CIRCLE Magazine

CIRCLE Magazine (76)

Sunday, 13 December 2015 15:44

CIRCLE Magazine Rebate Form

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To receive your CIRCLE Magazine rebate, please complete the form below or return the form we sent to the mailing address used for your Magazine subscription.    If you have any questions or concerns, please email and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Please choose ONE of these options.


Sunday, 13 December 2015 14:49

Announcement from CIRCLE Magazine

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circle magazine logoDear Friends of CIRCLE Magazine,

At Circle Sanctuary our mission is to honor the Divine through nature preservation and fostering Community.  This past year, we've done a great deal of visioning to help guide us toward the best way that we can fulfill our mission to the Divine and to the Pagan community.  For decades now, CIRCLE Magazine has been one way that Circle Sanctuary has fostered Pagan community.  When it began, and through much of its history -- first as Circle Network News and then as CIRCLE Magazine -- this service provided a unique source for Pagan ideas and inspiration as well as creating a venue for Pagan authors, writers, poets, and artists to express themselves.  Our community has changed a great deal in that time, and now there are a diversity of sources for Pagan information, both in print and online, with more created annually.  Paganism is growing and thriving, and we at Circle Sanctuary could not be more pleased.

Saturday, 17 August 2013 17:41


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Circle Magazine is now seeking reviews of Pagan media including books, music, film, decks, podcasts, e-books and other forms of expression.

Please include:

  • Full Title
  • Media Type
  • Author(s) Names
  • Publisher & year published
  • URL (if applicable)
  • A high quality image of the cover, box, logo, etc.
  • Your name (full name or magical name frequently used in Pagan circles only, please.  We do not publish anonymous reviews).
  • Statement of any conflicts of interest - do you know the author, work for the publisher, are of the same tradition or community, have a financial interest, etc..


Review Subjects: We are looking for reviews of Pagan books, music, film, decks, podcasts, e-books, and other media.  In very special circumstances we may also review media that is not specifically Pagan themed, but is of particular interest to the Pagan and Nature Spirituality community.  Circle Magazine does not review clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, food, herbs or any other non-media product.

Review Content:  Reviews should be 1500 words or under.  Your review should include a synopsis of the content of the media that is not less than a quarter of but not more than half of your total text.  

In addition to the synopsis, please include an analysis of the media's usefulness, execution and impact.  Ideas may include:

  • What is the artist's/author's background and expertise in the subject matter?  Have they published other work on the subject and how does that complement or differ from the current work.
  • What other media is out there that is similar to this?  How does it fit in the broader landscape of Pagan media and culture?  Does it fill a gap in what has been previously available, or complement other work in some way?
  • What is the historical context for this media?  Is it responding to ideas or events in the current Pagan community?
  • For books or other educational texts - where does the author derive her information?  What are his sources and how useful are they?  How does she back up assertions she makes?
  • Who do you think the best audience is for this media?  For example, a book for an experienced leader might be confusing for a new or converting Pagan, or a book of seasonal rituals designed for a group might be less use to a solitary.  Is this Tarot deck accessible to all or might some of the imagery be off-putting to non-Pagans?
  • To whom would you recommend this work?


Reviewer's Bio:  Please include a short (1-2 sentence) biography of yourself, including any background you may have that is relevant to the review.  A review of a book of mythology by a classics professor might be very different from a review of the same book by a priestess looking for ideas for her group's next ritual, or a father looking for stories for his children.  All may have valid observations and it is useful for the reader to know where you are coming from.

Review Tone:  Circle Magazine has very limited space to publish reviews - only a few pages, four times a year.  Therefore, we prefer to focus on bringing attention media that is of value or positive significance to the Pagan and Nature Spirituality Communities.  There are many other forums for warning people off shoddy or disappointing products.  While we do not include a rating system in our reviews, we ask that reviewers focus on those works that they would consider worthy of 4 or 5 stars - or a really interesting and significant 3.  That is not to say that everything you write about a given work has to be positive, it is often very useful for a reader to hear about drawbacks as well as successes, but we do want to focus on media that is on the whole worth considering.

Review Copies:  Circle Magazine accepts review copies of Pagan media.  For more information about what is done with review copies see the description of the Volunteer Review Team.  We cannot accept and do not review non-media products including jewelry, cosmetics, supplements, or food.  Review copies may be mailed to Circle Magazine Review Team, c/o Circle Sanctuary, PO Box 9, Barneveld WI 53507.  Review copies will not be returned.  To check if your product could be reviewed, please email

How to Submit a Review:  Simply click here, fill out a few pieces of information about yourself, and upload the review!

Please feel free to contact us via email at if you would like more information or clarification on reviews for Circle Magazine.



Saturday, 17 August 2013 17:39

Regular Features

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The following sections regularly appear in CIRCLE Magazine. Please send in material for these sections as well as for the Forum Topic for each issue. Frequently, the material included in these sections relates to the Forum Topic, but this is not necessary. Also send photographs and artwork for each section.

Bardic Voices: Words and musical score for songs and chants. Fiction which could be used in storytelling. Reviews of Pagan recordings, as well as information (articles and photographs) about Pagan musicians and others working in the Bardic Tradition. Articles and photographs about present Pagan Bards that describe who they are, the creativity behind their Bardic magic, any recordings they have done, and where they will be performing in the near future.

Celebrating the Seasons: Invocations, poetry, short articles, rituals, and artwork of a seasonal nature.

Ecomagic: Reports of individual and/or group environmental projects, rituals, and other activities that have a spiritual component. Activities can be those you have coordinated and/or participated in.

Family Focus: Articles about the spiritual dimensions of family life; meditations, rituals, storytelling, music, and theater for youth and/or the whole family; reviews of relevant books and other resources; and descriptions of spiritual exercises or spiritual crafts for family members of all ages.

Gatherings: Announcements of regional, national, and international festivals, conferences, and gatherings that bring together Nature Spirituality people of many paths.

Herbcraft: Recipes for incense, oils, teas, amulets, and other herbal preparations for healing and helping magic. Be sure to include specific information on amounts of herbs needed and methods of preparation and use. Also articles regarding the lore associated with healing and helping herbs.

Inner Journeys: Transcripts of guided meditations, pathworkings, trance, and other spiritual activities for facilitating consciousness exploration. Include complete and clear instructions so that someone would be able to carry it out.

Invocations: Invocations to the Elements, to Deities, to Nature Spirits, etc. Incantations or spellworking chants can be for singing or speaking and can be accompanied by instructions for use. We publish seasonal poetry or poetry related to the theme of the Forum section. Please do not send us other kinds of poetry.

Lady Liberty League Report: The Lady Liberty League is a referral network of volunteers affiliated with Circle Network interested in helping out with Wiccan/Pagan/Nature Spirituality religious freedom cases. Send press clippings, reports, or tips about religious freedom cases.

Leader Skills: Leadership training articles for and by Pagan elders, group leaders, and teachers.

Magicraft: Articles about magic and transcripts of rituals, spells, meditations, and other spiritual work you have successfully performed. Include complete and clear instructions so that someone would be able to carry it out.

Nature Communion: Send us accounts of Nature mystic experiences, meditations, rituals, and other sacred activities involving contact with Nature spirits and/or oneness with Nature as a whole. Illustrations with Nature mystic themes are also welcome.

Nature Religions Around the World: News reports and other accounts of traditional and contemporary Nature Religions as they are currently being practiced by individuals and groups in various countries, bioregions, or other geographical areas.

Pagan Primer: Rituals, meditations, and articles suitable for those beginning their studies and practice of Paganism.

Pagan World News: Networking news and reports of efforts to broaden public understanding of Wiccan Spirituality and other forms of Paganism. Send us newsclippings, magazine articles, summaries of radio and television coverage, and reports of other positive efforts for both this column and our archives.

Pantheon: Articles exploring Deities, sacred concepts, beliefs, myths, symbols, and practices connected with various Pagan religions, ancient and contemporary, around the world.

Passages: Timely announcements of births, child blessings, coming of age ceremonies, weddings, handfastings, funerals, and other rites of passage you have performed or been a part of. Remember to include the names of principal people involved, locations and dates.

Rites of Passage: Transcripts of personal and community rituals and meditations that mark and facilitate transitions in the human life cycle. Include complete and clear instructions so that someone would be able to carry it out.

Ritual Tools: Articles, artwork, and/or photographs describing the creation and/or use of ceremonial tools in personal/group rituals, meditations, magical workings, and/or other forms of spiritual practice.

Sacred Sites: Articles, artwork, and photographs of sacred places. The places can be indoors or outdoors, and either naturally occurring or created by humans. Describe your impressions of the place and its spiritual significance, past and present.

Scholars Speak: Academic papers and reports pertaining to ancient and/or contemporary Paganism, Shamanism, Goddess Spirituality, Ecofeminism, and other forms of Nature Spirituality.

Traditions: Descriptions, artwork, and photographs of traditions, philosophy, symbols, customs, or other spiritual practices associated with a particular Wiccan, Druidic, Shamanic, Pagan, or other Nature religion group, community, denomination, or path.


Saturday, 17 August 2013 17:35

Cover Art

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Cover art should relate to the forum topic of the issue in which it is included.  Art should be in full color, and electronically submitted in as high a resolution as possible.  If you wish color art to be considered for an upcoming cover, please send a reproduction of the art and a description of the original so that we can determine its potential as a cover.

How to send images: We encourage you to submit art and photographs electronically.  Files should be in the form of .GIF, .TIF, .PNG or .JPG files, and as large as you can manage, preferably at 300 dpi.  Use our online submission form, or send to  You must include your legal name, address, phone, and email for our records on all material you submit.  If you wish to be published under a different name, clearly indicate that on your material, too.

Designing Front Cover Art:  Image placement within the art is important.  We prefer to print covers that have 'edge to edge' interest, however the main focus of the art must be clear and visible behind the text on the cover and not clash or compete with the text.  To make this process easier for artists we've created a .PNG file that you can pngdownload here (425.59 kb) to test your cover image.  You can either include this file as a layer in a program such as Photoshop, or print it out and just hold it next to your art to see if your image will fit well.  

Size and resolution:  Our cover size is 8 3/8" x 10 7/8."  Please make sure that your image is at least 300 pixels per inch at this size.  For printing we also need to include a 1/2 inch bleed around the cover image, so please consider this when sizing your art.

Perks of being a front cover artist:  Chosen cover artists are given space for a short biography and a headshot in the issue of CIRCLE Magazine where their art appears. This can include contact information, including your email address or a link to your website.  You may also request a complementary 1/6th page ad for your art or other Pagan themed product in the advertising pages.  This ad is subject to the same rules as requirements and approval as all other CIRCLE Magazine advertising. For more information see the advertising page.

Back Cover Art:  CIRCLE Magazine now features seasonal festivals and upcoming events on the rear cover.  We are seeking full color art to be used on the back cover and to promote these events.  Upcoming festivals include Yule, Imbolc, Earth Day, Beltane & Pagan Spirit Gathering/Summer Solstice.  Unlike front cover art, suitable images will be compact and able to be centered within a circle on a black or white background.  Artists whose work is chosen for the back cover will also receive a complementary 1/6th page ad for your art or other Pagan themed product in the advertising pages.  Email for more information.

Please feel free to contact us via email at if you would like more information or clarification about providing art for CIRCLE Magazine.


Saturday, 17 August 2013 17:33

Image Submissions

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CIRCLE Magazine is always looking for original Pagan-themed art, particularly line art, which translates very well into our print format.  

4/8/2015 Press Release: pdfCall for Art and Artists

How to send images: We encourage you to submit art and photographs electronically.  Files should be in the form of .GIF, .TIF, .PNG or .JPG files, and as large as you can manage, preferably at 300 dpi.  Use our online submission form, or send to  You must include your legal name, address, phone, and email for our records on all material you submit.  If you wish to be published under a different name, clearly indicate that on your material, too.

Submitting art by mail:  Originals or hard copies of artwork may be mailed to CIRCLE Magazine, PO Box 9, Barneveld, WI 53507.  We strongly encourage you to make copies of art before mailing it to us!  We will do our best to take care of everything you send us, but CIRCLE Magazine's office are housed in a converted barn and occasionally mice and mold happen, to say nothing of the tender mercies of the postal service.  If you would like the original returned you MUST include a self addressed, envelope with correct postage.  Please do not mail photographs or film.

Colors: CIRCLE Magazine is printed in black and white, with color covers.  Color art or photos used within the magazine will be scanned as grayscale images. Please consider, when submitting an image that is originally in color, if it will translate well to black and white.  If you are not experienced with converting images to grayscale using a program such as Adobe Photoshop, please feel free to send your image in color and we will convert it for you.

Credits: Artists credits are listed on or beside the page in which your art appears. If your work has a title please include that, otherwise it will be listed as "Illustration by..." or "Photo by...".  Artist and photographer credits are also listed in the Artistic Credits section of the Magazine.  If you would like your contact information, which can include a phone number, email address or website to be printed in this section please include that information with your submission. Signatures within the work must be very subtle, or may be edited out.  Please remove all watermarks from photos.

Nudity:  CIRCLE Magazine has many readers in institutions such as schools hospitals and prisons that have visual content restrictions.  While we deeply value artistic freedom and honor the human body in all shapes, sizes and states, we also feel obligated to make our publication accessible to readers in more restricted settings.  Therefore we no longer publish images containing or suggesting nudity. This includes 'wearing' strategically placed clouds, scarves or leaves.  Many institutions also ban depictions of pubic hair.  We greatly appreciate artists who are able to work with us to strategically edit their work, and acknowledge that this does leave one with the impression that many Gods and Goddesses are very fond of wearing bicycle shorts and tank tops.  We ask their forgiveness and trust that they understand that the alternative would be to exclude many readers who have little access to other Pagan media or our spiritual community.


Saturday, 17 August 2013 17:26

Text Submissions

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Length and Format: Preferred article lengths are 1500-2000 words or 3000-3500 words.  The preferred format for submissions is: .doc files, single-spaced, 11-point Times New Roman.  Be sure to include two spaces between every sentence. 

How to Submit an Article:  All text submissions must be submitted electronically. Please do not send handwritten, typewritten or printed text.  We encourage submissions using our online submission form (preferred) or if that is not possible you may email your submission to  You must include your legal name, address, phone, and email for our records on all material you submit.  If you wish to be published under a different name, clearly indicate that on your material, too.

Editing:  We reserve the right to edit and/or crop all material submitted to us. The layout of articles is a delicate puzzle and frequently articles must be edited to fit the space available or to conform with the standard format of CIRCLE Magazine. When possible, you will be notified if your article must be significantly reshaped in order to be included or you may be asked to redraft sections to better fit.  Your article may be reviewed by CIRCLE Magazine staff as well as members of the volunteer editing team.  Occasionally we also ask outside experts to review and give feedback on the content of an article prior to publication.

Biography: Submission of a brief (2-3 sentence) biographical paragraph is optional, but encouraged.  Biographies should be in the third person and may include contact information, such as an email address or personal website that you want published.

Citations and References:  Provide references for all material that is not your own thinking, or for any material that is quoted or referred to in your article   For citation formats please use the Chicago Manual of Style.  A quick reference for citations for various sources is available at  

Pagan Specific Style Guide: Names of religions or traditions, including the word 'Pagan' should always be capitalized.  Capitalization should also be used to designate principles such as 'Spirit' which are being used as proper nouns. Capitalization should not be used for emphasis.  Names of gods or goddesses should by capitalized.  The word 'god' or 'goddess' should be capitalized when referring to the God or the Goddess, but not when referring generally to 'some gods or goddesses.'  

CIRCLE Magazine does not have a preferred spelling for 'magic' or 'magick,' and will follow the author's prefrence.  In the case of other words, such as the names of holidays, which have multiple 'correct' or common spellings, CIRCLE Magazine will use the spelling preferred by the author.

Inclusivity:  Please be aware that CIRCLE Magazine's readers come from many paths and traditions within the Pagan and Nature Spirituality communities and try to keep your language inclusive. 

Poetry:  CIRCLE Magazine is delighted to print poetry (including songs or chants) by Pagan poets and bards.  Poems should address Pagan themes, nature, seasonal topics or the Forum topic.  Poems of all sizes are appreciated.  Be sure to clearly indicate where the line breaks are in your poem.  Also, double check your grammar - it can be very difficult for our editors to determine if a missing comma or extraneous capitalization is a deliberate artistic statement or just a typo.  We are happy to print short bios along with your poem.  

Promoting Author's Projects:  We love to work with Pagan authors, and CIRCLE Magazine is a great way to reach an interested audience.  While we occasionally do publish excerpts or chapters from Pagan books and blogs, we strongly prefer to publish original material.

We encourage you to draw from the material in your book or blog and rework it into an article format.  The format and writing style of a magazine article is often different then the format of book or blog post.  Magazine articles are generally shorter.  CIRCLE Magazine's length requirements are 1500-2000 words or occasionally, 3000-3500 words.  Articles may also have shorter paragraphs and use bolded text and 'pull out' lists or charts to draw readers' interest.

When developing an article from a book, it often works well to pick a specific topic from within your book and develop that into a stand-alone article.  For example, if your book is on Celtic Tree Magic, an article on the magical properties of Oak is likely to be more engaging in 2,000 words than trying to explain about all of tree magic in the same space. 

To credit your book,  please do include the title and publisher of your book in your bio. You can also include an email address or website for readers to find you or your book.  Just try to keep URLs as short and easy to type as possible.  (Example: Erin is the author of Celtic Tree Magic, forthcoming from Example Press.  Learn more at  While we generally do not print excerpts alone, you should feel free to use material from your book within your article.  For example you might reprint a chant, ritual or recipe and include an attribution to your book. 

While blogs are similar to magazines in many ways, the print format often means that magazine articles need to be much more concise than blogs.  You may want to use tools to shorten any URLs you wish to cite, as most of our readers receive their magazines in print format.  Please let us know if your article is adapted from a previously published blog post.  We will wish to note this in the magazine.

CIRCLE Magazine does occasionally publish reviews of new Pagan books, however at this time we have a very limited number of reviewers.  While Circle Sanctuary does accept review copies of books, we cannot guarantee that any book received will be reviewed in our publication.  We do NOT return materials submitted for review, whether reviewed or not.

If your book is already published, you may need to contact your publisher to inform them that you are submitting a related article to CIRCLE Magazine.  Please be sure you have the rights to all content that you submit to CIRCLE Magazine and include proper attributions.

Individual Spiritual Experiences, Memoirs and Personal Essays:  CIRCLE Magazine does publish some essays or articles focusing on personal spiritual experience,  however we generally include only one or two such articles in each issue.   Currently about half of the articles that we receive are personal essays, so there is considerable of competition for the small amount of page space we have for that type of writing.  This is not to discourage you from submitting your personal essay!  We are always looking for engaging, inspiring content.  However, even for essays that we would like to use, there may be a longer wait time for publication.

You also might want to consider if your idea for a memoir or essay might have some more universal lessons in it that you could rework into a more educational style article.  For example, if you had a profound revelation while at the Kiyomizu-dera in Japan, instead about writing about your experience directly,  could you write an article about that temple for our Sacred Places column?  Or if you had a deep communion with the Goddess Hestia could you write a guided meditation or personal ritual to help others connect with Hestia?  

Reviews:  CIRCLE Magazine is now accepting reviews of books, music, decks and other Pagan focused media.  For more information about submitting reviews, or having your material reviewed, please see our review page.

Illustration:  We encourage, but by no means require, authors to provide photos or art to illustrate their articles.  You may also wish to suggest short captions to go along with the images you send.  We will always try to use images sent by an author, however for layout or image quality reasons we may not be able to use every image sent.   If you are not the artist or photographer who created the image you are sending please obtain permission first and send the appropriate image credit. Do not embed image files in the word document, send them as separate files.  Please see the information on Image Submissions for more details.

Please feel free to contact us via email at if you would like more information or clarification about providing articles, poetry or other text submissions for CIRCLE Magazine.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013 09:10

Spirit Bag Crafting

Written by

by Selena Fox

originally in Fall 2011, pp. 31-32


DSC 3190Every year, at our Welcome Summer Festival, in early June at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, we craft a special kind of herbal amulet known as Spirit Bags, for members of the Pagan Spirit Gathering Community.

We make enough so that each participant in the Pagan Spirit Gathering can receive one upon arrival and use it as part of personal and group spiritual activities throughout the week.  We also make some extras, which later are given to others as tokens of healing and well being.

Each Spirit Bag consists of a small fabric pouch made from a square of all-cotton cloth and containing a blend of dried herbs and a small sacred stone.  The cloth, once filled at its center is tied with a piece of yarn, which in turn is tied to a circlet fashioned from a longer piece of yarn.

Each year, we select fabric, yarn ties, and a type of sacred stone to match the theme for that year’s Summer Solstice festival.  For 2011, our theme is Solstice Magic, and we have Tiger’s Eye, representing healing, protection, wisdom, awareness, prosperity, and well being. 

The fabric and the yarn may be a solid color or patterned.  For 2011, the fabric is lavender with a pattern of white celestial six rayed sun stars with arches representing motion, and the yarn is white to match the Solstice Stars.  Our fabric squares are of uniform size and usually are between four and five inches square, depending on fabric width. 

Every year, we select and combine dried sacred herbs grown in fields, forests, and gardens of our land, Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in southwestern Wisconsin.  We ritually harvest these magical herbs, dry, blend them, and then place a bit of them, along with a stone in each Spirit Bag we create.

The blend of herbs each year has Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) as its main ingredient.  Mugwort is a versatile ritual herb used to enhance intuition and bless dreaming as well as to cleanse, heal, nurture, protect, and consecrate.  It also is an herb associated with Summer Solstice celebrations.

Other herbs that usually are part of the blend include dried leaves of Mint, Yarrow, Bee Balm, Sage, Thyme, and Lemon Balm. 

Participants wear their Spirit Bags around their necks during the Pagan Spirit Gathering.   Some continue to wear them after the Gathering.  Others place them on their altars or hang them in their dwellings as home blessing charms.



* Focus: decide on the purpose of the Spirit Bags you will be creating and qualities.

As with the creation of other sacred objects, it is important to keep spiritual intentions in mind at each part of Spirit Bag crafting as well as during completion and throughout use.

* Fabric:  select a natural fabric of a color and pattern suited to the focus.  An all (100%) cotton fabric works well.  Cut the fabric into five-inch squares.  Have one for each person who will be receiving one.

* Yarn:  select a soft yet durable yarn of a color that matches or complements the fabric.  Cut a six-inch tie and an eighteen-inch piece to serve as the necklace for each Spirit Bag.

* Herbs:  select dried herbs with spiritual properties that suit the focus of the Spirit Bags.  Place them in a large, non-metal container, such as an enamelware canning pot, plastic cauldron, or large wooden salad bowl.  Name the spiritual qualities of each herb that you wish to activate as you place herbs in the container and begin the blending process.  Then thoroughly mix the herbs, removing twigs and any prickly parts as you do.  There should be enough herbal mixture to fill but not stuff each bag.

* Stone: select a type of sacred stone that suits the purpose of the Spirit Bags.  Stones should be small and of similar size and shape.  A good source are tumbled stone chips that are typically sold in strands at craft stores and rock shops.



DSC 3264Assemble the items for Spirit Bag making.  Have enough tabletop space available for the Spirit Bags crafting process.

Do a spiritual centering and attunement.  Connect with the sacred according to your own path and ask blessings on the crafting process.  Connect with the spirits of the herbs and the stone, and ask for their support.  Call to mind the focus of the Spirit Bags.

Place fabric squares, with the outer side down on a table.  In making multiple Spirit Bags, it is best to have enough tables so that every piece of fabric can be laid out.  Next to each square, place a single yarn tie.

Now place a single stone in the center of each fabric square.   Call the spiritual properties of the stones in mind as well as the focus of the Spirit Bags as you place each stone.  

Once all the stones are placed, take a large pinch of the herb blend, about the size of a strawberry or large grape and set it atop the stone in the center of each square of fabric.  There should be enough of the herb blend to fill but not overly stuff each Spirit Bag so that it can be securely tied when its four corners are brought together.  Call to mind the focus of the Spirit Bags as you set the herbs in place.

The next step is to craft each Spirit Bag.  Pull each of the four corners of a fabric square up so that they touch each other.  Compress the herbs and stone together in the fabric to form a small ball-like pouch.  Tie the yarn piece firmly in a knot to secure the pouch. 

Once the Spirit Bags have been tied with the shorter lengths of yarn, take each longer length of yarn and tie its two ends together to form a circlet.  Place a circlet by each Spirit Bag.  Now, placing the knotted end of a circlet next to the knot of the shorter yarn tie of a Spirit Bag, take the two ends of the shorter yarn tie and tie them twice to affix the circlet to the Spirit Bag.  

The circlet with the Spirit Bag attached can now be worn around the neck.  Or, to wear later, hang it on a hook or wrap the circlet of yarn around the ends of the Spirit Bag so that it can be unwrapped later.

Once the Spirit Bags have been assembled, energize each one and all together with blessings connected with the focus of the Spirit Bags.  This can be done through chanting, prayers, and/or visualization.  Once energized, Spirit Bags should be handled with care as with other sacred items.


Spiritual Uses

DSC 3312Spirit Bags can be used in a variety of ways.  The most common way to work with a Spirit Bag is to wear it around your neck. It also can be hung or placed in your home or vehicle, or carried in a briefcase or purse.  It can be placed in a bedroom under a pillow or above or beside the bed as a dream charm. 

Spirit Bags not only can be crafted for use by one’s self, but can be crafted for others and given as gifts, such as to a newborn as part of a baby blessing rite, to a couple at their wedding or handfasting, or to a friend moving into a new home.

A Spirit Bag can be crafted as an offering and can be left at a shrine, temple, circle, or other sacred site.  Crafted for healing a loved one, it can be placed on or near the one in need, or worn by the one in need.

When not wearing or using a Spirit Bag, keep it in an honored place, such as on an altar or in a box with sacred jewelry.  Care for it as you would other sacred objects.

Should a time come to dispose of a Spirit Bag, express thanks to the sacred forces that were part of its crafting, do a prayer of release, and then return it to Nature in some way.  Bury it at a sacred site or by a favorite tree.  Or, cast it into a sacred fire.  Or, cut the tie and cast the herbs to the wind or into flowing water. 

A wonderful way to store and display Spirit Bags crafted for various purposes over time is to affix them to a grapevine hoop, hung on a door, wall or other place in the home.

Spirit Bag crafting and spiritual work can deepen one’s connection with the sacred dimensions of plants, stones, and life, and can serve as a reminder of the greater Circle of Nature of which we are all part.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013 08:42

PSG Memories: Red Flower, Thunder Flower

Written by

The Morning Fire Offerings at PSG 2011

by Steven Posch

Originally in Spring 2012, pp. 54-55


Posch1At the heart of all human culture burns Fire, both hero and trickster, revered in many traditions as a God in his or her own right. To honor this divine being -- the God who paradoxically dwells in every human home -- I crafted the Rite of Morning Fire Offering for the 2011 Pagan Spirit Gathering at Stonehouse Park in Illinois.

The prototypes for the ritual are drawn from ancient (and modern) Baltic practice, influenced by Zoroastrian fire-offerings and the agnihotras of Hinduism. But the rite in some form was once present in nearly every Indo-European culture and, in a sense, in virtually every traditional culture in the world.

How many billions of times in the course of human history has it happened? The woman of the house rises early in the morning, before anyone else, and wakes the fire that has slept banked through the night. She rakes away the protective bed of ash and adds fresh fuel. Onto the newly-wakened flames she sprinkles a few pinches of meal or flour by way of offering and, as she does so, prays for her family’s wellbeing. Then she starts to cook breakfast. This humble yet profound ritual, repeated daily in every household in practically every traditional culture, is the prototype for the larger, tribal fire-offerings of the Indo-European diaspora generally, and the fire-offerings of Vedic India and Zoroastrian Iran in particular.

Lighting a sacred community fire to mark the ingathering of a group of people is standard practice among American First Nations, and has long been a sacred tradition at PSG. The fire is ceremoniously kindled at the beginning of the gathering, burns throughout the festival, and is ritually extinguished at its end.  This fire is in effect the community hearth. It is fitting that offerings on the tribe’s behalf are made daily at the collective tribal hearth-fire.

We made the Morning Fire Offering on each day of this year’s festival, when a handful of early arrivals gathered damply beneath the canopy that had protected the Fire from the previous night’s downpour.  We were privileged to number among us that morning the handsome young fire-keeper who, his own tent flooded, had heroically kept all-night vigil to guard the Fire and keep it alight. 

On subsequent mornings, we made the offering immediately before Morning Meeting. By placing the ritual at this point in our shared day, I intended to help the PSG tribe begin in a sacred and prayerful way, and to highlight the sanctity of the Morning Meeting and the work that we do there together. Although technically the presence of the tribe is not required at the offering -- it is the priest’s responsibility to make the offerings and their accompanying prayers on the tribe’s behalf whether or not anyone else is present -- it became the custom for those who wished to participate more intimately in the offering to cluster around the fire.  If there was a single lesson to be learned from the rituals of PSG, it was that as compressed molecules generate greater heat, so people clustered together generate greater power than they do in a vast one-deep circle. Each morning more and more people came to the fire, and I can testify from personal experience that the intensity of our collective prayer was so strong and so deep as to be (to speak for myself) at some points nearly overwhelming. As the triad goes:

Three things give wing to prayer:

the needful occasion, the offering,

the soaring prayer of others.

My thanks and appreciation to all those who participated in our Morning Fire Offerings. It was a pleasure and a privilege to serve you as, in effect, village priest; in all, the experience taught me many things about the nature and practice of priesthood. My special thanks to heart-friend and brother-in-rites Sparky T. Rabbit, who offered his usual insightful critique during the rite-crafting process.

While retaining copyright and right of use, I hereby make a gift of this ritual to Pagan Spirit Gathering and the entire PSG community, from my hands to yours. It is my hope that you will receive this ritual and take it with you wherever you go, to use (or not) as you see fit. My one request is that if you do make use of this rite or some form of it, that you continue to credit me as its source. It’s a basic principle of human cultural endeavor that the single best way to encourage our creative people to generate more good material is to give them credit for the work that they’ve already done.  My gratitude and ongoing prayers go with you all.


Morning Fire Offering Ritual

Fire Priest or Priestess:

My brothers and sisters: we have it from the ancestors, and they from their ancestors, that the avenues of communication between ourselves and the Gods are most open during the making of offerings; so as I, by your leave (bows), make the morning offerings to the Fire, I would invite you to lift up your hands and to make your own prayers to whichever Gods your people make their prayers to. And so we begin.

Priest covers head, and all rise.

Blowing of horns.

Priest uncovers offerings; People intone.

First Offering (oil, ghee) is made; Priest prays for Life for the People.

Second Offering (meal) is made; Priest prays for Food for the People.

Third Offering (herbs, incense) is made; Priest prays for Beauty for the People.

Priest re-covers offerings.

All sing:

Red Flower, Thunder Flower, Flower of the Sun,

burn among us, burn within us, Flower of the Sun.

Priest or Priestess:

My brothers and sisters, our rite is ended, and let us all say:

All:  So mote it be.

Blowing of horns.

Priest uncovers head.

[Lyrics: Steven Posch (based on a New Fire chant by Rosemary Sutcliff) © Steven W. Posch 2011, with special thanks to Bruner Soderberg]


Morning Fire Offering Ritual Commentary

Posch2The rite is intended to be performed daily at the tribal sanctuary's hearth fire.  By custom, the priest should make the offering with head covered, and for all capable to stand for the duration of the rite. It is desirable for the people to be present; it is the priest’s obligation to make the offering regardless. In a domestic context, the same offerings would be made daily at the household hearth on the family’s behalf. In fact, the domestic offering -- traditionally made at the morning kindling of the Fire -- is the historic pattern for the larger, tribal rite.  My use of male generics throughout should not be construed to mean that the performance of this rite is in any way restricted to men. 

Introduction:  When none of the people are present, or when a majority of those present are familiar with the Fire Offering, the introduction may be omitted. 

Priest covers head:  It is long-standing tradition for the offerer to cover his (or her) head.  This serves both to set him apart visually and to depersonalize him, and thus to keep collective focus where it should be: on the act of offering rather than on the offerer.

Horn:  Blowing horn(s) at the beginning of the ritual calls the attention of those present and within hearing distance (including the Gods themselves) to the offering that is about to take place. It represents Primal Sound and inaugurates the beginning of sacred time.

Priest uncovers offerings:  It is customary to bear the offerings on a cloth-covered tray. The practical reason is to protect the offerings, especially when performed outdoors; there are of course mystical meanings as well.

People intone:  When the people are present at the offering, it is customary for them to hum, drone, or intone during the making of the offerings. This continues until the offering tray is re-covered.

First Offering (oil, ghee):  The First Offering causes the Fire to flame up and be seen in all its beauty and power. The priest prays for Life for the People.  Note: it is customary to make each Offering in three portions.

Priest prays for Life (Food, Beauty) for the people:  The prayers are best recited aloud but in an undertone. It should be apparent that the priest is praying, but it is not necessary for them to hear what he says. These are known in Latin tradition as the secreta: not "secret," but "separated" or "set apart" prayers. One paradox of priesthood is that the priest best serves the community by being set apart both in person and in prayer from others, at least for the duration of any given ritual.

While others may pray for their own needs during this rite, the priest is not at liberty to do so: his job is to pray for the collective well-being.  While formulas exist for the "secret" prayers, it is best for each officiant to formulate his own.  Here as elsewhere in ritual, simple is best.

Second Offering (meal):  Cornmeal or any sort of flour is appropriate. The priest prays for Food for the People.

Third Offering (herbs, incense):  The Third Offering should be something that burns fragrantly. The priest prays for Beauty for the People.

Hymn (all):  A hymn to Fire or some other tribal God is appropriate.

Horn:  The second blowing of the horn(s) signifies the conclusion of the rite, informs those present and those within hearing distance that the offering has been duly made, and joins the rite’s end to its beginning.

Priest uncovers his head:  Having completed the offering, the priest’s commission to act singly on the people’s collective behalf comes to an end, and he reverts to his normal status as one of the people.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013 08:26

PSG Memories: Main Ritual 2010

Written by

by Paul Herrick

originally in Winter 2010, pp. 51-52


Fire“Eight hundred hands, reaching up. Four hundred people, focused on one illuminated orb. One tall, slim man moving among us in the twilight, carrying the representation of Gaia, our Mother Earth.”

Kathy Nance of St. Louis Today wrote those words about the main ritual of Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) 2010, reflecting what an immensely powerful experience it was.  What the article didn’t tell you was that I was that ‘tall, slim man’ that was lumbering along with the representation of the planet Earth.  

I am not sure many people have a good understanding of what goes into organizing a ritual for hundreds of people to participate in.  Those who do also know what a haphazard process it can be to get a great idea for a ritual, than to quickly pull it together with people you may have never worked with before, and than count on them not to make a major blunder.  My Pagan Spirit Gathering memory is about my experience of the quirky process that led to a humbling and profound ritual experience.

The 2010 PSG ritual was conceived by Shauna Aura Precourt, with input from Selena Fox and Nora Cedarwind Young, and a lot of on site help by Shauna’s partner, Mark Mandrake.  The intention was not just to do a ritual for some sort of nebulous inner work or warm, fuzzy, community togetherness; rather they wanted to spiral deep into each ritual participant and draw out the power to create real change.  Than spiral out into the world where time outside PSG would be more than just a ‘supply run’, rather it would be a chance to bring the PSG spirit in their lives, make real healing change for themselves and rekindle their devotion to the most visible symbol of the Divine: the Earth.

I came into this process when Shauna sidled up to me one day at PSG. Since I was presenting workshops on vaguely environmental topics, she asked me if I would like a part in the ritual.  I’ve known Shauna for a while now.  We met at a Circle Sanctuary festival and spent the better part of the day talking about community dynamics, modern Paganism, and where we are all headed.  After that we kept in touch on Facebook, had a couple phone conversations, and exchanged some emails.  At PSG 2009 I’d been drawn into a very strange, late night, conversation with Shauna about how cool her hanging, solar powered, pear shaped, light string looked on her golf cart.  By any Pagan’s reckoning we were best buddies, or fellow fifth circle adepts of the blue council, so how could I say “no?”

From there, I plunged into one of the craziest ritual planning sequences that I have ever taken part in.  Shauna wanted me to participate in the ritual by helping people fall in love with the world again.  She described the role as calling out the moments where people understood the majesty of the Earth, things like ‘the first time I saw the Earth from space.’  This ritual role kicked off a crazy snow ball effect that rapidly increased my level of participation in the ritual.  At the first planning meeting Shauna thought it would be logical that I also help with calling the element of Earth.  At the next planning meeting I was drawn into helping with the Trance Journey portion of the ritual, where the ritual facilitators would be calling out questions in an overlapping fashion to draw the ritual participants into an altered state of consciousness. 

With the snowball still rolling at three ritual parts, shortly after that I was asked if I could carry the world on my shoulders.  In a brilliant move, Shauna and Mark explained to me that they wanted a grand symbol of the Earth to be present at the ritual, so they had purchased a four foot wide, plastic, inflatable globe.  To use the globe for the ritual that night, Mark and I had to stand around in awkward and possibly compromising positions with a bike pump ‘blowing up the Earth’ for twenty minutes before we stowed it till the ritual in the evening.   

With the idea that I was going to have to retrieve the giant globe during the ritual, I was standing squarely at four different parts in the ritual and desperately hoping I could keep them all in my head and their order straight.  Nobody wants to be the person who messes up the grand ritual. This made a large portion of the rest of the day as ritual preparation for me, as I continued to go through the different parts in my mind.  

The evening of the ritual, I was hastily chatting with other facilitators to make sure I remembered my parts, while the drums of the ritual procession pounded off in the distance.  Later, I was equally hastily involved in making sure community elders put their chairs in good spots as the drums from the ritual procession drew ever closer.   From the moment that the procession came into the ritual area, the community was caught up in a Spiral Dance led by T. Thorn Coyle with the rest of the ritual facilitators acting as cantors for the opening chant.  The Spiral Dance gave way to the very visceral quarter calling and than to the Trance Journey that had even the facilitators sinking deeper into altered states.  Space became sacred and time slowed as events started to blur.

PeopleI clearly remember breaking away from the ritual group to fetch the inflatable globe and thinking about how corny it was going to be.  I couldn’t have been more wrong when I hoisted what amounted to a giant beach ball, painted to look like a globe, and brought it into the circle.  Shauna had me hold the globe above my head, and above the crowd, so that people could see it while the chanting was going on.  From the moment that all eyes turned on me I could feel the attention and energy that was pressing on the globe, and by extension, me.  Some people described the nebulous energies of magic as being electrifying or warm, but this was pure pressure, pure weight, as peoples’ attention poured into the globe.  It was at that point that Shauna whispered to me that I should walk around the circle.

It was a surreal thing carrying that globe through the circle.  Hundreds of Pagans in trance locked in their attention on the globe and chanting for the healing of the Earth.  Many reached up in reverence to touch the globe as I passed by them, seeing the living image of Mother Earth, rather than an absurd, giant, plastic beach ball.  As I walked, the globe itself became heavier and heavier and a low vibration came from my hands down to my feet.  I had inadvertently filled the role of Atlas, bearing the sphere of the heavens on my shoulders.  I walked several circuits of the ritual space with the Earth on my shoulders and between the chanting and the energy swirling around; it was all I could do to center myself and walk forward.  I stopped among a group of children near the center of the circle and slowly lowered the sphere to the ground.  It seemed appropriate that the children helped lower the Earth symbol to the real Earth.  Doesn’t each generation pass the world to the hands of its children?

After removing the globe from the ritual circle it became a beach ball again but the power it had as a symbol demanded that I reflect on my experience.  The ritual we had just performed was not a selfish ritual.  It did not ask us to heal ourselves, to request something of the world, to be reborn, or to resolve some inner turmoil.  The ritual asked us to focus outward on the greatest symbol of our faith as Pagans and demanded that we not only revere it but also sacrifice something of our self to it for all we have received.  A sacrifice of intention, attention, energy, hope, and love to both heal the planet and ourselves.

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