The Slavic Moons and Meditations

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You will have to correlate this to a moon calendar of the year you are working with, but starting with the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox, roughly:

March Moon – Brezeň – The Birch Moon – The first new moon after the Spring Equinox. This is the time of transition from winter into the warmth of spring, a hopeful time of eternal renewal.  The birch is sacred to the Young Goddess of Spring in her various forms of Lada, Jarilla, Vesna, and also Devana.  The birch is used as a protective talisman as well as a cleansing “broom” in the sauna.  It is sometimes connected to the concept of the World Tree that connects the Underworld, the Physical World and the Spirit World. We can see in the Russian euphemism used when someone was dying, “they are going to the birches.” This is a good time to reevaluate where you are going this year.  What do you want to grow in yourself in the coming months?  What do you want to clean out of your life?  How will you strengthen your connection to Spirit?

April: Květeň – The Blossoming Flower Moon – The second new moon after the Spring Equinox. This is the joyful time of flowers just beginning to peek out of the ground. Emerging young leaves brighten the bare branches with a green mist. Flowers in the Slavic culture represent fertility and abundance. This moon usually covers the very beginning of May, when the statues of the Spring Goddess are crowned with flowers. Young maidens also don the flowery crowns and celebrate the young god and goddess of Love and Life: Lada & Lado, Vesna & Kresnik, Jarilla & Jarillo. This is a wonderful time to bring love into your life. Embrace life and do what you love to do, you will blossom and the right people will find you. What do you love to do? How can you strengthen your current relationships?

May: Traveň – The Grass or Herb Moon – The third new moon after the Spring Equinox. In Ukraine it is a time to start gathering herbs. The plants are growing green and lush. Water holds so much life giving power, especially at this time of year. It causes things to full of vitality and growth. This is a good time to use water in “increase” spells. This moon often starts around the time of the modern celebration of Earth Day. Get out into nature more and grow your connection to the land and Mat Zemla (Mother Earth.) How can you help Mother Nature? What small changes can you make in daily habits to conserve clean water or reduce your impact on the planet? What do you want to grow in your life or the world at large?

June: Červeň – The Bug Moon – The fourth new moon after the Spring Equinox. Roman Zaroff equates this with the cochineal bug, which gives a crimson dye and were gathered at this time. So one might look at the symbolism of the color red in Slavic culture, which is the color of life and vitality. The red berries begin to ripen and fruit develops a ripening blush. The celebration of the Summer Solstice would fall during this moon, which is certainly a celebration of the fullness of life. It is a time of the ecstatic joining of the god and the goddess; Siebog and Siva, Vesna and Vesnik. They are radiant light and living water, and a celebration of the life that is generated from this joining. It is also the time of fireflies, which in South Slavic culture can be called kres, or kresnica connecting them to the Lord of Light, Kresnik. Like the firefly, we can be a “living light,” shining our spirit into the world. How are you making a difference with your life? How can we be a beacon of blessings for others?

July: Lipĕň – The Linden Moon – The fifth new moon after the Spring Equinox. This tree is associated with the Mother Goddess: Siva/Laima, and Mokosh. During this month (at the end of June, beginning of July) the Linden tree is blossoming and the Balts celebrate the goddess Laima at that time. The Linden is an especially holy tree which holds protective and healing properties. It is usually associated with friendship, loyalty, family and love. Sometimes the Summer Solstice can fall during this moon, which is appropriate with its celebration of the Divine couple. It would be a good time to evaluate relationships; this applies to our interactions with friends, community, religious or social organizations, and our government. Are we holding up our end of the relationship? Should we be devoting more time to the causes we believe in? Like the linden are we protecting those who are more vulnerable? Do we need to become more involved in our family, reach out to friends, volunteer in the community, or become more politically active?

August: Serpeň – The Sickle or Reaping Moon – The sixth new moon after the Spring Equinox. This refers to the cutting sickle, indicating the beginning time of harvest. The sickle is associated with Mara (Morena, Mazlenitza), the dark goddess. It is a reminder of the cycle of life; that the grain must die so that others might live. However, we are still in the time of bountiful harvest and rejoicing in the fruits of the Earth Mother; her honey, apples, grapes and grain. During this moon the Harvest Festivals (Spas) would be celebrated. While the dark time will soon come, right now is a time of abundance, bounty, celebration and gratitude for the bounty of the gods. What are you grateful for? How can you share your bounty with others?

September: Rujan – The Mating Moon – The seventh new moon after the Spring Equinox. It refers to the mating calls of the deer, indicating it is the animal breeding time. The bucks can get very aggressive, and engage in dangerous situations that they would normally be wary of.  It is the time of the primal roar. Yet during this moon falls the Autumn Equinox, a time of balance. Take this time as a reminder to balance our deeper instincts with our logic. Our strong desires of the moment need to be balanced with what we know logically to be better in the long run. This also fits with the dwindling of the harvest, we need to plan for the future. Yet it all needs to be balanced, because denying oneself all the time isn’t healthy either. Perhaps examine eating or exercise habits, are you indulging in the pleasures of the moment and ignoring a healthy plan for the future? Or are you at the other extreme, never enjoying right here and right now? Do you have a plan for times of scarcity or in an emergency? Or are you always worrying about what will come and never embracing the daily joys all around you?

October: Vreseň – The Purple Heather Moon (also Vinotok or Grozdober which is the Wine or Grape-Gathering Moon) – The eighth new moon after the Spring Equinox. Heather is sometimes thought to cause death, but it is because it opens portals to the spirit world. It can help you connect to the Vila and other fey, or in shamanic workings it can provide a connection to journey to the spirit world for guidance and knowledge. Wine has also been used to achieve the ecstatic state, but it can also cloud judgement as well, so use this tool responsibly. The edge of October going into November is a time when the barrier between the worlds thins. This can be a good time to connect with your ancestors or spiritual allies. Have you shown appreciation to your ancestors, spiritual guides and deities? Like any relationship it needs to be cultivated. Honor them with fruits, flowers, honey, libation or other offering.

November: Listopad – The Falling Leaves Moon – The ninth new moon after the Spring Equinox. In Russian there is a word kruzit’sja which is applied to the motion of falling leaves or snowflakes, rising smoke, or people dancing together. It is a type of movement described as “progressive rotation.” Sometimes we think we have worked through a loss only to have it revisit us again, yet each time we make more progress in coming to grips with it. It’s part of the spiral of life. The Falling Leaves Moon is a time of letting go. Yet, we do not have to be completely unprepared, because it is also a time for foretelling the future at the thinning of the year. We balance knowing when we can control things and when we need to let go of that control and trust to that which comes. Life is a process. Is there a loss, divorce or death in our past that needs revisited and come to grips with? Think of a time of loss and let the feeling well up inside of you. Sit with it in acceptance. Thank the experience for the gifts that it has given you and let it gently fall away.

December: Studeň – The Cold Moon – The tenth new moon after the Spring Equinox. This is a time of rest. The harvest is brought in, the food preserved, and the wood is stacked. The days are still getting shorter, and the time of the celebration of the Winter Solstice is slowly approaching. You can look upon Mora and her partner, Hors with fear and loathing, or you can embrace the quiet and rest that is found in this cold time. Remember that continually being busy leads to “burn-out.” The night, the dark time, the black time is not seen by Pagans as “bad,” it is simply part of the continuum, part of the spiral of life. Just as the land needs a fallow time to replenish, so too, our spirit. What haven’t we been giving ourself permission to do because we are “too busy.” How can we nurture ourselves? This is a time when life returns to its bare bones. What can we eliminate as unnecessary from our lives?

The Thirteenth Moon of the Year: Gruděň – The Frozen Ground Moon – This would seem to be a sort of optional moon that would be inserted if there were thirteen moons that fall between the Spring Equinoxes. This refers to lumps of frozen earth or “frost heaves.” In our emotional life, we can experience emotional “frost heaves.” When we have buried a feeling, yet something triggers us emotionally and it bubbles up. When we have reactions that we feel we “can’t control,” this points to something buried down in our unconscious that probably needs worked on. This can be a good time to do “shadow work.” Examine your unconscious motivations. What really annoys you about someone? Is it because you do the same thing, or is it because you are jealous and wish you could?

January: Either Prosinec – The Gifting Moon or Sječeň – The Tree Cutting Moon – The eleventh or twelfth new moon after the Spring Equinox. The variations of Prosinec can refer to either the months of December and January.  Zaroff writes that the word prosit “meaning to plea, a pleading prayer, or offering.”  This is likely rooted in the proto-Indo-European ghosti principal of gifting and hosting; where a gift is given to the gods and they gift favors in return.  Sječeň could either refer to the time to cut firewood, which I think is less likely (having lived in the woods and knowing that it is much better to be prepared for winter, rather than cutting trees down in the January snows.)  More likely, it refers to the sacred cutting of the Bagnak tree (Yule log) for the celebration of Koliada (Winter Solstice.) The Croatian name for the month can also mean “festive.” What gifts do you give of yourself? Do you give until you are frazzled or empty? Do you gracefully accept gifts from others? Find joy in the giving *and* receiving.

February: Ledeň – The Ice Moon – The twelfth or thirteenth new moon after the Spring Equinox. In Ukrainian, the name of this moon (lyutyi) means “harsh.” This is not a peaceful, calm, and beautiful kind of ice, this is a struggling, problematic, and harsh frozen time. Yet we know that under the frozen surface of the earth is the first stirrings of spring. This is sort of the opposite of “shadow work.” Look to your external life and examine if you are stuck somewhere, but don’t worry, you often already have the solution buried inside you. Maybe get a tarot reading to help you reveal what you already know. What has become frozen, stagnant or stuck in our daily life and how can we work on that? What is causing us problems that we need to fix? What skills do we possess that can become the key to unlocking our problems?

This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Roots of Slavic Magic; Finding Our Way Back To Balance (to be released late 2018.) copyright Patricia Robin Woodruff  Feel free to use this in your own “Book of Shadows” or “Book of Depth,” however, this took me at least 40 hours of research to compile and type (based on a “bare-bones skeleton” by Roman Zaroff) so please credit my work.

Blessings,

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

Academic Sources:
Rakhilina, Ekaterina V. “Verbs of rotation in Russian and Polish” New Approaches to Slavic Verbs of Motion. John Benjamins Publishing. 2010 Print.

Reindl, Donald F. “Evidence for the Germanic Origins of Some Slovene Month Names” Slovene Studies 1993 Web. 22 December, 2017 <https://journals.lib.washington.edu/index.php/ssj/article/viewFile/4179/3518&gt;

Serbian Irish. “Fireflies” Old European Culture. 21 June 2015 Web 21 December, 2017 <http://oldeuropeanculture.blogspot.com/2015/06/fireflies.html&gt;

Zaroff, Roman. “Measurement of Time by the Ancient Slavs” Studia Mythologica Slavica XIX 2016, 9-39 Web Document. <http://sms.zrc-sazu.si/pdf/19/SMS_19_01_Zaroff.pdf&gt;

“Evening Star” by Alphonse Mucha – public domain

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What is the difference between Believing & Knowing?

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“Open Heart, Open Hands” – 11″x14″ pastel on velour paper

I’ve been pondering the differences between believing and knowing.  Psycologist Carl Jung was asked whether he believed in God and he answered, “I don’t believe in God, I know.”  What he meant was a logical, inescapable conclusion he had reached.

I consider myself a mystic because I would answer this question the same way but for different reasons.   I have had two experiences in my life where I was filled with a deep, unshakable, merging and “knowing” of Deity.  (I used the words Deity, Universe or Spirit because when I use the word “God” I automatically have an image of the controlling, “old man in the sky” God of my childhood.  This is not what I “know.”)

I could tell you a bit about my spiritual experiences, but  its limited by language and it won’t manage to convey the “knowing,” and probably, like plenty of other mystics before me, it would just sound crazy.  But afterwards, I went seeking through many, many books to find out if others had experiences like this.  I could recognize the truth in the words of the ecstatic St. Teresa,

“The soul neither sees, hears, nor understands anything while this state lasts; but this is usually a very short time, and seems to the soul even shorter than it really is.  God visits the soul in a way that prevents it doubting when it comes to itself that it has been in God and God in it; and so firmly is it convinced of this truth that, though years may pass before this state reoccurs, the soul can never forget it nor doubt its reality.”

I identify with the mystical Sufi poet, Jalaluddin Rumi’s attempts to convey Deity thru his poetry.  I can see excitedly, “Yes!  He gets it!”  When I read:

“Plunge, plunge into the vast ocean of consciousness/ Let the drop of water that is you/ Become a hundred mighty seas/ But do not think that the drop alone/ Becomes the ocean/ The ocean too becomes the drop.”

One of the best descriptions came from an anonymous clergyman, taken from William B. Starbuck’s manuscript collection:

“I remember the night and almost the very spot on the hill-top, where my soul opened, out, as it were, into the Infinite, and there was a rushing together of the two worlds, the inner and the outer.  It was deep calling unto deep – the deep that my own struggle had opened up within, being answered by the unfathomable deep without, reaching beyond the stars.  I stood alone with Him who had made me, and all the beauty of the world, and love, and sorrow, and even temptation.  I did not seek Him, but felt the perfect unison of my spirit with His.  The ordinary sense of things around me faded.  For the moment nothing but an ineffable joy and exultation remained.  It is impossible fully to describe the experience.  It was like the effect of some great orchestra when all the separate notes have metered into one swelling harmony that leaves the listener conscious of nothing save that his soul is being wafted upwards, and almost bursting with its own emotion.”

So I’m left like I was in high school geometry class, where I could see what the answer was and then had to work backwards to understand the proof.  Now I’m still learning and exploring to try to understand Deity/Love/Spirit… how to convey this awesome beauty in my art and writing… learning how the energy of Spirit works in the world.

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

Inspiration for the Day

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“Enlightenment” 11″x14″ pastel on velour paper

I always feel recharged after spending time at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in their beautiful Stone Circle.  This poem came to me after spending time there, but it doesn’t just  focus on that one spot.  All of Nature can be our cathedral!

Look! Look at the vaulted roof of my church.
Is it not awesome? Emerald and sapphire.
Beams of hickory, oak, maple and birch.
The glorious dome reaching ever higher.
Glimmering stained glass windows unmounted,
Ever-changing light with colors untold,
Lit in the night with candles uncounted,
Lit in the morning with lantern of gold.
Look! Look at my church’s huge, boundless walls,
With treasures untold and limitless worth.
With enough sacred space to fit us all,
A ring of Stones with endless halls of earth.
If you look for grander, give up your search,
Nowhere is there a more wondrous church.
– by Patricia Robin Woodruff

Curious about traveling the Amazon Jungle?

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Woodruff illustrations

Last year my daughter, Coriander and I traveled to the Amazon jungle.  This has resulted in my book, The Call of the Spectacled Owl; An Artist’s Journey thru History, the Amazon, and Spirit (with Travel Tips).

I share our adventures learning about the animals and “medicine” of the jungle with our native guide.  I tell about swinging on jungle vines, sleeping overnight in a treehouse in the jungle, going piranha fishing, sailing in a canoe thru the night under bamboo and overarching elephant palms, and swimming in the Amazon river with dolphins.

I get into the earth spirituality of the area, exploring the historic Incan beliefs, the mysterious whistling vessels, and our experience in a shamanic ceremony.  The book includes information on the two ancient sites we visited, the Temple of the Moon and the Incan Temple of the Sun.  Woven in is my observations from visiting various sacred sites around the world and my studies of paganism and earth religion.

The paperback is illustrated with 32 of my line drawings and the cover photo is by Coriander of Coriander Focus Photography. It’s available for $14.99 on Amazon and at the Createspace link here: https://www.createspace.com/6297005

I hope those who are “armchair travelers” will feel like they are traveling along with us, and that it might inspire more adventurous souls to go out and travel the world.  Travel broadens the mind!

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

What is a Totem Animal?

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In Native American beliefs, a totem animal is a spirit that takes the form of a familiar animal and embodies the symbolic qualities of that animal.  It can also be held in a sacred object, or be a symbol of a tribe, or clan.  The word “totem” comes from the Native American Ojibwe culture, but concept of the spirit animal is common throughout many cultures and times.  In Wicca, it is commonly thought of as a teacher spirit that can take any form, or a symbol that can help in our personal development.

I had a dream some years ago, where a gecko was guiding me into my life’s path.  When I awoke, I looked up the qualities that “gecko” embodies.  Unsurprising to me, a gecko can symbolize “life change” because they can change color, since they are often night creatures they have the title of “dream keepers” and they symbolize “mystical awakening.”  All of which was taking place in my life in a powerful way.

Last year I traveled to the Amazon jungle and took part in a native shaman’s ceremony.  During the ceremony, just outside our palm-roofed hut, an owl began to call.  It felt like he was speaking directly to me.  It was the call of the Spectacled Owl.  The totem of Owl is often viewed as the messenger of the spirit world, he is a seer of souls, and a guide to the spirit world.  This has been misinterpreted as a harbinger of death, but just like the Death Card in the Tarot deck, it usually does not mean physical death, but freedom from the restraints of the physical world and guidance into the teachings of the spirit.  Of course Owl is often seen as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

I feel that I am being encouraged on my spiritual path.  My book, The Call of the Spectacled Owl; An Artist’s Journey thru History, the Amazon, and Spirit (with Travel Tips) chronicles part of that journey.  All the writing, re-writing and illustrations are done, and it is going through its final editing.  I look forward to sharing this with you soon.

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

The Mystery of Incan Stirrup Vessels

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CondorJaguarSnakeMy daughter and I saw this stirrup vessel in the Larco Museum in Peru.  It represents the Incan symbols for the Three Realms of the Universe.  The condor (look for his bright blue eye) symbolizes the Upper Realm, the world of the gods, celestial bodies and mountain spirits.  The jaguar (the toothy mouth on the right hand side) symbolizes the physical world that we live in, the land of birth and death.  The anaconda (wrapping around it) since it is often found swimming in the Amazon river, represents the watery underworld, where sacred springs emanate and the ancestors dwell.

These distinctively shaped stirrup vessels, with bases ranging from fruit to animals to sexual positions fill the storage rooms of the Museo Larco, over 50,000 of them!  As I looked through the collection, I felt that something was missing.  The explanation that they were “offering vessels” fell flat.  Surely there was something more about these vessels!  If they were only for liquid offerings, why the distinctive shape, and where was the scientific analysis of the liquid residue?

Once I started researching and comparing my experience with the shamanic ritual of ayahuasca, I found the answer in the shamanic beliefs passed down from the Incas.  In my book I describe my first-hand experience in ritual with a native shaman.  During much of the time, he produced a tuneless, breathy whistle to “call the spirits.”

In my past travels, I also knew of the archaeoacoustic properties of a neolithic burial chamber on the island of Malta, where ancient people used a “sound hole” to produce a mind altering standing sound wave throughout the structure.  People who study archaeoacoustics have discovered that many of these ancient pots were produced to create a whistle that generates altered states of consciousness.  So not only were these pots used to “gather the spirit” of the image they represented, they would help the shaman and the participants reach an altered mind state where they were receptive to the energies.

I gave my book the title, “The Call of the Spectacled Owl: An Artist’s Journey thru History, the Amazon, and Spirit (with Travel Tips) because the book covers a lot.  Although this trip encompassed only one country, Peru, I feel like we traveled through different worlds: the Upper Realm climbing the hills of the ancient desert temples dedicated to the Moon Goddess and the Sun God, the Middle Realm with Lima’s modern city and the scavenged city of Iquitos, and the watery Lower World of the Amazon, encompassing the lush jungle and the mystical shamanic realm.

I think I bring a unique perspective as an open-minded artist with a passion for learning all that I can about our connection to Spirit.  I anticipate that the book will be released at the end of June.  I am very excited to share this with you!

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

Find Out About DiversiTree; The Divinely Inspired Publication for Inclusive Spirituality

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I’m delighted to share that I am the featured artist in the online publication DiversiTree; The Divinely Inspired Publication for Inclusive Spirituality.  An uplifting and inclusive online place to read about all the different permutations of Spirit.  It reflects an acceptance regardless of abilities, race, sexuality, etc.  You can read about it here:

http://diversitree.org/2015/10/spiritual-artist-review-patricia-robin-woodruff-2/

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff