by Melanie Fire Salamander

Let me put my cards on the table: Narrative and divination  are  two  of  my oldest obsessions. My first encounters with my narrative voice  came  early. I recall at four  years  old  retelling  the  story  of  Peter  Pan  all  in pictures, mostly stick figures, a narrative  impressive  to  my  mother  but unintelligible to any but myself without interpretation. (Perhaps Peter  Pan was my first muse; he’s certainly a pagan figure.) I got my  first  pack  of Tarot  cards  later,  when  I  was  13  years  old,  wandering  through  the multilevel  market  of  Crown  Center,  a  shopping  mall  in  Kansas  City, Missouri.

I began to teach myself Tarot by laying out all  78  cards  on  my  bed  and memorizing their meanings from the book. This  process  was  made  a  little harder by the fact my first deck was a Marseilles deck, and the book I  had, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, by A.E. Waite, showed the Rider-Waite  deck. (I still recommend Waite’s book on the Tarot, if you don’t mind  his  formal prose and his harping on the  second-class  citizenship  of  divination,  in comparison to using the Tarot as a mystery key.) I had to  make  a  leap  of transfer in my mind,  imagining  the  Rider-Waite  cards  while  seeing  the Marseilles  cards,  with  their  medieval  images  and   nonrepresentational designs for the Minor Arcana. In retrospect, I’m amazed – the young mind  is an astonishing thing when focused.

So my first step with the Tarot was memorizing card meanings. An analogy  to writing might be memorizing  letter  meanings;  consider  too  that  letters originated as  pictures,  and  that  letter-systems  often  have  divinatory meaning, runes being an example. At first, when doing  a  reading,  I  would just call up my memory of each card’s meaning and spout it  out.  But  early on I realized that the  book-meanings  pure  and  simple,  parroted  in  all situations, weren’t what made the cards work. Once  I’d  internalized  those meanings and could bring them up “in my own words” – as I was told to  write the essays of my schooldays – I could play with  them.  And  intuition  came into that play. I realized soon that it was my own intuition  that  made  my readings useful: that the first thing off the tip of  my  tongue,  my  first idea, was the true thing. I’m not sure if I got this theory from a  book  or from my own deduction, but I recall it was an old  concept  by  the  time  I took a class in Tarot at college.

That Tarot class was of course not at the college. They didn’t  teach  Tarot at state schools in mid-Missouri in the 1980s. The class  arose  at  one  of those efflorescences of metaphysical community that  appear  now  and  again even  in  the  hinterlands,  a  sort  of  metaphysical  culture  co-op,  the Chautauqua Center. There I learned – duh! – that you  could  look  at  Tarot pictures, just the pictures, and divine from them. For a long  time,  I  had in cumbersome fashion used the pictures only as a mnemonic device,  to  call from memory meanings I’d  learned.  Now  I  discovered  that  even  with  an unfamiliar deck, I could look at an image and have a useful  meaning  arise. This divination from the pictures themselves was a revelation to me.

As I stumbled through my adolescence and early  20s,  I  also  developed  my narrative voice. I was one of those kids driven to write. I produced  poetry and journals and stories  for  teachers,  but  –  I  couldn’t  help  it –  I produced them on my own as well.  They  were  a  way  for  me  into  another country, the country of my mind, whence I was driven  as  so  many  children are  by  various  traumas,  and  whence  I  was  led  by  the  call  of  the imagination.

The border of the imagination is coterminous with that of intuition.  During my teens I was also obsessed with divination and the occult.  No  young  boy with his guitar could have been more  focused  than  I  was,  gleaning  from books that I found in the library and that  otherwise  appeared  nuggets  of Tarot, Western astrology,  Chinese  astrology,  palmistry,  the  meaning  of flowers, color meanings, love spells, the I Ching, magick,  witchcraft,  the wheel of the year, numerology, omen meanings, herbalism.

Where does this obsession come from? The lust for magick is  native  to  our species. As early as we can read ancient cultures’ writing,  that  early  we find spells and rituals. Divination is at  least  that  old  –  witness  the Neolithic inhabitants of North China about  5,500  years  ago,  who  divined using turtleshells heated with red-hot pokers, which they then analyzed  for crack patterns. Divination begins as the desire to read  the  story  of  the future, I think – it’s only later we learn to want to clarify  the  present. Magick begins as the desire to make the future turn out  the  way  we  want. Old desires among humans; old desires for me.

The desire to divine and to work magick also has something to  do  with  the powerless taking power. The ancients  rightly  felt  at  the  mercy  of  the tempests of the world, in a way we often forget to  feel.  That  uncertainty made them want to know and change the  future.  Children  too  feel  at  the mercy of parents, teachers, unintelligible world patterns it takes years  to fathom. As a child and teen, I had the same desire as the ancients, to  know and change the future.  I  read  deep  into  fairytales,  doing  comparative folklore at an early age, and found magick.

I wanted magick to be, so  I  did  it,  and  it  worked.  But  what  of  the consequences? However much I desired outcome, even as a teen I  sensed  that pulling on someone else’s energy made myself negative karma. So I never  did hexes and gave up love spells  early.  I  get  no  points  for  a  specially ethical nature: My morality was bounded by fear.  I  didn’t  want  the  dark powers to come and fuck with me. I was attracted to divination by  the  idea it’s the safest of the magickal arts – a debatable point. Perhaps I  doubted too much my right and ability to control the future.  If  so,  even  more  I needed to know that future, to prepare.

My first and best-learned divinatory tool  was  the  Tarot.  I  learned  the Tarot by doing reading after reading, telling futures  for  my  friends  but most especially for myself. Many teachers and books don’t recommend  reading for yourself, and I agree it’s easier to read for other people, but I  don’t see how I can disrecommend this approach, since that’s how I learned  Tarot. Reading after reading, I tried to see my future.

For myself, and I think for others, divination begins as a need to know  the story’s end. Do I get the editorship of the  school  paper?  Will  I  go  to camp? And always and repeatedly: Will my crush love me  back?  What  happens next? To me, divination feels inextricable from storytelling.

This is not a new idea. Reading a Tarot layout has often been considered  as telling a story. The relation between divination and narrative inheres  even in how we talk about divination. We talk about a psychic “reading”; we  talk about “telling” the future.

My premise goes a little further: that one  essential  type  of  divination, whether telling the future or elucidating the present, is a  narrative  act. That, if you will, besides clariaudience  and  clairvoyance  and  the  other psychic senses exists a sense of narrative, of how the story  goes.  Perhaps this sense is a subtype of intuition; I’ve  never  been  very  concerned  to pigeonhole psychic phenomena.  I  think  such  a  sense  may  be  useful  to consider on its own.

A Divinatory Sense of Story

I do think this  sense  exists.  I  have  practiced  it.  That  is,  I  have practiced telling the future by considering what is going  to  happen  next, by feeling with my psychic sense the branching of  the  possible  paths,  by discovering outcomes following pure narrative flow. It’s  like  the  ability that I admired in my mother as a child, to predict how a TV show  was  going to end. The bad guy wasn’t going to kill the hero. The  hussy  wasn’t  going to wind up with the man. Certain narrative imperatives dictated  how  things went.

This rule holds true, I think, in our world that is not a TV show,  and  yet on some level is a show we all agree to play out, a consensus  reality.  The classic case I conjure is when a couple is, or is not, going  to  break  up. At the first sign of trouble, if you let your intuition follow the  possible paths of breakup or rejoining, you can discern a pattern. You  might  think: Now if they spend time apart, it will fix things. But if  she  doesn’t  move out, it’s doomed. Or: He’s never going to learn, but his boyfriend is  going to take him back at least once, maybe  twice,  before  they  split.  It’s  a sense of pure narrative, of how things go. It occurs for me not  as  images, or not only as images, but as a story.

Some  stories  have  only  one  possible  end –  the  characters  or   their adversaries are too rigid to admit more than one outcome. But  most  stories have many possible endings. To me, the future is not one eventuality  but  a multitude of branches leading outward,  some  more  likely  to  occur,  some less. The question becomes what branch is most likely, and if you  prefer  a different branch to prevail, what’s needed to switch. I think that  you  can sense the answers to these questions, and  that  by  asking  your  intuitive sense further questions you can clarify the tale of the future, or at  least the next few episodes.

Perhaps this sense is simply the result of worldly  experience.  It  doesn’t feel like that to me. It feels exactly as when I’m writing  a  short  story. Any halfway experienced writer of fiction can tell tales  of  stories  that, try as you might, don’t go the desired direction. Narration  has  a  certain logical flow, and you can’t make the river go backward. (Or  at  least  it’s very hard, and usually not worth the trouble.) In fiction writing, you  hone a sense of the correct next thing, what your characters can do  and  cannot, what the world might or might  not  hand  them.  The  predictive  sense  I’m describing feels very much like this sense of the correct next thing.

The sense of the correct next thing plays with, and against,  what  we  know of story structure from our experience as audience and sometime creators  of fiction, TV  shows,  movies.  We  know  many  Ur-stories,  their  structures starting as simple as Boy Meets Girl or Boy Meets Boy and the  like.  Pagans in particular steep themselves in mythology. The Hero’s Journey,  by  Joseph Campbell,  analyzes  the  structure  of  one  type  of  mythological   tale; Morphology of the Folktale, by Vladimir Propp,  analyzes  the  structure  of various Russian folktales, though unlike Campbell, Propp  does  not  concern himself  with  the  stories’  deeper  meaning.  With  or  without  conscious analysis, we take in story from the time we are children,  and  from  it  we learn  its  building  blocks,  basic  to  this  type  of  divination.  Basic narrative tropes can be seen as the lexicon of  this  divination,  as  Tarot cards are the lexicon of Tarot reading.

How to Use This Psychic Sense

In my experience, you can perform this foretelling  in  your  mind,  without props. This process follows the rules of pure intuition, in which  you  take the first answer that pops into your head. It  helps  first  to  clear  your mind. Ignoring your question for  the  moment,  bring  yourself  into  light trance by grounding and centering, clearing your  psychic  space  of  blocks and foreign energies and using whatever techniques you  prefer  to  enter  a meditative state.

Then ask a question about what will happen  next.  Phrase  the  question  as precisely as you can; ask the  exact  question  you  want  answered.  Having asked, note your very first reaction, before your rational  mind  alters  it to jibe with common sense. Often the answer will surprise you.

To me, this answer comes as “just knowing,” or as a voice. My related  sense of the branching paths of fate arises as a feeling, rather than as a  visual tree or roadmap. Your mileage may vary. If  you  do  get  information  as  a psychic voice, you’ll need to learn to  differentiate  among  inner  voices, filtering out leftover parental injunctions and emotional reactions to  hear the voice of true knowing or of a specific psychic guide.

Often you’ll get an answer, and want  more.  What  I  do  then  is  continue asking, making the questions as precise as possible  and  noting  always  my initial reaction, before rationality muddies the waters. But if  you  get  a clear answer to a question, stop asking that question!  Don’t  poke  at  the same thing again and again trying to change your psychic  hit.  You’ll  only confuse the information and chase away your psychic sense. If  you  want  to make change, do magick.

To further hone your psychic narrative sense, keep track  of  the  questions you ask and answers you get. Track how best  to  ask  the  questions.  Which preparations work for you, which merely distract you? Do  you  have  a  best time of day or month or best frame of mind  for  psychic  clarity?  To  help check your answers, get other like-minded people to ask the same  questions, if you can, and note their answers. Cross-check the information as  well  as possible. Over time, you’ll begin to see patterns, and from  those  patterns you can determine your most useful way of getting answers.  In  relation  to specific questions, comparing answers with  other  people  will  show  which fates are most marked and which are most malleable or undefined.

Everyone’s psychic sense is different, and  the  sense  I’m  describing,  of narrative flow, of “just knowing” what comes next, may  not  work  for  you. This process of asking questions and recording answers will pay off  anyway, if you keep at it. Asking questions and tracking answers  can  help  sharpen any psychic sense that is natively yours.

Psychic  abilities  are  multitudinous;  your  answers  may  come  in   many different ways. You may receive images in your mind, either literal  psychic photographs of the future, or symbols requiring interpretation.  Dreams  may give you information literal or symbolic. Or you  may  get  answers  in  the outside world – if your  phone  rings  just  as  you  ask  a  question,  pay attention to what your caller says. Or a raven might  suddenly  wing  across your line of sight, carrying for you a specific meaning. Your answers  might come as all of the above, or in other ways.

You can also use the narrative  sense  I  describe  in  combination  with  a divinatory tool such as the Tarot or a pendulum,  whatever  you’re  used  to and most comfortable with. Turning a reading of any kind into a story  is  a good way to make sense of it for yourself and your querent.

To show the psychic sense of narrative at work with  the  Tarot,  suppose  I ask the question: What will Widdershins’ next few months look like?  I  draw three cards: the Empress, the Nine of Pentacles  and  Justice.  The  Empress for me is a sense of unlimited potential,  burgeoning  life,  fertility  and promise for the future. The  Nine  of  Pentacles  is  abundance,  a  satiety almost to smugness. Justice conveys that what is  right  will  prevail,  and also that as much effort as Widdershins’ staff puts in, that much  will  the paper thrive.

The narrative sense comes in as I draw links  between  these  cards,  making from them a kind of flow-chart. I  feel  moved  by  this  psychic  narrative sense to put the Empress and Justice before the  Nine  of  Pentacles.  These two feel like beginnings to me: the Empress the  opening  door  and  Justice Widdershins’ staff  passing  through,  with  hope  and  effort.  Then  comes abundance, a full-fed sense – I hope not smugness!

The psychic narrative sense thus  draws  paths  between  the  shining  Tarot forms, as footpaths between stations of a ritual.  The  order  in  which  we take our initiations can matter a lot; here the narrative  sense  speaks  to that order.

By itself or in combination with other divinatory forms, a psychic sense  of what naturally comes next can help tell and change  the  future.  Myself,  a child who grew up in dreams, making stories, I feel great harmony in  having the future tell itself just as the stories I write tell themselves.  Is  not life a set of stories that we all tell each other? The campfire  flares  up, a log falls, and all around is darkness. But the stories go on.




by Dawn

Finding a united vision when giving a Tarot reading can be a challenge. Most books on Tarot have conflicting interpretations of the cards, and very few books clearly explain how cards affect each other when they appear in a spread together. Although I won’t be able in this short article to touch on all of the cards and spreads available, I do hope to give you, dear reader, a few steps toward performing spreads and interpretations so that you can give your readings more clarity.

One of the most important steps when learning the Tarot is choosing a deck that speaks your language. If the images on the cards contain symbols that are familiar to you, you will find it easier to remember the cards’ meanings and develop a close working relationship with the cards. I have used quite a few different decks over the years and am now primarily using two of them, the Voyager Tarot and the Spiral Deck. I like using both during readings, because together they give a very detailed map of what is happening energetically with the client and hard answers on what is coming up, what actions should be taken and new information that till the reading may have been hidden.

When doing a reading, I start with a general landscape overview using the Voyager Tarot because of its spiritual and self-growth orientation. This deck has lots of visual impact because of the photo collage technique used to create the images of the Major and Minor Arcana. The photographic images of people, places and things I am familiar with helps to ground the cards in reality for me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate other drawn and painted decks; it’s just that I have an affinity for photography, so this deck works for me. During this overview phase of the reading, I don’t have the client ask any specific questions. I just tell him or her to relax and be themselves as they are shuffling the deck, to say their name out loud and let their minds go to the people, places and events in their lives in the past and present, and to their goals and dreams for the future.

When the client finishes shuffling, I cut the deck into three stacks and choose the bottom cut, taking the very bottom two cards out first. I use these two cards as clues as to the client’s big questions. Doing so helps me because often they are so nervous and excited they can’t remember what it is they want to know!

I then do a simple six-card spread, laying the cards out left to right with a row of three above another row of three. The top layer is the outside world: work, friends, family, how other people see the client and the tasks he or she is being asked to do. The bottom layer is how the client is reacting to the outside world and life, as well as the things he or she brings to the world and the gifts he or she is receiving. The far left pair is the past, the center pair is the present and the right pair is the future. By looking at this spread, which I call the current energetic road map, I can more easily see the overriding themes and lessons being experienced by the client. I take a close look at the cards and observe whether the cards have a similar feeling or meaning.

The second part of the reading answers very specific questions. I use a more traditional deck, the Spiral Deck, for getting hard answers. I have the client shuffle the deck while saying his or her name and asking the specific question; the client then cuts the deck into three stacks again. I always choose the bottom stack for the reading, but in this case I just lay out five cards in a row from left to right.

Card One represents the client and where he or she exists in the moment regarding the question. Card Two is the thing asked about; Card Three is something hidden about this thing. Card Four is an action suggested for the client to take regarding to the question, and Card Five is the most probable result.

As you can see, I prefer small card-spreads. I like to keep things as clear and simple as possible, so that I have enough form to relax into but not so much structure that I can’t receive any additional information clairvoyantly. I find that if I let my logical mind work with the given meanings of the cards but still allow my intuitive mind to spring about, creating links and juggling all the information into a new whole, the reading is more accurate and helpful.

Now to the actual working of the spread and the cards found within it. I did a reading on my life and came up with some interesting results.

My reading with the Voyager Deck resulted in the Seven of Worlds (Pentacles) and the Three of Wands as the bottom two cards, which represent the burning questions I have. The key words and meanings for the Seven of Worlds is material or financial breakthrough. The Three of Wands traditionally means a successful business person, but in the Voyager deck the card has the keyword of “compassion,” which I interpret to mean that I want to know how to have compassion in my actions. These two cards make a lot of sense for me at this time, because I have my own business as a psychic and Reiki healer, and I also want to branch off in some new directions, Web design and making magickal ceremonial garb and jewelry. Using my common sense, I say “But of course! I really want some constructive insight into how I am going to accomplish all of this beautifully and well while still coming from my heart.”

Here is the reading as it looked, with (R) standing for reversed:

The Past               
Devil's Play (R)
Woman of Worlds (R)

The Present           
Man of Crystals (R)
Woman of Crystals

The Future
Ten of Crystals (R)
Five of Worlds

Remember that the top layer (Devil’s Play reversed, Man of Crystals reversed and Ten of Crystals reversed) is the outside world and that the bottom layer (Woman of Worlds reversed, Woman of Crystals and Five of Worlds) is how the client reacts and what he or she brings to the outside world.

The first thing I notice is the Devil’s Play reversed in the outer past position. I feel that this means that I have been feeling very manipulated and part of some karmic pattern in all of my relationships, personal as well as professional. Major Arcana cards in a spread always signal that there is a big lesson to be learned, or a job to do. In this case, Devil’s Play signals to me that it is time for me to acknowledge that I have allowed myself to become part of the karmic wheel and that I need to stand up for myself and get off of it.

Next I notice the three court cards, the Man and Woman of Crystals and the Woman of Worlds. Court cards can represent people in the client’s life and the role of leader and responsibility to guide others. With the Woman of Worlds reversed, “Preserver,” I realize that, out of guilt and fear, I haven’t been asking for what is rightfully mine, especially materially. I notice that the Woman of Crystals, “Guidance,” the great decision-maker, is in the present inner position, reminding me that I have put on my tough boots and taken back the helm of my ship, making the decisions I need to keep me on course and getting rid of all the unnecessary crap.

Opposition still appears, in the form of unresponsive and self-absorbed people in my environment: the Man of Crystals reversed, “Inventor.” But I appreciate the reminder that I don’t need to take on other people’s issues with my decisions, as well as the reminder to keep to my resolve strengthened.

In the next position, The Future – well, frankly, it looks a little bumpy, with the Ten of Crystals reversed in the outside world. The keyword of this card is “Delusion,” and it stands next to the Five of Worlds upright. The Five of Worlds has the keyword “Setback,” which means a small financial setback that is necessary for my spiritual growth, so that I keep my money focused on what I am trying to create instead of buying into “keeping up with the Joneses” and so that I try not to spend money to fill a spiritual or emotional hole.

This card doesn’t show a hopeless situation; it just means I need to keep steady on course and listen to myself and my true instincts, instead of being swayed by the outside world. I love when I receive information like this about the possible future, because I can take action to lessen any impact this situation might have on my life, by saving money now and tightening my belt. Doing so will also help me to stay grounded in my authentic self, so I don’t get blown off-course by inaccurate or unhelpful outside influences. I have some events planned in the next three months that I hope will make me some additional income, but with this warning I will tread very carefully and make frugal financial decisions.

I will now do a quick spread using the Spiral Deck to answer the question “What does my business look like in the future?”

For specific questions such as this, I use a five-card spread. Here it is:

Me:     The Fool
Issue:  The Lovers
Hidden: Two of Pentacles
Action: Strength
Result: Ace of Wands

Note that all cards appeared upright.

Whew! It all looks good in the end. The result arises as the Ace of Wands, which means  illumination and creative and spiritual gifts. I see too that the Fool appears for myself. Seeing this card, I realize that of course things are feeling a little overwhelming, because this whole path is completely new for me, The Fool (new beginnings, serendipity and trust!).

The issue card, The Lovers, reflects that I love all of the work I do and care about it so much that it would be a big deal emotionally if it didn’t work out. The Lovers means having to choose, matches and the significant other. I guess I really am a workaholic if my work is my lover! This card also suggests that the wonderful thing I haven’t acknowledged is that all of these projects and branches of my business provide a perfect balance for me emotionally as well as financially,

The hidden card appears as the Two of Pentacles, balanced life and reflection. I know that I will need to focus my energies toward accomplishing all of my goals and obligations, and that I will have to forgo some late nights watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel so that I can get things done and further my education in Web design. My “World Domination Plan,” as my partner would call it, is to be able to use my skills to work anywhere in the world

My action card is Strength, which means reining in my animal self and focusing that brute strength on a specific task, without killing my spirit so I can still pounce when needed. Strength also suggests higher education.

One thing to note as well is that three out of five cards in the spread are from the Major Arcana. This occurrence signals that big energy is afoot with this question and path in my life. This path is obviously something I am here to do, because it helps me learn many things about myself.

So, in a wee nutshell, dear reader, follow these tips and see what comes:

  1. Choose a deck or decks that speak your language. 
  2. Start with a global reading in order to illuminate any underlying themes in the client’s or your own life. 
  3. Do a separate spread to answer any specific questions. 
  4. Remember to relax and let your left brain do the literal interpretation and your right brain tackle weaving the connections. 
  5. Pay attention to any commonalties between the cards, to whether they have the same number, type or meaning. These are all clues pointing to who the client is and the information sought. 
  6. Keep practicing, and soon it will all work for you in a fluid way.

I hope that this article has sparked anew any interest you have in reading the Tarot. I have certainly found reading an enlightening and enjoyable task

13 Ideas for Samhain

13 Ideas for Samhain

by Heather Evenstar Osterman

Let’s face it; Halloween is a major commercialized holiday. So how do you  find something meaningful to pull out of all the mainstream commercialism for your  Sabbat celebrations? What do you do when most of the people around your family don’t  understand the ancient traditions they unconsciously uphold?

Take a close look at the history behind the holiday, then create new traditions  for your family to enjoy year after year. You don’t have to reject the mainstream;  just teach your children why modern practices exist.

Samhain (also known as the Festival of the Dead or All Hallows’ Eve) is a time  for us to release the spirits of those who have died during the previous year and for us  to honor our ancestors. It is customary to set an extra place at your supper table  on Samhain Eve in honor of the departed. This is not a scary time, rather a time when  the veil is thin and we can spend time with the spirits in warmth and love. Here are  some activities to try out with your family:

  1. Volunteer to talk to your child’s class about the origins of Halloween  and how Wiccans really celebrate Samhain.
  2. Together as a family, create an altar honoring your family’s beloved  dead (including pets). Use photos, mementos, keepsakes or anything that seems right.
  3. Make candleholders out of apples, turnips, gourds and small  pumpkins by hollowing out deep holes in the tops. Make sure the candles are well-secured  in the bases.
  4. Put candles in the windows to guide spirit travelers on their way.
  5. Eat dinner by candlelight, setting a place at the table for your beloved  dead. If your children are older, try having a  Dumb Supper where the meal is eaten in silence so the spirits are not frightened away.
  6. Bob for apples in your cauldron!
  7. Carve jack-o-lanterns to protect your home from malicious spirits. Have  your children help make up a spell of protection to enforce the scary jack-o-lantern faces.
  8. Plant flower bulbs in your yard or somewhere special. Think of this as  a special promise for spring, a secret the earth will keep.
  9. Take a walk and observe animals (like squirrels and geese) prepare for  winter. At home, prepare for winter in your own way.
  10. Make a family tree on poster board. Let the kids draw pictures of  each of the people on your tree.
  11. Snack on seeds and nuts (try toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds).  Or try making skull-shaped popcorn balls.
  12. Tell your children stories of when they where younger. Then encourage  them to make up stories of their lives in the future.
  13. Why should kids have all the fun? The whole family should  make costumes and go trick-or-t

A Solitary Samhain

A Solitary Samhain


Many covens and circles celebrate this most sacred of pagan holidays as groups, often opening their circles to non-initiates and others who wish to participate. I find myself preferring a solitary ritual, perhaps with some socializing earlier or later in the evening. For me, much of the meaning of Samhain suggests such a practice, though traditionally it is a communal celebration.
Samhain is pronounced as sow-in (in Ireland), sow-een (in Wales), and sav-en (in Scotland). It marks the end of the harvest, the end of the year, and the death of the god. Self-reflection becomes not simply a custom, but a necessity. One cannot (or at least should not) allow the Wheel of the Year to turn without some kind of examination of what has occurred. How have I spent the last year? Did I grow or remain stagnant? Did I live according to the values I claim to embrace? These are questions which must be addressed in solitude and solemnity.
Just as Samhain ends the old year, it must begin the new, though many witches do not celebrate the New Year until Yule. Reflection should continue during this dark time, but reflection should be accompanied by a growing sense of the changes to be made and the light to be sought. I sometimes make many lists during this time — lists of what I have accomplished and what I still want to accomplish, things I have neglected and those I have tended, and other similar lists. Samhain symbolizes both the past and the future, illuminated by the cycle of the seasons, forever linked as steps on the journey we must all make.
The Goddess tells us: “And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.” We must look inside ourselves for self-knowledge and for the spirit that will sustain us in life’s trials. Silence is one of the keys to seeking truth, for we cannot hear the answers in the midst of this noisy world in which we walk everyday, nor in the noise of holiday celebrations however joyous.
Samhain is also said to be the time when the veil between the living and te dead is thinnest, allowing us some communication with those who have departed. How befitting this is for such a time of endings and beginnings. Reflections on death can be as instructive as the self-examinations just mentioned.When we think of those who have died, it reminds us of time passing by and of things we could have or should have done. These reminders, coupled with our lists of past and future actions, encourages us to take our New Year’s resolutions far more seriously. We know our time is limited, and most of us have much to do in our alloted time. Most of us have to make a living somehow, but death reminds us that we had better spend some of that time in pursuit of our other dreams lest they be lost in the struggle merely to survive.
Samhain Ritual
The Samhain rituals I follow change a little from year to year. I don’t like to have a set of mandatory words or actions that might prevent me from exploring new possiblities in meaning. However, I do include the traditional Samhain rituals of sharing a feast (even if I am alone) and some form of divination. Since it is best that you write/say your own words in performing rituals, I will only include an outline here.
Prepare your house or room
Use black and orange candles, pumpkins (carved or not) and other traditional “Halloween” items if you wish (most are actually traditional for Samhain).
Prepare a table for the Feast of the Dead. It should be covered with a black table cloth and set with black dishes (black paper plates will do just fine). Place a chair at the head of the table, drapped in black cloth, to represent the spirit. The spirit’s place is set with a plate with a white votive candle on it. Set places for each of the dead that you hope will join you., and place black votive candles on their plates. Plates for the living (in my soitary ritual, just one) are empty, of course, awaiting the feast food to be served.
Food preparation
My feast is usually very simple: bread, fruit, nuts, and juice or wine. If you’ve invited living guests, it is common to make the feast potluck. However, since the actual feast will take place in silence, try not to have too many things that would have to be passed or requested.
Light the candles and turn out the lights
Call the quarters (ask the Guardians of the Watchtowers to witness and protect your circle).
Cast a circle (use whatever method you’ve been taught).
Invite the deities
There are certain Goddesses that I always invite to my rituals. It seems especially important to invite them on Samhain, as I will want to thank them for their help during the past year, and of course, ask that they continue to help me in the coming year. If the departed loved ones were especially close to any deities, I invite them as well.
Feast of the Dead
Light the candles on the plates of the dead and the spirit. The feast should take place in silence so that you can think about your departed friends and relatives. Think of their passing and your hopes for their joyous return. If someone is recently departed, try to put aside your sadness and think of that soul as well and happy in the presence of the Goddess.
Speak in silence an invitation to these loved ones, asking them to join in your feast. Use your own words for this. You know these individuals and can speak to them in a way to which they are likely to respond.
Sit at your table and eat the food you have brought to it. Feel the presence of those who have joined you and rejoice in their presence. Allow them to speak to you of whatever they want to communicate. Take as long as you wish at the table, listening to those you have invited and speaking to them in silence.
When the feast is over, thank your spirit guests for coming, bid them farewell, extinguish the candles on the plates, and leave the table.
Banishings and Resolutions
Now is the time to bring out one of those lists! Before Samhain, write a list of things from the last year that you want to banish: bad habits and addictions, unkind feelings toward others, unkind feelings toward yourself …. anything you do not want to carry over to the New Year. Light a black candle and burn the list, asking the Goddess and God to help you get rid of these and all negative things in your life. If you prefer, you can put about 1/4 cup of alcohol in a cauldron, light it, and burn the paper there. Speak to the deities (you can speak aloud now) about your sincere wish to remove these things from your life. Use a banishing chant, if you wish.
Now you should speak to the deities about those things you want to bring into your life in the New Year. I do these things rather informally, but there are many poems and prose pieces in books that you might want to use. Asking the deities for future rewards must be accompanied by resolutions as to how you will accomplish your goals. They will help you if you are sincere in your efforts to help yourself.
Because the two worlds are so close at Samhain, it is the perfect time for divination. I prefer to use a cauldron of water for scrying, since the cauldron seems to fit the mood of Samhain (not to mention Halloween tradition). You may prefer Tarot cards, a pendalum, or runes….whatever method worksbest for you. Obviously, the goal of this divination is to see what lies ahead in the next year.
All of my rituals include some form of meditation. This is when I ask my personal Goddesses to guide me, advise me, and generally keep me on the right path. I also use this time to thank them in a more personal way than by reciting a poem of thanksgiving. At Samhain, I thank them for all theirgifts in the last year and ask them to continue helping me in the New Year.
Sometimes this part of the ritual takes the form of a shamanic journey in which I am taken to a far away place (sometimes familiar, sometimes not) and where I may be given signs that will help me know what I should do (either in general or in specific situations). Take as long with your meditation as you need.
Thank the Deities
Give thanks to the deities you have invited by offering them food. I usually say something like “all things come from the Earth and to the Earth they must return.” Whatever food and drink I offer (usually bread and wine), I eat a little and save the rest to place or pour on the Earth later.
Open the circle
Thank and dismiss the Guardians
Blessed Be!
A word about invitations to the dead
For my solitary Samhain Feast of the Dead, I invite not only departed humans but special animals as well. I doubt that this is customary since the feastis usually for one’s ancestors. However, when one of my beloved pets has passed away, his or her passing leaves an empty place in my household and in my life, just as the passing of a person would. I choose to believe that the Goddess takes these creatures and cares for them as She would any human. They are far purer in heart than any human could be, and their love is perfect and unconditional. Surely their spirits deserve whatever rewards await the rest of us. So, at Samhain, I invite these loving creatues to join in my feast where I can once again feel their presense and their uncomplicated devotion to those they love. In their honor, I also invite either Bast, the Egyptian Cat Goddess, or Diana, Goddess of the hunt and mistress of dogs, both wild and tame.

Wiccan Samhain

Wiccan Samhain


SAMHAIN (pronounced saw-an), commonly referred to as Halloween, is a religious holiday celebrated by Wiccan and witch. The festival traditionally is a feast for the gathering of the family in love and remembrance. All the family including one’s ancestors.
Wiccans do not regard physical death as an end but merely one more event in a continuing progress of the soul’s in its path toward fulfillment of divine destiny. Because of these beliefs, it is only natural at this time of year to invite our beloved ancestors to remember and to celebrate with us.
If you do not find these beliefs in conflict with your own personal beliefs, please join us in the following ritual of thanksgiving and remembrance.
Whether you join with us or not, May you walk in the Light of the Lady and know the Wisdom of the Lord.
Blessed Be.
The clergy and members of the United Wiccan Church.

After you have shared the bounty of your harvest with the children of your neighborhood (candy, etc) and the house has settled down for the night, disconnect or turn off your telephone so that this state of serenity will continue uninterrupted.
Prepare a special feast of whatever foods reminds you of a special departed friend or family member, or of past family gatherings. While you are preparing this feast think of all of the good times you had with them.
When the feast is prepared, set your holiday table with a special place of honor for the departed friend or family member.
Decorate the table and room as you would for a holiday dinner with the family, add those special things that are important to you and your family (flowers, candles,etc.) If you have a picture of the loved one, it is nice to place it at their place at the table.
Speak to that special person and invite them to join you in this celebration and time of remembrance. It is completely appropriate to say grace or offer any prayer that you feel is fitting.
Serve the meal remembering to serve your honored guest (or guests) first. If wine or other alcoholic beverages are served, it is recommended that they be kept in moderation as you and your guests need to have a clear head.
Now sit down to the table with your loved ones and enjoy your feast. When you address them in your mind, always see them as well. (Try not to say in your mind, “if you can hear me…”, etc.). After the meal, the time of silence is over. Do whatever you normally do at a family holiday gathering (clear the table, play games, sing songs, etc.). Enjoy the companionship.
When the evening is over, or in the morning if you wish to make it an all night party, thank your invited guests for being with you and for making your celebration a special one.
*** There are a few words of caution that we will offer.
1. If this ritual does not feel right for you, do NOT do it. Follow your instincts.
2. Remember that crossing over does not necessarily change a person, so if you could not get through a meal in peace with them while they were alive, you will probably have the same problem with their spirit.
3. Do not ask your guest to grant you wishes or do you favors. It is rude to invite a guest and then make it obvious that a favor is the reason they were asked, not because of love and respect. Spirits do NOT like rudeness! Besides, spirits often forget that you are limited in ways that they are not. If you ask them for $1,000, it may come as an insurance settlement after a painful break in your water pipe with all the delight in cleaning up the mess from ensuing water damage.

A Little Humor (This Is A Joke) – Houses To Avoid While Trick-Or-Treating

Houses To Avoid While Trick-Or-Treating

  • Any house that seems to be imploding into a space-time wormhole.
  • Any house made of food.
  • Any house whose only entrance goes to the basement.
  • Any house where the high tension wires suddenly stop right above it.
  • Any house that has ornamental lawn hyenas.
  • Any house that growls “get out.”
  • Any house where the furniture seems to be walking across the living room floor.
  • Any house that looks like a giant pulsating orb floating 3 feet off the ground.
  • Any house with various and extremely realistic statues in the front yard of people in odd “running away” poses.
  • Any house that wasn’t there only a minute ago…

Feng Shui Tip for Oct. 12 – ‘World Egg Day’

Since today is ‘World Egg Day’ I thought I would offer a magically delicious egg recipe. Eggs have long been associated with mysticism and they have been revered as a receptacle that holds the essence of life. In fact, eggs have been intimately linked to the spiritual and the divine. According to one ancient belief, eggs are actually considered the perfect symbol of all creation as they not only produce life itself, but the shell represents the element of earth. This belief goes on to say that the membrane of the egg represents air while the yolk symbolizes fire and white water. Possessing all of these elements allows the egg to contain the potential of manifestation. So if you want to become a manifesting machine, start your day with some scrambled eggs in order to activate your personal power. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a shallow heavy pan and set over low heat. Break two medium eggs into a bowl and beat very lightly with a fork. Pour into the pan with the melted butter and lightly stir with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring gently while visualizing an intense creative power infusing the eggs. After a few minutes, while the eggs are just setting and still a bit creamy, add two teaspoons of a light cream and salt and pepper to taste. Serve this magically manifesting dish immediately!

By Ellen Whitehurst for

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for Oct. 12 – 26: Containment of Potential

26: Containment of Potential

This hexagram points to the containment of great power that increases as it is wisely stewarded. Like a river that has been dammed, or a boiling pot with a lid on, holding and containing power produces enormous energy. During normal times, daily ritual and habit help keep life ordered and serene; but in times of great opportunity, great fortitude is required. Focused attention is what will be required to channel this great potential and achieve supreme success.

In a current situation you have considerable reserves of energy and support to draw upon. This is the right time to channel creativity by collecting and organizing good ideas and plans. In this way, even large or extremely challenging undertakings can be successful.

A hidden source of power for the great is the study of the past. The lives of wise and successful men and women are like buried treasures of wisdom. Great good fortune comes to those who unearth these valuable treasures by applying the lessons of the ages to current events.

Your Rune for October 12 is Thurisaz


Your Rune For Today


Thurisaz embodies the polarity of life and death and the struggle to keep them in balance. Expect conflict, hardship and obstacles, but be assured that remaining focused and in touch with your inner strengths will see you through whatever comes your way. This Rune may also represent protection from your enemies, which is never a bad thing

Today’s Tarot Card for October 12 – The Emperor

The Emperor

In the most practical terms, what has traditionally been called the Emperor card represents the highest leadership, a head of state or the most exemplary and powerful person in the realm. This archetypal ruler is responsible for the positive working out of affairs of a society or community, which are directly proportional to his well being and happiness.

The more enlightenment and cosmic perspective this energy brings, the better life is for all. The Emperor archetype masters the world of matter and physical manifestation. When you apply this card to your situation, acknowledge your potentials for mastery. Reinforce a sense of sovereignty within yourself, despite any self-limiting beliefs, habits or appearances to the contrary.

Your Daily Horoscopes for Friday, October 12

The detail-oriented Virgo Moon helps us focus our attention on the finest points of reality today. Little things that might normally go unnoticed stand out with greater emphasis now. Nevertheless, our emotional detachment makes it difficult to put our constructive thoughts into concrete action. Although we finish as many chores as possible, our physical energy may run out before we have a chance to put the most efficient ideas into play.


Aries Horoscope

(Mar 21 – Apr 19)

It might not matter if you make a list of everything you want to do today because someone else’s agenda is likely to throw you off course. Although you know better and try to stick to the tasks at hand, the dreams of a friend or co-worker may speak louder than your responsibilities. However, doing anything that gets you closer to finishing your day’s work is your smartest course of action. A little progress is better than none.


Taurus Horoscope

(Apr 20 – May 20)

You may be more interested in play than work today because your impulse is to forget about your responsibilities. Unfortunately, others will remind you of your obligations, so you can’t spend the entire day building castles in the sandbox. However, you still should be able to enjoy yourself no matter what you do, even if you wish that you were doing something else.


Gemini Horoscope

(May 21 – Jun 20)

You might want to start your weekend early even though you’re still on the job. You really do need some time to recuperate because you have been working so hard lately. You could be thinking about your feelings, issues at home or memories from your past. You may even consider taking the afternoon off if you can’t keep your mind from drifting to personal issues. Nevertheless, it’s wiser to fulfill your promises before making your great escape.


Cancer Horoscope

(Jun 21 – Jul 22)

It may feel as if you’re lingering in a dream state and time is slowing down. It could even seem as if progress is coming to a standstill. However, this is just a temporary illusion and, fortunately, the planets continue to move around on schedule, even if you’re not getting anywhere fast. Fine tune your plans now while there’s still time; your current efforts will pay off in the near future.


Leo Horoscope

(Jul 23 – Aug 22)

If you’re feeling pressure to make improvements at home, consider your financial condition before you start spending money. It’s not that you’re overly extravagant, but you might be inclined to buy whatever you think you deserve, regardless of the cost. Watch your cash flow carefully now or your domestic project could jeopardize your short-term stability.


Virgo Horoscope

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You may be stuck in an odd situation. On one hand you’re emotionally available now, willing to share your feelings with those closest to you. On the other hand, your actions say one thing while your words reveal something else. Avoid overreacting to defend yourself, since you might not be seeing things clearly today. Your perspective will straighten out, but it may take a few days before you know what’s really happening


Libra Horoscope

(Sep 23 – Oct 22)

Your hidden agenda or someone else’s secret can have a strong impact on the dynamics of what’s going on now. Unfortunately, it may be quite a challenge for you to put it all together and to make sense of the current situation. After all, significant information is obscured, and until the facts come out, you’re playing along without really knowing the rules of the game.


Scorpio Horoscope

(Oct 23 – Nov 21)

You might be very picky about whom you socialize with now, but your circle of friends is still a significant part of your world. You may withdraw from a group today as you attempt to create much-needed boundaries. But don’t retreat too quickly even if it currently sounds like it will just be extra noise. Luckily, you’re in a position to receive intangible benefits from just hanging out with your peers.


Sagittarius Horoscope

(Nov 22 – Dec 21)

Your career is in the spotlight now as you perform tasks that create an environment which is emotionally safer for you and your coworkers. If you are not currently employed, contemplate your role in the outer world. Think about the obstacles that may be in the way of your success, but keep in mind that the resistance is as much within you as it is out there. Acknowledging your fears is the first step to overcoming them.


Capricorn Horoscope

(Dec 22 – Jan 19)

You continue to do your job as required, but today you might not be so sure why you try so hard. You are less concerned with your day-to-day responsibilities and more interested in long range planning. Still, problems may arise if you’re not paying attention to your current obligations. Don’t let anyone else talk you into skipping out on your job. A lazy day could cost you more than you realize.


Aquarius Horoscope

(Jan 20 – Feb 18)

You may be drawn into a mystery today and it might interfere with your productivity. Your responsibilities could suffer if you become fascinated with a spiritual philosophy, metaphysical topic or any new idea. However, you can glide your way through the unfolding circumstances as long as you maintain clarity about your priorities


Pisces Horoscope

(Feb 19 – Mar 20)

A co-worker or a friend might come to you with a problem today and present it as if it were yours alone to solve. This could stir up issues of anger or resentment, making it difficult to bring your feelings out into the open. Alternatively, it may be someone else who is frustrated with you for what you say. Thankfully, a current conflict will likely resolve if you remain compassionate, even if there seems to be no immediate solution

Your Weekend Love Horoscopes for Oct. 12 – 14

Weekend Love

Lunar Love Horoscopes

by Jeff Jawer

Love is a Winding Road

October 12 – 14

Friday’s mood could be a little fussy with the Moon’s presence in analytical Virgo. Yet being overly picky or narrow in our tastes is bound to limit the potential for having a good time. A challenging lunar square with expansive Jupiter in Gemini tends to take us off course early in the evening, requiring flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. It’s possible to feel pulled in several directions and it can be difficult to make decisions. But if we’re not overly concerned about the outcome, it’s easier to relax and go with the flow.

The Moon shifts into lovely Libra on Saturday afternoon to color the night with a romantic glow. Cooperation, compromise and concern for others are just a few ways to demonstrate the graciousness of this sociable sign. Taking the time to appreciate art and bask in beauty makes it easy to enjoy the ride on Libra’s harmonious waves. Those who stay up very late will experience a change of atmosphere as the Libra Moon crashes into hard aspects with reckless Uranus and ruthless Pluto in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Happily, a better mood emerges in the evening when a generous lunar trine to optimistic Jupiter in chatty Gemini provides a lighthearted atmosphere perfect for playing games and participating in intellectually stimulating conversations

Daily Cosmic Calendar for October 12

Love vibrations increase in wavelength in the early hours today — thanks to the monthly Moon-Venus union in Virgo (7:37AM PDT). Think of novel ways you can be of service to family members, friends, neighbors and the greater community. Sewing, arts and crafts, and repair work are reinforced. Tune into what’s happening on the fashion and style fronts as Juno makes a subtle and yet still nurturing, 30-degree tie with distant Pluto (9:18AM PDT).  Another void lunar cycle clocks in during a Moon-Jupiter square (4:49PM PDT). Over the next nearly 24-hours (until 4:03PM PDT tomorrow), it is hard to get traction for rock-solid jobs and plans you want to take care of in a pragmatic manner.  In additional to the unsettled nature of a void Moon being present, the red planet Mars forms a contra-parallel to giant Jupiter (8:36PM PDT). Anytime Mars and Jupiter get into a skirmish, psychic storm warnings need to be posted. Why come from an ego-dominated consciousness when you can be compassionate and empathic? Be a minimalist concerning decision-making overnight

Calendar of the Moon for October 12

Calendar of the Moon


Grapevine Month

Colors: Blue and Purple
Element: Water
Altar: Upon cloth of blue and purple set a great pitcher of wine with many cups, four purple candles, and many wreaths of grapevine and baskets of grapes.
Daily Meal: Vegetarian, with wine or grape juice to drink, and of course grapes.

Muin Invocation

Call: Hail the Month of the Grapevine!
Response: Hail the Month of the Vine-Gods!
Call: Hail the month when sour turns to sweet!
Response: Hail the month when labor comes ripe!
Call: Hail the month when our hands come together,
Response: Hail the month when the cup is passed!
Call: This is the time of bonding,
Response: When the fruits of the harvest lay within our grasp.
Call: This is the call of Joy and Merriment,
Response: This is the time of coming together.
Call: For though we may have forgotten laughter beneath our burdens,
Response: Laughter comes for us at last.
Call: And yet we begin to see the year passing to its end,
Response: And our laughter is the light passing into the dark.
Call: May we go to into the dark like the Children of Dionysos,
Response: Embracing the cycle with open arms!
Call: Like the grapevine, we are givers of ecstasy.
Response: Like the grapevine, we are givers of dream.
Call: Like vines, we yield up our fruit.
Response: Like vines, we yield up for the good of all.
Call: Like vines, we twine towards the Light.
Response: Like vines, we twine towards the Spirit.
Call: We hold the line, we keep the Mysteries true,
Response: We hold the line, we keep the Mysteries true,
Call: I am the vine; the branches, you and you.
Response: I am the vine; the branches, you and you.

Taste Joy in the Day
Take Joy in the Night
Touch Joy in your face turned
To the fading light
Ay ay ay ay-yi-hey.


[Pagan Book of Hours]