Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trees 101: The Fir

Fir trees are known as the "birth tree" and are used in protection spells for mothers and children. A few needles may be burned during childbirth to ensure a safe birth for both mother and baby. It is the fourth of the nine sacred woods of the sabbat fire, representing friendship. The fir symbolizes the Great Mother Goddess due to its seeming immortality (as it doesn't "die" in the winter months as do other trees and plants). Native to only the northern hemisphere, the fir is traditionally used as decoration during the winter as it is symbolic of life and thus represents abundance in the coming year. For this reason it has been used since early times at Beltane and Yule. Sensitive to the elements, fir cones respond to the sun and rain by opening and closing with each.

Native Americans used many parts of the fir tree as medicine, and even today the fir can be used to treat cuts, burns, coughs and colds and even constipation due to its laxative effects.

The fir is associated with Mars and Saturn and while its energy is essentially masculine, it is associated with both the God and the Goddess. The fir tree vibrates to the element of air and as well as being used for protection and medicinal purposes, can also be used for attracting prosperity, in divination work and to promote personal change.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Pentagram Rant

I have a real problem with the pentagram being given such a bad rap by so many people, especially when the beliefs they hold (and spread) about this symbol are misguided, wrong and frequently detrimental.

I enjoy watching a paranormal TV show that shall remain nameless, and while I find most of the show to be interesting and thought-provoking, I find that several of the cast members who are devout Christians of a specific faith regularly reference the pentagram as a symbol of devil worship, demon possession and something to be feared. And this really bothers me as it propagates the notion that those of us out of the 'broom closet' as it were, and openly wearing one at our throats, are evil, perhaps even satanic, and blatantly advertising it for all the world to see. It only serves to make our pagan lives more difficult than they already are when we are forced to defend or explain our beliefs to those who automatically assume we practice the Black Arts simply because of a small star enclosed in a circle.

The pentagram is a symbol of spirituality, with four of the points representing the four elements of earth, air, fire and water and the fifth representing the Spirit of the Divine. It has actually been in use since at least 3000 BC, where in Babylonia the five directions were astrological and represented the planets Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and the fifth point, Venus, as the Goddess of Heaven. In Taoism the pentagram represents the five Chinese elements of earth, wood, water, fire and metal. Early Christians at one time used the pentagram to represent the five wounds of Christ (the Mormons still use the symbol in much of their architecture) and it was even the symbol of the city of Jerusalem for a time.

But somehow, somewhere, probably in the 19th c when the occult and all its frightfulness and intrigue took hold of so much of the population, it became something to fear, something unsettling. And while there are some Satanists who use it reversed with the three points facing down to symbolize a rejection of the Holy Trinity, the majority of people who use a pentagram use it to honor Spirit and all that Spirit encompasses in this beautiful natural world. And while it can be symbolic of that which is magickal, as we use it so much in circle, from calling the quarters to decorating our altars, it shouldn't automatically be assumed that the magick it's used for is black and dangerous.

Close-mindedness and ignorance are never a good thing, and when coupled with religious intolerance, they are a very dangerous thing. I try very hard to remain gentle when questioned by curious or concerned strangers about my belief system, even when I feel threatened by their fear and anger. By being kind, even in the face of hostility and derision, perhaps I can teach the truth to a few people who hopefully might in turn enlighten others if the subject of the pentagram and devil worship ever arises again in their lives. In the meantime in my own life, I'll continue to be annoyed by people who should know better (read: people of any faith who are by profession paranormal researchers). Stop spreading hatred and fear. Please.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Full Strawberry Moon

Today is the Full Strawberry Moon, a name used by all the Algonquin tribes, and so (obviously) named because June is the month when strawberries are ripe for picking. The Lakota called this moon the Drying Up Moon as June is the month of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and when it first begins to get hotter, thus drying up any residual spring flooding. In Europe it is known among their indigenous peoples as the Rose Moon and many tribes refer to it as the Hot Moon because it heralds the summer season and the hot days ahead. It's neo-pagan name is the Mead Moon.

Even though this is the Strawberry Moon, now is a great time to plant any berry bushes, such as raspberries or blueberries. I saw some lovely ones this afternoon, lush with soon-to-be ripened berries and I contemplated buying a few, but alas I have no place to put them (I guess I'll have to be satisfied with picking them at the small, local farm we've been picking them at for years now). By the next full moon, or shortly thereafter, these fruits will be ready for the picking, just as the days grow hotter and the coolness of tart and juicy fruits would be a welcome snack.

What better way to honor the moon and the Goddess than to plant a fruit-bearing plant on the day of the first full moon that symbolically heralds the season of growth and abundance?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Color: Magickal Properties

Color is a very powerful thing to work with, as all color is imbued with different energies. At some future time I'll talk about the healing properties of colors in relation to our chakras, but today I'll keep the discussion to color magick and working with color to create more potent spells. This might be basic 101 to a lot of people, but to some it's all new territory. Candles, herbs, flowers, paper and any decorations used for spellwork, circle and/or altars can be intensified by bringing objects made of the appropriate colors into play, and even more so by incorporating any gods or goddesses they are linked with, as well as the days of the week they are connected to. Keep this in mind when using them for spellwork: timing is everything when it comes to power!

Red. This is the color of pure vibrant energy. Passion and desire. Red represents the Life Force in everything. It attracts good luck, but can also stir up anger and other unsettling emotions. Because of its power, it's best to use it or be exposed to it in moderation as any emotions it draws out can quickly get out of hand. Use it in magick to overcome difficulties or to increase determination and courage. It's the color of the Celtic Goddess Brid, goddess of the forge, and all things creative. It is also linked with Tuesday and the planet Mars.

Orange. Orange symbolizes joy, optimism and a will to succeed. This is also another powerful color and in magick is used to garner personal happiness and fertility too. This is a color of communication as it is one of the colors associated with Mercury, the messenger of the Roman Gods. Orange is linked with Sunday and the Sun.

Yellow. This color is a mind stimulant and represents achievement and learning. In divination it is used for success, new beginnings and inspiration. It evokes the sun. Linked closely with the color gold, it is a secondary color of the God and male divinity. Be careful with too much yellow though as it can turn from courageous to cowardly quite fast. Yellow is linked with Wednesday and the planet Mercury.

Green. Green is the color of harmony, nature, calmness, balance and growth. In magick it symbolizes prosperity and wealth, as well as healing and luck. This is a very positive color to use in spellwork when attempting to draw something to you in the most positive of ways. It is a sub-color of the Goddess as it is symbolic of fertility and Mother Earth. Use it also in spells to draw new love to you or to strengthen an existing relationship. Green is linked with Saturday and the planet Saturn.

Blue. Blue is the color of Spirit. It also represents healing, water, idealism and has a calming energy. Blue can be used in magick for occult protection, to enhance psychic gifts and in dreamwork. This is a very protective color. Blue is linked with Friday and the planet Venus.

Purple. Purple is the color of high spirituality as it provides a link to higher planes, psychic gifts and our dreams. This a very powerful healing color as it represents the link between our mind, body and spirit. Magickally it is used to gain insight into all things esoteric that we are seeking. Purple is linked with Thursday and the planet Jupiter.

Pink. Pink is, not surprisingly, the color of love and friendship, happiness and harmony. It represents women's mysteries and is a lesser color of the Goddess. Like green, this color is linked to the Goddess Venus. It is used magickally to restore a sense of peace and calm when things have become difficult or chaotic in relation to our emotions.

Brown. Brown represents natural wisdom, an affinity with nature and healing for animals. In magickal applications it is used to create a protective shield, to guard our homes and keep them safe, and to keep us grounded when we are feeling like we are being pulled in a direction we don't necessarily wish to go.

Black. Black represents the unseen forces in our lives, though these don't necessarily have to be negative, despite black's reputation as a color of all that is "evil." It is used for communicating with the dead and for endings to situations. In magick it is used to sow the seeds of new beginnings where needed, to absorb negativity and in banishing and limitation spells.

White. White is the color of the Divine Force in our lives. It is the color of peace, purity and truth. White is a cleansing color. In magick white is used to enhance psychic matters, to begin a new phase and as protection. It is frequently used in visionary magick. The color white is linked with Monday and the Moon.

Silver. This is the color of the Goddess and is always present on the altar to represent her, usually in the form of a silver candle. Silver is also the color of visions and intuition, inspiration and transformation and aids in giving birth to our potential. This is the color of the moon.

Gold. This is the color of the God, and like silver and the Goddess above, is always present on the altar as well, usually in the form of a gold candle. Gold symbolizes achievement, success, wealth and longevity. In magick this color is used to cast spells for success in any area of our lives and to promote confidence. It is associated with the most powerful Sun gods such as Apollo in Greek and Roman mythology, and with Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun.

By incorporating color magick into your daily practice, and being aware of how these colors can work, both very powerfully and intimately for you, you can expand your magickal possibilities only as far as the depths of your imagination can travel.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How Does My Garden Grow?

Here we are just a month later and it doesn't even look like the same garden. My yarrow is simply magnificent, as are my hyssop and valerian. There is still so much that hasn't even begun to mature yet, let alone bloom. Watching life unfold throughout the season is a blessing to behold. Nature is a truly amazing thing.