Articles

Pendulum Divination - Anyone Can Do It
 by: Carolyn Donnelly

Divination is a simple way to tap into the deep reservoir of wisdom that each of us holds in our higher conscience. The pendulum is not a magical implement. It is only a tool. The magic comes from our ability to access a vast pool of knowledge that we already have at our disposal. Everyone has the ability to divine. For some it will come easily and immediately. To others it may take a little practice. It is a fun way to find answers to some of life’s questions and to develop your psychic ability.

People normally turn to divination when they have a burning question or when they are at a crossroad and must make an important life decision. It is usually a time of indecision and divination can help us to determine what is really important to us. Our mind is a strong and influential force that often rules our decision making. Our logical mind, however, can trick us into making decisions that do not take all the important aspects of ourselves into account. Divination helps you to tap into our intuition and find out what you really want and what will really help you to achieve your life goals.

Divination can also help you in many everyday practical ways such as: finding something that is lost; for better health; for healing; and even to help you make better gardening decisions. This paper will concentrate on how to use a divination pendulum.

The Pendulum

A pendulum is a convenient tool for divination as it can be carried around in your pocket or worn as a necklace. A pendulum can be made from any small symmetrical object that can swing freely and easily on the end of a cord or chain. You can use a bolt, screw or nut from the garage tool box, a ring or pendant from your jewelery box. The kitchen drawer can also offer surprising small objects that you be used as pendulums. Before writing this article, I searched through my kitchen drawer for examples and found a round key-ring, a small padlock and a symmetrical key, all of which could be used as a pendulum. The object must be reasonably symmetrical however in order for it to work correctly and it must be of a certain weight. For instance, if it is too light it will not pull the cord tight and swing correctly. If it is too heavy, you will find it difficult to hold it gently between your fingers.

Choosing a Pendulum

Although you can use just about any symmetrical object, made from any material, most people tend to choose a pendulum that they like the look of and feel comfortable with. You can buy beautiful pendulums for a small amount of money from new age and metaphysical shops. They are typically made from metal, wood, semi precious stones or crystals and usually come with a chain or cord attached. Remember, that the pendulum is not a magical implement but only the tool that allows you to unlock the secrets of your own higher self.

However, the material that a pendulum is made from can increase particular energies that contribute to the power of your divination. Pendulums made from semi-precious stones or crystals bring to your divination the special quality that the stone or crystal provides. These special qualities can assist you by increasing the positive energy during the divination process. Below is an example of some semi-precious stones and their particular qualities:

Amethyst – soothes the nervous system, balancing emotions. It helps you to feel more in control. It is good for relieving physical and emotional pain and overcoming addictions, dispelling anger, fear and anxiety.

Citrine or Golden Topaz - a highly positive stone that can guide you in a positive and creative direction. It is good for dispelling insecurity and negative thoughts and for attaining inner calm and security. It is motivating and helps you to achieve clarity of thought and resolution of problems

Clear Quartz Crystal – a highly spiritual stone, quartz is good for psychic development. It is purifying and creates harmony and balance. It enhances the qualities of other stones and can be programmed to achieve just about any goal.

Rose Quartz Crystal – the love stone, rose quartz creates harmony and balances emotional states. It is the stone for self-acceptance and appreciation of all things. It brings peace, compassion, self-love, happy relationships and receptivity to beautiful things.

Sterling Silver – brings clarity of thought and enhances your ability to deal with intellectual problems.

Tiger Eye - strengthens convictions and brings courage and confidence. It is good for mental focus and for promoting energy flow around the body. It is said to attract the people and things into your life that you need to achieve your goals.

Chambered Pendulums

Many pendulums contain a hollow chamber into which you can insert an object of significance to your divination questions. Chambered pendulums are usually made from metal and have a small hinged lid that opens to a small hollow chamber. Objects that are commonly inserted in the chamber include small crystals or stones to increase particular energies or a hair or piece of clothing from someone central to the question that is being asked. This makes chambered pendulums a very powerful tool for use in pendulum divination.

Preparing for Divination

Because we often turn to divination when we have a great desire to find the answer to a question, it is important to ensure we are in the right state of mind for undertaking divination. A genuine desire to find an answer is an important factor to successful divination. However, it is also important that you do not approach finding the answer in a desperate way with too much emotional attachment to the answer. You must approach divination in a relaxed manner, remaining a little detached from the answer. If you are too anxious and put too much pressure on yourself, the process will be ineffective.

For the best results, especially if you are using divination as a way to answer a question that causes you stress, it is advisable to undertake divination directly after meditating. Alternatively, here is a relaxation technique that will assist in reducing any anxiety directly before undertaking divination:

Light an aromatic candle or incense in a relaxing scent (examples: amber, lavender, geranium, jasmine, frankincense) in a room where you will not be disturbed. You could put on some relaxing music if you find that calming. Sit or lie somewhere comfortable. Once you are settled, imagine a light entering your body from your feet and gradually filling your body. As the light travels up your legs and through your body visualize the light entering every sinew, muscle, tendon and vein – every cell. Imagine the light to be soothing, calming and relaxing you as it pours into every aspect of your body. If you have an ache or a pain, concentrate the light on that point, making it bright and imagining the light healing the pain. As the light continues to make its way up through your body, it takes with it any pain, discomfort or stress until finally pouring out through the top of your head, expelling anything that is making you ill at ease.

By relaxing prior to divination, you will reduce your internal ‘noise’ and will be better able to focus your mind on the question. A more relaxed state will help you to remain calm and will assist you to get in contact with your intuition.

Determining the Question

Because pendulum divination is used to provide a Yes or No answer, you must be careful how you ask the question. The question must be unambiguous. Sometimes it is better to ask a series of simple questions that can be answered with either yes or no than to ask a complicated question where answering yes or no does not really give you a meaningful answer. Spend some time on your question as, if you ask ambiguous questions in the early stages of learning to use the pendulum, you may loose confidence in the accuracy of the process.

Practicing with a few simple questions first will help you to determine how to best form a question to find an answer to the important issues. Sometimes the timing for the question is not right. If this is the case, you will not receive an answer. You can, however, ask the pendulum whether the timing is right.

How To Use Your Pendulum

Determining the Yes and No Signals

Find somewhere comfortable to sit. Hold the cord or chain of the pendulum between the thumb and forefinger, leaving 2 to 4 inches of cord between the pendulum and your fingers. Ensure that your fingers are pointing down so that the pendulum can swing freely.

Hold the pendulum in front of you, so that it has plenty of room to swing above your knees.

To start the divination process, swing the pendulum in a motion away from you and towards you. This is the neutral action and is a way of saying, “I am ready to start divining”.

Firstly, you need to predetermine the signals that mean Yes and No. To do this, you ask the pendulum.

To determine the Yes response - While your pendulum is still swinging in the neutral action, state, ‘show me my Yes response’. You do not need to say this out loud but make sure you state it clearly in you mind. Now watch the pendulum. It will change direction or change its movement style or it may stop altogether. Whatever movement it makes after you ask for your Yes response is the movement that will be your signal for Yes.

To determine the No response - Swing the pendulum once again in the neutral action. While the pendulum is still swinging in the neutral action, state ‘show me my No response’. Watch the pendulum and whatever motion it makes will be your No response.

Repeat the process outlined above until you are confident that you have a predetermined response for Yes and No.

If You Don’t Get a Clear Signal

When you first start using a pendulum this process may take a while as you are using a part of your psyche that may not be well practiced. You need to be patient with yourself and keep you mind focused on the question you are asking. For some this comes immediately but for many it will take practice.

If, after trying a number of times, you are not getting a clear signal from the pendulum for Yes and No, you can decide your signals using your conscious mind. To do this, repeat the exercise as stated above but this time decide on what movement you would like to be your Yes signal and what movement you would like to be your No signal.

To consciously determine your Yes signal, firstly swing the pendulum in the neutral position, then state in your mind, or out loud, ‘this will be my Yes signal”. On making this statement, deliberately swing the pendulum in the motion that you have chosen to mean Yes. Do the same thing to determine the No signal. Once you have set your responses, practice swapping between Yes, Neutral, No, Neutral, Yes, etc. Test out the predetermined responses by asking some simple questions and let the pendulum signal the answer.

Like anything new, your divination will improve through practice. Practice helps you to focus your mind and will help you to develop an emotionally detached disposition when divining. Over time you will increase your ability to ‘hear’ your intuition and improve your general psychic ability.

Pendulum divination helps you to align your intellectual mind with your intuition. It is a simple tool that is easy to use and a great way to increase your psychic development. Tap into your own immense source of knowledge and have some fun in the process. Anyone can divine and a pendulum is a simple and easy method for tapping into the higher realms.


  

Creative Visualization or How to get What You Want as opposed to What You Need!
Author: Atham Z

I have proven to myself that one can visualize what one wants into reality. Sometimes this process takes time, much time, as in years, but it generally works. Robert Taylor of the Success Training Academy and
Julia Jablonski of the Psychic Journal, say:

"The main concept we have to remember is that what we believe, we attract into our lives. If we believe we are always ill, we will be. If we believe we are healthy, then it is what will manifest into our lives. There is Power in Belief. If you work with it, you open doors to a limitless dimension!

There are natural spiritual laws that govern our power to create what we want in our lives. With the metaphysical law of attraction in mind, obviously you want to be very positive and optimistic in your outlook so that you will attract those developments in your life. This is much more than just 'positive thinking.' Creative visualization is a process that changes our lives by creating images in our minds that ultimately
become reality. These images are first just anticipation, but they quickly become an expectation, and finally an intrinsic belief. Over time you 'know' that this will become a reality in your life. Since you are creating your life every day, you are also creating your future.  As human beings we are both living magnets and power sources of human energy--a yin and yang in oriental thinking. We radiate out our unique energy, and we attract into our lives those people and circumstances that are in tune with our unique thoughts. You attract to yourself what you radiate out from yourself, whether it is positive or negative.

What a person thinks about all the time is attracted into his life. Someone who is passionately consumed with a belief or concept is a person who will have that preoccupation become a reality in his or her life.

It is your 'self' that determines your fate and nothing and no one else. The self-determination you feel within gives you the strength to overcome all the obstacles you will face in life. You must take personal responsibility for your actions and the results in your life. Your "self" must become strong and
determined. You succeed through self-determination.

Whatever you believe with absolute conviction and confidently expect to happen becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and will become a reality in your life. Most important are your convictions and expectations. If you believe something with absolute conviction, you also expect it to become true. There is a powerful force in your will to succeed. You will instinctively take the appropriate actions that will bring about the results you reverently desire. Getting deeply into the feeling state you desire is what works the magic."

I will walk you through the process here.

First, figure out what you really want. It needs to be something tangible, as opposed to something like attention or affection from another person. Changing the actions of another person is beyond anyone's scope, all we can control are our own attitudes and actions. Keep your desire positive, because wishing harm or misfortune on someone else is unethical in a psychic sense. Examples of visualizable items would be a brand new vehicle or a six figure bank account.

Next, make sure that you are very specific about what you want. Merely wanting any new vehicle or to hold a cheque for $100,000.00 might come literally true for you. A new to you clunker that won't run a mile or passing a cheque for that sum to someone else might be the literal manifestations of an unclear focus. You need to specifically see this item in your world, as in a shiny new car (make and colour of your choice) in your driveway or those six figures in your passbook for your bank or a certain item in a place of your choice in your home.

Next train your mind to daydream about this item when it wanders or drifts from whatever you are concentrating on. This is very important, to think as often as possible about
the impact this specific item will have on your life. The average length of daydreams is only 14 seconds, and many are 5 seconds or less. Men and women spend about the same amount of time during the day daydreaming. So put this time to work for yourself. Some experts suggest cutting out pictures of
what you are striving for or burning ritual candles, but I have never had go to those lengths to achieve my "wants". Make a habit of talking about this item to yourself within the silent dialogue that is usually running within your mind.

Never lose faith, but believe that you will achieve this seemingly impossible goal. Of course this item is not going to fall out of the sky into your life, so whatever opportunities that might perhaps lead you toward the goal, grasp them. When one pathway seems blocked or your efforts appear futile, tackle the steps that might lead to your fulfillment from a different direction.

Tell folks that you trust about your "want" and your methods of visualizing it into reality. Maintaining a positive attitude and faith in your self are crucial to achieving what you want.

If at all possible, do without what you are visualizing rather than settle for second best. A partial fulfillment of your "want" can cause you to looe focus and not put the necessary energy into realizing/constructing your dream.

Dr. Gary Emery, a UCLA psychologist, suggests these tips about how to make your daydreams realize your goals:

"Realize that daydreams are important, and not a waste of time. 'They are visions of how we want things to be. They give us hope. Many of man's great achievements came from people who dared to turn their day dreams into reality.

Dream the impossible dream. 'Don't squelch your imagination, no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous your daydream may seem. Let your mind run free and produce goal oriented daydreams.' "Psychologists say daydreaming can be an effective way to  initiate positive life changes. Imagining goals for example, can be the first step toward making them come true."

So, get started by specifically choosing what you want to have as a reality in your life and then visualize and dream about it.

Good Luck!



All One Family: Appreciating Samhain as a Family

Clea Danaan

One day my daughter was peeling a hard-boiled egg. She said, "I wonder why eggs have so many parts: there is the shell, then the skin part, then the egg inside."

I said, "Well, each part has its purpose."

She turned to me and asked, "Do people have a purpose?"

I smiled and said yes, that every person had a purpose, though we don’t always know what that purpose is. "I thought so," she said, "but I just wondered."

These are the kinds of everyday encounters that can instill in our children the sacredness of life and help launch deeper discussions. They also introduce the idea of metaphor; the egg is real, and it is also a story about purpose. Just like the Wheel of the Year.

The Wheel of the Year is a metaphor, a story about meaning, unfolding, growth, and journey. As a Pagan parent, I am always offering my children both the literal interaction with life (the garden, the egg) and the story (Samhain, magic, purpose) that will guide them as they grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Through play and daily living we live the Wheel.

The cycle of the planet around the Sun brings us through eight sabbats, each both a literal and a metaphorical guide to our spiritual journeys. To Pagans, Wiccans, Druids, and others who center their spiritual path in the Earth, the Wheel is our sacred text. As Pagan parents, we can draw on the spiral of the sabbats as we raise our children. It is a curriculum for life, a how-to guide for the evolution of our material and spiritual selves on Earth.

For many Pagans the Wheel begins with Samhain, as the Goddess descends into the underworld and the earth rests. Where I live in eastern Colorado, we often get our first snow around Samhain. The garden is done producing, the chickens are laying fewer eggs, and the summer bounty has already been preserved. I use Samhain as a resting point between the busyness of summer and fall and the bustle of Thanksgiving and Yule. Samhain has always been a favorite holiday of mine, and I enjoy sharing the traditions with my children.

In some ways Samhain is the easiest Pagan holiday to celebrate publicly, because many of its symbols and practices have been embraced by secular culture for Halloween and the Catholic All Hallow’s Eve. However, the American Halloween portrays death as a frightening, freakish specter. This puzzles my young daughter. She has grown up with the Wheel of the Year as danced by the garden. She knows that plants die to make new life. She has said goodbye to three beloved chickens. We discuss lovingly and matter-of-factly how three of her grandparents are spirits now, just as she was before she joined this family. To her, death is not frightening, just interesting, a phase of the journey about which she has many questions, but no fear.

One simple and powerful symbol of death is the annual show of leaves turning yellow, brown, and red, then falling to the ground where we play with them and pile them on the garden beds. My children rejoice in the colors of autumn as mums and pumpkins arrive at the grocery store and in the garden. We carve jack-o’-lan- terns several times in October, for it is a craft and a ritual we all enjoy. Carving pumpkins and the other perennial ritual of costume-making provide doorways to discuss the meaning of the holiday. Gourd lanterns guide us and our ancestors through the literal and metaphorical darkness. Meanwhile, costumes and masks allow us to explore aspects of our inner selves. Many popular Halloween costumes also depict death and the ancestors. The season is all about going within to the darkness, into our shadows, and meeting ourselves and those who have gone before.

Children (and adults) came to understand part of who they are by exploring their roots, and Samhain can be a perfect time to delve into family history by sharing stories from the past, poring over photo albums, and even crafting a family tree. This can be simple as a big piece of poster board showing three or four generations, or you could begin a family history project using online or print genealogy resources. Include your poster or other projects on your family altar.

Samhain is also a time to discuss, depending on the ages of your children, the Halloween symbol of the Witch versus real Witches. My daughter and I tend to have these talks in the car en route to our various activities. We talk about how real Witches are normal people who believe that the earth is sacred (and discuss what sacred means) and who practice magic. Then, of course, we discuss magic. I stay away from lecturing; my daughter’s natural curiosity and keen questions guide the conversation, and we move on when she changes the subject. As my children grow older, these talks will grow more in-depth, including the history of Halloween symbols and their meaning to us as Pagans. I always tie these discussions to real examples in her life, like the rituals we follow in the garden and at the dinner table.

For my family, our Samhain rituals include giving thanks and saying goodbye to the past year. We turn the compost, searching for bugs and discussing how the bugs eat the dead plants to make healthy soil, that will nourish plants that will die to nourish us. We thank the garden and the compost for their gifts to us. Other families might perform a Samhain ritual with an altar, salt, water, and invocation of gardening goddesses like Demeter or Proserpine. We cook pumpkin pie and bread, honoring how a plant can offer so many gifts and discuss how spices and plants have magical qualities: cinnamon and pumpkin offer protection, love, and abundance. We light candles at the dinner table and say prayers for our loved ones living and dead. As my children get older, I introduce new aspects of ritual, such as anointing candles or casting a circle. For now, most of our sacred practice is tied to an everyday activity like eating and gardening. Food is sacred and the land is sacred. These are the foundations of our path.

Children learn through doing, through play, and through stories. Samhain is a time of the fall-to-winter play, which tells the story of the Goddess entering the underworld. Some stories to share include the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, the Sumerian myth of Innana’s descent, and the Celtic story of the Morrigan. Some children may want to act out these stories; younger ones can do puppet shows while older youth may want to put on family pageants with elaborate costumes. Either would be fun activities for a Halloween party and can be followed up with discussion about the myths and where children see themselves in the stories.

Samhain is also a time of letting go, a lesson all of us revisit again and again. For Samhain, make rituals out of whatever you and your children are letting go of, be that a loved one, warm days, or a beloved summer shirt. Write poems or spells together that honor the importance of whatever you say goodbye to. Let it be an age-appropriate discussion of how it hurts to say goodbye and how that can be a new beginning at the same time. Light a candle and take time for reflection as you read your poem or recite your spell. Invite silence as well.

You also may want to read popular culture Halloween stories and discuss the symbology behind them if it’s age-appropriate. Draw pictures of the season’s sacred symbols—apples, pumpkins, masks, etc.—and discuss them. On Samhain night, make an ancestor altar together, with pictures of loved ones, sacred symbols, seasonal decorations, and a candle or two. Include your family tree. Introduce the meaning of the four elements and Spirit. Older children and teens may want to create altars for themselves, with seasonal images and symbols from their own lives like gifts from friends, poems they’ve written, and other treasures. Let the family or personal altars be a place to honor and discuss "darker" emotions like sadness, grief, or fear. These practices, as simple or complex as appropriate, will form the foundation for more complex learning and spiritual growth as your children grow through the spiraling Wheel of the Year.

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/2249


Making Granular Incense: Tips and Techniques
BY Enodia Black

It was Samhain, and my altar was set, black candles glowing. I had cast the circle, and I was settling into the rhythm of the ritual, when I sprinkled some of my special Samhain incense on a charcoal block. To my surprise, instead of smoldering, the incense ignited. I watched, unsure of what to do, as the flame rose up in my censer. Then the smoke alarm in my apartment went off. I quickly put out the flame, and closed the circle. The loud piercing sound of the alarm drew the attention of my three cats, which all were scampering about saucer-eyed, mewing loudly. To make matters worse, the smoke alarm in my apartment is connected to a central alarm system at my manager’s apartment, so it operates electronically; I couldn’t even take out the batteries to stop the noise. I also live in an area where the people are very nice, very helpful, and very conservative. I was afraid if I opened a window, nearby trick-or-treaters would come to see if everything was all right. I imagined the scene; the kids would run home to tell their mothers that they looked in my window and saw a strange woman dressed in black who was standing before an altar decorated with black candles, waving a very large knife, frantically trying to fan her smoke alarm with a piece of paper, while three cats went insane around her feet. An even more frightening thought entered my mind: what if someone called the fire department? At least, I thought, I was not sky-clad.

Every year, I make the same incense for Samhain with herbs and resins that smell earthy and mystical. But this year, I had decided to make one small change, a change that proved disastrous. I had found a source that sold ground hematite, and I thought it would be ritually appropriate to include it in the incense. What I didn’t realize is that hematite is flammable. It is associated with the element of fire for good reason (Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic).

Making granular incense doesn’t have to result in such dramatic rituals as the one described above. In fact, making the incense puts me more in tune with the magick. Before the ritual begins, I plan the ingredients, grind them and empower them. I get into the ritual mindset as I do all of these preparations. This makes the rituals more powerful, more potent. Below are a few tips that will enable the crafter to create homemade incense without requiring a fire extinguisher.

There are three main types of ingredients used in the making of granular incense: resins, floral waxes, and woods. Resins are the pitch that come from trees and other plants. They are most often sold in solid, chunk form, though some can be liquid and runny. Floral waxes are not described in most books as possible incense ingredients, but they work just like resins, and they smell wonderful. When essential oils are made, the floral wax is the material that is left over after the process. Woods are also excellent incense ingredients. Since they are dry, they are good compliments to the usually sticky resins and waxes. However, not all woods can be used for incense; some woods are aromatic, others merely smell like burning wood.

Other ingredients that can be used include flowers, leaves, and essential oils. Be careful when using flowers, because many flowers smell terrible when burned. Jasmine, for example, has a heavenly scent, but when burned, it evokes images of forest fires. Good aromatic flowers that can be used include patchouli, rose petals, and lavender. Many leaves also smell too much like burning underbrush when burned, but there are a few good ones, including bay, sage, and dittany of Crete. Many people also use essential oils in incense. I don’t, because I prefer to use floral waxes; they are cheaper, and work like resins in incense mixtures. However, any essential oil is fine to use in mixtures.

When I first started making my own granular incense, I neglected one very important rule: always use at least one resin or wax in each recipe (Cunningham, The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews, p.41). No matter how ritually appropriate the ingredients of a recipe are, it will not work well if a crafter cannot breathe because of excess smoke. It is also difficult to read runes through a thick cloud of burning plant material. Below is a list that includes some good aromatics that work well in incense mixtures.

Scent and Comments

    * Aloeswood wood: buttery and sweet. Aloeswood is hard to find, expensive, and rare, but it is a truly wonderful ingredient.
    * Bay leaf: spicy. Strangely, though dried bay leaves are very brittle, they are sometimes hard to grind. I find it works best to break them into small pieces in the palm of my hand and then grind them in an herb grinder.
    * Cedarwood wood or needles: clean and airy. Cedar is usually available in chips, though it is sometimes possible to find needles. It is an extremely difficult wood to grind.
    * Cinnamon bark: fiery. Cinnamon doesn’t smell the same when burned as it does naturally—it is much harsher. A little goes a long way.
    * Copal resin: sweet and earthy. Copal comes in many different grades, from light to dark. The highest grade available is golden in color. All kinds of copal come from Mexico.
    * Dittany of Crete leaf: earthy and spicy. This is a hard to find herb, but it is wonderful for Samhain incenses.
    * Dragon’s Blood resin: smooth, slightly sweet. Dragon’s blood is often sold in large bricks. The bricks are hard to break up, but once broken, this resin crumbles easily. It is drier than most other resins.
    * Frankincense resin: lemony and clean. The best available grade is Hougari frankincense; it is very light colored with dark undertones, almost chalky in places. Most grades of frankincense are lemony yellow in appearance.
    * Jasmine flowers or wax: sweet floral. Jasmine flowers don’t smell very good when burned, but the wax is one of my favorite incense ingredients.
    * Juniper berries: woody and fruity. Juniper berries are usually sold whole, and they should be ground before use.
    * Lavender flowers or wax: spicy floral. Lavender flowers and wax both work well for incense mixtures. The flowers don’t smell harsh, as many flowers do, when burned.
    * Lemon peel: fresh and lemony. Lemon peel is a wonderful ingredient, especially in lunar incenses, and it is very easy to find.
    * Mastic resin: light and clean, but earthy. This is my favorite incense ingredient. I sometimes use it alone, because I love its hard-to-describe aroma. But I have found that Mastic tends to absorb the aromas of other materials, when used in mixtures. It is, therefore, an excellent fixative.
    * Myrrh resin: unusual, bittersweet. The best myrrh comes from Yemen, and is dark brown in color. Myrrh is a resin that is very difficult to grind, so it is best to get it in powdered form, if possible.
    * Orange peel: roasted and fruity. Like lemon peel, orange peel is easy to find. It tends to be very difficult to grind, though.
    * Orris root: woody and floral. Orris root is very difficult to grind. Many shops sell root pieces, and they are so hard that they are like little white stones. It is best to get this herb in powdered form.
    * Patchouli flower or leaf: earthy and floral. Patchouli should look brown, because it is fermented before being dried. This brings out its wonderful earthy scent.
    * Rose flowers or wax: sweet floral. Rose petals are harsher than wax when burned, but they still work well in incense mixtures.
    * Rosemary needles: spicy, clean. Rosemary is one of the few herbs that can be burned alone, without a resin.
    * Sage leaf: spicy, earthy. Sage is wonderful as an incense, and like rosemary, it can be burned alone. There are three kinds of sage: grey, white, and clary. Clary sage is usually found in essential oil form. It smells different than the other sages; less earthy, more “clean.” White sage is often used in smudging; its leaves are very long, so they are well-suited to this purpose. Grey sage is the familiar cooking spice.
    * Sandalwood wood: rich and buttery. There are two varieties of sandalwood, red and white. The red has little to no scent, and only works as a catalyst for other scents. The white has one of the most wonderful aromas I have ever experienced.
    * Star Anise seed: licorice-like. These large seedpods must be thoroughly ground before use.
    * Willow wood: lightly spicy. Willow, like most of the woods, is very difficult to grind. Make sure to get the wood, because some places sell leaves, which don’t work as well for incenses.


Grinding, Mixing, and Empowering

Incense ingredients should be ground prior to use. Whole pieces of all but the resins tend to smolder harshly. Many of the resins and woods are extremely difficult to grind. A mortar and pestle just doesn’t work for frankincense. I once tried to grind frankincense for a ritual, and let's just say, the energies I was emitting (and the words I was saying) were not exactly spiritual in nature. I have found it works much better to use an electric grinder. I use a small food processor; it works wonderfully, because the parts can go right into the dishwasher. Grinders should be used for incense only; get a separate one for grinding food items. No matter how many times I wash my food processor, it still has some frankincense stuck to its sides, and frankincense doesn’t go well with salad vegetables. Even with a grinder, it is difficult to powder some ingredients. Sandalwood, for example, will not grind; I only buy it in powdered form.

The next step is mixing the ingredients. It is better to grind the ingredients first, and then measure them. It is difficult to determine how much dragon’s blood to use, for example, because the resin comes in large chunks that are difficult to measure. Measuring ground substances is more exact. The crafter should also keep an incense-making journal to record proportions and make notes about successes and failures.

The last, and most important step is the empowering of the mixture. I like to extend this step through the entire process, because as I am working with the herbs, I am putting my own energy into them. When I empower mixtures, I visualize the magickal goal for which I am making the incense. If I am making the incense for a ritual, I visualize the perfect ritual as I work.

Final Tips

It is important to use caution when making incense. Some incense ingredients can be hazardous to use. The crafter would be wise to research each ingredient before buying it. Euphorbium gum, for example, is a substance that is used in many old recipes, but it is extremely harsh; it irritates the nose, skin, and throat, and can cause severe headaches. Camphor is a wonderful moon-related resin, but it is also harsh when burned, and it can cause sores to form in the throat and nose if used improperly. Some incense recipes also use poisonous substances. It is important to know what each ingredient does and how poisonous it is. For example, one substance that is used in some recipes is wolfsbane. Wolfsbane is so deadly that it can be absorbed though the skin and kill a person in minutes.

Even substances that seem benign can be dangerous. Seeds, if left whole, can pop when they are heated, for example, and can start a fire or cause burns. Any incense, when burned in a censor, is dangerous to animals. Often animals are drawn to magickal workings. Once my cat wandered into my circle and, before I could stop her, stuck her nose on my hot censer. She was okay, it was only a mild burn, but I can only imagine what would have happened if she had swished her tail into the censer.

Other substances just smell bad. Asafoetida is a resin that I will not allow in my door. It is often used for banishing, and I am sure it is useful for that purpose; it works too well, because it will surely banish the spell caster, as well as any negative influences, from the room. Valerian has such a strong, unpleasant odor that I have never dared to use it as an incense ingredient. Many herbs smell very different when burned, and often, herbs smell harsher. I simply can’t imagine valerian smelling harsher, so I substitute other ingredients whenever I see valerian in an incense recipe. It is important to remember that the most vital magickal ingredient is the person casting the spell or doing the ritual. If the spell caster is uncomfortable and distracted, either from thick acrid smoke or from putrid smelling substances, then the magick will not be as effective. It is far better to use ingredients that put the caster in a spiritual frame of mind.


Works Cited
Cunningham, Scott. The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1994, 1989.

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1991, 1988.

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/1334



The Witch's First Aid kit
by K.D. Spitzer

As long as disasters come in small doses, an everyday, store bought first aid kit should be fairly adequate for witches and mortals alike. However, for the witch as healer or any Pagan mom,there are some missing items. To include them is to move preparedness to a new level.

The Everyday Basics

It's unpleasant to contemplate, but today, disposable gloves are indispensable for any injuries involving blood loss. Also throw in several self-sealing, plastic freezer bags, which can be used to hold ice for cold packs or to carry home the leftover materials from treating injuries. Scissors or a sharp folding knife, along with tweezers, are also very handy. Include a clean, large bandana-it makes a great sling.
Bottled water is essential: it can help with dehydration or cleaning off dirt; add a cake of tea tree oil soap to lather up antiseptically. Pack extra gauze pads-they are always very useful. A few safety pins and a compact
sewing kit wouldn't go amiss either. Pack a small slice of Fels naptha soap to scrub any body part exposed to poison ivy-it works! Throw in several energy bars, which are grounding for those under stress.
An emergency survival blanket is a very inexpensive addition that can save lives. Lightweight (usually 2 ounces) and compact (palm sized), these open up to about 56 x 80 inches; they are waterproof and retain
heat. You can use them as ground cloth or as covering to aid against shock. Look for them online or in any store selling camping or hiking equipment.

The Witchy Basics

Bach Rescue remedy of FES Five Flower Rescue Remedy is a combination of five flower essences that help us to stabilize trauma situations; it's calming and eases fears. It's also good for shock after accident or injury. It can be dabbed directly on the body (temples, pulse points, lips) or several drops can be squirted under the tongue. Ten drops in a glass of water can be sipped at intervals by the victim-or the nurse. A vial of this
should travel with you everywhere (but not left in a hot car!) and another one should be kept within reach in the kitchen. These subtle flower energies work gently, safely, and very effectively in offering emotional
support.

Crystallized ginger is a chewy treat for upset stomach; the sugar and spice are reviving, and, as the ginger trickles down the throat, it is very soothing for motion sickness. See if you can find the chunks rather than the slices: they're softer.

Aloe vera gel is a great topical healer. Rather than toting along your plant, purchase a tube to use for cuts and abrasions. It's also good for injuries from the balefire, and it can soothe sunburn if you forget your lotion.

No self-respecting Witch could omit witch hazel from the first aid kit. Purchase the jars with the pads in witch hazel disillate, or assemble your own. Pack small gauze pads into a jar with a tight, non-leaking lid, and fill to the brim with witch hazel. Use it to clean wounds, abrasions, and scratches, or to soothe insect bites. It will also quickly stop swelling. This versatile, mild astringent is also great for removing makeup and softening the skin.

Echinacea tincture can be used internally as well as topically. It can boost the immune system temporarily and reduce complications; it's a  useful antibiotic on puncture wounds when other medications are in doubt.

Meadowsweet is also a  practical tincture to have along, as it's soothing for stomach upsets, headaches and other pain. It's fairly fast-acting, and it's anti-inflammatory. If you have the facilities, you could make willow
bark tea to ease pain, but the bark will take more room in your bag than the tincture.

Arnica cream is great for muscle aches, bruises or sprains, but not open wounds. Arnica also improves circulation in tired legs. Homeopathic Arnica Montana 6x can help to counter shock, but is also good for tired
or strained muscles. It works best the first day. Some people may be sensitive to arnica, so be alert for adverse reactions.

Make your own linament with arnica and St. john's Wort tinctures, plus witch hazel. Add some eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils and stir it up with your own favorite carrier oil. A few drops of these two essential oils can be added to epsom salts and Dead sea salts and diluted with warm water to make a wet compress for muscle strains. You can also dissolve the mixture in a bucket of warm water to soothe tired feet.

You'll want to add some sort of antimicrobial healing salve to your kit. I prefer one with comfrey as a base, but the FDA has been expressing concerns about it's use on open wounds, so do a little research and decide
for yourself. To help disinfect and accelerate healing, add calendula petals, St. John's wort, and of course, plantaina and echinachea. Lavendar and rosemary essential oils are proven health boosters and enhance any mixture. If you buy a salve lacking them, add a few drops of each and stir well.

Bug repellant is a necessity from Beltane through Mabon in the northeast. Black flies alone can ruin Beltane. Mix up a batch of ecologically sound big-proofing with lavendar, citronella, eucalyptus, and cedarwood essential oils in a water base with a couple tablespoons of brandy or vodka as a preservative. Pour into spray bottle and shake each time before using.

Ticks are another nuisance. If you are going to be cavorting in the woods, wear light colors so the ticks are easier to spot. Make a fashion statement by tucking your pant legs into your socks.  Since ticks love to drop out of trees when they sense you, make sure that someone checks your hair and upper body when you finally get home.

Take some time to construct a simple cloth roll up bag to safely carry breakable essentials. Like a bag for storing good silverware, stitch narrow compartments to hold your vials and bottles. It will take only a small
space and be light to carry.

One last item for inclusion: a gemstone. Pack a clear quartz crystal with rosemary-it enhances healing and provides purification. Malachite will kick start the immune system and can help absorb pain; it should be fairly
flat, so you can bandage it near a wound or broken bone. Carry the stone in a puch with cedar, pine or garden sage leaves. Flourite is another stone that promotes healing and absorbs pain.; pad green fluorite with eucalyptus, and clear fluorite with lemon verbena or white yarrow. Hematite draws pain and even calms blood pressure, carry it in powdered dragon's blood or juniper leaves.

All stones need to be cleansed and charged for each outing. Quartz can be nestled in a green plant and placed in the Sun. Malachite needs to be buried, the fluorites can be placed in water overnight in the moonlight (the Full Moon generally rises at sunset and sets at dawn), and hematite can be smudged with sage and cedar. Choose only or two stones to carry. And finally, these items are only meant to be used as emergency first aid, any injured person should be taken to a hospital for immediate treatment.



Building a Tarot Deck Collection
By Barbara Moore


With so many wonderful tarot decks available these days, it would be difficult to have just one. I try to imagine how it feels to be a complete novice today and be confronted with so many decks; it would be overwhelming.

I do know some people who only have one tarot deck. That is all they want, and they are fine with that. If you are one of those people, this article is not for you...however, if you do read it, you may find yourself inspired to buy another deck or two. You’ve been warned!

Basics

To start a collection, and really to start a solid study of tarot, I would make sure I had one each of the various editions of the following:

    * Rider Waite Smith
    * Thoth Tarot
    * Marseilles Tarot

These are the three main traditions that are used for reading today.

To have a very complete collection, you would probably want a Visconti deck as well, since it is one of the earliest tarot decks we have, and a Minchiate Tarot (which has more cards than a tarot deck, but is a close and very interesting cousin). Also, throw in a Sola Busca deck, as that is a 15th century deck with illustrated minor cards...compare them to Pamela Coleman Smith’s and you’ll see some surprising similarities.

Suit Yourself
There are decks that play off either the RWS tradition or the Thoth by following their structure but adding another layer, usually by incorporating a theme. What are some of your interests outside of tarot? Fairies, Celtic studies, the environment, Paganism, a historical period, tattoos, science, Jane Austen, vampires, goth, magic, Arthurian legends, fairy tales, baseball? Yes, there are tarot decks that explore all these themes. Add a few decks that combine your personal interest with tarot.

This is a great way to learn the cards, because these decks take a subject you already know and apply it to the cards.

Something Completely New
Once you understand the structure of the tarot deck, it becomes a framework that will allow you to learn new subjects very easily. If you know tarot very well but do not know, say, science, then The Quantum Tarot can be an easy and fun way to learn.

If you want to learn more about Welsh mythology, then the Llewellyn Tarot would be a great choice. Because the myths are matched up with cards that you already know the basic meanings for, it gives you an instant connection.

Different Decks for Different Purposes
People use tarot for things other than readings, and consequently find that one deck may not work for every purpose. That is certainly the case with me. Here are some potentially different uses that might require separate decks.

    * Reading for yourself
    * Reading for others
    * Reading at parties or psychic fair or in loud/busy places. For these situations, I find that simpler, lighter decks are easier to read. I save the darker, more complex ones for other situations. (By lighter/darker, I mean the coloring, not necessarily the themes.)
    * Journaling. I actually use lots of different decks for journaling. I like ones that have more intricate art or that are non-traditional. I like my journaling to challenge and push me, so I pick decks that do that.
    * Spiritual study. Of course, for this you’d want a deck that somehow reflects your spiritual beliefs. For me, the Gaian Tarot suits my needs beautifully.
    * Meditation
    * Magical work
    * Brainstorming or Creative Inspiration. I like using tarot to help me write, particularly fiction (I also use Corrine Kenner’s book, Tarot for Writers). As with journaling, I find that the more interesting, complex, and non-traditional, the better.

Different Types of Readings
Personally, I do not use different decks for different types of readings, but many of my colleagues do, so for completeness, I’m including that idea here:

    * Romance
    * Financial/Career
    * Brainstorming
    * Spiritual
    * Seasonal. I like using my darker-themed decks (such as the Bohemian Gothic Tarot from Magic Realist Press) in the late fall. I prefer my lighter-themed decks, such as Shadowscapes, for spring. I have a hand-made Christmas deck of Major Arcanas that I use at holiday parties.
    * Family-friendly or Child-appropriate. Certain events or reading situations call for a "non-scary" deck or one without nudity. These are not always easy to find. The Mystic Faerie Tarot has no nudity and is quite family-friendly.

To Grow
It seems that we work so hard at getting comfortable with the cards. But then, once we are, we run the danger of becoming stuck in a rut or stagnant. The most important thing to remember about tarot is that it is always evolving. The cards change, the way we use them changes. If tarot ever settled into an unchanging thing, it would lose the power to transform us.

As a tarot reader, you’ll want to keep pushing yourself. You don’t have to agree with every new deck or technique or idea...but approach them all with an open mind. By honestly exploring them and weighing their pros and cons, you will only strengthen your own beliefs. There is nothing bad about that.

To feed your own growth, every once in a while spend time with a deck that is outside of your comfort zone.

One that is sure to push some kind of button on every reader, no matter how forward-thinking, is the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn. Emily Carding’s Transparent Tarot is another that is really unusual with the potential to shake up your world.

Other ideas:

    * Decks about subjects that make you uncomfortable or that you think are silly (what can you learn from, say, the Gummi Bear Tarot?)
    * Round decks
    * Decks that follow no recognizable tradition

Oracle Decks
Many tarot purists do not care for oracle decks. Oracle decks are any sort of divination deck that does not follow the structure of a tarot deck. Oracle decks may have some sort of internal structure or none at all. They can be whatever they want! And this really bugs some people.

However, oracle decks can play a role in the life of a tarot lover. Get an oracle with a similar theme or art as your usual tarot deck and add a position in your spread for a "secret message from the Universe." Pull the card for that position from the oracle deck.

Find an oracle that you like and use it to end a session with a client, having them pull a card as a final message.

Use an oracle deck for an inspirational message of the day.

Lenormand Decks
Lenormand decks are really coming into vogue now. Some readers are frustrated because their clients want mundane, clear readings about their everyday lives. Tarot readers sometimes find that tarot is not well suited for such readings, or at least they are having trouble using them in that way. Lenormand cards, however, are made for those sorts of readings.

I am currently studying Lenormand cards. I hope to create a process whereby I can begin with the Lenormand deck and answer mundane questions in a mundane way. Then we can move on to the tarot cards and add depth, understanding, and power to the reading, and consequently to the client’s life.

Maybe you should try that, too, and in a few months we can compare notes!

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/2266




Working with Spirit Guides
by Kristin Madden

Whether we name them guardians, allies, or deities, spirit guides are an integral part of the lives of most Pagans. They walk with us unseen until we become aware of them. From that point on their ability to assist us is greatly increased by our participation and acceptance. The more we work with them, the deeper our connection becomes and the greater benefit we receive from these relationships. When we open our hearts and minds to our spirtit guides, our lives are forever changed.

Traditionally, spirit guides are honored through specialized art forms. Masks, shields, drums, stone and woodcarvings, pottery, ritual jewelry, and body art have all been used to bring this otherworldly guidance into our lives. Many pagans find their connections to spirit guides are strengthened through working with the energy of guides in a tangible manner. Developing a creative style that is uniquely suited to our individual selves opens the way for spirit guides to work with us. This style may manifest through the creation of beautiful masks or altar pieces. It may flow best through crafting ritual or decorating our homes. A growing trend for this creative outlet is the development of websites and newsletters. It is important for each of us to find what feels right and then focus our energies in that direction.

Altars are physical creations that serve spirit guides. Often created as a microcosm of the magical universe, altars have space for the elements, ritual tools and spirit guides. The spirit guides who work with us regularly and who
are best suited to the work at hand hold places of honor on our altar. An altar provides not only a way to attune to our spirit guides, but it also offers the spirit guide a sacred and tangible space to occupy.

For millenia, humans have gone to sacred sites, magical mountains, special trees, and mystical lakes to commune with nature and spirit guides. The altar brings this access and energetic resonance right into our homes. Even the young can benefit from creating a personal altar. A bed ful of stuffed animals and toys may function as a toddler's altar. Spirit guides frequently come to us in forms that attract us. A stuffed dolphin, toy warrior, or even a talking train can serve as a channel for a spirit guide's energy. Likewise, a special necklace, poster or child's drawing may be the perfect altar for a young Pagan.
We can forge many links with our guides that extend beyond the altar. Wearing jewelry is one of the most popular links today. The connection can be as subtle or obvious as we choose. Jewelry crafted in the forms of animals, symbols and even deities can be found in most towns and on the Internet. Stones and metals ,may be charged with the energy of a guide. We can ask a guide to bless anything we wear. Many people also choose to wear shirts or get tattoos to honor a particularly relevant or lifelong guide.

Several cultures and magical traditions believe that spirits do not communicate as we do and are not interested in our everyday manner of speaking. They also believe that extraordinary methods, such as song,
chant, intonation or poetry must be used to communicate with them. It has been said that fairy folk blessed some Celtic bards, allowing them to bring fairy music through the veil into this world. Many writers, musicians, and artists find that their best creations occur when they allow their personalities to step aside to let divine inspiration manifest through their art. We can each find ways to work with the various art forms to honor and connect with personal guides, Shamans around the world use special power songs. The words may be specific to the shaman but often the melodies are traditional. The rythms are generally monotonous and are frequently used to induce transe states. Power songs are also used for healing, to commune with spirit guide, and to raise the energy of sacred sites.

Modern adults often feel uncomfortable singing, even when we are alone. Some of us feel more comfortable singing familiar songs or chants in a group. Except for those of us who have wonderful singing voices, we tend to make apologies for our limited range or our inability to carry a tune.  But spirit guides don't care if the neighborhood dogs howl at our singing.  These spirit beings appreciate the fact that we are fully engaged in the creation of the energetic flow. Singing can guide us into light trance where we are able to better deepen that connection with spirit guides. We may make the initial connection with a guide through the spirit song. In some cultures, each individual has his or her own spirit song. The spirit song functions as a lifelong calling card-an open line to that spirit guide. When we use a shamanic power song, we sing or chant the essence of our relationship with that spirit guide. The song need not be made of real words or a definite tune as long as it connects us with the guide that shares this song.

Dance has also been used throughout the world to induce trance, honor guides, and allow guides to work through us. Just as there is often a power song, each spirit guide may also have a sacred dance that channels its energy. When we dance a sacred dance, the rational mid slips away, letting the physical body move to inner rythms. We may dance our experience of the relationship with a guide. We may also find that our movements mimic the guide's manner, as though we shape-shift into the guide.

Trance forms, such as meditation and shamanaic journeying, are tangible methods for working with spirit guides. Through altered states of consciousness, the rational mind is balanced with that part of us that remembers what is possible for us as spiritual beings. Meditation and scrying open us up to messages from our spirit guides. During these times, we consciously ask questions and accept messages.

Through shamanic journeying and dreaming, we may also journey out of body and travel through the other worlds with our guides.Through trance work we take an active role in our relationships with spirit guides. Simple awareness and acceptance can lead to great benefits. However, our spirit guides are not with us to give orders or to do things for us. Much like good friends, spirit guides will work to help us attain spiritual evolution and personal empowerment. Therefore, we speed the process and honor both ourselves and our guides if we take the initiative to actively work with them.Working with spirit guides takes spirituality to another level. It does not mean that life will be peachy and that the only things we will need to dodge are the hundred dollar bills raining down on our heads.

Spiritual development has its ups and downs. Spiritual changes are made easier by developing and maintaining a direct relationship with a spirit guide. Through these relationships, we know without question that we are never truly alone. We have energetic support in the spirit world and it does have the power to affect this reality. If we choose to listen, we may realize that we are connected to a never ending wellspring of inspiration, wisdom, love and joy.


Kristin Madden was raised by a deathwalker in a shamanic home of spiritual explorers.  As a result, she has had ongoing experience with both Eastern and Western mystic paths since 1972.  She is an author, teacher, mom, and wildlife rehabilitator.   She is the founder and former Dean of Ardantane's School of Shamanic Studies. Kristin has been a metaphysical and environmental educator for well over two decades.  In addition to her books, Kristin's work has appeared throughout North America and Europe in the form of articles and interviews.  She has been a guest on radio and television shows throughout North America and is a popular speaker at metaphysical and pagan events. A former environmental chemist, currently an avian biologist and wildlife rehabilitation clinic director, Kristin is dedicated to education and conservation of wilderness areas. 



Conjure up Romance: Basic Steps in Love Spell Casting
 by: Terri Lewis

The casting of a love spell is a powerful thing. The combination of words and action can lead to magic and change your life forever. Spell casting has been used for centuries by love struck individuals wanting to take charge of their destiny and alter the course of their lives. The power of a love spell is not to be taken lightly. Before attempting to cast a spell on the one you love, learn the basics of spell casting.

The first step in spell casting is to think about what it is that you would like to see happen. It is crucial that you be very clear about what changes you would like to create. It is reckless behavior to cast a spell on an innocent person for the wrong reasons, and your harmful actions can in turn bring about bad karma. To avoid this, examine your reasons for wanting to cast a spell and know exactly what outcome it is you are looking for.

The second stage in spell casting involves eliminating what it is that is blocking you from your love. Perhaps the one you love has been hurt before and is wary of falling in love again? Or perhaps the person you have always adored is simply blind to your affection and needs to be given the chance to see you in a different light. The elimination stage allows you to proceed with your spell casting, but be aware that it is not always easy to move past this stage. In order to discover your barriers, you can use one of two techniques: meditation or pendulum work. Both techniques involve quieting your mind and accessing a means of communication with your inner self. To achieve either of these states, practice a simple meditation technique by sitting calmly with your legs crossed and concentrate on one small part of your body. As you concentrate on the tip of your nose, for instance, your mind will drift away from the immediate and conscious world and will move beyond, to your subconscious mind. Whether you meditate quietly in this fashion or use a pendulum to will yourself into a state of near hypnosis, your aim is to delve into your subconscious to find the true cause of what is preventing you from being with your great love.

Before deciding on which basic love spell to use in your quest for love, go through the necessary cleansing process. This involves finding a room that can symbolically serve as your special place, and with only candlelight to guide you, rinse your hands clean of any potential negative energy and residue. To prepare a cleansing mixture, simply mix warm water with salt.

As you learn more about how to cast a powerful love spell, know that there are many spells that may be the perfect way to change your life. As mentioned, do not attempt to cast a spell without first taking these few measures. Also know that a spell is given its strength through the sheer power of your mind. You must believe in the spell you are casting and you must concentrate in order to successfully find love. Good luck and may you find true and everlasting love!



Crafting Yuletide Cheer

by A.C. Fisher Aldag

The season of Yule can be a mixed blessing to Pagan parents. Many of the holiday festivities, school parties, and retail displays seem to be centered on the dominant culture. It might be a little difficult to explain to your children about our beliefs at this time of year, amidst the barrage of Santa Claus, shopping mania, and “Silent Night.” The Goddess and the returning Sun King may seem to take a back seat to opening presents. However, this is one of the best times to involve your children in Earth-based spirituality. Many Christmas symbols really did come from Pagan traditions, and several legends including Santa and the reindeer can be traced to pre-Christian origins. Not only is this a wonderful opportunity to share the holiday customs of many faiths, we can also teach our children the meaning of our own Yule celebrations.

Llewellyn readers can find books with some excellent ideas for commemorating Yule. Dan and Pauline Campanelli’s The Wheel of the Year and Edain McCoy’s Sabbats describe many meaningful rituals and fun crafts. Dorothy Morrison’s Yule gives a detailed history of the holiday, as well as recipes, art projects, and spiritual ceremonies. This article is geared toward Pagan parents with small children, and intended to supplement these existing sources. You can explain many of our favorite traditions to the youngsters while involving them in related arts and crafts or allowing them to help you in the kitchen. Many of these ideas can be shared with non-Pagan friends and relatives, without causing offense.

That Jolly Old Elf

The legend of Santa Claus may be based on Saturn, an elderly white-bearded Roman god who was responsible for distributing gifts. Santa may have been modeled on Odin of the German, Icelandic, and Scandinavian pantheons. Santa’s reindeer chariot might have come from the Finnish legend of Vainamoinen, who lived in the north, had a magical workshop, and wore a long white beard. If you feel comfortable divulging Santa’s secret identity, you might want to teach your children about the “avatar” concept. An explanation we’ve found useful is: “You know how the priestess ‘becomes’ the Goddess in ritual? Mommy invokes the spirit of Santa Claus the same way.” Our kids enjoy being the avatar of Santa themselves, choosing gifts for classmates or grandparents. You can explain Santa’s history while creating these crafts:

    * Paper Plate Santas

      Materials: A plain paper plate, construction paper, cotton balls, glue, felt-tipped markers.

      Method: Draw a jolly face on the paper plate. Give him a pointy red construction paper hat tipped with a cotton ball. Glue on more cotton balls for his beard, mustache, and “fur” at the base of his hat.

    * Santa Ornaments

      Materials: Craft foam in red, white, and black, and pink or brown for his face; scissors or craft knife, strong glue, your child’s school photo.

      Method: Cut out a round pink or brown face. Add black eyes, a smiling red mouth, a white beard and mustache, and pointy hat. Cut out a larger round red belly. Glue on black buttons and white fur trim. Glue the two together, then glue your child’s picture in the center of Santa’s tummy. Now she is Santa’s avatar. Glue a paper clip to the back, or punch a hole in the hat for a standard ornament hanger.

Trim a Yule Tree

If you have ornaments you’ll need a tree to hang them on. Many families have an artificial tree, but you needn’t feel guilty over buying a live evergreen. Here in Michigan, holiday trees are just another farm crop, like corn, planted and harvested yearly. The Yule tree tradition really does have Pagan roots. In Ireland and Cornwall, many trees were decorated near sacred wells year-round. In Norway, evergreens were brought into the house, but hung upside down from the rafters to save space!

You might want to decorate a tree outside for the birds. Smear peanut butter on pinecones and roll them in birdseed. Hang ears of field corn from pretty ribbons. String popcorn and cranberries. Attach a bell-shaped seed feeder to the top. During your child’s winter break from school, get up early to watch all the feathered visitors enjoy your outdoor Yule tree.

    * Sled Ornament:

      Materials: Popsicle or craft sticks, glue, paint or felt markers, ribbon, scissors.

      Method: Cut four craft sticks to 3 inches, two sticks to 3 1/4 inches, and two more to 3 inches. You’ll need two more for “runners.” Paint the craft sticks all one color, or two complimentary colors, like red and green. Place the two longest sticks flat in the middle, two shorter ones on either side, and the two shortest on the outside. Place two short sticks across them horizontally, one inch from the top and bottom, and glue them in place. You may wish to cut the top of the vertical sticks so they are rounded, to resemble a sled. When the glue has dried, turn your sled over and glue the runners in place on the bottom. Use a ribbon to hang the ornament.

    * Pipe Cleaner Ornaments

      Materials: Red and white pipe cleaners for candy canes, other colors. Some craft stores sell neon and sparkly pipe cleaners, especially for crafts.

      Method: Twist red and white pipe cleaners around each other to form a candy cane. Older kids can create bells, stars, angels, and fairies, or other Yuletide shapes. Pipe cleaners are also good to twist around holly and mistletoe sprigs. Caution: Real holly and mistletoe berries can be toxic to babies and pets. You might wish to use cloth holly leaves, found in most craft stores and holiday special sales. These ornaments can also be used to decorate wrapped gifts.

Magic Reindeer

Yule is a wonderful time to explain about the Horned Lord called Herne, Cerne, Cernunnos, or Boucca in western Europe. You might also wish to discuss the importance of deer and other wildlife in many cultures. The Navajo have a sacred deer kachina. Finnish and Lapp people still use reindeer as herd animals, for meat, fur, and milk. Folks in Bhutan, Mexico, and South America revere an entity much like Herne, who appears in sacred dances and dramatizations. In Abbots Bromley, England, reindeer antlers are used in a ritualized folk dance that has been presented for over nine hundred years. Of course, children in America love the tale of Santa’s eight flying reindeer. You can make some of these crafts while singing about Rudolf and friends, or while an adult reads The Night Before Christmas aloud. (If you’d like, change the title to “Yule.”)

    * Clothespin Reindeer Ornament

      Materials: Each ornament requires two old-fashioned clothespins, the kind without springs. Use commercial googly-eyes, and red pompoms for noses, or draw on their features with a marker. Red or green ribbons can adorn their necks or serve as hangers. Strong glue is needed to hold them together.

      Method: One clothespin with the pins facing up makes the face and antlers, another clothespin with the pins facing down, glued to the back of the first, makes the body and legs. Add eyes, noses and ribbon. These can be pinned directly to the tree branches or used as decorations on a wrapped present.

    * Spoon Reindeer Ornament. This project is easy for smaller kids, as well as craft-impaired grownups.

      Materials: A wooden spoon, brown pipe cleaners, googly eyes, pompoms, or paint.

      Method: Make antlers out of the pipe cleaners, glue or tape them to the back of the spoon. Add eyes and a nose to the spoon bowl. You can also decorate your reindeer with ribbon, glitter glue, raffia, or other materials.

    * Reindeer Piñata. This is a craft for older children, although toddlers will have a great time squishing in the paste.

      Materials: Newspaper strips, a balloon, paste made from flour and water, paint, googly-eyes, crepe paper or construction paper, paper towel rolls, ribbons, bowl, tape, scissors.

      Method: Mix flour and water in a bowl to make a thin paste. Tear black and white newspaper into strips (no slick ads). Blow up a balloon, which you might want to balance on another bowl. Dip the newspaper strips into the paste and apply in layers to the balloon. Don’t forget to leave a hole for the candy! Let it dry. Cut the paper towel rolls into antlers and tape or glue them onto one end. You can also use paper towel rolls for legs and a tail, if you wish. Paint the whole thing brown or tan. Again, let it dry. Using brown or tan construction or crepe paper, cut into strips, and make several parallel cuts along each edge to simulate fur. Glue these onto the deer’s body. Give him googly-eyes and a pompom nose, or paint on his features. If you want, he can have ribbons to hang him up, or to adorn his antlers. Fill him with candy, tape the hole closed, save him for a tabletop decoration. or hang him up and have at it!

Yummy Yule Goodies

We enjoy many traditional holiday foods at this time of year, including gingerbread cookies, figgy pudding, roast goose, candy canes, and Wasshail. Your children may enjoy “wassailing the trees,” a British and Germanic custom for blessing the spirits of the woods. Splash some apple cider at the base of each tree, while calling “to your health!”

    * Cocoa to Go

      This is a fun gift for a teacher or scout leader. Mix one cup cocoa powder, one cup dry milk, and one cup dry coffee creamer in a bowl. (Add more proportionally if you’re making a big batch.) You can use flavored coffee creamer if it’s something that tastes good with cocoa. If your brand of instant hot chocolate already has milk mixed into it, forgo the powdered milk and creamer. Add a few tablespoons of sugar, chocolate sprinkles, dry mini-marshmallows, and tiny peppermint candies. Mix well. Spoon the mixture into a zippered sandwich bag with Yule-themed decorations printed on the plastic. Stick a bow onto each bag. Viola, instant Yule presents.

    * Wassail

      The original recipe includes alcohol, but you can make this beverage for kids and teetotaling adults using apple cider, red grape juice, orange juice, cinnamon, ground cloves (just a pinch), and ground nutmeg. You may wish to put the spices into a cloth bag and let it steep. Or push whole cloves into the skin of an orange, and let it float in a punch bowl. Experiment with proportions. Some folks like cranberry juice or allspice in the mix. This is a festive punch for a Sabbat party.

    * Divination Pudding

      This is not a creamy milk-based dessert pudding; instead, this is a traditional English dinner pudding. You’ll need about a loaf of stale bread, three eggs, a half cup of heavy cream, a quarter cup of brown sugar, and spices such as cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, allspice, mace, and ginger. Pick two spices, and use no more than a quarter teaspoon of each. You will also need some trinkets such as small toy cars, rings, large coins like half-dollars, or other prizes. Grease a quart baking dish. Tear the bread into small pieces – children really enjoy doing this. Beat the eggs until stiff. Fold in the heavy cream and add the sugar and spices. Place the bread into the baking dish, pour the wet mixture over it. Now comes the fun part. Hide the prizes in the pudding. Let the kids push them down into the gooey bread, then cover them over. Bake your pudding in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, checking it frequently. (You might want to check a standard cookbook for a Yorkshire pudding recipe to find definite cooking temperatures. I cook with a wood stove, which has three temperatures: “hot,” “hotter still,” and “really honkin’ hot.” Bread pudding is best cooked at “fairly darn hot.” Dorothy Morrison has some really good recipes in her Yule book, too.) The top should be golden brown and an inserted toothpick should come out clean. Serve hot, with butter and whipped cream. Caution: WARN people about the prizes, so that nobody chokes on them! You might want to make a separate pudding for toddlers, or use prizes that aren’t small enough to swallow. The coins represent money, the cars mean a journey, and the rings signify love.

More Timely Traditions

Decorating with holly and ivy, lighting a Yule log, and commemorating the Goddess in her mother and crone or grandmother aspect are all delightful Pagan traditions. You can find representations of the crone Goddess in the form of Mrs. Claus and the good Scandinavian witch who brings candy and goodies. The Latvian people have a female elf who distributes presents. Besides the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, other cultures revere a Mother Goddess who gives birth to a son representing light, including the Egyptian Isis and Horus, the Persian Asura and Mithras, and the Welsh Rhiannon and Pryderi.

Your children can honor the Goddess at this festive time of year by singing carols in a nursing home, or distributing goodies at a women’s shelter. Many carols have Pagan overtones, such as “Deck the Halls” and “Here We Come a Wassailing”. Others are religion-neutral, such as “Rudolph” and “Jingle Bells.” A nice present for an elder: Wrap a new washcloth around a bar of non-scented soap. Tie it with a pretty ribbon. Stuff the whole thing into a soft bedroom slipper. Fill the other slipper with a shampoo bottle. Put the gift into a pre-decorated paper sack, tied with more ribbon. You might also want to help your youngsters choose gifts for the local kids’ charity drive.

    * Holly King and Oak King Staff

      Materials: A dowel or long stick, cloth or paper leaves, pipe cleaners, tape or glue.

      Each year, the holly king symbolically takes power at Yule, and rules until the Summer Solstice. Then the oak king takes over until the winter. If you wish to dramatize this event without an actual “fight,” your children can remove last season’s leaves from the staff and replace them with this season’s symbol. Real leaves don’t hold up well, and may be difficult to find out of season. Besides, cutting out construction paper leaves is half the fun. Use pipe cleaners, tape, or glue to attach them to the staff. You can also use pipe cleaners and cloth or paper leaves to make oak and holly crowns for a dramatization of the Oak and Holly Kings in ritual.

    * Yule Log

      This is a genuinely older Pagan tradition, probably brought to England by the Saxons. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can create a symbolic Yule Log for ritual or for your Solstice dinner table.

      Materials: a large dry log, bark removed, electric drill with a wide-boring drill bit, votive candles in metal holders, cloth holly leaves, ribbon, pinecones, other decorations.

      Method: With parents’ supervision, drill three holes a few inches apart in the top of the log, large enough to fit the votive candles. Place the candles in the holes. Decorate around the outside of the log with ribbon, holly, pinecones and anything else that looks festive. You can use all one color—gold is lovely—or mix two or three colors. If you plan on using your log year after year, you may wish to paint it and glue the decorations on permanently. Caution: Make sure flammable decorations are far enough from the candle flames to be safe. Keep it out of reach of toddlers and pets. If you want to re-use your log as a bird feeder, screw a large eye-bolt into one end to hang it, drill more holes, and fill the holes with suet, peanut butter and seeds.

    * Moon and Star Mobile

      Materials: Gold paper foil or gold paint, cardboard, yarn, string or ribbon, a coathanger, scissors, tape.

      Method: Cut out moons, stars, and suns from the cardboard. This is a good opportunity to talk about recycling. Paint or glue paper foil onto the stars and moons to make them look heavenly. Glue or use clear tape to fasten the ribbon or yarn to each planet, then tie them to the hanger. This is another way to honor the Goddess as Queen of the Heavens, as Nimue, Artemis, or Diana the Lady of the Moon, or to enjoy Ariarhod’s castle of stars. It’s also a good time to discuss the sun “returning” at the Winter Solstice.

    * Festive Yule Wreath

      This can symbolize the Wheel of the Year and the beauty of nature. Decorating with greenery was a Greco-Roman tradition that spread north into Europe. Because some trees never lost their leaves, they remind us of the promise of spring.

      Materials: A wreath form or thick wire bent into a circle, the cutoff leftover greenery from the bottom of your Yule tree or commercial cloth evergreen garland, thin wire or bread ties, pinecones, nuts, craft birds, ribbon, bells, tiny gift boxes, seashells, or use your imagination! You can spray paint the pinecones, and nuts, and wrap the gift boxes, or leave them natural. Wire the evergreen boughs to the wreath frame. An advantage to commercial garland is sometimes it includes tiny electric lights. If so, be careful not to nick or expose the wires. Using bread ties, wire on the other decorations. Tie a festive ribbon around the top of the wreath. A ribbon with wire inside the cloth holds its shape well. This is a fun group project for a coven or a children’s Yule party. May you and your children enjoy a blessed, peaceful and merry Yule!

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/1271




Understanding The Power of Gratitude
by: Chris Swope

Sometimes, it's tough to be grateful. I mean come on, the economy's in the toilet, people you know have lost their jobs, businesses or maybe even their homes, and we're supposed to give thanks? It may take a bit of a mindset shift to realize that being grateful and having gratitude is exactly what you need right now.

As a forward thinking entrepreneur, a visionary, a dreamer, an over-achiever, you may have trained yourself to never be satisfied with the status quo. Never content. Always striving for something better. I can relate, because I'm talking to myself here. No matter what I accomplish in life, no matter what I look forward to, I always seem to set new, higher goals and have more lofty aspirations for myself as time goes by.

It's hard to sit back, pause, and actually assess how far you've come or what blessings you've received when you are in the day-to-day fight of achievement. I want to challenge you to do exactly this - here's the kicker - at least once per week. As time moves by, try to get to the point where you pause and focus on your gratitude every single day. What? Take time out of my busy, hectic, stressful daily grind to be grateful daily? Are you kidding me? Yep, there's a good reason for this.

Being grateful gives you POWER.

See, when you're always focused on lack, or what you don't have, or what you have not yet accomplished, or how better off other people are than you, you are operating in a state of 'limited thinking'. The mind itself and and your thoughts alone are creative in nature, and if you are always thinking about what you don't have, then your mind is working against it's natural creative powers.

If, on the other hand, you exercise thoughts of thankfulness and gratefulness, you'll begin to tap into a power storehouse of energy that will catapult your life into accomplishing goals that you never thought would would happen.

Start with one 10 minute session per week. Block it off on your daily organizer and make it happen no matter what. I suggest doing it on Sunday night, as you are winding down. You've had a good weekend with your family, hopefully enjoying some of what fruits your labor during the previous week have provided to you, and your mind should be in a perfect place for this exercise.

Think about basic things, and actually focus on the fact that you are grateful that you have them. Start with clean drinking water. A bathroom in your home. Several hot meals of food per day. A roof over your head - sure it's not your dream home yet, but you're on a journey - give thanks for what you have now. Think about the schools and teachers your children have access to. Think about the parks and pools and sports activities you engage in weekly. Think about the health club with all the flat screen TV's and the air conditioning.

These are all basic things that we all take for granted. Then start tapping into the special things you have that you've worked for. Your vehicle, your vacation spot. Your friends, family, the list goes on.

Once you realize how blessed you really are right now here at this point in time, you're brain will begin to work wonders for you. Goals and dreams will begin to happen. It's actually your subconscious mind that will begin to manifest situations, business introductions, and people will begin to appear in your life as if some magical force was there guiding them at the perfect time and place.

Try it out and see what happens in your life when you exercise some thoughts of gratitude!




Pendulum Divination - Anyone Can Do It
 by: Carolyn Donnelly

Divination is a simple way to tap into the deep reservoir of wisdom that each of us holds in our higher conscience. The pendulum is not a magical implement. It is only a tool. The magic comes from our ability to access a vast pool of knowledge that we already have at our disposal. Everyone has the ability to divine. For some it will come easily and immediately. To others it may take a little practice. It is a fun way to find answers to some of life’s questions and to develop your psychic ability.

People normally turn to divination when they have a burning question or when they are at a crossroad and must make an important life decision. It is usually a time of indecision and divination can help us to determine what is really important to us. Our mind is a strong and influential force that often rules our decision making. Our logical mind, however, can trick us into making decisions that do not take all the important aspects of ourselves into account. Divination helps you to tap into our intuition and find out what you really want and what will really help you to achieve your life goals.

Divination can also help you in many everyday practical ways such as: finding something that is lost; for better health; for healing; and even to help you make better gardening decisions. This paper will concentrate on how to use a divination pendulum.

The Pendulum

A pendulum is a convenient tool for divination as it can be carried around in your pocket or worn as a necklace. A pendulum can be made from any small symmetrical object that can swing freely and easily on the end of a cord or chain. You can use a bolt, screw or nut from the garage tool box, a ring or pendant from your jewelery box. The kitchen drawer can also offer surprising small objects that you be used as pendulums. Before writing this article, I searched through my kitchen drawer for examples and found a round key-ring, a small padlock and a symmetrical key, all of which could be used as a pendulum. The object must be reasonably symmetrical however in order for it to work correctly and it must be of a certain weight. For instance, if it is too light it will not pull the cord tight and swing correctly. If it is too heavy, you will find it difficult to hold it gently between your fingers.

Choosing a Pendulum

Although you can use just about any symmetrical object, made from any material, most people tend to choose a pendulum that they like the look of and feel comfortable with. You can buy beautiful pendulums for a small amount of money from new age and metaphysical shops. They are typically made from metal, wood, semi precious stones or crystals and usually come with a chain or cord attached. Remember, that the pendulum is not a magical implement but only the tool that allows you to unlock the secrets of your own higher self.

However, the material that a pendulum is made from can increase particular energies that contribute to the power of your divination. Pendulums made from semi-precious stones or crystals bring to your divination the special quality that the stone or crystal provides. These special qualities can assist you by increasing the positive energy during the divination process. Below is an example of some semi-precious stones and their particular qualities:

Amethyst – soothes the nervous system, balancing emotions. It helps you to feel more in control. It is good for relieving physical and emotional pain and overcoming addictions, dispelling anger, fear and anxiety.

Citrine or Golden Topaz - a highly positive stone that can guide you in a positive and creative direction. It is good for dispelling insecurity and negative thoughts and for attaining inner calm and security. It is motivating and helps you to achieve clarity of thought and resolution of problems

Clear Quartz Crystal – a highly spiritual stone, quartz is good for psychic development. It is purifying and creates harmony and balance. It enhances the qualities of other stones and can be programmed to achieve just about any goal.

Rose Quartz Crystal – the love stone, rose quartz creates harmony and balances emotional states. It is the stone for self-acceptance and appreciation of all things. It brings peace, compassion, self-love, happy relationships and receptivity to beautiful things.

Sterling Silver – brings clarity of thought and enhances your ability to deal with intellectual problems.

Tiger Eye - strengthens convictions and brings courage and confidence. It is good for mental focus and for promoting energy flow around the body. It is said to attract the people and things into your life that you need to achieve your goals.

Chambered Pendulums

Many pendulums contain a hollow chamber into which you can insert an object of significance to your divination questions. Chambered pendulums are usually made from metal and have a small hinged lid that opens to a small hollow chamber. Objects that are commonly inserted in the chamber include small crystals or stones to increase particular energies or a hair or piece of clothing from someone central to the question that is being asked. This makes chambered pendulums a very powerful tool for use in pendulum divination.

Preparing for Divination

Because we often turn to divination when we have a great desire to find the answer to a question, it is important to ensure we are in the right state of mind for undertaking divination. A genuine desire to find an answer is an important factor to successful divination. However, it is also important that you do not approach finding the answer in a desperate way with too much emotional attachment to the answer. You must approach divination in a relaxed manner, remaining a little detached from the answer. If you are too anxious and put too much pressure on yourself, the process will be ineffective.

For the best results, especially if you are using divination as a way to answer a question that causes you stress, it is advisable to undertake divination directly after meditating. Alternatively, here is a relaxation technique that will assist in reducing any anxiety directly before undertaking divination:

Light an aromatic candle or incense in a relaxing scent (examples: amber, lavender, geranium, jasmine, frankincense) in a room where you will not be disturbed. You could put on some relaxing music if you find that calming. Sit or lie somewhere comfortable. Once you are settled, imagine a light entering your body from your feet and gradually filling your body. As the light travels up your legs and through your body visualize the light entering every sinew, muscle, tendon and vein – every cell. Imagine the light to be soothing, calming and relaxing you as it pours into every aspect of your body. If you have an ache or a pain, concentrate the light on that point, making it bright and imagining the light healing the pain. As the light continues to make its way up through your body, it takes with it any pain, discomfort or stress until finally pouring out through the top of your head, expelling anything that is making you ill at ease.

By relaxing prior to divination, you will reduce your internal ‘noise’ and will be better able to focus your mind on the question. A more relaxed state will help you to remain calm and will assist you to get in contact with your intuition.

Determining the Question

Because pendulum divination is used to provide a Yes or No answer, you must be careful how you ask the question. The question must be unambiguous. Sometimes it is better to ask a series of simple questions that can be answered with either yes or no than to ask a complicated question where answering yes or no does not really give you a meaningful answer. Spend some time on your question as, if you ask ambiguous questions in the early stages of learning to use the pendulum, you may loose confidence in the accuracy of the process.

Practicing with a few simple questions first will help you to determine how to best form a question to find an answer to the important issues. Sometimes the timing for the question is not right. If this is the case, you will not receive an answer. You can, however, ask the pendulum whether the timing is right.

How To Use Your Pendulum

Determining the Yes and No Signals

Find somewhere comfortable to sit. Hold the cord or chain of the pendulum between the thumb and forefinger, leaving 2 to 4 inches of cord between the pendulum and your fingers. Ensure that your fingers are pointing down so that the pendulum can swing freely.

Hold the pendulum in front of you, so that it has plenty of room to swing above your knees.

To start the divination process, swing the pendulum in a motion away from you and towards you. This is the neutral action and is a way of saying, “I am ready to start divining”.

Firstly, you need to predetermine the signals that mean Yes and No. To do this, you ask the pendulum.

To determine the Yes response - While your pendulum is still swinging in the neutral action, state, ‘show me my Yes response’. You do not need to say this out loud but make sure you state it clearly in you mind. Now watch the pendulum. It will change direction or change its movement style or it may stop altogether. Whatever movement it makes after you ask for your Yes response is the movement that will be your signal for Yes.

To determine the No response - Swing the pendulum once again in the neutral action. While the pendulum is still swinging in the neutral action, state ‘show me my No response’. Watch the pendulum and whatever motion it makes will be your No response.



How to Talk to Your Children About Ghosts:
The Dos and Don'ts
by Debi Chestnut

If your children are very small, you won’t want to tell them everything, of course, but do encourage them to share their stories with you. This not only builds trust between you and your child, but also gives the child an opportunity to talk to you about other things that may be going on in his or her life.

If your child is experiencing nightmares, ask what he or she dreamed about and pay close attention to the response. The nightmare may not be a dream at all, but a way of telling you what happened.

While many children have imaginary friends, in a home with paranormal activity that friend may not be so imaginary at all. If your child has an imaginary friend, ask questions about the friend in a gentle manner so as to not alarm your child.

In particular, take note if your child’s imaginary friend is telling your child to do something your child knows is wrong, or something you know your son or daughter is incapable of coming up with independently.

If your child comes to you and says, "I saw a ghost," you may not know how to handle this situation in a way that will not frighten your child. Below are some of the dos and don’ts of talking to children about ghosts.

The Dos

Gently talk to your child about what he or she experienced, saw, or heard. By taking the time to get the whole story, you won’t jump to any conclusions and you will have all the facts as your child perceived them. Having this knowledge will help you understand what your child experienced and will give you a better idea of how to handle the situation. It will also help you to figure out if your child really encountered a spirit, or if your son or daughter just has an imaginary friend.

While your child is telling you about the experience, give your full attention. This will make your son or daughter feel more comfortable as well as convey that what you are hearing is important. It will also encourage your child to tell you the entire story and not just parts of it. Sometimes if children don’t think they have our attention, or feel we are distracted and not really paying attention to what they are saying, they will not tell us everything that happened.

If your child seems to be upset or afraid, take the time to snuggle up together in a chair or on the sofa. Wait for your child to calm down and feel safe and comfortable, and then ask that he or she tell you what caused the upset or fear. The odds are that your child thinks that ghosts are bad and is worried about getting hurt in some way. Once you take away this fear, your son or daughter will be more likely to open up to you and share what happened.

As a parent, your child looks to you for protection. Make sure you tell your children that you will help them understand their experience and that they are not alone. Always be sure to thank them for telling you what happened, and assure them that you will do everything you can to make this problem go away so they won’t be scared or upset anymore.

Ask how the experience made your child feel. It’s vitally important to get an idea about how your son or daughter feels about this new friend. Children may tell you that they are happy to have someone new to play with, but make sure you keep an eye on the situation and ask them every couple of days how they feel about their new playmate. If you notice that your child is becoming stressed out, afraid, or nervous, or starting to withdraw from family and friends, immediately talk to him or her and try to figure out what the new friend did or is doing to provoke this behavioral change.

To monitor the situation between your child and this new friend, ask to be told what your child and the friend do together. What kind of games do they play? What do they talk about? Don’t pressure your child; instead, use gentle but probing questions to try to figure out if your son or daughter’s friend has been asking or telling him or her to do certain things that your child knows are wrong, or if your child’s friend has been telling your kid things that you know aren’t true.

Be on the lookout for any shifts in the behavior of your child. If children begin to act in ways they normally wouldn’t or become withdrawn and moody, you should immediately have a talk with them to find out what their friend has been doing to them or telling them.

The Don'ts

You don’t want to confuse children by telling them that ghosts don’t exist or that they made up the whole story. If your child really did have a paranormal experience and yet you say that ghosts don’t exist, it could be very confusing. Moreover, your kids might not tell you about any other paranormal experiences they have because they feel you don’t believe them.

Our children mimic our behavior. If you become upset, frustrated, or hysterical because of what your children tell you, you could scare them tremendously and put them under an undue amount of unnecessary stress. As a parent, you need to remain calm and really listen to what your child is telling you about any experience.

If your children are older, do not encourage them to use a Ouija board, hold a séance, or engage in any other activity that could cause more problems. Most of the time a Ouija board and/or séance will only make matters worse.

Behind the Ouija board is the theory that its users are opening a door or portal to the other side. Anything, good or evil, can come through that open door, and there is no way to stop it or control it. The same is true with séances. A séance can get out of control very easily, because it is impossible for an inexperienced medium to control what or who comes through that open doorway.

In many cases, it takes a lot of courage for children, especially older children, to confide in their parents. When they are telling you about their experience, remain objective and don’t express any doubt about how they perceived the events they are describing. Don’t tell them that they just have an overactive imagination or otherwise dismiss what they are telling you. If your kids think that you don’t believe them, you have shut the door of communication, and they may not tell you about something worse that happens to them later on.

If you decide to share what your child told you with family members, friends, or co-workers, you will probably get a ton of advice on how to handle the situation. While these people mean well and are only trying to help, follow your instincts and only do what you feel comfortable with. There is a ton of information on the Internet about ghosts and hauntings, and not all of it is accurate. If you are uncomfortable about what exactly to do when your child comes to you saying he or she has seen a ghost, you can contact a legitimate paranormal researcher in the area where you live. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in dealing with this situation.

Many paranormal researchers believe that children from a very young age through their early teenage years are more likely to experience some type of paranormal phenomenon because they haven’t developed the prejudices that many adults have against such things as ghosts.

They also haven’t created their own way of filtering feelings and experiences that society may consider abnormal, irrational, or illogical. Some researchers believe that it could just be that children’s brains are physically more receptive to paranormal experiences, because they are young and their brains are still developing.

Children seem to have encounters with the paranormal more often than adults do. Paranormal researchers generally believe that this is due to the fact that children haven’t become as jaded and as programmed by society as adults, and that they are more open to the paranormal. For these reasons it is so important that your children feel that they can come and talk to you about what they are experiencing.

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/2240




Power and Responsibility

It is the dark Moon, and the power of the Crone courses through me. Her voice whispers to me: "Tear off the veil of secrecy1! Reveal the hidden! Expose the power! Speak the truths!"

The Crone is the dark aspect of the goddess of the Witches. She is my family goddess, Bendis, the Thracian goddess of the Dark Moon, who holds a twig in her hand that points the way to the underworld. She is the goddess of magic and witchcraft, of ancient wisdom and hidden ways. When she speaks, I listen and take heed.

For many practitioners, witchcraft means rituals, tools, spells, charms, charges and the Witches' Rede of "An' it harm none, do as ye will." But is this the true power of witchcraft? The Rede is a modern creation of Gerlad Gardner and Doreen Valiente. It was intended as an ethical guideline to curb the mishandling of power. Yes the reality of witchcraft is that of choice. Free will depends upon having the option to make choices, and with choice comes personal responsibility. for the neophyte and the adept, the Rede provides the reminder that energy sent is energy returned. I learned that truth in my family Craft as an equal return, although most of modern Wicca considers this a threefold return.

Witchcraft has existed for centuries in family enclaves and small groups. There are valid reasons why the new religions, which are based upon various interpretations of Christian dogma, fear the Wise Ones of the Old Religion. The reasons are based on awareness of the power that freedom of choice and acceptance of consequence brings to the individual practitioner of witchcraft.

My perspective comes from over half a century of observation, participation, and understanding of the practice of witchcraft within my family. This is a Craft based upon individual connections with nature, communion with elemental and spirit entities of this world and others, and union with deities of nature and the universe. This is a practical witchcraft utilizing natural magic. It is a Craft that is raw and untamed. It is the Craft a child is born with, but that has been trained or driven out by a fearful society concerned with orderliness, governance, and dominance.

Witchcraft is not for the dilettante, the frivolous, or the unfocused.  it is a religion and spirituality of power. It has the potential for great beneficience or great harm, and the first unspoken law is that there are no laws. Positive and negative energies are inherently neither good nor evil, but forces to be utilized by the person directing them. The Craft rcognizes only the currents, the eddies, and tides of energy manipulation. How that tide is moved to affect others is interpreted as good or evil by the practitioner and by outsiders passing a premeditated judgement.

Most people who practice or investigate witchcraft are immediately confronted with the Witches' Rede (occasionally titled the  "Wiccan Rede"), and any practicing Witch will quickly point out that the premier rule of the Craft is to "Harm None." In most every news article or television interview with a Witch,m the lay person is verbally patted ont he hand and told that the guiding law of harming none, coupled with the law of the three fold return, prevents Witches from doing evil.  Thus, there are only "good" Witches-people whose actions would be acceptable in most contexts; people who only differ from the mainstream by their appreciation of a goddess and a god rather than solely the male principal of divinity. But when I hear or read the Witches' prime directive abused in this way, I say "Impossible!"  What this narrow interpretation of the Rede actually does is rob the Witch of the power of witchcraft.

Notable people in Wicca have stated that a true Witch must be able to curse as well as heal. Some have suggested bringing criminals to justice through witchcraft. Is not the one harmful and does not the other interfere with someone's life? Certainly so. Yet, beliefs about karma and responsibility apparently cease to apply int he case of people whom a Witch has determined deserves to have their personal paths dabble din without permission or knowledge. These ideas have been presented within the setting of the Rede as options that are heavily padded with numerous caveats so as to read more like a lawyer's presentation than real life in motion.

There are also Witches who state that any spell action that brings desired things to a person has the effect of depriving someone else of those things. This outlook has the effect of evident awareness of energy movement coupled with a paranoia of the consequences. Many spell castings are so filled with verbal admonitions intended to cap a magical effort within their framework, that it makes no sense to cast the spell in the first place. The use of expansive words like "none" and "all" defuse the energy raised, with the timorous reference to rebounding magic derails the projection of the energy.

Witchcraft is not for the fearful or timid. It requires a strong will to make it work,and a willingness to incur consequences for one's actions. Choice allows for moving energy in self defense or to achieve a desired goal. But there are also ways in the Craft to deflect or diminish unwanted energy returns. The idea of performing good works demonstrates one methods of mitigating negative returns or generating equalizing positive energy. Thus a Witch who cruses may willingly accept the penalty, utilize transference magic to deflect the returning energy, or compensate through good works. This latter practice hearkens  tot he ancient custom of paying a weergild to the survivors of a slaying as an atoning compensation that thwarts reprisal for the action.

The power resides neither in spell words nor in the energies invoked, but within the Witch who speaks the words and moves the energies. The relevance of the charge is to know, dare will and keep silent about a magical work in progress.

In the Pagan communities of old, it was the Witch or Wise One who stood apart from the rest of a society that looked to them for help and guidance in day to day living. The idea of keeping silent has been subverted to conceal the genuine philosophy of witchcraft. Therefore, the Craft may appear similar to mainstream spirituality and as "mostly harmless". But when necessity arises, the Craft offers the practitioner the ability to knowingly tread where others tremble to go , and to modify, redirect, or diminish the consequences of the returning energy. This fearlessness and personal responsibility is what distinguishes the Craft from other spiritualities.

A Witch must move beyond the beginner's approach to the Craft and see the power granted by the Crone, who within her thin, bony hands lifts the veil covering her head so that her Wise Ones see the subtle smile on her gaunt, age lined face. For spiritual development, the practitioner must understand the meaning of the words: to know, to dare, to will, and to keep silent. They must recognize the power inherent in making deliberate choices, perceive the need for personal honor, and accept the responsibility for actions taken.

By Ann Moura
http://annmourasgarden.com
http://www.lunasolesoterica.com




Energize Your Magic With Color

By Raymond Buckland

I never realized there were so many uses for color in magick!” It was a Wiccan Priestess who spoke, and what she said surprised me. I knew that she had used color in healing and aura work for many years but, apparently, she had not thought of its use beyond that. Color can be incorporated into various methods of healing, as well as be used in such diverse roles as divination, numerology, astrology, talismanic  magick, poppets, candle magick, crystal gazing, meditation, and numerous forms of psychic development.

Discovering its effectiveness can certainly lead to enthusiasm for its use but, of course, you don’t have to use it all the time…though the temptation is there! One of the joys of using color is its simplicity. There is no need for any elaborate equipment and difficult training. Much color is utilized through lights (daylight and artificial) and colored papers or gels. Just the use of colored candles, inks (in talismans), papers, and robes, can hone a fine edge to a lot of magickal practices.

Color Breathing

Years ago I used to commute to work on a daily basis (today, happily, I work at home) and decided to use the drive time to experiment with color breathing. For years now I have frequently been accused of looking far younger than my years—as much as ten or fifteen years younger! I am sure that this is a direct result of that color breathing done so many years ago, and this illustrates the absolute simplicity and effectiveness of color work. Every day without fail I would spend ten minutes of my morning commute and ten minutes of my evening commute just breathing deeply. This was pretty much the standard deep breathing that I have detailed in several of my books as a prerequisite for any magickal work: breathing in white light to gradually fill all areas of the body while breathing out all negativity, aches, pains, etc. The difference here, however, was that I would imagine the air around me as being pink in color! That meant that, with every breath I took in I would fill my body with that pink light. I would sense it—”feel” it, almost—as it worked its way into every little corner of my body, from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. I pumped myself full of this pink light and kept at it for the full ten minutes. Then I let it go, and let my mind move on to other things. But over the weeks and months I began to receive more and more comments/compliments on how well I was looking. By color-breathing pink, I was able to greatly slow down the aging process! It has been many years now since I did that specific breathing, but the benefits have remained with me.

Light Waves

Color is nothing more than light waves, the rate of vibration giving the specific color. That rate of vibration is measured in what are called Angstrom units, which measure one ten-millionth of a millimeter of vibration! The color red, for example, has a wavelength varying from 6,200 Angstrom units to 6,700Å. At the other end of the spectrum, violet vibrates from 4,000Å to 4,500Å. A balance of these colors is absorbed, from the sunlight, by our bodies. When we are sick it is invariably because the colors are out of balance. By increasing the color(s) lacking, we can give ourselves the necessary boost to return to balance. In very simple terms, that is the basis of chromotherapy. The whole concept was explored and worked with intensely by the pioneer Dinshah P. Ghadiali, throughout the first half of the twentieth century. He wrote a number of excellent books on the subject and even founded the Spectro-Chrome Institute, in Malaga, New Jersey. In more recent years, the work has been greatly developed by Faber Birren, acknowledged and recognized by the Council on Industrial Health and by the American Medical Association.

With what we know of the properties of colors—the traditional associations—from candleburning magick and similar, we can also employ those colors in a wide variety of magickal practices to increase the resonance in the spell. For example, instead of using white paper when making a love talisman, for example, it would give extra empowerment to use pink, the color associated with love. Making a healing poppet of green cloth (the color for healing) rather than plain white is another example. A blue projection of thought, or even actual light, when working to bring down a fever is yet another example.

Like the Wiccan Priestess I mentioned earlier, explore the possibilities of working with color. Stop thinking of it as simply a pleasant background and start thinking of it as a potent ingredient in your magick, healing, divination, and more, for that’s what it is.

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/382


Miracles: Keep the Faith - Miracles happen!

Miracles can happen to all kinds of people all the time, says Skye Thomas.
 
Have you ever had an overwhelming problem or issue? Was there some circumstance in your life that seemed beyond your ability to handle it? Have you ever called out to God, guardian angels, your higher self, whatever name you give to that spirit?
 
Have you cried out to God for help with some crisis in your life? Did you get help? When we get the help and assistance, we assume all is well in the heavens. We think, "Wahoo! Miracles really do happen!"
 
However, when we don't get the answer or the help, we often conclude that there is no God. We seem to have mixed up our traditional beliefs stating that we have to jump through hoops and beg for our gods to favor us and the new age concepts that we can simply visualize anything we want into manifesting.
 
We seem to have rolled it all up into a belief that if we visualize what we want or demand that the gods assist us in the manner we choose, then we''ll get whatever we want. What a spoiled bunch we have become.
 
Positive visualization and faith are intertwined. You really can't have one without the other. You cannot empower your visualizations without faith. Kind of a "oh duh'' statement. Faith is not sitting around doing nothing while demanding miracles from the gods to come save you. If you've made choices that have put you into a bad place, don't yell at the gods to bail you out. Don't just sit there doing nothing while expecting the heavens to fix it all for you. It's not their job. It's your job.
 
Faith is trusting that if you work hard at finding solutions to your problems while following the Golden Rule, then things will turn out for the best. It''s believing that the gods will help you find or cultivate the solutions you need.
 
The Golden Rule, karma, - what comes around goes around, cause and effect - exists. If you make bad choices, bad things will happen. If you hurt people, people will hurt you. If you're living a negative lifestyle, then cry out for the gods to come save you from your misery, you're not likely to get any help. It's your life, your problems. Learn, grow, heal, move forward.
 
You can tell your God you're sorry for your part in creating the problem and that you're ready to change it. Then prove it, by changing it. Your God will show itself somewhere along the way. Have faith and keep working.
 
Let's assume it's one of those times in life where you were happily going along doing your good deeds, having a positive attitude, and some nightmare blew up in your face anyway. What is your immediate response when that happens?
 
Do you claim there is no God and that all of your positive thoughts and deeds were of no use? Do you lose faith that your God will guide you through the event? Or, do you hold strong to your God and to your positive beliefs? Do you roll up your sleeves and get to work on finding solutions? Do you even find ways to continue seeing the beauty in life while overcoming the adversity?
 
Negative people who don't have much faith in themselves, in life, or in God tend to use life's adversities as proof that they're correct for being so pessimistic. While people who are upbeat and positive, having faith in themselves, in life, tend to use adversities to collect evidence that everything really does turn out for the best in the long run. Whether we believe in God or not doesn't affect whether or not there is some form of God.
 
I can't even say for sure that believing in God will inspire that entity to like you or help you. All I know is that when we have faith that things will get better, they usually do. When we believe things won't get better, they don't.
 
Do miracles happen? Absolutely! They happen to all kinds of people all the time. They happen regardless of religion, gender or financial position. By definition, they have a magical unexplainable mystery element that's integral to how it came to be. Whatever that force is that causes such things to happen, it is awe inspiring.
 
Can you force miracles to happen by demanding them or by blackmailing your God with the underlying belief system that if your miracle isn't delivered then you're going to turn your back on your God? Definitely not. You can coax them by recognizing them when they happen no matter how little they might be and by being thankful to whatever force you attribute them to. "Thank you for your divine intervention, whoever you are"
By Times of India


Choosing, Cleansing and Charging Crystals
 by: Sam Stevens

This article teaches you how to make optimum use of these natural allies of the spirit.

First of all, when you go to a new age or gem store, you will usually find baskets or drawers filled with various kinds of gems. Tumbled stones are usually the cheapest and feature lumpy rounded surfaces. Points are gems that have been cut so that they resemble a geometric shape or a small tower.

The most important thing is to pick up the stone and see if it feels right in your hand. One stone might feel somehow "better" than another. The process of feeling energy from an object by holding it is called "psychometry."

It is very common to set foot in such shops and then step out again holding a bag full of stones that are quite different than the ones you originally intended to purchase. Don't worry, as this is quite common. Many of us make decisions about which stone we need to heal by reading a diagnostic description and then feel a certain rock or crystal "call out to us" in the store. Half of the time that is the remedy for the situation that you really need. For instance if you set out to buy Chinese Jade for money drawing, but instead walk out with a nice big hunk of Rose Quartz (which is more for emotional healing), the fact that you chose this stone might open your way for abundance. It could be that the quartz is a somehow more suitable coin it may soften a "block" you have inside with regards to prosperity. As this is not a pure science, you are well advised in this situation to follow your gut instincts and have faith in the universe.

If you find yourself attracted to a certain color of stone, pay attention as well, as it may reflect a color that is missing in your aura. For instance, an attraction to red or pink stone might represent a desire for more love and security in your life whereas an attraction to a purple stone might mean you are ready to advance on the spiritual path.

Once you have your stones, it is important to cleanse them of any energy they may have picked up in the past. Crystals are little storehouses that can collect various forms of energy and they may have been touched, handled or meditated upon before you bought them. Quartz crystals, in particular, can just pick up vibes from an environment.

There are four main methods of clearing crystals.

The Solar Method:

Perhaps the easiest and quickest method for clearing stones, especially crystals, is simply to place them outside in direct sun for one full day.

The Sea Salt Method:

Bury the crystal in a jar or bowl filled with sea salt and let it sit overnight. Do not use the salt for cooking or ingesting or bathing in after this though. Some prefer to soak the crystal in seawater. If you live near an ocean that's great, but you can make your own 'sea water' by just adding a couple of spoonfuls of sea salt to a container of water. The best container for either procedure is glass or ceramic. Don't leave your stones or crystals in there more that 24 hours as too much salt can cause a crystal to start growing a limb or developing a seam. After 24 hours rinse the crystals with water, preferably spring or distilled water.

Smudging:

Smudging a crystal involves passing the crystal through smoke. Usually the source of the smoke is a burning bundle of cedar or sage (this can also be purchased in new age or health stores.) You can also clear crystals using the smoke from rosemary, sage, frankincense, myrrh or Tibetan temple incense. This ritual finds its origins in both Native American and pagan traditions.

Breath:

Hold the crystal in your dominant hand, or if you bought a huge one, in both of your hands. Focus your thoughts on the crystal and imbue it with the intention of freeing it of all negative influences and energy. As you hold this intention in your thoughts, inhale forcefully through your nose and exhale forcefully on the stone. The idea is that your breath cleanses the rock and makes it your own. This is an Eastern as well as Nordic tradition for clearing objects. It will only work if you do feel truly connected to the divine as you are doing it. If you easily attach emotions, resentments, or are in a bad mood, save this technique for another day.

After you have cleansed your crystal, you need to "charge it" with your intention. There are ways of doing this and you might want to use your imagination. For some charging a crystal is a simple as holding it in your hand, meditating and pouring your intention into it.

Others charge their crystal by a stream (for cleansing), at high tide at sea (for vitality and health), at low tide (for slowing down, relaxation), during the New Moon (for new beginnings) or during the full moon (for abundance)/

Single crystals or stones may also be charged by placing them on a cluster of crystals that have already been charged or on an altar that has been dedicated to the Divine in some way.

The changing of crystals is a personal matter and it is vital to use your imagination when it comes to know how and where is the right time to do it. After you are done charging the crystal, keep it close to you, and soon you will start to notice subtle changes within yourself.
 



Body of Light Practice

From Gnostic Healing, by Tau Malachi and Siobhán Houston.

In this exercise to awaken the healing power within you, meditate on your body as a source of tremendous energy, seeing it as a great shining star giving light and life to all that surrounds it. The key is to utilize whatever imagery helps you realize your body as an abode of immeasurable energy and resilience, a palace of lights. It is especially powerful to perform this practice out in nature.

    * Sit and abide in primordial meditation and follow your breath, then gently shift your focus to contemplate your body with holy awe and wonder. Consider how amazing is the body: the skin and bones, muscles and nerves, and all of the various organs; the billions of cells composing the body; the molecules, atoms, and nuclei that form the underlying structure of the cells.

    * Direct your consciousness into one single cell of your body and imagine it resonating with a certain sound-vibration, having its own tone, and feel it alive and pulsing with life-power and strength. See it glowing with light from within.

    * Gradually broaden your meditation to include two or three more cells, feeling and envisioning them in the same way. Little by little become aware of your body’s vast nature, and its incredible strength and capacity to heal. Sense that you are in a place of great beauty and holiness, of wonder and infinite richness, and feel the pure delight of being, allowing appreciation and gratitude to fill and overflow your consciousness.

    * Continue to extend this luminous awareness throughout your entire body, cell to cell, region to region, until your whole body is self-radiant and taken up in this divine rapture. Perceive the vibrant warmth of light pervading your entire body, and celebrate this peaceful and joyful palace of light, this grand microcosm of life and light.

    * Sense that this radiant awareness naturally and spontaneously releases any tension. Abide in the awareness of your entire being as innately aligned and in harmony with divine being.

    * As your body is suffused by this pure radiant awareness, the light in the body becomes brighter and brighter, the glow becoming a blaze, then an intense brilliance. Become the light-presence and light-power, the human one of light.

    * Your body is filled with divine light, and the cells of your body shine from within like billions of suns, the light of which fills the infinite inner space of your body. Rest and bathe in this feeling.

    * When this cycle is complete, envision light and energy streaming from your body, forming a protective aura of healing energy all around you. Then visualize this healing power extending to other people and other places, imbuing them with light and peace, activating their intrinsic light-presence and light-power. As you become more experienced with this practice, this field of divine energy may be extended to include the whole world, or even the entire universe, all as in your body of light as the human one of light.

In order to strengthen this practice, you may first generate the body of light, and then transform your body of light into the divine image of a partzuf, such as Master Yeshua, Lady Mirya, the Virgin Mother, or St. Raphael. In this way, you may become aware of the innate divinity and wisdom within you, calling it forth to help in your healing work. By generating the body of light and the aura of the healing power, you may transmit the healing power to another person through touch, laying hands upon them as inspired by the light-presence and light-power.

To focus the mind while laying on of hands and calling upon the healing power of divine being, soft chanting of the divine names may be used. Two most commonly used with this practice are IAO and Ya-Ha-Sha-Va-Ha.

Whether performed with oneself or with another person this practice is concluded with praise and thanksgiving and with the generation of the sacred heart, which is accomplished by bringing up feelings of love and compassion, and then sending forth blessings to all beings.

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/2110




Holy Oak

Author: Anja Heij

The majesty of the Oak has been recognized by many cultures. The Celts, the Germanic and Nordic tribes, and the ancient Greeks all attributed this tree to their main god.

To them the Oak represented power, protection and durability. The fiery Oak has strong masculine qualities; it is a symbol of inner and outer strength, courage and nobility of soul.

A healthy tree easily lives a thousand years. The wood is reknowned for its strength; anything made from oak will last long. The tree has a resilience against thunder and even seems to attract it. Hence its attribution to various gods of thunder, like Thor and Zeus/Jupiter.

A sacred oak forms the center of the Greek oracle of Dodoni, and Zeus already for centuries answers your questions by the rustling of the wind through its leaves.

Germanic tribes made peace and administered justice under an oak.
Both the Germans and the Celts celebrated the equinoxes with large fires from oak-wood.

The druids, the Celtic priests-magicians, had a vegetation cult in which they worshipped the spirits of several trees. To the druids the oak was considered to be chosen by the gods if a mistletoe grew on it; this was a very special combination of the sacred tree of the chief-god with the sacred all-healing viscum album. It was a spiritual marriage between sun and moon, heaven and earth. And it was a double sign of the eternity of life, when the tree of the sun-god, who ruled life and death, was fertilized by the evergreen (symbolizing everlasting life) mistletoe.
In an attempt to adapt pagan beliefs to christianity the following explanation is sometimes given to the combination oak and mistletoe: the bird that spread the seed of the mistletoe to the oak is the Holy Spirit, the viscum album is Jesus, and the oak-tree is God.

The druids discovered similarities between the characteristics of trees and human beings. According to the druid horoscope every part of the year is ruled by a tree, and persons born under that influence show certain character treats.

Not surprisingly the druid oak-type is born at the spring equinox, 21 march, when the sunlight becomes stronger. Oak-types are strong willed, hardworking, independent, bold and self-confident people. They are firmly grounded in their own opinion, what also means that they can be stubborn and inflexible. They are loyal, practical, realistic, business oriented and will work on until they reach their goal.

In the Bach flower therapy we use oak for the courageous hard workers who will never give up, who will tireless proceed in their dedication to a certain task, no matter how exhausted or depressed they may be. These dutiful and responsible people do not allow themselves any relaxation.

In herbal therapy we too use the oak (Quercus robur) to help regain strength for the exhausted and chronic ill person, or to increase strength for the one with a weak constitution. For this purpose we prepare a tea or tincture of the young bark, young leaves and the acorns. The oak contains a great amount of calcium, which builds up strength and immunity.

Because of the calcium oak can play a regulating role in problems with the thyroid gland, with osteoporosis or bone pains.
Resting with your back leaning against an oak will miraculously increase your energy.

Tea of the bark, externally applied, is a good help against eczema, acne, psoriasis, piles, ulcers and burns. Here the doctrine of signatures teaches that the rough bark will have a healing effect on skin problems.
The oak is a strong astringent; very helpful in profuse bleeding, diarrhea or edema.

And last but not least: the druids believe that always carrying an acorn in your pocket will ensure a youthful appearance!


Use the Sexy Power of Voodoo in your Quest for Mr. or Ms. Right

Ask people what they really want from their lives, or what’s missing and they’d like more of, and the answer will always be love. We all want someone to cuddle up to and take care of us, and someone we can adore in return. A survey conducted by O Magazine and Oprah.com asked 37,000 people about their relationships, and 95% said they'd marry their true love instead of a billionaire any day of the week (and I bet the other 5% said they’d only marry the billionaire if they had feelings for him).

So, if I told you that I could help you find love and have Mr. (or Ms.) Right knocking on your door by Valentine’s Day, I’m sure you’d be interested!

But what if I told you we’d be using sneaky magic to manipulate that person into falling for you, and we’d be using the power of Voodoo? Maybe you’d think again—and I know just what your problems would be:

   1. You probably think Voodoo is a nasty form of black magic, and
   2. Whether it is or not, you probably think it’s wrong to use manipulative magic to make someone fall in love with you.

So let’s put these issues behind us first.

What IS Voodoo?
Voodoo is the shamanic practice of old Africa, which was bought to the New World by slaves and now has a following of around two hundred million people worldwide. When the Africans arrived in America, they couldn’t always find the herbs and other materials they’d been using in their own country to work their magic and to honor the Earth, so they learned from indigenous shamans and blended that approach with their own. Voodoo in the West is based on this blend and uses the spiritual wisdom of both traditions in spells, rituals, and secret recipes that can help you find the man or woman of your dreams. Love potions and charms for getting what you want—whether that’s a lover, a job, better health, or business success—are central to its magical techniques. Given the poor circumstances of the slaves, any way of attracting good fortune was taken very seriously and many of these spells are powerfully effective.

Despite what you’ve seen in the films (which is where most of our negative stereotypes about Voodoo come from), these spells do not involve wild orgies, frantic blood-letting rituals, or sticking pins in dolls (a practice that is actually unheard of in Haiti, which is the country most associated with Voodoo). And, you won’t be creating flesh-eating zombies who’ll soon be taking over our malls! Voodoo is a religion, like any other, and if you wouldn’t get this in your local Anglican church, you won’t find it in Voodoo either!

Some of the earliest negative myths about Voodoo come from American troops who were stationed in Haiti just after the Second World War and wanted to make money from sensationalist books. At the base of their stories, in those unenlightened times, was racism. Some of this even crept into mainstream titles like Ian Fleming’s 1954 James Bond thriller, Live and Let Die, which depicts evil Soviet agents controlling "gullible black Haitians" through their "ridiculous belief" in spirits. Racism like this is truly sad.

The truth, though, is that Voodoo works with energy, just like Wicca or shamanism, and like in those crafts, there is nothing inherently "evil" about it. What you choose to do with any magical power could be "good" or "bad," of course, but that’s entirely up to you, not to the energy itself or the spirits who embody it. Which brings us to…

Okay, So Voodoo Isn't "Evil," but It Must Be Manipulative if it Makes People Fall in Love With You
My question for this one is: what, in the realm of love and attraction, isn’t manipulative? Whenever we go out looking for love or meet someone on a date, do we turn up in our work clothes, unwashed, without make-up or perfume, and act like a total jerk? Or do we wear our best and sexiest outfits, showered, suited and booted, hair done nicely, wearing our most expensive perfume and make-up, and do our level best to exude charm, warmth, and sexiness throughout? If you’re like 99% of people on the planet, it’ll be the latter and, let’s face it, that’s manipulative, isn’t it? Because, again, if you’re like most people, the "real you" flops round her apartment in carpet slippers and jogging pants, eating Ben & Jerry’s straight from the tub, with your hair all over the place. So who’s kidding who here?

Every single magical practice on Earth is manipulative. That’s what magic is for! Voodoo’s no different from Wicca, shamanism, Kabbalism, or anything else in that respect: its purpose is to manipulate the energies of the universe so they work a little more in our favor.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take our responsibilities seriously, though. I often get emails from people who say, “My boyfriend has left me. How do I get him back?” or “Someone is interfering in our relationship and preventing us being together. How can I stop this and make him love me again?” My advice is always the same:

   1. If the love between you is strong, it cannot be broken. There are forces in the world—human and spiritual—which can act against you, but no one and nothing can break up a relationship that is stable enough to withstand them. So think about what else has gone wrong between you without the intervention of this third person or force. Is there anything you or your lover need to change? Or something you can do in practical day-to-day terms before you think about using magic (see a counselor, talk to each other, get away on a holiday, etc)?
   2. Consider the question of control. Someone or something has interfered with your relationship and exerted some form of control over you or your lover (from criticism or emotional manipulation, right through to ritual magic). If you then use magic to get your lover back or break the influence of that other person, you are also controlling your lover. Think about this and decide if you’re happy to proceed on this basis.

      Allied to this, if your lover does come back, there will always be a part of you that will suspect they did so through magic, not because they wanted to. Are you happy to live with that knowledge?
   3. If your lover returns, you will have a “duty of care” towards them. To get them back only to tire of them yourself and leave the relationship a few months later is irresponsible, leading to further pain for you both. Are you absolutely sure you want them back and can commit to a loving relationship, no matter what may be involved?
   4. If your lover returns, the relationship cannot be the same as it was before. To go back into the same situation and behave in the same way is inviting the same problems. Are you prepared to change—possibly everything—in your relationship and in yourself so this doesn’t happen?

If my clients are happy with their answers to these questions, then I go ahead and do the magic for them. I have to assume that people are adult and sensible enough to know their own minds, and, of course, the responsibility for the magic is theirs—as it is yours if you decide to use it.

I don’t mean this in a karmic sense, and there is nothing scary implied here (I firmly believe that you have a right to be happy, and that the world will be a better place if you are!), but, practically, if you call a lover to you, then of course you will have another person’s feelings and a relationship to consider. So give it some thought before you act.

If you want to go ahead, though, here are a few techniques from my book, Va-Va-Voodoo: Find Love, Make Love, & Keep Love, which I particularly like.

Divine Love
So you want to know where to find Mr Right? One Voodoo approach is divination. Here’s one method from Southern Voodoo. You’ll need:

    * A bowl of water
    * A black candle
    * Some silver foil
    * Paper and pen
    * Seven pomegranate seeds

The water you use should be blessed in one of two ways—either because it’s holy water taken from seven different churches (in each church you should leave seven silver coins to pay for it) or because it’s the first spring rain of the year that you have collected for the purpose of divination, and therefore “blessed by God” and your own intention.

Strictly speaking, this divination should be done outside on the night of a full moon, but if that’s difficult for you, do it wherever you can. First light your candle and place it at the head of the bowl of water so it casts a reflection there and, if you’re inside, turn out the lights.

Then write down on separate pieces of paper the names of all the people you consider candidates for Mr. (or Ms.) Right. Alternatively (especially if there’s no one on your love horizon at the moment), write down a few descriptions of the sort of person who interests you (“blonde with blue eyes,” “dark hair, brown eyes,” and so on) and where you might meet them (“work,” “club,” “sports hall,” etc.), what they do for a living, where they live and work—anything you want information on, really!

Wrap each paper in a separate piece of foil, folding it so it looks like a small mirror, and drop it into the bowl, then cast the pomegranate seeds in on top of them and watch where they land. One seed on top of a piece of foil suggests a relationship possibility or a possible answer to your question; two means it’s likely; three or more on the same slip of foil shows that a serious relationship is in the offing or that the outcome is highly likely.

Take out the foil with most seeds on it and read the name (or other information) there. If more than one piece of foil has the same number of seeds, lucky you! Now you have your pick! If no seeds fall on any slip it suggests the time’s not right yet for your answers to be revealed, so leave it a month before you try again.

Making Your Lover Appear "As if by Magic"OK, so the divination showed you who you want to attract and/or where to find them. Now here’s a charm (known as a "wanga" in Haiti, or a "trick" in American Voodoo) to bring your lover to you.

First write their name on a piece of paper and your name on the other side. Then wrap the paper around a stick of cinnamon, with your name facing outwards, and tie it with two ribbons—pink (for love) and red (for power). A photograph of the person you want or a lock of their hair can also be added to the bundle.

Now place all of this in a jar of honey (because honey is sweet and sticky and you want your lover sweet on you and stuck to you) and wrap it in white linen tied with another red ribbon. Put this in the highest place in your house (the attic is best, but tucked away in an airing cupboard is also fine)—just make sure the person you want never finds it!

To empower this charm, you should also make an offering and an appeal to the Voodoo spirit of love (whose name is Erzuli) by lighting a pink candle and placing a gift to the spirit in front of it. Fancy chocolates and champagne are particularly appropriate. When the candle burns down Erzuli has accepted your offering and will work her magic for you. Expect a new love to appear within seven days or your current lover to suddenly become more attentive!

I hope these tricks work for you and that you get the love you deserve. There’s a whole lot more spells and charms like this, as well as advice on love and relationships, in my book Va-Va-Voodoo.

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/1310


Altars for Everyone

by Magenta Griffith

Many Pagans, Witches, and magicians have altars, as do people of spiritual paths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shintoism. An altar can be tiny, in an out of the way place, or you can have a whole roomful of altars. You can have just a few items or a huge collection. You can spend alot of money or none at all.

If you are just getting started-and especially if you have little space-begin with a small altar. You can use a corner of a dresser of a bedside table, or a small separate table that seems like the right size and shape. A dresser or night table with a drawer is useful for storing supplies like incense, candles and the like. You can also have an altar built to your specifications. Some magical rituals require an altar that is an exact size and proportion. For example, a "double cube" is one standard description of an altar, and could be a box that is 20 inches by 20 inches by 40 inches. If you have nothing else, a wooden crate on end is about the same proportion as the double cube. Cover it with a tablecloth, or buy fabric from a yard goods store and you have an altar.

Some people have a whole room to use as a temple or magic room or meditation room. They often have a large main altar at east or north, and smaller altars at the other four directions. Their primary tools are placed on the main altar, and the altars in each of the other directions have items pertaining to the element of that direction. For example, the altar at south would have candles and perhaps other symbols of fire as well.

Altars need to have an artistic theme and overall organization-otherwise they can become just a collection of knick knacks. You may find the things you need for your altar many places: thrift stores, garage sales, Pagan festivals, magical supply shops and even mundane stores, as well as on the Internet.

Witches usually have symbols of fire, water, earth and air. The conventional items are a candle, a bowl or cup of water, a dish of salt and a stick of incense in a holder but there are actually several ways to represent the four elements that are usually found on Pagan or Wiccan altars.

The commonest symbol for air is a stick of incense, although some people use a paper fan or even a feather. If you use incense, you probably want an incense burner of some sort. It's easier to clean up the ash from a stick of incense if you get the tray type holder that provides a built in ash tray under the burning stick. If you use loose incense, you will need a holder for the charcoal to burn the incense.

This can be an elaborate censer, or just a brass incense burner from an import shop. If you wish you can use a heat proof dish of some sort, but it’s often safer to put a layer of sand in the burner for the charcoal to sit on. If you use charcoal tablets, you need to keep them handy, but away from air and light, because they get damp and won't burn. I find stick incense easier, but there is nothing to match the wonderful aroma of real frankincense burned on charcoal.

Fire is usually represented by a candle-often a red candle. A votive candle in a holder is much safer than an open flame, and you can get a variety of interesting votive candle holders, or both. Since many candles are scented, think about whether the scent of the candle is associated in your mind with that element. I think red, cinnamon scented votives work very well as a fire symbol. You may want to have several candles on your altar-a candle for each direction, for example. The commonest Wiccan correspondences for the directions are yellow for east and air, red for south and fire, blue for west and water and green for north and earth.

The symbol of water can be a cup or a goblet or a chalice, a shell, or even a picture of a wave. Some people like to combine symbols and use a large shell with water in it. You can put water in whatever vessel you choose, but I suggest you not fill it too full-and it isn’t a good idea to leave water in it for a long time: it collects dust and cat hair. Either leave the dish empty or get into the habit of filling and emptying it regularly.

Earth symbols include a pentacle (the five pointed star in a circle), a small bowl or dish of salt, a dark colored rock, or a plant in a pot of dirt. A dish of salt is useful on the altar in any case, because it is part of casting a Wiccan circle, and salt water is used to bless and cleanse in many situations. The simplest pentacle is one drawn on a piece of paper. More elaborate ones are made out of wood, ceramic or metal.

You may want to put items associated with a given element in that element's direction: water items at west for example, objects that symbolize spirit for you can go in the middle. Or you may want to put Goddess-associated objects-the chalice, the pentacle, mirror-on one side of the altar and God objects-athame, wand-on the other. Objects that you feel partake of both energies, or neither, could go in the middle.

Various natural objects such as rocks, feathers, crystals and shells are often found on altars. These can be objects you have personally collected or that people have given you. Be wary of buying too many things for your altar just because they re pretty: an altar should be a place for deeply meaningful objects, not just a knick knack collection. Most people have a goddess statue, a god statue or both. These should be portrayals of deities you actually work with. You can have more than one-in fact; three goddess statues are traditional for some groups. Try to keep the statues proportional to the size of the altar. A huge statue can overwhelm smaller items, but a tiny statue may get lost amid larger decorations.

Some people put photographs on their altars, such as pictures of ancestors. They can be photos of parents or grandparents, or pictures of people you consider your spiritual teachers and forebears. You can also have pictures of sacred places, or natural phenomena like rainbows, thunderclouds, waterfalls, etc. Think of what the picture symbolizes before you put it on your altar. Anything you put on your altar will have great meaning to you. Do you really want to bring tornadoes into your life?

Altars should be beautiful-or at least pleasing to your eyes. You may want to change you altar before every holiday which is eight times a year for Witches. Or you could make seasonal changes four times a year. You will probably change things around when you do major spells. In any event you need to maintain your altar on a regular basis. It should never become dirty or dusty; for example, incense creates ash that needs to be cleaned off of the surfaces it drops on. Your altar will change as you change, as new things come into your life. This means that other items may need to be retired or given away, or stored in order to have the altar reflect your practice as it currently is, not as it was when you first set up the altar.

Your altar is not your focus for magical work. You want to have objects on the altar that are unique to your life and your practice. What are you proud of, and want to be reminded of every day? What are your goals? Who do you love? Where do you want to go? What are your highest ideals? Ask yourself these questions to guide you when building your altar.

Celebrating Yule without Losing Your Mind—Or Your Life Savings
by Dorothy Morrison

Ah, the Yuletide season! No matter who we are or where we live, it's something we all look forward to. And why not? When it comes to the Winter Solstice, cultural differences don't matter. Language isn't a barrier. And neither is the fact that the traditions with which we commemorate this festival are as varied as the celebrants themselves. That's because it's a time of light and warmth—the time when the newborn Sun appears again in the sky—a confirmation that the dark, bitter chill that envelopes the Earth will soon give way to longer days and the greening of Spring. And in the dead of Winter, that's a promise we can all appreciate.

Even so, it's more than that. The promise of the newborn Sun brings its light and warmth into our hearts, as well. Common courtesy and good will becomes the norm, rather than the exception. Senseless worries give way to something much more important: A sincere appreciation for our neighbors, friends, and loved ones, and all they do to enrich our lives. We find ourselves smiling at each other, speaking to strangers on the street, and going out of our way to practice random acts of kindness. In short, we all become nicer people, and even if only temporarily, the world seems a much better place to live. In this day and time, that's definitely something worth celebrating!

As worthy of celebration as the Winter Solstice is, though, doing so often presents its own set of problems in the form of time and money. There are holiday cards to send out, gifts to buy, and our homes to decorate. There are parties to plan, additional trips to the grocery store, and all that holiday baking and cooking to handle. Unless you've got a staff of personal servants and an unlimited bank account, it's enough to make your head spin. And that's certainly no way to spend the season.

So, what do you do? How do you get everything done on time? Or handle all that extra expense without taking out a mortgage-sized bank loan? More to the point, how do you manage to relax, enjoy the season, and actually have some fun?
Contrary to popular belief, the answer is not double-dipping into the eggnog. But it's almost as effortless, and comes in the form of three little words. Simplify. Organize. Delegate.

At this point, I can almost hear what you're thinking: It starts with "yeah, but" and ends with "nobody else can do this the way I want it done." And believe me, I understand. By the same token, though, Yuletide meals don't have to be twelve-course extravaganzas. Nobody will gasp in horror because every loop of garland on the tree doesn't measure exactly nine inches at its drop. And no one—not one single person in the entire history of Yule—ever died because a Yule card arrived addressed in a childish script or with a printed computer label adorning its envelope.

If you're still not convinced, though, consider this: The whole idea behind any celebration is to celebrate. And you just can't do that if you're so worn out you can't even remember your own name. That said, take a deep breath and regroup. Then get started with some of the tips below. You'll be glad you did!

    * Holiday Cards: These little goodies can be terribly expensive, to say nothing of the time involved in signing, addressing, and stamping them. That being the case, start by taking a good, hard look at your greeting card list and decide whether you really need to send all those cards. If not, shave the list to a more appropriate size.

      Then set about designing your own cards via the personal computer. (You can even scan in your signature so it prints out with the rest of your message, if you like.) Just print them on heavy card stock (readily available at all office supply stores) and have your children or grandchildren handle the addressing and stamping.

      Don't have kid-power at your disposal? Not a problem. Simply type your address list into the computer, print it out on labels, and slap them onto the envelopes with the stamps. One quick dash to the mailbox and you're done.

    * Decorating: Since we want our homes to look festive and elegant and reflect our own tastes, this is the one job that most of us have trouble relinquishing to others. However, it's also the one job that usually takes more time than anything else. So, dig out those boxes of holiday decorations and invite the neighborhood kids over for a decorating party. All you'll have to do is supply hot cocoa and cookies—and that will give you plenty of time to supervise.

      Worried that it might be more trouble than it's worth? Invite your friends over for a decorating party, instead. Even if you have to serve more food—meat, cheese, and vegetable trays are likely options—you'll get the help you need and it won't take as much supervision. Best of all, the job will be done, and you can breathe a sigh of relief.

    * Shopping: I don't have time to go to the mall anymore—and my last holiday shopping experience there was so unpleasant that I doubt I'd go even if I did. For that reason, I do most of my shopping online. This doesn't just save the nerves, though. Since most online stores will handle gift wrapping and shipping, it saves a ton of time as well.

      Of course, there are those folks who require something special in the way of holiday gifts, and ordering something sight unseen simply isn't going to get it. In that case, why not get back to the basics and make the gift yourself. (Don't groan. With all the time you've already saved in other areas, you'll have plenty of time for this. Besides, the gift doesn't have to be fancy to be special.) Some quick and easy gift ideas might include a spa basket, a flowerpot birdbath, or a potpourri lamp. You could go with freshly baked goods, a kitchen wreath, an herbal tea basket, or maybe even a set of scented mug coasters. And if you've got some time left over, you might even whip up a batch of bone-shaped biscuits for your loved ones' favorite pets.

      But what if you aren't particularly crafty? What if you're the type whose fingers stick together at the mere mention of high-test glue? Not to worry. The projects listed above are absolutely foolproof, and you can find all the instructions in Yule: A Celebration of Light & Warmth.
 
*  Party Planning: I doubt there's s single person who, caught up in the spirit of the season, hasn't at least dreamed of having a Yule party. But few of us ever follow through. The reasons are many, but most of them finally boil down to two things: the amount of time it takes to plan such an affair, and the expense involved in making it happen. Sadly enough, the idea is put on the back burner until such won't be a problem.

      It doesn't have to be that way. Regardless of your circumstances, you can still have that party—if you follow a few simple guidelines. What's more, it can be the gala event of the season. Here's how:

          o Keep the guest list small, and rather than sending out invitations, use the phone to handle the task. Then insist on a call back to confirm attendance.

          o Make it a potluck meal. That way, you'll only have to supply the entrée, and drinks. (To cut expenses, do not supply liquor. Ask your guests to bring their own bottles, instead, if they'd like to partake.)

          o If you want to exchange gifts, keep the price to a five dollar maximum. Then hold a gift swap. Number all the gifts, write the numbers on slips of paper, and put them in a pretty bowl. Then ask each guest to draw a slip and retrieve the appropriate gift.

          o To make it a really special evening, consider an after-dinner caroling expedition. Don't want to sing traditional carols? Not a problem. There's a wide assortment of Pagan-oriented filks readily available on the Internet. Just print them out, don your hats and coats, and get ready to harmonize.

    *  Yule Meals: I'm always amazed at the tizzies folks work themselves into when it comes to preparing Yuletide meals. But perhaps it's because my mother always handled things the easy way: She simply prepared many of the dishes ahead of time and froze them.

      While it's a given that you can't do that with everything on your list—dishes that require mayonnaise, cooked potato, or meringue do not freeze well—almost anything in the holiday baking category fits the bill. Take double-crust pies, for instance. These can be prepared weeks in advance, wrapped in aluminum foil, and frozen. And when the big day comes? Just pop them into the oven for the prescribed baking time. (For a special treat, bake them during the meal. That way, you'll be able to serve warm pie for dessert.)

      The same applies to both cookie and yeast roll dough. It's only a matter of shaping the dough into rectangular rolls and wrapping it well in waxed freezer paper before freezing. When you're ready to bake, just slice the dough into pieces and pop them in the pan. (In the case of roll dough, be sure to allow an additional thirty minutes or so for the rolls to rise before baking.)

      Many other items—fresh fruit salads, most soups, casseroles, and cheese, egg, and pasta dishes—can also be successfully prepared early and frozen as well. If you go this early preparation route, however, please remember to allow plenty time for thawing in the refrigerator. It wouldn't do for someone to chip a tooth on a frozen fruit salad—especially not on Yule!

Of course, I realize that nothing is ever as easy as it appears in print. Things seldom go according to plan, and we often find ourselves changing course in mid-stream. Sometimes, we even find ourselves upstream without benefit of paddles. And a good many of us just don't do well with those sorts of changes. For this reason I urge you, no matter what your Yuletide plans involve, to keep it simple. That way, you'll truly be able to enjoy the season. What's more, you'll know that the light, warm, fuzzy feeling starting at your core and spreading through your entire being is exactly what it should be: that wondrously awesome, magical spirit of Yule—and not the early signs of complete and total holiday exhaustion!

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/1388



"People Foods" That Can Sicken Your Pets & Other Safety Tips
by Ellen Lovinger Eller

While baking oatmeal-raisin cookies, you drop some dough on the floor—where your puppy has been hoping for just such an accident…

Your cat is playing with a cherry tomato that fell off its vine, and watching him is so much fun, you never consider that he might bite into it and fall deathly ill…

We humans are omnivores, adaptable when it comes to what we eat. And because we love our pets and tend to express that love by giving them tasty tidbits, either occasionally or habitually, we forget that their bodies are not quite so adaptable. Many common, ordinary things that people eat can be harmful, even deadly, for dogs and cats. For example:

Chocolate: The theobromine in cocoa products diminishes blood flow to the brain and may lead to heart attacks in cats and dogs. Ingesting small amounts can result in gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea; consuming large amounts can lead to coma and death. The degree of toxicity depends on the animal’s weight and the amount and type of chocolate eaten: the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. That makes semi-sweet and bakers chocolate particularly dangerous. Consider how resourceful dogs can be when it comes to finding and tearing into baked goods or candy—and keep chocolate in all forms out of reach.

Grapes & Raisins: Aside from the possibility that a quickly bolted-down little fruit can choke a small pet, grapes and raisins are highly toxic to both cats and dogs. Scientists and veterinarians aren’t sure why, but they are sure that it doesn’t take much to damage an animal’s kidneys irreparably. So no matter how much Fido may beg for some of your late-summer grapes or that raisin cookie you’re munching on, even if he tolerated the fruit in the past, a repeat "treat" is not worth the risk.

Milk & Other Dairy Products: On a hot summer day, you may be tempted to share your ice cream cone with your dog. Or perhaps you’ve gotten into the habit of giving your grown cat a saucer of milk. Unfortunately, pets do not tolerate milk and milk-based products very well. Dairy foods can cause diarrhea and other digestive upsets, as well as food allergies that are often first manifested as itchiness.

Mushrooms: There are people who can identify mushrooms that are edible and those that are poisonous. Most of us simply don’t eat fungi we don’t know. But your dog might nibble on the mushrooms that sometimes pop up in your lawn or a mushroom in the woods that’s surrounded by intriguing wild scents, and that could lead to shock and death. The severity of the reaction depends on the type of mushroom and amount eaten as well as the animal’s size and sensitivity. Figure that it’s better to be safe than sorry: Don’t feed mushrooms to dogs and cats (even the "tame" varieties you eat), keep an eye out for potentially deadly mushrooms in the wild, and get rid of those "backyard mushrooms" as soon as you see them.

Onions: The sulfoxides and disulfides in onions are known to damage red blood cells, causing severe anemia. And it should be noted that cats are more susceptible to onion poisoning than dogs. The fact that many prepared foods’ ingredients include onions is one excellent reason to avoid giving such "people food" to pets, aside from basic nutritional considerations, of course. (FYI, garlic contains those compounds, too, but less of them. That’s why it may be given as a dietary supplement to help repel fleas, unless an individual animal is sensitive to it.)

Pits & Seeds: Choking on pits and seeds is a real hazard for pets, but not the only one. Apple seeds, cherry pits, peach pits, pear pips, plum pits and apricot pits contain cyanide, a deadly poison. While chomping an apple core with seeds may not cause an immediate problem, the effects can accumulate over time, and if a dog chewing playfully on a fruit pit happens to swallow it, his exposure to cyanide is likely to be continuous.

Raw Eggs: Sure, eggs can be a nice change of protein in your pet’s diet. But raw egg whites contain avidin, which depletes biotin in a dog’s system. Biotin is one of the B vitamins essential for a healthy coat and normal growth, and deficiency can result in hair loss, weakness, bone deformities and stunted growth. Raw egg yolks contain enough biotin to prevent the lack, so you might feed raw whole eggs—but don’t ignore the possibility that they could be contaminated with salmonella. Your best bet is to just cook the eggs.

Sugar, Etc.: Too much sugar can lead to obesity, dental problems and diabetes in dogs, just as it does with humans. But don’t even think about giving your pet any of the "diet" treats you may enjoy. Sugar substitutes such as xylitol, often used to sweeten candies, baked goods and even toothpaste, can increase the insulin in your dog’s body, causing his blood sugar to drop drastically. Symptoms are likely to include vomiting, lethargy and coordination loss, followed by seizures and, within a few days, liver failure.

Similarly, too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination and lead to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of too much salt include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and, sometimes, death. So if you feel like snacking on salty chips or pretzels, be a little greedy—and don’t share them with your dog.

Tomatoes & Potatoes: Tomatoes are toxic to cats, and so are the other parts of the tomato plant (which, by the way, are harmful for humans, too). Victims suffer severe, potentially fatal gastrointestinal distress. So if you see your cat playing with a cherry tomato as if it were a ball, or a mouse, get it away from him before his claws puncture the skin and he takes a taste.

Interestingly, tomatoes don’t seem to have that adverse effect on dogs. But potatoes have been blamed for poisoning some canines (and people). It only happens rarely, and the potatoes aren’t really the culprit. Sprouts and green patches on potato skins contain solanine which, eaten in quantity, can cause major neurological and respiratory crises. Fortunately, there’s not enough solanine in a single potato to do your dog (or you) real harm. Peeled and cooked—with sprouts and green spots removed—potatoes are easily digested by dogs and quite nutritious.

Walnuts: The seed hulls of walnuts sometimes contain a fungus or mold that is extremely toxic for dogs. It may take several days for signs of walnut poisoning to appear—vomiting and drooling, trembling, lack of coordination, lethargy, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes and gums—but if you notice any of these symptoms, get your dog to the vet right away.

And Then There’s Alcohol: Beer, liquor, wine and foods that contain alcohol affect a dog’s brain, and liver, the same way they affect a person—except it takes far less to do its damage. Just a little can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system dysfunction, coordination problems, difficulty breathing, coma and death. The smaller the dog, the greater the effects, but large dogs are also at risk.

Non-Foods Pose Risks, Too

Just as parents child-proof their home, pet owners need to pet-proof. Some of the greatest potential dangers to cats and dogs are obvious; others may surprise you:

1) Rat and mouse poisons—tasty enough to attract dogs as well as rodents.

2) Gardening supplies—including weed killers, insecticides and slug bait.

3) Household supplies—oven cleaners, furniture and floor polish, detergent, etc.

4) Paint and paint solvents—and, of course, brushes, rollers and mixing sticks.

5) Antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid—both dogs and cats find the taste appealing, but even a small amount can be fatal.

6) Human medication—they may ease your pain, but products like Tylenol can cause serious illness and death in pets.

7) Plants—hundreds of garden and house plants produce toxic substances that can cause reactions ranging from mild nausea to death in animals. Daffodil and hyacinth bulbs are on the list; so are buttercups, foxglove and English ivy; philodendron, dumbcane and poinsettia. Visit the American Humane Society website for a comprehensive list of harmful species so you can plan your garden and home décor around pet safety.

How Can You Tell If Your Pet Is Sick?

Unlike humans, pets don’t complain about what troubles them. They may simply lay low, out of the way, making it hard to know there’s a problem. So here are signs of sickness or distress to watch for:

· Diarrhea

· Vomiting

· Unexplained or sudden weight loss

· Significant loss of or increase in appetite

· Pawing at ears or shaking head

· Lumps on the body

· Major fur loss (beyond normal shedding) or a dull, patchy coat

· Persistent sneezing or coughing

· Abnormal discharge from the eyes or nose

· Stiffness or weakness in the joints; difficulty moving

· Straining to urinate or defecate (a cat’s inability to urinate is an emergency; get him to the vet immediately)

· Cuts, wounds or other injuries

If you notice any of these signals, or if you know your pet has eaten a dangerous food or substance, contact your veterinarian immediately. Also, keep the name and number of the closest emergency vet clinic handy for after-hours pet care.

http://wisdom-magazine.com/Article.aspx/1555/




A Samhain Visitation: Connecting with Our Ancestors

By Michelle Skye
As Samhain nears, there is a delicious crackle in the air, a suppressed energy that tickles the subconscious and begs to be explored. Psychic fairs pop up all over the landscape and the supernatural seems but a hands-breadth away. Witches and ghosts and skeletons arrive on the doorstep, ready to decorate our humdrum lives, reminding us that the otherworld is closer than it might appear. Magic and mysticism are celebrated everywhere. It is the time of the Witch.

Yet, at the heart of the Samhain holiday, at its very root, is death. At this time of the year, the world is sliding into darkness. The earth lies fallow, resting after the hard harvest work. Plants and flowers die. Animals begin the long climb into hibernation. Is it any wonder that we hold own sacred dead, our ancestors, at the very heart of the celebration? As the Earth and the Sun begin their descent into darkness, our minds naturally ponder our own mortality and remember loved ones who have gone before us into the great beyond.

Death is a fact of life. We all die. Yet, we all live on in our children, our nieces and nephews, our blood kin that succeed our moral time on this Earth. We live on in their memories and stories, in their quirky habits and crooked smiles. We are honored not just through their remembrance of us but also through the living of their lives. We are a part of their soul memory, housed in the tiny structures that form the building blocks of life. We are always a part of them (whether they know it or not).

So as the days grow shorter and the Crone goddess stirs her cauldron of life-death-and-rebirth, it is time to heed the song that sings just under the surface of our consciousness. Our blood kin wait beyond the veil, ready to aid us, to heal and comfort us, to lend us strength. And if they have been reincarnated already, their knowledge and wisdom flow through our veins, if only we silence our chatter and listen.

The following activity forces you to slow down in order to truly and deeply connect to your personal ancestors. It compels you to unite with those in your life who have passed on and to invite them, once again, into your life. Since the activity pushes you to look death squarely in the face, it would be easy to rush through it without giving it the necessary thought and attention. But resist this notion. Allow yourself the time to slow down and welcome your ancestors back into your life.

You will need to purchase a candle for each of your remembered relatives who you wish to honor. This part sounds simple, but is crucial to your overall experience. Each candle must remind you of your relative, in color and/or scent. Many candle companies produce fragrant candles for every occasion. Traditionally, I find their scents to be somewhat overwhelming, but in this ritual activity, you are luring the spirits of your relatives closer to you, in heart as well as body. Powerful scents help to connect this world with the otherworld and will create a welcoming atmosphere for your ancestors in your home.

Choosing the scent of the candles is my favorite part of this activity and should be done with reverence and intent. Don’t rush out on October 29 to purchase your candles. Begin thinking about your relatives in the beginning of October and research different candle companies for just the right scent. Think of finding just the right candle as an elaborate scavenger hunt. Look and listen, keeping an open mind. Do not become fixated on one specific idea for your relatives. Rather, allow your ancestors to direct you to the appropriate scents and colors. I still remember the excitement and love I felt when I stumbled across a candle called Green Grass, a scent especially evocative of my grandfather who, in his later years, constantly mowed the grass to “get out of the house.”

Once you have purchased your candles, set aside a time (a week or so before Samhain) when you can spend about an hour alone. Performing this part of the ritual at night will aid you in connecting with your ancestors, as the night is often a time associated with spirits. The evening hours are also usually quieter and calmer than the daytime, so you will undoubtedly find it easier to quiet your mind and stay focused on your goal. However, if you simply have no free time in the evening, with the right intention and focus, this part of the activity can be done anytime during the day. Set up sacred space by lighting incense and playing your favorite meditative music. You can visualize a protective circle around you, but I have found that a formal circle is not necessary as long as you have the right mindset and are able to alter your perceptions in order to contact and be open to the otherworld.

Be sure to spend some time breathing deeply before you begin any ritualized activity. Since you will be working with energies outside the earth realm, it is a good idea to ground and center as well. Simply visualize your spine lengthening and forming an underground root system. Breathe the Earth’s energy into your body and breathe out any stress, anxiety, and negativity, using the root system of your spine. (Be sure to ask Mother Earth to transmute your negative energy into positive energy.) Once you feel very relaxed and filled with the Earth’s energy, visualize a white ball of energy descending from the cosmos. Feel it enter your head and travel down your spine, aligning all of your energy centers. When it reaches the bottom of your spine, allow the white ball to travel back up your spine and leave your head, bathing you in protective and stimulating white light. You are now connected to the energy of Mother Earth and Father Sky. You are grounded and centered and should feel relaxed and energized.

Take each candle in turn and hold it in your hand. Smell the candle and, with your eyes closed, visualize your ancestor. See your relative doing a simple task. Hear the words of her voice. Feel the breath of those words. Sense the power of the breath and allow it into yourself. In your mind, replay all the wonderful (and perhaps challenging) aspects of your relationship with your ancestor. Take as much time as you need to truly conjure your ancestor’s spirit from within yourself. This may be a very emotional experience, so give yourself the freedom to express any feelings and sentiments. When you feel ready, inscribe the name of your relative on the candle, using one of your ritual tools or a regular knife that you have cleansed with sacred water or herbs, and then anoint the candle with sacred oil. (Any oil can be sacred if you will it to be so. Don’t feel obliged to purchase or make specific magical, spiritual oil. You can just as easily use the olive oil in your kitchen cabinet.)

The type of candle and candleholder you use will depend on the way you wish to honor your ancestors. If you are fortunate enough to live near the gravesites of your relatives, I recommend placing the candles at the actual gravestone on the night of Samhain. Votive candles will work best for this situation and the holder should be fairly deep to protect the fragile flame from wind. I usually burn my candles a week before the holiday to make sure they are deep enough in the candleholder to withstand the elements. A little before sunset, go to the gravesites of your relatives. Be sure to bring your candles, a candleholder, a lighter, and an apple for each relative (the traditional Celtic food of the dead), a sharp knife, and some bright and showy flowers. Chrysanthemums and marigolds are the traditional flowers of the Day of the Dead in Mexico, so you might consider buying them or purchasing flowers that most remind you of your relatives. At each gravesite, honor your ancestor with a few words and place some of the flowers on the ground. (If you live in a warm climate, consider bringing live plants with you and plant them in the ground.) Light the candle, then cut one apple in half, around the middle, revealing the star pattern. Leave all the lit candles, the apples, and the flowers at the gravesites and collect the candleholders the following day.

If you do not have access to the gravesites of your ancestors, set up your candles on your ritual altar or in a place of special significance for you. You can light the candles ahead of time or wait until Samhain to light them for the very first time. I personally like to light my candles in remembrance for several days ahead of time, making sure there is enough wax so that the candle burns throughout the night of Samhain. (Or, at least, until you go to bed!) Again, be sure to offer flowers and food to your dead relatives by purchasing flowers and cutting an apple in half for each ancestor you are honoring. If you’d like to include pictures or mementos of your relatives, place those on your altar as well.

Through this simple act of remembrance, you are honoring all those who have gone before you; the people whose essence resides in your physical body, whose words shape your sense of self, whose spirits skim along the edges of your intuition. Your ancestors are a powerful source of solace and well-being. They spring eternal in the movements of your hands, the thoughts in your mind, and the emotions of your heart. They have experienced the ebb and flow of life, the joys, the sorrows, the achievements and defeats. Learn from them. Their hands reach to you through the mists, ready and willing to join with yours. They are a part of you. Welcome them home.
COPYRIGHT 2010 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/1730





Witchcraft on a Shoestring: How to Deepen Your Practice without Breaking the Bank

By: Deborah Blake

We are all feeling the effects of a tough economy and having to make difficult choices about how we spend whatever money we still have. And this concern can affect our Witchy lives as well as our mundane one. Let’s face it—Witchcraft can cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful: ritual garb and velvet cloaks, athames  and wands, crystals, magickal candles, herbs, and oils can all add up to a chunk of change. And that’s before you even include books, my particular weakness. Or have all your friends over for a big ritual and feast.

Does this mean that we can’t have a satisfying spiritual and magickal practice without spending money we can’t afford? Not at all! All we need to do is adopt a different attitude and a new approach. I call it witchcraft on a shoestring, and I, and my coven Blue Moon Circle, have been following this path for years without sacrificing any of the aspects of our practice that are truly important to us.

Witchcraft on a Shoestring Basics

To adapt your current practice (or start a new one), you need to start with a few basics:

    * Remind yourself that all you REALLY need to practice The Craft are your heart, your mind, and your spirit. The tools we use otherwise are useful (and often fun), but not necessarily irreplaceable as long as you have faith, will, and focus.

  * Figure out what your priorities are. For instance, I value learning and acquiring new knowledge over almost any other aspect of The Craft (besides connecting with the gods and my fellow Witches), so I’m going to keep spending money on books, no matter what. But I may not buy new garb, or add to my (already large) crystal collection until the economy picks up a bit. Take some time to think about what your focus is when you are practicing, and what you must have in order to support that practice.

    * Decide what you MUST have, as opposed to what you’d LIKE to have. For instance, if you have a tough time focusing when you cast spells, you may still need things like candles and incense, to get you in the proper mental state. If you are working on healing, you may need a particular crystal. And of course, you need a new book or two (hint, hint). But do you really need a third cloak? Probably not.

    * Look for less expensive options for the tools and supplies you do need. I’ll give you a few suggestions below to give you a head start.
Use This, Not That—Inexpensive Substitutions for Expensive Items

    * Instead of buying garb, go to a consignment store or the local Salvation Army shop and find something funky that can be used as witchy garb. For instance, if it is black and lacy, any shirt or skirt is likely to look Pagan. Or keep your eye out for old Halloween witch costumes at yard sales.

    * Instead of buying an expensive metal chalice, go to the dollar store and buy a glass goblet. Decorate it with glass markers or ribbons if you want to dress it up a little.

    * Instead of using fancy candle holders, get some inexpensive glass or pottery plates (bowls work, too) and sit your pillar candles or votives on them. Just make sure the containers are fire-safe and that the candles won’t tip over. In our outside circle, out behind my barn, we often just use four of the large flat stones already in the circle to put our quarter candles on.

    * Instead of a pricy athame or wand, go out into the woods and find just the right piece of wood and sand or decorate it as needed. If you have one, you can use a wood-burning kit to inscribe mystical symbols on your stick. Or use colored markers, ribbons, feathers, or crystals to make it a little more magickal. But since both tools are primarily used for pointing and directing energy, a plain piece of wood is fine. For that matter, your finger will work, too.

    * Instead of buying a pre-made Book of Shadows, take an inexpensive binder or folder and decorate it with magickal symbols, a pretty cloth cover, or pressed leaves. Or just find a cheap journal that already has a cover you like.

    * Instead of spending a lot of money on special spell candles, take a votive or taper (less than a dollar, most places) and anoint and consecrate it for whatever magickal work you are doing. You can etch appropriate rune signs into the candle with the point of a toothpick, if you want.

Ten Ways to Deepen Your Practice for Little or No Money

There are plenty of witchy activities you can do that cost nothing, or next to nothing. Here is a list of ten, just to give you the idea:

   1. Grow your own magickal herbs and flowers. Even apartment-dwellers usually have a sunny windowsill they can devote to a few herbs. And growing the plants yourself means that you are putting your energy and intent into the magick you will eventually do with them from the very first moment you plant the seeds.

   2. Go for a walk and pay attention to nature. If you live in the country, or have a park nearby, it is easy to take a mindful stroll and watch for the animals and birds we share the planet with. Even in a city, you can usually find a green spot, or go to a botanical garden. Breathe the air and notice what you smell. Listen to the sounds, and just connect back to the earth. If you can, sit for a while with your body in contact with the earth or a tree, and feel its strength supporting you.

   3. Stand out under the night sky and look at the stars. Feel how small you are, and yet how vital a part of the universe.

 4. Stand out under the night sky and look at the moon. What phase is it in? Is there any way in which that phase corresponds to where things are in your life? If the moon is full, be sure to soak up the light and love of the goddess while you’re out there.

   5. Teach someone something about The Craft. Passing on knowledge in one of the most important aspects of being a Pagan. Share what you know with another Witch who is just starting out, or gently educate a non-Pagan about what it really means to be a Witch.

   6. Sit by a body of water and listen to the soothing sounds it makes. Think about how all the water on the planet is connected, from the smallest drop of rain to the biggest ocean, and so are we.

   7. Plant a tree. You can usually get bare-root trees for very little money at your local Cooperative Extension, or from the Arbor Foundation. If you don’t have property on which you can plant a tree, see if a local park will let you plant one there, or help a friend to plant it on their land. Or donate to the Arbor Foundation and they will plant one for you, if you can’t do it yourself.

   8. Drum. The drum has been used by Pagans for as long as we have history to look back on, so drumming is a connection with all those who went before. It can help you achieve a meditative state, or you can just use it to send out a message of joy into the universe.

   9. Help someone who needs it. I firmly believe that the goddess (or deity in whichever form you find it) wants us to look out for each other. When you help another without expecting anything in return, you are doing Her work.

  10. Give someone a kiss or a hug and tell them you love them unconditionally. Perfect love and perfect trust are at the core of a Witchcraft practice, yet who among us can say we truly get or give enough love?

Why You Should Spend SOME Money

Witchcraft on a shoestring isn’t about spending NO money ever on your magickal practice. It is about being careful how, when, and why you do buy things. And there are a few reasons to occasionally open your wallet and pull out a little of your hard earned cash.

For one thing, it is important for us to support the rest of the Pagan community, and that includes those who own Pagan stores, bookstores, or hand-craft items with a magickal bent. After all, if we don’t buy things from these folks now and again, they won’t still be there when we need the items for our practice we can’t get anywhere else.
For another, I believe it behooves us to buy books on Pagan topics, for much the same reason. Yes, I am a bit prejudiced, since I write some of those books, but let’s face it—I was buying books on magick long before I ever wrote one, and I’ll undoubtedly still be buying them long after I write my last magickal to me.

As I said earlier, learning and acquiring knowledge are among my greatest priorities. And if we don’t buy books, the publishers won’t publish more, the authors won’t write more, and then how will the next generation of Witches learn? Few of us are lucky enough to have a Witch who lives nearby and who is willing to share his or her knowledge, so books are the path that many of us walk to get from there to here.That doesn’t mean you have to buy every book you ever want to read, of course. Sometimes you can find one at the library, or swap with a friend, or even find a Pagan book at a yard sale, if you are very fortunate. As with everything else, you’ll want to consider how much you’ll use any particular book (I have quite a few Witchcraft reference books I refer to over and over), and how much you need the knowledge contained within its pages.

Witchcraft on a shoestring, at its core, is all about making choices and setting priorities. And always keep in mind that as long as your heart belongs to the goddess and the god, you already have gifts that no amount of money could buy.

COPYRIGHT 2010 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/2130




Banishing Spells
By Elizabeth Hazel

Two of the most important types of spells in the Craft are attracting and banishing spells. Banishing spells repel or drive away whatever the Crafter finds annoying or can do without, thank you very much. The powerful emotions that prompt a banishment procedure can be used to advantage by channeling them into the spell. A specific, defined object offers a clear target for concentration and visualization. These spells have the beneficial side effect of helping a Crafter retain or regain power in frustrating or even threatening situations.
Timing

In order to be effective, banishing spells must be performed under a waning moon. As the moon shrinks, so does the problem. Saturn is the planet that reduces and shrinks, so it’s highly recommended to begin banishing spells on a Saturday, preferably in the hour of Saturn. A waning Capricorn moon is icing on the banishing cake. All of the spells given below should begin with these specific timing mechanisms and finish before the new moon.
Banishing Trouble

Appliances break, the car stalls, the cat pukes in your shoe, and your boss snarks at you. Trouble is coming

from all directions and you wonder if there’s a target painted on your forehead. You need a general-purpose banishing spell! Prepare black candle by fixing (anointing) it with Saturn, High John, or patchouli oil. Light the candle and a stick of patchouli incense, and say this chant:

    Banish hardships, banish debt,

    Banish the troubles I want to forget;

    Banish illness, soothe the pain,

    The Goddess’s balm upon my brain.

    Take away my troubles from me,

    As I will, so mote it be!

Sweep the crud out of the four corners of your house, kitchen, or altar room, and toss it out the back door. Repeat this procedure for three, five or seven days, and your troubles will shrink, and may disappear entirely.

Or try this general-purpose banishing boon. On a small piece of parchment, write “Benevolent Ones: Turn bad luck to good luck. Banish delays and hindrances with all good blessings for swift and satisfying results.” Address this request to your favorite deity or protective spirit, and sign your name. Burn the boon. Mix the ashes with a pinch of rosemary, and flush it down the sink or toilet. Do this for three days.
Banishing Debts

Oh! Those darn bills! They simply must disappear. After the full moon has passed, fix a green candle with patchouli or money-attracting oil. Sprinkle sand in the bottom of the candleholder to ground intentions and make results tangible. Write a list of bills with amounts owed, and put it under the candle. As you light the candle, visualize your bills shrinking, or imagine “Paid in Full” written next to every debt. Burn the candle every day until the new moon, and tear a small strip off the list and burn it until the paper is gone. Flush the accumulated ashes in the sink or toilet, or throw them out the back door and let the wind carry them away.

If your bills are scattered, your money will scatter, too. If bills are stored near a sink or toilet, your money is literally going down the drain. Create a bill box or drawer. Place a small guardian nearby to protect your wealth and chase away indebtedness, like a gargoyle or foo dog statue. Sprinkle cinnamon at the bottom of your bill container, and add a piece of malachite. Debts will be contained and your wealth protected.
Persona Non Grata

The simplest and kindest method for banishing a person is to “bless them away.” Inscribe the person’s name on a white taper with an unused needle or a quartz point. Fix the candle with consecration oil. As the candle burns, say a prayer something like, “May (person’s name) find blessings, good luck, and his/her most cherished wishes...far away from me.” This gentle spell works very well, although for tough cases, it may take several weeks or months and many candles and prayers.

To boost the potency of a blessing-away candle, gently crack a raw egg and empty it. Rinse out the two halves of eggshell and let it dry. Print the person’s name on a small strip of parchment, and stick it to the inside of the eggshell with blessing candle wax. Re-attach the eggshell with tissue paper and glue. Take it to a river and toss the egg into the water so it will be carried away by the current. As the egg floats away, wish that person well as they find opportunities that carry them away from you.

For a person who has become entirely too irritating, or one who drains your resources or emotions, like a psychic vampire, stronger measures are necessary. Get an amaryllis or a hyacinth bulb and some rough twine. As you wrap the twine around the bulb, visualize the person and repeat “Thou art gone” with each circle of the string. When the bulb is completely engulfed in twine, take it to a forest or park far from home, and find a prickly thorn bush. Shove the bulb into the heart of the bush, and say aloud and forcefully, “(Person’s name), begone!” Stamp your left foot three times, turn your back on the bush and walk away. Resolve never to say that person’s name again. The person will get prickly and leave. The person’s name will be forgotten over time. (This spell was handed down from Lady Morgana via Lord M.)
Sympathetic Reduction

This technique can be adapted for a variety of banishing spells. A few years ago, I had extensive rehab work done, and was desperate for the construction guys to finish and leave. Four days before a new moon, I put three old keys in a dish filled with rosemary leaves, and a yellow candle (for haste) on top of a small, empty box. I used Jupiter oil (increasing power and luck) to anoint the keys, but mint oil is an acceptable substitute.

Each morning I lit the candle and said this chant three times, anointing one key at each repetition:

    Banish the troubles plaguing me,

    Banish all obstacles, one-two-three,

    Unlock good luck with this magic key,

    As I will, so mote it be!

After anointing all three keys, I put one key into the box beneath the candle on the first day. On the second day, I repeated the anointing ritual and transferred two keys into the box. On the third day, when all three keys were put into the box, the men finished and left. On the new moon, I cleaned the house thoroughly and sage-smudged to clear it of construction guy cooties, and did some witchy gloating about the spell’s success.

The sympathetic reduction technique is flexible. Choose an odd number of appropriate items, and begin the spell an equal number of days before the new moon. Plan to finish the spell on the day before the new moon. Alternately, tear away pieces of a banishing list or a photograph, and burn a piece a day. Reduce either size or quantity through the duration of the spell.
Pre-Emptive Banishment

“Four Thieves Vinegar” can be used for anticipated attacks or general protection, as it drives enemies and unwelcome people from your door. This potion must be made under a waning moon on Saturday at the hour of Saturn or Mars. Mix a blend of negativity-repelling protection herbs (pepper, garlic, peppermint) and hex-breaking and overcoming herbs (High John, Low John, dragon’s blood) in a jar of red wine vinegar. Strain out the herbs on Tuesday (Mars). Put it in a misting bottle and spray around house entrances. In this case, precise ingredients are less important than when it is made. Use what you have on hand.
Lesser Banishing Ritual

No article on banishing would be complete without mentioning one of the most famous banishing spells, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. This Golden Dawn spell is described in great detail by Lon Milo DuQuette in “The Magick of Thelema.” DuQuette says that this spell is “the magical equivalent of cleaning, vacuuming, and dusting the temple before operating,” (p. 57). He advocates using it before performing any magic or divination, repeating the ritual at the four corners of your altar or working space. Use it to create a personal shield of protection if you have bad feelings or a sense that something bad is going to happen, or if someone is trying to harm you. It can and should be used before performing any banishing spell.

Although this ritual is ridiculously simple to perform, it packs a lot of power. Using your left hand, draw a pentagram in the air in front of your body. Start at the lower left leg of the star, and move up to the point at the top of the star, and go from there until your return to the lower left leg. Then move your hand in a circle widdershins (counter-clockwise) to encompass the star and complete the pentagram. Finally, push your cupped hand in a forceful kung-fu movement through the center of the star to shove the negative energy away from you. Put the Lesser Banishing ritual on steroids by inscribing the pentagram with a sage smudge.
Elemental Disposal Techniques

Banishing spells are always completed by eliminating any representational items. All four elements can aid the final step as long as the spell utilizes safely degradable materials. If the spell involves something written on a piece of paper, use the flame of the spell candle to burn a piece each day, or all at once. Use water to flush the ashes down the sink or toilet, or put degradable items in the current of a river or stream. You can toss ashes out the back door, or scatter or shred the item and throw it to the winds. Finally, you can bury an item, dispose of it in a garbage container across town, or leave or bury an item in a distant forest or park and let the earth take care of it. If you’re creating your own banishment spell, utilize the principles of reduction, disintegration, and disappearance, and let the four elements finalize the procedure.

………..

Elizabeth Hazel (Lady Vala Runesinger) is a high priestess, astrologer/tarotist, and mystic scholar interested in ancient studies and practical magic. She gives classes and lectures on these topics. Liz is the author of Tarot Decoded (Weiser) and writes weekly horoscopes and the popular Astro-Spell column for Witches & Pagans Magazine, now at their site. The Whispering Tarot, her original deck and book, are available at her site: www.kozmic-kitchen.com.

  

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