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Seeing the Signs

August 1st, 2018

A Morning Walk and the Cosmic Hello

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

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

References

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

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

***

About the Author:

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

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

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

 

 

Seven of Cups

(The Seven of Cups card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)

We’ve been talking about the Cups cards for a few months now. Let’s continue and talk about the Seven of Cups this month.

The Seven of Cups is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. We should remember however that every message, no matter how insignificant or mundane on the surface, can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue; nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.

The traditional image of the Seven of Cups is a fascinating one: it shows us the silhouette of a person (we see the person as if we were standing behind him or her) viewing seven golden cups, each filled with what appears to be a treasure, however a few appear to be potentially dangerous. Traditionally the cups contain a laurel wreath, a treasure hoard, a castle or tower, a dragon, a human head, a snake, and a shrouded glowing shape. Some decks offer variations: rainbows, flames, a green and verdant vine, a dove, brilliant light, a butterfly, or a heart with wings. All the Cups are floating on a fluffy cloud or floating in a blue sky, as if they were being imagined or dreamed of or wished for by the person viewing them. The person appears uncertain or confused; which cup should he choose?

There are meanings ascribed to the contents of each of those Cups. The laurel wreath represents victory, but if we look closely at the Cup we see the shadow of a skull, perhaps warning of the danger of vanity. The treasure hoard represents wealth and abundance. The castle or tower represents power and stability, or perhaps one’s birthplace. The dragon can represent fantasy, magick and the supernatural, but it can also represent anger, envy or bad luck. The human head represents a potential companion or love interest. The snake could represent animal passion and desire, or it could be offering knowledge and wisdom. The shrouded shape could represent the seeker’s need for self-understanding, or of hidden information.

What makes this card’s image even more interesting and powerful is that there is an astrological correspondence to the contents of each of the seven Cups, and the contents of each cup corresponds to a Major Arcana card. The laurel wreath represents Saturn and The World, the treasure hoard represents Jupiter and The Wheel of Fortune, the castle represents Mars and The Tower, the dragon represents our Sun and The Sun, the human head represents Venus and The Empress, the snake represents Mercury and The Magician, and the shrouded shape represents our Moon and The High Priestess. This indicates that even though this is a Minor Arcana card, the choices being presented could very well have Major Arcana effects and consequences!

We already have a lot of information, and a good way to get a deeper understanding of our Seven of Cups is to examine its number, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 7, and the suit of Cups.

In the Tarot, the number 7 tells of that period of time when effort and growth are running out of gas, and degeneration or a period of ebbing is approaching. A perfect illustration of this concept is the way it looks when we toss a ball in a high arc; at first, the ball soars upward with power. Soon enough, the upward motion slows, then ceases, and the ball travels parallel to the ground for a bit. Then, inertia begins to affect the trajectory of the ball, and it begins its descent to the ground. The Tarot Seven cards describe possible effects during that period when the ball is traveling parallel to the ground; not enough power to continue growth, but enough to keep degeneration on the sidelines. Often, the Seven cards tell of some pause or assessment that happens as growth (created by the Motion of the Fives and the Harmony of the Sixes) begins to approach the end of its lifespan.

All of the Tarot Sevens offer this pause or slowing of activity in order to learn something. We have the realization of something achieved and the fortitude to stay with that achievement and defend it (Wands), we experience the pause to assess the readiness for harvest of the fruits of our labors (Pentacles), and we have the pause that comes when our mind and our intellect perceive the approach of a change that we believe may not be beneficial (Swords). In the Seven of Cups, we have the pause that comes with a choice between many seemingly beautiful and desirable offerings, each with the possibly of containing some hidden peril.

We have talked about the suit of Cups in detail already, but let’s go over it all again. Many Tarot decks use images of cups or chalices and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards. This makes sense because the suit of Cups corresponds with the cardinal direction of West, the color blue, the playing cards of Hearts, and the element of Water. In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. Water has weight; picking up a gallon of water proves that. Water tends to gather into or flow to the lowest place; it will use already-in-place channels to get there if it can, but will create its own roadways or channels if necessary. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

The element of Water corresponds to our feelings and emotions. Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, and a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing. Emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice. Our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health. Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly, as physical manifestations of those emotions. Water also represents the Inner Voice and the mysteries of the subconscious. That calm body of water can reflect the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky around it, on its still surface and hide from our view the dark and cold depths inhabited by mysterious creatures. In order to explore those silent depths and discover the mysteries there, we must break the surface and enter this quiet and hidden realm.

Astrology is another available tool that can offer further information about our card. The Seven of Cups corresponds to Venus when it is in the constellation of Scorpio. The planet Venus is seen as representing the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure. Venus is a feminine planet, which means its energies are inner and receptive in nature. Venus is associated with feelings and well-being and gentleness, friendship and fidelity, relationships of all kinds, youth, lust, fertility, travel, and an appreciation for art, social life, and beauty. And yes, sex and sexual pleasure are a part of this too. Venus is often seen as being a twin planet to our Earth, and is the second brightest object in the night sky, the Moon being the brightest.

Scorpio is a fixed Water sign associated with stabilization, determination, depth and persistence. Scorpios manifest these traits through achievement, and through going deep into the timeless mysteries of the imagination, dreams, and passions. Scorpios are powerful and willful in all they do; they stick with a task to the end, often achieving much more than the other signs. They are also inflexible, rigid, stubborn, opinionated and single-minded. Scorpios are extremely loyal and will always remember a kind gesture. They love to learn about others and about themselves; the curiosity of Scorpios is immeasurable. Scorpios are intense and passionate, even if they appear quiet on the surface.

Venus and Scorpio are not always a comfortable match. Scorpio is not superficial and prefers deeper relationships that go below the surface, rather than the social niceties, friendship and affection of Venus. The energies of Venus and Scorpio give us a bit of a reality check, whether we want one or not. Power struggles can happen, and deep dark secrets will be brought into the light, perhaps not willingly. Intense for sure, but there is a good possibility that all the intensity will bring powerful transformation.

The Tree of Life offers us further insight into the Seven of Cups. All of the Sevens of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond with the sephira of Netzach (which means “Victory”). Netzach is the seventh sephira, at the bottom of the Pillar of Force (the masculine side of the Tree). When you think about the concept of Victory, you will realize that it tends to bring a bit of inertia into the picture. Often, when we succeed (or think that we have succeeded), we cease focusing on the reason for the conflict and focus instead on maintaining the status quo. Netzach is also about dreams, feelings, and visions, connections with others, and an appreciation of Nature, the pleasures of the flesh, beauty, creativity, and art.

The Llewellyn Welsh Seven of Cups shows a young woman seated on the ground surrounded by butterflies, looking at seven Cups each containing something different, floating in the sky. This card represents dreams, a fertile imagination, window shopping for possibilities, realization of a long shot, and being bemused by options or possibilities. Reversed, it tells of clouded judgment, exaggerated dreams, being ruled by emotions, or extreme effects of alcohol or drug addiction.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Seven of Cups shows a couple standing precariously on top of a hill, with Cups arranged at their feet. The woman, pointing to a castle floating in the sky, is not watching where she steps but rather is looking upward, entranced by the floating castle. The man is examining the real castles on the nearby hills and examining a map that might get him there. The card tells of indulging in fantasies, having too many desires, or too many paths to choose from.

The Thoth Tarot Seven of Cups also has a non-traditional image. It shows seven lotus flowers that are rotting away because of too much water. Crowley sees this card as representing delusions and addictions, and the sinking into the mire of false pleasures. Way too much of a good thing!

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot Seven of Cups shows seven crystal cups filled with treasures lit by a golden light, arranged for our viewing pleasure. We are warned that we need to do our homework before choosing because some of these gifts may not be what they seem to be. This card represents fantasies, romantic illusions, too many choices, and viewing things through rose-colored glasses.

All these interesting choices presented by our card may create a sensory overload of sorts, but we are told again and again, through looking at the image of the Seven of Cups, the meaning of the number 7, the suit of Cups, the astrological correspondences, and the sephira on the Tree of Life that we need to pay close attention, do our homework, and not depend on luck to save the day, when the Seven of Cups shows up in a reading. Visualizing our goals can be beneficial, but not when we become so distracted by possible future achievements that we step into a hole and break our ankle.

There are good possibilities here, but there could be some dead ends as well. The Seven of Cups reminds us that while it is fun to imagine being able to take all seven of those Cups, perhaps our time would be better spent in a more practical manner by carefully examining our choices and their potential consequences. If we do our research and if we are careful not to grab more than we can carry, we may end up happy and content in the end.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

 

Three of Pentacles

(The Three of Pentacles card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t looked at a Pentacles card in a while, so this month we will examine the Three of Pentacles. The Three of Pentacles is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 3, and the suit of Pentacles. These two ingredients could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation!

The suit of Pentacles (or Coins, Stones or Disks) corresponds with the element of Earth, and of the physical body, physical manifestation, and wealth. Many Tarot decks use images of pentagrams or coins or disks on their Minor Arcana Pentacles cards as well as trees, flowers and green, verdant growth, all of which will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit. A nice place to begin is with the element of Earth itself.

In its natural state, Earth is cool and dry, and it binds or shapes the other elements. Earth is of the physical or physically formed or manifested world, and of nurturing, health, finances and security, and the wisdom associated with living simply and being well-grounded. Earth is the element of form and substance; it is connected to material world security (and even wealth), and to our physical bodies and physical senses, and the pleasures and pains they bring. Earth represents the nurturing and serene side of Nature, and it represents the tangible end result of our labors. Earth is about security and stillness, and knowing what to expect; it is about strength, discipline, and physical manifestation of all kinds, and about enjoying the fruits of our labors. Earthy energies are fertile, practical, and slow to change.

You can see just by examining the paragraph above just how easy it is to connect the element of Earth to our daily lives, our physical bodies, our careers, our families, and the natural world around us. These things are all the main correspondences of the element of Earth, the suit of Pentacles, and of course, our Three of Pentacles.

The traditional image of the Three of Pentacles shows three people, one standing on a bench who appears to be carving something into the wall, one holding what looks like plans or architectural drawings, and one that appears to be a priest or a friar. The worker appears to be describing his work to the architect and the friar, both of whom are listening carefully to the worker. All three are standing beneath a stone arch supported by three pillars, decorated with three pentagrams. Above the arch is a brick wall. In the Tarot, an archway represents a transition to a new stage of development or progress. Arches are difficult to construct, but are worth the effort because they are strong and balanced.

The number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2. We can see the manifestation of this throughout our physical world; when a male and a female of any species come together, the result is often the creation of new life. The number 3 can also represent optimism, self-expression and the polishing or honing of skills already in place. On the uncomfortable side of things, the number 3 can represent self-doubt, wastefulness, or vanity.

Within the Tarot, the Threes are seen as either creating something out of the potential of the Ace and the partnership of the Two of their suit, or they are seen as manifesting or making real the potential of the Ace and the concept of the Two. Briefly, we have the potential for experiences within the physical world (the Ace of Pentacles), and the ability to deal with changes and developments without losing balance and confidence (the Two of Pentacles). The Three of Pentacles presents the first-stage completion (with the second stage at the number 7 and the third and final stage at the number 9), begun with the potential of the Ace which manifests in the Two card and then presents a sense of achievement in our Three of Pentacles. Our card tells us that we are able to use the skills we’ve developed in order to work with others toward meeting our goals.

The astrological correspondence for the Three of Pentacles is the planet Mars when it is located in the constellation of Capricorn.

Mars is known as the “Red Planet,” and this makes sense because Mars is about energy, passion, drive and determination, all fiery personality traits. Mars is associated with confidence and self-assertion, aggression, sexuality, energy, strength, ambition and impulsiveness. Mars governs sports, competitions and physical activities in general. Mars is commanding, confident, and powerful, asking us to stand up and be noticed without fear. Ambition and competition are also associated with this planet; Mars encourages us to face challenges and to be our best with honor. Mars rules our sexuality and sexual energy, and governs weapons, accidents and surgery. It’s important to note that Mars’s energy can be constructive or destructive. In the end, however, the energy of Mars can be quite useful if used properly.

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a Cardinal earth sign, ruled by Saturn. Capricorn people are stable, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way. Capricorn people are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary. More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals. The Capricorn personality is one that is firmly grounded in reality; here is the voice of reason in a chaotic world. A Capricorn person may seem unfriendly, arrogant, or without humor to outsiders, but remember the image of this astrological sign has a fish’s tail. The emotions are there, just hidden within that inhibited exterior. As far as material wealth is concerned, Capricorn approaches finances with prudence, planning, and discipline, and thus, there are not many Capricorns who are lacking in physical-world resources.

Mars in Capricorn is a confident combination, almost intimidating. Mars is driven to succeed, and Capricorn is willing to work hard in order to achieve goals. These two energies together enable us to take on big tasks and see them to the finish. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the planet of structure and form, and this means there will be plans rather that dreams. Mars is eager to act, and Capricorn makes certain that actions have a purpose and will be likely to succeed.

The Threes have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Binah at the top of the Pillar of Form/Restriction. This sephira is seen as form, as force in pattern, and as the Great Mother and the Womb of Life. Binah offers shadow and contrast, which in turn gives us shape and form. Binah restricts in order to provide a springboard, and that restriction can also be its downfall if it becomes greed. Binah represents intuitive understanding, contemplation, and deductive reasoning, and the fertile receptivity of the Sacred Feminine.

The Llewellyn Welsh Tarot Three of Pentacles shows a young woman sitting in a field filled with grasses and flowers, shaded by a tree, with three pentacles beside her (in fact, one foot is holding one of those pentacles in place). The woman has on her lap a colorful cloth decorated with symbols, and she is sewing or embroidering with a calm focus. The meanings of the card are skill, craft, marketable ideas, slow and steady progress, taking pride in humble work, and making use of talents.

The Three of Disks of the Thoth Tarot shows an aerial view of a pyramid resting on sand dunes that appear to have been formed by blasts of energy emitted by the pyramid. The four corners of the structure are resting on large wheels. The title of this card is “Works,” and its meanings are success, material gain, rank, dominion, a gain of money or influence, and a present, however there is the potential for these to be empty gains.

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot Three of Coins shows a grey-haired man diligently and skillfully carving a large disk that is inset with a glowing green gem; surrounding him are his tools and another green gem. Hanging on the wall behind him are two disks covered with carvings, as well as several more tools; on a shelf are several blank disks. This card tells of a labor of love, a task that completely engrosses us and brings rewards on many levels, not just financial.

The Three of Pentacles is an encouraging card. It tells us that if we continue to work with diligence and we don’t allow disillusionment to dampen our enthusiasm, we have the potential to find fulfillment and success and create something to be proud of. We are being told that our dreams can be made real through determination, persistence and effort. Perhaps we will need to draw on the knowledge and advice of others, and it may be beneficial for a partnership or a team to be formed, as long as those persons are of like mind. Feedback from others, at the very least, is important.

The Three of Pentacles reminds us that now is the time to be realistic. We have the ability to see what will work for us, and to tap into our skills and strengths in order to be both efficient and creative. Ideas and inspirations can be manifested into the physical world in a way that creates a secure and stable foundation upon which we can build our future.

The Three of Pentacles is a card of action; if we assemble skilled partners and focus on our goals, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

** This year we will be featuring the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

**

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

The Road to Runes: Hagalaz, the Coming of Hail

So, it was the turn of a different friend to pull a rune this time, and I wasn’t expecting it. On the spot divination, she pulled out the polished, burnt piece of hazel and looked at me quizzically. I had to admit to her that my studies had not taken me this far, and thus, my latest article was born. Pictured is the rune she pulled: Hagalaz, also known as Haglaz or Hagala. This rune literally means ‘hail’, and by what I have learnt, is a pretty fierce and somewhat scary rune to see in any divination.

The Elder Futhark (the group of runes I am working with and believed to be the oldest Germanic runic alphabet) is split into 3 Aett, or groups of 8 runes. Hagalaz is the first rune of the second Aett, or Aettir. There are so many variants of the terms used to describe the runes and their alphabetic structure, and while I am still learning I am keeping myself open to all of these words, so forgive me if I chop and change. The second Aettir is sometimes known as Hel’s Aetirr, which sounds pretty ominous. Hel is the daughter of Loki, and therefore at least part giant, and she reigns over the realm of Hel, one of the dwelling places of the dead in Norse mythology. She is fairly indifferent to the trials and sufferings of humankind, if not actually cruel, and that aspect seems to be reflected in the hail rune. Hail is out of our control. It doesn’t care if we get cold, or wet, or stung. It has no pity for our misery; it simply is, and it is up to us to deal with it; get out of the cold or battle on through the storm.

Hail is the coldest of seeds… (Viking Rune Poem)

Hail is often described in runic inscriptions as a seed, and perhaps this is simply due to its appearance, as if someone high above was casting ice cold grain onto the earth, in the vain hope of it sprouting into some bizarre crop. However, there is more to the seed aspect than simple appearances. If we are tested, and we follow through with the test, whether we pass or fail, we grow as people. Each new challenge we face changes us in some way, usually for the better. Even bad experiences teach us something. Hagalaz is a seed rune because although hard times may be coming, there is the chance for great personal transformation; to be the sprouting wheat after the grain is cast.

Hail is whitest of grains. It whirls from the sky

whipped by the wind, then as water it trickles away. (Old English Rune Poem, translation Marijane Osborn)

This is a reminder that hard times don’t last forever; just as the icy hail turns to water and trickles away, so will our hardships eventually come to an end. We may be whipped into shape by the storms that buffet us, by the challenges that are sent to test us, but ultimately, calm will come, and a time to take stock and see what we have learnt, gained, or been left with. Also, it could be that we are about to lose something, but perhaps that is something we should have let go of long ago. Are we holding on to something that does not help us achieve our highest goals? Are we clinging to a relationship that prevents us being the best we can be? Hagalaz warns that it may be a tough time, but something different is coming, and it’s up to us to make the best of the new situation.

Hagala who breaks helmets… (Runic Inscription on the Kragehul Lance)

So far, I’ve concentrated on the more positive aspects of Hagalaz, but I can’t avoid the simple fact that this is a rune associated with destruction, turmoil, conflict and crisis. Hail is coming and you’re going to be caught out in the storm. If you’re already having a tough time, it’s possible it could get worse before it gets better. Are you ready to be tested? Be prepared, have your wits sharp, don’t be complacent about any potentially upsetting or risky situation and muster your inner strength. Yes, transformation and growth might be just around the corner, but you’re going to have to turn your face into the cold wind and really push hard before you feel the benefits.

The ninth rune in the Elder Futhark, just as Yggdrasil holds nine worlds, Hagalaz is a powerful and crucial rune in any reading. I think it’s important not to panic if you do pull this rune for a client. I’ll admit, when my friend pulled the rune and I read the meaning, I was startled and worried at first, but thinking about her personal situation (private, sorry!) it makes sense. She’s been through a tough time, it’s not over yet, and we’d already spoken about certain things probably not being resolved to satisfaction until Samhain. A gifted practitioner herself, it doesn’t surprise me that she pulled the rune that almost exactly describes the situation she is in and where she appears to be going. And it gave me the chance to learn about a formidable rune; one more step along the road.

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About the Author:

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

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

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

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The Line of Five

Anyone who knows me or follows me on any of my Wordpress blogs or Facebook or Twitter knows that I have been fighting a major depression – one of the worst depressions in over ten years. It’s affected every aspect of my life – eating, sleeping, my ability to write – and it has affected my desire to use my divination skills. For years, I longed for a deck of Lenormand cards and now I have a beautiful set of oracle cards – actually two historic decks – and probably the best learning manual on the market, The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards by Caitlín Matthews – but for weeks, the cards have sat on the shelf and the book barely cracked.

Yes, as depressed as I am, I feel guilty about this. I know that this guilt is a residue from my Catholic childhood but it’s there. I know that I *should* be practicing with these new cards – and the Playing Card Oracle deck I just got – like I should have been practicing the piano all those long years ago when I was ten, eleven, twelve years old. But like the preteen Polly of the early 1970’s, I sit and dream of other times. Of California and golden, wind-swept hills. Of Johnny Lancer. Of wild horses that couldn’t drag me away.

My son has been very worried about me. His lease is up at the end of July and he decided that for his last year of college, he is going to move back in with me – it makes economic sense – for him, anyway. But he wants to watch over his Mama – make sure that she doesn’t do herself any harm. Which is sweet – unnecessary but sweet. I don’t mind him moving in. Like everything, there are pros and cons either way.

I got out the Lenormand deck and shuffled it. I wasn’t even sure what I was doing but I thought – just lay out five cards – do a line of five. As explained in The Lenormand Oracle Handbook: “This is a small, useful spread in which the most important card is the middle one, the main focus. It is the basis for any line of cards, whether it be 5,7,9,or 11 cards: the center card becomes the hinge or focus and the two sides are the wings.” (Caitlín, 113).

I shuffled my cards and laid them out accordingly. I focused on the question – I’m not sure if question is the correct term – but the issue – of whether or not it was a good idea for James to move back in with me. Although I am lonely, I do cherish and protect my solitude. And James can be stiflingly over-protective, like most men. Plus, he tends to treat me like I’m much older than I am – like I am as old as my own mother. Which is annoying, to say the least. I mean – I’m only fifty-eight years old – and in quite good health! I just get depressed now and again!

This is what I got:

The middle card (card #3) is the main issue. 25 The Ring is about commitment. Think weddings and marriage but any kind of strong bond. If there is one thing about James and me, it’s that there has always been a strong bond between us. He’s my only child – the only one I was ever able to have – and I almost lost him early in pregnancy. James has a close relationship with his father but he lives in Florida and only visits a few times a year. James has been with me most of his life.

I know that when I got pregnant with James, I felt the he was the one. I had been pregnant numerous times before James – I was thirty-two when I became pregnant with James and my first pregnancy was at age seventeen – and I had suffered so many miscarriages that even my OB/GYN suggested that I have an abortion. But I just knew – this was the one. And without Planned Parenthood in the early months of that pregnancy, I might have lost James, too. I have nothing but great things to say about that organization.

Cards #1 and #2 tell what has led to or influenced this situation. #14 Fox and #30 Lily suggest that there is some kind of trickery going on (the fox) which could affect family welfare (the lily), which is why James is so concerned about me – I am not going into personal family affairs here, but suffice it to say that James is not happy with the ways things have been going with the family politics and he wants to be my defender! Which is seen with the King of Spades on the #30 Lily Card – holding his sword against the fox.

Cards #4 and #5 are the likely outcome. #15 Bear and #6 Clouds is a confused mother – me. #6 Clouds has another King – the King of Clubs – two black Kings means success in court but I am not sure if that applies here! But I might need all the help I can get!

Like many Tarot readings, I do not see a true outcome here. The #6 Clouds card muddled up the whole thing. And yet – perhaps this is telling the whole story. I am not sure if it is a good idea for James to move back in – and yet, I can hardly wait for him to be here. I guarantee you, he feels exactly the same way. What virile young man wants to live with his witchy old mother? But – you can’t argue with economics. If he is to graduate, he needs to live in a place he can afford. I do understand that. At his age, I couldn’t afford to go to college at all – I was working three jobs.

I am sorry that I missed you all last month. I will fight this depression harder and be here with another Lenormand lesson next month. Until then, Brightest Blessings to all of you.

References

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

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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.

The Road to Runes: Raidho, The Traveler’s Rune

The fifth rune in the Elder Futhark, Raidho is also the fifth rune in first ætt, or set of eight runes. These first eight runes are known as Freya’s ætt, and relate to physical and emotional happiness, nurturing and compassion. Raidho literally means riding or wagon, and as such is strongly associated with journeys, arrivals, departures, reunions, relocations, traveling and vehicles. The overriding theme is not remaining stationary. Of course, not all journeys are physical. Each one of us is a traveler, making our own winding way down life’s path. We are all on a spiritual journey as well as physical one. Our experiences and insights on our journeys shape us and create the individual soul and presence that makes us who we are.

For this reading, I followed up on a previous divination I did for myself, and asked what the next year held for me in terms of starting a freelance career in writing. I was focused solely on the future, rather than the here-and-now. Previously I pondered about whether I was making the right decision, and was basically told, “Get on with it!”. Now I’m wondering if the runes have any insights about what I might expect along the way, at least in the short-term future.

The traveler’s rune seems an apt response for this question as this is definitely an exciting journey I am on. Each day holds new challenges and new anxieties, yet many small triumphs that make it all worthwhile. Raidho is all about trusting your own inner compass, and not being still but having the courage to step away from where you are, towards where you need to be. I feel like I am doing that, one tiny step at a time, and this reading definitely encourages me to keep going.

When I initially asked about my change in career, I was given Ansuz, Odin’s rune, the breath of the universe and the rune of words. The message seemed to be to concentrate on the words, the power within them and trust in my leap of faith and not indulge in self-doubt. This next rune, focusing much more on what will happen next, and what the future holds, seems much more focused on the challenges this journey may hold. I feel as if the runes or the power channeled through them has recognised that this is, indeed, a new and significant journey I am taking. Though I have written for many (so many!) years, this is the first time I am relying solely on my own skills with words to feed and shelter my family. That’s a huge step, and the journey is very much based on my own determination and willingness not to give up when things get tough.

The Rune Secrets website tells us that one of the key concepts for Raidho is freedom from imprisonment, and in a way, my decision to work from home is just that. I felt trapped in my office job, even on good days. Feeling trapped makes everything about us smaller, until we remember the ultimate responsibility of every prisoner: to escape. But like anyone who has been in confinement for too long, adjusting to freedom will be difficult, and this rune tells me that the journey may be arduous, and I may have to let go of concepts about my life or my inner self that I have clung to for too long. I don’t even know what these might be at this time, but I am not surprised to be told this. I have formed serious work habits based on ‘having a boss’, deadlines, hierarchies and so forth. Breaking these habits will probably be the key to becoming a successful, full-time freelance writer.

I hope my journey with the traveling rune has bought you some insights about what this rune could mean for you in your own divination. Feel free to tweet me @Mabherick if you want me to choose a particular rune to study for next month’s Road to Runes. Take care!

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About the Author:

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

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

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