the fabulous spiral below

Lily's Idea (which we all LOVE)

If you would like to help in anyway (money, materials, plantings for the shrine or labor), please let me know. You can make monetary donations to the cause via PayPal: