Category: CUSP

  • Focus in the Dark

    Focus in the Dark

    On Samhain (October 31) each year, a practice our group adds to our ritual is that we go into the dark earth labyrinth where a large mirror is propped on a table. In candlelight, we look into the Mirror of Truth and then pull a Tarot card from the table where they are spread in front of the mirror. This card tells us what our focus should be in the coming dark of the year when introspection and insight are key.

    This year, I almost forgot to pick a card. Just before we went into the labyrinth, I enacted an intense magical component of the ritual when the Crone parts the veil between the worlds, which we traditionally do before going into the labyrinth. As I was about to do it, I stepped in the Mayhole. In the darkness, which seemed so much darker than other years, I did not even see it. It is at least 6-8″ deep and lined with rocks. I stepped in and pitched forward in nearly a face plant.

    The result was that I tore the end off of my toe (wearing sandals), scraped and bruised my shin so it is now pretty colors, and wrenched my hip and knee and apparently, every body part in between the two. I felt myself wanting to cave. My whole premise of late has been to take care of myself first and others after. Shifting out of the Mothering phase I was in since I was ten-years-old has been quite a challenge for me. Now, going into the Crone phase, I am long past overdue to let that part of myself slip into the shadows. It was like someone who keeps trying to leave military service, but gets pulled back in for one more tour of duty. Necessity always demanded.

    I thought about going inside, piling onto the couch and crying. I knew Eric would finish up the ritual just fine on his own. I thought about just not going into the labyrinth and waiting in the circle for everyone to return. My shoe was filling up with blood and the bottom of my dress was wet either from blood or the water that was still in the Mayhole from the previous day’s rain. Samhain only comes once a year and as much as anyone, I was ready for my time of rest. Ultimately, I wanted to embrace the dark of the year fully, so I completed the ritual. When everyone had left, Eric asked me what card I pulled and I realized I’d neglected to do so. I debated whether to get one or not, then picked up a flashlight and made my way into the labyrinth alone.

    The labyrinth is a beautiful and sacred place, but it is also spooky at night, especially in front of a massive mirror with only a flashlight. I pulled my card and found it an interesting juxtapose with Eric’s.


    image031He pulled Death, which means tremendous change. I cringed when I saw it because, to be honest, this was a very tough year. I was called upon to dig deep and find strength I didn’t know I had patience I did not ever think I could muster. I am tired. More change sounds exhausting to me.

    I pulled the 4 of Wands, which means stability, a happy harvest, and the successful end to hard work. It was quite a relief. Apparently, the change will primarily involve Eric and I will somehow be protected from the impact, at least in a negative way.

    I am eager to see how this all manifests in the dark of the year, which runs until March 21 when we plant again. Until then, there will be a great deal of careful consideration about what to manifest in the coming year and a lot of exploring of dark corners to learn more about myself.

    I also plan to rest, restore, regroup, and rejuvenate. I need to revamp my way of being in the world. The greatest gift of the past year was finding out exactly who I am meant to be. That was always in such turmoil before between satisfying what others wanted me to be and trying to honor my own destiny and even to know what that might be. This year left no further mystery as to how I am to best manifest The Goddess in this life and how I should best invest my energy on a daily basis and ultimately. Until further notice, I am giving those objectives my best effort.

    I learned a great deal and I am eager for the repose of the dark. Right now, the rain California so desperately needs is pouring down and with the time change, it is dark, dark, dark. I can feel Autumn all around and I have put a major project (Aster of Avalon) to bed after a year and a half of working on it. Two more projects are waiting to begin after a brief time out from writing. Stephen King might recommend writing every single day, but I have to step away from it now and then to recalibrate my control panel.

    Last Thursday, a tickle in my throat turned into a full scale head cold. I am never, ever ill, so when it does happen every few years that something hits me, I take it as my cue to slow down and rest, giving my body a chance to heal. I managed to get through the weekend of working at the shop with the entire right side of my body feeling sore and broken from the fall and my cold holding court in my head. Today, I cleaned house from our event on Friday and did some busy work, but the rest of the week, with the exception of a trip to town on Wednesday to meet with the homeschool teacher, is dedicated to recovery.

    I hope all of you are welcoming the dark with open arms, ready to embrace the wisdom that is there for you.

  • A Mabon Ritual

    A Mabon Ritual

    The Mabon ritual welcomes the coming second harvest and gives thanks for the first harvest. A designated leader may say the words that guide the group through the ritual or the speaking portions may be divided among group members. If you enjoy this ritual, you can learn more about the CUSP (Climbing Up the Spiral Pathway) tradition at our website or in the book called CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path. (more…)

  • A Lammas Ritual

    A Lammas Ritual

    Set Up: The ritual area is decorated with sheaves of wheat, corn on the husks, fresh vegetables, and brooms. The participants make corn dollies ahead of time. Corn dollies are actually, in our limited artistic ability, more often “corn joints” than “corn dollies,” so the aesthetics are not vital to the magic. We use corn husks, purchased in the Hispanic section of the grocery store for tamale making, as the wrapper for our corn dollies, then combine aromatic herbs affiliated with each of the five elements (earth, air, fire, water and spirit) into five different potpourri blends. I recommend books like The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Bereyl and The Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham to determine the elemental affiliation of different herbs. Sympathetic essential oils may also be added for increased scent. (more…)

  • Harvest: Bringing In Those Sheaves

    Harvest: Bringing In Those Sheaves

    For those of us who follow the CUSP (Climbing Up the Spiral Pathway) spiritual tradition, Harvest is a time of reward and celebration when all of our hard work through the year pays off. During this time, the “crops” are tall and strong in the field, heavy with the fruit of the first harvest. Far from a time to rest at the end of the cycle, harvest is when we work harder than we have at any other time of the year. The next twelve weeks of harvest between now and its ends on October 31st will be challenging to say the least. We harvest until we feel as though our backs will break and our legs will give out on us…then we harvest some more. Few of us are agricultural farmers beyond a small, backyard production and it is rare that ability to survive the winter rests on the success of the harvest as it did in more ancient times. Instead, we harvest positive life goals that we planned through the winter and planted in the spring. (more…)

  • Midsummer: Purge, Protect, & Burn Stuff

    Midsummer: Purge, Protect, & Burn Stuff

    Of all of the holidays, it can be argued that most cultures at some time or another celebrated Midsummer. The Sun reigns at its full power and dominates the sky for the longest day of the year on Litha. It is commonly believed that the Faeries are most active during this time and that idea was perpetuated by William Shakespeare’s famous play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The power of herbs and plants is said to be strongest at this time, so many of the summer herbs are harvested on this day. (more…)

  • A Beltane Ritual Salute

    A Beltane Ritual Salute


    In this salute, a group leader and representatives of the Earth, Air, Fire, and Water quarters participate in a round of  enthusiastic blessings for the high holiday of Beltane. Our group uses it to start the Beltane ritual and get it off to a strong energy launch. (more…)

  • Beltane Then and Now

    Beltane Then and Now

    The word “Beltane” comes from the Irish Gaelic word “Bealtaine” and in the Common Celtic language means “bright fire.” “Bel,” the root word, comes from “bale” which means “white” or “shining.” “Tene” means “fire.” The traditional astrological date for Beltane is the midpoint of the Sun’s movement between Ostara/Spring Equinox and Litha/Summer Solstice. This generally occurs between May 5 – May 7; however, the common celebration time is May 1. In Celtic mythology, Beltane marked the beginning of summer and of the light half of the year, which is why the Summer Solstice is referred to as “Midsummer.” Great bonfires (balefires), lit for purification and transitioning the year from dark to light, were the centerpieces of celebrations. Villagers drove herds of cattle between the fires to purify them for the year and ensure their safety and fertility. Ashes from the balefires joined the ashes of the Yule log and were spread through the fields to bless the coming harvest. In Wales, it was customary to place a bit of the balefire ashes in one’s shoe for good luck. The hearth fire, which has burned through the winter, was extinguished at this time, officially welcoming summer. Beltane is the counterpart to Samhain and together they mark the beginning of summer and winter respectively according to the old Celtic calendar. For some ancient Europeans who were involved with animal husbandry as well as agriculture, this festival heralded in the pastoral growing season. (more…)

  • All Hail the May Hole

    All Hail the May Hole

    In our circle, we work a strong duality between male and female energies and although we love the traditional celebrations, we always like to put our own spin on things. Beltane is a delicious High Holiday, ribald with innuendo and fun, celebrating the union between the masculine and feminine archetypes. In this blessed time of coming together, we honor the fertilization of the land and revel in the pleasures brought to us by earthly existence. That being the case, we always thought it as a little one-sided to ritualize this sacred day with only a maypole, the representation of male virility, thrusting its mighty prominence up out of the ripened land. (more…)

  • A Woman’s Beltane Drinking Song

    A Woman’s Beltane Drinking Song

    How often is it that we ladies get a drinking song all our own? Not often enough, so back in 1995, I wrote one for you and here it is. (more…)

  • An Ostara Blessing

    An Ostara Blessing

    To the seasons of life and beginnings

    To the egg, the bud, and the seed

    To a successful harvest yet to come

    And the meeting of every need

    Ita fiat!

    To all earth’s beings great and small

    To promise of blessings to be

    We lift our cup in sacred praise

    And honor results we can’t yet see.

    Ita fiat!

    We plant our seeds; they germinate

    In our hearts and in our minds

    They manifest in reality

    And The Gods respond in kind.

    Ita fiat!

    Our seeds prosper and grow to greatest good

    With the care and love we give

    With the blessings of Water, Earth, Fire, and Air

    A better life to live!

    Ita fiat!

    We ask the Ancient Ones of old

    The Lord and Lady of the Field

    To bless our harvest in this seed

    The best results to yield.

    Ita fiat!

  • UnOstara: Celebrating An Unplanting

    UnOstara: Celebrating An Unplanting

    In my own spiritual practice, CUSP, the time between Imbolc and Spring Equinox is critical to our harvest process and the manifestation of positive life change for the coming year. This is especially true of the final few days before Ostara when we officially plant our goals. At Imbolc, we submit our list of desired outcomes for the harvest season and we spend the next six weeks tuned into the Universe to receive confirmations that what we intend to plant is for our greatest good and redirects that tells us, “No, do not plant this…plant this instead.” Redirects may come because what we intend is not in our best interest or perhaps what we plan is already on the verge of manifesting for us and the magical energy we would use for that purpose could go elsewhere. (more…)

  • Ostara, Then and Now

    Ostara, Then and Now

    Pagans are big on history and gleaning the ancient origins and practices of our holidays is akin to sifting through piles of sand to find the handful of diamond flecks that might be scattered within. Much of our “history” actually comes from inferences derived from literature and the smattering of observational accounts that managed to survive thousands of years of war and the overt pissiness of nations. It becomes the odious task of modern day readers and scholars to sort out what happened from what we think happened or what we hoped happened during these celebrations of old. So here we go… (more…)

  • On the CUSP

    On the CUSP

    Eighteen years ago, my priest/husband/co-author and I outlined a spiritual path that got to the bare bones of the agricultural sabbat cycle and created a plan for positive life change through magical manifestation. What was born of those long nights of drinking, writing, drinking, researching, drinking, and plotting was CUSP (Climbing Up the Spiral Pathway). Little did we realize that it would turn into a practice used worldwide and by practitioners of many faiths. It influences our lives daily. (more…)