Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Tarot Blog

I have just started a brand new blog, Moon and Blackbird, where you'll find a daily tarot reading using an eclectic variety of decks, various bits and bobs about the art of reading tarot and eventually the option to contact me for a full-length private and personal reading. While being a uniquely individual blog in its own right, Moon and Blackbird can also be considered something of a companion blog to Dancing Beneath the Moon, as it's a continuation of the divination work that has been discussed and touched on here occasionally.

The new blog is still something of a work in progress as, ever the perfectionist, I continue to endlessly tweak it until I can comfortably live with it. It launched today so the first daily reading is now available and each subsequent one will be done shortly after midnight each night with the cards foretelling what that new day will hold for my readers, and thus making it available for viewing first thing each day, no matter what hour you call morning.

I hope you'll take a peek and if you find it enjoyable, are drawn to return again and again. And as always, Dancing Beneath the Moon will continue on just as it has always been. Peace!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Plans?

In the Middle Ages it was believed that witches communed with the devil on Halloween night, which was then known as the witches’ Black Sabbath, and that they did all sorts of heinous things on this night. It was believed that witches celebrated this sabbat by sacrificing and eating children, dining on bread made from human feces and urine, kissing the asses of cats, and fornicating with the devil and his consorts. They rode their broomsticks to secret locations where they held Black Masses during which they summoned the devil, entered into blood pacts with him, and ultimately sold their souls to him. They also plotted ways to destroy all the god-fearing Christians in their villages. In other words, this was one busy night for witches. History shows us that these misguided beliefs were drummed up by the early Christian church in an attempt to squelch any pagan rituals still being carried out, though obviously with none of the above activities as any part of them. But by the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, these beliefs were so widespread and ingrained in the people, it was only natural and certainly no surprise that witch hunts were carried out to the degree they were.

Personally, I much prefer eating chocolate to eating children or feces, but I wouldn't mind the occasional, and most likely highly exhilarating, ride on a broomstick.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boneset Ghost Spell

Boneset: : any of several composite herbs; especially a perennial of central and eastern North America with opposite perfoliate leaves and white-rayed flower heads used in folk medicine. The first known use of boneset was in 1764.

As we all know, this is the time of the year when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and those who practice necromancy, or just wish to contact the spirits of loved ones passed, are paying tribute to ancestors, honoring them with offerings of food, and engaging in various necromantic practices of divination. It's also the time when hungry ghosts, or those with no family or friends to remember them or feed them, restlessly wander the earth. It's traditional to place barley and milk outside as an offering to those wayward spirits, thus easing their hunger and preventing their mischief. Alternately, you can keep them away completely with a small bouquet of flowers and herbs.

Boneset will chase away the nastier spirits while drawing to your home benevolent spirits who have only the best intentions. Hang a bouquet of boneset (with sprigs of white pine and any other protective herbs you'd like to incorporate into your bundle) over your front door, as well as any other entrances that are used regularly. Tie the bouquets with black satin ribbon. Keep in mind that folk tradition believes that the most potent boneset is found growing on or near graves (though I am in no way condoning any indiscriminate picking of a person's grave). You can burn small boneset branches or twigs in a cauldron to drive away any existing ghosts, and should you be a little too involved with the practice of necromancy this Samhain season, boneset can also be used in small bundles hung over the beds of anyone deemed to have "ghost sickness," an illness believed to develop after engaging in extended contact with the dead. If your pets have been actively engaging in necromancy, this will protect them too!

Photo courtesy of gmayfield10 on flickr.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leaf Lore

There's powerful magick in the fallen leaves on Samhain, but in order for that magick to manifest the leaves must be caught in the recipient's hands as they fall from the trees and before they hit the ground. According to folk tradition, once a leaf has touched the earth, its magick is forever lost. The tradition of catching fallen leaves began in England centuries ago and it was believed that catching a fallen leaf would not only empower the lucky grabber with great magick, but would also ensure that that person would have profound happiness for the next year and would suffer no sorrows (if only it were this easy). Upon catching a leaf, you could also make a wish and be sure by your lucky catch that it would come true. Another folk belief says that the catching of a falling leaf will bring a year of health to the recipient.

An old witch's spell states that for every leaf caught between Michaelmas on September 29th and Samhain, the lucky catcher will be granted one day of pure happiness. But once these leaves are caught, be sure to keep them outside, for an ancient belief states that you will bring very bad luck to your family and all who dwell within your walls should you bring the leaves indoors with you. Dead leaves that may blow into your house on their own through a doorway on a blustery day are perfectly safe though!

This gorgeous photo of falling leaves courtesy of Jooliree on flickr.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Broken Pendulum

My first bloodstone pendulum, before I accidentally destroyed it.

I have attachment issues with just about every one and every thing that means something to me in my life, and my divination tools are no different. So when I was holding my bloodstone pendulum earlier this week and let it slip through my fingers onto a tile floor, smashing it into several large pieces and a fair amount of bloodstone-colored dust, I was devastated. I'd only had it just shy of a year, but this was a pendulum that I had an instant connection with. I chose this stone not only because it's a very powerful stone with potent divination properties but also because this is a stone that my grandmother introduced me to when I was very young. As a result of this personal connection, bloodstone packs quite a punch for me. When I selected this particular pendulum, it was chosen from a dozen or so bloodstone ones, and this one felt electric when I first held it. No question, I knew. We were meant for one another from that first moment. I carried it with me everywhere, against my body and in my pocket, forging a deeper energy attachment with it and in that time developed a very close working bond with it. And then this: a brief moment of distraction and it was gone.

I have other pendulums I can use, though I haven't the same relationship with them as I had with my bloodstone one. And a few days ago I bought myself another bloodstone one, but it just doesn't feel "right." I know this is in part because I was so deeply attached to that first one it will be hard to recreate that bond with just any other stone, but also because I'm a fussy little thing and the new one isn't the same as my last one and I don't want anything to have to be different.

I'm trying to see the lesson inherent in this unfortunate situation and I know I have quite a challenge ahead of me: finding another pendulum, be it bloodstone or not, with which I can forge a new deeply-held bond. I just wish I hadn't lost my best pendulum friend in the first place.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Nurturing Bath

There's nothing quite so relaxing as a nice hot bath, accompanied by the gentle glow of light from a bathroom full of lit candles. In addition to bathing the body, baths can be ritually cleansing to prepare for the sacred circle, emotionally cleansing to free the mind of stress and troubles, and physically healing to free the body of toxins and negative conditions. Aromatic remedies are among the most ancient. Old herbal texts prescribed the calming scents of thyme and sage leaf to ease the terror of nightmares (known as "night ghosts") and bald men were told if they washed their heads with sage tea they could be assured that their hair would indeed grow back. While this last one may not be true, herbal bath remedies can cure much that ails us.

Basic Bath Time Herbal Tea Bags

1/2 cup fresh grated ginger root
2 tablespoons of one or more of the following herbs (or use your own favorites):
lemon verbena (dried)
rosemary sprigs (fresh or dried)
peppermint or spearmint leaves (fresh or dried)
chamomile (dried)
lavender blossoms or sprigs (dried)
lemon balm (dried)
sweet marjoram (dried)
grated goldenseal root (dried)
plaintain leaves (dried)
rose petals (fresh)

You may use a small cheesecloth bag tied with a string, or make small folded rice paper packets (in the style of a store-bought tea bag), stitched closed. Combine the ginger root with the herbs of your choice and place in the sachet style of your choice. Run a very hot bath, add a few small bags, allow them to steep while the water cools a bit, then remove the bags and climb on in. Made as small tea bags with strings, these make wonderful gifts to give to someone who loves herbal baths (just be sure to label your ingredients so your recipient knows what's in them and let them know these aren't to be consumed internally).

If you haven't the time or motivation to make yourself bath time tea bags, a simple herbal bath will also work wonders and feel great. You can add sprigs of fresh rosemary to your bath for a pine-like fragrance. Actual pine needles can be used as well which are said to relieve nervous tension. Rosemary is not only invigorating, but will ease physical aches and pains and can rejuvenate a tired, sallow complexion. Ginger root will break a fever, induce sweating, improve your circulation and will also ease sore joints and tired feet.

Native Americans took sponge baths decocted with verbena leaves to combat nervousness and tension. Calendula, comfrey and chamomile used separately or together will also calm nerves and are an excellent choice as an astringent bath for oily or blemished skin. Chamomile is also an effective cure for soothing hemorrhoids.

Elder flowers steeped in hot water will make a gently cleansing and sweetly floral scented bath that will help induce sleep and relax the nerves, as will lemon balm, which in addition to being a sleep aid can also help to relieve cramps.

To soften the skin and counteract both hard water and some of the stronger herbs, add some milk to your bath (Cleopatra bathed regularly in camel's milk and she had men falling at her feet).

Please note that if this is the first time you'll be using any of these herbs, it is best to perform a 24 hour skin test beforehand for each plant. Take a small amount of the herb to be used, pulverize it and if it's in dried form add a few drops of water to moisten it. Dab the paste onto your forearm just inside your elbow, cover with a band-aid and let it sit untouched for 24 hours. If any redness, itching or swelling occurs, do not use that herb. 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.

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Autumn Pumpkin Prosperity Spell

This is a spell that can be done anytime within the season but is best performed close to Samhain.

What you'll need:
one glass or pottery plate
one small pumpkin
one small plastic or wax skull that will fit inside the pumpkin
a small amount of seeds from the pumpkin, dried
a teaspoon of cinnamon
small slips of paper, with the name of one ancestor you wish to honor written on each
a black cloth big enough to shroud the pumpkin
a candle in the color of your choice
sage incense

Carve out the pumpkin (saving the stem lid) so it is very clean and wash a small amount of the seeds. Place the seeds on a lightly oiled baking sheet (to prevent them from sticking) and dry in the oven at 375f degrees for about 15 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them as cooking times will vary from oven to oven! Let cool.

In a small bowl, mix the seeds and the cinnamon. Stir widdershins, or counter-clockwise, to banish negative energy from your home while visualizing your home being purged of everything negative. Then stir deosil, or clockwise, to honor your ancestors and to ask for their blessings. Now place your pumpkin on the plate, light your candle and fire up your incense. While gazing at the candle flame, take a moment to meditate upon your loved ones past. Pass the small skull and the slips with your ancestors' names through the incense smoke. Place the slips inside the pumpkin, arranged neatly in a circle on the bottom. Place the small skull, centered, on top of them and sprinkle the seeds and cinnamon around the skull. Hold your hands over the top of the pumpkin and request that your ancestors bring harmony and prosperity into your life. Place the stem lid back on the top, cover the pumpkin with the black cloth and put it in a safe place for seven days. On the seventh day, uncover your pumpkin and bring it outside, placing it either on an outdoor altar that you won't be using for the season, or in an inconspicuous place, allowing it to decay throughout the winter season.

Note for those who live in warmer climates where leaving a pumpkin to rot outside wouldn't smell very pleasant for either yourselves or your neighbors and for those living in apartments who'd rather not look at a rotting pumpkin sitting on your terrace: eliminate the pumpkin entirely after you cull the seeds from it and do the entire spell on the plate. Cover the plate with the black cloth and on the seventh day, tie up the black cloth with a golden string, securing the seed/spice mixture, ancestor names, and skull inside. Place in a corner of your attic, your cellar or in a room where it won't be disturbed. Keep till the following Samhain season.

Photo courtesy of StGrundy on flickr.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trees 101: The Maple

When I think of autumn I think of maple trees and all the glorious and vivid colors their leaves turn come the cooler weather. The maple's wood is very hard and pale and very, very strong. Striped maple wood is known as "whistlewood" as its outer bark is easy to peel off and was used to make wooden whistles, musical instruments and violin cases. The tree is also known as "moosewood" as moose very much enjoy nibbling on the tree's tender young shoots in the springtime. As everyone knows, the tree's sap is used to make pure maple syrup (with sugar maples being the most prolific variety) and as the annual "sugaring off" coincides with the vernal equinox, this tree is a popular choice for Ostara celebrations. During the early settling of North America, the maple and its sap figured prominently in the settlers' diets. Surprisingly, the sugar maple was not seen in Britain prior to 1735 and in the beginning was used mainly as a hedgerow tree.

It is said that if you place a bough of maple in your home you will protect it from an infestation of bats. Also, if you pass an infant or young child through the branches of a maple tree, you will bring to the child excellent health and a long life. Maple brings success and abundance.

Maple is used in ritual and spellwork to attract love, to work with the faery realm and the wood is an excellent and powerful choice for wands. In terms of the maple's powers, it aids in communication, grounding, bringing and maintaining balance, longevity, transformation and wisdom, to name but a few of its many abilities. The maple tree's energy is masculine and it vibrates to the elements of air and earth. The maple is ruled by the planet Jupiter.

Photo courtesy of JGrana on flickr.