Daily Archives: June 18, 2012

Start Making Scents

How to Make Incense for Magickal and Spiritual Intents

by Miriam Harline

Smell is the sense most hot-wired  into our animal past. According to  Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History  of the Senses,we smell by means of  olfactory bulbs at our nostrils’ upper  tips that, when triggered directly, signal  the limbic system — a brain region  inherited from our mammalian  ancestors, a player in lust and creativity.  Smell is also our most permanent  sense. Research says scents go  straight into long-term memory, later  to be retriggered with all the emotion  of the time that laid the memories  down. As Ackerman writes, “A smell  can be overwhelmingly nostalgic be-cause  it triggers powerful images and  emotions before we have time to edit  them.”

Smell thus proves one of our bodies’  best gifts to the magician, ritualist  and spiritual seeker. To speak to  the emotions, to the animal spirit, to  the part of us that believes in and  works magick, use scent. Burn incense.

If ease is a priority, you can buy  your magickal incenses. I’d recommend  Wortcunning and Nu Essence brands.  You can find Wortcunning incenses, by  local incense master Leon Reed, at  Travelers (501 E. Pine in Seattle) or directly  through Wortcunning (P. O. Box  9785, Seattle, WA 98109). Wortcunning  incense is one of the reasons I moved  to Seattle. On a visit here, I picked up  some Pan incense, which when I ran  out of self-igniting charcoal in mid-Missouri  I burned on the stove: great before  going out dancing. I figured any  place with incense so magickal had to  be worth returning to.

However, if you want incense imbued  with your specific magickal or  spiritual purpose and your energy,  make it from scratch. Once you have  supplies, it needn’t take a long time,  maybe an hour per scent. It’s fun. And  there’s something special about burning  a mixture that smells heavenly (or  noxious, as the intention may be) and saying, “Hey, I made that.”

Following I’ve set down wisdom  from my teachers and my forays into  the craft and recommended books to  take you further. But, as with cooking,  you learn incense making by doing.  Find a recipe you like, study it till you  understand how it works, then improvise  based on your tastes and ingredients.  As with any practice, trust your  instincts. If you want to reproduce the  exact incense in a seventeenth century  grimoire or Egyptian papyrus, you’ll  follow that recipe to the letter (if you  can find the ingredients). Otherwise,  experiment. Play.

I describe here how to make loose  incense, to be burned on self-igniting  charcoal briquettes. You can buy such  charcoal most any place that sells incense  herbs. You can also make stick  and cone incenses, which the books I  recommend describe. Stick and cone  incenses look more impressive for  presents and are easier to burn. But  they’re more complicated to make,  and the different forms don’t make  your intentions’ results more sure.

Getting Started

To make incense, you’ll first gather  some ingredients and tools:

  • Herbs and oils
  • Eyedropper (preferably several)
  • Base oil
  • Mortar and pestle (preferably two)
  • Coffee grinder (optional)
  • Ziplock baggies, in gallon and sandwich size
  • Small bottles or tins (optional)
  • Small spoon or spoons (optional)
  • Astrological calendar
  • Book or books of recipes

If you want to make just one incense,  get just the herbs and oils you  need. However, if you plan to make  incense as an ongoing hobby, round  up some basic incense makings. Some  elementary herbs and resins, arranged  by how often I use them:

  • Sandalwood
  • Myrrh
  • Frankincense
  • Benzoin
  • Pine resin
  • Orris root
  • Lavender
  • Rose petals
  • Cedar
  • Cinnamon
  • Copal
  • Rosemary
  • Mace
  • Nutmeg
  • Bay
  • Lemongrass  Some of the above list will look  pretty familiar. Rosemary? Nutmeg?  Got it, in the spice cabinet. If you want  to start cheap, you can make many  incenses from common kitchen spices.Of the nonspices listed above,  orris root (iris root) deserves special  mention. It’s a good idea to add one  part orris root as a preservative and  fixative to most incense recipes, especially  those that don’t include resins.  (Resins are gums formed by solidifying  plant juices, for example frankincense,  myrrh and amber.) Get your  orris root preground if you don’t feel  like spending an afternoon worrying a  tuber.

    In general, you’ll want to get woods  and tough roots in powdered form.  For anything grindable, however, get  leaves or chunks, and grind the ingredient  when you need it. That way, it  will stay fresher.

    For oils, I tend to buy those specific  to the recipe I’m doing. After  making a few incenses, you’ll have a  large library. These are the ones I use  most:

    • Patchouli
    • Jasmine
    • Cypress
    • Eucalyptus
    • Peppermint
    • Rose

    Use essential oils, rather than perfume  oils. An essential oil will generally  announce itself on the bottle. And  watch out for patchouli oil. It’s intense;  a few drops will do.

    You can locate herbs and oils at  pagan and herbal supply shops. To buy  herbs, I tend to go to Travelers or  Tenzing Momo (93 Pike Street in Seattle).  You can order from Tenzing  Momo by phone, at (206) 623-9837. I  wouldn’t recommend a phone order  for a novice incense maker, though;  you’ll want to see what you’re buying.  Many herbs and resins are very light,  ounces not pounds. Some are very  expensive, though most are not. The  fresher you get something the better —  beware a very dusty herb bottle.

    Herbs originate in gardens and the  wild, of course, and if you have access,  jump at the chance to harvest  when the herb’s ready. Don’t wildcraft  too much; take no more than a quarter  of what you find, and never take  more than you can use. Pagans will  want to ask the plant’s permission  before clipping; a gift in exchange, such  as water, returns energy to the herb.

    There is such a thing as too fresh,  though. If you just cut your herb, you  can’t use it today. I’ve tried quick-drying  herbs at 200 degrees in the oven,  and it doesn’t work. Ideally, you should  harvest herbs on a dry day at the peak  of their maturity, when active ingredients  have reached the highest concentration —  an herbal will tell you when.  Hang the plants upside down in a dry,  airy place between 70 and 90 degrees  Fahrenheit; they should take about a  week to dry. Don’t store them still  damp; they’ll mold. Store herbs in air-tight  containers, ideally glass or pottery.  This process should occur beforeyou try making incense.

    When working with oils, an eye-dropper  proves useful. If you don’t  employ one, at some point I guarantee  you’ll screw up an incense recipe  by, say, pouring in a half-ounce of  patchouli. Get several to avoid cleaning  droppers between oils. Look for  eyedroppers at your local drugstore.  In addition to scent oils, you’ll add  a base oil to incense to activate some  of the esters (scent chemicals) in dried  herbs, to make the incense mixture  hang together better and to help preserve  it. I tend to use safflower oil  because it has a very light scent, but  I’ve been told it goes rancid more  quickly than others. People I trust have  recommended jojoba oil and sesame  oil. The strong scent of sesame oil  disappears as the mixture dries.

    To grind your herbs and resins,  you’ll want at least one mortar and  pestle. It’s a good idea to get two and  powder herbs in one, resins in another —  this because resins tend to  stick and stain and may never come  out of a coarse mortar and pestle.  Mortars and pestles can be found at  kitchen supply stores. If you do a lot  of grinding, you’ll want a coffee grinder.  Buy one secondhand, and devote it to  incense only — you don’t want  mugwort-flavored coffee.

    Ziplock baggies are good for incense  mixing and for temporary and  less pretty incense storage. More  pretty incense storage is the domain  of cute, colored, cork-topped glass  bottles and cunning little tins. The  Soap Box used to carry such bottles,  and I’ve seen them at kitchen supply  stores. You can also store incense in  film canisters or pill containers, anything  airtight. Small spoons prove helpful  when doling out incense samples  to burn, something you’ll do a lot while  concocting scents.

    An astrological calendar aids in  making incense just as it does in any  magickal or ritual activity, to align with  the energies of the universe. The subject  of associations is endless and  personal, and I’ll only touch on it here.  In general, create incenses under a  waxing or full moon for intentions involving  growth and waxing energy, under  a waning moon for intentions involving  shrinking or ending. If you’re  making an incense for Aphrodite or  to draw love, Venus should probably  be favorably aspected; to get a job,  Jupiter should probably be favorably  aspected. You get the idea.

    You’ll want recipe books. I list  some recipes at the end of the article;  chances are none of them will suit your  exact magickal or spiritual purpose.  The books I rely on are Scott  Cunningham’s The Complete Book of  Incense, Oils and Brews and Wylundt’s  Book of Incense. The latter includes  many recipes based on kitchen spices,  if you can’t afford much in the way of  supplies. Both also explain how to  make stick and cone incenses.

    Substitutions

    Suppose you have a recipe you  like, for an intention you’re interested  in. It calls for peppermint, bay, frankincense  and gum bdellium. The first  three the herb shop has. On the last  one, the cashier shakes her head.  “Never heard of it.” You try pronouncing  it again — same effect. Even if an  herb, gum or oil is theoretically obtainable,  you may run into a situation  when you want the incense now and  can’t find the odd ingredient.

    Don’t give up. Substitute.

    You can substitute in several ways.  First, if the recipe calls for the herb or  resin and you can only find the oil, use  the oil, or vice versa. For example, oak  moss itself is hard to find, but you  can locate oak moss oil fairly easily.

    If you can’t track something down  in solid or liquid form, The Complete  Book of Incense, Oils and Brews has a  lovely table suggesting one-for-one  substitutions for many ingredients.  You can also substitute according to  intention or elemental or planetary  rulership. Both The Complete Book and  Wylundt’s list ingredients aligned to  different intentions, elements and  planets. For example, “love” has a list  of suggested ingredients, as do “water” and “Venus.” Many Wicca and Magick  101 books offer similar tables of  correspondence. If you poke through  the tables, you’ll find a substitute for  your herb or oil, often a whole list to  choose from. In a pinch, as  Cunningham writes, rosemary can  safely be substituted for any other  herb, rose for any flower and frankincense  or copal for any gum resin.

    Substitutions are essential for  many obscure and poisonous ingredients  recommended by old magickal  tomes. In case you need to be told,  do not use aconite (wolfsbane), belladonna,  hemlock, henbane, mistletoe,  nightshade or other poisonous substances  in your incense! It’s not worth  the hassle. Some substances are sufficiently  toxic that merely handling  them is dangerous. You can replace  any poisonous herb in incense with  tobacco, as Cunningham suggests.

    Likewise, be careful with ingredients  that cause smoke that’s very foul-smelling  or liable to produce an allergic  reaction, such as asafoetida, mace,  pepper and rue. Some incenses are  best burned outdoors.

    Making Incense

    Ingredients, tools, moon phase  and aspects all lined up, it’s time to  start. I generally lay out everything on  a clean, smooth surface, then put up  a circle and call the elements, deities  and fey to witness. You can be as formal  or informal as you like about your  working, but stating and concentrat-ing  on your intention as you assemble  ingredients will help imbue the incense  with that intention.

    Now dig out your gallon Ziplock  baggie. This will be your mixing bowl.

    Reread your recipe. Incense recipes  are often listed in terms of “parts.”  What constitutes a part is your decision.  I often use for a part as much as  I can hold in the palm of my hand. You  can also use a teaspoon or a half-cup  or any other measure as a part, as  long as you keep the part measure  consistent through the recipe. If your  incense recipe is listed in terms of  weight (ounces, grams), however, use  weight measurements throughout —  don’t mix parts, which are measure-ments  by volume, with measurements  by weight, or the result will make no  sense. Whatever the form of measurement,  measure any ingredient that requires  grinding in its final, powdered  state.

    I often find I have a limited quantity  of one ingredient. In this case, I  usually grind that first and let the resulting  measurement dictate how  much incense to make. For example,  if the recipe calls for two parts lavender,  and I only have two teaspoons of  it, my part will be one teaspoon.

    Another factor in pulverization  order is your tools. If you have two  mortars, you can grind herbs and  gums separately. If not, start with  herbs as they’ll stick up the mortar  less.

    If your ingredients and tools are  sufficient to the task, grind herbs and  resins in order of smell. Incense, like  perfume, is considered to have top,  middle and base notes. Top notes are  the lightest and generally what you  smell first. Floral scents are often top  notes, for example neroli (orange flowers).  Base notes are the bottom of the  spectrum, the strongest, darkest  scents. Animal odors, such as musk,  and heavy woods, such as patchouli,  usually form base notes. Some strong  herbs, such as lavender, are also  bases. Vanilla and rose are examples  of middle notes — strong, but not as  overpowering as patchouli. Use less  of the base and middle notes when  creating an incense, more of the top  notes, to create a balance. In the absence  of other concerns, start creating  your incense with the base note.  This rule especially applies if you’re  creating or revising a recipe.

    To get to know each ingredient,  burn a small ground sample. Your own  associations and emotions for each  scent are important. For me, benzoin  smells fey; eucalyptus is cool and sensual.  Everyone senses subtly different  affinities. If you find your nose burning  out, sniff coffee beans to clear your  sense of smell.

    Grinding takes a while. Have faith.  Some herbs are surprisingly tough to  work with — lemongrass, for example,  grinds away to nothing, so you’ll be  working a long time. Bay doesn’t pulverize  well; use scissors to cut it as  fine as possible. Your final powder  grains need not be infinitesimally small;  however, the smaller you grind, the  more thoroughly your ingredients can  mix to create the unique smell of the  final incense.

    As you finish each ingredient, add  it to the gallon Ziplock baggie, close it  and shake thoroughly.

    Once you have all the dry ingredients  in, add scent oils. If you’re adding  an oil where the recipe calls for an  herb, or vice versa, keep in mind that  an oil comes across much more  strongly than the matching herb. A few  drops of most oils will suffice, unless  you’re making mountains of incense.  Again, with your oils, start with the  base note and use little, then move  on to the middle and top. Mix your  oils with the dry ingredients thoroughly,  rubbing out dark spots and balls.

    Herbs, resins and scent oils mixed,  burn the result. What do you think?

    You’re wrinkling your nose. That’s  okay — you can fix it.

    Suppose your incense smells like  just one of your ingredients — cinnamon  and nothing else. There’s a couple  of ways of dealing with this. You can  add a little more of everything else.  Or you can decide which of the other  ingredients would help balance the  strong scent. Cinnamon’s a middle to  base note — another middle to base  note would balance it, for example lavender,  assuming your recipe includes  lavender. Oil is the easiest way to add  balance because it’s so strong.

    Sometimes incense will come out  smelling like next to nothing. Too much  balance! Here, you’ll want to emphasize  one or two ingredients, whichever  seem most appropriate. For example,  if I were creating a moon incense with  oil of jasmine that came out smelling  bland, I might tap in a few more drops  of oil, as jasmine is an ingredient that  I like and that feels very moon to me.

    Once you’ve got your incense  smelling as you want it, it’s time to add  the base oil. Add it in small amounts —  you don’t want the incense wet. Add  till you get a sticky or tacky feel, till  the powder sticks a little to your hand.

    The base oil gives your incense a  longer life, but it makes the mixture  produce a heavy, burnt-smelling  smoke in the short term. If you must  burn the incense right away, leave out  the base oil. After you add the oil, incense takes a week to ten days to set,  and it’s not till after that period that  you’ll be rid of excess smokiness.  Check your incense while it’s setting —  if the smoke continues heavy, you can  leave the container open to let the in-cense  breathe a bit.

    When I’m done adding base oil to  an incense, I raise energy and consecrate  the incense to the purpose for  which I devised it. This step is essential  if yours is to be a magickal incense.

    Now, sit back! You’ve made incense.  Be proud of yourself. You have  a new ritual tool that will heighten your  every working. And you’ve brought  some scents into the world.

    Special thanks to Sylvana  SilverWitch and her incense classes, from  which I learned much of the preceding.

    Sample Recipes

    Full Moon incense

    2 parts frankincense 2 parts myrrh 2 parts sandalwood 1/ 2 part rose petals Jasmine oil

    The smell is powdery and sweet,  very moony and watery.

    Hecate incense

    4 parts sandalwood 2 parts peppermint 2 parts myrrh Cypress oil

    As you might guess, the sandalwood  is very forward in this recipe.  Wortcunning also makes a stellar Hecate  incense based on information in ancient  magickal texts. However, that incense  strikes me as better burned outdoors.  Use the preceding to gently honor Her in  your hermetically sealed ritual room.

    Hermes incense

    1 part cinnamon 1 part frankincense 1 part lavender

    This is not my own recipe; I’m afraid  I forget where I got it. But it’s great! Use  it also for spells of communication,  travel protection and the like — anything  ruled by Hermes.

    Lammas incense

    2 parts frankincense 2 parts sandalwood 1 part pine resin 1/ 2 part bay 1/ 2 part cinnamon 1/ 2 part coriander 1/ 2 part meadowsweet 1/ 2 part oregano 1/ 2 part rosemary A few drops rose oil Slightly less oak moss oil Very little patchouli oil (start with one drop)

    Meditation and divination incense

    2 parts benzoin 2 parts lavender 2 parts myrrh 2 parts sandalwood 1 part orange peel 1/ 2 part mugwort

    Equal amounts eucalyptus, patchouli oils  This mixture is very floaty and psychically  oriented. If you have trouble  grounding, ground before you burn. The  sandalwood and eucalyptus come to the  fore.

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In a Dream Country

by Bestia Mortale

Something woke me — I think it was  a sound, a throbbing of some sort, or  an infant’s cry. Waking was like coming  into focus, as if I was an image in a lens.  I sat up and looked around, a little  alarmed, but it was a dream. I was lying  in a field in the mist, among a crowd of  sleepers. Others were stirring.

I glanced at the people near me.  They were so beautiful. I tried to examine them more closely and became aware  that until I considered walking, they had  no legs. Until I thought of hair, they were  hairless. Until I remembered about men  and women, they had no gender. And  yet, as it turned out, they had everything  but age.

Someone was moving among us,  chatting and laughing, a beautiful woman.  I realized we all were naked. She came  up to me, smiling. I smiled back a little  shyly as she offered a hand to help me  up. Her breasts were large and small, all  different shapes, every sort of nipple. It  occurred to me that she had countless  arms and legs as well, and heads.

I walked beside her through the mist,  leaving the crowd. I became aware in the  strange light that it was not so much  mist as an intricate pattern of swirls, as  if a cloud of colored dust had been frozen in time. The colors were disturbing,  hard to identify. At first I thought there  was something wrong with my vision, but  everything had a clarity I was unused to.

As we left the field, the mist cleared  somewhat and we walked through a deserted city of strange windowless fortresses, down the middle of streets like  shallow troughs. On either side, instead  of sidewalks, there were sunken channels six or eight inches deep in which  were planted twisted, leafless bushes,  some so large they almost blocked the  street.

The whole effect was disturbing and  would have been unpleasant but for the  sky. The sun — though not the sun —  was vast, and not so bright or hot as  normal. Yet its warmth was full of comfort, its light rich and deep. The cloud  formations — not clouds, either, exactly  — towered layer upon layer, an intricate  landscape of unaccustomed color,  depth, striation and structure. Unlike  normal clouds, the closer you looked at  them, the more detail you could see.  Their beauty in the strange light was so  intense as almost to be painful.

Far in the distance, the land rose  away from us. For a while, I thought we  were in a valley of some sort, but then I  realized that there was no horizon —  the mountains and sky were one.

It was the colors that were most  haunting — bright, saturated hues, like  certain stones in water that grow ordinary as they dry — but not reds, greens,  blues, or anything I could put a name to.

“Where are we?” I asked her. “What  is this place?”

She paused, facing me, her face so  many faces. “This is the underside,” she  said.

“What?”

“Of your city, your world.” I could  not understand. “Come, I will show you.”  She led me down a side street to a little  park, full of the enormous leafless  bushes. In the center was a peculiar silvery translucent mound. When we came  to it, my feet sank in it as if it were liquid,  yet without a ripple.

“Here,” she said, standing beside  me. “Look.” She pointed to my feet.

I saw that the mound had a mirror-like underside in which was perfectly reflected the chthonic sky above my head.

“Look deeper,” she said, taking my  hand and squatting down. I squatted  beside her and peered carefully through  the substance. At first I could see nothing, but gradually I made out tiny pinpoints of light beneath the mirrorlike  floor. “There,” she whispered, pointing,  “My sister.” I saw, inexplicably far below  me, familiar and remote, the moon.

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A Smattering of Solistice Spells

by Melanie Fire Salamander

As a pagan, you may well light a  bonfire Midsummer night and jump it,  for Litha is a fire festival. Likewise, you  may stay up to greet the Midsummer  dawn.

If you do, keep a pair of garden  shears handy. Midsummer’s Eve at midnight, Midsummer’s Day at dawn and Midsummer noon are prime times to collect plants sacred to the sun or special  to the fey. In fact, any magickal herb  plucked at Midsummer is said to prove  doubly effective and keep better. Divining rods cut on Midsummer’s Eve are  said to be more infallible, too. You can  charge your charms, depending on their  purpose, at midnight, noon or in dawn’s  first light.

Charms traditional at Litha include those for courage, dream divination, fertility, invisibility, love, luck, protection, wealth, the restoration of sight and the ability to see the fey. Midsummer is a fey time, both by tradition and observation. The scent of the air is thick, green and juicy; it’s lost its spring astringency and is simply lush. The whole world is stretching its limbs and frolicking. The fey are big on that.

Especially for charms of love, gardening and magickal abilities, the fey are  a great help in herb collecting. In exchange, they like gifts of milk and honey,  cookies, sweet liqueurs, or any sweet  food, drink or liquor. They also like  baubles, particularly pretty or shiny. Or  cold hard cash — but in coin, not paper,  and it’s best if shiny.

To stay in good with the fey and the  herbs you collect from, leave enough of  the plant or other plants of the type that  the herb survives in the spot collected  from. Remember too to always ask the  plant before taking a cutting, and to wait  for an answer. A quid pro quo usually  works: a shiny dime, some fertilizer, or  a bit of your hair or clothing — whatever  you think the plant most wants.

Courage: Tuscans use erba della  paura (stachys)collected on  Midsummer’s Day as a wash against fear.  Steep the herb in hot but not boiling  water, then rinse the limbs with long  strokes moving outward from the torso.  You might substitute wood betony, a  relative more common in North America.

Dream divination: Litha is a good time for foretelling things in dreams. Specifically, to induce dreams of love and ensure them coming true, lay a bunch of flowers under your pillow on Midsummer Eve. That’s what the girls of old Scandinavia did.

For effective dream divination, remember to keep a notebook beside  your bed. At bedtime, relax, ground and  center, then clearly define your question.  Meditate on that question until it’s firm  in your mind, and assure yourself you  will remember your dream on waking.  Then go to sleep.

As soon as you wake, record your dream. One trick is to set an alarm clock so you’re wakened artificially, which can help dream recollection. Dreams dreamed on Midsummer’s Eve are said to be more likely to come true.

Fertility for your garden: For a lush garden, mix ashes from the Midsummer bonfire with any seeds yet to  plant. (You still have time to plant cosmos and a handful of fall-blooming flowers.) Likewise, for fertility sprinkle bonfire ashes on any flowers or vegetables  you have growing.

Fey charms: To see the fey, pick  flowers from a patch of wild thyme where  the little folk live and place the flowers  on your eyes. A four-leafed clover not  only grants you a wish but also, carried  in your pocket or a charm, gives you the  power to see fairies dancing in rings. A  good place to look is by oaks, said in  Germany to be a favorite place for fey  dances. To penetrate fey glamour, make  and wear an ointment including fourleaved clovers.

St. John’s wort, also known as ragwort, has a strong connection to the fey  and transportation. You might add it to  charms to travel quickly. The Irish call  the plant the fairy’s horse, and the fey  are said to ride it through the air. But  beware: The Manx say if you step on a  ragwort plant on Midsummer’s Eve after sunset, a fairy horse springs out of  the earth and carries you off till sunrise,  leaving you wherever you happen to be  when the sun comes up.

Invisibility: Collect fern seed on  Midsummer Eve for use in charms of  invisibility. To become invisible, wear or  swallow the seed (that is, the spores)  you have collected. Such spores also  put you under the protection of spirits.

The fern is said to bloom at midnight on Midsummer Eve, either a sapphire blue or golden yellow depending  on your source.

Love: Plant two orpine starts (Sedum telephium) together on Midsummer  Eve, one to represent yourself, one to  represent your lover. If one withers, the  person represented will die. But if both  flourish and grow leaning together, you  and your lover will marry.

Luck and human fertility: As at  Beltaine, leap the Midsummer bonfire for  fertility and luck.

Protection: Herbs traditional to  Litha (also know as St. John’s Day) in  England include St. John’s wort, hawkweed, orpine, vervain, mullein, wormwood and mistletoe. Plucked either at  Midsummer’s Eve on midnight or noon  Midsummer Day and hung in the house,  they protect it from fire and lightning.  Worn in a charm on your body, they protect you from disease, disaster and the  workings of your enemies.

Sight: Dew gathered Midsummer  Eve is said to restore sight.

Wealth: The fern also has a connection with wealth. Sprinkle fern seed  in your savings to keep them from decreasing. The alleged golden-yellow fern  flower, plucked on Midsummer Eve at  midnight, can be used as a dowsing tool  to lead to golden treasure. Alternatively  (the Russian version), you throw the  flower in the air, and it lands on buried  treasure. Or, if you’re Bohemian, you pluck  the flower and on the same Midsummer  Night climb a mountain with blossom in  hand. On the mountain, you’ll find gold  or have it revealed in a vision.

If you wait patiently till midnight on  Midsummer Eve and see no such golden  fern flower, perhaps invisibility will have  to do.

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Solstice Day, Chasing the Clouds Away!

by Andy

Litha is the time of the sun. While  the sun was ascending at Beltaine, it  is in its full glory now. In the northern  latitudes, which we share with the  Northern European peasants who created many of our traditions, it doesn’t  even get dark until 10 o’clock. All  around the world, sun gods and goddesses from different mythologies  have Their special rites on this, the  longest day. They come in Their various guises, fighting the dark and bringing fertile, healing light. Today is the  day of Their greatest victories.

In ancient Greece, Helios was the  God of the Sun. Every day, He rode  across the sky in a chariot pulled by  four wild, flaming steeds. Every day  the horses fought Helios, but every day  He was their master. Helios had a son  named Phaëthon. He was a mortal and  with pride did he watch his father ride  across the sky. Phaëthon loved his  father and wanted to know more  about him and be like him. In short, he  wanted to drive the chariot for a day.

Phaëthon begged his father to  grant him his fondest wish. Helios, loving his son, agreed. Then the son revealed that his wish was to drive the  chariot, and Helios had to grant it.  Phaëthon put on the crown of golden  rays, mounted the chariot, and off he  went. Across the heavens he rode,  lighting the sky. The horses began their  daily struggle, but Phaëthon could not  master them. The horses rode wild.  They towed the chariot at the zodiac  animals who became enraged and  drove the it from the sky. When  Phaëthon neared the earth, it dried and  cracked. Lakes boiled away. Then he  rode up high again and the earth froze.

Zeus saw all this and knew He had  to step in. To prevent Phaëthon from  destroying the earth, He hurled his  great thunderbolts, slaying Phaëthon  and destroying the chariot. Helios’ grief  was terrible, and he vowed that no one  but He would ever drive His chariot  again.

The gods are at the height of their  power and majesty at Litha and now  is the time to meet them up close, but  not too close. It is dangerous to for  mortals to meet and interact with the  divine. As Phaëthon wanted to know  the Sun God, so do we go to the God  or Goddess. Let us hope that we don’t  get burned.

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‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for June 18

By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Courage must have its everyday face. We can’t preserve it just for special occasions. We must have courage when we are disappointed, because disappointment is a robber of reason and faith, and even dignity. We must remember that whatever we have to meet there is something within us to help us meet it. But it is like a vein of rich ore. We must tap it, know what it is, and turn it into a finished product that will serve a purpose.

Every day we must have courage to forgive. The adamant we shall always face, but to forgive is to disarm. To forgive is to release and to release is to remove the graceless things that make it necessary to forgive.

A little common, everyday courage can give a life so much more to live for and to find contentment in the knowledge that today I did not give on to the smaller self. And I can draw on the strength from One who bore personal suffering with supreme courage.

A comforting adage is that it is always darkest just before the dawn. The darkness of fear and worry and misunderstanding can last only so long, and then the light of dawn breaks through to show everything in its true perspective.

To someone who is troubled, the darkness holds only the most frightening difficulties. This kind of night seems to have no end, but given a little time it will pass, as will our problems.

The very fact that we are not alone should give some comfort, for no matter what we are experiencing someone else has been there too. We must not delude ourselves with notions that we are meant to be cross-bearers forever.

And frequently, they are much better people who emerge from their own night to remember that it is as important to have faith in the dark as it is easy to have faith in the sunshine.

*<<<=-=>>>*<<<=-=>>>*<<<=-=>>>*<<<=-=>>>*

Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet:

 

http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day June 18

“I am particularly found of the little groves of oak trees. I love to look at them, because they endure the wintry storm and the summer’s heat, and, not unlike ourselves, seem to flourish by them.”

–Sitting Bull, SIOUX

Every season, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, has gifts that it gives to all creatures. The animals will develop thicker furs just before Winter and will shed this fur in the Spring. Squirrels will store their food in the Fall; other animals build up fat so they can hibernate during the Winter. We can watch all forms of nature and see all creatures work in harmony with the seasons. The secret for us is to learn by observing nature. Watch the trees. Learn from them. We human beings need to learn the gifts and blessings of the seasons.

Grandfather, Grandmother, teach me to live in harmony with the seasons.

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June 18 – Daily Feast

Talking too much is a little like painting a picture. It is frequently what we leave out that makes it the masterpiece. We don’t have to tell everything we think – not use every color on the palette. Subtlety makes someone else think, and that is more important. Our tendency is to think that no one understands unless we spell things out for them. It is hard to keep our mouths shut when we want to say something so much – usually with a da li s ga na ne hi, irony or a degree of sarcasm, according to the Cherokee. Silence can be as unkind as saying too much but in the long run it serves a better purpose in preserving friendships. There is a time to speak and a time to keep silence, but it is a person of rare sensitivity who knows when the time is.

~ Tell your children of the friendly acts of Indians to the white people who settled here. Tell them of our leaders and heroes and their deeds. ~

INDIAN COUNCIL

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Daily OM for June 18 – Acceptance as Giving

Allowing Ourselves to Receive

by

Madisyn Taylor

 

By allowing ourselves to receive we are given the gift of seeing through another person’s eyes.

 

Giving and receiving are part of the same cycle, and we each give and receive in our own ways. But we can lose our balance when we try to be too controlling on either side of the cycle. On the receiving end, we may feel that we don’t deserve the effort made if what we gave was easy for us to give. But perhaps there is a different lesson there for us. We may be receiving not only gratitude, but a chance to see the world through the eyes of another. We may be learning that just because we gave easily, it doesn’t diminish its value. Or perhaps the universe is giving us an example to hold close to our hearts, to encourage us on some future day when our own generous act of giving is not met with a visible act of receiving. When we can allow ourselves to receive as well as give, we do our part to keep the channels of abundance open for ourselves and others.

Sometimes we may find ourselves struggling to respond to others’ gifts in the same ways—like responding to an expensive present with something equally expensive, or feeling like we have to throw a dinner party for someone who has thrown one for us. But when these are done out of a sense of obligation, their energy changes from something that shares to something that drains. If this sounds familiar, we can decide next time to allow ourselves to receive with arms, minds and hearts open and simply say thank you.

Accepting a person’s gift is a gift in itself. Sincere appreciation for their acknowledgement and their effort joins our energy with theirs in the cycle of giving and receiving, and nurtures all involved. If ever we find we are still having difficulty, we can decide to allow ourselves to be conduits for gratitude and accept on behalf of a loving, giving universe.

 

DailyOM 

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