October, 2010

Blessed Fall!!

October, 2010

Merry Meet Readers!!!  Happy Birthday to Us!!!

What a month it has been!  Still hot outside but all the leaves are starting to change color and fall.  I hope it is as gorgeous near you as it is near us.  We wish you all a  happy harvest!

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This issue, like all our issues, is a great one!  Packed full of ideas, recipes, spells, rituals, and some new columnists for you to enjoy.  We hope you love it as much as we do.

Your Samhain correspondences are all ready to be used and the samhain recipes look delicious!  Be sure to check the spells and rituals first to be sure you are ready on Samhain!

Some announcements:

We have reached an all time high with our hits last month, thank you loyal readers. Please keep spreading the word about PaganPages.  The more we can teach, the closer we are to being understood.

We have two new classes to offer. Magickal Oils & Incense, and an herbal Class.  If you are interested in these write to [email protected]

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We are still looking for either item or monetary donations for our soldier bags. Remember they need our help getting supplies.  If we don’t help them, who will?

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We have opened up our Etsy site again to raise money for PaganPages. Please have a look.  We have added new stock.  Adjusted some prices.   And made all shipping only $2!!  Maybe you can find some gifts in time for Yule!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/paganpagesorg

We have been getting a lot of requests from those hoping to write for PaganPages. Yes we are always looking for new talent.  You can write to us anytime at [email protected]

We always enjoy reader feedback so you are always welcome to leave a message on the article page you like or mail us at [email protected]

Again, thank you for your loyal readership. We love you all and wish you a happy and safe holiday.  Happy Witches New Year!!!!!!

Much Love,

PaganPages.org

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The Days of October

October, 2010

October 1
On this date (approximately), hundreds of thousands of Muslims make a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca to kiss and touch the Black Stone (one of the original building blocks of a veiled shrine) and to worship their god Allah. They then drink some water from the nearby sacred Well of Ishmael, and journey up into the hills of Safa and Marwa to recite prayers.

October 2
Guiding Spirits Day. On this day, light a white candle on you altar and give thanks to your spirit guide (or guides) for guarding over you and guiding you through your spiritual development. If you wish to communicated with or meet your spirit guide, use a Ouija board or, through prayer, invite the spirit guide to come to you in a dream or in a trance.

October 3
On this date (approximately), a Cementation and Propitiation Festival was once celebrated by the Native American tribe of the Cherokee. The purpose of the festival was to remove the barriers between the Cherokee people and the deities they worshiped.

October 4
On this date in ancient Rome, a day of feasting known as the Jejunium Cereris was observed in honor of Ceres (Mother Earth), the corn-goddess and protectress of agriculture and all fruits of the Earth.

October 5
The Festival of the Old Woman (Nubaigai) is celebrated annually on this date by farm workers in Lithuania. The last sheaf of grain is dressed up as a woman and a festival of feasting, merriment, and games is held to honor the goddess of the corn.
In the country of Rumania, the Dionysiad wine festival was held annually on this date in honor of Dionysus, Ariadne, and the Maenads.

October 6
On this date, an annual nine-day religious festival begins in Nepal to honor the great Hindu god Vishnu and to celebrate his awakening on a bed of serpents. As part of an ancient tradition, secret offerings are made to the god and placed in unripe pumpkins.

October 7
In the fifteenth century, peasants in Germany celebrated a week-long festival called the Kermesse. A Pagan icon (or some other sacred object) would be unearthed from its yearlong burial spot and then paraded through the village on top of gaily decorated pole. After a week of feasting, dancing, and games, the villagers would dress up in their mourning attire and rebury the icon in its grave, where it would remain until the next year’s Kermesse.
On this date in the year 1909, famous author and Gardnerian Witch Arnold Crowther was born in Kent, England. He was initiated into the Craft in 1960 by Patricia Dawson, whom he later married. He passed away on Beltane-Sabbat in the year 1974.

October 8
On this day, an annual good luck festival called Chung Yeung Day (the Festival of High Places) is celebrated in China. Traditionally good omen kites are flown to carry away evil spirits. The festival also commemorates an ancient Chinese scholar named Huan Ching who, upon heeding the warning of a soothsayer, escaped with his family and friends high into the hills and thereby avoided a mysterious plague of death which swept through the village below, killing every living thing in sight.

October 9
Day of Felicitas. A festival celebrating the ancient Roman goddess of luck and good fortune was held annually on this date in many parts of Italy. For many Wiccans and modern Witches, it is a time for casting spells and making amulets to attract good luck or to end a streak of bad luck.

October 10
Throughout the country of Brazil, the annual Festival of Light begins on this date. The centuries-old festival, which is celebrated for two consecutive weeks, includes a parade of penance and the lighting of candles, torches, and hearth-fires to symbolically drive away the spirits of darkness who bring evil and misfortune.

October 11
Every year on this date, Witches in the countries of Denmark and Germany honor the Old Lady of the Elder Trees, an ancient Pagan spirit who dwells within and watches over each and every tree of the elder family. Before cutting any branches to use as magick wands, a libation of elderberry wine is poured onto the tree’s roots and a special prayer is recited.

October 12
On this date in the year 1875, famous occultists and ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley was born in Warwickshire, England. He authored many popular and controversial books on the subject of magick, and was notorious for his rites of sex magick, ceremonial sorcery, and blood sacrifices. Crowley often referred to himself as the Beast of the Apocalypse and was nicknamed The Wickedest Man in the world by the news media and by many who knew him personally. He died on December 1, 1947, and after his cremation, his ashes were shipped to his followers in the United States of America.
Also on this date in the year 1888, famous ceremonial magician and occult author Eliphas Levi died.

October 13
On this date in the year 1917, the Goddess in the guise of the Virgin Mary made her final visit (as promised earlier that year) to three children in the Portuguese town of Fatima. She revealed many predictions to the children, and a crowd of over 70,000 pilgrims who gathered for the miraculous event witnessed a strange object–resembling a huge silver disk blazing with colored flames–fly through the sky.

October 14
Each year on this date, the planets of the Milky Way galaxy are honored and celebrated by an event known as Interplanetary Confederation Day.
In Bangladesh, an annual festival called Durga Puja is celebrated on this day to commemorate the great Mother-Goddess Durga and her triumph over the forces of evil.

October 15
On this date in ancient Rome, a sacred harvest festival dedicated to the god Mars was celebrated with a chariot race, followed by the sacrifice of the slowest horse. (Before becoming a god of battle, Mars was originally a deity associated with fertility and agriculture).

October 16
Each year on this date, the Festival of the Goddess of Fortune (Lakshmi Puji) is celebrated in Nepal. The goddess Lakshmi is honored with prayers, sacred chants, and offerings of flower petals and fragrant incense.

October 17
Once a year on this date, the Japanese Shinto ceremony of Kan-name-Sai (God Tasting Event) takes place. The ancient goddess of the Sun and other imperial ancestors are honored with an offering of rice from the season’s first crop.

October 18
In England, the Great Horned Fair takes place annually on this day to celebrate the wondrous powers of nature and fertility. Many Pagans and Wiccans (especially of the Gardnerian tradition) perform a special ceremony on this day in honor of Cernunnos, the Horned God of hunting, fertility, and wild animals. He is also the consort of the Goddess, and a symbol of the male principle. At this time, many priests of Wiccan covens perform a sacred ritual called Drawing Down the Sun.

October 19
On this day, an annual fair called Bettara-Ichi (”Sticky-Sticky Fair”) is held in Tokyo, Japan near the sacred shrine of the god Ebisu. Children carry sticky pickled radishes tied to straw ropes through the streets in order to chase away evil spirits and to receive blessings from the seven Shinto gods of good luck.

October 20
On this date in the year 1949, Wiccan priestess and spiritual healer Selena Fox was born in Arlington, Virginia. In 1974, with the help of Jim Alan and a small group of Neo-Pagan friends, she formed Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin. She is known as one of the leading religious-freedom activists in the Wiccan and Neo-Pagan movements.

October 21
In the former Czechoslovakia, an annual festival known as the Day of Ursala is held on this date in honor Ursala, the ancient lunar goddess of Slavic mythology who later became Saint Ursala.

October 22
In Japan, the purifying Festival of Fire (Hi Matsuri) is celebrated annually on this night. A traditional torchlight procession parades through the streets of Kurama and ends at a sacred shrine, where the ancient gods are believed to return to Earth at the stroke of midnight.

October 23
On this date (approximately), the Sun enters the astrological sign of Scorpio. Persons born under the sign of the Scorpion are said to be magnetic, psychic, imaginative, mysterious, and often prone to jealous obsessions. Scorpio is a water sign and is ruled by the planets Mars and Pluto.

October 24
On this day, many Wiccans from around the world celebrate the annual Feast of the Spirits of Air. Incense is offered up to the Sylphs (who often take the form of butterflies), and rituals involving dreams and/or the powers of the mind are performed.
This day is sacred to Arianrhod, Cardea, Dione, Diti, Gula, Lilith, Maat,
Minerva, and Sophia.

October 25
Shoemaker’s Day is celebrated annually on this date in honor of Saint Crispin, the patron of shoemakers who was beheaded in the third century A.D. According to legend, a new pair of shoes bought on this day will bring good luck and prosperity to their owner.

October 26
Birthday of the Earth. According to the calculations of a seventeenth century Anglican archbishop, the Earth was created on this date in the year 4004 BC.
On this date in the year 1440, Giles de Rais (one of the most notorious necromancers in history) was hanged in France as punishment for practicing black magick and making human sacrifices to the Devil, among other crimes.

October 27
Allan Apple Day. In Cornwall, England, an old Pagan method of love divination is traditionally performed each year on this day. A single gentleman or lady who wishes to see his or her future spouse must sleep with an Allan apple under his or her pillow, then get out of bed before the crack of dawn the next day. The person then waits under a tree for the first person of the opposite sex to walk by. According to the legend, the passerby will be the future marriage mate.

October 28
In ancient times, the Phoenician sun-god Baal of the Heavens was honored annually on or around this date. He presided over nature and fertility, and was associated with Winter rain. Sacred sun-symbolizing bonfires were lit in his honor by his worshipers in Syria. Depicted as a warrior with a horned helmet and spear, he was once worshipped as the principal god on Earth for thousands of years.
In ancient Egypt, a series of Autumn ceremonies for the goddess Isis began each year on this date. They lasted for six consecutive days.

October 29
On this date in the year 1939, ceremonial magician and occult author Frater Zarathustra was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Frater founded the Temple of Truth in 1972 and was publisher and editor of the White Light (a magazine of ceremonial magick) from 1973 until it ceased publication in 1990.
On this day, the Native American tribe of the Iroquois celebrate their annual Feast of the Dead to honor the souls of departed loved ones.

October 30
Each year on this date, the Angelitos festival is held in Mexico to bless the souls of deceased children and to honor Xipe-Totec (the ancient god of death) and Tonantzin (the Guadualupe goddess of mercy).
On this day, write a secret wish on a piece of dried mandrake root. Burn it at the stroke of midnight in a fireproof container and then go outside and cast the ashes to the wind as you say thrice: “Spirits of fire, spirits of air; grant this secret wishing-prayer. Let the ashes of this spell, fix this midnight magick well.”

October 31
Halloween (also known as Samhain Eve, Hallowmas, All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Eve, Festival of the Dead, and the Third Festival of Harvest).
Every year on this day, the most important of the eight Witches’ Sabbats is celebrated by Wiccans throughout the world with traditional Pagan feasts, bonfires, and rituals to honor the spirits of deceased loved ones. The divinatory arts of scrying and rune-casting are traditionally practiced by Wiccans on this magickal night, as in standing before a mirror and making a secret wish.
The last night of October was the ancient Celt’s New Year’s Eve. It marked the end of the Summer and the beginning of Winter (also known as the dark half of the year).
In many parts of the world, special cakes and food are prepared for the dead on this night.
In Ireland, a Halloween festival is celebrated annually for the ancient Pagan goddess Tara.
This day is sacred to the goddesses Cerridwen, Eurydice, Hecate, Hel, Inanna, Kali, the Morrigan, Nephthys, Oya, Samia, Sedna, Tara, and Vanadis. On this day in the year 1970, the Parks Department of New York granted the Witches International Craft Associates (W.I.C.A.) a permit to hold a “Witch-in”. The event was held in Sheep Meadow and more than one thousand persons attended.

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InterWeavings

October, 2010

Autumn

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I love the change of seasons, but I must admit that the summer to fall change is my favorite! Maybe living in the South gives the change to cooler days and nights more of a welcome. And I do love the colors!

Bringing autumn inside is easy and free! Beautiful baskets of leaves and nuts, acorns and pinecones. A decorator’s delight! This is also a great time for outdoor play. Mother Earth is rich in decorations and condiments for mud pies and other pretend foods!

Some fun things to do are to make people out of things found. Pinecones, acorn tops seeds and sticks can make some cool creations. Nestle these guardians of the woods under plants, bushes or beside trees. A little clay or glue will hold them together. You can even accessorize them with little strips of cloth for scarves!

Don’t forget pressing beautiful leaves between 2 pieces of wax paper. One year we shaved crayons onto the wax paper with leaves, topped it with a second piece of wax paper and pressed with an iron. What lovely works of art. Tape them to windows, cut into bookmarks or let your child come up with a use.

Seeds are bountiful now. Cover a Styrofoam ball with glue and roll it in a bowl of seeds or even beans. Split green and yellow beans and poppy seeds are just a few ideas. Match the size of the ball to the seed or bean. When dried, fill a bowl or basket with them. Kids love making them and they make nice gifts too.  Build a fairy house of twigs and side it with seeds and beans.  Use cinnamon sticks as the door.

Now is also a natural time to introduce warming food back into our meals. Spices such as cinnamon, chili, paprika as well as soups and stews help our bodies adjust to the change. In our home, granola is replaced by porridge for breakfast and hot chocolate or warm cider in the afternoon instead of cold juice or lemonade.  Helpful hint: The more Vitamin C you can get into your family now the better. That way when the inevitable sniffle season hits, your family will be ready for it. Apple cider and warm applesauce are fun sources, so is raw broccoli and  spinach dip!

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Gems of the Goddess

October, 2010

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The leaves are falling, and the birds are chirping about, harvesting food for the chilly months ahead.  The smell of spices are in the air, and pumpkins are being carved.  These are all some of the feelings of fall.  With these feelings are the goddesses associated with autumn, or as some people may call Harvest.  Demeter is one of the many goddesses with autumn ties.  She is the Greek goddess of the harvesting times and has a very nurturing spirit.  She has been known to be very giving towards mankind, granting them crops to plow, and grain to save.  With that mothering soul of hers she had her daughter Persephone, who is known as the queen of the underworld.  Most of you may know the story of Persephone and Demeter, but for those who don’t, it all started with Hades. Hades couldn’t help but fall in love with Persephone.  So one day when Persephone was picking a flower the earth opened up, and up rose Hades strong arm, and pulled Persephone right down to the underworld with him.  Having heard Persephone’s scream, Demeter ran to the meadow where Persephone was. Persephone was nowhere to be found.  Demeter instantly lit her torch and set out on her search to look everywhere she could possibly think of. Finally, Demeter encountered Helio, the sun goddess, who told her that Persephone was now Hades wife and queen of the underworld.  So stricken with grief, Demeter withdrew her divine duties as being provider of the land and sentenced the earth to be bare until her daughter was brought back to her.  The earth saw a winter that was never ending.  Zeus, Demeter’s husband, finally opened his eyes to all the starvation that was going on in the world and eventually gave in to Demeter and sent Hermes to tell Hades to bring Persephone back.  Persephone was delighted to here of her mothers longing, and agreed to return.  But just as she was about to leave, Hades offered her a pomegranate.  Persephone knew to never eat anything in the underworld, but she was so hungry from not eating for so long she decided to eat just the seeds.  Demeter was not at all happy upon hearing that Persephone ate the seeds, and told her that she would have to return to the underworld for four months out of each year.  Otherwise, Demeter was very content and resumed her goddess duties.

CONNECTING WITH DEMETER

Because Demeter is such a loving, motherly goddess, I’m sure she would love to connect with anyone who has a kind heart.  You could try writing a letter of things you wish to cultivate in the coming harvest, and burying it in the ground.  The Divine Goddesses are always willing to listen and defiantly want to help. Demeter would be happy to help you harvest your desires this fall and remind you of your mothering flame as well.

SYMBOLS AND THINGS TO PUT ON YOUR ALTER: torch, acorns, bread, copper, emerald, cinnamon, sunflowers, myrrh, patchouli, any household pets, cranes, and lizards

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Across the Great Divide

October, 2010

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Investigation Procedures: Getting Your Hands Dirty (Part 3 of 5)

Perhaps it’s apropos that we’re on to the actual investigation portion and it’s October- ghosts, goblins, Charlie Brown, and all that jazz.  But, I digress…

Only after some level of background research will you ready to enter the location and explore.  Even still, prior to setting up a mutually agreeable investigation date with the client, put some controls in place for the experiment.

For instance, having the client communicate to their neighbors that there will be strangers parking out front and tiptoeing in the dark with flashlights in their home at an odd hour would be a good idea; police showing up with lights and sirens blaring would definitely slow down an investigation.  Your client should find a sitter for any pets because you wouldn’t want the family cat being responsible for that odd shadow in the basement, nor would you want him jumping out of a closet and giving a team member a heart attack no matter how entertaining that would be at the time (no, I am not speaking from experience on that one).  If at all possible the residents should have a place to stay for the night as well, to not get in the way.  Keeping contact with them at intervals during the night and calling them while wrapping up would be preferable to them contaminating evidence with noises or lights to “prove” their claims, whether done purposefully or through restlessness while they wait out the investigation.  The less disruption in the home, the better.

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The exploration should be fun but your ghost hunt should be a combination of intelligent analytical skills, respectful scientific approach, an open mind, and respect for the people and possessions in the location- living or dead.

It’s embarrassing to wander about not knowing what to do next so set up a guideline for the investigation including team assignments, what equipment to use, and areas to concentrate on.  Have a central command center with one or two people monitoring computers and DVRs, batteries, miscellaneous equipment, and coordinating with everyone providing time, weather, and investigation updates.  Establish a logical time table including session time limits and set-up/tear-down times.  Remember that you are coming into someone’s home or business.  Hours of operation and the personal lives of residents are a factor in the length and time of any investigation; a full night is preferable but rarely feasible.  Other factors include how large of an area to cover divided by the number of investigators on hand.  Have efficient and detailed investigation goals tailored to the case at hand; expertise is the key to success.

Check local news, weather websites, and the Ghost Weather Station, if you downloaded it, on the day of an investigation to determine any environmental aspects which could enhance or deter your investigation.  Check this information again just prior to lights out and at intervals throughout to monitor any changes and mark the time of each change so that they can be compared with the other results later.

Make sure all equipment is in proper working order, fully powered, and calibrated prior to arrival at the investigation site.  You’ll want to tape down or conceal equipment wiring throughout the house and perform an extensive tour of the home’s geography for both logistical and safety reasons.  Additional insurance in case of accidental damage by you or your team should also be considered.

Of particular consideration while hunting in closed quarters would be noise control of the team.  Teammates should wear soft-soled shoes rather than heavy boots or shoes that click or squeak, causing unnecessary noise pollution.  Accessories such as jewelry should be removed or tucked away if they have a tendency to produce a jingle.  Check clothing before going through the home for audible friction as some fabrics when rubbed together can cause a disruption.  No baseball caps, brimmed hats, or reflective buttons should be worn either due to the visual obstruction they may cause.  Keep in mind- the less reflective, the better.  Make sure all of your team members have had sufficient food, water, and rest prior to investigating.  Low blood sugar, dehydration or exhaustion can lead to the failure of a ghost hunt.  It goes without saying that any member that arrives at the location intoxicated or under the influence of drugs should be escorted home.  You could keep a water bottle handy; otherwise there should be no eating or drinking while investigating.  You will also want to refrain from using the bathroom as well.  All the extra noise from the plumbing could taint an otherwise perfect EVP being captured elsewhere.  Do your business before arriving to the site.  Do not allow smoking during investigations, regardless if the home owner is a smoker or not, as it can be disruptive in various ways such as coughing, and the clouds can appear as mist giving false positives to photographs or other anomalous readings in visual equipment.  Suppose reported activity is a lady of the house emanating a floral perfume scent.  How can this be detected if someone is smoking in the room or has been near the area recently?

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Do a thorough walkthrough of the location to obtain baseline readings with all your equipment to determine normal energy levels as well as to naturally explain any of the occurrences before going lights out. Best handheld cb radio is used for emergency communications. Once lights are out you will look at anything as being possibly paranormal more so then when in the light.  For one thing your autonomic nervous system kicks in and the darkness makes you revert to fight-or-flight mode.  You are more calm and unbiased when in the light.  That bent metal plate or loose water pipe is more apt to be seen now then in total darkness when all you can hear is the bang it makes as it moves.

Take baseline readings with a compass, EMF meter, K2 meter, geomagnetometer, ion detector, or Geiger counter and if any spikes occur see if they can be traced to natural causes such as common household appliances, so while investigating you’ll know where these are located and can be ruled out.  If during the walkthrough all is quiet and readings teeter between 0 and 1 but during the investigation they bury the needle you may be on to something.  Also check yourself at this time to see where they register.  Remember you are carrying any combination of watch, cell phone, radio, camera, meters, video equipment, and various metals or gems which can amplify the EMF.  You yourself are a walking field.  Perhaps all that equipment is being detected in the next room by another team as an anomalous reading.

Use the equipment at your disposal together or in infinite combinations throughout an investigation.  While you track a suspected EMF spike, also run an EVP session asking questions and making demands for specific reactions to determine intelligence.  Have your teammate take pictures as you follow the readings around the room.  If separate tools record results within the same time index they will support the claim that paranormal activity exists.

Whatever equipment you are using, make sure you are using it correctly.  All man-made equipment emits an alternating electrical current.  This is what the EMF detects.  Remember that a single-axis meter must be turned and tilted along all three dimensional axes to gain a true reading.  Also determine how your particular meter measures activity and analyze the results accordingly.  Some meters measure the amplitude or strength of the field while others detect changes over periods of time.

So if you happen to register a response that is outside the baseline you took prior, stop moving.  First see if it remains stationary or if the point of activity moves around in a random or seemingly intelligent manner.  Try to determine if there is a pattern to the movement that might have a natural explanation, or if the signal grows stronger or leads you to a viable cause.  Even though lights are out there is still power running through the building powering everyday items from alarm clocks to refrigerators.  ALL of these items will generate a response on the meter.  If the high readings can be traced to these items then there is a fault in the appliance that is the cause and not a ghost playing with you.

The K-II meter is a great tool to use in conjunction with EVP sessions because of the question-and-response means of its use.  Place the meter on a stationary surface and invite spirits to interact by manipulating the LEDs in a particular manner.  You might first notice all lights activate indicating something in its proximity.  Set up rules for 2-way communication such as flash once for yes, twice for no, and ask questions accordingly.  Having a video camera focused on the meter is invaluable so that a record of the experience can be kept without wasting time going back and forth with writing or voice-recording the responses.

Go with your instincts, but if you’ve captured something try to debunk it by recreating it.  Have someone stand in the same position to see if it was just a reflection or light effect.  Often it’s just our imagination impacting our perception of events.

I’ve discussed EVP experiments and Spirit Photography at length previously, so to save time and space, please refer to these links: Experimenting with EVP, Spirit Photography.

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The use of infrared motion detectors can best be used in conjunction with stationary video cameras.  If you have a camera set to continuously monitor a particular room or area, set up the motion sensor in such a way as to alert the group to the presence of activity or to possible contamination of the scene by someone or something.  If there is paranormal activity present on the footage but the sensors have clearly not been tripped and you can disprove the interaction of a person or animal to the scene you stand a better chance of having valid paranormal evidence.  Again, this is why time-stamping every reading and an accurate account of all people in the location is so important to a valid claim.

If the presence of a hot or cold spot is felt, pull out your thermal equipment and begin taking readings.  Remember that an IR thermometer can only read something with a visible surface and NOT the ambient temperature of the room.  Use the IR thermometer to monitor the drop or rise in degrees or trace the cold spot to a draft or some other logical and natural explanation.   For more accurate ambient temperature readings use a thermocouple-based temperature measurement device which can take rapid readings that are essential when dealing with an actual paranormally-induced cold spot.

The Thermal Imaging Scanner can put into visual form what the IR device detects.  This not only measures the temperature but shows the varied temperatures of all objects in its aperture.  If a teammate is sitting on a couch and the scanner starts reading a heat rise in the seat next to them without some kind of natural explanation you may have evidence of a spirit attempting to manifest itself.

You’re now several hours into the investigation and all teams have had sufficient time to explore each area of interest using all the tools at your disposal.  It’s now time to wrap it up and turn the lights back on.  Gather all the teams at command central for a quick debriefing and begin the process of gathering all your equipment.  Take special care to gather everything in a logical and efficient manner- don’t just start pulling up wires at random and throwing them all in a box.  Pull all memory cards out of cameras and place them in special containers along with digital recorders (since it is not possible to backup these items on scene) and correctly save and store all recordings and readings captured on computers and DVR systems.  Simply pulling the plug before saving all your data could prove disastrous when you go to analyze it.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  Night wasted.  End of Story.

Collect any twist, zip ties, or cords used to secure equipment.  Make sure that if you taped anything down you leave no residue from the tape and everything in the location is in the same condition and place it was when you first arrived.

After a good rest begins the lengthy process of analyzing the data collected.  Don’t jump to analysis right away; get some sleep and come back to it the next day refreshed but with the night still clear in your memory.  Join me next month when I discuss the analysis phase and all the tips and tricks associated with it.  Happy Hunting and Happy Halloween/Samhain.

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Wiccan Basics

October, 2010

Days of the week and the full moons

Days & Months

Days of the Week and The Full Moons

Monday – represents the moon, Hectate rules, white and violet, cancer sign, spells for healing, psychic development, travel, visions, love, and home, Gather herbs on this morning, ylang ylang oil

Tuesday – Mars, red, Sagittarius sign, spells for fire, energy, physical strengh, channeling spirits, and courage, rose oil

Wednesday – Mercury, yellow and orange, Gemini and Virgo signs, spells on commerce and trade, knowledge, wisdom and divination, sandalwood oil.

Thursday – Jupiter, blue, Aries and Scorpio signs, spell for prosperity, love, socail status, good fortune, tool concecration, business, violet oil

Friday – Venus, Freya rules, green, Taurus and Libra signs, spells for growth, love, fertility, beauty, lust, friendships, pleasuree and meditation, jasmine oil

Saturday – Saturn, brown and black, Capricorn and Aquarius signs, spells for healing injury, binding, grouding, protection, stability and saving money, ylang ylang oil

Sunday – Sun, Apollo rules, yellow and gold, Leo sign, spells for wealth, health, friendship, protection, fortune, harmony, sucess, frankinsence oil

MONTHS

January Moon – Wolf Moon

Feburary Moon – Ice Moon – Imbolc 1st

March Moon – Storm or Worm Moon – Ostara 20 -23rd

April Moon – Growing or Pink Moon

May Moon – Hare or Flower Moon – Beltane 1st

June Moon – Mead or Rose Moon – Litha 20 – 23rd

July Moon – Hay or Buck Moon

August Moon – Corn Moon – Lammas 1st

September Moon – Harvest Moon – Mabon 20 – 23rd

October Moon – Blood or Hunters Moon – Samhain 31st

November Moon – Snow or Beaver Moon – New Year 1st

December Moon – Cold Moon – Yule 20 – 23rd

From Dec 24th (winter soltice) to June 23rd (summer soltice)the Gods rule and the days will get longer and longer. The longest day being June 23rd. From June 24th to Dec 23rd the Goddess rules and the days grow shorter and shorter; the shortest being Dec 23rd.

Blessing until next Month

S.Dunham

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Rite and Ritual

October, 2010

Samhain

“When the night drifts into stillness, past the witching hour’s toll,

Where the shadows fall in silence and darkness reaches for my soul.”

I stand before the large iron cauldron, waiting. Colder, heavy air settles down upon my robe and I breathe deeply. Patiently I wait, my senses spreading out, reaching into the night searching for the moment, listening for Her ancient whisper. Slow are her old ways, subtle is her deep touch as she presides over the decaying memories of yesterday. I imagine her walking through the forest laying her hands upon the trees she passes, reminding them its time to sleep. The last few golden leaves drift unseen, down to the forest’s floor to become forgotten as she continues her lone walk. I can feel the forest resign to its shadowed fate. I can smell the transformation of energy as all that the Sun has forgotten yields its essence back to the Earth. I’ve found my connection. I am within the moment. Nothing is moving as my self imposed boundaries fall away and the veil between the worlds fades before me. I strike my staff to the earth 3 times and call out…

“Deep between the worlds I call

Through the veil and down the halls

Within the other realms, my words heard true by all.”

Again I strike my staff 3 times saying out loud,…

“Through the above and through the below

Through the Quarters do my words now flow

Moving within, moving between

The realms of existence

Beyond what is seen”

3 last times I strike my staff, calling out ….

“Keeper of midnight, in shadow’s hold

For the Crone’s dark blessings and the secrets of old

Ancient ones, spirits of dark and light

All who have walked this path before me

I call to you this Samhain night”

I remain still for a moment before lighting a black candle and using it to ignite the wood in the cauldron. As it catches and the flames begin to dance above the cauldron I pull a list of names I wrote on a piece of parchment from my robe pocket. The fire illuminates the deep night just enough so I can read the names of those whose recent crossings have touched me. When I have thoughtfully read their names I give the parchment to the fire. I turn my thoughts to my own ancestors and make an offering of sage and incense into the cauldron. I stand alone in the quiet of the night but I feel surrounded. I drift between smiling and crying, between hope and despair, over what I want and those things that do not seem fair. Looking, reaching, almost begging to learn of the mysteries that move just beyond my comprehension, I feel the weight of the unknown upon me. I realize that I am wrapped in the cloak of the Crone. Her dark mantle feels so heavy as to seemingly slow my heart. That is exactly what is necessary in order to see into her world.  It is a world that lies hidden beneath what is easily seen by most. A world of patient strength and timeless support that transforms memories into new dreams, is the realm over which she watches.  Hers is the world that comforts the tired and the broken until they are ready to begin their journey anew. From so simple a thing as a golden leaf falling back to the forest floor, so do all things ebb and flow upon this great circle of life and death. It is here within the darkness where I best realize the sacred importance of all that quietly inspires life’s splendor and then welcomes it back when its beauty has withered. I do not know how long I have stood leaning on my staff before a dark cauldron but I sense dawn is near. The weight has left me and as I take a long deep breath I draw inside a small piece of the darkness. Maybe it will help me to see beyond the veils that so often distract me and keep me from seeing something more.

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WiseWoman Traditions

October, 2010

Mysterious Mushrooms

ÓSusun S Weed

As summer nights lengthen into autumn, the forests of the Catskill mountains in upstate New York fill with magical, mystical, medicinal mushrooms. “Toadstool” is a quaint name for the many mushrooms that spring forth between rains, while “fungi” is the more technical term. Fungi are plants, but plants without flowers or roots or chlorophyll (which makes plants green). Strange shapes (some quite sexually suggestive), the ability to grow (and glow) in the dark, and psychedelic colors make mushrooms an obvious addition to any witch’s stew. But you will want some other reasons to make mushrooms a steady part of your diet. Is outwitting cancer a good enough reason?

It’s true. All edible fungi – including those ordinary white button mushrooms sold in supermarkets – are capable of preventing and reversing cancerous cellular changes. We aren’t exactly sure why. Perhaps it’s because fungi search out, concentrate, and share with us the trace minerals we need to build powerful, healthy immune systems. Or perhaps it’s because of their wealth of polysaccharides – interesting complex sugars that appear to be all round health-promoters. It could be because mushrooms are excellent sources of protein and B vitamins with few calories and no sodium. Or we could single out the anti-cancer, anti-tumor, and anti-bacterial compounds found in the stalk, caps, gills, and even the underground structures (mycelia) of every edible mushroom.

Be sure to cook your mushrooms though; avoid eating them raw. Scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical School found that mice who ate unlimited amounts of raw mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) developed, over the course of their lifetimes, significantly more malignant tumors than a control group.

Everywhere I go in August and September – whether walking barefoot on vibrant green mosses or stepping lightly across the deeply-scented fallen pine and hemlock needles; whether climbing rocky outcrops festooned with ferny whiskers or skirting swamps humming with mosquitoes; whether following the muddy bank of a meandering stream or balancing on old stone walls inhaling the scent of righteous rot – I am on the lookout for my fungi friends.

My woods are especially generous to me with chanterelles, beautiful cornucopia-shaped mushrooms with a delectable taste. I find both the delicious little black ones – jokingly known as “trumpet of death” due to their eerie coloration – and the very tasty and much bigger orange ones. Sometimes we return home naked from our mushrooms walks – if we find more ‘shrooms than we have bags for, we have to use our shirts and pants as carriers to help haul dinner home.

The bright orange tops and sulfur yellow undersides of sulphur shelf mushrooms (Polyporus sulphuroides) are easy to spot in the late summer forest. Growing only on recently-dead oaks, these overlapping shelves make a great-tasting immune-enhancing addition to dinner. I have harvested the “chicken of the woods” in oak forests around the world. In the Czech Republic, I saw a particularly large example as we drove a country lane. Stopping, I found a portion of it had been harvested. I took only a share, being careful to leave lots for other mushroom lovers who might come down the lane after me.

You don’t have to live in the woods and find your own mushrooms to enjoy their health-giving benefits. You can buy them: fresh or dried for use in cooking and medicine; and tinctured or powdered as well. Look for chanterelles, cepes, enoki, oyster mushrooms, portobellos, maitake, reishii, shiitake, chaga, and many other exotic and medicinal mushrooms in health food stores, supermarkets, specialty stores, and Oriental markets.

Maitake (Grifolia frondosa) is more effective than any other fungi ever tested at inhibiting tumor growth. It is very effective when taken orally, whether by lab rats or humans dealing with cancer. The fruiting body of the maitake resembles the tail feathers of a small brown chicken, hence its popular name: “Hen of the Woods”. If you buy maitake in pill form, be sure to get the fruiting body, not the mycelium.

Reishii (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the most respected immune tonics in the world. Reishii is adaptogenic, revitalizing, and regenerative, especially to the liver. Even occasional use builds powerful immunity and reduces the risk of cancer. In clinical studies, use of reishii increased T-cell and alpha interferon production, shrank and eliminated tumors, and improved the quality of life for terminal patients. Reishii and shiitake are great partners, the effects of one enhancing the effects of the other. Reishii is best taken as a tincture, 20-40 drops, 3 times daily.

Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) is highly medicinal and tastes good enough to eat in quantity. I go to an oriental market and buy the big, big, big bag of dried shiitake mushrooms for a fraction of what I would pay for them in a health food store. To use, I just rehydrate them by pouring boiling water over them or by dropping pieces into soups. Those who make shiitake a regular part of their diets increase their production of cancer-fighting alpha interferon, reduce inflammation throughout their bodies, prolong their lives, and improve their ability to produce and utilize vitamin D.

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a rather ugly and intensely hard fungi found on birch trees.  Baba Yaga and other Russian herbalists favor it as an immune nourisher, cancer preventive, and an aid to those dealing with melanomas.

Mushrooms are not just for food and medicine; they are renowned for their ability to alter our perceptions of reality. Psychoactive psilocybin mushrooms were used by the famous shaman/healer Maria Sabina in Mexico. The red-capped mushroom with white dots usually drawn next to the witch’s house is the mind-altering Amanita muscaria, sometimes called manna, and widely used in Siberian shamanic rites.

Whether you use fungi to make a mushroom soup or as a remedy for someone dealing with cancer, whether you stir them up in a witch’s cauldron of spiraling power or sew them into a spirit bag, mushrooms offer magic and mystery, good health and good cheer.

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Journey of a Witch

October, 2010

Journey of a Witch

Indeed, the journey of any spiritual path can be difficult to maneuver.
Whether you are seasoned in your craft or just beginning, questions and self doubt can bite at your heels. Sometimes those pesky creatures create such an imbalance you fall.

Many times those just embarking on their journey feel overwhelmed with the abundance of information (or sometimes lack of information) and feel they must know it all yesterday in order to be where they think they should be.

What do you do?
Call upon your fairy godmother?

If only!

Having someone else do just some of our work takes from our experience of what a spiritual path really is.

So, what is a spiritual path?
Well, a spiritual path means different things to different people.
For me a spiritual path is different than a religious one in that it just requires gratitude which can be practiced in a variety of ways, including intertwining along with a religious path.

One thing however remains constant. We must all make that journey ourselves if we are to learn and grow. This too, may be different for each person. One person may be happy to read a few books on a culture while another may need to take a trip across the world and immerse oneself in that culture.

Method actors for instance become the character while others may use external means.
It all depends on how one hones their craft.

Whatever the path there will be times when you feel stuck.
You can see the glistening path winding its way up the spiritual mountain  but to get there you must tread carefully through  a narrow  bend and you are afraid you might  fall off the cliff if you don’t step just so.

Let go of the fear.

Rest easy then. A block in the path is a good time as any for a spot of tea.
Well, maybe for some but not for others. Not for me you say? You want definitive answers you say?

Reflection and meditation are tools we can use daily but especially if we are feeling spiritually stuck. In the silences one hears many things that daily living drowns out.

So, that’s all well and good but what if that does not work?  What if after all your efforts you are no closer to the top of that mountain in fact, it even looks like you’ve slipped down a bit!

Remember the method actor?
Perhaps your immersion is drowning you.
Reflection and mediation are wonderful tools indeed; however, there may come a time when you must step out of your character.
Instead of being the mountain you wish to climb let the mountain become you.

What about the external actor?
Have you drawn so much outward that your own fire is in need of kindling?
Instead of looking up at the mountain perhaps you are the mountain.

In other words, there is no mountain, just you.

Take a few minutes and breathe. Deliver a meal to an elderly person, volunteer at an animal shelter and remember:

No matter the spiritual path, it is best shared with love and kindness.

Sometimes an answer you are seeking shows itself in times of giving.

A spiritual journey has many twists, climbs and turns and at times painfully so.
We are all on this journey together on different levels and yes, different routes winding and circling and meeting friends along the way, with always, the heart at the center.

Inside each of us is a mountain of hope and dreams, love and compassion.
If along your path you shared even one of those, you’ve become the mountain.

Not the definitive answers you were seeking?
Ah, I’m not your fairy godmother, just a friend along the way.

This column is dedicated to all those on the journey.

Blessings and Namaste

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HearthBeats: Recipes from a Kitchen Witch

October, 2010

Samhain is a time to honor our ancestors. The veil between here and Summerland is at it’s thinnest and we can commune and communicate with our loved ones who have moved on to the next phase of their lives.  It has become traditional to have a “dumb” supper. This is a meal that is eaten in silence by candle light. Each food can be as simple or as gourmet as you wish it to be. I like mostly simple made with foods from my garden or local farms. I will add the correspondences before the recipes.

Symbols: Third Harvest, wisdom of the Crone, death of the God, reflection on our place in the Wheel of the Year, reincarnation, the dark mysteries, Rebirth after Death.

Foods: Beef, Pork, Poultry, Colcannon, Bonfire Toffee,  anything with Apples, Doughnuts, Roasted Ear Corn, Popcorn, Caramel Corn, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bread, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, King Cake, Pomegranates, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Beets, Turnips, Nuts, Gingerbread, Cider, Mulled Wines, Mead, Late Autumn Fruits.

Plants & herbs: Angelica, Burdock, Catnip, Pennyroyal, Rosemary, Rue, Sunflower, Sage, Thyme, Wild Ginseng, Tarragon, Mugwort, Calendula, Chrysanthemum, Cosmos and Marigold.

HOT SPICED PUNCH

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1 large can of unsweetened pineapple juice

1 quart of cranberry juice cocktail

1 cup brown sugar

3 – 2″ sticks of cinnamon

1 Tablespoon of whole cloves
Put the cloves in a cloth bag. Boil in 2 cups of water. Let cool. Pour clove water and juices into large container. Mix well. Pour into large kettle and bring to a boil. Serve hot in cups or mugs.

Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin-soup

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Sea salt
pepper, freshly ground
1 can (1 pound) pumpkin, or 2 cups fresh, peeled, and cubed
2 Yukon Gold (or yellow) potato, peeled and cubed
5 cups Chicken broth( or vegetable)
2-3 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 cup half-and-half or soy cream (optional)

In a heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the
Onion for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add in the chopped carrots
and celery and stir in the spices. Lower the heat and gently cook for
About 10 minutes, being careful not to overbrown the onions.

Add in the pumpkin, potato, and vegetable broth and stir. Add in the dry
Sherry, stir, and bring to a slow simmer, cooking the soup for about
25-35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.

Carefully ladle the soup into a blender. Cover and puree the soup until
It is smooth and creamy. Return the puree to the soup pot and adjust the
Seasoning to your taste. Stir in the half-and-half, if desired, and
Blend until smooth. Serve at once in a festive bowls with a basket of
Warm bread  or croutons.

Serves 4-6

Wild Thyme Pasta Salad
Ingredients:
1 package spiral pasta
1 jar artichoke hearts

Lightly sautéed (or steamed) mushrooms, onion, broccoli, zucchini, carrots and

peppers(I use frozen broccoli stir fry veggies) cooled
Sliced tomatoes
Wild Thyme dressing( see below) you can use robusto Italian dressing in a pinch
Boil pasta. Let cool then add sliced tomatoes, mushrooms & artichoke hearts.
Mix well & add the seasoning. Let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours, Serve chilled.

Wild Thyme Dressing

1/2 c olive oil

1/8 c vinegar

½ tsp wild thyme

¼ tsp rosemary

¼ minced garlic

1/8 c roasted red pepper

Salt/ pepper to taste

Place in blender and blend until smooth. Place in jar and refrigerate until needed.

Quick and Simple fruit compote

EE0815_Apple-Compote_lg
INGREDIENTS:
4 apples, peeled, cored, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup pineapple with juice
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tbs. Brown sugar

DIRECTIONS:
Place the apples in a food processor or blender and process
For 1 minute. If you don’t have either of these appliances,
Then just chop the apples by hand, very small. Place the
Apples, pineapple and juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a
Saucepan and stir to combine the ingredients. Cook on medium
Low for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the
Heat and let the sauce cool for 15 minutes. Store the sauce
In a jar in the refrigerator.

Yield: 2 cups of Apple Sauce

Remembrance roast

roasted-pork-tenderloin1


1 chicken or pork loin roast

1 small Onion, chopped

1 cloves Garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 Bay leaf, crushed

1/2 teaspoon Celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon Dry thyme

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon

Garlic powder

salt & pepper to taste

Fold 2 large sheets of aluminum foil together with a double fold. There should be enough to enclose the roast. Place roast on foil. Sprinkle other ingredients over top. Enclose roast tightly in foil and cook in 300 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes PER pound. Until roast reaches 160 degrees.

Cheesy Rosemary Biscuits

303467-RosemaryBiscuits

Old fashioned biscuits are a treat at any season.

2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or cheddar
2 1/2tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 stick unsalted butter or margarine, chilled
1/2 cup milk (or more if needed)
2-3 Tbs. dry sherry
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cheese, baking powder,
salt, rosemary .
Cut the chilled butter into pieces and mix into the
flour mixture, crumbling the dough.
Add the milk and sherry and quickly ,mix the dough
just until the ingredients are moistened. Lightly
knead the dough inside the bowl a few times to
form a ball, and place on a floured surface. Roll out the dough with
a floured rolling pin ), to  about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut out rounds with a cookie cutter or jelly glass
and place them on a baking sheet. Bake them for 10
to 12 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Makes about 15 to 18 biscuits.

Garlic String beans

1-2 pounds fresh string beans

2 cloves garlic

Butter or olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Sautee green beans with garlic in the butter/oil until cooked crisp tender

Pumpkin Bread

2/3 cup Shortening

1 teaspoon Nutmeg

2 2/3 cups Sugar

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

4 large Eggs

2 teaspoons Baking soda

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 teaspoon Baking powder

3 1/3 cups Flour

2/3 cup Water

1 can Pumpkin

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

Mix all the above ingredients together, pour into 2 loaf pans. Bake at 350~F for 50 – 60 minutes. You can add dates and nuts if you like.

Quick Apple Spice Cake

2009-03-19-apple-spice-cake


This is the fastest quickest cake recipe for those pagans that have not got enough time

to really cook!

You will need the following:

1 spice cake mix

1 small package of vanilla pudding

1 can apple pie filling

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup milk

1 container of caramel apple dip (optional)

you will also need a microwave safe pan or Bundt type pan.

Mix all of the ingredients together except for the dip, they do not have to be mixed until
the mix is smooth. Pour into your pan and cook on 70% for 16 – 18 minutes or until done
(dry on top and pulling away from the sides). Let it cool slightly and pour the caramel
apple dip over the top and Enjoy!

Until next month
Merry Cooking and Blessed Eating
The Hearthkeeper

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

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