August, 2010

Merry Meet and Welcome

August, 2010

potion-stand

Merry Meet Readers, I have decided to dedicate the front page this month to our search for new talented writers.  We are always looking for fresh talent and we, also, have some columns that have become available. If you are interested in a column in PaganPages, whether it is a column of your own idea or to fill in on one of our subjects, write to [email protected]

The current columns are now open:

Wicca 101

Goddesses

herbs – herbal Magick and herb healing

Healing – will discuss different methods of healing

Faeries

Oracles and Omens – discuss different forms of divination

Oils and Incense

Moon Report

Colors

We look forward to seeing all your work!!  Remember if you have any ideas of columns of your own, send them in!

Much Love,

PaganPages.org

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Across the Great Divide

August, 2010

divide1

Investigation Procedures (Part 1 of 5)

By R. Wolf Baldassarro

If you’ve been following my column for some time, by now you should have a pretty good grasp of the history of paranormal research and with the tools, tech, and spiritual workings associated with the field.  So now it’s time to go out and put all that into practice.  In this series we’ll discuss the steps for a successful and professional investigation.  There are five major components to an investigation- group design and organization, research procedures, the investigation, the analysis, and follow-up.

First of all don’t be overeager.  It’s okay to have fun and enjoy the experience but keep your thoughts and emotions in check, and the foolishness to a minimum.  You don’t want a teammate’s recorder to pick you up laughing or goofing off in another room and mistake it for something paranormal.  Not only is it disrespectful to the home or business owner, the spirits which may be haunting the location, your teammates, and the field of parapsychology in general but you are in someone’s home for a serious and scientific study not in a carnival funhouse for a good time.

Resolve your fears and preconceived notions of the paranormal and look at each investigation with a clean slate.  Every case will be unique because individuality is just as much a part of the other side as it is here in the physical world.  Don’t expect anything or compare every little event to previous investigations.  Let things occur and flow naturally because in a calm and natural atmosphere you’ll have the best chances for capturing quantifiable evidence.

Just as we would be cautious of the spirits’ intentions, we must also be cautious of who we invite along on the hunt.  Your teammates must be chosen with the expectation of honesty and integrity.  Choose wisely when interviewing members for your organization, as unfortunately there are many dishonest people that may cause more upset in a client’s home than the unwanted spirit.  Furthermore you don’t want your group’s reputation to hinge on the actions of a fool.  The Deep Forest Paranormal Society has a specific application that hopeful candidates must fill out if they want to join our team.  This can go a long way toward weeding out potential problems.  Every member of DFPS must have one of these and a signed agreement clause on file before they are allowed to participate in any official group activities.  You can download an example of the MS Word document at this link: DFPS Member Application

Beyond the paperwork and red tape, members should be extensively trained in safety, technology and protocol requirements.  Establish basic parameters and guidelines for central ghost hunting procedures.  Also of great importance is the establishment of a leadership structure or chain of command.  Create departments like technology, case management, transportation, research, analysis teams, spirituality, and so forth.  The knowledge individuals bring to the group may benefit specific departments or talents.  Someone with extensive training and knowledge in photography is best suited on the analysis team where they could help debunk anomalous photos, not doing background research.  In addition you don’t need the team to be on investigation and have everyone acting like they’re the boss.  With everyone playing top dog no one will follow and there will be no cooperation, no format, and no professionalism.

I’ve said many times that the main issue I have with many so-called “ghost hunting groups” is they’re run like an after-school hobby group with no organization, code of conduct, or guidelines.  To make sure everyone is on the same page- literally- it’s wise to have some kind of written document explaining command structure, job descriptions and responsibilities, and procedural notes.  Everyone in my group is given a 30-page manual that was drafted by my lead investigator that explains all that including attendance requirements and disciplinary steps.  Again this is a serious scientific field and a job.  Granted it’s all done on a volunteer basis but to not look at it as you would a paying job and to have no real control over the way you operate in someone’s home spits in the face of science and it’s no wonder the general scientific community doesn’t take us seriously.

Many groups say to start with cemeteries.  There are pros and cons to this, but mostly cons.  These groups do nothing more than go to cemeteries and abandoned buildings and think they’re ghost hunters just because they sneak into them in the dark of night on a regular basis and snap a few pictures and audio recordings.  The first obvious con is that most cemeteries are closed at dusk, making you an illegal trespasser if you’re stomping around after dark.  You are free to roam around cemeteries during normal operating times and do as you wish but you must still be respectful of those who lie in them as well as the rules of those who run the grounds.  It is NEVER okay to go into an abandoned building, whether day or night, without the landowner’s permission.  End of story.

In many cases contacting the city or church that owns the cemetery or building and presenting your honest and objective intentions goes a long way toward garnering permission.  You should also have a client contract that explains what each party’s legal and financial responsibilities are.  Often having a clause that releases the building’s owner of responsibility due to injury puts their mind at ease.  For an example of such a contract here is a download link to the very client contract that DFPS uses: DFPS Client Contract

Secondly, cemeteries by design are in urban areas close to well-traveled roads and residential homes.  This can seriously pollute any evidence due to a large amount of X factors.  Even abandoned cemeteries in secluded and neglected locations have environmental and noise pollution levels that are known and unknown at the time of investigation that could skew your results.

It may be a good idea to look at cemeteries as training grounds.  Go there during the day with new members to get them acquainted with your group’s procedures and techniques.  As we know, ghosts don’t just come out at night and you or they might actually catch something.  While investigating a new cemetery during the day I actually captured a legitimate EVP.

This is also a great time to build connections between members and see which people work best with each other.  Often the personalities of members will compliment another in the organization making for a solid duo for official investigations.  This is also a perfect time to familiarize everyone with all the various tools at your disposal- and try out that new full-spectrum camera you just purchased.  (Sorry, I was day dreaming again…) Every member should have a fully trained understanding of all the tools used during an investigation so that everyone can get their hands dirty and join in the hunt.

Every city and county around the world has local legends and folklore about famous residents, traumatic and dramatic events, and haunted buildings.  Start with some of the more well-known locations and approach the owners or management in as professional a manner as possible.  Dress and act like you would for a job interview with a high-end business firm.  You’ll want to put your best foot forward.  Not only will this help you come across as trustworthy but will gain you respect as well.  Positive reviews and word of mouth are the best advertisement you can get, and best of all it’s free.

You’ll want to have certain safety items such as a first aid kit, plenty of flashlights and batteries, water bottles, 2-way radios, and name badges before you start any investigations.  Keep these items at center command and readily accessible.  Make sure procedures are in place should anyone get injured while investigating and have local emergency numbers handy.  Also make sure you familiarize yourself with the address and specific location (major crossroads) of your area of interest so that in the unfortunate case that emergency personnel need to be called they can get to you as fast as possible.

Most items like water, first aid, and radios are common sense safety items but I’d also like to mention in detail the reasons for badges.

A seasoned paranormal research group will require all members to wear identification while investigating or representing the group in public- even when just doing research.  Not only does this present a more professional image but it helps clients, law enforcement, and others know who is and is not part of the group.  Remember that law enforcement has the right to request identification and trespassing on private property can lead to fines, imprisonment, or worse- I’ve known of ghost hunting groups getting shot at when trespassing in areas at night!

Set up your rules and procedures how you see fit for the specific needs and goals of your group’s activities.  Just keep in mind that the more structured and professional you are in your design, the more professional you will come off when investigating and word of mouth can make or break your success.

Join me next month as I probe farther into investigations with a look at the wonderful world of research and documentation.  Believe it or not good background research is critical to an accurate analysis.

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Astral Travel, Lesson 2

August, 2010

The August Assignments

Astral Travel Class

Assignments:

Keep up your journals! Write down your dreams, experiences, fears, meditations, attempted travels. Write down your feelings, who made you angry, who made you sad, why yesterday was such a great day….and so on. Our waking, physical world is so busy that sometimes we only get the time to sort it all out in our dreams. If you can, make the connection: i.e. I had a dream where I was getting beat up. The day before my co-worker wrongly accused me of something and it felt like everyone took her side. I felt helpless and angry in both cases.

10 minute intentions: keep going. I know that it can seem like a real chore at times, but do it anyway. Remember that you are not asking for permission, you are telling yourself, your guides, your higher self, and the universe what is going to happen.

Guided Meditations-

Guided meditations and hypnosis can be one in the same. I’m not talking about the stand-up-on-stage-and-pretend-you-are-a-teapot showboat type of hypnosis, rather the kind that can help you quit smoking, lose weight, or astral travel. It quiets your conscious mind and opens a direct line to your subconscious mind.

Some guided meditations are meant to simply help you relax, where you use your imagination to see yourself on a beach or next to a fireplace with champagne and roses. Some guided meditations are created with a more specific purpose, just like with hypnosis. It can even be used as pain management.

The reason I had you research astral travel techniques in the last assignment was because I believe that the perfect astral travel technique is a guided meditation. This guided mediation is what I call “The Goldilocks Technique”, in other words it is just right for you.

How we find the meditation/technique that is just right for us is through trial and error. No doubt that when you were looking for techniques you came across one that sounded better than the others. Try it, if you haven’t already. Try the one you liked second best, then third best and so on. Analyze them—what did you like, what did you not like? What seemed to have a better effect on you? What didn’t seem to work at all? Some meditations are plain boring, while some are too complicated, too silly, and some just don’t work.

  • For my own Goldilocks Technique I have had to change some of the wording due to the circumstances I found myself in. There were times when my surroundings were too loud and times when I felt guilty for taking the time to meditate. Sometimes I feel that while I am trying to relax, the rest of the house is in danger. What if the animals get hurt and I’m not there to help them? What if a fire starts and I’m not there to put it out? What is someone calls with an important message? The truth is that we can make excuses all day for reasons not to try, so as part of my personal technique I have to calm all of these fears before I can relax.
  • Some techniques suggest you sit rather than lie down so that you don’t fall asleep. That has never worked for me because when I sit and meditate I get a nasty case of the “head-bobs” and relaxation is hard to maintain when your head is knocking your shoulder. Some suggest that you can only leave your body if you are lying on your back. That is not true for me, but maybe it is for you. I am more comfortable on my side so that works for me. What position are you most comfortable in? This key is this: if it works for you, then it is the exact right thing to do!
  • Some techniques poo-poo on falling asleep. Don’t worry about it. If you happen to fall asleep, jot down your dreams. Chances are that those dreams were actually traveling adventures! And if they weren’t, then a nice nap never hurt anyone and you can try again later. Stress and worry over falling asleep takes away the point of trying to fully relax.
  • William Buhlman suggests waking up in the morning, earlier than need be, and going to the bathroom and getting a drink of water. He warns about being too active. Just wake yourself up a little, then go back to sleep. This will induce a lovely half-awake half-asleep state of being that is perfect for leaving your body. For me this works great! But only on the weekends 😉
  • Comfort is key! I prefer to be covered with a sheet or blanket. Others prefer not to be covered at all. Use your eye mask, especially if you are trying your techniques during the day. Even the light from an alarm clock can be distracting. The mind will find any excuse not to succumb to full relaxation, so cover your eyes.

Create your own guided meditation, built around the sole purpose of helping you astral travel. Create this meditation based on a patchwork of the bits and parts of the techniques you researched, tried, and like. Discard what doesn’t work for you and keep the rest. Allow yourself to fall asleep after words, which will in turn allow your astral body to travel away from your relaxed body.

Submit the guided meditation as the August assignment.

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Myths and Legends: Journeys Through Time

August, 2010

Myth or legend? How does one define a story as a myth or a legend? Why do we say “The

legend of King arthur” and “Greek mythology” instead of  “The myth of King arthur and

Greek legends”? Myth and legend are synonyms for each other. They can be used

interchangeably but is this correct? In some cases yes it is. In other no. Myth and legend are

like first cousins as opposed to siblings. A legend is defined as one of several things; A group

of stories relating to a particular group, people or clan such as the Native American legends. A

collection of stories such as the Legend of King arthur and Excalibur, the person at the center

of such stories like King arthur or the story telling of the life of a saint and emphasizing the

miracles that the saint preformed or their unrecorded deeds. A myth on the other hand is

defined as an invented story, idea or concept such as “John’s story about his character

Meliate is nothing but myth.” This is considered a myth since he came up with it himself, a

story about gods, demigods,and goddess, a traditional story of a being or event that has no

factual basis or the facts are very questionable. A myth is also defined as an imaginary person

or thing. To break it down in layman’s terms, a myth is usually a traditional story passed down

from generation to generation, and is usually about a being that has incredible powers, has

done something  amazing or an event that was simply magical. A legend on the other hand is

a story about somebody that might possibly have a grain of truth in it but has been greatly

exaggerated. If that’s still confusing think of it like this. Myths are timeless and change very

little. Roman and Greek myth are about the same. Egyptian myth has many similarities to

Norse myth and so on. Legend on the other hand…legend tends to be a little more logical

and a little more modern. As stated before legend might have a grain of truth in it while

the rest has been greatly exaggerated. It’s quite logical that in the early sixth century, there

may have been a person that was honorable, fought valiantly to save his country from

invaders, killed a great number of invaders and had a tragic romance. Perhaps that happened

and as word of this person spread, some things were misheard repeatedly differently and

minor details grew into impossible lengths, covering one grain of truth in many layers

of mystery and magic, eventually turning that person into the legend we know as King arthur.

Myths…myths generally don’t change much. Most mythology has beings that have unlimited

powers, unending lifespans, incredible knowledge, amazing strength, flawless beauty, and

great enemies. These myths also usually have these same beings assigned to similar areas

of expertise such as wisdom, war, love, marriage, hate, death and so on. Also they have one

being that is ruler above all other, somebody constantly trying to gain that position and

beings older then the ones being talked about, that were overthrown. Essentiall..90% of

myths sound or are similar whereas 90% of legends sound similar but have different aspects

and key points. As was stated earlier, myth and legend are more like first cousins than

siblings. They’re related pretty closely but vary widely in how they’re defined. Just

remember this. Legends are usually more logical and modern. Myths are usually

ancient or timeless, and focus more so on people being helped by powerful beings or

being powerful beings themselves.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Legend

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Myth

http://myths.e2bn.org/about/info272-what-are-myths-legends-and-folktales.html

http://articles.famouswhy.com/the_difference_between_a_myth_and_a_legend/

http://www.blurtit.com/q934919.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_arthur

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Faeries, Elves, and Other Kin

August, 2010

Nixies

Nixies are shape-changing fresh water spirits originating in Germanic myths and legends.  The term nixie (or neck) is English in origin, while nix, nyx and nixe are the German equivalents.  Nixies usually shape shift into human form, both male and female, but some can change into dragons (wyrms), horses, fish, or snakes.  Nixies can be benevolent, malicious or merely harmless.

English versions of the nixie include:

  • The Knucker, a dragon-like “water monster” that lived in a pool near the village of Lyminster and was known to kill both livestock and people;
  • Jenny Greenteeth, a green-skinned, sharp-toothed, long-haired river hag that pulls in and drowns children and the elderly;
  • Peg Powler, another green-skinned, sharp-toothed, long-haired hag from the River Tees who enjoys the same pursuits as Jenny Greenteeth, albeit with a narrower range of activity;
  • The grindylow (which may have originated from Grendel of Beowolf fame), who also is partial to pulling in and drowning children with his long, sinewy arms;
  • A type of mischievous bogeyman known as a Shellycoat, which wears a rattling coat of shells and likes to mislead wanderers who happen upon its particular river or stream; and
  • The brag, a shape shifting water spirit in the form of a horse or donkey that tricks unwary travelers into riding on its back, only to throw them off into the nearest pond of water while running off laughing madly.

Scandinavian versions include:

  • Male water spirits who play enchanted songs on the violin, luring women and children, and sometimes men, to drown in lakes or streams.  Known as näck, nøkk, nøkken, strömkarl, Grim or FosseGrim, these entities were not intentionally malevolent.  Usually portrayed as beautiful young men very scantily clad and lonely, their heartbreaking music causes humans to fall in love with him and become as unaware of their surroundings as is the FosseGrim himself, leading to unlooked-for fatalities.
  • The brook horse (bäckahästen or bækhesten) is a beautiful, bright white horse that appears near rivers in foggy weather.  Like the Scottish kelpie, once a person climbed upon its back they would be unable to dismount and the brook horse would plunge into the river, instantly drowning the rider.

German versions include:

  • River mermaids (nixe) that are similar to salt water mermaids in that they are beautiful women with the tail of a fish, but can also assume human shape; river mermen (nix) can assume many different shapes, including that of a human, fish, and snake.  These water spirits are particularly fond of music, song and dancing, and use these talents to lure humans.  Some stories of nixes are malicious, but some show them as friendly and harmless.

    The two most well-known types of German nixe are:

    • Rhinemaidens:

      The most famously known reference to the Rhinemaidens appears in Richard Wagner’s opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.  Three water nymphs (Rheintöchter or “Rhine daughters”) appear in this epic, but of all the characters in the Ring cycle, they are the only ones who did not originate in the Old Norse Eddas; instead, they most likely have their origin in the German Nibelungenlied, which contains stories about nixies.

      In one part of the Nibelungenlied narrative, the Burgundian warrior, Hagen, and Gunther, the semi-legendary king of Burgundy, encounter three “wise women,” afterwards described as water-sprites, bathing in the waters of the Danube.  Hagen steals their clothes and extracts a false promise from one that the two men will find honor and glory when they enter Etzel’s (aka Attila the Hun) kingdom.  Upon return of their clothes, another of the sprites tells Hagen that her sister has lied; if they go to Etzel’s land, they will die there.

      The German legend of Lorelei may also have figured in the creation of the Rhinemaidens (more about her later).  Further possible sources lie in Greek mythology and literature.  Similarities exist between the maiden guardians in the Hesperides myth and the Rhinemaidens, in which three females guard a highly desired golden treasure that is stolen in the telling of each tale.

    • Lorelei:

      This is by far my favorite nixie of all time.

      “Loreley” is a common, alternate spelling for this fey creature.  Like the Rhinemaidens, whose form came into being over the course of about twenty-six years, from 1848 to 1874, during which Wagner wrote his epic cycle of operas, The Ring of the Nibelung, the Lorelei is also a recent addition to nixie lore, but is no less fascinating for it.

      There are many legends surrounding the “birth” of the Lorelei and just as many ballads about her.  One such ballad says she was so lovely a maiden that men had but only to look into her eyes to be smitten and was thus taken for a sorceress.  Claiming her one true love had abandoned her, she was committed to a nunnery and as she travelled to the convent along a narrow path above the Rhine, she espied a fisherman far below.  Crying that he was her long-lost love, she leapt into the water, never to be seen again in mortal form.

      Some say the Lorelei is the queen of the waters who’s voice “propagated the profound music of the universal soul” (Dubois, p.118), while others say she sits on the cliffs above the River Rhine, combing her hair and singing sailors to their deaths on the rocks below (McCoy, p.266).

      The name Lorelei is derived from two words from an ancient Rhine dialect: lureln, meaning murmuring or lurking, and ley, meaning rock.  There is, in fact, a 435-foot tall rock on the Rhine River called the Lorelei that is located in a particularly hazardous junction of treacherous and swift currents where many fishermen and sailors have drowned.

      She was immortalized by Heinrich Heine in 1831 in his poem Die Lorelei, which proved to be so popular during the Nazi regime they did not ban it for its Jewish authorship.  Sylvia Plath’s poem Lorelei honored her in 1956.  Ballads continue to be written and sung about this elusive water spirit, my personal favorite of which was recorded by Blackmore’s Night and released in 2003 on their CD, Ghost of a Rose:

Loreley

Merrily we sailed along
Though the waves were plenty strong
Down the twisting river Rhine
Following a song…

Legend’s faded storyline
Tried to warn us all
Oh, they called her “Loreley”
Careful or you’ll fall…

Oh, the stories we were told
Quite a vision to behold
Mysteries of the seas in her eyes of gold…
Laying on the silver stone, such a lonely sight
Barnacles become a throne, my poor Loreley…

And the winds would cry, and many men would die
And all the waves would bow down to the Loreley…

You would not believe your eyes, how a voice could hypnotize
Promises are only lies from Loreley
In a shade of mossy green, seashell in her hand
She was born the river queen, ne’er to grace the land…

Oh, the song of Loreley
Charms the moon right from the sky…
She will get inside your mind, loveley Loreley…
When she cries “Be with me until the end of time”
You know you will ever be with your Loreley…

Bibliography and Works Cited/Recommended Reading:

  • Blackmore’s Night, Ghost of a Rose, Hunter, 2003
  • Briggs, Katharine, An Encyclopedia of Faeries, Pantheon Books, 1976
  • Cooke, Deryck, I Saw The World End, Oxford University Press, 1979
  • “Dragons & Serpents in Sussex,” http://www.sussexarch.org.uk/saaf/dragon.html
  • Dubois, Pierre, The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries, Simon & Schuster, English Translation 1999
  • Franklin, Anna, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies, Paper Tiger, 2002
  • Grimm, Jacob, Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology (1888), online at http://www.northvegr.org/
  • Harland, John and Wilkinson, T.T., Lancashire Folk-lore Illustrative of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, Local Customs, BiblioLife, Nov 2009
  • Moorey, Teresa, The Fairy Bible, Sterling Publishing Co., 2008
  • “Mythical Creatures and Beings,” http://www.windlegends.org/mythical.htm
  • O’Donnell, Elliott, Ghosts, Helpful and Harmful, Kessinger Publishing, Aug 2003
  • Silver, Carol G., Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness, Oxford University Press, Oct 2000
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Hally’s Hints

August, 2010

The Energy in Emails

Last month we covered the energetic imprint left in food and the affects that this has on us, which sometimes is positive and other times to our detriment.

The energy trail we leave is ever-present on all that we do. It is no surprise that we are predominantly energy filling matter. Perhaps with this in mind it is no surprise that electricity was found as a core source in how we live.

Movies such as the Matrix come to mind in how powerful we are as energetic beings. Those that work in healing, metaphysics or anything that is on another ethereal plane will understand the magnitude of what we are each capable of. It is pretty amazing and we are yet to reach our potential.

In terms of our energetic imprint I wanted to cover the relation between this and cyberspace, being the internet, the worldwide web, emails, webinars, Skype and the list goes on and on with the various ways that we can communicate these days. In some respects it is supposed to make life easier, but then I wonder…

In terms of emails, have you ever received an email and felt something wash over you, like an emotion and yet what was written before you may have been completely logical and removed from emotion?

Have you ever received an email and felt an energy come through that was nothing like the person that sent it?

It took a bit of time for this to make sense to me and when it did I was surprised that energy is not hindered by anything let alone email or the internet.

Those that are empathic may have their own stories to tell with technology and energies. Perhaps it is a blown light or two when in an emotionally heightened state?

In terms of energy over email, I will explain what I mean.

Consider the logic of what I am saying. As humans we leave an energetic imprint on everything we do, visit, touch and so forth so would it not be also possible to send our energy energetically via an electronic form of communication? Reiki can be done over a distance so why not generally?

This afternoon I received an email that was business related and in essence about as exciting as a menu to a closed restaurant and yet, the energy blasted through to me. I had to come back to finish reading the email because there was so much there. In questioning what I received I went to the person directly to gain a sense of where this was coming from. However, the energy in person was completely different.

The thing with energy imprints is that it can often be different to what someone is in person because it is the authentic energetic imprint, not the façade that we all like to use from time to time. There is no place to hide, it is about as real as it gets.

I went back later to the email and read it objectively opening myself to what was coming through and I was taken aback by the imprint. It is interesting to see someone in one way, particularly having consciously chosen not to tune into them energetically and then being confronted with their authentic imprint.  It is as though a light has been turned on.

We can all tell stories and hide secrets behind our smiles. But our energy is our present truth.

The next time you get an email, tune in to how you are feeling when you read it. Is it reflective of the person that sent it or does it say something else? Perhaps, it will allow a better understanding to the intent of the content which, with written words, can sometimes be lost or misunderstood.

Consider what your intent is when you send an email…

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Rite and Ritual

August, 2010

Lughnasadh and the Moon of August

“I remember I held you, up high on the mountain’s side.

As I looked out over the land, all your magick filled my eyes.

I hear the ravens call my name, reminding me everything must change.

For the Earth, she lays waiting for me.”

This month I stand between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox. It is a moment upon the Wheel that seems to defy my ability to discern the turning changes still taking place. The morning air is warm and sweet. I can see and feel a richness of the land. The bounty of Summer’s end is now ripened and ready to be savored within the lazy last days before the turn to Fall. The forest around me is so quiet as the Sun’s light peaks over the tree covered ridge. An occasional bird briefly sings but their calls now sound more like a contented sigh than anything else. Although I realize the Wheel must still be turning at the same speed, it surely does not feel that way to me. All around me there is a deep stillness. As if the forest was trying to take one last nap in the light before the shadows of the Fall claim their place, pushing Summer back into dark memory. Not yet though I think to myself as I pick some grapes and a few plums before heading down to the river. Slowly, as I breathe in the warm morning air, I step further away from the mundane allowing my senses to align with the natural world. The deeper I step, the clearer the subtle changes that mark Lughnasadh and this Moon become. I can see that the light, ever so slightly, has a hint of darker gold within it. There are spider webs everywhere, commanded by large garden spiders and adorned with the empty carcasses of the less fortunate. The moss on the trees is now dry and brittle. The once vibrant green has now faded toward a more sage like gray as it yields to August’s heat. My steps are noisy as the parched ground beneath my feet crackles under my steps. There are no more wildflowers in the small clearings and the few bees I see seem frustrated by their disappearance. Making my way down to the river I notice there is an osprey sitting upon one of the large branches reaching out from a shoreline tree. The river is at its lowest levels of the year now and although she is a little off colored from glacial melt, the water is too low to provide any decent cover for the fish. As a result, the ospreys and kingfishers are now having their day but even they seem relaxed. I finish making my way down to the river and head over to one of my favorite rocks. It has been scoured smooth and partially hollowed by the river’s rage but at this time of the year it makes a comfortable vantage point for observing. I set down my backpack, pulling out some water and sit on the cool rock. The morning Sun has not yet reached this spot and for a few minutes longer I am within the shade of the large trees. I think about the coming of Lughnasadh and the traditional start of the harvest season as I bite into one of the plums I picked earlier. I close my eyes, remembering the mornings I first saw the blossoms appear and then the initial signs of the fruit to come. For all things given there is an equal amount of energy given back, returned to the source for the Circle to flow and be complete. I remember the baby birds I found beneath the tree that had fallen from their nest to be returned to the Earth. Sitting quietly, the Sun now embracing me, I can see the ebb and flow of energy around that tree as the Wheel turned, the seasons changed and the Circle spun. The Sun is warm but now in August not nearly so direct and it feels gentle upon my tanned skin. I open my eyes, looking around and notice a heron fishing just upstream from where I sit. I watch him catch a few fish and wonder how much harder it will be for him to be so successful once the rains return in a short while. The native people call the moon of August the Full Sturgeon Moon, for it is one of the best times to catch these large fish. Others call it the Grain Moon, the Fruit Moon, the Full Red Moon for the reddish tint it takes on rising through the sultry haze of late Summer, as well as the Moon when all things ripen. They all have their connections and depending upon ones own relative perceptions a stronger or lesser personal relevance. I simply call it the Moon of Harvest, for it marks the first hint of noticeable transition the seemingly endless days toward those requiring a more structured and responsible effort. Not yet though I remind myself as I walk over to one of the larger pools in the river. This is one of the few times during the year when Fire and Water are gently entwined. The energies between the two seem closer and for a short time the river is refreshingly cool and not freezing cold. As I drift in the pool and then sit at its edge I think about everything I harvest from this world around me. Not just those things I physically consume but all that I take, borrow and use along my journey. Do I return or give back anything close to what I take?  While I sit there in the river, wondering, I see the first Chinook salmon of the season to make it this far up river. She is a large female, her fins torn and tattered from her long promised journey. She has come to spawn and then give back all that she has left, returning what she has harvested along her way.  Once again I am awed by Nature’s magickal perfection and as I head back home I have a deeper understanding of this moment upon the Wheel.

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HearthBeats: Notes from a Kitchen Witch

August, 2010

Pets and hot weather

For many of us this is our favorite time of year and a chance to have fun outdoors with our pets. The Humane Societies want Pet owners to enjoy this time while being mindful of the dangers that hot weather can pose for our Furbabies. Dogs primarily control their body heat thru panting and drinking cool water. In extreme heat, it can be difficult for pets to cool off and overheating is a serious danger.

On very hot days, pet owners should always be aware of their pet’s condition. Immediately stop strenuous exercise if pets start excessively panting, drooling or appear weak. You should take these simple precautions.

  1. When pets are outdoors they should ALWAYS have access to shade and cool fresh water.
  2. Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day. If you run with your pet, do so in the early morning or very late afternoon, when the humidity and temperature are lower.
  3. Asphalt and concrete can become VERY HOT in the sun, these surfaces can burn your furbabies paws and reflect additional heat back up at them.. Minimize exposure to these buy walking them on the grass or dirt as often as possible.
  4. When Traveling bring water and a travel bowl for your pet.
  5. NEVER EVER leave your furbaby in the car… If you see a pet locked in a car and in distress call the local police and ask them to call animal control. The pets owner  will thank you for saving their furbabies life.
  6. If you plan on shaving your pet please leave at least 1 inch of fur as they will get sunburns too.

Heat stroke is a very serious and often fatal condition. Pets in this condition should be moved to the shade, cool water given to them and ice packs on their chests and bellies while transporting them to the Vet.

These furbabies are part of you hearth and home, they love you, keep you safe, warn you of dangers and love you unconditionally… Please return the favor and do not do to them what you would not do to your own child.. they are and defenseless and depend on us as much as our children.

Pets and flea— and the treatments.

Further on this would be flea season for many of us… when all the animals you have indoors or outdoors seem to be bringing in all sorts of nasty fleas… or being bothered by biting bugs of some sort. There are a few things that you can do year round to help this.
1. Diatomaceous Earth is Mother Nature’s product with no harm to the environment, pets or to people. Diatomaceous Earth is not actually an “earth” but it is the fossilized remains of microscopic shells created by one celled plants called DIATOMS. As you will see, there are many uses for Diatomaceous Earth. This food grade product( not pool grade) can be used internally as well as externally. When lightly rubbed into their coats or dusted on their premises, it is very effective against fleas, ticks, lice, and other pests on pet dogs, cats, and birds. It can also be used as an organic wormer and will kill any worms or parasites the pets may have. When using as a de-wormer, mix the Diatomaceous Earth into their food as follows:

  • Large Cats – 1 teaspoon
  • Kittens – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Dogs 100 lbs + – 1-2  tablespoons
  • Dogs 50 – 100lbs – 1 tablespoon
  • Dogs Under 50 lbs – 1 teaspoon
  • Mini dogs – 1/2 teaspoon

As pets get older, they also get sore joints. With Diatomaceous Earth in their diet they will feel better.  Apply to moist kennel areas to reduce odors, dry the area, and prevent pest breeding.  Deodorizing and absorption are natural functions of DE, so add to kitty litter to absorb odors and keep the litter box drier.

Household Pests:

Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, organic insect killer. Diatomaceous Earth kills by physical action and not by chemical so there is NO harm to pets or humans.  The tiny hard and sharp diatoms scratch off the insects waxy coating, causing it to dehydrate.
Use Diatomaceous Earth for control of roaches, silverfish, ants, fire ants, bedbugs, lice, mites, spiders, earwigs, flies, fleas, box elder bugs, scorpions, crickets, and many other insects. Diatomaceous Earth can be used in and around the home, yard, animal housing, etc.  Sprinkle a 2 inch wide border around the foundation of your house to prevent insects from entering.

This can be used on humans as well as pets.

2. Eucalyptus.

To foil the nasty little pests in your home, place eucalyptus in dog bedding, under carpeting, and in furniture. Sachets of eucalyptus can also be placed in linen closets, and in low-lying cabinets and drawers. An infusion of eucalyptus oil in the final rinse when you launder your dog’s bedding will kill fleas, their eggs, and any mites that have hopped

On for the ride. Make sure to always wash suspect linens in hot water.

Make your own flea dip.

Vacuum carpeting and furniture frequently, and bathe an infested dog with a quality flea dip. You can make your own from 1/3 cup of dried rosemary leaves steeped in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and left to cool overnight. Strain and combine the liquid with warm water and 1/4 cup of lemon juice for your pet’s final rinse.

3. Essential Oil Repellants

Drops of eucalyptus, cedar, peppermint, citrus (dogs only), lemongrass, pennyroyal oil, will  work as repellants. You can mix 10 drops all oils but pennyroyal oil( only 5 drops) with hot water.. shake well and spray on carpets , floors, beds and furniture.  You can also place all or one of these on the collar of your pet as a repellant.. but be careful with this as pennyroyal oil is toxic in larger doses.

While not an insecticide, these blended oils repel fleas with their smell. Even better, the scents are often quite pleasing for people. Be careful with your cats.. they can be very sensitive to essential oils and they have a very hard time processing them. Do not place directly to their skin or sleep areas. More around them. or on the collars so the repellant works but the cat does not absorb into their skins as much.

Blessed be and Happy August

Until next time

Blessed Home and Hearth

The Hearthkeeper

PS. If there is anything you would like to see here.. please email me at  [email protected]

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Rebel Rede

August, 2010

Be Careful What You Don’t Wish For

We have all heard the saying “Be careful what you wish for” and it is actually good advice. Sometimes we think we know what we want, but we do not understand the real ramifications of our wishes. For example, someone may wish to win the lottery, only to win the lottery and end up hating what their life becomes. Once someone is famous and well off they often wish they were normal again instead of constantly being asked for money or being blackmailed. Our wishes are not always in our own best interest. As witches we do not have this problem too often. We have the ability to manifest our wishes with the use of spells and other magickal means. If we are properly trained and continuously growing we should have a good grasped on what we want to get out of life. In my experience we witches have the opposite problem. It is not what we wish for that becomes a burden, but rather what we do not wish for. Every time I say no thank you to the universe the universe does not accept my answer.

Recently I have been training to be a High Priestess. I reached the point in my studies where I was supposed to start taking on new students. I also felt “called” to start a coven. Once these things started to become a reality though, I got scared (and a little lazy to be honest) and decided never mind on the whole leadership thing. Ironically as soon as I decided I was not cut out to be a High Priestess I had multiple students contact me. These new witches ended up bugging me until I said yes to teaching them and yes to starting a coven. I quickly learned that it is not wise to tell the Divine no when they have called you to do something. We think we know our own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities but the universe knows even better.

Not only did I tell the Divine no at first, but once I realized they would not accept my answer I started making stipulations instead. As my coven began to emerge I asked the universe to provide me with a couple of experienced Wiccan/Pagan women to help me get the coven started. I was already tired from the coven starting process, and from the teaching of new students. I just wanted some new “easy” coven members. I was really worried that I did not have what it takes to be a leader and so I asked for an easy way out. Instead, I received more new students and more difficulties with starting the coven. Again it is not wise to try to weasel out of the Divine’s calling in your life.

It was a long process, but eventually I decided to accept my Divine calling and to get to work. I am happy to report that my coven is doing much better now. We are definitely not perfect and there is still a lot of work to be done, but at least I know where I stand in the whole process now. I have accepted my task from the universe. I found out once I stopped being scared and lazy that the universe finally did answer my wishes. I now have a couple of experienced coven sisters who have taken over some of the coven duties to help free up my time. They have been a Goddess-send already! Things might have gone a little easier for me if I had just listened to the universe a little sooner and if I had not blatantly told the universe what I did not what in my life. I guess that is how we learn and grow though-by our mistakes. At least now I know it is not “Be careful what you wish for” but rather “Be careful what you don’t wish for.”

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The Crafty Writer

August, 2010

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Reborn Baby Dolls

I always thought the Reborn baby dolls brought out the maternal instinct in a woman, but the other day I listened to a couple of women talking and began to wonder. “Wash the baby with an alcohol swab until she is nice and clean then hold her with a steady hand as you trace the veins so they stand out nice and blue. Once you’re done, lay the baby carefully on a towel in a cake or pie pan, depending on size of infant and place them on the center rack in the oven. I like to bake my babies at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes.” Words like that didn’t bring the maternal issues that I envisioned to forefront of my imagination.

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Reborn dolls started out as a way to reclaim, rejuvenate and modernize existing silicone and vinyl based dolls. It is an amazing transformation of the old to the newer more realistic baby like standards of today. Chemical and mechanical formulations have been created that rejuvenate the vinyl along with instruction videos bring many new crafters into the fold. To hold and show a finished piece that was brought back from the world of obsolescence is an amazing accomplishment.

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There are new Vinyl blanks available from a number of artists on line and in certain hobby shops that are made just for this art form. They even cater to beginners by pre-painting the vinyl blanks and inserting the eyes so all that is needed is putting on the eyelashes and wigs. Then stuff the body and attaching the limbs presto, you have your new reborn baby to have and hold.

Now, just like all other hobbies there are varying levels of how far you take the craft. The pre-painted and eyes inserted is the easiest. Then there is the wig selection and eyelashes. These can be painted, pre-made wigs, or needle felted, where individual hair strands are placed using a felting needle. The wigs themselves are available in varying grades, from a simple cap to the clear cap that is nearly invisible.

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Taking a clean vinyl blank and painting the five to seven coats of heat set paints to bring the most lifelike color and texture into the baby or infant reborn doll is another step up the craft ladder. The painting style of the crafter also shows the quality and pains put forth in the presentation. This would include the extra fine veins, and eyebrows, or the clear gloss around the nose and tips of the lips. Then there is the paint inside the head, which gives tonal variances inside the nose, for when you drill nasal passages.

The care of Reborn Babies after they are completed is also very important. Great Britain and the United States have run many articles on police responding to and breaking into cars that have non-responsive children in vehicles. If you are going to take a Reborn with you do not lock her in the car without a large sign stating Reborn baby is not real. In other words always treat your Reborn baby as you would a real baby.

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Remember always safety first, when you bake your babies at 250 degrees use pot holders when you pull them out of the pan. As with anything else, good tools make good product, and practice improves everything. To see more of Kimberly’s Dolls, visit us at www.kskritters.com or Google Reborn dolls for more information.

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