April, 2017

Merry Meet

April, 2017

Egg

 

 

        Welcome

 

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Welcome Readers & Welcome Spring!  We have a very interesting issue this month with features like…

 

Shaman2

 

An icle All About ‘Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life’ by Imelda Almqvist, which features the Time Travellers.

 

wiccanbadass2

 

An interview with Moonwater SilverClaw, Author of Be A Wiccan Badass,  easy-to-read, simple guide to the Craft

 

Spell

 

In SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals, Lynn, asks us all a good question on following spells, have a read and start the discussion!  

 

wind

 

This month we Welcome Imelda Almqvist to the PaganPages family with her column Sacred art.  Where she will share her art & stories with our readers!

 

cottage

 

And, just in time for Spring Cleaning, Ian Elliot, has some ideas to help enlighten the home with his column House Rituals.

 

So sit back, Relax, and have a GREAT READ!

 

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Join us on Facebook  & Twitter!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beltane Correspondences

April, 2017

beltane

 

Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.

Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldron
Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz
Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.

Seeing the Signs

April, 2017

Using a Pendulum with Runes

 

Since buying a set of Runes in January of this year, I have been working with them and studying both their history and lore diligently. Using Alexandra Chauran’s wonderful book, Runes for Beginners: Simple divination and Interpretation as well as the chapter on Runes in The Fortune-Teller’s Workbook: A Practical Introduction to the World of divination by Sasha Fenton, I am slowly – very slowly – becoming adept at using the stones. I am also – of course – searching the internet for all the information I can find. I made a chart for myself that I refer to quickly and am beginning to memorize the Elder Futhark alphabet. I found the font online and downloaded it so I can use it on my computer.

divination

One thing I do on a daily basis is draw a Rune as part of my morning meditation. I have been doing this for years with one of my Tarot decks and now I compare the two messages and see if they are working together or opposed and what that means for me. It’s amazing how often they work together. For instance, pulling VII The Chariot and the Rune e , which is “eow”, “horse”, meaning “movement, travel”. Or II The High Priestess and L , which is “lagu”, “lake”, meaning “moon goddess, women”. The more I use the two divinatory methods together, the more this happens. There is a kind of synchronicity that seems to be occurring which is really cool.

Of course, plenty of times, I can’t make head or tails out of either the Tarot card or the stones and I just sit there looking at them like what the fuck is this? But that’s okay, too. Sometimes there is no message. That’s just the way it is. The message is that there’s no message. Like the Beatles sang, “I’ve got nothing to say and it’s okay.”

This morning, I pulled the Ace of Wands and v, which is emotional happiness. That tells me that my emotional happiness comes from starting a new project and sticking to it – rather than looking for emotional love – I am happiest when I am working. I have been writing all day and feeling really good about myself.

divination2

One of the things I do at least once a week – if not more – is read the Runes using my pendulum. This is how I do it. I put out all the Runes face down. Since there’s 25 of them, I make a square of five rows of five stones. Then I let my pendulum choose which stones to turn over. If the pendulum moves – generally in a strong back and forth motion – then that’s a stone to be turned over. If the pendulum doesn’t move, then I go onto the next stone. Out of twenty-five stones, the pendulum will pick between three and seven stones. Usually it picks five. Most of the time, in fact.

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divination4

Again, sometimes I can get a good reading out of this method and sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I can even get the Runes to spell an actual word. But if I can’t, it’s no big deal. I just work with what I’ve got.

divination5

This particular reading I did just before I went on vacation. The pendulum picked six stones this time. N and x both indicate needing to watch my back. Naturally, whenever you’re traveling, you have to be careful of everything – where you set your luggage, when you pull out your wallet, who you talk to. Of course, this is true of life in general! k is warmth, “life” and s is the sun, meaning “life force”, and on my travels, I would be seeing both my beloved only son James, and my elderly parents. t is “Tir” the war god, meaning “passion” but it looks like an arrow shooting into the sky – I was flying on my trip and I passionately love to fly – even with the inconvenience of going through TSA! And e is movement – I have been in perpetual movement these past few weeks – taking busses, subways, trains, and of course, planes. So this reading really hit the mark!

The more I use Runes – either with other divinatory methods or alone – the more I love them. If you haven’t gotten a set yet, get out there and buy yourself one! It’s well worth the money. Or find twenty-five small stones and paint the letters on them. But do it! Runes are a great divinatory system and everyone should have a set on hand.

All About ‘Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life’ by Imelda Almqvist

April, 2017

Shaman1

 

The other day I was looking for some innovative session ideas for my shamanic group for teenagers. I asked my youngest son Brendan (13) for some suggestions. He said: “A session on the Spirit of Chocolate!” And he was not just trying to put chocolate on the menu, he truly is intrigued by sacred substances and how our culture has stripped them of their ceremonial use and made them ‘everyday items’ (also think of e.g. tobacco or alcohol). When I mentioned his idea to friends many wonderful links and esoteric information about a ‘Chocolate Goddess’ rolled in! We learned about the way tribal peoples use chocolate in ceremonies. As we were on a roll, I asked Brendan for another session idea. He instantly replied: “A session on the Spirit of Honey because it is a special substance in our world but an even more special substance, a luminous elixir, in other worlds!” I have invited a friend who is training in bee shamanism to be our guest teacher. Our curriculum for the Summer Term is shaping up nicely!

 

Time1

(Animal Healing Energy Raising.)

 

My three sons (aged 17, 15 and 13) are (what I like to call) Natural Born Shamans. In our house “where we lived before we were born” and “where we go after death” passes for normal dinnertime conversation. We also talk daily about the importance of spiritual hygiene, the principle of fair energy exchange, power theft and always listening to our intuition. It is my observation that shamanism, one of the oldest spiritual practices in the world, can provide a powerful toolkit – even save young lives – in today’s world of great turmoil and paradigm shift.

Let me introduce myself! My name is Imelda Almqvist. I teach shamanism and sacred art internationally. I am a painter, film maker and full-time weird mother. In 2012 my spirit allies urged me to start a shamanic program for children and teenagers. It sounded quite frightening and was the last thing I wanted to do at the time! However, I have learned to listen closely to Spirit so I did start this group and my own children called it The Time Travellers.

 

Time2

(Time Travellers Sacred Clown.)

My program provides safe sacred space for young people to create a spiritual toolkit and community. Here they can share things that their mainstream London schools do not exactly encourage. Over the past five years we have done sessions on a very wide spectrum of subjects: a spiritual toolkit for resolving bullying, animal healing , dream theater, a seminar exploring violence in films and the media, shadow work, creative writing, shamanic perspectives on death and dying with a field trip to the local cemetery, plant spirit medicine…. and so forth. I also have a community of wonderful guest teachers sharing skills I do not have myself.

 

Time3

 

(Time Travellers Plant Spirit Communication.)

 

The next thing my spirit allies demanded was that I write a book about this work. I didn’t think that any publisher would touch this subject (using shamanism with young people) with a barge pole – as I knew people who had tried writing about this and got reams of rejections. I said to my spirit allies: if you are urging me to write this book, I trust that you will help me find the right outlet for this book as well!! Miraculously the first publisher I tried (John Hunt Publishing) offered me a contract within one week of me submitting the manuscript. Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in August 2016.

I based chapters of the book on questions people from all over the world had been asking me for years. There was an ever growing volume of emails passing through my inbox from parents, teachers, grandparents, psychotherapists etc. I made sure that I answered all those questions in the book, meaning that people can find all the information in one place and use it as a reference book. I also included 32 session plans. People who do homeschooling for instance have reported that they find those lesson plans very useful. Colleagues are using the material for starting their own shamanic programs for children.

By summer 2016 the river of emails had become an avalanche. I was asked to be a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit hosted by The Shift Network. World-renowned shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman interviewed me as part of her online course in shamanic journeying there (http://shamanicjourneyingcourse.com/). I was invited to appear on radio shows and to speak at conferences. All those requests had one theme in common: “Please speak about your shamanic program for young people – it’s such important work at this time of turmoil and paradigm shift! And please speak about the importance of our culture rediscovering initiation and rites of passage too!” So I did.

 

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(Time Travellers The Spirit of .)

 

 

I took some of the work on-line and started teaching on-line seminars for teenage girls aged 15 – 18 years. I called this program Daring Dreamers.

What started as a group of local children dancing around a fire in my garden (and that still happens!) became a book and now shows every sign of becoming a ‘global movement’ as an increasing number of people are using the material and discovering its life-enhancing (even life-changing) potential. I also run a Facebook Group called NATURAL BORN SHAMANS where anyone can share experiences or post questions. I invite you to find us and join!

Right now my group is working on a film for spiritual publisher Sounds True’s Year of Ceremony. I am one of the presenters and have been asked (once again) to focus on young people and future generations (as our children are literally everyone’s future because they are the Earth Keepers of the future). My own ceremony is called Drawing Down The Divine Child but my Time Travellers group has performed their own Full Moon Ceremony to reach out to children of the past and present who lead incredibly tough lives. Their film is titled: Our Human Family.

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

Maybe I should finish by saying that I also teach sacred art programs, in both Europe and the USA – I do not only work with young people! I will write more about other passions and projects here another time.

 

Time5

(Time Travellers Message in a Bottle.)

 

To cycle back to the point where this article started: my son Brendan wrote his own book about shamanism when he was just 8 years old. The title is THE LOVE HALL: Brendan’s travel guide to the best places in the spirit world. Signed copies cost £5 and they can be ordered directly from us through my website. It took the world of shamanism by storm and people said that Brendan makes shamanism both fun and easy.

You will find some useful links below this article!

Imelda Almqvist, London UK

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

 

Some useful links:

Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-Born-Shamans-Spiritual-creatively/dp/1785353683/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490455294&sr=1-1&keywords=imelda+almqvist

NATURAL BORN SHAMANS – The Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1701396373471475/

THE TIME TRAVELLERS (about a spiritual toolkit for handling bullying)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTvsvWBGPIs

 

THE FOREST MAGIC OF A NATURAL BORN SHAMAN

In this short film Brendan (aged 12) is in a forest in Sweden and demonstrates how he works magic with materials he finds all around him because magic is our birthright and together with our helping spirits we can work miracles!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ousLzxLjflg&t=10s

 

Interview with Ruby

In this uplifting video shamanic teacher Imelda Almqvist interviews Ruby (15) and invites her to share her spiritual views and practices as well as a message for other teenagers who may be exploring their spirituality and looking for safe places to start or a community of kindred spirits.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNPJlTAEsO8

 

PSCYHOPATHS AND PSYCHOPOMPS

In this video some teens and “tweens” share their perspectives on Death, teaching all of us some ;powerful lessons along the way!

We live in a youth and beauty obsessed culture. Collectively we are in denial about Death. This is one area where young people can lead the way and be our teachers by facing Death (and all the issues and decisions that surround it) head-on (and creatively, playfully!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1EG8DJZ3os

 

Marielle Smith inteviews Imelda Almqvist on Going Shamanic (Canada)

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pagemediaproject/2016/12/06/going-shamanic-children-natural-born-shamans

 

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Interview with Moonwater SilverClaw Author of Be A Wiccan Badass

April, 2017

INTERVIEW WITH MOONWATER SILVERCLAW

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Author of Be A Wiccan Badass

“Be A Wiccan Badass” is a easy-to-read, simple guide to the Craft, best for beginners and advanced beginners, although more seasoned practitioners will still get some good advice from it. I recently sat down with Moonwater for a chat.

SM: Good morning, Moonwater. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk with me.

MS: Sure. My pleasure.

SM: I have looked at both your website and your Amazon author page (links below). You have quite a few books to your credit, including “Be A Wiccan Badass”, which I have right here.

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What made you decide to be a writer.

MS: I had a prophetic dream. In the dream, I was at a computer and I was writing. The Gods told me to start a blog. So I did.

At first, I was, like, are you kidding? I’m dyslexic. But you don’t dismiss the Gods, so I started writing. I have a lot of help. I have my sweetheart and friends that edit my stuff.

SM: That’s wonderful. We all need some help in our lives.

MS: Yes, and the Gods have helped me immensely.

SM: Which of your books came first?

MS: “The Hidden Children of the Goddess”

SM: I will be certain to post links to both your website and Amazon page.

MS: This first book is my Wicca 101 book. I wrote it in a specific way.

You see, because I am dyslexic, many of the books I read learning the Craft were sometimes hard to understand. So, I kept the thought in my mind to write simply and to make it easy to understand.

SM: How were you called to Wicca?

MS: …..how many at the time I learned even knew about Wicca? I heard a word I had never heard before. The word was Wicca. I went down to the local book shop and asked the lady behind the counter for any books on the subject. I soon had my arms full of books. I chose one. That one book changed my life forever. What was that book? It was Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Pracitioner”.

SM: Scott Cunningham helped so many beginners enter the Craft.

MS: Yes, and I hope that I can do this, too. I want to make Wicca accessible to those who may have a hard time reading and understanding what they have read. For example English as a second language or having dyslexia, as I have, or another learning disability.

SM: I found ” Be A Wiccan Badass” extremely easy to read and understand. It was inviting, as if we were just sitting chatting, as we are now.

MS: Thank you. I tried to make it inviting and friendly.

SM: I believe in one of earlier chats, you had mentioned that you have been practicing for 27 years.

MS: Yes, I have been practicing since the 1990’s.

SM: I read somewhere in the book that you were a Third Degree Initiate. Would you mind sharing with us in what tradition you are trained?

MS: I am a Third Degree Gardnerian

I wrote this book to help others be strong and find their own power. As a young girl, I had no self-confidence and felt like I had no power to change my circumstances.

I needed to experience a shift in myself. Fortunately, my path in Wicca helped me become stronger. Instead of remaining trapped with my then husband, I left. Wicca also strengthened me to become bold. I had to shake off my fear due to enduring dyslexia as a kid. It took courage to become a blogger/author.

With my first book, you can be more confident when you solidify a connection with the Goddess. Even if someone insults you, you can carry yourself with grace and strength because you know the Gods are with you.

SM: You practice a very traditional path of Wicca, but I notice that most of your books focus specifically on the Goddess, or so their titles would indicate, while “Badass” uses both Gods and Goddesses.

MS: No, I do include the Gods in all of my books. However, the Goddess speaks to me and others more, so I put her in the title.

SM: You are specifically speaking of “Hidden Children of the Goddess” or “Badass” with this description.

MS: Specifically “Hidden Children” but the others also include the God.

SM: So, I loved the idea of “speed grounding”.

MS: Thanks. I thought that was a good one. It can help you ground fast, especially if you practice it regularly.

SM: I would think that speed grounding would be for someone who has already been practicing their path for a while and can get to that place relatively smoothly. I find the grounding is part and parcel of deeper work, as well, which is harder than what speed grounding would indicate. Do you think beginners should practice this, or have more of a basic knowledge of the path that they are following?

MS: Yes. I think they need to know how to ground the regular way first. This way they know the process. Otherwise, they don’t know if they are doing it correctly.

SM: Yes, that is the point I was making. I know that there are always those looking for a quick fix and may think that Wicca can provide that, when in reality, it is far from it.

MS: I agree that grounding is a road to deeper work.

Yes. I have a friend that loves what I do but she wants me to make it a quick and fast thing to learn. I tell her that you can’t. You still need to study long and hard and keep studying throughout your life. It is not a fast and cheap spiritual path. It takes dedication and time to practice the techniques of Wicca.

SM: That is most certainly does. It is a lifelong path.

MS: Yes, totally.

SM: I liked the section on forgiving yourself, as that is something we all need to be reminded of. Also, the section on writing your own spells was informative. This seems to be one part that stymies many people.

MS: Yes, I hoped to guide the reader to feel more confident in creating their own spells. Because a spell you write yourself is going to be more effective than one someone else writes.

SM: Very true.

Is there anything you would like to share with the readers of Pagan Pages that they may not get through your books?

MS: I think that Wicca is a positive, spiritually, that really works. The God and Goddess are there to help you on your path; to guide you and nurture your growth. Wicca is for you to become stronger and find you own power. Plus, to know that you are loved by the Gods.

As I said, they have helped me immensely.

SM: I know that you credit Wiccaa and the Gods and Goddesses with saving your life.

MS: You don’t have to believe what someone else tells you that God is, you talk to them and find out yourself.

SM: So, do you consider yourself a “Wiccan Badass”?

MS: <Laughing> I am trying every day. Some days, yes; other days I need a little help. It’s all a learning process. I’m human just like you, and we all as humans make mistakes.

SM: Did I say I was human? <Laughing> Just a little joke.

MS: <Laughing> Well, you are the nicest __________ I have ever met.

Fill in the blank.

SM: Well, Moonwater, I thank you again for taking the time to chat with me today.

MS: Sure, thank you for the chat.

For more information on Moonwater SilverClaw and her books:

https://goddesshasyourback.com

https://smile.amazon.com/Moonwater-SilverClaw/e/B00HV4Z6U2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1490195654&sr=1-2-ent

The Kitchen Witch

April, 2017

Sweet Potato Pie: How Not to Make it!

 

Okay, I’ve really been off my game lately. I’ve been traveling a lot and I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking – I’ve been eating a lot of salads and quick pasta dishes or beans and rice – things I can whip up in a jiffy. But I got home from visiting my son and my elderly parents the other day in Buffalo and I thought that I would make something different – I had some yams that needed to be used, so I thought, oh, I’ll make a Sweet Potato Pie.

If you have heard of “Granny Moon’s Morning Feast” either on WordPress or through Yahoo Groups, then perhaps you have heard of a mailing she does called “Why Spells Don’t Work”. There’s a variety of reasons – you’re working the spell at the wrong phase of the moon or you have the wrong herbs for the spell or the wrong color of candle or your intent isn’t strong enough – honestly, sometimes it’s just that the Universe is working against you and your spell. Well, it’s the same thing with cooking. Why doesn’t a recipe work out the way it’s supposed to? Maybe you don’t have the correct ingredients and you are substituting something else. Maybe the weather is working against you – this is eminently true if you are baking, especially cakes and bread. Maybe you’re just not in the mood – you are too tired or too hurried or you just don’t feel like cooking whatever it is you’re cooking that day.

My problem right now is that I’m exhausted from traveling – I am really beginning to feel my age – and I am really too tired to be cooking anything. I should have stuck to something easy and simple – but when has a pie proved too hard for me? One that I have made before? True – I can’t remember when I last made this pie. It may have been twenty or more years ago. I probably had an electric mixer for making sure that everything got blended perfectly. Which is a real issue with this pie. You can’t mix it manually – which is what I was trying to do.

I was so tired when I was mixing up this pie that I was forgetting to take pictures as I did it.

I had to run some errands so as soon as I took the pie out of the oven, I went out and when I got home, I cut myself a piece and put some whipped cream on it and tried it.

Cooking1

Well – it tastes great. It really does. But – the texture is – well, weird. The custard never set up correctly and it’s all kind of mottled. I quite honestly have never seen a pie look like this. I really have to laugh.

I admit I made mistakes from the beginning. I forgot to take the butter out of the freezer and I was in a hurry to get it to soften so I put it in the microwave to defrost and then I forgot about it and it was part-way melted by the time I remembered it. NOT A GOOD IDEA. And then I didn’t have quite enough baked sweet potato, so I used some canned yams and I think blending the two might have messed up the texture. But who knows. I really do believe that this recipe requires an electric mixer to make sure that everything gets beaten well and mixed to a creamy consistency that is nearly impossible to do by hand, especially if you’re exhausted from days of travel. I was also fighting with my little cat Radar, who has been by my side since I got back home – he really missed me when I was gone – but trying to bake a pie when you have a cat on the table isn’t a great idea, either!

So, here’s the recipe. Don’t let my mistakes scare you away from trying it. I have made this pie and it has turned out fabulously good. And both my mother and my sister has made it to perfection.

Sweet Potato Pie

¾ cup butter, softened

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon molasses or dark corn syrup

2 large yams or sweet potatoes, baked, cooled & mashed, about 2 cups total

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 (15-ounce) can evaporated milk

½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Cream butter and sugars. Add molasses or corn syrup and blend until creamy smooth. Beat in sweet potatoes or yams. Beat in eggs. Slowly add vanilla and milk until completely uniform in texture and color. Add spices.

Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 5 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Like I said, it didn’t work out like it was supposed to BUT it does taste really good. So, it’s not a complete loss. And the crust is fabulous, as usual. I do make great pie crust, if I say so myself!

Cooking, like casting spells, is a skill, and you have your act together to do it well. I was obviously not with it this morning when I tried to mix up this pie! It’s a good thing I wasn’t trying to cast a love spell or something really important! Brightest Blessings!

Crystal Connections

April, 2017

CRYSTAL TALISMANS AND AMULETS

 

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(Pictured here are a few of my older pieces. Image courtesy: Shijewels https://www.etsy.com/shop/shijewels)

Talismans and amulets are often pieces or objects that are believed to be protective, magical or bare a special importance to the wearer. They have been around throughout history and were often made from crystals by witches, shamans and alchemists.

Throughout the stages of my own spiritual path I have worn pieces that held significant meaning to me, some for the symbols that represent my love for the Goddess, my spirituality, and others for the metaphysical assistance that I needed from the stones. Each one has it’s own unique qualities and symbolizes a specific period of time in my journey.

 

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(These are pieces that I wear everyday.Image courtesy: Shijewels https://www.etsy.com/shop/shijewels)

The Moonstone and Turquoise ring was made with a purpose, I make and sell jewelry so I felt it was vital to have something that helped me with self doubt, focus and creativity. Moonstones are known to intensify the feminine Goddess energy, strengthens intuition and enhances creativity. It’s said that this stone brings balance, harmony and hope to those that wear it. Though Turquoise is a protective stone, it also helps dispel any self-sabotaging tendencies as well as assisting in creative expression. I made this ring to wear on my middle finger, which is ruled by Saturn and is related to our purpose in life. It’s also believed that wearing a ring on this finger supports focus and staying true to your own path.

The necklace with the three charms is probably one of my oldest and certainly the most beloved talisman that I have. The spiral represents my journey, the moonstone represents my intuitiveness and connection to the feminine Divine and the Pentacle represents the heart of it all. Three small very simple charms that hold deeply personal and powerful meanings.

These are just a handful of amulets and talismans that I’ve owned over the years. I’ve purchased some, been gifted a few and have made the rest, each one playing a significant roll in my life. As my life changes so have they, and I look forward to what new pieces I’m called to or that are called to me.

Yoga, Meditation, & Wisdom

April, 2017

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

The column last month discussed the YAMA’s. This month we will continue with the NIYAMA’s.

NIYAMA means rules or laws. Here it becomes the way to fully live your yoga practice through “personal observances”.

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(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

The NIYAMA are much more personal than the NAMA’s. These become our personal rules for living with our spirit, our kindness and compassion.

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(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

Sauca/Saucha Purity

Sauca, or Saucha, means cleanliness and purity. Outwardly, we practice proper hygiene. Inner cleanliness is the way we think and behave. We can use pranayama (breathwork), which cleanses our lungs, bloodstream and nervous system. Practicing asana (postures) and meditation strengthen us in our mind and body. We keep our surroundings pure, as well as our bodies, ingesting no stimulants. We do our best to remove hatred and intolerance, practicing kindness and compassion to all.

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(Photo Credit: santoshayogami.com)

Santosa/Santosha Contentment

This is to feel content with whatever we have in our lives; being at peace even when life feels as if it were pulling you down and down. The difficult things are when the lessons are learned, and we grow spiritually. We learn, hopefully, that there is a purpose to all things. It means not wanting what you don’t, or can’t, have and still finding a way to true happiness.

Tapas – Self-Discipline

This is where we use our energy wisely. We bring our willpower to bear to eat well, breathe correctly, We direct our energies to attain enlightenment and, ultimately, connect with the Divine.

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Svadhyaya – Self-Study

Sva = Self Adhyaya = Inquiry

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Svadhyaya is doing that which causes self-reflection; having self-awareness in all that we do. We accept our limitations and work to eliminate our self-destructive behaviors, whatever they may be.

We have learned through the lessons of life; we have learned through our mistakes. We thoroughly examine our own thoughts and, using truth, find our own true self.

Isvara – Devotion

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Isvara means “lay your actions at the feet of God” (Or Goddess). Celebrate the spiritual. Spend time contemplating the will of the Divine. Bring your spirituality into all that you do, every day. Take time each day to connect, and surrender to your higher power. Dedicate yourself to finding that sacred connection.

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Notes from the Apothecary

April, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Crocus

 

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As we move further into spring in the Northern Hemisphere, a wealth of flowers is bursting from the warming soil. Some of this treasure appears in royal gold and imperial purple, and occasionally even snow white, like a throwback to winter. These are the crocuses, a tiny, beautiful flower named for the Sanskrit word for saffron, the expensive spice made from its stigmas and styles.

The first crocuses of the year always fill me with excitement. They show that winter is truly ending, and that the wheel is turning towards warmer days, woodland walks and those magic mornings of wind and sunshine. Crocuses aren’t as early as snowdrops, which can burst right through the frost, and they aren’t as widespread as daffodils, cultivated as a kind of badge of spring. They come before tulips, and are the first splash of really rich colour; the first hint of the promise of far-off summer.

The Kitchen Garden

The main reason humans cultivate crocuses is for saffron, which is a reddish-orange looking spice that appears to be made of tiny threads. These threads are, of course, the stigmas of the crocus flower, usually a sexual organ used for reproduction, however the saffron crocus is unable to reproduce in this way and must rely on its corms, or bulbs (the tuberous part underground) splitting and multiplying in order to make more of itself. As only this tiny, thread like part of the plant is used in saffron production, it takes up to 75000 individual flowers to produce 1lb of the spice. So, if you are thinking that you could cultivate your own saffron, it’s only worth a go if you have a few acres of land to spare!

The spice is used in a variety of cuisines, including Indian, Arab and Turkish food to name but a few. Saffron is used for its unusual, slightly sweet flavour, and its strong colour which is reminiscent of turmeric yellow. Spanish paella often incorporates saffron, and this can be what gives the rice its glorious golden colour.

The Apothecary

A 2014 study showed that saffron improved symptoms in patients who suffered from major depressive disorders, and could be seen as a useful supplement for those suffering with mild to moderate depression.

This harks back to the Persians who believed that saffron could cure bouts of melancholy. I always find it fascinating when science catches up with magic!

Saffron has been used throughout the ages as a cure for gastrointestinal problems. An ancient Egyptian recipe actually called for crocus seeds, rather than the stigmas, to be mixed with beef fat and other spices as a cure for stomach pain.

Mrs Grieve’s Modern herbal is a fascinating resource for anecdotal accounts of the use of traditional medicine. She notes that in 1921, a medical witness gave evidence of saffron being used in a tea made with brandy to cure measles. She also notes that the spice is useful in the relief of flatulence, to induce sweating, and to stimulate menstrual flow.

In 1347, the Black Death, an horrific plague which swept across Europe, caused a sudden and incredibly high demand for saffron. It was believed that it held medicinal properties key in combatting the plague, yet many of the farmers had succumbed to the ravages of the disease, so supply was not meeting demand. This led to theft and piracy, including a fourteen-week ‘Saffron War’ over a stolen load of 800lb of the spice.

Other Uses

 

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Some Therav?da Buddhist monks wear robes dyed with vegetables and spices, including saffron, which gives the cloth an orange-yellow tone. The robes were originally made from ‘pure’ cloth; fabric that was unwanted or had been discarded. The rags were boiled, dyed and stitched together into a suitable robe for the holy person.

Saffron has also been found in paints and pigments dating back thousands of years. Medieval manuscripts were often illuminated using the pigment provided by saffron, to give tones of yellow and orange.

The Witch’s Kitchen

The use of saffron by humans can be traced back 50000 years, although the mass cultivation of the crocus is much more recent. Saffron was used as a magical spice by the Sumerians, the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Romans and many more.

One of the primary uses of saffron is as an aphrodisiac. In India, a potion of milk and saffron is brought to the bedchamber of newlyweds on their wedding night. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is said to have dropped saffron into her baths prior to making love, to heighten the pleasure. Greek courtesans known as hetaerae used the spice as a perfume.

For those following a Minoan path of spirituality, it is interesting to note that the first image depicting saffron was found in a Minoan fresco. Although it is not clear what the Minoans used the plant for, it is clear it had some special significance for them.

The ancient Greeks have two legends about Crocus, a young man. In one, he is accidentally fatally injured by the god Mercury, during a game of discus. As he dies, three drops of his blood fall into a flower, thus creating the red stigma of the crocus. The alternative and more commonly accepted legend is that Crocus is chasing the nymph, Smilax. She grows tired of his advances and when he won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, turns him into a flower. Take note: No means No!

From these legends, we can make some assumptions about the associations of the plant itself, including the links to the God Mercury and therefore money, luck, communication and because of the nature of the legend, friendship, regret and transformation. We can also see the crocus flower as a symbol to not cross boundaries that are made by others without permissions; to be courteous and listen to others. If someone is not listening to you, or is harassing you, the crocus could be your point of focus in a spell to get them to back off.

Cunningham tells us that the plant is associated with Venus and water, and has a feminine aspect. This is interesting, as biologically the male part of the plant is sterile, so in reproductive terms the plant truly is feminine.

Home and Hearth

Plant crocuses in borders or pots in your garden to delineate the boundaries of your home. If you don’t have an outdoor space, a potted crocus on a windowsill is just as good.

Don’t pick wild crocuses; always grow your own, as there is a European superstition that picking the plant will sap your strength. Anyway, it’s simple courtesy to leave beautiful flowers where everyone can enjoy them!

I Never Knew…

If you have been robbed, burning a little bit of crocus or saffron may allow you to have a vision of the thief.

Image credits: Crocus autranii by rainbirder via Wikimedia; Iran saffron from Khorasan by Alphaomega1010 via Wikimedia.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. See is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

April, 2017

Herb Beads

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Merry meet.

One of the first witchcrafts I ever made were herb beads. It was at a pagan festival workshop in the woods.

The idea is to choose herbs, flowers and other botanicals based on their magickal properties, and to infuse them with your intent while making them with mindfulness.

The recipe is tucked in a safe place somewhere in my small condo, under a dozen years of other articles, journals, handouts and books, but I did find one I think is similar that was published online by the herbal academy.

The first thing is to choose ingredients that match your intention. If you wish to make beads for protection, you might consider anise, basil, clove, dragon’s blood, lavender, rose, rosemary, sage and valerian in some combination. To promote healing you could use one or more of these: allspice, carnation, lemon balm, bay, cedar, cinnamon, golden seal, mint, mugwort, nettle, pine, rosemary, rue, sandalwood and vervain.

The ones I made were to attract love and made with mostly cinnamon. They were later strung with turquoise beads and shells to form a necklace.

Ingredients should be in powdered form. You can pulverize your own with a coffee grinder.

Place a few tablespoons of the dried herbs in a bowl. Add an equal amount of bentonite clay powder and blend. You can play with those proportions as you wish. The more clay, the easier it is to make the beads, and they will also be somewhat studier. The more herbs, the more potent their scent.

Add a few drops of water at a time until the mixture forms into a ball a dough. If you add too much water, just add more of the dry ingredients. When choosing water, you might add to the magick by using rainwater from a full moon thunderstorm or from another meaningful source. And, as you work with the ingredients, you can add energy for your desired outcome by remaining focused, perhaps singing or chanting.

When the dough is easy to handle, break off pieces and roll into beads, roll a rope and slice rounds, or roll out and cut into desired shapes.

When each is finished, use a toothpick or skewer to make a hole through the bead or at the top of a pendent. Beads may also be strung onto a wire.

Let them dry completely, undisturbed – generally at least 48 hours, depending on their size and your climate.

When dry, they can be used to make jewelry, or hung on strings around the house, in the car or on a Yule tree. They should be handled carefully and not allowed to get soaking wet. To bring back their scent, spray them lightly with water and rub a bit. If desired, you could also place a drop of essential oil that duplicates or complements the original ingredients.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

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