June, 2017

Welcome

June, 2017

 

                                     Welcome

 

                                           ***

 

(This month’s cover graphic is created by 11 year old artist Lilia Portuguez. She enjoys drawing and playing with her cat.  Do you have Pagan art you would like to share?  email us at jenniferwright@paganpages.org)

 

 

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This June Issue of PaganPagesOrg is full of all the articles, information, book reviews, & interviews you have come to know and love us for, plus, 2 new columns to welcome!

 

 

First we are pleased to introduce to our readers, “The Bad Witch’s Guide“, by our newest columnist Lucy Drake.  Are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

 

 

Second, our own Imelda Almqvist, shares her Shamanic Experiences, Dreams, & Journeys with us through her own Videos in a New Column.

 

We are so lucky this month!  Author Jennifer Engrácio has graced PaganPagesOrg Readers with a Book Excerpt on Ancestors from her amazing book,  “Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing.” 

 

 

 

This month we have an interview with Evernia FayThe life & Craft of this Connecticut Witch are One.

 

 

 

And our Lynn Woike has a wonderful chat with Tess Ahlberg, who knows just the right way to attract the Fae with her Faery Houses, in her column WitchCrafting: crafts for witches.  

 

Trapped in our book reviews section, screaming to get out are reviews of…

 

 

Pagan Magic of the Northern Tradition; Customs, Rites and Ceremonies by Nigel Pennick. In this book Pennick describes how magic was deeply embedded in the everyday life of pre-Christian societies in Northern Europe. People believed in magic both because it worked and because their whole worldview was inherently magical. In this book Pennick examines the underlying principles of this work and how different forms of magic are powered and used.

 

 

Epona: Hidden Goddess of the Celts by P.D. Mackenzie Cook. Mr. Cook’s love of Epona shines forth in every word, as he discusses Her symbolism, the animals and plants associated with Her, as well as, of course, the symbolism of the horse. 

 

 

 

 

 “Practical Spellcraft: A First Course in Magic” by Leanna Greenaway is reviewed in the column SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals. Leanna Greenaway offers a comprehensive introduction. Her book takes readers from the early steps – relating Wiccan beliefs, the sabats and setting up an altar – through more than a dozen important topics including the significance of botanicals, the meaning of animals, and correspondences

 

And last, but certainly not least,  

 

The Seven Archetypal Stones: Their Spiritual Powers and Teachings, featured in the Crystal Connections Column.  What makes this book special is that it focuses specifically on seven minerals, Obsidian, Jade, Lapis Lazuli, Emerald, Amethyst, Quartz and Diamond. Published by Destiny , and written by Nicholas Pearson, this 293 page book offers an in depth exploration that includes each stones spiritual uses, history, lore, chemical make up and geology. 

 

 

 

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Rev. H.P. Anuj Elvis, A Wiccan in India

June, 2017

 

 

Since childhood H.P. Anuj Elvis was attracted to spirituality and occultism. He used to think of it as some deep hidden art that very few can learn and practice. His questions started in earnest when he was 13 soon after he succumbed to jaundice. His state became so severe that the doctors gave up his recovery, but leaving no stone unturned Anuj’s mother took to mystics, contacting a local yet powerful Tantra practitioner who claimed that he could bring her son back to health. Soon after Anuj did indeed recover, and when the young Anuj Elvis went back to this tantra practitioner and thanked him for his recovery, it was revealed that he had come back with special powers. After that, no one was able to put a rest to his curiosity or answer his questions.

Initially Anuj Elvis shunned away the idea of special powers and moved on. However, soon he started seeing spirits, often relatives and acquaintances that had crossed over. Naturally no one believed him, but Anuj Elvis continued exploring and soon started practicing what he would later know as basic elemental Magick. Many a time he would recount events before they happened to family and friends, shocking and surprising everyone. This spooked the kids at school, so the young Anuj Elvis never had many friends to join at recess, instead spending recess time at his favorite place – an old cemetery adjacent to his school and on which the school had been built on.

After graduating with a degree in sociology, Anuj Elvis experienced two incidents that changed his life, pushing him deeper into Occultism. One of these was experiencing his first major haunting, during the night shift at his work place.

Anuj started working for a company where many people believed the top floor of the building to be haunted. This peaked his curiosity, so one day on his night shift he decided to use the washroom on the top floor. When he entered he found there was someone else in there already, a boy. They started to chat and Anuj shared how everyone thought the bathroom was haunted. They both laughed and Anuj soon forgot the incident. Later, during the monthly meeting, the death of a fellow worker was announced. When his photograph was displayed on the projector Anuj’s skin went cold. It was the same boy, but he had died in an accident three days before Anuj saw him in the washroom. After the meeting, Anuj frequently went to the top floor bathroom to see the boy, but he never reappeared.

Anuj Elvis was born in a Christian family. He was raised to be a Christian priest and indeed he did become one if only to understand the religion better. However, when Anuj Elvis was told that what he thought and what he did was worshiping the devil and a sign that he had sold his soul, it was clear he could not walk that path. Over time, as he continued reading and practicing, Rev. H.P. Anuj Elvis realized the path is wider than expected. So wide even hundreds of lives would not be enough to learn everything. It took time for Rev. Anuj Elvis to realize the abilities which he possessed from birth, such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, empathy, and other psychic abilities. The power to foresee future events, communicate with spirits, and so on, are gifts he believes many of us are born with but most of us never open the package that is our soul. We have to look within for us to see our real self.

Rev. Anuj Elvis believes that it is important to see the good in all religions and to respect all faiths. To him, this universal respect is fundamental to Wicca as a nature-oriented Earth based religion that honors the Divine in all aspects of life and nature. An eclectic practitioner, Rev. Anuj Elvis includes reiki, rune reading, voodoo, angelic guidance, and tarot reading in his practice, along with vastu consultancy. Rev. H.P. Anuj Elvis also gives a lot of importance to prayers, energy work, meditation, and divination, because he believes Magick is the Divine working through a person to bring about change in the world. His path is based on 3 principles:

1. Knowledge of self

2. Power over Self

3. Control over self

India is a land of myths and ancient civilizations, but in the last few centuries it has absorbed new influences into herself, taking her people further away from the nature based worship they are used to. Fake gurus and con-artists, ruining peoples life for their own benefit, have made things very difficult for the real practitioner. Unfortunately, those who follow their calling in witchcraft are shunned or worse. So many people are killed in the name of religion and beliefs in the world, and unfortunately India is no exception. People are still killed because of suspected witchcraft in this country. [Editor’s Note: According to India Times, over 150 women were murdered across India in 2014 for suspected black magic.] Because of this threat, practitioners of magick must cloak themselves and any activity they do all the time. Fortunately, wicca is still so little known in India most practitioners are confused with Hindu tantric practitioners or other followers of the Hindu pantheon, as long as they do not refer to themselves as a witch openly.

 

 

 

 

After seeing so much misinformation all over, Rev. Anuj Elvis started an online Facebook school in 2011 called Earth Temple Magik School in order to offer various courses on occultism to enthusiasts in India and worldwide. The Earth Temple provides free and paid courses on various subjects and also conducts workshops all over India, using the earnings to support the underprivileged. It is Rev. H.P. Anuj Elvis’ project to bring together like minded people who feel the call back to nature, who seek inner truth, and who seek to be of service to society.

Rev. H.P. Anuj Elvis also founded the charity The Earth Temple, with which he and his volunteers go to the slums and work with the poor and their children. Lots of underprivileged children in India do not get to live their childhood the way intended by the universe. Frequently, impoverished children are forced into child labor because of their parents’ circumstances. Because of this Rev. H.P. Anuj Elvis created The Van, a project to ensure even the poorest child gets to live their childhood. Every weekend, The Van goes to a designated slum and takes volunteers to read fairy tales and stories to children, let them color pictures and have fun, simply making sure they enjoy their childhood.

Rev. H. P. Anuj Elvis is an eclectic practitioner of the craft, blending Wicca with elements from various other religions and spiritual paths into his own personal spiritual practice. As he believes Magick is the Divine working through you to bring about change in the world, Rev. Anuj Elvis gives a lot of importance to prayers, energy work, meditation, and divination. Rev. H.P. Anuj Elvis works as a spiritualist, psychic, clairvoyant, medium, and a healer and continues to explore his own ways, methods and techniques towards the path of self realization. Recently he is featured in The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells by Shawn Robbins & Charity Bedell, where he shares his wisdom. Available now on Amazon.

Book Review: Pagan Magic of the Northern Tradition; Customs, Rites and Ceremonies by Nigel Pennick

June, 2017

PaganMagicBook

 

 

This is a brilliant book and an absolute treasure trove of esoteric information you will not easily find elsewhere! I was pleased to be asked to review it as I had already set the intention to post a review – because this author deserves more readers.

In this book Pennick describes how magic was deeply embedded in the everyday life of pre-Christian societies in Northern Europe. People believed in magic both because it worked and because their whole worldview was inherently magical. In this book Pennick examines the underlying principles of this work and how different forms of magic are powered and used.

When we speak of the Northern Tradition many people think of Scandinavia and perhaps Iceland but this book also explains the local expressions the Northern Tradition took in e.g..England and other Germanic countries. It has a far wider range than some books I have read on the subject and I love the way he explains local differences and “flavour” in such detail. He must have done a lot of research! He also appears to personally interview people who know about “the old ways” wherever possible, meaning that I find references and material in his books that I not have encountered in other texts. I would buy his book for that reason alone and since reading it I have recommended it to shamanic teacher colleagues with an interest in Norse shamanism or The Northern Tradition.

My favourite chapter is Chapter 4: Astronomy and the Winds because it is very difficult to find quality information about the way the ancient Norse peoples viewed the night sky. In most books this is dealt with by making reference to only about two asterisms (or single planets) and myths (usually the goddess Frigga’s spindle and the giant Aurvandil’s Toe) but Pennick goes way beyond that and I was thrilled to find the information – even if some it might be highly speculative and reconstructed (according to the author), it helped me see my beloved night sky through a Norse lens of perception.

Another thing I love about Pennick’s writing (not only this book) is his immense knowledge about ancient time keeping, feast days and special occasions and so forth. Reading his books I feel a compulsion to reinstate some of those ancient holidays (holy days) in my own life and celebrate them again.

As a matter of fact I myself wrote a number of contributions about Scandinavian festials and feast days for a book that will be published later this year, edited by Lucya Starza. The title is Every Day Magic – A Pagan Book of Days: 366 Magical Ways to Observe the Cycle of the Year. Here is the link if you want to reserve your copy:

fullsizeoutput_a37

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Every-Day-Magic-Magical-Observe/dp/1785355678/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495121612&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=everyday+magic+Lycya+Starza

Pennick’s book has a glossary at the end which is immensely useful for people who are new to this tradition and allows reader to flick back the pages for a quick refresher on what certain words or phrases mean.

All in all this book is a treat and a book I will dip into over and over as a source for inspiration and information for classes I teach or answers to questions my students ask.

Highly recommended and it will go on the reading list for my students of Norse Shamanism in both Sweden and the US!

Imelda Almqvist, London, 18 May 2017

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Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. 

For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the US as well) please visit the following webpages

FORNSED IN SWEDEN

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=211324

2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=224450

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

YEAR OF CEREMONY

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

Notes from the Apothecary

June, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Apple
apple1

 

The apple is a fruit that is either revered or maligned, depending on which tradition or religion you look at. For Christians, it is the forbidden fruit, the ultimate temptation in the Garden of Eden. Strangely, the bible itself never names the type of fruit as an apple, and some studies suggest it may actually have been a fig, a pomegranate or even a grape. Despite this, the image of the apple as a fruit of seduction and forbidden knowledge has persisted into the modern age. For the Celts, however, there was nothing sinful about the apple at all. The fruit was associated with the afterlife, yet also with immortality and health. It was also closely associated with the faerie realm, and those who ate an apple whilst in the world of the good neighbours, would never again be able to return.

The Kitchen Garden

There is so much you can do with apples one hardly knows where to begin. For me, it’s my ‘go to’ fruit for jams and jellies. As well as making a fantastic preserve all by itself, it can be added to other fruits low in pectin (the setting agent for jelly and jam) to ease the preserving process. I’ve mixed apple with blackberry, blackcurrants, rowanberries, elderberries and even citrus fruit, all with good results.

As well as preserves, apples make fantastic crumbles, pies and cakes. One of my favourite apple cake recipes can be found here, and is an absolute doddle to make. I use eating apples rather than cooking apples, but experiment and find out what works for you.

 

apple2

 

One of my favourite uses of apples is something I’ve not yet experimented with, and that’s the craft of making cider, or cyder. There is a difference, other than archaic spelling! Cyder is traditionally made from apples that have only been pressed once, rather in the same way that extra virgin olive oil is produced. Cider is made from a repressing of the same apple pulp, mixing it with water. This makes a longer and lighter drink. I’ve always fancied making my own apple press, although I have a friend who uses a hand blender on chopped apples, with some fantastic results! There’s a guide to making your own cider press here at Mother Earth News. If anyone does this or has done this please let me know how it turns out!

The Apothecary

Surely everyone has heard the aphorism, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ The original saying stems from 1866 and was originally, ‘Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.’ Pithy though these little rhymes are, the apple certainly has many qualities that recommend it as a health food, if not actually a cure-all.

The pectin mentioned previously is a type of soluble fibre, and we need fibre for a healthy diet. There is some evidence that pectin can also lower blood pressure and glucose levels. Apples also contain nutrients that promote healthy bones and brain, and they also contain vitamin C which boosts the immune system and keeps cells healthy.

So while apples won’t necessarily keep all ills at bay, they will certainly contribute to good all round health.

The Witch’s Kitchen

The apple appears throughout various myths from many different backgrounds. We briefly mentioned the Celtic links between apples and immortality. In Norse legend, the apple was given to the gods to provide them with eternal youth. Apples also appear associated with fertility, including the gift of an apple being given to one praying for a child. Apples are also associated with the goddess Hel, and possibly her realm of the same name, the ninth of the nine worlds on the world tree, Yggdrasil. Hel is a realm of the dead, so here we have apples associated with fertility and birth, long life, and death and the afterlife. They are a fruit of cycles, circles and representative of all aspects of being. They are of this world and of magical realms, and represent the link between this world and others.

The apple is also a symbol of poetic inspiration. A branch of apple can symbolise a Bardic or Ovate path. If seeking inspiration yourself, a leaf or small twig from an apple tree in your sacred place may help, or place an apple leaf under your pillow and see what dreams may come.

There is an old superstition that if you can peel an apple in one go, without removing the knife until the peel has come off all in one piece, then toss it over your shoulder whilst looking in a mirror, it will fall in the shape of the initial of your loved one to be. The root of this is most likely an older association with prophecy and fortune telling.

 

apple3

 

Apples are strongly associated with magic of all kinds, in fact they are a kind of catalyst. Any spell can be ‘offered’ to an apple tree. Charge items with intent, and hang them from the tree, trusting that the intrinsic magic of the tree will aid your spell. Water the tree, and if your spell is successful, plant an apple pip at some point in the future as thanks.

The apple is a wonderful offering to many gods and goddesses (always research first though!), and also to the good neighbours (fairies), along with butter and milk.

Home and Hearth

Towards the end of summer, or start of winter, make a Wassail Bowl. There is a druidic celebration known as ‘Day of the Apple’ after Samhain, and a Wassail Bowl is one interpretation of the brew that was made at this time to ensure a good apple harvest the following season. You don’t have to wait until Samhain though. As soon as you have good apples, you can roast them, and mix them with ale, cider, honey or sugar (honey is nicer) and spices such as cinnamon or ginger, to make a warming, hearty drink to share with family and friends.

Pass your brew around while you brag and boast; not merely an excuse for showing off, but a serious exercise in sharing your ambitions and achievements with your loved ones and your gods. Any commitments made at this time must be seen through, or a forfeit paid.

I Never Knew…

In Greek mythology, Atalanta, the virgin huntress, was tricked into losing a race by Hippomenes rolling three irresistible golden apples in front of her. She had to marry him, which just shows, keep your mind on the job and your head in the game!

 

(Image credits: Top: Red Delicious, copyright Bangin via Wikimedia; Next, De Klok jam apple and roses, copyright Queeste via Wikimedia; Final, Malus Sylvestris, copyright Per Arvid Åsen via Wikimedia.)

 

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

Inspiration from the Elf Mounds

June, 2017

So what winds whisper from the elf mounds; what wind breathes from beneath the hollow hills where fairies dwell and myths were born? In other words, how many of us today still feel inspired by the tales of ancient Celtic warriors and wise folk? Which parts of our lives do these stories creep into the most? What do our ancestors still truly have a hand in? What is the meat of modern Celtic influence?

Well a quick “Google” search on the word “Celt” will find you brewing techniques that are based on Celtic history; BBC Wales has a site dedicated to the history of the Iron Age Celts and the word CELT is used as an acronym by organisations in fields ranging from teaching to audio compression! Let’s take a look at the images section now: maps of the Celtic migration across Europe; knot work; helmets; warriors fighting in great battles; beards, shields and swords; jewellery, sandals and musical instruments. Take a look around when you’re out and about and see how many tattoos you see that incorporate Celtic knot work, and how many sterling silver Celtic crosses you can see in the windows of jewellers.

When the paths were resurfaced outside a new housing estate near where I live, there were some elder trees, ancient and gnarled, that were untouched even though they were growing right out of the pavement that otherwise was completely dug out and overhauled. If the trees were left untouched for superstitious reasons (oh how I wish I could talk to the people who did that stretch of road!) those superstitions almost certainly stem from the Celtic reverence for certain trees. This seems to be carried into the names of local establishments. Without travelling more than a couple of miles in any direction, I can visit Copper Beech Nursery; Hollybush Children’s Centre; Holly Bush Farm Conservation Centre; Beech Medical Centre. My own doctor is housed within the Hawthorn Medical Centre! These names show how the importance we still place upon trees, which almost certainly stems from our Celtic ancestors.

The druidic reverence for certain trees led Robert Graves to create the Celtic Tree Calendar which, somewhat unfortunately, has become used as an actual “Celtic Calendar” for some people; it has no real basis in Celtic timekeeping or astrology, but it does, again, show how deeply we are influenced by accounts of Celtic society and how much we want to recreate aspects of that in our modern lives.

The late Sir Terry Pratchett, an incredibly popular British author, created the “Lords and Ladies”, elves that while being beautiful are fierce, ruthless and inhuman. There are similarities here of course to the Fae, who are often described as incredibly beautiful and powerful, yet they too are not quite human. They also can possess great cruelty, as in the story of the death of Cían, Lugh’s father, who is stoned to death in hatred by a rival family until all that is left is a “poor miserable, broken heap”. Terry also created the Nac Mac Feegle, who actually live inside the burial mounds of kings, harking back to the tales that the fairies will take you under the hollow hills to their home. In these tales, often the protagonist finds what they believe is their heart’s desire but returns a hundred years later, to find everyone they love is dead and gone. In one of Terry Pratchett’s stories, this would probably be because the Nac Mac Feegle had drunk them under a tiny table! Pratchett himself implies in his introduction to “The Folklore of Discworld” that tales and superstitions should not be forgotten as they are part of the history of who we are and how we got here. Any homage to these ancient tales is a great example of the way Celtic culture still inspires modern artists and writers. Through their modern art, they will inspire others to go seek out these ancient tales for themselves. We see the same stories being used over and over in a thousand different ways, keeping them alive to pass down to our children and future descendants.

Currently on television [at time of publishing] we have True Blood which is based on Charlaine Harris’ very popular “Southern Vampire Mysteries”. There are a variety of supernatural creatures here but the fairies are very interesting: human in appearance yet inhuman within; old, powerful and able to change their appearance; they also have (in the books) very Gaelic sounding names which hark back again to the tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann. I asked Charlaine if she had intentionally based her fairy creations on the Celtic myths and legends and she agreed she had, but very loosely. The evidence of this is shown in some of the names she chooses for the Fairy characters: Niall Brigant, Breandan and Neave, for example. Breandan is Gaelic for Prince; Niall means Champion and Brigant is possibly derived from the Celtic goddess Brigantia and generally means high, lofty, elevated or divine. Neave is an anglicised version of Niamh which is Gaelic for Radiant. Again, these are tiny droplets of Celtic culture seeping into something that is modern, vibrant, and extremely popular.

When I was very young I had only heard a few tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann- the tales of Tír na nÓg from my father, and a few others. The catalyst for my inspiration to seek more knowledge was a very modern creation; a band called Horslips and their album “The Táin”, of course based on Táin Bó Cúailnge, the Cattle Raid… Not only was the music fascinating- a mix of traditional folk and rock- but the stories held within the words absolutely mesmerized me. After listening to The Táin over and over, I got my hands on another of their albums, “The Book of Invasions”, a name you will recognise already if you’ve been reading the chapters of this book in order [apologies to those only with this excerpt!] The album is split into three sections, based on the idea of a Celtic symphony: Geantrai, Goltrai and Suantrai which mean joyful, sorrowful and lullaby. Horslips themselves describe the three as the three principal categories of old Irish song; the joyful strain, the lamenting strain and the sleep strain. I spent hours with my mandolin and flageolet copying and playing these songs, and imagining the scenes of the stories as the music wound its way around me. The incredible depth of the love stories:

Let me ask you this one question

Is it really such a sin?

To love too much, to be closer than touch when there was no way we could win…

The violence of Cú Chulainn’s conquests:

Two heads are better than none

A hundred heads are so much better than one!

And the betrayal of kings and queens and lovers:

You can fool them all right; but can you fool the beast?

Horslips are a prime example of how these fantastic stories of an amazing people have inspired yet another and marvellously unique retelling of these tales. The band’s use of traditional tunes and songs keep another aspect of Irish culture alive and thriving, making this mythology accessible to those not only interested in tales and legends, but in music and revelry. The commercial success of Horslips in the 1970s meant a whole new generation were introduced to the tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and received a unique glimpse into this ancient and, to most people, almost alien culture. Horslips have complemented their music with a website detailing the stories of their albums and the history of some of the traditional music incorporated into the songs. For anyone unfamiliar with the Celtic legends, these albums are a comprehensive and very entertaining introduction. The band recently reformed after 24 years, and are still incredibly popular, showing how interest in Irish culture in particular, and Celtic culture in general have not waned during the decades since they originally disbanded.

This is an excerpt from A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors by Mabh Savage, available here and from all good book stores.

amoderncelt

Yoga, Meditation & Wisdom

June, 2017

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

This Month: Pratyahara & Dharana

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(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

 

The Fifth Limb is Pratayahara – “prata” means “away” or “retreat”; “ahara” means “nourishment” or what feeds the senses. Pratayahara translates into withdrawing from that which nourishes our senses. This forms the basis of “non-attachment”.

 

Instead of our emotions controlling us with what it desires/craves, we become the controller of those emotions. When we are unable to stop the flow of these emotions, they very often cause an emotional imbalance, which in turn can, and in most cases, will, result in physical illness.

 

Yoga, and more to the point, meditation is the means to find the way to step back, or retreat, from our wants and needs and begin to learn the path to inner peace and enlightenment.

 

This happens naturally in meditation, as we turn our consciousness inward, focusing on the breath and/or the mantra. As difficult as this may sound, this has always been where we have been headed with our yoga practice.

 

Chapter IV – Verses 27- 33 **

 

In the intervals between these discriminative thoughts,

distracting thoughts arise

due to other past habitual thoughts.

 

Their cessation is like that of the obstacles

that were previously described,

that is, destroying them through meditative absorption.

One who is free of self-interest, even from the attainment of

the highest realizations, and who possesses

constant discrimination is showered with

virtues from being absorbed in Spirit.

 

From this comes a cessation of obstacles

and karmic patterns.

 

Then all the obscuring veils and impurities

are removed due to the endlessness of self-knowledge.

Then only trivial knowledge of the

objective world remains hidden.

 

Thereafter, having fulfilled their purpose

through the series of transformations,

the power of the primal natural forces terminates.

 

As these forces come to an end,

time is slowed to such a degree

that the moments that correspond to

the sequence of these transformations

become readily comprehended.

 

 
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(Photo Credit: keylargoyoga.com)

 

The Sixth Limb is Dharana, “concentration of the mind”.

The mind is miraculously complex, capable of thousands of thoughts per second. This wandering of the mind has come to be known as “monkey mind”, as it chatters in all directions.

 

Dharana is the practice of holding our thoughts completely in one direction, quieting the monkey mind, enabling us to achieve utter concentration on one specific thing. The more we concentrate, the more we can fully contemplate the one thing we have chosen to focus on.

 

This is not something that can be expected to be done immediately. Patience is necessary and years of practice, but the benefits are enormous.

 

Chapter III – Verses 9 – 13**

 

From this, there is a true

transformation of the mind

as outgoing thoughts cease

their former pattern of reacting

to the appearance or disappearance

of subliminal impressions.

Instead, moments of restrained thought predominate.

 

By frequent repetition

of that restraint

an undisturbed flow

of tranquility results.

 

In the process of

being absorbed in Spirit,

the though process experiences

a second transformation

resulting from the continuous

appearance of one-pointedness

and the disappearance of distraction.

 

Then again,

a third transformation occurs

from the one-pointedness that results

in the rising and subsiding

thoughts become equal.

 

By these three processes,

there is a transformation of the mind’s

quality, character and condition.

In the same manner,

there is a spiritual transformation of the senses,

and even in one’s constitutional elements.

 

**Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

As Interpreted by Mukunda Stiles

 
yoga3

(Photo Credit: yoganonymous.com)

 

NAMASTE!!

Crystal Connections

June, 2017

The Seven Archetypal Stones: Their Spiritual Powers and Teachings

 


 

As the daughter of a rockhound, and a mineral lover myself, I have quite a few books on crystals. What makes this book special is that it focuses specifically on seven minerals, Obsidian, Jade, Lapis Lazuli, Emerald, Amethyst, Quartz and Diamond. Published by Destiny , and written by Nicholas Pearson, this 293 page book offers an in depth exploration that includes each stones spiritual uses, history, lore, chemical make up and geology.

What is an archetype and how does it pertain to crystals? Pearson explains, “Archetypes serve as the original blueprints, the master molds, the perfected state for any concept. Crystal archetypes are the ideals that the stones themselves represent, either through human application or through an exploration of their structure and composition.” He goes on to explain, “When exploring the crystal archetypes, there are two main varieties. The explicate archetypes are those modeled after historical, evidence based examples of the use of a particular stone from culture to culture. The second variety of crystal archetypes is the implicate archetype. The message of these archetypes must be decoded through the layers of symbolism inherent in artifacts, morphology, composition, and myth.

Each chapter focuses on an individual mineral and offers a set of exercises or meditations that are designed to be simple, practical, effective and are meant to help you expand your work with crystals. Within these chapters is where you will see what sets this book apart from the normal crystal encyclopedia style books that the majority of us have. This is not to say that those books aren’t good because I have plenty of them on my shelves. The Seven Archetypal Stones is a book that explains and explores minerals in an innovative and fascinating way, giving you the tools to directly engage with their crystal energies.

Pearsons’ years of devotion and spiritual connection to these crystalline structures is clearly evident in his writing. Regardless of your level of experience working with stones or crystals this book helps deepen your relationship with them and is most definitely worth the read. I can tell you that I foresee myself re-reading and referring to this book often.

About the author:

Nicholas Pearson has been immersed in all aspects of the mineral kingdom for more than 20 years. He began teaching crystal workshops in high school, later studying mineral science at Stetson University while pursuing a degree in music. He worked for several years at the Gillespie Museum, home to the largest mineral collection in the southern United States. A certified teacher and practitioner of Usui Reiki Ryoho, he teaches crystal and Reiki classes throughout the United States. He lives in Orlando, Florida.

 

 

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

June, 2017

Cliodnha

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(Photo Credit : Pinterest)

Cliodnha, known as the Queen of the Banshees, or Queen of all the Fairies of the HIlls, is part of the Tuatha Du Danaan, subject to the Goddess Danu.

Cliodnha presides over Tir Tairngire, or the Land of Promise, a place of happy feasting, with no aging, violence, death or decay, which some say is the Celtic Otherworld.

She has three colorful birds, who eat apples from a tree in that Otherworld, that can heal the sick with the beauty of their song.

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(Photo Credit: [email protected])

She is a Goddess of love and beauty. She would take the form of an enchantingly beautiful human woman and use her beauty to take many mortal lovers. She was associated with light and happiness, but with a dark edge because when we was done with her mortal lovers, she would sometimes lure them to their deaths by the sea.

She fell in love with a human man named Ciabhan, and wished to be with him. But she was lulled to sleep by the music of one of Manannan mac Lir’s minstrels, and was swept away by a wave. She is said to rule the ninth wave of every series of waves, which was larger than the preceding eight. Large waves are knows as “Cliodnha’s Waves”.

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(Photo Credit: inochitohi.deviantart.com)

One of the best known stories of Cliodnha is when Cormac mac Carthy asked her help in a lawsuit in the 15th century. Her advice to him was to kiss the first stone he saw in the morning. He did so and easily won his court case by the eloquence of his speech. This stone is the famous Blarney Stone. Cormac mac Carthy was so concerned that everyone would kiss the stone and the land would become a home to those who “could deceive without offending”, that he hid the stone in his castle, where it is to this day.

Cliodnha resides in her palace in the center of a sacred hill in County Cork, called Carrig Cliodnha.

May the blessing of Cliodnha be with you.

)O(

Book Review of Epona: Hidden Goddess of the Celts by P.D. Mackenzie Cook

June, 2017

 

Book Review of Epona: Hidden Goddess of the Celts by P.D. Mackenzie Cook

Epona

 

The author, P.D. Mackenzie Cook, a life-long pagan, has written an amazing book.

While it is a book of the Goddess Epona, it also contains a wealth of information about early Goddess worship and the birth of patriarchy. He discusses how the changes to a male dominated culture came about slowly and changed the landscape of civilization and *attempted* to wipe out the Goddess, and Her worship.

Mr. Cook’s love of Epona shines forth in every word, as he discusses Her symbolism, the animals and plants associated with Her, as well as, of course, the symbolism of the horse.

He goes on to discuss how Epona fits into well-established Goddess norms of Maiden, Mother, Queen and Crone, whilst also adding Her as both Warrior and Healer. Also, like Hecate, she fits into the Triple Mother aspect.

Epona’s romantic and sexual liaisons are detailed, many of which were with Roman deities, such as Mars, Apollos and Jupiter.

It is not until about halfway through the book that Epona’s origins begin to be discussed. As the author states, much of Her beginnings are shrouded in myth. Her worship was, most likely, as with all traditions, a Mystery.

Epona, apparently, has links and connections to many other Goddesses, from other cultures, such as Demeter and Her association with fertility, and there is evidence of Her being linked to the Mysteries of Isis. Demeter and Isis are just two of the Goddesses she may have been linked to.

As a woman living in a patriarchal culture and world, one of the things that most impressed me was Mr. Cook’s feelings toward the Goddess, in general, as put forth in the following quotes:

“………Indeed, it may only be through Her embodiment in women

that modern men can truly embrace the Divine Feminine.”

(Page 11)

“The simple truth that men who respect feminine wisdom –

and who take the time to listen to it –

are led to deeper insight, knowledge and

understanding than those who do not.”

(Page 12)

The book closes with Epona’s re-discovery in a world that has, thankfully, seen a resurgence of Goddess worship. There are several personal stories, from both men and women, who have been touched by Epona and how her power manifested itself in them.

I would wish that the book would have been slightly less academic in nature to make it a bit of an easier read. There is so much information contained within, that it would take several read-throughs to fully come to know and understand Epona. With that being said, I did thoroughly enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in, not only Epona specifically, but in the Goddess entire.

)O(

Litha Correspondences

June, 2017

Litha Sun

Also known as Summer Solstice, Litha, Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John’s Day

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four ‘quarter-days’ of the year, and modern Witches call them the four ‘Lesser Sabbats’, or the four ‘Low Holidays’. The Summer Solstice is one of them.

Date

21/22

Purpose

Rededication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God, honoring the pregnant Godddess

Dynamics/Meaning
Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King, end the ordeal of the Green Man

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.

Colors
Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting
divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic
gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe
(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens
to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the
Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed
over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses
Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor,
Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant,
lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods
Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, hur, Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings
Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones
Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade

Herbs
Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender,
fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena),
St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow,
oak & holly trees

Incense/Oil
Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Rituals/Magicks
Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks.
The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning
year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods
Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.

(Image borrowed from https://bookofeucalypt.com/2014/12/02/yule-in-australia/)

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