Saturday, February 25, 2012

44 Days of Witchery, Day 11: Witchy Tools: Oils

I have a few oils; I don't use them often. I keep forgetting to drop a couple drops into my bath water. 

I have Clove Oil, Mandarin Orange Oil, Peppermint Oil, and Rosemary Oil.

I have a little glass cup on my altar, that I occasionally put some water and a drop or two of oil in. I LOVE the scents of all three individually, and I'll occasionally combine the clove and orange.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dabbling in the arts

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project, Week 8: D

I'm a Dabbler. I'm still fairly new to witchcraft and paganism; this world was only opened up to me a few years ago. And so I dabble, looking for what rings true to me.

I primarily work with the Celtic pantheon, but Ganesh and Shiva have places on my altar. There's a prayer to Kali on my wall. Raven as the Trickster speaks to me often. Odin speaks strongly to my husband. And Grandfather Thunder, well, he has a place in my heart as well.

I work with candles, oils, rocks, poetry. I have several Tarot decks but have yet to find the right one. I like using astrology as insight to people's personalities, but don't use it as a divination tool.

It's a little of everything, and I have yet to find out where precisely I fit in.

For a while I thought "oh! Kitchen Witchery! I love to cook!" But I don't cook potions, I cook dinner. My husband works with the weather on occasion (well, rarely, as the weather patterns tend to snap back; equal and opposite reactions and all that) but while I love weather - I can't affect it. I've performed a ritual or two, but I can't help but feel silly while doing so.

How does one find the right path? Is there a right path? I'm still searching, and enjoying myself along the journey, which I think is an important part of it. I will continue reading, and learning of others' paths, and incorporating what I like into my own. That's one of the most amazing parts of the internet; the ability to learn about other paths, other religions, other lifestyles, other cultures. To dabble.

How did you find your path?

44 Days of Witchery, Day 10: Your Sun Sign

My sun sign is Taurus. (I could write about my entire astrological chart, and probably will mention some of it, but since there's another day devoted to Moon Sign, I probably won't go into great detail.)

So first I'll put up the stuff from about my sun sign and bold the stuff that I feel applies to me.

Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac, is all about reward. Unlike the Aries love of the game, Taurus loves the rewards of the game. Think physical pleasures and material goods, for those born under this sign revel in delicious excess. They are also a tactile lot, enjoying a tender, even sensual, touch. Taurus adores comfort and likes being surrounded by pleasing, soothing things. Along these lines, they also favor a good meal and a fine wine. The good life in all its guises, whether it's the arts or art of their own making (yes, these folks are artistic as well), is heaven on Earth to the Taurus-born.

It's the Bull that serves as the Taurus's mascot, and along with that comes the expectation that these folks are bull-headed and stubborn. Yes, they are. Hey, this sign has a Fixed Quality attached to it after all, so expect that things will occasionally grind to a halt. That said, Taurus doesn't start out with the intention of getting stuck. They simply want to get things done, and it's that steady, dogged persistence that winds up being viewed as stubbornness. Bulls are actually among the most practical and reliable members of the zodiac, and they are happy to plod along, as it were, in pursuit of their goals. The good news for Bulls is that once they get to the finish line, they'll swaddle themselves in material goods. A self-indulgent beast? Perhaps, but if you toiled as laboriously as these folks do, you'd need some goodies, too.

Taurus is ruled by Venus, a lovely goddess who didn't deny herself many things. In ancient Roman mythology, Venus was the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Pleasure, and Taurus has pretty much taken up where she left off. Bulls are fond of all things pretty, whether it's in their home, at a museum or on the stage. Life as one sweet pas de deux is how the Taurus-born like it. To onlookers, this may look like so much materialism and blessed excess, but Bulls really aren't interested in living without beauty in their lives. Beauty to the Bull also comes in the way of a happy home life, one that includes a partner and a stable relationship.

Taurus values harmony in their personal lives, so they'll work hard on keeping their mate happy. The Bull's penchant for sensual pleasures, of course, can only help things along! Bulls can also be the sappiest of sentimentalists. Will all this overweening attention to their mate turn a Bull into a possessive mess? Probably not, although these folks do have to manage their tendency to latch on a bit tight. At the end of the day, however, Taurus's are true romantics and loyal to the core.

The Element associated with Taurus is Earth. No pie-in-the-sky for these practical folks, since they'd much rather be on terra firma. 
Bulls tend toward conservatism, and this is often seen in their day-to-day behavior. No far-out schemes (that's Air) or shrieking ultimatums (more like Fire) here. Taurus much prefers to take each day slowly and steadily and work toward their ultimate goal. Along these lines, those born under this sign are happy to stick with their projects until they have reached a successful conclusion. They are also extremely patient and dependable along the way. Does that sound earthy enough? The only kink in this well-oiled chain is the heckler in the gallery that tries to upbraid the Bull. These folks may not have a hair-trigger temper, but it's short enough. Bulls in a hissy fit can get pretty argumentative, but eventually they'll calm down and come back to center, since these folks would much rather be Zen. The Earth in this sign does tend to act as a balancing mechanism so that things never get truly out of hand. For every one person who considers the Bull a pain, there are two who will say 'No way!' and happily take the Taurus' gentle charms any day.

Seeing as how Bulls are generally strong and well-built, it's no surprise that these folks enjoy testing their strength on the field of play. Expect to find a Bull engaged in a spirited game of hoops or mountain climbing. Hiking is also a favorite pastime, since it keeps Taurus close to their beloved earth. Indoor adventures are also favored by Bulls, which is why the opera or ballet is right up a Taurus's alley. When it comes to love, the Taurus-born are devoted, romantic and somewhat possessive. Their sensual nature has a way of erasing any mistakes! Since Taurus rules the neck and throat, Bulls would be wise to keep a silky scarf at hand, ideally in a warm (and soothing) earth tone.

The great strength of Taurus is in their stability, loyalty and dogged determination. Bulls want to get the job done, and they will. What better way to get the riches they so fervently crave?

As you can see, the majority of that was bolded! I have Pisces rising, which does give me the occasional flight of fancy. But overall, yeah, I'm a pretty earthy, stubborn person. I have a really nice singing voice (one of the few things I'm slightly vain about!) and I LOVE to dress up, but fabrics MUST be pleasing to the touch. I like leather, I like velvet. Suede, soft wools. Good food. Not a big fan of wine. I'm a pretty good cook, but a far better baker. I can be stubborn as a bull, for sure. Alex usually knows how to get around my stubbornness, but when I dig my heels in on something, well. Fuck you, that's what. I do hold grudges, but you have to do a lot to earn my ire. Interestingly, it's easier to get on my bad side by being mean to my FRIENDS than it is by being mean to ME. The two people I actually hold grudges against? Never did anything to me. They screwed over some of the people I care the most about. And that's something I can't forgive. 

I like gardening and working with plants, but I tend to get bored and forget about the garden and let it die. (I think that's my Pisces Rising coming out, because with a Taurus Sun and a Capricorn Moon, you wouldn't think I'd leave projects in the middle!) I like walks in the woods, but not hikes

Overall, I do tend to be a pretty stable person; I know I seem more volatile here, but this is where I rant. I tend to bottle things up in real life. I dislike losing my even temperament, but when you DO make me lose my temper, you'd best run. (I think I've truly lost my temper once.) I'm not sure I'm exactly zen, but I do pride myself on staying centered. Temperance has been my Tarot card for a very long time. I like things stable around me; I don't like uncertainty and change. (And yet I'm a military wife - oh dear god you can't even understand.) I think that may be something Alex likes most about me; he knows when he comes home, whether he's been gone an hour, a week, or eight months, that home will be the same. I won't change - not in personality, at any rate. 

I am impatient for little things (would that water just BOIL already?! when will my books arrive?!) but I can wait pretty much forever for the important things. (no, I don't know exactly when he'll get home from deployment. I will wait.) 

So yes, overall, I am a very stereotypical Taurus. I have the occasional flight of fancy (Thank you, Pisces!) but other than that, I am a grounded, patient, stubborn bull.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tarot Tuesday (on Thursday)

I didn't have a theme for Thursdays yet. And actually what I will probably do is move Book Reviews to Thursday and put Tarot on Tuesday, because it sounds better. :)

But this week we'll do Tarot today.

I have several Tarot decks, so  I'll rotate between them, drawing a card each Tuesday and talking about it.

Today I used my Celtic Dragon Tarot. This is the deck I normally use for my altar; I typically have 2-5 cards on the altar at any one time. I don't actually have any up at the moment; I recently moved my altar and haven't reset the cards.

Today I drew the King of Cups.
According to the actual Celtic Dragon Tarot book, this card represents a loving and caring masculine influence. There is a possibility of a journey across water. You may experience an episode of up and down emotions.

Tarot Plain and Simple says some of the things the King of Cups represents are Compassion, Assistance, Feelings, Imagination, Respect, Trust, Understanding, Elegance, Responsibility, Reliability, Secrecy, Generosity, Wisdom,'s a very positive card. A positive masculine figure in a role of responsibility. 

I don't have a lot of feelings about this card in particular - no figure that I really feel it applies to in my life. Sascha is more like the King of Wands. Interestingly, though, the card is astrologically associated with Cancer, which is Sascha's sun sign, though he doesn't act like it at ALL.

What does the King of Cups mean to you?

44 Days of Witchery, Day 9: A Favorite Mythological Animal

Hm. Mythological Animal. Given the state of my house, I'd have to say dragons, lol. I have dragons EVERYWHERE. 

I don't hoard, or collect, what are you talking about? Just because I can't bring myself to sell any of my books - EVER - and I must have ALL of the series that I follow (I'm a completist, okay?) that doesn't mean I hoard things, right?

I mean, I have a ton of jewelry I never wear. And I like shiny things. And I'm always cold and curling around Sascha's heat...mmmmm, heat. 

Dragons? I have no idea what you're talking about. *shifty eyes*

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pagan Blog Project 2012

In an effort to get more variety into this blog, I'm going to start participating in the Pagan Blog Project. I'm a little late - I've missed the letters A, B, and C. But I'll start with D, this Friday. I'll continue the 44 Days of Witchery until it's done, and I'll also start looking at pagan blog prompts, another blog I have linked at the side. I'll continue getting book reviews up until I'm caught up with the books I own/have read. Then they'll most likely become less common. I still read a lot of books, but a lot of them don't relate to this blog. So instead of multiple book reviews each day, I'll more likely post one a week.

I'm pondering doing some sort of schedule - Pagan Blog Project on Friday. Maybe...Book Review Tuesday, or something. Photo Wednesday, maybe. News Roundup on Monday.

So let's see...
Sunday - Photo
Monday - News Roundup
Tuesday - Tarot Tuesday
Wednesday - Kitchen Witch Wednesday
Thursday - Book Review
Friday - Pagan Blog Project
Saturday -

Any ideas for topics? I should probably also get around to getting a real intro post up.

44 Days of Witchery, Day 8: Photo of a Magical Place Outdoors

This is a photo of a forest back home in Oregon. I love the mistiness and the trail leading off into the forest.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Ruling Planets

Ruling Planets by Christopher Renstrom

This book looks at an astrological viewpoint not enough considered; instead of your sun sign, it looks at the planet that rules your sun sign, and what sign that planet was in at your birth. So in my case, I am a Taurus. Venus rules Taurus, and Venus was in Aries when I was born. So I am a Child of Venus in Aries. My husband is a Child of the Moon in Aquarius.

Charts are included in the book, so it's easy to find out what sun sign you are (if you don't know) and what sign your ruling planet was in when you were born. It's a beautiful book, with glossy pages and colorful illustrations and photographs.

This is not an essential book for astrology lovers, but it is a neat, and somewhat unique, take on things.

Book Review: Goddesses for Every Day

Goddesses for Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom and Power of the Divine Feminine around the World by Julie Loar

This is a book much like Goddess Companion: Daily Meditations on the Goddess, (Review) in that it is set up in a one-page-every-day format. The difference is that instead of a piece of poetry or song and a few paragraphs of thought, each day of Goddesses is simply a blurb about a goddess. They are organized by astrological sun sign, so for example, January 20 through February 18th are Aquarius goddesses. Or goddesses the author felt fit the Aquarius archetype. The goddesses come from all religions, all across the world. It's a fun book for simply learning more about different goddesses. I quite enjoy it, even if I don't pull it off my bookshelf very often.

44 Days of Witchery, Day 7: Air Element

Given that Day 12 is a picture of nature: air element, I don't think that's what they mean for today. So...I'm just supposed to talk about the element of air, I guess?

I'm not a very airy person. I have Mercury in Gemini (as does my husband!) so we talk a lot and communication is easy and constant between us. That's about the only air in my chart. Now if you wanted me to talk about earth, or water, or even fire, I could come up with something. But...air?

Well, I guess one thing that goes with the air element is incense, and I do enjoy that. We burn Nag Champa in the bedroom (god, I love the scent of Nag Champa!) We picked up some amber the other day that we want to burn in the car. And we found something called "Vampire Blood", lol, that smells really interesting. We've been burning that in the office. 

I don't work with the element of air much at all. My husband has a bit of weather magic, but I do not. I just...don't really know what to talk about here!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: Sex Signs

Sex Signs, by Judith Bennett

Now, before you go "oh, one of THOSE Astrology books" just hang on a minute! This was a SURPRISINGLY good book. It's not about how to seduce each sign, or how the signs work in concert in romantic relationships. This book dissects how each sign reacts in love, and speaking as a Taurus? She's got me down to a T. And it's not just a quick blurb on each sign, either! My copy seems to be an older version than the one I've linked, but the section on Taurus alone is 40 pages long. And almost all of it describes me perfectly.

Each sign is broken down into sections. First is a checklist of personality traits. I fit 30 of the 35 listed for Taurus. Next up is "General Traits and Background" followed by three to four paragraphs on EVERY SINGLE ONE of those 35 personality traits initially listed! Things like "habit-bound" and "sensuous" and "persistent" and "humble." After the traits are out of the way, we move into a couple pages on Taurus Relationships. Then about a page on Childhood. We get about three pages on "How the Taurus Woman Relates: Lovers and Other Intimates" followed by "What Kind of Man She Needs" and "Advice to the Man in her Life." Next is five pages on her sexuality, including a subheading of Early Sexual Experiences. Then we have "Love and Sex," "What Kind of Lover She Needs," "What She Needs to Learn" and "Taurus Anger." Then it goes into "Taurus Lifestyles" with subheadings of "Monogamy and Non-monogamy" and "Alternative Lifestyles" which include menage a trois, open marriages, intimate networks, and lesbian/bisexual. The last page or so sums up the sun sign.

The kind of detail that goes into dissecting each sign is just amazing. I wish there was a similar book for the signs as they relate to men, as this book is very much the feminine side of each sign. But if there is, I haven't found it yet. Overall, AMAZING book. Very well put together, very insightful, and at least for me and Taurus, spot on.

Book Review: Book of Hours - Prayers to the God

Book of Hours: Prayers to the God by Galen Gillotte

This is a companion book to Book of Hours: Prayers to the Goddess by the same author. (Review) Where the Goddess hours book has morning, evening, and night, Prayers to the God supplies the afternoon prayer. It also has prayers for the pagan holidays, moon phases, and sun phases. (Dawn, Zenith, Dusk) However, this book also has something a little different; "Common of a man's heart" and "Common of a woman's heart". For the man's heart, these include prayers for different phases of a man's life; Poet, Teacher, Magician, Priest, Hermit, Lover. The woman's heart includes Passion, Emptiness, Despair, Intimacy, and New Beginnings. The last part of the book are some miscellaneous prayers for life events/phases.

Overall, another well-done book, and thought not quite as good as Prayers to the Goddess, it is a perfect companion.

Book Review: Book of Hours - Prayers to the Goddess

Book of Hours: Prayers to the Goddess by Galen Gillotte

This is another book of prayers, but they are arranged in a book of hours format; morning, evening, and night prayers for each day of the week. There are also morning, evening, and night prayers for all the pagan holidays and moon cycles, as well as some miscellaneous prayers for times of our lives.

They are really quite beautiful prayers, and if you are disciplined enough to sit down and pray at each of those times every day, this would make a wonderful addition to your meditation.

An example: Monday Morning

Introit: (To be said before Morning Prayer every day)
Hail Bright Maiden of quicksilver delight,
shine upon me
Thy morning blessing, which,
like the new dawn, refreshes my Spirit and
lifts my heart with song.
Blessed Be.

Monday's Prayer:
You dance on hilltops in eternal disarray,
Springtime entangled in
Your hair, eyes sapphire ice
glowing to soft rain.
Like birdsong Your voice, or
crystal's silver song;
Your laughter shakes the trees -
The earth gladdens.

Monday's Meditation:
Morning is just another face of night; if morning was a part of you, what would it look like? Feel like? We carry our mornings within us - let them out.

Daily Affirmation:
In the name of the Maiden: I will choose joy today.

Closing Prayer:
Thanks to Thee Bright Maiden for Thy care,
for green laughter and fire-edged dew, and
for Thy blessing, a most precious jewel.
Blessed Be.

I particularly like the daily affirmations. I mean, what a way to start out Monday morning. "In the name of the Maiden: I will choose joy today." 

This book works particularly well alongside Book of Hours: Prayers to the God by the same author, (Review) as that one contains afternoon prayers to the god. So you have morning, afternoon, evening, and night prayers.

Book Review: Magical Housekeeping

Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst

This book was a touch too "fluffy bunny" for me. Anytime a book tells me to envision pink light filled with rainbow sparkles shooting from my hands, I tend to go "wait, what?" but it did have some redeeming qualities! There's a very good chapter on aromatherapy, with recipes for combining essential oils with rose water into mists to spritz around your home. There are interesting tidbits scattered throughout the book on getting rid of clutter, using incense and statuary to good effect, cultivating houseplants, and other interesting bits. There's a ritual for blessing your broom (or vacuum!)

Chapters include Clutter Clearing, Cleaning, Space Clearing, Harmonious Positions, The Three Secrets Empowerment, Gemstones, Plant Allies, Animal Allies, Sacred Smoke & Aromas of Power, and Blessings, Protections & Other Rituals.

Overall, I'd say unless you get a good deal on it, don't buy this book, but it might be worth a read.

Book Review: A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book

Pagan Ritual Prayer Book, A by Ceisiwr Serith

This one is quiet similar to A Book of Pagan Prayer by the same author, (Review) though I think he means these to be used in more formal settings - in rituals. Really, they're pretty interchangeable. It's just more prayers. Sections in this book include "Beginnings," "The Home," "Callings," "Praise," "Consecrations and Blessings," "Times of the Day/Month/Year/Life," and "Endings."

There are prayers for healing, prayers for travel and safety, prayers for inspiration. Nearly anything you can think of to pray for is in this book.

A few examples:

An "Urban Prayer"
In the midst of a busy city, the gods crowd close,
each asking for worship,
the gods of each and all.
You are so many that I can't begin to honor you one by one:
take these words as a gift to you all.

To Air Spirits:
The Spirits of Air play about this plane as it flies.
May they seek their fun in keeping its flight smooth
rather than tossing it around.
May they compete among themselves to see which of them can best succeed in this.

"For help for a scientist"
Apollo, Lord of Truth, may I see into the truth when I perform my research today.
Apollo, Lord of the Good, may I create beautiful theories from it.
Hermes, god of trickery and speech, may I see beyond the obvious, no matter how attractive,
and convey it to others in attractive words,
although under your friend Apollo's watchful eye;
may the attractive be True, may the True be Good.

Book Review: A Book of Pagan Prayer

A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith

This is an awesome little book that inspired me to write prayers of my own, as well as alter a few of the prayers in the book to fit my needs. Part 1 is just About Prayer - with reasons why we do it, ways to make it special, things like that. Part 2 gets into actual prayers. It's divided into sections such as "Prayers for the family" "Prayers for times of day/times of the month/times of the year" "Petitionary Prayers" "Praise Prayers" "Thank you Prayers" and others, so it really covers a wide variety of prayers.

Here is the "Prayer for an Insomniac":

From the deep emptiness of a sleepless night,
my pleas are sent to the gods of sleep.
To the givers of dreams I call,
to those who come in the night, not as dangers,
but as bringers of peace.
Come to me, as I lie alone in the dark.
Slip quietly through the night and place your hands on my brow,
soothing me gently until I slide into sleep.

It really is a wonderful book, with a LOT of different prayers in it. I highly recommend it if you're looking for, well, prayers. It's a great jumping off point to write your own, as well.

44 Days of Witchery, Day 6: A favorite god

Hmmm. This one's a little harder than choosing a goddess. I don't identify as closely with the masculine half. I'm going to go with Ganesh (Ganesha, Ganapati), actually. The Hindu elephant god of wisdom. He's also known as the Remover of Obstacles. 

Wisdom itself is something I strive for. Most hermetics have a word that embodies what they strive for, what they want to BE. (I'm what you might call a hermetic pagan, there's more on that farther back in the "hermeticism" tag) My word is wisdom. Not knowledge; wisdom. Knowledge is the more practical "how" whereas I want to know the "why." 

I want to know the history of things; how this came to be needed. Why we need something to be the way it is. If you look at WHY something was needed in the past, you can look at things now and know what is needed NOW. Those are generalizations, of course, but that's why I yearn for Wisdom rather than knowledge. 

But back to Ganesh. Some stories have him married to the goddesses of Prosperity, Intellect, and Spiritual Power. Others have him married to the goddess of Luck and Prosperity, or the goddess of Culture and the Arts. 

My little statue of Ganesh sits on my altar as a way to focus myself towards learning. To help open my mind to wisdom.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

44 Days of Witchery, Day 5: A Favorite Goddess

Oh, this is easy. Brigid. She's a hearth goddess, a goddess of fire, poetry, and blacksmithing. One of her more specific roles is being the goddess of getting home safely. Two of my favorite references to Brigid:

Every day, every night
that I praise the goddess,
I know I will be safe.
I shall not be chased,
I shall not be caught,
I shall not be harmed.
Fire, sun, and moon
cannot burn me. Not
lake nor stream nor sea
can drown me. Fairy
arrow cannot pierce me.
I am safe, safe, safe,
singing her praises.

Brigid, gold-red woman,
Brigid, flame and honeycomb,
Brigid, sun of womanhood,
Brigid, lead me home.
You are a branch in blossom.
You are a sheltering dome.
You are my bright precious freedom.
Brigid, lead me home.

Some of the legends surrounding her claim she invented whistling, and keening, the "mournful song of the bereaved Irishwoman." Her name means "bright arrow" or simply "the bright one". She had a shrine in Kildare where nineteen virgins tending the undying fire. Supposedly, on the twentieth day of each cycle, the fire was tended by Brigid herself. She's on of the gods/goddesses who was so beloved by her people that when Christianity swept across, they converted her into a saint. Saint Bridget. Though she's a fire goddess, she's also associated with healing waters, mostly wells. One of her other symbols is the "Brigid cross" a straw, four pointed star also known as Brigid's Eye. 

February 2nd, or Imbolc, is Brigid's primary feast day. It's the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. One of the big holidays for most pagans. Cakes are often left out for Brigid on this holiday. 

What's kind of amusing is that this is Spring's awakening - the day when Brigid came out of her cave and brought us spring. What is February 2nd today? Groundhog's Day. When we "predict" whether we'll have six more weeks of winter or not, based on an animal. (That doesn't sound pagan at all, now does it?)

Brigid has always seemed very approachable to me. Like a mother baking cookies, or a mother whose lap you can crawl into and sob while she soothes you. Which is kind of odd, I suppose, as she's a maiden goddess rather than a mother goddess. 

I said the prayer above almost every night that Alex was deployed, changing a few of the words. "I know he will not be harmed" etc. I have a green candle that I found advertised as a Brigid candle, it has an AMAZING sage-verbena scent to it.