Rites of Passage Celebration of Birth

FireHeart 5 Cover for EarthSpiritRites of Passage
Celebration of Birth
by Sue Curewitz Arthen ©1990

Once, there was born a baby who brought such joy to her parents that they could hardly contain themselves. In celebration of her birth, they prepared a great feast, and invited all their friends, relatives, and the wise folk of the area to attend. At the end of the feasting and merriment, each of the wise folk made a wish for the baby. The first wished her kindness, the second wisdom, the third beauty. Another wished her virtue, another tenderness, and so on – everything a child could possibly wish for.

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The Unquiet Grave: A Meditation for Allhallows

FireHeart 4 Cover for EarthSpiritThe Unquiet Grave: A Meditation for Allhallows
by Catherine Madsen

By remembering the dead we are reminded that life is deeds which caress and flay the souls of others. JULIUS LESTER

The dead are nourished by judgments, the living by love. ELIAS CANETTI

The novelist Mary Austin, in her spiritual memoir Experiences Facing Death, talks about the concept of “educating our ancestors.” She came across this concept in conversation with a shaman of the Pueblo Indians, the Priest of the Bow, some time after the First World War. He told her that war tended to arise when spiritual energy was at a low ebb (that energy which his tradition called orenda or wakonda) and that its aftermath generated a kind of static or chaos underneath all later social life until the spirits of the dead were given rest. “It was all predicated,” Austin wrote, “on the tribal conviction that consciousness is inherently indestructible, and that no limb of humanity, though apparently severed by death, is ever without its reciprocal effect upon the whole body of a self-cognizing race.”

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TED MILLS Interview

FireHeart 4 Cover for EarthSpiritTED MILLS
A Rock In Turbulent Times
By Andras Corban Arthen ©1989

(Ted Mills died on Wednesday, 21 February 1996.)
(Theodore Mills has been an influential figure in modern American Witchcraft for well over twenty years. “Lord Theo,” as he is affectionately called by his friends, has been a mentor to hundreds of witches from Massachusetts to Arizona. Ted was a frequent contributor to “The Witches’ Almanac” in the 1970s, and an early associate of Sybil Leek. In keeping with this issue’s theme, “FireHeart” sought Ted’s perspectives, as one of the true Elders of the Craft. Now in his mid-60s and in fragile health, Ted nevertheless retains a dynamic personality, an engaging sense of humor, and a level of energy that puts younger people to shame. This interview, conducted at his home in western Massachusetts, ended in the wee hours of the night. While his interviewers had faded considerably, Ted showed little sign of slowing down.)

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THE EIGHTFOLD PATH Part Three: FASTING

FireHeart 4 Cover for EarthSpiritTHE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Part Three: FASTING
by Inanna Arthen ©1989

Vernal Equinox. I walk slowly through a stand of woods in central Massachusetts, avoiding patches of soft snow, my boots soaked with icy water. I have not eaten food or drunk anything but water for almost ten days, and I have walked for several miles so far this day, up and down hill, over brook and stone. It is cold and cloudy, and from time to time a light drizzle falls. Around me Spirit is immanent, and I am keenly aware of it. Everything I see takes my breath away with wonder, and the sound of water, dripping, trickling, bubbling, rushing, fills the air with a constant song. I stop to rest near a stand of trees and they greet me with interest; I chat casually with them, unconscious of any incongruity. Later, I discuss my life problems with a moss-covered rock. Voices call to me from the distance “Come see! Come see!” but I am reluctant to walk too far down hill. Everything around me seems eager to show me marvels, and all that I see is marvelous. Yet my body holds me firmly to the ground. Despite my increasingly slow step and the aches and twinges of my depleted muscles, my spirit soars. By the simple act of fasting for a few days, I have entered a profoundly altered state of consciousness.

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Rites of Passage: The Aging Pagan

FireHeart 4 Cover for EarthSpiritRites of Passage: The Aging Pagan
Crones and Wise Men
Dancing With Spirit
by Sue Curewitz Arthen ©1989

In 1984, our open Hallows circle began in a slightly unusual way. The darkened room filled slowly as people worked their way through a tunnel into a large ritual space and formed a circle in silence. But just as the circle was about to be cast, there was a ruckus in the tunnel, and a querulous voice demanded, “What the hell is going on here? Who are all these people?” Then, in a more tremulous tone, “Where am I? Why are you all looking at me?” A bag lady, returning for leftovers from the supper for the homeless held in this same hall earlier, entered the circle, and looking around, said, “I know who you are, and I know what you’re afraid of. You’re afraid of me!” I was the Crone. Playing a modern version of this traditional role, I tugged at the threads that people like to keep hidden, the threads of loneliness, alienation, and fear. And I held the cauldron that the threads were thrown into as people worked toward transformation. For the year following that Hallows circle, I thought I knew what it meant to be a Crone. I was wrong.

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THE EIGHTFOLD PATH Part Two: CHANTING

FireHeart 3 Cover for EarthSpiritTHE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Part Two:CHANTING
by Sherry Gamble ©1989

The sound begins as a low hum, tentative at first, hesitant, a quiet growl … uhuhuu. The breath is still slightly too shallow – the sound unsure of its origin, yet wanting to be created. As the breath deepens, the sound deepens, becomes surer, stronger. Centered low in the body, it resonates, emanating from one’s very core. The abdominal muscles vibrate, rhythmically, slowly, in and out, in and out. Thought ceases as the power of the sound changes this process from an intellectual beginning to a purely physical action. The naturally ensuing deep. diaphragmatic breathing makes exhalation seem endless, effortless.

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Rites of Passage Puberty

FireHeart 3 Cover for EarthSpiritRites of Passage: Puberty
by Sue Curewitz Arthen ©1989

Puberty is defined as the age or period at which a person is first capable of sexual reproduction, in other eras of history, a rite or celebration of this landmark event was a part of the culture. This is true of tribal societies that exist today, but for most of us, puberty as a specific event is part of a much more complicated piece of our lives called adolescence.

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Ways To Prepare for a Magickal Birth

FireHeart 3 Cover for EarthSpiritWays To Prepare for a Magickal Birth
by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen ©1989

The following are a few suggested ways to prepare for a magickal birth experience. Preparation is important on three levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. Without serious consideration of the first two levels, it will be nearly impossible to concentrate on the third.

A. It is essential that you enter into the birth process as relaxed as possible. One of the best ways to do that is to know as much as you can about what to expect on a physical plane, and to develop a support system that you trust:

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Toward a Magickal Birth

FireHeart 3 Cover for EarthSpiritToward a Magickal Birth
by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen ©1989

“It comes like the waves in the ocean,” my mother told me. “Powerful, strong and rhythmic. Unceasing. Wave after wave.” She was right. In labor with my son, my first child, he and I are carried over crest and trough, and we let go, freeing ourselves to be swept into birth. I feel and see my body writhing, snakelike and sensual as the waves come, one following the other. My body responds, knowing what to do. I let go. “You can’t fight the waves. Just let them carry you.” I hold her words in my mind, and, for one long holy moment, surrender myself to the magick as I have never done before.

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