Animal Totems: Spirit Guides to the Underworld

Young Striped Skunk in roadside ditch

Skunk medicine is all about having strong boundaries

I learned a valuable lesson the day a skunk crossed my path.  It was about animals as totems and the magical medicine they offer. Seeing animals as spirit guides was at the heart of a public ritual I created for Samhain, the Celtic festival that marks the death of summer.  The mysteries of Samhain are at the heart of the holiday we call Halloween.

 

Samhain marks the third and final harvest of the season. The first harvest is of grain, the second of fruits and vegetables, the third of meat. Centuries ago, the third harvest marked a critical time. If a family didn’t have enough, they couldn’t simply grow more. Not with winter on the horizon. Whatever they had harvested would have to sustain them through the darkest, coldest time of the year. Continue reading

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A Butterfly Ritual for Weddings, Memorials and More

In folklore, butterflies are said to come from the faerie realm. In some Native American traditions, butterflies represent a living piece of a rainbow. In many cultures, butterflies represent the sweetness of life, the beauty of dance, the inevitability of change, and the power of transformation. It’s no wonder they’re associated with rites of passage, particularly weddings and funerals.

colorful swirl of butterflies

Back in 2012, in my first “official” year as a wedding officiant, I created a ritual I called “Butterfly Blessings” for Brittany and Renn. Brittany’s father had died shortly before the wedding. She associated butterflies with his spirit. Using butterflies in the ceremony gave her and her mother a sense of comfort.

In the seven years that followed, I’ve woven that ritual into other wedding ceremonies.  Earlier this month, I recreated the ritual for Emily and Padriac. This coming summer, I’ll adapt the ritual for a memorial service. Butterfly Blessings can also be used as a healing ritual. You can use it to celebrate a birthday, too, especially for adults. In fact, the ritual can be used for any celebration that focuses on transformation. More on that later. Continue reading

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Podcast Episode 9 – Soup to Heal the Earth: What Ingredient Would You Add?

It’s September. The harvest season continues. If we could make a symbolic soup to heal the Earth, what ingredients should we include?  What ingredients does Mother Earth have for you? I explored all that and more in a special harvest ritual.

I’ve seen first-hand how effective rituals can connect us to our tribe, deepen the meaning of our lives, give comfort, and reveal our personal magic. That’s why I created the Ritual Recipes podcast. In past episodes, I’ve talked about wedding rituals, baby blessings, rituals to begin the New Year, and more. Future episodes will include seasonal rituals as well as rituals for funerals, memorials, and divorce…and more. Lots more. Continue reading

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Mother Earth & the Corn King – The Harvest Story

The first harvest of the season, that of corn and grain, tells the story of Mother Earth and the Corn King.  Whatever your “field” of work, this is the season that highlights sweat equity, prosperity, sacrifice, and community.

My ancestors celebrated the first harvest with the festival of Lammas, or Lughnasadh. With money from the harvest, this was the time landowners paid taxes, others paid rent, and debts of all kinds were settled. For more, listen to Episode 8 of Ritual Recipes – a podcast full of practical magic to nourish your inner life.

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Podcast Episode 8 – Harvest Season, Time to Celebrate and Settle Debts

 

Giant bale of hay is evidence of hard work. Photo by Erik Witsoe of Unsplash

Make hay when the sun shines. That’s the mantra for the harvest season. It’s time to work hard, celebrate community, settle debts, and honor the sacrifice of the Corn King who gives his life for that of the community. That’s the subject of Episode 8 of Ritual Recipes, a podcast full of practical magic to nourish your inner life.

Centuries ago, July was called the hungry month because it was unlucky to gather fruits, dig potatoes, or in any other way begin the harvest until August 1st when the harvest season officially began. There was a lot to consider. The first reaping wouldn’t begin until the moon was in a waning phase, for that withdrawing energy would help dry the corn and grain, making it easier to cut and safer to store. Corn and grain, that’s what the first harvest of the season was all about. Continue reading

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Prayer Flags for a Wedding Ceremony

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YouTube – Zita Interviews Photographer Carrie (Draghi) Patterson

CT Photographer says family portraits still important

Engaged couples, magazines, corporations, professionals seeking headshots, and parents of newborns all rave about Connecticut photographer Carrie Patterson of Carrie Draghi Photography.  I interviewed Carrie on a recent episode of Weddings with Zita. You can watch it on Youtube.com/ZitaTVNetwork. It’s episode 27.    Here are a few take-aways.

There’s a certain intimacy that is created when you work with your wedding photographer. He or she will spend a lot of time with you in various stages of undress and, equally important, various expressions of emotion. You need to trust your photographer. Continue reading

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YouTube – Zita Interviews Bridal Seamstress Mollie Frish

Bridal Seamstress Mollie Frish talks about bustles

Navigating the world of bridal gown alterations can be mysterious, not to mention expensive. In episode 28 of Weddings with Zita, Connecticut bridal seamstress Mollie Frish shares stories, photos, advice, and inspiration. Watch it on Youtube.com/ZitaTVNetwork. 

Do you have a bridal alteration story to share? Let me know. I’m putting together questions for another interview with Mollie. Thanks.

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Podcast Episode 7 – WIND HORSE RITUAL for WEDDINGS, CHILDREN, and  ADULTS of ALL AGES

 

Tibetan prayer flags / Photo by Andreas Berger at Unsplash

Movies about climbing Mount Everest always show prayer flags – five pieces of solid colored fabric strung together, blowing in the wind.  The meaning behind them is ancient and honors the individual, the family, the community, and the earth.  Continue reading

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Podcast Episode 6 – Gifts from the Trees

Did you know that unicorns like ash trees?  That the locust tree represents strength and the will to live? That planting a juniper by the front door is said to protect the home from thieves?  What magical gifts do the trees in your neighborhood offer?

Autumn splendor in New England forest

Gifts from the Trees is a ritual I created from myths, legends, and facts  surrounding trees. It’s a good ritual for fairy– or woodland-themed weddings, milestone birthdays, retirement celebrations, or croning ceremonies.

Continue reading

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