The pumpkin’s shell is the Jack-o’-lantern of Samhain. Samhain is the Sabbat, the World of Life and the World of Death mingles together. The pumpkins' hollowed out and carved and then illuminated from within by a candle, are to ward off evil spirits and to attract the friendly spirits, who roam on Samhain, to the Mystery School grounds for the celebrations.”
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Seconds later, something caught the corner of Avril’s eye. She turned to see Angelica step into the room. “Merry meet Priestess,” she greeted her politely when she passed her.
The Priestess glanced back,” Merry we meet,” she said with joy in her voice. Angelica made her way to the altar, scanning each detail of the autumn decorations. “How the room burst with harvest time appeal. The straw bales, colorful leaves, squash, baskets of apples and dried, shucked Indian corn gives the feel of autumn gusto.”
Angelica lit the altar candles, the incense, and then the humanitarian candle. Her eyes shifted to Avril. She asked, “How have you been since we returned the shadow to our kin, Gene?”
Avril looked at her from across the room. “I welcomed the experience and learned from it. I understand the confrontation was beneficial to my psychic development,” she answered.
Angelica walked to the window.
Avril looked both concerned and worried. “I can’t imagine why someone would dabble in negative and destructive forces to gain power over others. Do they not understand the law of Karma, that everything we do will return? Whatever energy is sent to others comes back to the sender with triple the intensity?”
Angelica stood beside Avril. She placed her hand on her shoulder. Angelica’s touch felt trusting. “Well, Dark Wise women believe the Universe can be altered to do their will without consequences. Each believes it is their right to take without thought for others,” she said.
Avril sincerely baffled, she turned to her. “Can the Dark Ones not see the only persons they harm are themselves and not someone else?”
The Priestess sat down on the edge of the ledge, and straightened her baby blue skirt. “Have a seat,” she offered.
Avril sat down, clasping her fingers to resist fidgeting.
Angelica turned to face her. “Dark Wise women take care of themselves first and foremost,” she said, trying to explain the situation in a way that would be easily understood. “They are ego-driven and cause trouble for mere amusement. The Dark Ones’ egos refuse to see past the now so they alter the natural course of events to suit their own personal instant gratification. Some people believe that a dark wise woman is born without a conscience. Do not be fooled and think they are uneducated. Dark Witches are taught how to manipulate human vanity and greed. Unfortunately, a dark woman believes there are two types of people on the planet, victims and victimizers. They specialize in being the victimizer so others will turn against their hope, faith and charity and join with them in destruction. It seems to give them a sense of power to control others to gratify their own wants and needs. They take great joy in getting one over on someone. A dark woman’s motto reads, ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
Avril stared at her in disbelief.
Angelica met her eyes. “There has always been a struggle between the opposing forces of light, the positive, and darkness, the negative," she explained. "The battle began long ago and both have roughly equivalent value. We need opposition in our lives to teach us about ourselves as well as others. The crisis brings the opportunity for change. In order to learn one must be pushed out of their comfort zone. We exist in a universe where like attracts like and opposites exist for the purpose of contrast and growth. It’s a field of pure potential where vibrational energy expands to match our desires. The energies are not meant to be manipulated for our own personal gain.”
“Magick is to be treated with utmost respect,” Avril said spontaneously.
Angelica nodded, and continued, “A witch’s subconscious is her guide in magick. She absorbs all possible consequences of her actions, right or wrong. It exists in the mind and affects the thought and behavior to manifest itself outward in many forms. Each act will make a tremendous impact in the people close, either in a positive or negative manner. Hardships placed upon us by others and ourselves help us to appreciate life’s simple pleasures. One can learn to take responsibility for their life and respect the similarity in our differences, to live a more content existence.”
Hailey laughed as she struggled to hold on to two large Cinderella orange pumpkins. She almost stumbled over her own feet. Cortney, who giggled alongside, helped her gain her composure. “Avril, I brought you a pumpkin,” Hailey told her, walking over to the straw.
Avril smiled. “Thank you for thinking of me,” she said.
Shanna and Hanna shared in the joyous laughter as they placed their pumpkins onto the bales. Lilith, Marley and Corena passed through the archway.
“Settle down, and find a seat around the altar,” Angelica requested.
Avril got up from the window ledge, and went to join her sister-friends. Hailey reached up for Avril’s hand. “Sit here,” she told her.
Avril sat down beside her. She glanced over at Angelica toss a log onto the fire. She shifted on the stool to a more comfortable position. One glance at Courtney commanded her full attention. She asked, “Courtney, would you please retrieve the grimoires from the crate by the door, and then pass them out?”
“”Yes Priestess,” she said, rising to her feet.
Avril held her unblemished book in her hands. The smell from the black leather cover was delightful. The upright gold pentacle embedded dazzled.
“Please open your grimoire to the eleventh month, October 28th – November 24th, the Reed,” the Priestess told the maidens.
The maidens opened their grimoire and listened silently.
“On the Celtic calendar, the Reed represents the eleventh month, October 28 - November 24. A reed is a common name for several tall grasses,” she said, beginning the day’s lesson. “The roots, the strongest part of the plant, go deeply into the water, pond or lake floor to receive its nourishments. Reed, in spell work, attracts prosperity. The energy the plant contains would help an individual evolve into a deeply perceptive person.
“In the Battle of the Trees, the Cad Gaddeu, the reed is ranked as a Bramble, element, air, whose personality is both adaptable and indecisive. The reed symbolizes secret strength and secret motivations with expeditious movement:
‘THE SWIFT PURSUING REED.’
“In God form, the reed represents Arianrod, a Moon Goddess, whose name means silver circle or silver wheel. She is the daughter of Don, sister of Gwydion.”
The Priestess glanced at Shanna and asked, “What have you learned in Pagan-lore about Arianrod?”
Shanna went back to her notes. She looked at the Priestess and said, “Arianrod came to Caer Dathyl to serve as Math, a Great Wizard’s Foot-holder, in honor only held by a virgin. Legend states that on the day she arrived for duty she brought with her shame. Arianrod claimed to be a virgin but, on that day, she bore two sons. Disgraced, she abandoned the infants to flee to her castle by the sea. Her first child was a son she named Dylan who leaped into the water possibly to avoid the curses from his mother. The second son was rescued by her brother Gwydion. He raised him and passed his knowledge of magick on to the boy.”
Shanna paused. She cleared her throat, and then continued, “Arianrod’s choices led her to despair. She became bitter by the experiences in her life and swore revenge on all men, even her second son. When Gwydion politely asked his sister to name her son, she refused. Arianrod denied him a name and would not allow the boy to bear arms or to marry. Gwydion tricked her with his magic into naming the child Lleu Llaw Gyfles. Later, Gwydion created an illusion while he and Lleu Llaw were disguised as Bards, of a fleet of mighty warships ready to attack her castle. It was Arianrod herself who armed Lleu Llaw when she was fooled by the vision.
“Arianrod’s black heart sealed her son’s fate. With pure hatred, she cursed her son to a solitary bed. She told the pair that Lleu Llaw would never know true love from a woman. Gwydion and the Great Wizard, Math, harnessed their magical powers together to help Lleu Llaw overcome the curse. They conjured up a bride from flowers, herbs, bark, spring water and the energies of the Sun and Moon cycles. When the flower woman came to life the wizards named her Bloodeuwedd or Flower Face, then offered her to Lleu Llaw to wed. Gwydion and Math believed the curses were overturned.”
The Priestess looked from Shanna to Cortney and asked, “How did Arianrod’s choices affect the people who were close to her?”
Cortney went back to her hand-written notes. She carefully flipped through the pages of her grimoire before answering. “Arianrod’s choices in her life affected many people who were connected to her,” she said, reading over her notes. “The choice she made in the past had a consequence which then had a great impact on her future. Arianrod’s life turned at an accelerated rate. Her fortune rose and fell. She gained and lost, was accepted then rejected. Her life experiences caged her and she became the embodiment of discord, destruction and despair. The dark side of Arianrod’s nature created her bleak reality. Her reactions affected the cycle of events. Arianrod had three opportunities to change and improve the situation. She could have taken steps to turn from a selfish person into one who helped others. Instead, the events which took place were episodes of misfortune because she refused to follow the Law of Karma, or a wise woman’s motto, ‘Bide the witch’s law ye must, in perfect love, in perfect trust. Eight words of white witch’s rede fulfill, an ye harm none, do what ye will. What ye send forth comes back to thee so ever mind the rule of three.”
Angelica nodded. “Correct,” she said.
“Each soul is given its chance at physical life, to make of it what it will. Those who attempt to live positive make the best of what the Wheel of Fortune offers. Those who dwell in the negative live in their own personal hell and opportunity for positive change passes by. The Wheel of Fortune offers unexpected encounters, twisted by fate, that are part of a greater plan. We each can create our world with the opportunities given, a master of all conditions, circumstances and outcomes. As human beings, it is our duty to encourage others.”
Avril turned toward the window. She noticed the fog outside had lifted and a pale light shone through the glass panes. She glanced over at the twins who were engrossed in the lecture. Corena sat across from them and took notes. Avril looked at Marley rocking back and forth on the cushion she sat on. She examined a hang nail. Lilith was stretched out on the floor with her head on a pillow. Avril was sure Lilith had fallen asleep. Avril heard Angelica’s voice. “On the four corners of the Wheel of Fortune and in the second circle, the four elements are depicted. The four symbols, Mercury, Salt, Sulphur, and Ether represent the elements, Air, Earth, Fire and Water in their natural state. The letters around the wheel spell Rota - The Royal Road and also Tarot - the record of truth, measure of time and the Akasha, memories and the hidden knowledge. The eight spoke wheel is like the eight pointed star which represents channels of the universal radiant energy, Divine Light, which spirals inward toward a point of perfect balance. The circles drawn, one within another, represent the levels of moving toward central equilibrium, the rotation of events. The blue background symbolizes intuition, peace, understanding and attainment. The gray clouds or storm clouds represent unwise thinking.”
Angelica pointed to the sphinx that sat on the wheel holding the sword upright. “The sphinx watches the wheel of Karma slowly turn,” she explained. “It shows justice from above. The jackal below is known for his keen eyesight. The fiery red wolf-like creature represents the raw animal passions of each individual’s lower mind, signifies self consciousness - the evolution of consciousness from lower to higher levels.
Angelica looked at the Tarot card and then back at the maidens and said, “The Serpent represents sexual energy, temptation and wisdom applied to shed old skin. The flying creatures symbolize mental thoughts, telepath and messengers. The angel, the sign of Aquarius, is the symbol for Man and humanity. The Eagle, Scorpio, a symbol of aspiration, power and rising from the ashes. The Lion is the King of Beasts to symbolize desires and actions. The Bull, sign of Taurus, represents perseverance, power and strength. The book each reads from is the knowledge of the fifth element, the omnipresent spiritual power that permeates the universe. It is the Akasha, the energy out of which the elements were formed. The Four Holy Creatures, the Man, the Eagle, the Lion and the Bull are four great teachers who teach, console, lead and inspire.”
The Priestess stood. As she walked toward Corena she waved the Tarot card in the air to remove her influence. She then handed the Tarot card to Corena. “Place the tarot card between your palms,” she asked.
Corena did as she was told.
“This exercise is designed purely to expand Corena’s awareness to that which was to come,” the Priestess quickly explained. “I want you to allow the vibrations from the Wheel of Fortune card to open up a gateway into your higher consciousness for the needed answer.”
Corena closed her eyes. She took a few comfortable, easy breaths. “I feel unexpected good luck for myself,” she said, sounding thrilled.
Angelica appeared pleased. Corena handed the Tarot card back to the Priestess who flicked the back of the card using her thumb and first finger, to remove Corena’s influence.
Angelica passed the Tarot card to Marley. “Please, put the card between your palms and attempt the exercise.”
Marley’s breathed deeply, slowly let the air out. Her body appeared tense. Minutes passed. Her right eye squinted as she peeked through her left eye. A frown flickered across her brow. “The vibrations are blocked,” she said softly.
The Priestess smiled and removed the Wheel of Fortune card from Marley’s hand. “Marley, one can only channel the energy when one’s own energy is balanced.”
“I did focus and really concentrated to pick up coherent information,” Marley, said with conviction in her voice.
“I’m not passing judgment,” she said. “I suggest you practice to exclude all other influences which may hinder the process. In your free time try lifting the energies between your base chakra and the crown chakra to gain more control, and to free the blocks. All chakras have equal strength to balance and distribute the energy to establish a proper flow.”
Angelica put the Tarot card back into her pocket. She turned to face the maidens and, with her hands behind her back, stated, “The Wheel of Fortune implies cyclical nature and the importance of motion, as well as the revolution of experience and progress by the counter-changing influence of positive and negative energies, good fortune and luck. The word Karma, means action. The Law of Karma states, ‘As we sow, so shall we reap.’ We are accountable for all our actions. The Wheel of Fortune turns slowly, wither with positive or negative influences which are decided upon by each individual’s emotions, thoughts, soul and actions.”
At the end of an hour, Angelica stood near the craft table. “Cortney, please collect the grimoires, and then place the magickal books in the crate by the door,” she said. “Join me and bring your pumpkins.”
Avril and her sister-friends scampered to their feet. Lilith woke. She yawned, rolled over, then sat up and wiped the sleep from her eyes. After she grabbed her pumpkin, she walked to the craft table, and plopped down on the bench. Move over,” Lilith demanded, elbowing Marley in the ribs.
Marley winced in pain
“What’s wrong with you?!” Cortney angrily snapped at Lilith. “Your behavior interferes with Marley’s comfort.”
“Whatever, little Miss Perfect. You, of all people, should know the devil made me do it,” Lilith said, snickering back at her.
Cortney quickly responded, “So, you’re no longer a creature of free will that has choices on how to act?”
Before Lilith could answer, Corena claimed, “Lilith doesn’t believe that there are responsibilities for her own behavior.”
Angelica monitored the maidens from the head of the craft table. She interjected, “We are all fallible human beings who sometimes behave in excessive ways. The flaws make us human. No one is powerless to make a conscious effective change in their lives to bring forth balance out of an extreme. All it takes is a strong character and personal power applied for the greater good, to live harmoniously with the whole fabric of creation. When one can view the other person’s position as if it were their own, one can find compassion and humanity in their life.”
There was an uncomfortable silence. Avril walked over to where Hailey sat at the craft table with her pumpkin in front of her. She checked out the wooden bowls, bollines, white paper and awls on the craft table surface.
Angelica directed the maidens’ attention back to the task at hand. She turned to Shanna and asked, “What is the definition of the bolline?”
Shanna stared at the Priestess as she composed her answer. “The bolline is a sharp, white-handled knife used in practical working rather than a ritualistic magick knife. Its purpose is to pierce, cut or engrave the tools used in magic rituals and spell-crafting.”
Angelica scanned the class. “The bolline will be used to carve a design into the pumpkins. The medium sized wooden bowls on the craft table are for the pumpkin seeds. Cut a hole in either the top or the bottom of your pumpkin and scoop out the flesh and seeds and put them into the bowls. The kitchen wise woman Hilda will create Samhain treats with the inner guts of the pumpkins.”
Angelica ran her hand over the orange skin of Marley’s pumpkin. “The witches’ custom The Carving of the Pumpkin, reaches back to the Celtic Adoration of the Head to ward off evil and keep the household safe. The head also symbolized ‘The Noble Head’ of Bran the Blessed, a god whose head lay buried beneath the Tower of London to protect the land from invasion.
“Pumpkins are widely respected as an emblem of fertility because of their generous size,” the Priestess explained. "The pumpkin’s shell is the Jack-o’-lantern of Samhain. Samhain is the Sabbat, the World of Life and the World of Death mingles together. The pumpkins hollowed out and carved and then illuminated from within by a candle, are to ward off evil spirits and to attract the friendly spirits, who roam on Samhain, to the Mysticism School grounds for the celebrations.”
The Priestess traced her finger down the pumpkin’s grain. “I suggest that you sketch the design of your own choosing on to the clean, white sheet of paper supplied, and then transfer the design on to the pumpkin with the use of one of the small, sharp, pointed awl to poke small holes through the pattern on to the surface,” she said
The maidens worked on their Jack-o’-lanterns. They didn’t talk. They didn’t deviate from their craft, except for Lilith who was grossed out by the slimy orange goop that squeezed between her fingers.
Avril’s pumpkin sat on the table as a blank slate for a while as she quietly contemplated. She began the project. She drew her inspiration on the white sheet of paper, and then pinned the art against the orange, rough skin. She deeply concentrated as she poked the small holes along the pattern into the pumpkin’s surface. Avril was quite impressed with her handiwork when she removed the sheet of paper. The outline of the Sun with straight rays pouring outward to represent masculine vibration was designed on one side and the image of a new moon with feminine vibrations, on the other. Separately, Avril had placed seven pointed stars to symbolize spirituality, mysticism and wisdom. She dove into carving her pumpkin. With the use of the bolline Avril cut and removed the chunks needed to allow the candlelight to stream out. She peeled away only the skin with a melon baler to gain the effect she desired.
Shanna couldn’t stop thinking about Marley being invited to the Stone Circle. The more she thought about the situation, the more she thought. She needed to find out what happened. She glanced at Hailey, lowered her voice. “Hanna said Marley joined the hex-banishing.”
Hailey was surprised. “You know about that,” she whispered.
Shanna let out a sigh and said, “After everything that has happened this past year, she was invited.”
“I wasn’t expecting her to be there,” she said in a low voice. “But she did help.”
“Considering she is loyal to Lilith, I have a hard time believing that,” she said sarcastically.
Hailey glanced over and saw Lilith glare at her. Hailey frowned and turned away. She looked at Avril. She turned her carved pumpkin toward her and asked, “What do you think?”
Avril shifted her attention to Hailey’s carved Zodiac signs around the circumference of her pumpkin. “I would have never thought of that,” she said smiling.
Corena held up her pumpkin. She had carved out a large smile on hers. Avril gave her two thumbs up. Corena’s eyes lit up. Shanna and Hanna had punctured twenty-one holes here and there into their pumpkins. “The effect would be truly awesome when the wick is lit,” Hanna explained.
Avril looked over at Cortney’s pumpkin. “You are a real artist,” she cooed as she examined at the hand-carved typical wise woman in a flowing robe and pointed hat, flying on a broomstick. She had added the ground, a full moon and two strong treetops as the backdrop.
Lilith, to no one’s surprise, had spent the time forming grotesque mystical creatures.
Corena tilted her head judging the Jack-o’-lantern. “It’s pretty scary,” she murmured.
Hailey glanced at Lilith’s pumpkin. “Samhain has nothing to with ghoulish things,” she whispered to her sister-friend.
Avril laughed lightly. “I’m sure she did it to shock everyone,” she said.
Cortney simply shrugged.
By the end of the day’s lesson, after the carved pumpkins were nestled close to the withered stalks of corn and straw bales, the maidens cleaned the craft area then rushed the flesh and seeds to the kitchen.