October 2021 Newsletter

October 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to a special October Newsletter. Why special? A few reasons, we wanted to make this a larger issue with it being October and all the fun that entails (Samhain, Halloween, Pumpkin Spice, Costumes, Candy, take your pick). We also decided to have this be the first newsletter free to the public as a way to see what you get being a member. So we hope you enjoy it.

Topics:
Samhain
About OPC and the Board
Celtic Tree Month
The Craft Movie Review
Events

Samhain

Whether you’re an active member of the Pagan community, or just appreciate a time of year when it’s socially acceptable to gorge on large amounts of candy, Halloween appeals to a large swath of the American population. It’s deeper meanings are often overlooked as the search for the right costumes and decorations occupy the mainstream.

In many traditions, Samhain is celebrated as the start of a new year. We’re reaping the final harvests of what we’ve sown during the spring and summer seasons, and we’re starting to bunker down as the darker, colder months of the year approach. It is a time to turn inward, to reflect on the past year.

Even though here in the south, we might not be subject to the less forgiving climates of other regions, we can still use this time as a reset.

Also considered the ‘shadow’ season, this time of year invites us to think about who we are, what we’ve done, and where we’re going. It’s a time to remember those who have passed on – those who’ve transitioned from this stage in life into whatever comes next.

Take this time and consider what is transforming in your life and how you’ve nurtured / hindered it.

  • Are you holding yourself back? Is something keeping you from living the life you want?
  • Look into your shadow, the dark parts of who you are and how you’re living your life. As uncomfortable as that may be, do it anyway.
  • Make a plan, make a pledge to yourself. Chant your dreams, write your spells, light some shit on fire.

Know that eventually, the Earth will shift; we will be headed back into the light.

The days will lengthen and the flowers will bloom.

After a few months of reflection and planning, you’ll be ready to root yourself in the energies of rebirth and growth.

The plans you’ve set in motion will take flight and blossom with the seasons.

Next year, when you reap what you’ve sown, you’ll see bigger and better returns; and you’ll be primed to do it all again the next year.

About The Orlando Pagan Collective

Our History:
The Orlando Pagan Collective (OPC) started life out as The Wiccan Religious Cooperative of Florida (WRCF) in 1989 when two of its founding members hosted their first public Sabbat Circle in Cocoa Beach at Litha. The WRCF Inc. was incorporated in 1992 and was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 1993. We started doing business as OPC in 2011 in order to expand our outreach. With the change to a more inclusive name, OPC has a renewed energy to bring the community together.

Our Mission:
The Orlando Pagan Collective exists to establish a stronger sense of community within the Greater Orlando & surrounding Central Florida areas, by developing mutually beneficial community services to help all Pagans practice their particular path or tradition.

Our Plan:
Through fundraising, donations, and all of your support, we want to fund land open to all and for all paths –  a place where we can come together in fellowship, free from judgment or other venue restrictions. This new, community space is where we can dance, drum and sing in celebration of our deities.

Our Vision:
We see a future where there will be peace in our Pagan community that will foster more community activities, increase education opportunities, and provide stewardship in the community. It will also provide the non-Pagan community with an understanding of Pagans, their beliefs, and values.

The Board’s Pagan Beliefs

Volanndra’s Path to Paganism:
I grew up Catholic. There are quite a few in my coven that had a similar upbringing. I find that many that I have met in this community have said the same. My family is extremely pious and could never be compared to an Easter-Christmas Catholic. We went to church at least every Sunday, or Saturday evening if we were busy on Sunday. We went to church on vacation. We did the Novena during certain seasons. We had special days during the week that we did the rosary together for family and the community. I explain this merely to give you a picture of how religious my childhood was. I could have continued being a Catholic – as never did I have any complaints on how we practiced or disbelieved in the mythology. But, I knew there was something more. In fact, my parents and my extended family did more. There were shrines to the guardian Saint of my parents’ village in the Philippines, to Mother Mary, to our deceased family members, and to other favorite Saints. I feel that experience was unique to my parents’ childhood religious experience.

There was not a particular, specific event that led me to choose a different path. I believe that decision grew from age, experience, personal research, and a heart-to-heart with my priest when I was a senior in high school. I remember distinctly as a senior in high school when we were attending Sunday School with our priest, a conversation nearly before graduation. We discussed multiple topics, like religious life in college, so I ended up asking a question about multiple gods and other religions. I appreciate my priest’s answer because it wasn’t about ‘don’t-leave-Catholicism’ and more about me always being welcomed back to Catholicism. I don’t know for sure if I thought that was permission to explore other religions. But it gave me confidence that questioning your religious beliefs and really believing in what you practice was not going to affect me in the eyes of God (or gods!). After that discussion, I began studying world religions and found myself at a Borders in the New Age section. My first Wiccan books were a Silver Ravenwolf one (don’t judge as there was little to choose from at the time), Buckland’s Big Blue, and Scott Cunningham’s Wicca. From there, I progressed from reading books, to going to local new age stores, and finally joining my first Wiccan coven. My path is certainly different from when I first started practicing Wicca, but I am still proud to be on this pagan path.

Becky’s Path to Paganism:
As Pagans, many of us were not born into the religious paths we now follow. We found our way at different ages, by different means, and for different reasons. I don’t think there’s one right path, and I hope I’m always expanding my concept of what’s possible in our universe. It’s not terribly exciting but here’s my story.

I was born in, and did a lot of growing up in New England. I spent every second that I could outside. I always felt more calm and happy in nature than anywhere else. I remember distinctly when I realized that, for me, god was in nature. I was somewhere between 7 and 8. I was outside in the dead of winter, dragging a sled behind me, through my backyard, on the way to the giant hill behind our little neighborhood block. I’d cut through my neighbors yard and the back of a Baptist church parking lot that was directly behind my house. I was, and still regrettably am, short for my age. The snow was deep and walking was hard. At some point I decided to take a break and literally just sat where I was standing in the nearly waist deep snow. My gaze went to the enormous Oak tree that was on the far east end of our yard, just within the fence line. This massive tree was completely bare, and taller than our 2 story house. The type of winter we’d been having brought heavy icing on everything, and each of the tree’s branches were covered in a layer. The wind picked up. The Oak tree began to sing like a wind chime.

Both of my parents were raised Catholic, mom even attended an all girls catholic school. I loved the old church with the amazing stained glass windows, but I hated the forced attendance of not only Sunday mass, but Sunday school. When we moved to Florida, Sunday became Wednesday night school, which was just weird. It was here that I really began to see the holes not only in Christianity, but in those who claimed to be so devout. They could be some of the worst people imaginable. This is when I actively began to seek something else. I’d held onto that experience in the backyard and began to search for ‘nature’ religions. I used to get dropped off at the library and left there all day in the summer, and that’s where I found my first books on Paganism. One of the first I read cover to cover, and would later make part of my personal collection, was “Sabbats” by Edain McCoy. It’s cover had a beautiful representation of the wheel of the year coupled with StoneHenge. It wasn’t just about magic and spells, but connecting with the Earth and her seasons. This is what I’d been searching for since the day in the snow.

Morgan’s Path to Paganism:
My path has been split into a few different eras as I found what path works for me. I was raised Roman Catholic and went to a Catholic school until my parents divorced. I continued being Catholic until right before I went through confirmation (basically becoming fully initiated into the faith), but I questioned things. I wondered why I was not feeling the same connection others were, why X, Y, and Z were done but not allowed to know about. So I went hunting and the first stop was my family tree. I am Scotch-Irish so I looked to what religions my ancestors would follow. This lead my to Celtic Paganism and I found my first book on it “Celtic Magic” by

D. J. Conway. This helped me find part of my current path as a druid. During that time I continued following this path, finding my patreon (or I should say they found me). This was not the end of my journey though, because another belief came calling also relating to my family in a different way.

My grandfather fought in the Pacific theater in WWII and my mother was born in Japan. The reason I bring this up is Japan’s indigenous religion of Shinto which recognizes the place of one’s birth as where your spirit has a connection. I have always felt a connection to Japan and after learning more about Shinto it made complete sense to me. I started learning and dabbling in Shinto but I think the kami (what Shinto calls spirits, elements and gods) had a trick up their sleeve. I ended up taking a job and living in Japan for 18 months. While there I was able to spend time in various Shinto shrines including the famous Itsukushima Shrine (known for its “floating” torii gate). While there I was told I had the Yamato-damashii (大和魂- The Spirit of Japanese) which has roots in Shinto as well. So while living there I started to add Shinto into my druidic practices and still do. It is a bit harder to connect with living back in the states due to the fact that Shinto is so deeply ingrained in Japan as both a people and land. There are only three Shinto shrines in the continental US (I have been to one of them and it was amazing) so compared to when I lived there the kami are still around but just a bit harder at times to connect with.

When I tell people that paganism is all about finding your own path, I will always look at what my own was and is, I am a druid shintoist, I have yet to find another (if you are or know one do let me know). This was the path that I found that works for me and I always hope others are able to find the path that works for them.

Recipe

Jell-O shots

This month’s recipe is something for the adults of drinking age.

One of my favorite Halloween party treats is Jell-O shots. They’re the one time of the year it feels right to dress them up a bit. Also, they can be made in advance, which is always preferable to same day recipes.

What many if you might not have done before, is add all manner of gummy candy into your Jell-O shot. The standard concept is a ‘petri dish,’ wherein you put gummy worms into your shots; but I prefer to mix it up a bit. Also, this recipe is super easy to double or triple up on, depending on the number of guests you’re gathering.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box lime Jell-O (feel free to branch out on the color, lime just gives it the mad science petri dish feel)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup vodka (they also make lime vodka, or pair the flavor you feel compliments your Jell-O flavor)

Directions:

  1. Arrange desired gummies into 2oz shot containers
  2. In a bowl, combine Jell-O and boiling water, stir until dissolved
  3. Add in cold water and vodka, mix thoroughly
  4. Pour mix into shot containers until 2/3 full
  5. Chill in fridge at least 4 hrs before serving

Now, here’s where you can really have fun.

Instead of gummy worms, I think gummy spiders and jelly beans look much more like a petri dish (go search gummy spiders and tell me they don’t look like some weird amoeba thing).

Also, have you considered taking a bunch of sour patch kids and / or gummy bears and chopping the heads off? Put the heads in the shots, and then leave the corpses out in a bowl for people to snack on. Hell, chop off their legs too. There are all manner of gummy shaped things, feel free to branch out and see which you prefer the most.

Another variation: Did you know they make cinnamon gummy bears?

For those who want to feel the burn, try this recipe for Fireball Jell-O shots and add the heads of cinnamon bears. (I’ve never tried these personally, I’ve tried Fireball and almost died. I’m not a cinnamon fan. I have, however, seen people eat these and it was hilarious, have fun.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cherry or orange Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup Fireball

Instructions:

  1. Place gummy heads in 2oz shot containers (I’d say between 3-5 heads per shot)
  2. In a bowl, combine Jell-O and boiling water, stir until dissolved
  3. Add in cold water and Fireball, mix thoroughly
  4. Pour mix into shot containers until 2/3 full
  5. Chill in fridge at least 4 hrs before serving

Celtic Tree Month

Ivy

September 30th to October 27th

Magical Properties:
Rebirth, cleansing, self-improvement, boundaries, healing, protection, cooperation.

Color: Sky Blue
Class: Chieftain
Ogham: ᚌ [ɡ] Gort

Meaning: Take time to soul-search or you will make a wrong decision

Movie Review – The Craft (1996)

Relax… it’s only magic

Everyone has their favorite Halloween movie: Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Practical Magic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show… but with this being the witching season I wanted to go over one of my favorite Pagany movies, The Craft.

Right off the bat one interesting thing to know about the movie is they hired a “real-life” Wiccan as an on-set advisor for the film. They wrote the incantations used and ensured that the treatment of the religious subject-matter was as accurate and respectful as possible. If you watch the movie and have any knowledge of Wicca you will see most of the rituals and subjects do follow along the general aspects. The only thing being Manon was created as the deity being called.

The film is set in a Catholic school where we follow the path of Sarah who just moved there and meets up with three other girls, Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle who are outcasts and called “The Bitches of Eastwick” because they practice the occult. The three have been looking for a fourth to help call the quarters and after witnessing Sarah’s pencil magic trick (a bit different than The Joker’s) they invite her to be part of their coven.

As a group the four of them all look to use magic to improve their lives in different ways: from a love spell, to protection from another’s actions; they run the gambit of what people who are first introduced into paganism will do. As their workings continue to gather in strength they go out to invoke Manon on May eve (Beltane). This works and draws the power into Nancy who ends up being struck by lightning and is seen by the group walking on water after they wake up.

From here it shows that the spells they cast did not get them exactly what they wanted, for example the target of the love spell that Sarah used tried to rape her. When this happens Sarah wants out and Nancy is not willing to be rejected by her, even saying, “You know, in the old days, if a witch betrayed her coven, they would kill her.” *[citation needed]. This leads to the final confrontation between the group, but you will have to watch to find out what actually does happen when a witch betrays her coven.

So if you are looking for something about teenage witches, that has the song “How Soon Is Now” as a theme, that is more grounded in actual witchcraft and will not leave you charmed, I highly recommend The Craft. Just remember, “We are the weirdos, mister.”

Upcoming Event – Annual OPC Board Meeting

We already announced the Board Meeting (here) but we wanted to make sure everyone knows about it. The annual board meeting is held to allow the community to have a direct impact on how OPC is heading in the new year. During this time, plans for the next year are discussed, voting for the board happens and feedback is gathered from those present.

You can be part of it both in person or online:

Date: 11/6/2021

Time: 3pm EDT

Location- Denny’s by the Airport (5725 T G Lee Blvd, Orlando, FL 32822)

Online- Zoom (meeting link).

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