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.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Higher Consciousness is a Beautiful Thing

Even those of us who are fairly well tuned into the energy out there: our own, that of others, the earth's, sometimes experience those moments we all occasionally have of a sort of hyper-awareness of all that is and all that has been. When it's on a personal level, Gurdjieff referred to these fleeting feelings of acute self-awareness as true self consciousness (as opposed to that awkward feeling we get when we need to do something in front of others that makes being in our own skin uncomfortable). But sometimes this feeling is more akin to universal consciousness, where the whole shebang becomes radiantly clear for just a moment or two.

The other night I built a big, beautiful outdoor fire. It had nothing to do with any sabbat or esbat, nor was it intended to be of a spiritual nature at all. It was, in fact, merely a way to clean up some spring yard waste and destroy quite a bit of old paper files that I finally cleaned out of the old filing cabinet in the cellar. (It was pointed out to me that this wasn't exactly eco-friendly, but it was efficient as hell and quite lovely to sit before, so sue me if I enjoyed it).

So, as I sat there on a chilly night before this gorgeous fire, I couldn't help but think of all the people through the ages who have sat before fires on dark and cold nights for various reasons. This thought warmed my heart and was just the beginning of my mind making a great many spiritual and philosophical connections (sometimes it doesn't take much for me to get rolling). And those feelings that occasionally overwhelm us all with such emotion, such joy and such awe rocketed through me for a moment or two and were gone, leaving in their wake that sweet feeling one feels when truly experiencing the inter-connectedness of all that is.

There is nothing on earth quite like experiencing this and it can be felt in the smallest and most humble of moments. It doesn't require being in a majestic place, though that would be sure to trigger these feelings. No, it can be felt anywhere, anytime. And it's in these moments that simultaneously emphasize the enormity of the universe and the incredible interconnectedness of everything within it (ourselves included) while also making us painfully aware of just how small and insignificant we are, that really gives the soul an energy charge it needs to continue on its journey towards enlightenment.

"Stars over the Church of the Good Shephard, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand" courtesy of petatt on flickr.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Goodbye Sorrow

There are times in our lives when we experience great sadness (for a variety of reasons) and during those times it's important to be gentle and allow ourselves to heal at our own pace. For some of us, this is a fairly quick process, but for others it can linger on, never fully dissipating and making our day to day life more difficult than usual. If you feel it's about time you got back to business, but are having a bit of trouble actually making this happen, perhaps a quiet energy releasing ritual is in order to take that last step to reclaiming your heart.

What you'll need:
nine very small white candles
one large red Goddess candle
a glass or small chalice of red wine
a few borage flowers
a sheet of paper and a pen
a cauldron
sandalwood incense

This ritual is best done at night, outdoors beneath the dark of the new moon, to facilitate a new beginning and new inner strength. Write on your paper all your feelings you wish to purge. It can be long or short in length, but pour the pain of your heart into every word and fold it up into a small square. Place the white candles in a small circle around your cauldron and place the red candle to the right of it and the incense to the left of the cauldron within that circle. Cast your larger circle first if you wish and call the quarters, or simply start by sitting before your candles and meditating, grounding your energy with the earth's. Light the nine healing candles deosil beginning at the top and then light the incense. Light the red candle and call upon a Goddess you feel comfortable working with: perhaps Athena for wisdom and strength, or Laetitia for happiness. Ask her to help you find your inner strength, the joy you've had trouble reclaiming, or to show you the clarity needed to see the wisdom of your experience.

Recite this spell (or write your own to chant):

No more sorrow, no more pain,
My heart is free to live again.
I release those bonds that held me tight
and embrace my spirit's powerful light.

(Chant until you've raised enough energy to release your sadness, then conclude with)

By the power of three times three, As I will it, so mote it be.

Light your square of paper on fire with the Goddess candle and let it burn to embers in your cauldron. Take a few borage flowers and place them in the chalice of wine. (If you don't drink alcohol, grape juice is a perfectly fine alternative). Drink half the wine and save the other half to make an offering to the Goddess. If you've cast a circle and wish to pour it away from where you are, offer it into the earth once the circle has been broken. If you have chosen to not cast a circle, you may pour the wine into the earth whenever and wherever you wish. Cast the ashes of your note to the earth as well.

When you're ready, snuff out the Goddess candle, thanking her for aiding you in your work, then snuff out the white candles widdershins. Allow your incense to burn down. Break circle if you have cast one and begin to feel yourself healing at last.

(As always, use common sense and the utmost care when working with fire. Use caution with your dish or cauldron of choice, your hair or your sleeves. Never leave a burning item unattended and when discarding anything burned back into the earth, be sure it is fully burned out and cool. Never discard a burning or smoldering object where it can cause damage.)

Photo courtesy of MatgorzataW on flickr.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Brief Hiatus

I've been post-less for almost two weeks now due to a family crisis and most likely won't be back for some time to come (hopefully not too long though). There is just no way, given the circumstances I am dealing with, that I can focus enough to actually write something worth reading. I hope you'll bear with me during this difficult time and will still be here waiting for me when I return. Take care, much peace to you all, and a blessed Ostara as well!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Feathers in Ritual

I've been on a quest to find a perfect crow feather for both my medicine bag, as well as to use in ritual, and anyone in my life with ears (regardless of whether they even give a damn or not) has heard my endless kvetching over how lacking my magickal life is without this feather. I have all sorts of found feathers from all variety of birds: gull, jay, starling, robin, duck, chicken, male cardinal, and even an enormous and lovely wild turkey feather. But not a single crow, despite the woods behind my house being full of crows. It was suggested I gently ask the birds for a feather and perhaps leave an offering for them in return, but alas, still no feather has appeared. Now, the turkey feather is beautiful, and I know Ben Franklin was madly in love with the wild turkey (even going so far as to try to talk all his cronies into making it our national bird instead of the eagle), but to be honest, turkeys just don't for it for me. Not in any way, magickal or not. I want a crow feather and for me nothing else will do for the crow speaks deeply to me on so many levels.

Used in magickal ritual, feathers can channel energy and as they are ruled by the element of air, bring more open communication to your ritual, thus making your incantations more successfully heard. Calmer species of birds bring a sense of peace to a ritual, while those from more aggressive birds or hunters are ideal for defensive magick and spells that require more oomph. Likewise, the color of the bird's feather is equally as important as the species. Some of the more common bird feathers to be found and used are:

blackbird: ancient wisdom, inner knowledge and hidden insights
blue jay: courage to speak one's personal truth
cardinal: confidence
chickadee: joy and cheer
chicken: sacrifice, fertility
crow: magick, mystery, messenger from the realm of Spirit
dove (this includes pigeons): peace, gentleness and feminine energy
duck: emotional balance
eagle: spirit and power
hawk: strength, a messenger from Spirit
hummingbird: joy, boundless energy, hope
owl: wisdom, magickal visionary energy, feminine energy, secrets
robin: new beginnings, creative energy
sparrow: fertility, home
turkey: blessings and generosity
woodpecker: sacred rhthyms, hard work

With spring just around the corner, now is the time to keep your eyes open for freshly dropped feathers to use in your rituals. And to give thanks, be sure to leave a small offering that busy nest-building birds will appreciate.

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Crystal Ball

Crystallomancy is just what you think it is: the ability to accurately read a crystal or crystal ball and it's something I've always wanted to be able to do. Last week I bought myself my first crystal ball, a pristine clear dusky purple crystal that also reads blue in some light. I held an amazing clear quartz ball and an even more incredible amethyst ball but they were loaded with striations that I felt would make my first attempts at reading more difficult. That and their exorbitant price tags. I mean, what if I don't ever get the hang of this? How could I justify spending that much money on what would become merely a gorgeous paperweight, albeit one with really great energy?

So I spent some time handling and getting to know my new crystal ball, then I carefully cleansed it and a few days later sat down one evening for my first try at reading it. I'm aware that this form of divination is considered to be one of the most difficult to master, so I was prepared for a challenge. But seriously, this was hard. To begin with, I had trouble with my light source and despite fussing with my candles and dimming the room lights up and down, and up and down again and again for a good twenty minutes or so, I never truly did find a comfortable amount of light with which to work. I relaxed and grounded and then threw up around me a bubble of safety. And at last I was ready to try to read. Sigh. I managed to find my soft eyes, that sort of pre-trance, almost day-dreamy feeling I get when I read auras or do a visualized journey. But an hour later I had seen nothing at all, not even a wisp, and I had managed to give myself a bit of a sore neck and a violent and unexpected case of extreme nausea that took more than two horrible hours to subside.

Needless to say, my ball and I have kept a fairly respectful distance from one another since that night while I await the arrival of three new books on mastering the art of crystal gazing since I think it best I not try my hand at this again without at least a small amount of guidance beforehand. I'm anxious to give it as many tries as I need in order to begin to actually see something, but I'd prefer to do it without incapacitating myself for hours on end. Trust me, nothing is worth feeling the way I did that night, not even foretelling a strange and glorious future. And until my books arrive, I'll just have to admire my beautiful new purple-blue paperweight safely from across the room.

John William Waterhouse, The Crystal Ball, 1902 (detail)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Healing Gemstones

A selection of healing gemstones. Clockwise from the top: lapis lazuli, red jasper, blue fluorite, iolite, jet, orange calcite, clear quartz crystal, tiger's eye, aventurine. In the center: apache tear.

I decided that if a chakra meditation is great for opening them within your body and a chanting chakra meditation is good for balancing them, and if certain stones can activate or relax your chakras, then why not do a prone meditation that incorporates all three elements? Why not lay flat on your back with the appropriate stones placed upon your chakras and meditate while the healing stones do their job to balance and activate each chakra? It's taken me some time to decide which of the many stones that are effective for each chakra would be the best choice for my own personal chakra issues, and then it took some more time to find the specific specimens whose energy felt in tune with mine. At long last, I have all seven (with only one being a "second choice" as my first choice couldn't be found) and am now in the process of cleansing and purifying them. Soon, I'll be ready to put them to use for the first time and I really can't wait.

Red jasper for my root chakra, orange calcite for my sacral, tiger's eye for my solar plexus, aventurine for my heart chakra (I was hoping to find some green jasper but alas it was not meant to be), blue fluorite for my throat, iolite for my third eye and quartz crystal for my crown. I also picked up a few extra stones this weekend: jet for my spiritual journey, lapis lazuli not only for my spiritual journey (this is a very powerful ancient stone) but also to help me with the dizziness I've been suffering from courtesy of an on-going inner ear issue that's now months' old, and a tiny apache tear for protection and luck.

God, do I love rocks more than just about anything. And with the exception of malachite, which I hate with a passion and always have (I like to tell people I must have been stoned to death in a previous life with this stone), I adore them all and am on a perpetual, never-ending search for more and more and more.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Moons and Totems 5

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.

Strong Winds Moon
February 11-March 10

This is the time of winter when the winds blow at their hardest and their coldest, thus the name given to this moon, and the night skies are at their most vivid. People born under this moon are very bright and intelligent, with unique minds and a quick wit. Often these people are light years ahead of everyone else, thus giving them the label of "odd" or "quirky." Strong Winds folks tend to be easily distracted from their tasks and need to learn to be more consistent and steadfast rather than jump rapidly from one thing to another. Being on such a vastly different wavelength from others often leads them to feel lonely and isolated, something finding a kindred spirit or two can easily solve. This sense of loneliness frequently comes across as an intense neediness, something Strong Winds people need to acknowledge and address.

The element for this moon is air and the animal totem is the goose, a bird who returns to the north at this time of year, thus heralding the return of spring and the earth's new birth. The Strong Winds Moon's plant totem is the willow, a tree whose bark is at its most vivid color this time of year; a tree that is easily bent this way and that way. The willow is a medicinal, healing plant (aspirin originates from its bark). This moon's mineral totem is moonstone which is symbolic of the great mother goddess. Moonstone balances the emotions, brings clarity to one's thinking and is very potent when working with the moon. The color for the Strong Winds Moon is dove gray, the color of dawn and of purity. This is a soft color and is symbolic of the awakening of spirit.

Everyone is most compatible with those people born under the moon opposite to their own and the opposite moon of the Strong Winds Moon is the Hunters Moon (August 11-September 10).

Photo courtesy of ER Post on flickr.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Everything in its Time

Like everyone else on this earth, there are many things in my life I wish I had never chosen to do, or for which I wish I had followed a different path, or wished something hadn't taken nearly as long as it did to work out. Life is full of "what ifs" and "I wishes" and if we dwell too much on them, we're doing a disservice to our present and even our future. People like to say 'we all make mistakes' and while it's true that it's human nature to make poor choices, if you think about it, are they really mistakes or poor judgments? In hindsight, maybe they are, but at the time we do/don't do those things we so wish we could go back and change, they are right for us (even if they're ultimately bad for us). I believe that everything happens for a reason and sometimes it all really sucks, but whatever is happening in our lives at any given time is what we need when we need it.

Someone very close to me likes to argue that this belief is silly as it means our entire lives are planned out in advance for us and thus free will doesn't exist, but I don't agree. I believe that before we come here in our present incarnations, we do plan things out. I like to think of it as a brief outline of what we desire to achieve soul-wise in this incarnation. Are all the details laid out? Of course not, but the essential bones are there. And when we get into this life and begin to really live it, there are options, paths and crossroads at which we need to make the choices that will move us in one direction or another. Regardless of whether or not we've forgotten what it is we are meant to learn this time around, those "choice moments" are presented to us and we either go the right way for that previously drawn up soul outline or we go another route; a route which may take us to the same place albeit in a very roundabout way, or one that has us miss our "moment" entirely and perhaps learn other lessons or even nothing at all. At those times we either have to hope for another moment in time when we can make the needed decision or risk having to repeat that part of our soul's journey once again in another life. But regardless, everything is in its time; perfectly in its time. And everything we do and say and act on happens when it is meant to, even if it takes you half a lifetime to realize someone you've tried to love is not a very nice person and needs to be jettisoned from your life. Or you were meant to be a missionary and not a school janitor. Or you're never, ever going to master the violin enough to make it a lucrative career despite decades of hard work.

As humans, it's in our nature to regret that which isn't perfect to our eyes and to be self-critical to the nth degree, but life isn't about easy or perfect or timely, nor is it about our own feelings of regret or our own shortcomings we wish we didn't have, it's about the end result and that- despite our fears of having wasted so much time- is going to take just as long as it's meant to.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Silvery Snow

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.

-Bill Morgan, Jr.

Photo courtesy of krystian_o on flickr.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Poppet

Where I live, weather-wise thus far, this winter has been simply brutal. The month of January alone has brought more than four feet of snow. For those who believe that Hecate brings storms and difficult weather, trust me, she's been working overtime in my neck of the woods. And with so much snow in every direction I look, I can't help but think there has to be a use for it in magickal ritual. After all, the power of winter's weather is extraordinary, so why not harness a teeny bit for one's own personal use? And given that I'm also a huge fan of snowmen of all shapes and sizes, it was a quick jump to thinking that a little snowman would be the perfect stand-in for some poppet magick.

To work this spell, go outside into the snow at dusk or early evening, just as the light is fading to dark. For a banishment spell, the waning moon is best; to manifest something, use the waxing moon. Think of something in your life you'd like banished or drawn to you, something you would like the poppet to represent: be it energy, wealth, or even an emotion (good or bad). While meditating on whatever energy you wish to instill in your poppet, build your snowman. While he can be big, keep in mind that you're going to need to fill him with your energy to make this spell work, so smaller may be easier to successfully work with. Personally, I'd keep him no bigger than a foot tall. Decorate him as you would a cloth poppet (or in any way that makes your energy rise and your heart sing) and then circle him with nine snowballs. Be creative! Within your circle, light a small blue candle, place it at your snow poppet's feet and concentrate on sending your spell energy into the ether. When you reach the point of release, say:

With snow and ice, this witch's spell,
I cast you now to speed this well.
I focus my powers outside on this night
Now gather within and give my spell flight.

Throw up your arms to send your energy skyward. Allow your candle to burn down (safely) and your snowman to melt naturally. Give thanks.

Photo courtesy of ClanSoul on flickr.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cold Winter

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.

-Andrew Wyeth

Photo courtesy of the always amazing Giles C. Watson. Thanks again for allowing me to borrow a bit of your stunning work.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Three Signs You Might Be a Witch

Witches never use salt and avoid it at all costs. According to medieval records, you'd know you had sat down to dinner with a witch if one of your guests complained that her food was too salty and refused to eat it, or kept the salt cellar as far away from her as possible. Legend states that in Europe, all fairies hated salt, and as witches were known to cook offerings for the fairies, a witch, both in her daily life and her magickal one, would learn to studiously avoid salt of any kind.

In cultures where it is the custom for a woman to cover her head or tie her hair up neatly, a witch will always wear her hair loose and uncovered. Dirty, tangled and unruly hair is one of the hallmarks of a witch. It's said that even if she tries to keep her hair neat and clean, it will naturally fly out from beneath her scarf or hat, nor will it stay pinned or braided. Legend states that hair holds a great deal of magickal power for a witch (think of how many hex spells require a snippet of the victim's hair). And while her hair doesn't need to be a rat's nest to wield such power, a witch's hair is always compelling to look at or touch. In some way it must be unique: the volume of it, the beauty of it, or perhaps an unusual or radiant color (red or black, anyone?).

Witches like to linger in grocery stores or at the mall. Traditionally, it's said that they liked to linger in the marketplace long after their shopping was done as they could absorb a great deal of usable energy from all the shoppers haggling and fighting over the food and wares. If you lingered far longer than the village's powers-that-be deemed necessary for ordinary shopping, you could be branded a witch and tried accordingly.

Food for thought.

The Weiser Field Guide to Witches, Judika Illes, Red Wheel/Weiser LLC, 2010

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Moons and Totems 4

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.

Deep Snows Moon
January 11-February 10

This is the moon in the deepest dark of winter and as such, the people of the Deep Snows Moon tend to be introverted and often depressed, as well as very rigid in their thinking. While they like to do everything in a very controlled manner and can at times be difficult to deal with, they are very honest, forthright and reliable folk who can always be counted on when we need them most.

The element for this moon is earth and the animal totem is the blue jay. The blue jay will tell you exactly what you need to know when you need to know it. While the jay is a wise and honest bird, it can often be a little too vocal, not always knowing when to stop sermonizing, a behavior that people of the Deep Snows Moon need to guard against despite their only wanting what is best for the rest of us. Curiosity and carelessness in regards to personal safety (a frequently dangerous combination) is another thing that both the jay and the folks of this moon share in common. The Deep Snows Moon's plant totem is the poplar, a tree that is able to withstand a great deal of hardship before it falls under the weight, and its mineral totem is the amethyst. Amethyst is the stone of wisdom, purity of thought and the light before the dawn. Lastly, the color for this moon is violet. Violet is the highest vibration of light on the spectrum, increasing mental activity, intuition and raising one's spirituality. Like the amethyst whose color is the same, violet is the color of the sky just before the dawning of the full light of day (and spring).

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

Photo courtesy of Aegolius on flickr.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year, New Moon

Peach Moonstone pendulum with a sterling silver spiral womb goddess pendant and tiny sterling silver and moonstone rounds. Moonstone is a feminine stone, ideal for awakening one's intuition and deepening one's meditation practices.

Tonight marks the first New Moon of the still very new year, making it a perfect time to work quite a bit of magick, all in one night. New Moon magick is dedicated to new beginnings, new projects, capturing your independence, feeling your personal strength and honoring your instincts. And as we all know, the new year is the time to cast off that which is no longer working for you and bringing in new beliefs and behaviors that hopefully will make you a much better person.

I had planned on just spending a little time in circle tonight meditating on the new year and all the possibilities and hopes she holds, as well as purifying and consecrating within the four elements my new moonstone pendulum, but then a friend gave me a wonderful new year's resolution ritual that just spoke to my heart. I'm generally not one for once-a-year resolutions as I try to be constantly aware of what I'm doing and thinking and how it impacts both myself personally and all I come into contact with in my own little corner of this vast world. I modify myself countless times throughout the year, changing what I am able to, as the year progresses through her seasons. In that vein, much of what this ritual called for has been discarded in favor of a very simplified act: writing down onto pieces of paper those things I wish to leave behind, personal beliefs that I feel no longer work for me, behaviors I wish to eliminate, anything I want banished from my life, and burning them on a bed of dried sage in my cauldron as I make a conscious intention to let these things go. It's a sort of witchy variation on the tradition of making one or more New Year's resolutions. I thought the sage would be a nice spiritual touch and a sweet-smelling way of sending those unwanted things back to the universe, where she can recycle that negative energy and sent it back out to the world as something positive.

After much hemming and hawing over candle colors for the quarters, I've settled on a deep, rich purple, the color of spiritual strength, power, healing, psychic gifts (needed for my work with this new pendulum) and because this color provides a link with the higher planes.

All in all, it should be a wonderfully productive, spiritually deepening and emotionally cleansing circle tonight.

Blessed Be.