Lady A’s Spell of the Day for Oct. 4th – Clear The Air

Clear The Air Ritual

An argument or upsetting experience has left bad vibes in your living space. To rid your home of disruptive energy, perform this cleansing ritual.

What you will need:

  • A broom
  • A bowl
  • Water
  • Sea salt
  • Sage (bundled, loose or incense)
  • A fireproof holder that you can carry easily
  • Matches

Best time to perform this ritual: Any time

If possible, open the windows and doors. Start sweeping your home with a broom – not just the floor, but the air as well. Wave the broom through the entire area, side to side, up and down, until you feel you’ve whisked away the emotional dirt. Sprinkle a little in each corner of your home, then flick some water in the center of each room.

Finally, put the sage into the holder and light it. Blow out the flames and let it smoke. Carry the burning sage from room to room, allowing its cleansing smoke to clear the air and restore peace to your home.

Crystal of the Day for October 4th is Azurite


SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION: Azurite is a basic copper carbonate. The chemistry is Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2. It varies from a rather dark blue thru “azure” blue. The streak is blue and the hardness ranges from 3-1/2 to 4.

ENVIRONMENT: Azurite is a secondary copper mineral and develops in the zone of alteration in all types of hydro-thermal replacement deposits, where it commonly occurs with malachite, limonite, and chalcopyrite.

OCCURRENCE: The copper deposits at Tsumeb, South-West Africa, have yielded some of the finest Azurite crystals in the world. The copper deposits in Arizona and Utah that yielded many fine specimens of Malachite also yielded outstanding specimens of Azurite. Fine Azurite crystals have also been found in the San Carlos Mine, Mazapil, Zacatecas, Mexico.

NAME: The name is from the characteristic azure-blue color of the mineral.

LEGEND and LORE: It is said that the priests and priestesses of ancient Egypt used this stone to enhance their spiritual consciousness. Edgar Cayce spoke of Azurite helping him attain a meditative state more easily. This mineral is associated with Sagittarius.

MAGICAL PROPERTIES: Azurite is associated with divination. When you are practicing precognition, hold a piece in your hand. This is a stone that likes to be touched…and touching it will help to release it’s energies.

HEALING: This stone is said to restructure molecules, revitalize the brain, rebuild gray matter and aid in developing embryonic babies in the womb.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I usually include Azurite in layouts that are for the purpose of increasing divination, or Third-Eye abilities. It is also useful at the Third Eye Chakra for making sense out of a very emotional situation. Very often, the Azurite found in the Southwestern part of the U.S. is mixed with Malachite. This results in a beautiful blue stone with small green marks on it. When cut and polished in a spherical shape, these remind one of a planet. They are soothing to look at and hold.

NOTES: Azurite is an ore of copper and a minor ornamental stone.


1. Scientific, Environment, Occurrence and Name are from (or paraphrased from) “The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals”.

2. Legends and Lore, Magical Properties are from “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic”, by Scott Cunningham.

3. Some of the healing information may come from “Color and Crystals, A Journey Through the Chakras” by Joy Gardner.

4. Other material may be from “The Crystal Handbook” by Kevin Sullivan.

5. Personal Experience is from MY personal experience, journals and notebooks, by Tandika Star.

Herb of the Day for Oct. 4th is Hemlock *POISON*



Botanical: Conium maculatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae

—Synonyms—Herb Bennet. Spotted Corobane. Musquash Root. Beaver Poison. Poison Hemlock. Poison Parsley. Spotted Hemlock. Kex. Kecksies.
—Parts Used—Leaves, fruit, seeds.
—Habitat—It is by no means an uncommon plant in this country, found on hedgebanks, in neglected meadows, on waste ground and by the borders of streams in most parts of England, occurring in similar places throughout Europe (except the extreme north) and also in temperate Asia and North Africa. It has been introduced into North and South America.

The Hemlock is a member of the great order Umbelliferae, the same family of plants to which the parsley, fennel, parsnip and carrot belong.

Many of the umbelliferous plants abound in an acrid, watery juice, which is more or less narcotic in its effects on the animal frame, and which, therefore, when properly administered in minute doses, is a valuable medicine. Among these the most important is Conium, or Hemlock. Every part of this plant, especially the fresh leaves and fruit, contains a volatile, oily alkaloid, which is so poisonous that a few drops prove fatal to a small animal.

—History—The Ancients were familiar with the plant, which is mentioned in early Greek literature, and fully recognized its poisonous nature. The juice of hemlock was frequently administered to criminals, and this was the fatal poison which Socrates was condemned to drink.

The old Roman name of Conium was Cicuta, which prevails in the mediaeval Latin literature, but was applied about 1541 by Gesner and others to another umbelliferous plant, Cicuta virosa, the Water Hemlock, which does not grow in Greece and southern Europe. To avoid the confusion arising from the same name for these quite dissimilar plants, Linnaeus, in 1737, restored the classical Greek name and called the Hemlock (Conium maculatum), the generic name being derived from the Greek word Konas, meaning to whirl about, because the plant, when eaten, causes vertigo and death. The specific name is the Latin word, meaning ‘spotted,’ and refers to the stem-markings. According to an old English legend, these purple streaks on the stem represent the brand put on Cain’s brow after he had committed murder.

Hemlock was used in Anglo-Saxon medicine, and is mentioned as early as the tenth century. The name Hemlock is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words hem (border, shore) and leác (leek or plant). Another authority derives the British name ‘hemlock’ from the Anglo-Saxon word healm(straw), from which the word ‘haulm’ is derived.

The use of Hemlock in modern medicine is due chiefly to the recommendation of Storch, of Vienna, since when (1760) the plant has been much employed, though it has lost some of its reputation owing to the uncertain action of the preparations made from it.

—Description—Hemlock is a tall, much branched and gracefully growing plant, with elegantly-cut foliage and white flowers. Country people very generally call by the name of Hemlock many species of umbelliferous plants, but the real Hemlock may be distinguished by its slender growth, perfectly smooth stem which is marked with red, and its finely-divided leaves which are also smooth.

It is a biennial plant, usually growing from 2 to 4 feet high, but in sheltered situations sometimes attaining nearly double that height. The root is long, forked, pale yellow and 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter. The erect, smooth stem, stout below, much branched above and hollow, is bright green, but (as already stated) is distinctively mottled with small irregular stains or spots of a port-wine colour and also covered with a white ‘bloom’ which is very easily rubbed off.

The leavesare numerous, those of the first year and the lower ones very large, even reaching 2 feet in length, alternate, longstalked, tripinnate (divided along the midrib into opposite pairs of leaflets and these again divided and subdivided in similar manner). The upper leaves are much smaller, nearly stalkless, with the short footstalk dilated and stem-clasping, often opposite or three together, more oblong in outline, dipinnate or pinnate, quite smooth, uniform dull green, segments toothed, each tooth being tipped with a minute, sharp white point.

The umbelsare rather small, 1 1/4 to 2 inches broad, numerous, terminal, on rather short flower stalks, with 12 to 16 rays to the umbel. At the base of the main umbel there are 4 to 8 lance-shaped, deflexed bracts; at the base of the small umbels there are three or four spreading bractlets. The flowers are small, their petals white with an inflexed point, the stamens a little longer than the petals, with white anthers.

The fruit is small, about 1/8 inch long broad, ridged, compressed laterally and smooth. Both flowers and fruit bear a resemblance to caraway, but the prominent crenate (wavy) ridges and absence of vittae(oil cells between the ridges) are important characters for distinguishing this fruit from others of the same natural order of plants.

The entire plant has a bitter taste and possesses a disagreeable mousy odour, which is especially noticeable when bruised. When dry, the odour is still disagreeable, but not so pronounced as in the fresh plant. The seeds or fruits have very marked odour or taste, but when rubbed with a solution of potassium bi-oxide, the same disagreeable mouse-like odour is produced.

The poisonous property occurs in all parts of the plant, though it is stated to be less strong in the root. Poisoning has occurred from eating the leaves for parsley, the roots for parsnips and the seeds in mistake for anise seeds. Many children, too, have suffered by using whistles made from the hollow stems of the Hemlock, which should be extirpated from meadows and pastures since many domestic animals have been killed by eating it, though goats are said to eat it with impunity.

—Parts Used, Harvesting and Drying—The leaves and fruit. The fresh green Hemlock is employed in the preparation of Juice of Conium, Conium Ointment, and the green Extract of Conium.

The British pharmacopoeia directs that the leaves and young branches should be gathered from wild British plants when the flowers are fully matured, and the fruits are just beginning to form, as they then possess their greatest medicinal activity. This is about the end of June. The smaller leaves are selected and the larger stalks picked out and discarded.

The leaves separated from the branches and driedare also official.

The dried ripe fruitis official in the British Pharmacopceia, and the Pharmacopceia of India, but in the Pharmacopceia of the United States the full-grown fruit, gathered before it turns from green to yellow and carefully dried, is directed to be used.

Hemlock fruits were introduced into British medicine in 1864 as a substitute for the dried leaf in making the tincture, but it has been shown that a tincture, whether of leaf or fruit, is far inferior to the preserved juice of the herb.

—Constituents—By far the most important constituent of hemlock leaves is the alkaloid Coniine, of which they may contain, when collected at the proper time, as much as 2.77 per cent the average being 1.65 per cent. When pure, Coniine is a volatile, colourless, oily liquid, strongly alkaline, with poisonous properties and having a bitter taste and a disagreeable, penetrating, mouse-like odour.

There are also present the alkaloids, Methyl-coniine, Conhydrine, Pseudoconhydrine, Ethyl piperidine, mucilage, a fixed oil and 12 per cent of ash.

Hemlock fruits have essentially the same active constituents, but yield a greater portion of Coniine than the leaves.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—As a medicine, Conium is sedative and antispasmodic, and in sufficient doses acts as a paralyser to the centres of motion. In its action it is, therefore, directly antagonistic to that of Strychnine, and hence it has been recommended as an antidote to Strychnine poisoning, and in other poisons of the same class, and in tetanus, hydrophobia, etc. (In mediaeval days, Hemlock mixed with betony and fennel seed was considered a cure for the bite of a mad dog.)

On account of its peculiar sedative action on the motor centres, Hemlock juice (Succus conii) is prescribed as a remedy in cases of undue nervous motor excitability, such as teething in children, epilepsy from dentition. cramp, in the early stages of paralysis agitans, in spasms of the larynx and gullet, in acute mania, etc. As an inhalation it is said to relieve cough in bronchitis, whooping-cough, asthma, etc.

The drug has to be administered with care, as narcotic poisoning may result from internal use, and overdoses produce paralysis. In poisonous doses it produces complete paralysis with loss of speech, the respiratory function is at first depressed and ultimately ceases altogether and death results from asphyxia. The mind remains unaffected to the last. In the account of the death of Socrates, reference is made to loss of sensation as one of the prominent symptoms of his poisoning, but the dominant action is on the motor system. It is placed in Table II of the Poison Schedule.

Hemlock was formerly believed to exercise an alterative effect in scrofulous disorders. Both the Greek and Arabian physicians were in the practice of using it for the cure of indolent tumours, swellings and pains of the joints, as well as for affections of the skin. Among the moderns Baron Storch was the first to call the attention of medical men to its use, both externally and internally, for the cure of cancerous and other ulcers, and in the form of a poultice or ointment it has been found a very valuable application to relieve pain in these cases.

In the case of poisoning by Hemlock, the antidotes are tannic acid, stimulants and coffee, emetics of zinc, or mustard and castor oil, and, if necessary, artificial respiration. It is essential to keep up the temperature of the body.

Like many other poisonous plants, when cut and dried, Hemlock loses much of its poisonous properties, which are volatile and easily dissipated. Cooking destroys it.

Its disagreeable odour has prevented its fatal use as a vegetable in the raw state.

Larks and quails are said to eat Hemlock with impunity, but their flesh becomes so impregnated with the poison that they are poisonous as food. Thrushes eat the fruits with impunity, but ducks have been poisoned by them.

Coles’ Art of Simpling:
‘If Asses chance to feed much upon Hemlock, they will fall so fast asleep that they will seeme to be dead, in so much that some thinking them to be dead indeed have flayed off their skins, yet after the Hemlock had done operating they have stirred and wakened out of their sleep, to the griefe and amazement of the owners.’

—Adulteration—Commercial Conium occasionally contains the leaves of other umbelliferous plants somewhat like it in appearance, or it may even be almost wholly composed of such plants. Anise has been used as an adulterant of the fruit.

Among umbelliferous plants most frequently mistaken for the true Hemlock Anthriscus sylvestris (Wild Chervil) an Æthusa Cynapium (Fool’s Parsley) have similar general characteristics, but are readily distinguished. A. sylvestris has hairy, not smooth leaves, its fruit is elongated, not broad, and the bracts of the partial involucre (or involucels) are not directed outwards, as in the Hemlock. The stem also is unspotted.

—Preparations and Dosages—Powdered leaves 1 to 3 grains. Fluid extract of leaves, 5 to 10 drops. Fluid extract of seeds, 2 to 5 drops. Tincture seeds, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Juice of leaves, B.P., 1 to 2 drachms. Solid extract, 2 to 6 grains. Ointment, B.P.

Saint of the Day for October 4th is St. André Bessette

St. André Bessette

Brother André expressed a saint’s faith by a lifelong devotion to St. Joseph.

Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at 12, when both parents had died, he became a farmhand. Various trades followed: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith—all failures. He was a factory worker in the United States during the boom times of the Civil War.

At 25, he applied for entrance into the Congregation of the Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget (see Marie-Rose Durocher, October 6), he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years.”

In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of St. Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, “Some day, St. Joseph is going to be honored in a very special way on Mount Royal!”

When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.

When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “St. Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.

For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of St. Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected 200 dollars to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening, applying St. Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.

The chapel also grew. By 1931 there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of St. Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.

He is buried at the Oratory. He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2010. At his canonization in October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that St. Andre “lived the beatitude of the pure of heart.”


Deity of the Day for October 4th is THOTH


“Thrice Greatest.”

 God of wisdom, music, magic, medicine, astronomy, geometry, surveying, art and and writing. Historian, scribe and judge. Thoth’s priests claimed Thoth was the Demi-Urge who created everything from sound. It was said that Thoth wrote books in which he set forth a fabulous knowldege of magic and incantation, and then concealed them in a crypt.

To Brew a Cauldron of Roots and Bones

To Brew a Cauldron of Roots and Bones


by Catherine Harper

When the year turns, the earth is less gentle, and the outdoors is no longer safe. The soft green woods of summer are now stripped bare and home to winds and rain. For light and warmth, we must retreat inside, even in the gentle clime of Puget Sound, where we are sheltered by the mountains and the extremities of season are kept at bay by the vast thermal mass of the ocean.

All at once, it seems, it is autumn, and past the drawn-out golden harvest and into the dark days and rain. There may be a few peppers and tomatoes left to us, but the season has turned from fruit to fallow. For the gardener, there are a few hardy greens, the squash lying amidst their shriveling vines and the late apples. For the forager, there are a few roots and the cool-weather fruiting of mushrooms. But the focus has changed from the fields and orchards to the kitchens, pantries and root cellars, from what is fresh to what can be saved for later use.

After the extravagance of the autumn harvest, it is a good time to contemplate the dark season. All that is left of the corn are the stalks in the field; in the orchard, the branches are bare. The supermarkets bring us strange and often illusory delights from far distant lands (yes, one can have hothouse strawberries in winter, or bland and mealy fruits picked too early and ripened far from their trees, but do the limp imitations you may purchase feed your body any better than they do your soul?). But you still may take a step back and look at the land around you, and recall both to the mind and table the humble foods that are still with us.

Consider, then, the onion.

The origins of onions are hidden back in the misty recesses of antiquity. There are wild onions known and enjoyed throughout the world, and by the time the pyramids were built the onion was widely cultivated. Herodotus records indeed that the builders of the pyramids sustained their strength on a diet of “radishes, onions and leeks,” and onions and bread were the staple diet of workers throughout the greater region. The Egyptians honored their onions, and were well-known in the ancient world for the quality of their leeks. But by the Roman period, while the leeks were considered a fit item for the tables of emperors, the onions, though grown in vast quantities, were confirmed in their place on the poor man’s table.

In the garden, it is easy to see why the onion has been so embraced by those lacking in both time and money. It is a hardy plant, resistant to disease and pests, and needing little in the way of cultivation. A bit of rich soil, perhaps a quick weeding once or twice during the year, and the tiny shoots you planted that looked like nothing more than frail blades of grass send up a tower of sturdy, pungent greenery, and then below ground swell into plump bulbs.

In our own kitchens, onions are ever present, and yet little regarded. They are so often used as a flavoring agent that I suspect few people realize how much they contribute to the bulk of a dish, and so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget how much flavor they add, while their cousins garlic and shallot get most of the press. Few vegetables have ever carried so much weight with so little notice. In the store, there are always onions, vast piles of onions, cheap and long-lasting. Red onions and white, yellow onions in their darker skins, pearl onions and boiling onions, green onions, dried onions and french-fried onions.

I think too little thought often goes into the selection of onions. Red onions and white onions are sold, usually at a jacked-up price, peeled and trimmed, a form in which they must be kept refrigerated. This allows you to get a good look at the onions and is undoubtedly more convenient, if one is willing to pay twice the price and use the onion swiftly. The yellow onions, our local most common staple, are sold only untrimmed and often poorly sorted. And yet a good yellow onion will sit like a bronze pearl, filling its skin smoothly with no trace of bruising or of the black powdery mold that likely infests many of its neighbors. I have been laughed at by produce clerks for my careful selection of onions, but I have never regretted looking closely. (Onions in bags, while cheap and convenient, I have often regretted, in part because the bag often prevents close inspection, and onions only last a long time if they are intact.)

When I was first on my own, at 15 finding myself abruptly responsible for my own sustenance, I kept my ears always open as I made my way through the produce aisle. One day, I overheard a woman talking of the labor of feeding a family after a long day at work herself. “When I get home, sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to make, and no one else wants to wait at all. But my mother told me a trick — chop up and fry an onion in a pan, and you’ll buy yourself some time. When they smell that onion coming out of the kitchen, they’ll sit back and wait, because they know it’s going to be good.”

Or consider the venerable soup bone.

It is a curious reversal that the thrifty old art of boiling meaty bones for soup, and the great equalizer of the soup pot where the taste of the ingredients is shared by all even if the best pieces might not be, has become something of a mark of culinary distinction. True cooks now build their stock with love, patience, time and often fairly expensive ingredients. Indeed, it is common now for a stock to be made for soup, after which the meat the stock was drawn from is thrown away and replaced by fresh pieces for the finished product.

I can’t quite see that. From a technique point, yes, this is a fine way to build a soup, but to rob meat of its flavor and yet little of its nutrients and then to throw the meat away… perhaps there is a time and a place for such extravagance, but not in my kitchen, as late autumn mutters of the coming of winter. There are generations enough of hungry dead.

Soup bones are almost an anachronism to most home cooks. They come from a time when people were more comfortable with the animal origins of their meat, when larger roasts were more common and yet also more dear, and when people took care to extract all the nutrients they could from their food. Today, one is more likely to see beef “stew meat” for sale, though this ignores that the purpose of a soup bone isn’t only meat, but tendon, cartilage, connective tissue and even marrow. (A dear friend of mine, retired lawyer and accomplished Jewish mother, informs me that the curative powers of matzoh ball soup reside in the gelatin leached out of the chicken. I hesitate at such a reductionist explanation, but the theory is the same. A good rich homemade broth will thicken and even solidify when cold.)

Onion Lemon Soup with Mushrooms

This soup has Greek avgolemono in its ancestry, but it has become vegetarian and shifted its focus to include the onions and mushrooms that form the base of the stock. The onions must be thoroughly caramelized.

The dried mushrooms in this recipe can be six or so good-sized shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in warm water and then sliced, or a slightly smaller quantity of dried porcini, matsutake or other strong-tasting wild mushroom — chantrelles, delicately flavored as they are, would be lost. One could also substitute a cup or fresh shiitake or porcini for both the dried and fresh mushrooms, or use some combination thereof. I’m afraid this really only qualifies as poverty food if you hunt your own mushrooms, considering the prices wild mushrooms command, though during my impoverished years I sometimes found dried mushrooms in the marked-down bin.

  • 1 or 2 large onions (yellow or white) chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 3 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • Dried mushrooms
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, pepper
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 quarts water, plus an additional &fraq14; cup

In a thick-bottomed pot, caramelize the onions in olive oil over medium heat until they are thoroughly brown. (If they begin to stick to the bottom of the pan too badly, you may deglaze the pan by pouring in a few tablespoons of water and stirring vigorously, until the water boils off and you resume caramelizing.) Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring gently, until the mushrooms are tender.

Add two quarts of water, the rice and the bay leaf, bring soup to a simmer, and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper, taste the broth and correct the seasoning if needed. (Add more salt, more mushrooms or perhaps a teaspoon or so of molasses.)

Remove pot from heat while you juice the lemons and separate the eggs.

Add lemon juice. Beat the egg yolks. Beat in about a quarter cup of lukewarm water. Then beat in a half-cup of broth from your soup. (The idea here is for the egg yolks to blend smoothly with the broth and not to cook too quickly.) Finally, whisk the egg and broth mixture into your soup, and return the soup to the burner, over medium low heat. Return to the barest simmer, gently, then remove from heat and serve

Beef Bone Barley

This soup is based on a savory, layered broth that still uses all of its edible parts. The bones and raw and roasted meat add richness and complexity to the broth.

  • 1 soup bone
  • 1 small package beef stew meat
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 or 3 carrots (optional)
  • 2 or 3 stalks celery (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 to 10 peppercorns
  • 1 glug of red wine, if available
  • Salt

For the soup bone, if you do not have easy access to a neighborhood butcher, nose around in your grocery’s meat department. Often bones for soup are hidden in the frozen section. I’d recommend a nice joint, if possible, and don’t worry too much about whether it has meat on it, as you’ll be adding meat later. Ox tails are never a bad thing, either, though they make for a very rich soup.

Cover your soup bone in cold water in a thick-bottomed pot, and then slowly heat the pot over a low burner. Seek a stable temperature just at the edge of simmering, cover and allow to stew overnight.

A few hours before dinnertime, remove the soup bone and discard. Add half your stew meat to the pot, and roast the other for some 20 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Add the roasted meat as well to the pot. Add the cup of barley, cover and continue simmering.

Forty minutes or so before dinner, add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns. Add your glug of wine, and quickly cover and return to simmering.

In the last few minutes before serving, add salt, remove the bay leaf and taste the broth. Add more salt, wine or fresh ground pepper if needed.

Encounter with an Ancient God

Encounter with an Ancient God


by Janice Van Cleve

As Samhain night approaches, our Women of the Goddess circle quickens into high gear. We collect old mattresses, blankets and cushions. We buy cases of garbage bags and rolls of duct tape. Don’t forget the red candles! We haul, we clean, we make architectural decisions on the fly. For this is the time of the year when we transform a simple basement into the Underworld.

We are so excited! On Samhain night we gather in silence, black-robed and -caped, in the living room. No lights shine nor music plays. No conversation passes between us. One candle only illuminates the room as we wait in nervous anticipation. At the stroke of the hour, the hostess rises to lock the door. Then she bids us line up at the head of the stairs and descend, one by one, as we are called.

Save for flickering votives in colored glass strategically placed here or there, the narrow passages of the Underworld are pitch black. Garbage bags by day become unearthly living walls at night. As we carefully feel our way through the maze, we encounter the Dark Goddess in several of her forms. She may appear to us as Hecate, Kali, Baba Yaga or Erishkigal. She may appear as the Fates, the Norns or as sorceresses and witches. Each challenges us before she admits us past her portal. At last, we all arrive in the Underworld chamber and conduct our rites, thankful for the cushions and other items that give us some comfort from the cold stone floor.

I am as excited as the rest, but my appreciation of the Samhain rites this year will be undeniably affected by an encounter I had in another underworld last month in faraway Peru. I was in Peru for an archeological expedition to various Inca and pre-Inca sites. One of many we visited was Chavin de Huantar, a mysterious temple complex hidden in a steep valley on the Amazon side of the Andes. The Chavin culture exerted enormous influence throughout the region of Peru about 400 BCE, around the time that Rome was just beginning. In the Americas, the Chavin invented the weaving of cotton and wool, engineering with stone and massive architecture. The complex itself is a combination of huge three-story block buildings and large sunken courtyards. The exterior of the buildings was originally decorated with carved heads and painted red. However, it was the interiors that I found most fascinating.

Inside the solid mass of stone were corridors, passageways and rooms in a series of underworld labyrinths. They were ingeniously constructed so that water was drained out and fresh air circulated in through small vents that tunneled through the rock to the outside wall. Linking the rooms were galleries with modern fanciful names such as Gallery of the Captives, Gallery of the Bats and Gallery of the Madman. Just enough electric lighting is installed to present the outlines of the chambers without taking away from their shadowy quality. It was in one of these underworld corridors that I encountered The Lanzon.

The Lanzon is an imposing idol of carved stone some 15 feet tall. It stands in a narrow chamber barely large enough to hold it. Passages less high extend in all four directions from the midpoint of this chamber so the viewer can see only the head and midsection of the idol. A gate prevents visitors from approaching too close. Light filters in from cleverly contrived roof openings above the statue, bathing it in a surreal glow.

The idol itself is a curiously rendered icon, etched into a smooth, wedge-shaped granite prism whose angle faces the viewer. The figure is of an anthropoid being with snakes for hair and fat smiling lips that display a proud set of finely spaced teeth and two fanged incisors. Long sharp fingernails grace its hands; the left one hanging at its side and the right raised as if in greeting. On its head is a tall crown of feline heads, and from its ears hang huge round pendants. Set edge-on to the visitor, the whole work cannot be appreciated at once, but only the portion in view from the corridor. From that position, one or other of the idol’s baleful eyes looks directly at you.

“It’s just an old stone,” I said to myself. But it wasn’t. It was a real idol. To it had been sacrificed human lives, their blood splattered all over the corridor where I stood. Into it had been fused human energy and power, and these I could still feel from it even after all the intervening centuries. It was strange and eerie to be aware of this undead presence, to acknowledge it and yet not be part of it. The Lanzon was the god of a people long past, not my god, yet worthy and real for the human potency with which they imbued it. It disquieted me, yet I felt a respect for it that was different from my own traditions, but for all that no less valid.

So as I approach this Samhain and prepare to enter the Underworld we will create, I am a bit more aware that there are deities and beings in the darkness beyond my ken. They are different. I don’t understand them. I don’t even know them. Yet they do exist, and as the veil between the worlds draws thin this night, I realize my view must be broader and open to the unexpected. No matter how many times I celebrate these rituals and how many roles I take, they still present a mystery. And now, because of my encounter with The Lanzon in its own underworld, I can appreciate the mystery of my own that much more.

How Science Fiction Books Have Influenced My Magick

How Science Fiction Books Have Influenced My Magick

by George Jackson

Like a lot of people, I have a group of favorite authors whose style and subject matter have a great appeal to me, particularly in the genre of science fiction and fantasy. This genre is intended to stretch the imagination and suspend disbelief concerning all kinds of strange goings-on. Many of these stories are based on regional myths and legends, the skills of the writers bringing them to life for us. Occasionally, original spell-craft techniques or the concepts underlying them are held up for view. An Adept, reading some these books, may suddenly be stirred to attempt a new approach or delve into an area previously ignored, thanks to these masters of imagination.

An example of this are three books written by Lyndon Hardy, a Ph.D. in physics who is a partner in a consulting firm that explores artificial intelligence. These books could be called his “Five Magics” series. In them, he defines five areas of magic and the principles underlying them:

  • Thaumaturgy: The Principle of Sympathy — Like Produces Like; and The Principle of Contagion — Once Together, Always Together
  • Alchemy: The Doctrine of Signatures — The Attributes Without Mirror the Powers Within
  • Magic: The Maxim of Persistence — Perfection Is Eternal
  • Sorcery: The Rule of Three — Thrice Spoken, Once Fulfilled
  • Wizardry: The Law of Ubiquity — Flame Permates All; and The Law of Dichotomy — Dominance or Submission

When I read these about 20 years ago, I said to myself, “These should work!” Through the years, they have worked, over and over and over again. The following are some other science fiction authors that have significantly influenced my magickal work.

David Drake is best known as a writer of military science fiction. He is a Vietnam combat veteran and writes this kind of fiction from the point of view of one who has been there and done that. However, when he writes about magick it is well to pay attention. His first book in the supernatural vein that I am aware of is From the Heart of Darkness, which can generally be classed as horror and was published in 1983. This was followed by Old Nathan, which deals with classic American back-country witchcraft much in the vein of Manly Wade Wellman, to whom the book is dedicated.

Drake’s present effort is the Lord of the Isles series, which to date includes Lord of the Isles, Queen of Demons, Servant of the Dragon and Mistress of the Catacombs. The general religion and magickal practices are Sumerian. I will quote from the novels’ notes to the reader. “The magical phrases (voces mysticae) quoted throughout the novel are real. I don’t mean that they really summon magical powers; personally I don’t believe that they do. But many men and women did believe in the power of these words and used them in all seriousness to work for good or ill. Individuals can make their own decisions on the matter, but I didn’t pronounce any of the voces mysticae while I was writing Lord of the Isles.” David researches his work from classical Roman and Greek sources.

Barbara Hambly has a master’s degree in medieval history and a black belt in karate. She has written 20 novels to date that contain a magickal theme. A basic premise that runs through her work is that there exists a group of people who are genetically endowed to perform magick (the mage born), but these abilities must be honed through education and practice to be brought to full fruition. In short, an Adept never knows enough. The subjects of ethics and responsibility are discussed at some length throughout her books. Another theme that runs through Barbara’s writing is the compulsion to practice and learn more about magick. It is an obsessive drive to add to magickal power and knowledge. Once the would-be Adept recognizes her or his magickal Will, it becomes a life-long need.

The first book that I read of Barbara’s was Dragonbane. From there, I went to The Darwath Series, Sun Wolf and Starhowk, The Windrose Chronicles and Sun Cross. In the end I have read and recommend almost all of her books, though in my opinion her latest have strayed from the magickal thread.

Roger Zelazny, Hugo and Nebula Award winner, died in 1995 a true master of the imagination. When I read that he had passed away, I felt as if I had lost a family member. He had written or co-written over 40 novels. He had a talent for taking a religion or mythos and writing a story using a god or hero from it as his principal character. The first book of his that I read was Lord of Light, in which the Hindu pantheon and a certain amount of Buddhism are central to the plot. Within this book, Roger defined what it was to be an invoked god, which can be extended to what it is to be a practicing Adept:

“Being a god is the quality of being able to be yourself to such an extent that your passions correspond with the Forces of the Universe, so that those who look upon you know this without hearing your name spoken.

“Being a god is being able to recognize within one’s self those things that are important and then to strike the single note that brings them into alignment with everything else that exists. One rules through his or her ruling passions.”

Zelazny’s Amber series consists of 10 novels beginning with Nine Princes in Amber and ending with Prince of Chaos. They all deal with magickal forms. Two of his novels, Changeling and Madwand, have been combined under the title of Wizard World. These novels contain a very interesting concept of magickal energy.

If you have had some personal instruction or have read some of the how-to books readily available and put this knowledge into practice, some of these books may not only entertain you, but also they may give you some new magickal directions and ideas to pursue. The world of science fiction and fantasy is an open book. Enjoy!

Welcome, Darkest Night

Welcome, Darkest Night

by Janice Van Cleve

I love this season of growing dark. The night starts earlier to cast its blanket of quiet and peace upon the land and calls me to wrap up what I am doing. Early darkness coaxes me to sit down to supper at six o’clock instead of nine, so I can digest properly before I go to sleep. Longer nights delay the prodding light of morning, so I can grab a few more winks. It encourages me to work more efficiently with the daylight that I do have. The dark time of the year is a healthy time for me.

It is a healthy time for plants and animals as well. Perennials focus on building up their root systems during the dark time, and annuals spread their seeds. Leaves fall to the ground to be leached and composted into next year ‘s soil. Animals feast on the yield of crops and orchards and store up surplus to see them through the winter and spring. In the dark time, all nature refocuses on renewing itself, sloughing off that which is no longer necessary and nurturing the best for the new year.

For northern tribes who lived where night falls longest and deepest, the dark time of the year was a time of great creativity. Bards honed their songs and added new verses for the entertainment and education of their audiences. Farmers turned to woodworking to fashion furniture or to decorate the interiors of their homes. Tradespeople made cloth, tools, jewelry, clothes and other goods to sell the merchants when they returned in the spring. Cooks became more and more inventive as the darkness lingered and the variety in the larder grew more limited. Even today, most school and university classes are scheduled for the winter months. In the business world, new product releases from software to movies to automobiles are debuted during this time.

In short, the dark time of the year is a busy, industrious and very creative time for nature and for human activity. So why in modern society does it get such a bad rap? The ancients certainly figured out that spring followed winter every year, and they used their skills to create solstice calculators like Stonehenge to predict how much more winter they had left. Were they really immobilized in fear of the dark, waiting for solstice to give them hope of spring? Or, on the other hand, did they grumble at solstice that they only had a few more months to play, eat, sing and finish their carvings before they had to get back out and work the farm again? Ancient peoples, after all, did not create surpluses for profit or a year-round global economy. They simply raised enough to sustain themselves so they could devote their time to crafts and play.

Perhaps it was the new religion of Christianity that tried to separate light from dark, exalting the former and disparaging the latter. Perhaps it was Christians’ idea to create fear of the dark so they could make light seem like a sort of salvation. However, nature doesn’t seem to need saving from anything, except from human greed. Nature goes on, year after year, with summer and winter alternating appropriate to the latitude. Nature values the dark time as much as the light and uses both to its advantage. The dark time is healthy and wholesome. It is as necessary for life as rain and sun, decay and bacteria.

And so it is appropriate that our pagan new year starts with Samhain, the beginning of the darkest time of the year. We rest before we work. We focus inwardly before we focus on the wider world. We sleep, we feast, we meditate, and we renew ourselves so that when spring’s light returns and calls us to next year’s work we can respond with new health and strength. These are gifts of the dark time. We are fortunate to have them!

Thought of the Day for October 4th – 25 Truths of Life

25 Truths of Life

1. If you’re too open-minded, your brains will fall out.
2. Don’t worry about what people think, they don’t do it very often.
3. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
4. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
5. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before.
6. My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
7. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
8. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
9. For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.
10. If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
11. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
12. A conscience is what hurts when all of your other parts feel so good.
13. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
14. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it!
15. No man has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
16. A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.
17. Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
18. Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.
19. Junk is something you’ve kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
20. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
21. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
22. By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.
23. Thou shall not weigh more than thy refrigerator.
24. Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
25. It ain’t the jeans that make your butt look fat.


      N. Lellande


NASA Image of the Day for Oct. 4th – Ring Holds a Delicate Flower

Ring Holds a Delicate Flower

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope finds a delicate flower in the Ring Nebula, as shown in this image. The outer shell of this planetary nebula looks surprisingly similar to the delicate petals of a camellia blossom. (A planetary nebula is a shell of material ejected from a dying star.) Located about 2,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Lyra, the Ring Nebula is also known as Messier Object 57 and NGC 6720. It is one of the best examples of a planetary nebula and a favorite target of amateur astronomers.

The “ring” is a thick cylinder of glowing gas and dust around the doomed star. As the star begins to run out of fuel, its core becomes smaller and hotter, boiling off its outer layers. Spitzer’s infrared array camera detected this material expelled from the withering star. Previous images of the Ring Nebula taken by visible-light telescopes usually showed just the inner glowing loop of gas around the star. The outer regions are especially prominent in this new image because Spitzer sees the infrared light from hydrogen molecules. The molecules emit the infrared light that they have absorbed ultraviolet radiation from the star or have been heated by the wind from the star.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

Astronomy Picture of the Day for Oct. 4th – QR Codes: Not for Human Eyes

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 October 4

QR Codes: Not for Human Eyes
Image Credit: Kaywa QR Code Generator (Free) 


Explanation: This communication was not meant for human eyes. It was not even meant for aliens eyes. It’s an attempt to communicate directly with your smartphone. Cameras on many smartphones can image the above Quick Response (QR) code and then common applications can tell you what it means. Sometimes the deciphered code will reveal a web site address, prompting the smartphone to then ask you if you want to access this address to learn more about the object. QR codes are two-dimensional analogs of bar codes that can be scanned in any orientation and tolerate several types of errors. These codes are being used increasingly as doors between real objects and web-based information about those objects, and so are popping up increasingly in unexpected places. Anyone can create a QR code from any of several free online services, print it out, and affix it to an object. Although not meant to communicate with aliens, QR codes employ several attributes common to famous alien communication attempts. Can you — or a local smartphone — figure out what the above QR code means?


Your Daily Number for October 4th: 5

An interesting new acquaintance may cross your path today. No matter how many times others change their mind, it’s best to go with the flow. The little voice in your head is often correct; don’t ignore it.

Fast Facts

About the Number 5

Theme: Resourceful, Adventure, Speculation, Travel
Astro Association: Taurus
Tarot Association: Hierophant