Your Sun Sign, Moon Sign, and Ascendant Sign -- Just What Is Going on Here?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The short answer to this question is: Your Sun sign tells about your basic ego, your Moon sign tells about you emotional inner self, and your Ascendant tells about your outer presentation to the rest of the world.

Want to know more? Read on.

Your Sun Sign

From these three components, an astrologer can develop a thumbnail sketch of your personality -- a recognizable line drawing as opposed to a full-color portrait, but still, clearly, a picture of you. The fact that we have three reference points instead of only one helps explain why not everyone born under the same Zodiac sign is "just alike."

The Sun symbolizes your basic personality. The Zodiac sign it occupies describes your character's essential qualities.. This sign is also usually the easiest to find. It's what you mean when you tell someone "I'm an Aries," or "I'm a Capricorn."

The Sun, by sign and house position, describes your ego's central traits. To an astrologer, your Sun sign describes your core personality. Many say it's the most important sign you have, but that's not entirely true. The Moon and Ascendant signs are just as important -- but they can't be accurately determined without an accurate birthday, place, and time. (The Sun changes signs approximately once a month. The Moon changes signs every 2 1/2 days. And the Ascendant sign changes every 2 hours ... day after day after day.)

Sun sign information alone is "better than nothing," but it's also seriously incomplete. Sun sign forecasts can define what's happening for you on a conscious level and to your self-image, but that's not all you are ... not by a long shot.

Your Moon Sign

In astrology, the Moon symbolizes your inner self, the part of you that responds from habit, feelings, and instinct. If you are a sensitive or emotional person, you may recognize your Moon sign qualities more readily than your Sun sign. These traits are "who you are inside" ... an intimate side of your character only you and those close to you really know. In fact, your Moon sign may be very different from -- or even in conflict with your Sun sign traits. (And there's another reason why people are so complicated!)

Forecasts based on your Moon sign reveal what's happening in your private life, your inner world, with your family situation and living conditions ... and how life's shifting tides could affect your security, foundations, and feelings. Because they target your experiences literally "where you live" you are apt to relate to readings that involve your Moon sign much more directly than those based on your Sun sign alone.

Your Ascendant Sign

Your Ascendant sign is also called your "Rising Sign." The two terms are interchangeable. It is literally the sign that was rising on the Eastern horizon of the sky in the place and at the moment of your birth. Because the Ascendant sign changes every two hours all day long, yours obviously depends on the exact time you were born.

Only if you were born near sunrise will your Ascendant sign (possibly!) be the same as your Sun sign ... and it is completely independent of your Moon sign. Yet this third component in your horoscope gives the move valid information about how you appear to other people ... and how you take on the world.

Your Ascendant describes your temperament, the lens through with you view the world, the personality you put "on public display." It's the side of your character you willingly show the outside world. Changes here explain why even people born on the same day can have very different personalities, different strengths and interests, and different life experiences.

Forecasts based on your Ascendant will be the most descriptive and accurate regarding your life circumstances and immediate future. You will relate to such information very readily ... which makes your Ascendant sign information even more crucial than that based on just your Sun sign.

The three components of your character will provide three different views of you and your life ... all of them valid. And here's another tip: If you know your Moon sign and Ascendant ... and read astrology information for all three (real astrology -- not the "daily horoscope" silliness in the newspaper!)Free Reprint Articles, you'll see a much more dimensional picture of your life unfold!

Rebecca Brents writes on a wide variety of spiritual and new age subjects, including astrology, tarot, feng shui, alternative health, metaphysics, and self-improvement. She publishes the extensive online new age Ezine, The Enchanted Sprite on her website: Enchanted Spirit, and offers numerous online new age lectures and new age classes in these various fields. She also provides astrology readings, tarot readings, and personal consultations through The Enchanted Spirit Metaphysical Source Shop. Stop by and subscribe to her free new age ezine, New Age-New Horizons.


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Lucky Charms and Talismans

Monday, December 17, 2007

Many of you already own several lucky charms or talismans. You just may not be aware of the object's symbolism or meaning. Below I have compiled a list of some of the more popular and common good luck symbols that can be purchased in the form of jewellery, paintings or statues.

The Ring: A ring made of gold represents eternity and the circle of life. A diamond on a gold ring symbolizes fidelity. The tradition of the wedding ring goes back to the ancient Romans. Puzzle rings that interlink symbolize the integration of the spirit with the mind. When you give a puzzle ring to a friend, it means that you never want the two of you to part ways.

The Clover: The three-leafed clover is a symbol of health and vitality and for the Celts, symbolized The Holy Trinity. A four-leafed clover symbolizes sudden good fortune. A five-leafed clover symbolizes a happy marriage.

The Heart: A heart is the classic symbol of love. A picture or lock of hair carried inside a locket is thought to be the ultimate way to symbolize the carrying of another's spirit in your heart. As an amulet the symbol ofthe heart protects against heart disorders, anxiety and the tendency to blame others.

The Pentagram: This five-sided star is also known as the Druid's foot. It helps as a talisman to fulfill wishes, invoke spiritual powers and activate inner powers. It also serves as a protective amulet against the "evil eye" and casts evil back to where it came.

The Star of David: This six-pointed star is also known as the Seal of Solomon and the Hexagram. It consists of two interlocking triangles and is used as a talisman to attain harmony, gain knowledge and invoke the aid of the angels.

The Heptagram: Also known as the Mysterious Star or the Love Star, this seven pointed star is sacred to Venus and helps one radiate beauty and attractiveness as well as radiate harmony and love.

The Crescent and Star: This symbol is a powerful love talisman that also symbolizes sexuality, wisdom and well being.

The Eye in the Triangle: This is an amulet that finds its origins in the culture of Europe, Asia and Africa. An image of an eye within a triangle is thought to reflect evil back to the wisher of bad luck and protect against envy, jealousy and misfortune.

The Eye in the Hand: These good luck tokens which feature a human eye centered in the palm of a human hand originate in the Near East and are of Jewish-Arabic origin. The open hand represents the intervention of God and the eye represents the all-seeing eye of Go. This talisman is thought to bring God's mercy, strengthen faith and protect against bad luck.

The Ankh: This looks like a Christian Crucifix but with a loop at the top. This lovely ancient Egyptian symbol represents love and long life.

Thor's Hammer: This talisman usually looks like a small axe or very blunt edged cross. Carrying this symbol is thought to help achieve social success and protect against petty quarrels, making the wrong move in life and losses on the stock market!

The Pictic Knot: This is a Celtic charm that looks like three interlooping triangles. It is represents the three realms of consciousness and is worn to protect from black magic, magickal mistakes and dangers in general.

The Celtic Knot: These come in many designs and look like knotted threads. The knots based on mirror images or the number two represent passion, inspiration and a happy marriage. Knots based on the quadrupling of an image represent personal power and wisdom.

The Medicine Wheel: For about 5.000 years, almost all Native American Indian tribes have designed some form of a medicine wheel. The design varies but basically medicine wheels are Mandalas whose imagery is based on the number four. Medicine Wheels help you develop personal power and equilibrium, attain wisdom and understand the ups and downs of life!

The Dorje: This is a Buddhist "thunderbolt" that also resembles sceptre or a dagger. They are usually freestanding brass objects about the size of a paperweight done. This symbol is thought to repel demons, help one follow the true path and not be misled by false prophets.

Roman Coins: Antique Roman coins are thought to bring prosperity and good fortune to those who wear them as jewellery.

The Two Headed Ax: This image is found in almost all cultures: ancient Crete, Asian, Northern Europe and African cultures. It represents justice, authourity, and strength of character.

The Human Skull: Human skulls, whether bone or silver are usually worn to protect one from death. Shamans wear them to symbolize the accessing of deceased spirits.

The Devil's Trap: This is a circular gold or silver coin or talisman which features tiny Hebrew text that spirals more and more tightly inward towards the center of the circle. The idea is that the "Devil's Energy" is trapped inside the circle so it can't escape. This is worn or placed near doorways to protect from evil and clear one's path of obstacles.

The Zen Symbol: This looks like a black teardrop shape and white teardrop shape embracing each other in a circle. It is from the Far East and is also known as the Ying Yang or Tai'Chi symbol. It is worn to achieve equilibrium, balance and harmony between the sexes.


Sam Steven's metaphysical articles have been published in many high-standing newspapers and she has published several books. You can meet Sam Stevens at http://www.psychicrealm.comhttp://www.newagenotebook.com where she is the staff writer. Currently she is studying technology's impact on the metaphysics. where she works as a professional psychic. You can also read more of her articles at


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When Are Spells Performed?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


The presentation of magic entails use of words (such as spells or charms) and symbolic numbers that are considered to possess a natural power and ritual actions presented by the magician or other accomplice. A spell or incantation is thought to draw power from mystical interventions to achieve magic.

Spells are words spoken in a series of procedure with magical objective. The accurate performance, often with supplementary actions, is believed to set free paranormal power.

When are Spells Performed?

While rituals will sometimes have required timings, spells typically have them. Timing is significant in both African-American as well as European-American spells. However, not every spell includes timing. Here are some or the examples:

· The Position of the Sun. Voodoo practices include some moon-lore, but also places particular emphasis on the position of the sun such as dawn. These spells require the work to be done early in the morning and must be done precisely at dawn.

· The Phase of the Moon. Magical traditions also emphasize the importance of the phase of the moon in timing a spell. A clear example would be chanting during a full moon.

· Use of the Calendar. Folk magic occasionally includes the dates of the calendar as part of a spell. For instance, there is a group of spells applied by women to catch sight of their husbands-to-be and these spells (like sleeping with certain objects under the pillow) are often said to be effective only when performed on a certain calendar date (e.g. February 14, which is Valentine's Day)

Whether your concern is white magic spells or black magic spells or how to take off jinxes and crossed conditions, spells can be timed in various ways.

Here is an example of a Magic Spell:

· Love Spell. – it is used to attract the person you love. You need a pink candle and a small amount of your preferred scent.

First, use a toothpick to engrave your candle with a shape of a heart in it. Place the candle on a window and make sure it can receive moonlight. Chanting the spell during a full moon is the best time for it to be effective. Then, place the perfume bottle in front of the candle and chant, "Venus, bestow unto me the love that I need; let this scent, attract my mate!"

Once the candle burns out naturally, carry the perfume with you and spray little every time you go out to meet people. To intensify the strength of the spell, repeat the chant as you spray on the perfume.

Preston Houer has been involved with the art of illusion and sleight of hand for over 30 years. Let Preston show you how to Have Fun With Magic. Visit His Site Today! www.have-fun-with-magic.com


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The Beliefs And Superstitions Of Indian Jewelry

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jewelry has been part of the lives of human beings since the very beginning and every piece of jewelry has almost always carried a symbol or meaning. In the ancient civilizations Greeks, Egyptians, Indians and Chinese wore jewelry as a status symbol and ranking in the society.

There were strict rules and regulations that one needed to follow when wearing jewelry and by which one could tell their class, status and wealth. Let us see how much of that has changed today in the Indian jewelry world and what are the meanings behind each intricate, stunning design.

The Beliefs And Superstitions Of Indian Jewelry

India is a country of mystique and unimaginable beauty; almost everything you do or wear there has a special meaning of its own. Gemstones were always believed to have supernatural powers and were carefully placed in jewelry that was worn by kings and queens.

Today, Indian jewelry has not changed much; it still carries the mystique, beauty and every bit of its intricate work as well as beliefs. It is safe to say that almost every single type of Indian jewelry has a meaning behind it and it still display a status symbol even if the class and wealth is not taken in consideration anymore.

Most of the Indian jewelry is made out of yellow 18K or 22K gold as, anything below is not considered good enough to make jewelry for wearing purposes. Married women still wear gold and black beaded necklace known as ‘mangalsutra’ and it symbolizes their married status; men however don’t have any traditional jewelry to wear to display their married status.

Other Symbols and Meanings of Indian Jewelry

Because India is a rich country in gemstones and precious metal there is specific Indian jewelry made to enhance their traditional dances and dramas such as, Bharat Natyam. Different parts of India have specific type of jewelry through which one will be able to be identified such as; Cuttack in the state of Orissa produces the best silver filigree work in the country, which in fact is also world renown.

Indian Jewelry Today

Both men today wear Indian jewelry and women with the same passion their ancestors wore it. Bangles are a must for women especially those who are married; usually gold bangles will be accompanied by at least a dozen of different types and colors of glass bangles that are normally changed as desired to match the color of the clothes one is wearing. Indian jewelry has a special mystique and style due to which it has become very popular with the top jewelry designers and people around the world.


by Ann Marier
Ann Marier has written many articles on family life and different health questions. Her latest articles explore the different types of sterling silver jewelry readily available today.


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Herb Gardening

Herbs have been around since time immemorial. Ever since, herbs have served different kinds of purposes. Herbs have been used to treat illness and also in cooking. They were even believed to have magical charms. Do you want to have your own herb garden? Here are a few ideas on how to establish an herb garden.

Plan your garden.

Consider the herbs you want to plant. Think about their types. Would you like annuals, biennials or perennials?

How much space will they occupy in your garden? If you want, you can purchase a book that can give you the right information on what specific plants you are planning to grow.

List or draw your garden on paper first. Separate the annuals from the perennials so when the time comes that you have to pull out the annuals, you won't be disturbing the perennials. Perennials can be planted on the edge of your garden so when it is time to till your garden; you won't have a hard time.

Another thing to remember is that you have to plant the tall ones at the back and the shorter ones in front. Also, provide your plants with enough space to grow. Proper position shall help you in this area.

Some Design Ideas

You can consider having a square herb bed. You can have your square bed divided into four by two paths crossing at mid point measuring 3 feet. You can border it with stone or brick. A wooden ladder may also do the trick. You can lay it down on your garden and plant your herbs between its rungs. You can also choose to have a wagon wheel bed. Planting here is like planting with the wooden ladders. Plant your herbs in between the wagon wheel's wedges.

Get Your Plants Growing

Of course, different plants have different needs. This is the reason why you have to determine the herbs you want to plant in the planning stage. This can more or less help you find out how you should care for your plants. With starting seeds, remember its germination and soil temperature rules. If you see the seedlings sprouting, check the plants' air circulation, humidity and sunlight. When you see some leaves appear, allow proper spacing.

One of the plants that are easy to grow are herbs. You just have to provide them with an effective drainage, sunlight, enough humidity or moisture and fertile soil. Even with just minimally meeting these requirements they will be bound produce a good harvest.

by George Hapgood
You too can have a green thumb.
Visit George's blog here:
http://www.push-button-online-income.com/gardening

How To Make a Book of Shadows

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Book of Shadows (BOS) is used to store information you'll need in your magical tradition. Many Pagans and Wiccans feel a BOS should be handwritten, but some use a computer to store information as well. Bear in mind that a BOS is considered a sacred tool, which means it is an item of power that should be consecrated with all of your other magical tools. Copy spells and rituals into your BOS by hand – this will not only transfer energy to the writer, but it also helps you to memorize the contents. Make sure you write legibly enough that you’ll be able to read your notes during a ritual!

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here's How:

  1. To make your Book of Shadows, begin with a blank notebook. A popular method is to use a three-ring binder so items can be added and rearranged as needed. If you use this style of BOS, you can use sheet protectors as well, which is great for preventing candle wax and other ritual drippings from getting on the pages! Whatever you select, your title page should include your name. Make it fancy or simple, depending on your preference, but remember that the BOS is a magical object and should be treated accordingly. Many witches simply write, “The Book of Shadows of [your name]” on the front page.

  2. What format should you use? Some witches are known to create elaborate Books of Shadows in secret, magical alphabets. Unless you’re fluent enough in one of these systems that you can read it without having to check notes or a chart, stick with your native language. While a spell looks beautiful written out in flowing Elvish script or Klingon lettering, the fact is that it’s just hard to read unless you’re an Elf or a Klingon.

    When it comes to the contents of your personal BOS, there are a few sections that are nearly universally included.

  3. Laws of your coven or tradition: Believe it or not, magic has rules. While they may vary from group to group, it’s a really good idea to keep them at the front of your BOS as a reminder of what constitutes acceptable behavior and what doesn’t. If you’re part of an eclectic tradition that doesn’t have written rules, or if you’re a solitary witch, this is a good place to write down what YOU think are acceptable rules of magic. After all, if you don’t set yourself some guidelines, how will you know when you’ve crossed over them? This may include a variation on the Wiccan Rede, or some similar concept.

  4. A dedication: If you’ve been initiated into a coven, you may want to include a copy of your initiation ceremony here. However, many Wiccans dedicate themselves to a God or Goddess long before they become part of a coven. This is a good place to write out who you are dedicating yourself to, and why. This can be a lengthy essay, or it can be as simple as saying, “I, Willow, dedicate myself to the Goddess today, September 29, 2007.”
  1. Gods and Goddesses: Depending on what pantheon or tradition you follow, you may have a single God and Goddess, or a number of them. Your BOS is a good place to keep legends and myths and even artwork concerning your Deity. If your practice is an eclectic blend of different spiritual paths, it’s a good idea to include that here.

  2. Correspondence tables: When it comes to spellcasting, correspondence tables are one of your most important tools. Phases of the moon, herbs, stones and crystals, colors – all have different meanings and purposes. Keeping a chart of some sort in your BOS guarantees that this information will be at the ready when you really need it. If you have access to a good almanac, it’s not a bad idea to record a years’ worth of moon phases by date in your BOS.

  3. Sabbat rituals: The Wheel of the Year includes eight holidays for most Wiccans and Pagans, although some traditions do not celebrate all of them. Your BOS can include rituals for each of the Sabbats. For example, for Samhain you may wish to create a rite that honors your ancestors and celebrates the end of the harvest, while for Yule you may want to write down a celebration of the winter Solstice. A Sabbat celebration can be as simple or complex as you wish.

  4. Other rituals: and If you’ll be celebrating each full moon, you’ll want to include an Esbat rite in your BOS. You can use the same one each month, or create several different ones tailored to the time of year. You may also wish to include sections on how to cast a circleDrawing Down the Moon, a rite that celebrates the invoking of the Goddess at the time of the full moon. If you’ll be doing any rites for healing, prosperity, protection, or other purposes, be sure to include them here.

  5. Herbs: Ask any experienced Pagan or Wiccan about a specific herb, and chances are good that they’ll expound on not only the magical uses of the plant but also the healing properties and history of use. Herbs are often considered the core of spellcasting, because they’re an ingredient that people have used for literally thousands of years. Put together a section in your BOS for herbs and their uses. Remember, many herbs should not be ingested, so it’s important to research thoroughly before you take anything internally.

  6. Divination: If you’re learning about Tarot, scrying, astrology, or any other form of divination, keep information in here. When you experiment with new methods of divination, keep a record of what you do and results you see in your Book of Shadows.

  7. Sacred texts: While it’s fun to have a bunch of new shiny books on Wicca and Paganism to read, sometimes it’s just as nice to have information that’s a little more established. If there is a certain text that appeals to you, such as The Charge of the Goddess, an old prayer in an archaic language, or a particular chant that moves you, include it in your Book of Shadows.

  8. Magical recipes: There’s a lot to be said for “kitchen witchery,” because for many people, the kitchen is the center of hearth and home. As you collect recipes for oils, incense, or herb blends, keep them in your BOS. You may even want to include a section of food recipes for Sabbat celebrations.

  9. Spell workings: Some people prefer to keep their spells in a separate book called a grimoire, but you can also keep them in your Book of Shadows. It’s easier to keep spells organized if you divide them up by purpose: prosperity, protection, healing, etc. With each spell you include, make sure you also leave room to include information on when the working was performed and what the outcome was.

  10. The biggest dilemma with any Book of Shadows is how to keep it organized. You can use tabbed dividers, create an index at the back, or if you’re really super-organized, a table of contents in the front. As you study and learn more, you’ll have more information to include – this is why the three-ring binder is such a practical idea. Some people choose instead to use a simple bound notebook, and just add to the back of it as they discover new items.

  11. You may want to use one notebook for information copied from books or downloaded off the Internet, and another for original creations. Regardless, find the method that works best for you, and take good care of your Book of Shadows. After all, it’s a sacred object and should be treated accordingly!

Tips:

  1. If you find a rite, spell or piece of information somewhere else, be sure to note down the source. It will help you keep organized, and you'll start to recognize patterns in authors' works.

  2. Add a section that includes books you've read, as well as what you thought of them. This way, when you get a chance to share information with others, you'll remember what you've read.

What You Need:

  • Notebook or binder
  • Pens and Paper
  • Sheet protectors (optional)
Source

Herbal Magick: Agrimony


Agrimony

Agrimonia eupatoria - Cut & Sifted Herb

* Sleep
* Protection
* Cleansing
* Healing
* Dream Divination

This "Herb Spirit" is used in the Craft to add to dream bags and pillows. Add amounts and variations for the effects you desire. Each of us is different and choosing the herbs that work for you will probably require experimentation, meditation and magick. Experiment and enjoy the Art of Herbal Dream Magic.


Buy 1 oz. of Agrimony here.

.

Blessed Herbal Good Health Quick Spell

Good Health
A cough, an ache, a sty in the eye,
to my health issues
I say good-bye.
Vitality and strength
are mine today,
good health is here
to keep sickness at bay.
By the smoke, by the fire,
by the earth and the sea;
I am whole, I am happy
and I am free.



.

On Vampires

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"I replace the moon, the sun, the sky and the stars,
To those who see me without a veil, bare...
And impotent angels damn themselves for me."
-- Charles Baudelaire

"But first on earth as vampires sent,
Thy course shall from this tomb be rent."
-- Lord Byron

"It takes us back to primitive times,
when we worshipped dark gods as well as light gods."
-- Anne Rice


Whenever anyone says the word 'vampire,' one usually thinks of the most famous vampire, Dracula. The real Dracula was not a vampire, though his legend as a monster from the dark regions of Transylvania (literally, "the land beyond the forests") was used as a basis for the famous book by Irishman Bram Stoker. Before we talk about real vampires, let's examine the real Dracula.

The Story of Dracula

In the year 1418, Sigismund I, King of Hungary and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, founded the Order of the Dragon as an Order of Christian knights opposing the Turks. That same year saw the death of prince Mircae cel Batrin (Michael the Old), who left behind an illegitimate son named Vlad. Vlad won out in a struggle for political power with the legitimate sons of Prince Michael. He married the Hungarian Princess Mara and became Prince Vlad. On 08 February 1431, Sigismund inducted Vlad into the Order of the Dragon and gave him the throne of Wallachia in Transylvania (southern Romania today). Vlad started minting coins bearing the image of the dragon, and others began to call him Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Dragon. The only problem was he had to take the throne by force, and in 1436 Vlad finally took the throne of Wallachia.

In 1444, surrounded by treachery from Hungarians and Saxons and facing an invasion of Turks, Vlad gave his two youngest sons, including 13 year old Vlad, to the Turks as hostages of his good will. When the Saxons killed Vlad Dracul in 1447 for helping the Turks, his sons were released and the Turks helped young Vlad (who now called himself Vlad Dracula, son of the Dragon) to briefly take the throne of Wallachia in 1448. Deposed by the Saxons, who buried his older brother alive, Dracula bided his time waiting for revenge. After the Turks took Constantinople in 1453, Dracula briefly allied himself with his enemies the Saxons to take back the throne of Wallachia on 22 August 1456. A comet appeared in the sky at that time, and was taken as an omen by many.

From 1456 to 1462, Vlad Dracula, Prince of Wallachia, was a merciless tyrant. He impaled all of his enemies, most of his friends and even passing strangers. He decimated the countryside, impaling whole towns of men, women and children, as well as 500 local noblemen. Emissaries from other governments and representatives of the Church received the same treatment. The Turks took to calling him Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler. When the Turks forced Dracula to flee in 1462, his wife committed suicide by jumping off the castle wall into the Arges River rather than be captured by the Turks. Dracula was imprisoned for several years by the son of Sigismund, and then restored to power in Wallachia in 1476. Shortly afterward, he was killed while fighting the Turks, and his head was sent to Constantinople, where the Sultan displayed it on a stake.

Dracula was an emotionally warped man who dealt with a difficult situation with extreme measures, and although he liked to dine among his victims dying on their stakes, there was nothing to link him to the story of the vampire. Such ideas developed later as a result of local legends and printed propaganda about the blood-thirsty monster called Dracula, son of the Dragon.

Abraham (Bram) Stoker was heir to a three hundred year literary tradition of the vampire. The many vampire epidemics of central Europe that occurred in the 1600's and 1700's, and subsequent widespread debate on the subject of vampires spread the vampire legend throughout Europe and Britain. Aside from the many newspaper accounts, early vampire literature tended to be dissertations in languages such as Latin, French, German and Italian, especially by members of the Church. In the hundred years leading up to Stoker's book, an increasing number of English language poems, plays, and short stories about vampires appeared, including works by authors such as Goethe, Samuel Coleridge, Lord Byron, John Keats, Alexei Tolstoy, Alexandre Dumas, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling. John Polidori's story, "The Vampyre" (1819), was an early vampire story in English, and the penny dreadfull "Varney the Vampyre, or The Feast of Blood" by James Malcolm Rymer became a popular vampire series with over 200 stories in 1847, the year Bram Stoker was born. Stoker read about Dracula and the Romanian folklore of vampires in Emily Gerad's book, Land Beyond the Forests (1888).

Bram Stoker also wrote several other novels, including The Mystery at Sea, The Lair of the White Worm, The Jewel of Seven Stars, and his companion book to Dracula (1897), The Lady of the Shroud (1909). A chapter of Dracula removed from the book before publication was later published as a short story entitled "Dracula's Guest." When Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, he had a wealth of ideas about vampires to draw upon and an already established literary tradition to receive his work.

The word 'vampire' is generally believed to have been introduced to English-speaking audiences in 1734, when accounts of vampire activity in Austria were translated and re-printed in English newspapers. The word itself comes from the Slavic 'upyr,' meaning a monster, with the prefix 'vam,' meaning energy or the life force (later extended to signify 'blood,' a carrier of the life force). Before the invention of the printing press and the spread of printed dictionaries from the 15th to the 18th centuries, words were spelled any way one decided to spell them and all variations in spelling were acceptable. Thus, the word passed into English spelled variously as 'vampyr' or 'vampyre' or 'vampire.' Virtually every culture on earth has a word with a similar meaning, indicating that the vampire exists in all cultures.

There are many types and gradations of vampires and vampiric activities. Basically, a vampire is a being who drains energy from other beings. The classic vampire needs the energy to survive, since it has lost the capability to survive from other sources of energy, such as food. Perhaps the most common type of vampire you are likely to encounter uses the energy it steals either to promote its health or to assuage some great desire. Please note that I am not including here the many people now into RPG's (role playing games) or those who like the taste of blood, but still eat lunch at McDonald's; drinking blood is not the same thing as vampirism. Of course, any of these people could, and probably do, engage in some form of vampiric activity. The basic fact is that we are all beings made up of many kinds of energy, energy that is constantly interacting with the energies around it. We unconsciously exchange energies with others, and when we are in a weakened condition energy-wise, it is usual for us to replenish our energies by taking some from someone else. Thus, we all indulge in vampiric activity from time to time, whether we know it or not.

The origin of vampires is a dark secret known to few. The oft repeated story that an early shaman discovered that he (or she) could steal energy from others, and thereby live longer and gain spiritual/psychic powers, has some truth so it but still hides the Truth. The Truth is that we are beings made of energy, and our consciousness was long ago ambushed and taken over by other beings of energy. These dark and dense entities live off of our energy in vampiric fashion, and thus are the original and archetypical vampire of human experience. They have gained almost complete control of us by accomplishing the masterful maneuver of giving us their minds in place of our own, which remain submerged within us as a now unknown self. Thus, the knowledge and ability to be vampires resides within all of us. This ancient event is echoed in worldwide tales of an ancient War in the Heavens between the Gods (or between Angels), which resulted in the overthrow of the Elder or Primal Gods by the Young Gods. The subsequent imprisonment of the Old Gods in the Underworld, the casting out of Heaven of the Fallen Angels or the Fall of Man from a state of spiritual Grace, all represent our separation from the universal source of all things, the dark sea of awareness. In this state, many seek to find a substitute for the energy they lack because their individual soul is no longer in union with the universal source. This results in the discovery that one can approximate that which is missing by stealing energy from others; when our longing plays into the hands of a greedy "host," then the Other or the Beast within us may prey upon the energy of the human victims of others of its kind.

Vampires have existed as long as there have been humans on the earth. The classic vampire is an expression of the lower or vitality soul. Each person has a lower soul of vitality which develops from the moment of conception, as well as a higher soul of spirituality which comes in at birth. At death, the higher soul departs from the physical realm, while the lower soul remains attached to the physical body and slowly decomposes. This form is often seen in graveyards hovering over tombstones as a bluish-white "ghost." When something causes the lower soul to remain in the physical body after death, the corpse may become re-animated, especially if the corpse is exposed to a source of similar vitality such as sunlight, moonlight or an animal jumping over the corpse. In this case, the actual physical corpse may take on a life of its own, mindlessly seeking to prolong that life by finding other sources of extra vitality.

Most often, however, the classic vampire is the wandering lower energy body of a buried corpse, rather than the corpse itself. When it can be seen, this energy body will look like the corpse until it gets enough extra energy to resurrect the trace memory of its former physical appearance. This lower soul may also appear to people in dreams. The vampire may gets its energy from others either by taking it from their auras (where it contacts the lower vitality soul of its victim) or by taking their blood, which contains the life-force. Reports of blood-drinking vampires most often state that the vampire bites the victim's chest, sometimes feeding on the heart itself. Some vampires have been known to suck the blood through the skin; in these cases, there is usually a black bruise left on the victim. The appearance of fangs, however, is not often mentioned outside of fiction. When the grave of such a vampire is opened, the corpse often appears fresh and has a reddish cast to the face, because the vampiric form returns to the corpse to rest and transfers some of its stolen vitality preventing further decay. In these cases, a specialized organ develops in the energy body as a second heart, wherein this energy resides. This has led some to say that the vampire has two hearts, and it is this vessel which spurts blood when a stake is driven into the vampire's chest. If the physical body is destroyed while the vampire form is absent, the vampire may survive to find another method of manifestation. The idea that vampires sleep in coffins and need some of their native soil around them arose from the fact that these vampires use their dead physical bodies as a focal point and resource for forming their energy body. In these cases, if the physical body of the vampire is destroyed while the vampiric form is within it, its energy form will usually gradually dissipate. Those who did not wish to destroy the body of a vampire sometimes instead would re-bury the corpse on an island so it could not resume attacking others. While the actual spirit of the classic vampire has departed, the leftover lower soul remains behind to live off of the living; thus, this type of vampire is often referred to as the Revenant.

The most common type of vampire is the astral being (spirit) of a living person that leaves the body while it sleeps to interact with those in the physical world. This ability may come from the practice of magick, an ability to astral travel, a religious or spiritual life or just a very strong desire. Most of these vampires remain energy forms which cannot be seen by the physical sight. The astral form is sent out (either consciously or unconsciously) to seek out others and feed off of them. Most often the vampiric form attaches itself to its victim's aura and absorbs energy from its victim. The victim is often unaware on a conscious level that he or she is being attacked, although it is not uncommon for the mind to send warning signs to the waking consciousness in the form of dreams, visions or premonitions. Even when the victim has some awareness of what's happening, he or she often doesn't know what to do to stop it. Commonly, the victim will manifest a malaise or tiredness, and in extreme cases may even die. Since the victim's energies have an emotional component, the astral vampire runs the risk of absorbing negative emotional energies from its victims, and this can lead to emotional or physical distress in the vampire. Sometimes a semi-independent personality complex within the subconscious develops vampiric tendencies and siphons energy from others; this is called the 'Beast,' and if this 'entity' gains sufficient power, the conscious mind may have to battle for dominance of the personality.

A particularly strong vampire can form its energy body into a quasi-physical body; such a body requires some physical substance to sustain it, and thus this type of vampire will seek to drink its victim's blood. This being feeds off of its victim's blood for both the life force and the physical substance. While astral vampires who take on a 'physical' form appear to be physical humans, they are not and their "body" is only a sophisticated illusion. The 'physical' form of such vampires can perform feats that their normal physical bodies cannot, such as running at high speed, leaping off of high places without injury, crawling up or down the sides of buildings, flying, transforming into other forms such as the wolf, bat, vapor, etc. When a vampire does possess a living physical body, vampiric activity alters the body. Such people become uncomfortable in sunlight and prefer the night. One reason for this is that sunlight tends to tear down the energy form of the vampire, causing the vampire to feel pain from too much sun. Also, exposure to sunlight decreases the size and activity of the pineal gland, whose secretions aid longevity. The primary pineal secretion, melatonin, has been associated with increased psychic power, and high melatonin producers are sensitive to sunlight.

Another way for the astral vampire to feed off of one's life force is through sexual contact, and in this case the vampire becomes an incubus or succubus. Most vampires result from a temporary conversion of the astral form of someone living in the physical world into a vampiric form. Although the most numerous, these generally are the weakest vampires and therefore are the most seldom seen by others; they do, however, account for the majority of those vampires known as incubi and succubi (the sexual impulse is far stronger in physical beings than in spirits). This type of activity may result from a strong emotional fixation on someone, or it may result from the unconscious reaction to a strong conscious desire, especially when there is a pattern of visualization and masturbation involved. The victims of the incubus and succubus are usually those who are physically weak or live alone and have no strong energy bonds with another to protect them against an invasion of their aura; this is especially true of the very young, the very old and those whose longing for the energy exchange of a physical relationship opens them to such an attack. When, however, the vampire is very strong, anyone can become a victim.

Some vampires are the souls of those who have died with strong unfulfilled desires, or as a result of a sudden and violent death. Such deaths often cause the lower vitality soul to be imbued with a sense of urgency that causes it to seek to linger in the physical world. A few "return from the dead" after the soul encounters and succumbs to a bodiless vampire. Some very powerful vampires can migrate from one body to another, taking over and subduing the soul of its present inhabitant. Sometimes, the vampire finds it easier to cause the victim to kill itself, and then take over the body when the spirit departs. It is also popularly believed that vampires are created when the person has lived a particularly sinful life, was born with a caul or dies and is not buried in consecrated ground (such as a death at sea.) The idea that someone becomes a vampire after being bitten by one and then ingesting some of the vampire's blood is mainly an invention of writers, and in fact popular folklore around the world states that drinking some blood from a vampire will actually give one immunity to the vampire's attack and heal any illness resulting from such attacks. Although the classic vampire is obsessed with obtaining enough energy to survive, those vampires who are more than just the Revenant do "have a life" and other interests. For example, magickal vampires often 'hunt' for hidden knowledge. The vampire is normally a loner, but some astral and other-dimensional vampires do work together in packs.

Vampires & Magick
It is apparent that vampires have existed among practioners of Magick throughout history. From the old Middle Eastern 'eaters of souls' to Morgana le Fey's habit of giving her followers rings by which she could siphon off their energies and live forever, to modern practitioners of black magick who give lessons in conscious vampirism on the Internet, stories of magical people who have engaged in vampirism abound. Magickal Adepts create an energy body called a magickal personna to house their consciousness on its journeys through the astral and other dimensions, giving vitality to their energy forms through meditation and ritual work. Some magickal practitioners also create though-forms called fetches or servitors; these thought-forms may be programmed to seek out information or absorb and neutralize harmful energies. Sometimes, the magickal personna or servitor can become so energized that they take on a life of their own, and even manage to survive pass the time of their creators' deaths.

Most of what passes as vampire magick among vampire wannabies either attempts to imitate the effects of vampires upon others (taking their energies or seducing them) or is just plain old black magic designed to bring harm. Most real vampires have naturally strong psychic powers and do not indulge in magick to accomplish their feeding. Real vampires take other people's energies in order to survive, but they are not evil by nature (at least, not their own nature), other than those few vampires who are driven insane by their condition (though, as with any other group, there are both good and evil among them). The magick practiced by real vampires is instead designed to affect themselves, most often to bring about a transformation that will allow them to stop feeding on others. For some, this means trying to become just like everyone else, but for others, it means seeking the freedom to really be themselves by throwing off or even taking over the Beast within by accomplishing the Great Work of Alchemy and High Magick.

Occasionally, the vampire is an entity which has gained the spiritual knowledge and power to transform the physical body at will. Ancient Mysteries speak of men and women achieving immortality by periodically absorbing extra life force from the cosmos, in some cases eventually transforming the dense physical body itself into a body of energy. Wise Men, Alchemists and mystics who stray from the Path of Initiation and become addicted to living off of the energies of others, instead of developing that energy for themselves, suffer an imperfect transformation. Such beings must periodically absorb energy from others to prevent their death. In cases where the transformation is not only imperfect, but also incomplete, the physical form may transform into an energy beast and become trapped at a particular physical location. Such beings have to wait like spiders in their web until an unsuspecting mortal passes by and is captured. Some of the more powerful of these poor souls can survive in this condition for hundreds of years.

Often, there appears to be no real defense against the predation of the vampire. The strong psychic power of the vampire allows it to mesmerize its victims through telepathic suggestion. A house is a repository of energies of its inhabitants and, especially in cases where they engage in religious or spiritual activities such as praying or meditation, offers some sanctuary against the vampire; thus it is said that one must invite a vampire across the threshold in order for the vampire to gain entry. This, however, is not true of the strongest vampires. The cross, the host and blessed holy water probably became associated with a defense against the vampire due to their use in exorcism by Christians, and their efficacy depends on spiritual / psychic power of the one who blessed them and / or the one who wields them. This is not a case of good versus evil as is commonly believed, but of one energy overcoming another. Plants that are known to absorb negative energies, such as garlic, onion or lemon, also work mainly against weaker vampires; their use is tied to their effectiveness in defeating the energy of magickal attacks. Similarly, other methods of defeating magickal attacks that are also thought to be effective against the energy of the vampire are crossing running water, surrounding oneself with a circle of salt or amulets of silver. Running water pulls energy forms along its path with great force, so that any magickal spells or astral forms trying to cross it are drawn into it and end up miles away. Salting has been used from ancient times to break down existing energies of a place, purifying it so that it becomes holy or consecrated. Silver takes a charge of psychic energy very strongly, hence its use to disperse other energies, sort of like a short-circuit. It is still a common practice in some parts of Europe to place a silver coin in the mouth of the corpse to prevent it from becoming a vampire.

Typically, the vampire is disposed of by being consumed in fire, having its head cut off or having a wooden stake driven through its heart. The bodies of strong vampires may resist the flames, until they are cut into pieces. Wooden stakes driven into the vampire's vitality reservoir kill the vampire only when they are of sacred types of wood, such as white thorn (hawthorne), rowan, elder, oak, ash, etc. Iron stakes are also effective. If a vampire is not very powerful, it can also die as the result of an exorcism or by remaining too long in direct sunlight. When a vampire is "killed," usually what has happened is the vampiric energy form has been dispersed. After a vampire is killed, the form vanishes but dried blood is left behind in cases where the vampire has recently fed off of another's blood. However, if the vampire is strong enough, it can form another energy body. One method used to discourage the vampire from forming another body from its own remains is to salt the remains to disperse the energy. At any rate, one cannot be certain that a vampire will not find some way to return.

Now let's examine some false ideas about vampires. In cultures with a strong Judeo-Christian influence, the vampire is often considered to be female. This belief is based on the teaching among Jews and Christians that women are agents of the Devil sent to tempt man, and therefore do not possess the spiritual nature of men. In other cultures, such as that of Finland, the vampire is most often said to be male. Vampires, of course, can be either male or female. The false belief that vampires are inherently evil has led to the false assumption that vampires cannot walk or rest on holy ground, such as a church. Actually, vampires are only precluded from such places when the energy of the place is stronger than that of the vampire. It was believed by the ignorant that mirrors do not reflect vampires because vampires don't have a soul and are evil. Mirrors reflect dense physical objects such a human bodies, but not the energy forms of vampires, which only appear to be solid (when they appear at all) to the mind's eye of the beholder due to telepathic suggestion by the vampire or psychic ability in the beholder. Vampires with real physical bodies can be seen in a mirror just like anyone else. Actually, when a mirror is functioning as a dimensional doorway, the vampire which cannot be seen with the physical eye, can be seen. Some people were falsely accused of being vampires because they were buried when they were mistakenly thought to be dead. In old Europe, graves were typically not very deep, and if someone awoke in such a situation and managed to dig themselves out of their grave, they could easily have been mistaken for a vampire. It was a common practice in the American Old West to bury someone with a gun so they could kill themselves if they awoke in a buried coffin and couldn't get out. At the other end of that spectrum, those who are transformed by contact with spiritual forces while alive sometimes leave behind corpses that do not decompose for a very long time.

Today, a large number of false ideas about real vampires are being disseminated by writers of vampire stories, role-playing "vampires," the mentally disturbed and many apparently intelligent and educated people on the Web. Some of these "sound good but just ain't so" ideas include: the vampire virus, "you too can become a blood-drinking vampire," vampire races, crossbreeds, etc. Despite the gruesomeness of vampire folklore, many modern writers have transformed the vampire into an attractive character, and some have created quite extraordinary concepts of the vampire, blending truth and fiction into a powerful and believable mythos. Poppy Z. Brite became an instant underground legend with the 1993 publication of Lost Souls, while one of the most successful mainstream authors is Anne Rice, author of The Vampire Chronicles.

These and other authors have capitalized on a renewed interest in vampires sparked by TV shows such as The Munsters (1964), The Addams Family (1964), Dark Shadows (1966) and Nightstalker (1972). All of these sources have helped to perpetuate many false ideas about vampires.

Thus we have many types of vampires: the living, the dead and the undead, the energy thieves (psi-vamps) and the blood-suckers (sanguinarians). Lest we think that all vampires are monsters, however, let's not forget granddad and grandma, who just love to get a visit from their grandchildren because afterwards they feel so full of energy (relax, the grandchildren have plenty to spare). Or the person who is deathly ill and surrounded by loved ones and well-wishers, whose visits make them feel so much better for a while. Of course, the ultimate in your run of the mill vampiric activities is the exchange of energy that takes place between a male and female having sex. At the moment of climax, there is a brief burst of energy which emerges from us as consciousness momentarily alters its perception of reality. Here, each is giving and receiving in turn, feeding off of each other's energy to aid the evolutionary transformation of their consciousness.

In spite of the fantastic advances in science and technology in the modern world, vampires are still very much with us today. Understanding that we are all victims of an energy vampire within us, and that even we ourselves may become vampires from time to time, is one of the mysteries of our Being.

Source

Birthstones

Monday, August 20, 2007

Last night, my friend and I were browsing the jewelry department at Wal-Mart. When we got to the counter where the birthstone jewelry was displayed, we began chatting and wondered about the origins and properties birthstones, so I decided to look them up this morning and what I found was quite fascinating. I thought my readers here may also be interested in learning about them, so here are some interesting tidbits I found at Indya.com:

Birthstones - Rocks that spark up your life

Gemstones Thousands of years ago, early civilizations in India and Babylon strongly believed that gemstones possessed many mystical and magical powers. As time passed by, the idea of birthstones were introduced and specific gemstones were considered lucky for specific months in a year.


Without any further ado, Indya.com presents the twelve birthstones:

Garnet
Garnet - The January Birthstone
Often confused with rubies, garnets are deep red in colour and are regarded as the gems of faith, truth and constancy during the Middle Ages. Their deep red colour is significant as they are associated with blood related issues, such as remedies for haemorrhages. Considered as the protective gem for all travellers, a gift of garnet symbolizes love and the desire for a loved one's safe travel and their speedy return home.


Amethyst Amethyst - The February Birthstone
An amethyst is a beautiful purple form of the mineral quartz. The intensity of the colour purple can range from a light pastel shade to a deep royal violet. Quite rare and costly, amethysts have always been linked to the cognitive process, ensuring clarity of vision and creativity. This gemstone was once associated with the Greek God of wine, and it was a common practice to serve this beverage in amethyst goblets in the belief that it would prevent overindulgence. The gift of an Amethyst symbolizes protection and the power to overcome difficulties.


Aquamarine Aquamarine - The March Birthstone
Derived from the Latin words for water and sea, an aquamarine is aptly named for its pastel greenish-blue colour. Sailors often wear aquamarine pendants to protect themselves from the perils of the sea. In ancient times it was believed to heal a variety of illnesses of the heart, liver, stomach and mouth. Today, the stone symbolizes happiness, security, and eternal youth. A gentle and peaceful gemstone, it is said to fortify one's self esteem.


Diamond Diamond - The April Birthstone
Diamonds come in a variety of colours and are considered to be talismans by the ancient Hindus of India, where they were first discovered. Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man. The most pure and flawless diamonds which are the naturally occurring octahedrons of exceptional clarity is said to bring the owner power, wealth and everlasting youth. A gift of a diamond symbolizes everlasting love.


Emerald Emerald - The May Birthstone
Claimed to be Cleopatra's favourite gemstone, emeralds are deep green in colour. Egyptians were known to engrave the symbol of foliage on emerald tablets to represent eternal youth. The ancient Romans associated this gemstone with fertility and rebirth, and dedicated it to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Today it is regarded as the stone of the heart. A gift of an emerald symbolizes love and fidelity.


Pearl Pearl - The June Birthstone
Once believed to be the hardened tears of joy that the Greek goddess of love shook from her eyes as she was born from the sea. Resembling the moon, a pearl is said to have been ground up and used in cosmetics and medicines to treat heart and stomach conditions in the ancient times. They come in a variety of colours from pure white to pink, grey, yellow and black. A gift of pearl symbolizes purity, beauty and are generally gifted to celebrate the birth of a child.


Ruby Ruby - The July Birthstone
Considered as the Rajnapura or The King Of Gems by ancient Hindus, July's birthstone is among the most highly prized of gems throughout history. A ruby's red colour was thought to grow darker when there was danger nearby and to return to its original colour when the danger passed and hence was commonly worn by royalty as a talisman against evil. Rubies were thought to represent heat and power. It was said that a pot of water would boil if a ruby was tossed into it. A gift of a ruby symbolizes everlasting love and if worn on the left hand, could bring good fortune to its wearer.


Peridot Peridot - The August Birthstone
A yellowish green stone, peridots have always been associated with the sun. In fact, the Egyptians called them the "gem of the sun" because of their dazzling brilliance when held up in the desert sun. They also believed that the peridot also glowed with light even in the dark. A gift of a peridot symbolizes vitality and strength.


Sapphire Sapphire - The September Birthstone
Blue as blue can be, sapphires were a big favourite among kings and priests who considered them symbolic of wisdom and purity. This royal gemstone was thought to be protective against envy, and even against poisoning. It was also believed to cure colic, rheumatism and mental illness and to strengthen eyesight. A gift of sapphire represents sincerity and faithfulness.


Opal Opal - The October Birthstone
Opals come in a variety of colours and are prized for their unique ability to reflect and refract light. These fiery gemstones were also ground and ingested for the healing properties and to keep away nightmares. Ancient kings and noblemen treasured opals, both for their beauty and for their presumed protective powers. A gift of an opal is said to symbolize faithfulness confidence.


Citrine Citrine - The November Birthstone
A yellow or golden variety of quartz, citrines have been credited with treating urinary tract infections, jaundice and kidney ailments. Indian culture views citrines as uplifting, bright, energizing and inspirational stones It encourages the flow of Chi and activates intuition. A gift of an citrine symbolizes hope and strength.


Blue Topaz Blue Topaz- The December Birthstone
A cold blue coloured gem, December's birthstone was considered by ancient civilizations to have cooling properties. Not only was it believed to cool boiling waters when thrown into the pot , but also to calm hot tempers as well. The gemstone was said to possess other healing powers like curing insanity, asthma, weak vision and insomnia. One of it's magical properties also included its ability to make its owner invisible in a threatening situation. A gift of blue topaz is symbolic of love and fidelity.

Magick Circles, Why Use Them?

Friday, August 03, 2007

A discourse on the psychology of magick circles

They say that the longest journey begins with a single step. So, too, the exploration of Magickal studies begins with a single step. Though the first step in a physical journey is often self-evident, the First Step on a Magickal journey is often not quite so clear. While formally organized groups often have a path of lessons to instruct newcomers, the solitary or isolated student is often left standing in perplexity on this broad plain of knowledge, wondering just where in the heck to begin. And wondering, too, if it's "okay" to start just anywhere.

While it's true that studies can begin in a direction that attracts you, the necessary first step must be learning to make psychic shields. There are "Things of the Dark" out there. There are any number of explanations for what these things might be-- ghosts, demons, or simply uncontrolled urges of the subconscious mind. In truth, it doesn't matter what they are. What does matter is that their effect is very real and unless they are put under your control, they will drag you over the borders of sanity into psychosis. You are most vulnerable to them while you're in an "open" trance or meditative state. That's why the wise practitioner always begins by taking steps to define exactly what will be permitted through the portals of their "psychic shields"-- no matter how simple the ritual. And this, in a nutshell, is what "protective magic" is about.

There are a number of ways to do this. The most common is to begin by drawing a circle (around a group or yourself) and invoking the one or more protective powers. Generally, this is done by candlelight, in front of an altar that holds certain magical objects. The circle may be further "secured" and "cleared" by using salt, salt water, rum, incense, or some other method. You may be wearing a special robe and will have taken a bath (or performed a cleansing ritual) earlier. The powers that protect you will be called on and then you will begin your ritual.

Is it psychological? Absolutely! Is there a reason why protection rituals always take this form? Positively! Let's take a step back and see what you're actually doing and how the process works-- from a psychological standpoint-- and how to use this knowledge to help you refine your circles to enhance your rituals.

Psychologists and psychics alike view the mind's structure as a three-part entity: The ego (that which you think of as yourself), the superego (the "higher self") and the Id (the child within). The Id is, in a sense, a computer. Like most computers, it operates on the "garbage in-garbage out" principle. There's an old superstition "as you name something, so will it become." Tell yourself that you're very unlucky and your id will obligingly give you bad days by enhancing any negatives in your environment. Tell yourself that you are clumsy, and your id-computer will obligingly arrange for you to break a leg while stepping off the sidewalk. The bad news is that the Id can't make a judgment as to whether or not this is a good idea. It only knows that it's received these "instructions" and must carry them out. The good news is that you can actually program/reprogram this portion of your mind.

You begin programming this Internal Servant of yours by first drawing its attention to what you want done and then explaining what you need done in a simple and clear manner. Repeating the instructions in a chant help fix the goals for the Id-- rhymed chants seem to be easier for it to process. Each time you perform the ritual and repeat the chant, the programming is strengthened. Never mind that your ego and superego understand that you're going to program the child-like Id. It works just the same.

To direct the Id's attention to the process, you first have to impress it. Using special tools and clothing alert it that something unusual is going on and that it must pay attention. Acquiring hard-to-obtain items, drawing symbols, performing a symbolic sacrifice (donating money, say, to a good cause) are all ways of reinforcing the Id's impression that this ceremony is very special and that the result will be very powerful. Organized, meaningful symbols, speak to your subconscious mind in ways it understands, reinforcing the goals you have set.

Drawing the circle itself establishes boundaries within your environment ("The rest of the world can do what it likes Out There. All within this circle is in MY control!"). Purifying the circle and consecrating it (sprinkling water which has been blessed and salt added) further enforce your territory, defining the borders where you are "safe". Nothing can enter this area except what you invite inside. You further tighten these borders by calling on certain powers.

You can call on any powers you like. Some use traditional Christian images. Others call up deities from the religion they are most comfortable with. And many people use the thought/image of a beam of light that represents either God/Goddess (whichever one they like) OR The power of light and life and goodness in the Universe.

The number of powers called as guardians varies. You may choose to invoke one powerful being to protect your circle. Or you might call on the Universal Being/Light AND four guardians (one for each quarter of the compass). A third approach is to use a guardian for the four quarters of the compass and no higher being. There is no "absolutely correct" system; the correct system is the one that YOU are comfortable with.

Take time to choose the guardians of your circle carefully. You should select guardians (gods or animals or some form of life) which have a deeper meaning to you and whose qualities are in harmony with your goals. For the new student, it's best to have all your Powers and Guardians from the same belief system/religion/mythic universe so that the symbols will be consistent and not confuse the Id.

You CAN use people-- saints, movie actors, figures from favorite books as guardians. DO, however, pick someone who's dead or non-existent. The dead can't argue with your interpretation of them, whereas the living may be highly offended to be approached as gods/ guardians).

As your studies continue, you will find that your totems or guardians change. This is to be expected; as you explore new realms in your studies, you may find you need guardians who deal with very specific areas to strengthen and guide you in these new fields.

But don't make the mistake of assuming that you'll become so powerful that you will never need the protection of the psychic shielding circle in some form. And don't assume that you will not need a circle for "positive" magick such as healing. Open is open-- and open is vulnerable. And circles strengthen and protect you by defining what psychological influences will be allowed to work with you.

Before your magick has any potency you need a clear mind

by Mel White

Amulet

Thursday, August 02, 2007

An amulet is a consecrated object used for protection, for good fortune, luck, health, to attract, or to repel. It is a natural object, as opposed to a talisman, which, while used for much the same purpose, is a human-made object. C. Nelson Stewart (Man, Myth and Magic) likens a talisman to a sword and an amulet to a shield, saying the former is a reinforcer while the latter is a protector. Certainly amulets are primarily preventive, while talismans are transmitters.

Although amulets are frequently made and used by Witches, they are not exclusively so. They and talismans are a part of the larger world of magick and can be utilized by magicians who are not necessarily Witches.

Amulets are basically natural objects --amber is an excellent example--they may be modified by carving or inscribing, or used in conjunction with other amulets and/or talismans. Most users will consecrate an amulet before using it, but others feel that the very essence of the amulet is that it is natural and therefore requires no consecration. An example of these two schools of thought may be found in the mandrake root. The mandrake naturally grows in the shape of a human figure. For this reason it was thought to have great magickal properties, especially to heal and protect. Yet the more similar to human being the mandrake appeared, the greater the magickal power it was believed to possess. For this reason it was permissible to carve the root to make it more lifelike and more powerful.

Another example of an amulet is a stone with a hole through it, known variously as a Witch Stone, a Goddess Stone, or a Hag Stone. This may be slipped onto a piece of cord or leather thong and worn around the neck for protection. Some would first cleanse the stone in salt and water and hold it in the smoke of incense, at the same time requesting from the gods that it protect its wearer. This act of consecration made the stone amulet even more powerful.

In Africa, elephant hairs are commonly used as an amulet, as are lion's teeth or claws. Elephant hair is frequently woven into a bracelet, for ease of wearing. In Europe and America, a rabbit's foot is perhaps the most common amulet, worn or carried for good luck.

There is a doctrine of correspondences, or "doctrine of signatures," associated with amulets. This is a belief that there is a magickal connection between things which look alike, and things that have at one time been connected but that are now separate. Consequently, a bear claw might be carried to five its owner the strength and fearlessness of a bear, or a monkey's paw might be
carried to bestow agility. A hag stone might be thought to aid in childbirth, because of its similarity to the female vagina. A piece of iron (a horseshoe nail, for example) might be believed to give its owner strength.

Among Scottish Witches the acorn is a popular amulet, symbolizing strength and protection. It may be carried in the pocket or a Witch may make a necklace of strung acorns. Plants, or plant parts such as seeds, pieces of wood or nuts and berries are used universally as amulets. A four-leaf clover is a popular example.

The circumstances under which an amulet is found can have great bearing on its significance and importance. For example, if a climber found a feather at the foot of the mountain, it would behoove the finder to carry the feather with him or her to the top of the mountain, since the feather symbolized the ability to rise. That particular feather would be a very potent amulet in that instance.

Certain items, although not natural in the sense of not having been manufactured, may still be regard as amulets, rather than talismans, based on the circumstances in which they are found. For example, finding an old key at a time when one is wishing to gain access to something -- be it a building, a new job, or even a marriage -- would be regarded as fortuitous in that the key symbolizes access. The key should be carried or worn until the goal is achieved.

From: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism by Raymond Buckland (Possibly)

Herb Magick

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Centuries ago, our ancestors used herbs for more than just seasoning soup. As a matter of fact, herbs were used for healing and Magick long before they were used as seasonings. But the Witches and the Wise Ones all knew the Magickal use of herbs. They used herbs in potions, incenses and amulets to ward off evil, attract prosperity, protect children and women in labor, and to heal illnesses.

When herbs were added to foods, they were primarily included for their Magickal or medicinal properties, rather than for their flavor. Much of this lore was forgotten, but fortunately for our generation, not all of it has been lost, and much that had been lost has now been either relearned through experimentation or rediscovered through research of ancient books. This is an exciting time to be alive, because the Internet has given people even in remote areas access to books that once would be found only in a few libraries, out of reach of the average Witch.

Because of today’s awareness of Earth’s fragility, we modern Witches, Pagans and Wise Ones are once again focusing on the gifts that the Mother has given us.

Just what is Magick? Most of us are familiar with contemporary styles of prestidigitation, sleight-of-hand, illusion, and stage-magic, performed by such greats as Siegfried and Roy, (our personal favorites.) These performers are wonderfully entertaining, and a true delight to the mind and the eye.

Real Magick, on the other hand, is much more than illusory stage tricks. Magick influences the environment by using the natural energy that surrounds us, focused by the disciplined will of the Mage or Witch. Just as our minds, bodies and spirits work together and influence each other, the physical plane and the psychic or astral planes are linked. The astral can influence the physical as easily as the physical can the astral. They all come together in beauty, within the Laws of Nature.

There are many earth-oriented, goddess-oriented and pagan religions that practice Magick, however, Magick in and of itself is not necessarily a religious practice. Some traditions believe that Magick should always be a religious rite and there are others that use Magick as a tool for everyday living, with no religious implications at all. We have no desire to get into a debate on the merits of these two approaches.

Unlike some others, we at Wolf Moon Coven do not believe that we have the only true path to “higher truth.”

However, our tradition holds that Magick should only be worked for good. We believe in the Three-Fold Law that says that whatever we send out, will come back three times over. So if we work Magick for good, good will come back to you three times over! But if our work harms another, then Goddess help us!

And, since not all of us are perfect, to say the least, some of us have had occasion to see this in action, though it is much better to learn from observing the payback to another than to experience it in person!

For example, I know of a High Priestess who became angry with another over a purely business matter, having nothing to do with the Craft. She acted irresponsibly, making numerous false accusations against the other. But none of this triggered the Three-Fold Law.

It was not until she, and several members of her coven, tried to attack the other High Priestess with Magick that the Law kicked in. And trust me when I tell you that the Goddess was swift and terrible to watch as they were taught a lesson in justice, honor and keeping their oaths.

But our purpose here is not to preach, but simply to provide information. We want to discuss the properties and uses of herbs in Amulets, Ceremonies, Charms, Potions and Rituals.

Supplies Needed for Herbal Magick

Please Note ~ True Magick comes from the inherent properties of the herbs, combined with the intent of the Mage or Witch. If, for example, one is tired and lacking in energy, no matter how talented the Witch, Chamomile and Valerian are poor choices for herbal Magick to enhance alertness and wakefulness.

The traditional choices of ritual tools for herbal Magick would include:

Boline ~ The Witch’s “White Handled Knife.” This should be a ritually consecrated knife, used only for the practice of Magick. It can be used to harvest the herbs, to chop herbs which you would not want to grind, or for a variety of other Magickal purposes.

Mortar and Pestle ~ Used to grind herbs. The bowl-shaped mortar represents feminine energy, just as the phallic-shaped pestle represents masculine energy. Using the two together imparts a balance of energies, and the energy of the Witch in grinding by hand adds much Magickal energy to the herbs being ground. It goes without saying that the Witch should be concentrating and focusing his or her intent throughout the grinding process. Grinding the herbs while sitting on the couch watching TV just doesn’t add a thing.

Hand Scythe (Sickle) ~ For the purist, this crescent-bladed knife is considered the perfect tool for harvesting herbs. The ancient Druids used Gold Sickles to harvest the holiest and most Magickal herb of their tradition, the Mistletoe.

It might also be nice to keep on hand a special basket to hold herbs while drying them, and a special glass or glazed ceramic container to hold your brews.

Can one practice herbal Magick (or other kinds) without special tools? Of course we can.

The whole purpose of using special tools is similar to the purpose for wearing ritual robes and special jewelry for celebration of Magickal rites. From the moment one begins to prepare to perform Magick, every step brings one closer to the proper state of mind.

We have used plain, ordinary kitchen knives for cutting, slicing and chopping. We’ve used pottery or wooden bowls and the backs of spoons for grinding. We have even used blenders and food processors.

But there is no question that using special implements, blessed and consecrated, enhances the effectiveness of the work. And it must be remembered, that once a tool is consecrated for any Magickal purpose, it should never be used for anything else!

Harvesting Herbs

If at all possible, you should grow and harvest your own herbs. But realistically, this is simply impossible for many of us. For example, our Coven is located in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area, where it is possible to harvest a number of wild herbs, and to grow many others.

However, there are many herbs which grow only in dry climates, or which require a cold, dormant period.

Spanish Moss and Bay leaves, for example, can be harvested in the wild here. Mistletoe cannot.

Many of us live in large cities and sprawling urban areas where there is more asphalt than topsoil.

The saving factor is that today’s Witch has access to dried herbs from anywhere in the world. Just be sure that the herbs are either wild-harvested or organic. The last thing you would want is to brew up a wonderful healing potion using herbs that have been laced with pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

Herbs For Protection

The herbs that are most normally used for protection are those that have powers to disperse evil and create a protective barrier when burned, carried on your person, or hung wherever protection is needed. Because these herbs contain positive energy they are able to repel, or bounce back negative vibrations or energy.

Protection spells should be done during a waxing moon, suggested colors are red and white. The following herbs are generally considered protective in nature (this is certainly not a complete list!):

Angelica, Balm of Gilead, Basil, Betony, Dill, Elder berries, Fennel, Garlic (of course), Horehound, Hyssop, Mistletoe, Mugwort, Mullein, Rose Geranium, Rosemary, Rue, St John’s Wort, Tarragon and Vervain.

One of the simplest protective spells is to make a charm using three of the above herbs, mix them together and place them in the center of a red or white piece of cloth. (One made of Elderberries, Rosemary and Tarragon has a really delightful fragrance if it is to be used indoors.) Gather up the corners, tie and charge the sachet saying words like:

"By Water, Earth, Fire and Air,

Protect that for which I care!"

Repeat the chant three times, with greater strength and authority each time. Carry the charm with you. To protect the home, place it in the highest point of the house or near the hearth (the kitchen if you don’t have a fireplace). To protect you and your car while driving, place the charm under the driver’s seat.

Herbs For Purification

Ever felt a sensation that something just wasn’t right? Your house didn’t seem like home anymore, a visitor left and didn’t take their bad energy with them? Maybe purification is in order. There are many herbs with purifying properties: Bay, Mugwort, Yarrow, Rosemary, Sage, Angelica, Basil, and Juniper to name a few.

Powder the herbs you wish to use (use 3, 7 or 9 different herbs, or multiples of these) and make a purification incense. As you charge the herbal mix, visualize a crisp, clean breeze blowing all the negativity out of the house. Then light the incense and carrying it through every room in the house. As you go from room to room, visualize the incense driving away any leftover negativity. This should be done with all the windows open and pets and other people out of the house.

It is good to purify a new home, before you move in, just to make sure the previous tenant didn’t leave any nastiness behind. A favorite is to brew up some rosemary tea (nice and strong) and dip a branch of rosemary, rue or yarrow into the tea and thoroughly asperge (sprinkle) every room in the house. While doing this visualize washing away of all negative influences. The rosemary is a wonderful odor-chaser as well; it leaves a clean, fresh smelling house to return to.

Many people like to purify by smudging. Sage is a very commonly used smudge. If you can gather and dry your own wild sage for smudging, do so. Just light a sprig of dried sage (You can carry a little tray or saucer under the lit sprig, in case some burning bit drops) and carry it from room to room, visualizing any negativity being replaced by the purifying fragrance of the sage. One can also make a protective sigil at each window and doorway, thus purifying and protecting in one fell swoop!

Follow up your purification with a new protective charm, and you should be good to go for several months. Many witches and pagans do a purification and protection sequence every full moon, others every quarter and some only when needed.

Charm Bags

Making charms for a variety of purposes is both easy and effective. And what’s more, it is even fun! Here are a few simple but powerful charms: (Note: All chants are to be said three times, and after the third, conclude with “So Mote it Be!”)



Prosperity

For a prosperity charm, for example, take a small bag of green cloth, place three bay leaves and a small piece of lodestone inside, then anoint the outside of the bag with a drop of sweet almond oil. As you anoint the bag, say:

“Fortune smile on me this day,

May all I need come my way.”

Do this after the New Moon, and carry the bag on your person every day until the Full Moon, then bury the bag on your own property. (If this is not possible, then in a park or even in a planter.)



Romance

To attract a romantic lover, begin with a small bag of pink or white cloth. Add a piece of rose quartz and fill the remainder of the bag with lavender and pine needles. Anoint the bag with sweet patchouli oil. As you anoint the bag, say:

“By Air, Earth, Fire and Sea,

Bring my one true love to me.”

Do this while the moon is waxing, but do not try it between the Full Moon and the New Moon. Sleep with the bag under your pillow until you get results.



Passion

If you are more interested in a passionate lover than a romantic one, follow the above formula, but add a stick of cinnamon and two whole nutmegs to the bag, along with the lavender, and anoint the bag with cinnamon oil. As you anoint the bag, say:

“Blazing passion, my desire,

Come and set my heart on fire.”

But be careful what you wish for. You just might get it! Remaining steps are the same as Romance, above.

Protection

To protect oneself from negative energy, take a small white bag; place a small piece of smoky quartz and one of clear quartz inside. Take five leaves of oleander and add them to the bag, being extremely careful not to get any sap on you. If you do come in contact with the sap, remember that it is highly toxic, so wash up immediately and thoroughly. Handling the leaves with rubber gloves is not a bad idea. Anoint the bag with Frankincense oil, saying:

“Minions of the Dark now quit this place,

For only Light will I embrace.”

Do this during the waning phases of the Moon, visualizing your surroundings being filled with a pure, white and golden light, driving out any darkness from every corner. At the New Moon, burn the bag, being careful to be upwind of the smoke. Remember: Oleander is deadly. Be very careful!

Health

To attract good health, use a small blue or purple bag. Add a small piece of amethyst, then fill the bag with lavender, white sage and a little St. John’s Wort. Anoint the bag with Amber oil, saying:

“Keep my mind and body strong and fit,

Strengthen both my heart and wit.”

Do this during the waxing phase of the moon, and sleep with the bag under your pillow at night. This one can be kept as long as necessary, but if you wish to dispose of it, do so with respect, either burning or burying it.

All these Charm Bags may be used in combination with Candle Magick, as well as other methods.

The Charms, Amulets and Talismans discussed in this class are only enough to scratch the surface. If you feel called to these types of Magick, you will need both study and inspiration. And don’t be afraid to experiment. The intent of the user is the primary source of the strength of the spells and rituals used. When you do experiment, however, keep detailed written records of exactly what you did, the time of day (or night), the date, the phase of the moon, and your results. Over time, you could develop a style of Magick all your own.

For help in choosing the herbs, oils and stones to use in your own charm bags, you can find a lot of help in many of Scott Cunningham’s books, including “Earth, Fire, Air and Water,” “Encyclopedia of Magickal Herbs,” and others. Study. Learn. Enjoy.

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