Friday, October 31, 2014

Vampires

In the spirit of Halloween I thought I would write this Pagan Blog Project post about vampires. No undead spirit retains as much fascination from the living as vampires. Many understand vampires to exist somewhere between the living and dead, but are they tortured souls or rewarded ones?

Interpretations differ between cultures and myths, but the one quality universally accepted is that they suck vitality from others, either in the form of blood or sexual energy. The most famous vampires, including Bram Stroker's Dracula, Anne Rice's Lestat, and Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, are all blood suckers. Some vampires kill their victims by draining all of their blood quickly while others prolong the process. Others still use the blood as merely a means to drain the victim's life force. However, vampires such as Lillith and her daughters, Herodias and her daughters, La Diablesse of the French Caribbean, and the Karina, drain sexual vitality from their victims. This is often done through sexual intercourse, whether physically or through dream hauntings. Many of today's portrayals of vampires combines the blood-sucker with the more ancient incubus/succubus (drainer of sexual vitality).

So how does one become a vampire? Well, there are many different traditions citing very different causes.
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  • Inadequate/improper funeral rites
  • There is a contagious quality to being a vampire. Once attacked by a vampire you either become one yourself or die.
  • In Transylvanian folklore, illegitimate songs, born outside Church-sanctioned marriages are doomed to become vampires.
  • Some spirits are believed to be innately vampiric without rhyme or reason.
  • Other traditions claim those born on Christmas Day are potentially future vampires.
  • And my personal favorite is from Ukrainian folklore. According to this legend a vampire is the inevitable result of sexual relations between a witch and werewolf.
Some of these are much crueler than the others if you consider the implications. I am curious to know how many people killed their illegitimate sons out of fear.

Of course among the legends are many antidotes. These traditionally include bells, bright light or sunlight, garlic, onions, and silver bullets or bullets made from melted down bells. Crosses and Holy Water is still up for debate. These do not appear in any traditions prior to the Church introducing them and many believe them to be Christian propaganda. Of course there are always spells to repel vampires.

The Gypsies of India suggest wearing a charged and consecrated iron ring set with pearls to ward off vampires. After an encounter they say to cleanse the ring in incense smoke. Wearing dried peppermint around you neck will also ward off vampires. You can mix it with dried garlic to make an even more powerful ward. However, my favorite is the idea that vampires are OCD. Supposedly if there is fishing net, or in our case modern screens, over your windows the vampire will compulsively count all the knots or holes before entering. The idea is that he/she will either be so distracted they get caught in sunlight or they give up and move to another home.

If you are daring you can try to capture a vampire in a glass or metal bottle like a genie. Don't use plastic as they can presumably bite through plastic. This works like a fly-trap. Place some kind of tempting food in the bottle. Set the bottle out and wait. You will know you have caught a vampire when you observe a bit of staw or fluff within the bottle. Seal the bottle securely and toss it into a fire to destroy the vampire. This spell of course only works on a vampire who is understood to have once been a regular human.

So this Halloween, take solace in the fact that you very likely have screens on all your windows and simply putting out some peppermint and garlic or having some bells on hand will keep you safe. And remember witches, don't do anything naughty with a werewolf else you could create your own little vampire.

I hope everyone has a wonderul Halloween. May your ancestors be with you.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hustle and Bustle

So it has been an extremely busy time in our house the past couple of weeks. October always seems to bring on the endless activities. With fall festivals, parties, my birthday, and random projects for work, we rarely have a moment to catch our breaths until the New Year.

Monday was my 26th birthday. Yes, yes, I am 26 and honestly feeling like I am finally pulling up my roots and moving forward with my life. I have felt so stuck since I graduated from college in 2011. I am finally going back to school to get a Master's in Secondary Education. It is not my first choice however. I went to school for avian paleontology. I wanted to study the origin and evolution of birds from dinosaurs. Sadly, the field is extremely small and when I say small, I mean there are only two people in the United States that I could work with on a graduate level and some 800 students applied for those 2-5 spots. I just can't compete despite my many accomplishments, including being a published scientists. I am very proud that my undergraduate research was published and hoped it would be enough for any graduate program, but sadly it wasn't. So, I have finally decided it is time to move beyond my dream to something more tangible. I decided if I can't be a paleontologist, I might as well teach it, so I am going to become a high school biology teacher. I went to an orientation/Q&A this morning and the program's dean, admission counselor, and one of the teachers absolutely adored me. They went on and on about what a wonderful teacher I am going to be and the dean said she was thankful I was turned down by other graduate programs. For the first time in 3 years I finally feel like I am worth something. I can't even begin to explain how much it meant to me to hear someone tell me they want me in their program; that I am valuable and have something worth sharing with the world. I cried when I got in the car because I was so overwhelmed. I have been rejected from graduate programs 10 times. That is 10 times I was told, "Sorry, you aren't good enough for us." Ten times I felt worthless, like a failure, like wasted space. I have spent the past three years angry with myself. Well, I am done feeling this way. I am not not a tree; I am going to move forward.


This isn't going to be an easy process, but I think I will be happy with it in the long run. Biology teachers are highly sought after and with a Master's I should make very decent money. I will be able to move where ever I want in the country or even outside of it, have the same holidays off as my children if I decide not to home school, and get to teach my favorite subject in the entire world.

Needless to say, I have been busy. I haven't even bought pumpkins, let alone made a Halloween tree to set up an altar to honor the dead. I would feel guilty, but I don't. I had to focus on me for once and what I needed to do in order to feel alive. I am sure my deceased friends and family will understand and forgive me.

I plan on posting next Friday for the Pagan Blog Project and hopefully an addition post sometime next week; on what I am not sure yet, but I will figure it out.

I hope that everyone is enjoying this lovely fall and doing well!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Recipe: Brown Sugar Acorn Squash

Today I would like to share one of my favorite fall side dishes, Brown Sugar Acron Squash. It is simple and easy to make, requiring only four ingredients!


Ingredients:
     1-2 Acorn squash
     4-8 Tablespoons of Earth Balance or Butter (enough to coat)
     4-8 Tablespoons  brown sugar (enough to fill)
     Pinch of salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut your acorn squash in half and remove a small slice from the top and bottom if the halves do not sit evenly on the baking sheet. Remove seeds.
  2. Coat the inside of the squash with Earth Balance or butter, forming a layer about 1/4 inch thick. Fill with brown sugar.
  3. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until squash is soft. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. 
  4. Scoop out the contents from skin and mash in a bowl. Mix in a pinch of salt. Serve warm.


This makes an excellent side dish to any fall inspired meal with its rich and sweet flavor. Acorn squash was one of my favorites as a kid, and I cook it every fall for me and my husband. If you have a larger family, you may consider cooking two squashes, but one should accomadate 2-4 people just fine.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Uninvited Banishing Spells

 

With Halloween around the corner, scary movies are flooding the theatres and the television. I don't know if any of you guys have seen the previews for Ouija, but it got my thinking about the Uninvited. The whole premise of the movie is that some teenagers use a Ouija board to communicate with the dead and all hell breaks loose. I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I have overheard people talking about summoning spirits, demons, etc using any and all variety of methods. In fact, the daughter of a close family friend admitted to her mother that she was summoning spirits in an attempt to help them pass over. She was dabbling, as most people who talk about this sort of thing are, and her mother noticed very marked changes about her daughter. She asked me what I thought (she is a pagan Christian and clairvoyant), and I looked at her and told her that B had invited something in that she had not intended, something very dark.

Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence when people dabble and/or misuse magic. In many cases, it is easier to summon than to banish. Always keep this in mind when summoning anything, especially if it is malevolent. However, it can even happen to the most skilled practitioner. So for this week's Pagan Blog Project post I would like to cover how to get rid of the Uninvited, both physically and metaphysically. Sometimes a guest overstays their welcome, a neighbor moves in that is completely awful, or you have accidentally let in something malicious.

Depending on what you need, there are several ways you can handle this problem. Banishing powders are very common in dealing with people. My favorite is based on an old Hoodoo recipe. To make Hoodoo Vanishing Powder, simply combine black pepper, cayenne, salt, and sulfur and grind into a fine powder. Visualize your intent while grinding to infuse the powder.

Banishing powders can be sprinkled on the clothes, especially shoes, of the person you wish to leave, under their bed, on the ground where they will walk over it, or used to enhance other banishing spells including banishing oil. Remember, powders are intended as a subtle form of magic so less is more. You don't want it to be obvious what you are doing. Also keep in mind that if you sprinkle this on someones clothes, you could cause an adverse reaction, so the bottoms of shoes is safest.

Of course this is only one powder recipe. Mixing any of the following herbs will produce a Banishing Powder:
     Angelica
     Asafetida
     Basil
     Bay laurel
     Citronella
     Cloves
     Cumin
     Devil's bit
     Dragon's blood
     Elder
     Fleabane
     Fumitory
     Garlic
     Heliotrope
     Horehound
     Juniper
     Lovage
     Mistletoe
     Mullein
     Mugwort
     Nettle
     Oleander
     Pepper (both black and cayenne/hot chili)
     Yew

Growing these plants in quantity around your home will also discourage uninvited guests and can be used in your Poison Garden (to be talked about on a later date).

To make a Banishing Oil cover your banishing powder in Castor oil and shake vigorously until well combined. If the oil is too thick you can thin it with jojoba oil.

 

All of the above methods are generally used to banish people, not spirits. If you have accidentally let spirits into your home, whether malicious or not, there are several ways to handle this. A general word of caution; if you wish to practice malevolent magic, know that it attracts the attention of equally malevolent spirits, whether you want them or not. Once present, they often become bored and restless, causing destruction and grief in their wake. The best option for banishing spirits is to contact a knowledgeable professional, but I understand not everyone can or are comfortable doing this. When all actions must be taken into your own hands, the Spirit Banishing Bell and Incense Spell is extremely potent. Burn benzoin, frankincense, and juniper as a triple threat and for tripe protection. Evil spirits cannot abide any of these fragrances, let alone the combination and should leave. Ringing an iron bell while the incense burns will increase the effectiveness of this spell as it disturbs most malicious spirits. Make your intent known by commanding the spirits to leave and never return.

I hope none of you ever have to use any of these spells, but in case you ever do, do not do it maliciously. These are also not intended to use all willy-nilly because you can't get along with someone. These are for extreme cases only so please exercise caution and your best judgement.

Have you ever had to use a banishing spell? If so, for what?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Herbarium: Sage

Folk Names: Garden Sage, Red Sage, Sawge
Gender: Masculine
Planet: Jupiter
Element: Air
Powers: Immortality, Longevity, Protection, Purification, Wisdom, Wishes
Magical Uses and History: Sage takes its name from the Latin word salvare which means "to save." This is a very fitting name due to its healing properties. The Ancient Greeks and Romans ate Sage to improve the mind. Carrying Sage on your person is said to promote wisdom. The Romans also believed eating Sage would protect pregnant women, increase fertility, and extend life. To extend your own life, eat Sage everyday in May, for:
He who would life for aye
Must eat sage in May.
The Egyptians also believed Sage increased fertility and women would drink sage juice before lying with their husbands to ensure conception.

Sage is also a powerful protector. Wearing a horn full of Sage will protect you from the evil eye while burning it will dispel negative energy and cleanse rooms and objects.

If you desire to make a wish come true, write your wish on a Sage leaf and sleep on it for three nights. If you dream of your wish, it will come true. If you do not, bury the Sage in the ground to prevent harm coming to you.

Be weary if you wish to grow Sage in your garden. It is bad luck to plant Sage in your own garden and a stranger (or someone not living in the home) should be found to plant it for you. Furthermore, a full bed of Sage is bad luck so make sure the plot is home to other plants as well.

Sage can be used in a number of spells including:
     Protection Magic
     Healing Spells
     Fertility Spells
     Purification
     Luck Spells
     Attract Wisdom
     Immortality Magic

Medicinal Uses: The leaves of Red Sage are often used to aid inflammation of the mouth, throat, and tonsils as its volatile oils are soothing to the mucous membranes. It can be used internally as a mouth wash to treat gingivitis, inflamed tongue (glossitis), and other mouth inflammations including mouth ulcers. It can also be gargled to treat laryngitis, pharyngitis, and tonsillitis. Furthermore, it reduces sweating when taking internally. Externally it is used to treat wounds. Do not take Sage if you are pregnant or wishing to breastfeed. When taken internally, it can reduce breast milk production and stimulate the muscles of the uterus.

Preparation and Dosage: The leaves should be collected shortly before or just at the beginning of flowering (May or June). Leaves can then be dried, but not above 95°F. Sage can be taken internally as either an infusion, tincture, or gargle. To make an infusion, pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoons of leaves and let infuse for 10 minutes. Drink this solution up to three times a day. As a tincture, take 2-4 milliliters up to three times a day. To make a gargle put 2 teaspoons of dried leaves in 1 pint of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes. Gargle deeply with the hot deep for 5-10 minutes several times a day. Externally use Sage in a compress to treat open wounds.

 



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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Making Crystal Tinctures and Extracts

 

Normally when I talk about tinctures and extracts, I am referring to herbal mixtures and remedies. However, it is possible to make tinctures and extracts from crystals for both medicinal and magical purposes. I'm not going to touch on any of these uses today, simply explain how to make them.

To make a tincture or extract, cleanse (both physically and magically--best option is to run it under water) and charge your crystal. If you plan to ingest your tincture or extract please make sure your crystal is nontoxic. Many crystals, including aquamarine, emerald, and tiger's eye, are toxic when soaked in alcohol, water, or oil. You can find a decent list here.

Once your stone is cleansed and charged, soak the crystal in alcohol, water, or oil for 2-4 hours in sun light. If your stone will fade in sun light, you can use moon light instead. Remove the crystal and store the water in a clear glass jar. If you soaked your crystal in water pour in 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar or Vodka to prevent algea growth if you do not plan to use your extract immediately.

If you still wish to use a toxic crystal you can use an indirect method. Simply place the crystals in a small bowl within a larger bowl full of alcohol, water, or oil. The vibrations will enter the liquid but the toxins will not.

With preservation (alcohol or vinger) your extracts can last up to two years if using internally or 6+ years if using externally. Tinctures will last up to 6+ no matter their use as they are made from alcohol. Oils should be used within weeks to prevent them from going rancid.

Crystal tinctures and extracts are very simple to make. However, using crystal tinctures and extracts for medicinal purposes is not so simple. I have never personally used crystals for medicinal purposes, but I plan on learning how to use them in the future. Until then, please consult Google and its infinite wisdom with caution.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Three Tricksters

Last week several people wrote about their totem animals for the Pagan Blog Project. Since none of them mentioned mine, I figured I would cover them. I call them the Three Tricksters because each of them is known as a "trickster" in many traditions due to their cunning and ability to quickly adapt. My three totems are the Fox, Raven, and Raccoon.

The Fox

The fox has a long and rich history. It is often associated with the "dark" side of magic and seen as a bad omen in many traditions. In some Native American traditions, the fox represents the practice of dark sorcery and the manipulation of magic. Despite this, the fox is revered for its witty and quick intelligence. It is a great teacher, providing guidance on swiftly handling obstacles, adapting, and quick thinking. The fox can also help you see through deception and aid in dream work.

The Raven

Throughout history the raven has been associated with both positive and negative aspects. The most common aspects are magic, personal transformation, intelligence, adaptability, prophetic insight, and death. The raven is present in many shamanic traditions as the totem animal of choice for those who use magic. Furthermore, ravens are great teachers for guiding you through adversity, difficult situations, and transformation. It also aid in magical workings.

The Raccoon

The history of the raccoon is not as rich as those of the fox and raven, but it is also often associated with the trickster. In some Native Americans traditions it is associated with shape shifting, disguise, dexterity, and ingenuity. Like the raven it can aid in personal transformation and adaptability. Furthermore, the raccoon is a great teacher in problem solving, ingenuity, and exploration. It can also aid you in undertaking new experiences and calming you in stressful situations.

I hope this has been useful and if you are looking for more information, there are many helpful websites out there, including Spirit Animal Totems, Spirit Animal Info, and Shamanic Journey. This, of course, is just a breif introduction to each of the animals.