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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Guest Post: 3 Ways To Develop & Deepen Your Psychic Abilities

3 Ways To Develop & Deepen Your Psychic Abilities

Guest post by Shale Green from Witchcraft Way.

Intuition is a strong ally in connecting with the physical world around you. It's possible to deepen that connection and branch into the metaphysical world as well by opening up your psychic abilities even more.

It's important to exercise your third eye just like you would any other part of your body in order to keep it in tip-top shape. In order to further develop your connection to your sixth sense, you have to give yourself time to focus your energy on it.

Here are 3 effective methods that will help you to develop your psychic abilities on a daily basis. These will work for those who are walking a new path as well as you seasoned witchy goddesses alike.

1. Meditate

Meditation is a key part of keeping yourself grounded and deepening your connection to your psychic abilities. You may want to spend 15 minutes a day meditating to help raise your body's natural vibration. These periods of meditation can be done solo or you can use guided meditations to help you better set your mind on your goals.

Another effective way to meditate is to take a walk through nature. Being surrounded by nature will aid in relaxing your body and mind. You can employ some practices of mindfulness meditation by focusing on the way your body moves when you walk or by counting your breaths.

Spending a few minutes each day focusing on your third eye can do wonders for deepening your connection to it and even help it open more. Focus your mind and energy on the spot just above where your eyebrows meet and imagine your third eye opening up. It's natural to feel a tingling sensation when you put so much concentration into it.

2. Journal Writing 

Writing things down is a good way to better connect to them and put them in the forefront of your mind. When you spend the time to handwrite, you can better focus on what it is you need to focus on. By writing down things you need help finding clarity on, you put more energy into those things. This can result in bringing you the answers you seek.

A good practice in developing your psychic abilities is to keep a journal or list of the symbols you are given. By recording what a symbol means to you when you see it, you can more easily understand messages.

You can also ask your spirit guides to give you certain symbols, such as what you might receive if love is involved. Maybe it's the image of a heart or a warm tingling in your chest. By learning about how things are communicated to you, it will be easier for you to interpret what you receive.

A dream journal is another good way to help deepen your psychic abilities. Messages can easily come through your dreams, so you should write down any significant ones you have. You can also write down how you would interpret it before seeking other sources to find out what it means.

3. Practice 

As with anything, practice makes perfect. The more you use your psychic abilities, the better you'll be at utilizing them. Don't be afraid to get things wrong every now and then, you probably just don't know what something means yet. Practice regularly on willing friends and family to give your abilities a stretch.

You can spend some time in an antique store or somewhere similar where a lot of pre-owned objects are present. Walk around the store and focus on how you're feeling. What energies are around you? You may be drawn to certain objects and be able to find out more about them or the person that owned them.

Using old photographs is a good way to exercise your abilities as well. Find pictures of people you know little or nothing about. Spend some time with each picture and try to feel out anything you can about the people in them. Write down whatever you receive in case you can have someone verify it later.

Don't Get Discouraged 

Just like any skill, getting more in tune with your psychic abilities takes time and effort on your part. You should do your best to devote a little bit of time each day to deepen your connection to any ability you’re trying to enhance.

Don’t give up on yourself easily. You may not see the small changes as they happen, but when you look back you will start to notice how far you’ve come. The energy you spend on yourself will pay off in the end.

Shale Green is a green witch, born under Pisces, and a seeker of the mysteries of nature. He currently spends his time writing and being in the woods. Find more from Shale at WitchcraftWay.com and on Instagram

Monday, August 12, 2019

August Full Moon Worksheet

August Full Moon Worksheet

This month's full moon is in Aquarius on the 15th and is opposite Venus. This means that you should expect strife and drama in your relationships. Work and home are likely going to oppose each other, so this is a time to be patient and understanding, recognizing that this too shall pass. Work with the Full Moon's energy to find and target these problem areas so you and your loved ones can work through these stresses together. This month's worksheet contains a three-card tarot spread to help you figure out your feelings, your partner's feelings, and how these feelings are affecting your relationship. As always there are also sections for what you want to release and charge, and any intuitive thoughts you receive during the Full Moon.

August Full Moon Worksheet

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE COPY

Looking for more free worksheets? Why not get your free copy of my spell/ritual worksheet to write your best spells and rituals yet?

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Lammas Altar 2019

Lammas Altar 2019

First of all, I apologize for this post being late. School has started back and I have been planning, teaching, and sitting in meetings every day! Yay being back to work. Haha! Lammas begins our season of harvest, being the first of the harvest festivals. Summer is not quite over yet and the fruits and vegetables are riping quickly. In some parts of the world, wheat is being harvested and set aside to make flour and bread for the upcoming winter months. Summer squash, zucchini, peaches, and grapes are also being picked, especially here in Georgia, and prepared for small feasts. The Earth's bountiful harvest is beginning and the Sun is still bright and powerful in the sky. However, this harvest we begin to see the changes as the days grow ever shorter and the evenings begin to cool. This is a great time to thank the Earth and Sun for all they are providing us with while still spending time outdoors, soaking up the last of the rays before Winter comes calling.

Lammas Altar 2019

1. White Candles & Candle Sticks - The 4 white candles represent the Sun in all his glory, an obvious fire symbol. The two white candles in the red and clean glasses, red also being representative of the Sun and strength, smell of vanilla, a feminine scent representative of vitality and passion. Mother Earth is working tirelessly with the Sun to provide us with the grains, fruits, and vegetables we are harvesting this season. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree; Cost: $1 for 2 pillar candles, candlesticks $1 each, jar candles $1 each)

2. IvyThe silk ivy represents wealth, abundance, and fertility, as well as the Sun (Horned God) who is helping the plants grow in strength and ripen fruits and vegetables. It encircles the candles and the other components of the altar to symbolize how the Sun and Earth work together to provide life. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

3. Plastic Grapes- Grapes are often harvested at this time, some being turned to wine while others are enjoyed as a snack or paired with cheese and crackers. The red grapes represent the first of the harvest crops as well as the feminine and blood, the "life-giver." (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

Lammas Altar 2019

4. Moss Agate- Moss agate is a wonderful crystal as it attracts abundance and prosperity thus aiding in plant growth and guaranteeing a healthy, bountiful harvest, which is so important during a harvest festival. There are three of these crystals encircling the flowers to represent the Sun, Earth, and Moon and how the three work together to bring life into existence. (Where did I get it: Metaphysical Store; Cost: ~3)

Lammas Altar 2019

5. Marigolds and Black-eyed Susans in a Mason Jar- My garden is in full bloom, covered in Marigolds and Black-eyed Susans. I took some fresh cuttings from my garden to represent the bountiful harvest from the Earth at this time and bring some of my garden into my home. Being yellow in color, both of these flowers also represent the Sun, who lends his strength to help my garden grow. (Where did I get it: Target or My Garden; Cost: Free or $0.50 for mason jar)

Lammas Altar 2019

6. Antler- Represents the masculinity and fertility, as well as the connection between our realm and the Otherworld. I always like to put something on my altar to connect with the spirits. It is placed behind the flowers to show how our world and the Otherworld are parallel to one another, connected by those of us who travel between the worlds. (Where did I get it: Found; Cost: $0)


7. Wheat- Lammas is first and foremost a bread holiday and you can't have a Lammas altar without wheat somewhere on it. I placed three sprigs of wheat to represent abundance and the central focus on this holiday. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)


Lammas Altar 2019


Lammas Altar 2019

TOTAL COST: ~$10.50

Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found or purchased for around $1, although if the items must be purchased by you, then the cost will be higher. I hope you find this sort of break down helpful, especially those of you looking to create Instagram perfect altars on a budget! This altar is slightly more expensive than some of my others, but mostly because it's pretty full!

How did you celebrate Lammas this year? I ate a peach. For real, that's what I did. It was my first day back to work and all I wanted to do was sit outside with my chickens and eat peaches, so that's what I did! Haha!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Spirit Work for Lammas

Spirit Work for Lammas

Lammas secularly falls on August 1st, which is quickly approaching. I should know...I go back to work on August 1st for preplanning. Can I please have another month? Anyway, like every sabbat, there is spirit work to be done on Lammas, if you wish to. Being the first of the harvest festivals, this is a good time to start thanking Mother Earth and the Sun for all they have provided for us as well as the spirits of the plants that produced the foods we are harvesting. The Sun is still strong at Lammas, but we are beginning to see the shift toward darkness. The nights are getting cooler and the days shorter, but there is still summer fun yet to be had...unless you are going to back school August-freaking-first...

1. Eat a fortune cookie. 

I know this sounds so cliche, but fortune cookies are a modern-day example of aleuromancy or wheat-flour divination. Aleuromancy comes from the Greek words aleuron (flour) and manteia (divination) and was a form of divination presided over by Apollo. Historically, handwritten messages were baked into bread, cakes, or cookies. The balls of dough were mixed up 9 times before being distributed to those waiting to divine their futures. Modern-day fortune cookies are a form of aleuromancy. However, instead of simply cracking open the cookie and reading the note inside, ask the spirits a question first. Shuffle a bag of fortune cookies nine times then select a cookie to open using your intuition as your guide. The fortune on the paper may not exactly answer your question, and if it doesn't try interpreting the "lucky" numbers on the back. This is a fun, secretly witchy activity to do with friends and family to celebrate Lammas or whenever you have a gathering!

2. Reflect on your spiritual practice. 

Lammas is a sort of in-between time. Summer is ending but it's not quite Fall. Mabon is traditionally the time for giving thanks, so why not spend Lammas reflecting on your spiritual practice and figuring out how you can improve? Begin by lighting a silver candle. Silver is associated with the Moon and feminine energy and is often used like a mirror to help with reflecting magic and illuminating changes that must occur to continue to move forward. Essentially, silver is a great color for self-reflecting. If you don't have a silver candle, white will work just as well. Ask the spirits to help guide you as you reflect on your spiritual practice and how you can continue to grow as a witch. You can close your eyes to receive images or stare into the flame and/or smoke and interpret the pattern. As you meditate, write down any messages you receive or thoughts you have. Spend some time thinking about your strengths, weakness, how you can improve, and how you can help others. Be sure to write down everything in your BOS or journal. Once you have finished, devise an action plan. How are you going to improve your weaknesses? Are you going to read more books on the subject, take a class, or practice? How are you going to share your gifts with others so they may grow as well? The next Full Moon, reflect on how well you are moving toward your goals. Continue this reflection for at least 3 moon cycles.

3. Thank the plant spirits for their bountiful harvest.


Honoring the plants that provide us with food and nourishment is important, especially during the first harvest. If you are growing fruits, vegetables, or herbs in your yard leave them an offering of some sort. It can be a simple as an extra bit of water, a beautiful crystal, a piece of bread, or some compost/manure/fertilizer. If you want to have a more elaborate ritual to thank you plants for all they have provided you with, hold it on Lammas with candles, offerings, music, and some written lines thanking them for what they have done for you this year. Even if you aren't growing fruits, vegetables, or herbs, you can thank the spirits of the local plants and trees in your area as well. They have provided you with oxygen, shade, and are helping to reduce the amount of CO2 in the environment. That is pretty awesome too.

Spirit work doesn't always have to be intricate or involve traveling to the Otherworld. Sometimes its as easy as honoring the life around us, reflecting, and opening a fortune cookie. However you decide to practice spirit work this sabbat, be sure you are also respectful and kind. What spirit work do you like to perform on Lammas?


Monday, July 22, 2019

Bone Magic Series: Cleaning and Preserving Animal Remains

Bone Magic Series: Cleaning and Preserving Animal Remains

Now that you have started to acquire some animal remains, you may find yourself wondering how to clean them. Of course, if you buy from an online retailer they will come nice and cleaned to you, but finding them in nature is another story. I have some bones I have found that I haven't cleaned because I loved how they looked and the animal spirit residing in the bone or skull wished for it to remain just the way I found it. The coyote skull I have is one such example. If you have seen it in my rituals, spells, and altars, the skull is covered in lichen. Eventually, the skull will break down, but I respectfully left the skull as it was at the request of the coyote spirit. Other bones and skulls I have, however, either don't have a spirit or the spirit was totally fine with me cleaning their vessel. Always ask before you clean any bones you found. The last thing you want to do is upset the animal spirits or drive them away from their resting place.

So how should you clean the animal remains you find? This is by no means going to be a complete guide, but I have included links to articles and videos to fill in the gaps.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


Bones

There are several methods to clean bones if you so wish. Most people agree that bleach, even in low concentrations, is harmful to the bones and will cause degradation over time so you will find no bleach here!

1. Flesh Removal

If you come across bones that still have flesh on them, such as roadkill or bones purchased from a butcher, you need to begin by removing the flesh. You have several options here depending on time, equipment, and smell tolerance!

Slow Cooker Method 1

First and foremost, you don't want to boil the bones. Boiling causes the bones to become weak and brittle, just as cooking them does. I know lots of people used chicken bones from rotisserie chickens, and that is perfectly fine, but the bones are much more brittle and prone to breakage than bones that have not been cooked or boiled.

For the first slow cooker method, all you will need is a slow cooker, slow cooker liner (to prevent the flesh from permeating into your slow cooker and to help with clean up), water, and the remains.  Remove as much flesh as possible prior to cooking. This can take some time and if the remains have begun to rot, this is going to smell horrid. Place the liner in the slow cooker. Sit the remains in the liner and fill with water until the remains are covered. Set the slow cooker to 165° F or the low/medium setting. Make sure to check your manual to figure out which setting will be closest to 165° F.  Again, you do not want to boil the remains. Depending on the size of the remains, it should cook anywhere between 4 and 24 hours. A pig head takes about 24 hours. If it is larger than a pig head, you're going to need to cook it longer, but I can't fit anything larger than that in my slow cooker so you'll likely go with a different method.

After cooking the remains, you will need to remove any remaining flesh and scrub the bones well with dish soap. Nonscoring pads, dish brushes, and bottle brushes are best for this as they won't scratch or damage the bones. Again, this is going to smell horrid, especially if there is any brain left behind. You might want a mask and some candles burning.

Slow Cooker Method 2

This method uses all of the above items as well as a biological washing powder to speed up the process and make the bones easier to clean. A biological washing powder is any powdered detergent that contains enzymes. These enzymes break down the fats and proteins in the remaining flesh, making it easier to remove whatever remains after cooking. To find a biological powder, look for any powdered detergent that contains enzymes (protease) or order some Bio-Tex off Amazon.

As before, place everything in the slow cooker and set your slow cooker to a low setting. Add 1-2 tablespoons of biological washing powder. Depending on the remains, allow to slow cook for 4-24 hours. You want the water to remain warm throughout the process but not hot, otherwise, the enzymes will not activate or will denature. At low temperatures, the enzyme protease will not function. At high temperatures, protease will break down (denature) and no longer work. Once the remains are removed from the slow cooker, be sure you wash them really well to remove all the enzymes and remaining flesh. You don't want the enzymes to continue breaking down the bone!

Maceration

This method is often referred to as the "cold" water method and smells awful, but it is super effective for small remains like fish, amphibians, bats, and mice. You will need a large plastic bucket with a lid or a mason jar for really small remains. Place the animal remains, with as much flesh removed as possible, in the bucket or jar and fill with warm water until the remains are covered. Do not use hot or boiling water as it will kill the bacteria. Cover the container, but do not completely seal it. Lack of oxygen will slow down the process. Sit in a warm location, under a heat lamp (mason jar), or place an aquarium incubator into the bucket set to 95° F.  You want the temperature to remain around 95° F for the duration of the process to help the process. After two days, change the water, leaving some of the original water in the container to maintain the bacteria colony. You can remove flesh from the remains at this time as well, especially if there is a lot of fat left behind. You don't want the fat to accumulate in the bones. One day 5, check the remains again. If there is still a lot of tissue left, allow the remains to macerate longer. This process can take up to 14 days. After 14 days, remove the remains and clean them as best you can.

Dermestid Beetles

If you have space and you know what you are doing, dermestid beetles, aka flesh-eating beetles, are a less smelly way to clean your bones. However, you are going to need to consistently provide your beetles with food, so if you are only looking to clean a few remains, dermestid beetles are not for you. They should also be kept in a large tank with proper bedding in a warm place. If they get too cold they won't eat. Furthermore, dermestid beetles are best for small remains with little flesh. It takes time for the beetles to eat and if there is too much flesh on the bones, the inner flesh will begin to rot. Dermestid beetles prefer fresh flesh to rotting flesh. If you want to use larger remains, remove some of the flesh prior to feeding the beetles. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks for the beetles to do their work. Once they are done, simply follow one of the cleaning methods below. You can order a dermestid beetle kit here or call local wildlife centers and taxidermists to see if they have beetles open to public use.

Burial

This method is easy, less smelly, but time-consuming and slightly risky. If done incorrectly, you can end up preserving the entire animal, losing bones, or damaging them. If you plan to bury, leave the animal remains above ground for 2-3 days. This will allow flies to lay eggs. Once the larvae hatch (maggots) they will begin eating the flesh, even if buried underground. If you are burying smaller remains, place them in a thin muslin bag to keep the remains together. For larger animals, you might consider a wire mesh. Bury the remains in drier soil. Avoid very wet soil and sand as this can preserve the remains. Mark where you buried the remains and allow them to sit for several months. The larger the remains, the longer they should remain buried.

Laying Out

This is super risky and smelly but effective. Leaving animal remains to rot on the surface do so quickly and effectively, but you run the risk of humans and animals alike making off with your remains. However, Mother Nature is much better at cleaning bones than we are. Simply leave the remains above the surface for 3-12 months depending on the location and size of the remains. You will want to cover them in a wire mesh or cage to prevent animals and humans from taking the remains. Foxes and coyotes will run off with bits and pieces and take them miles away if you're not careful. Another method is to place smaller remains underneath a weighted flower pot. This allows flies to move in and out and keeps predators out.

2. Degreasing

Degreasing the bones is an important step if you used many of the methods above. While you don't have to degrease the bones if you laid them out of buried them, it is still a useful cleaning step so why not do it anyway? Simply mix together warm water and Dawn dish soap and allow the bones to sit in the water-soap solution for 24 hours. This will remove both dirt and fat residue left over from the defleshing process.

3. Bleaching (without bleach!)

There are two methods to "bleaching" or whitening bones. The first is the hydrogen peroxide method, which also helps sterilize the bones. The second is sunning them I do during the drying process. Once you have cleaned and degreased the bones, place them in a container and cover with 3% hydrogen peroxide. This will disinfect and bleach the bones without causing them to degrade. It can take 3 hours to a week for the bones to whiten to the color you wish them to be. Make sure there are no air bubbles trapped and the bone is completely covered.

4. Drying

After everything is said and done, allow the bones to air dry in the sun if possible for a couple of days. If they are not completely dry after a couple of days, place them on some newspaper and allow them to dry near a heat source. Do not place them directly on the heat source as this could cause the bone to crack.

Feathers

Feathers have a very different process of cleaning than bones. They are much more fragile and don't need to have any fleshed removed. You can clean them in a soapy water bath or wipe them down with baby wipes. When you dry them, be sure to rub them back into the correct position and dry them on a flat surface. Do not place in direct sunlight. After washing and drying them, place them in the freezer for about a week to kill any bugs or mites that may still be left on the feathers.

If you are looking at preserving an entire bird wing, try the borax method. In a cardboard box, sprinkle an inch of borax on the bottom. Place the bird wing on top of the borax then cover it with a thin layer of borax. The borax will dry out the tissue and mummify the wing while simultaneously disinfecting the feathers.

Other Animal Remains

Most other animals remain such as teeth, claws, and shells can be cleaning with soap and water. Furs and pelts can be washed in a mild soap and water bath and should be immediately hung up to dry in a warm place. Do not place pelts or furs in the sun as this will cause fading. Organs and organ tissue should be preserved in a preservative fluid as recommended by a taxidermist. If you are looking to use something quickly in a spell, like a fresh sheep heart or cow tongue, usually the spell requires burying or tossing the parts away after use. Store these items in a fridge or freezer prior to use.

Below are some amazing resources regarding cleaning and preserving animal remains.

Cleaning and Preserving Animal Skulls by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
Jake's Bones (blog)- Covers everything you could possibly think of regarding cleaning animal remains.
Bones at Home- how to properly care for your bones once they are clean
Sanitizing Feathers for Crafts by Dara Trahan
The Best Way to Clean Seashells Without Ruining Them by Dawn Henthron
Wet Specimens- A General Guide by Mickey Alice Kwapis
Wet Specimens- An Updated Post (with a little history lesson) by Mickey Alice Kwapis
Link Round Up- Bone Cleaning by Mickey Alice Kwapis

Whatever method you chose, always make sure you are following safe procedures and following all local laws. If you are concerned about smell, legality, time, or space, buying bones from an ethical online source is fine. It doesn't make you less witchy to buy them. Do you have a preferred cleaning method?

Interest in the rest of the series? Here's what's to come!

Bone Magic Series