CAYA 2017: Seed, Sprout, Flower, Fruit

It’s time to unveil the new CAYA Daily Practice song for 2017!

Our theme for 2017 is Seed, Sprout, Flower, Fruit.  This song by High Priestess Stella Iris RedRaven expresses the theme perfectly!

We are all growing together in this community, and yet each seed carries a unique signature and a unique destiny.  We share so much, and we also give each other the space to grow in our own diverse and delightful ways! This year, we invite you to write your own verse expressing your own beautiful truth. Each day, we will all sing our shared verse and strengthen our unity, then each of us will sing a personal verse and celebrate our individuality!

Here are Presiding High Priestess Yeshe and High Priestess Quetzal presenting the song in English and Spanish:



Here are the lyrics in English:

I am the Root, I am the Tree, I am the Branches
I am the Spark, I am the Flame, I am Free.
I am the Wave, I am the Sea, I am the Splashes,
I am the Light, I am the Wind, I am Me!

Here are the lyrics in Spanish:

Soy la raíz, Yo soy el árbol, Yo soy las ramas.
Yo soy la luz, Yo soy el fuego, Yo soy libre!
Yo soy la ola, Yo soy la mar, Yo soy la lluvia.
Yo soy la brisa, Yo soy el viento, Yo soy yo!

Here is the model for creating your own verse for the song:

I am the _____, I am the _____, I am the _______
I am the _____
, I am the _____, I am _____.
I am the _____
, I am the _____, I am the _______,
I am the _____
, I am the _____, I am _____

Yo soy la _____, Yo soy la  
_____, Yo soy la _______
Yo soy la _____
, Yo soy la  _____, Yo soy la _____.
Yo soy la _____
, Yo soy la  _____, Yo soy la _______,
Yo soy la _____
, Yo soy la  _____, Yo soy la _____!

Blessed Be As You All Blossom Beautifully,

Molly Blue Dawn


Go For A Magical Ramble!

by Gwen

Late summer brings heat, fog, wild berries, and beautiful brilliant days.  I write today to share one of my favorite sacred adventure spots: the Albany Shorefront, aka the Albany Bulb (for the shape of the land).  For those in the Bay Area, it's just north of Berkeley by the Buchanan/ Albany exit off of 580/80 (at the very end of Marin Ave/ Buchanan Ave).  The parking lot warns of a 2 hour limit that I have never ever seen enforced.  Here's your witchy guide to a fantastic and magical wander:

Blackberry heaven (marked in purple, of course): the areas alongside the parking lot and up at the sculpture beach are completely covered Sleeping Beauty style blackberry bramble. When I lived close by, I visited between the Festival of Heart and Harvest (Lugnasadh) & Harvest Home (Mabon) like going to the grocery store and returned home with colanders full of blackberries. Bring a container and wear practical clothes.

Yoni gathering place (marked in dark red): This sculptured small ampitheater built into a low hillside is in the classic shape of a Hindu yoni, the Goddess labia.  In the center is an unofficial fire pit where people regularly (illegally) have bonfires.  Sit and meditate for a while.  Do a ritual.  Watch for broken glass, as some of the gatherings are boozy.  Do the Goddess a favor and clean up the litter you see.

The main beach by the parking lot is a great place to meet dogs, make offerings, and clamber around on the rocks. I have sat on these rocks and watch the full moon reflect on the bay while singing and offering whiskey to Arianrhod.  If you walk inland across the plateau, you'll come across a little side trail where you can scramble down to what I've marked in lime green as "tidal beach."  At high tide this is a slim crescent of sand, and at low tide you can walk quite a ways and see seaweed, shells, and flotsam.  There are rocks and chunks of concrete and rebar from the Albany Bulb's shipping-dock days, which makes for interesting exploring and lots of nooks for sitting and meditating.  Also unlike the main beach, you'll probably be the only one there.

The entire park is scattered with these chunks of rebar and concrete, and it's a constantly shifting gallery of paintings and sculpture.  I've marked concentrations of art in sky blue, but really--it's everywhere.  Keep exploring.  Be sure to visit what I think of as the Lady of the Waters (marked with a blue star).  I don't know what the artist intended, but to me and the Pagans I've brought to visit Her, she is a goddess.  She stands about 12' tall at the edge of the surf, face upturned and arms raised in blessing and celebration, at the place where the path meets the beach.

Clootie tree (marked in kelly green): watch the left side of the path along the high spine of the park for a mid-size tree, a locust or nut tree with fern-like leaves, whose bark is covered with colorful graffiti. People leave offerings & prayers tied to its branches: medicine bottles & bart stubs, colorful ribbons & woven baskets.  I always bring the tree some water too.  It's a very friendly tree for climbing and meditation.

Mad Mark's Castle (royal blue square) is a partly-roofed concrete structure covered in dizzying graffiti.  Be careful of broken glass as you enjoy clambering around and exploring.  The roof offers a truly gorgeous view of the Bay.

Labyrinth (marked in dark red):  this place is steeped in magic.  I know other groups use it too but for me it's Hekate's place. It's in the backyard of the homeless city that was there for 20 years before the city of Albany evicted its residents in 2013,  driving them out to camp in less scenic places around the area.  She looks after Her people,  the dispossessed & in-between & forgotten.  The first time I walked this labyrinth I spent a while sitting at the center with the little community altar where people had left broken glass, notes, flowers.  I left prayers and two pennies for Hekate and the Boatman for those who die destitute and forgotten.  As I reemerged from the labyrinth, a great black dog--one of Hekate's symbols--trotted down and circled the clearing, glancing at and dismissing me, before climbing the ridge again to his people.  I've brought CAYA people here to walk the labyrinth at night.  It's an incredible place.

Seaweed Lessons

I'm sitting at the shore front on the rocks at low tide, surrounded by crags and pebbles laced with 5 kinds and colors and shapes of seaweed. I am watching the waves come in and out, in and out, over and over. One patch of seaweed, stringy and brown, is anchored just under the low tidewater at the base of this pile of rocks. With each wave its long hair flows out and in as the tide moves. I'm thinking about what the seaweed has to teach me about roots and responding to the pressures of this world. To survive right there, where every wave buffets it back and forth, it must have strong strong roots holding it to the rock. And above those roots everything must be flexible, responsive to the moment. It flows back and forth over and over and bends rather than breaks, it coils and flows and grows because it moves with the water without losing its grip.

I'm thinking about my struggles with chronic migraines and an assortment of more minor health issues that come and go. I write this via dictation software because as of last week I have tendonitis in both wrists and need to rest my hands as much as possible. I currently pay my bills with housekeeping, and most of my hobbies are craft related, so I am finding it difficult not to use my hands. And every month for years I have had migraines every few days, a week in between at most. It is exhausting to be buffeted again and again by my pain, doctors visits, medication research and trials and side effects and trials again.

Keep going, this seaweed tells me. Stay rooted. Just go with it, you are still alive, still drinking in the Sun and the nourishment of this world. You can still thrive as the waves dance you back and forth every day. Be flexible. Respond to the needs of this moment.

In the deeper stillwater the waves are not nearly as violent, you can grow and thrive and be still without these pressures and hurts. But the deeps have their own dangers and predators that do not venture into these shallower more turbulent waters. And here where are the waves are, there is also the surface and air and Sun. Life here is uniquely challenging, and uniquely rich and beautiful.

And if a great storm comes and rips up your roots, be flexible and trust. You will find yourself washed up in a new place with new stones to grip, new sun to drink in. Your roots are solid and can find a new place to grip. You are alive.

(written by Gwen in February at the Albany Shorefront)

CAYA 2016: Song of the Phoenix

Welcome to a Magical 2016, CAYA! Happy new year!

This year's theme is "Song of the Phoenix." At Harvest Home, we collectively gave CAYA of the past, and the wisdom of our collected experiences, to CAYA of the future. This was the ultimate step, I think, in our choice to Embrace the Mystery as a Coven last year, up to and including our IRS church application. The Mystery we embraced was...US...who we have been, who we are, and who we are becoming as an evolving community. WE are the huggable Mystery--a dynamic, transformative, epic, organic, spiraling wave of energy with many unique, precious, and irreplaceable manifestations. In 2016, we will take that spark of wisdom and magic that we each carry within, the wisdom of Inner Teacher that has been with us all along, and carry it forward into the world individually and as a community, watching it sprout fresh feathers and find its voice anew as an agent of courage, magic, and action.

This year's Daily Practice was written by Stella Iris, with music and arrangement by Yeshe Rabbit.

I am a creature of courage
I find myself in the heart of the fire
I find myself in my strength

I am a creature of magic
I find myself blessed with joy and love
I find myself spreading joy and love

I am a creature of purpose
I find myself rising, making change
Hear my voice! Hear my song!

I am a creature of wisdommmmm."

(We drop into a low hum on the last syllable, extending for the rest of the breath, gathering power at our core, then bringing it up to the surface as a burst of rainbow light on the in-breath that follows. Let that rainbow light symbolize whatever positive thing you want to share with the world.)

Here is a video of the Daily Practice:

Here is an inspiring image from DeviantArt by Tripletace:

CAYA 2016 Reading: performed Oct 30-31 between 11:30 PM and 12:30 AM using Kris Waldeherr's new Goddess Inspiration Oracle. We looked to the Goddesses for guidance in our CAYA fields of activity for 2016. We collectively interpreted the cards, and I wrote down as many messages as I could capture.

Leadership & Learning- Sekhmet- strength of female lion; pride; creating strength in fierceness/witchcraft/revolution; exploring the Solar nature of women and feminist leadership; our next batch of students are going to embody the spirit of creativity, change, revolution, and justice. There is healing in experiencing righteous rage when it is appropriate. Also, some of us may choose to learn about beer and brewing methods.

Education & Information- Kali Ma- Our web site redesign will be very different; "the more you resist, the harsher she gets, but if you meet her with courage, there is love there"; making strong statements about our stances, policies, and positions in the Pagan community; sharing our revolutionary sensibilities and fierce matriarchal values; employing #matriarchy, #366feministwitchcraft, #allmyselfiesarefeministselfies, and other call-to-action hashtags we design

Rituals & Events- Hera (also a lion goddess)- Accountability from everyone to be doing the work; sovereignty; dignity; protection and propriety in our ritual and event spaces; the lesson of the peacock: "One cannot be first in all things." On a practical note: CAYA will begin to offer pop-up weddings at PCon, Pagan Fest, Hexenfest, and other Pagan events! An interesting quote I found about Hera on wikipedia: "There has been considerable scholarship, reaching back to Johann Jakob Bachofen in the mid-nineteenth century, about the possibility that Hera, whose early importance in Greek religion is firmly established, was originally the goddess of a matriarchal people, presumably inhabiting Greece before the Hellenes. In this view, her activity as goddess of marriage established the patriarchal bond of her own subordination: her resistance to the conquests of Zeus is rendered as Hera's "jealousy", the main theme of literary anecdotes that undercut her ancient cult. However, it remains a controversial claim that primitive matriarchy existed in Greece or elsewhere." 
(I daresay, whenever people try to tell me that matriarchies don't exist, or have not existed, I just sort of blink and tell them they must be mistaken, I know they do, because I live in one.)

Pastoral Care- Psyche- under the patriarchal medical model, the doctor is the all-powerful God figure and the patient is the supplicant who has little to no say in the proceedings. In the matriarchy, we enlist individuals in their own care, and honor the medicine woman model that treats the whole being. The Pastoral Care track has a butterfly effect. We have the capacity to make significant change; responsiveness to the results from the health needs survey; the priest/ess/x journey is filled with challenges to learn to love more and go deeper, to learn to tend the whole person; transforming attitudes from ignorance to wisdom

Public Service- Baba Yaga - being "good fairies" for change means sometimes we might seem like the "bad fairies" to those looking to maintain status quo power dynamics; taking strides to transform the invisibility and forgotten-ess of older women; looking with courage at what frightens us about our own mortality, and that of other people; turning away from nothing we find aversive, or that we fear; not turning away from the vulnerability of others simply because it reminds us of our own vulnerability; finding courage and compassion hand-in-hand; ridding ourselves of toxins and poisons in thought, word, and deed; looking for the forgotten or hidden places where we can be effective; how we help the homeless; shamanic work

Center- Main Message: Astarte (another lion goddess)- watch the planet Venus in 2016; stars are the souls of the dead watching over us with wisdom, compassion, and quiet witness; Iris and any other astrologers here can look at Venus in the CAYA chart for 2016; love is the way, love is the only reason to fight and the only way of fighting, if there must be a fight at all; hate will never win anything, but pleasure wins the hearts of many; collectively becoming Celestial Queens; embracing a cosmic view in addition to an immediate earthly mode of thinking; all acts of love and pleasure! Spirit year in Mother of the New Time- Statue needs a meteorite embedded in it.

Overall message of this reading: Attune to the vastness of the cosmic. Think and dream big. Look to the stars for guidance. Create structure and policy from a global framework, while still serving the local with wisdom and courage; cultivate more "authentic self" and less "ego-self." Less "me" and more "we." Collectivity supports us. Care well for the realms that sustain you: this Earth, this community, and your body, among others. There is wisdom and strength in the structured, strategic actions of determined matriarchs of all genders in leadership that is not modeled on the Mother archetype, but rather the Queen, a sovereign. Yet sovereignty is not about self-centeredness, it's about serving the highest good of all who rely on you. In a matriarchy, to maintain sovereignty by serving the highest good of the realm happens not only in a motherly way, but also in a queenly, tactical way. Teach the coming students well and with excellence.

Love, magic, and wisdom,
Yeshe Rabbit

Personal Ritual Building

by Doyenne Rowan Nightshade

What does it mean to create a ritual for yourself? It can be as elaborate or as pared down as suits you and/or the purpose for the ritual. When I first decided to formally commit myself to the path of paganism, I did a very short and to-the-point commitment ritual that I took from Ann Moura’s Green Witchcraft book. At the time, I felt uncomfortable with rituals that seemed overly ceremonious, but as I became more familiar with public ritual my attitude toward that changed somewhat. I am still not likely to cast circle or call directions in my personal rituals (though I know many others who do), but I might create a working altar that includes objects to represent the elements, and my personal workings have become more elaborate overall.

For me, the size and scope of my personal rituals reflect what I’m trying to accomplish. One of my simplest rituals involved listening to Irish folk music, drinking Irish whiskey, toasting to friendship, lighting a candle and burning a piece of gnome-shaped incense on a silver dish dressed with lace. On the other end of things, I have also done a more complex ritual to help strengthen the connection between my Bloodroot Honey sisters, at a time when were been plagued with difficulties. That ritual began with my writing an affirmative statement about our sisterhood on magically charged paper. I then dressed a spring-green candle with oils and herbs and sterling rose petals for joy, beauty, new growth, love, and integrity. I placed the paper under the candle dish and surrounded the dish with a necklace I have with a heart charm on it. Next to the dish I placed a rune stone with ‘othala’ inscribed on it to emphasize family and group unity and order, and a yellow apatite for improved communication and the release of stored anger. Then I lit the candle, concentrated my energy toward the highest resolution of all, and set it free to do its work. I have also gone to the cemetery at night and drunk mugwort tea, buried food offerings for the ancestors, and gathered dirt under the moonlight as a personal ritual for Samhain. A friend of mine did a prosperity ritual, under the tutelage of Lady Yeshe Rabbit, that included burning a green seven-day candle, carrying prosperity herbs in his pockets, and “feeding” iron filings every day to a magnetite stone that he carried in a pouch around his neck. One of the key elements for that ritual was actually the daily reinforcement of the spell by feeding the stone.

Other personal rituals might have all the formal components of major public ritual, including casting a circle, calling directions/elements, calling ancestors and allies, invoking deity, and then moving on to the main working. One of the first steps, when building your own ritual, would be to determine exactly what you’re trying to do. It’s better to be clear about one thing than to try to cram too many goals into a single ritual. After all, you can always create another ritual!

Once you’ve established your intended purpose, determine whether or not you feel you are in safe space. Maybe you live in a house with roommates and you don’t feel that any place is really your own. In that case, you probably would want to delineate some sort of sacred space for yourself. Then again, maybe you want a circle to contain the energy so it will build up until you’re ready to release it all at once at the end. A circle can be drawn purely energetically, or, if you’re uncertain about your ability to do that, you can draw a tangible circle with salt or flowers or stones, or sprinkle blessed water to designate your safe space. Now, do you want to send out your intention to the four quarters of the earth/entire universe utilizing all possible channels? Calling directions would be useful for that. Calling in ancestors to guide you through some difficult choices or when you feel you need wisdom would be an excellent idea. Plant and animal guides or allies might help you connect with your instincts or feel your more intuitive, less intellectual side. Invoking your patron deity could help to add strength to your working, or you could invoke another deity who has dominion over the realm of your desired goal.

Once you have created safe space for yourself and invoked all appropriate energies, you can move on to the heart of the matter: the spell or goal of your ritual. The design of that piece of the ritual is completely open-ended and may include candle magic, dancing, singing or chanting, burning things (always one of my favorite activities), divination, washing or asperging, making a charm, etc., etc. You should also consider some sort of release of energy afterward to send out your intention and also to give yourself the space to “come down” from the peak of the ritual. This is actually a great place for a song or gentle movement of some sort. At the end, release all those you have called and open the circle. It is done, it is done, it is done done done!

Congratulations, you are now a ritualist.