Pagan Wheel of the Year

Pagan Wheel of the Year

by Perseus

 

Yule (Winter Solstice) 21 December: Longest night of the year, various methods of celebrating, most involve some form of lights (sometimes affixed to an obvious phallic symbol like, oh, a fir tree) which are employed in an act of sympathetic magick to encourage/welcome the return/rebirth of the sun/son. A major female deity gives birth to (insert name of preferred solar deity here). There is much rejoicing and praise unto Him while Her husband, the God of the Old Year who, dressed in a tacky red suit trimmed with rabbit fur, watches and packs Her an overnight bag in anticipation of Her departure. Celebrants light candles (indoors), ignite bonfires (outdoors mostly), drink to excess, sing carols, remove clothes, sing dirty carols, engage in group unprotected sex, drink some more, vomit copiously, have more unprotected sex, exchange gifts, have one more drink/boink for the road and return home.

Imbolc (Groundhog Day/Candlemas) 2 February: More lights, however by this time we’re pretty sure the days are getting longer so we can throttle back on the pleas for Apollo/Ra/Lugh/Baldur to return. The aforementioned mother of the newborn solar deity returns to this plane of existence from the underworld, bearing the sun/son with Her. Not as big a bonfire this time, but still excessive drinking, plenty of bare-butt-on-the-ground sex to warm the earth for seedlings, lots more drinking to excess followed by the projectile vomiting “Write your craft name in the snow” competition, more sex to make sure the ground is good and ready, a few more drinks, back home.

Lupercalia (Valentine’s Day) 15 February: (The 14th for Saint Valentine being a pre-emptive usurpation of the Roman Ides of February pre-spring fertility celebration. Not an actual sabbat but still a sentimental favourite.) The wolves come down from the hills around Rome looking for a little nosh. This is related to the weather prognosticating involved in the observance of hibernating animals like the groundhog emerging around Imbolc. Bears were ruled out as an appropriate animal for observance by trial and error and attrition of the bear watching advocates. Note that this is about two weeks after the Imbolc solar cross-quarter; if the groundhog didn’t see its shadow (and remained out) Winter ends here; if it did see its shadow (and returned to its lair to resume its nap) Winter ends about six weeks later at Ostaera, the next sabbat. Anyway, pretty much the same activities as Imbolc but candles/bonfires are optional (unless you insist on watching for a bear, in which case a bonfire is stronglyadvised).

Ostaera (Spring Equinox) 21 March: Probably named after a Germanic Goddess, Eostur, whose name translates literally as “Easy lay, easy May,” a reference to and reminder of the importance of the next Sabbath, which is actually concerned with sex, unlike the previous two in which sex is a (welcome) bonus and potential life saver in the colder climates. The baby born at Yule here ages to childhood and the major female deity absorbs His youthful energy to grow younger, back to childhood; they then play “Asclepius.” Once again celebrants drink to excess, paint a few eggs (rebirth representation) with increasingly blatant yonic/phallic symbols, followed by more drinking, then paint a few hares/rabbits (fertility totem), boil the eggs and probably the rabbits too, what the hell, chow down on the eggs and rabbits since nobody remembered to pack a lunch, still more drinking followed by rabbit-fur-lined vomiting, group unprotected sex, lick rabbit grease out of the pot, more sex (any remaining rabbit grease at this point is given priority consideration as a sexual lubricant), a couple of more drinks, dress up in rabbit skins and back home.

Beltane (Walpurgisnacht/May Day) 30 April-1 May: “Hooray, hooray, the first of May, outdoor (sexual act euphemism) begins today!” The Goddess and God who are at this point both of adolescent age actually get it on, after which they become betrothed. Celebrants erect large Maypole (get it?), half the dancers going deosil and half widdershins interweaving their hand-held ribbons until they clothe the pole in colourful array and the Maywreath, previously laid at the top, rides the ribbons down to the very base of the pole — as close as Pagans ever get to “safe sex.” After which everybody attends the bonfires, usually two bonfires so you can pass through your livestock to be blessed by Prometheus/Ba’al/Wotan/Elvis but the really adventurous just build one big fire, or let the two smaller ones get out of hand until they become one big fire. Attendees then jump the fire (bare naked, as if I needed to mention), and preceded by the at this point mandatory excess drinking, there follows a MAJOR ORGY of the Mongolian Cluster-Fuck variety, wherein the bodies of the participants are so thoroughly entangled and interlocked that you can’t tell who’s doing what to whom and you couldn’t care less and the vomiting is actually partof the gestalt and provides much needed lubrication.

Litha (Summer Solstice/Midsummer’s Night) 21 June: Longest day of the year. The young Sun God at His zenith, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” This is the marriage of the Goddess and Her incestuous consort who are both fully adult at this point and it turns out She’s knocked-up anyway so He has to. This being a Pagan wedding celebration…well, you can just imaginethe debauchery. Here is the origin of the “Honeymoon,” where bride and groom stay plastered for a month (moon) on mead, a honey based wine.

About this time the God of the Old Year has grown bored with the rather limited interpersonal interaction with ghosts in the underworld and bit parts in Ingmar Bergman films and so travels as a spirit to the womb of the pregnant major female deity and inhabits the unborn child, to be near His rejuvenated love.

Lammas (Somebody’s day somewhere) 2 August: Sad day for the young God; having passed His prime last sabbat at this first harvest of the grain festival the Goddess decides He is more useful as compost and fructifies the ground with His blood to ensure future abundant harvests. Several methods may be employed by Her, perhaps no Pagan version being quite as picturesque as being nailed to an uneven armed solar cross with blood running down the upright beam to the ground, but She gets the job done none the less. On this solemn occasion celebrants are expected to drink until they fall down in imitative honour of the dying God. Sex is for those still conscious or who at least had the foresight to pin “Do me anyway” notes to their beer and vomit drenched clothes.

Mabon (Autumn Equinox) 21 September: Preggers and alone, sure, now she misses Her slain lover/son and decides She cannot abide this world without Him. He, meanwhile, has found the abandoned throne in the Land of the Dead and is having a high old time trying on the crown which looks suspiciously like a pair of antlers and is getting horny…the God that is. Depending on whose press release you read the Goddess is abducted by the just-back-for-a-quick-one God or She jumps onto His chariot and won’t get off until He takes Her all the way down (get that one?). This harvest festival centers around grapes, so celebrants consume barrels of wine and each then take turns climbing intoa barrel to play the traditional “Guess which orifice I’ve placed at the bunghole?” game. This Sabbat’s accompanying lunar cycle is sometimes referred to as the “Keith Moon.”

Samhain (All Hallows Eve) 31 October: The by this time big-as-a-house Goddess is crowned Queen of the Underworld. She and Her reunited and now mature King shoo all the souls out of their realm so they can have a little quality time together, which is why it gets so crowded up here around then. Ghosts, Goblins and Ghoolies come topside for a little R&R or just to wish that special someone good-bye, in their own inimitable fashion. Celebrants offer food and drink to the dead and attempt sex with any who posses sufficient ectoplasm to generate friction. A lovely time for all.

Yule (Again, to complete the circle): The once young and vital Sun God becomes the God of the Old Year in His turn, and takes up sewing to pass the time. Since red is one of the few colours visible to the dead He makes Himself a red suit to keep them from bumping into Him during the long dark nights and trims it with some leftover rabbit fur. Waste not want not. He knows what’s coming and packs a bag for His wife and new son to take on their journey back to the land of the living.

A Solstice Tale

A Solstice Tale

by Andy

 

“Ohhhh, where am I? How did I get here?” Odin climbed to his feet and looked about him. Snow. Trees and ice. It was cold. Gingerly, the Allfather touched the large lump already well formed on his head. It was sore and it was hard for him to think clearly. Now he remembered. It was that idiot Thor’s fault. Ragnarok, the last battle at the end of the world had come. There he had been, fighting Fenris, the Great Wolf. Nearby, Thor fought the evil Midgard Serpent, whose tail circles the world. Thor had thrown his mighty hammer Miolnir at the serpent. And missed. The clap of thunder that always accompanied Miolnir’s blows was the last thing Odin remembered.

“Where am I?” Odin thought again. Apparently the world had not come to an end for he was still in it. But the last battle was over, the rest of the Aesir were gone. If he were back in Valhalla, he could look from his throne Hlidskialf, from which all things may be seen, and find out what was going on, but he wasn’t. Then it came to him. This must be the promised age after Ragnarok. Gentle Baldur, raised from the dead, must be ruling in High Gimli. That must be it.

A glance at the stars told the Allfather that this was the far future, and it was the Winter Solstice to boot! “The Solstice!” Odin thought. Old feelings and duties came back to him. He was sure Baldur wouldn’t mind if he went out and judged the people as he always did at this time of the year. He could see the lights of a town in the distance. He would begin there.

Odin put two fingers to his lips and whistled. Out of the woods, as if he had been waiting for the call, came Sleipnir, Odin’s eight legged steed. Sleipnir whinnied and pranced as Odin approached. It had been a long time since the last ride and Sleipnir was anxious. Odin patted the horse and mounted.

More rapid than eagles they flew and in an instant they were in the town. The snow was deep and even and the streets were empty. Brightly colored lights shone everywhere and the Allfather wondered why the people who lived here hadn’t dimmed them yet to pay their respect for the waning sun.

Sleipnir’s eight hooves echoed as Odin explored the town. Rounding a comer, Odin pulled the horse to a stop. There, across the road, was a giant painting. It seemed to be a portrait of himself. His coat and cap were red instead of blue, but their white trim and fur lining were the same. His long beard was portrayed magnificently as was his less-than-magnificent lack of hair. Interestingly enough, he still had two eyes. Instead of riding Sleipnir, he was driving a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer; one for each leg, he supposed.

Runes on the sign read: “He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!” Odin realized that the painter must have thought that he needed a sleigh to carry all the treasure for the good. “The people of this age must be very good indeed, Sleipnir, if they think I can’t carry all the treasure myself,” the Allfather remarked.

“Why do you think my spear isn’t in the painting? Is everyone so good that no one gets the point anymore?” Odin chuckled. Well, he would soon find out if these people were as good as they believed.

The Allfather rode to the nearest house. “This place looks as good as any to start the judging. Stay here boy, I’ll be back soon.” Odin dismounted and walked into the house, the door opening and closing behind him magically.

In the living room, Odin saw the tree. It was the very image of Yggdrasil, the evergreen tree of life. It was aflame with lights as Yggdrasil had been aflame with fire in the last battle. Upon its top sat a statuette of the All-Seeing Eagle that sits atop Yggdrasil. Odin squinted through the multicolored gloom. “By the Cow!” he exclaimed. “That’s not an eagle, it’s a winged woman!” The Allfather wondered at the twists that the legends must have taken over the eons for Yggdrasil’s Eagle to be transformed into a winged woman. He also noticed that Ratatosk, the messenger squirrel, was missing from the tree. “Still,” Odin thought, “it is a pretty good symbol of the end of light and life at the Solstice.” Presumably the people who lived here would turn off the artificial light at the darkest hour and the tree would be symbolically reborn whole at dawn.

“Santa, why didn’t you come down the chimney? Is it because it isn’t Christmas for four more days? Huh? Is it?” Odin spun around. There, head peeking out from behind a couch, was a little girl.

“Why would I come down the chimney, little girl?” the Allfather asked.

“Because you’re supposed to. Everyone knows that.” Not one to be put off his stride, Odin let that pass. His head still hurt and he didn’t seem to be able to peer into the little girl’s heart so he would have to do this the hard way.

“What is your name, little girl?”

“Sheila….”

“And have you been a good little girl this year, Sheila?”

“Yes Santa! I told you that at that at the mall yesterday when I asked you for a Barbie Dreamboat!”

“Well then Sheila, here is your horse’s leg….” Odin said, as he laid the piece of meat in front of her. Sheila came out and looked at the leg and started to cry.

“But I want a Barbie Dreamboat….”

“What is a ‘Barbie Dreamboat’?” Odin asked, trying to be kind.

“It’s a boat with a blender that makes pink lemonade.”

“A boat that makes lemonade? You know, don’t you, that the leg will turn to gold if you guard it ’til the morrow.”

“I want a Barbie Dreamboat!”, the girl shrieked.

“You’ll get the point of my spear Gungnir, like the wicked do, if you don’t stop whining!” the Allfather said harshly. The little girl disappeared back behind the couch.

Odin walked back out into the street. “Do you think I was too harsh on her, Sleipnir? Maybe I should leave the judging until next year, when I’ll know for sure what happened to us.” Sleipnir whinnied in apparent agreement. The little girl had seen someone at ‘the mall’ acting out his role. Perhaps there, he would find answers.

In the twinkle of an eye, Odin and Sleipnir reached the mall. It was closed and locked, but as before, the doors magically opened before the pair. In the center of the mall the Allfather found “Santa’s Village at the North Pole.” “Santa,” Odin remembered, was what the little girl had called him. “Do I have a village at the North Pole, Sleipnir?” Odin didn’t think so, but his head still hurt and his memories were still a bit fuzzy.

Odin dismounted and went over to the display. “Santa’s Elves making Toys” some runes read. “Elves?” Odin thought, “Surely not.” His mind might be a bit fuzzy, but he recognized dwarves when he saw them. They were short and serious looking; diligent; always crafting precious treasures. Clearly, these were dwarves. Elves were tall, fair, and entirely too full of their own beauty.

There he was again. This time a kindly looking woman whom the runes named “Mrs. Claus” was with him. Frigga, he supposed. She was offering him a tray of “Chocolate Chip Cookies.”

Behind the village was the sleigh and reindeer again. As Odin read the names of the reindeer, he burst out laughing. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” he laughed. “Donner and Blitzen; thunder and lightning.” Thor’s rage would shake Valhalla when he found out that he, Donar, which meant thunder, and his great palace Bilskimir, which meant lightning, had symbolically been turned into two of Sleipnir’s legs.

It was then that Odin noticed the ninth reindeer, apparently the leader of the team. This new reindeer, who had a glowing red nose, the runes named “Rudolph”. The Allfather did not want to dwell for too long on the mystery of the extra reindeer for Sleipnir did indeed have nine appendages on his underside. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” he laughed again. He might like living in this age after all. Now, if he could only get Frigga to start baking cookies….

Body-Wisdom: Grounding

Body-Wisdom: Grounding

by Erika Ginnis

 

This is the beginning of a series of articles that will appear in various issues of the paper. My goal in this series is to put in print some simple energy working techniques that I have learned and taught over the years in my own practice. I thought it might be fun and also helpful to provide some instruction in a format that was available to people regardless of where they lived and whether they had a group to practice with.

These techniques are not bound to any one tradition or pantheon and I have seen them used in a number of different circumstances with very positive results. Take them and add then to your tool kit if you like them or leave them if you don’t. However you respond to them remember, as with any magickal or energy working tool, “They will only work for you if you actually practice them.”

I am going to present the ideas in a specific order because I have found the techniques work best when they build on one another. I intend to add a brief review of some necessary steps at the beginning of each article so that it will be easy to catch up if you have missed earlier ones. Some of these tools will be second nature to many of you, and to some they will be a different twist on an old favorite. There are many many great techniques out there, and these are just a few that I enjoy.

I will offer possibilities, use them as a springboard. It is my hope that, for many of you, these techniques will become a new doorway to your inner self, and that they will assist you to become more aware and present in your magical and spiritual work.

Grounding:

Grounding is usually the first technique that I teach anyone. This is because it is the foundation upon which everything else is built. It is very simple and very powerful. I also think it is extremely important I imagine that many of you have heard of grounding or have practiced it in some way. Most of the rituals that I have attended use this technique in some form. Since there are various ways to ground, let me start with some explanation about what I mean when I say “grounding.”

Grounding is the act of consciously creating an energy connection as spirit (sometimes visualized as a cord) from your body into physical reality/Mother Earth. You are a spiritual being, and by your nature have a great deal of power and energy. Your vibration is rapid and can be intense. You have a body (yippee!!) which is an expression of you that exists in mundane reality (hopefully), but since it is made of matter the energy moves at a slower vibratory rate. (Hmmm, this sounds like a public television physics program!!) In any case when you bring your spiritual energy into the physical body more fully it can be quite a shock to the system.

Grounding helps keep the body (your sacred temple) a safe place for you to inhabit and experience life through, prevents it from becoming overly stressed. It helps to keep your energy system safe when you are doing magic or other spiritual work. It acts kind of like an “electrical ground” ( keeps you from getting “zapped” by an overload of energy). The act of grounding also brings power to your work because it aligns you as spirit with your physical body, so that you can be present and attend to what needs to be done. In addition to all of this it increases spiritual and energetic awareness.

Have you ever been at a ritual and felt slightly nauseous afterward or had a headache? Many times this is a reaction of the body to the more intense energy moving through it and not having quite enough grounding to shunt off the excess flow. This brings me to the next aspect of grounding that is important. Grounding is a technique that assists you to release energy! This is a wonderful thing. When you ground you release unwanted or excess energy, and it gets transformed within this amazing living planet, our Mother Earth, and it returns to you renewed. It reminds me of recycling in a way; you let go of what you are done with and you get it back transformed. Also, if you are releasing someone else’s energy that you took on for some reason, that energy gets returned to them as well. It works out well all around.

It is my opinion that the whole energy system of Earth (which I see as our larger body, our Sacred Mother) is set up to run in this way. I believe it to be a connecting web of moving and shifting energy, of which we are meant to be a balanced part. I also feel that as more people remember and use their grounding, it will begin to revitalize the whole system as the energy begins to flow again.

I have spoken briefly about grounding as it relates to ritual, but what I want to emphasize here is that you can be grounded anytime. I highly recommend grounding while playing, eating, making love, shopping, working, driving, etc., as well as during ritual, or while meditating. Grounding brings you more fully present and conscious in your life, so that you can respond to situations rather than reacting from past experiences (many of which might be unpleasant). It will enhance whatever you are experiencing, assist you to be aware of your path, and also assist you to move through uncomfortable times more rapidly.

Something that people sometimes notice when they ground for the first time, is that they become aware of aches or pains that they could swear weren’t there moments before. The reason for this is simple, if you think about it. If you come into the body more fully, you are going to start to become aware of what your body is actually feeling. If you spend most of your time with your mind in fantasy or off in the future somewhere you aren’t going to be very present to what your body is going through. The minute you ground, though, you align with the body and begin to tune in to what’s actually going on.

You might ask why anyone would want to feel tightness in their shoulders if they didn’t have to? My answer is this: if you know what is happening and know how you feel, you can begin to take steps to release and heal whatever is causing the problem. The body has much wisdom to teach us if we will but listen. If you ignore the body it will get louder and louder in an effort to get your attention. I see many people who have begun their spiritual work because some physical ailment caused them to stop and pay attention. You do not have to wait, you can begin the process beforeyou are “forced” to by circumstance.

The good news is: when you are grounded things that are pleasurable are even more pleasurable. You also begin to raise the vibration in the body by grounding it and being more consciously present in it; this will allow an even greatercapacity for experiencing the wonders of this planet. It will in turn increase your power and awareness, making you more effective in where you choose to direct your energy.

One of the examples I always tell my classes is this: “Think of all the different books and techniques out there, all the things you can do as being like a great wall of expensive stereo equipment. It has all the bells and whistles, the CD player and the VCR and the cool speakers. It looks great there on the wall but none of it will do you a bit of good if you don’t plug it in!! It really doesn’t matter how much you acquire, how many components you buy, if you can’t access it. It will just collect dust. Grounding is analogous to taking the power cord and plugging it into the outlet. Then you can use the system. Grounding gives you a way to access your power, because it brings youas spirit (which is the power source) into the picture. None of the techniques will do you much good if you aren’t grounded.”

There are many good ways to ground. I will not be touching on all of them by any means. I will pass on to you one form of grounding I personally use and enjoy. I hope you enjoy it as well. I teach grounding from the first chakra because that is the energy center that relates to physical reality. The first chakra contains information on how to survive and thrive in this reality, and since this is where we have our physical experience and where we want our healing and magic to manifest, I have found it to be a sound practice. Enjoy your exploration with connecting into this planet by grounding. Remember, as with anything, that the experience will change with time. Bring your willingness to explore and allow yourself to be open to your own deepening awareness.

Technique:

Sit comfortably in a straight back chair or on the couch (as long as you don’t tend to nod off to sleep) have your hands and feet apart and feet flat on the floor.

Close your eyes (this helps you to focus inward).

Take three nice deep breaths, breathe down into your belly and soften your belly as you breathe. It can be helpful (although not essential) to breathe through the nose, while keeping your tongue resting lightly on the roof of your mouth. This is from certain Yoga traditions and is said to help encourage the flow of energy through your system.

Relax as you breathe, noticing how you feel, how your body feels.

Be aware of your first chakra. This is simply an energy center (vortex) that is located in the general area near the base of the spine. For women the center is usually near the area between the ovaries (note: the chakra positioning doesn’t change if you have had your ovaries removed for any reason). For men the location is slightly lower in the body because the chakra placement is associated with the testicles.

Be aware of this area, and allow a cord of energy to flow downward from your body: Through the chair you are sitting in. Through the floor and down through the building you are in. Through the foundation and into the deep earth beneath. Allow your grounding to flow down into the earth past all the rocks and layers of the planet, past the water, deep deep into the earth, into the heart of the Mother. Until it reaches the center of the earth.

Allow your grounding cord to connect securely into the center of the planet. Be aware of your grounding cord being securely connected also to your first chakra.

Breathe and relax and experience your grounding, your spiritual connection to this beautiful planet.

Notice how your body responds to you grounding and becoming more present in it. Release tension and discomfort down your grounding, allow it to simply drain away.

Your grounding belongs to you and you can create it in any form you like.

Change your grounding into a waterfall, flowing and cascading from your first chakra down through all of physical reality to the center of the earth.

Experience this, release and relax, breathe. Take your time.

Next change your grounding into a supple and strong root of a tree, allowing it to grow from your first chakra to the center of the earth.

Notice how this changes your experience. Breathe. Enjoy.

Now shift your grounding so that it is a laser beam of light, shining though everything straight down to the center of the earth.

How does this feel? Be with this for a moment or two. (Remember you can use any of these groundings at any time, they are simply different ways to experience this connection.)

Now change your grounding once again. This time create you own grounding flowing from your first chakra to the center of the earth. It can be any one of the three you used before, or something completely unique, it’s up to you. This is your very own grounding.

Breathe, relax, and experience.

Use your breath and release down your grounding cord, any tension, distractions, or discomfort. Notice how you feel as you do this.

Be still, as you ground and relax. If you have questions this is the time to ask and listen for the answers. Or simply allow yourself to be.

When you are done, open your eyes, bend forward and touch your hands to the floor, as you relax your neck, and release any built up energy around the head and shoulders into the earth. Slowly sit back up. If you journal this would be a great time to record your experience. If not, then you’re ready to go on to the rest of your day or evening. Blessed be.

How to Make Your Drekkahorn

How to Make Your Drekkahorn

by Gefjon

 

(This is a condensed version of a paper presented at a workshop at the Ostara gathering he/d just north of San Francisco, California.)

What Kind Of Horn

The use intended for a horn determines the “best” kind of horn. Will it serve 12 people at a Sumbel, or will it just be yours, and small enough to pack easily? Will it be carved or left plain? How much time, energy and money will be expended on the horn? Big horns can be cut down, but the diameter of the open (mouth) end and the horn’s configuration and curve cannot be changed. Odd shapes can bang your nose and precipitous curves often create a tidal wave effect when drinking. The more round the opening, the better. Horns usually come with a ragged mouth which will need to be cut down. When getting a horn, look for punctures, deep crevices and thick splinters – all of which are undesirable and may not be correctable.

Where To Find A Horn

Cattle ranches ~ ask them to keep your name for future reference if they have none at present. Remember, they may sell only the whole skull. Slaughter houses ~ there are often laws about keeping “parts” around, so call them first and ask them exactly when it would be best to come by. Retail skull, hide, and bone merchants ~ good if you can find one. Taxidermists ~ very good, but they are usually rather expensive sources. Tandy and other craft stores ~ okay but their horns are usually very thin. Junk stores. etc. ~ you might get lucky but you can never count on it. Note: mounted bull horns can be dismantled giving two horns.

Cleaning And Preparing

If you get an entire skull which is particularly fresh, bury it for about six weeks (longer in winter). Then, if the horns are still attached to the skull, soak the whole thing for four to six hours in a boiling solution of eight gallons of water and one gallon of bleach. Or submerge it in a vat of 40% hydrogen peroxide and 60% water for an hour or so. When the horns are off, use a bottle brush (or flexible rod with a rag firmly attached) and vigorously clean the inside of the horn with more bleach/water solution.

Soak it again for several hours, scrub it out a second time, and then rinse with a solution of four gallons of cool water and one-half a gallon of vinegar. After rinsing, the horn should smell clean. If not, repeat the boiling soak sequence and then fill the horn with baking soda. Once the horn is clean, but still damp, if it has a lot of scales and/or splinters, now is the time to take a vegetable peeler or a pocket knife and scrape – with the grain of the horn, and away from your body. Afterwards, invert the horn and allow it to air dry for 24 hours.

Curing (see also Sealing below)

If you do not plan to seal the interior mantle, curing the horn is the next step. Remember, the horn is made of keratin which is porous and will retain a degree of porosity forever. This means that there is always the possibility of a chemical or microbe being absorbed into the keratin matrix and perhaps being released later into another drought. possibly affecting taste and your gastrointestinal system. Due to the possibility of contamination or infection, I do not personally advocate the curing of a horn as a final interior finishing. Many people believe sealing it (see below) is safer.

The object of curing is to shrink the keratin matrix as much as possible to decrease its porosity. (1) Fill the horn with a salt water curing solution (three cups of salt per gallon of water) and allow it to stand for 24 hours. (2) Pour out and repeat. (3) The third evening, pour out and rinse well with cold fresh water and then air dry for 24 hours. (4) Then fill the horn with 100 proof vodka and allow it to stand for 24 hours. (5) Pour out and repeat. It will need to be completely re-cured at least twice a year. The only real advantage of curing (instead of sealing) is that you can leave the horn on the dashboard of your car in the summer time when it gets hot.

Sanding

Start with a medium grade of sandpaper (120) against the grain of the horn. Be patient, this takes time. Then sand with the horn grain. Repeat with a finer grade (360) until it is very smooth and free of imperfections. Remember – the more mantle you sand off, the less thickness is left to carve, and the more brittle the horn.

Cutting The Lip

Take a wide rubber band and encircle the horn mouth with it at a level at least one inch below any cracks. Position the rubber band until it represents a straight line. Trace the line with a pencil. Use a hack saw to carefully cut through the line. Then sand the opening to make it smooth.

Decoration

Plan designs for the size of the horn. Draw on paper first and then wrap the paper around the horn. Draw on the horn with a #2 (or softer) pencil. Decorations can be either carved into the outer surface of the horn or stained – or both. Some people carve with a knife. Others use a tool like an electric dremel. Do not use any tool until you are thoroughly familiar with it and can use it safely. Staining can be done with India ink (which comes in several colors) or acrylic paint. Acrylic will dry about 40% darker than its wet hue.

Finishing

After a final fine sanding, the horn can be finished with several coats of clear acrylic spray. Or it can be polished with jeweler’s rouge. Or a coat of beeswax can be applied and rubbed in by hand.

Sealing

Sealing a horn entails coating the interior mantle (the inside of the horn). Beeswax is traditional. and is related to mead. The only problem with it is that it will melt in warm conditions. (Do not put hot coffee in your horn or leave it in direct sunlight.) However, if the beeswax does melt, you can always reapply a new coat of it. Beeswax can be purchased at art supply and craft houses.

For a half liter horn, you will need about a quarter pound of beeswax. Melt the wax in a double boiler, stirring it thoroughly. Pour the wax into the horn and immediately start to rotate the horn so as to coat all of the inside surfaces. Pour excess wax back into the boiler. Wait about five minutes and then repeat. Do this three times, and then allow the horn to cool for one hour.

Metalwork

Silver, or other metal rims can add a rich look to a horn. A matching metal tip can also be added. Any good silversmith can do this for you if you are unable to do it yourself. However, this can be quite expensive. so get a cost estimate first.

Care And Cleaning

The inside of a horn should be thoroughly washed out with clean, cold water containing some liquid dishwashing detergent after every use. Then rinse with cold water to get rid of the soap.

Asatru: We Are Not Racists

Asatru: We Are Not Racists

by Gamlinginn

 

Ásatrú is not a racist religion. Anyone who wants to be in Ásatrú should be in Ásatrú. And the word “anyone” means just that: anyone – regardless of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, language, sexual orientation, or other divisive criteria. Today, we live in a multi-ethnic nation (not to mention a multi-ethnic world). As Ásatrú advances, it will inevitably become more and more a multi-ethnic religion.

But, unfortunately, some people seem to think that Ásatrú is a racist religion. Why? Probably because there have been some people in Ásatrú who were racists and some of these have tried to use Ásatrú as a front for their racist views, claiming that it was somehow an exclusively “Nordic” religion, only open to those of “pure Aryan” descent. However, the existence of a few racists does not make Ásatrú a racist religion. Almost every religion has had some racists in it at one time or another. In Sri Lanka, for example, there are some Buddhists who are so racist that they have recently been killing the ethnic-minority Tamils in their country, but that does not make Buddhism a racist religion.

Another reason some might think that Ásatrú is a racist religion is confusion and misunderstanding about the “Scandinavian Connection” of Ásatrú. The truth about this is simply that the Aesir and the Vanir were followed longer in northern Europe than elsewhere, and thus we know about them from there. That is the reason why we use the Old Norse names for the Deities and other terms, and are so interested in pre-Christian Scandinavia. It is fine for those of northern European descent to seek out their cultural roots, but no single ethnic group “owns” the Gods of Asgard.

Some people have suggested that the ancient inhabitants of northern Europe believed in racial exclusivity, in other words that they were racists. I do not believe this. However – even if it was true – it does not matter. Just because a person’s remote ancestors might have been racists is no reason for that person to be a racist today. If one’s great-grandfather was an arsonist, one need not and should not follow in his footsteps. (Those interested in the racial attitudes of the Viking-age Scandinavians should read the article “Race, Religion, and Ásatrú Today,” by Kveldulfr Gundarsson that appeared in Mountain ThunderNumber 5, Summer 1992. This article shows that European descent is not necessary for full participation in modern Ásatrú.)

The characteristics we admire so greatly in the Vikings came about because the Vikings followed the Aesir and the Vanir – not because they had blue eyes or blond hair. These same characteristics are available today to anyone who wants to develop them by following the way of Ásatrú. It is important to remember that admiration for these attributes is not Eurocentric, it is universal. Every culture that has ever existed in the world has inherently esteemed the virtues esteemed by Ásatrú, including: courage, honor, hospitality, independence (and liberty), individuality (with self-reliance, and responsibility), industriousness (and perseverance), justice (including an innate sense of fairness and respect for others), loyalty (to family, friends, and the society of which one is a part), truthfulness, and a willingness to stand up for what is right.

What makes the Ásatrú way of life different from that of other religions, is that the Ásatrú “Code of Conduct” supports and encourages these virtues far more strongly than do other religions – some of which actually discourage several of these ideals. People who have the characteristics we admire acquired them because their culturecontains values similar to those of Ásatrú (in some cases because their culture was rooted in Ásatrú). Conversely, people who have characteristics we dislike come from backgrounds that lack those values because they are no longer taught. This is a social problem, not a racial one. It has to do with the breakdown of the family, and the resultant crumbling of all cultural values. It has nothing to do with eye shape, or hair texture, or skin color.

Ásatrú is a multi-ethnic religion – not because that might be “politically correct” at this point in time, but because multi-ethnicity is fundamental to the theology of Ásatrú. Asgard, home of the Gods, is multi-ethnic. For example, Magni and Modhi, the sons of Thorr, are also the sons of their mother, Jarnsaxa, who is a Jotunn. Who will tell Thorr that his sons should not participate in something because they are not of “pure” descent? And what of the Vanir? Since the Gods of Asgard do not worry over these things, the Ásatrú people of Midgard certainly have no need to do so.

In the Prose Edda there is a passage about the many names of Odhinn that says:

Tha segir Harr: “Mikil skynsemi er at rifiaa that vandliga upp, en thó er thér that skjótast at segja, at flest heiti hafa verit gefin af peim atburdh, at svá margar sem eru greinir tungnanna í veröldinni, thá thykkjast allar Thjódhir thurfa at breyta nafni hans til sinnar tungu til ákalls ok baena fyrir sjálfum sér.” (Snorra Edda, Gylfaginning, XXXII)

Then said High One: “It would take a vast amount of knowledge to cover them all, but it is swiftest to say, that most of these names have been given (to him) because, the many different nations speaking different tongues in the world, all wanted to change his name into their own tongue in order to address and pray (to him) for themselves.”

As for the so-called “ethnic descriptions” of the Deities sometimes encountered in the literature, these resulted from people trying to visualize the unvisualizable. Those who, for example, wrote about the red beard of Thorr did so because they knew men who had red beards. Does a God have a beard of any color? (Theologically speaking, the answer is “yes” but only if and when the God wants a beard, and it would then be any color the God desired. A God does not have human ethnicity of any kind, and is far more different from any particular human than is that human from any other human on earth.) A comparison can be made with the “Asian faces” on Japanese statues of Buddha, who was an Indian, or the blue-eyed paintings of Christ that were so popular in the European middle ages.

All humans, we believe, descend ultimately from Ask and Embla, who were created by the Gods. What color were Ask’s eyes? What color was Embla’s hair? Such questions are ridiculous. Since all humans are related to each other by blood, all humans have the same inherent source-potentials – and the same instinctive longing for the Gods of Asgard who watch over allthe peoples of Midgard, not just some small group of them. Any thinking person, whether or not an Ásatrú believer, can logically see that there is no place for racism of any kind in Ásatrú. Nor has there ever been.

Racism comes from two sources:

  1. A psychological fear of anyone who is “different” in any way.
  2. A psychological need to find someone to blame (a “scapegoat”) for whatever misfortunes happen to occur.

Neither of these attitudes is logical. In the Old Stone Age, little groups of 20 to 30 inbred humans lived their lives separated by vast distances from all others of their species. On the rare occasions when humans from another group happened to be seen, they looked different, and the reaction was to kill them, or at least to drive them away. Times have changed. We no longer shave with stone axes. But for some people the Paleolithic mentality lingers on.

In the Modern Age, racists will become more and more isolated from mainstream society (and reality), living lonely, bitter, and paranoid lives.

Those of us who have spent our lives fighting both alongside and against many of this world’s diverse ethnic groups learned to appreciate the essential similarities of all humans, and to ignore the superficial differences. Every life is filled with combat situations; physical, mental, and spiritual. When facing combat, it is always better to pick allies who share with you the Viking values of Ásatrú than those who share with you only your skin color.

Yule Joy

Yule Joy

by Harley Hashman

 

‘Tis the age when the Christ signs his name to the season in a giant “X” and it becomes the X-mas, when throngs of shoppers like locusts with tombstones in their eyes foam the waters with their frenzy of consumption. Retailers pray that their hour has come, credit card companies rub their hands together like avaricious spiders contemplating the trapped fly, and we choke back bile at the seven hundredth playing of “Rudolph” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

If I may be allowed to diverge for a moment, Rudolph should have steered those insufferable hypocrite reindeer to impalement on iron spikes. “Then all the reindeer loved him,” indeed.

The term Yule is still used by some as a synonym for Christmas. Of course it is not. Yule comes at the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. It is paradoxically, a Pagan solar festival, and in some traditions is the time when the Holly King – representing death – is overcome by the Oak King – representing rebirth. The Teutonic Yuletide begins on Mother Night, Dec. 20th and ends on Yule Night, Dec. 31st. These are the “Twelve days of Christmas” in that annoying song.

The ecologically questionable tradition of buying a severed young evergreen tree for an entire day’s wages, then dragging it indoors to decorate it, place presents beneath it while it gradually dies, then dump it unceremoniously on the curb is originally a Pagan one, although I suspect that the tree was live and rooted before and after the celebrations. Many people are now using live potted trees which are later replanted. The Yule trees were illuminated by candles, a dangerous practice indoors, which technology has replaced with colored lights that burn out, ornaments that sing “Silent Night” and Hallmark replicas of Star Trek vehicles.

Holly wreaths are another Pagan invention, as are decorated cookies and special breads for the feast. The extensive use of the colors red and green for Christmas is derivative of their use in Yule; maybe an echo of the colors of the holly leaves and berries?.

Consider the Santa myth. The use of reindeers: are these leftover symbols of the horned god, presented in a palatable form? And what about those elves? Why or how did earth elementals become the thralls of a human in red jumpers? The book When Santa was a Shamandiscusses extensively the myth of Kris Kringle. Suffice to say, the character originates in pagan Europe. St. Nick is one of the few magical beings of a non-angelic species accepted by Christians and promoted to their (and Pagan) children. Santa is a micro version of Jehovah, complete with the white beard, who doles out rewards to the faithful – toys instead of paradise – and punishment to the wicked – a coal in your stocking rather than a lake of fire.

When a child finds out that Santa is a fraud, a rite of passage has been completed; never again will that child blindly accept the word of an adult. For some children the realization that Santa is make believe makes it easy to be as cynical about God.

The ritual of the Yule log has been dropped from most mainstream Christianity. A pity, for it is perhaps the most wonderful. Small scrolls containing wishes for the new year are placed on the Yule fire. A portion of the log is saved to protect the house the year-round and to light the log of the next Yule.

The Yule of Our Ancestors

The Yule of Our Ancestors

by Wülfgar Greggarson

The Yule tree is probably one of the most recognizable symbols of the Yule season. For me, the tree always stood for the coming together of family. It has been one thing that bound my family together, the center focus for the children eagerly awaiting the present-opening ritual. For the adults, it was a comfortable place to drink and catch up on old times. The Yule tree was a much-needed place of peace for my large family. Now, as an adult with a little more worldly knowledge, I have found a deeper understanding of the Yule tree’s lore and purpose.

Customarily, the tree was a spruce or other evergreen, which symbolized the survival of green life through the barren months of winter, the people’s hope and nature’s promise that the earth would once again spring back to life. It was a symbol that the cold touch from the god of death would wane with the rebirth of the newly returned sun. Surely the goddess of life would and could replenish all of the earth after Old Man Winter had his fun.

In various parts of Europe, fruit-bearing trees were an important feature during the Yule season. In more natural times, the folk would gather at a large apple tree on Twelfth Night to hang cider-soaked bread on its branches for the good spirits and all the fey and thus renew and strengthen the fragile and cherished relationship with the wee folk.

Yule has also been a time to begin certain harvest magick. In parts of Denmark, the people would go out and shake the fruit trees, then hang a token of the Yule season in their branches and pray for a good harvest in the summer. The fruit tree is also a sign of the triumph of life through death, much as the evergreen is a symbol of life’s continuance.

Possibly the origin of decorating the Yule tree lies with the people known as the Lapplanders or, more correctly, the Sami. It is said the Sami would take small portions of meals eaten on holy days, put them in pieces of birch bark, then after making ships out of them, complete with sails, hang them on trees behind their homes as offerings to the Jöl (Yule) spirits.

At some point, it became unsafe to observe heathen Yule practices publicly; it is probable that, at this point, the Yule tree was brought into the home. Pagan Yule practices, symbolism and holy tokens became enmeshed and hidden within the Christ birth mythology. Yule’s theme of honoring the sun, newly reborn, and the triumph of light through darkness is quite an easy target for an opportunistic religion.

There are many other Yule traditions, such as wreath making, cake baking, ale brewing and so on. Another was wassailing, a kind of ritual toasting and singing, which comes from the words Wes Hal, meaning to be whole. Wassail the drink was usually a hot cider mixture drunk from a maple turned bowl.

The actual Yule feast is also a favorite of this hungry heathen. The Yule season ended on Twelfth Night, which is now celebrated on December 31. In more ancient times, Mothers Night was observed on December 25 and the festivities continued until January 5. Mothers Night, the beginning of the Yule season ritual observance, was practiced on different days at different places and times and is now celebrated beginning at sunset on December 20. Mothers Night activities included making wreaths woven with wishes for the coming year, a rite to bless the family and exchanging gifts.

Wreath making can be a fun activity for a coven, kindred or family. Wreaths can be made using a circular candle holder that holds four candles. Evergreen branches, sprigs of holly and nuts are good items to offer as gifts to the Yule spirits. Being that a gift calls for a gift, we can tie small pieces of red ribbon onto the wreaths with our requests and wishes for the coming season, to be answered by the Yule spirits.

The Yule log is probably one of the most important aspects of the Yule time festivities. The log traditionally was kindled from the burnt remains of the previous year’s Yule fire. The Yule log symbolizes the light returning to conquer the darkness. Decoration for your log can be of various evergreens, holly, mistletoe, nuts, fruit and so forth. There are many traditional ways to collect your log; what I do, because it seems most practical, is save the thickest part of my Yule tree when it comes time to throw it away. This I keep through the year (making sure a well-intentioned friend doesn’t accidentally throw it in the fireplace – no names mentioned), then I decorate it, put offerings on it and send it to Valhalla.

The burning of the log can be a fun party for your group or family with a round of toasting, boasting, bragging or promises for things to come in the next year. In my opinion, this is best done drinking hot cider, because when mead or ale is drunk, the toasting, boasting and bragging can get out of hand.

Appropriate items to hang on our trees include cookies in the shape of horses, swine, birds, cats and trees. Apples if available, most varieties of nuts, strings of cranberries and popcorn are also nice. I like to use my scroll saw to cut wood into shapes such as horses, swine or other holy tokens such as pentagrams, labrys, Thor’s hammers, sun wheels and, one of my favorites, the Valknut, which is three interlocking triangles, a symbol sacred to Odin.

Other Yule season facts are out there, not far out of reach. We can research and find these things and revive the practices that touch our heathen hearts. It is our right and responsibility to revive this old lore and educate others of the many pagan origins of this very heathen time. I hope this small article will stir your interest in our pagan heritage.

Wassail!

The Daily Motivator for Dec. 12th – Let yourself enjoy

Let yourself enjoy

Let yourself be. Let yourself enjoy.

Let yourself see and participate, know and feel, listen and understand. Let yourself live the brilliant richness that shines through even the smallest details of this very time and place.

Let go of the worries, the fears, the grievances, insecurities and inhibitions. Simply and lovingly live the beauty of this day.

Without judgment as to whether it is difficult or easy, popular or unpopular, do what you know is right, and what you feel is right for you. Let yourself be curious, in awe, inspired and in love with the ineffable reality of existence.

Live authentically as the unique person you really, truly are. Allow the fulfillment that naturally comes when you let all you do come from the best of who you are.

Let yourself be joyful, and generous with your joy, just because you can, and just because it feels so good. Right now, let yourself live in the best, most positive way you can imagine.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for December 12th – Rhythmic Rest

Rhythmic Rest
Natural Cycles Of Sleep

 

 

Our bodies are naturally encoded to respond to light and dark and sleeping with the rhythms of Mother Nature. 

The human body evolved to fall asleep soon after the descent of night’s curtain and to wake with the appearance of the dawn. Sleep cycles were governed by patterns of light and darkness for thousands of years, meaning that for much of history, humanity has enjoyed nine of more hours of sleep each night. Our bodies are naturally encoded to respond to light and dark and sleeping with the rhythms of Mother Nature. In the present, artificial light has changed the way we schedule our day-to-day lives, and most of us slumber for less than seven hours at a stretch. It is possible, however, to come back to natural sleeping cycles by making a few small changes. When our bodies and minds are attuned to the world’s natural rhythms, we feel calmer, more centered, and more energetic while awake. Sleep is more satisfying because we afford ourselves more than enough time for restoration and rejuvenation.

Our reliance on indoor lighting further compounds our disassociation from the natural cycles of light and darkness that would otherwise preside over our sleep. You can mimic the passage of the day by changing the quality of the light. Sleeping without heavy drapery or shades is best so you can wake up with the sun. If sleeping by a window without a curtain is not an option, a dawn simulator lamp imitates the sun by growing steadily brighter with the coming of the height of morning.

You will likely discover that changing your sleep patterns to be in sync with the daily cycle of light and darkness is easy and that you feel more alive when your sleeping and waking rhythms are in alignment to those of the earth. Nature’s own phases will be your guide to wellness, granting you more waking hours in the summertime when you will benefit greatly from spending time outside and ensuring you get plenty of sleep in the winter when you likely need it most.

Feng Shui for Adult Bedrooms

Feng Shui for Adult Bedrooms

  • Erica Sofrina

By Erica Sofrina, Founder of the West Coast Academy of Feng Shui and author of the book Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World.

 

In Feng Shui the bedroom is considered one of the most important rooms in the home, This is because we spend most of our time there and its chi or energy will affect us more powerfully. In this article I will address good color choices for bedrooms along with general Feng Shui principles that will help you create a bedroom that is a sanctuary of rest and rejuvenation.

 

Color in the Bedroom

 

In Feng Shui we always take into consideration the Yin (calm) and Yang (active) components of a space. In doing so we can design a room that serves the purposes of both rest and activity more effectively. (See my article on Yin and Yang for the Home). The purpose of a bedroom is to be a place that supports replenishment, not activity, unlike the home office or kitchen. We want them to feel happy and lift our spirits; bold and bright colors will not serve the purpose of sleep.

Flesh tones and earth tones are ideal colors for bedrooms. You can choose from an array of more muted yellows and golds, taupes (light coffee color), adobe, a more muted terracotta, creamy peach and apricot and flesh tones. Dark blue, green, black and grey are too cool and only recommended in small doses in bedrooms. They represent the water element and can make us feel too spacey and ungrounded. Bedrooms are places we need to be in our bodies to rejuvenate. They should invoke an ‘earthy’ feeling. Use the darker watery colors as accent in small doses.

Bring in the fire element to add sensuality and sizzle but don’t over do it. Use more muted fire colors such as plum, coral, terracotta, berry red or burgundy. Bright red walls or hot pink accessories for curtains bedspreads, sheets and rugs are too stimulating and will not be conducive to sleep. You can add romance to any color scheme by bringing in two red pillows, a red throw on the bed with red candles in pairs. They will add just enough spark without making it too stimulating for sleep.

Attracting a Mate

 

For those who would like to attract a mate, you may want to bring in objects in pairs and add realistic, romantic relationship pictures. An unrealistic picture might be that of a winged man rescuing a mortal woman. Last I checked men don’t come with wings and you might end up attracting ‘daddy’ rather than a mate that is your equal!

Examples of pairs of things might be two red candles, two roses in a vase, pairs of doves, etc. You also want to have two end tables and lamps of equal size on either side of the bed.

To give it more oomph, place it in the love corner of the bedroom, which will be the far right corner as you are standing in the doorway looking into the room.

Safety issues both subtle and obvious are an important part of Feng Shui. Here are some safety issues that would be important to address in the bedroom for every age group.

  • Replace or pad any piece of furniture that can injure, especially unfriendly bed frames that you can bruise your shins or stub your toe on.
  • Move the bed away from heavy beams or ceiling fans. Your nervous system will always be on alert and you will not rest deeply. You can cover the beams with a piece of cloth or create a “faux” canopy by draping it on the ceiling. Ceiling fans can be removed or replaced with more friendly looking blades that look like palm leaves.
  • Cozy-up rooms with high vaulted ceilings with canopy beds if you can. As creatures of comfort we sleep better in more cozy spaces.

Bed Positioning

Ideally the bed should be positioned so that you see the entry door from your pillow but are not in direct alignment with the open doorway. If you cannot move the bed, always close the door when you sleep. The energy coming in through hallways is too strong and can have a huge affect on anyone who is energetically sensitive. If your bed is in direct alignment with a bathroom door, close this whenever you are in bed. We never want to be looking at the toilet.

If the bed has to be positioned in front of a window it should have a large headboard to provide a sense of protection. Use heavier window coverings to mute street noise. Always have window coverings on bedroom windows, preferably with blackout shades to allow for a sounder sleep for those who are light sensitive.

Clutter and Organization

All of the same principles of dealing with clutter apply to every room of the home. Closets are no exception and disguise much hidden clutter in bedrooms, so go throw away and deep six anything you haven’t used or worn in a year. You will be surprised what joy an organized closet can bring every time you open the door.

Ideally we should not have storage under the bed but for small spaces we need to utilize them. If you do store things there, make sure there are no weapons or sharp objects. Organize the storage and edit out anything that is not necessary. Store them in containers that are clearly marked and easy to pull out.

What Not to Have in Your Room

Remove Televisions, Home Offices and Exercise Equipment from bedrooms along with large mirrors. This is the key place for you to relax and rejuvenate.

Working, exercising and watching television are all “Yang” activities and should be done in the more active spaces of the home. If you are looking at work you will either be feeling guilty for not working or feeling guilty for working too much. If you live in a studio and need a workspace as well, separate the work with an attractive screen, put computers and televisions in a cabinet you can close up at night or disguise them with an attractive throw or shawl when you are through working. If you do have exercise equipment make sure you are able to fold it up and store out of sight.

 

Mirrors are “chi activators” and are powerfully used in Feng Shui in the right places. But will be counter productive in bedrooms where we want the energy to calm down. These are often the culprits for many of my clients who do not sleep well in their bedrooms.

Large Vanity mirrors can be covered with an attractive shawl at night or replaced with a picture. For mirrored closet doors treat them like a window and put curtains on them and close them up at night when you need to sleep. You can also paint over the glass. Three coats of paint will cover them. Paint is easy to scrape off when you need to restore them to their original state. Another idea would be to cover them with an attractive shelf paper with a sticky back that will adhere to the glass. Get something with an interesting texture like rice paper. If the closet doors span the entire wall you will want to be looking at something visually interesting.

Inspire Yourself!

Make sure the last thing you look at before you go to bed and the first thing you see when you wake up inspires you. This holds tremendous energy to move your life forward in the direction of your highest aspirations, so put your most inspiring artwork and affirmations in this most important piece of real estate!

Herbs, Yoga and Feng Shui for Sleep

Herbs, Yoga and Feng Shui for Sleep

  • Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine

By Jennifer Lang, Natural Solutions

Americans spend billions on prescription sleep aids each year, even though the drugs produce a number of unwanted side effects. Natural sleep remedies, on the other hand, are generally side effect-free. For the most part, they help you fall and stay in deep sleep without relying on sedatives. And because they’re muscle relaxants, they also help alleviate pain and may even improve libido. Some to consider:

L-theanine, an amino acid (protein) derived from green tea, improves deep sleep and helps people maintain a calm alertness during the day. It also plays a role in the formation of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that’s critical for sleep. Take 50 to 200 mg at bedtime; L-theanine can also be used for daytime anxiety.

Hops reduce hot flashes in menopausal women, studies show, and they also reduce anxiety and help muscles relax enough for you to fall asleep. Take 30 to 120 mg at bedtime. Often used in combination with valerian and lemon balm, hops have to be dried to have any medicinal effect–the hops in beer, however tasty, provide no sleep benefit.

Passionflower (Passiflora) is an herb commonly used as a calming agent. Take 90 to 360 mg at bedtime.

Valerian helps reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep you get–without next-day sedation. Take 200 to 800 mg at bedtime. (Valerian causes wakefulness in some people; if that’s the case for you, take it during the day to reduce overall anxiety.)

5HTP (hydroxytryptophan) is what your body uses to make sleep-inducing serotonin. One downside: It can take up to six weeks to start working. Take 200 to 400 mg at bedtime. If you also take serotonin-raising medications (for example, antidepressants), make sure your holistic practitioner supervises the use of the 5HTP to keep serotonin levels from going too high.

Melatonin retrains your circadian rhythm so you become sleepy when the lights dim and wake up more alert at morning light. Take 3 mg at bedtime for three nights and gradually increase to 6 mg if necessary. Melatonin is not recommended for teens, however.

How Yoga Helps Insomnia
�Most insomnia has to do with �restless mind syndrome,�� says Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, a physical therapist and author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times (Rodmell Press, 1995). Because the mind is always spinning, you need to do something physical to allow the central nervous system to come into balance. This quiets the mind and lets the parasympathetic nervous system dominate while you sleep�crucial for the body to restore. Three poses to help you drift off–and stay asleep:

Before bed: Savasana
This is the gold ring of relaxation poses, says Lasater, because there’s no stretching at all. Lie down on the floor with a blanket folded under your head and neck, another blanket rolled under your knees, a soft cloth over your eyes, and a blanket to cover your body. Stay in the pose for 15 to 20 minutes or longer if possible. Use a breathing practice with a long, slow inhale and a slightly elongated exhalation; the exhale helps stimulate parasympathetic nervous�system dominance, prompting your body to go into “rest and repair” mode.

Can�t fall asleep? Halasana
Also known as Plough Pose, this legs-over-head pose is especially helpful if you have trouble winding down. A modification: Lay on the floor and rest your thighs on a padded chair, so thighs and shins are parallel to the floor.

For midnight awakenings: Side-Lying Savasana
“Side-Lying Savasana is a position of emotional comfort,” says Lasater. “It’s great when you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, pulled in all directions.” Lie on your left side and put a pillow or bolster under your right knee, right arm, belly, and head so you feel completely supported.

 

Feng Shui for Fostering Sleep
The ancient art of feng shui seeks to maximize the flow of life force energy, or qi, through environments, homes, and other structures. Five guidelines to set your bedroom up for good sleep:

• Place your bed diagonally across the room from the entrance, so you can lie in it and still have a full view of anyone entering.

• Try not to position your bed so you look directly through other doorways (to the bathroom or closet, for instance). If that’s unavoidable, shut the door at night.

• Don’t set up your bed directly beneath a window, otherwise you�ll lose vital energy during the night.

• Keep clutter to a minimum; it can agitate the flow of energy in the room.

• Add objects that help stimulate the movement of qi, such as mirrors, plants, and stones or statues, and remove overstimulating items, such as the stereo, computer, and TV.

Your Daily Feng Shui Tip for December 12th

Every year on ‘Poinsettia Day’ I like to recall the mystical legend surrounding this magical plant. Native to Mexico, the story is told of Maria and Pablo, two poor children who lived in a tiny Mexican village. They could not afford Christmas gifts but they loved to attend the holiday festivities at their local church. To honor the birth of Christ the church would display a beautiful manger that drew crowds of admirers from villages all around. Maria and Pablo bemoaned the fact that they could not bring a gift to manger until one day when they were walking to the church and a bright light shone above them. An angel told them to pick some of the green weeds growing by the side of the road and to place them near the manger as their gift to the Baby Jesus. The angel was gone as quickly as it appeared, leaving the children confused but also filling their arms with bunches of the wild weeds. When they arrived at the manger the other villagers laughed at them for bringing such a worthless gift. But the two stood bravely by, placing the plants on the soft hay surrounding the manger. Suddenly the green leaves began to turn a lovely shade of red, surrounding the baby with beautiful blooms that then transformed into the lovely star shaped crimson flowers that we now call poinsettias. Perhaps during this season of light you would like to make some angelic magic of your own? According to other ancient legends you can do just that by invoking the intercession of Angel Eliel, an invisible presence that promises to bring the magic to your wishes. Call his name three times and ask that he grant your wish. Amazing grace will bloom and grow indeed!

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

Your Daily Number for December 12th: 7

Today has strong spiritual overtones for you. It’s a great day for communing with nature and acknowledging all things good in your world. A debt may be finally paid. Be aware of the possibility for mechanical breakdowns.

Fast Facts

About the Number 7

Theme: Quiet, Insightful, Analytical, Mystical, Intuitive
Astro Association: Cancer
Tarot Association: Chariot