Monday, December 31, 2012

The Most Important Words

|Credit: [x]|
I discussed once before some ideas on if the actual spoken word was important or not in constructing a spell. I think the written word, especially in spell construction, tends to be incredibly potent.

On paper, though, words can be burned to nothing or washed away in a body of water. The spoken word can be carried away on the wind -- and not so easily quashed or taken back. Spells can never be taken back -- even in the ritual burning of papers clearly stating the will, intent and function of the spell itself. That is just part of the visualization process.

I wrote a letter once (ooh, shocker. A writer writing an actual letter on actual paper...) Each word I put down was carefully thought out, almost in the same fashion as I would've written the first draft of a poem. I don't know if the person threw out the letter, or even read it -- but even so. Those words existed. Even as the paper crumbles to dust, turning yellow or being rained on in a recycle bin somewhere, those words exist still. I can only hope the meaning was experienced -- but alas. The meaning is wrapped up in the words. If they were read, they become a memory which is the words themselves as an image in the mind's eye and what they meant as more of an experience of emotion. If not, they stagnate, but the meaning doesn't ever get taken back.

I think spells work in a similar way. In enchanting things, you speak or think the words of intent into the object. Sometimes you can write a tag out for a witch's bottle and tie it or include it. Sometimes it's a charm or sigil protected by the energies of the caster. But these words, however they are made to be, remain.

Some of the most important words we save and keep to ourselves for fear of their meaning. Sometimes we save them for fear that those who hear them or those to whom they are directed towards will reject them. Maybe we fear that they will be turned around and used against us with intent that was not near the original meaning. But I think, if the words are that important, say them. Write them. Think them. Direct them. Don't hold them in. Sometimes words like "what if," are more difficult to bear than anything else.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bravely Fearful

|Credit: [x]|
I said to my friends that a good cup of coffee, a few hours of sad music, and a frenzy of poetry writing (ect...) is the cure to that awful "broken heart" feeling we all experience now and again. It works for me each time. Writers, I think, are fueled and inspired by events such as these. Sometimes it takes a very long time for such emotions to pass. Sometimes they pass relatively quickly -- but the memories still linger in each line you write down.

I am a very positive and optimistic kind of person. I cannot exist in an environment of constant negativity. Because of this, I see no value in being negative myself -- in self-hate, in self-conscious behavior -- in constantly crying and acting like all of life has turned against me. I think I read somewhere that if you don't have any ups and downs in life, then you've flatlined. The best you can do is take everything with a grain of salt and move on. Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don't -- and it doesn't mean you have to drop every memory or always be 100% positive. Have your bad days. Remember why you hurt. But learn as you do. Learn why and understand that each part of your past constructed the person you are today.


Heartbreak is fantastically awful. Worse than physical injury, I think. In admitting such emotion, you are all at once strong and vulnerable. Brave, yet scared to death. In rejection, all we initially want to do is blame. But sometimes, the right people in the right place are not where they ought to be at that time. In the worst cases -- I've known people to part ways entirely. Perhaps they are meant to walk parallel paths that never cross. Perhaps they will meet again, renewed -- at whatever the 'right' time might be. We all have our reasons, expectations and ideals. Can we blame each other for that?

Think positively.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Closer Look

|Credit: [x]|
Do you ever just sit outside in nature and observe things? Or even stare out the window at the oncoming snowstorm and notice little details you may not have otherwise payed any attention to?
Me too. Today, I was at my friends' house up in the woods, and a storm blew across the area early in the afternoon. I stood waiting for them to finish getting ready to go out in public, and watched the snow drift through their dining room window.

There were some not-so-obvious things -- the plow that moved through and almost clipped the mail boxes as it shoved snow out of the road. The broken branch that will fall off if just another few grams of snow settle in just the right place. How miserable the grey squirrel actually looks to be out in weather like this. The one black feather that settled on a shrub and was slowly being engulfed by the snow. How the snow itself was very light and drifted in the slightest wind where leaves hardly felt the need to respond.

It is interesting what sorts of stories arise just from closer observation. The world may seem incredibly large just by looking out across the area as far as you are able to see -- but there's a whole other world to pay attention to. The small details. The things you normally wouldn't notice. With a closer look -- as I may have said in posts before -- even very ordinary scenery seems so much more complex than previously imagined.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Path Building

|Credit: [x]|
I think that paths, especially in terms of paganism, tend to change pretty rapidly. We are constantly learning new things about our craft or about the religious aspects of our chosen pantheons. Certain life events and difficult choices mold a new fork in the path -- and we are faced with left or right once again.

I am an eclectic pagan, so my path has been built on a foundation of small factoids. I began with a small understanding of Wicca -- found that it wasn't for me entirely, and moved on. But it's still there -- kind of like original cobblestones under the pavement of a new main street in town. Along the way, I have included myths and lore from several pantheons -- Celtic, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and especially Norse -- but also several others. There is also the fact that I would be a geologist if not for my lack of mathematical skill. I try to learn as much as possible about crystals & stones, their symbolism and the energy for healing they naturally carry. I also am beginning a study of herbal remedies. (And for almost 3 years now, I find constantly that peppermint fixes almost everything.) There are also secular witchcraft things -- like candle magic, enchantment, charging -- things like that.

I'd like to learn more about energy work that hasn't anything to do with elementals. Being empathic, I think it's really interesting that I don't always have as much of my own as other people do. I seem to subsist on the positive energy others project -- and get drained by their negativities. I'd like to really work on clairaudience and maybe try and discover if I have potential with any other psychic oddments about me. I need to figure out a way to memorize the Tarot and I'd like to really get to learn runes a bit more.

Path building, in essence, is the realization that there are places to walk, but nothing paved -- and then taking the initiative to pave it yourself as you go along.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


"I can't remember 
Ever falling this hard.
Tell me tonight 
All that we have been.
Was it nothing more 
Than noise inside my head 
Crashing down, crashing down,
 In your avalanche...?" -- David Cook
|Credit: [x]|

How do you keep safe the things that aren't meant for winter? Things that aren't meant to be frozen over and go completely stone cold -- things that can't survive once all the warmth goes away. At first there is rain that is half-frozen. It makes things a bit difficult, a bit miserable. Walking is more of a task. You have to be aware of everything to stay uninjured. Next comes the snow, which will then freeze over as night falls. Unless you're safe in the familiar, you'll freeze just the same.

There's a bit of optimism in the frozen world -- little blades of grass preserved in frost after the snow has been scraped away. We work so hard at trying to remain warm -- persevering in artificial ways until it is actually spring again -- but the grasses fall asleep. They wait, enveloped in their darkness and cold, until the sun warms them again. Until the snow melts. And they wake with a greater understanding of what winter is. After the time spent hidden in themselves, cold and numb -- they are ready once again to spring forth and be their entire selves. They don't die under the snow. They don't die without enough warmth.

The roots of any plant dig down deep beneath the permafrost. That will never change. This is the core of their being. Their core survives everything that would kill a weaker being. Even on the tallest mountains, the strongest evergreens survive avalanches.    

Seasons of Snow

|Credit: [x]|
Hello again, all! Man, I'm glad to be back to blogging! I hope everyone's holidays have gone over well. My Yule vacation was fantastic -- albeit without much snow at all. Maine is beautiful. There's so much to say about it -- but I'll save it. The entire experience was fantastic, but there were a few very emotional moments that are a bit much to write out in blog form. I think that's where poetry comes in. I'm trying to fill my new mini moleskine notebook with poetry... wouldn't that be nice to finish before next semester? Then I'd have all that material to edit and revise.

It is snowing now -- the day after "Christmas," which my parents celebrate. Consider this -- Yule was the first day of Winter, right? It was the Winter solstice. Usually it starts snowing in October up in Oswego where I go to school -- but this year I don't recall much in terms of really good snow. Last year was also pretty mild for winter.

I think the winter months need to be terrible. To fit the mood. To fit the season. It's supposed to snow in my corners of the world...

At least, with all the cold and bitter weather, we can then have a true appreciation of the spring thaw, and the days when the sun doesn't set before 5pm.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yule Vacation

|Credit: [x]|

This will be my last post until probably Christmas Eve. Not that I wanted to break my stellar blogging streak -- but I just don't want to bring a computer along on vacation. I've a long train ride, and I think a book, some paper, my phone and MP3 player will be quite enough without being burdensome. Tomorrow there's a bit I have to prepare for and I need to sleep early, which means I won't have the time to blog I don't believe.

I'll still write though! I don't know how well or whatnot -- all things considered -- but maybe I can get a good poem or short story out of the train ride there and back again. If I post them, will that make up for my vacation off from blogging? (:

To be honest, I am incredibly nervous about getting mixed up for all the transfers. But I'll do my best. I'm going to Maine to be with a really awesome friend for Yule. I've been looking forward to this for quite awhile, so hopefully everything goes alright. My mom is making a platter of homemade cookies and jam to bring up to their family. It's funny, but a nice sentiment. Gods know -- she would never let us go anywhere without sending a bit of homemade awesomeness with us.

I'm hyped for vacation. I've been debating how I'd celebrate Yule whilst away. I make a big to-do with my family usually. I tell the holly and oak king story and maybe another legend. I tell about the sun coming back and the progression through the wheel of the year. We drink a little tea, mead and/or wine, light a few candles and exchange a gift a piece. Then I do a small circle and sit quietly until a chime candle burns down. At holidays there's a bunch of things to reflect on as we all know.

I don't know if there will be a need for such a celebration. I am going to spend what short time I have with my friend and their family however they celebrate Yule. If that means no candles, no circles, no quiet meditation -- it is still perfectly fine. It will be fantastic, no matter what.

So wish me good luck, and I will write again to you all very soon! (:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Little Magical Things

|Credit: [x]|

I once bought a miniature altar for a friend of mine who can't be very outwardly pagan at home. It came in a little tin that used to hold mints and everything, right down to the impossibly small besom, was handmade. (Well. except the candle, which, adorably, was a white birthday candle.) I miss my altar when I have to leave it and go home for the short breaks from school. There's just no time to set it up and tear it down again for a five-or-so day weekend. I have to say a tiny travel altar is pretty awesome. Only, I don't have one...

But I do have small things that I keep on me. That gets updated whenever needed and for whatever reason. Currently, I carry with me two pieces of quartz -- one is a heart and one is a singing crystal. For finals week, I also carried the Apophyllite crystal that the owner of The Fey Dragon gave me.
To work, I carry a Helm of Awe sigil, even after my workstudy boss switched. It protects just as it was made to, and has been nothing but helpful.

There's also jewelry, right? I wear my Thor's Hammer necklace pretty much daily. I used to cycle it out between a pentagram, a triquetra, a rune circle and a valknut -- but over time the Mjollnir (as its runes spell it) has been the one I feel most protected by. I also have a new necklace -- well, newer -- that is a Pictish Designs pebble with a raven on it. It was blue when I bought it, but over time it darkens. I wear this at all times except for showers. This holds a lot of my own personal energies; waking, sleeping and meditative. I recently aquired a wooden ring (since I have had trouble with my skin vs metals lately) that reads "Victory" in runes, with a Wunjo rune on the inside. I wear that when I remember. It has been such a long time since I was able to wear rings comfortably.

I know there are some people who carry around herbs with them in one way or another. I always think to make tiny spell bottles to bring along, but I haven't had a need for one myself yet. I did give a bottle of dried lavender to a friend; she needed to bring balance both to her own emotions and the areas she travelled through.

But the point being -- even if you can't have your altar around all the time, there are ways to bring some of it along. For me, that still reminds me that my path means combining the mundane with the metaphysical. I wouldn't be me if I seperated the two entirely.

Monday, December 17, 2012

30 Seconds Past 11:11pm

|Credit: [x]|

Make a wish.

What sort of little superstitious things do you guys frequently adhere to?

One of mine has always been wishing at 11:11pm if I catch it. The wishes come true, generally. Or at least if they don't, there's another reason why not that makes itself obvious shortly thereafter.
Another is what happens when somebody says the opposite of what they would prefer would happen -- for instance, "You'll do well on your final!" "Nah, man...with my luck, I'd fail."
After the person laughs and finishes their sentence, you are supposed to knock on wood to dispell the bad luck. Mostly because words are powerful and when you say them, they cannot be taken back. Those are the two I follow all the time and notice myself acknowledging.

Back to the part about "words are powerful."

Without them, there can still be magic and spells. But are those spells as powerful as ones spoken aloud? What about spells written on paper? Are poems a form of magic? (Don't ask a poet. They say one thing but believe another and mean something entirely different. Speaking from experience here...I am a poet. Or I consider myself one anyway.)

Spell construction tends to be a tricky subject amongs many of us. I know there are a ton of books with very beautifully written spells in there. Then, there are those of us who learn from our teachers or family members different spells and keep those exact words. I find that magic is generally going to be about will and intent. Personally, I think spells are best written with words that mean something to you. So yeah, in my case poetry is magic, too. And, being that it is my personality type, not speaking the words of a spell out loud and instead focusing on them as symbols in my mind's eye works too. Not to say that I never speak the words of a spell. Sometimes that is necessary.

The last one I spoke aloud was a calming and protection spell for my mom's conure, Cookie -- who was inherited. Her care is kind of a new endeavor, and sometimes, being that her original owner is gone, she can get mean towards anyone who is not that person. I did the same spell for the other inherited bird, Link the lovebird, as he is afraid of hands and also to come out of the cage.

The spell bottles

 So, for Cookie, I took one of her molted feathers that floated down off of her leg as she was preening and put it in a tiny glass bottle. I corked it and cleansed it with a drop of handmade florida water from The Fey Dragon. After that, I hung on to it (along with the personal items filled with my own energy, pictured above,) and said this three times while visualizing a happy, healthy conure singing, not screaming:

For the bird from whom this feather fell --
find calm, find peace, find quiet.

After that, I brought the spell bottle back into the room and repeated the words over her cage three times. (She, of course, made the usual conure sing/snort noises and was entirely too cute and calm thereafter.) Then, put the bottle on my altar. Sometimes the most effective spells aren't a big to-do. Sometimes. I think the more specific you are, the better -- but that also depends on visualization. It's hard to put to words exactly what your mind is envisioning -- on the rare occasion. Combine words with mental imagery in order to make clear the intent.

So that spell? Did it work? Of course it did. She "screamed" and "attacked" but once since then. (And in her defense, she bit one of the cats in the ass. It was the cat's fault -- she snuck in while the bird was out and singing to Mom and pissed the one with the sharp beak off, really... Not so smart on the cat's part.) She is usually very mean to my Dad, even when he's not in the room with her. It's a territorial issue. Dad cleans the cages, you see. Granted, he hasn't been in there with her out of the cage yet, but she used to get worked up if he was just in her line of vision outside of the door while she was in her cage. So far, she's just been talkative. She hasn't screamed her beak off at him recently. We'll see if the spell can completely make her calm, or just reduce the number of times stress negatively affects her behavior.

So how does any of that have anything to do with 11:11pm? Wishes and Spells are not so different. Will and intent are both present. One believes that an outside source by itself will bring the result, while the other takes sources both without and within to bring about results.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Building Altars

|Credit: [x]|

You really never do know what you'll find some days. People seem to think that altars are supposed to be comprised of just things -- things bought specifically because they sold in a shop or on a website that are specifically 'Pagan'. I was in TJ Maxx the other day and I found a really nice vase-ish thing made out of purple glass. I put my pheasant feathers and dried lotus seed pods in there surrounded by the two deer antler sheds that I have. I also found what was supposed to be some sort of tea light holder, but was actually a really cool blue and silver bowl for pretty cheap. Threw a bunch of gems in there. There are a bunch of really thrifty things you can find if you just look -- and it would work.

I'm starting to appreciate altars like the above-pictured -- where they begin to be built more vertically. I found a small 6" tall cabinet -- which was an antique toy -- on etsy and had that reserved immediately. That will be perfect to start a mini curio collection if I so wish (and I have always wished, for certain.) There's also ways you can get things customized. Pagan-centric art shops on etsy might be more able to oblige, but you never know what an artist will try to make unless you ask. I ordered a set of "stairs" painted in a very pagan way to also build my altar upwards a bit.

Here's a photo of what it looks like now:

As soon as everything comes in (and mom hangs her witch ball she bought in the witch trials museum in Salem, MA back when I was a Junior in High School) I will take a better, clearer picture.

There is nothing that is entirely "essential" to every single altar. One thing you have to remember while building is that it has to be personal. Not just a clutter of "stuff" that looks witchy. (I mean it can be a clutter, but give it some meaning. Make it meaningful witchy clutter.)

Here's a few of my symbols -- hope you can see them all~
I'll write about the focal thing in the aforementioned vase at the corner --

My pheasant feathers are a symbol of protection -- not of invisibility -- but of shielding and guarding. They will walk as opposed to fly; their gift of flight would otherwise be a bit of a problem due to their bold plumage. (So for me, with empathy -- I have this gift/curse, but is difficult to deal with and sometimes can cause trouble or pain. So I shield and protect myself so I can better appreciate and utilize what gets through the shield when it does.) I also have the lotus pods -- and once I read somewhere that they symbolize a community that nurture creativity and progress. (So these symbolize O.S.P.A.) The deer antler sheds I bought recently. I don't have a specific use for them yet -- but I feel very strongly connected to wooded places that I can't always be in. They inspire scenes of the forest, of herds of deer -- ect.

What sort of things do you have on your altar? Why? How would you continue to build it? What is your dream altar set up?  (Hey I don't even know that answer for myself -- I just periodically find things that work.)

Home for the Semester

|Credit: [x]|

Ah, it's another one of those late posts. Things get incredibly busy at home. I am rarely home, to be perfectly honest. That tends to work best for me. There's school stress, but home stress tends to be a bit much sometimes. (It's great that I'm moving out in June. My "Keep Calm" attitude doesn't mesh well with the rest of my family.)

This winter break, I have goals to make sure I write as much as possible. I don't have much privacy here -- in the dorms, at least, my roommate and I are good at pretending the other doesn't exist when it's time to wind down before sleep. We create our own pseudo-space. Here at home, I don't have my room at night -- except for if I am absolutely silent. It has been taken over by her inherited birds.
Being that things are uproarious at best, I need music.

I'm not going to complain about everything that's wrong with being home. The final point on that is that I am too old for their chaos, rushed mornings and childish mannerisms. They all get in my headspace and make things entirely uncreative. But that's neither here nor there.

I am going to find a way to have my own space. Even if I have to walk outside during a snow storm just to have silence. I will find it. I always wondered why it was that I could never get anything done on time. Part of it is lack of motivation -- see above --  but also a lot of it is my own brain making excuses based on environment. I don't know if they are all writers, but people sit on busy park benches and write in tiny notebooks. I should just write. It doesn't matter the turmoil around me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Witch's Son

|Credit: [x]|

Please full view this image by clicking on the credit! 

As much as there are disturbing things about this piece, I absolutely love it. For one, because it so different -- don't we usually see artwork inspired by witches' daughters? The fact that this is different really caught my eye. It's perfect. I saw it on Tumblr the other day.

Another thing -- there is so much going on in the scene, objects everwhere, actions happening, things to look at, setting to percieve outside of the room -- it never gets boring. You discover something new with each view.

I want to write in a way the evokes such wonder as this image does. My brain is literally running on fourty-five minutes of sleep and I still didn't finish all that needed to be accomplished. The floor in my room is still covered in bird seed. The birds' things are not yet packed. The drip tray of the coffee pot still goes neglected. My bed is unmade.

I get to go home today.

Earlier -- in a post that was meant for the previous day -- I mentioned my want to write more and read more over break.

I really will find a way to write in a way where my scenes always invoke a new sense of things each time they are read and reread. I'm inspired by this.

Singing the Siren's Song

|Credit: [x]|

I know this post is exceedingly late. It matters not -- I'll still reblog at a normal hour while at work tomorrow. I'll start the post after the actual work is done if there is any.

Technically it is later today. And later today I am going home after a long semester. I think I mentioned once before that I don't like to stress over finals. That's just another stepping stone. There will be a time for stress -- but finals shouldn't be it. Hang on to an obsidian, let out a deep breath, and let it go. And hang in there.

I'm thinking again about my book -- now that I have time to write more than just character sheets or writing prompts based on my characters. My goals after Yule vacation -- READ. WRITE. CREATE. (That means art, and jewelry) -- as well as tame down my mom's two really derpy parrots for kudos points.

I know I wrote earlier in my travels about being inspired by mythical creatures -- and that is where I'm headed once again. My brain wants to make it alright to rearrange mythology a little bit in order to give my characters the freedom they need. I am hugely and deeply inspired by what was written in mythology -- that cannot be ignored. That said -- who says things cannot be changed?

Have you ever tried to create a world from scratch and make it work with your characters, who already live and breathe inside your mind? It's a tough job. Especially since no one person can fully understand the vastness of the world we already occupy. There are so many facets to life as we know it that it seems almost like an impossibility to recreate even something mildly similar. I'm going to try my best though.

Some things to keep in mind -- these are gonna be like notes to self:

The world must be whole without needing to be explained. While Tolkien was and is great -- it is difficult to get through the history of world where it is mostly expository details -- (Think Histories of Middle Earth and certain Silmarillion stories) in this age where people need fast fiction like they need fast food. I still believe in the readers who would believe enough in me to change that...

I think it will take more skill than I possess right now to fully realize this concept. Could I be a great writer like Tolkien? Or George R. R. Martin -- a similar task was placed in his hands with Westeros. We kind of get the history bit by bit in A Game of Thrones, but not in an expository way. I think Bran asked about the Children of the Forest first, didn't he? I could be wrong.

I'm going to try my best and keep trying until I finish my novel. I'd drink to that if I had a glass of something right about now. Coffee will do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Spirits and Living Elsewhere

|Credit: [x]|

I'm sitting in the office at my workstudy job with Heather Dale's music playing on an extremely low volume. I forgot my headphones, and there is absolutely nobody around right now -- it gets a little eerie. I'm always thankful for some background noise when in one of the academic buildings. Of course, this part is renovated, and I haven't actually met a spirit attached to the space. Only those that pass through.

I got an offer recently to move off-campus with a couple of really amazing kids of similar mindframe as me. The house we will be in has been converted into three apartments, which is fantastic. It is a bit of an old house and there is a church right behind us. I have a feeling there'll be a bit of a commotion when we move in June first. I don't know exactly what is or isn't there, but I am excited about it. I have a strange facination with spirits, even if it's scary and overwhelming sometimes to hear them moving through.

I know that in the lease, it is forbidden to use incense. That probably also means sage smudging before anything gets moved in. It is a religious thing, so maybe I can ask the landlord about that... If it is a resounding no, I know a few ways to cleanse a room without that based on just the years I've been in the dorms.

For one, I could get some sage oil and dab it on places like door frames and window sills. I could also hang dried sage on doors and/or in windows. That is what I have done in the dorm and at home -- my parents don't smudge the house or burn sage incense, of course. I also learned from a friend that Florida water can be used to cleanse spaces. She uses it in a spray bottle. I am leaning towards liking that. According to what I learned from her, Florida water is a citrusy cologne, is used in the south for not only "perfume" but also for hoo doo magic and, of course, cleansing. The name refers to the fountain of youth. That's about the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I'll have to find some way to learn more about it. I also am unsure of gemstones themselves that could cleanse a house in the way sage does -- but I know a bowl of salt with some obsidian will rid negativity. Salt in general is good on windowsills and thresholds to keep unwanted folks out -- that and the power of will. I also heard that if you make a besom and put it near the door bristles skyward, it will fall over when a particularly annoying or unwanted guest is about to come knocking. I'm not sure about that one's validity, but I plan to try it as soon as I learn how to make a besom. That would be neat.

I wonder what others have in mind without candles or incense as ways of cleansing a household before moving in?

Handcrafted Personality in Altar Spaces

|Credit: [x]|

Every holiday season since I went off to collge, my family and I make a lot of things. Not just "christmas cookies," but decorations, too. I painted a number of boxes last year with some beautiful pagan designs. They store my candles and incense I can't have while I stay in the dorms. My grandfather makes wreathes ever so often, almost like the one pictured above. This year, we were both probably going to work on other things. One of my ideas was to make more vertical space on my altar by using small cabinets and/or spice racks.

If you're of a mind to get creative, lots of projects can surface. Not everything has to be bought as-is to be the perfect pagan altar tools or decorations. Maybe this short post was/is a plug for the handmade community -- or even for antique stores. But you never really know what you're going to find. I'm personally tired of my altar being so horizontal. I want to organize things a bit more and make it a little mysterious and personal. I still only have small things, despite wanting to make more things to represent my path. Mostly tumbled stones, and little bottles of oil. A few necklaces. A few bits and bobs that mean something somehow. But yes, it is mostly my crystals and stones that need to be displayed properly.

I'll be sure to take some pictures when everything is all set as much as possible before I get back from break. I hope all goes well and according to my vision. I think it will.

What sort of things do you guys do for your altars? How do you make them organized and pretty? How are the organization aspects of it personalized?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

With All My Heart

|Credits: [x] & [x]|
There are supposed to be words here. Right. Words. Got it. 

Alright -- Something amazing has happened! As you may or may not know, I run a little etsy shop called Katie's Jewelry. The other day I was talking to the owner of the Fey Dragon about my crafts, and friends of mine vouched for me. I think Carrie and Kris were there with me. So I said I would bring in a few pieces. The night before, with the aid of my apophyllite stone clearing my head a bit, I made four pieces that I would eventually photograph and list in my shop. I figured she just wanted a necklace for herself, but that was not the case.

Four of my necklaces wove their way into being part of the stock at The Fey Dragon. Two have sold thus far. I am so honored and proud that they are displayed there. I'm still in awe.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Change or Remain the Same

|Credit: [x]|

I don't know too much about druidry or anything like that. I have a bunch of pagan friends in my room right now, and the first suggestion was to write a post on druid things. Silly me, I don't even know much about celtic mythology at all. And all this time, my whole life, my family has always harped on how awesome it is to be Irish. (Oh and it is awesome, let me tell you.)

I would've thought, however, that we would've known more of the folk songs, the recipes, the myths...or at least other irish stories. But not really. We're a typical american family who idolizes our roots, but researches nothing. I think it's kind of funny. And actually, it gives me something to learn about.

I've been on a kick of writing in regards to school work and how it can get to the point of being incredibly overwhelming. But I'm gonna switch gears for a second. How about learning new things?
How about moving in a different direction for just a step and see how it goes? I mentioned I don't know anything about druidry yet -- at least nothing cohesive to share about. But that doesn't mean I won't go look up some stuff and try to figure out the gist of it.

So some of the things that I have always done -- that work for me, but don't always fit in with the rest of what I do:
Circles -- I've been following a heathen path for a while now and have never attended or attempted to perform a blot -- which is the norse terminology and tradition.
Crystal and Herbal magic -- I'm just starting to work with other ways to use magic -- and I'm understanding differently what magic might be. Because there's never any one answer.
Book of Shadows Keeping -- I'm normally really bad at keeping a written journal of any kind -- so I tend to write refined ideas down in my BOS -- I think I need to really work on getting it filled and full of information to keep my thoughts in order -- because my notebook's a mess (unrefined ideas, lol.) 
Reading Norse Mythologies -- I need to branch out and read more literature on other paths... not just books on the 101 level about practicing, but actual old, scholarly material on the histories and mythologies of other things.
Subtle Magic -- I was never one for ritual magic, mostly because I don't understand it much. I tend to (unfairly) equate the ritual to theatrics and drama, and kind of have been ignorant of the fact that ritual gets your brain into a different mode -- and hey, it may make things more effective.
Relying on Basic Clairaudience -- I've understood the hearing spirits thing since I discovered the voices behind that buzzing I have always heard...that was almost ten years ago now. I have gotten better at understanding and differentiation -- but I haven't made an effort to understand how and why. Maybe I should.

There's a lot to be gained from researching and aiming to learn. And then, there's even more in recognizing that there's a need to study. And, even beyond that -- recognizing there's things on your own path worth evaluating, even if it is comfortable as-is.

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This.

|Credit: [x]|
I can't believe the end of the semester is coming up so quickly. It's almost dream-like. I'm glad for it, of course -- but I don't know where the time has gone. I've been really looking forward to winter break, because I had a class that really wasn't my cup of tea. I felt I wasted my attentions on it. We all encounter a class like that once in a while.

But finals week starts on Monday. I don't have an actual exam until Wednesday morning. The rest of what is due is a creative nonfiction essay revision (which will be really awesome,) and a take-home exam where the answers are written out for the abovementioned attention-wasting class.

I don't see the point in giving in to the notion that I should be stressed out or overwhelmed. I'm usually somewhat alright at getting things done in enough time. I've scheduled Sunday to get the exam finished and Monday to make whatever draft I'm at for the nonfiction piece the final one.

I understand though that some people just can't handle the stress of it. So what are witchy ways to deal with this sort of thing? I'm the one that's always shouting "TAKE THIS ROCK! IT WILL HELP!" or "DRINK PEPPERMINT TEA, YOU'LL FEEL BETTER!" (And I kid you not, I do shout about it.) It's true though. Peppermint tea tends to help clear out the head a bit -- and it helps if you have stress related headaches, especially behind the eyes -- or stress related stomache aches. (Oh but I'm no doctor -- don't ever substitute tea for medical attention, guys.) Peppermint also smells very good, despite the tea being bitter if brewed too long or in water that's just a bit too hot. I don't know a ton about aroma therapy, but peppermint seems to calm pretty much everyone down that I've shared this tea knowledge with.

What else comes with stress -- and I experienced this first hand with my first roommate's reaction to finals -- is kind of a self-loathing feeling. Like no matter how much you study or how hard you work to get things done, you'll never get the grades you know you deserve or need. That's what the rose quartz is really for. That stone, along with a piece of Tiger's eye can bring back the good, loving feeling you need to cope with the stress of this time in the semester. Rose quartz is specifically the stone of love -- and a lot of the times it works with its wearer/user to bring about self love. The other stone, brown tiger's eye, that can help reduce stress from academics. (Red tiger's eye works this way, too, I learned.) Both together, if you want them to, can help reduce the anxiety and loathing or depression you might be feeling.

I might have said before that witches tend to have a million different home remedies for everything you can think of. I hope my couple of solutions helps someone in some way like they've helped me.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Songs They Sing

|Credit: [x]|

I've always been a lover of crystals and semi-precious stones. When I first started all this "Pagan Stuff" nine years ago, the information on the metaphysical properties of certain rocks intrigued me the most. My solution to pretty much everything is either -- "Here, take this rock." or "Drink some peppermint tea." Of course, I won't tell you it replaces medical attention where that is needed, but for minor things, that is what has worked for me and the people I am close to. I've found a lot of illness is a temporary result of stress -- and crystals tend to help keep everything balanced.

Yesterday, I was at the local Pagan store (another promotion for the Fey Dragon. Love you guys!) and they had just got in a new shipment of stones and crystals. The event was a social hour, and the energy in the back room near all the rocks was fantastic. I was first introduced to apophyllite there -- and how I described the hunk of raw green stone (as I was forced to not look at it at all) -- was that it was happy, high energy but still calm. That was right! There was another clear stone that had been cut -- I have no idea what it was. I was told to close my left hand around it, and I felt as though the energies wanted nothing to do with being closed off. The store owner and the Reiki master who was there just laughed -- and I missed exactly what the stone was. But it was interesting. Then, I was shown apophyllite pyramids. MAN. I love those things. They clear up the third eye chakra very well, and balance you out psychically. Needless to say, all the empath/clairaudient facets of my brain picked right up, and I heard all the spirits/critters in the shop clearly after I placed the stone in the middle of my forehead. Needless to say I needed to eventually aquire one. I felt as though I could write another 12 papers that night and still feel alright. (I almost cried right there in the shop when the owner gave me a piece in exchange for the copy of the Great Lake Review campus literary journal 3 of my pieces were published in. Really.)

 I try not to leave the shop without purchasing something -- anything from a $1.00 tumbled stone and up. It is the least I can do for taking up a lot of time in the store (and pretty much basking in the positive calm energies therein.) So yesterday, I also left with a fantastic piece of quartz. I know what you're thinking -- it's just quartz, right? Nope. It's never 'just quartz.' The strangest thing happened. There was a tray of huge points that I was focusing on -- they were nice. They pretty much absorbed all the peace in the room without being told to. But then I shuffled through to check out some of the smaller pieces and ones that looked like wands. ONE OF THEM made this beautiful sound as I dropped it back in amongst the other quartz. Previously, I had never heard of singing quartz. But of course, as soon as I heard that note, I had to have that piece. I didn't know if it was yet for sale, but that quartz was to be mine, as soon as possible. It was so close to how the spirits sound to me before I focus on their energies to understand what they are trying to tell me.

When I got it home, I looked up the metaphysical properties of it -- and it is said that singing quartz are good for communicating with the "other side" -- whatever that is to the individual -- and it also enhances or aids in clairaudience. (I have a mind to write a creative nonfiction essay on exactly when I realized my ... gift ... in this department. I was twelve. I am now nearly twenty-two. Once the spirits know you hear them, they will seek you out, I assure you.) Not that I needed much assistance in that, but I really, really love this crystal -- so I keep it on me now along with an iron oxide quartz point just so that it makes that awesome ringing sound when I wish to hear it. It's got a really high energy and if I hold it too long in my left hand, it travels up into my shoulder. It's a strange feeling.

The point being that sometimes the energies of these crystals will call out. Even if you have other stones of the same kind, there are ones that are supposed to be yours. That is how I felt with both pieces of selenite that I purchased and with the singing quartz recently. In the past, I had that happen with an amethyst matrix, an amethyst point, a citrine point, a labradorite wand and a rose quartz point. The singing quartz, by far, has been the one with the best connection to me. I didn't even have to look when I picked it up again to purchase. I just reached over, felt the energy of it calling, and was like "This one made a really nice sound when I dropped it back into the box of quartz." Such is the way of things. Personally, I accept these things. My altar is naught but a place where the stones rest. It is their energy that works to heal -- not so much mine. They do deserve all the respect in the world.

What Little We Know

|Credit: [x]|

I said, "Think Fast! If you were in the mood to read a pagan blog, what would you want to read about right now?" to my roommate. And she answered, "Shamanism!" pretty quickly. I thought that was a positive response, not only because I don't know much about the subject, but because it also showed that in subtle ways, she wonders enough about these things to be able to deal with my eccentricities. At least I know she follows my conversations and I am not entirely crazy. It's the good kind of crazy -- the kind that people need in their lives. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

The week before Thanksgiving break, we had a guest speaker come in for O.S.P.A. who spoke to us about shamanic journeying. I can't claim to know much -- but I can say this. It is spiritual in a different way than meditation -- but still, for me, remains very familiar. Sometimes, a change in perspective is all that is needed to really feel differently about the path you're on. That is how it worked in my experience.

I had never connected with a goddess in the same way that I have with Wodan and Thor -- they spoke to me in my meditative state when they thought it was the time to do so. In the Shamanic Journeying workshop, we were led through a lower world journey of about 13 minutes or so and then through an upper world journey of equal length. There was a cd played for the drumming, and the space was cleared via drumming. (And actually I remember a group of firey spirits singing at the southern point in the room once the spirits were called to protect the space. That was fancy.)

On the upper world journey, I was contacted by Sunne, the Norse Solar Goddess. It is a bit much to explain what she showed me -- both in terms of how personal it was and how difficult it is to word it in a way everyone would understand --  but it was about change and growth. She is the Sun, after all. In the Norse world, the sun meant nurture and life -- and the moon, in the cold, was harsh and powerful. I understood it opposite for other pantheons that I have studied. Now, the opposite makes more sense. Something else that happened with Sunne was that she handed me something really interesting -- a quartz crystal, faceted and in the shape of a heart. I'm sure it will be clear what that symbolizes as I move forward -- or grow, much like plants do under her guidance.

I think the point of such workshops is to show us what little we know and move us forward in studies. I always say, take everything with a grain of salt. If it doesn't work for you, fine. But don't be ignorant of it. Try to be as open as possible when discovering new things about your spiritual path. The moment you stop learning is probably the very next one after you exhale for the last time ever. But even then...doesn't your soul keep going?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Inspiration from Mythical Creatures

|Credit: [x]|
I've been thinking about my novel lately. I mean. Not that I don't all the time, but you know. Sometimes the thoughts are a bit like writing without actually writing. And, as in this case, sometimes it brings me back to cool mythological stories.

Above pictured is one of my very favorite portrayals of the Undine. (Or, in germanic folklore, Ondine.) It is said that the Ondine are ever in search of what they are missing -- a soul. They are water elemental spirits, or nymphs as they are often called. It is also said that the only way that the Ondine can gain a soul is to marry and bear a child to a human. But, in exchange for her soul, she loses her immortality and has to take on the suffering of an ordinary human. In the event that, once she begins to age, her human husband is unfaithful, she may curse him. He vowed to love her with each waking breath -- So, he would fail to breathe if he fell asleep ever again, and so the curse would kill him. They tend to be tragic figures, I think -- which brings me back my novel:

One of the characters in my novel is a Siren -- so to speak. More like a combination of mermaids and sirens, but not in the way that disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides portrays mermaids. The Sirens of my book do take human form on land, but in the water, they take mermaid form. On land, they do not have the powers they would have in the water; they cannot sing to enrapture a sailor/pirate. In the water, their songs enchant the male sailors, pirates, ect to abandon ship, and so drown, ever enchanted by the song, never realizing their own doom.

Then, there is a combination of the above, with the idea of the Lamia, which is a serpent-like demon in several mythologies. In some, she is a child of Zeus and twisted by Hera's hatred/grief to become a demon that ate children. They enchant and seduce in some, where in others they keep items or information from the Hero -- who would otherwise fall victim to her powers. In still others, she is but a half-human, half-serpent monster who lives in filth and stupidity.

My character, because she has some of the same traits as my Sirens, has an enchanting singing voice, but she only sings of grief and suffering. Those who hear her song and are not strong enough to overcome mostly die due to their inability to comprehend and fend away such grief. There will be more on that in the story. Sybaris, as I have named her from the mythologies, is of water. She does not travel much from her cursed isle, but she can if she needs be. She is an ugly serpent monster to all but a few, who see her as a human -- except for her eyes, which are entirely black, and her movements, which are not humanly graceful, but almost...twitchy...kind of like a snake. Most, if not all, fear her, but she doesn't kill on purpose. It is her nature, and powers she was born with that cannot be controlled. At her birth, which should not have been, she took control away from the Gods over the entire ocean. Chaos ensues in several ways, and though she tries to die to give back the natural balance of things, she cannot. She is immortal and cursed. It is the Hero's job to figure out how to restore the balance of things in the wake of the man who caused this event to occur in the first place -- the pirate captain who captured him. I won't say more. I'm still writing anyway. All of the above are tragic creatures, which helped me to figure out the most strange "antagonist" (who isn't really entirely an antagonist) of my book.

But I wanted to just touch on the fact that though mythologies are pretty solid foundations, they can make interesting new monsters or characters with just a bit of planning and creativity. There's lots that can be gained from myth -- not just religious things, really -- but also plenty of material that can be worked into a creative work somehow.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Simple is Perfect

|Credit: [x]|

It is getting closer and closer to Yule, guys! I know that back in October, the retail chains were getting their Christmas stuff ready to go. All is well -- they can do what they want. I was rather fond of the Halloween decorations, so I hardly paid any attention at all. But now that it seems to be the proper month for my brain to notice cool wintery-yule-ish things, I want to talk about my ideas for a neat little altar.

I'm not going to be home for Yule this year. I will be in Maine, and so all of my witchy stuff will not be with me. Maybe just my amethyst and citrine points for good measure. I don't usually find altar tools themselves to be all that important in my practices. We add importance to them by how we visualize our rituals working. Sure I have a tile, chalice, wand and athame, but do I use them? Hardly. I like them, and have had them for a while, but as I grew in my own understanding of my own path, I prefer other things. For me, a simple altar is just fine. Perfect, even.

So, some might even argue that we don't even need altars, and that the material aspect is not beneficial at all. I would agree to a point, but there are certain things that I believe carry the energy that is good for a ritual. You are able to charge things that are yours with your intent -- with your energy. To bring these personal objects into ritual can be another way of making it a little more personal. It doesn't always have to be things that are "witchy," either -- like gems, or herbs or what would otherwise be considered ritual tools... I bring the book that I am writing my novel in to Esbats sometimes. Why? Because it is full of the creative energy I have transferred to it with normal use that I wish to make known and/or use during the celebration/circle/working/ritual.

For an example of how I see things, my Yule altar would be something as pictured -- and I could even do without the candle holder pentagram. I would carve the pentagram, triquetra, runes...ect into the piece of wood -- which I would collect respectfully from a branch or tree that had already fallen. The pine cone and bit of branch with needles on it would also be taken from what the tree already discarded -- no use in making a new cut for no reason. This would just symbolize the season -- Yule...these things exist already amongst the snow, and so to use them would be an homage. I like candles -- and during school while I live in this dormitory, I can't have candles or incense. So, all symbolism aside that others can add to the candle, I'd have one because I like them. Isn't that how it should be?

In terms of actually getting symbols together for Yule, I think they should be personal, too. Some of the colors are just the same as "Christmas" colors -- gold, white, red and green. But also blue and silver work too. You can have a sprig of holly and an oak leaf or silk plants with either design to represent the struggle between the Holly King and Oak King. (Totally look up that story, guys. It's too cool.) You can have the traditional gold and silver candles, representing the God and Goddess respectively -- of course, only if that's your thing. What about your traditional decorated tree and yule log? You could do something with that too. I think it would be different for everyone -- a wise person told me once there are as many paths as there are Pagans. There's really no one true way to celebrate. If you are part of a group that traditionally celebrates a specific way, by all means. They aren't wrong, either.

For me, the simple things are perfect. I celebrate among loved ones -- be they friends, family, or spirits. There are a few candles burning, some wintery-yule-ish decorations, the scent of pine and/or cinnamon, a good glass of mulled wine or mead. Usually stories and/or legends are told, and dinner is eaten and offered to the deities and spirits. Afterwards, the offerings are left outside next to the blackberry bush on the lawn for the spirits to consume as they wish. It is about togetherness as much as it is about the sun's return. This year, personally, I want to set out something to represent Sunne -- in years past, it was always ambiguous for me -- no specific deity was named. My style of ritual isn't the Norse style, but still I'll do what I must.

That's the point. Do what works for you, and don't worry so much. Another really wise person told me that something is always to mess up in ritual -- we are only human and nothing is actually perfect. So do what you have to do in order to celebrate. And don't worry. Just enjoy the season. Simple.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why Today Must Be Good

|Credit: [x]|

Today was a pretty crappy day weather wise. However beautiful it seemed, it was raining. It was also exceedingly cold and so not worth going out to enjoy the rain.

But today had to be a good day.

I had conversations with a few great friends, and skyped with another quite awesome one. I took the afternoon off, I suppose -- there's work to be done, but I'm not in the business of stressing out over it right now.  My brain is already on vacation. I did manage to get my room cleaned -- last minute, of course, but all is well.

So how to make the day good?

Well, part of it is being as optimistic as possible -- instead of seeing that glass half empty -- it's half full. (Either way, still more room for mead. Think of it that way!) And another part is just seeing the beauty in any situation -- or realizing no matter what, there's something to be learned. The idea of Karma seems nice sometimes, too  -- especially in those bad situations where people just ... are not awesome.

Then there's coffee. Coffee makes any situation infinitely better -- bad weather, bad people, bad timing, bad luck -- think it over with coffee.

I wonder if you can tell just how much my brain has checked out by this post?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

We Are Rooted

|Credit: [x]|
Things are just a bit more clear today. I attended an energy workshop down at the Fey Dragon. It was a really clear and even intense visualization exercise on how energy moves through each of us. The most beneficial activity was in visualizing a different sort of shield.

What I had learned and had been doing (most ineffectively) was to block out the bombardment of energies with a shield of my own manifested over my skin. It never occured to me to draw on the energy of other sources to form a shield -- and that is the bulk of what this workshop was.

I'll start with grounding -- as that is always the most important. For me, this usually involves sitting down on the floor, grabbing something to eat or drink, and relaxing. Let the other energies that don't belong to me leave me. Visualize that extensive system of energetic roots that are always there beneath your feet, and let that other-energy leave through that. Just get it into the Earth -- ground it, as they say. Not only does it clear everything out, but it also gets you connected to that source -- the earth. We learned an epic visualization that was really interesting to me -- imagine your own heartbeat felt in the palm of your hand, then to your right hip and out through your right foot and down all the roots we had to visualize beneath us (although some people envision rocks, not roots)-- all the while syncing to the "heartbeat" of the Earth's source of energy. It was quite relaxing, in my honest opinion.

Next, centering. What I would usually do is focus on the center of the body -- some people would say heart, but if you think about it, it would actually be your diaphragm -- the solar plexus. Center your own energies by focusing on breathing (what in choir they would call breath control) from your diaphragm instead of with your shoulders. If you wonder what I meant by that, stop for a second. Do your shoulders move when you inhale? If so, change it. It may take effort, but envision when you sleep. Where then do you breathe from? Take note of that and keep trying. The visualization that we worked on was this -- envision the red light of that chakra point in your solar plexus growing and extending in all directions. At once you are the entire universe while being at the center of the entire universe. Then shrink the light back into yourself, and you are centered. It had to do with the concept of Microcosm and Macrocosm and existing simultaneously as one.

Then, shielding. This was the use of the above understanding of energy -- this is the practicality of learning it. Some people, I've learned, shield or have shields naturally without having to think much about it, if at all. When I first discovered that there was such a thing as protecting yourself against the energies of other things outside of yourself, I kept practicing until I found a way to block some of it. I would use a bit of my own energy, which is a golden light, and have it cover my skin. That way it would lessen the amount of emotional onslaught I would have to deal with. That year that I learned how to do this, I consciously made the choice to go out for the school musical. (And I got a part.) I wasn't as scared of dealing with people -- I was a little bit more comfortable in the presence of others, though still kind of scared. (To this day I still get nervous about it all.) I didn't understand or even think that I could draw on the energy of sources outside of myself. Today we discussed how different people have their own personal ways of forming shields by calling on energies outside of themselves. The visualization we practiced, which I thought was particularly fantastic, was as such: Envision a mesh net surrounding you, about 3-4 feet away. Then envision gemstones filling the holes in the mesh. For me, the mesh was tiny, made of braided fibers. The gems were jewelry quality, shiny and faceted little cabochons. Garnet, Carnelian, Citrine, Peridot, Aquamarine, Amethyst, Clear Quartz and Obsidian. (We were told Malachite, Lapis Lazuli and Jet instead of the respective colors of the gems I saw, but those didn't show up for me, I guess.) After that, we were to visualize them spinning within their mesh settings until they blurred and you could pass your hand through it if you wanted. Mine turned to a wash of pastel watercolors flying by, which looks really interesting. (So the element of water showed up and my admiration of watercolor painting was definitely there. Watercolor paintings are very difficult to get "right" in my opinion, anyway.) So finally, I felt calm. Even the others in the group noticed. It was cold -- the energy I normally feel against my skin/golden shield, was not there, so there wasn't that excess warmth. Also, I didn't hear the spirits as loudly, and I could sit in the room without knowing more than I should about how the others felt. It was fantastic, and I love love love this style of shield. I want to work on it a bit and add some norse influence to it somehow. Perhaps runes in the gems or the fabric of the mesh could be more like leather instead of synthetic material. It would all be part of the visualization. 

 The last thing we discussed is how to circulate energy from the Earth source through ourselves and to be aware of excesses and let it flow out before everything is closed up. Close the feet first -- then let the excess flow out through your hands, and then close off the crown. When you have enough -- and not too much -- you can probably work with it and probably not get much of a headache. It depends on the mastering of the skill and knowing limits, which I suppose will require a lot of practice. It kind of circulates back to grounding and centering again, really. Energy itself has no intent. It just exists. It is what we do with this energy that determines intent. Some people's energy work revolves around healing. Some around protecting. Some around magic and spells. Some around readings like Tarot. Some around just feeling connected -- all that energy from the source that you transfer through yourself then flows out, along with a bit of your own energy, to whatever it is you believe in. An energetic offering. Some of it revolves around charging an object with this energy -- for use later, perhaps. Some focus on enhancing the energies of other things -- such as making a potion by enhacing the ingredients. It depends on intent and skill and of course, practice.

We are all rooted -- we are human and at least our physical bodies come from the elements that the earth itself is made of. It can be said that all people have the capacity to do energy work. Some may pick up on it easier than others, while some may be shut off from understanding it, and so wall themselves away from it all. I don't know. I think being open to the possibilities that exist around us is the best way to go about this. Because it may help to understand. We never know.