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Archive for May, 2008

Intro:  I often get asked how and why I started reading Tarot cards. This piece answers those questions. I’ve been reading Tarot Cards for around 8-10 years, now.  It’s something I was always interested in, but didn’t persue until my sister ingnited a spark for professional purposes.  For several years, I worked as a “fortune teller”, in costume, for an Entertainment company.  Though I was booked as entertainment and was required to look more “gypsy” than I appeared at the time, I took my work very seriously and quickly learned that my ability to read the cards was not only a gift to myself, but a gift for others.  When I left Vegas and moved to Tulsa, I continued to read for friends on occasion, but I let the art rest for the most part, and lost it completely when I returned to Vegas the following year.  I moved to Kentucky in 2004 and have been here for four years.  In the past three months, something has happened… the art has awakened, and the Universe is leading me to people who truly want and need the direction the cards offer.

It began with a few people at work.  I mentioned nonchalantly one day in the break room that I had Tarot cards, and one person’s eyes widened.  We talked about doing a reading for her, but we never nailed down a date or time.  However, the word spread and it wasn’t long before 3, 4, 5 people were asking me if I’d read their cards.  As I did, they began sharing their experience with friends, and those friends with others… and now I do readings semi-regularly on my days off.  I don’t charge, don’t have a set price because I don’t believe the Universe works that way.  The truths are meant to be shared, not used for profit.  (However, gratuities are often offered, which I gratefully accept).

Where am I going with this?  Well, a few of my good friends have taken an interest in learning Tarot, but they’re frustrated with the books, the online resources, the wording of things in learning materials.  I’d get a phone call, “Hey, what does this mean?”  I’d tell them in my own words and they’d sigh a sigh of relief, “Well, why didn’t the book just say it that way, then?”  In time, they’ve asked me to share what I know in a way that they could understand.  Therefore, I’m creating a “Tarot Time” category in my blog.  I’m posting my own introduction to tarot first, then will share some Tarot-inspired poetry, and then will begin working through the steps of how I learned.  It’s good for me to record this for my own benefit, and I stick to my theory that I am NOT here to teach, but to learn.  However, if others can benefit from HOW I learned, then that just enhances the gift all together.

“Tarot-Iffic”
Written by:
Wendi Friend

Learning Tarot, I won’t lie, was an intimidating process for me. Already in my mid to late twenties, one would think I’d have been exposed to the cards. On the contrary; being raised in a Christian home, I was taught what Christians teach, that Tarot was wrong, bad, satanic, and not to ever get involved with divination or fortune telling. That being said, there was an engrained fearful reaction the first time I laid eyes on a Tarot deck. However, my Christian up-bringing, for all its good intent, left more questions than answers. Thus, I set out on the journey for the path that was right for me.

Interestingly enough, I began to embark on an enchanted path – a path that would lead to a love of faeries, an incredible relationship with animals, a passion for nature, appreciation for the seasons, respect for the planetary influences, and an awareness of personal power, cause and effect, and conscious will. All this, and yet I’d not yet been exposed to divination, until…

One fine day, I found myself very short on money and practically buried in debt. A single parent, I worked as hard as I could to make ends meet and provide a good home. Fortunately for me (and I stress the “fortune” in fortunately), my sister happened to own a catering, event, and entertainment company in the heart of Las Vegas and was willing to contract me for “side jobs” when I wasn’t working my full time job as Content Director for another Las Vegas company. When she told me one of my jobs was to become a fortune teller, I was thrilled and petrified all in the same breath. What did I know about fortune telling?

My sister came to my apartment one day not long after her initial proposal, bringing with her a deck of Tarot Cards, a big, fat book on Tarot definitions, a gypsy wig, a broomstick skirt, some big-ass bangle earrings, and instructions to wear excess eye make-up. “Play it up!” she said, “It’s all for show.” She also told me not to worry too much about actually learning how to read the cards, but just to familiarize myself with them and bluff if I had to.

Bluff? Surely, she jests! All joking aside, I had three weeks to get my “act” together before my first “show”. Oy.

Those who know me know all too well that I tend to obsess when there’s something new to learn or some project I’m passionate about in serious ways. Learning Tarot (in 3 weeks, no less) was no different. I obsessed. The first thing I did was make index card notes of every card that I could carry with me in my purse. This way, when I had a break at work, or while I was in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school, or if I was standing in line at a grocery store, I could still be studying. The second thing I did was make an audio tape recording of every definition in the book for this 78 card deck. This, I played while I slept so that even while sleeping I could study. Did I mention I obsessed? I had my kids quiz me; I practiced readings on myself, recording every detail in a journal. I studied online references. I did readings for my friends. When the three weeks was up and the “show” was about to begin, I felt semi-ready.

Dressing in costume was something to which I had an acidic reaction. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to feel like a fake. I didn’t like presenting myself as something I wasn’t. The costume made me feel like a fraud, and the lack of time to prepare did nothing to add to my confidence. However, the promise of $50 per hour to provide “entertainment” was enough to push me forward. I didn’t yet understand how the Universe works and that this was all part of a higher plan to push me in the right direction on my enchanted journey.

My first “show” took place at a public park. It was a company picnic for about 400 people. My “booth” was set up under a tree, which I happened to enjoy very much. She was beautiful company and very supportive in my efforts. I spread my Tarot cloth on the buffet table, lit my incense, lit my candles, walked a circle three times around the table, dug my bare feet into the grass, took in a deep breath, and off I went into a realm I never knew I’d love so much! For the record, that was instinctive behavior – the incense, candles, and circle walking, not something I was taught or that I’d read.

I barely had time to notice the length of the line growing behind my tree. I didn’t feel thirst. I didn’t feel any physical sensations at all. I wasn’t even aware of the breezes. I “drifted” to a plane that guided and directed my every move. It felt like a cosmic dance. There was a magnetic connection between myself and any person who chose to sit on the opposite side of my table. When I least expected it, I felt a tap on my shoulder. (No, it wasn’t the tree). The event manager was next to me, leaned in to my ear and said, “You’ve been here for four hours. You never took a break, never took a drink, never stopped “flowing”, and you’ve gone 1/2 hour over your scheduled event time.”

I had no awareness of time. It was the most natural high I’ve ever experienced, and the connections I shared with those people for the first time was an experience I’ll never forget.

By the third “show”, people were calling requesting me at events. During events, I’d begin to hear people chatting about how, “This one’s for real; she knows her stuff.” What I enjoyed most were phone calls with people who wanted to simply follow up and confirm that everything I’d offered them was exactly right and they were amazed at how things unfolded or manifested after their reading. I learned more from client feedback than I ever did from a book. Through doing the readings and confirming later with the clients, I was able to find patterns or additional imbedded messages in the cards.

I stopped wearing the costume. I never stopped studying. I no longer “perform” at shows and only do readings for myself, my friends, and those who request them privately.

One of the things I’ve learned and now love about Tarot, or any form of divination for that matter, is that it’s not like studying for an exam. There are no “wrong” answers because somehow, even if your physical mind isn’t processing the information, the Spiritual self takes over and begins “interpreting” the cards. What needs said is said whether you’ve intended to say it or not. I also noticed that my reading “style” will vary from person to person based on the energies they’re sending to me.

I can study Tarot for the rest of my days and will never know all there is to know about why each card represents what it does. That sort of takes the pressure off because I know there’s no “end” to the learning and no “final exam” in which I have to say to myself, “Okay, there, I know how to do it.”

I now know that no two people read or respond to Tarot in the same way. No two decks can be handled the same way. No two readings are the same.

I’ll forever be grateful to my sister for her approach. Her permission to “fake it” and her determination to put me “out there” introduced me to a divine art form I may have otherwise not found.

Now that I’m further along in my enchanted journey, I understand why Christianity has taught fear of pagan based concepts. I’ve studied the history, I’ve seen the transitions – how the holidays were modified, how ancient ways were condemned with Christian influences, and I realize the fear imbedded into me as a child was unfair. The truth of the matter, in my opinion, is that the only thing to fear… well, you know – fear itself.

The most important thing I learned in my experience is that there’s no such thing as a bad Tarot reading. I don’t believe the cards are meant to be pin-pointedly specific as if to say, “You’re going to meet a man in a yellow shirt next Thursday at 3.” Instead, I believe they’re intended to give deep, spiritual advice to the one seeking the reading, to help them develop their own character and follow their own natural path.

Our life paths are like a balance beam. When we focus and put forth conscious energy, we move along that beam as if it were a football field with no rifts. But when we get distracted by outside influences or inner demons, we fall right off the beam and get lost. In my opinion, the Tarot is meant to help is get back up on the beam and restore balance and direction to our journey.

No matter your style, your level of experience, your preference of decks, or methods, or definitions or layouts, whether you read the cards yourself or have someone read them for you, Tarot has something to offer us all. We need only open ourselves to the concept and let go of the fear.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Introduction

About eight years ago, give or take a few months, I received my first quilt. My father, long-since divorced from my mother, was married to a woman who had no children of her own. During two brief visits to my father’s house, I met and bonded with his wife. Shortly after those visits, I became ill with cancer. Two years I endured several surgical efforts to tame the beast, and countless invasive procedures. Eventually, a hysterectomy was in order. Just before I went into the hospital for my partial hysterectomy, I received a box from my step-mother. In it, a quilt her mother had made. Her mother had since passed away and my step-mother had no daughter of her own to hand the quilt down to. To my great honor, she sent the quilt to me at a pivotal time in my life.

Since the day I received it, I’ve slept with that quilt every single night. It has moved with me more than half a dozen times over the years. I take it on vacations. I wrap myself in it when I write. I snuggle in it when I watch television. Worn to the point of ragged tears and snags, the quilt my step-mother handed down to me has been a constant companion, a cloak of protection, and a key to inspiration, tradition, nostalgia, heritage, and magick.

Making a quilt of my own has always been an interest, but a light-hearted “one of these days” kind of interest that didn’t provoke action. I daydreamed, that’s all. Over the years, the daydreams converted to night dreams and I began seeing quilts in my dreams as I slept. I felt drawn to quilts in antique shops and knew that the quilts were speaking to me.

Earlier this year, during the summer, I mentioned to a friend who enjoys crafting that I’d like to make a quilt of my own. I remember supporting this same friend during the making of her own first quilt, a patriotic flag following the events of September 11th. Recently, I had the honor of vacationing at my friend’s house in Pennsylvania for a week. During that vacation, I mentioned quilts again. When I did, we decided to take it a step further and made a trip to the local craft and fabric store. The rest of the week, I began working on my first quilt – a combination of pinks, burgundies, reds, oranges, and yellows. It reminds me of a Raggedy Ann and Andy Valentine’s theme.

While stitching together my first pieces of fabric with clumsy, unskilled hands, my mind drifted and wandered and wondered through the ancestry of quilts and the magick permeating quilted timeless treasures. Hence, this writing; I’m curious.

Brief History

The word quilt is derived from the Latin culcita, a stuffed sack, mattress, or cushion. While many believe quilts to be a product of colonial times, history produces evidence of quilting from ancient artifacts from China, Egypt, India, and Persia. One reason history holds its secrets well, in regard to quilting, is due to the fact that many of the original quilts or quilt variations were buried with their owners. However, art and other ancient relics reflect use of quilts from thousands of years ago.

Discovered in the Middle East, the crusaders are responsible for bringing the quilt back to Europe and the British Isles in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The fourteenth century found the quilt to be a way of life due to climate – and anything that could be added for warmth would be used, including grass, leaves, and paper as well as wool. By the early fifteenth century, quilted garments were being worn.

Initially, quilts were quite basic – usually plain white and three simple layers consisting of fabric, stuffing, and fabric. Three layers of fabric and stuffing, stitched together at critical points formed the first quilts out of necessity. The purpose of quilts, naturally, was to keep warm. However, by the sixteenth century, as the quilting technique was applied in other domesticities such as curtains and rugs, quilting became a way of life.

As quilting became more popular, it was discovered that designs could be incorporated with the stitches, which then took on an additional function to their original purpose of holding the fabric together. Embroidery and ornamental embellishments became an intricate part of quilting from that point forward, with letters, symbols, images and such being woven into the design.

While its true quilts originated as a need for warmth, possibly as far back as ancient times, the craft of quilting evolved to an art form as well as an elaborate form of fashion – an art form imbedded, now, with tradition and nostalgia.

Quilting Traditions

When quilting was introduced to the British Isles, it was the wife who became responsible for designing and producing the family’s bedding and other fabric household items, and who was responsible for teaching her own daughters the trade when they reached appropriate age.

Young girls, as soon as they were able, were taught the trade of quilting by their mother. They would spend their youth quilting daily at twilight, assembling a collection of basic home needs to be included in the girl’s dowry as preparation for her marriage. By the age of marriage, the girl would have all but completed her collection, with one piece remaining: The bridal quilt. This quilt would be the most decorated and elaborate of all her creations, and would be assembled as a group effort consisting of extended family and friends. This could well be where the quilting circle originated. Once the bridal quilt was finished, the collection was complete and the young woman would not quilt again until her own daughters were of age to learn the craft.

Many assume quilting was also a daily aspect of the lives of women in Colonial America, but such is not the case because fabric was expensive and not easily obtained. American quilting didn’t really expand until around 1840 when the textile industry had grown to the point that fabric was readily available to nearly every family. From that point forward, quilting has become a much loved American tradition – a tradition imbued with magick.

Quilting Magick

There are multiple ways in which quilts are magickal. Because they have, in many cases, become family heirlooms, there’s a timeless sense of connection woven into quilts. We can get lost in daydreams and visions of aged but skilled fingers laboring over yards of material, threading her needle, and day-dreaming her own intent as the quilt becomes a whole.

Much of the magick of quilting reflects directly on the thoughts, intent, time, and energy invested in the birth of a quilt, the essence of which remains long after the quilter’s death. Hours upon hours, needle in and then out again, one square – one thought – one stitch after another woven into the fabric of time and space. Pay mind to the hands, the fingers, thoughts, daydreams, hopes, well-wishes, and love threading the fragments together.

We can clearly see the magick generated through thought, energy, and intent of the quilter, but what may not be seen as clearly is the purpose in the type of stitch used in a quilt. There are several variations of stitches, each representing a magickal meaning or purpose. Some forms of stitching include the chain stitch, good for working with the cycles of nature and symbolizes the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth; and the cross stitch which is appropriate for workings with efforts requiring balance, quality, or justice.

For a complete list of stitch styles and their magickal correspondences, visit the Country Cauldron website. (http://www.countrycauldron.com/stitches1.html)

Because quilts are decorated using varied patterns, shapes, colors, and designs, magick can also be imbedded into quilts via symbols, elemental representation, astrological influences, Reiki, Feng Shui principles, and more.

There are several patterns and designs stitched into quilts with magickal intent. Through magickal intent, with the use of size, shape, color, and symbols, you can create quilts designed for healing, prosperity, prophetic dreams, protection, wisdom, blessings, love, or myriad other purposes.

Quilts in Dreams

Quilts can also be considered magickal when they appear in dreams, offering symbolic meaning to the dreamer. One theory suggests that a plush down quilt is a sign of prosperity, whereas a patchwork quilt in dreams symbolizes domestic happiness.

The Witch’s Book of Dreams by Karri Allrich says the following about dreaming of quilts:

“Stitching and piecing a quilt together out of various materials can represent your desire to integrate and bring together all the various aspects of your life into one whole.. If you are snuggling under such a quilt, you are secure and comfortable with all the pieces and feel as if things have come together for you.”

Whether the magick of quilts comes to you in dreams, handed down via family tradition, or by way of inspiration to learn about or create a quilt of your own, it does a soul good to embrace the magick of quilts!

Sources:

Here are the resources used in researching this piece, and additional websites that offer more detail on the history of quilts, magickal meaning of quilts, quilt patterns, and more.

http://members.shaw.ca/kitchenwitch/kitchenwitch/quilting.htm

http://www.womenfolk.com/historyofquilts/

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/3567/GG8.html#Paganism%20and%20Quilting

http://www.goddesswriting.com/mgcthreadsmain.html

http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/tbarcalow/Quilt/History/history.htm

http://www.geocities.com/asetmoonglow/moon_goddess.pdf

http://www.kateryndedevelyn.org/Quilting.pdf

http://magick-whispers.com/crafting_sewing.htm

http://www.historyofquilts.com/

http://www.angelfire.com/ca5/witchcraftstudies/quiltingcraft.htm

http://www.handmadequilts.net/quilting_history.asp

http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/quilts/

 
A Witch’s Book of Dreams
By Karri Allrich
Llewellyn Publications
ISBN: 1-56718-014-1

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

When it comes to conjuring spells, writing incantations, brewing potions, or working other forms of magick; with the exception of honoring the threefold law and the law of harming none, the greatest benefit is that there are no set rules etched in stone to be followed. True, you can go to any bookstore and buy a myriad of spell books to follow word for word, but magick is meant to be made unique by each practitioner. Many witches advise that any spell borrowed be slightly altered, in verbiage or ingredients, to make it uniquely that of the one who casts the spell. Here are some guidelines, suggestions, and shared knowledge from experience – not rules and regulations.

Abiding by the threefold law and the law of harming none may seem simple, but in reality and beyond, these laws are extremely intricate and complex. Every action has a re-action. Each reaction is magnified by three, then, returned to sender. This is the threefold law. The threefold law does not only apply to those spells you intentionally cast, or only to the incantations you poetically scribe, but to each and every thought you think on conscious and subconscious levels. In order to truly live by the threefold law, one must always and forever be evaluating their own purpose, intent, actions, and consequences. In addition, you may think you’re safe from the law of harming none if you never make a voodoo doll, or if you never curse another. But to think a bad thought about someone is to curse them; or to accidentally involve another because your plan wasn’t carefully enough thought through, is to harm them. We hurt people without meaning to, so it’s a fine line to walk when aiming to harm none. Once you’ve mastered the threefold law, the law of harming none, and the basic study of elements and energy, you’re ready to begin creating your own spells, brews, potions, and incantations – according to your own guidance and knowledge.

I do, on occasion, make things up to “boost” an energy I’m working with, although I rarely perform spells. Witchcraft is an earth-based practice, one that uses the natural resources and forces of the Earth, as well as the influences of the universe. Unlike scenes in the popular television series Charmed, witchcraft is not based on vanquishing demons and orbing from one scene to the next. On the contrary, witchcraft is a way of tapping into Earth’s natural resources, such as herbs and oils, crystals and gemstones, and planetary influences, among other things. It’s true you may find a witch stirring a brew in her cauldron, but it’s most likely going to be something she can wash her face with, mop the floors with, or cook with – and under most circumstances, won’t contain live or dead animal parts, with the exception of an occasional hair.

Scott Cunningham, well-known author of books on witchcraft, provides us with an excellent tool for learning the basics of whipping up magick in the form of Incense, Oils, and Brews. From this book (or from several online resources found easily via internet search), one can learn the basics of creating such potions. Study is key in magick and witchcraft because it’s important to know what magickal attributes come from what plants, flowers, and trees. Also important is to be able to decipher which elements can be harmful to your health if swallowed. Some herbs can be brewed into healing teas and tinctures, while others can be fatal if swallowed. Eventually, having studied and read, you’ll be able to recognize what oils or herbs you need to create a specific result.

Here are a few simple things I’ve conjured up along the way, and a few simple recipes I’ve created based on the knowledge gathered:

NOTE:

Remember to carefully label all of your products and keep harmful products out of the reach of children.

Bug Spray/Air Freshener/Household Cleanser
2 drops each of citronella oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, and cinnamon oil; combined with 4 drops of alcohol and eight cups of water, boiled and cooled, makes an excellent natural bug repellent that doubles as air freshener and kitchen/bathroom cleanser! I mix up a batch, fill up a spray bottle, and keep it under the kitchen sink.

Home-made All-natural Carpet Fresh
I use an old coffee can with holes punched through the lid as my dispenser. In it, I mix one cup of salt, ½ cup of baking soda, 3 tablespoons of sugar, then a few drops of whichever oil suits the mood and the purpose. The salt absorbs negativity, the baking soda absorbs odor, and the sugar adds a touch of sweetness. The oils are added for their specific energies and/or aroma. Certain oils are best for protection, others for love. Choose an oil based on the mood you’re trying to set in the room.

All Natural Mop Water
To mop, I use an old fashioned mop bucket and a good rope mop. In a pot on the stove, I mix about six cups of water with 2 drops each of Pine oil, Sandalwood oil, Patchouli Oil, and Cinnamon. To that mixture, I add 3 drops of alcohol (to break apart the oils), and ¼ cup vinegar. Once boiling, I remove from heat and pour the mixture into the mop bucket, then fill with hot water. You can use lemon oil, orange oil, or any other oils that suit your needs, but for a mop wash, I’ve found it best to include pine.

Not only do they work, but these ideas are extremely cost effective, and don’t contain an abundance of harmful chemicals and artificial odors. If you’re able to respect the threefold law, know you’re harming none, and are well studied in your craft, then don’t be afraid to listen to intuition and break free from recipe and spell books. Go ahead, make it up!

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Gazing into blackened sky, it’s the stars that are appreciated or wished upon. Actors, singers, dancers and artists are referred to as stars because we associate them with brightly shining glimmer and glitz. When a student does well on a paper, they’re often rewarded with a star. Our human bodies, when standing with arms outstretched to our sides with legs shoulder length apart, form the shape of a star. An apple sliced sideways presents us with a five-seeded star. Christmas trees are topped with stars. Even songs for children call attention to the enchanted sparkle of stars. Yet, if a star encased within a circle is encountered, some will shudder, associating it immediately as something evil.

Sadly, many people of today’s world shun the pentagram. Thinking it a sign of black magick or devil worship, there are countless people who don’t understand what the pentagram represents or the history behind this symbol. Truth be known, the pentagram has been in use for more than 8,000 years throughout a variety of cultures and has been appreciated for myriad reasons including geometry, spirituality, numerology – and yes, for magick.

While it is true that some people have inverted the symbol to represent black magick or satanic worship, those numbers are minor in comparison to the thousands of years and cultures who have put the upright symbol to use for positive purposes, including Christians. How can you tell an inverted pentagram from an upright pentagram? The symbol most often (but not always) associated with Satan worship or dark magick presents a star with dual points facing upward, whereas the pentagram reflecting the single point at the top is more commonly used, representing positive energy. To understand this more effectively, one must know what it is the five points of the star represent.

In several belief systems, each point of the star represents a unique element: Spirit, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The majority of us can agree that without these elements, there is no human life. This is the elemental perspective; but to make it more personal, these elements can be associated with more human aspects.

The element of Earth represents our physical being, our bodies. Water is associated with our emotions, how we feel. Fire is the element of action, everything we do and Air equates to our mental being, everything we think. The final point of the star, the one facing upward, is spirituality, also associated to our psychic abilities or our sixth sense.

With the single point upward, one is signifying spirituality governing the other elements. However, in the cases of devil worship or black magick, the two points of emotion and action (water and fire) are upward, indicating personal, physical pleasure above all else. Appropriately by this definition, it is the inverted pentagram appearing on the Devil card of the Rider/Waite deck of Tarot cards.

That being said, note that negative associations with the pentagram were non-existent prior to the nineteenth century. Bear in mind, though, that the duel points upward does not necessarily imply or encourage negative energies as many religions use different positioning of the pentagram points to represent various levels of initiation. Other point positions can indicate time of year as well, such as the single point upward to represent summer, while two points upward is indicative of winter.

There is no singular definition for the pentagram that is right for all. In fact, one can check Webster’s dictionary and won’t find the word pentagram. An Internet search at Dictionary.com provides the definition of a pentagram as being “n. a star with 5 points; formed by 5 straight lines between the vertices of a pentagon and enclosing another pentagon.” But for millions of people spanning thousands of years, the meaning of the pentagram is defined differently.

Dating back to approximately 3500 B.C., the pentagram has been used by Jews as a symbol of Truth and representative of the five books of the Pentateuch., by Egyptians and Celts symbolizing the underground womb or the Goddess Morrigan, by Gnostics as ‘The Blazing Star’, by Druids as symbolic of Godhead, by Christians as the Five Wounds of Christ, by Mathematicians for it’s geometric shape, by the Greeks who called it Pentalpha, by freemasons, magicians and the list continues through present day use.

The pentagram has been believed through the ages to be protection against evil; a symbol of Gods and Goddesses; a sign of royalty; knightly virtues of generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety; a sign of life and humanity, the five fingers of man; symbolic of humanity reborn; representative of man’s quest for enlightenment and more.

Pentagrams have adorned buildings of various faiths, doors and windows as protection for homes, have been worn as amulets to protect the body and are used in magickal workings for purification and power. In addition to its diverse purposes, properties and presentations, the pentagram has been known by several names, including the Endless Knot, the Goblin’s Cross, the Pentalpha, the Witch’s foot, and the Devil’s star, to name a few.

Numerology lends its own flavor to the five points of the pentagram. Sulis.net reports, “Five is the quintessential number – it appears in all major religions and philosophies around the world in many forms. It permeates nature, math, art, literature and music. The pentagram is a widespread sacred symbol used in Ancient and modern times throughout almost all cultures of the world.”

Numerology.com lists the number five as being in accordance with the characteristics of adventure, change, freedom, exploration, variety, sensuality, unattached, curious, experienced, periodicity, knowledge seeker, knowledge teacher, traveler, imagination, child-like, playful.

Additionally, the number five is represented in Tarot by the Hierophant; in Astrology by Mercury, Venus, Taurus and Leo; in Runes by Raidho; in I Ching #15 Ch’ien; in the Tree of Life by Geburah, Severity (power); by the Hebrew letter He’, Nun; in Shamanism by the Bull Elephant; in Alchemy as earth/man; in the elements as Air and Fire; in the Aura by earth tones. The number five is represented by the colors blue-green (turquoise) and orange, is represented in gemstones as Turquoise and ruby, by the musical note G and is even associated to specific months in the year and days of the week!

As well as possessing the magick and mysteries of the number five, the pentagram is the most basic form of a star shape that can be drawn universally with a single line. With five distinct points and a womb shaped pentagon at the center, even architecture has employed the shape in such buildings as the Pentagon, a point of political power in the United States.

Too many people around the world currently associate the pentagram with something of evil nature or intent without knowing its origin or possible meanings. Considering the historic and widespread use of this symbol, not to mention its natural attributes apparent in plants and animal life, the instant negative association is a sad testament to closed minds or lack of knowledge.

Not every person wearing a pentagram charm, tatoo or emblem is a devil worshiper. Not every person wearing a pentagram is a witch. Not every person wearing a pentagram is a Christian, or a Jew or a mathematician. Whether used as a religious symbol or an amulet of protection, there must be a reason that this five pointed symbol has been an important tool throughout the ages. What does the pentagram mean to you?

Sources:

http://www.dictionary.com
http://www.flindersclubs.asn.au/pagan/paganism/pentagram.html
http://paganandproud.bravepages.com/ThePentagramitsrealhistory.html
http://www.fabrisia.com/pentagram.htm

http://www.witchvox.com/basics/pentacle.html
http://lilpagan.hyperchat.com/pagan3.html

http://www.sulis.net
http://www.numerology.com

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Every work of magick has a form of consequence. Before you go off trying to conjure prince charming or vanquish a spited ex, try working simple forms of magick into your daily life. Here are some examples:

Whenever people ask me how I began my journey into the magickal realm, I point to the moon. The moon’s influence over our planet, and everything on it, is a remarkable force, — one to be acknowledged. By becoming aligned with the moon’s phases and cycles, one can better balance their daily lives and predict things to come.

The moon travels through a basic 28 day cycle. During that journey, several influences play a role in the personality of the day, week, month, year, or hour. As the moon travels, it goes through two phases: waxing, a time when the moon grows from new to full; and waning, a time from full to dark (new).

When the moon is waxing (growing), this is the time to draw things in, to aim for new heights, to reach for your goals, and to send out positive force. When the moon is waning (shrinking), this is the time for self reflection, inward focus, study, and spiritual insight. If you’re trying to get a new job, you’re advised to do so during the waxing moon, when positive energies are growing in force. Your chances of getting the job are said to be increased. If you’re starting a new diet to lose weight, start the diet when the moon is waning – this is when things move away, fall off, or decline in power.

Furthermore, in addition to waxing and waning, the moon travels through each of the twelve signs of the zodiac, succumbing to the influence of each as it passes through the signs of the horoscope in the sky. For example, when the moon is in Pisces, people are more easily influenced by emotion and feeling than by thought and logic. When the moon is in Leo, people feel more empowered, strengthened, aggressive. Apply that information to what you know about the moon, and you can predict that when the moon is waxing in Pisces, you’re likely to feel emotionally charged, positive in thought, and affectionate. However, if the moon is waning in Pisces, you may be more subject to getting your feelings hurt or slipping into depression. Knowing this can help you plan, prepare for, and balance those influences as they approach. It can also help you predict how others may be feeling during that time as well.

By attuning yourself to the moon’s waxing and waning journey through the zodiac, you’re essentially honing your skills of perception, intuition, and psychic energies. For a complete list of the influences of the zodiac on the moon’s journey, visit The Moon In the Zodiac.

There’s more to a day than whether the moon is waxing or waning, and where she is on her astrological journey. In fact, each day of the week presents its own personality and energies to contend with. The scientific aspect of it is that the earth travels around the sun, and as it does, it encounters various planets. As it gets closer to one, earth becomes under that planet’s influence.

Mondays are ruled by the moon, represented by the color white. Monday’s influence is for psychic connections and prophetic dreams.

Tuesday is ruled by Mars, known in the past as the God of War. Tuesday, therefore, is represented by red and is a day of passion, aggression, and opposition.

Wednesday, being ruled by Mercury, is colored purple – the best day for thought and expression.

Thursday is a good day, ruled by Jupiter, representing luck, money, and numbers – therefore, the color green (some references say blue, but instinct rules the toss up).

Venus, Goddess of Love, rules Friday, splashing the day pink (some sources say green, but again, one must follow instinct. Go with the color that feels natural to you).

Saturday, a day colored black, is ruled by Saturn. This is a day for self reflection and memories of bygone days.

Sunday is the day of healing and strength, as it is in many religions and customs. Sunday is ruled by the sun, and so represented by yellow.

Knowing the energies and influences of the day, you can begin to predict not only your own mood, but the mood of others around you. In this way, you may not be as sensitive to their remarks and actions, or you may develop a stronger sensitivity towards them with your words and actions. You can also align personal projects and plans around this information, deciding which day’s influence would be the most beneficial for the long term results of your goal. To honor the energy of each day, you can either light a candle of that color; wear clothing of that color, or both.

Begin each day by focusing on the alignment of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. Where we are in the universe reflects in how we feel. Meditate on goals for the day that will be aided by the moon’s energy and the influence of the earth’s position in relation to other planets. Stay focused throughout your day, holding on to your goals, and standing up to your challenges. At the end of the day, draw yourself a magickal bath, charged with your own energy and with oils intended to enhance other specific energies (match your oils to your days). Relax in the bath, letting go of the day’s troubles and turmoil. After the bath, relax with a cup of hot herbal tea, and record the day’s progress.

There’s much more magick that can be applied to daily life, but this should get you started! In the beginning, you may have to reference resources to remember which days go with what planets and influences, but before long, it will become a matter of simple daily magick.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Exotic creatures; domestic pets; finned, feathered, and four-legged critters of the wild: none of us debate their existence. What we do debate, however, is their value, their rights, their spiritual or intellectual status, and their “purpose” in life.

Are animals existent for the sole purpose of human fulfillment by providing food, clothing, leather automobile seats, and feather beds – or is there more to the mind and spirit of animals than we recognize? One needn’t look far to find the answer to this question. In fact, to determine the purpose, worth, value, rights, and spiritual status of animals, all we need to do is remember that we are not separate from them.

The human race, whether through creation, evolution, or divine design is still a species of animal. Each person is born with animal instinct, instinct we are often taught to ignore in light of our self-proclaimed intelligence. Looking at ourselves, we can clearly identify our own worth as a species: we are intelligent; we control fire; we clearly communicate with one another in agricultural and industrial environments. We are the top of the food chain. We, the human species of animal, have enough “magic” in our design that we have become creators. We have created the industrial world; we have invented farming, business, and economy; we have, in essence, become demigods. Yet, for all our intelligence and power, we have forgotten that we are still animals. We have separated ourselves from the essential truth.

Put another shrimp on the barbie; slap another steak on the grill; fry up some bacon to serve for breakfast before heading off to work in the industrialized human world. Granted, animals of the wild are separated into groups of hunter and prey, but we civilized people have learned to remove the hunt and raise animals for uninhibited and unnatural slaughter. In doing so, we have reduced our appreciation for their life essence. “It’s just a pig.” “It’s just a cow”. “It’s just a chicken”. Fortunately for us, there’s not a life form above us who follows that line of thought with, “It’s just a human”. It isn’t “just” a pig, “just” a cow, or “just” a chicken. There’s more to the animals than the sum of their parts. Oh, yes, there’s much more – there’s magick, miracles, and majesty in our fellow animals, regardless of how our race disregards this fact.

The Ainu people of Hokkaido believed in many gods, demons, and realms – but their highest god and creator of Earth was named Kamui, the Creator God. Kamui made his world of water, an immense ocean supported by the spine of a fish. The fish was responsible for the tides by the sucking in and spitting out of water, like a fountain, and was also responsible, through his movement, for earthquakes. When Kumui decided to make more of his water world, he sent down a wagtail to accomplish the task. The wagtail then created islands through the flapping of its wings and stomping of its feet. When the world had been created, all the animals begged Kumui to allow them to live on the Earth, which he allowed, and also created other life forms, including humans, to inhabit his creation. Thus, it is through fish and birds in the Ainu creation story that are responsible for fashioning Earth.

In the Apache story of creation, it was a tarantula that assisted in Earth’s creation. The sun, moon, and Earth were created, but the earth was small, like a bean. The gods then kicked the bean back and forth until it grew. The gods then told the Wind to enter the earth and fill it with air, blowing it up. Still, the planet was too small. It was then that the tarantula began to weave his webbing, creating chords of four different colors spanning the four directions: black for east, blue for south, yellow for west, and white for north. Once the chords were in place, the tarantula tugged on them with all his might, stretching and expanding the earth. This is what gave Earth her vast form, although that form was void of any life until the gods created trees, other insects and animals, and a human population.

In Cherokee creation stories, it’s strictly animals and insects creating the earth. Animals resided in the sky, but the sky was becoming over crowded and uncomfortable. A water beetle volunteered to explore the grounds below, which he found covered with water, so he explored deeper, beneath the water, and found only mud, which he gathered to take back to show the other animals. However, the mud he gathered began to grow and spread, creating land as we know it. As in the Apache story, the Cherokee also tell of four strings being created by another animal (unspecified) to tie the sky to the earth. Next, a buzzard came to the lands, but by the time he arrived he was tired. His wings dipped and touched the ground and wherever they did, a mountain or valley was created. It is also the animals, according to Cherokee legend, that created the sun after deciding the Earth was too dark.

In the Lakota legend, it is again the spider that is responsible for creating Earth – a trickster who had it in mind to cause a conflict between the sun god and his wife, the moon. In attempts to populate the earth, the spider, Inktomi, went to the underworld in the form of a wolf and convinced one man to explore the new creation. The man did so and returned telling the people of the underworld that the earth was a paradise. Once the people had populated the earth, the spider made it impossible for them return to the underworld. When the people discovered the Earth was full of hardship, they tried to return but found themselves trapped and had no choice but to set up homes with their families and live out their days on the planet created by the spider.

There are many other myths and legends of animals in creation. However, today’s thinkers are not necessarily confined to creation stories. Many believe in evolution, or a combination of creation and evolution commonly referred to as Intelligent Design.

In the evolution theory, all life stems from one original life form which, over time, mutated genetically to alter offspring and eventually create new species. In this theory, therefore, all life on earth is related. One form exists, progresses through evolution, and another life form is created. HowStuffWorks.com provides insight via “The Basic Process of Evolution”, in which it is stated: “Billions of years ago, according to the theory of evolution, chemicals randomly organized themselves into a self-replicating molecule. This spark of life was the seed of every living thing we see today (as well as those we no longer see, like dinosaurs). That simplest life form, through the processes of mutation and natural selection, has been shaped into every living species on the planet.”

There’s no doubt that animals existed prior to humans. This being the case, then in the most elementary of terms, evolution suggests that humans are descendants of chimps and gorillas.

Whether animals created the earth, were created as the first life forms on earth, or evolved from simple cell to a fish to a land animal, one fact remains true: Animals were first; they are our elders. Many animals have survived thousands and thousands of years before humans invaded the planet, and still exist among us today. If for no other reason than the fact that they were here first, humans should pay proper respect to animal life. Their mere tenacity is of a magickal, miraculous, majestic nature.

Animals are magickal in many ways. Such is the magick of animals that their stories reach far back in time, before humans, and in some legends and stories, animals themselves are responsible for the creation of Earth and of mankind. Animals have also been cherished by shamans, healers, and spiritualists who believe animals communicate messages, warnings, and guidance to us either by appearing to us in the physical realm, or by astral encounters or dreams. However, animals are magickal in an even more unique and mystical ways, such as when an untrained animal goes above and beyond what any human would expect in order to save a human life!

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
— George Eliot

Tegan is a nine-year-old Irish setter who, at the age of three, was diagnosed with a deadly form of bone cancer. Unlike an average house pet, Tegan was trained at an early age to work with therapy patients. According to AngelAnimals.net (http://www.angelanimals.net/nl001.html), “Tegan had earned his C.D. at the age of eighteen months, and was looking forward to a career in conformation, as well as continuing in obedience, field, and therapy work. He also had his C.G.C. and was certified both by Therapy Dogs International and the Delta Society. He had been making Animal Assisted Activity visits since the age of one year. Naturally, the diagnosis of osteosarcoma in such a young dog, with such a promising career was a shock and devastation…” After his diagnosis at age 3, Tegan had to have a leg and shoulder amputated, followed by chemotherapy. It didn’t take long, though, for him to recover and return to his much loved occupation of working with human patients, particularly amputees and cancer patients. Despite all he had been through, he still carried a playful, compassionate attitude and was able to enjoy life to the fullest through activities such as swimming and running. Tegan enjoyed his work and his positive attitude and loving spirit was able to assist humans going through physical or health-related challenges.

“A dog has the soul of a philosopher.”
–Plato

In Whangarei, New Zealand, dolphins are responsible for saving the lives of swimmers as a shark approached. The swimmers, unaware of the shark, found themselves being herded together by a group of dolphins. When one of the swimmers would try to break free from the heard, more dolphins would follow to round him up and lead them back to the herd. Only after the dolphins had herded the swimmers together did the swimmers see the shark, 3 meters in length, about 2 meters beneath the surface. The dolphins protected the swimmers for forty minutes! According to all-creatures.org (http://www.all-creatures.org/stories/a-dolphins.html), “Auckland University marine mammal research scientist Doctor Rochelle Constantine said dolphins were normally vigilant in the presence of sharks. The altruistic response of the dolphins was normal, she said. “They like to help the helpless.”

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
–Mohandas Gandhi

Also provided by all-creatures.org (http://www.all-creatures.org/stories/a-lions.html) is the story of a young kidnapped girl being rescued by lions. The twelve-year-old girl had been kidnapped and beaten in attempts to establish marriage, a custom in Ethiopia where 70% of marriages are established via abduction. The kidnappers held the child for seven days, repeatedly beating her. It is thought that the girl’s cries, able to be mistaken by a lion as meows and whimpers from a cub, are what attracted the lions to protect her. The lions, whose sex was not able to be determined, chased away the attackers and guarded the girl until police and her family could track her. Once the police and family arrived, the lions abandoned the scene, leaving the girl “like a gift” for human rescuers.

Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.”
–Alfred A. Montapert

A Singapore student, Sarah, writes of a dog, Sirius, who saved her life when she’d been swimming. She entered the swimming pool alone without doing warm up exercises first, and having just eaten a meal. Once in the pool, the girl’s leg began to cramp and she found herself unable to swim. Her attentive dog, Sirius, recognized she was in trouble and jumped into the water to save her. Sirius grabbed Sarah by the scruff of her suit and pulled her to the edge of the pool, saving her from drowning. (http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries/t6/sirius.htm)

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.”
–Gilda Radner

There are hundreds of stories available about how we mistreat animals, how we destroy their environments, murder for fashion, or how humans are cruel to animals in other ways. Yet, the animals don’t seem to hold a grudge against us and are able to overcome the barriers in order to save human lives when there’s a need. Certain animals are trained to work with humans in therapy, others prove themselves heroes while working with police or the fire department, some animals who save lives are our every day pets who sense trouble and step in to protect, and yet other animals of the wild, untrained to human touch or contact, will go out of their way to help a human in need. If that’s not magickal, I don’t know what is!

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
–Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

http://science.howstuffworks.com/evolution1.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_myth#Ainu

http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries/t6/sirius.htm

http://www.all-creatures.org
http://www.angel-animals.net
http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art9572.asp

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Why do I spell magick with a “k” at the end? No, it’s not a typo. Magic without the “k” signifies illusion, trickery, stage magic, or magic for show. By spelling magick with the “k”, I’m referring to an entirely different kind of magick – the magick of energy, the magick of thought, the magick of nature and the elements.

That’s how I spell magick, but how do I define magick? Maybe the best place to begin answering that question is to instead state what I believe magick is not.

In my opinion and understanding, magick is not a quick fix solution to any given problem. Unlike a toy used for recreation or personal pleasure, magick is not meant to be used for entertainment; nor is it intended to make money fall from the sky, encourage a romantic partner to sweep you off your feet, change the weather at whim, make you win at gambling, miraculously help you pass a test, or remove you from a situation from which you’re meant to learn and grow through experience. Most importantly, magick is not intended to be used for harm, revenge, or gaining power over individuals.

There are many paths, methods, beliefs, and ways of using and abusing magick. There are ceremonial forms of magick wherein circles are cast and wands are waved, or there are solitary methods of practicing magick in which energy is conjured more according to personal preferences than ritual requirements. There are magickal spells written with words and suggested ingredients, or there are magickal spells done knowingly or unknowingly through particular thoughts, actions, words, and patterns.

In my personal belief, magick, or the conscious shifting of energy, is intended to help strengthen our character, give us courage to accomplish what needs done, and give us patience while we wait for the results of our efforts to manifest.

In my experience, most magick is not instantaneous. If I focus on something specific during a private, full moon ritual, I generally don’t see results for about three weeks or so, and the types of results I receive are never quite what I could have imagined.

Let me interject here that one of the elemental misconceptions or “mistakes” made in magick is that the practitioner all too often tries to micro-manage the form of the result, meaning that if they can’t imagine how something could happen, then they can’t imagine that it can happen, therefore they limit their ability to open their mind and allow true universal magick to work at its best. It’s when we let go of the “answer” that the magick comes.

For example, one of the major issues I hear people comment about is money. Money truly can be perceived as the root of all evil, can’t it? We need money to pay the power bill, to buy the groceries, to cloth ourselves, to get through the holidays, etc. – It’s not feasible to think you could conjure a spell or work some form of magick that would cause $500 to drop out of the sky. However, as long as you don’t try to dictate exactly where that $500 will come from, provided the inclusion of harm to none, then the money can and often does appear, although the universe seems to have a great sense of humor and often waits ’til the eleventh hour to deliver. The problem most people have is that they can’t imagine where that much money would come from. It’s not like a family member is going to suddenly give us a loan, or like our boss will kindly give us a bonus. But as long as we don’t try to imagine the how and just focus on the need itself, it can be conjured, as long as it’s not taken for granted, misused, or being used for negative purposes. For example, having that pair of shoes is important to you, yes – but not important enough to work magick over. However, getting the money to fix a broken car so you can get to work and earn money is!

So I define magick as an ability to consciously shift a situation or circumstance through energy and intent in order to provide you with the tools you need to accomplish the task at hand. Magick is not meant to remove you from the task at hand or prevent you from having to do the work yourself.

There are many elements involved in magick. Some may suit you, some may not. There are solar, lunar, and planetary influences; many forms of divination such as tarot, runes, tea leaves, scrying; herbs; candles; crystals; oils; and a continuing collection of contributing forces too large to mention.

For one that’s interested in learning more about or practicing magick, the best advice, in my opinion, is to start with study, not with a hurried anticipation to try out a spell, buy a broom or label one’s self a witch. It’s a long journey full of conscious effort and directed will, not a quick fix for an immediate problem.

It’s easy to get lost in magick. With so many subjects and interests, one can be overwhelmed with the amount of information available. Start slowly with areas that are naturally interesting to you and allow the rest to wait. No need to force it . . . magick happens!

Believe good things; what you believe becomes!

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