November, 2011


November, 2011

Merry Meet and Welcome to PaganPages EMagazine.

This issue is sponsored by:

Specializing in an ever-changing selection of unique and hard-to-find ceremonial supplies, rare botanicals, and ritual tools from around the world. Multicultural items for spiritual cleansing, purification, protection, prosperity, love, faith, balance, and power. Amulets * Charms * Luck & Fortune Items * Candles * Burners * Soaps * Teas * Energy Jewelry * Totems * Percussion Instruments * Animal Helpers * Boxes * Bags * Cards * Calendars * Affirmations * Books * Cds * Amulet Bags: pre-made or by prescription * Featuring Mama Donna’s Own Blend of Blessing Oils   Keep checking back, http// There is a lot more amazing merchandise in the pipeline.   Shipping and Handling is free in the USA! (With an order or $20. or more.)

Thank you Mama Donnas Spirit Shop!!

This issue is packed with great information, facts, and some wonderful offers like from Mama Donnas Spirit Shop and Under the New Moon whose column is Spell-Struck.

This month we feature the beautiful work of Lori Karels

We are currently looking for the following columnists:



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Happy Reading!!!

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Plastic Paths: The Astral Travel Chronicles

November, 2011

Through the Fog

Over the past week or so, every astral travel experience has been odd. I don’t use the word “odd” lightly because in my experience every trip into the astral is strange, weird, off, and unusual, but these past few trips have been odd in a whole new way.

From the moment I leave my body and begin walking around this other world, my movements become sluggish and my sight gets cloudy. Reaction time is slow and comprehension is even slower. “I’m stoned,” I hear myself say. “How did I get this way?”

It’s a fair question. In the physical world I’m clean and sober, so why does crossing over mean walking into a thick fog?

I’ve asked the question out loud but have yet to receive an answer. Not believing in “just because” I can’t help but to search for the meaning behind it. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, and as you are probably aware, in the astral realm there is a voice. I generally call it The Voice of Truth because that has been my experience: ask a question, get a truthful answer. The downside is that the answer is hardly ever detailed, rarely ever full of explanation. Usually all I get is the minimal amount of information.

Such is the case with the faux stoned fog.

I ask what is happening and The Voice of Truth responds, “You got stoned.”

I ask, “How?”

VoT says, “You did.” Such answers make me doubt just how much truth is in that darn voice.

I ask why this is happening, the VoT answers, “Because you got stoned.”

I say, “I don’t like it,” and the VoT tells me, “You just have to wait for it to wear off.”

Seriously? I still don’t understand any of this, but the VoT is right, it does wear off as I continue on with my travels and move from place to place. But it takes awhile and I find myself aggravated by having my movements, eyesight, and thoughts all slowed dramatically by this fog.

I’d like an explanation: what is it, why has it happened for so many days in a row, and how does one get high in the astral plane? Without knowing it?

I’ll just have add this to my long list of “what the heck, astral world?” questions.

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Musings of a Massachusetts Witch

November, 2011

Are You Gifted?

Recently, I was having a discussion with a friend concerning the concept of gifts and talents; are the words interchangeable or do they mean different things? And while we didn’t really come to a conclusion it left me contemplating the idea. I found that it was more complex than I first imagined and many people have set ideas on this concept that I don’t personally subscribe to.

The first thing I considered was what each word meant. For this I turned to my trusted friend, Merriam-Webster. She is always my go-to gal when contemplating the meaning of words. I strongly believe that words and names hold power so for me, understanding what a word means is extremely important and necessary. Merriam revealed to me that the meaning of ‘gift’ is: a quality, endowment or talent that is given to an individual without compensation. And the word ‘talent’ means a natural endowment of a person, a characteristic feature, aptitude or disposition of an individual.

Yes, these definitions gave me pause. If a gift is something that is given and since we were discussing the non-physical (divination, healing, clairvoyance, and the like) then who is the person/entity/power that is giving this ‘gift’ to the individual possessing it? Does this imply that there is a God or Higher Power that is bestowing these ‘gifts’ to people? And if so, do all people possess ‘gifts’? Or are some individuals ‘gifted’ while others are not? And if that is so, doesn’t that create an elite class of ‘special’ or ‘entitled’ people? Does God or Creator or Higher Power really work that way? It is and was my belief when I was a Christian that we are all (created) equal.

I was even more curious at this point so I sat down at my computer and went online to do some research. I was interested to find what other opinions were on the topic. Interesting enough I discovered that there are some common beliefs pertaining to ‘gifts’ versus ‘talents’. The first being that the majority of people discussing the difference between gifts and talents were Christians. Second, they believed that gifts were sacred and originated with God and were given to individuals through The Holy Spirit. Third, they believed that only Christians were given such ‘gifts’ and all abilities that non-Christians possessed were considered ‘talents’. They also believed that ‘gifts’ were to be used for the Glory of God and to minister to others while ‘talents’ could be used for non-spiritual things. And lastly, they all agreed that ‘talents’ were natural inherited abilities that could be developed with knowledge, training and practice.

Well, now that gave me pause. There was a lot there that I do not agree with but it really helped me solidify what I did believe in regards to ‘gifts’ and ‘talents’. I can understand to some degree the Christian beliefs however I do not agree. Allow me explain why.

I believe that we all are God/dess and are a part of God/dess. We are deity manifested in the physical and being so we have access to everything that is, that was and that can be. We are limitless beings that have limitless ‘gifts’ and ‘talents’ however, because there is no power greater than We there is no Higher Power to give us what we want. We already have access to it. We already possess it. You have it. I have it. My friend has it. Even the Christians have it. We are all equal. We are all sacred. We are all divine.

I do believe that we all have different life experiences and through them we find ourselves interested or drawn to certain aspects or abilities more so than others. I believe that as we travel our life path we make choices that shape our likes and dislikes and at some point we may find that we enjoy a particular activity. We enjoy it so much that we repeatedly practice it or spend a lot of time and energy doing it. We enjoy it. Doing it makes us happy and connects us stronger to Universal Source (God/dess) and while we participate in this activity we become inspired and because of this … we are good at it. It is our calling. It is our ‘gift’ or our ‘talent’.

Now I know someone is going to read this and think … well, I have this ‘gift’ that makes me uncomfortable or scares the doggy doo out of me and I don’t want it, I don’t want to use it or practice it. Well, my belief on that (and you don’t have to accept it) is this: Fear is based on the physical plane – not on the spiritual one. What is it you are truly afraid of? Let it go. You are a powerful sacred being. There is nothing to be afraid of. You are God/dess. You are part of God/dess – part of ALL that is, ALL that was and ALL that will be. Why do you fear? That ‘gift’ is something that you have ultimate control of. Release your ego. Remember that you are more than your physical body. Do not be afraid. You are not alone. You are never alone.

So are you gifted? I say, “Yes. Yes you are. And so am I.”

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Fall night

November, 2011

Upon a time, a cool fall night,
Shinning stars, the moon’s real bright.
Hooded figures from the haze,
Colors all in black and grays.

They slowly move from tree to tree,
Careful with the things they see.
Shadows in the forest lie,
Watching with a noiseless eye.

The figures continue on their quest,
Hidden dangers and unrest.
On every path that they take,
Brings them closer to the lake.

Ancient trees, line the shore,
Lingering magick… can’t ignore.
Will-o-the-wisp….in the air,
This is the spot, they must prepare.

In a circle they hold hands,
Shouting out….their demands.
The flickering lights, start to glow,
The words they chant, start to flow.

All their words…..are exact,
With all the power they extract.
Weaving, stirring, Witchery,
Casting spells…one, two, three.

There is great purpose, in their skill,
All their power and their will.
From a distance you can see,
Shadows moving…..end-less-ly.

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A Simple Path: Journey of a Hedgewitch

November, 2011

The Self-Sufficient Hedge

The Hedgewitch lives in the space between the Village and the Forest. Between the mundane and the magical. S/He lives with a foot in both worlds.

This column is dedicated to the Hedgewitches of the planet earth.
As some may recall, I moved to a small farmstead in coastal Oregon a year and a half ago.
A tiny cottage situated on a few acres of land, half covered with ancient spruce, hemlock and fir.
Immediately I began digging gardens, and within a month had installed 6 fluffy baby chickens into my laundry room to brood.
The move came as a direct result of job-loss, with a downturn in the economy, so obviously, self-sufficiency was of some importance to me, in the land-use planning.
Living in a rural environment presents many opportunities for self-sufficiency, and have taken advantage of many.
We grow many of our own veggies in season, have eaten countless eggs from our hens, and processed our own poultry from an excess of roosters. We manufacture our own fertilizer, burn all our paper, and recycle the majority of packaging that comes into the house.
In our specific climate, being coastal, and subject to extreme marine influence, we are unable to grow a lot of the vegetables we need (particularly those requiring summer heat to mature) but we have access to the lush abundance which comes from the agricultural belt of the Willamette Valley, just 50 miles away.
Originally, our life simplification began as a way to “tighten our belts”, and to require less cash outflow. But it has become a quest.
My sense of things, economically, in my country is that they are not going to improve as rapidly (or at all) as people have been hoping/forecasting.
This feeling has spurned me on to find new ways to reuse, recycle and reduce our dependence on external resources.
The second spring, I obtained and brooded 8 more “straight run” chicks (those not sexed, and thus could turn out to be either gender). Of these 8, only 3 turned out to be hens. I was very disappointed by the lack of potential layers in the mix, but this became an opportunity for me to choose the Father of my flock with care, and from a selection.
In due time, as they matured, I did find the perfect specimen, and have since dispatched with the rest.
I understand that there are many who feel this is abhorrant, to kill ones animals for food. But we are carnivores in our home, and we would be eating meat, regardless. I simply prefer to eat meat which has been raised humanely, free of artifice and has been processed with deep reverence for Life and for sacrifice.
It should be noted that I, personally, process our poultry. My husband is of a sensitive nature, regarding this, so he plays no role in the act.
As a meat-eater, I have no hypocracy about where my food comes from, and thus, find no moral ambiguity about it. If anything, I feel worse about having to pay to support a commercial environment where animals of all sorts are raised and slaughtered in most inhumane ways.
As a devotee of my Lady Hecate, I am not what the Community would refer to as a Love and Lighter. I appreciate the Darkness as well as the Light, and find Death to be every bit as sacred and welcome  as birth.
This Fall, my broody hen went broody yet again, and I slipped some fertile eggs beneath her. She hatched out 2 perfect baby chicks, and is raising them in a natural way, with the flock.
The cycle of life, which I artificially set into motion by brooding those first little pullets has now come all the way around, and our tiny farm has produced its first generation of farm-raised offspring.
I am beyond grateful that I now have a continuing source of food for my family. Regardless of what happens with the economy, my family will eat.
I understand that many do not live in rural settings and do not have the opportunity to live so closely with the land and with Nature.
But in embracing the pure joy and connection that comes from living from the land, I encourage each one of you reading this to find a way to connect with this divine communion.
A potted herb on an apartment window sill, grown with care, and snipped for spicing a dish you are cooking, or for completing a magical spell can afford this same sense of union.
A trio of hens in an urban backyard can provide eggs, and a lovely form of cheap entertainment (believe me!) for the town-dweller. Allowing them to scratch and peck in the lawn provides them with food, and you with eggs, at a very low cost.
I hope you may all find a way to become more self-sufficient, and to enjoy a deep connection with the Divine in providing resources for your family.
To my friends hailing from the USA, Happy Thanksgiving! To the rest, Happy Giving Thanks!
Brightest Blessings!
By Earth and Air, By Fire and Sea, I wish, my friend, Ye Blessed Be!
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Artist Lori Karels

November, 2011

Lori was born July 8th, 1960 in Saint Paul Minnesota. She is a free-lance self-employed artist working out of her home studio in Andover Minnesota. She has been selling her artwork in Galleries and shops since 1982 and to collectors throughout the world with a large following in the UK, Spain and Australia. Lori is a self-taught artist working mostly in acrylics and watercolors.
You can find Lori’s work in numerous formats, from prints to greeting cards, mousepads, mugs, cross stitch patterns, stamps and patches.
Lori’s official Web site is where you can find information about purchasing her originals or contact her for commissions as well as links to many of the other businesses that carry her work.
Her main passion is fantasy art, mostly goddesses, fairies, mermaids, dragons, witches and unicorns. She plans to become a more widely published fantasy artist as she signs with several license companies to bring her unique style to an even larger audience. And has recently signed with ‘Wholesale Fantasy art’.
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WiseWoman Traditions

November, 2011

Sexy Herbs

Herbs that influence sexual functioning are safe, easy to use, and highly effective. They can improve desire, performance, and frequency for both men and women.

Down There the Wise Woman Way includes specific information on using my favorite sexy herbs, including: oatstraw, schizandra, ginkgo, fenugreek, ginseng, tribulus, ginger, marijuana, damiana, potency wood, yohimbe, guarana, and dendrobium. Plus information on sexy foods, and the effects of supplements such as arginine.

Oatstraw infusion is my favorite sexual tonic, for both men and women. It frees up, and thus increases, the amount of circulating testosterone. This aids lubrication, improves blood flow, increases stiffness, amps up interest, and heightens enjoyment. Postmenopausal women say oatstraw turns a vaginal desert into a flowing oasis. A cup or two a day helps lower cholesterol, too. Oaststraw counters environmental estrogens, too, decreasing cancer risk. For best results, alternate with red clover infusion to adjust hormones gently and build potency.

Schizandra berry (Schizandra chinensis) tincture (1–2 dropperfuls) or infusion (2–4 cups daily) strengthens the adrenals, counters inflammation, and increases sexual desire and vigor. It is a prized herb in China, long thought to preserve youth and sexual vigor, and to nourish the “waters of the genitals.” It helps us endure and function in harsh condition. Schizandra is thought to be especailly helpful those who have experienced sexual trauma. One hundred berries a day can help you keep your sexuality at its peak until the day you die.

It’s an old joke that there isn’t enough blood for both the penis and the brain, so a man can’t think when he has an erection. That may explain why an herb that improves blood flow to the brain counters erectile difficulties, too. A dropperful of ginkgo leaf tincture before sex relaxes blood vessels, increases blood flow, improves lubrication and engorgement, and heightens response. Ginkgo is especially effective when fat deposits or diabetes restrict blood flow, and in men whose blood flow is not improved by papaverine injections, or where potency is diminished by antidepressants. Between 50–78 percent of men in trials using 60–240mg of standardized ginkgo daily for at least six weeks regained the ability to have regular erections. Continue for 12–18 months. Caution: Avoid ginkgo before surgery and if taking blood-thinning drugs.

Great-tasting fenugreek tea is a classic way to improve potency. To make it, put 6 tablespoons of seeds in a quart jar, fill with boiling water, steep 15–20 minutes, strain, and drink freely.

Ginseng (Panax quinqifolium) improves sexual potency, especially in those who are overworked, overstressed, or over sixty. The proven and well-evidenced effects of taking at least 3 grams of ginseng daily include improvement in sperm production and motility, prolongation of the duration of coitus, heightening of libido by direct action on the higher brain centers, and a profound anti-fatigue effect with increased alertness and enhancement of coordination. Ginseng may increase LH and thus testosterone. It probably prevents deterioration of the adrenals, spleen, thymus, and thyroid. The Penobscot used it to increase fertility. Ginseng lowers stress hormones to enhance libido.

One of the most ancient of the sex herbs is the Indian tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) (terrible earth) fruit. One cup of tea or a dropperful of tincture taken 2-3 times a day can increase LH (and thus testosterone) in men and FSH in women. Regular use increases desire, performance, fertility, and mental clarity. Especially useful for those with diabetes  Tribulus capsules give me an “itch” for orgasm.

Ginger (Zingiber off.) aids sexual functioning. Regular use removes atherosclerotic plaque from penile blood vessels and increases circulation there. Snack on crystallized ginger, add  ginger to food, make ginger tea. Yummy.

A toke or two of good quality marijuana (Cannabis) has helped many women pick the lock on their “pleasure chest.” Too much can have the opposite effect; be moderate.

A cup of damiana (Tunera aphrodisiaca, T. diffusa, T. microphylla) leaf infusion daily or 15 drops of the tincture three times a day can counter a variety of sexual problems. It heightens sensation in the nerves, increases endurance, and promotes erotic dreams. Smoking the dried leaves improves her interest and his staying power. Damiana was a favorite sex herb of the Aztecs and the Mayans. It has been used by animal breeders to improve the chances of conception in high-strung livestock. Damiana is especially recommended for those who are anxious about sex.

Potency wood, muira puama, (Ptychopetalum olacoides, P. uncinatum) is a South American herb in the olive family that is famous for its ability to stimulate both  arousal and erection of the sexual tissues in those who are tired, run down, and weak. From 50–70 percent of those taking ½ cup of tea or 30  drops of tincture twice a day report intensification of libido, lessening of inhibition, and improvement in sexual pleasure. Caution: May lower blood pressure.

Yohimbe bark, (Pausinystalia yohimbe) from tropical west Africa, improves blood flow to the genitals and increases smooth muscle relaxation. It has no effect on testosterone levels; instead, it inhibits serotonin and acts to increase norepinephrine, which is essential for erections and which may decrease with age. Yohimbe is especially helpful for those with diabetes or heart disease. Yohimbe hydrochloride is the only FDA-approved anti-impotence herbal drug. Its effects on men — and women — include: increased stamina, heightened sensation, and greater desire. Consistent use of yohimbe tincture helps 81 percent of impotent men. According to Brigitte Mars, yohimbe increases blood flow to the genitals and prevents it from flowing back out of the genital sponges. It also affects the ganglion nerve center at the base of the spine and excites the sex center of the human brain in the hypothalamus.

Cautions: Do not use if you are young, old, or pregnant. Do not use more than twice in any week or even two days in a row. Yohimbe can lower blood pressure or cause kidney problems. It is a short-term MAO inhibitor; do not combine with high-tyramine foods such as bananas, cheese, chocolate, nuts, beer, red wine, red grape juice, sauerkraut, or aged meat; nor with tyrosine or phenylalanine supplements. Nor should yohimbe be used concurrently with antidepressants, sedatives, antihistamines, caffeine, or amphetamines. It may be agitating to the nervous system.

The favorite aphrodisiac and potency enhancer in Brazil is guarana. The peeled, dried, roasted, pulverized seeds of Paullinia cupana (or sobilis) are used. Guarana strengthens the nervous system increases desire and improves performance.

A tea of the stems and leaves of the orchid  Dendrobium nobile is favored by Taoists to build sexual energy.

Foods like shellfish, fatty fish, eggs, bee pollen, and pumpkin seeds are known to improve potency. Seven more foods that aid erection: onions, savory, celery, lovage, lettuce, burdock root, and saffron. Two ounces of sunflower seeds supply 4 grams of erection-enhancing arginine. Other foods sources of arginine include: pine pollen, peanuts, sesame seeds (tahini and gomasio), almonds, Brazil nuts, lentils, chives, watercress, carob, and kidney beans.

Supplements that aid sexual functioning include arginine, L-dopa, L-choline, and pantothenic acid., stimulates erections and desire.

Arginine increases the effectiveness of ginkgo. It is a precursor to nitric oxide, which is essential to vasodilation and erection. For an extra boost, as many as 36 pills (18g) of L-arginine can be taken 45 minutes before intercourse. Arginine cream can be used directly on the penis, too.

Caution: Diabetics, and those with shingles or herpes, should avoid L-arginine supplements.

L-dopa stimulates erections and desire. Fava beans and their sprouts are the best food sources. Supplements of L-tyrosine and L-phenylalanine are precursors; a dose is 100–500mg of each daily. Caution: Increases blood pressure. Do not use with yohimbe.

L-choline is an amino acid critical to erection. Supplementation with 1–3 g a day is effective. Caution: Causes stiffness of the upper back and neck, headache, diarrhea.

Taking vitamin B5, pantothenic acid, with L-choline leads to “longer and more pleasurable orgasms.”

Herbs, foods, and supplements definitely increase sexual desire, ability, and pleasure, but if you simply want stronger orgasms, just exercise! Twenty minutes of moderate exercise increases women’s genital engorgement by 168 percent. And the effect persists for hours. Daily practice of pelvic floor clenches helps men remain erect longer, too.

Green blessings

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Hearth and Home

November, 2011

While trick or treaters with their sing song voices roam your streets, struggling under the burden of bags groaning with sugary abundance and pagans and witches alike watch the face of the Goddess become Crone, we here in the Southern lands will dance joyous and unashamed around phallic poles wrapped in brightly coloured ribbons, celebrating the regeneration of life with the return of the sun.

Auhh summer, It didn’t seem that long ago that I fought a battle to somehow try to adapt to a turning wheel that knew only, dry and drier and hot and hotter. Everywhere I looked the land was burnt bare, trees stood parched in hot sands, sunburnt tourists struggled on city streets with sandals firmly adhered to the road by melting bitumen.
The knowledge may have been deep within me, yet I felt momentarily panicked. Where would my grasp of endings and new beginnings come from, when I watched a chilli bush, flick off any thought of rest with a wave of a defiant and fully glad branch, bursting forth yet another bunch of fiery fruit in the middle of winter. Although the acclimatized locals wore jackets and scarves, I longed for the sight of trees shivering in their nakedness, while I was tucked up safely in front of a toasty fire and the Dark Mother of winter rattled at my windows.

Oh such joy when we moved back across the country to the ‘cooler side’ – A green and grassy peninsula beckoned, tucked safely between two beautiful bays far from the siren song of the city. The seasons here each follow the other, perfectly orchestrated and in time.  I admit to feeling a little guilt surrounding my need for wheel turning order, when so many others have no choice but to deal with light or dark, wet or dry or any manner of seasonal subtleties, rather than the brass band entrance my inner self feels the need to attune too.

This year I have delighted in the miracle of change. Spending hours watching leaves flutter to the ground, forming a cascade of autumn glory across my yard. Cool winds bought thoughts of longer nights and family meals around a wooden table. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seasonal food, and during winter I refuse to buy out of season fruit and vegetables forced onto shop shelves by demanding and unknowing consumers. My joy comes from foraging through baskets laden with winter abundance, enjoying the sweet loamy aroma that comes from vegetables grown underground and whose smell holds all the secrets of the earth.

But the wheel will turn and as the face of the Goddess again changes, new life is being formed all around me. Sadly, I will say goodbye to my beloved winter and the dark secrets she brings. Throwing open my windows and doors I shall welcome those balmy, sun drenched days anew. The faces of the Maiden will be seen in buds and blossoms, her song will be heard on the ocean breeze. I shall dance with the horned God, our beat the rhythm of the land, rejoicing in this time of rebirth and regeneration. My heart will give thanks for the winter I yearned for. A spirit renewed, the wheel will be followed forward to another fertile and another abundant summer.

May blessings and abundance find their way to your door.

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Across the Great Divide

November, 2011

Science and Psychics- The Tech of Paranormal Research

Most of the intellectual rhetoric thrown back and forth between skeptics and parapsychologists concerns the types of tools used during investigations; sometimes even those within the field of psychical research will argue among themselves for or against certain techniques and tools.

Since the field is one which attempts to quantify and classify phenomena that are, by definition, cultural, religious, and fundamentally unknown, it is somewhat acceptable to utilize devices and techniques of a more “mystical” nature. Many times the use of arcane devices and psychics can help lead the team to an area of interest or heightened activity, and sometimes even actual contact with the netherworld.

Once these devices or techniques have pointed the way to the presence of activity, the seasoned researcher will switch to more scientific instruments to document any possible activity. Unfortunately, the truth is that at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what kind of personal experiences, thoughts, feelings, intuitions, or psychic imagery is collected, or by whom- if it can’t be verified or quantified through impartial scientific measurement and documentation, then it technically never happened and just becomes yet another account in the mythos of a location’s “ghost stories.”

Tools have been modified or adopted from various sciences and applications over the years to measure and analyze data in a paranormal investigation. Some devices are used specifically to debunk phenomena and establish clear natural causes; while others have the purpose of capturing evidence- such as voice and video recorders. EMF detectors have a unique function of being used both for the debunking and the signifying of paranormal activity.

However, regardless of how expensive or scientific the tools, they are only as scientific as the person using it; a team may boast about owning the most sophisticated thermometer available, but if members are using it as a barometer, the measurements are worthless; Just as using a calculator doesn’t make you a mathematician, using a Geiger counter doesn’t make you a scientist. In the wrong hands the most accurate measurement device is nothing more than an expensive toy.

All paranormal research groups have their own unique procedures and instruments of choice. Some are religiously-based and use age-old tools and techniques; some consider themselves ultra-modern and use only the most expensive and scientific of equipment. Most groups, however, fall somewhere in the middle; and the tools, techniques, and even the very members come from a vast array of backgrounds, philosophies, and religions. The make-up of these groups and the tools they use are contingent on finances, personal preference, and practicality.

We’re all familiar with EMF detectors, and I’ve gone over at length the ins and outs of video and audio equipment; but as I mentioned earlier, some of these tools are of a more arcane nature and we’ll focus on that this time around.

The use of dowsing rods for various functions goes back thousands of years. They have been used to find water in new settlements, material objects, fortune telling, and various religious applications. Essentially, a pair of L-shaped metal rods made of brass or lightweight metal are held loosely in each hand and will remain straight or static during normal conditions, but when in the presence of paranormal activity they will begin to move erratically or cross when directly over, near, or in direct contact with paranormal activity. Interestingly, during the Vietnam War, U.S. Marines even used dowsing to locate weapons and tunnels.

Traditionally, the divining rod was a Y-shaped branch from a tree or bush. Different cultures preferred the branches come from particular trees- hazel twigs in Europe and witch-hazel in the United States. Branches from willow or peach trees are also common. Both skeptics and many of dowsing’s supporters believe that dowsing apparatus have no special powers, but merely amplify unnoticeable movements of the hands resulting from the expectations of the dowser. This psychological phenomenon is known as the ideomotor effect and boils down to basic mind over matter. Your mind is signaling the muscles in your body to make subtle movements that are unnoticeable to the naked eye. Some supporters agree with this explanation, but insist that the dowser has sensitivity to the environment; other dowsers say their powers are paranormal.

The American Society of Dowsers admits that “the reasons the procedures work are entirely unknown.”

Research focusing on possible physical or geophysical explanations for dowsing has been conducted in recent years. For example, Russian geologists have made claims for the abilities of dowsers, which are difficult to account for in terms of the reception of normal sensory cues. Some authors suggest that these abilities may be explained by postulating human sensitivity to small magnetic field gradient changes. One study had even concluded that dowsers “respond” to a 60 Hz electromagnetic field, but this response does not occur if the kidney area or head are shielded.

Whatever the evidence for or against, dowsing will undoubtedly continue to be used in the course of investigations. Those that swear by their results will present evidence to support their claims, and skeptics will chuckle at the “superstitions of ages past.”

Another example of this type of tool is the pendulum. A pendulum is a small dowsing tool composed of a dangling crystal or metal plumb which is used to answer questions or find things through psychic energies. Answers are determined by the direction of movement to preset variables; the most common formation is back and forth for yes, circular for no. Pendulums are used in much the same way as dowsing rods and similar to function and result. Due to its design of both answering specific questions and ability to detect or be affected by paranormal activity, the pendulum can be considered a hybrid between the centuries-old dowsing rod and the Ouija Board of Spiritualist fame. Skeptics also point out the high probability of the ideomotor effect.

One device I have to mention, as it’s come up in conversation a lot lately, is called the Ovilus.

This odd gadget blends the psychic and the scientific into an all-in-one tool- an EMF, audio recorder, dowsing rod, and K-II that turns EMF into phonetic speech by translating the readings into numbers, and those numbers into words, sounding them out using text-to-speech algorithms via a vocabulary of 512 words.  Various modes include speech mode, using the environment to pick the words to say; phonetic mode, using the environment to create words phonetically; commutation mode, using speech mode and phonetic mode together, EMF Mode; yes/no mode, to ask questions and get yes or no answers (a digital Ouija?); level mode, to watch the energy change in the environment; and dowsing mode, to work like a pair of dowsing rods.  It is equipped with something called the Paranormal Puck.  The Puck is designed to aid in paranormal research and meant to be the “center” of investigation.  A place to gather, log, track, and maintain the data it watermarks to prevent tampering.

Every time I try to justify this thing, all I can picture is Dug and the other dogs from Disney’s Up!

Users note that it can be “randomly repetitious” at times by stating selected words for every question asked and every environment investigated.

The first question that comes to mind is how can the inventor of this device possibly test the results?  Whatever formula they use to equate EM energy with words would have to start as an arbitrary guess.  It would then need to be tested repeatedly to verify the results.

In the end, the most important thing to take away from this is that whatever tools or techniques you or your group are using, as long as it is used correctly and truthfully then happy hunting.

So, dear readers, what kind of experiences have you had using these types of tools? As always, the floor is now yours. Please share.

© 2011 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

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Meditation Moment

November, 2011

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

As the Wheel of the Year turns to winter, it is natural for us to turn inward as well, using the increasing darkness to help us concentrate on internal matters and to work with trance states and meditative journeys. Progressive muscle relaxation is a simple but useful technique for quieting the body so that the spirit can engage in these experiences without being distracted by external influences. It can also be used as part of a larger meditative practice to help us recognize where we tend to experience stress physically and learn to release that tension.

Describing stress as a feeling of pressure or tension isn’t just a figure of speech; most of us have particular muscles that we tend to tense up unconsciously when we’re worried about something. Some people “store” stress like this in their neck or back; others in the legs or abdomen. After too long, a muscle kept tense will feel achy and stiff. That feeling is annoying in and of itself, and can be tremendously distracting while you’re trying to engage in inner work.

It would be easy to say that if we just removed stress from our lives, we wouldn’t get tense, stiff, and sore muscles as a result! Since totally eliminating the cares and concerns of a normal life isn’t likely to happen anytime soon for most of us, progressive muscle relaxation is a way to work backwards from the effects to the cause. By relaxing, calming, and stilling the body, we make it possible to do the same in the mind and spirit.

Being able to relax the body to a comfortable, neutral state is also essential for doing trance work or guided meditations that involve a lot of detailed visualization or action. In these experiences, you want to be able to “leave your body behind,” and it’s much more difficult to do that when achy muscles are clamoring for your attention and intruding on your awareness.

To do progressive muscle relaxation, you first tense and then relax each group of muscles in your body. You’re using pairs or groups of muscles because you want to keep your body mostly still while you’re doing this. Where there’s a pair of muscles that have opposite functions, like your biceps and triceps in your upper arm, or your quads and hamstrings in your thigh, you tense both of them at the same time so that your limb doesn’t actually move at all. For areas like your feet and hands, you’ll be using whole groups of muscles.

Starting at your feet, first try to point your toes or to curl them inward, and while you take a slow breath in tense all the muscles there at once, then relax as you exhale. Now imagine that you’re pressing hard on a pedal with the ball of your foot, and tense and relax in sync with your breath. As you relax, that part of your body may feel heavy or warm; go with that feeling and let yourself sink into it, bit by bit.

It can actually be hard for us to identify tension or to know what really loosening up particular muscles feels like. By tensing the muscles first, we kick-start the relaxation process: if it can’t get any tenser, there’s nowhere else to go. Once that starts, we can go with the flow and let it keep going to relax out the initial tension we were storing there. As you become more familiar with what it feels like to be truly relaxed in certain parts of your body, you’ll be better able to identify tension and start the process of relaxing.

Do not hold your breath while tensing your muscles! That will raise your blood pressure and actually create more stress in your body; let the timing of your breathing determine how long you are tight, and then feel the strain and tension flowing out as you exhale.

As you progress from your feet up your legs and through your core, you will know when you get to the muscles where you tend to store stress because there will be less difference between the starting feeling of the muscle and the really tensed state – it will feel already tight when you get to it. As you let it relax, the looser state will feel even better than where you started out.

Keep going up through your core, to your arms and hands. Tense your hands in two different ways, like you did your feet – once in a fist, and once with your fingers spread out as wide as you can move them, pressing your palm down. Then work through your shoulders, neck, and face. Yes, even your facial muscles can feel tense and benefit from some relaxation!

When you finish, go back to your feet and slowly check on each group of muscles. If any of them have tensed up again, squeeze and relax them, slowly, until your whole body feels open and calm. If you want to do a trance exercise, do this while laying or sitting down, and as your muscles feel warm and heavy, imagine that they are sinking down into closer contact with the floor or chair. When you’re ready, you can let your attention drift up and away, gently moving out of your body to begiin your trance.

Calm the body and the mind will follow; still the body so the mind can roam.

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