PBP2014: D – For Divination

Divination has played a large part in my pagan lifestyle.  When I first discovered Wicca (as we all do), the first thing I learned was how to shield.  But the second…the second thing I learned was how to divine the future.  I started with throwing stones in the playground, and it transformed into using the Ouija Board (until my mother found out, and banned it from the house).  And that transformed into quartz crystals, and finally, tarot cards.

I can still remember my first tarot deck – a sultry purple, kept hidden in my underwear drawer until I felt comfortable enough to come out with my first altar (and that, I remember too – a pathetic thing, with four candles and a mirror – it took me a long time to realize that the “Wiccan” way of doing things meant little and less to me).  The Mythic Tarot, a play on images of my favourite Grecian myths, which lead me and guided me through the bulk of my teenage years, and well into my early twenties.

I can still remember my trepidation, as I realized whenever I used the cards, they told me of ill fortunes to come – nearly all of which came true.  I remember pulling the Death card, and the Devil, more times than I can count.  I remember them telling me over and over, no matter how many different questions I asked, that my life would be a struggle, and I would come out stronger for it.  My first breakup: you will come out stronger for this.  My first surgery: you will come out stronger for this. The first time I failed a course: you will come out stronger for this.

I didn’t believe them.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t believe them.  Nothing could be worse than this, my young adult brain thought.  This is the end of you.

And I put the cards away. I hid them, sequoistered within the confines of my altar cabinet, collecting dust.  Coming with me move after move, and never being touched for years.

I became afraid of my cards.  They only predicted the bad things to come, and I didn’t want to know.  I wanted to live in the present, or be stuck in the past, but I definitely did not want to know the future.  The future was a problem for my future self (and in some ways, I still believe this.)

Finally, two years ago, I bought a new deck of cards.  And I finally have a new understanding.  They don’t predict the bad things in my future.  They don’t predict anything.  They are a tool which lets me know, that if I follow on the course I’m on, they are one of a thousand likely outcomes.  Now, sometimes my fortune comes true, and sometimes, in a rare while, I make a conscious choice not to let that future become true.  And just sometimes, a bad thing still happens, but rather than wallow in my own self-destruction, I look for the other reasons that the fates have led me here, and I try to find joy in it.

Now, I have one tarot deck, two Rune sets (both handmade, one by me, and one by a long-distance acquaintance), and I can read the Homeric Oracle*.

And now, I let the Fates guide me, but I don’t let the Fates control me.

*For more information, please see my guest post over at nuannaarpoq.wordpress.com 

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PBP2014: D – For Divination

Pagan Blog Project 2014: C – Crystals

Just a quick and dirty little rhyme for C…and yes, ‘botheration’ is a word!

Amethyst is a calming stone,
Bloodstone lets your courage known,
Carnelian carries the message of love,
Dendritic Agate resembles a tree’d grove.

Emerald is a blissful gem,
Fluorite does not condemn,
Garnet enhances ones internal fire,
Howlite dispels selfishness and ire

Ivory leaves anxiety behind,
Jasper, of which there are many kinds,
Kyanite facilitates mediation,
Labradorite facilitates transformation.

Moonstone is laden with feminine energy,
Nephrite balances opposite synergy.
Obsidian grounds your heart to Earth,
Pyrite increases your wallet’s girth.

Quartz is master of them all,
Rhodochrosite answers a healer’s call,
Schorl repels negativity,
Topaz promotes creativity.

Ulexite magnifies a botheration,
Vanadinite provides deep meditation.
W, X, and Y have no common minerals,
Zoisite brings out your potential.

PBP2014d

Pagan Blog Project 2014: C – Crystals

Pagan Blog Project 2014 – B for Brewing

I’m still a little behind with the Pagan Blog Project , but I’m trying to catch up.  Today’s topic is BREWING.

Brewing is a favourite hobby of mine, and I feel that it relates to my path because I am taking the substance of the earth, and turning it into a euphoric drink, which I then in turn – drink with, cook with, return back to the earth in the form of offering, and which I gift to friends (who are also of the earth).

While I have yet to try beer-making, I have made mead, dandelion wine, port and cider (both of which are in the process of being made as we speak).

According to Wikipedia, archaeological evidence suggests that brewing has been around for over 9000 years (over 9000.  I thought it too.)  That’s 9000 years of taking a sugar (be it honey, fruit, dextrose, or sucrose), letting it sit in water in a jug, and leaving it be, up to the fates of the wild yeasts that float around in the atmosphere, and then coming back to it sometime later and finding a product which is drastically different, and positively intoxicating.

It’s only natural that one would want to repeat the process, and give thanks to the gods, who took their pot of honey, and turned it into nectar.

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(from last summer)

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Pagan Blog Project 2014 – B for Brewing

Pagan Blog Project 2014: A – Artemis

Surprise! This was my big plan.  I’m a few weeks behind, but I propose to catch up.  I’ve attempted a few times in the past to do the PBP, and have always met with failure.  This is because I have already tried to copy some of the great pagan bloggers, and write essays and beautiful rhetorics, and explain my beliefs in a public way.

But that’s not who I am, and that’s not how I work.  I work in prose and poesy.  I take words, wonderful words and wind them up and down the lines on the page like magic.  I take meter, and throw it out of the window, in favour of alliteration, allegories, and whimsy.

So that’s how I’m going to do this year’s Pagan Blog Project.

Starting with Artemis, who is the heart of my heart.

***

She wanders

(silently)

through the forest
her feet lingering in the loam
as laughter from the lips of the wind
and joy from the mouths of the moss
caress her, howling
the wild of the night
and the smell of the hunt are hers.

Her wolves they –
– bark, growl and hiss
as antlers peak through the leaves…
and tremble.

(Precision and power)

a gift to the stag from the sister of the sun,
whose very heartbeat is an offering.

(An offering!)

Of blood to the mouths of the moss,
Of breath to the lips of the wind,
Of soul to the sex of the universe,
who accept such gifts greedily.

She wanders.

PBP2014d

Pagan Blog Project 2014: A – Artemis

Magick Mondays: Ritual Magic of Flowers

Ritual Magick of Flowers

Acacia Blossom: Hidden Love, Friendship, Retirement, Platonic Love

Amaryllis: True Beauty, Pride, Innocence

Ambrosia: Love Returned

Anemone: Being Forsaken, Sincerity, Estrangement, Abandonment, Expectation, Illness

Apple Blossom: Good Fortune

Aster: Variety, Differences

Azalea: Fragility, Passion, Temperance, Symbolic Womanhood

Baby’s Breath: Sweet Beauty, Innocence, Purity, Modesty

Begonia: Heightened Awareness, Balance, Psychic Ability, To Send A Warning

Bells of Ireland: Luck, Good Fortune

Belvedere: Declaration Of War

Buttercup: Increasing Self-esteem, Verbal Communication, Childhood Reminiscence, Wealth

Camellia:

General: Gratitude, Admiration, Perfection, Masculine Energy
Pink: Persistent Desire
Red: Ardent Love
White: Beauty, Adoration 

Cactus: Dreams of Beauty and Wealth Coming to Fruition

Calla Lily: Beauty

Carnation:

General: Self-esteem, Healing, True Love
Red: Admiration From Afar, Desires That Do Not Come to Pass
Pink: True Sentimental Love
Purple: Changeability
Striped: Refusals of Love, Rejection
White: Innocent, Pure Love
Yellow: Rejections, Disappointments 

Cattail: Prosperity, Peace

Clover: Good Luck, Faithfulness, Compassion

Chrysanthemum:

Red: Love
White: Truth
Yellow: Scorned in Love 

Cinquefoil: Parental Love and Care of the Young

Cornflower: Refinement, Elegance

Daffodil: Inner Beauty, Chivalry, Clarity of Thought, Vanity, Unrequited Love, Energy That Comes From Being In Love, Sunlight, Respect

Dahlia: Spiritual Evolution, Dignity, Refinement, Instability

Daisy:

White: Decisions, Inner Strength, Heightened Awareness, Creativity
Red: Unconscious Beauty 

Dandelion: Spirit Magick, Wish Magick, Prophecy

Dogwood: Indifference

Dragon’s Blood (also known as Dragon Lily): Inner Power

Edelweiss: Nobility

Forget-me-not: True Love, Remembrances, Links To The Past

Foxglove (also known as Dead Men’s Bells and Fairy Thimbles): Stateliness, Deception, Youth

Fuchsia: Good Taste, Love Secrets

Gardenia: Refinement, Purification, Emotional Support, Secret Love

Geranium: Returning Joy, Healing, Difficulties and Frustrations Passing Away

Green Grass: Submission

Heather:

General: Inner Healing From Within, Initiation, Immortality, Luck, Rainmaking, Protection From Violent Crimes And Theft, Weather Working, Warding Off Inappropriate Suitors
Purple: Solitude, Admiration
White: Protection, Wish MagickHellebores: Protection

Heliotrope: Devotion

Hibiscus: Obsessive Love, Feminine Energy, Sensuality, Warmth, Creation, Fragile Beauty

Honeysuckle: Ties Between Lovers

Hyacinth:

General: Overcoming Grief, Games, Gentleness Of Nature, Impulsivity
Blue: Consistency
Purple: Regret, Sadness, Jealousy
Pink: Harmless Mischief
Red: Harmless Mischief
White: Shyness, Prayers For Those In Need
Yellow: JealousyHydrangea: Ruthlessness, Frigidity, Hex Breaking, False Pride

Hyssop: Protection, Purification

Iris: Purity, Faith, Wisdom, Hope, Valor, Magick and Energy For Pure Aims

Jasmine:

General: Material Wealth, Love, Divination, Dream Magick
Indian: Fondness
Spanish: Sensuality
Yellow: Modesty, Refined Beauty, Elegance
White: SociabilityJonquil: Sympathy, Having Your Affections Returned To You, Desires Fulfilled

Lavender: Devotion, Magick, Love, Protection, Healing, Distrust, Inner Sight

Lilac:

General: Pride, Beauty
Purple: First Love, Infatuation, Pure Love
White: InnocenceLily:

General: Birth, Honor, Divinity, Humility, Purification
Calla: Beauty
Day: Motherhood
Eucharis: Enchantment, Glamoury
Lily of the Valley: Sociability, Joy, Humility
Orange: Hatred, Dislike
Tiger: Wealth, Pride, Prosperity
Water: Soothing
White: Virginity, Purity, Majesty, Youth
Yellow: Happiness, Lies, GratitudeMagnolia: Determination, Nobility, Fidelity

Marigold: Protection, Fidelity, Dream Magick, Longevity, Jealousy, Psychic Abilities, Legal Matters Cruelty Between Lovers, Despair, Evil Thoughts

Mimosa: Love, Protection, Purification, Secret Love, Divination

Morning Glory: Death and Rebirth, Affection, Spontaneity

Motherwort: Secret Love

Narcissus: Beauty, Vanity, Formality

Orchid: Love, Beauty, Refinement, Fertility, Consideration

Pansy: Cheerfulness, Romantic Thoughts

Passion Flower: Faith, Peace, Spiritual Enthusiasm, Sleep, Friendship

Pennyroyal: Protection, Strength, Banishing, Peace

Peony: Exorcism, Protection, Anger, Shame, Marital Bliss, Compassion, Shyness

Periwinkle (also known as Vinca and Myrtle): Love, Recollections, Lust, Memories, Mental Powers, Money, Protection

Petunia: Anger, Resentment, Disdain

Poppy:

General: Eternal Rest, Oblivion, Imagination, Fertility, Sleep, Invisibility, Red: Pleasure
White: Consolation
Yellow: Success, MoneyPomegranate Blossom: Fertility, Binding, Incarceration, Elegance, Divination, Wealth, Un-reciprocated Love Magick

Poplar: Flying, Wealth

Primrose:

General: Obsessive Love, Feminine Energy
Evening: Inconstancy
Red: Unsolicited RecognitionPussy Willow: Motherhood

Rhododendron: Learning Who Is Against You, Power To Overcome Enemies, Banishing, Stirring Up Agitation

Rose:

General: Love, Passion, Strength Through Silence
Black: Impending Death
Bridal: Bliss
Christmas: Relief
Coral: Desire
Damask: Inspiration For Love, Refreshing Love
Green: Masculine Energy
Hibiscus: Fragile Beauty
Lavender: Magick
Orange: Wonder
Pink: Perfection, Everlasting Joy, Secret Love, Grace, Indecision
Peach: Immortality
Red: Love, Protection, Healing, Respect, Beauty
Dark Red: Shame, Shyness. Mourning
Tea: Enduring Desire
Thorn-less: Immediate Affection, Love At First Sight
Wild: Ferocity
White: Innocence, Secrecy, Silence, Purity, Humility, Exorcism
White (Dried): Death
Yellow: Joy, Jealousy, FriendshipRosebud: Youth, Innocence, Beauty, Virginity

Snapdragon: Force of Will, Protection, Creativity, Clairaudience

Snowball: Heavenly Journeys

Spider Flower: Impulsive Acts Of Love

Star of Bethlehem: Reconciliation, Atonement

Strawberry Blossom: Luck, Love

Sunflower:

General: Wish Magick, Fertility, Happiness, Wisdom, Healing
Dwarf: Adoration
Tall: Pride, Fleeting Wealth, Lies About MoneyTansy: Declaration Of War

Toadstool: Weather Working

Tuberose: Pleasures That Inevitably Cause Pain, Addictions

Tulip:

General: Lust, Sensuality, Romance, Notoriety
Red: Declaration Of Love
Variegated: Image Magick
Yellow: Charisma, Hopeless Love, Making Friends, SociabilityVenus Flytrap: Incarceration, Confinement

Violet:

General: Modesty, Affection, Virtue, Psychic Sensitivity
Blue: Watcher Conjuration, Fidelity, Love
White: Impulsive Acts Of LoveWisteria: Protection, Love

Zinnia:

Magenta: Lasting Affection
Mixed: Memories Of Those Beyond Your Reach
Scarlet: Constancy
White: Goodness
Yellow: Haunting Memories

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Magick Mondays: Ritual Magic of Flowers

Arnica Oil, Three Methods, and an Ointment

(this was meant to be posted a few weeks ago when I actually made the arnica ointment. sorry…)

Medicinal Oils:

Making infused oils with plants (fresh or dried) is an easy way to preserve their medicinal properties. This works because many plants contain oil-soluble components, such as essential oils, resins, basalms, waxes, and vitamins which can be extracted when placed in a carrier oil for a length of time. These infused oils can last up to one year, depending on the type of carrier oil you use. Olive oil is a classic example, because it has a long shelf life, and is readily absorbed by the skin, but many other options are available. Lighter oils, such as almond, jojoba, or sunflower oil can be used, or they can be blended together to utilize the benefits of multiple oils at once. Squeezing the gel out of a vitamin E (tocopheral) capsule, or adding tea tree oil can also help to preserve shelf life. Even hard vegetable or animal fats can be used, if heated with the herb.

A good list of the shelf lives of various carrier oils can be found here.

* If using freshly foraged herbs, make sure to let the herb wilt for a few hours to evaporate any excess moisture, which could cause mold and spoilage later on. A good preventative for spoilage is also to cover your jar, not with a tight-fitting lid, but rather with cheesecloth, or a paper towel and elastic, so that any excess moisture can escape.

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* When using dried herbs, remember the rule of thumb is to use half the dried amount versus the fresh amount. So if a recipe calls for 2 quarts of -insert herb here-, remember to use only 1 quart.

As a general rule, use 1 cup (250mL) fresh herbs (or 1/2 cup dried herbs) to 2 cups carrier oil. Add anywhere between 1mL and 5mL vitamin E oil as a preservative after straining.

1) Traditional Method

Begin by making sure every utensil you’re using is clean and dry (moisture is bad, if you haven’t gotten the message yet!)

Take your plants and break them up (called garbling) by hand. This helps bruise the plant and make it more readily release its volatile oils.

Pour carrier oil over top of your plant, making sure to cover it completely. Exposed plants can cause spoilage. Cover your jar with a piece of cheesecloth or paper towel and an elastic to secure it.

Place in a dark, cool location, and shake or stir daily for anywhere between 2-4 weeks. Make sure to keep an eye on your oil and watch for any changes – cloudiness, or molding. If this happens, strain immediately (if it doesn’t smell off, it should be okay).

After 2-4 weeks, strain through a cheesecloth, or muslin, or a coffee filter, and add vitamin E or other essential oils for preservation. Pour into a clean glass container (preferably dark) and label with the date and what the infusion is. Store in a cool, dark place out of sunlight.

2) Sun Infusion Method (my favourite)

Follow all the directions of the Traditional Method for preparation.

Store jar on a windowsill in direct sunlight, allowing the heat of the sun to infuse the herbs into the oil. Steep for at least two weeks, before straining, adding vitamin E or essential oils, and storing.

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* It’s especially important with this method to make sure not to put a tight-fitting lid on your infusion. The sun heats the oil, which causes condensation, which can ruin your entire batch if it’s left to mold.

3) Double-Boiler Method

This is a really good method to use if you need your oil faster than 2-4 weeks away, or if you don’t have the time to steep it slowly.

Fill the bottom portion of a double boiler with water (not too much though). Break up your herbs by hand into the top portion of the pot. Heat on low – if your heat is too high, you can burn your oil.

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Pour the oil over your herbs and bring water (in the lower pan) to a low simmer.

Heat slowly for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally (although I’ve read sources that say as long as 2-5 hours). The lower you heat your oil, the longer it can infuse without ruining the quality of your infusion.

Let the oil cool to room temperature, and then strain through cheesecloth. Add vitamin E or essential oils, and then bottle and store in a dark, cool place.

* I don’t own a double boiler, so I used an oven proof dish inside of a large saucepan.  It works, but be careful not to drip water in the dish!

* To make any of these infusions stronger, add a batch of fresh herbs to the infused oil, and repeat.

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Arnica Ointment, taken from The Boreal Herbal, by Beverley Gray

1 cup (250mL) arnica flowers

1 1/2 cups (375mL) sunflower oil

1/2 cup (125mL) olive oil

1 TSP (5mL) vitamin E

1 oz. (30mL) beeswax

Add beeswax to a double boiler on low heat (or use an oven proof dish inside of a pot filled with water). Stir often, until beeswax is fully melted. Add full volume of infused arnica oil, and stir until fully combined.

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I’ve since used it, and it works like a charm!

Sources:

http://whisperingearth.co.uk/2010/04/26/potions-group-making-herb-infused-oils/

http://www.anniesremedy.com/chart_remedy.php?prep_ID=30

http://mountainroseblog.com/making-herbal-infused-oils/

The Boreal Herbal, by Beverely Gray

Arnica Oil, Three Methods, and an Ointment

Cacao Nib Brandy, and a Chocolate Love Potion

Another liqueur from the closet was ready for straining today. I can’t remember if I mentioned in my last liqueur post or not, but I’m heading east for a wedding in a few weeks here, and instead of buying a gift, I’ve decided to make some liqueurs. I know the two brides are definitely wine drinkers, and while I don’t know them well, I thought “Who wouldn’t want handmade alcohol for their wedding?”

Cacao Nib Brandy, adapted from Here

1 cup brandy

1/4 cup cacao nibs

2 inch vanilla bean

Infuse in a glass jar, in a dark, cool cupboard for 4-5 weeks (I did four, exactly). Strain through a cheesecloth, and again through a coffee filter.

Can be drank neat, on ice, or as Alicia from Boozed and Infused suggests:

“[try] the cocoa nib brandy in a classic Sidecar. I also think it would be nice mixed with vanilla vodka and a few muddled strawberries. To turn it into a highball, you could add some club soda or ginger ale.

and a note: The cacao nibs do impart a mild bitterness to the brandy, so if once you make it, you find it too bitter, you can try adding a simple syrup (1:1 sugar:water) to mellow it out and turn it into a liqueur. Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend infusing the mixture for longer than 5 weeks. You’re welcome to try it, but I found four weeks to be perfect!

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Chocolate Love Potion

The chocolate love potion is actually just a slight variation on the original recipe. I doubled it from what you see above, in part to share with others, and in part because I actually ran out of brandy making the first batch. For this batch, I had more available.

2 cups brandy

1/2 cup cacao nibs

2 TBSP damiana

1 TBSP muira puama

4 inch vanilla bean

Same process as above – infuse for 4 weeks, and then strain twice.

Tasting Notes: bitter and medicinal tasting.  Not entirely unpleasant, but it does remind me of jägger, or cough syrup, or something.  Which makes sense, I suppose, since this is technically a tincture.  I might add simple syrup to it to mellow it out, I’m not sure.

And I haven’t had a chance to test it out yet, but I’ve created a drink for the love potion, actually a variant on the classic champagne cocktail, that I’m going to call

“The Bacchus”

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Champagne
  • 1 oz brandy

Preparation:

  1. Place the sugar cube in the bottom of a Champagne flute.
  2. Use the dashes of Angostura bitters to saturate the sugar cube.
  3. Add the brandy.
  4. Fill with Champagne and watch the sugar cube dissolve in a fountain of bubbles.
  5. Drink.

*Note: I am not a medical doctor, nor a licensed herbalist. Always research herbs before consumption, and consult your doctor prior to ingestion if you are on any medication, or suffer from heart problems, or are on blood thinners (aphrodisiacs increase blood flow).

Enjoy!

Cacao Nib Brandy, and a Chocolate Love Potion