goddess spotlight: carmenta

Originally a Greek goddess named Nicostrata, Carmenta was renamed as such as a Roman goddess, where she ruled over childbirth and midwives. She is also invoked for contraceptive purposes for women who wish to avoid pregnancy. She is also a protector of mothers and children.

She is also the goddess of divination and prophecy, and her name comes from the Latin word carmen, which means spell or oracle.

She is also associated with poetry, and writing in general, as she is said to have been who altered 15 of the letters in the Greek alphabet to become the Latin alphabet. She also introduced poetry and music to the early peoples inhabiting what would later become modern-day Italy, and is even said to have laid some of the physical foundations of the city of Rome.

She is the mother of Evander by Hermes.

Also associated with bodies of water, as she was the primary or leader of the Camenae, who were water goddesses or nymphs who ruled over springs and wells, as well as larger bodies of water in and around Rome. Because of this association, she and the other three Camenae (Egeria, Porrima, Postverta), could also be invoked for healing.

Correspondences and Associations of Carmenta

  • Color: Yellow, Blue, White
  • Element: Water, Air
  • Days: January 11th and 15th, or a festival celebrated for 5 days from Jan 11-15
  • Winter, Yule, Imbolc
  • Education, learning
  • Writing
  • Fertility/pregnancy
  • Foresight/prophecy
  • Raspberries
  • Water
  • Contraception
  • Music
  • Destiny
  • Magick
  • Spells, particularly charms

magickal symbolism of the cow

There are few animals as revered, worshipped, symbolized, and even spiritually elevated as the cow. Across the globe, this ruminant has been featured in almost every culture’s mythology.

In this post, I’ll be discussing just the cow, not the bull, as their symbolism is quite different in most cultures.

It is likely that the cow featured so prominently in spiritual or mythological symbolism due to its many beneficial products which can be derived of it or its body.

The cow provides milk, butter, cheese, meat, hide, and even fertilizer in the form of its manure- all of which could be obtained for nothing more than some pasture land on which to graze, or regular hay or grasses.

And, if that’s not enough, she provided calves, which could be raised, bred, and therefore produce additional cows and bulls, sustaining the human societies who domesticated them.

Because of its extreme value in that respect, it was common to see prices for every major purchase (including people) in the prices of cows or head of cows.

The cow symbolizes life, fertility, motherhood, maternal instinct, reproduction,

Tales of the Cow

There are probably tales of cows in every culture, however, there are several which stand out or are more well-known, probably only because of better historical documentation preservation in those parts of the world.

Cows and the Norse

The Norse primeval cow Audhumla licked away salt blocks, to reveal Buri, the ancestor of the gods. Her milk fed the frost giant Ymir, from whose body the world was formed. This may be where the term ‘Milky Way’ came from, in reference to the galaxy in which our planet resides, however, it is difficult to attribute this to only the Norse stories of the cow.

Cows and the Egyptians

The Egyptian cow-headed goddess Hathor is one of the most prominent in the Khemetic pantheon or path. She gave birth to the son, which was her ‘golden calf,’ and her horns were the crescent of the moon. You may also see this goddess referred to as Ahet. Amulet’s with the head of Hathor or Ahet were worn by women in the Nile Valley to ensure fertility.

There is a triple goddess in the combination of Hathor, Isis, and Nut, representing the heavens, the underworld, and the earth in between.

Cows in India

The Hindu religion includes Dharma, the cow which represents the four stages, or cosmic ages (yugas), the world went through (and is currently in the last stage, the most unstable).

The cow enjoys a peaceful and free existence still today in India, due to its sacred status. The cow is also associated with the god Krishna, who was a young cowherd. They are considered the rain which fertilizes the Earth and the clouds which contain the water of heaven. They were even brought to the bedside of those who were dying, in order to allow them guidance into the afterlife.

Cows in Mesopotamia and Sumer

These often get grouped together as they developed overlapping in this region of the world. Cows were depicted as the Great Mother or Great Cow, and thought to have fed the waters of the Nile and other major life-bringing rivers of the region with their milk.

The cow was very much associated with fertility goddesses in this region. They may have been associated with either or both the Sun (as in Egypt) and the Moon. The cow’s horns were depicted along with or cradling the crescent or full moon.

Cows and Buddhism

Similar to the Hindu approach to cow veneration, Buddhists (many of whom practice vegetarianism and consider it taboo to eat a cow) will often say that to take care of a cow, is to take care of all living things.

Cows in Buddhism were also venerated because they may be the souls of those trying to ascend to higher spiritual incarnations, therefore, if they are killed and eaten, so is the soul within it.

Cows and Magick

History of the cow aside, you may now have a better idea of what the cow symbolizes, therefore, you can probably think of some ways you can use this symbolism in your spiritual or magickal practice:

  • use bones (please obtain them ethically) from a cow in spells, charms, or other works for fertility and abundance
  • use milk in spells for fertility, abundance, peace, motherhood/parenting
  • use milk or cow bones to ask for fertility in a new business venture
  • take a milk bath to cleanse, purify, or uncross yourself
  • add a splash of milk to your tea spells to give them an abundant boost
  • use milk to anoint spell candles for love or other relationship matters as a protective love-boosting ingredient
  • place a bowl of milk out for stray cats to honor any goddesses such as Bastet, Freya, or Sekhmet

and last, you can simply place a cow image, sculpture, or statue on an altar to any of the deities or spirits associated with cows, such as:

  • Hathor/Ahet
  • Krishna
  • Prithi and Prithva
  • Buddha
  • Nut
  • Neith
  • Damona/Boann (Celtic)
  • Phaethusa (Greek)

goddess spotlight: kuan yin

Kuan Yin is the Chinese goddess of compassion and mercy. She is the protector of the sick, poor, and disabled.

She is also a patron goddess of healing and healers. In an original life, Kuan Yin was a man named Avalokitesvara, who lived a life of suffering. After dying, falling into over a thousand pieces, was reformed into the goddess Kuan Yin.

Kuan Yin is often petitioned with prayers for the dead and with prayers for healing and health.

She is also the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion as Guan yin.

She is called ‘She who hears the cries of the world,‘ because of her responsiveness to all prayers and deeply compassionate nature.

Due to how appealing she was to those following her, word spread and she became popular and frequently petitioned by other cultures and traditions, accumulating other names in the process, such as Tara and was also synchratized to the Virgin Mary in some Asian cultures.

Correspondences of Kuan Yin

  • Color: White
  • Zodiac: Cancer
  • Planet: Moon
  • Element: Water
  • protector, protection
  • divine feminine
  • enlightenment
  • women and children
  • healers and healing
  • mercy and compassion
  • hands with eyes in the palm
  • a jug of healing water
  • protector of fishermen and sailors
  • peacocks and fish
  • white flowers, especially lotus
  • jade (mineral)

goddess spotlight: Hel

Hel (sometimes also spelled Hela, or proto-Germanic Halja) is the Norse goddess of the underworld and death that comes to those who do not die in battle.

Her dominion is called Helheim, but the underworld she rules over was once called Hel, but that name was later bestowed upon the goddess who would become its queen.

Hel is the daughter of Loki, the trickster god of the Norse pantheon. She was also said to be the sister of Fenrir, the huge wolf who was prophesied to kill Odin, and Jormungandr, the great serpent which fought Thor and will eventually kill him during Ragnarok. She was given the realm of Hel(heim) to rule over when Fenrir and Jormungandr were cast below by Odin.

Hel is associated with another large, dark hound-like beast, Garmr, the hellhound.

Hel is depicted as a duality of either a half live/half dead woman, half blue/half flesh-colored woman, or a half white/half black being. There is an extreme lack of mythology that clarifies the role she played in veneration or worship of the Norse deities, and how she may have been honored or worked with by Norse pagans.

There is some information that points to her being a patroness of Norse shamans, as she was responsible for thinning the veil between the world of the living and the dead, and would act as that guide into the other realms.

Those that work with Hel in modern times may choose to work with her in the aspect of their shadow work or to explore and accept their own inner darkness, or may also approach her similar to working with the Hindu goddess Kali, to whom she later had some synchratization after the Viking era had ended and more significant trade was occurring between European cultures and those of the Asia.

Correspondences of Hel

Colors: black, gray, red, blue,

Animals: wolf, hound, crows

Rune: Hagalaz

Other associations: an all-seeing eye of truth, ice, death, judgment, aging, darkness, illness, crones, shamans, spirits/the spirit world, Earth element

9 magickal alphabets

I love linguistics and the way language morphs and changes over time as peoples carry it from one location to another, mixing and adding new words and ideas.

We can see a little of this in alphabets and how they share commonalities, but also in how they differ.

And alphabets that are commonly used for magick or occult practices share some of those same characteristics, especially those that once (or still) functioned as linguistic alphabets, such as Greek, Hebrew, and Runes.

So here’s a quick run down (in no particular order) of what alternative alphabets are out there that you might encounter in your occult or witchcraft studies or practices:

Hieroglyphs

This is arguably one of the oldest alphabets or systems of writing documented that has been used in spiritual, occult, or magickal writing, dating back to at least 4000 B.C.E. Hieroglyphs were the formal and intricate writing system used by the Ancient Egyptians until sometime around 600 C.E., at which point all traces of Pagan spiritual or religious writings and references were abolished, banned, or suppressed in that region, and they were essentially lost until later in the 1800s when discovered by archaeologists.

Ogham

The origins of ogham (also can be spelled ogam) are unknown, but it appeared in the Celtic world first on stone markers such as memorials, burial stones, and stones at crossroads. It is a script based on trees in the Celtic world and each of the original 20 symbols represents a letter or sound, but also a type of tree. Ogham can also be used as a divinatory method, similar to Runes.

Ogham is often referred to as the ‘oracle of the trees’ and as an artistic script its quite beautiful. Legend tells of its creation by Ogma, the Celtic god, and one of the legendary Tuatha De Danaan. Part of the divinatory element of the ogham symbols is knowing what characteristics and correspondences are possessed by each tree, but also the folklore associated with that tree. Ogham, when read as divinatory symbols, can be read upright or reversed, similar to other systems like Runes or cartomancy.

For instance, Ailm represents the pine or fir tree, which is a tree of ecstasy and elation. This is a symbol of letting joy and elation lead you through an experience. Adopt a sense of wonder, as you’ll be struck by many realizations. The pine varieties are all evergreen, bringing their color to even the coldest winters. They pre-date most other trees in the Celtic region, as they are part of an ancient group of conifers. Pines are revered as protectors, mystical, enduring, and even terrifying in their size and breadth.

Hebrew

Long used by occultists due to its use in some of the earliest writings in mysticism, such as the Qabbalah, Hebrew has even earlier origins dating to possibly even before the 10th century B.C.E. Those forms of Early Hebrew vary significantly from what became the more commonly used Hebrew script around the first or second century C.E. Modern Hebrew alphabet was influenced on the Early Hebrew alphabet, but is more closely connected to Aramaic, which it eventually replaced as a dominant form of writing.

Hebrew is a worthwhile alphabet system to learn and understand if you follow Qabbalistic writings or practices, as well as if you want to be able to read some of the original Judeo-Christian writings and not rely on the (heavily mistranslated) Christian bible. It also comes in handy when working with any of the deities, angels, or demons which have Solomonic seals or sigils.

Greek

The Greek alphabet, originally derived from the Phoenician alphabet, has been around since about as long as the Hebrew alphabet, dating to around the 9th century B.C.E. Greek differs from all other ancient alphabets due to its inclusion of letters representing vowel sounds, which none of the other older alphabets did.

Greek also spawned Latin, which is the alphabet used by most Western societies, or those who speak/write any language based on any of the Indo-European languages such as English, French, Spanish, German, and Gaelic. Greek was also the first alphabet to denote upper- and lower-case letters.

Prior to the Roman conquest of most of Europe and part of the British Isles, Greek was the dominant alphabet used to write pretty much everything, but especially religious texts. There are original versions of the Hebrew texts and what would eventually become the New Testament books of the Bible written in Greek, as well as many other mystical writings, especially concerning the Greek and Egyptian pantheons of deities. If you want to be able to read these in their original context, Greek may be worth your while to learn.

Runic

Runes date back to ancient Germanic tribes and practices, estimated to appear around the 1st century B.C.E. and lasting for another 800-1000 years until the Latinization of language occurred across the region as Rome gradually conquered peoples and converted their linguistic and spiritual practices to those of the Romans.

The type of runes most commonly used today for divination is the Elder Futhark runes, however, at various points in history, multiple runic alphabets existed due to a lack of homogeneity among the broad lands covered by Germanic tribes and peoples. Other runes systems that were common were the Anglo-Saxon (Futhorc) and the Younger Futhark varieties. There are still some traditions that use those other two runes systems for divination.

Similar to the Ogham script, each rune represents a letter or sound, but also represents a spirit of a concept. They can be read upright or reversed, and even the way that you can read the bones, position of where they land when throwing them lends further interpretation.

Astrological and Planetary Symbols

I bet you didn’t immediately consider that the astrological and planetary symbols are an alphabet unto themselves, but they are! Think about how many people’s IG profile reads something like this: ♋︎☀︎♏︎☽♋︎⇑♑︎⇓ ? Well, I basically just described myself in detail for you with a set of symbols.

The astrological and planetary symbols used in the western astrological system date back to codices in the Byzantine period. These were symbols assigned to represent celestial planets (which includes the Sun and Moon, even though from an astronomy perspective stars and moons are distinctly different from the label ‘planet’).

The system we use today was solidified in Greece sometime before or just at the beginning of the Renaissance period. These were, and still are, commonly used to note the positions of the planets upon the zodiac at specific time points relating to a notable event or during a particular ritual or magickal working. Many old grimoires and Book of Shadows will have these notations letting the reader know under what astrological conditions something occurred, in case one wanted to correlate specific occurrences or outcomes to that.

Angelic/Celestial

This alphabet was created by H. Cornelius Agrippa, specifically for occult use. He based the Celestial alphabet on the Hebrew and Greek alphabets, hence why it may look familiar to you, even if you’ve never read it before.

Agrippa used this alphabet primarily to communicate with angels and higher beings, an application that is still in use today. Another element that may seem familiar to you is that the symbols are based on star constellation patterns.

Theban/Honorian

The Theban alphabet is also attributed to Agrippa, even though there is no documentation definitively proving its origins or creator. It was used mostly by occultists and witches to disguise the content in their Book of Shadows or grimoires before it was safe to be publicly ‘out’ about being an occult practitioner.

Theban is still commonly used by many occultists and witches today, even though there is less need to hide these aspects of our lives in the Western world, many of us still face prejudice and bias in our communities or families who are not open-minded or do not share our beliefs or an open tolerance for beliefs that differ from their own.

Theban script is still taught in many Wicca 101 type of books for that reason, as many witches still use it, having learned it as a new witch a long time ago, and, therefore, you may encounter a mentor or teacher who wants you to learn it simply because its something they use to communicate.

Enochian

Enochian script or alphabet was created or recorded by John Dee and Edward Kelley. They allegedly wrote it and recorded it from visions and work in which they invoked or commanded spirits. It is important to note that it is not derived or written by the same source as the famous biblical text the Book of Enoch, but it is related in that Dee and Kelley developed the script in order to uncover the secrets they felt the Book of Enoch was hiding from all but the most astute readers.

John Dee’s journals stated that the Enochian alphabet and script was the language God created for man to speak with God, and also which was used to create the world and all of its inhabitants and contents. Enochian waas later discovered and began to be used in the late 19th century by members of the Golden Dawn.

There are lots of other alphabets that have been used in magickal or occult practice at various points, so this list is not completely exhaustive, but the ones I left out are more obscure and used by a more limited number of people, and, therefore, not as likely to be encountered frequently by occult practitioners in the modern era.

symbolism of the goat

There are few other creatures of the natural world that have been maligned in spiritual and religious symbolism as much as the goat. Poor goats, right?

Apart from spending way more time than I’d like to admit watching screaming goats videos on Youtube (you’re welcome), goats are quite awesome. They are nature’s tenacious, intelligent, and industrious little cloven-footed buddies.

They keep plant life controlled, they produce an alternative to cow milk (goat milk is delicious, if you haven’t tried it), and they’re super playful and friendly. They also provide meat, fleece, and skin to cultures who raise them and care for them.

Wild mountain goats are able to clamber up nearly sheer rock faces, thousands of feet above the ground, almost effortlessly and without fear. Goats in pastures use creative escape plans to free themselves. Goats seize opportunities.

But let’s walk it back a bit to what the goat symbolizes from a magickal or spiritual perspective.

History of Goat Symbolism

Goat legends abound in Pagan religions, which is likely part of the reason why they were later to be associated with ‘the devil’ in Judeo-Christian symbology.

Zeus was suckled by the goat Amalthea. Thor’s chariot is drawn by two goats (who can be cooked and eaten, and then rise again the next morning anew).

Goats were traditionally associated with fertility and virility, thanks to the impassioned and persistent nature of a rutting billy goat. This might also be why their image was darkened by the church, because sexy sexy goats might spread the wrong message?

Anyway, the Greek god Pan was a well-known goat-god, half man/half goat and connected to fertility, sensuality, sexual pleasure, and lust. At some point after the establishment of the Catholic church, the image of Pan was given red skin, menacing black horns, and glowing red eyes and became the symbol of evil.

Aphrodite was also shown riding a goat as her favorite mount.

Satyrs were half man/half goat figures who played music and enjoyed revelry and pleasure. Goats were associated with Dionysus, to whom they were traditionally sacrificed.

The practice of ‘scapegoating’ in Judaic lore (and this appears to perhaps also have been practiced in some other early Middle Eastern sects that were not specifically Jewish, but I can’t find good sources to confirm) involved a village or family group designating one goat each year to bear the sins, shame, negative thoughts, and so forth of each individual.

The people of the village or group would each walk up and touch the goat, symbolically transferring their sins and bad deeds/thoughts to the goat. Once the goat was full of their negativity and sins, it would be set free to wander off into the desert, carrying their sins and misdeeds away with it. In other words, being their scapegoat, and accepting whatever punishment or judgment would be issued for those sins.

And then we get to the point in which the goat literally became associated with the biblical Satan.

The goat head is now used to symbolize the reversed pentagram, such as on the seal of The Satanic Temple (they’re a rad group, I highly recommend you read their tenets), and is also part of the symbolism of Baphomet, who the Templars were accused of praying to or worshipping after they confessed during torture, and who was then subsequently established as a heathen or pagan idol.

However, scholars now largely agree that the name Baphomet was an Old French bastardization of the name Muhammad (Mahomet) and that there was not a separate entity named Baphomet associated with the Christian devil.

Otherwise, prior to those recorded confessions in the early 1300s, the name did not appear in any records, and was certainly not associated with goats.

Duality of Goats vs Sheep

From an organized Judeo-Christian religion perspective, sheep were the good followers, who stayed in the pasture and didn’t stray. They didn’t attempt to escape or find excitement. They did as they were told and just ate their pasture grass and were happy being told by the shepherd and sheepdog that this was their life and it would always be this way.

How many religious passages, songs, and hymns refer to ‘the flock,’ ‘pastures/pastoral,’ ‘fleece,’ and so forth? Sheep were divine, or associated with following the divine and being ‘good.’

The goat on the other hand, questioned. The goat knew that just outside that fence there was excitement, adventure, and juicy she-goats to get feisty with. The world is the goat’s oyster. The goat is down for a challenge and whatever pleasures it can find.

The goat pursued its urges, never regretted, and achieved heightened experiences.

And this, my friends, is where a large amount of the ruining of the goat’s reputation and image came from by the church as it systematically wiped out or suppressed Pagan traditions and belief systems.

The message was pretty clear: don’t think for yourself, don’t question, and don’t even think about kinky mating!

What Messages Does the Goat Bring Us?

If you feel particularly connected to the imagery, character, or spirit of the goat, or are seeing a lot of goat imagery popping up lately, here are some things to consider:

  • What barriers hold you in? Are they really there, or are they self-created? Is it time to leap the fence and explore?
  • You may need to explore sexuality and pleasure, but conversely, just like a reversed tarot card, if you’re already doing a lot of sexual exploration, this symbol might signal unconsciously compelled sexual compulsions or an unhealthy lust for power
  • Are you following blindly without questioning? Perhaps its time to re-assess something in your life and take ownership of your trajectory
  • Goats can also symbolize energetic pursuit of a want or need. Is there something lacking that you can apply more energy to in order to manifest it?

what is animism?

Animism is something I think I have practiced as far back as I can remember in childhood, except that I did not have a name for it at that point. Nor would I have considered myself a pagan, witch or any other label, then, yet either.

It just simply felt right to me intuitively.

What Animism Is

Animism is the practice or belief that all objects have a spirit (or soul, depending on who you’re talking to and how you define and differentiate those things), even the inanimate ones.

You are probably an animist if you talk to your plants, or other plants elsewhere, as if they are listening (because they are!). You may also be an animist if you believe or feel that there is a spirit of the land on which you live (separate from any nature spirits you believe in).

Animists may also believe that rocks, crystals, and items made of natural materials (wood, stone, plants, etc) have spirits. They will usually treat these items with greater care than others, believing that the item’s spirit should not simply be throw away when its usable life is deemed over.

How Can You Practice Animism?

There are countless ways to be and practice animism, and I won’t include an exhaustive list here, but this should give you some basics to get started:

Honor the Land Spirits

Even if you live in an apartment building or in the middle of a bustling metropolis and have no actual land of your own, there is still a spirit of the land on which your home sits, where you walk, and all around you, really.

Leave an offering such as pouring fresh spring water into the ground, a small baked treat, or just sit for a moment with your body connected to the ground and give thanks to the land spirits where you are.

If you live in a single-family residence of some kind on land, you can also do those things listed above, but also make sure to care for and keep up the cleanliness or natural beauty of this land, no matter how big or small.

This might include planting gardens, cutting overgrown grass, pulling invasive weeds, putting in a bird bath, hanging wind chimes, or sitting under a tree on the land to simply take it all in.

I also like to ask the land before making any changes if its okay. This could be anything from planting new things to especially removing plants that have already been there.

When you go walking or hiking out in nature, give a greeting (its okay if its silent in your mind if you don’t feel comfortable saying it out loud with others around) to the land you are on and you could even ask how you can honor it while you are there.

Honor the Spirit(s) of Your Home

This is not the earthbound spirits that may hang around your home, this is the spirit of your actual residence. The house, apartment, condo, or building in which you live has a spirit. It thrives and is happy when you keep it clean and free of negative energy and entities.

It enjoys when you bring joy and happiness within its walls. It wants to be cared for so it can continue to provide shelter for its human occupants for many years to come.

Some people see their house spirit and land spirit as one and the same. I don’t think this is right or wrong. Go with what feels intuitive to you. My house spirit feels distinctively different from my land spirit, and I’m not sure why I know that, I just do.

Your home also has spirits that keep your water, heat, cooking facilities, and energy flowing. Not in the sense that they pay those bills, but that they direct the use and flow of those within its walls. Honor them by keeping things clean, considering the feng shui of your space, and keeping out sources of bad or negative energy.

Honor the Spirits of Plants

Virtually every pagan cultural tradition across the globe has revered and honored plant spirits. These include indoor potted plants, but also those of the wild-growing friends around us. In your immediate vicinity you may have flowers, bushes, trees, and other plant life.

Each variety has a spirit and we can often feel them, especially if you tend toward empathic abilities, and definitely if you have a knack for psychometry, aka reading an object’s history by touching it.

Have you ever sat under a tree and felt its presence welcoming you? Have you ever walked into a room with plants, felt happy, then walked into a room without plants and felt nothing, or even empty? These are examples of how we consciously or unconsciously pick up on the spirits of plants in our environment.

If you’re outdoors, you can simply acknowledge a plant by touching it, singing to it, or smiling at it and sending loving thoughts. This works for indoor plants as well.

Whenever I bring home a new plant, before I place it in whatever room it will go in, I sit with it for a few moments and put my hands on its leaves and simply send happiness and love to it. I ask it to tell me its name when its ready, and then I let it know its part of my family and welcome it, stating that I will love and care for it as long as it chooses to remain with me.

I found that once I started connecting to the plants in my yard and home, the happy and positive vibes really picked up and I can sense their spirits better, as well as when they need attention or help from me.

Other Ways to Practice Animism

These are some other objects that you may feel particularly drawn to in the form of their spirit, so acknowledge that and honor them however you intuitively see fit:

  • furniture, especially that created from wood (which used to be a tree, so some believe that fragments of that original source tree’s spirit remains with the wood from it)
  • crystals and gemstones
  • incense resins
  • herbs (this technically falls into the category of plants above, but I find many people forget about this subcategory)
  • water, more so outdoor sources than indoor from a faucet
  • some books (I can’t say every book I’ve picked up has had a distinct spirit to it, but some definitely have; I don’t know what differentiates one group from the other)
  • bells
  • musical instruments (I’ve been a violinist since I was a small child and can absolutely tell you that instruments have spirits that either mesh with the musician’s or don’t; two completely different people can play the same instrument and get different sounds because of this)
  • textiles (I can’t say that mass-produced textiles like clothing from chain stores has this phenomena, but I have absolutely picked up spirits of hand-woven rugs and other cloth, knit, crocheted, or otherwise handmade items)
  • use your senses and sit with your environment for some time and just ‘feel’ what spirits may be around you in the form of your personal possessions, structures, and random objects

If any of this rings a bell for you and you want to dive a little deeper into the practice of animism, or just read more about it, I can recommend these books:

For a more historical lesson of the origins and prevalence of animism, Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey

For a more eco/green responsibility perspective of animism, The Wakeful World: Animism, Mind and the Self in Nature by Emma Restall Orr

For a quirkier exploration of animism, How Does it Feel to be You? by Oshri Hilzenrath

6 ways to celebrate Lughnasadh in 2020

This Saturday, August 1, is Lughnasadh (also referred to as Lammas in some traditions). Lughnasadh is the marking of the calendar year of the beginning of the harvest season. It occurs approximately halfway between the summer solstice (Litha) and the autumnal equinox.

Traditionally, Lughnasadh is the term applied to this festival/calendar occurrence in Celtic lands. Lammas was the name applied in English-speaking lands, but is the same festival or concept/observance, in practicality.

In Gaelic speaking lands, Lughnasadh comes from the name of the pagan god Lugh, a nature god associated with metal smithing, warriors, and the first grain harvest (hence the association with the beginning of August). He is also associated with artisans and skilled workers of all sorts.

Usually, this festival was a celebration of the beginning of the harvest, athletic contests, matchmaking, and hoping for a bountiful harvest the rest of the season.

Depending on which spiritual path(s) you follow, you may have varying views or degrees of observance. Neo-pagan vs Celtic reconstructionist vs Wicca all have slightly or even very different practices or preferences. Lughnasadh is also one of the 8 sabbats observed by Wiccan practitioners.

But, what about when there’s a pandemic and you need to social distance? How might we still honor the harvest gods and goddesses without contributing to even more cases of a contagious viral pandemic?

  1. Enjoy a variety of berries. One of the historically relevant practices associated with Lughnasadh was to pick and eat bilberries and other late summer berries (blackberries are ripening now!).
  2. Make a garland of dried summer harvest wheat and flowers to hang on your door.
  3. Dance! Even if you can’t celebrate with others, you can still do your own dance and let loose and be grateful.
  4. Challenge yourself physically. Obviously use your best judgment and do not attempt to do anything risky, but if there’s an athletic or fitness-related feat you have always wanted to do, create a plan to achieve it, consulting with a professional when needed.
  5. Take up or continue an art or craft.
  6. Hike in the mountains (or even just smaller hills if you’ve got no mountains nearby!), as this was a common tradition to leave food offerings at the top of mountains for the god Lugh.

These are things you can celebrate with your immediate family or those with whom you live, or even host a virtual Lughnasadh with friends from around the world.

goddess spotlight: calliope

Calliope (Kalliope) is one of the nine Greek muses (the others were Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomeni, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, and Ourania), and is associated with the mastering of beautiful, epic, and eloquent poetry and writing. She can also be helpful to those who are songwriters or musicians.

The muses, who resided on Mt. Olympus, were raised and taught the arts by the god Apollo. Calliope is the oldest of the nine daughters/muses and considered to be the supreme muse. She helped and guided kings, emperors, and leaders in justice and rhetoric.

She is the daughter of Zeus and the mother of Orpheus and Linus. It is rumored that she was the actual muse to Homer, who wrote the Illiad and the Oddysey.

Correspondences of Calliope

Arts and crafts, dance, eloquence/power of words, inspiration, judgment, music, poetry, public speaking, courage/confidence, writing, Ostara, Beltane, tablet, stylus, scroll, lyre,

Color: Orange, Yellow, Blue,

Element: Air, Water

11 magickal uses of dragon’s blood

If you’ve ever walked into any new age or metaphysical shop anywhere in the last couple decades, its likely that you’ve smelled dragon’s blood incense. It’s a foundational incense aroma used widely throughout the world, and for good reason. It smells amazing.

Where Does Dragon’s Blood Come From?

Not dragons. It is actually a resin, just like benzoin, copal, frankincense, and so on.

Dragon’s blood resin is the resin of the Dracaena cinnabari tree, found on the island of Scootra in Yemen in the Middle East. The tree actually appears to bleed, because its resin is a deep red in color.

However, due to its scarcity, endangered status, and concerns about over-harvesting, there are other trees that dragon’s blood resin may also be produced from, and which still retain the same energetic qualities.

When you buy dragon’s blood resin these days at most stores, it is more likely that you’re actually buying resin of one of these other trees: Calamus, Croton, Daemonorops, Dracaena, Pterocarpus.

The trees are cut or wounded in some way and the sap, or resin, is excreted, then harvested.

Magickal Uses of Dragon’s Blood

Arabian legends actually assert that the resin of the original Dracaena cinnabari was the literal blood of elephants and dragons that perished in battle. It was said to have strong magickal powers, and was used by healers, occultists, and magicians broadly.

It was also used to dye textiles and even cosmetics by past civilizations, and even still in some parts of the world today where the trees are indigenous. It can also be used in magickal inks for spell purposes.

As an incense, dragon’s blood is said to be protective, and can be used to fill in energetic voids left after burning things like sage to clear out negative energy. It is a great incense to use when clearing spaces of energy left by others, such as a former partner or roommate, or when moving into a new residence.

You can also sprinkle the powdered form of the resin across door thresholds and around your home or property to ward off evil or negativity, or negative th0ughts sent your way from others.

**warning: It is an abortifacient if taken internally, so if you are pregnant, you should avoid it.

It is also a carminative, which means it helps to settle an upset stomach or calm a GI tract that has become stressed and overstimulated. Always consult with a trained healthcare professional before using anything for medicinal purposes.

It is also used for luck and prosperity, when burned on a charcoal disk or added to charms or spells.

It is especially good for drawing money and love.

Probably one of its most widely recognized attributes in cultures around the world is its power. Dragons were seen as the ultimate powerful creature and the resin associated with them has retained their power.

Add it to other resins to boost their banishing or protective qualities.

Add it to incense in spells to add power to your spell work.

Dragon’s blood is also said to have seductive qualities, and can be used to attract a romantic partner, as part of a sex magick ritual, or to enhance sensuality or passion.

Put some of the resin in some oil to make a dragon’s blood infusion, which you can dab on yourself or anoint your magickal items.

You can use it to represent the element of fire on your altar space if you are unable to burn candles.

And, finally, you can put some of the resin or the infusion oil of it in a spiritual bath with sea salt and any other herbs of your choice to take a powerful bath to wash away negativity that may be lingering, enhance your own courage and strength, and to bring prosperity and love your way.

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