lesson

The Road to Runes

December, 2018

The Road to Runes: The Right Headspace

 

 

Reading runes is a form of divination. All forms of divination require an open mind ready to receive messages and interpret symbols. A stressed and worried mindset will lead to false interpretations, or prevent messages coming through at all. Even the strongest connection between diviner and tools can be blocked by a worried mind or troubled soul.

Of course, we often look for answers from the runes because we are troubled and worried. So how can we stop these worries affecting our divination?

Relax

As an anxious person, believe me, I know this is easier said than done. Relaxation becomes even trickier when you have lots of questions on your mind. However there are several techniques you can use to relax your body, which will normally also help relax your mind.

Listening to music is an old standard for me. Very familiar songs allow me to blank out everything else in my mind, and I often find that belting out a good tune can release a lot of pent-up tension. Classical music can also be very relaxing, but if you’re someone who finds classical music boring, don’t go down this route! Spend some time figuring out which music relaxes you. Are you more relaxed after shouting along to something upbeat? Or by closing your eyes and letting some panpipes wash over you? Services like Spotify are great as they allow you to search for relaxation music and sounds, if you can’t think of anything from your own collection.

The pendulum method, or progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) is also a method I use to help me relax. It also works for sleeplessness. It consists of deliberately tensing groups of muscles, then allowing them to relax. The idea is that for the pendulum to swing the most one way, you first have to pull it all the way in the other direction. So muscles will relax better, or feel more relaxed, after being tense. You may start with your hands, work up to the shoulders, then down to the feet, all the way back up the body leaving neck and face until last. I tend to start with the feet and really take my time. I will talk to myself mentally as I do this: “I’m tensing my toes; I’m relaxing my toes. I’m tensing my feet; I’m relaxing my feet,” and so forth. The combination of muscular relaxation with focusing on the task will leave body and mind loose and ready for anything.

Meditate

Rune meditation is a specific type of meditation designed for understanding the runes better. However, any form of meditation before divination can help make the mind more receptive to messages and more skilled at interpretation. Meditation helps move our mind onto a different level of operating, and allows us to let go of thoughts and feelings which may be bothering us unduly.

Breathing is the key to meditation. A very skilled meditation master advised me that breath is the only tool we ever need. Philosophical, but also accurate. Find yourself a comfortable position. There’s no rule that says you have to sit cross legged, or sit at all. Laying down is perfectly acceptable, although there is the risk of falling asleep! I have joint issues which means it’s very painful for me to sit cross-legged, so I normally sit on a chair or on my sofa, supported by cushions in order to have a straight back whilst remaining relaxed. Once you are comfortable, start to focus on your breath. Breathe naturally, but make a note of it flowing in and out of your body. Notice the breath coming in, then feel it leaving you. In, then out. Imagine yourself breathing in fresh, cooling air, and imagine any stress or tension leaving you with every out breath. Inhale refreshment, exhale stress and worry. Inhale light, expel confusion. Inhale relaxation, exhale aggravation.

If you struggle to breathe normally whilst focusing on your breath, try counting as you breathe. Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of four, then breathe out for a slow count of five. There are lots of different breathing techniques to allow you to enter a meditative state. Once you find your mind starting to relax, you can start to let go of troublesome thoughts. Notice them appear, then just let them drift away. Don’t try to quiet your mind; this is impossible and can make you feel more stressed when you fail. Let the thoughts rumble through your mind but treat them as though you are watching traffic, or the birds flying by. You don’t need to be involved with them right now. Observe them, then let them pass. Stay in this state for as long as is comfortable or until you feel relaxed and comfortable. Always come back to yourself slowly, and gently. Drink some water. Thank yourself for the gift of relaxation. Now you are ready to read your runes.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

MagickalArts

December, 2018

Excerpted from:

19-Days of Illuminated Darkness

Day Three

The Light Within the Shadow of the Winter Solstice



For most of us the turning of the Greater Wheel to the Winter Solstice (Yule) is one of welcoming the return of the Light of

renewal and strength, the promise of increasingly longer hours of daylight and anticipation of warmer weather and a more outer world focused time. This change is subtle in physical form as this is also when the cold of the Winter (Northern Hemisphere) will remain for a few months more prompting us to retreat indoors as the early arrival of evening’s darkness envelopes and calls us into the warmth and light of home.

Each year, I do my work of Self, both within my Tradition (The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel) and personally to call forth this return of Light. And, I also find myself retreating more deeply into the shadows and taking refuge in its landscape of shadow; being intuitively drawn towards the deeper work of spiritual quickening, I think of this as the energy of the Hermit Key of the Tarot and my time to move into the darkened areas of my own inner landscape so that I may welcome and bring forth the Greater Light within. This is also the time of relying on my Shadow self to provide the necessary absence of light to guide me through those darkened paths in a constructive and informed way.

In all spiritual practice, the thought of the physical being holding the Inner Flame of Spirit or The Divine Spark of Light is offered up as a basic concept. The language may differ. The way in which this Inner Light presents itself and interacts with conscious awareness may have different ideology. And, the tools and methods used to quicken its energy may be worlds apart in intent and function, but the premise remains the same. In the space of our dark nature lay a light that is luminescent and brilliant that may be called upon to enliven and transform our spiritual and mundane pursuits. If we take it a step further, this transformation is the direct result of collaboration and embracing the dark and the light natures of our consciousness and using each as support and spiritual catalyst of the other.

This dark nature that I am referring to also has many names, functions and philosophies attached to it. I will simply call it the Shadow (Self) . There is an inherent polarity in all things and this Shadow is that polarized image of our Light nature. I am intentionally not using words that are negative in connotation for the Shadow, because it is not anymore a negative aspect of our being than the Light filled self is. Both are states of being that are subject to all the permutations and scales of intensity and impact that any other state of being is. In reality, if we did not have the antithesis or opposite of something, how could we ever enjoy and fully embrace the thing that is being opposed? So, how can this Shadow state be used during the waxing of the Light and engaged to work co-creatively upon those parts of myself I Will to quicken and prime in alignment with the increasing state of light?

The time of the Solstices allows for a deeper awareness and exploration of what impact we have in this world and how we may use the information we learn about ourselves to move in appropriate and fulfilling ways. It is the time of disequilibrium to bring about the eventual balance that is actualized at the Equinoxes. Neither of these energies are about everything being measured and being exactly the same amount of something on each pan of the scale. Rather, they are the states of balance that are dynamic in nature, moving and flowing one to the other and arriving at an informed state of equilibrium at some point of the process. It is again about the process of polarities and the allowance of a void or lesser amount of one thing, so that it may be filled and quickened by its opposite. There is also the component of sacrifice within these thoughts in that we must willingly acknowledge that something must be given up to make room for that which would be drawn in.

This is the battle of the Holly and the Oak Kings, as each gives way to the other and also resists the relinquishing to the other of its power. One holds the promise of the growing Light and the other the refuge of the increasing Darkness. And, although they are one in the same, in order that the cycles may continue and a newly formed energy can be birthed into being, one must relinquish a parcel of its power to be subsumed into the other; temporary imbalance as brothers become enemies and in the final act, become allies in the process of transformation. The Light of the Oak King birthed from the darkening and lessening of the Holly King.

We call forth to the return of the Light-filled Oak King and celebrate the waxing of the Light half of the year. But, in order for that light to shine in its fullest way, we must also embrace and celebrate the remaining vestiges of the darkness of the Holly King. The darkness of the months that persist of winter’s cold. The darkness that becomes the expanding shadow as the sun shines increasingly longer and brighter around us. And, the darkness that we can retreat into to find those hidden sparks that yearn to be nurtured and brought to the full light of day.

As the weather remains or becomes even colder, the natural inclination is to seek out the warmth and coziness of home. And, so I retreat into the welcoming warmth of my home and settle in ready to study, meditate and reveal more of myself to myself. I embrace the early evening darkness as a cloak that I step into so I can more fully appreciate the sun’s light of day. I move within both physically, settling into home and family and spiritually as I dig deeper into the recesses of my own nature. I seek out and call to the inner spark within and stand ready to embrace also the Shadow of my nature as it rises to the surface, revealed by that light.

In meditation, I allow my breath to slow and deepen into the darkness and move along the paths of my own creation that I have tended to in the previous months in preparation for this time of going within. These paths are often mired with the thorns and treacherous roots of inertness, illusory thoughts and judgments that I have used as the trappings of who I am in the world. My Shadow has nurtured each and knows the weakness and strength of each because in this space of darkness what is revealed is often seen more clearly in its true form than in the blinding light.
When I finally relax and surrender into the wisdom of my Shadow the first striking of the match of greater light is drawn across the rough surface of my resistance, and the resistance is transformed into the tiny sparks that ignite the part of myself that is receptive and waiting.

In accord with the energy of Yule, I allow the weakening resistance of my Holly King to be replaced with a renewed sense of purpose and the strength of my Oak King. My Shadow self is resistant to being brought forward, knowing that bits of it will be released in sacrifice and other parts will be transformed so that its darker nature can work co-creatively with the strength of my light self. I call to the Oak King that he may bless and enliven both aspects of myself as we move forward into the new year in anticipation of what can be seeded at the Spring Equinox; and accepting the knowledge that his wisdom will be transformed as the Shadow begins to strengthen its work at the Summer Solstice and the rising once again of the Holly King.

At those points when the darkness seems pervasive and overwhelming and the light is barely visible I am reminded that without the necessary shade to prevent the seedling from drying and withering from an overabundance of the light’s unfiltered rays, the beauty of new growth and radiant and healthy flower will not come to fruition.

May the blessings of the growing Light and the wisdom of the Dark create the quickened space for a prosperous, enlightened and informed Yule.

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Tarot Talk

October, 2018

Three of Wands

(The Three of Wands card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We have already talked about the Three of Cups, the Three of Swords and the Three of Pentacles, so this month we will examine the Three of Wands. This is a Minor Arcana card so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. We can also find useful information within the image on the card.

The traditional image of the Three of Wands is a figure dressed in a robe of red or red and green, standing on a hill or a cliff, often surrounded by grass and flowers (representing fertile ground) and holding a living wand with leaves or flowers just springing out (symbolizing fertility and early manifestation), with two other Wands, one on each side of him, creating a sort of gateway (representing a transition point). He (or she; some cards show a woman) has his back to the viewer and is looking outward (showing a look into the future, or anticipation). Before him is usually a lake or body of water (thoughts or the subconscious) upon which sails one or several ships (journeys, cargo); sometimes a bird is flying overhead (representing grand ideas). On the far side of the body of water are hills and mountains (challenges and attainments). Everything in the image is bathed in a golden light. There is a sense of quiet anticipation in this image, and an anticipation of good things to come once his ship comes in.

For this discussion we will accept that the suit of Wands corresponds to the element of Fire. This is not always the case, depending on the deck being used; some see Wands as being connected to Air. Besides the element of Fire, the suit of Wands corresponds with the playing card suit of Clubs, and the cardinal direction of South. In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry. It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects. Fire is passionate in nature and it transforms everything it touches, everything in our world. Fire can sanitize or cleanse, and it can destroy everything in its path; Fire can warm us and keep us safe, or it can kill us.

All of the cards of the suit of Wands (including the Three of Wands) teach us about Fiery attributes like creativity, ambition, growth, passion and actions, and how their presence or absence can affect our lives. The suit of Wands represents our ability to experience joy and passion (including sexual passion), and the Wands cards can represent our creativity, our ability to be artistic or to be drawn to beautiful things. Fire often represents Spirit or the Divine Will, and Wands cards also can present the possibility of some interaction with Spirit or the Divine, or actions or passions manifesting in line with Divine Will.

The element of Fire can be seen as kinetic, or even electric. It has the power to create greatness (when we are inspired to be better than we think we can be), or destruction (when we believe we are greater than we actually are). Fire fuels innovation, but an imbalance or lack of Fire can bring austerity. Action and energy are enhanced by this element, but so are destruction and oppression.

The number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2. We can see the manifestation of this throughout our physical world; when a male and a female of any species come together, the result is often the creation of new life. The number 3 can also represent optimism, self-expression and the polishing or honing of skills already in place. On the uncomfortable side of things, the number 3 can represent self-doubt, wastefulness, or vanity.

Within the Tarot, the Threes are seen as either creating something out of the potential of the Ace and the partnership of the Two of their suit, or they are seen as manifesting or making real the potential of the Ace and the concept of the Two. Briefly, we have the potential for experiencing a creative force that could bring enthusiasm and excitement (the Ace of Wands), and the ability to be a pioneer and the courage to choose our own path (the Two of Wands). The Three of Wands presents the first-stage completion of a glimpse of what can be created if we stay the path (with the second stage at the number 7 and the third and final stage at the number 9), begun with the potential of the Ace which manifests in the Two card and then presents a sense of achievement in our Three of Wands. Our card tells us that we have the ability to take the long view and the courage to look for greater possibilities.

The astrological correspondence for the Three of Wands is the Sun in the astrological sin of Aries.

The Sun is the star at the center of our solar system around which the planets revolve; it provides our Earth with the heat and light necessary for life as we know it. The arc that the Sun travels in every year, rising and setting in a slightly different place each day, is a reflection of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun; hence its connection with reflection and fertility. The Sun travels through the twelve signs of the zodiac in one year, spending about a month in each sign. The Sun represents the conscious ego, the self and its expression, personal power, pride and authority, leadership qualities and the principles of creativity, spontaneity, health and vitality, or simply the “life force. In Chinese astrology, the Sun represents Yang, the active, assertive masculine life principle. In Indian astrology, the Sun is called Surya and represents the soul, ego, vitality, kingship, highly placed persons, government, and the archetype of The Father.

The astrological sign of Aries is a cardinal Fire sign that is a catalyst, a person that inspires others by being totally committed to his or her own vision. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, the leader of the pack, first in line to get things going. Those born under this sign prefer to initiate, and they won’t shy away from anything new. Aries people are action oriented, assertive, and competitive. Aries is ruled by Mars, the God of War, bold and aggressive, and able to tap into the focus needed to take on any challenge. The symbol of Aries is the Ram, blunt and to the point, and a sheer force of nature. The great strength of those born under this sign is found in their initiative, courage and determination.

The Sun represents the individual, and Aries supports that concept by bringing in fierce independence. These are the energies of a warrior, a trailblazer who can see where to go in order to find his way. This combination gets the job done, often by steamrolling the opposition. In any event the courage and leadership and ability to think out of the box are assets that are very desirable. These energies can be impulsive, though, and they represent moments where it can be difficult to understand why others won’t follow our path.

The Threes have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Binah at the top of the Pillar of Form/Restriction. This sephira is seen as form, as force in pattern, and as the Great Mother and the Womb of Life. Binah offers shadow and contrast, which in turn gives us shape and form. Binah restricts in order to provide a springboard, and that restriction can also be its downfall if it becomes greed. Binah represents intuitive understanding, contemplation, and deductive reasoning, and the fertile receptivity of the Sacred Feminine.

The Llewellyn Welsh Tarot Three of Wands shows a figure standing on a hill covered with grasses and flowers, looking out over a bay on which there are three sailing ships. The person’s robe is blowing in the breeze. He holds a wand decorated with young green sprouts and a scarf that he holds in order to keep it from blowing away. On either side of him are two other wands. The keywords for this card are speculation, exploring, broadening horizons, trade and negotiations, distributing resources and gambling on the unknown.

The Three of Wands of the Thoth Tarot is named “Virtue,” and its image of three Wands topped with flowers and surrounded by flames represents the primal solar energy that penetrates the earth in Spring and causes the seeds to germinate. This card not only represents great power, but also the will and the courage to use that power.

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot Three of Wands shows the silhouette of a figure standing on a beach looking across calm waters as the sun sets and tinges everything with gold. Surrounding him are three Wands tipped with glowing crystals. In the sky before him floats a glorious wooden sailing ship held aloft by three brightly colored balloons, surrounded by sea birds. There are clouds in the sky and the figure’s cloak blows in the breeze, but there is not a sense of storms or impending chaos for the ship sails steadily. Is the ship really there? Or is the figure dreaming of possibilities or the future? The card represents the joining of forces, enterprise, trade, and power.

The Three of Wands is a very exciting card, for it tells of approaching good fortune. What we are waiting for is arriving and reinforcements are on the way. Success is within sight, and while there is still work to be done, perhaps frantic last-minute work crammed into a short time period, we are resourceful enough to communicate what we need and to make things happen. Luck is on its way!

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

The Road to Runes

July, 2018

 

The Road to Runes: Learning the Layouts

Before I expand further into learning the individual meanings of the runes, I wanted to understand a bit more about the different layouts used in rune divination. Like tarot, there are various ways of displaying runes, and each layout can have different meanings and is useful in different types of situations. We’ve already had a look at a three rune spread, showing what has happened, what is happening right now and what is going to happen; past, present and future. More metaphysically, this can be seen as our current situation, our desired situation and the eventual actual outcome of the situation. We’ve also looked at pulling a single rune, and using that to give us some guidance on a single question. But how else can the runes be used for divination?

 

The Four Directions

Pull four runes and lay them at north, south, east and west. The Rune Site tells us that each of the positions of the runes can be named for each of the dwarves that hold up the sky; Nordri, Austri, Sudri and Vestri. This cast expands upon the three rune cast by adding in an extra rune which tells us of what obstacles may be in our way.

Nordri: North, the past. What happened to lead the subject to ask the question they are asking today? What led to this situation? Why are we here, in this position, today?

Vestri: West, the present. What’s happening right now? How are people feeling? How are they dealing with the current situation? How are subjects reacting to one another?

Austri: East, future obstacles: What stands in our way? What opportunities are there? What challenges, and what chance to overcome these?

Sudri: South, future outcome. What may we expect at the end of this situation? How will it be resolved? Indeed, will it be resolved, or will it lead to another situation beyond this one?

 

Five Rune Spread

You or your client pulls five runes and spreads them in a line, and they are read left to right. Blackwitchcoven.com tells us that these runes, one to five, are the present, the obstacle, a desired goal, a concern and the final result.

Rune One: This is the truth of the current situation and should directly relate to the question the caster or client has asked.

Rune Two: This rune will describe or foretell an obstacle which will occur in the caster’s journey.

Rune Three: This rune should relate to the caster’s goal, but may reflect an unconscious desire.

Rune Four: This rune deals with any worries, concerns or even anxieties about the situation in question. It may be that the caster didn’t appear to have any worries, and was simply looking to the runes for reassurance. This rune will deal with any subconscious worries that are lurking behind the scenes.

Rune Five: This rune gives some guidance on what the actual outcome may be.

 

Seven Rune Layout

This one seems more complex, but is incredibly useful for obtaining more detail and specifics about your situation or problem. Sunnyway.com tells us this spread can often tell us how we ended up in this position in the first place, and can look three months in to the past, or the future. Another left to right reading, simply choose seven runes, lay six out left to right with the final rune by itself, below the first six.

The main difference in this layout is that two runes are read at a time, the meanings combining to give a more complex, but more thorough explanation of each aspect of your situation.

Runes One and Two: These should give details on the current problem; what is happening right now; people’s current feelings, reactions and actions; how we are dealing with this situation right now and how it is affecting us.

Runes Three and Four: what happened in the past to lead to this situation? What are the root causes?

Runes Five and Six: These are the two key runes that will provide the necessary guidance for this situation. Try and interpret the meanings of each rune and see how they relate to one another, in order to get the best advice possible. You may be told to move on, to let something go, to hang on to something, to wait, to act; it’s important to try and glean as much meaning as possible from these two runes.

Rune Seven: The overall outcome. The meaning of this rune will be affected by the runes that came before, so if it’s a rune where the meaning could be either generally negative or positive, look to the prior runes and see how positive or negative they are, and their meanings; do they back up a negative outcome? Or would that make little sense in the context of this reading?

This sounds like a really complex reading, and I doubt I’m ready for it yet, but it’s really interesting to see how the runes can be used together, and not just as individual messengers.

 

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

 

Book Review- Gifts of the Crysnix by Lisa G. Shore

June, 2018

Book Review

Gifts of the Crysnix

Author: Lisa G. Shore

209 pages

 

(Author Lisa G. Shore courtesy https://lisagshore.com/)

 

This book brought me back to my younger years when my imagination was at its best. The author’s magical world includes fairies, kings/queens, princes, ogres, underworld creatures, laws of light, crystals, and much more.

The story is set in a small town called Galvin Colve. In the woods called Castle Forest lies a majestic Crystal Kingdom that is hidden from human kind. Inside the Crystal Kingdom are advanced beings who have unfastened the truths of the universe. They are crystal fairies who call themselves Crysnix. The Crysnix grant wishes for humans in trouble and try to guide them in the right direction while the dark side tries to create chaos. This story has celebration, love, tragedy, and war. Everything that makes a great story.

I felt young and happy while reading this book. It has “teachable” moments interlaced with the story which I thought was a great aspect. It’s about love, working together and helping one another mixed with magic and emotion. This book actually helped me realize how caught up I have been in my adult life that I had forgotten my whimsical creative side of me and I miss that.

I believe this book is good for children and adults. It was an easy read. I loved the fact that the author used quotes in the beginning of the book as well as in front of each chapter. The quote that hit home most for me was:

“Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations.

For if you do, you may still exist but you have cease to live.”

-Henry David Thoreau

At times, I wish there was more detailed explanation involved, but not enough for me not to enjoy the adventure this book brought me on.

 

Gifts of the Crysnix

 

***

About the Author:

Amy Sweryda is a Legal Assistant for a Workers Compensation Attorney.  She works at PSRB.  Amy loves the products that she sells on the side, Safe, Natural and Essential products from health to beauty.  Her website is https://www.amysweryda.arbonne.comAmy, also, enjoys reading, animals & being outdoors.

 

 

Finding Your Own Way

June, 2018

Chapter 3

 

Acceptance

The hardest lesson that we need to earn as human beings is acceptance. It is not a vague feeling of goodwill, nor a sign of weakness and vacillation. It is a powerful tool for expanding up our intuition and creativity. It gives us new insights and new options in many situations. It allows us to take a realistic and honest look at situations in our homes and at work and at many social events.

Where once we may have been victims of our own emotions and impulses, we begin to gain the ability to take control of situations around us. It is the key to unlocking a positive future.

As we learn to accept others without judgment, we begin to remove the emotional blockages to the exploration of our own inner worlds.

We learn to see ourselves honestly and without self-criticism. We can then begin to see, and deal with, our own hidden motivations and develop true spontaneity. To encourage acceptance, we need to release ourselves from our need for certainty. Remember, it is inconceivable, that we are always right, and others are always wrong. This basic truth is a good starting point.

I cannot emphasize enough how important a force like acceptance will become in our lives.

It is a key element in self-healing. It is essential for any true learning and personal development.

It is best to use a comfortable chair at this stage, to lessen the likelihood of falling asleep.

Again, just read the text and muse over the images. Then, allow the images and ideas to flow through your mind unchallenged, both during and after the deep relaxation technique.

If you wish, you can now begin to add some visualization techniques.

If your eyes open, just allow them to close again after a few moments.

As you breathe in, imagine a stream of golden light flowing down into your body from above.

As you breathe out, imagine it flowing out from your torso and forming a golden ball around you.

Repeat this a few times and return to your musings.

You may repeat the sequence a few times if you wish.

Allow yourself time to return to normal consciousness before driving or operating any machinery.

A drink and a snack are a good way to return fully to normal waking consciousness.

Be aware that time distortion often occurs during meditations. An hour may pass in what feels like a few moments, or time may seem to stretch, and a short session may seem to last much longer.

This section will ease your journey into later, more advanced, meditations.

Try not to rush ahead or work to any targets. The journey is what counts. Every single moment is what matters most. This is your journey and will unfold in your own unique way. You will discover a wisdom and guidance that will benefit you for your whole life as you begin to discover your own inner resources.

Certainty

Like a suit of armor,

Polished gold that gleams and sparkles in the light.

That Blessed Shield that keeps our ego safe.

No niggling doubts disturb us in the night.

No second thoughts to make our conscience chafe.

The Joy of never being wrong,

Those great eternal truths that beam down from above.

Our principles that keep us different from the milling throng.

When we love Certainty,

Its charms can keep us safe from any other love.

We feel misunderstood by those who do not truly Know.

Their dreadful ignorance and anarchy surround us every day.

If only we could set them on the path they need to go.

If only they could understand the things we try to say,

Then we could let them bask in our enlightened glow.

But then,

How can I teach the sparrow how to fly?

They seemed to know just what to do,

Before I ever had a chance to teach them how.

I often watch in envy as they dance and weave above us in the evening sky.

The crimson setting sun, that lights their antics, lights the furrows on my brow.

Streaking red and gold across the purple hills and dark green fields,

Its rainbow glory blinds my eyes and lets me see,

This world was doing fine before there ever was a Me.

*****

 

Once we start to meditate, we open a doorway to our unconscious thoughts and feelings. This may not always be a comfortable experience. Take things slowly. If you become unhappy with the experience stop and open your eyes. If you feel tearful for no apparent reason, do not worry. It is simply a release of energy. But if you find yourself becoming moody or unhappy, – just take a break for a few days. This will give you time to assimilate whatever is being released from your unconscious mind. This is a very personal journey, and a lot of the images that will flow into your mind may seem strange at first, – but they will tend to have a relevance to your life which will become clear in time.

Many of the images may even seem religious. This is because they are a part of our human history and have been experienced and interpreted by many people over the ages. It is your own personal reaction to the images that count. You will come across them in the guided meditations also. Again, this is because we all share many of these ancient images as part of our common heritage. As you learn to deal with these ancient images, you will come to realize that they can release energy into our lives. This is not a religious exercise. Meditation on these symbols will allow us to tap into skills and abilities and attributes that are dormant in our minds, – regardless of whether we are atheists, agnostics or members of any of the mainstream religions. Our journey is about finding balance in our lives between our inner and outer needs but doing it in our own unique way.

 

***

About the Author:

Patrick W Kavanagh, Featuring the inspirational art of Bill Oliver

Writer, poet, Patrick W Kavanagh was born in Dublin and now lives and works in Lincolnshire in a small rural town. Patrick became fascinated by the strange abilities of the human mind from watching his mother give psychic readings using tea-leaves and playing cards. With a lifelong interest in metaphysics and parapsychology, he has given tarot and spirit readings for over 40 years. He travels to many events with his wife Tina, exploring the power of shamanic drumming to heal, and induce therapeutic trance states. They also hold a regular drumming circle in the picturesque Lincolnshire Wolds.

By Patrick W Kavanagh available at most retailers:

Finding Your Own Way: Personal Meditations for Mastery and Self-knowledge.

Kiara

Distant Shores

From the Muse

The Road to Runes

June, 2018

The Road to Runes: Ansuz, Woden’s Rune

For this stage in my journey with runes, I decided to do a little divination for myself. I’m wanting to begin working from home within the next year, hopefully within a few months. I’m at home with the six-month-old baby at the moment, but will have to return to the ‘day job’ by October, and everything in me rails against it. I want to be at home with my family, and I already write all the time anyway, so why not make a career out of it? Having already made steps in this direction, I was interested to know what the runes would make of this decision.

I pulled out a single rune for this particular piece of divination. This rune (pictured) was Ansuz, which literally means ‘God’. It’s normally associated with either Odin or Woden, the runes having come from Norse and Germanic origins. Esoterically, this rune is complex but tends to mean ‘inspiration’, which as a writer, is definitely one of my favourite words. Ansuz is also linked to communication and answers, something I was definitely hoping to get, so how does this rune translate into an answer to my query?

Ansuz is the rune of air, specifically breath. It is the breath of the universe, and the first breath that takes the spirit into the body, and the last breath that allows the spirit to escape. It is intrinsically linked to words and the power of words, particularly names. Words develop from and into concepts and creativity, and are often the focus of communication. As a writer wanting to make a career from my words, this rune tells me to listen to my inner voice, to embrace my creativity and use the talents I have to make this step.

Ansuz is also a rune of order. It indicates that even when the path is unclear, or times are difficult, that the universe has a plan and that ultimately, order will prevail. Ansuz encourages us to find patterns within chaos, and to trust that all will be as it is supposed to be. To me, this encourages me to take a leap of faith. Even if I have doubts, if I trust in the divine energies of the universe (and work hard!), I will find myself in a place that is good for me and my family.

Ansuz also reminds us to listen. Breath comes from the universe, from Odin, from ourselves but also from others. We must acknowledge that their breath, words and ideas are as potent and important as ours. We should take care with our words and not use them for manipulation or menace.

I’m a bit taken aback that for a question about writing and a big change in my life, I’m given a rune that focuses intensely on words, inspiration and creativity. I’m also reminded of the power of my own voice, and that words can do great harm, as well as great good. At the very least, this has inspired me to take the step I was tempted to take anyway, and see where the path takes me. The best interpretation is that this is definitely the right choice for me, and that if I trust the universe and my own inner voice, I will end up on the path that is truly best for me.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

Tarot Talk

October, 2017

Death

(The Death Card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

This month, since we are heading toward Samhain and Halloween, we will return to the Major Arcana, and talk about Death. The Tarot Major Arcana card Death, that is. Once we take a closer look at this card, you will come to understand that the Death card rarely foretells death of the physical body, and it really is something to be celebrated, not feared. Before we begin, let’s remind ourselves of some terms. If you know them, go ahead and skip down to where we talk about the traditional image of the card.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, an object, or a concept which can be copied, patterned, or imitated. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, a personality, or a behavior. In the analysis of personality, the term archetype often refers to one of two concepts: a “stereotype” (a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; for instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype), or an “epitome” (the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; for example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty). Archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner. Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has personally experienced (or will experience) these archetypes.

Besides the symbolism in its traditional image, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.

The traditional image on Death is of a skeleton in black knight’s armor, sometimes also wearing a black robe, riding a white horse whose bridle is decorated with skulls and crossbones, and carrying within his bony hand a flag or banner featuring a white rose. Standing before the horse is a priest, his hands together in prayer. At the feet of the horse are people who are dead or in the process of dying, one of which is often a child. Also at the feet of the horse is a discarded crown. Where the horse walks, the ground is brown, yet in the background are green trees, mountains, and a river on which a boat moves, its white sail filled with air. On the horizon are two white castles, and what could be either the rising or setting sun. In some decks, the horse being ridden by Death is also a skeleton. Other Death cards show the traditional version of Death himself, a Grim Reaper skeleton in a black or a blood-red robe, carrying a scythe, with skulls and bones and body parts littering the ground around him; often he is standing beside a stream or body of water, and sometimes the sky is filled with dark clouds.

Most of the symbolism within the traditional images of the Death card tells of endings and beginnings, transitions of some kind, and often, a return to balance. Death is a frightening figure, and yet his banner is emblazoned with a rose, the symbol of promise, hope, love, and new beginnings. The rose is also often found on The Magician, Strength, and The Fool, all three of which could offer us advice for dealing with the Death card. The sun on the horizon could represent the ending of a day or the beginning of a day. Water tells of emotions, visions, and dreams, all ways to communicate across the Veil between those who are alive and those who have passed. Water also tells of birth and death. The scythe represents the harvest, which happens at the end of the growth season when the harvest is leveled, and the discarded crown tells us that no one, even a king, is immune to death.

The Death card is numbered XIII. The number 13 has a lot of baggage attached to it, not all pleasant. We can break this number down several ways. We can add the digits, 1 + 3, and get the number 4. The number 4 is about balance, stability and depth, not concepts we would connect to Death. However, cycles of being born, living, and then dying and resting only to be born again are a part of our natural world, and death is a key part of the renewal that comes with birth, a part of the balancing of those cycles. We can break the number down as a combination of the numbers 10 and 3. The number 10 tells of the completion of a cycle or effect, and the number 3 tells of broadening our ability to perceive, or the physical manifestation of an idea, or a new creation out of the union of opposites. Or, we can take the number on its own. 13 is seen by many as representing bad luck, rooted from that Friday the 13th in 1307 when the Knights Templar were mostly assassinated. However, the number 13 can represent the “enlightened guest”; Christ had 12 disciples, which means there were 13 people at the Last Supper: 12 disciples and the “enlightened guest,” thus offering keywords such as ascension and resurrection to the Death card. In ancient Greece, Zeus was considered the 13th god of the pantheon, and the most powerful. This offers keywords such as completion, attainment and realization to our card. The number 13 is also a prime number, which tells of purity and an incorruptible nature.

The Death card represents the archetypes of The Reaper and Rebirth. The Reaper clears the growth from the fields and brings in the last harvest. Again, we are shown the cycle of life, and the importance of endings and completions. Only then, once the harvest is gathered and the fields are cleared and allowed to rest, can Rebirth begin. For even during the darkest winter night when the fields are covered with snow, the seeds of the last harvest begin to germinate. These archetypes tell of letting go of the old to make way of the new, of moving from the known into the unknown (which can be frightening), and that new beginnings will follow a period of grieving for what has gone.

Death corresponds with the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

Feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water. Emotions flow and have currents, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious, the dark and unknown depths hidden below the smooth reflective surface.

In astrology, Death corresponds with the astrological sign of Scorpio. Scorpio is a fixed Water sign; in Astrology, Fixed Signs are associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. For Scorpios, these traits are found through achievement, and through going deep into the timeless mysteries of the imagination, dreams, and passions. Scorpios are powerful and willful in all they do; they stick with a task to the end, often achieving much more than Cardinal and Mutable Signs. On the other hand, they are also inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Scorpios will ruthlessly fight on behalf of their beliefs, regardless of any contrary evidence, but they are most at home when immersed in a sustained, worthwhile situation. Scorpios love to learn about others; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable. Scorpio is about beginnings and endings, and about understanding the deep, dark secrets of the self. Scorpios stick to the plan (Scorpio is a Fixed Sign, after all); they are intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected to the creative forces in the universe. These creative forces express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. Death of the Major Arcana corresponds with the Hebrew letter Nun, the fourteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet which falls into the level of manifestation, representing the fish. In Aramaic, the fish is a symbol of activity and life. Nun is said to represent both faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness. The origin of the pictograph representing the letter Nun is said to be a seed sprouting, representing perpetuation, offspring and the verb “to continue.”

On the Tree of Life, Death represents Path 24, running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify) and Netzach (the stimulating factors of emotion and inspiration). The 24th Path explores the differences between materialism and spirituality; it connects Netzach, the bottom of the Pillar of Force, with Tiphareth, the center of the Tree. The 24th Path helps us to face our fear of change; it shows us that death is a natural part of the evolutionary process, and of living. Through working with this Path, and with the Death card, we learn that death is actually a beginning, and we learn that change and transition are healthy.

The alchemic process of Putrefaction can be seen as a form of death. In biological death, putrefaction is one of the stages of decomposition in which the cohesion between tissues is broken down and the organs are liquefied. Within the alchemic Great Work, Putrefaction destroys the old nature and form. “Everything that has lived, dies; everything that is dead putrefies and finds a new life.” Dom Pernety.

In the Tarot of the Magicians, Oswald Wirth shows us a skeleton with a scythe, surrounded by body parts and the head of a woman with long hair and a man wearing a crown. In this deck, many of the cards are named: the Magician, the Priestess, the Empress; however Death is not named, only numbered. Wirth tells us that death is not to be feared for it is liberation, rather, Death “extinguishes nothing, but sets free the energies overwhelmed by the weight of Matter’s increasing inertia.”

The Dreams of Gaia Major Arcana Death/Rebirth card is **the** change card of this beautiful deck; the keywords for this card are endings, beginnings, cycles, transformation, transmutation, change and growth. Death/Rebirth tells of the death of the things that no longer serve and the birth of the new and exciting things that will replace the things that died. The process is not reversible (which is one reason we fear death); once we pass through Death and into Rebirth, there is no re-do. The LWB offers pointed advice: “. . . it is time to take a long, hard look at your life, and understand that it is time to let go.”

The image of the Death card in Thoth deck is what attracted me to this deck initially. The Death card shows death as a dancing skeleton bearing a scythe. He wears the Crown of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead and is shown in the waters of Amenti, an Egyptian after-death state. The sweep of his scythe creates bubbles which contain the seeds of new life. This version of Death does not show the usual version of the Grim Reaper; instead this being dances!

I adore the image on the Wild Unknown Death card; it absolutely captures the idea of transformation without bringing in the fear. Here is the duckling of The Fool and the swan of the Cups Court Cards of this deck, or at least what is left of them after their life forces have departed and their bodies have mostly decayed and gone back to where they began so new life can spring from their ingredients. There are still some feathers left, and a beak on the skull, like the fading memories left in our minds of someone who was once alive. Most of what was here once has gone on to another plane of existence, the life force back to the Divine and the body back to the Earth. We don’t know what it is like to die, but there is a rightness to this image that reassures. Life may not be forever, but neither is Death.

The Legacy of the Divine Death card has everything you would expect: a skull, spiders and scorpions, a grim reaper on a rearing steed, wearing armor and carrying a tattered banner, a dead bird and winter-bare branches along with a beautiful, perfect white rose blossom. This card tells us that we have indeed died, maybe not physically but we have been irrevocably transformed. We are not existing in the same form. The keywords are letting go, death, rebirth, regeneration, and metamorphosis, among others.

Endings are as necessary in life as beginnings, and the Death card reminds us that the cycles of life, no matter how pleasant or feared they may be, have a beauty about them. Our life cycles have an elegant simplicity about them. Nothing is wasted, and everything has value. As we move through the changes and transformations of life, we need to remember to not dwell too much on the events of the past, or the possibilities of the future. Instead, we should embrace this moment in time and look for the possibilities hidden within it. Those possibilities have so much to offer, and they are right here, in our hands.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

Proving Grounds

February, 2012

Finding, Preparing, and Using Magical Tools and Supplies

This is Lesson Three of a year-and-a-day instruction program in becoming a witch.

Finding magical tools and supplies is much less onerous than it once was. The internet is lousy with sites that will eagerly supply herbs, stones, athames, chalices, jewelry and amulets of every description, powders, and potions to the neophyte. How to choose, how to choose?

One way to choose is swiftly. Buy an “altar kit,” which will usually include an athame, a ready-made wand, possibly a chalice, often an altar cloth, some herbs, and usually a candle and holder or two. Drop fifty bucks, often what a chalice or athame can cost to begin with, and off you go.

Another way is slowly. Wait until a particular athame or chalice speaks to you. It need not be labeled that, of course, and will often be cheaper if it is not. Determination and a willingness to haunt pawn and thrift stores can often provide these tools very cheaply. (My chalice happens to be a $2.99 20-oz. iced-tea glass I found at Tuesday Morning. I’ve simply never seen any other cup that reminds me so strongly of what Water is than that chunk of blue and green glass.)

Do be aware that not every “athame” described as such is, in fact, an athame. Technically, an athame has a double-edged blade. Like many (but not, alas, all) traditions, this one has a practical underpinning: a double-edged blade allows energy to flow more easily through it.

Many of us have two athames, or more properly an athame and a boline, usually one black- and one white-hilted. Which of these is kept sharp to use, and which kept only to cut energy, varies by tradition.

Chalices are ideally of silver, a metal associated with the Moon, traditionally the most watery of the planets. This is not to say that a cup of other material which calls you back to pick it up three or four times should not be your chalice, but you will sacrifice that easy association with the element, and the power which comes with it. If your chalice is silver, on the other hand, you will make an ongoing sacrifice of the time and effort needed to keep it polished. If you have sufficient skill to throw or build a ceramic chalice, or create one of wood, while it will lack the association with Water, it will gain a great deal of power through your creation of it, provided you are mindful of its function while you do so.

Most of us cannot craft our own athames or chalices. We can and should, however, craft a wand.

The default wood for witching is willow. However, if you are given wood by having it fall in front of you, by all means accept the gift of the tree. (Be sure to leave a gift in return: a coin, a hair. Also, thank the tree.)

Wand material is as big around as the tip of your little finger, the length of your forearm from funny bone to tip of longest finger, and straight throughout that length. Sycamore wood, for instance, is rarely straight enough to use for a wand.

Fashioning a wand from raw wood will require several months of drying, followed by hours of sanding with increasingly fine grits, as well as much effort put forth to remove knobs, burls, and branch ends. This work is best done by hand as the meditative state entered into will give your wand life. Also, the electricity used for running power tools is enough to overwhelm the personal energy that would otherwise accumulate within the wand.

Once it’s finished, you will have felt it come alive in your hand. Really. It’s an unmistakable experience, and you will know that you are in the presence of the Other. Wand-selves are not human-selves.

At that point you will also become aware whether it is appropriate to carve it with symbols or add decoration: crystals, feathers, windings of silk thread, silver charms. This is not solely your own decision to make, and you should reach agreement on what is to be done with the wand itself, unless you are bound by a tradition. (Wand-wood which consents to come into the possession of a tradition-follower also consents, in my experience, to the constraints of that tradition.)

There is no rule that says a wand has to be wood. My primary wand is a seven-inch quartz crystal which refused to let me leave the shop until I had parted with most of my then-week’s income for her (she has also insisted throughout our decade of working together on remaining skyclad: staying completely undecorated). My first wand is of wood, and I am experimenting with creating a copper wand for use in energy workings, that is, spells which will not have a direct physical manifestation. Although knowing me, I’ll get curious and try him for other things, too, if he consents.

A staff is a very large wand, usually the height of the bearer. Often a staff-bearer will use a branch of the staff as a wand, which is much handier in small spaces and far less likely to take out a fellow-worshiper’s front teeth when gestured with!

My wands are all completely different, energetically. The wood wand is shy, but still unalterably Other; the crystal is of course a her own being, with very strong opinions and a will to match. The copper is reticent, somewhat unwilling as yet to work with me, but I have just begun to craft him (his male-ness is the one fact I know of him). If that does not change, I shall make a Working to send him on to be with the person he needs.

Altar cloths are another tool of which many witches have multiples. They can vary by color, adding that hue’s power to a spell when chosen wisely. Those of Celtic persuasion may use green for all their work; white and black are also often chosen if a single cloth must suffice. My finding has been that either solid color or tie-dye works best. (Tie-dye, being essentially a random manifestation, seems to have some associations with the deep mind. Possibly that’s only true for those of us who lived the sixties, or wish we had.) There is nothing to say against using an ancestor-created cloth, either: great-grandma’s embroidered tablecloth, for instance.

Candleholders, cauldrons, and incense burners are elemental tools: Fire, Water, and Air respectively. A sword, the super-sized athame, is like it a Fire or Air tool, generally owned by a coven rather than the individual witch. (Some traditions view the wand as Fire and the blade as Air, some the reverse.) Many witches have a besom (broom) which they use to sweep energy clean, and a platen engraved with a pentacle for the Earth tool. Safety note: resin candleholders are flammable, and therefore a Bad Idea if your spell requires allowing a candle to burn down and out.

Anything can be made into a magical tool: mezzaluna, stand mixer, computer, pen, Tarot deck, meditation cushion, trowel, lock, set of scales. In general, you will find it more difficult to charge a plastic object than one which is made of wood, glass, plant fiber, stone, or metal. Plastic also does not hold a charge, although as this material becomes an increasingly familiar part of our lives, that may change. My money’s on the stuff becoming an artifact of Earth, eventually.

Ritual clothing is also a tool. Resist the urge you will inevitably feel toward long, flowing sleeves, as they have a magnetic attraction to candle flames and staining liquids. If they pursue you in your dreams, make gathers in the material, or alternatively sew ribbons to the sleeve to tie it close to the wrist. A robe can be consecrated just as other tools are. (And, erm, I’ve gone so far as to have magical underwear and socks.)

Magical tools are of necessity a possession of the Goddess (arguable exception: ritual wear), so they should be cleansed of prior associations, even those of manufacture unless you made the tool yourself, and dedicated to Her. The easiest way to do this is with incense, and salted water or motherwort tea.

A word of caution on the acquisition of used blades: a blade used to shed blood will prove extremely difficult to clean energetically. Think hard about using it at all, because blood, even very old blood, attracts many low-level entities who may not harm you (or at least I’ve never heard of that happening), but crowd around the space and time in which you are working, and may dissipate or use for their own ends the energy you generate.

Incenses bear the energy of three Elements: Earth, from which all incenses come whether they are of plant or animal material; Air, their method of dispersal, and Fire, which gives them life. Frankincense and myrrh, combined, make an excellent cleansing and dedication incense. If you wish to conduct those operations separately, either lavender incense or smudge sticks can perform the cleansing.

Mugwort tea is often used for dedication. Salted water (the salt drives out any energetic impurities) must be wiped from metals quickly, as it is likely to tarnish or pit them.

When to dedicate a tool? The day of the Full Moon is best, but the ceremony should be completed before the Moon begins to wane. Void-of-course Moon is not a good time for the work.

Once you have set a date, write your dedication. In my experience, rhyme and rhythm work very well to lube up the subconscious, and notify it that yes, Work is going to be done.

Sample:

“Mother Great, Mother Divine,

“Lend to me this tool of Thine.

“From this day, from this hour,

“I use this tool to wield Thy power.”

You can probably do better than that. But you get the drift.

Preparations: clean the area and the altar itself. Brew the tea if used. Set the tea or salt and water, the incense, incense burner, lighter or matches, lighting candle in holder if used, on the altar, and tool(s) to be consecrated nearby but not on the altar itself. (Have you thought about consecrating your altar table or surface? Wipe it down before you begin.) Fill your chalice if you will be using it; place the water in a bowl if not. If you are using salted water on a metal tool, you will need an absorbent cloth to wipe the tool clean.

Cast your circle, sweep it clean, call in the elements/quarters, call in the Goddess and God (in whichever order you feel appropriate).

Light the lighting candle if you use one. Fire the incense, and allow the smoke a couple of minutes to build.

Take up a pinch of salt, and cast it into the chalice or bowl, saying, “O thou creature of Earth, Thee I call upon to cast out any impurities from this water.” If you’re using tea, pour it into the chalice or bowl, and say, “O thou creature of Earth and Water, be thou cleansed of any impurities.”

Take up the incense stick or holder in your dominant hand, and the tool to be consecrated in your non-dominant hand. Wave the incense over and around the tool four times, chanting as you do so.

The first time, face East and chant, “O creature of Air, I ask of Thee to cleanse this tool, and consecrate it to magical use.”

The second time, face South and chant, “O creature of Fire, I ask of Thee to cleanse this tool, and consecrate it to magical use.”

The third time, face West and take up the salted water or mugwort tea and sprinkle the tool with it lightly, chanting, “O creature of Water, I ask of Thee to cleanse this tool, and consecrate it to magical use.” If you used salted water on a metal tool, wipe it clean immediately.

The fourth time, face North and chant, “O creature of Earth, I ask of Thee to cleanse this tool, and consecrate it to magical use.”

Place the tool on the altar, in its appropriate quarter according to your tradition’s elemental associations. Bow to the North, the Goddess’ direction, and say, “Great Goddess, to Thee and Thy purposes I dedicate this tool.”

Repeat as desired. End the ritual by taking down the circle and dismissing the Elements and deities.

Have you dedicated your very own self to the Goddess? If not, consider it. Consider it heavily before you do so, though, because if you carry through with it, you will become Her tool. This is not usually a very comfortable function, but believe me, it has its rewards.

Supplies are a bit different from tools, in that they do not require consecration. A “supply” is something that is not merely used but also used up: incense is a supply, the incense burner a tool. Herbs, essential oils, and candles are the commonest supplies. Ready-made oils, potions, and powders also qualify.

Upon purchase, take an herb, oil, potion, or powder into your non-dominant hand, and feel, and appreciate, its power. My very favorite incense in the entire world is nag champa, which feels quite different energetically from my second-favorite, dragon’s blood.

Once you’ve done that, put the supply into your dominant hand, and raise your non-dominant hand. Pull that power down into yourself, and push it out into your supply, “charging” it. Repeat before use.

You can do the same with essential oils. Candles are basically blank slates waiting to be programmed … although you can feel the energetic difference among soy, paraffin, and beeswax candles.

Wrapping a tool or supply in silk will insulate the charge. (I buy old stained silk shirts from thrifts for a dollar or two, and use the pockets for pouches and the sleeves to store wands, candles, and incense.)

Candles of disparate colors should not be stored in contact with one another, as the colors will leach. I use tissue paper a lot in crafting sigils, so that’s available in my home. I wrap figure and reversing candles with it. Other than those specialized types, my candles are all of five colors, and each has its own box inside a drawer.

(Five colors? Yep. Orange attracts, black banishes, shrinks, or negates, green asks for personal growth, gray disperses [not the same as banishing], and white purifies, heals, and increases. Those five functions cover every spell, or at least I’ve seen none yet which fall outside one of those categories. — If I were going to add a sixth color, it would be magenta, which speeds up the work of any spell.)

Once a tool or supply is consecrated, there are opposing opinions on whether it should be used in daily life. “A consecrated tool should be reserved only for spiritual functions!” snaps A, whereupon B puts fists to hips, scowls, and snarls, “A consecrated tool used for mundane purposes sanctifies all parts of life!” Which seems more logical to you? As with so much of life, there is no universally correct answer. Choose one, and live it.

Consecrated tools on my altar: shell-rattle, mini-cauldron, chalice, platen, pentacle, flint and steel, candleholder, essential-oil diffuser, incense holder, feather smudge fan, Book of Shadows, fountain pen and ink, Tarot deck, Goddess and God figurines, offering bowls, lighting candle, black- and white-hilted knives, two wands (the crystal stays at the top of my keyboard), and God and Goddess candles and holders (while supplies, the candles are also consecrated). Of these I created the God figure, the shell-rattle, the feather smudger, the platen, and the wands; I also modified the Goddess figurine.

There’s an ashpot too, for whatever a spell might generate in the way of physical waste. While necessary, it’s not consecrated.

Consecrated tools not on my altar: chef’s knife, breadmaking bowl, yoga props (mat, strap, blocks, practice journal, and meditation wrap), gardening tools.

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Overview: Creativity is a gift from the Goddess. If, while creating any of these tools, you have a Wild Idea, go for it.

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How to Create a Shell Rattle

Needed:

cowrie shell 3+” long

13 dried soy or other small beans or grains

scissors

length of leather or fabric fringe 2-3 times the length of the opening in the cowrie shell; instructions for using braided cord below

glue if necessary

Cut the fringe free of its header. Knot one end of each strand; pull as tight as possible. Cut the fringe to random lengths if you like.

Put the beans into the cowrie.

Thread the knotted end of a fringe into the cowrie through the large opening at one end. Gently tug on the fringe until the knot is seated at the far end of the opening. Repeat until the opening is filled very full indeed. When you cannot insert any more fringe, pull the last one you were able to get in toward the large opening, seating it as securely as possible.

Use glue to seal the opening if you lose any beans upon test-shaking.

It is possible to make a shell rattle of fabric fringe, although most such fringes will be subject to fraying and should not be cut free of their header. Should you prefer fabric to leather, cut carefully, and stabilize the ends of 2-3 cowrie-opening lengths of the fringe (whipstitch or melt. Don’t double). Apply glue to one side, and glue two lengths together. See if that fills the opening. If not, glue on a third length. Fill cowrie with beans. Apply glue to both sides of multi-ply fringe header, and insert into opening.

It is also possible to use a twisted-braid cord instead of fringe. Untwist the braid. Cut braid strands to length desired + 2″ (about 5 cm) – err on the side of “too long.” Do be aware, however, than if the fringe is very long, it will tangle incessantly. Knot one end of each strand, and proceed as for leather fringe. If you wish the fringe to lie straight, and not in the waves resulting from being braided, wet thoroughly after mounting to shell, comb strands straight, and allow to hang down until dry.

My cowrie, made using leather fringe, did not require glue. As I’ve only made one with leather, I can’t say whether this was luck or not; three fabric-fringe rattles did need it.

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How to Create a Feather Smudge Fan

Needed:

Feathers

Thin strong string

Wider material in color of choice, to wrap “handle” of fan

Scissors

Possibly glue

Find out where the crows hang out in your town. In spring and fall, you will have a plethora of shed feathers to choose among, but any time of year you’ll find some. If you don’t want to use crow feathers, which are universally black, you’ll have to choose feather colors, too.

Assemble 10-15 feathers.

Put feathers into one hand. Tap ends gently on a level surface, until they are aligned. Arrange into a “fan.”

Wrap feather quills (the “root end”) with thin strong string and knot securely. (I used 20-lb. nylon fishing line.)

Overwrap with wider material in Air color (yellow, pastels) or color to match the feathers. Tuck the end of the wrap material inside. Glue to secure, if needed.

Alternatively, you can purchase an inexpensive paper fan, and glue feathers to it. You won’t need wrap material, but you will need smaller feathers to cover the quills of the larger at the bottom of the fan. Once you’re finished, the fan will no longer shut.

My crow feathers are wrapped in black and did not require glue. I chose to use it on two smudge fans I made as gifts.

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How to Create a Paten (Altar Plate)

Needed:

Material

Design

Engraving tool

Patience, or bandages and 3AO (Triple Antibiotic Ointment)

Acquire a slab of metal, stone, glass, or other scribable material of the size and shape you wish. If you work in fired ceramics, you have absolutely got this one sacked; you’ll inscribe your paten when it’s either wet or at the leather stage, and after that you don’t need instructions from me!

Draw, print out, or copy design(s) to be inscribed.

Transfer the pattern onto the material using carbon paper; trace with thin-line permanent marker.

Using an engraving tool appropriate to the material of the slab, carve the pattern. Remember that using a lot of force to scribe a line only makes any error big, deep, and hard to get out. Be patient; go gently multiple times.

Keep in mind that bleeding all over the paten because you cut yourself while engraving it is not required. However, be prepared for that eventuality; stock up on bandages and 3AO before you start.

Polish if necessary.

If desired, apply clear protective coating.

My paten is round, of copper, engraved with a pentagram, and was a stern teacher of patience who gave me a scar to remember the lesson by.

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How to Make a God Figure

Acquire the action figure of your choice, and dress as desired, creating the clothes yourself. Make a wig of your own hair clippings if possible. Fingers from gloves make great medieval-or-earlier shoes if leather, and pants or hose if cloth.

TOS Spock is dressed as Otzi the Iceman on my altar, and Elderly Spock is dressed as Odin and keeping watch over my books. Karl Urban’s McCoy is Mercury-in-boots on top of my desktop computer. How did you guess that I’m a Star Trek geek? However, my athames are not bat’leths. One can go too far.

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How to Make or Modify a Goddess Figure

Acquire the Goddess figure of your choice. Thriftshop Barbies work well; their former owner imbued them with great girl-energy. ist’s wooden figure models may also be used. Replace any jewelry She wears with the best you can make or afford, and use paint judiciously to make Her more awesome. Pearlized or silvery transparent wash always works. Consider diluting blush and lipstick color with the wash before applying Her makeup. You can also make a wig for Her of your own hair clippings, or other cordage if that is not feasible. If She is clothed, consider making replacement garments yourself of the best quality fabric you can find – you’ll need, at most, a yard of it.

Bast got a real lapis-lazuli earring and gold leaf on Her collar and base, as well as emerald-green eyes with ebony pupils, and all of Her except Her eyes was washed with pearl. Venus, my other Patron, wears heavyweight embroidered silk paisley sold as a placemat and bought for a buck at a yard sale. She got the pearly-makeup treatment, two coats of pearlization on top of it, and an embroidery-silk wig; She looks much more “Goddess” than “Barbie.”

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Next month: How to move your mind from everyday consciousness into magical consciousness. Blessed be!

The Path of a Priestess

October, 2008

Do you find spirituality to be a fleeting feeling?  Feeling spiritual mainly in times of need?  Feeling spiritual when you feel it is the proper time to?  How about when you want or need something?  Or when someone else you feel is spiritual is around?  And, let’s not forget on holidays!

Spirituality is an important part of life and should be felt on a daily basis.  It improves mental and physical health brings us through the bad moments in life and, also, helps us to see and appreciate the good.  Picture it as day or night.  They are beautiful but how much more beautiful are they with the sun’s rays or the moon’s beams caressing your skin & lighting your way.  Spirituality is akin to the sun’s kiss or the moon’s blessings.   A feeling grander with more benefits than any other.

So how do we get out of a spiritual slump or just bring more into our daily lives?

For the beginning of this path we can walk it together.  Let’s start with defining what spirituality is:

1.     What does spirituality mean to you?
2.    When you think of someone who is spiritual what do you see?
3.    What could I do every day to make myself be more spiritual?
I’ll start with my thoughts, but you write your own…

1.    Spirituality to me means walking with the diving.  By divine I not only mean the God and Goddess, but also, the divine elements and with the creatures of the earth.   Being created by the God and Goddess make these all divine.  On that thought being with myself meditating, relaxing, learning about me deeply, also, counts as divine interaction.
2.    When I think of someone who is spiritual I must admit I see a childlike image of a glowing person.  But on a more adult level, I see a woman who stands tall with a gleam of knowledge in her eyes.  Her glow comes from self assurance and self acceptance.  Her back is straight and she stands tall with the divine.
3.    Now I know what I want to achieve and feel, but how do I get it?  Simple, by DOING something about it.  I know I am looking to connect with the divine on a daily basis, so I made a list of things I feel will bring me to my goal.  After looking it over I decide on a simple book.  An Everyday book that I can read chapter by chapter with exercises I feel will enlighten me everyday.  I also decided to read one prayer a day from a prayer book.
Take the time to think of ideas and make your own list.  Think of things you would enjoy doing to make the experience special.

Now set aside time everyday.  Five minutes alone if that is all you have, and work towards being a more spiritual you.

Till our next leg of the journey…