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)

 
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