hope

Interview with Author Ceri Norman: Faeries, Stones & Hope

November, 2018

Ceri Norman: Faeries, Stones & Hope

 

 

I was really drawn to Ceri Norman’s book on stones and their connection to magical beings, and you can read my review here. Ceri is a prolific writer on a number of fascinating subjects and makes beautiful nature inspired jewellery which she sells on Etsy. Despite being so busy, Ceri was kind enough to give up some of her time to speak to us here at PaganPagesOrg! Here’s what she had to say when I caught up with her this month.

 

Mabh Savage (MS): When did you first start writing and what drew you to it?

Ceri Norman (CN): I honestly cannot recall a time before I was writing, so I guess it started out with little articles, stories and bizarre recipes (for potions and lotions) as a small child and just carried on from there. I have always loved the magic and power of the written word, and the beauty of the many different forms of writing, that allow us communicate our ideas with each other.

MS: What inspires you most as a writer?

CN: Myths, legends and folklore, so I owe a great deal to the old stories and to those who created or recorded them.

MS: Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction, and why?

CN: Non-fiction. I am an obsessive writer; once I start writing I feel a strong compulsion to get the ‘section’ or ‘piece’ finished as soon as possible. With a non-fiction this can usually mean the article or chapter and I can take a breather but with a full fiction novel it means the entire book, which takes me months to write, and that can drive me (and those around me) a little nuts.

MS: What made you decide to write Faerie Stones?

CN: I have always loved stones and Faeries and there are many links between the two, yet wherever I looked there was not a coherent book or article that brought the wealth of information in so many different sources together for the readers. Once I realised that I kept feeling a strong sense from the Faeries to fill that gap for readers and to create something that would enable people to bring crystals into their work with Faerie and to bring Faerie into their work with crystals.

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

CN: Anyone who is interested in crystals, Faeries, folklore, myths and legends.

MS: Do you have a favourite stone or one that resonates strongly with you?

CN: Though not technically a stone, I would have to say Amber. I love its cleansing, bright energy, which is an antidote to my sombre, serious personality. It has so much folklore, especially regarding its healing properties, attached to it and has been so beloved by so many cultures all over the planet. For resin to become Amber it has to endure, to endure being buried/submerged, to endure pressure and to endure the passage of time. I find that a valuable and inspiring lesson in life, that Amber can still be so beautiful, positive and magical even after all that it has been forced to endure.

MS: When did you begin working with stones and their energies and associated beings?

CN: Again, I cannot recall a time before I worked with stones. When I was a child my mother had a beautiful piece of Blue John from Derbyshire on display in our home and I would regularly sneak it out of the display case to work with it and learn from it. I began collecting stones and crystals very early on, from semi-precious stones right down to interesting stones from the garden, which all had their own energies and personalities.

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

CN: Some of the research proved challenging. Many modern books on crystals say ‘x is good for y’ and that has become accepted fact regurgitated over and over again, yet I wanted to go deeper and to older sources to really look at the older as well as more modern Faerielore and Folklore associated with stones. Sometimes finding those older sources and information proved a real challenge, but it was extremely rewarding.

MS: And what did you enjoy the most?

CN: It was utterly enchanting to work with the Faeries and the stones to create the book for readers. That magic will stay with me for a very long time.

MS: The book covers 26 fascinating stones plus a wide variety of quartz formations. Would you expand upon this at any point and perhaps do a second volume?

CN: If there was sufficient interest from readers, there is plenty of room to do another volume. There are many more stones out there to write about, from the very precious gems such as diamonds and rubies right down to the sandstone and slate that make up Mother Earth’s wonderful landscapes.

MS: What’s your top tip for anyone just starting to appreciate the magic of stones or crystals?

CN: Enjoy it and do what you need to in order to keep the magic alive! Celebrate that wonderful sense of awe, inspiration and enchantment that comes from working with Faeries and stones. Never let anyone else deter you or disenchant you. Remember it is a two-way relationship. Give back to the stones and Faeries to really forge a strong working relationship, so keep your stones happy by looking after them and do those little chores that the Faeries ask you to do for them.

MS: What other writing projects do you have on the horizon? Are you working on any more books?

CN: I am currently focusing more on articles for several publications, including FAE Magazine and am attempting (intermittently) to blog
(https://wysewitchuk.blogspot.com/) and to do the odd little video for YouTube.

MS: How do you relax or take a break from writing and researching?

CN: I love to get out into nature, to take walks along the beach or in the woods to remind myself that I am a part of nature and to reconnect with the energies of Mother Nature and the Faeries. I am also a big fan of films and TV shows that are based in or inspired by folklore, mythology and all things supernatural from around the world.

MS: Finally, as we move into winter, what’s your biggest hope for the year ahead?

CN: My perennial hope is that humankind (especially our political leaders) can finally please realise that all beings – human and otherwise – are equal and special inhabitants of this lovely planet and that as this is the only planet that we have we need to look after it and each other a whole lot better!

 

Well said Ceri, I think we can all agree with that final sentiment! Ceri’s books are available on Amazon and at all good book stores. Follow her channel on YouTube, visit her blog and view her beautiful jewellery on Etsy.

 

Faerie Stones: An Exploration of the Folklore and Faeries Associated with Stones & Crystals on Amazon

 

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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.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

The Road to Runes

October, 2018

The Road to Runes: Keeping it Balanced

Any divination can be a double-edged sword. And isn’t it interesting that sword is an anagram of ‘words’; our fiercest weapon and most powerful tool. We practice divination through our words, by asking questions of the universe or our deities via tools such as the runes. But it can be hard to ask the right questions, and very easy to attribute meaning in hindsight. How can we be sure that the interpretation of the runes is in relation to what we’ve asked, and that we are not just shaping it around the answer we hope to receive?

False Positives

No, I’m not talking pregnancy tests! Although I do know of situations where the runes have indicated possible future fertility, but that’s quite another story. A false positive is what I call it when someone purposefully takes only the positive aspects of a rune and applies them to their situation or question. It’s so tempting to reach only for the positive outcome, but in divination, we’re looking for accuracy, not platitudes. It’s even harder to avoid falling into this trap when doing readings for others, as who wants to be the bearer of bad news?

Balanced Readings

However, just because a rune or rune spread carries negative connotations, it doesn’t mean a reading is all bad news. It’s important to look at both aspects of the runes; the ‘bad’ and the ‘good’. Many aspects that may seem bad may actually be about cleansing or something negative being swept away or destroyed. Or they could be indicating the tumult of a current situation rather than a future outcome.

Here’s an example. Today I drew Thurisaz in relation to a question about a personal issue I was dealing with. Thurisaz means ‘giants’ and is shaped like a thorn, representative of conflict and pain. It’s associated with both Loki and Thor, particularly the tormenting and aggressive aspects of these deities. Immediately, I started looking for alternative meanings to the rune, and ways it could be viewed positively. Of course, there are positive aspects to Thurisaz. Conflict can lead to resolution, or the rune may indicate that you are being resistant to change. It can indicate a breakthrough or breaking down internal blockages that have been preventing you from progressing.

divination vs. hope

My problem wasn’t that the rune doesn’t have a positive aspect. It was that I immediately began to try and skew the rune’s meaning to a positive outcome for my question. This is not divination, it’s just being hopeful. Reading the runes should come with a balanced approach, and the understanding that the answers received might not be what we were expecting or looking for. But we should take them on board, just the same.

In my situation, once I took a deep breath and stopped grasping for the good, thurisaz means I might have to drastically alter my own view of myself and accept that there are parts of myself that I want to change, and actually do something about them rather than just saying “this is who I am.” It tells me that there is pain, and may be more pain, but that it’s up to me to take responsibility for my own actions and resolve to be the change I want to see; to set an example.

Remember, the runes are sending a message in response to your question, or allowing you to dredge your own answers from your subconscious. Just because these answers aren’t always happy and hopeful, doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. Keep yourself open to all aspects of the reading, and of course, that includes the positive aspects too.

Next month I’ll be talking about how to frame our words and questions in the best way to get the most effective readings. Contact me via Twitter @Mabherick if there’s a particular rune you’d like me to focus on.

***

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

Crystal Connections

February, 2018

Amazonite

A member of the Feldspar family, it’s said that Amazonite is the stone of truth. By stimulating the throat chakra, this stone assists in clear communication by aligning your speech to higher ideals. Amazonite inspires confidence, hope and enhances creative “true to self” expression. With its soothing green colors, calmness is what this crystalline structure is all about. This stone also works powerfully through the heart chakra by healing past emotional traumas.

(Photo courtesy http://shijewels.etsy.com)

When I worked in the financial industry I would often wear Amazonite jewelry not only because of its abilities described above but also because it’s known to relieve stress and dispel negative energy, and where there’s money, negative energy seems to follow. Thinking back, I remember wearing an Amazonite bead bracelet that I would mindlessly fiddle with when I was dealing with large amounts of money, and calm is exactly what I remember feeling when I did that. Another wonderful aspect that this Feldspar offers is its ability to assist in manifesting. Meditating with Amazonite can help clarify your intentions and affirmations, bringing your souls purpose into alignment.

(Photo courtesy http://shijewels.etsy.com)

To be honest, when I first started collecting crystals, Amazonite wasn’t even on my radar. I was so obsessed with the more common crystals, especially the Quartz family, that this subtle but sweet little gem was passed over many times. It may have taken a bit longer than I’d like to admit, but I can say without a doubt that I’m grateful to have this stone included in my crystal healing arsenal.

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About the Author:

Shiron (Shi) Eddy hails from the Pacific Northwest and shares a home with her husband, a Great Dane and a cat. Her love for crystals and minerals came from her dad who was an avid rock hound in his younger years. Shi happily shares her knowledge of crystals with anyone who is drawn to them, but especially loves to help people connect with minerals that involves their metaphysical properties. When she’s not networking with other crystal and mineral lovers, Shi can be found making jewelry, painting, crocheting Goddess dolls, selling her wares at shows or spending time with family and friends. You can find her jewelry in her shop ShiJewels or follow her on Instagram.

Pagan Theology

August, 2010

Pagan theology:  Are we the last hope?

By nature I’m a pretty fatalistic and ruthlessly practical person.  Make a psychic prediction?  Then you’ve got to convince me you’re not a cold reader [1].  If you claim that recycling is beneficial to the environment: you’d better have done a mass and energy balance [2].  I try to look at the data, but, unfortunately when one does look at the data one can often come to some pretty depressing conclusions.  Like the state of the environment.

Since we just dumped a 435,000 – 2,262,000 barrels [3] of oil into the Gulf of Mexico I thought it might be useful to consider some even more depressing environmental facts.   Facts that make the Gulf spill pale in comparison.

One of the problems that humans have is a tendency toward ethnocentrism.  We focus on our problems and ourselves and often miss the bigger picture of what is going on.  One place where this is especially true is time.  It’s hard for us to conceive of time horizons beyond the range between our grandparents and our grandchildren, and it is even harder for us to comprehend time outside of historical time.  However I contend that to really understand the environment, Gaia, or whatever you want to call the world, you need to understand it in the context of geological time because that is the time horizon for Gaia.

In the last 530 million years that have elapsed since creatures with skeletons evolved on the earth there have been more or less 15 mass extinctions.  Five of these may have resulted in the elimination of 50 percent or more of the species living at the time [4] and three can be said to have completely reorganized the way things work [5].

We are in the middle of the fourth.  Between 2.5 million and 10,000 years into the middle of the fourth, depending on which continent you are living on.

Coincidentally the numbers for when the large mammals began going extinct on various continents coincide roughly with the arrival of people [6].    There is also considerable debate and discussion about modern extinction events.  Islands, particularly the Hawaiian islands, are known to be particularly vulnerable due to the lack of predators and the unique and highly speciated ecosystems that develop on them.  However, even in historical times, the number of native species being lost on the Hawaiian Islands is enormous.  Of the 1000 (roughly) native snail types found on the islands in the 1800’s when such things began to be cataloged, the islands may now be down to 75 percent of what it once was, and it is most likely headed downward [7].

Similarly there were about 70 bird species in the islands when Cook visited in 1778, since then 16 have gone extinct, and 24 are listed as endangered.  Looking further back in time, of the 100 or so unique bird species that existed before the arrival of Polynesians, only 9 are in sufficient numbers now to say they will survive [8].  And the Hawaiian Islands are merely a metaphor for what is happening elsewhere. Exact estimates of human-caused extinction difficult because good baseline data on species variety and on what is and isn’t extinct is not available.  But things are not looking good for many species around the world.

There is no need to go into a lot of detail about extinction.  You get the point.  When humans arrive, species start going extinct.

But there are some more subtle points.  First, “modern” peoples are not the only ones to blame for extinction.  In many cases first peoples did enormous damage to the ecosystems they encountered.  What we see today as “untouched” nature may in fact be only a shadow of what it was before we began moving around the world.

This, in turn, means that the current extinctions we see in our ecosystems are part of a larger change in current fauna that is taking place ever since people became mobile hunters.  When we arrive we change the fundamental nature of the ecology, and we import non-native species that eventually end up affecting local ecosystems.  Many of these changes, on a geological scale, are fundamental to the ecosystems and represent the same kind of changes that would occur due to climate change, volcanism, or other natural disruptions.  There may be no going back to a nature anywhere near what it once was.

And it continues: species are going extinct every day.  They may not be large land mammals, but insects, plants, fish, and other small creatures are constantly succumbing to habitat disruption and human imported species [9].  As we need to claim more of the earth to accommodate ourselves, more and more species don’t have the space in which to maintain reproductive populations, much less actually have a chance to survive disruptions on a geologic time scale.  Small populations are simply the walking dead.

The problem with our simple, ethnocentric, perspective is that we don’t see the true magnitude of the problem.  We see that some species are endangered, and we are happy when they are put on a list and they bounce back.  What we don’t see is that even if they bounce back there is insufficient long-term viability in either the ecosystem range available to them or the population for them to survive.  They will likely survive 100 or even 1000 years, but that is merely a blink of an eye in geologic time.  Given population and climate pressures is it likely that your grandchildren will only be able to see large African animals in zoos.  And not long after that, nowhere.

So what is the cause of extinction?  In the geologic past, barring meteors or humans, it has been climate change.  Human induced climate change has been much in the news lately, but it represents only a few degrees of change in global mean temperature over many years, and the changes will not be uniform.  Not everywhere will bake to death, and ecosystems have dealt with such changes in the past.   There will be changes that take place, most worrisome in the oceans, but they may not be as dramatic as other changes.  It is human activity that is responsible for most modern extinctions on land.  Habitat reduction and burning are the two most significant things we can do to kill off species on land.  If the animals don’t have any place to live, or they are actively hunted, then they will die.  Pretty simple.   Introduced species are another problem, but that boat has pretty much sailed.  All we are waiting for is the snakes to arrive in Hawaii to finish all the birds off.  And they’ll get there eventually as long as we keep sailing ships and flying airplanes.

What will kill many of the species in the future is simply bumping into humans, a lot of humans, who need to be fed, housed, and given space to run their All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).  The current African megafauna will simply be displaced by farming, because an increasing population has to eat somewhere.   If by 2050 China, for example, starts eating as much meat as the United States does now the total number of additional cows (not pounds of meat, but whole cows) will need to increase by about 632 million cows, or 6.5 times the total number of cows in the US right now, in order to supply just the Chinese and the additional US domestic population with 125 kg of meat per person that we eat now.  And that does not include other developing countries, or an increase in waistlines here in the US.  That’s a lot of cows.  Cows that have to be put somewhere (along with their poop).   Those cows will displace existing species at a ferocious rate, unless some sort of “space cow” is developed where meat is grown in vats.

While you could argue that technology, and development, will diminish many of the issues associated with population and economic growth, there is, ultimately, a carrying limit where the only thing happening on the planet is sustainment of humans.  Not to mention the occasional Gulf Oil Spill.  Say we “only” do one of those ever ten years.  What will the oceans look like in 100 years, or 500?  The trends are pretty grim, no matter what Fox News says.

So what can we do about it?  Recycling will not stop ecosystem deforestation in the developing world, or make the Chinese any less hungry for steak.  The forces we are dealing with are large, and strong.  Individual solutions, like you choosing to stop eating meat, while laudatory, are not going to work.  Probably the best we could hope for is to stop current species extinction, and create some steady-state environment where additional destruction and conversion to human resource requirements did not happen.  A steady-state economic model as opposed to a growth model.

Growth, however, is an essential component of the current economic system.  Lack of economic growth seems to send everything spiraling out of whack, probably because we are all constantly demanding increased control over our environment, and individual status.  There are many things that go into a need for economic growth, but luxury, status, and entertainment are key aspects of what we seem to need.  We need to re-think this idea of constant linear progress, trade it in for something more organic, seasonal, and closely tied to the environment.  Sure sounds like trading in the book religions for Paganism [10].

What would living in a world where Paganism was the dominant religion look like?  First, time in human terms would be viewed as a cycle not a line that stretches out to some ultimate paradise.   We celebrate the seasons for a reason: they are what sustains agricultural life.  A life we have gotten away from (farm much?). This lack of linear time would imply that progress was not the only goal, living in time might also be important.  Second, modern Pagans are nothing if not attuned to technology.  And it would be crazy to throw out thousands of years of technological progress.  But technology can be used to increase output, or it can be used to increase flexibility.  It can be used to differentiate, or it can be used to bring people together.  Our choices in technology might be more organic, more attuned to a natural set of priorities associated with health, peace, and the earth.  Third, a focus on the earth and our connection with it might be important.  Modern living with its constant movement requires a lot of infrastructure to sustain.  It is expensive in many ways to move people around, both locally and internationally.  And movement separates us from the land, from our local space which is an essential part of understanding the Gods and Goddesses.

So what would the world look like?  It might be more local, more focused on production of high quality food and goods and less on moving manufactured materials from a distance.  We’d have less, but we’d produce more of what we and our immediate neighbors need.  Technology would enable all of us to entertain all of us.  Instead of a great, centralized entertainment infrastructure, democratic distribution of entertainment production would mean a lot more, but lower quality, entertainment.  At least until people got good at it.  It would mean more farming and less travel.  It would mean distributing the population over a wider area, but in farms and communities that were more integrated with the local ecology.  You’d have more trees, more shade, and more time to interact locally with other people, and with the world through technology.  Species would again localize with less travel, and less travel would mean fewer emissions.

So what might you do now?  Plant a garden.  Open your windows more.  Don’t get in an airplane (lots of resources going out those engines).  Stay, eat, live local.  Buy less stuff, and create through both craft and technology.  Much of this is going on, but its not organized into a coherent movement or theology.  That is where we could help.

At least that’s one world.  Others are possible, but in order to get anywhere we need a Pagan vision for a post-industrial world, and we need to think about whether we need more Pagans.  I’d say we need both.  And soon.

[1] A stage magic technique that uses astute observations about the person and their condition to convince the person (usually “victim”) that the reader knows a lot more about them than they actually do.  If you’re over 55 you’ve probably “lost someone significant to you in the past,” for example.

[2] You’d be surprised.  Don’t want to generate trash?  Don’t buy stuff in the first place.

[3] 5,000-26,000 (estimated range) barrels per day times 87 days (till it was stopped).  But who is counting.

[4] Species.  Not individuals, but species.  And not genera, you could lose several different species but not lose the genus.

[5] I’m drawing directly from the really accessible book by Peter D. Ward:  Rivers in Time:  The Search for Clues to Earth’s Mass Extinctions, Columbia, 2000

[6]  Though the overhunting hypothesis is strongly debated by many, it just seems too coincidental to me to be an accident.  However other factors, such as climate and human set fires may have been a factor in some ecosystems.  For a summary see Timothy F. Flannery.  “Debating Extinction,”  Science, 283:5399, 8 Jan 1999, pp. 182-183.  For a pretty convincing case study see the discussion on the Australian megafauna here:  Gifford H. Miller, et al. “Ecosystem Collapse in Pleistocene Australia and a Human Role in Megafaunal Extinction,” Science, 309:287,  8 Jul 2005, pp. 287-290.   There are other references but the basic idea is that climate change, combined with human hunting, sent many of these species down the extinction tube.  (Note that throughout this I’m simply referencing Science as it was easy for me to access, other journals will have similar stuff).

[7]  The problem with estimating species extinction on isolated islands is made difficult by the fact they are isolated, you can’t count something that you can’t count.  However this was made a bit easier in the case of Hawaiian snails due to a huge mid 1800’s snail shell collecting craze that hit the islands.  Of course that didn’t help the snails very much.  A wildlife management mistake gone awry killed another 25% of the snail species in the 70’s.  And none of this, of course, counts for the damage done by the indigenous peoples who arrived on the islands before 1800.

[8] Ward, pp. 252.

[9]  One estimate (Jennifer B. Hughes, et al. “Population Diversity:  Its Extent and Extinction”, Science, 278, 689, 24 Oct 1997, pp. 689-692) has it at 1800 per HOUR or 16 million populations per year (populations are geographical entities within a species, distinguished either ecologically or genetically, there is an average of 220 populations per species which would give 8 per hour or 73,000 per year species going extinct).  The data is, of course, all over the map and these are controversial estimates.  The authors claim they were being conservative.

[10]  Just to be clear, a lot of the current problem was created by Pagans.  However early Pagans also worked with trophy heads of their enemies and sacrificed live animals.  We evolve.