divining

Seeing the Signs

April, 2016

When You Are Unable to See the Signs

I don’t know about you, but I know this has happened to me and more than once – lay out a spread of Tarot cards or playing cards or some other divinatory devise – and nothing. Either the meanings elude you or the cards have no relation to one another or to the positions on which they landed or to the entire situation at hand. If this is just for me, I can just put it all away and wait for another day – when maybe I’ll be “seeing” a little more clearly – but if I am with a client, then I have to come up with something – anything – which is when my story-telling skills really come in handy. Luckily I have very few clients!

I compare this inability to “see the signs” as a form of writer’s block. Usually when I am unable to concentrate enough to use my divinatory skills, I am also unable to write. And it’s for the same reasons – anxiety or depression or a combination of both. The reasons may change as time goes by but the moods never do. And they can disrupt one’s spiritual life as thoroughly as they disrupt every other aspect of life. So during these times of writer’s block and inability to “see the signs”, these are some of the things I do:

  1. Go outside. Take a walk. Ride a bike. If I’m in the city, I go to the country & if I’m in the country, I go to the city. Walk around your neighborhood like Harriet the Spy taking notes on everyone.

  2. Go to the water. Big water, a lake. Running water, a river. Go fishing.

  3. Go to a forest. Trees are very nourishing.

  4. Go where there are fields. Corn fields in the summer. Wildflowers.

  5. Go somewhere you haven’t been in a long time or somewhere you have never been before.

  6. Take your camera & take lots of pictures even if you delete most of them later.

  7. Go to the library & get out more books than you can carry.

  8. Go to a museum. Any kind of museum.

  9. Go out to lunch. Get a hotdog on the street or go to some expensive bistro with a friend & have them pick up the tab LOL

  10. Go to the movies. A matinee. Eat popcorn & ruin your dinner.

  11. Spend an afternoon reading one of the books you got from the library & drinking tea.

  12. Smoke some really good bud. (Did I really say that?)

  13. Sit in meditation.

So here are some good ideas to open up your senses and help you “see the signs” and hopefully, write a little too, if that’s what you want to do. Until next month, blessings from pollyapplequeen.

Seeing the Signs

August, 2015

 

Divining by Pendulum

Recently, I received a beautiful pendulum from our generous editor, Jenn. I have used pendulums in the past but they were homemade ones of braided embroidery floss & crystal buttons. This is a really nice one!

Pendulum

It felt really good in my hand and it was weighted perfectly. And I loved the pentacle etched into it!

Although I have used pendulums in spell work in the past, I naturally had to pull out my books and do some research on using one. I was rather dismayed at what I found, or what I didn’t find. But perhaps that’s because of my own preconceived notions and I admit that right now.

First I consulted The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook by Sasha Fenton. She only has two pages on the subject and personally I think what she presents is pretty useless – more dedicated to dowsing than to using a pendulum. She writes that both methods “are normally used to locate things”. Also: a pendulum can be used “predictively” for giving a “straightforward yes or no answer to a question.” (Fenton, 198)

I have only heard of dowsing for water. And where I’m from, you use a dowsing rod, one of those sticks that have one prong at one end and two at the other end, to search for water. Although she mentions dowsing for a “long-lost gold ring” (Fenton, 199) nowadays I suppose you might have better luck dowsing with a metal detector. But I suppose you could dowse for anything if you wanted to.

The only other book that mentioned using a pendulum for divining purposes was Raymond Buckland’s The Fortune-Telling Book. I thought that one of my other occult books might mention using a pendulum but none did. (It was fun and informative looking through all of them). Buckland also connects Dowsing and the use of Pendulums but he has a separate chapter for Dowsing. When I looked up Pendulums in the Index, I was redirected to “Radiesthesia”, which he describes as a “refinement” of the “art of dowsing, rhabdomancy or water witching” (Buckland, 397) He goes on to say that although its history “can be traced” over thousands of years to its origins in the Orient, it became quite popular in the Middle Ages and remained popular into the Nineteenth Century. He writes that in the Middle Ages a key on the end of a chain was popular; but any kind of small weight will do – a ring, a pendant, a special locket. (Buckland, 397) I imagine that this kind of divination was easy to carry around with you and easy to disguise when any kind of soothsaying or witchery may have been punishable by torture and death.

The use of this kind of divination is deceitfully simple. The pendulum swings one way for “yes” and the other way for “no.” What could be simpler? However, it often gives no answer at all. “If the pendulums swings in a circle or doesn’t swing at all, it may be because the question asked is ambiguous and needs rephrasing, or is one that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.” (Buckland, 398)

He talks of using a pendulum to find lost objects. For this, you use a map, and the pendulum swings when you move it over the area where the object you wish to find was lost. Out in the field, you need to mark the area in a grid and move accordingly, using your pendulum as a guide. It should swing in the same place where it did when it was being held over the map and you will find your object. (Buckland, 399) I personally have never used a pendulum in this way.

Growing up, I always heard of using a pendulum over a pregnant woman’s belly to determine the sex of her unborn child. If the pendulum swung straight back and forth, the child was a boy. If the pendulum circled, the child was a girl. This was often done at baby showers by one of the older women. With the advent of sonograms, this is a lost art.

So, how do I use my pendulum? I use it for “Yes/No” questions. “Should I stay or should I go” comes up a lot! I also have been using it in conjunction with Tarot readings. With a daily 3-Card Spread, I will hold the pendulum over each card and note the way the pendulum swings – which direction, how strong, if it’s in a circle, etc. I’m not quite sure what I’m doing with this yet! But it’s an interesting experiment. I write down my findings and hopefully, a pattern will emerge.

And isn’t that what divination is about? Looking for patterns and seeing the signs? 

Until next month, blessings from pollyapplequeen…

The Spiralled Edge

December, 2014

My thanks to Jenn for inviting me to become part of PaganPages.
I am most comfortable when talking one to one with another person, preferably over a cup of tea (or another drink of your choosing) and my writing reflects this. My hope is that these columns will feel that way for you too. So, grab your favourite beverage, curl up in a chair and we’ll have a natter.
Once I had agreed to become part of the PaganPages family, I had a good long think about what I personally wanted to achieve from this venture. And, what I could offer to others at the same time. When I have questions like these, I can often find answers by consulting a well-used set of amulets.
The Amulets of the Goddess are an oracle method which I have been using for 20 years now. As I have developed my spiritual practice, the ways in which I use the amulets has also changed. These days, I am able to gain a more in-depth reading by shamanically journeying “into” the amulet to ask my questions and speak with them. I consider them to be my own council of Elders, advising me, guiding me, and sometimes giving a well-deserved though not always fully appreciated wrap on the knuckles!
This time the amulets showed me how spirals and edges are significant in my life. As a Pagan but perhaps more importantly, as a human, I am walking a Spiral Path. It is when I try to move forwards in a straight line that I stumble and fall. The path of a spiral moves in circles, but situations and circumstances are never repeated in exactly the same way. They may be similar, but they are approached from a new level of knowledge and understanding.
A simple childhood toy very aptly illustrates this idea. How many of you had a slinky? Over time, the loops may have become tangled and sections stretched out beyond repair as you tried to untangle crossed loops. It may have become so hopelessly twisted in on itself you despaired of ever getting it back. But, with persistence, the loops coiled once more.
But the loops never fit together quite right and you could tell by looking where damage had been done, and repairs attempted.
When we look back upon our lives, it is like looking at the tangled and repaired and stretched out coils of a slinky. We may find that some coils touch each other, the points where events in our lives seemingly repeated, but at each coil we approached that event with new wisdom and new life experience.
These were the amulets I drew:
* Ewe: Feelings of self-worth
* Triple Spiral: Boundaries, Barriers, and Possibilities
* Nightstar: Fulfilment
* Whirlwinds: Trusting the Unknown
* Eyes: Inner visions
Together they told me to explore the barriers I was putting into place as I considered writing for PaganPages: my own fears and self-doubts and the negative self-talk that can go along with fear. They reminded me that I have been writing for several years and had been seeking some validation of that writing. The also cautioned me in how to approach this new task. What are my boundaries: What am I willing to do, and not do? And what are the possibilities: What could I gain from this experience? Finally, I was told to seek my answers within my own heart.

 

ewe

Ewe: self-worth

 

 
Ewe told me that I am worthy of this task entrusted to me. I have earned it and am good enough. Looking inwards revealed a lot of internal doubts and fears about my own worthiness in taking on this work. By identifying these fears, I was better able to address them, and in most cases present a counter-argument.

What does Ewe mean in your life? Look at those areas in your life where you are holding yourself back or deeming yourself to be undeserving because of doubts about your own self-worth. For many this manifests in the falsely held idea that one’s worth is a direct result of what one produces. Take the time today to explore the possibility that you can have worth simply because you exist.

 

Triplespiral

Triple spiral: Barriers, boundaries, and possibilities

 

 

 
Triple Spiral invited me to walk the arms of each spiral and to share with others the wisdom to be gained from exploring my own Barriers, Boundaries, and Possibilities related to this task.
What barriers are preventing me from believing I can produce a column for PaganPages? I discovered that all of those barriers existed only in my mind, fueled by self-doubts and feelings of unworthiness.
What are the barriers that are keeping you from achieving what you need to achieve? Is it money, institutionalised isms (race, gender, and sexual orientation amongst many), an abusive relationship, family obligations, illness, or something else?
What boundaries did I need to put into place? I had only one. I wanted to make sure that whomever I wrote for, it would enhance and not damage my reputation online. So, I read many of the articles, looked at the writers currently featured, and asked questions. Once I was satisfied with what I had found, I made the decision to accept the offer of writing here.
What boundaries do you need to put into place? What are you willing to accept and not accept? Where do you draw that line in the sand and say, this and no more? What boundaries are you placing on commitments to your time and attention? If you are feeling overwhelmed and used, can you put boundaries in place to say and give yourself permission to say “no”?
What possibilities did I see in taking on this role? This was easier for me to see. In writing for PaganPages I would be given the opportunity to be read by a wider audience. This in turn may bring more readers to my other pages. It may not, but the possibility is there. I expect in turn to have my own knowledge expanded by reading the articles by other contributing writers and indeed the comments sent in by readers and visitors to these pages.
What possibilities for your life can you see, some may be positive some may be negative. When you grow in your own self-worth, and begun to firm up your boundaries in what you will accept into your life, it can bring massive changes and those changes are not always pleasant initially. If you are able to say “no” more often, will it bring greater joy to those things where you do say yes?

 

nightstar

Nightstar: fulfilment

 

 
Nightstar came to tell me my wish was being fulfilled. When we put our call out to the universe, the universe will respond. In the back of my mind for some time has been a desire to expand my writing in some way, but I had never explored that beyond the blogs and few on-line writing platforms which I have been using for years.
Even knowing this was something I wanted, the doubts started poking up through my thoughts. Can I? Should I? What if…? So Nightstar, combined with Ewe and the next Amulet, is a gentle reminder that this really is something that I do want. I had made my wish and the universe was responding at a time when I really was ready to receive. I just need to believe in myself and trust in the unknown.
What do you need in order to be fulfilled in your life? What wishes are you making? Are they things you want to draw into your life? Not all wishes are positive, when the pervasive thoughts in your mind focus on not having enough, sometimes the Universe gets the idea you want more of that.

 

whirlwinds

Whirlwinds: trusting the unknown

 

 

 
Whirlwind invited me to explore a new lesson in trusting the unknown. This is an amulet of transformation and change happening below the surface. At the centre of the amulet you will see a butterfly. We cannot see the caterpillar becoming a butterfly within its cocoon, but we trust that it is happening. We cannot see the seed beginning to grow beneath the soil, but again we trust that it is happening. If we try to open that cocoon or dig up the seeds however, this fragile transformative process can be killed. We have to trust that these transformations are coming even as we cannot see them.
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like unknowns. When I am going through life I like to have a plan A and a plan B, just in case. So when I am being told by Spirit that I need to learn to trust in the unknown. It throws up major wobblies in my gut. Can I do this? Will I screw it up? What if no one likes me?
What delicate transformations are taking place in the hidden corners of your life? How comfortable are you in sitting in a quiet stage of not knowing? Can you take a leap of faith over the edge into the unknown?

 

allseeing

Eyes: reflecting inner visions

 

 
All-Seeing Eyes finally told me to look into my heart to find what I needed to do and trust my internal instincts, perhaps the hardest task of all. When we look inside we see all out faults, all our doubts, all our fears. Here I was invited to not only look inwards at all of these fears, but to bring them out into the light of day and share them with the rest of the world.
It is only by honestly looking into what is in our heart that we can recognise the negative comments we are directing towards ourselves. Only then can we take the steps needed to stop that chatter.
When you look into your heart, what messages are written there? Are they words of encouragement, or words to tear you down? What do you see when you look inside?

Spiralled Edges
When doing a shamanic journey to discover my Soul Path, I was shown a brightly glowing cord spiralling into the unknown. The times in life when I had stumbled off that path were when I tried to make it stretch into a straight line. Sometimes I am learning, the best way of moving forwards is to move in a curved line.
My calling in life is that of a Healer. As an intuitive Reiki and shamanic healer I walk the boundaries between this world and the world of Spirit. Many times I have found myself in vision standing on the edge of a precipice, and being given a task. Trust enough to make the leap of faith into the unknown.
So I come to the Spiralled Edge, where I walk the path between the worlds. Thank you for joining me in this journey, even if for just a little while.

 

Amulets of the Goddess created by Nancy Blair

 

Seeing the Signs

December, 2014

Divining By Wish-Bone

 

In my kitchen, I have two baskets hanging over my stove with recipes jotted onto small pieces of paper & stuffed into them – Pâte Brisée and Pâte Sucré on one and Yummy Good Granola Bars on another – and on the smaller of the two baskets hang five wish-bones. Two from turkeys and three from chickens. The other day, my son was asking me about them. “Why don’t you break them and make a wish?” he inquired. “Isn’t it bad luck if you don’t use them?”
I had never considered that. For years, I had done one turkey a year – at Thanksgiving – and the wish-bone was saved to be wished upon and broken on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight – it was one of my first husband’s and my little traditions. But since we were no longer married, I no longer adhered to that. Was I supposed to break the wish-bone by myself? And none of my other partners seemed particularly keen to continue a tradition started with another man.
When I had a son, of course he wanted to make a wish with the wish-bone after the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner was over – all children do. But as he grew older, he naturally stopped being so into it – he usually left the house as soon as dinner was over to hang with his friends. Generally the wishbone went into the pot with the rest of the carcass when I made broth for soup. Once in a while I thought to save it and that’s how I now have a small collection of wish-bones in my kitchen.
To answer his question as to why I haven’t broken them, well, you can’t break a wish-bone by yourself. I just tried. You need another person to make the magic work. One person holds one end of the bone and the other person grasps the other end, and each person pulls while making a wish. The person who ends up with the larger piece of bone after the wish-bone breaks will have her wish fulfilled. According to the blog “Miracles N Magic”, the person with the shorter end of the bone will be the first to marry. I’m not sure how that works if the person is already married. “Miracles N Magic” also reports that if you don’t want to break the wish-bone, you can let them dry and simply touch them any time you want to make a wish. So evidently, it’s not bad luck if you don’t break them!

The use of using the bones of birds for divination goes back to the Etruscans. A bird’s wishbone is technically known as the forcula. Without this bone, birds would not be able to fly. Apparently, the Etruscans thought that birds, especially chickens, were oracles, and they had an elaborate system of divination using both roosters and hens. One part of this system was letting the forcula dry out in the sun after the chicken had been killed and then use it for making wishes and its other divinatory powers. According to mentalfloss.com, this Etruscan custom was adopted by the Romans and then spread throughout Europe as the Roman Empire expanded. Eventually, it came to the British Isles and became a part of British culture.

Of course, the forculae of other birds were used as well. In The Folklore of Birds, by Edward A. Armstrong, he associates the goose with Aphrodite and eroticism, noting that goose fat was used as an aphrodisiac. Other birds were associated with Aphrodite, including the swan, the sparrow, the dove, and the partridge. No doubt these birds were used in ritual in her honor and the forcula of each bird carefully examined for divinatory messages. As the pagan era was overtaken by Christianity, the original meaning of these oracles were lost. But other divinatory customs came to replace them.

Armstrong notes that geese were common eaten for the feast of St. Michael, known as Michaelmas, September 29, and also for the feast of St. Martin, known as Martinmas, November 11. These feast days were carried over to the New World, but since the Puritans had a horror of Catholic feast days, they were merged into a generic “Thanksgiving Day” at the end of the harvest season. Turkeys, a New World fowl, were roasted as well as geese.
Geese were roasted all over Europe at the harvest season, the Yule season, and the New Year. Armstrong writes, “Dr. Hartlieb, physician to Duke Albrecht of Bavaria, writing in 1455, gives what is apparently the first reference to divination by wish-bone.” He goes on to quote Dr. Hartlieb: “When the goose has been eaten on St. Martin’s Day or Night, the oldest and most sagacious keep the breast-bone and allowing it to dry until the morning and examines it all around … Thereby they divine whether the winter will be severe or mild, wet or dry …”
Evidently wish-bones were not for making idle wishes, they were for divining the weather. Important stuff. Well into the nineteenth century, peasants all over Europe used the bones of birds to predict the severity of the coming winter and to plan accordingly.
Armstrong does not say how the wish-bone foretells the weather. Perhaps this is lost in time. For now, all we have are our wishes. So the next time you roast a chicken or a turkey, or maybe a duck or goose … remember to save that forcula! Let it dry out for a day or two and then make a wish with your child or someone you love. Enjoy the season!

Works Cited
Armstrong, Edward A. The Folklore of Birds: An Enquiry into the Origins of some Magio-Religious Traditions. London: Collins, 1958
http://mentalfloss.com/article/31579/why-do-we-wish-turkey%E2%80%99s-wishbone
http://miraclesnmagic.wordpress.com/2008/11/25/wishing-on-a-wishbone/