November, 2017

Welcome

November, 2017

 

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Cover art: Wild Harvest By: Michelle Maiden of ElementalOtherworld 

Michelle Maiden is an English illustrator inspired by myth, folklore, ancient cultures, archaeology, shamanic and mystical traditions, the forms and forces of nature, and her own imagination. Her painting ‘Wild Harvest’ shows a wild woman decorated with the harvest from native northern European trees and hedgerows; blackthorn sloes, hawthorn and elder berries, crab apples and hazelnuts. The image was created in vivid Autumn colours using artists watercolour and pencil crayon. You can find the Wild Harvest Print, as well as the Colouring Page, to purchase at ElementalOtherworld on Etsy.

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First I would like to mention that our site has won an award.  We are #15!! 

 

This award goes to all of the Writers who make PaganPagesOrg possible.  I would like to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the tireless work, the late nights, the tender moments & all you do.  We are truly a labor of love.  Okay, wipe the tears…

 

Welcome to the November Issue of PaganPagesOrg!  We hope everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday!  Once again we are back & with a fresh, interesting, NEW Issue of PaganPagesOrg!!   Just a few note worthy features:

 

 

Nikki Sleath’s Book Explains Witchcraft to the Unfamiliar, for PaganPagesOrg She Talks About Her Magick to the Familiar.  Lynn Woike brings us a wonderful Interview with Nikki Sleath.  

 

 

“In this book the author Thomas Hatsis embarks on a quest to research and tell the (until now largely) untold story of a magical substance called “witches’ ointment.”…Imelda Almqvist Reviews The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic.

 

 

In SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals we are introduced to Becky Coates, a fire performer that uses her talent with fire to do Fire Clearings.  

 

 

Worth the Witch, this month, explores a recurring, monthly Pagan box subscription, Box of ShadowsWe break it down to let you know what we really think!   

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MagickalArts

November, 2017

Continue the Work of the Shadow

 

 

Last Month I offered you a look at one way of doing shadow work and exploring the hidden recesses within. And, I promised a pathworking this month to accomplish that. Read through the paragraph below for suggestions on getting the most from a pathworking…

Pathworkings differ from guided meditations in that, if skillfully constructed, each component, object, location or color is meant to open your subconscious to a deeper level of understanding. Each word and the way in which you arrive at, leave or interact with a space calls up a stored memory of experience in this or other lifetimes that reveals yet another key to the larger puzzle of our Soul’s purpose.

Good- Read through the pathworking each time you want to use the pathworking. Make note of pausing in the reading wherever it feels like more time would be spent in the specific train of thought.

Better- Read through the pathworking several times and as you do so, try to set up key points that are stored in the memory. In this way, you can create your own scenarios using the structure of the original pathworking without having to read through the text each time.

Best- Employ the physicality and your energetic corporeal imprint by recording the pathworking in your own voice, which produces an effective recognizable neurological imprint inducing physiological response and imprint to listen to. This is a form of entrainment.

More tips:

When you are ready to make the recording be sure to select a space where you will not be interrupted and has minimal background noise.

Be sure to speak slowly (more so, if you tend to speak quickly and do not annunciate well) and clearly and to give pause where it would naturally occur if you were reading aloud. There may be some points in the meditation where you will want to spend several minutes in the locale that is being presented. Remember to give adequate time of silence for this. Do not stop the recording, pause and restart it. Allow the amount of time you wish to have to fill the space on the recording and then resume the reading of the pathworking.

Regardless of what method you use, remain open and receptive to what presents to you beyond what has been scripted through the pathworking as you move more deeply into this study. Having a journal to record your impressions and keeping record of your progress in memorizing the information and making use of a journal can serve as great encouragement to you. Looking back and seeing how far you have come fuels the desire and gives you markers of growth that are concrete, tangible and acknowledgement of your hard work.

The Journey of the Shadow: A Pathworking

Turn your focus and attention to your breath. Allow your consciousness to move with the rise and fall of your chest and the filling and release of the lungs. Continue in this manner for several breaths; allowing each to become softer, smoother and slower. With each breath your physical body appears to lighten and your center of consciousness floats upwards towards the inner eye. You find yourself enveloped by the mist of transition between the Physical and Astral. And as this veil thins, you see before you an opening in the fabric of the space around you.

A mist of Lavender surrounds this enclosure as you pass through the darkness. As you move through this space, feelings of foreboding and a sense of being out of place in a time that is neither here nor there and in a place that is both upwards and down simultaneously flood your emotions. You are disoriented and are aware of the depths of sadness and loneliness that is felt in this space. Your only thoughts are the hopes that you will pass quickly and easily through this space. Quite the contrary, time seems to slow and the angst seems to become greater. And, just as you are about to scream out in sheer frustration, you remember the lesson of surrender. You remember the call to walk in perfect love and perfect trust; despite that you are completely engulfed in shadow. Glimpses of light are hidden beneath what appear to be shadowy figures and although you do not feel threatened, you know this is a place of great power and well deserving of care and respect as you pass through.

There is no flooring under you and you have a sense of weightlessness and somehow being suspended in space. Although there are no definitive boundaries, the impression is one of being enclosed tightly in a very confining space. You take a deep, cleansing breath and you allow yourself to simply be open, receptive and non-resistant to lesson of this place of shadow. You take another deep breath in and ready yourself to move forward and explore this place. As soon as the sigh of exhale has passed, feelings of sadness begin to well up within you. You are fearful and now wish you had decided against entering this space. Your former resolve of being receptive and open is weakening steadily as you begin to feel that you are sinking even deeper into this space of darkness.

You take another deep breath, hoping to restore your composure and as you exhale your awareness that you are alone in this space heightens. You strain to hear any sound that might point you in the direction of moving towards something; even the faintest sound of another human or animal would give you comfort. But, there is nothing, absolute and pure nothingness in this space. Your breath comes in short bursts now and the combination of sheer and utter loneliness, silence and disorientation keeps this rapid pace going.

You are just about ready to let out a cry of desperation when you notice a shadowy figure in what appears to be a corner of this space. A faint light glows down from what appears to be an opening very far above and you can now make out the silhouette more clearly as the figure approaches you. You feel the power of its energy as you step closer to one another and have a sense of familiarity even though you are unable to clearly see its face. You step closer still and take a deep breath in summoning all of your courage to come face to face with whoever this shadow may be.

You become aware that more light seems to be filtering through with each of your steps and as you come to rest just arms’ length away you see a shadowed face peering back at you. It is as though this being is covered in a grey misty veiling. You instinctively reach out and the figure reaches towards you in response. You breathe in deeply and are surprised to see the resemblance between the two of you. It is as though you are standing facing yourself cloaked in shadow and veil. You move closer still and can see the reflection of your image in the other’s eyes that are deep pools and shades darker than your own. You know that this is your shadow self and the fear you thought you would have is replaced by a sense of deep insight into its workings and the need for this twin aspect of yourself. As these thoughts move through you, you feel yourself in resonance with the energy of this other. You feel the fear and doubts that it has. You feel the power of the darkness it has dwelled within and the yearning it has had to know the light aspect of itself.

You step forward and embrace this being; knowing that it has strengths and weaknesses that may be called upon just as your strengths and weaknesses may be used to enliven it. You feel the interweaving and co-mingling of its energy with yours and as you take a deep breath in you and the shadow become one. The light that has dimly lit this space quickens and brightens at the integration of you and your other. You feel stronger and enlivened and the flow and movement of energy through you is purposeful. As your breath slows to an even and steady pace you see that the light is growing brighter and larger and you feel yourself rising towards it. Each breath of inhalation pulls you closer to its light and radiance and the space surrounding you begins to brighten; the darkness and magnetic pull of the intense experience held within it slowly fading in its energy and effect on you with each exhalation.

You continue to rise upwards, coming to rest on a soft surface supportive beneath your feet and completely enveloped in the brilliance of this light emanating from a space directly above you. You look at your hands and take note of a luminescent glow about them and the lower part of your body as you look downwards toward your feet. You breathe in deeply and feel the energy of light and dark within you working together to produce this rarified brilliance of light.

The light begins to dim slightly and you know that there is still more of the journey you must follow in learning the lessons of the shadow self. You take a deep breath in, close your eyes and resolve that you will embrace each step and challenge that is presented to you as you travel your spiritual path. You think on the lesson of this experience, and the birthing of light from what was held in the shadows.

You gently open your eyes and see that the blue veiling of transition through which you entered is just a few steps in front of you. You feel yourself enveloped in this veil of transition between the Physical and Astral world. The veils of transformation and all they contain gently fade from your sight and you begin the descent back into your physical state of being and the room and space in which you began this pathworking. Return to awareness of the rhythm of your breath and the rise and fall of your chest. Become aware of the physicality of where you are sitting or laying; your body pressed against cushion, chair or floor. And when you are ready, gently flutter your eyes open

For a recorded audio experience click here:

The Journey of the Soul (Bandcamp free download)

 

***

 

About the Author:

 

 

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author. She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

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

 

Follow Robin on Facebook and on Instagram

November Correspondences

November, 2017

 

(Free Graphic from https://www.vecteezy.com)

 

The name is derived from Novem, the Latin word for nine, as November was the ninth month in Rome’s oldest calendar.

 

THE SNOW MOON

 

The ninth month in the old roman calandar.

 

In Celtic traditions it is the beginning of the new year, considered a month of beginnings and endings.

 

Astrological Signs: Scorpio, Sagittarius.

 

Nature Spirits: Banshees and other beings who carry messages between worlds.

 

Herbs: Ginger, hops, wormwood, hussop, patchouli, mugwort, nutmeg, star anise.

 

Colors: Black, white, purple.

 

Flowers: White lily, dahlia, chrysanthemum.

 

Scents: Rosemary, dragons blood, lilac, pine, wisteria.

 

Stones: Topaz, obsidian, onyx, Apache tear.

Trees: Pine, cypress, yew, elder.

 

Animals: Bat, wolf, sow, dog, snake.

 

Birds: Owls, raven, falcon.

 

Deities: Astarte, Calleach, Cerridwen, Circe, Cybele, Freyja, Hathor, Hel, Holda, Horned God, Kali, Maman, Nepthys, Sekhmet

ME TOO – The Hashtag Phenomenon

November, 2017

Me too” or ~ #MeToo spread virally as a two word hashtag on social media this month (October 2017) to denounce sexual assault and harassment. The context for this is the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Obviously similar allegations have recently been made against the current president of the US, Donald Trump.

The phrase was coined to be used in this particular sense by social activist Tarana Burke as part of an awareness campaign in 2016. More recently it was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano who encouraged women to “tweet” (repost and publicize this on social media) to demonstrate the widespread nature of abuse and misogynistic behaviour. Millions of women, including many celebrities, responded to this call.

So this month has seen the mushrooming of this phenomenon. I have been observing this with fascination (and admiration for the collective courage in action!) and some misgivings both. I chose not to participate and this article explains my reasons for that, first posted as a blog and now rewritten for Pagan Pages, with additional paragraphs addressing some issues raised by people who responded to the original blog.

First a misconception: I was under the impression that the original post asked women to post “me too” if they had been sexually harassed or assaulted at any time during their lives. I was informed that the original campaign invited both men and women to participate. I did not see any posts by men, so I assumed it was an “all women phenomenon”. I admit that I should have done my research before writing about the subject!

I have been trying sort out my personal take on this tidal wave phenomenon. I appreciate that awareness of issues often needs to mushroom to reach a (so called) tipping point or critical mass, where real change can occur – as opposed to everything re-setting to exactly the way it was before a particular volcano erupted. From that point of view it is beautiful to watch the collective courage and candidness of many women (who do not even all know each other personally) in action. I want to acknowledge this fully and wholeheartedly!!

However, for me personally that is only one part of what is happening here .No “#Me Too” message has appeared on my own page. I am not denying that abuse occurred in my life too, but I decided quite a long time ago (after much soul searching and inner work) that I no longer wish to let this define me and who I am today.

Please note that I am only speaking for myself in this article – not for others. Some people suggested that I should have stayed silent and out of things completely. That is a fair point in some ways. In another way I feel that the Western World is (thankfully!) one of free speech. After weeks of reading stories about abuse and sexual assault, I also want to tell a story – a healing story, not a story that adds to the growing rift between men and women in our society. This my choice and reflects on me alone! No one is forced to read it!

As goes for everyone alive today: I became the person I am today because of a complex mix of experiences (some “good” and some “bad”, as viewed in our polarised world). Even the negative experiences brought me gifts – or forced me to develop my own innate gifts.

Someone (author Patricia Cori) ran a post in response saying women need to consider privacy and confidentiality issues before posting this where an awful lot of people can see it. Do we really want this information in the public eye and out there in the public domain?! I agree that this is an overlooked point here – but world history shows that extreme action sometimes brings lasting change. So I trust that women all over the world gave this serious thought before posting. Sometimes vulnerability paired with courage can be a great agent for change, a catalyst!

My own personal perception is that we are “all in this together” – meaning that, sadly, only very few women will escape harassment or abuse during their (average of) 84 years on the planet. Abuse is systemic in our family systems. (I am not saying this is OK or acceptable – I am just saying this is WHAT IS,the larger fabric of human history and reality).

Whatever our ancestors do not heal is passed on future generations because it seeks healing. And awareness of any issue (a “thank you for coming to attention and inviting me to decide on a response or course of action” – please see the other article I wrote for this same issue of PaganPagesOrg about Rage and Spiritual People) is the first step. Abuse, sexism, racism, misogyny, patriarchy etc. – all those things (and many others) are wired very deeply into our culture and family systems. Humanity is still in its relative infancy – we are only just learning different ways of being in the world.

Another issue I have with this phenomenon (as it unfolded, not as it was apparently intended) is that I am the sister of brothers – and the mother of sons. I have no (biological) sisters or daughters. Perhaps that has been a great privilege (or personal teaching) because living so close up to men and boys (in various stages of becoming) for all of my life, I am simply not able to make sweeping statements that all men are “in the wrong here”. I think that the issue is more complex than that. I will say the unspeakable here: women habitually abuse men too!

I am deeply moved by the process of my own eldest son (aged 17) navigating issues in his social circle with deep thought and integrity – always seeking to restore harmony.

As a shamanic practitioner I have done a lot of shamanic healing work with men (and men attend my classes in shamanism). I know only too well that men and boys too get harassed and raped. That “soft or pretty boys” do not always have an easy time of things. That “cooler boys” learn to put on an act in the outside world, (to stay safe and keep their street cred), etc… That co called ‘nerds’ find other ways again of being safe and accepted. That some young men grow up on the streets where “killing someone” is seen as a rite of passage and proof of reaching manhood.

We live in times of many hidden things being exposed and seeing daylight, which is an entirely good thing because that means they can no longer fester and the people responsible are finally held accountable (assuming they are still alive). Here I am thinking of many media stories of priests abusing children (commonly young boys). The Church actively covered up such stories for many centuries and that is not right on any level! The Church is now being held accountable for this. About time too!

Some men certainly harass women and others go as far as assaulting them, or making their lives impossible in the workplace. I do not remotely deny this. Then there are the men who abuse their wives and children but keep their nose clean outside the home so no one knows what is really going down. There definitely is a HUGE hidden dimension to this phenomenon and that secrecy has now been pierced and penetrated so it can no longer veil or shroud abuse. For that I thank everyone who found the personal courage to speak out!!

BUT there is yet another dimension to this.

I have personally worked with men who thought they were having safe sex with a partner they trusted and the woman (often with a biological clock ticking ominously) decided to try for a baby. These men end up in highly challenging scenarios: parenting and financially supporting children they did not truly want (or actively decide to have). Not a great start for a father-child relationship. Some men had really wanted to father the child properly but the woman moved to another area, took another partner and denied the birth father access. I have worked with men who were buckling under the pressure of producing a baby (by partner and prospective grandparents) yet having a deep inner knowing that this was not the right path for them.

In shamanic healing sessions men have cried bitter heartfelt tears and pummelled a pillow with rage – because of all these scenarios they were lured into, or that crept up on them over time until they couldn’t see an honourable way out (meaning that the way out takes the form of depression or a nervous breakdown).

To my mind this is just one way women “sexually abuse men”: by not being honest about the parameters and possible consequences of the encounter. And let’s face it, in Western culture birth control is freely available, meaning not all of these outcomes are “accidents”.

Someone wrote in and challenged me over this: was I saying that birth control is always the responsibility of the woman?! No! Of course it is a shared responsibility!! BUT it is perfectly possible for a woman to say she is on the pill – when she is not. It is perfectly possible to be less than meticulous about using the pill. In longer-term relationships people do not always use condoms.

I have been in social situations where women have shared (after a few glasses of wine) that they are desperate for that last minute baby (before the menopause hits). Other women (after a few glasses of wine) have said things like: “Well, you know what to do… grab yourself a man and get on with things….” I seemed to be the only person present (possibly having drunk fewer glasses of wine) having a big issue with that “solution”.

I have one brother who is an amazing, dedicated step father to one boy. He does many things for that boy that his biological father will not stretch to (including financially supporting him and sitting with him every night to help with homework tasks). He is a major healing influence in that boy’s life. That boy will do well in life because my brother took on the challenge of being a live-in step parent involved in his day-to-day care.

On a completely personal level (and this does not reflect on anyone else, just on me) I decided a long time ago that my life was no longer going to be defined by abuse. Any abuse that did occur was really a “something desperately seeking healing”. So my personal response to such things (whenever and wherever they rear their ugly head) is to respond from a place of sacred wholeness and wellness – and do the healing work that the issue requires. That may include doing ancestral work, doing shadow work, working closely with the earth, reaching out to people and places suffering in ways I have personal experience of. Most of the time my response needs to be (and is) a mix of all of these things.

Writing blogs and articles is also one way I choose to respond to issues of collective concern. This raised the accusation (in one Facebook thread) that I am “a self-appointed guru”. Right! That was an interesting issue to do shadow work on: I am, on a purely factual level, a self-employed teacher of shamanism and sacred art. I run my own school and teach courses all over the world. Those courses are attended by people who choose to be there, of their own free will, and learn ancient shamanic techniques for personal and global healing. I don’t think that makes me a “guru” but I will take that on the chin and say yes: the “guru” archetype is a scary shadow manifestation (one of many!!) of the spiritual teacher phenomenon. I spent about a week doing deep shadow work on that one! Thank you!!

And I now invite every reader of this article to do their own shadow work on this: be brutally honest with yourself… Have you never ever abused another human being? Have you never cursed anyone or spouted abusive language at anyone?! No road rage ever?! Can you not find within yourself some form (however mild) of the abuser archetype? – I f that is truly so, you are better (more evolved and serene) human being that me!

I hold a strong personal vision of all of us accessing healthy expressions of the sacred masculine and sacred feminine in our lives. I actively bring this into all the courses I teach and all the groups I work with.

I have personally come to believe that staying in wounded consciousness (and an over-attachment to painful experiences – which for some people can become an identity and way of life) will ultimately – when a lot of time has passed and all is said and done – just attract more of the same. We live in a vibrational universe where our own vibration or energy signature attracts “more of the same”, not unlike a reverse magnet. We had better change our personal vibration with great care!

I observe that our wounds (once worked, grieved, keened over and healed) can teach us about creating healthy reality – about actively choosing not to perpetuate the dysfunctional imprints so common in our social and family systems.

For all of these reasons you will not see #MeToo appear on my Facebook page or on Twitter. This is a very personal response to a phenomenon that touched my life too as many abuse stories have recently flooded into my consciousness. My own spiritual beliefs require that I formulate a response. Which I have now done – twice!

Thank you for listening to different perspective!

There is no pressure to agree or approve of it.

Be true to yourself!!

With gratitude to all the people who wrote in and challenged the blog that forms the heart of this article. It can be found here:

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/me-too-the-phenomenon/

 

Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, 26 October 2017

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She currently divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US.

For Amazon information, click image below.


www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

 

GoodGod!

November, 2017

Meet the Gods: Vishnu

 

(art by Samantha Sullivan)

 

Merry meet.

Vishnu (pronounced Vish-nuu) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is one of the Hindu trinity along with Brahma and Shiva. Brahma is the creator of the universe; Vishnu is the preserver, protector and keeper of the universe; Shiva is the destroyer.

It is said that during troubled times when the world is threatened by evil and chaos, Vishnu returns to restore righteousness. So far, he has reincarnated nine times: Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parasurama (fierce man/hunter), Rama (greatest warrior/perfect man), Krishna (mentally advanced man) and Balarama (Lord Buddha).

Each incarnation Vishnu’s avatar – as a person, an animal or a combination of both – was what was most needed at the time. Myths, legends and stories are associated with each. He rids the earth of irreligious and sinful monarchs, kills a demon, raised the earth up out of the sea, sent a ship to save a sage and his collection of animals from a giant flood so they could repopulate the earth, and held a mountain on his back for 1,000 years while the gods and the demons used a serpent to churn up the ocean of milk to create the nectar of eternal life.

It is believed Vishnu will come one more time as Kalki (eternity or mighty warrior) near the end of the present age of decline in which we are currently living, a time thought to be near the end of this world. He will come – riding a white horse and carrying a fiery sword – to rid the world of oppression by unrighteous rulers and heralding the start of a new golden age.

Vishnu is portrayed with a human body, often with blue skin, and four arms. In his hands he carries four objects representing the things for which he is responsible.

The conch shell in his upper left hand produces Om, the primeval sound of creation. His blows call beings of conscienceless to listen to their inner voice nudging them to seek the truth, and leave the darkness of a material life for a higher reality.

In his upper right hand is the chakra or discus, symbolizing awareness and the universal mind. Called Sudarshan, the disc shows the path to a higher awareness. It destroys ignorance.

A lotus flower in his lower left hand represents a glorious existence and liberation.

The mace, a symbol of mental and physical strength and cosmic knowledge, is held in his lower right hand. It is called Kaumodaki, meaning that which captivates the mind, and is associated with time, which is the destroyer of all things; thus it also related to Kali. When pictured as a deity, it is viewed as a female with two hands, held together in a position of prayer or respect.

The garland of victory Vishnu wears has five rows of flowers that represent the five senses and his mastery of them in the whole universe.

The god is typically seen in two positions. The first is with him standing on a lotus flower with his consort, Lakshmi, close by. He is also portrayed reclining on a serpent, surrounded by the Milky Ocean with Lakshmi massaging his feet.

Vishnu rides on the king of birds, Garuda, an eagle. He is particularly associated with light and especially with the Sun.

Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as ‘the preserver, protector’ whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces,” according to Wikipedia.

He is said to expand into everything, permeating all objects and life forms. He maintains the cosmos and he overcomes all. Vishnu represents the goodness that sustains everything, giving shelter and a place to rest, and reaching that is the goal of all living creatures.

According to “Vishnu: Everything You Need To Know,” written by Ambaa Choate for Patheos.com in 2014, “He maintains the world and so he is very popular for worship. A branch of Hinduism views Vishnu as the ultimate Lord of all. That branch is called Vaishnava. Many people who follow Vishnu in particular are highly devotional, hence … lose themselves in singing Hare Krishna; Hare Rama! Those are manifestations of Vishnu, the God who comes to earth and takes physical bodies to help the world. Because of his avatars (human forms) he is someone that you can really personally relate to more than a distant view of God.”

Because he cares for all life on earth, worshiping him – as himself or any of his avatars – helps with protection, prosperity and wisdom.

Vishnu’s day is Thursday. On that day, people wear yellow, offer yellow flowers to Vishnu, and often fast or eat only one meal consisting of only yellow foods,

His birthday, typically in late August, is Krishna Janmashtami, the largest Vishnu holiday.

Krishna “accepts any offering given in devotion to him, whether it be a leaf, a flower, or a single drop of water. He cares more about the intention of a prayer than getting it ‘right,’” Choate wrote.

A ritual presented in the article for invisible protection against enemies or evil instructs that it be done on a Friday night after 11 p.m. and repeated the next 10 nights while remaining celibate the whole time.

Each time, you are to begin by bathing and putting on clean white clothing. Place a white cloth over a wooden bench and on it put a small mound of uncooked white rice on which is placed a Sudrashan Yantra, which is a protection talisman. Sit facing east on a white mat in front of the bench. Look at the yantra and imagine yourself in its center, protected from all evil. Chant “Om Namo Narayanaya Namah,” which means, “I bow to the name of Narayana.”

Offer the yantra white flowers, grains of rice, incense and a ghee lamp.

End by chanting eleven rounds of “Aum Sudarshan Chakraay Mam Sarv Kaarya Vijayam Dehi Dehi Aum Hum Phat.”

An article on the astri-vani,com blog notes you can pray to Vishnu: or any of his avatars

People whose Moon and Venus are strong will be attracted to Krishna. People whose Jupiter is strong will be attracted to Ram.

The article instructs you to pray only after taking shower and cleaning your teeth. Your clothes should ideally be yellow and clean. Always apply a tilak (a mark worn by a Hindu on the forehead) of yellow sandalwood or a mixture of turmeric and sandalwood.

Don’t touch or be near the Vishnu idol when you’re angry, have ego, are greedy, or full of lust.

To get a wallpaper of Vishnu, visit http://www.bhmpics.com/lord_vishnu-desktop-wallpapers.html.

I also found a 32-minute YouTube devotional video of the 1,008 Names of Lord Vishnu:

 

 

It might provide some mood music, or frame your own practice to honor Vishnu. My thought was to listen to it while envisioning myself safe in the center of this Sudarshan Yantra.

 

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

**

 

About the Author:


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

Seeing the Signs

November, 2017

Learning the Lenormand

I can’t remember when I became interested in Lenormand cards. In the past thirty years, I have mainly focused on Tarot cards but my search for original and artistic decks lead me to many different kinds of cards – Oracle cards, vintage playing cards, and of course, Lenormand cards. I was immediately attracted to Lenormand cards because of what I saw as the combination of playing card imagery with pictorial symbolism. At the time, I thought that it was the marriage of playing cards and the Tarot.

But that’s not what the Lenormand is. They have absolutely nothing to do with the Tarot, other than being a pictorial divinatory system set upon a deck of cards. And not all Lenormand cards have playing cards imagery on them! My very first deck of Lenormand cards – which I received quite recently – is totally devoid of playing card imagery and I have to admit that I was rather disappointed when I initially saw them.

The cards I have are based on a very old set of cards from Germany – indeed, the book that accompanies the deck is written by a German named Harold Jösten, who has written other books about the Lenormand and the Tarot. As you will see, there are some minor changes between the two decks but they are quite similar. And even though they aren’t what I wanted, they are really good for a beginner – which I most certainly am.

When I received this deck, I had already been reading The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards by Caitlín Matthews. This is a fabulous book – really a workbook, complete with exercises and tests – and I am about halfway through it at this point. But I have to say, if you don’t have a Lenormand deck with the playing card images on them – Matthews calls them “pips” – then you are really at a loss when you are using this book. Not that you can’t use it and learn a great deal. It’s a massive book – one that needs to be studied carefully and thoroughly and read more than once. I can definitely say that, not even having read the entire book!

The book that came with my deck is Lenormand Fortune-Telling Cards: The Legendary 18th-Century Oracle by Harold Jösten and translated by Edana Kleinhans. Inside the cover, there’s another title page which reads: The divination Cards of Mademoiselle Marie Anne Lenormand: A New Guide to Love, Happiness and Success, which makes me wonder if this was the title of the book as originally published in Germany. It’s a slender book but it’s a good little handbook to have on hand. Each card has a series of keywords to help you remember the concepts connected to the card, as well as pairings with other cards to create other concepts – such as, 16 The Star + 34 Fish = financial security or 23 Mice + 34 Fish = loss of money. There are spreads in the back, for practice for using the cards – and of course daily practice is the key to learning any new discipline – divinatory or otherwise!

The cards themselves are based on German cards from nineteenth century. I found some images on Pinterest and the similarities were striking:

Here we have 1 The Rider, which is the bringing of news. Depending on the cards surrounding The Rider, it could be good news or bad news or financial news – it all depends on the other cards. But check out how the cards are just about the same. The verse has minor changes and the emblem on the right has been changed into another number 1. But other than that, they are virtually the same.

Here is 2 Clover, meaning luck and happiness.

And 13 Child, which is innocence and happiness.

I know enough German to tell that the verses are not the same on the cards, even with the difficulty of reading the old German script. And I am really curious about the Star Of David on the old German cards.

In researching the old German cards – because I became very curious about them – I found out that there were differences between reading German Lenormand cards and French Lenormand cards. According to the blog “Jase on Cards”, there are two schools of Lenormand – the German Traditional and the French Modern.1 I am not sure where he came up with this but from other sources, it appears that the Lenormand decks first appeared in Germany and then traveled to France. In fact, Madame Lenormand didn’t even use the deck that we now call “Lenormand”! She used a regular set of playing cards! According to Mary K. Greer, it wasn’t until after her death that the cards bearing her name started circulating around Europe. It was a marketing devise to popularize the cards and the form of divination2. Quite naturally, there were more than one set of Lenormand deck being produced, which is why some had pictures of playing cards on them as well as the basic images. Like the Tarot, the Lenormand reflected the culture in which it was planted. And also like the Tarot, the Lenormand adapted itself quite easily to new imagery and ideas.

There are dozens of new Lenormand decks being produced today. While there are thousands of Tarot decks and hundreds of Oracle decks, the creation of new Lenormand cards is way behind. But there are some really fine decks out there. I particularly like The Chelsea Lenormand.

It has an Deco look to it that’s really appealing. I would love to own this deck.

Another deck that’s really cool is Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand. It borrows from The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck in imagery and use of color. This is another one I would really love to have!

Note that Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand has the playing card status next to the name of the card.

This deck is called Story in Color Lenormand. I’m not sure how you read with these. But they’re very beautiful.

Again, the playing card status is next to the name of the card. So you have the information you need, even if you don’t have an obvious image.

When I researching Lenormand cards, I found so many beautiful cards that I couldn’t even begin to show all the images here. Some that work with the traditional images – some that are very artistic and cutting-edge, like the Story in Color deck, and some that are collage work – just pictures pasted onto traditional playing cards. I’ll probably make myself a collage set using a desk of poker cards.

What I really want are cards that look like this:

Notice how that’s almost exactly like the cards I have now – and the old German cards with the verse written in the old German script – but there’s the playing card motive where the verse is. To make things worse, these cards are called “German Lenormand” as well!

Honestly, it’s all quite confusing!

I am sure that I will be designing and creating my own Lenormand deck, as soon as I get more acquainted with using the one I have now. I know for a fact I’ll be putting playing card imagery on mine – the way I see it, if you don’t have the pips, you only have part of the information you’re supposed to have. But since I’m only a beginner – a mere novice – I do admit that – still only learning the basic grammar of the Lenormand – I will be as patient as I can possibly be! And practice with the deck of cards that I have.

Brightest blessings!

References

Jösten, Harold. Lenormand Fortune-Telling Cards: The Legendary 18th-Century Oracle. NY: Sterling Ethos, 2014.

Matthews, Caitlín. The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards. Rochester, VT: Destiny , 2014

https://jaseoncards.wordpress.com/lenormand-card-meanings/

https://globalspiritualstudies.com/the-traditional-method-of-reading-lenormand-with-mary-k-greer/

http://tarotator.com/the-lenormand-cards/

1 https://jaseoncards.wordpress.com/lenormand-card-meanings/

2 https://globalspiritualstudies.com/the-traditional-method-of-reading-lenormand-with-mary-k-greer/

 

For Amazon information, click images below.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

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

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

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

Book Review: The Witches’ Ointment – The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic by Thomas Hatsis

November, 2017

The Witches’ Ointment

The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic

By Thomas Hatsis

This is a fascinating and unique offering! And a book I will definitely recommend to others, especially colleagues and students. It is well-researched and written in a scholarly yet very accessible way.

In this book the author Thomas Hatsis embarks on a quest to research and tell the (until now largely) untold story of a magical substance called “witches’ ointment.” In this book you will also encounter other names for this mysterious concoction.

Along the way he provides a detailed, thought-provoking account of witchcraft, magic and the use of hallucinogenic herbs. This book is underpinned with many footnotes and references to old manuscripts and publications in various languages.

Psycho-magical ointments had many uses, ranging from the dark end of the “magical spectrum” (bewitching, poisoning and murder) to healing, providing pain relief (such as anaesthesia during surgery) and divination or prophecy.

Psychotropic salves and ointments can trigger powerful hallucinations and surrealistic dreams or even facilitate direct experience of other realms and the Divine. (Your own conclusion will depend on your personal interpretation of this material!)

For me personally the most fascinating and valuable part of this book is the candid (well researched) history it provides of both the ancient art we call witchcraft today and the witch trials. Hatsis also describes in great detail (as the process unfolds over several centuries) the role the Church played in reframing the ecstatic experiences certain people have always sought (often using entheogens) into a satanic experience.

This is crucial information because this perception still casts a large shadow over our culture (and our cultural perception of healing and all things magical) until today. A fear of witchcraft and magical remedies (and my own profession: shamanism) lingers. People involved in such things today encounter that shadow (and the misperceptions that go with it) all the time.

This book is honest and scientific. It neither glorifies nor demonises witches ointments or flying ointments (or other magical remedies) It makes a distinction between the real undeniable shadow of this phenomenon (poisoning being an obvious example of these practices – one 21st equivalent would be the use of a date-rape drug) and a “satanic” layer or dimension deliberately imposed by the Church -that some people accused of witchcraft only confessed to because they were tortured (and told that if they confessed they would regain their freedom – which turned out to be a gross deception as most of those people were subsequently executed despite saying what the Inquisitor wanted to hear).

This book explains why witches are associated with broomsticks and toads and also what role village or folk healers played in European culture long before “mainstream medicine’ became accessible or affordable for most people. This book also makes it very clear that certain herbs (and other ingredients such as toads or mushrooms) have always been used in magical work, right from antiquity up to the present time.

This is an important and unique book. It has the power to shift some of our cultural perceptions – assuming enough people read it. Thank you Thomas Hatsis!

For Amazon information, click image below.

Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, 21 October 2017

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About the Author:

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 in August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True.

For Amazon information, click image below.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

Nikki Sleath’s Book Explains Witchcraft to the Unfamiliar, for PaganPagesOrg She Talks About Her Magick to the Familiar

November, 2017

 

 

Just in time for Halloween, Nikki Wardwell Sleath self-published “You Might Be a Witch.” It provides a simple overview of the Craft, defining what modern day witches think and what they practice, dispelling myths along the way.

In the first half of the 103-page book, she talks about her own life, going from a child with no magickal exposure to a woman in her 40s who is the founder and High Priestess of the Society of Witchcraft and Old Magick.

The second half of the book covers such topics as the general belief systems of a witch, the ethics of magick and how to speak to skeptics. It ends with a twenty-question, multiple-choice quiz to see if you’re “Cautiously Curious,” “A Witchlet in the Making” or ready for a coven.

 

 

It’s totally just for fun; the questions are stereotypical,” she said.

Sleath hopes her book will increase public acceptance of earth-based spiritual practices and will help readers see the magick in themselves so they can be more accepting of it in others. Although she expected those who might be curious to purchase it, she said she’s also had many witches buy copies to give to their family and friends.

I think a lot of people are maybe a little more witchy than they think,” she said, noting that magick often exists in ways that may not be recognized.

For instance, when she was six and in the first grade, she wanted to win a raffle for the angel her teacher had made. It would go to the first student to guess the number the teacher had selected.

I knew the number was 11. I felt the same sense of disorientation that I would have when experiencing déjà vu, except that I also felt a surge of adrenaline, knowing I would win and that it somehow felt like cheating to have known the number ahead of time,” Sleath wrote in her book.

 

 

She did win, and 11 was to become a determining factor in many decisions and superstitions.

I still have to look away after seeing 11:11 on a clock out of superstition that if I look back again at it before it has changed to 11:12, that my wish will not come true,” she wrote.

Another form of divination she relied on as a child was to get the answer to a question by kicking off her shoe. If it landed face up, the answer was yes and if it landed facedown, the answer was no. If it landed on its side, she took it to mean there was continued uncertainty.

For a high school genealogy project, Sleath learned her eight-times great-grandfather was Samuel Wardwell, one of the “witches” hung in Salem. While she thought it was cool, that’s where it ended.

Prior to finding witchcraft, she said her big ah-ha moment was when she acted on psychic impulse.

I had been dating the same guy in college for three and a half years and I loved him. I thought we’d have a life together, I really did. But I didn’t know any better because I hadn’t had a higher quality relationship yet than that one. I didn’t know that all of these things that were weaknesses in it, I didn’t know them to be real problems.

 

 

Then, just one day, all of a sudden, the way that he spoke to me, I kind of realized it all and I made a snap decision: ‘You know, I think we’re done. I can’t do this any more.’ That was just an intuition in the moment. I wasn’t planning on breaking up with him that night,” she said.

The big moment came the next morning when she threw away his key.

I knew that once I did that, I would never go back to his apartment. As it’s going up in the air toward the giant hole of the Dumpster, I had images of myself, like flashes of myself forward through my life in various adult stages. Just me. No other people involved. And I saw myself confident. I saw myself professional. I saw myself rocking it out. I saw myself enjoying my life in all these different decades. And in my moment, I was at the age of 21, I was gifted with this big revelation that I am the one. I don’t need any guy for me to define happiness in my life. I knew I didn’t need a man for me to be happy. And I decided that I didn’t care at all. … It felt really incredible.”

It was only looking back that she realized how magickal that moment was.

As it turned out, the next day she was introduced to the man she later married.

That same year, she recognized a pattern that had been occurring. Each fall, she would become more psychic and have more instances of deja vu, “knowing exactly what someone was going to say before they say it, knowing what people’s thoughts were.” Then, come winter, she would go back to her normal intuitive level.

That started her researching.

I stumbled upon some good websites about the Craft and that hit me over the head. Everything I ever believed and didn’t know that it was all there as a practiced religious and spiritual way. When I was a kid going to a Protestant church, I just thought I wasn’t a spiritual person because I never had a spiritual experience there. And that couldn’t be anything further from the truth.”

Sheath got her degree and became a physical therapist, but the structure of the healthcare system burned her out quickly. She started to study holistic practices beginning with meditation, yoga and Reiki and going on from there.

 

 

While practicing the Craft on her own, in 2012 she opened Nikki’s Nature, offering energy healing, aromatherapy, auriculotherapy and hypnotherapy. She did past life regressions and Reiki. She also began attracting students who wanted to learn witchcraft.

The coven in which she had trained moved back to New Orleans, so she began her own.

Then it just started snowballing, she said. “Since then I have been teaching the classes to an ever-increasing number of people.”

She moved her practice into a bright, airy space in an old ax factory in Canton, Connecticut.

When she had only a few students, lessons were individual. As more people came, she began groups that met weekly, together moving through her year and a day progressive curriculum. As one group completed its training, they were initiated. With night now open, she’d begin a new group.

 

 

It’s a magical religious practice and I take it very seriously as do all the people in my coven and my community. It’s a large community. Right now we have 41 active members in the coven and I have nine or ten new people starting in a couple of weeks, so it’s going to be 50 people. … It’s an awesome community. I keep it 100 percent drama free. I won’t allow anyone to stay if they make it ‘all about me’ or if they can’t hold themselves together.”

Of all she does, the magickal training is most in demand. The ninety-minute classes cost $20. Groups are about six to nine people – nearly all of whom are women.

It is really hard to find, and even sometimes when you do find it, it’s not great,” she said of training in the ways of the Craft. “It’s random. I have people in the coven who have been in other covens and a lot of them are more social and they don’t get organized, learning and deep magick done. They get together because they all identify as witches and they want to celebrate the full moon and do things like that, but I think there has to be structure in order to see routine, progressive growth,” Sleath said.

In my coven it is a true occult order. We teach ceremonial magick and so people have to learn the Golden Dawn style traditional ways of establishing sacred space, but then of course within that, the ritual varies depending on what it is. It’s different if it’s a moon or a sabbath – different things are done, but the whole casting and setting up of the space is very ceremonial in nature. It’s amazing because obviously, everyone can do whatever they want outside of the large group gathering that we have, if they want to experiment with other things. You do what you want, but by doing that routinely in a coven, they just wind up with such strong skills. They know that they can command energy and focus their words and their thoughts at a moment’s notice when they need to, and that’s an amazing thing that a lot of people can never get from a book. So that’s one of the big benefits of structured training and practices. The confidence in your skill set is just so much beyond anything that I could have achieved when I was a solitary, for sure.”

In their own practice, “what each individual person does can vary greatly depending on what their passions are, what their talents are, what makes them feel spiritually connected. And one of the cool things about witchcraft is there isn’t just one way of feeling connected to the divine. There’s so many ways and I think that’s one of the reasons people love it,” Sleath said.

Some people simply are into the nature and earth-based energy parts of magick in the Craft. Some witches find a lot of gratification in working with various deities, mythologies, spirits, angels. I do both of those things. I work with nature very closely, but I also have a lot of guides and deities that I have very personal relationships with. It’s intensely gratifying on many levels.”

After years of practice, dreamwork became a large part of Sleath’s magick.

 

 

Dreaming, I believe, is every person’s spiritual birthright, but … [it] is important for me as a witch. I get a lot of insight, a lot of precognitive information, a lot of direct energetic and communication experiences with the divine through my lucid dreaming practice that you would never be able to experience in waking.”

It was after about seven years into her dream work – journaling every day – before, she said, “my lucid dreaming ability blossomed to the point where the deepest magick I could ever imagine happens in that space. For me, that’s a big part of my practice.

A lot of times when I start talking about lucid dreaming, and some of the really deep magical stuff that has happened, people want to know if their dream was lucid. The thing is, if you have to ask that, it was not. Every lucid dream has a very intense tangible ah-ha moment when you go, ‘Oh my god, I’m dreaming,’ and your whole sensation changes and you’re aware that you’re in your bed. It’s not astral travel.”

In lucid dreaming, she said, you’re in a different reality, a dream reality but you’re aware of real time in ordinary reality while experiencing the dream. “In that state, because we’re not limited by the physics here and our physical body, you can practice magick in ways [you can’t in this plane]. You can actually shoot lightning out of your hands and make a banishing pentagram and watch it dissipate. You can do all of the things we do here symbolically and energetically, but see, as if you’re in Hogwarts, the effects. And it’s amazing. But the deep magick is not just that energy stuff and the flying and all of that, it’s how I’ve been able to actually experience goddesses directly and that’s something that I can’t even make someone believe. No one can ever really believe or know what I’m saying unless they experience it for themselves. … It’s unimaginable.”

By setting her intention in the dream time and then again in the morning, she feels “in the flow of what I want to get done in my life.” If there is something urgent, she’ll do a spell. However, she said, most of the spells she does are on behalf of others.

The hard part of doing spell work is really knowing what you want and understanding the underlying motivations and getting the statement and the vision in your mind super clear. Most people never get that far. They have a vague idea. And then it’s hard to manifest. Doing a spell for money is not a great idea. People do it all the time and it doesn’t usually work that well, and the reason is that money is an abstract concept. We don’t need the money. We need the things that money affords us in our lives,” Sleath said.

For that reason, she tells people, “If you can’t afford a new car, do a spell for a car, because you don’t know by what means that may end up becoming available to you.”

Spells must have a crisp vision and a clear understanding of the goal. Lining up the correspondences – colors, herbs, gems, astrological timing – give the spell energy.

 

 

I think many witches nowadays are very, very ethical. We talk about ethics all the time and how to appropriately point your thoughts and your goals so that it is always as well-intentioned as possible,” Sleath said. “I think many spells done by witches are actually much more ethical than a lot of prayers being done by good-intentioned Christians. For example, I don’t think it’s ethical to pray for an outcome for someone else. … You don’t even know that’s the best thing for that person. That would be the same as me doing a spell for someone without getting their permission.”

In addition to ethics, karma is another topic that comes up.

It’s a bone of contention with a lot of groups online right now; everyone’s arguing about it. I absolutely believe in karma. I absolutely believe that you will attract what you put out there. … I teach that to my students, that you have to be aware that your thoughts are very powerful and what you think about – and especially what you put out there magickally in sacred space – will also return to you, possibly in an amplified way.”

While some people may poo-poo karma, calling it an Eastern concept that does not fit with their tradition, she boils it down to energy and ethics, saying there’s a reason all religions subscribe to that.

You do attract what you give off. If you do magick at all, the things you put together are sympathetic magick; you’re operating under the assumption that like attracts like. Well, if you’re thinking about revenge, that attracts revenge. To me it’s that simple. Our thoughts absolutely draw circumstances to us.”

When crafting a ritual, she encourages an escape clause, explaining, “If you’re not positive that there won’t possibly be an ill effect on somebody or on yourself in the act of conducting this spell, then you need to have a statement in there such as, ‘As long as it be for the highest and best good of all involved.’”

Witches need to be able to work with both the light and the dark, she said.

Given that light and dark are balanced in the world. Everyone has light and darkness within themselves. … I never intend people harm and I make sure I’m super ethical in any magick that I do, but I teach people to do shadow work. I help people to not fear death and to understand the affect of their consciousness that exists on beyond the body so they don’t fear moving on. I’ve worked in hospice. … I work with a goddess who is very closely tied to death and so it’s actually been given to me as a mission, to help people not fear the dark [and how] to conduct themselves responsibly.”

Sleath intends to write a book about dreams.

 

 

People that have excellent dream recall often have magickal tendencies because – and I did my entire master’s thesis on this, on dream recall,” she said.

Her survey-based research correlated a person’s rate of dream recall to how well connected to nature they perceived themselves to be.
“It was off the charts, statistically significant,” she said. “People who rated themselves as feeling like they were very closely connected to nature have much higher dream recall than people who say that they’re not.

In the act of doing that project I read every study about dream recall that exists. All of the factors come down to mental clarity, so all of the things that make you better at remembering your dreams are things that increase your mental clarity [such as meditation]. … A lot of pharmaceuticals ruin your dream recall and it’s because they have an effect on your mental clarity.

If you have a general belief that dreams are worth remembering, you’ll remember more. Your open-mindedness to the metaphysical enhances your dream recall. There’s even political ones, like Republicans have worse dream recall than Democrats. People who exercise more recall dreams better. People who do creative stuff, like music or painting, they also have better dream recall.”

That book, however, will come after she complete the one she’s already started that puts together two different magickal approaches. Unlike her first book that was meant to be accessible to everyone with an open mind, this book will be for magickal practitioners to augment their own practice and their relationship with deities.

Her message to witches is: “You can’t just leave your magick for your gatherings, your moons and when you’re standing in front of your altar. You have to bring it with you into what you perceive as the mundane, otherwise, how is it really helping you? You’ve got to trail those sparkles with you through your work, through the things [you do]. … I think that’s where the depth of experience really comes from – when you can maintain and live in your enchanted world view all the time, even when you’re not literally standing in front of your altar or gathering together with your friends to do magick. That’s like immersion. That’s really your Craft. And there’s a lot of ways to do that.”

For more information, visit nikkisnature.com, email her at nikki@nikkisnature.com or call 860-212-0055.

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

***

About the Author:

 

 

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

Notes from the Apothecary

November, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Nasturtium

 

 

My seven year old suggested this beautiful flower for November’s Apothecary notes. He planted some seeds towards the end of summer, and despite us worrying that it was a little late for our reasonably cool climate, they flourished, and I have seen many more across my home town this month, trailing out of gardens like fire tipped vines.

 

Confusingly, the Latin name nasturtium refers to a type of watercress. Whilst delicious, I am going to ignore the watercress in favour of tropaeolum, the plant we commonly refer to as nasturtium. The plant originated in South America, and was imported to Mediterranean Europe at least as early as the 16th century, although there are some anecdotes about the round, shield-like leaves being used on trophy poles in Roman times, which would indicate it left South America much earlier than the 16th Century.

 

The Kitchen Garden

There are about 80 species of nasturtium, but for our purposes I’m going to concentrate mainly on tropaeolum majus, the species most people will have in their gardens with the round, plate like leaves and bright yellow, orange or red flowers that start with a funnel flaring out into five, flat petals. The joyous thing about this plant is it is entirely edible. The leaves and flowers can both be eaten raw, and have a slightly peppery taste, which is similar to rocket or indeed the watercress that gives the plant its common name. The seed pods can be pickled, and have been likened to capers when used in this way.

 

For those who grow their own veg and herbs, plant some nasturtiums alongside your plot, as they will help keep away some pests, and even encourage ‘good’ predators, such as ladybirds, who will eat aphids and help keep your crops healthy. Also, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars love nasturtium, and the butterflies will often lay their eggs on the nasturtiums and ignore the cabbage plants; a behaviour which can be of enormous benefit to gardeners and farmers.

 

The Apothecary

 

 

The flowers are relatively high in vitamin C, yielding about the same amount as parsley but with much more dramatic presentation! Vitamin C is great for boosting the immune system and is necessary for cellular repair.

 

Older remedies include mixing nasturtium with flax and honey, to remove pitted nails. (Dioscorides, Materia Medica). Mrs Grieve discusses the benefits of the oils of watercress, which are similar to what she refers to as the ‘true’ nasturtium, or Indian cress. She advises these oils can be used for promoting appetite, cleansing spots or blemishes on the face, and as an antiscorbutic; a food to prevent scurvy, which is backed up by the high content of vitamin C in the flowers.

 

The plant has also been indicated as a tonic for urinary tract infections, coughs and chest problems and as a mild antiseptic.

 

The Lab

Some green veg, yellow carrots, and eggs contain a substance called lutein, which may have a function in maintaining healthy eyes. The humble nasturtium (the species with yellow flowers) stands alone in this field of research, as having the highest yield of lutein of any edible plant that we are aware of currently. This is an amazing fact, and if more research is done into the benefits of lutein in humans, the nasturtium could end up being a very important medical plant indeed.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

The nasturtium is an extremely hardy plant, putting up with dry soil or soaking conditions, and even surviving altitudes of over 10000 feet. The roots live through freezing winters even when the leaves and flowers die away. This plant represents ‘toughing it out’; storing up your energy reserves for when they’re needed and biding your time. They are the knowledge that sometimes we face setbacks, and that’s OK. It’s OK to fall back, regroup, re-plan or approach a difficult problem from another angle. They also represent tenacity, wilfulness, and never giving up, all associated with the element of fire which is often attributed to this plant with its glowing, sun-like flowers.

 

The associations with sun can be drawn out in many ways; for example, you could leave these flowers as an offering for Lugh, the Celtic god with the shining visage who is often seen as a sun god. He is also a master of all trades and skills, from martial arts to music, so the nasturtium here becomes a symbol of versatility and prowess.

 

Experiment with the flower, and the leaves, and see how they speak to you. Remember, the leaves and flowers will fade and wilt once picked, so time your plant-picking so you can use the parts as soon as possible.

 

Making a meal with the nasturtiums can be a magical affair, using the flowers to bring the warmth of the sun into your meals, and the leaves to bring a peppery spice which also speaks to us of fire, heat and the passions of creativity and love. Focus on your intent whilst cooking or preparing your dishes, or murmur blessings over the meal as you decorate it with the glorious flowers.

 

Home and Hearth

Nasturtium flowers make a great addition to the south of your sacred space or altar, especially at this time of year between autumn and winter, when other bright flowers may be less available. The flowers can be pressed or dried, and used as a permanent representation of the sun to last you throughout the winter. You could keep one of the orange flowers between the pages of a journal, and use it as a focus for meditation, which is particularly useful for those who suffer from seasonal adjustment disorder, to remind yourself of the returning spring and that there is colour and brightness even in the darkest months.

 

The leaves grow on long creepers, and although they are not evergreen, if collected before they wilt, you can use these creepers much like ivy to decorate your house or magical areas; a symbol of the green that lives even in the depth of winter. Nasturtium leaves have the added bonus that as well as being decorative, you can chuck them in a salad and eat them!

 

I Never Knew…

The nasturtium is actually a brassica, just like cabbage!

 

*Image credits: Wikipedia

 

***

 

About the Author:

 

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

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

For Amazon information, click images below.

 

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

 

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

November, 2017

Hestia & Vesta, the Goddesses of Hearth & Home

 

As we enter into that time of the year when folks gather together with family and friends, what better time to honor Hestia and Vesta, the Goddesses of Hearth and Home, in Greece and Rome respectively.

 

(Photo credit: goddessgift.net)

Hestia is the Greek Goddess of Hearth and Home. She took no human form, but was only seen in the fire of the Hearth.

Homes were built from the center outward; this center always being the hearth, in which Hestia was always welcome. She was honored each morning and evening with an offering from each family, at their respective hearths, Hestia’s sacred place. Hestia was the embodiment of family unity.

If each hearth was the center of the home, then the hearth’s flame becomes Hestia’s altar. Every woman who was in charge of her own household, therefore, becomes a Priestess of Hestia.

There was also a public hearth, where Hestia was also honored and worshiped. This was the eternal flame, the “prytaneion”, which was never-ending and where the first fruits, wines and oils were sacrificed to Her. This public fire represented the energy of all life.

 

(Photo Credit: greekgods&goddesses.net)

Her name means “the essence”, as in the truth of all things. She was one of the most revered Greek Goddesses. She was gentle and kind, loving and forgiving, peaceful and dignified.

She was both the first, and last, child of Chronos and Rhea (Titans). She was the firstborn, and was promptly swallowed by her father, who had a prophecy that one of his children would be stronger than he. He did this with each subsequent child. After Zeus was born, Rhea tricked Chronos into swallowing a rock wrapped in a blanket. He promptly became sick and vomited up each child. Hestia being the first child born and swallowed, became the last child to be brought back up. Hence, the name of “Hestia, First and Last”.

Hestia was courted by both Apollo and Poseidon, but She swore to never be married, to always be true to Herself and make Her own choices, a true Sovereign Goddess.

Her temples were located at Olympia and at Delphi. It is said that the source of Her sacred fire was the lava at the center of the Earth, which connected the Oomphalos to Delphi, which was a city of great energy and wisdom. Her festival day was held on June 8th.

 

(Photo Credit: commons.wikipedia.org)

Of Vesta, it was said, that She was fire and that fire was She. Worship of Vesta dates back to the 7th century BCE.

She, also, did not take human form, although She was later seen as a veiled figure on Roman coins.

Vesta was also honored each day at Her sacred place, the hearth of each home.

(Photo Credit: alamy.com)

In public, She was worshipped at the only round Roman temple, which was at the Forum Romanum. It also had it’s eternal flame. This flame, and the temple were tended by the Sisterhood of the Vestal Virgins. Once a year, on March 1st, this flame was put out by the Vestals and re-lit.

Vesta’s other sacred day was on June 9th, the festival of Vestalia. Food baked on all hearths, was offered to Her, as well as the sacrifice of salted cakes baked on Her sacred flame by the Vestals. Offerings would take place for 8 days, whereupon the temple would be closed, cleaned and re-opened.

 

(Photo Credit: alamy.com)

 

It was considered bad luck and an ill omen for either of these sacred flames to go out.

Vesta and Hestia also shared common symbols, fire and a circle, the circle representing that they were complete Goddesses, in and of themselves.

 

While the following is for Hestia, from The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky, it is also true for Vesta.

I am what’s at the core

the indescribable

the elusive

the living presence

that inhabits and transforms

a building

a dwelling

an edifice

taking it from the realm of

marble

stone

or wood

and with its hearth fire lit

making it a home.

May the Goddesses of Hearth and Home, Hestia and Vesta, bless you and yours during the upcoming holiday season.

 

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About the Author:

 

 

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

 

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