symbols

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.

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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

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

September, 2018

Balance

Merry meet.

Celebrations are often planned for the sabbats, but don’t overlook the power these times add to magical workings. As the world hangs in balance, day equal to the night, we can use its balanced energy to regain our own balance before heading into the dark half of the year.

Gather the materials you’ll use: a marker of any kind and a round disk. These can be the wooden ones found at craft stores, a jar or bottle lid, or the top of a deli container.

This spell can be done as part of a ritual in sacred space, or in any area in which you feel comfortable, perhaps adding incense and candles to set the stage.

Sitting in that space, let yourself relax and let go. Give yourself time to begin to feel the balance of this day and breathe it in, absorb it into every cell. If you cannot “feel” it, know that it is there and imagine its vibration. See a sign that, to you, represents this state. It might be the yin yang or an infinity symbol, a line, an equal sign, a representation of scales, or anything else that can trigger the balance you are experiencing. Othello pieces are white on one side and black on the other, and I have used them in the past.

Channel that vision and energy into the sigil as you draw it on your disk.

Sit with it as you think about where you and your life things are out of balance. Does it involve discipline? Nutrition? Boundaries? Is there something you are missing? Something for which you have an overabundance? A situation that lacks its polar opposite for stability? Take the time to visualize each of them balanced.


Feel yourself come into balance on all levels, filled with peace and harmony.

You can choose to add these words Mackenzie Sage Wright included in a Mabon spell she wrote that can be found on exemplore.com:

As yin is to yang, as dark is to light,

As male is to female, as day is to night,

Find Nature’s perfect balance within me

So I may live my life in harmony…
by the powers of three times three,

this is my will, so mote it be!”

Carry the sigil anytime balance is needed – be it spiritual, physical, emotional or mental – and tap into the powerful energy put into the spell it on the equinox.

Although most powerful when done on the equinox, there is no reason this spell can’t be done anytime of year.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

**

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self-taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

Seeing the Signs

August, 2018

A Morning Walk and the Cosmic Hello

I take several walks a day. Part of this is because I don’t own a car so my legs are my primary source of transportation. Sometimes I am merely walking a few blocks to the bus stop to catch a bus to some other destination. Sometimes I am walking up and down Bailey Avenue, the main drag near my home, going to the few shops that remain in this benighted neighborhood, buying the items that I need to complete a meal or to fix something in the home. Sometimes I just need to get out of the house.

Walking is a way to exercise. It’s a way to calm a manic mood or to bring me out a depressed disposition. Walking is a form of meditation. I focus on my breathing and stay centered within each step. Because of my arthritic knees, I cannot and do not distance run but I do sprint across the many cross streets. Movement feels so good.

This morning, I went to Family Dollar. Family Dollar is where I go when I need to go to the supermarket but I don’t feel like spending twenty minutes on the bus getting there and back, not counting the time I’m waiting for the bus. I can get bread and milk and other basics at Family Dollar but not fresh produce. They just remodeled the store near me and it would have been great if they had added a produce department. This neighborhood could really use something like that.

I came out of Family Dollar with my milk and bread and chocolate and toilet paper in my canvas bag and started walking home. It had been raining earlier but the sky was clearing and it was warm and windy. I was walking south and the wind was blowing into my face. From way down the street, I could see a white feather floating on the breeze. It fluttered this way and that. I watched it approach me. It looked like it was coming directly to me. It flew up the street – this lone white feather – and landed at my feet.

If it hadn’t been so windy, I would have taken a picture of the feather at my sandal-clad feet with their red-painted toes but I was afraid that the wind would blow the feather away so I quickly picked it up and put it in my bag and continued on my way home.

When I got home, I took a picture of the feather.

Notice that my feather is white with a black tip. A friend who saw it told me that it fell from my guardian angel’s wing – “Angels wear white!” They do? Really? I thought they dressed in the colors of the rainbow. My feather is white with a black tip because it isn’t from an angel’s wing, it’s from a seagull’s wing. When it gets stormy around here, seagulls come in from the lake shore and fly over the city and suburbs. I knew it was a seagull’s feather as soon as I saw it.

You would think that with all the books and notes I have on divination that I would have something about feathers. Only one book – Discovering Signs and Symbols by Kirsten Riddle – mentions anything at all about feathers and it’s about the “Feather of Maat” and advises the reader on how to cleanse their aura using a feather. She writes, “…take a feather and waft it around your silhouette, making short, sharp movements to brush away any stagnant energy.” (Riddle, 34). What great advice! And how easy is that? There’s also a “Feather of Maat Ritual”.

When I first read this, I thought that it was rather general and that it really didn’t have anything to do with my particular feather but it could be argued that it was the goddess Maat who directed that feather to me – does my aura need cleansing? I would have never thought about this on my own. I mean – this is how the Universe works.

I did look online for “what is means when you find a feather”. I found a lot of “fluffy bunny” stuff. Honestly, most of what I saw online I wouldn’t share with you readers or anyone else. But I did find this one site that I did find informative and thoughtful: http://www.nataliakuna.com – there’s a page dedicated to “Feather Signs & Colour Meanings”.

Natalia writes, “When a feather actually [l]ands at your feet, it is traditionally seen as a positive omen that your calls have been heard and answered.” I thought about the feather landing at my feet and I wondered – which one of my prayers have been heard and answered?

She also says that it’s a “Cosmic Hello”. I really like that.

And she mentions recognizing the bird that the feather is from. Just like I instantly recognized the feather! For instance, seagulls represent freedom. So now I am thinking about how this feather – that literally landed at my feet – is giving me a message of freedom? Right now it seems like I am less free than ever with all my family commitments and obligations. But who knows? Isn’t this the point of divination? To trust in the signs that we see?

After cleansing my aura, I put the feather on the dream-catcher that hangs over my bed. Here’s what that looks like:

The only other thing I need to do now is research the Goddess Maat. I have never had much to do with her but perhaps she is calling to me. At any rate, it can’t hurt to find out who she is and what she may want with me.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

Discovering Signs and Symbols: Unlock the Secrets and Meanings of these Ancient Figures

References

Riddle, Kirsten. Discovering Signs and Symbols. London: CICO , 2015.

Natalia Kuna. “Feather Signs & Colour Meanings”. http://www.nataliakuna.com/feather-signs–colour-meanings.html.

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

 

 

Book Review: Reiki Insights by Frans Stiene

June, 2018

Book Review

Reiki Insights by author Frans Stiene

Publisher: Ayni

Text copyright: Frans Stiene 2017

I’ll be honest this book wasn’t what I was expected it to be. It turned out to be more. Mr. Frans Stiene (stee-nuh) has been a major global force in Reiki. He is the co-founder of The International House of Reiki.

In this book, Mr. Stiene has written about what Reiki truly is, a spiritual practice. The founder of Reiki Mikao Usui’s teachings shows that it was a spiritual practice. Reiki is a practice, has meditations on mantras and the symbols, on the hand positions, being in a meditative state while performing or receiving the reiju/initiation/attunement.

Mr. Stiene states that when he was working with his teachers in Japan and researching the original teachings of Mikao Usui, that the precepts where instructions to be followed. This teaching worked to help students bring about a state of wholeness. Wholeness is a state of mind: in which we are happy, content, at peace and full of compassion. This wholeness was a form of healing for the students and all who followed Usui’s teachings.

In today’s world, we often talk about either giving or receiving a Reiki healing. In the spiritual practice of Reiki, it was taught that you were “Being Reiki.” Reiki is often called spiritual energy, and we are always working with spiritual energy in that We are Spiritual beings having a human experience.” (unknown author)

Mr. Stiene also states in this book that through his research he found there is a correlation between the 5 precepts of Reiki and the 6 paramitas from Buddhism. In Japanese Buddhism, there are 3 precepts. I found it interesting that these 3 systems shared so much.

 

The 5 Precepts For Today

Do not Anger

Do not Worry

Be Grateful

Practice this Diligently

Show Compassion to Yourself & Other

 

6 Paramitas

Generosity

Morality

Patience

Persistence

Concentration

Wisdom

 

Japanese Precepts

Cease to do bad actions

Do Good actions

The action of helping others

If you want to get serious about your practice of Reiki, I would suggest this book no matter what your level is. Mr. Stiene wrote this book for all practitioners and teachers.

 

You can find out more about Reiki Insights by Frans Stiene on Amazon.

Reiki Insights

 

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About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become an E-Book reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at: https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

Send Us a Sign

February, 2009

Nearly every form of communication used by humans contains symbols.  In fact, you are looking at a whole bunch of symbols right at this moment… they’re called letters.  And if we were using hieroglyphs, we’d still be using symbols.  In one sense, even if we were speaking, we would be using symbols.  Symbols are an integral part of our magic and spirituality.  Without them, we wouldn’t be talking about them!  The importance of symbols to Pagans is no greater than to other human beings but it is to our benefit to understand more about them because of what that knowledge can do to elevate both our magical abilities and spiritual activities.

The first thing that you need to know is what a symbol is.  The short definition is that a symbol is an analog; it’s a substitute for the real thing.  The letters that form the words on this page are symbols for sounds we make with our mouth.  Put the letters together in one way and they become a word that means one thing (‘god’); put them in a different order and they mean something else (‘dog’).  It’s a beautiful way to communicate.  But if we say or spell the word, it still isn’t the thing we’re talking about, is it?  Even the spoken word is a symbol.  The ability for language may or may not be limited to humans, but we’ve sure made it a big part of who and what we are.  There isn’t a parent who hasn’t celebrated their child’s first words, even if they later grow tired of hearing them constantly going on.  It’s probably fair to say that humans are the only ones who have produced such a complex and useful way to communicate information.  Our brains are wired to accomplish this fantastically complicated task as if it were nothing at all.  We use it even in our dreams.

To look at symbols and how they are used is to look at the very way we think.  Carl Jung, one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th Century, new this well and produced an enormous amount of work concerning the subject.  To study it all would take many years but a quick look here will take only a few minutes.  We’ll only look at the highlights and how that information impacts our magic and our religious practices.

Generally speaking, symbols come in three varieties.  Sometimes it’s difficult to categorize a symbol into one of these three groups unless we know the specific way it is used.  Be that as it may, let’s look at those three groups:

* LOGOS. Logos are the simplest kind of symbol.  It’s fair to say that every symbol is at least a logo.  A logo is a very simple substitute for an object or event or thought.  Letters are this kind of symbol.  Symbols are ubiquitous to all of our communications, not just with others but even with our self.  Logos are a lot like the simple substitute codes (‘A’ = ‘q’; ‘B’ = ‘x’; etc.) most everyone learns about as a child.  They aren’t the thing, but they mean what that thing is.

Just like letters, which are substitutes for sounds made by us, the meaning of logos can change.  Letters can change how they sound (Carl vs. Caesar) and other logos can take on different meanings as well.  In fact, the mutability of logos is one of their most useful traits; they can be used for an enormously varied universe of things.  However, that mutability can also lead to some confusion in the meaning and that problem must be considered when using them (which we do all the time).
* ICONS. Icons are much less mutable than logos.  Much of the power of myth depends on iconic symbols.  In his work, The Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell described how the iconic figures that surrounded the central focus of the hero in myths around the world represent the same sort of things within the culture from which the story emerged.  And even some visual symbols such as the equal-armed cross or the spiral, which are so wide spread in ancient times as well as today, are iconic.  Icons take on very complex structures of meaning.  They are much more powerful symbols than simple logos and usually come about though a long history of them gathering this power of meaning.

A good example of the development of an icon is the cross.  The equal-armed cross was used by cave-dwelling humans hundreds of thousands of years ago.  The exact meaning of it to those people is unknown, but it’s likely they used it to signify some sort spiritual orientation, just as we use the four directions of east, south, west, and north for spatial orientation.  A couple of thousand years ago, the Roman crucifix, a device of horrid torture and punishment, was used to kill an important figure in the Jewish community.  His death was used as a springboard for the development of a new kind of Judaism known as Christianity.  The crucifix that was used as his method of torture became iconic of that religion (it struggled for supremacy as the chief icon for a while with the secret sign followers used for a long time… a simple drawing of a fish), symbolizing a complex of liturgical features of that religion.

Icons figure heavily in our mythology and fiction.  They are filled to the brim with meaning and usually don’t change their meaning unless overwhelmed by a radically opposing source of meaning.  Such changes are usually due to a shift in culture.  Travelers will attest to the difference in some icons from one country to another.  Rarely, new information can produce a paradigm shift in a population that has a heavy influence on its icons.  When this happens, it usually is something so mind blowing there is no border that can contain it.  Almost without exception, such radical changes are accompanied by great social upheavals, wars, and political/economic realignments.  People get upset when their icons are changed.
* ARCHETYPES. Of the three varieties of symbols, archetypes are both the easiest and the most difficult to understand.  They are by far the most powerful in that they impact us on almost a cellular level and are virtually universal in their meaning.  Archetypes are like icons on steroids!

Jung explained that archetypes tap into what is generally called the collective unconscious.  This concept states that there is an agreed-upon reality that produces certain universal ideas.  We are not necessarily born with all of this information, but we absorb it from our psychic environment at a very early age.  Archetypes portray meanings both gross and subtle concerning some universally understood objects and experiences.  As an example, mother is an archetype.  Every one of us has a mother.  And nearly all of us have known who that person is and the millions of things that the word evokes.  To list the complete meaning behind that word would take us nearly a lifetime of writing.  And it would be no surprise to see two such lists look almost exactly the same.

The mental and emotional impact of a single archetype is enormous.  Great speakers often use this power in calculated ways to persuade their listeners into believing and behaving in certain ways.  We’ve all seen how crowds of tens of thousands reacted to Hitler’s speeches.  He used only a few archetype symbols over and over again to raise the energy of these throngs until they were willing to follow his dictates with almost a mindless fervor.  Such is the power of these symbols, there is always a cautionary clause when talking about their use in magic.

By now, it should be clear that neither our magic nor our religious activities can be accomplished without the use of symbols.  Understanding what symbols are, however, doesn’t tell us how they operate.  Frankly, we don’t know a great deal about this.  But what we do know explains a great deal both about how our minds work as well as how magic works.

The enormous amount of data that our senses report to our minds is something like a giant information bank.  Deposits are made by way of a variety of systems and in several different forms.  Once those deposits hit the central bank (the mind… and, by the way, some of what we call ‘the mind’ isn’t really part of the brain), they are sorted, routed, and transformed into information.  The information is then related, transcribed, and stored in various ways so that it can be accessed when needed.  All this is usually done in a split second.  For purposes of our analogy, we’ll call the unit of information a memory.  Memories need to contain connections to other memories and to have a way they can be brought out or tapped into as deemed necessary by the thinking processes of the mind.  When these processes are at work, they produce thoughts and meaning.  Without a system capable of handling all of this a million times a minute, we’d not be very effective at life and die out as a species.

Symbols are at the heart of this amazingly complex system.  Essentially, symbols are tiny ‘programs’ for relating information and providing meaning.  Since most of our thinking is done on the unconscious level, symbols are most effective in that area.  In fact, symbology could be said to be the programming language for the unconscious.  When we perform a conscious act, we tap into the information bank of the unconscious via symbols, access the information, cross-relate it in whatever way necessary to make that information into meaning, and translate that meaning into conscious thought.  Most conscious thought is a distillate of this complicated unconscious activity.  In fact, nearly all conscious thought is a linear pattern of meaning fed to our conscious mind in a very narrow bandwidth from the unconscious.

Symbols have meaning precisely because they come with well-defined relational connections.  It’s something like when checks come into a bank with codes all over them; they make it easy to process them.  Meaning is one part definition, three parts relational connections, and five parts emotional connections.  Things are defined basically by saying what they are compared to what they are not.  What and how a symbol relates to other symbols gives it a big boost when the mind wants to understand something.  Since a symbol comes with a code that tells the mind to access certain areas of itself for information about the meaning of the symbol, there is a better chance for accuracy of meaning as well as less processing necessary.  Symbols are more efficient than raw data input.  Since part of this code also seems to favor certain emotive aspects of the mind, this works to quicken the production of meaning and the mind is capable of handling more input because of the built-in efficiency that symbols have.

The ability to communicate most efficiently with the mind, especially the unconscious mind where all thought and motivation begins, puts symbols at the top of the list for magical tools.  And their ability to motivate us through emotional connections makes them powerful spiritual tools as well.

Simply knowing about symbols and how important they are won’t make us an expert in their use.  But it is hoped that this will improve ability to analyze your magical, communicative, and spiritual activities… to provide a new perspective for understanding you and your world.