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Scents of the Season

November 1st, 2018

And the Wheel of the Year turns again to Samhain. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, that means people are starting to think about pumpkin decorations while wondering if the 80-degree temperatures will turn to 60’s. Whenever this season comes back around our minds turns to the season past, and in a way that spring never really does. Spring is about the movement forward, birth and growth. Fall allows us to take stock of where we have been, and who we have been in the past. This ties in with scents so strongly because of the relationship between smell and memory. You simply cannot have one without the other.

Scent is 90% memory and only 10% recall, because in the process of understanding each smell we encounter we have to unpack the box of our experience, day by day, because each time we encounter a scent, we are encountering the last time we unpacked the memory of that scent, not the first time. We are looking at a copy, of a copy so to speak. The recent days are right there on top of the box fresh and clean because they were only placed there yesterday. Items that were put in the box five, ten or twenty years ago may take longer to find in the box, or they may be covered in dust, so it could take a minute to figure out what you’re looking at so to speak.

But we go through all of these processes because it simply could not work the other way around. Could you imagine being shocked and amazed at the smell of your own house every time you encountered it? There are hundreds of fragrances a day that we take for granted that our noses have (thankfully) written off for us as non-threatening.

With Samhain, it’s the season of taking stock, because we no longer need to take stock of our pantries and larders to make sure our families will make it through the winter, doesn’t mean we can’t take stock of our lives, our groups of friends and families. One of the easiest ways to do that is to relax our brains, our emotional centers and remind them that it is safe enough to take stock of where we are and let our sense of smell and nostalgia take over from there.

How do we do that? Call on the powers of fall. Here are some essential oils, and the magical applications you can do with them. (See ‘Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic‘ for a full list of warnings for each essential oil.)

Anise- (Pimpinella anisum) Anise is a protective plant, as well as a purifying and divining one. If you have someone in your life if you aren’t sure of their true purpose, place a drop of anise in an essential oil diffuser and use the mist created to scry or meditate on the truth of their mission. Anise will tell you the truth and help you protect your family and purify your home at the same time if needed.

 

 

Black Pepper– Improves mental alertness, physical energy and is great for protection spells. Can be used to drive away evil and as such is great for hex-breaking spells and uncrossing work of all kinds. This is perfect for Samhain as it’s this time of the year when the Veil between the worlds is thinnest that energetic nasties can be lurking outside your home. Diffuse this potent protector (again, just one drop! Don’t overdo it and cause yourself or someone else respiratory distress) to do a quick uncrossing to make sure there is nothing lurking from your latest ‘humble-brag’ at work.

 

 

Cinnamon- Boosts creativity of all kinds (artistic, linguistic and more), provides good luck, increases libido. The warming action burns away threads of negativity so is associated with protection. Is very uplifting and is associated with increased intuitive gifts. The next time you want to head into your workspace to get to the newest project consider diffusing some cinnamon essential oil 30 minutes before you are planning to get to work, so you don’t have to overcome the ‘get to know you’ part of your work day and can jump into the creative process.

 

 

Clove- The warmth of clove burns away that which doesn’t belong so its magic is dispelling that which doesn’t belong, especially people who don’t belong in your life anymore.

Ginger- This is energizing, healing and associated with love, passion, and power. What a great time to make sure that the people in your circle have your best intentions at heart. Take stock of the people who have been there for you for the past year, through phone calls, late-night PMs when you needed someone to talk to, who never had the time when you needed someone. Everyone has low times in their life, only you’ll know the difference between ‘dealing with something’ and just someone whose friendship has run its course.

Oakmoss- Not everyone is going to know this one, but I wanted to throw in a wild card. This lichen smells like leather backed with violets and is used for magic dealing with divination, grounding, hex breaking, and big-time manifestation. It also makes a great fixative for magic, so if you want to make sure that your magic is in it for the long haul, use this. (If you work with poppets, and live in a place like Florida, I’ve seen Oakmoss falling off trees, you can stuff poppets with it. Make sure to google a photo of it just because it’s on a live oak, doesn’t make it oakmoss.) I have gotten a decent price online for Oakmoss Absolute, feel free to reach out to my author page if you can’t find it.

By working with the scents of the season we can remember the times of Samhains and Halloweens past and embrace the best parts of ourselves. We can not only be the best of ourselves that we deserve, but that our friends and families deserve. By weeding and tending the garden of our hearts we keep those precious reserves for those people who truly deserve the fruits of our labor and our time, attention and devotion.

For more information on working magic with essential oils, the history of plants and their by-products, please consider ‘Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic‘ available where books are sold. Weiser Books has thoughtfully provided a generous sample of the first 50 pages at http://tinyurl.com/blackthornsbotanicalmagic

 

Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic: The Green Witch’s Guide to Essential Oils for Spellcraft, Ritual & Healing on Amazon

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About the Author

Amy Blackthorn has been described as an arcane horticulturalist for her lifelong work with plants and magic. She incorporates her past in a British Traditionalist Witchcraft coven with her horticulture studies to form one path. She has been trained as a clinical aromatherapist and is ordained.

She has appeared on HuffPostLive, YahooNews, Top10 Secrets and Mysteries, and Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. She has also appeared in print interviews for over 20 years. Her tea company Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends creates magical tea blends based on traditional formulas after 20 years of teaching, of study and of practice. She lives in Delaware.

www.amyblackthorn.com

Notes from the Apothecary: Mandrake

As we approach Samhain, I like to examine an herb or plant that has particular links to the season. Last year I explored the magic of the pumpkin, an obvious choice for the Halloween season. This year I wanted to dive deeper into folklore and magic, and the mandrake has been my mystical plant of choice.

Immortalised by J. K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series as the shrieking stars of herbology, the image of the human-like root screaming actually goes back to at least the 12th century. A medieval manuscript describes how the plant ‘shines at night like a lamp’ and that iron must be used to circle the plant to prevent it escaping, although the iron should never touch the plant. Other texts note that a dog must be used to pull the root up which, let me tell you, does not end well for the dog. Surrounded by magic, mystery, myth and superstition, this plant has a rich tradition of medicinal use and is a popular tool of modern witches and magical practitioners.

The Kitchen Garden


The true mandrake, mandragora officinarum, should never be eaten. It is hallucinogenic and narcotic, and can cause unconsciousness and even death. Sometimes people use bryonia alba, the false mandrake, as a substitute for mandragora. This plant is also highly poisonous. Another substitute is American Mandrake, which is poisonous in parts. Basically, if you come across anything purporting to be mandrake, don’t eat it!

The plants are beautiful, with springtime flowers of blue and white, and summer fruits sometimes known as devil’s apples. It needs really well drained soil to support those enormous roots, which can grow up to four feet in length. It also needs warm conditions and a good bit of sunshine to thrive, and a good quality compost for nutrients. Grown the plant well away from anywhere children and pets have access to. They can be grown from seed, or by separating the tubers.

The Apothecary

Six cures are described in the mediaeval Harley manuscript. One was for headaches and insomnia, whereby a salve of mandrake leaf juice was plastered to the head. Another was for earaches, and the juice was mixed with oil and poured directly into the ear. Another was a remedy for severe gout, but as it was administered in wine, I’m unsure how effective this would have been! Mandrake was also recommended for epilepsy, cramps and even colds.

Dioscorides, in his materia medica, also advised the plant was used to help insomniacs, but also that it seemed to have sedative and even anaesthetic properties. He did point out that ingesting too much was deadly!

Mrs Grieve states that the leaves are harmless and cooling and used to soothe ulcers, while the root and its bark is a strong emetic.

The Witch’s Kitchen

There is a belief that the mandrake only grew under the place where someone had been hanged. This gives it a dark association with death, possibly criminal activity, but also the oddly positive aspects of corporal punishment: law, order and justice. Called ‘little gallows man’ in Germany, the mandrake can be a symbol of ridding yourself of something you no longer need; of doling out ‘punishment’ to the things in your life you wish to drive away from you.

Dioscorides believed the root could be used in love potions.

The human like shape of the root speaks of transformation and hidden things. The mandrake reminds us not to judge a book by its cover, and that things are not always how they seem. We should always look twice, or as Terry Pratchett wrote, we should open our eyes, then open our eyes again.

In folklore, the cry of the mandrake caused either madness or death. Mrs Grieve writes that small doses of the root were used by ‘the Ancients in maniacal cases’, again connecting the root to madness and states of disconnection between the body and mind. Historically it was used to cure demonic possession, indicating it could be used to heal a disconnected body and mind, so there appears to be a contrary nature to this plant.

Mandrake can be used in any magical working to increase the potency of the spell, and in particular to increase psychic powers and prophetic magics.

Home and Hearth

Place a dried mandrake root on your mantelpiece to bring prosperity and joy into your home. Place a piece of mandrake on top of money, so a spare change pot or money box, and more money will enter your life. Hang one above the door to prevent demons or people with negative intentions from entering. Always keep out of the reach of children or pets!

I Never Knew…

As recently as the nineteenth century, mandrake roots were still being sold in Europe as charms to increase the libido.

*Images: Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) from Tacuinum Sanitatis manuscript (ca. 1390), public domain; mandragora autumnalis, copyright tato grasso 2006 via Wikimedia Commons; folio 90 from the Naples Dioscurides, a 7th century manuscript of Dioscurides De Materia Medica, public domain.

***

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.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Aromatherapy

 


I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.

 


I have a super charged sense of smell. You’d think spending my childhood on the farm would have ruined it but I think it made things like chemical and perfume smells more sensitive for me. Smells can sometimes be so intense (not even bad) that they can make me throw up.

 

(image from here)


I was just at university when I first started using essential oils. It just sort of “made sense” to me from the get go. I wonder sometimes if this is my issue with being in a large crowd, all the smells. I can tell you what death smells like, what rot and sickness smell like too. (Death is sort of like crushed elderflowers with a hint of cat pee and a hint of tin).

 


I am a qualified aromatherapist. This sometimes put me at odds with some of my teachers who went from what was in a book rather than the smell of the person they were working on. Also people lie! You get a client before you and they never smoke (but you can smell it coming from them) drink only water (is that coffee breath I smell?) and have “the odd glass of wine” on the weekend (but are sweating out that alcohol smell). This taught me two things. People will put their health and well-being in danger rather than be shamed about their bad habits and start a little and work up!

 


What is an essential oil? An essential oil is the extraction of natural plant volatile oils. These small organic compounds change quickly from solid, liquid and gas and are easily absorbed into the body, even through the skin. Steam distillation is a common essential oil extraction process but some places use chemical extraction or compression too. The organic chemicals and compounds such as carvacrol found in many essential oils like oregano and thyme seems to disrupt bacterial membranes inhibiting their growth. It also seems to block certain kinds of pain receptors too. Science is starting to catch up with what aromatherapists have been saying all along!

 


Essential oils are extremely potent. They can burn or cause intense irritation not just alone but in combination with the chemical on the skin. Food, alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes, medication and even deodorants on the skin can react with essential oils in unexpected ways.

 


Then comes personal preference. Some people really don’t like certain smells. This can be because of a memory association, or just be the body knowing it would not be good for it. My mother hated the smell of lilacs, I disliked the smell of rose geranium for years. Some people hate the smell of rose, or jasmine. Some loathe vanilla.

 

 


Lavender is a common essential oil, and usually quite cheap. However learn the Latin! Knowing your Lavandula Augustifolia from your Lavadin is important. Much like the different between French and English lavender, or Spanish or Australia grapes, the earth, water and weather have an effect on the amounts of chemical compounds in essential oils. With cheap essential oils, you get what you pay for. Often chemically extracted, thinner and paler, with less of the extracts you want. It is often a false economy.

 


Keep your essential oils away from sunlight, pets and small children (as well as some ignorant adults: someone on one of my aromatherapy courses left a bottle of peppermint oil in a bathroom cupboard and had an uncle drink it to “settle his stomach” and ended up in A&E, or the ER if you’re in the States).

 

 

Magickally aromatherapy oils can be worked into workings in all kinds of ways. From adding it to the water of your ritual baths or to your asperging or cleaning water to burning it or adding it to water to make a steam, or making ritual oils for the body or objects.

 


Essential oils can be used like incense to cleanse and clear or charge a space or blended to charge spell candles; or added to sachets or mojo bags. Lavender flowers you buy can be a touch flat when it comes to scent so you can add a couple of drops of a good lavender essential oil to the dried herb. Lavender is considered one of the safest oil for beginners to experiment with. It is generally a relaxing oil (but about 10% of people have the opposite reaction to it) so using it as way to calm a space.

 


Tranquil Space and Mind Rite


You will need:

 


6 tea-lights (and heat proof holders)

 


4 pieces of amethyst

 


Lavender essential oil

 


Cold pressed organic almond oil

 


A small container or bowl for oil

A purple candle

 

Rite:


Take some 6 simple tea-lights and remove them from their metal base.

 

Add a drop of lavender essential oil and replace the tea-light. In three pairs place them around your space (preferably in safe heat proof places) with a piece of amethyst. Take 30ml of organic cold pressed almond oil and add three drops of lavender essential oil to it, swirling gently to combine.

 


Take a small amount of the essential oil blend and rub between your palms and dress a pale purple candle. Wiping off the excess oil carefully light the candles in your space and turn of any artificial light.

 


Now taking your blend slowly and deliberately massage your body with the oil. A small dab on the forehead to begin and then working from the feet up. Take your time and make sure you don’t rush. You can now play some peaceful music and meditate using the purple candle, or simply be in the calming space.

 


Candle meditation is about focusing the eyes on the flame but watching it passively (like watching T.V). It is a softness of gaze, and one of observation. Thoughts come, and thoughts go, just let them.

 


It sounds quite simple but it can be quite transformative. Don’t be worried if you have an emotional reaction. You might cry or get the giggles. You might feel angry. This is simply what you have been holding in underneath. Keep massaging and breathing it will pass.

 


**Please don’t fall asleep with candles burning!**

Lessons From Indigenous Communities: How We Can All Benefit From Some Of Their Principles

By Guest Writer Omar Beretta

 

(Photo by Pablo E. Ortiz on Unsplash)

Imagine this: you switch off your iPhone now, pack your backpack, and get lost in a tropical jungle in search of powerful lessons from Indigenous communities. You’d better have a passport, because Indigenous communities are rarely found in our backyard. And we need to go now, because Indigenous wisdom is rapidly evaporating in the heat of modern times, but there is still a lot we can learn from them.

But direct to access Indigenous tribes isn’t always easy. Not everyone has an enlightened employer that will support your mystical journey and time away from the office. Or, an understanding and loving significant other that will drive you to the airport without a return ticket.

What’s the bottom line? Accessing alternative sources of knowledge may change your life forever — and this is good news. But you do not need to burn all your bridges to take the first steps in the direction of a new understanding of life. Take one step at a time.

First – what does “Indigenous community” mean, exactly?

This may seem crazy, but Karl Marx got it right when he explained that the natural world is further and further removed from us and arrives only in a relatively processed, mediated form. And he wrote that in 1844. The immediacy of nature has been lost, and nature confronts humanity as an alien entity. Moreover, as the Marxist theorist Max Horkheimer would later put it, “The history of man’s efforts to subjugate nature is also the history of man’s subjugation by man.”

The chances of finding an authentic Indigenous community in a natural, pristine environment, willing to share their wisdom to a newcomer that does not speak their language, are next to nothing. What we can learn from good old Marx is that we have created a production system that alienates us from nature, and over the years it has generated an urban malaise from which I suffer, and, if you have read this far, probably you too. The bad news is that apparently this malaise can only be cured by accessing the wisdom of aboriginal communities, which have been almost entirely crushed by the very system of production to which we contribute each day by waking up, buying coffee, and going to work.

But even if we got lost for a few months in the Peruvian Amazon, we would discover that most of the Indigenous knowledge has already been formatted to the urban lifestyle. It would take significant time and effort to find a spot where white men and women have not already set up a spiritual shop to cater to our quest. And before the spiritual shops arrived, various churches roamed the aboriginal wilderness, turning original knowledge into a mere remembrance of things past.

So, if you only have one or two weeks to spare for your spiritual quest, do not shop in the Spiritual Supermarket. More importantly, do not buy that six-day, four-ayahuasca ceremony package tour to the Amazon, facilitated by white people that can speak your language. Rather, donate that money to a reliable NGO and wait for good karma to hit back. It always does.

Here’s the kicker: we may actually find powerful lessons in our backyard. We have the atavic need to be a part of a tribe, because it offers protection and the possibility of achieving greater goals. Some of us might have belonged to, for example, a gym tribe or a clubbing tribe. Over the months we found out, perhaps with bitter resentment, that the tribe we thought we belonged to was actually what is called a pseudo-community, a gathering that was not based on fundamental principles, merely on transitory activities. The day I stop going to the gym or reduce my clubbing expeditions my tribe will desert me.  

But perhaps you have a meditation tribe going, or you feel that you belong to a yoga tribe that has passed the two-year acid test. If you and the core tribe members are still meditating or practicing yoga after two years, your tribe may be ready for the second stage. This is advice I got from actual Indigenous masters in the Amazon, as well as from teachers at an intentional community in Scotland: first you need to have things in common, then you strengthen the bond. Finally, a real community is born.

Want to know the best part? Here is something that you can take away. Basic aboriginal wisdom: consume less and spend more time together. You can divide your tribe in three groups. On week 1, the first group goes shopping for organic products to cook veggie burgers. The second group gets together and cooks the burgers, while the third group rests. On weeks 2 and 3, the groups shift chores. This may prove more challenging than you think, because it entails coordinating people to get together once a week to do an additional activity that is not merely recreational; it supports the welfare of the tribe. Thus, we learn to put the interest of the collective before the interest of the individual. If you can achieve this, you have probably learned the most important lesson there is to learn. It is highly likely that your tribe will be decimated over the first two weeks, but you will learn who is for real. Keep it going for a couple of years, and abundant wisdom you never thought you had inside you will flow from your heart.

***

About the Author:

Omar Beretta is the co-author with Bénédicte Rousseau of Shaman Express. A former lawyer, yoga instructor and publishing company owner who – after a near-death experience – left his corporate career to practice yoga and shamanism, Beretta is now a full-time world traveler. He learns from people living in countries not yet fully spoilt by Western capitalism as well as indigenous communities. When he is not traveling, Beretta teaches creative writing workshops in Asunción del Paraguay. For more information, see www.yacarevolador.com

About Shaman Express: Amazon US link: amzn.to/2vKd4CZ 

Shaman Express

Jennifer Noel Taylor: Spiritual and Broke – How to Stop Struggling with Money and Live Your Purpose

I was really intrigued by the title of Jennifer’s latest book. I generally consider myself to be a spiritual person, and I’ve definitely been broke from time to time! Sometimes it certainly seems like a spiritual life is not one that lends itself towards wealth or riches, but maybe it can be? Is there a way to keep on the path that enriches your soul, without neglecting your bank balance? I was lucky enough to be granted a sneak peek at Jennifer’s upcoming book and discovered that she has a real insight into how to balance money, spirituality and living for your passion, not just your pocketbook. Jennifer was kind enough to answer a few questions for Pagan Pages about the book and her inspiration.

Mabh Savage: What inspired you to write about money and the connection to spirituality?

Jennifer Noel Taylor: During my 16 years of running a business in the field of energy medicine, I noticed that a lot of people in the healing arts as well other people with a genuine desire to help others, seem to be struggling with money. In my case, I was also struggling with money and had $135,000 of business and personal debt and no savings. As you can see, I was in financial trouble! Furthermore, I tried everything to get myself out of debt and nothing seemed to work. For example, when I forced myself to stick to a budget, I felt like I was on a starvation diet and hence my budget didn’t last very long! If I managed to increase my income, I would then have some unexpected expense that would match my new level of income. It seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn’t get ahead! I finally realized that I needed to shift my relationship with money –my thoughts, my emotions, the energy I was putting out into the world, and the stories I was telling myself. Once I made this deeper shift, then things started to turn around. I got out of debt, saved money and started investing in the stock market! I hope to help others do the same.

MS: Who would you say your book is primarily aimed at?

JNT: Spiritual and Broke is primarily aimed at people who are living their purpose and have a heartfelt desire to serve the world yet are having a hard time with money! Although I also feel like the issues I address in the book can be used by anyone who has an open mind and wants to turn their finances around.

MS: Do you think that generally, people are living outside their means more these days?

JNT: Yes, I read a statistic that over 75% of Americans are living pay check to pay check.

MS: Do you think it’s possible to become addicted to spending, just like a drug?

JNT: Absolutely! In my personal journey, I realized that I was doing a lot of “retail therapy.” As the old song goes, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I was trying to buy love rather that buying things that I love.

MS: Was it difficult to open up about your own financial and spiritual difficulties before your epiphany?

JNT: Yes, I felt like a hypocrite. In Quantum-Touch, our work is based on the Law of Attraction – that we create our reality. In other worlds, our external world is a reflection of the world within. Yet I couldn’t use this same philosophy to attract money or balance my finances! I berated myself my predicament and I refer to this in my book as my “secret shame.”

MS: What was the most challenging thing about writing this book?

JNT: I share a very personal story about an Aha! moment that I had in a back of a police car. It was during this epiphany that I realized the fundamental mistake that I was making around money and how my fundamental approach to life wasn’t serving me. This story is near and dear to my heart, very vulnerable, and initially I found it difficult to write about.

MS: In contrast, what did you enjoy most about the creative process?

JNT: I love receiving feedback from people who have listened to my shows or read excerpts from my book – saying how it really helped them. I also love crafting the perfect paragraph or sentence, like creating a work of art with words.

MS: I love that you focus on avoiding deprivation and achieving emotional abundance. Do you think there’s a tendency for some people to believe you have to suffer for spirituality?

JNT: Yes! I believe that the martyr complex is alive and well in the spiritual communities! I think we have been taught that it’s somehow more pure or more generous when we suffer to help others. However, I have found the opposite to be true. When we have more money, more support, more means, we are in a much better position to truly enact change in the world. When we are happy, that energy is very healing!

MS: Tell us a bit about Quantum-Touch.

JNT: Quantum-Touch is a form of energy healing that uses life force energy to accelerate the healing process. We believe that the body has an amazing capacity to heal itself and Quantum-Touch is very effective at amplifying our own healing power.

MS: When did you first discover energy healing?

JNT: I discovered energy healing in massage school. One day, I was doing massage and I felt the life force energy coming from my hands and my client. It was pretty trippy as well as it made me realize that we are much more than just physical bodies. I understood at that moment that we are primarily energetic beings.

MS: What’s the most intense spiritual experience you’ve ever had (that you can share)?

JNT: I have to admit that my Aha! moment in the back of the police car was my most intense experience with life-changing implications. Although it wasn’t the most pleasant experience, it changed my perspective on what it means to be a spiritual being in a human body.

MS: When can people expect to see ‘Spiritual and Broke’ in bookstores?

JNT: I just signed a publishing contact and we should see Spiritual and Broke on Amazon early next year and in bookstores soon after that!

MS: And are you working on any new projects? Any more books on the horizon?

JNT: I’m working on a few projects – one is an online system like Doctors on Demand where you can see a Quantum-Touch practitioner 24/7. Another project we are working on is a Quantum-Touch workshop for kids. Finally, after I launch the book, I am intending to turn it into a workshop!

MS: Finally, how do you relax and unwind away from writing and healing?

JNT: My favourite way to unwind is to snuggle with my boyfriend and watch a movie or go to the gym and do some cardio. Occasionally I like to fly through the air on the flying trapeze! (Yes, I have actually performed on the flying trapeze! ?)

Find out more about Jennifer and Quantum-Touch at http://jennifernoeltaylor.com/ and look out for Spiritual and Broke in the coming months!

***

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.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Madame Pamita: Her Book, Websites, Music, and Vast Storehouse of Tarot Wisdom

I received a copy of Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True this past Ostara, and in the past eight months, this wonderful book has become one of my favorite tarot books. Published by Weiser Books, earlier this year, it’s a powerhouse of information and magic. I wanted to write a review of this fabulous book months ago but personal events in my own life got in the way. However, this only gave me more time to become acquainted with Madame Pamita via her website and monthly emails. I was really sad that I wasn’t able to get down to New York City to meet her in person earlier this month – I would have asked her to autograph my copy of her book! – but maybe sometime in the next year, she’ll be somewhere in my vicinity. She seems to travel quite a bit!

 

As soon as you open the book, there are two pages of recommendations for Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot – and from some of my favorite Tarot scholars, like Rachel Pollack and Mary K. Greer. As far as I’m concerned, that’s like getting the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” as they used to say back in the day. Just reading what these eminent Tarot authorities have to say about Madame Pamita and her “complete manual”, as Elhoim Leafar puts it, is an affirmation of the book’s positive value.

In the very first chapter, Madame Pamita talks about the Law of Attraction – how “like attracts like” and that “our thoughts and beliefs will attract the thing we focus on.” (Palmita, 1) She quite logically reasons that when we are focused on loss, afraid of the future, and other depressing outcomes, then that is what we are going to be attracting to our lives. Therefore, we need magic – the “ritual that focuses your attention on the things that you want to influence.” (Pamita, 1). She refers to the Tarot as a “map that shows you what steps to take, what to avoid, and what changes are necessary to manifest all those good things you want.” (Pamita, 1). By laying out the cards, you can see where you need to go – quite literally, or should I say visually – in Madame Pamita’s words, the Tarot shows the questioner:

…where they should be positively focusing their intention, what action they should take to support this aim, and even what ritual

would be most helpful for supporting their objective. Tarot is the key to making your wish come true. (Pamita, 2)

She presents the simplest of all Tarot spreads, the Three-Card Reading. Card One is the Past – Card Two is the Present – Card Three is the Future. Acknowledging that “we can go to amazing depths in a reading” by starting with the questing and then adding “the meaning of each of the cards that we turn up” and then adding “another layer of meaning with the position of the cards in the layout” and the final layer of meaning – “listening to what our own intuition has to say in the matter.” (Palmita, 3). She doesn’t say what to do when the cards don’t seem to make any sense at all but she does admit that learning all this may be “intimidating” but that this is going to be an “exciting adventure” and a “wonderful journey”. (Palmita, 4).

Before she gets into the nuts and bolts of reading the Tarot, card by card, Madame Pamita discusses the history of the Tarot, divination and the occult. It’s a very short chapter – only two pages long. It ends with her recommendation of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck as the best deck for beginners. I have to say that I do agree with her on that assessment. While it may not have been the original Tarot deck ever used, it has become the “basic text” for the Tarot and the one most identifiable. It’s the deck that is used in the illustrations of Madame Pamita’s book.

In the chapter titled, “Your Mystic Training Begins”, Madame Pamita once again refers to learning the Tarot as a “journey” (Pamita, 7). She says that the “key” is spending time with them – as the saying goes, “practice, practice, practice!” She also stresses “the beauty in being that beginner” (Pamita, 7). She writes:

There is joy in the journey toward gaining knowledge. I look at it as an amazing exploration.

I know that going down the road is going to bring me such profound experiences and that

eventually, if I take the time to really learn and absorb and apply myself, I can get to the

place where I become master of that skill. (Pamita, 7)

The next few pages are dedicated to starting a Tarot journal and how you should keep it. She recommends picking a card a day and spending time with it and writing about it – every aspect of it – from the people in the card to the symbols depicted to the colors used. She says to step “into the scene in the card” and imagine what would happen or “put yourself into the role of one of the characters in the card” and then write about your feelings. She also says to pay attention to the “energy” of the card. She says you should pull a card every morning, meditate upon it, write about it, and then review what you wrote in the evening. (Pamita, 8-9) Quite honestly, if you do this, not only will you learn important lessons about the Tarot, but you will also learn important lessons about yourself. Years later, you can open your Tarot journal and read your progress as a Tarot adapt as well as an enlightened human being.

The next chapter is another two-page shorty that is nonetheless packed with power. Entitled “Magic Words”, it covers affirmations, “one of the most powerful spiritual disciplines that you can incorporate into your life” (Pamita, 11). As Madame Pamita insists,

Affirmations are positive power words that we can say to ourselves to rewire our brains,

making us magical receptors for good things…Words create magic. Magic is the act

of shifting reality through our will. Therefore, magic spells are words that create our

reality. (Pamita, 11).

Two paragraphs down, she again insists, “Your thoughts create your beliefs and your beliefs are infinitely powerful.” (Pamita, 11).

She includes affirmations with each description of every Tarot card – she calls them “Magic Words”. Like the diary journal, Madame Pamita outlines how to use these “Magic Words” and Tarot affirmations on a daily basis. I like the idea of taking a photo of the card of the day with your phone and making it your phone’s background so you have it with you all day long. I also like the suggestion of recording the day’s affirmation as an alarm on your phone so that you hear it at various times during the day. The thing with affirmations and rewiring the negative thoughts in your brain is that you really do have to repeat the chosen affirmation over and over again or else it doesn’t work. I find Madame Pamita’s instructions to be founded in logic and common sense.

The next chapter – which is the last chapter before she delves into the mystery of the Minor Arcana – is about “Making Magic with the Tarot”. Again, Madame Pamita has one good suggestion after another! I have often used various Tarot cards on my altar or in meditation but I have never put a Tarot card in my shoe! (Pamita, 13). That’s a new one on me! I am not at all sure that would even be comfortable. I think placing the card of the day in the pocket of my coat or in the front pocket of my hoodie might be a better idea.

Before she gets into the Minor Arcana per se, she covers Roman Numerals. She even provides a chart so that the beginner knows how to read the letters as numbers. I guess I’m showing my age – I remember learning Roman Numerals in second or third grade – back in the 1960’s. We even had to do sums using Roman Numerals! However, I do realize that this is something that is no longer taught in school – perhaps hasn’t been taught since my own childhood. I know my own son – who is now twenty-five years old – was never taught Roman Numerals in school – I taught him myself. This chart is a handy guide to those of us who may not have been taught this simple way of reckoning numbers or may have perhaps forgotten it.

For what it’s worth, in some Roman Numeral systems, 4 is written as IIII and not as IV, and 9 is written as VIIII, and not as IX, and 14 as XIIII, and so on. But generally, her chart is correct.

The first suit she covers is the suit of Swords – “The Airy-Fairy Swords”, she calls them. (Pamita, 20). She tells us to “think about the qualities of air” whenever one of these cards show up in a reading. Air is the lightest of all the elements. Winds “whip around quickly” and an opened window “to let in a breeze can freshen up a room.” (Pamita, 20). She also points out that,

Air is breath and the word “inspiration” literally means to breath in. The element of air and the

suit of Swords represent all these qualities. How did Swords end up representing air? Well, you

can imagine the sword waving cleanly and precisely through the air as it’s being wielded by a

skilled fencer. It’s sharp; it’s fast; it’s defined. (Pamita, 20).

Madame Pamita writes that in the world of magic and making your dreams come true, thoughts are the beginning. “Everything that has ever been created was first a thought.” (Pamita, 20). So it makes sense to start the Minor Arcana with the suit of thinking and the intellect. But as she reminds us, the suit of Swords not only represents our thoughts and what happens in our brains but all forms of communication – verbal, written and electronic. The suit of Swords is an important suit when we are doing spell work or considering any kind of magic.

After she covers the Swords, Madame Pamita moves onto the “Fun and Fiery Wands”. She writes, “While the Swords are meant to define and cut with the precision of clear thought and ideas, the Wands are the realm of action, passion and will.” Therefore, the Swords are the first step of manifesting magic and the Wands are the second step. She directs us to think about “the essence of fire: it can be the warmth of a fireside, the light shed by a candle, or the raging destruction of a forest fire.” (Pamita, 50). She says that mastering the control of fire was an “evolutionary shift” for humans and that mastering the suit of Wands will be a similar spiritual shift for the Tarot initiate.

The third step is the Cups – what Madame Pamita terms “The Watery Depths of the Cups” (Pamita, 80). She writes that after the inspiration of the Swords and the passion of the Wands, the Cups is where we put our “heart and soul” into our magic. She writes,

It’s easy to see where Cups correspond to the element of water. Water itself flows to fill in

whatever space surrounds it, so that the Cups is what holds water together. Water represents

those parts of us that seem to some from that inner vessel: spirituality, intuition, and psychic

awareness. The Cup is the center of the heart. (Pamita, 80).

Madame Pamita also points out the differences between the suits of Wands and Cups. They can say the same thing but in different ways – for instance, happiness for a Wands is jumping for joy and shouting aloud while with Cups, it’s a secret smile and a romantic sigh. Wands are sexual passion whereas Cups are romantic love. It’s good to know the difference between the two – in the Tarot and in life.

After the Cups, we come to “The Grounded Earthiness of the Pentacles”, which according to Madame Pamita, represents “the end result” of the cycle of magical manifestation. (Pamita, 109). Although Pentacles are earth, they are also,

…gold discs, reminiscent of gold coins, which can often refer to issues regarding money, financial

stability, jobs, or other means of income. They also have another meaning. That five-pointed star

represents the human body with a head and arms and legs outstretched. So, Pentacles also represent

physical issues of the body and its health. However, that star is also something even more magical.

Beyond being just a physical body, we are made up of stardust. (Pamita, 109).

Another thing she wants us to remember is that Pentacles are “slow-moving and long-lasting”. Unlike the suits of Swords and Wands, which have the quality of quickness about them, Pentacles make a person think of “might and strength” and “roots” and “protectiveness” – all qualities of stability and longevity. (Pamita, 110).

She splits the Court Cards from the rest of the Suits, addressing each of the four members of each Suit as a “family” and giving their characteristics as those belonging to that particular family – for instance, the Swords family “are the intellectuals, thinkers, and communicators” (Pamita, 142) while the Cups family are “the dreamers, the psychics, the creators of the imaginative and introspective art, and the spiritually connected, metaphysical ones” (Pamita, 164) and so on. She suggests taking the court cards out of the deck and “playing” with them to get to know them better. Some of the ideas she has are: choosing a card that you most closely identify with; choosing cards that show the different roles that you play in your life; choosing cards to represent people close to you; choosing a card that “embody the qualities of something going on in your life”, such as your work situation, your love life or your health. (Pamita, 188). It is all too easy to look at a court card and think that it represents an actual person in our life, when it would just as easily represent a situation or an emotion. Working with the cards in the way that Madame Pamita suggests will help break the urge to look at the images on the cards in a literal fashion and be able to truly read them as fully as possible.

After fully examining the Minor Arcana, Madame Pamita moves onto the Major Arcana – “the big leagues” – she calls them. She says that they are sometimes called “trumps” from when the Tarot was a card game – the original name of the cards were actually “Triumphs”. (Pamita, 189). The images on these cards are “allegorical archetypes meant to teach us how to navigate life in the best way possible.” (Pamita, 189). About the Major Arcana, she writes,

The Major Arcana starts at zero and ends at twenty-one. While the Minor Arcana pips represent

circumstances in our life that are more mundane, and the court cards represent people or personalities,

the twenty-two Majors represent big, powerful, and even more esoteric themes. When they show up

in a reading, you can expect them to have a stronger influence and impact on the situation. They may

be the underlying energy that permeates the cards that surround them or offers an irresistible pull in

a certain direction. (Pamita, 189).

Then she examines each card.

I did not write about her examination of each of the Minor Arcana cards or the Court Cards, because she uses the same format as her exploration of the Major Arcana cards. It seemed superfluous to talk about the specifics of her approach to learning each card, when it was the same for every card. So this is why I waited until this point to discuss how she talks about the cards. I have to say that I love her approach! It’s consistent with her theme of the Tarot being a “journey” and a “roadmap” to “adventure”. Indeed, she titles each card as “Your Adventure with …” whatever card it is. If you’re picking a card to work with on a daily basis, thinking about the card as an “adventure” is a heady way to deal with the concepts embedded within the card! And while some cards might be more adventurous than others, each and every card in each and every Tarot deck is an adventure of its own. All you have to do is pick a card and begin!

She describes each card thoroughly. She writes about each card as if we are sitting in the scene of the card, whether we are in the fertile sundrenched field of the Empress or sitting in the busy workshop of the industrious VII of Pentacles or hanging out with the bored youth under the tree in the IV of Cups. Reading her descriptions of each card puts you firmly in that card. No matter what the card is, she presents it as an adventure and a lesson. Every word is a gem. I can’t stress this enough. I am on my third close reading of this book – as opposed to opening it up for regular use – and the more I study Madame Pamita’s use of language, the more I admire her. It’s not just her depictions of the cards – it’s her lush, poetic voice that I love.

After the description of the card, Madame Pamita includes four short sections which I think are most helpful for the beginner but also for anyone who is interested in the finer points of the Rider-Waite-Smith system of divination. The first section is called “The Keys to the Treasure Chest – Key Symbols”, where she lists every symbol of the card she is describing. The second section is called “The Wizard’s Words of Wisdom”, which is her take on what the card means in a reading. The third one is journal questions, which she calls, “Behind the Mysterious Door”. And the fourth and last one is “Magic Words” – Affirmations for that particular card. I scanned the page for the X of Pentacles to give an example of this. The card shown is out of my own collection.

The last chapter in the book is called “Where Do I Take My Adventure From Here?” Madame Pamita exclaims, “You did it! You have had seventy-eight adventures – one with each other of the tarot cards…Where do you go from here?” (Pamita, 251)

I find it interesting that she does not include any spreads in her book. In fact, she advocates using a One-Card reading when you first start reading for your friends and family and then, when “you’ve mastered one card readings, you can move on to larger, more complex spreads, such as past/present/future three cards readings or even a ten card Celtic Cross reading.” (Pamita, 251). How refreshing! Most tarot books present the Celtic Cross as the default spread – it’s like trying to learn a Chopin Mazurka on the piano without ever learning your scales or proper finger training. She writes that it’s most important just to “enjoy spending time” with the cards. Again, I cannot agree more! If you are not taking the cards out on a daily basis and shuffling them and laying them out, then you are never going to learn their language.

I have to say that I can not recommend Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True more highly. Whether you are a beginner with Tarot cards or have been studying them for over thirty years like I have, this book is a GEM.

So who is Madame Pamita? This is Madame Pamita! This is a picture from one of her emails.

She is from Los Angeles, and has a spiritualist’s shop there. I went to Google and found her website. Click here to find out more: https://madamepamita.com/ There’s a lot there, so plan to spend some time! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she is a musician as well as a spiritualist! If you click on the “Musician” side of the website, it’ll take you to some really cool links – her music, her photos, press releases – she is really doing some very cool work! Listen to “Madame Pamita’s Theme Song” – it sounds like something out another time – like a voice from one hundred years ago. I could barely hear it – I think that’s by design – but still, her voice spoke to me in a most appealing way. I’m telling you all, if she comes anywhere in my vicinity, I am definitely checking out her show – whether it’s spiritual or music – because everything I have read or heard about Madame Pamita is totally and completely intriguing. I mean – I would stay up past my bedtime to see her. For an old woman like me, that’s really saying something!

I also joined her mailing list. She sends out monthly emails with information on where she is appearing that month, information on how you can study with her online, a spell for that month, and where to follow her on social media – yes, she in on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, if you wish to friend or follow her! Isn’t the modern world fabulous? So many ways to connect!

Anyway – between her book, her presence on social media and the world-wide-web, and her live appearances across the United States, Madame Pamita is moving beyond her LA occult shop – and I for one, am happy about that! I hope someday to meet her in the flesh but until then, I will content myself with her books, her website, her music, and her vast Tarot wisdom. I hope that you do the same!

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True

References

Madame Pamita. Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True. Newburyport, MA: Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2018.

https://madamepamita.com/

https://www.parlourofwonders.com/

https://madamepamita.com/music

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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.

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