Thursday, February 24, 2011

Strewing the floors.

From cavalcades to ticker tape parades the art of strewing is well and alive. Strewing is a means of sanctifying a place whether it be a somber offering to those who go off to battle or the floors of your hearth and home. Herbs, flowers, leaves and magic powders would be tossed on the ground before the  procession to offer blessings of protection or celebration of a job well done.

My children are always excited by strew days in my home. Just like fear, they smell it coming. The herbs and essential oils come out and they anxiously wait for the mix to be ready so they can help me. It's really the only time when I don't get upset with them for throwing stuff on the floors. The strew changes as the needs of my hearth and home shift and so does the length of time that the strew sits. Most of the time I leave it on the floor for about and hour and vacuum it up after the kids have had their fill of running and shuffling through it with glee. Other time in preparation for a sabat or other magics it can sit for a few days after the ritual before the vacuum has it's say.

When I leave a strew on the floor for an extended period it gets added to periodically. I leave it in honor of the divinities and spirits I am working with to see the magic off in a good way and 'set' it. My cue to break out with the vacuum in these cases is usually indicated through my dream work. Something will signal to me that the working or ritual has been accepted and then it is time to clean up and leave any final offering of thanks.

The first thing you should understand about your strew, is to understand the materials you are working with and have a clear goal in mind. (Always use a glass or wood bowl to mix your strew. Metal changes properties of the essential oils and herbs.) Clearing the house after tough times? Salt and baking soda make a great base. You can add a few drops of essential oils such as rosemary and eucalyptus to aid in the clearing process. Or, if you need to lift up the household spirits a boost of tea tree and peppermint are perfect. Hate using powders on your floor? No problem: herbs vacuum up great without making your vacuum demand filter cleaning. The very best thing you can do for yourself, if you are endeavoring to make your own strews, is to get your hands on a great magical herbal and essential oil book (if you intend to use essential oils.) You will have no shortage of ideas that fit your needs.

Since Oscar night is a huge event in my house, I am posting my Oscar strew. Good luck to all nominees!

rose petals 2 pts (For the love of the art)
pomagranate leaves 1 pt ( for good luck and wishes)
powdered aloe vera 1/2 pt ( prevention of accidents)
rosemary 1 pt ( celebrations like this can be exhausting . . . mental stamina!)
calendula 1/2 pt ( for happy dreams afterward!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Keep calm and you matter.

We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
- J.K. Rowling

Literally, the other side of the world from me is on fire. I read all the articles I can get my hands upon. I have watched every video I can bear to watch and my heart is still strong. It is strong because I know something. I know the power of the human spirit can not be restrained for very long under the fist of tyranny. It will find a way to wriggle free and rebel. Knees become weary of being scraped and battered and eventually the people will rise to their feet and live like that no more; death becomes preferable. It is the wilderness still left in humanity that rises to the surface with a howling rage, it is unstoppable.
While I wish these changes in the middle east could be accomplished without bloodshed, it is the desperation of despots to cling to power that has made the streets ring with weaponry and run with the life waters of humanity. I can hear the moon cry as, she too, bears witness to this terrible scene. She brings me the news this morning as she clings to the sky knowing that she will soon sink below the horizon and dip into the scene again. Bearing witness to events like this is most terrible knowing that half a world away there is nothing I can say, nothing I can do, nothing I can give that will stop the insanity. So, forward in my own life I must press.
I have been observing the reactions of people around me and on the web. I have seen everything from outrage to ignorance. I think the most alarming thing that I have seen is from a few of those whom I am assuming are in their teens: out flat despair to the point where they feel as though they don't matter. How could they matter? How could their problems matter when someone else their age probably with similar interests and problems may lose their lives this day? The answer to that is you do matter. 
While the initial reaction to these events in world is helplessness, outrage and despair, that is exactly the frequency that we must shift. While the other side of the world is coming unglued, those of us who are not entwined in it must remain calm and focused on keeping a strong and peaceful mind. It is the key to knowing the right thing to do for the right reason in any crisis. Those in power right now who are perpetuating these events are going to rely on the fact that we have lost our balance and will be easily deceived - and they will try. It is as important that we press forward in our lives and continue to live as it is to carefully observe and learn from the events of the world. 
You matter because you have the ability to stop and send healing and peaceful energy to the other half of the world. Do not sink into despair. Light a candle, calm and focus your mind imagine a better world and send the other half of the world peaceful and healing thoughts. You do matter. You are the only one who can perform this service because you are NOT being fired upon and you are not inflicted with the immediate threat to your life. Gods forbid, that should this side of the world go insane as the other half has, I would hope that they would perform the same energetic service for us.
Yes, be aware of what is unfolding before you, but live your life, be at peace, send that peace out as a soothing balm to help bring strength to the people in harm's way. Let them find the right action, for the right reason; trust that they will. The work they must do is indeed terrible, but we all have the power to imagine a better place for all on this planet.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I can feel it in my bones.
As usual my morning drive to my daughter's school includes listening to local news talk radio just so  I can sort of get a heads up as to what is going on in the world around me and look stuff up later. This morning was an interesting little blurb about how some people can feel the weather shift in their bones. The scientific explanation  appears to be that as the air becomes more or less dense the joints and sinuses expand and contract in kind allowing the observant  person to feel the weather. I have a similar experience with the presence of divinity.

I was reminded of this experience sharply after someone I am speaking to was inquiring into something I mentioned to him about my celebration of Hecate's Moon, or as I refer to it the 29th. On the 29 I go nowhere in the evening, my friends know better than to call unless blood has been spilled or someone's dying and I perform my own made ritual in her honor. I created this ritual many years ago before much of the information that is out there was available. I have no idea how much of this is backed up by real academia, as I have not taken the time yet to sift through the new information. I know my research into it was back door-ish through quotes from Roman times of how they didn't go to the crossroads on the 29th because of strange things happening and from there I took my shamanic behind to task. I wanted to know why. My journey into celebrating Hecate's Moon began 10 years ago.

I knew something was very different from the get go. I found myself in meditation calling her name on a fog surrounded triple crossroad in the middle of what looked like dirt road. There was a pillar with three faces and outside, in reality, every dog in the neighborhood set to baying. It was literally hair raising. I felt a clawish boney hand on my shoulder at that point turn me to face Her and She asked me why I had come. I had been working with her for a while before this first shamanic journey to meet her. I recognized the presence of Her as being the one and the same who had pushed me into Her cauldron in my dreams. Those were a bit frightening. My body had a distinct reaction: literally every nerve was electrifyingly alive, my arm hairs stood on end and there was a hum in my ears accompanied with a physical sensation that 10 years later I still have trouble putting to words. To this day when She shows up, I have that physical reaction. Sometimes Her presence is actually accompanied by dogs baying in the neighborhood.

Now, these are my experiences and there is nothing in my experience that, as far as I can tell, backed up with real academia. . . yet, as I have not sifted through the new material. Maybe there is now and that would be amazing to me! However when it comes to the actual presence of divinity ( unlike my purist tendencies with oils and herbs) for me: the proof is in the pudding. I have learned to trust my bones.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Insufferable Purist!

(yes, I would love to have bottles like this!)

I have been working with my oils when I backed up and took a good look at myself. I realized that in pure snobbery fashion that I have turned my nose up at perfume blends that are not created with the real essences of plant material. If the bottle says rose, I actually expect there to be rose plant energies in there and I will pay the price for that oil too. I have only gotten worse on this subject matter after reading material by Daniel Schulke. In some manners this is a bad thing because I have to patiently wait to be able to purchase some of my raw materials because of the expense of the real deal.

(if you can't smell it, don't buy it!)
Also, in real snobbery fashion, I have become persnickety about the quality of my stones that I put in my brews: hence going to the gem show. I even found myself in the right place at the right time to discover how to tell a real piece of amber from an artificial one. A Kindly Chinese family happened to be in the same shop with me. They were smelling the stones. I thought that was odd but a voice inside me told me there had to be a reason for that. So, I asked the gentleman with a piece of amber up to his nose politely why he was smelling the amber. He kindly explained to me things I already knew about amber : it's a resin from fossilized pine sap. I nodded as he quietly ascertained me, then proceeded to educate me about how to  tell if it is truly amber. He rubbed the amber to make it warm and then held it to my nose. The first couple of pieces he held up were those he already knew to be artificial and nodded approvingly as I looked at him confused. Then he held one up that was real and the pine smell washed through me like wind in the pine tops. He watched with a smile as my eyes widened in realization. Needless to say, I was right there next to the Chinese family putting amber up to my nose while everyone else looked at me like I had lost my mind.

( Yes, I do realize this is James Franco and not Tristan)
Tristan now has his amber, the exacting beast he is. Of course, I say that endearingly. Now with all the right herbs and proper stone set to steep for a moon, the essential oils already blended for addition after the base is properly prepared, I have yet to come up with the right prose to dedicate to him when I call him forward to bless the work with his name attached. I have had many shots at it, but apparently I am an insufferable purist and it must be right ( or it's crap!)!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Plugged and leaky!

I just got done unplugging my bathroom sink. I dumped  the baking soda and vinegar and watched it fizz poured the hot water and still no go. So plunger it was. I was expecting to see my hair in long gross tangled knots ( ew.) That's not what I got. I got clumps of black goo that reminded me of that stuff right out of Spiderman 3. Not a strand of my hair came up. . . and I have hair. . . very long hair.

 I realized that in the last month this is the fourth water issue I have had in my home. Leaky faucets (2), chipping grout in the shower now this. So I thought about what it points to. Being water it would have to do with emotions and the psychic phenomenon. Again, I thought about myself: what is it that I am repressing emotionally that is leaking leaking and plugging up the works? I have been working really hard these last few years to be honest to myself emotionally and deal with them as they come so I was a little distressed that I had been failing miserably. That's when spirit stepped in with a knock on the head and asked: why is everything about you? You live in this house with four other people. Other Oddlys quickly came to mind.

So, what do you do when a member of your house hold is repressing their emotions to the point that they are unleashing unholy havoc on your house? CLEAN! Not just the clutter an the dust either. You break out with the heavy duty four thieves, the sage and lemon! You strew the floors with salt and clearing herbs and do a final wash with rose water! And don't forget to do all of the drains ( showers and toilets) with baking soda, vinegar then hot water. The final drain  treatment would be lemon juice squeezed in to sit for a bit before you flush it down. If you have an aromatherapy burner, eucalyptus and rosemary are perfect essential oils to be using as they are known to energetically mop the house up of any remaining negative energy.

So off I go to do some serious cleaning! Then later, gently poke at my Oddlys to see what the heck is going on!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Grab the rope. . .

The Nain, the Nain, the Nain is nine hundred. . .

I awoke with a chant rolling around in my head. I knew I was hearing voices lilting in Irish I could understand the words even though I speak not a lick of conversational gaelic. ( ritual prose is another thing :) If I understand what I was hearing and seeing, they were talking about their grandmother. The grandmother of all witches if I go even deeper into that circle. . . It may have been she who brewed that infamous potion sung about in the stories of Tristan and Isolde.

These are always one of my favorite moments in the craft. The part where dreams, myth and waking life intertwine into one rope. Everything points into one direction and all you need do now is trust yourself and walk forward into the woods and work your craft. The hard part has really already been done. I have parted the mist and walked into faery and kept my mind stable. I think before my tradition training this phenomenon may have disturbed me and unbalanced me. It is easy to see why certain traditions have such a vigorous one on one training period.

“The artist and the shaman swim in waters where the madman drowns.”
— Robert Moss

So what exactly am I doing, you may be asking right about now. I think I am not even clear as to the exact details on that I answer. I know what I have been asked to do and I know I am capable of doing it. I have spent most of my magical life learning this craft piece by piece. Right now I am crafting oils to carry specific energies of those who walk through mythology: Isolde, Tristan and now possibly The Nain, we shall see if she speaks or remains a distant figure. 

I could turn my back on these requests and brew the potions of antiquity and have proven their worth to more that just this witch. Honestly, there are so many talented witches and potion makers all over this task. This is a good thing on both sides of the fence: our history and traditions remains preserved and new things are nurtured and encourage to grow. Remember, stagnation leads to death. So, while I may be able to brew up my own batch of come to me boy, that's not what I am offering. I have always been told that if you offer something, offer your finest, to not do so is just plain rude.

So what do you do when snatches of music in your waking hours follow the theme of your dreams that follow you out of the mists of faery?  What do you do with all of these events that wrap around themselves like a rope and call your name? Where will it take me? What will happen? Who is orchestrating all of this? If you don't hold your courage and take the rope, you will never find out and you will spend the rest of your days wondering: what if?

So into the mists I go. . .

Friday, February 4, 2011

Oleum of Isolde

For me this year Brigid started with a dream of a woman of the well. A healer long shrouded in time and mythology: Isolde Queen of both Ireland and Cornwall. Most of what we know of her comes from poetic stories and always entwined with Tristan and Mark. I was determined to seek her out, just her. As a reiki master and as someone who uses herbs and essential oils as not only a magic/ aromatherapy tool but of one of healing, I am keen on hearing her voice. Her guidance is important to me because we live in a time when pharmaceuticals are dispensed like candy and often times cause other issues in the body that are harmful, sometimes lethal.

 I felt drawn and compelled to meet this woman. I drew upon the only tool I know to accomplish this task: going into faery and asking to be introduced. If lived she in the time of the old Gods, Brigid would know her. And know her She did. Isolde, daughter of both Druid and Queen. Isolde's infirmary was filled with vials of oils, jars of unguents, dried herbs neatly hung and then stored in sealed jars. There were tools of cutting and tools of sewing and pulling out. I felt as though I were safe in her hands should injury inflict me. Everything looked clean and everything looked put to order. Everything looked as though nature had whispered their secrets to her and she looked as though she knew what to do with them.
Upon leaving faery and coming back to myself, I noticed that my potted rosemary bush was in a full bloom and I could hear the beginnings of how best to honor the woman I had just met: do what I do best, make an oil that bears her name and captures her essence and ask her for her blessings upon it. My Brigid ritual sprang to full form. I went to work. I pulled upon some of the smells I remembered from her infirmary and the honey smell from her hair was impossible for me to duplicate.  Everything pulled together including the chant I wrote to call her forth as though it were something I had brewing in the back of my mind for years. 
The songs had been sung, the prayers and incantations spoken, the energy poured fourth and all in time for the hour I had set out to perform my Brigid ritual. It was time to ask for blessings upon the work I put forth. I will not go into details as they are intensely personal and may have no meaning for you, but guaranteed this is one Brigid ritual that will echo in my mind for years to come. 
She has asked that I create two more oils: one for her true heart and one with them both entwined together and that I hold these recipes and pass them on to my daughter. I told I would. Tristan will be ready for brewing to greet the summer solstice.