Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review: Practical Shamanism: A Guide for Walking in Both Worlds by Katie Weatherup

Book Review: Practical Shamanism: A Guide for Walking in Both Worlds by Katie Weatherup

Prior to going to Washington DC last week (yes, I took another trip!) I finished Practical Shamanism: A Guide for Walking in Both Worlds by Katie Weatherup. This book discusses shamanic journeying, including how to access the Otherworld, the foundations of journeying, and briefly introduces soul retrieval and shadow work. It takes a very "love and light" perspective on shamanic journeying, combining traditions from around the world into one modern, practical form.

The book is broken up into four parts: background and instruction, shamanic worldview, advanced practices, and personal stories and experiences. The first part of the book is by far the most helpful in my opinion. It discusses, step-by-step, how to access the Otherworld, what you will find in each realm, how to enter an altered state of consciousness using drumming, and how to meet your animal, spirit, and ancestral guides. If you are looking at how to shamanic journey or even hedge ride (please note these are two different things), the first part is where you should focus. I found her instructions helpful and easy to follow, whether you are just learning or have been journeying or hedge riding for years. I always like to read about how others enter the Otherworld, and her version of accessing the different realms actually made it easier for me to hedge ride. Part IV, Weatherup's personal experiences, was also a beneficial read. As I mentioned, I enjoy reading about other people's experiences in the Otherworld, and I found her stories to be inspiring. It also provides the reader with a better guide on how some things may occur when you travel. Unfortunately, this is all I can really say in favor of the book. I ended up being disappointed after it started out so strong.

Book Review: Practical Shamanism: A Guide for Walking in Both Worlds by Katie Weatherup


Parts II and III were love and light fluff. Part II, shamanic worldview, reminded me a lot of Wicca. Weatherup comes off as a wee bit preachy in regards to being in "right" with the universe, meaning you basically embrace the love and light philosophy. However, the section on shadow work in part III was somewhat redeeming in that Weatherup encourages the reader to embrace ALL aspects of themselves, including the pieces we think are "bad." However, she spends the rest of the book basically reciting the harm none mantra found in Wicca. I am doubting ancient shamanic rituals involved such a custom. Furthermore, after her wonderful step-by-step instructions in Part I, Weatherup gives up trying to walk you through how to do things like soul retrieval and shadow work and instead tells the reader to ask their guides for directions. She uses a quick little story to explain how she does soul retrieval for other people, but not how one would go about doing it for themselves. I understand that everyone has different experiences while journeying or hedge riding, and that you should ask your guides for assistance when doing such work, but this is supposed to be an introductory guide to shamanic journeying, and soul retrieval and shadow work are foundations in that practice. She also mentions helping souls move on, but doesn't explain how the process works. There is very little explanation of how and why things occur, and the constant love and light attitude followed by "ask your guides" really turned me off to the majority of the book.

Overall I give the book 3 stars. If you are looking into shamanic journeying or even hedge riding, the first part is worth the couple of bucks you'll pay for a used copy on Amazon. If you are looking for a book on shadow work and soul retrieval, go else where. If you are into the love and light movement, then you will also benefit from this book. In fact, you'll likely love it.

So what have you guys been reading lately? I am open to suggestions! Please leave them in the comments below!


Under Construction

Apparently Photobucket changed their policies, and I did not realize it so all of my images no longer work. I have been using their site since, oh, I donno, the early mid 2000s, so this sucks. They want $400 a year to host my images. Yeah...no. So I am going to be spending the next couple of days uploading the photos onto Blogger itself. The reason I stopped doing that is because this account is linked to my phone and all of the pictures were showing up on my phone, which is the last thing I want. This is going to take an excessive amount of time to correct, so please hang in there while I attempt to fix this!


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Herbarium: Belladonna

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Belladonna. Includes FREE BOX page.

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Saturn
Element: Water
Powers: Astral Projection, Divination
Magical Uses and History: Belladonna is probably one of the most famous herbs among witches. Sometimes referred to as Deadly Nightshade or Dwale (coming from the Scandinavian dool meaning "sleep"), the name Belladonna originates from the Latin bella-donna, meaning "beautiful lady" as the Romans prized this plant for its unique cosmetic properties. Belladonna synthesizes atropine, an alkaloid which is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream. Upon entering the bloodstream, it produces a number of symptoms. According to an old saying, Belladonna causes anyone exposed to feel "hot as a hare, blind as a bat, dry as a bone, red as a beet, and mad as a hen." Among these symptoms is dilation of the pupils, which the ladies of the Roman aristocracy appreciated. Belladonna juices were distilled and dropped into the eyes to enlarge the pupils, causing the eyes to appear large, dark, and appealing. It is well documented that enlarged pupils are a sign of sexual arousal and attract the opposite sex, thus Belladonna was used by Roman women to attract men. However, unless the dosage was just right, using Belladonna would often produce a glassy, staring appearance as the pupils would be mostly immobile.

Due to its narcotic nature, Belladonna was ritually used to encourage astral projection and to aid in producing visions. Priests of Bellona, the Roman goddess of war, would often drink an infusion of Belladonna prior to worshiping and invoking the goddess. However, Belladonna not only stimulates the nervous system, it paralyzes it, making it extremely dangerous.

According to ancient myths, Belladonna belongs to the devil who tends to it all year except on Walpurgis when he prepares for the witches' sabbath. Another derivation comes from the plants generic name, Atropa, which is derived from the Greek Atropos, the Fate that cuts the thread of human life. Both of these myths reference the plants deadly, poisonous nature.

Today, Belladonna is very rarely used. All parts of the plant are extremely poisonous, especially the roots. Even today there are reports of accidental deaths associated with ingestion of this nightshade. There are much safer alternatives on the market today to induce visions and aid in astral projection, so Belladonna is best avoided.

Belladonna can be used in a number of spells including (but I do no suggest its use):
     Astral Projection
     Divination

Medicinal Uses: Despite its toxic nature, modern medicine has derived atropine and scopolamine from the plant to treat aliments such as irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, stomach ulcers, Parkinson's Disease, motion sickness, and even pink eye. It can be used as a sedative and to stop bronchial spasms due to asthma and whooping cough. Furthermore, ointments containing Belladonna can be applied to joints or skin to reduce rheumatism and to fight nerve pain. It does so by blocking functions of the body's nervous system, thus aiding in reducing nervous system related issues. However, Belladonna is EXTREMELY TOXIC and unless prescribed by a licensed physician, should NOT be used under any circumstances. Side effects include dry mouth, blurred vision, fever, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, spasms, convulsions, coma, and death. No part of the plant should be handled without gloves, especially if there is a cut or abrasion.

Preparation and Dosage: Do NOT attempt to prepare Belladonna on your own. Please contact your local, licensed physician for details on using Belladonna safely to treat the aforementioned aliments. If you wish to use Belladonna for astral projection or divination, I suggest using another herb such as Calea Zacatechichi (Mexican Dream Herb), Mugwort, or Blue Lotus.


Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0KnNmfNfzc8TndTRVdYTFpXYkE/view?usp=sharing

Friday, June 23, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Midsummer Litha Altar 2017

Happy Litha, Witches! I hope your day is filled with light and happiness. I set up my altar a couple of days ago and finally got to pull out the sun plaque I bought back in March from the Dollar Tree. I have a Sun and Moon one as well that I plan to use on an altar later in the year, probably on an equinox.

Litha or Midsummer Solstice celebrates the Sun's peak in strength when it appears to hang still in the heavens. For colors I focused on yellows, oranges, reds, and golds, masculine colors and the color of fire and light.

Midsummer Litha Altar 2017

Lets start on the left side which is the Eastern side of my altar (my altar faces South). I have some cinnamon incense which combines an herb of the Sun with fire, making it the perfect representation of the Sun rising in the East. Next to the incense is my statue of Mother Earth, who represents the feminine. She is next to the incense because the Sun rises over the Earth, or appears to due to the Earth's planetary movements.

Midsummer Litha Altar 2017

Next I have an array of candles and lanterns. The lights and flame represent fire, light, and thus the Sun. Litha is the longest day of the year and the Sun is at its peak, making a number of candles very fitting on any Midsummer altar.

Next to the candles is a solstice incense I picked up from a local herb shop at the Renaissance Festival this year. It doesn't say what it contains, but based on the smell I am certain cinnamon is included. Like the candles, incense use fire, making it useful for representing the Sun.

Midsummer Litha Altar 2017

In the middle is a mix of flowers including sunflowers and white and yellow daisies. The sunflowers with their yellow color represent the Sun and happiness while the daisies represent joy and lust.

The horn, which first appeared on my Beltane altar, represents the masculine. You can't have a Midsummer altar without honoring the masculinity of the Sun. Behind the horn is ivy, a symbol of health and abundance, represents the lush greenery characteristic of this time of year. Trees, shrubs, and plants are full and green by the end of June.

Finally on the far right, which is the western side of the altar, I have a glass terrarium. Glass combines the elements fire and earth, thus representing the Sun setting in the west. I kept the terrarium empty at this time because I did not have any small plants on hand that I felt would work with this particular altar. Maybe next year.

Midsummer Litha Altar 2017

In front of everything are four crystals: amber, malachite, red calcite, and blood stone. Amber, according to ancient myths, are tears of the Sun. Its golden yellow color represent not only the Sun, but strength and courage as well. The malachite represents abundance and protection. The red calcite represents strength, while the blood stone represents health. The reds and yellows of these stones go with the summer theme.

Midsummer Litha Altar 2017

Finally my beautiful Sun plaque. Sitting in the center of the altar, it pulls the entire set up together, showing that everything revolves around the Sun.

Midsummer Litha Altar 2017

I hope everyone enjoys the Sunlight today. Get outside, eat good food, and spend time enjoying the Sun's day of power with family.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Moon Box Review: June

Moon Box Review: June

Yay! Another Moon Box review! I cannot express how much I am loving this monthly box! Thus far, it has been my favorite subscription box, so much so I think I am going to continue my subscription, but stop reviewing it each month....unless you guys just want to read them. If so, please let me know in the comments.

Moon Box Review: June

This little box was waiting for me when I returned from my trip to Florida. Ah yes...I went to the beach with a friend from college for several days. It was AH-mazing! Wish I was still there! Anyway, back to the Moon Box. As always, I was greeted with an envelope asking me to find somewhere quiet to open the box and explore the contents. Inside the envelope was the information card, June's Strawberry Moon Oracle card, and the informational card on the crystals contained in the box. I really enjoy the Oracle cards each month, which explain the energies of the full moon for the month and contain some beautiful artwork.

Moon Box Review: June




Moon Box Review: June


Underneath, the first item to catch my eye was the bottle of aromatherapy spray "Son Rain" by Gypsy Soul Organics. It contains cedar leaf, violet, citronella, patchouli, eucalyptus, and galbanum. According to the information card, this aromatherapy spray is designed to remove doubt and fill you with positivity and good vibes. I can honestly say it works. I received some bad news at the doctor this week and this little spray has made me feel better when I notice I am starting to feel depressed. I have used it on myself, in rooms, and even on my bedding and pillows. The violet aroma induces self love, while the cedar leaf, eucalyptus, and citronella bring healing energy. The galbanum, a very subtle earthy scent, works to help ground and purify. With each spray, I feel more confident that things will be okay and that, despite what is going on in my body, I will get through this.

Moon Box Review: June

The next item to catch my eye was the lucid dreaming elixir by Anima Mundi Apothecary. According to the bottle, it is an handcrafted, organic, and vegan lucid dreaming elixir, sleep aid, and third eye tonic. Due to my illness I have not tried this product yet, but I am very excited to. At this time I am concerned it may interfere with my medication, and because I am ill, it is not wise to try any lucid dreaming or astral projection at this time. This elixir, however, contains Ashwagandha, Kava Kava, and Passionflower, which are all stress relievers and relaxers, Skullcap, which increases dreaming, and Blue Lotus, which has psychoactive properties that aid in inducing lucid dreaming, astral projection, and hedge riding. When I am able to test this product, I will be sure to write a separate, detailed post on my experience. I would like to test this for a full week to give everyone a good idea of how well the product works.

Moon Box Review: June 

Next was the tea and essential oil. Fruits of the Roots put together a stunning tea blend of strawberry, hibiscus, white tea, vanilla, rose hips, and nettle leaf. This tea is very sweet and fruity, making it a wonderful addition to this month's Strawberry Moon. The Moon Essential Oil, blended by Cottage Traditions, contains Clary sage, violet lead, white sage, lime, blood orange, and lavender. It goes well with the aromatherapy spray.

Moon Box Review: June

And finally the crystals! This is one of my favorite things each month. This month's contained a quartz point from Pakistan, Peacock Ore from Mexico, and a large Sodalite crystal from Brazil. Quartz is an amplifier of energy and can be used for just about everything. It works well with other crystals to amplify their energy, making it a great crystal for the Strawberry Moon when you set new goals and intentions. The Peacock Ore is truly stunning. It is brilliant blue and gold with hues of deep plum purple. This crystal ignites creative expression. I will be using it from now on while I work on my grimoire. Sodalite is used to bring things together and in unity spells. This crystal will be great for marriage work.

Moon Box Review: June

The day before the full moon, Gaia Collective sent out an email with the full moon meditation. This month's guided meditation focused on embracing your heart, setting new intentions, and filling your life with joy and beauty. These guided meditations are wonderful and excellent for anyone unsure of what to do during the full moon.

Moon Box Review: June


***

Since it has been three months, I would like to give you a complete break down of my overall thoughts on this box.

Pros:

  • The box is consistent. It always comes with and information card, moon oracle card, crystals, tea, essential oils, full moon guided meditation, and other monthly self care items centered around the full moon.
  • The item quality is great. Every item is worth more than I paid.
  • The information card is fantastic. It explains where the items came from and how to use them in your monthly full moon ritual. The crystal information card is great. In fact, I cut them put and place the cards in with the crystals so I always have them for reference.
  • Gaia Collective supports local businesses and for every box sold, a portion goes to Trees for the Future, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing degraded lands through educational programs for farmers and planting trees to create new forests around the world.
  • The box and packing supplies are environmentally friendly, so when you are done, it can be reused, recycled, or returned to the earth.
  • This box is available! There is no waiting list!

Cons:

  • While I loved the consistency, I do not need essential oil every month. I would have liked to see the essential oil replaced with another item occasionally.
OVERALL: 5 out of 5 stars 

Interested in purchasing this box? Check out Cratejoy. They have a large selection of subscription boxes that cover just about everything.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tarot: Finding Your Personality and Soul Cards

Tarot: Finding Your Personality and Soul Cards

Witch or not, you are likely aware of your astrological sign. I mean, it's kind of the hip thing to know. Hell, basic witches get their sign tattooed on them! I tease, I tease. Calm down! Your astrological sign probably says a lot about you, even if you don't believe in astrology. I am, without a doubt, a Libra. I strongly believe in justice and fairness, that people get what they deserve; I'm a people pleaser, a lover, and indecisive as all get out. However, there is more than just your astrological sign that describes you and your path in this world and the next. You have a personality and soul card in tarot that describes your journey in this life and your soul's overall purpose. Figuring out each of these cards is actually quite simple and can provide valuable insight into your life.

So what exactly is your personality and soul card?

Personality Card- This indicates the lesson you are supposed to learn in THIS life. This is a task that will keep you busy your entire life, and I am not talking about your job. I'm talking about things like learning forgiveness and acceptance, becoming self-aware, or simply growing into your own skin. These are big concepts, not small goals. You have a lesson to learn in this life and your personality card allows you to realize what that goal is. The path you take to get there is entirely up to you.

Soul Card- This indicates your soul's purpose. Many people believe in reincarnation, the idea that one's soul lives multiple life-times, returning after death to learn yet another lesson. Whether or not you actually put any stock into this idea is completely up to you, but that doesn't mean your soul card can't provide you with some more information. Your soul card is your deep trait, something that no matter what, it does not change. It doesn't change with age, sex, location (Hey there, big boy! asl? Throw back to chat rooms!), or time. Your soul card is your core, the very foundation you are built upon. It's the reason you respond the way you do to different situations, but don't use that as an excuse. Every tarot card has both "good" and "bad" traits. Using the cards as an excuse to behave poorly is a reflection of you, not the soul or personality card itself. It is also a reflection of your lack of progress to learn the lesson you are supposed to be learning. Keep that in mind.

Now your personality and soul cards can be the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it doesn't mean you are on your last reincarnation or whatever you believe. It could be your soul's very first trip here, or you could be in the middle. Some believe our souls reincarnate infinitely, learning and relearning lessons as we progress. Whatever you believe, don't be alarmed or snobbish if your personality and soul cards are the same. It is very common. However, it does mean that you are working on your soul's purpose in this lifetime and it makes you more focused.

So how exactly do you figure out your personality and soul cards? 22 Card Pick-Up is the name of the game! Throw them in the air and pick up 2 cards with your eyes closed. First is personality and second is soul. Done! Now reflect, witches! I'm kidding! Please don't throw your tarot cards. We are actually going to use your birthday and some numerology to figure out your cards.

STEP 1: How To Calculate Your Personality and Soul Cards


How to Calculate your Personality Card
To calculate your personality card, take the month, day, and full year of your birthday and add them together. Then add those numbers together until you get a number between 1 and 22.

For example I will use my birthday: October, 20, 1988 so

10 + 20 +1988 = 2018
Obviously 2018 is not between 1 and 22 so I need to add the numbers together.
2 + 0 + 1 + 8 = 11
11 is my personality card which corresponds to Justice. How fitting... Since 11 is not a single digit, my soul card is a different card.

How to Calculate Your Soul Card
To calculate your soul card, take your personality card and add of each of the numbers. If your personality card is a single number already, then your personality and soul cards are the same. I'll use my birthday as an example once again.

My personality card is card 11, Justice. Because 11 is a double digit, I need to add the numbers together to get my soul card.
1 + 1 = 2
2 is my soul card which corresponds to the High Priestess, again, how fitting.

Very simple don't you think?

Again, your personality and soul card can be the same thing. If your personality card is a single digit, then it is also your soul card. No more calculating needed.

Need more examples? I'll use some family and friends!

September 18, 1990
9 + 18 + 1990 = 2017
2 + 0 + 1 + 7 = 10 so personality card is the Wheel of Fortune
1 + 0 = 1 so soul card is The Magician

March 1, 1962
3 + 1 + 1962 = 1966
1 + 9 + 6 + 6 = 22 so personality card is The Fool
2 + 2 = 4 so soul card is The Emperor

July 30, 1958
7 + 30 + 1958 = 1999
1 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 28 This is not between 1 and 22 so we need to add the digits together for the personality card.
2 + 8 = 10 so personality card is The Wheel of Fortune
1 + 0 = 1 so soul card is The Magician
On another note, this is really interesting that 2 family members have the same cards...

May 27, 1987
5 + 27 + 1987 = 2019
2 + 0 + 1 + 9 = 12 so personality card is The Hanged Man
1 + 2 = 3 so soul card is The Empress

January 21, 2012
1 + 21 + 2012 = 2034
2 + 0 + 3 + 4 = 9 this is a single digit so both personality and soul cards are The Hermit

I told you it was easy and hopefully with the plethora of examples you will easily be able to figure out your personality and soul cards.

STEP 2: Find Your Personality and Soul Cards

Once you calculate your numbers, use the list below to figure out what numbers are associated with which card. For personality and soul cards we only use the Major Arcana.

0 or 22 : The Fool
1: The Magician
2: The High Priestess
3: The Empress
4: The Emperor
5: The Hierophant
6: The Lovers
7: The Chariot
8: Strength
9: The Hermit
10: Wheel of Fortune
11: Justice
12: The Hanged Man
13: Death
14: Temperance
15: The Devil
16: The Tower
17: The Star
18: The Moon
19: The Sun
20: Judgement
21: The World

STEP 3: Write Down Your Impressions and Research

Once you have figured out your cards, it is time to begin working with them. If you have a deck already, go ahead and pull your personality and soul cards. Spend some time with each card looking over the pictures displayed on each. Write down any impressions the card gives you. If you want to, meditate on it or hedge ride to speak with your animal guide or teachers about the meaning of each card. After you have written down your impressions, it is time to do a little research. You may already know the meaning behind each card, and that is wonderful, but sometimes digging a little deeper can unveil some new information or reawaken aspects of each card you may have forgotten. Research the meaning and personality of each card, as well as what they mean when they are upright and reversed. The reverse meaning is just as important as the upright. It can help you determine some of your weaknesses and things holding you back from fulfilling your purpose. Make sure to jot everything down in a notebook or your book of shadows. You'll want to be able to refer back to this information.

And there you have it! Finding your personality and soul cards is very easy and fun all at the same time.

I would love for you to share your cards in the comments below.