Egyptian wooden model of beer making in ancient Egypt, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose, California

Egyptian wooden model of beer making in ancient Egypt, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose, California





When I want a convenient break from Shambhala Mountain Center, the Buddhist retreat where I live and work, I head to a dark, smoky bar called the Red Feather Café. The Café isn’t the only dive bar in western Larimer County, Colorado, but it is the only one with two pool tables, good service, and great pub food. Half of the regulars are the local ranchers while the other half are fellow Buddhists from Shambhala Mountain. Almost any night of the week, I can find both ranchers and Buddhists shooting pool at one of the two tables or sitting at the bar, matching each other drink for drink.

Check your Sutras and you’ll see that the basic Buddhist teachings on alcohol consumption are quite clear. Alcohol, the Buddha taught more than 2,000 years ago, is a poison that clouds the inherent clarity of the mind. That timeless logic would explain why, if you visit a typical American Buddhist community or meditation center, you are likely to be entering an alcohol-free zone.

Yet there is no prohibition on frequenting the Café or even on drinking alcohol here at Shambhala Mountain. While public consumption of hard liquor is verboten, wine and beer are regularly offered at private parties, public events and special dinners–most of the places you might see alcohol in regular American life. It wasn’t long before I started wondering: Why isn’t my Buddhist retreat center on the wagon?

The answer, like most involving Buddhist practices, lies in the particular lineage of teachings represented here at Shambhala Mountain. Acharya Bill McKeever, Shambhala Mountain’s resident teacher, explained how drinking alcohol in certain contexts is considered one of the many advanced practices offered in Shambhala’s Tibetan Vajrayana tradition. It is called “mindful drinking.”

Here’s the basic idea: Once a meditator has developed basic Buddhist discipline (known as Hinayana training) and adopted the intention to dedicate his or her life to benefit others (the Mahayana view) the practitioner is ready to incorporate Vajrayana teachings, where the simple prohibitions outlined in the Sutras are re-evaluated. When a meditator reaches this point, which often takes a number years in the Shambhala tradition, a dangerous substance like alcohol is viewed as a potential aide for the practitioner. Within the context of strong discipline and clear intention, alcohol holds the possibility of no longer acting as a conventional escape, but instead being a tool for loosening the subtle clinging of ego.

“Imagine you are enjoying a picnic in a beautiful spot with your lover,” says McKeever. “You want for nothing in this situation.” If you choose to drink at this moment, theoretically, you have no reason to overdo it. You’ll drink just enough to relax, to appreciate your situation and, as McKeever puts it, “to help your ego go to sleep.”

That is why for centuries in the Kagyü monasteries scattered across the high plains of Tibet, monks incorporated alcohol into their esoteric Vajrayana practices. (These Tantric rituals have historically been viewed skeptically by more straitlaced Buddhists around the world.) When one of those Vajrayana lamas, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, fled Tibet during the Chinese invasion of the country, he brought his teachings, including those on the use of alcohol, to the West.

This month, more than 100 people have gathered at Shambhala Mountain Center to become full-fledged Vajrayana practitioners. In the seventies and eighties, long before the Dalai Lama visited Central Park, Chögyam Trungpa taught Vajrayana Buddhism in North America, establishing hundreds of Shambhala meditation centers including this rustic retreat in the Rockies. For many people, this Vajrayana Seminary is the culminating event after years of study and practice. The Vajrayana students meet every morning in a large white tent in the center of campus, spending their days mixing meditation, talks, and study groups. At some point, they will be given a lesson in mindful drinking.

As a relatively new student who has not yet attended Vajrayana seminary, I’ve never experienced this lesson, but I’ve been told that it is much different than a normal night at the bar. Imagine people seated in lotus position with cups of sake (rice wine) in front of them. McKeever recalled the lessons Trungpa Rinpoche offered him decades ago. “He had us take three sips and then look at the effect on our mind. ‘Have you relaxed?’ he’d ask. ‘Is your mind extending into space?’ If so, stop there.” The goal of drinking mindfully is to bring full awareness to every sip.

Once instructed in this setting, Vajrayana students begin incorporating the practice into regular ritual feasts, which are not unlike Jewish Passover seders, where alcohol is served. “If you’re really paying attention to alcohol’s effect on your mind, those feasts can be very illuminating,” one Vajrayana student told me. “Literally, everything is brighter.” The practice acknowledges an intuitive truth: a little alcohol can be a useful thing.

The problem out in the real world is that it is hard to know where the line between utility and abuse lies. It turns out that, despite their mindful drinking lessons, it is hard for the people in Shambhala, too.

“When the formal feasts work, they can be great, but sometimes people drink too much and it can be a disaster,” says John Ohm, a resident at Shambhala Mountain center, a Vajrayana practitioner and a recovering alcoholic.

That’s in a formal setting. The issue gets even muddier in plain old social contexts. While few fellow Buddhists claim to be practicing “mindful drinking” when I see them out at the Café, the community is remarkably tolerant of alcohol. Drunkenness is about as prevalent up here as it was when I lived in New York. When a visitor or a new arrival inevitably questions all the drinking, it is common for an old hand to justify the excessive behavior by explaining that Shambhala Mountain is a “Vajrayana practice community.”

People sometimes invoke the personal example of Chögyam Trungpa, who was by all accounts a prolific drinker who died in 1987. McKeever says that Trungpa Rinpoche implored his students to follow his teachings, not his personal embodiment of them, but it was a distinction that many of his students missed. “We just didn’t get it,” he says. “Because we’re Buddhists we think we’re special, but drunkenness is drunkenness.”

Ohm points out that mindful drinking should be seen as one valid tool for practice within a tradition remarkable for its wide variety of effective tools. And a dangerous one for people with an alcohol problem. “It is suicide for some people,” he says. ” ‘Mindful drinking’ can be such an easy excuse.”

Vajrayana practitioners need only remember the context of the mindful drinking lesson in order to use it correctly. Ohm recalls a comment made by a fellow recovering alcoholic Buddhist: “When I get to the point where I can walk through fire or fly through the air, then I’m ready to try drinking again.”

Without the formal Vajrayana lessons, most of us are left to get the gist on our own. But the heart of this teaching, like so many of the Buddhist instructions, is easily accessible for any individual willing to maintain an open, honest perspective.

So I’ve turned a few visits to the Café into my own mindful drinking laboratory. On the nights when I order one or two beers, I’ve noticed that I feel relaxed and open. If I pick up a pool cue on those nights, I can even hang in a game with the local ranchers. Then there are nights when I order that third beer. When that happens, my mood gets a little more erratic. I become either giddy or sullen. And my pool game? Don’t ask.

–Ted Rose

Love is hard upon the lover,
Love is hard upon the lover,
But the lover’s love he must love
If love he is to discover.

–Recourse (Rafael Alejandro Jara)


Metaphysical Knowledge (Gnosis) is regarded as the perfect union
of subject and object–there is no other valid Knowledge from the
metaphysical position–and it is this type of Knowledge that is
actively sought in Initiation (applied metaphysics), which differs
greatly from what physics attempts to do (or understand), especially,
when it involves domains that quantum physics denies, and has no
interest in pursuing.

As I’ve said many times before, it all comes down to choice;
one is always completely free to see in quantum physics some sort
of “totality”, a path to Gnosis, and stop there, satisfying
themselves that they have reached the end–while there will also
always remain others, who can not find in scientism, any sort of
equivalence with metaphysical Knowledge, and proceed beyond it.

–Br. Ma Rose


“And he who hath received the master-mystery of the First Mystery of the Ineffable, that is the twelve mysteries of the First Mystery all together, which rule over all the spaces of the First Mystery, he, therefore, who shall receive that mystery, hath the power to pass through all the orders of the spaces of the three Thrice-spirituals and the three spaces of the First Mystery and all their orders, and hath the power to pass through all the orders of the inheritances of the Light, to pass through them from without within and from within without and from above below and from below above and from the height to the depth and from the depth to the height and from the length to the breadth and from the breadth to the length; in a word, he hath the power to pass through all the regions of the inheritances of the Light, and he hath the power to bide in the region where he pleaseth, in the Inheritance of the Light-kingdom.

“And amēn, I say unto you: That man will at the dissolution of the world be king over all the orders of the Inheritance of the Light. And he who shall receive that mystery of the Ineffable which I am

–Pistis Sophia


“Man is truly alive when is aware of himself as the master of his own
destiny to life or to death, aware of the fact that his ultimate
fulfilment or destruction depend on his own free choice and aware of his
ability to decide for himself.  This is the beginning of true life.”

–Thomas Merton

Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
Breathing gently, you become newborn;
Clearing your mind, you become clear;
Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
Opening your heart, you become accepted;
Accepting the world, you embrace the Way.

Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
This is harmony.

–Tao Te Chin (10)


If I had no choice about the age in which I was to live, I nevertheless have a choice about the attitude I take and about the way and the extent of my participation in its living ongoing events. To choose the world is not then merely a pious admission that the world is acceptable because it comes from the hand of God. It is first of all an acceptance of a task and a vocation in the world, in history and in time. In my time, which is the present. To choose the world is to choose to do the work I am capable of doing, in collaboration with my brother and sister, to make the world better, more free, more just, more livable, more human. And it has now become transparently obvious that mere automatic “rejection of the world” and “contempt for the world” is in fact not a choice but an evasion of choice. The person, who pretends that he can turn his back on Auschwitz or Viet Nam and acts as if they were not there, is simply bluffing.

–Thomas Merton. Contemplation in A World of Action


I need to become better at caring for living things. I’m good enough with words and concepts, objects and designs. Things become more alive when you start working with yogurt, beansprouts, yeast-bread (‘specially with the chance to feed people!). And the seedlings for herbs, vegetables and flower gardens. Nursery work wil be good. With the plants grows intuition, sensitivity and concern for other beings, patience, tolerance, devotion, responsibility –abilities to be a radiance of love.

Passionate animal nature can be transformed into a beautiful tenderness and compassion. When you have animals, yopu can’t ignore or leave them, you have to be consistent in caring for them. It’s more than just ‘doing the chores’; it’s being sensitive to their emotional needs as well.

Plants need some stability. They get too shocked and stunted if you transplant them too much.

–Miriam Baum


To pray, therefore, is to infuse the blood with one Master-Desire, one Master-Thought, one Master-Will. It is so to attune the self as to become in perfect harmony with whatever you pray for.

This planet’s atmosphere, mirrored in all details within your hearts, is billowing with vagrant memories of all the things it witnessed since its birth.

No word or deed; no wish or sigh; no passing thought or transient dream; no breath of man or beast; no shadow, no illusion but ply in it their mystic courses till this very day, and shall so ply them till the end of Time. Attune your hearts to anyone of these, and it shall surely dash to play upon the strings.

You need no lip or tongue for praying. But rather do you need a silent, wakeful heart, A Master-Wish, a Master-Thought, and above all, a Master-Will that neither doubts nor hesitates. For words are of no avail except the heart be resent and awake, the tongue had better go to sleep, or hide behind sealed lips.

Nor have you any need of temples to pray in.

Whoever cannot find a temple in his heart, the same can never find his heart in any temple.

Yet this I say to you and to the ones like you, but not to every man. For most men are derelict as yet. They feel the need of praying, but know not the way. They cannot pray except with words, and they can fin no words except you put them in their mouths. And they are lost and awed when made to roam the vastness of their hearts, but soothed and comforted within the walls of temples and in the herds of creatures like themselves.

Let them erect their temples. Let them chant out their prayers.

But you and every man I charge to pray for Understanding. To hunger after anything but that is never to be filled.

Remember that the key to Life is the Creative Word. The key to the Creative Word is Love. The key to Love is Understanding. Fill up your hearts with these and spare your tongues the pain of many words, and save your minds the weight of many prayers, and free your hearts from bondage to all gods who would enslave you with a gift; who would caress you with one hand only to smite you with the other; who are content and kindly when you praise them, but wrathful and revengeful when reproached; who would not hear you save you call, and would not give you save you beg; and having given you, too oft regret the giving; whose incense is your tear; whose glory is your shame.

Aye, free your hearts of all these gods that you may find in them the only God who, having filled you with Himself, would have you ever full.

–The Book of Mirdad


“In reality, none of our possessions and none of the beings we are attached to belong to us indefinitely. We are constantly at risk of losing them, and when we do lose them we must call upon all those forces within us that are able to help us endure the loss. These forces are found in light, disinterested love, humility and sacrifice. So why not seek them immediately and consciously? It’s difficult, when everything is going well, to convince humans they should concentrate on what is essential in order to prepare themselves for the ordeals to come. For they will come, that is certain; no one is spared. So do not wait for poverty, illness or misfortune to arrive before you seek spiritual direction. If you are already well armed, not only will you overcome them, you will also be strengthened by them.”

–Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

O heart!

When will you stop trying to hide
From Him in Whose realm you abide?
Where do you think to find relief
When there is no relief beside?

–Rafael Alejandro Jara.

“It is quite usual, when a man comes into intimate spiritual contact with God, that he should feel himself entirely changed from within.  Our spirit undergoes a conversion, a metanoia, which reorientates our whole being after raising it to a new level, and even seems to change our whole nature itself.”


–Thomas Merton


In Evolutionary Enlightenment, we begin to understand
that who and what we all are, at every level of
existence, is part and parcel of a vast, cosmic
process—a process that began 14 billion years ago when
something burst out of nothing, and is constantly
developing and ever-unfolding in every moment. And our
own personal salvation is found when we reach that
point where we begin to care more about the evolution
of that process than we do about our own liberation,
our own happiness, or even our own enlightenment. When
we begin to care about something that is so much
deeper and higher and more important than ourselves,
we find ourselves remarkably and quite spontaneously
less preoccupied with and burdened by our personal
fears and desires. This is not because those fears and
desires have necessarily gone away, but because
something more important has entered into the very
center of our being, and our heart has become consumed
with that. In this way, personal liberation becomes no
longer the goal of our spiritual search, but merely a
spontaneous byproduct of our passionate care for the
unmanifest potential of the next moment.

–Andrew Cohen



“There is a treasure in the mountain.

He who seeks it, does not find it.

He who does not seek it, does.” 


The sustenance of a person can be symbolized by the idea of the manna. In its deepest meaning, manna (or sustenance) originates from the most hidden supernal planes, as it is written: “… for they did not know what it was” (Exodus 16:15). The manna represents the most difficult test to human beings, since to have access to it, they have to go through the most “filthy places.” This is so because one’s daily sustenance originates in a very recondite and exalted source, and the moment it penetrates this material world, its orig­inal light becomes immediately concealed. For such light cannot be apprehended in a rational way, but through faith only. Therefore, the instant when the manna came down from Heaven for

daily sustenance, it was difficult for the people to believe it would also come on the following day. Such doubt constantly assaults the heart. And be­cause they did not believe the manna would come on the following day, many of the people started storing part of their manna for the next morning, and “it became putrid and maggoty with worms” (Exodus 16:20). The truth is that the manna for a specific day serves for that day alone.

World Food Day 2007

The right to food is the inherent human right of every woman, man, girl and boy, wherever they live on this planet.

The choice of The Right to Food as the theme for 2007 World Food Day and TeleFood demonstrates increasing recognition by the international community of the important role of human rights in eradicating hunger and poverty, and hastening and deepening the sustainable development process.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 first recognized the right to food as a human right. It was then incorporated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 11) adopted in 1966 and ratified by 156 states, which are today legally bound by its provisions. The expert interpretation and more refined definition of this right are contained in General Comment 12 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999). The Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security – the Right to Food Guidelines – were adopted by the FAO Council in 2004 and provide practical recommendations on concrete steps for the implementation of the right to food.

The right to food is a universal right. It means that every person – woman, man and child – must have access at all times to food, or to means for the procurement of food, that is sufficient in quality, quantity and variety to meet their needs, is free from harmful substances and is acceptable to their culture. Only when individuals do not have the capacity to meet their food needs by their own means for reasons beyond their control, such as age, handicap, economic downturn, famine, disaster, or discrimination, will they be entitled to receive food directly from the state, according to General Comment 12.

This definition is based on the assumption that hunger and malnutrition are caused not just by a lack of available food, but also by poverty, income disparities, and lack of access to health care, education, clean water, and sanitary living conditions. The principle that all human rights are interrelated and interdependent is also acknowledged. This means that the right to food cannot be implemented in isolation from other human rights, i.e. right to education, right to work, right to health, freedom of assembly and association.

The right to food is increasingly being integrated into national constitutions and legislation, and there are several cases in the courts around the world where this right, or some aspects of it, have been upheld and enforced. However, despite progress in some areas, 59 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to food remains to be realized for 854 million human beings.


Traditional food therapy, that is understanding the energetics
of food, and relationship with the energetics of the “organs”,
shares many common denominators with Alchemy (and actually
ought be used as an adjunct with Alchemy).

As opposed to looking at food through the modern lense, which
examines it in terms of macromolecules (lipids, carbs, proteins,
enzymes, etc), and usually has a “one-size fits all” diet, such
as an “RDA”; traditional though concerning food tends to be
more precise, and advises diets to vary depending on a persons
age, season of the year, lifestyle, constitution, psychological
states, and more.

The most general principles in Traditional food therapy, are how
they are classified.
In the West, and in the Unani system, this is done along a four
element model.
In the Indian system, the Panchmahubatas (Five Elements), and
Doshas (Sattva, Vata, and Kapha) are usually used.
In the Chinese, a Five “Phase” system is often worked.

Modern nutritionists migh consider these models “simplifications”
at first sight; however, when everything is brought into the
total picture, the detail and precision which goes into Traditional
food therapy, is quite elegant.
Let us return to the Chinese model for example. We mentioned
the broad categories of “Five Phases”.
To this, can be added considerations regarding:
1. Eight exogenous pathogens
2. Seven endogenous pathogens
3. Meridian theory (which channel does the food enter, and which
“organ” is affected, and how).
4. “Four Level” theory (is the food contributing to the Wei, Qi,
Blood, or Organ depth).
5. This can even be extended as far as to involve classifications
using the I Ching hexagrams to determine function…and this is
sometimes done; but in common practice though, people seldom
go this far, as the first four conditions listed provide more than
enough factors to manipulate.

The traditional Western, and Ayurvedic/Rasashastra methodologies are
equally involved as well.



The power of creation

Giver of life—

Guide us on our way.

Where there is pain—

Bring comfort. You!

Where there is hunger—

Bring food. You!

Where there is quarrel—

Bring love. You!


All of us together!

–Bruno Manser (defender of the Penan people, Switzerland)


SacredSpace: Creating Sacred Space In Your Home

By EponaPerry


Creating Sacred Space In Your Home

Many modern Celtic pagans today are faced with a difficult question: how can I bring my religion into my home? Whether we live in a dormitory, an apartment, a duplex or a mansion, most of us like to have our homes reflect our personalities and the things we are interested in, and that includes our spiritual practices, but many of us don’t have back yards in which to practice and set up more permanent shrines, or 24/7 access to our favorite places in nature. For some, just setting up an altar somewhere in the home is either undesirable, unachievable or just not enough.

So what can we do? This article focuses on how we can make our homes not just places we sleep in, but places where our Celtic spirituality can blossom and flourish as well. The best part is you don’t have to spend a fortune doing it!

There are many ways your home can become a part of your spiritual being and reflection. The first step is changing the way you think about your home. What do I mean by this? Well, there are certain fundamental things that most if not all homes share, whether they’re high-rise penthouses, country estates, suburban dwellings, or apartments and condominiums. And there are certain things which all branches of the Celtic religions share that can be incorporated into our view of our homes and how we present them.

The Sacred Apartment?

In the old days, most rituals were probably conducted outside, most often in a grove or natural clearing or some other sacred place that was recognized for its special magical properties and other spiritual phenomena. Sacred places were found, not created. In this vein, do we not choose the homes we live in because of some properties usually only recognizable by us?

For example, one of the last times I went looking at apartments to move to, I looked at many that would have suited my needs and were in good condition. Which one did I end up choosing? The one that an older woman had lived in for 20 years and had obviously poured a lot of love into, the one that just *felt* right. Besides, it was very close to a park, which meant I had a lot less excuses to spend more time outdoors. 🙂

Of course, sometimes we have no choice in where we live, and then we must do our best to “make do” with what we get. Focus on the positive attributes instead of the negative attributes of the place, and take care of it. Technically, our homes are en extension of Earth: they are built out of wood and stone and clay. Even the iron and steel and concrete of large buildings were harvested from the Earth originally. When making our homes beautiful and comfortable for those living in it and visiting it, we honor the Earth by making good use out of what we have taken from it.

The Center

Ritual is a large part of Celtic spirituality, and although it may not seem so, it is actually quite easy to bring elements of ritual into your home. One of the first things done when preparing a ritual is defining the center of the space. The center is the central axis, the “world tree” that enables us to pass from one realm to the next. Most homes and apartments are built and designed with a center too. There may be a central air-vent, a central hallway, a fireplace and/or chimney, a staircase, or a supporting wall somewhere near the middle of your home. This is your “bile,” the “tree” which holds your home together and around which your household rotates.

Mark the spot by decorating it with Celtic symbols (a good idea would be a representation of a knotwork tree-of-life picture) or placing special objects around the area. Each time you or others in your house pass by the spot, it will help remind you and them of the natural movement in and between the realms, and of that invisible connection we all have with each other, nature, and the spiritual realms.

The Eternal Flame

Another important aspect of Celtic spirituality and ritual is fire. In most of the ancient Celtic nations, it was noted by historians and others that it was the tradition of the village, if not every house in the village, to have a sacred fire that was kept burning at all times except when ritually extinguished and re-lit. These fires often had appointed guardians whose duty it was to keep the fire, or at least hot coals from the fire, burning at all times and through all types of weather. The punishment for letting the fire die out was severe, sometimes even death. We don’t have such strict rules today, and in modern times it is not very easy to keep a fire burning in your homes for any length of time, let alone most of the year! Or is it?

If you have a hot water heater in your home, or a gas stove, then you already have an “eternal flame.” Just as the flame of spirituality and inspiration warms our hearts and minds, so does the stove and water heater warm our bodies with nourishment and heat. The next time you take a shower or prepare a meal, think about that little flame that provided the means for what you are enjoying.

If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your home, take the time to use it regularly. In ancient times the hearth-place was the center of the home, where food was cooked and where warmth and light were provided. It was often a place people gathered around to tell stories or sing and dance. We can’t do all these things around modern fireplaces, but we can place things around our fireplaces to symbolize these traditions. Put a small cauldron or cornucopia on your mantel as a reminder of the food once prepared on the hearth, books or figurines as symbols of the stories once told around the fire, or bells and other musical symbols that remind you of the songs once sung and tunes danced to. Place a broom next to the fireplace as a reminder of the central place the hearth once was of the home.

If you don’t have a fireplace or any appliances with pilot lights, there are other ways you can honor fire in your home. Keep a brazier (a small vessel made to be able to hold burning objects) in the kitchen or living area of the house and light coals and/or incense in it regularly. Or place a night light near your altar area to symbolize the eternal flame. If none of these ideas will work for your living situation, try using symbols that represent fire to you, placed strategically around your altar or the entire home. Remember to honor the fire of inspiration also by placing fire symbols in areas that you work often, such as on your desk, around your computer, or above the kitchen table. And don’t forget to protect your home from fire by hanging or drawing the Brigid’s cross or other fire/sun symbols on the mantel of your fireplace and on the door frames of your home.

The Waters of the Well

Another important aspect of Celtic ritual and spirituality is the well and the sacred waters of springs and other natural water phenomena. In most buildings today, we have water flowing everywhere around us: in the heating systems, in the kitchen, in our bathrooms. Granted, it’s hard to think of sacred waters when you are flushing the toilet, but indoor plumbing does bring water into our home and causes it to “flow” throughout it. Water, water everywhere!

To emphasize water in your home, place special objects around the house, especially near sinks and the bathtub. Make a little arrangement of shells and driftwood in the bathroom. Another good idea would be keeping a simple glass fish bowl filled with sand, gravel, shells and other goodies; pour water into it daily or regularly as part of your schedule or just when you need to feel a little more connected with water. Some people even make or buy fountains or sculptures made to have water poured on them or cycled around them. The noise of the flowing water can be very soothing and helpful during meditation. Keeping fish tanks is another lovely way to bring water into your home and honor it; you also honor the living creatures within it. All life on our planet needs water to survive.

The ancient Celts made offerings to water by throwing valuable objects into it. Dredges made of lakes, wells, rivers and other bodies of water within lands once occupied by Celts have turned up enormous archaeological finds (including the famous Gundestrup Cauldron). These finds have consisted mainly of coins, pins, carved figures of wood and stone, and many other small metal objects made of silver, gold, bronze, copper, and other valuable metals. To this day there exists in many areas of Wales, Ireland, and Scotland the tradition of throwing a pin into a well or spring for luck (of course in most areas this was outlawed by the Church).

Where do you think our tradition of throwing coins into wells or fountains and “making a wish” comes from? Originally the “wish” would have been directed at the Gods or Spirits of the place. These objects were thrown into the water as an appropriate offering to a god/goddess/spirit in return for continued good health, good crops, and general prosperity. We can continue this today by placing coins, nuts, or other bits of valuable metal near our altar or water shrines as an offering until we can find an appropriate natural water source in which to deposit it. I would advise against flushing these offerings down the sink or toilet unless the need is very urgent! As you deposit the offering, remember our connection with water and meditate. Water teaches us to be calm, to “go with the flow” of nature, to be tranquil and deep, or lightly flowing along life’s banks.

Altars and Shrines

What about having altars and shrines in the home? Though the ancient Celts most likely held all their rituals and magical workings outside within a special natural place, they did build temples and shrines nearby these places for people to leave offerings to the god/goddess/spirit of the place, their own gods and goddesses, special spirits, or their ancestors. In this we can see the melding of the three kindreds (again, that magical number three): spirits of nature, gods/goddesses of the people, and the ancestors.

Each one of us has different needs and different ideas as to how we wish to incorporate the ritual and spiritual aspects of our religion into our homes, so each home and the use of altars and/or shrines will be different accordingly. You can have an altar that includes small shrine areas, you can have an altar *and* have small shrines about the house, or you may not have any altar but have shrine areas in your home. Most people who set up permanent or semi-permanent altars in their home do so because it serves as a general-purpose work area for meditation, personal magic workings, honoring and working with their personal gods, and honoring their ancestors.

Many modern pagans can only set up semi-permanent altars, using a small cabinet or table where the tools and other altar items are put away some or most of the time. If you do this, you may wish to have small shrines set up around the house in conjunction to this, such as the water shrine in the bathroom, the fire shrine in the kitchen, the ancestor shrine in the living room, the shrine to nature spirits out in the yard, and the personal deity shrine in the bedroom. The important thing is to tailor the use of altars and shrines to your needs and the needs of others in your household.

Honoring the Ancestors

Ancestor worship is not common in most households these days, and yet what better place for honoring our ancestors but our own homes? Family values are seen as something of a lost commodity here in the United States, but I believe by once again focusing upon this important aspect of Celtic Paganism we bring a stronger sense of family, unity, and continuity into our lives and our community.

How can we honor ancestors in our homes? Many of us already have an ancestor shrine we may not have thought of: photo collections. My grandparents for instance had an entire bookcase devoted to holding their old photo books, and arranged around the books were mementos, other photos, and favorite items. You don’t have to do anything so elaborate, but a simple collection of photos and other items simply and yet powerfully demonstrates your honor for your family, your ancestors.

Having a small shrine area for your ancestors is a great way to add to your holidays also. Place a pretty bowl or plate and a censer near the ancestor shrine area so that during the holiday you can take time out to honor them by lighting the incense and placing a food offering in the dish. Take the time to remember those who have passed on and share stories about them. Remind your children or other family members about special anniversaries or birthdays. In my family we honor some ancestors by preparing dishes that they had made at past holiday gatherings before they passed on. I never knew my great-grandmother Erlandson, but we eat her cookies every Christmas. In this way, each time we eat that dish, the ancestor is remembered and honored. Ancestor reverence does not have to be a complicated thing; keep it simple yet respectful and you may be surprised at the energies you receive from this practice.

Outside and In

The outside of your home can be just as easy to transform into part of your personal spiritual realm as the inside. Paint your mailbox with spirals or knotwork. Hang bells or wind chimes; people in parts of Britain did this to beep away bad spirits and to warn when the fairies were around, and in parts of Tibet bells and chimes are still considered a powerful tool for keeping away bad spirits. Of course if you want to attract fairies, create little pools in your garden, or find a nice flat stone and some pretty but durable dishes to leave food offerings in (and keep iron objects away!). Creating an offertory in your yard will allow you to include leaving offerings to nature spirits and fairies into your regular practices, and it also makes a handy depository for those ritual leftovers!

Some people get as elaborate as making actual stone circles in their yards, but you can do more simple things such as placing three piles of three stones along the perimeter of your house to help align your household with the Three Realms, the Three Kindreds, and all of those other fun triads. 🙂 Position a gargoyle so that it is standing guard over your walkway. Make a cauldron into a planter. Hang colorful scarves or ribbons on a tree that has special significance to you. Plant herbs that you know have spiritual/healing/protective associations with them close to the house or in window boxes.

If you live in an apartment or a dormitory, there are things you can do as well. Hang three bells, three ribbons, or other symbols from the doorknob of your entranceway door. There is surely a tree or a bush nearby that you can place a stone under or leave offerings at. Hang a bird feeder on the tree or outside your window to honor the sprits of nature. On the four Fire Festivals, hang ribbons on the tree or bush, or maybe on a grapevine or willow-branch wreath that you hang on your door. Lay a doormat outside your door to welcome visitors and good spirits — I saw a lovely example of this where the person had taken a plain white doormat and painted the border with knotwork and the center with the Gaelic word “Filte” (welcome).

Keep it Simple

The obtaining of religious tools and decoration of the home in a pagan theme has almost become a competition among some pagan groups: who has the most stuff, or spends the most money. While it is tempting to spend most of your paycheck on all the fancy stuff, remember that it is the simple things that often are the most effective. When you buy something in a store, you are bringing home the energy of the person who made it. While there is surely a place for store-bought items in your home, why not chiefly stick to things you find in nature: that feather you found on your walk the other day, that pretty rock you nearly tripped over? Or take a glass and turn it into a special candle votive by painting it with enamel or gluing other objects and symbols on it you have found or made.

This is not only less expensive, but also probably more effective in lending your home a spiritual ambience without it becoming overpowering or commercialized. And the best part: it is yours and yours alone, unique. Expressing your individuality is important because it helps you understand and develop your own special connection with the universe.

There are many other simple ways to express our spirituality in our homes. Having house plants and pets brings nature into our homes and teaches us and those living with us responsibility and respect for living things. It also strengthens our connection with the natural world. I can remember walking into many homes filled with house plants and feeling immediately more at ease because of the natural feel the plants lent to the home. Making decorations of things found in nature such as dried flower arrangements, baskets, and wall hangings are other wonderful ways of bringing nature home.

It may seem that there are just too many little things to do to make our homes more spiritual, yet all of these “little things” add up. When we walk down the stairs in the morning and see the World Tree, we remember the special dream we might have had last night and our connection with the Otherworld is reinforced. When we go to wash our face we are reminded of the soothing properties of the waters that will help us remain calm and patient throughout our hectic day. As we heat up the hot water on the stove in the morning we are reminded of the eternal flame that burns within us all, and the power we can gain by harnessing a potentially wild force. Thus our homes become nemetons, sacred groves, places of refuge that allow our spirituality to flourish and grow.

Don’t try to “make over” your home all in one weekend; this is meant to be a process of building up and changing over time. Just as you change, so will your home and your personal expression within it. Start with the things you already have and rearrange them to better fit your needs. Finish making that wall hanging you started ages ago. Put those shells that have been lying in your drawer for eons in your bathroom or on your altar. Clear out that central hallway and paint some knotwork on the walls. Hang those deer horns from Great Uncle Henry in the house in a place of honor. If you make it your goal to make at least one change or addition to your home in this manner every week or even once a month, you will be surprised at how much actually changes over the space of just one year.

I’m reminded of a phrase I heard a while ago: “Home isn’t just a place, it’s a state of mind.” That is essentially the goal of this article, to help you redefine your home in a spiritual manner. The physical addition and placement of objects such as has been described here are really only tools to help you do this. With your things set up around you to help you focus on the spiritual aspects of your life, reverence and magic will become a part of your daily life.

Thus we don’t have to seek out ritual, holiday festivals and other pagan activities as our only sources for our spiritual “fix” and then go away feeling bereft and empty because it’s over; instead we will come from an already spiritually rich environment to join with and become further enriched by our community in celebration of life.

May your Home be always happy, may your hearth be always warm, and may hungry visitors seldom find you!

– An Irish Saying

Walk in Wisdom,

Epona na Donnaigh


�� Nora Chadwick, The Celts

�� Kevin Danaher, The Year in Ireland

�� Miranda Green, The World of the Druids

�� Erynn Laurie, Circle of Stones: Meditations and Journeys for the Modern Celt

�� T.G.E. Powell, The Druids

�� Anne Ross, Pagan Celtic Britain

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Jainism: Pure And Simple Life


Jainism prayers include the eightfold offering of rice, water dry fruit, sandal powder ( dhoop ) etc. The offering is also, thus, giving up of food that symbolises the liberated state. Most Jains will also put a coin on the rice, representing the renunciation of money in pursuit of spiritual well being. They touch the feet of the image for blessing.

NamoArihantanam Namo Siddhanam Namo Ayariyanam
Divine colour white Divine colour orange red Divine colour bright yellow
Namo Uvajjhayanam Namo Loe Savva -Sahunam  
Divine colour fresh green Divine colour black blue  

The Jain swastika represents the four possible states into which one can be reborn human, celestial being, infernal being, and plant or animal. People use a rosary to count 108 repetitions of the Navkar Mantra or any other favourite prayer. This part of the ritual completes the movement from dravya to bhava . Jains do not worship only in their local temples. They go on pilgrimages to important shrines commemorating special events in the lives of the Jinas. As part of the worship service an individual waves incense or a lamp in front of the plaque of a pilgrimage shrine, while singing a hymn extolling the virtues and sanctity of that site. Mystical diagrams known as Yantras are also used in the worship for propitiatory, protective and fertility rites. The various rituals do not involve destroying karma only instead they also improve one’s situation by substituting good karma for bad. Ritualistic worship or chanting and reading of spiritual texts are the initial steps but finally the road to moksha is through spirit of spiritual energy. Learning to eliminate anger, avarice, attachment, ego.

The most difficult to give up is maya (attachment). Jainism tells you that by good deeds you may accumulate punya but to break the cycle of life and death you must cultivate detachment.

Jains regularly practise perpetual meditative equanimity: Deva-darshan or worship ( pooja ) if possible, recitation of a devotional hymn to veneration of the twenty-four Jinas and saints, twice-daily rite of atonement for improper actions; the ritualised statement of intention to perform certain karma–destroying austerities Jaisa khave anna, waisa hove mann ( what you eat influences your mind).

Food Habits

It is the Jain practice to have their meals before sunset and after sunrise. They recognise the rhythm in life– day and night, the cycles of seasons, similarly our body too has a rhythm according to the Circadian principles. Jains are firm vegetarians. Besides other restrictions when it comes to eating meat, they view it as the crudest form of violence. Vegetables and fruits that grow underground (roots of plants) are prohibited in Jain religion because when we pull the plant from the root, we destroy the entire plant, and with it all the other micro-organisms around the root. The question arises, don’t plants have life? Jainism has an answer to this query. We recognise the five physical senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing as the principle attributes of living beings. All life forms in this universe are then classified in terms of the senses found in various creatures. The lowest life forms are those with only one sense, such as plants. But since humans must eat to survive, they are allowed to eat commonly with only life with only one sense, that is basically plant, water etc.

Food should be ecological, evolutionary and ethical. They are supposed to drink boiled water only. As per Jain religion sour and spicy food is rajasik. Only satwik food keeps the mind clean, makes you samatabhavi, gives you equanimity. Alcohol, vinegar, molasses and wine and even honey is forbidden. Honey, because you have to burn the beehives to get it. Mushrooms and fungus are not eaten by Jain families because they are parasites and grow under unhygienic conditions. So are vegetables, like jackfruit, that bleed on cutting and when cooked looks like meat. Leafy vegetables, like cabbage must be cleaned before consumption because of insects and worms in between the leaves.

Even though the basic principles of Jainism are framed from the religious and spiritual point of view, you can find scientific reasons for them.

Jainisin always suggests to the people that their supreme aim should be to promote mental peace and harmony, mental training leading to discipline, devotion and duty. Therefore, present humanity needs steadfast dedication to Jain teachings for World Peace.

Indeed, it is greatness of the West to have placed the individual at all the center of all things. But the culmination, the fullest blossoming of individuality is in transcending its limits and reaching the point where individuality dissolves to embrace universality, Anekantvad. The question is yet to be decided whether peace will survive or war; whether patience will survive or non-forbearance; whether muscle will survive or brain; whether worldliness will survive or spirituality. The world is being subjected to the forces of change in a manner, which is so subtle yet so sweeping that before you know it,everything about life has changed or if it has not, it needs to undergo dynamic changes. The crisis has arrived because the human mind has become developed enough to touch the brink of divine consciousness. We are just gaining access into the mysteries of divinity and there is no knowing how quickly we will advance in all spheres within the next decade.


Here are some more great articles under the topic Mudras: