Welcome fellow seekers to the monthly newsletter of Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition. A collaboration of the elders, clergy and members of our tradition. Sometimes, we have entries from the extended tribe of the Pagan community here too. If you would like to have something of yours featured, please let us know!

If you missed the previous Sycamore Spirit newsletter you can still see it here: Sycamore Spirit Newsletter #1.

Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition
Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition

Bunnies, Hares, Eggs and Ostara

Although the archaeological and historical evidence is scant there are many who believe that the original Easter eggs are Pagan symbols from Europe. One thing is for sure, there isn't much to tie these symbols to stories of a messiah from the middle east being resurrected yet they remain deeply ingrained in the psyche of people whose ancestors came from the European cultures. The Venerable Bede wrote that there may have been a goddess called Eostre, whose name has given us both Ostara and Easter. She is described as a goddess with fertility associations, which loosely connects her to both rabbits and eggs. Author Jacob Grimm (of Grimm's fairy tales) also suggested that eggs were a symbol of early European Paganism. However these symbols and associations began, we celebrate them to this day and honor their reminders of our ancestors and the fertility and rebirth of the Spring season.

Shielding
By Arachne Crowsinger

Now we've got your aura's all nice and shiny clean (the glare is killing me, turn that thing down), we are now ready to work on shields or wards as some call it.

Now you might want to shield yourself for any number of reasons. For me, I'm empathic and when I go into new or crowded situations which can be high energy I have to or I get edgy, angry, and emotional, which usually ruins the fun time I was supposed to be having.

Another reason is that you are feeling attacked. Now, in regards to this, this can be fairly rare but if you feel you are being attacked don't let anyone and I mean anyone, no matter if they are High Priest(ess) So&So of this Coven tell you differently. Don't bet your life or happiness on it. ALWAYS trust YOUR instincts and if someone happens to concur with you, then you can probably place your money on it.

The other time I have found this useful is when going into apprehensive and frightening situations, i.e. visiting a supposed haunted house. Also, people who perform in public will shield to avoid getting the “high” from the crowd or letting the crowds enthusiasm overload them.

These are just a few examples of when you might want to do this. I personally have a shield on 24-7 and most people have one without realizing it. I dropped mine completely once and ended up going thru a really lousy time in my life.

If you feel you need to have a shield, put one up. Again, ALWAYS trust your instincts. No one can tell you what's right or wrong for you and if they think they can there is something wrong there and if you let them that's even more wrong.

The point of shielding is to create a safe space around yourself that is yours and yours alone and that no one can get in to. This can be a large one that extends your personal space or a small one that just surrounds you and keeps you safe.

Technique 1: Universal All Shield: This is a create technique for a temporary shield.

Picture your crown chakra (a spot on the top of your head) opening up and white or blue energy flowing down into your head and then flowing out from inside you to form a barrier around the outside of your body to the size you want.

Another is to allow the Universal Energy to shower over you covering every inch of your body. Like being covered in a chocolate that will harden, to there is no chocolate here!

Be sure this barrier covers every inch of your body; any openings can and will be detected and used against you.

Technique 2: Personal Shield: Pool your own energy and create a white or blue ball in the center of your stomach. Picture this ball expanding and becoming hollow in the center as the energy is pushed outward for the ball to grow big enough so you are standing in the middle of it. Make sure your imagery is such that the shield doesn't seem brittle or fragile like glass in your mind. Maybe think of it as transparent aluminum (had to use a Star Trek analogy)that can withstand extreme amounds of pressure, etc.

Now you can leave the ball this size, expand it, or have it shrink wrap itself close to your aura without compromising the strength integrity of the shield.

This technique usually works well for beginners because the nature of the sphere itself does not usually make for gaps in it, but tensile strength is the issue.

Some people have a problem with taking a sphere and enlarging it, I personally just picture a sphere around myself using my energy and then manipulate it to whatever size I want.

Technique 3: Earth Shield: This technique is similar to the grounding exercise and the Universal All shield technique. The only difference is that you pull from the earth the requisite energy to form the shield.

Again, try all three, see which works best for you. E-mail me with any questions or concerns. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How We Are Different

Here at Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition we like to say that we are "Forging A New Pagan Path", but what does that mean? Well, although our lineage comes from a fairly eclectic Wiccan line and we maintain many of the structural elements, Sabbat and Moon observances as well as ritual styles of that lineage we also were founded by elders who come from other varied lines of Pagan study and practice. We have brought with us elements of those paths such as Druidry and some Native American practices. We set out to establish a core ritual style that most people from a Neo-Pagan background might find familiar and be comfortable with so that if they happened to be new to the area and looking for local Pagans to gather with or if they might be solitaires or folks who are simply seeking they can come to one of our gatherings and say to themselves “I know that.” or “I have seen this before.” A bit of familiarity is a comforting thing when you’re new to a group of people. At the same time we’re not afraid to branch out and explore other ritual styles now and then or incorporate elements into our rituals which come from practices you might not be familiar with. If so, feel free to ask about them and we’re more than happy to explain these to you.
Some traditions rely heavily on focusing on a particular pantheon of gods or teaching that one should believe in a duo-theistic Lord and Lady of which all gods and goddesses are aspects. Some require a certain belief in the cosmology of the divine whether it be from a hard polytheistic viewpoint or a heavily “folk” viewpoint which declares absolutely that the gods are our ancestors. We focus more on our orthopraxy[1] and leave your relationship with the divine up to you as an individual. Oh, we’ll tell you about all of these different concepts and how they work for some people and not for others. We’re here to guide you and help you find that relationship with spirit which fits for you but we’re not going to tell you “You must believe this to be a part of this tradition.” We’re more about having shared experiences whether it be in ritual, magickal workings, crafting, music, meditation or any other activities which might help you connect with the gods. But what you take from that experience is yours to do with as you please.
Some traditions and even entire religions tend to focus on one gender over another or treat people as second class citizens based on their gender, sexuality, race, physical ability or other factors which they are born into or life has dealt to them. We don’t do that. We feel that a person’s ability to attain the highest degree in clergy or lead a group is not governed by these factors but by their own volition and will. Certainly, we recognize that there are particular energies which are more feminine and others which are more masculine but we believe that it is when these energies are in balance that there is greater harmony with the order of nature and as our vision statement says, we are “An organization that welcomes any pagan spiritual path that brings its members to be in balance and harmony with the universe.”
Some traditions are “adult only” or you may find that couples are not allowed to be in the same group as one another. While we will not allow minors to initiate into our clergy training program and we may sometimes have adult only events or activities, the vast majority of our public gatherings are family oriented and we feel that any who wish to participate should be welcome to do so. How, after all, can we expect future generations to carry on our Pagan traditions if they are never exposed to them and allowed to be a part of them. The level of family friendliness may vary from group to group within our tradition as we allow our individual covens, temples, groves, etc. the autonomy to govern themselves as they see fit as long as they operate in accordance with the tradition vision and guidelines set by our elders.
Speaking of “covens, temples, groves, etc.” another way we are different is that we are eclectic enough to give our high priestesses and priests the autonomy to establish their particular group within our tradition in whatever format best suits them. Some may choose the more traditional Wiccan or other Witch format of coven, some may go with a more Druidic approach and use the term grove or nemeton maybe and still others might choose temple. Whatever the name and predominant format, we only ask that they gather at the established days on the common neopagan wheel of the year and perhaps moons if it is applicable to their culture of focus. Eclectic, though we may be, we do stress the importance of learning as much as we can about the ancient practices of the indigenous people of the cultures our groups focus on. Not, in an attempt at a fully reconstructionist style, but to have a firm foundation of knowledge in the ways of our ancestors to build upon for bringing these practices into the modern time and place we currently live in.
Another thing we do differently from a lot of traditions that are out there is give recognition to the concept of Pagan laity. We don’t assume that because you come to our gatherings that you necessarily have a calling to initiate and become clergy. So, we have our own definition of the terms Dedicant and Initiate which may differ from ways you have seen the terms used by other traditions. For us, a Dedicant is someone who has been coming to our gatherings for awhile and has decided they like what we do and want to continue to be a part of it. These folks may wish to become Dedicants of Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition. If you come to us and tell us you would like to Dedicate then we will hold a dedication ritual for you and welcome you as a full member of the tradition. This is different from someone who says they want to become clergy and become initiated into the clergy training program. People who have decided they wish to train with us are called Initiates and they are first required to attend a certain number of gatherings and rituals and fill out a questionnaire before being reviewed and invited as a candidate to initiate with their home group. Long story short, Dedicants are laity, Initiates are clergy. Our tradition clergy has been working on a collection of prayers, chants, meditations, basic spells and other materials which we hope to eventually make available to our Dedicant members so that they can make our tradition’s approach to Paganism a part of their daily lives. Our tradition’s elders are also working on the clergy training materials which are part of the program we will use to train our tradition clergy. When completed we intend to have clergy who are trained to officiate rituals, rites of passage, last rites, handfastings, house blessings and many other functions that the growing Pagan community has need of clergy to attend to.

Author(s): Cianaodh Óg – High Priest of Temple Of the Standing Stones and an elder of Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition.

Footnotes:
[1] Orthodoxy, a word most people are already familiar with, literally means “correct opinion” in Greek whereas heterodoxy, or being heretical, means to have a different opinion. Paganism, to us, is about orthopraxy. In other words, it’s more important how you do things than what you believe. In ancient times, “believerhood” at a temple had more to do with things like entering the temple and walking three times around the idol, making your image and reciting an inscription on the wall, as was done in Roman temples for example. No one really asked much what one might believe about the divine, about its nature, or whether you treated it as objectively real or not. Your relationship with the gods was a personal matter between you and them. What you practiced and what you did said more about your path than what you personally believed. That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy a good philosophical discussion about beliefs of the divine. But we don’t hold those beliefs to be of greater importance than how we choose to live and practice our faith.

Prayer & Blessing Requests

We've received many requests throughout the month for prayers and blessings as members of our tribe and extended spiritual family struggle through the challenges of life as well as share in their triumphs and new journeys on their paths. Here, we ask that you add a candle to your altar or otherwise send energies to the following people who have requested prayers and blessings:

Crystal, a priestess of Mystic willow coven shares:

My mom just had surgery on Thursday. On her sinuses prayers for her would be welcome.

Olivia, a candidate for initiation in Temple Of the Standing Stones asks that we pray for her mom:

My mom's kidney problems, still don't know what's going on with them. She's getting some more tests done soon. And my friend who found out she has breast cancer.
Thank you!

Ta'li Seabhac, 2nd degree priest and Guardian of Temple Of the Standing stones requests the following prayers:

I'd like a prayer request for A friend of a friend who was in a terrible car wreck this past week.
For Olivias mother,
Stevies cousin Kaley,
For the families of all those we lost 5 years ago.
And a general healing request to all who suffer from any ailment this season. ,blessed be

Wahya, 2nd degree priestess and acting High Priestess of Temple Of the Standing Stones asks for blessings for her cousin:

Blessings for Kaylee please.

THIS PAST MONTH:

Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition Imbolc at Sacred Journey Fellowship. Here are some of the clergy gathered around the altar.
Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition Imbolc at Sacred Journey Fellowship. Here are some of the clergy gathered around the altar.
Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition Imbolc at Sacred Journey Fellowship. After ritual we gathered around the fire and communed with our hosts and visitors.
Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition Imbolc at Sacred Journey Fellowship. After ritual we gathered around the fire and communed with our hosts and visitors.
image
Making Brigid's Crosses at Temple Day with reeds and pipe cleaners. Some of them were black light friendly too. :-)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Ostara- Saturday, March 19th

Come celebrate Ostara with Spirit of the Sycamore Tradition.
Hosted by Temple Of the Standing Stones
Please bring a camp chair, a dish to share, perhaps some boiled eggs and decorating supplies and joy.

Cianaodh's House in Arlington Texas. Address will be given to confirmed guests on request.

See event page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/181607865519485/

T.O.S.S. Clergy Day - Saturday, March 26th

It is our High Priest and Temple Mother's Anniversary as well as a special occasion for other clergy members so please accept our apologies that we will not be providing an open event this weekend.

More events to be added soon. Please watch our calendars and meetup groups for details.

You can always check our upcoming events on Meetup:

Mystic Willow Coven - http://www.meetup.com/Mystic-Willow-Coven/

Temple Of the Standing Stones - http://www.meetup.com/Temple-Of-the-Standing-Stones/

If you would like to help support our efforts please consider chipping in through our Meetup Groups:

Temple Of the Standing Stones: http://templeofthestones.org/chip-in/

and

Mystic Willow Coven: https://secure.meetup.com/Mystic-Willow-Coven/contribute/

What are we up to? Find out each month (Usually first Saturday morning) by signing up to receive our newsletter by email:

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May the kindred bless and keep you,

The tribe of Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition