October, 2012

Merry Meet Readers!

Hally’s Hints

October, 2012

The Variable of Free Will

 

There is no doubt that change is coming. For some it is a simple, gentle reminder felt within the wind or the rain. For others it is the not so subtle metaphysical baseball bat to the head that something big is about to happen.

 

The purpose of change varies for many. For some it means the opportunity to grow, evolve and raise the vibration. For some it can mean letting go of old energies that are no longer serving them. Whatever the case change is imminent within life and it can be a choice of enabling this to do as it needs to or become aware of what takes place when it happens to make an appearance.

 

When working with energies and all that is related, energetic shifts, sometimes caused by planetary alignment and some not, have two core purposes. It can be on a personal level and one for the overall, often termed for the greater good. The extent of both is up to the individual because any change is and will be up to the one constant variable – free will.

 

Throughout history this is the only unpredictable variable that can and will impact the so called path of destiny. The path of destiny that many fear lacks freedom of choice was only ever meant as a guide. The fact is that most of the people already made a choice of why they came into this life, why they choose their parents, their family and what the purpose of this particular journey is.

 

Whilst it may take each person a lifetime to work this out this is what pre-determined destiny feels like. But the beauty of this is free will because it is this that enables anyone, and everyone, to change their chosen path from what may seemed all worked out.

 

If your path is not providing the answers and fulfilment that you want, consider that you have the power to put your free will into action and simply – change it.

A Different Light

October, 2012

Yes it was me, I was the one
chosen to share the morning sun,
I heard the voice through other lips
touched by invisible fingertips.
The songs selected lingered there
amongst the pages and tangled hair.
I’d had the dream years before
the meanings laced in metaphor
able to unlock, open the door,
setting me off on a path to explore.

Putting in play, a script unwritten
improvised with a touch of intuition,
a rhythmic humming mystery dance,
inducing hidden senses within it’s trance.
Awareness shined off reflected glass
enabling a certain clarity to pass
between what was known once to be real,
exposing many new sensations to feel,
revealing what was in a different light
what was wrong may now be right.

Across the Great Divide

October, 2012

 “Innovations in Paranormal Tech”

 

 

Put away your proton packs and your PKE Valiance devices. While the theories behind Egon’s famous PKE meter are based on actual parapsychological research, the toys of Hollywood’s Ghostbusters are just that. Out in the real world, however, their influence has been ingeniously innovative, often practical, and sometimes just silly.

Investigative technologies in the field of paranormal research have been adapted, tweaked, modified, and reimagined over the past 100 years to further the quest for that paradigm-shifting piece of evidence that will duct tape the mouths of the skeptics shut.

These tools of the trade have evolved from the days of bulky cassette recorders and 35 mm cameras- which were used primarily to merely document data and present it to the world as valid evidence at face value- to include the latest in Bluetooth and other digital instrumentation.

The various tools of today have rightfully expanded their roles to three core purposes- documentation, communication, and authentication.

Advances in digital photography, for example, have reached a point where it has far surpassed the 35mm film of days gone by. The data encoding that is involved serves as a digital blueprint for authentication because it tracks date, time, geo location, and changes or manipulation of the raw images.

Improvements in camera technology are also well noted in the Looxcie LX2 camcorder, an ear-worn camcorder that utilizes Bluetooth technology to pair with a smartphone or tablet.

As a Point of View (POV) camera, it is simply genius in its design, with wireless capabilities that can be viewed from 15-20ft away. In addition to freeing up the hands for the use of other equipment, the “always on, always ready” feature of wearing it- rather than carrying it- removes the problem of having a personal experience and not being quick enough to get your camera ready to capture the activity.

The newest season of SyFy’s Ghosthunters introduced the GoPro2, a camera converted to film in the IR range. Also, the ability of the new “full spectrum” cameras that capture visible light, ultraviolet, and infrared spectrums are just now reaching a level that will blow the lid off of the amount of potential evidence to be found.

The TAPS team also used an app for Android-based devices- a multimeter based on the “Mel Meter” hardware. The interface features an EMF field sensor, ambient temperature sensor; audio recording capability, an LED torch flashlight, and a camera function all at the fingertips. When the EMF field is interrupted, or the ambient temperature rises or falls, an alarm sounds. Pretty neat; and the all-in-one design cuts down on the number of items you have to carry and switch between.

The app uses an Android’s built in magnetic field reader to accurately measure surroundings. Not all Android phones or devices may have a built-in Ambient Temperature Sensor, but it is great for monitoring the overall room temperature while searching for cold/hot spots.

These are all great in theory, but somehow I doubt that the EMF and ATS capabilities will be anywhere near as accurate as those on a dedicated device; unless you’re able to connect an external microphone, most smartphones are impractical for quality audio recording, let alone valid data; and I’ll admit that I use my phone quite often to take breathtaking photos while out and about, but anyone who has ever used a camera phone knows that the picture quality in low-light conditions common to ghost hunting make its use impractical and hit-and-miss- a problem you can’t afford to have while on an investigation.

I commend the thought behind it, but the TAPS team dropped the ball by promoting this one. It’s just another free geek app that has potential but lacks the hardware behind it to make it scientifically valid. The developer put it best himself, “As with all of my Ghost Hunting apps, please be aware that RESULTS MAY VARY. Neither myself nor anyone else can guarantee contact with ghosts, demons, aliens, or your deceased grandmother.”
Here’s some of the latest tech that has also found its way into ghost hunting investigations:

Everyone is familiar with the ‘flashlight test’. This was an interesting concept that has now reached laughable status thanks to the folks behind the various shows on television which never seemed to get any results; then lo and behold the boys at TAPS had it happen and now they and every other show out there have at least one incident per week. While this does have the potential to produce motivating results, there are so many variables that can leave even the most zealous investigator sarcastically raising an eyebrow.

Well, someone answered the call and created the Paranormal Touch (PT1) to put a dent in those questionable results.

Place the PT1 on any flat surface, turn it on, and a flashing red light is your phone call to the other side. It uses not one, but two vibration detectors to trigger the unit; and has integrated a Negative Static Detector into the unit to provide additional confirmation of paranormal activity.

Then there’s the “paranormal puck,” a device that plugs into a computer’s USB port and uses “ECM,” or “Environmental Communication Mode,” technology to “read” energy levels and translate it into text.

Great, now even ghosts are texting. I guess Verizon really does have the world’s largest network.

Famed researcher Loyd Auerbach is cynical of a dependence solely on technology. He thinks someone with psychic abilities is far likelier to communicate with the other side than someone with a lot of gadgets around their belt.

Auerbach does, however, feel that technology can provide some clues.

Think about how you might track an invisible boat on a big lake.

“We’re really using technology to detect the wake of the boat,” he says. “From that, we can infer that some things are going on in the environment, provided we know there’s a boat there to begin with.”

If there’s a common ground that both skeptics and believers can share, it’s that ghost hunting is often just as complicated as finding an invisible boat. So we set our sights on the horizon and like the seafaring explorers of old, set off to see what’s out there amid the turbulent waters of scientific discovery.

© 2012 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

The Homeric Hymn to Demeter and the Mysteria

October, 2012

The mysteries of Eleusis were devoted to the ‘Two Goddesses,’ Demeter the grain goddess and her daughter Persephone, locally called Pherephatta or just ‘the Maiden,’ Kore.  These mysteries were organized by the polis of Athens and supervised by the archon basileus, the ‘king.’  For the Athenians these were the Mysteries tout court,  and  the literary prestige of Athens that ensured their lasting fame.  Inscriptions and excavations in addition to literature and iconography provide abundant documentation.

The well-known myth depicts Demeter searching for Kore, who has been carried off by Hades, the god of the netherworld.  Kore finally comes back, if only for a limited period, to Eleusis itself; there the Athenians celebrated the great autumn festival, the Mysteria; the procession went from Athens to Eleusis and culminated in a nocturnal celebration in the Hall of Initiations, the Telesterion, capable of holding thousands of initiates, where the hierophant revealed “the holy things.” There were two gifts that Demeter bestowed on Eleusis: grain as the basis of civilized life, and the mysteries that held the promise of ‘better hopes’ for a happy afterlife.  These mysteries took place exclusively at Eleusis and nowhere else.

[AMC, pp. 93-4): We have only some piecemeal information about the details of mystery initiations, which, although it does not add up to form a satisfactory picture, still strikes the imagination with the charm of the fragmentary.  For Eleusis we have at least five sets of divergent evidence: the topography of the sanctuary; the myth of Demeter’s advent, as told especially in the Homeric hymn, a relief frieze with initiation scenes, known in several replicas; the synthema, “password,” as transmitted by Clement of Alexandria; and the two testimonies of the Naassene, which clearly pertain to the concluding festival.

The mysteries were eventually open to all who spoke Greek and who were not felons.  According to the Christian writer Tertullian:

“Those who wish to be initiated have the custom, I believe, to turn first to the ‘father’ of the sacred rites, to map out what preparations have to be made.” (Burkert, p. 11).

The Mysteries should not be regarded as religions per se; they were rather an optional activity within polytheistic religion, “comparable to, say, a pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostela within the Christian system.” (Burkert, p. 10).

“Demeter, the story goes, when received at Eleusis, took the little child of the queen and put it in the fire of the hearth at night in order to make it immortal.  Interrupted by the frightened mother, she revealed herself and installed the mysteries instead.” (Ibid, p. 20).  The link between the two is underlined by the initiation of a “child from the hearth” at each festival. (p. 52).

“The first part of the initiation could take place at various times…above the Agora of Athens.  The first act was the sacrifice of a young pig.  Each mystes had to bring his piglet.  According to one description the mystes took a bath in the sea together with his piglet. He gives the animal in his stead to its death.  (Another source mentions that at the start of the Mysteria, all the mystai bathe together in the sea near Athens on a special day.) Myth associated the death of the pig with Persephone sinking into the earth…There follows a purification ceremony for which the Homeric Hymn has Demeter herself set the example.  Without speaking a word she sits down on a stool which is covered by a ram fleece, and she veils her head.  Thus reliefs show Heracles at his initiation veiled and sitting on a ram fleece, while either a winnowing fan is held over him or a torch is brought up close to him from beneath.  In ancient interpretation this would be purification by air and by fire…On the reliefs there follows the encounter with Demeter, Kore, and the kiste [small basket].  This probably points to the festival proper…The synthema gives information on successive stages of the initiation rites, yet in veiled terms such as one initiate would use to another to let him know he has fulfilled all that is prescribed: ‘I fasted, I drank from the kykeion, I took out of the kiste, worked, placed back in the basket (kalathos – the large basket), and from the basket into the kiste.’  There is an allusion in Theophrastus to the tools of working, of grinding corn, that early men ‘consigned to secrecy and encountered as something sacred,’ evidently in Demeter’s mysteries.  This indicates that mortar and pestle were hidden in the basket, the instruments, in fact, for preparing the kykeion.  This is a barley drink, a kind of barley-groat broth seasoned with pennyroyal.” (Burkert, Greek Religion, p. 286)

Later Christian charges that the kiste contained a phallus could be a case of taking the pestle for a phallus, which it resembles.  Or perhaps a phallus was used as a pestle.  In classical antiquity the identity of a child was believed to come exclusively from the male seed, with the mother only providing the fertile bed for the foetus’ growth.  This would place added religious emphasis on the phallus as the source of new life.

The Mysteria proper are a major festival which has its fixed place in the calendar, in the autumn month of Boedromion.  The main public event is the great procession from Athens to Eleusis along the Sacred Way, a distance of over thirty kilometers.  This took place on the 19th of Boedromion.  Prior to this, on the 14th day of the month, the ‘sacred things’ had been brought from Eleusis to Athens.  (Greek Religion, p. 286)

“A name for mocking songs on such occasions is Iambos…Iambe was made into a mythical figure, a maid who was able to cheer up Demeter after her sorrow and fasting…During the procession to Eleusis grotesquely masked figures sat at a critical narrow pass just near the bridge…and terrorized and insulted the passers-by …Just as pomp and ceremony contrasts with everyday life, so does extreme lack of ceremony, absurdity, and obscenity,…By plumbing the extremes the just mean is meant to emerge…” (Burkert, Greek Religion, 104-5)

Another source mentions that such songs had as their aim the keeping away of spirits of infertility, for, as everyone knows, they are great prudes.

After the Iambe, when the procession had reached the boundary between Athens and Eleusis, when the first stars became visible, the mystai broke their fast. The procession arrives at the sanctuary.  The temples of emis and Poseidon, sacrificial altars, and a ‘fountain of beautiful dances,’ Kallichoron, could all still be visited freely, but behind them lay the gateway to the precinct which, on pain of death, none but the initiates could enter. (Ibid, p. 287)

The gates were open to the mystai.  We know that immediately beyond the entrance there is a grotto…It was dedicated to Pluto…whom the mystai thus approached.  The celebration proper took place in the Telesterion…built to hold several thousand people at a time, watching as the hierophant showed the sacred things…In the centre was the Anaktoron, a rectangular, oblong, stone construction, with a door at the end of one of its longer sides; there the throne of the hierophant was placed.  He alone might pass through the door into the interior of this building…The great fire under which the hierophant would officiate…burned o the roof of the Anaktoron…the roof of the Telesterion had a kind of skylight…as an outlet for the smoke.

Darkness shrouded the crowd thronged in the hall of mysteries as the

priests proceeded to officiate by torchlight.  Dreadful, terrifying

things were shown until finally a great light shone forth ‘when the

Anaktoron was opened’ and the hierophant ‘appeared from out of the

Anaktoron in the radiant nights of the mysteries’…Yet it was not

terror, but the assurance of blessing that had to prevail.  The

blessings of the mysteries are expressed in three ways.  The mystes

sees Kore, who is called up by the hierophant by strokes of a gong; as

the underworld opens up, terror gives way to the joy of reunion.  Then

the hierophant announces a divine birth: ‘The Mistress has given birth

to a sacred boy, Brimo the Brimos.”  Finally, he displays an ear of corn

in silence. (Ibid, pp. 287-8)

 

(Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults, p, 24): [Quoting Plato, Republic 365a] “…purifications through joyous festivals …[that are good] both for the living and for those who died.” The two belong together because disturbances in the beyond are felt so grievously in this life; hence ritual that has the effect of eliminating grief and sorrow and establishing a ‘blessed’ status immediately has its repercussions on the other side.  This is why the deceased are imagined to join in the mystery festival, to continue blissful teletai [mysteries] in the netherworld…in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter..Persephone will release those who honor her through ritual.”

(Burkert, Greek Religion, 277-8): The special status attained through initiation is claimed to be valid even beyond death: the orgiastic festival of the mystai continues to hold in the afterlife…Yet if the chance of initiation has been let slip in this life, it is impossible to make up for the omission after death.  Impressive mythical images bring home this impossibility: Oknos, hesitation personified, is an old man who sits in Hades plaiting a cord which his ass immediately eats away.  The uninitiated are carrying water in sieves up to a leaking vessel, aimlessly and endlessly.”

(Burkert, AMC, 77): The Eleusinian mystai abstain from food, as Demeter did in her grief, and they end their fast when the first star is seen, because Demeter did the same; they carry torches, because Demeter lit them at the flames of Mount Aetna; [however,] …they do not sit on the well [as]…Demeter sat there, mourning for her daughter.  The hymn to Demeter makes the goddess perform what must have been part of the initiation ritual: sitting down on a stool covered with a fleece, veiling her head, keeping silence, then laughing and tasting the kykeion.”

In addition to being the seat of the mysteries of Demeter, Eleusis was also a great votive center. (AMC, 20) “…There are rich collections of votive objects from the site [Eleusis].  The favor of the Two Goddesses was not restricted to the mystery nights…Even healing miracles are not absent from Eleusis: a man who had been blind suddenly would behold the sacred exhibition; mysteries are to be ‘seen’ at Eleusis.”

(Burkert, AMC, 75): “The grief of Demeter ends with the return of Persephone, and ‘the festival ends with exaltation and the brandishing of torches.’ (Lactantius).

Bibliography

 

BURKERT, Walter, Ancient Mystery Cults, Cambridge, MA and London;

Harvard University Press, 1987.

_____________, Greek Religion, Cambridge, MA; Harvard University

Press, 1985.

 

Training the Mind for Magick

October, 2012

The mechanics of Magick comes win a matter of many different formulas for the continuous

conclusion; remember the results are not a one and done, but are carried throughout the universe in the

infinite. So some major parts of the magical equation consist of faith, belief, will, focus, practice,

experience, knowledge, and the level of conscious awareness attained. These are a few parts of the

equation, however, the most primal half that dictates all of these options are last listed, level of

conscious awareness. When this is trained through every trial it sets your moral, views, opinions,

perceptions on life, and helps you find the Inner Light of the Crystal Tower you carry within yourself.

Kabbalist do their best to seek out the Tree of Life they have concluded that lives within the soul and

reach it by heightening their awareness. There are many aspects of life that will continuously improve

about yourself when you target in on the higher conscious, but there will be many people who will

debate this fact due to their own opinion. It is proven that those who attain the higher conscience are

content, spiritual, and carry on with the live and learning process, as is proved by the Buddha, Jesus,

Mohammad, many Jewish Leaders, and many other spiritual leaders. This is what occultist work to

achieve as they also focus on the power of the Inner Self that is dictated by the higher level of

awareness. These occultist include Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardner, AE Waite, McGregor Mathers,

Alan Bennett. Israel Regardie, and many others as they were all ceremonial magicians and kabbalists as

well. These men where about raising their awareness to learn about themselves if you have a chance to

read any of their papers. There is no doubt that this is the main statement in any religion.

 

In the 13 goals posted “Know Thyself” is listed as the first for a reason. There are many ways

to know yourself and raising your consciousness is one of the most effective methods of this

achievement. Let us go even further into how this process works, why it should be done, and what it

accomplishes in the end the method of raising awareness is an old way of learning morals and values

for setting the stage of being a better person. This is done through allegorical teachings that were a part

of many cultures and traditions deeply delved with stable foundation of civilizations. The Cherokee had

many myths designed for the most simple of tasks to allow the person to gain their own perspective of

moral and doing the right thing as they grew as a person. Mythos have most definitely reshaped the

conscious level of the person earning what they learned. When the Cherokee men would go out on the

hunt it was one sign of achieved manhood. In our modern society this would be achieved by a man

getting his first job, so you would take him out to celebrate as a reward for achieving his manhood. The

ancient Greeks used the story of Uranus downfall to Cronus as an example in Greek history to show the

relevant history of their agriculture. Mythology is merely one way of raising your awareness. The

philosophy of raising the conscious must be lived as well. This is lived by earning and working hard in

your practices which consists of various practices; such as yoga, kabbalah, Freemasonry, looking at

everything around you, living an orderly life, being level headed in every situation, seeing life as a

lesson to be learned, and many other relevant practices. So to achieve this state you have to work very

hard in everything you do; this is no easy task and can take a lifetime to achieve. When you achieve

this you will ultimately reach your Higher-Self and be rewarded in the heavens. Improving yourself is

one more state of achieving the higher conscious. You do not have to study any religious of spiritual

practices honestly to have your Divine Conscious unlocked, the methods are listed above in this

paragraph for understanding. When you strive to work on yourself you are cracking the doorway to

knowing who you are inside and out.

 

There is a state called the Samadhi in yoga, meaning Bliss State. When you have

reached this last branch of the eight you have mastered the mind. Pay attention to yourself and what

you do, you will learn so much about yourself; thus you have defined self-discover at that moment.

Magically this dictates how effective your ritual or spell is in the long run. One way you can do this is

to focus on your goal in your Magick without looking back; you have raised your awareness. Self-improvement should be the goal of every person on the earth in every category that makes us who we

are. As Jesus said, “He who is perfect cast the first stone.” The reflective meaning is none of us are

immaculate gods or goddesses running around in the mundane world, if that was the case there would

be no point in learning. When one focuses on bettering themselves they are inadvertently working on

their awareness, this hold true if the individual does not make that same mistake over, if they do then

they have learned nothing and failed to cue in on the higher conscious. The Higher Conscious makes

you realize all of us are people with the same issues of living life and all we can do is try harder the

next time we have the shot to do our best. We cannot dwell on the past, but look ahead to the future to

better ourselves in every way and rediscover the kid we felt like in terms of knowing we have

problems, but driving forward like tank to learn from them in the end. There have been a few

experiences from a few young adults I have witnessed who are bold enough to move on. I notice as we

grow old we take a few punches from life while we are in the ring and lose that idea of going forward if

we are not careful and have to retrieve it again.

 

There are circumstances that all of us as humans have to face that make us human to show we

are mortal, not the gift of the divine with a shield of white Light around us. When you have a higher

conscious you tend to find this concept a lot easier when a period of “I really messed up” comes into

play. There is a time for males when they are in their twenties when they just wake up and feel

different, like an over night thing. I have came crossed this and discussed it with other males whom

have lived life, they felt the same thing I did. I cannot speak on the behalf of just waking up and feeling

different, but I can say all of us go through this phase, but sometimes it is not over the period of an

overnight transcendence. This would be considered the initiation as a man or woman, aka a life

initiation. When a person goes through this phase it is gladly earned. You have become the Mother or

Father in terms of allegorical definition. You have earned the next level of consciousness and

awareness. In the end of this process the higher conscious when one sticks with the hard work of

finding themselves they have made a feat few can say they have tried to accomplish in the end. The

rewards for this lifetime goal are beyond that of the mind’s comprehension, a lot like the Ain Soph. We

will never know the full results after we leave the Malkuth, but when we do we can promise there is a

Light at the end of the tunnel. The people who stick to their guns in this stage are the ones who are the

most enlightened when they understand the Inner Tree of Life by the higher awareness that influences

the conscious mind. These are truly the most bold of people that are honored and should be the role

models by the standards of moral. There are cultures that do take notice of this achievement with

regards to the Native Americans, the Norse, the Celts, and so on. The term “respect your elders” refers

to this application of they have lived and learned from their mistakes, taking their subconscious beyond

yours in the end. When you look a a person in the eyes you can tell a lifetime full of experiences,

tragedies, successes, and wisdom. There are those who discover this later, late bloomers, but this is

better then folks who never try at all to raise their awareness. When I look at my grandmother I see that

she raised her awareness by living and learning, so I really enjoy talking to her for this purpose. So

when you raise your Awareness and Conscious mind take the personal step of maintaining it, even

when times get hard. You will find yourself in better situations and more content with your life. The

Deities of your choice will gladly reward you if you follow this path.

 

The Crow’s Nest

October, 2012

Patchouli

 

Since I first walked into a pagan shop, one scent has always brought me back to loving the Great Mother’s embrace. Still to this day I seek out this scent, thrive on its use.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized there are so much more uses for Patchouli than to send me to eternal peace.

Patchouli is a natural insect repellant. It is said that traders from Orient would put it in the folds of their silk so that moths would not lay eggs there. Some say that it even keeps female moths from adhering to male moths. It is also used to repel Leeches, though admittedly I have never seen one in Texas to test that theory out.

Although the scent is sweet it is a natural repellant to mosquitoes. I used to believe it was the amount of garlic I ate that kept the blood-suckers away.

Planting Patchouli near your home in a shady, but dry place will cause the plant to thrive, but be mindful that the sun doesn’t directly hit it. It likes the shade, but it also likes the heat. The good point of planting Patchouli near your home is it deters termites.

The medicinal points of Patchouli range greatly. If placed on the skin it can be used to treat acne and dermatitis.  Just rub the oil over cracked or inflamed skin.  One of the greatest things about Patchouli that I found interesting is that when used to heal a wound, it causes less scarification. It calms the skin and helps with the scaring that can occur due to acne, chickenpox, measles and boils.

Taken internally, it can be used as an aphrodisiac. It has been used by many people in their crone years to increase sexual libido and interest.  I cannot say that I have ever taken Patchouli internally, so I don’t know for sure the abilities that it uses on this. It has been said that it also helps with skin disorders and hemorrhoids when taken internally as well, which means that if those two problems you have, it would be worth trying out. Great skin and better sex, what more could you ask for?

Along with that, it is used for mood disorders as well. I know for a fact that when I wear Patchouli, I feel more connected with the world. It is great for grounding, so using it as an essential oil or as incense can help you meditate and have better clarity with the surroundings. It lifts your mood and helps clear your mind.  It helps alleviate stress and often is used to diffuse a room and create a peaceful sanctuary.

Lastly, but definitely not least of all, Patchouli is a great diuretic. It is said that it will allow your body to expel more toxins by helping your kidneys in the same breathe. It increases urination, which helps the kidneys expel more toxins with each elimination.

I hope that this article has enlightened you on the benefits of patchouli. It isn’t just for hippies anymore.  I know I use mine, although I have to admit that there is one use for Patchouli I do not use and don’t see myself using. It is said that Patchouli helps with halitosis. I don’t think I could ever gargle with it, but feel free to try if you think that your breath needs help. I am sure that it would definitely make you smell more earthly.

The Witch’s Cupboard

October, 2012

 

A Happy Samhain to All

Two Herbs Associated with Samhain are Ginger and Licorice. Both are great for the season.

Ginger:  The parts used are the Rhizomes.  An old Indian proverb says, “every good quality is contained in Ginger.”  Ginger has been used since the dawn of time for healing.  Modern science has supported some of it’s traditional medicinal uses.  Among other things ginger is is used to treat motion and morning sickness, digestive problems, heart disease and stroke, ulcers, arthritis, women’s health concerns, and cold and flu.

Ginger is a tropical perennial that grows from a tuberous underground stem or rhizome.

Just in time for Samhain, here’s a recipe for Gingerbread Witches:

 Gingerbread Witches

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoons allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

raisins

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, ginger,

cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Beat in the molasses and egg.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, mixing

well. Add to the molasses mixture and stir until smooth.

Divide the dough into four equal parts. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic

wrap, and then chill for 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

When ready, roll each quarter to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured

surface with a floured rolling pin. Cut the dough with a Witch-shaped cookie

cutter (or other Hallowe’en-theme cutters such as pumpkins, bats, skulls,

etc.) Press raisins into the dough to make eyes, mouth, buttons, and so on.

Place the gingerbread Witches on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a

350-degree preheated oven for eight to ten minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and place on wire racks to cool. Decorate the cookies

with black and orange colored icing if desired.

This recipe yields about 30 cookies.

from “The Wicca Spellbook”

by Gerina Dunwich

Licorice

Licorice is both beneficial and controversial.  Advocates point out it’s many uses, used around the world for thousands of years.  Critics concede the herbs effectiveness but it insists that it’s :potentially life-threatening side effects” make it too dangerous to use.  For healthy adults who ingest the herb in recommended amounts, licorice’s benefits greatly outweigh the risks.  Licorice is recommended to treat cough, colds and sore throats, ulcers, canker sores, herpes and hepatitis.  It should not be used in patients with high blood pressure.  Licorice is an erect, hardy perennial that reaches 3 to 7 feet.  Small, alternate, inch-long leaflets and ½ inch purple midsummer flowers.

How to Make Sore Throat Soothers With

 These Soothing Throat Pills work wonders for sore throat, laryngitis and other infections of the throat or mouth.

• 2 parts licorice root powder
• 1 part echinacea root powder
• 1 part goldenseal root powder (Note: We recommend organically cultivated goldenseal, as the wild plant is endangered due to overharvesting.)
• 1 part marshmallow root powder
• Honey
• Few drops peppermint essential oil
• Carob powder

1. Follow the instructions for making herbal pills (See Below) to Make Throat Soothers with Licorice. Feel free to adjust the flavors to suit your taste.

2. To use: Take 1 or 2 Soothing Throat Pills daily for best results.

Licorice-Ginger Pills

This tasty and soothing Licorice-Ginger Pills recipe is for singers and those with sore throats.

• 2 tablespoons licorice root powder
• 1 teaspoon gingerroot powder
• Honey
• Cinnamon or cocoa powder

  1. Follow the instructions for making herbal pills in Make Throat Soothers with Licorice. Use honey and 1 to 2 drops water to form the paste, and cinnamon or cocoa powder as a thickener. To use: Take 1 or 2 Licorice-Ginger Pills as needed.

Making Pills

Make Pills with Antiviral Herbs

Making herbal pills is a good project to do with children, who are more prone to take their medicine if they’ve had a hand in making it. Carob or cocoa powder is added to make these pill balls tasty as well as effective. Licorice root powder could also be used to make a licorice pill.

1. Place powdered herbs in a bowl and mix with a few drops of water and enough honey (or maple syrup) to make a sticky paste. (Try these two herbal blend recipes: Soothing Throat Pills and Licorice-Ginger Pills.)

2. If you like, add one to two drops of essential oil to the bowl and mix, either for flavor or for added medicinal properties. (Note: Some essential oils are not intended for internal use; if you’re not sure whether an essential oil is safe to consume, consult a health-care professional.) Wintergreen and peppermint essential oils make excellent flavoring agents.

3. Thicken the mixture with carob or unsweetened cocoa powder to form a thick, smooth paste. Knead until smooth.

4. Break off small bits of dough and roll them into small, pill-size balls. You can roll the pills in carob or cocoa powder for a finished look, if you like.

5. Dry the pills in a dehydrator, or place them on a cookie sheet and dry them in the oven at a low temperature (around 150 degrees, or with just the oven light on). Sun-dry them in warm, dry weather.

  1. Once dried, these pills will keep indefinitely. Store these throat soothers in a glass jar in a cool, dark location.

obtained from the www.HerbCompanion.com

Pagan Theology

October, 2012

Responsibility

 

One of the important things that religions do is regulate behavior.  You may not like it, but that’s the way it is.  One of the reasons that others in society are skeptical of modern Paganism is that we don’t regulate much behavior outside of obvious harm and ill action.  This is part of the reason that modern Paganism appeals to many whose spirits are freer, or just unwilling to behave the way society expects them.  Since religion is one way the culture regulates behavior outside of the legal system, a religion that does not provide such regulation could be seen as suspicious (or not a religion).  I think it’s pretty clear that is not the case, but I’m betting that some acceptance issues for religions outside of the book (and liberal ones of the book) have to do with the rather lax way they may regulate extra-legal behavior.

 

But the truth is that the Gods and Goddesses don’t tell people whom they can and can’t sleep with, nor do they tell us what to eat, how to dress, or even whether to show up to ritual.  We do these things because we know within us what we are called to do.  Pagans show up at ritual because of a calling we cannot refuse, and we know that those who are called will find the Gods and Goddesses.  We have a magical, inner, compass.

 

This places Paganism in a very unique position relative to other religions, but it also places a great burden on those who follow the Gods and Goddesses.  Sometimes that burden is too great and we see ourselves wishing for more regulation, as if that would help those who are hurting.  I claim that regulation of behavior as a religious device is wrong, because we are using the spiritual to regulate a different sphere of life, the social.  Better to develop social regulation to regulate social behavior [1].

 

However when it comes to more mundane matters, such as who to sleep with or where to hang our hats, Pagan theology pretty much abandon’s us.  “Do as you will, as long as it harm none” is a pretty vague statement that is well open to interpretation and various readings.  In fact I claim is has more to do with magical and ritual working than mundane ones.  It does not tell us what to do in situations, for example, where whatever you choose will harm someone, yourself included.  In reality it is equivalent to saying “be responsible for your actions,”  which is just about as vague and unhelpful as any other advice we give or get as parents.  “Harm none” is quite different than “thou shall not…”.  The latter is explicit, requires little thought or interpretation, and can easily be followed in complex situations.  Leaving the decision up to us means that all of the usual temptations and mind tricks that can occur, will, resulting in us giving in to the temptation to be irresponsible when we should not.

 

So where does this leave us as a community trying to do the right thing in the real world of politics, betrayal, and bitching [2]?

 

Responsibility is a good place to start, but we need to understand it better.  We need to take responsibility for ourselves and others.  Just as the Gods and Goddesses have only themselves, and their honor and reputation, to answer for, so we also have the responsibility for right action.  The responsibility to exercise the freedom we claim as divine beings in ways that increase the world, and us not diminish it.  This can require us to be brave, and to lose something in the process.  Sometimes we cannot keep friends because we need to be responsible.  Sometimes thing won’t go as we wanted because our responsibilities get in the way.   Sometimes our duties, either to others or to the organizations we lead will lead us to have to sacrifice one thing or the other.  It is important to acknowledge that the requirement of responsibility is the ability to deny ourselves some things that we may want, to impose limits on ourselves.  Paganism is not a religion of abundance [3], it does not promise that all our problems will be resolved by appeal to religious or magical authorities.  Sometimes we have to solve our problems ourselves.

 

Now different people have different requirements leveed on them.  Newcomers to the circle and community have the responsibility to listen and learn.  Those who have been here a while have the responsibility to use what they have learned for the betterment of everyone in the community.  And those who lead have to lead from the heart of the Goddess, not from their own egos or desires.  They have to be willing the serve both the Gods and the Goddesses and the community.  That is what they bought into when they assumed the leadership role.  It is not just the responsibility to use magical power responsibly, it is also their responsibility to use real power responsibly [4].

 

But, as the Christians would say, sin is all around us.   While we don’t believe in sin, and have a very complex relationship with evil and darkness in general, we could just as easily call these things “big mistakes” or “challenges” because that is what they are.   Doing bad things often begets bad results in our lives.  Whether you call it sin or a mistake, it’s a problem.   Irresponsibility, ignoring our duty and need for self-restraint, can easily result in harm to ourselves and others.

 

If you watch Pagan groups enough you see that there are some real challenges to responsible behavior.  Several sins are very easy to commit in Paganism (and yes, I’m talking about the fun ones).  In fact anyone who has stayed around a circle for any length of time has encountered just about every one of them.  Leaders within the community confront these “sins” all the time, and sometimes confront them directly in their own lives.  How we deal with spiritual and behavioral challenges is important both for us as individuals as well as for our community.

 

By far the biggest challenge I have seen is self-centered behavior.  There is the individual who shows up at the circle the first time knowing everything, correcting everybody, and who won’t shut up.  There is the would-be leader who pushes and pushes for a bigger role in order to be in the spotlight.  There is the leader who don’s the mantle of magical and intellectual power in order to rise above the mundane.

 

Self-centered behavior, in my opinion, is all about self-worth and self-image.  People who do not have a good feeling about themselves, those who were bullied or left behind by “normal” life, are often drawn to Paganism as an open, accepting, community.  Likewise I believe that wounded individuals are often drawn to Paganism because of the perceived power of magical practice.  Those who have little power in “real” life can escape to an imagined world where they do have power, and that power brings some degree of respect and authority within the community.   None of these behaviors are valid reasons to engage with either magic or the deities, but as members and leaders of a community we must deal with them.  Often quite frequently.

 

Behaviors like low self-esteem or grandiose self-image may be obvious, or they may be deeply hidden and only come out through different kinds of behavior, often overtly productive behaviors.  Still there is a lack of confidence, a sense of low self worth, that even if deeply buried and hidden can affect how we behave.  If the issues manifest overtly its pretty easy to see what is going on.  Every circle has encountered people who are drawn to religion because of ego, vanity, or a lack of self worth.  But, even worse, these people can be exploited by the second kind of problem that we have:  the users.

 

Given that many Pagan’s are often drawn to Paganism because it represents a safe place where they don’t have to compete on regular societies’ terms [5], those who are perhaps shall we say “more sophisticated” can and sometimes do exploit circles for their own gain.   These “users” for lack of a better term can be like wolves in amongst the sheep.  While they may be better looking, more articulate, smarter (though that is much harder to pull off), or more socially adept than the majority of Pagans, they would still be challenged if they were thrown in amongst a mainstream Church.  They would be quickly identified in a mainstream group and tossed out.  But in Paganism we are both accepting, and somewhat vulnerable to these types.  Even the leaders can be vulnerable because these users offer something that many don’t have, a social status boost.  Of course this boost can be temporary, but sometimes the victims don’t realize they are victims.

 

The interaction between those who are wounded, and vulnerable, and those who might exploit them for their own gain is always a danger in small-group religion.  While Paganism seems pretty immune to cults of personality, probably because most Pagans are more irascible and anti-authoritarian then most, we are vulnerable to having the weak exploited by the strong.

 

The real problem underlying all of this is that both types of individuals are approaching the Gods and Goddesses from a completely wrong-headed and invalid path.  The focus on the self, on rewards to the ego and spirit that come from being a leader or well-regarded member of a small group is not the reward that we, as Pagans, should seek.  Instead the Gods and Goddesses should be approached because we have no other choice, because their fire burns in us in a way that does not allow for a different answer.  This inner compass that guides us to belief and the world of the spirit also provides us with a meter that allows us to be faithful, to circle and worship and practice our magic, but also to participate in the broader life of society.  This broader life is necessary in order for us to accumulate the real wisdom, to do the real work that is required of us in order to learn how to behave.

 

So I would say that we should all watch out for each other, but those who have a broader, wiser, worldly, view have an added responsibility to watch out for those users when they creep into our circles.  Leadership is critical when danger lurks about, and danger often comes in the most pleasant and attractive packages.  We can also work toward a community of greater responsibility by encouraging those who come to Paganism to visit their reasons, to examine their lives both inside and outside the circle in order to identify the real growth that is needed.  Sometimes spiritual growth and growth in the circle should be put aside in favor of growth in the world.  Wisdom comes from lots of places, but you cannot ultimately be wise without confronting and dealing with the world.  That’s one reason I suspect catholic priests are not ordained for such a long time.  They want their initiates to have that experience of living in the world, to be able to engage socially and personally with the world, before they remove themselves from it, or rise above it.  So too it should be with us.

 

Unfortunately we have few tools in which to regulate behavior short of expelling someone from circle.  We don’t have sin, hell, or any other similar threat.  Heck we can’t even threaten the poorly behaved with the prospect of being reincarnated as a bug.  Instead it falls to our leadership to actually lead, to build an environment where responsibility is the key touchstone, where behavior is seen in the context of a true and close relationship with the Gods and Goddesses, and where those who are not responsible in their behavior are called out and made to own their own consequences.

 

This also means that we need to protect the weak amongst us.  The weak and vulnerable need two kinds of protection.  First they need leaders and elders to be responsible for their protection against those who would use them.  While a free society, the effect of properly placed words and suggestions from those who are respected and wise should not be underestimated.  The key thing is, just like children, those words need to be said and wisdom dispensed well before the excrement hits the whirligig.  It’s too late once commitments (or babies) have been made.

 

But another kind of protection for the weak is to make them strong.  I believe we do too little to strengthen character of those who are week, or to impart wisdom to those who are foolish.  Again this cannot be done at the last moment right before the drunken reveler tries to kiss the rattlesnake.  Instead it must be integrated into our words and actions throughout our circles and discussions, well before we sit down to potluck.

 

[1]  I continue to maintain that theologically we are better off considering a humanistic approach toward morality and behavior within Paganism than a religious one.  Humanism gives us a well-considered and integrated foundation for right action and behavior, without drawing the judgment of the Gods and Goddesses into our affairs.  At the same time regulation of magical and ritual behavior does derive from theology, not humanism, as it is an inherently spiritual affair.  While most humanists would totally deny any supernatural cause or effect, we can simply ignore that portion of humanist thought and focus on their exegesis of morality.

[2]  You are correct in assuming that I am reacting to something that actually happened within the community.  However I’m just watching the derailment, and using it as a stimulus to talk about the larger problem of trust, governance, and private vs. public.     For those who know the event I’m talking about, a rather public one in our region of the country, I have great sympathy for everyone and believe that a lot, and I do mean a lot, of mistakes were made.    I’m also talking about my general observation that we get a lot of wounded people coming to circle.  Sure there are strong Pagans and Witches who are amazingly grounded in spirit and world.  But there are a heck of a lot of others who are not.

[3]  I’m talking very specifically about the abundance theology of certain Christian sects.  We don’t have something that promises riches; even magical workings require us to “work” to make the effect happen.  If we do a charm for money and go out and quit our job its likely the small effects that the spell made will be overwhelmed by our own stupidity.  Similarly is we are a wise elder but make silly mistakes in our relations with people or organizations, our wisdom will be overwhelmed by the challenges we have brought on.

[4]  As they say in academia, “the fights are so bad because the stakes are so low.”  Such is true for Paganism as well!

[5]  For example, if you attend a “regular” (whatever that is) Christian service you will most likely draw a pretty representative cross section of the community.  The lawyers, doctors, and others who have gained social and material success will likely be there, and they will be dominating.  The pretty wives with the pearls, the guys who golf on Sunday after Church, they all represent a pretty intimidating crowd.  These guys will toss even the most sophisticated user out in a heartbeat should they attempt any shenanigans.  Paganism, at least the circles I’m familiar with, doesn’t quite draw from the same general mix.  The social groupings Paganism draws from are the same ones that fandom, gaming, SCA, etc. draw from.  A different sort, but one that is vulnerable to being naive.  And I must say the demographic we do draw from is a vibrant, interesting, smart, charming, gentle, and wonderfully different sort.  A group that I find far more kind and easy to know than the more mainstream sort.

The Mugwort Chronicles

October, 2012

Hawthorne

Hawthorne-Crataegus spp –is a well-respected heart tonic, both for physical as well as emotional conditions of the heart.  A member of the rose family, Hawthorne can be found throughout North America and the northern hemisphere in Europe and Asia. These small thorny trees (shrubs), which can vary in size from 10 feet to 50 feet tall depending on the variety, produce lovely small white blossoms in the spring and small red fruits or ‘haws’ in the fall.  Used as both food and medicine for centuries, Hawthorne also has a long, rich folk history as well.

Both ancient Greeks and Romans included Hawthorne in wedding arrangements, associating it with happiness and hope- an emotional ‘heart’ connection.  The Roman goddess Cardea is said to have protected children at night by hanging a small branch of Hawthorn over their cradles [Kyle].   Also known as the Faerie Tree and May Tree, Hawthorne’s blossoms were used to decorate for May Day celebrations in England. One of the most well-known ships to sail to America, The Mayflower, was named after the Hawthorne tree.

Hawthorne fruit has been used to make jams, jellies, juices and alcoholic beverages in Europe and Asia. The tender young spring leaves are sometimes added to salads or to cooked dishes. Hawthorne flowers can also be used to make Flower Essences.

There are many varieties of Hawthorne growing here in North America, some bearing fruit earlier than others, but most can be used interchangeably. Although the berries are the part most often used medicinally, the leaves and flowers are also mildly tonic for the heart, having diuretic and blood pressure lowering effects. The leaves are astringent, the flowers are anti-inflammatory and the berries are mucilaginous containing flavonoids and rutin.  To make medicine, the leaves and flowers are harvested in the spring; the berries, in the fall, usually after the first frost.

Hawthorne is a cardiac ‘trophorestorative’-a slow-acting, nourishing botanical which needs to be taken over a long period of time before optimal benefits are seen-at least for three months.  Hawthorne can lower blood pressure, strengthen the heart, and help prevent heart disease and stroke. The German E commission recommends Hawthorne tea or tincture for many cardiac conditions [Weed].

A mixture of flowers, leaves and berries can be taken as a tea (usually 1 tablespoon per cup of water).  Leaf and flower can also be taken as a capsule. The berries are most often taken as a tincture-approximately 1 to 2 dropperfuls one to four times per day.  My favorite way to make Hawthorne tincture is to place the dried berries in a canning jar, adding enough raw honey to cover, then stirring well. After 8 hours, add enough Brandy to fill the jar approximately two inches above the berries and shake well. Add more Brandy (menstruum), as needed, to make certain the berries are always submerged or else molding can occur. Shake every day for one week, storing in a cool, dark area away from heat. After 8 weeks, strain well using a metal mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Store in a clean, tightly sealed canning jar, labeled well. Fill a tincture bottle to use as a dosing bottle to prevent constant exposure to air of your stock bottle.

I moved away from my home in Oregon which has a lovely Hawthorne tree planted in the back yard to commemorate my daughter’s birth. Sadly, I no longer have access to a Hawthorne tree to harvest berries for my tinctures, so I depend on purchased dried berries. Fresh berries are high in pectin and will produce a tincture which becomes somewhat ‘thick’ with time- drying them will help prevent this from happening.  I have also heard that freezing fresh berries first works well, but have never tried this.

Be aware that if you are taking prescription medications for heart or blood pressure conditions, Hawthorne can decrease your need for these medications. Be sure to inform your healthcare provider of any herbal products you are taking.  If you do not feel comfortable discussing this, I would strongly encourage you to find a provider with whom you can have an open dialogue about including botanicals as part of your wellness plan.

I had fairly stubborn high blood pressure for many years which was only partially responsive to pharmaceutical blood pressure medicine. Although I also made some additional life-style changes (improved my diet, began exercising and lost weight), it wasn’t until six months after I added Hawthorne tincture to my daily regimen that my blood pressure finally came down. In fact, my prescription medication dose needed to be halved as my blood pressure was too low.

As with any herbal formula, if you are pregnant do not take Hawthorne unless you first discuss it with your provider.

References:

Selina Kyle http://www.helium.com/items/1751848-folklore-hawthorn

Susun Weed http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/November08/healingwise.htm

Resources:

Australasian College of Health Sciences, Portland OR:

http://files.achs.edu/mediabank/files/hawthornherb.pdf

 

Transitions:

http://www.herbaltransitions.com/materiamedica/Crataegus.htm

 

Mountain Rose Herbs:

http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/hawthorn_berry.php

http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/hawthorn_leaf.php

 

The Obscure Goddess On-Line Directory:

http://thaliatook.com/OGOD/cardea.html

 

The White Dragon:

http://whitedragon.org.uk/articles/hawthorn.htm

 

Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crataegus

 

This information is offered for educational purposes and is not intended to take the place of personalized medical care from a trained healthcare professional. The reader assumes all risk when utilizing the above information.

~Louise~

Copyright© 2012 Louise Harmon

All Rights Reserved

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