Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Stang

Each Oakmist Coven has a Coven Stang.
It is used indoors as well as outdoors 
whenever possible.

A Stang is cut in the same manner as the Wand, from a live tree, after much contemplation, conversation, and gaining permission from the Tree. Precise instructions are given to Oakmist students during their first Year and a Day of study. 

Each Oakmist Initiate preparing to hive should make a Coven Stang, which is then passed down when the High Priestess retires.

The Stang may be cut of Ash or Oak. 
The forks of the Coven Stang should stand taller than the head of the PST when it is planted. A personal stang may be shorter.

A new Coven Stang should be shod by the men of the group. Shodding the Stang means placing an iron nail in the bottom of the foot so as to ground the energy. This should be done in a Men’s Mystery Circle with an appropriate ritual during which the Stang should be washed, dressed with oil, and blessed by the Men before using it the first time. 

The Stang should be undecorated and cleaned by the men or the Summoner before putting it away after each use. It should be kept in a special place of honor and treated with respect, even when it is not being used, never shoved in a closet or thrown on the floor.

And though the men have shod and dressed the Stang, it is always to be kept by the High Priestess of the Coven. When she retires, it is to be passed down to the next HPS.

A new candle should always be placed between the horns to represent the Sun’s light.  The candle should be beeswax, which is sacred to the Goddess.  If beeswax is difficult to obtain, the same candle may be used throughout the year. Better yet, make enough short or beeswax tea-light candles at Bride, enough to last the entire year.

A mask representing the coven totem animal may or may not be attached to the Stang beneath the horns. This may be permanent or removable.

When working outdoors, the women should place the stones which build the Circle and Sphere, when possible.  As with the Maypole, the women should dig and decorate the hole for the Stang. The men plant the Stang and secure it. An appropriate song may be sung for this ritual.

The Stang is “planted” in the center of the Circle of Stones with similar words as those used in Rite of Cup and Blade. The Circle represents the Cauldron, the Cup, the Goddess, the Yoni. It also represents the Solar Wheel, and is divided by placing a stone at each of 8 directions.  No other altar is needed when the Stang is used. The Rite of Cup and Blade are not necessary because the planted Stang represents the same thing, but it may be done if the HPS wishes.

The Stang has many meanings, 
some of which I will mention here.
For the Oakmist Tradition, 
the Stang represents the World Tree.
Its boughs are in the heavens 
and its roots are deep in the earth. 
It connects us with the ONE.

It also represents the Family Tree,
the DNA in the blood by which each witch is related.

The Stang can represent the cutting blade, 
the God, the erect phallus.  
Planted, it is the ONE, 
the completeness of God/dess; 
it represents the Sacred Marriage.

The Stang is a phallic symbol at one end (pole) 
and a Yoni at the other (forks). 

The forks can represent the horns of the God, 
the horns of the Moon,
or the rays of the Sun. 

When used indoors, 
a base can be made for the Stang from concrete. 
Wrap the base of the Stang in plastic wrap. 
Place it into a small bucket, then pour cement or plaster of paris around it. 
Once it hardens, remove the Stang, 
and you have a stand.
The Stang can also be planted in a container 
of wet sand, if necessary.

Depending on the time of year, or the particular Ritual, the Stang can take on different meanings. 

  The Stang is often decorated 
with crossed arrows. 
These represent life and death, 
light and dark, 
the Goddess as Divine Huntress, 
she who takes life as easily as she gives it
as well as the Hunter God. 

However, the seasonal decorations are suggestions only. Use items that are appropriate for your corner of the world.

At Cuidle/Yule - The Stang is placed to the North where it represents the Midnight Sun. It is decorated with pine and fir, holly, and mistletoe.  A short candle is put in the forks of the Stang. The forks represent the thighs of the Mother, with the candle representing the newborn Sun. After the candle burns out, the Stang represents the Old God, and the forks are his horns. Mulled cider and spiced cake or fruitcake is placed at the foot.

At Bride - The Stang is placed to the Northeast where it represents the Goddess holding the Young God in her uplifted arms. It is decorated with a Bride's Cross made of wheat and is entwined with Ivy. Daffodils and Snowdrops can be placed at the foot, along with honey mead and Welsh Cakes. 

At Earrach - The Stang is placed to the East where it represents the Morning Sun. A basket of dyed eggs may be placed at the foot. Dogwood and honeysuckle are appropriate decorations. Cakes and wine are up to the group.

At Beltaine, the Stang is placed to the Southeast where it represents the erect phallus of the Young God. It can be decorated with ribbons, hoops and roses. A wreath of 4 sacred woods is sometimes used. Chocolate and strawberries are placed at the foot.

At Samradh, the Stang is placed to the South where it represents the Noonday Sun. A solar wheel or golden streamers may be attached.  Sunflowers mixed with fennel are used to decorate. A nice light white and fruity wine and Welsh Cakes are placed at the foot.

At Lugh, the Stang is placed to the South West. Hollyhocks, deep red and orange flowers, and oak leaves are used to decorate.   A rich wine and a loaf of home baked bread is placed at the foot.

At Foghar, the Stang is placed to the West where it represents the Evening Sun. The God is growing older and beginning his journey to the Underworld. Ferns and garlands of local grains are used to decorate the stang along with Poppies or any autumn flowers. Fruits of the harvest are placed at the foot, along with blackberry or elderberry wine and a dark cake or cookie.

At Samhain, the Stang is placed to the Northwest and is behind or next to the Ancestor Altar.  A small cauldron is placed nearby in which to burn messages for the dead. Cauldrons with sand are set up to receive the remembrance candles (see Samhain Rite).  The God has grown old. Cypress boughs, yew, skull and crossed arrows are used to decorate. Dead leaves, apples and a dark rich wine are placed at the foot.

For Esbats, the Stang stands to the North, with no garland and a filled cup or Cauldron at the foot. 

The Stang represents DNA, and reminds us of our connection with our ancestors. It reminds us of the union of God and Goddess, the Sacred Marriage, the Right and Left Hand Paths, the Middle Pillar, the Tau Cross of Sacrifice, the Supernal Triangle, the Trinity of Mother, Father, and Child, the Horns of the Moon, the Waxing, Full, and Waning Moon, and so many other things.

In a letter to Bill Gray, Robert Cochrane describes the Stang as follows: 

The Horse.
The supreme implement.
It represents the Middle pillar of Yggdrasil.
Its roots are Malkuth
It is phallic
It represents Hermes
It divides into aspects as it rises
It is Love because it represents the union of male and female
It is Beauty, the Child of Wisdom
It is Death, the final transformation
It is enlightenment

To understand the significance of the Stang, 
it is necessary to study and meditate upon it.
As with most things magical, the answers are within.

Blessed Be,

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