Monday, August 1, 2011

Walking the Tracks

Being the art nerd I am, I spend a fair amount of time walking the railroad tracks that run through the woods behind my house, looking for interesting bits of trash to collect: shards of broken colored glass, tangled strands of rusted metal, odd railroad parts, metal industrial waste, doorknobs, and broken plastic. Yesterday David, Griffin and I trekked a few miles up the tracks, exhausted from extensive travel the day before and melting in the scorching summer heat, but drawn to the shade of a small watering hole about two miles from our house; one that’s home to fish, otters and beavers as well as offering some beautiful wild foliage along its banks. We again encountered a rabbit who fearlessly remained at arm’s length from us (thus reinforcing for me that the rabbit is still my current power animal, see my previous post) but the biggest joy of the day was discovering an enormous trail of pink and yellow hued smooth river stones that had fallen from a freight car in dribs and drabs over a fair distance. My inner rock nerd clasped hands with my inner art nerd and despite the physical discomfort of the afternoon (and the fact that I had accidentally spilled the bulk of my much-needed drinking water), it turned out to be a pretty sweet little journey.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Power Animal

I periodically do a journeying meditation that I created for myself as I’m not big on doing someone else’s pre-recorded guided ones. Each journey always begins in the same fashion but then branches off as I go deeper into my psyche and then, spiritually speaking, pretty much anything goes. As a result, some meditations are very low-keyed, while others are much more active. Sometimes I’ll be introduced to a new power animal which my life requires at that time, and that’s just what my latest journey did. I was told that my new companion is the rabbit, which is actually rather ironic as in real-life I’m very allergic to the critters. But that said, when I came out of my meditative state I looked up the meaning of the rabbit as power animal and true to form it’s a perfect fit for me right now with my current life issues. The rabbit’s wisdom brings the ability to handle paradox and contradiction, teaches how to live by one’s own wits, enables one to receive hidden teachings and intuitive messages, bestows humility, encourages quick thinking and helps one to move through their fear.

I did this meditation in the morning and late that evening went for a walk as the sun was setting and the summer air was slightly less suffocatingly hot. As I was walking back to the car I saw two small rabbits off in the distance, one further away than the other, and slowly approached them. David said there was no way I was going to get near either one, that they’d both zip off long before I reached them, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Rabbit number one started to run away as I got close, but then stopped about five feet from me and just sat there watching me. When I reached him, rabbit number two ran back and forth before me, around my legs once and then he too started to run off but thought better of it and sat perfectly still, calmly watching me too. I gently thanked them and headed back to David and our car, happy to have my new spiritual companion confirmed. The universe is a truly magical place, is it not?

Photo courtesy of EmileJ.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Medicine Wheel

A tiny medicine wheel I made using epidote in the north, celestite in the east, carnelian in the south, labradorite in the west and river stones between the quarters. In the center I used moonstone for Grandmother Moon/the Goddess and pyrite for Grandfather Sun/the God.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moons and Totems 7

Everybody knows their western astrological profile and most people also know their eastern, or Chinese, astrological sign as well, but few know their moon profile from the Native American culture and the totems for each moon. As with the two more mainstream belief systems, the moon totem profiles are not only a very accurate read of an individual's personality, but they also add a rich dimension to who we are and where our weaknesses and powers come from.

Hot Winds Moon
July 11-August 10

People of the Hot Winds Moon are very versatile people, able to move effortlessly from one circumstance to another and in the process blend seamlessly with all sorts of different people. Introspective and wise with a degree of maturity to them, they can be very hot tempered and lose their cool very quickly (much like the weather at this time of year). No matter how joyous they may appear, the wheels are always turning in the Hot Moon person's head, searching into the depths of every situation. Adversely, they can easily become quitters when things get tough or ironically, refuse to let something go that has long run its course. Stubborn, arrogant and sometimes carrying a sense of superiority about them, these can be very tricky people.

The element for this moon sign is fire and the animal totem is the trout. A fish that can be a tenacious fighter when hooked, the trout is known for its wiliness and strength. The Hot Winds Moon plant totem is the thistle, a medicinally powerful plant that is able to thrive in very difficult conditions and this moon's mineral totem is jade. Jade is a strong and spiritually powerful stone long used as a token of male potency as well as for luck, long life and prosperity. The Hot Winds Moon color is green, the color of nature at its full maturity and vitality. People of this moon should wear the healing color of green to calm their hearts when they're feeling very angry and emotionally out of control.

Everyone is most compatible with those people born under the moon opposite to their own and the opposite moon of the Hot Winds Moon is the Deep Snows Moon (January 11-February 10).

Photo courtesy of arwriterphotog on flickr.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Broken Mirror Magick

Is it really bad luck to break a mirror or is that merely an old wives' tale? There has been much in the way of superstition in regards to looking glasses, even predating the invention of the "modern" mirror. Primitive man used water sources to gaze at his reflection: ponds, woodland pools and even rain puddles. If his image was found to be distorted, he believed that disaster was imminent, be it of the larger natural kind or even personal to his own self. Early metal mirrors used by Greeks and Egyptians were believed to be very powerful magickal tools and as such were highly valued. But what of glass mirrors and how did the curse of seven years' bad luck begin? We can thank the Romans for this. Ancient Roman culture not only believed that one's soul was held within a looking glass, but that the human body physically rejuvenated itself every seven years, completely recycling itself and creating a whole new person. If one's mirror was broken, and their soul shattered into tiny fragments, it would take that seven year cycle for one's health, luck and prosperity to return.

If you break a mirror, don't despair! There's still plenty of powerful magick in that glass to repel any negative energy from your home. Carefully pick up all the broken pieces and place them in a lidded clear glass jar or bottle big enough to hold them. Be sure to sweep up all the tiny pieces and even the glass dust and add them to the bottle as well. Not only does each and every fragment act as a tiny mirror on its own, but you've also just created a makeshift witch ball. Just as the sharp tendrils of blown glass within a witch ball lure and trap all manner of uglies, so do the sharp pieces of mirrored glass in your bottle. Close the lid tightly, place your mirror bottle on a sunny window sill and be sure to keep it well dusted. Its magick will serve you well.

Photo courtesy of MrNobody97 on flickr.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I adore cemeteries and have my entire life. Aside from just being who I am, I also think my having spent a great deal of time as a small child helping my mother and grandmother clean up the family plots in various cemeteries also encouraged this comfort I feel at gravesites. I get a sense of peace, of calmness, of a quiet serenity peppered with a bit of fear when, however briefly, I am faced with the idea of my own mortality. When I was younger, I used to fear being buried in the ground and made everyone I thought would outlive me promise to build me a small mausoleum in which to spend my eternity. But given my whole-hearted embrace of mother earth and all she has to offer, coupled with the fact that mausoleums are grandly expensive and I am but a lowly commoner, I've learned to make peace with the idea of sleeping beneath the ground. Being at one with the earth once again isn't such a bad thing.

Cemeteries are wonderful storyboards of people from the distant (and not so distant) past, with their headstones lichen-covered snapshots into the lives- and deaths- of those who went before. Buddhism tells us not to fear death but rather embrace it, meditate on it and learn to love the idea of it for in accepting our mortality we are able to understand more fully what it means to live. To vanquish this fear frees us to truly live in the moment. Be not attached to anything (including fears and worries) and you will end your suffering on this earthly plane.

Not too long ago I began keeping a photographic journal of very old cemeteries here in New England; honoring those who have passed before me and experiencing my own sense of where I fit in in this vast timeline of people (click on the link at the bottom of this post to see my photo journal). There's nothing quite like a quiet interlude in an old graveyard. A friend recently told me about a headstone in Connecticut of a family killed together during the summer of 1777 and the epitaph on that stone says it all:

"Death like an overflowing stream sweeps us all away.
Our Life's a Dream, an empty Tale,
A Morning Flower, cut down and withered in an hour."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ritual Oils

I don't very often anoint the candles I use in ritual, but spring is a time of cleanliness, renewal, fresh ideas and scents, and I find myself doing things at this time of year that I seldom do in the later seasons. Here are three recipes for oils that can be used to anoint candles or worn on the skin to bring extra energy during spring rituals. All three can be used for candles; only one should be worn on the flesh.

Purification Oil
1/8 cup Jojoba, Sunflower or Almond base oil
5 drops Lavender
3 drops Rosemary
1 drop Sandalwood
(Rub onto your ritual candles only. Not to be used on your skin.)

Earth Oil
To your base oil add:
4 drops Patchouli
4 drops Cypress
1 drop Rosemary
(Wear to bring earth energy into your ritual, ideal at this time of year when the earth is waking from her slumber.)

Citrus Purification Oil
To your base oil add:
3 drops Orange
2 drops Lemon
2 drops Lime
1 drop Grapefruit
(Rub on white candles and burn in your home to purify it. Not to be used on your skin.)

Please use caution when working with essential oils as some can be irritating to the skin. Never place any oil on your body without first making sure you aren't allergic to it.

Photo of hand-dipped candles courtesy of Andrea M. Long Photos on flickr.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Fever

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want- oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

-Mark Twain

Photo of spring buds courtesy of Di's Eyes on flickr.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Healing Spring Allergies

I've suffered from spring allergy symptoms for years, with the exception of two all-too-brief years when I was working with a healer from China who made me feel like I was superhuman and physically invincible (man, do I miss him). I really don't like to take any medicine, unless I'm practically dying and nothing else has worked, because I'm not a fan of chemicals and additives. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to ease the discomfort and the pain of seasonal allergy symptoms and not compromise your health in other ways to do so.

Butterbur has been used as an anti-spasmodic and to heal headaches and asthma symptoms since ancient times, making it ideal for allergy relief. A teaspoon of the root can be boiled in a cup of water and drank as a tea or drops can be used as a tincture. Much safer and easier to use, a supplement form of butterbur can be found in most natural food stores. Unfortunately, as most seasonal allergy sufferers are allergic to ragweed, be forewarned that this herb is in the ragweed and marigold family so use caution if you're sensitive to the plants in this family.

Extract of stinging nettle leaf (not the root, which is used to heal prostate issues) can be effective in reducing a runny nose and post-nasal drip, as can a supplement containing a combination of elderflower, sorrel, cowslip, verbena, and gentian root. Feverfew, ginkgo biloba, ginger, kava kava, and valerian have all been used to help heal headaches. Take a supplement of one of these herbs or use drops in a tincture. You can also make a ginger tea with fresh, thinly sliced root placed in boiling water and sipped.

Healing gemstones can be used as an adjunct to herbal remedies. Aventurine is an excellent stone for healing allergies. It has an anti-inflammatory effect on rashes, migraines and eye inflammation, as well as being effective in treating the lungs, throat and sinuses. A piece of polished amethyst can be held against the forehead to help heal a sinus headache, bringing soothing relief quite rapidly. It also calms the lungs and allergies affecting the respiratory system. Golden obsidian is a great stone for general allergy symptoms, as is clear blue sapphire. Fluorite is great for healing sinusitis.

Please note that if this is the first time you'll be using any of these herbs, it is best to be sure you are not allergic to them before you ingest them. If you are allergic to any similar plants, avoid those within the same family. If you are at all unsure, please consult a physician before using. As always, use common sense when working with herbs. Take nothing internally without being absolutely sure it's edible and safe and use nothing that you feel you may be allergic to. Always consult a physician if you aren't feeling well and remember: I am not a doctor and thus cannot diagnose nor treat any condition. Use caution and feel better soon!

Photo of butterbur plant courtesy of steb1 on flickr.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Moons and Totems 6

Everybody knows their western astrological profile and most people also know their eastern, or Chinese, astrological sign as well, but few know their moon profile from the Native American culture and the totems for each moon. As with the two more mainstream belief systems, the moon totem profiles are not only a very accurate read of an individual's personality, but they also add a rich dimension to who we are and where our weaknesses and powers come from.

Planting Moon
April 11-May 10

People of the Planting Moon are very hard workers who excel at preparing for each task and the start of new projects, working out every detail in advance and knowing exactly where they are going every step of the way. They're methodical and reliable and put a great deal of effort and enthusiasm into anything they put their mind to. Planting Moon people are people of the light, of new ideas and fresh starts but they can be stymied by their own abilities. They often tend to become overwhelmed by the task at hand, and no matter how carefully they prepare for it, can become lost in the details and confused about their ultimate goal. They aren't lazy, but without clarity they'll prefer to simply do nothing rather than forge ahead.

The element for this moon is air and the animal totem is the beaver. Like the beaver, the people of this moon can keep themselves very busy all day long and often well into the night, yet somehow never seem to finish the job they've begun. They're great at beginning new projects and working long hours, but being able to bring it all to a conclusion on their own is not their forte. The Planting Moon's plant totem is the dandelion, a strong and easily adaptable plant that's used for both culinary and medicinal purposes and its mineral totem is citrine. Citrine is a powerful stone used to channel the willpower needed to achieve one's goals, as well as granting courage and confidence and eliminating self-destructive tendencies. The color for this moon, vividly orange- yellow like its plant and mineral, is saffron. Worn by holy men the world over, this is the color of the rising sun and of a fresh spring day.

Everyone is most compatible with those people born under the moon opposite to their own and the opposite moon of the Planting Moon is the Harvest Moon (October 11-November 10).

Photo courtesy of Dan Newcomb Photography.