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September 7, 2019

Here we are in September already. A busy Summer is winding down and I hope all of you had a wonderful time. Here at HOC we had a successful Ishtarfest, Pagan Picnic, and Full Moon ritual as well as several personal trips, camping and picnic events by individual members.

As I’m sure you all know, school will soon be starting. There is a good chance that those of you with young children will sometimes be sending them in with a packed lunch. I urge you to think about not only their health, but that of Mother Earth as well. Rather than a plastic bag of munchies, send them in with a piece of fruit, preferably locally grown and organic. Apples and pears will soon be filling the farmer’s stands, as well as lots of fresh vegetables right up until frost and while the supermarket won’t have locally grown offerings in the winter, they will have organic to choose from.

For sandwiches, puddings, cut up fruit, chicken legs, cheese, left-overs from dinner the night before – whatever you’re sending – consider putting them in reusable containers with snap on lids instead of throw away plastic zip lock bags. Let the young ones pick a cool lunch box – the choices are plentiful – and help them understand the importance of caring for the Earth by using a thermos with a screw top lid instead of plastic water bottles. If your kids like using straws, use paper or the reusable kind instead of the plastic used once and thrown away.

For those of you with older kids, encourage them to either join, or form, an environmental club in their school. Campaign to ensure their school has a recycling program and that the trays and cups they use in the cafeteria are not Styrofoam, but either reusable or compostable.

If we are to have a livable planet teeming with life and biodiversity to leave to our children, and their children, we MUST change the way we do things. And we must educate the next generation. It’s up to us. If we don’t, how do we face our grandchildren and tell them we did nothing while their planet drowned in plastic?Thanks to all our you for caring!

Blessed Be
Gaia

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Zero Waste Labor Day

August 31, 2019

My hobby for the past couple of years has been to collect as little new plastic as possible, from packaging to products. I even tried composting in an apartment composter for a while until I had several infestations of other insects and my worms died. While I am certainly not living a zero waste life, I have endeavored to have less trash and to be aware of what I’m bringing into my home that I eventually will have to throw out.

Going totally zero waste may not be your thing, but can you do it for one day? All over the country Zero Waste Labor Day celebrations are springing up to bring awareness to how much we contribute to the landfills. The average American makes 4.4 pounds of trash a day. Outdoor picnics are one of the biggest contributors to an individual’s trash because everything is typically disposable.

If you’re hosting a Labor Day event this weekend, consider using real silverware and plates and washing them. If you are going to someone else’s house, lug a mug, a plate and silverware to avoid using disposables. I keep a set of bamboo eating utensils in my purse and a metal container in my car for leftovers.

Here are some picnic tips:

  • Use glasses instead of plastic cups
  • Label trash, recycling and food waste bins
  • Repurpose decorations from other holidays
  • Pack leftovers for guests
  • Use foil instead of plastic
  • Choose a drink in a recyclable bottle or can

If you aren’t going to a picnic this weekend, challenge yourself to see if you can go one day without throwing anything into the garbage can. Use recyclables when you can. Compost food scraps – if you don’t have a compost bin or live somewhere where that’s impractical, collect your food scraps and bury them in the back yard or forest at the end of the day. Make sure everything is bio-degradable that you are burying.

Noticing what goes into the trash bin is the first step in reducing your footprint on Mother Earth. Few of us are aware on a daily basis of the packaging of our food items that goes into the garbage. Even fruit and veggies usually have plastic labels on them, which are easy to peel off but don’t recycle.

Most of all, though, don’t feel bad if you can’t do zero waste. Our society really isn’t set up to make that easy. But the first step in solving any problem is always awareness. Make Labor Day your day to work on the planet’s health by using the day as a meditation on what you can do to heal Mother Earth.

Ishtarfest – to the Kur and back!

May 21, 2019

You may be asking yourself, “Why do I want to go to a festival that has a theme of going to the Underworld? That doesn’t seem very cheery.” But we all go to that dark place from time to time. When we do it with intention and then RETURN to the land of the living, we go through a personal transformation that we can translate into our daily lives.

This alchemy can be found in festivals as diverse as Fires Rising at Four Quarters Farm and Burning Man. We fully embrace our dark side so that we can integrate it, accept it, and release all the stuff around it.ishtar 1

Not to say that Ishtarfest won’t be cheery this year. We have all kinds of fun stuff in store for participants in our 4th consecutive celebration of the Fertile Crescent and the Elder Gods:

  • Learn about Ishtar/Inanna in ritual and classes
  • Celebrate Summer Solstice on Saturday at the height of the power of the sun as we charge the Gods’ Eye and our own Household Guardians in our Litha tradition
  • All day vendor & psychic fair
  • Hands of Change’s own brand of the Fire/Drum/Bardic circle
  • The Wiccan sweat lodge
  • Community sharing of potluck food

We invite you to come out and play with us. Dress up like your favorite Sumerian god/dess (or anything you like) and frolic. Bring the kids to play on our playground and do some self-directed crafts.

We believe that what we are building is truly a special thing:

  • A celebration of Sumerian mythology and religion that to our knowledge no one else is doing
  • Healing the Mother Earth – especially the climate change issue of water scarcity so prevalent in
  • Sumerian clothes what used to be the Fertile Crescent
  • Sending peace and light to a part of the world that seems to always be war-torn
  • Celebrating the amazing civilization that gave us so much of our modern day technology, from our system of numbers to astronomy to writing

So please come join us at Ishtarfest. You can look back and say, I was there when…

And be sure to check out all the videos on our handsofchangenj FaceBook page to learn more about what we’re doing with the festival.

Register today at www.handsofchange.org/ishtarfest.

We’ll see you there!

 

Happy Spring!

April 3, 2019

Happy Spring, Everyone! The cold winter is past, and Mother Earth is waking up. Birds are singing to declare theirterritories and attract mates, crocus and daffodils are blooming, and the warm Sun is calling all of us to come outdoors. It’s time to start working in the garden to prepare for the new growing season. As you may have heard, bees and Monarch butterfly populations have been plummeting in the last few years, and desperately need our help. These insects are not only beautiful in their own right, but are essential pollinators for native plants, and most of our food plants. So, what can we, as individuals, do to help reverse this trend?

Monarchs (Danaus plexippu)}, those beautiful orange and black butterflies we’ve all seen as children, eat only milkweed as caterpillars. Unfortunately, with the human penchant for tidiness,and our spread in population, vast amounts of former milkweed growinghabitats have been cut down and converted to suburban gardens, monoculturefarms, or townshipwide beautification projects with vast acres of mown lawnsrather than wildflower meadows. So, plant milkweed in your gardens and invacant land near you, and encourage your townships to allow it to grow onany wild strips of land. Milkweed prefers sun and the orange butterfly weed,the common name for Asclepias Tuberosa, is a bright orange perennial, easyto grow in sunny, dry soil, is deer resistant, and native to most of the US. Itgrows only about 15” high and spreads easily, requiring little care. For thosewith more room, Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) is a tall (5-6’) easilygrown American native perennial with purple flowers that tolerates wet soil and areas withpoor drainage. It, too, prefers sun, at least 6 hrs a day. Both these plants are beautiful, andattract many types of butterflies while being essential food plants for the monarchs. They canbe purchased online, or in many nurseries, and can be grown easily from seed or by pottedplants for those of us who want instant gratification. More information on Monarchs, the onlybutterflies I’m aware of that migrate every fall to Mexico, can be found at https://www.monarch-butterfly.com/.

As for bees, it’s not an exaggeration to say that without bees, we starve. Wikipedia lists 105 plants – everything from Apples for your snacks, to Coffee and Tea for your breakfast, to Cotton for your clothes, to Roses for your Valentine’s Day, to Cucumbers for your salad, and of course Honey for your Mead! and so much more – that dependupon bees for pollination. The honey bee population is in serious trouble, as are many of our native bees. Again, quoting Wikipedia, “Pollinators, which are necessary for 75% of food crops, are declining globally in both abundance and diversity. Bees, in particular, are thought to be necessary for the fertilization of up to 90% of the world’s 107 most important human food crops”. I urge you to check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollinator_decline for insight into just how important this issue is. There are several proposed reasons for this worldwide decline. Habitat loss, pesticide use, pests and diseases, climate change, air pollution, all contribute to the challenges bees face.

So, what can we do? Fill your gardens with native plants, convert some of your lawn to wild flower gardens, encourage your townships to stop mowing strips along roadways and let them revert to wild plants, write your representatives to insist on keeping government land wild and address climate change, write the chemical companies and insist they stop using such toxic chemicals on our food plants, stop using toxic pesticides in your own gardens – do the research to find more environmentally safe ways to grow. Istrongly advocate organic gardening, I’ve been doing so for 40 years. No poisons are used on the plants at G3 and everything is doing fine!The best thing you can do for Mother Earth, is educate yourself. Do the research on Climate Change – see what the scientists, not the politicians, have to say. We are the Children of the Mother, lets take care of Her and all Her creatures! Have a fabulous Spring~

Gaia Greenwood


Psychic Book Fair

January 30, 2019

Hands of Change invites you out to the Brunswick Square Mall for a Psychic Book Fair at Barnes and Noble, March 2nd, from 1-8pm! A handful of readers will be on hand for free readings, and Pagan authors and podcasters Tara-Love Maguire and Chris Orapello will be there for book signings!

Hands of Change will be using the money raised from this fundraiser for repairs and updates at G3 (including, but not limited to a weather/animal proof shelter for the sweat lodge mats, boardwalk thru the back lot, fance and parking lot work, etc).

Please print out the vouchers! Hand them out, email them, etc! The sale made during that time will only count towards the fundraiser if you have the voucher – so please have these ready to go!

Bring your friends/family, sit down for a reading or 2, and chat with other like minded people. Open to all open minded seekers! Hope to see you there!

Click here for facebook and meet-up events!

A New Kind of Advent Calendar

December 8, 2018

We’d like to propose a new tradition for Yule this year – a two week advent calendar of kindness! Each day between now and Yule, pick one good deed to do for someone you like, or love, or can’t really stand, and just do it!

For example, one of my colleagues wanted my cornbread recipe when I mentioned making cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving. I sent her the recipe and then decided to make it for myself again. When I was finished making it, I was inspired to put some in a container to share with her. She was surprised and delighted!

You can also be someone’s ding dong Santa – wrap up a gift or a plate of cookies, drop it at their door, ring the bell and hide! I do this with my kids when handing out cookies around the neighborhood. The look on some of the faces when they open the door is priceless!

What this time of year is really about is the spirit of giving. Bring some joy into your life this holiday season thru random acts of kindness! Spread the love out loud! Have a blessed holiday season!

 

 

 

 

Mental Health Awareness & Witches

May 3, 2018

Greetings Hands of Change Friends,

Today I wanted to talk about something a little bit different then the typical sabbatt or magic post. As some of you may be aware, May is typically the month reserved for spreading around Mental Health Awareness. This act was started in 1949 by the Mental Health America Organization in order to raise awareness, signs and treatment options while spreading support and understanding of mental illnesses and defeating the stigma surrounding them. Health is important, but we often find the talk about health concerning our physical bodies, such as diet and exercise. The talk about mental health is still under the stigma of “something is wrong with them” or “they’re crazy and shouldn’t be allowed to care for themselves”.

”One in 5 Americans are affected by mental health conditions. Stigma is toxic to their mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment. The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it” (Nami.org).

Do these sound familiar?
– I don’t need to talk to a therapist, I have everything under control.
– I don’t want to take medication for something so simple.
– I can’t afford medication or therapy with my health insurance.

GeneralMHFacts

Under health insurance companies, many of them offer little to no coverage for mental health, leaving those who really could benefit from these services and treatments without. With my personal experience, since I suffer from depression and minor anxiety, I have found finding coverage for these things difficult and have had to go without. I am sure there are several other instances as to why mental health awareness month is important to be talking about, but since this is a pagan coven blog, I’m going to get straight to the point.

What does Mental Health Awareness Month have to do with paganism and witchcraft?

Oh, glad you asked my friend. As witches and pagans, our craft relies heavily on our mental health believe it or not. There’s a popular belief that if you’re not in the healthy mental state, your spells, rituals and workings will not be as powerful or work as well. For example, if you wanted to run a marathon but you are out of shape, you could either train for the marathon and finish at a decent time or not train for it and finish closer to the last few individuals. It’s the same thing with workings and your mental health.

Did you just have a fight? Find out some bad news? If these responses from you will fuel your energetic workings correctly, then go for it. However, if you’re trying to send some healing energy and you’re feeling ready to punch something, you should hold off. Sending this angry energy to someone in need of healing could result in your healing not working or hurting them instead.

 

How To Help Yourself:
– Meditate once a day
– Recite positive mantras
– Clean your house (seriously, cleaning out negativity helps!)
– Exercise (raise those happy hormones)
– Talk to your doctor!
– Learn more about mental illnesses.
– Connect with others and share experiences.

How To Help Others:
– Ask if others are ok when they’re displaying concerning signs in person. If they don’t want to talk, don’t push it. Let them know you’re there for them.
– If someone makes an upsetting comment online, reach out to them. Again, if they don’t want to talk about it, don’t push.
– If you know someone with a mental health disorder, reach out to them prior to a triggering event and see what they would prefer you doing. When the time comes, you’re prepared.
– Show support or donate to a worthy cause in your loved ones honor/memory.

Quick Witchy Aid:
– Depression Crystals: lepidolite, tigers eye, smoky quartz, amethyst, unikite, sunstone, rose quartz.
– Repeat This Mantra: I am worthy of the love and life I so desire. I am worthy of living here in the now. I am loved. I am protected. I am beautiful.
– Drink Some Tea: chamomile, green tea, lemon balm, lavender and peppermint
– Light Some Incense: lavender, jasmine, ylang ylang, lemongrass and sandalwood.
– Reconnect with Nature (and get out of your own head!)

 

For More Statistics and Information, visit:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may
https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers