Monday, 31 March 2014

Musings on Tree-Hugging


         Sometime we have to go places we really don't want to. There are some locations where the energy only takes, where the strength of people's energies has warped that particular environment's energy, changed it temporarily so that being there is like entering an emotional vacuum. Tonight, I almost had to go to a place that has become my current equivalent of this but thankfully through a coincidence, I was spared such a venture. However, I was still a bit depressed and my energies weren't feeling as as sunshiny as they should have been, so I suggested to my boyfriend that we go on a walk through the park in our area.


     
        Living in a city, even one that smaller than my 'hometown', I know first hand how easy it is to forget to physically refuel your 'green' energy and quite literally hug a tree. When you're surrounded by buildings and the activities of day to day life its easy to get caught up in the cement, especially when you're dreading the duty of visiting an energy vacuum.


         So my boyfriend and I went for a walk in the park that's thankfully right by our home. Every time I walk through the park I am filled with thankfulness for the greenery of the earth. Anyhow, during the course of our walk we approached a little stream. I mention this stream in particular,because while I was busy basking in the sound of the trickling water, my boyfriend noticed a tall old tree just off to the side, behind us.



        The moment I walked up to it I just knew I had to hug it. Honestly before that moment I don't think I ever realized just how much of a tree hugging person I am. Though I have rested my hand on trees to feel their energy and sat at the base of many a tree trunk, I had never really felt such a strong urge to actually hug a tree before. Yet when I was saw the tree and was surrounded by nature the thought that I previously wasn't much of a tree-hugger never crossed my mind, at that moment it just felt like something that I absolutely needed to do. So before I knew it, I was meandering my way between other trees' branches and wrapping my arms around the tree.


     I stayed like that for several moments, just feeling the spirit of the tree next to me, feeling her energy and her peace. I say her because to me the spirit felt female.. whether tree spirits have gendered energies or not is something that I'm sure can only be answered in the otherworld but to me it just feels right to refer to the old tree spirit as her. I'm not really sure where I'm going with this thought process anymore I suppose I simply wanted to share how peaceful my experience hugging the tree spirit was.


I am curious though, do you think trees have spirits and if so, do you think they can be male or female? There can be no absolute right answer because in the end we don't have the words of the trees to set us straight but nonetheless, what are your thoughts on tree-hugging and tree-spirits?

Friday, 28 March 2014

Gnome Gn-Gn-Gn-Gnome Gnome

         Last night while meditating and refuelling my inner fires I went for a bit of a gander to check on my aunt's place and make sure the energies were all up to snuff. At first energy glance all was well but then we both noticed that there seemed to be something by her doorway. At first I thought it was negative but after spending some further time engaging with the energy I realized it was a gnome wearing a black cape (for protection). He seemed rather cheerful and pleasant but he couldn't get through her doorway which has been smudged, this puzzled both my aunt and left us both a little concerned as to whether this gnome was who he seemed to be or not. So I decided to do a little research on the gnome....


       Also known as "earth dwellers" gnomes are earth elementals that are considered to be descendants of Dwarvish Fae Folk. As elementals they are made entirely of energy and often appear invisible except to those who have the 'sight' (probably for the best considering it would probably freak the general population out if they could see gnomes and had to believe magic existed haha). Their relation to dwarves has largely been based upon their dwarvish appearance and, the legend of the garden gnome which says that gnomes appear in gardens after a ray of sunshine has turned a dwarf to stone.

       Legend also states that gnomes are the guardians of treasures deep within the belly of the earth. In my opinion this would also support the case that gnomes are of dwarvish descent considering the dwarf's relation to hidden underground treasure. Gnomes can be found deep within forests, as they traditionally make their homes in the roots of trees however, they will wander out and about from time to time.

       Though they are generally believed to be reluctant to help humans, they are not against helping out the kind, honest humans they like. Gnomes are said to assist in prosperity spells as well as in the strengthening of confidence and endurance. On the other hand gnomes can also create melancholy and gloom if need be. Gnomes as spirits of the earth also protect wild animals and humans (at least in respect to their health).

      As guardians of the earth's hidden treasures gnomes are appreciative of shiny material things such as  quart crystals and honestly who doesn't like a thank you gift once in a while!

Sources:

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Fairies by: William Allingham




      To be honest I didn't really know what to write about today and yet after scrolling through images of faeries on Pinterest I felt the distinct desire to feature something about the fairies or the fae folk. The fae folk are commonly known as fairies or faeries but sprites, leprechauns and other ethereal creatures are also included in this term. Ever since I was small I've always felt that faeries existed despite the fact that my main academic focus was science until this year. In my opinion some things, like aspects of faeries and witchcraft, will always be far beyond the grasp of scientific understanding, you just feel them to be true.

         Perhaps faeries exist as they are commonly pictured or perhaps they just exist as magical energies which traverse between the otherworld and Earth. Whether you believe in the fae folk or not is like most intuitive aspects something which only you can decide for yourself. Whether you decide for yourself that faeries exist, or not, hopefully you will be able to find some enjoyment from the faerie artwork included in this post and from one of my favourite poems:


The Fairies 

William Allingham
1824-1889



Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.


The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights
To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves,
Watching till she wake.


By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
If any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!


If you're interested in a brief musical interpretation of Allingham's poem I suggest you check out King of the Fairies sung by the Irish Rovers:


Want to see more fairy art? Visit my Fae Folk board on Pinterest

Monday, 24 March 2014

Mental Health Monday -Starting Antidepressants



            For this Mental Health Monday post I’ve decided to write a bit about depression and starting anti-depressants. I’m not specifically going to go into the medical side of what depression is, though if you’re interested you can see an image of a “normal” person compared to that of a person with depression on, Mental Health Monday -a Quick Look at Today's Stereotypes.


I quite like this, it can be too easy to forget this sometimes
Photocred: BKK Health

When I was first researching depression and trying to figure out what the hell my brain was doing, I read a lot of medical pages about the clinical symptoms of depression. As fine and dandy as all of said facts are when you’re trying to puzzle it out, after you’ve been diagnosed and (maybe) put on antidepressants you reach this place where you’re like:

ü  I have depression
ü  I’m seeing a councillor
ü  I’m on antidepressants
ü  I’m still depressed…. wait what?! I thought I was supposed to be all-better now!

Neat compilation of newspaper headlines
Unfortunately unlike a bacterial infection, medicine doesn’t mean that
everything will go away and you’ll suddenly be “all-better”, depression just doesn’t work that way. To put this in perspective, if you assign the colour black to depression and the colour white to “all-better”, being on anti-depressants (especially when you first start) is like being a medium shade of gray. The more time that passes the brighter the shade gets but depending on the person it may never entirely go away.

The grayscale of depression

I’ve found that there are a lot of misconceptions about anti-depressants mainly because no one, not even the doctor who prescribes them to you is entirely sure what’s going to happen. Sure the doctor has a general idea of the side effects that you might encounter when you start anti-depressants, considering that everyone’s mind and body are different not even they can tell you with certainty if the anti-depressant they prescribe you will work and to what degree.


So there you are, sitting at the table with your new bottle of anti-depressants and a glass of juice, wondering what’s going to happen next. So you take the pill or two, depending on what you were prescribed and carry on with your day, fast foreword a week and you’ll probably be wondering why nothing’s different. People will look at you expectantly searching your face for some great personality change and if you’re like me all you can do is suppress another yawn. To qualify this last statement, excessive yawning was an unfortunate side-effect I experienced during the first couple of weeks that I took Cipralex, which thankfully has subsided.

Even though patient and supporters would like to have a quick fix for depression, there is unfortunately no such thing. Anti-depressants make things a more pleasant grey, but they take 4-6 weeks to become truly effective and the time in between is no joy ride. During the period when I was adjusting to my anti-depressant, Cipralex, my main side-affect was excessive yawning but things can get far worse than a lot of yawning. When I went on my anti-depressant my doctors and pharmacists warned me that the drug could initially make me very angry and suicidal. I remember thinking well isn’t that just great, an anti-depressant that makes you suicidal and angry… how wonderfull!!!..... NOT.

Photocred; York University
            When I consider how serious my side-effects could have been I am grateful that all I did was yawn and give people the impression that I was terribly bored with them. I guess my main point from these ramblings is that there is no instant cure for depression, and that you need to be patient with yourself when you start anti-depressants.

Friday, 21 March 2014

The Weekly Herb- The Lemon Energy Cleanser


        Considering that we've now entered the season of spring following yesterday's celebration of Ostara I decided it was time to update my banner for the Weekly Herb and give it a little more green. While we're on the topic of green I'm going to start of this week's herbology by writing about something that is not green, and not even an herb. This week I'm going to write about one of my favourite energy cleansers, the lemon. 

A Little Bit of History


      The Lemon was first cultivated around approximately 200 A.D. in southern Italy. In the late 13th century the lemon had reached China and by the mid 18th century the lemon had travelled half way around the world to the United States. Theophrastus, an author in ancient Greece greatly expanded Greek knowledge of the territories then known as Media and Persia. Consequently in his writings he discussed how the citron (lemon or citrus fruit), was believed to be both an antidote to poison and was also used as a sort of ancient mouthwash due its breath "sweetening" qualities.

Medical Properties


       Lemons contain a natural acid which is both anti-bacterial and is believed to fight the gut bacteria known as h-pylori that is believed to cause stomach ulcers. Due to the h-pylori fighting qualities, lemon juice helps with digestion. Lemon also contains pectin fibres which are especially helpful in maintaing the health of your colon. As a citrus fruit, the lemon is also believed to be beneficial in fighting of the seasonal cold.

Magical Properties


Cleanser (of negative energies) & Purifying 

Planet: Moon
Element: Water

Sources

Lemon -Purdue University 
16 Health Benefits of Drinking Warm Lemon Water -Foodmatters.com

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Celebrating Ostara... Realistically.

       In a perfect world, for my first Ostara I would be lighting a green candle in a forest next to budding flowers and trees while basking in the sunlight. Alas Utopia is not realistic and honestly it sounds pretty boring, I mean where would we be if we didn't have to put in a bit of a fight? To be clear I'm not condoning war, the fight I'm referring to is the internal fight,the fight to better ourselves and the world. Without the big and little challenges we wouldn't be able to truly discover our strengths.

First Robbins of Spring!
      This Ostara it's not sunny, I'm missing my guinea pig Mr. Darcy who passed away Tuesday evening despite getting medicines from the vet on Monday (I originally introduced Darcy in the post: Mr. Darcy Meeting My Guinea Pig) and it even started to snow. In all honesty, I'm not really very happy today but that's OK. When you think about it, Spring isn't really the proverbial "walk in the park", it is a time of the struggle to renew.

The Path Less Travelled
       Though the days have gotten longer and the snow has started to melt, the new buds on trees, the saplings, and the baby plants that spring through the earth with new energy, must still face the last frost. If we lived in the days before grocery stores, our larders would be pretty meagre considering that its been nearly six months since the September harvest. Essential spring is a time when the earth is starting over from scratch. I don't know about you but any time I've had to restart from scratch it wasn't a particularly easy process. So its okay, both literally and metaphorically, that its been cloudy with few sunny patches, because its the Spring Equinox and embarking on beginning anew is never easy.

        When I paused to consider just how many challenges the earth faces during spring I realized that I had already been celebrating Ostara without even knowing it. Before I started writing this post I spent my morning organizing and packing, putting unnecessary things away and gathering the things that I'll need as I prepare for the new directions I will follow this spring.

All of this being said, I wish you a happy Ostara on this special day when the earth begins to prepare for the season of rebirth.
   
Toronto's Beach Last Spring


*If you'd like to read more about the celebration or sabbat of Ostara check out this post:
Eostre, Eostra, Ostara... Goddess of Spring?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Eostre, Ostara, Eostra - The Goddess of Spring?

        With the spring equinox just around the corner, I felt that it was time to do some exploration into the celebration of Eostre, especially considering this will be my first year officially celebrating Ostara. Here's what I've learned from my research so far...

  • There are a lot of different spellings for this celebration! Eostre, Ostrar and Eostra are all different spellings for the same pagan celebration of spring.
  • According to the Wheel of the Year Ostara falls and is annually celebrated on the Spring Equinox which is March 20 (or 21st). 
    Photo Credit: Gwendaviesart
  • In addition to Ostara some other gods and goddesses of spring that are celebrated during this Sabbat include: Brighid (Celtic goddess), Olwen (Celtic goddess of sunshine), Idun/Idunna, Cernunnos (Celtic God, celebrated as the Green Man in spring.
  • Both the Hare and Egg... think the Easter Bunny, think Easter Eggs... are symbols of Ostara. Both the rabbit and egg represent the earth's fertility during spring.
  • Ostara is also, as a goddess of spring, considered to be a goddess of fertility.
  • Though Ostara is recognized as a goddess of spring today she may not been worshipped in ancient times. 

Ostara the Goddess?



  • The first mention of Ostara as a goddess Ostara appears between 673 and 735 in Bede the Venerable's historical writings. 
  • Prior to Bede's works there is no recorded evidence that the Anglo-Saxons or Germanic peoples worshipped the goddess Ostara.
  • Bede asserted that the Anglo-Saxons named March, known to the Anglo-Saxons as Esturmonath after the goddess Eostre and April, known as Rhedmonath after the Germanic goddess Rheda.
  • Ostara's name is also connected with the Eastern sunrise, the dawn of the day.
  • Many historians discount Bede's assertion as mere invention, however due to the lack of records of Ostara during this time period, it can't be proven that she was not worshipped by Germanic peoples.
  • Regardless of whether today's historians or Bede are in the right, Ostara is certainly worshipped as the goddess of spring by many, pagans, witches and wiccans today. 

        Whether you worship Ostara as a goddess or not the Ostara as a celebration of the Spring Equinox is certainly reason for delight. Spring is the end of the frigid winter and a sign of new life, it is the time of the earth's renewal and that, in my opinion, is more than enough reason to celebrate.



A special thanks to Gwendaviesart for the Wheel of the Year artwork featured in this post!


Background Reading

Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons (Studies in Early Medieval History) by: Phillip A. Shaw
http://www.englatheod.org/eostre.html
http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/ostara.html
http://www.druidschool.com/site/1030100/page/765341
http://thegoddesshouse.blogspot.ca/2012/08/arise-goddess-of-spring.html
http://www.druidry.org/library/gods-goddesses/cernnunos-ancient-celtic-god

Monday, 17 March 2014

I'm on Pinterest!

This is just a quick post to let you know that I've been bitten by the Pinterest bug. So far my boards focus on all things: celtic, witchy, earthen & natural as well as, cute critters, and the fae folk.

Here's a link to my Pinterest profile: Celtic Witch
There's also always going to be a link to follow me on Pinterest or pin things from my blog in the sidebar.

If you've got any requests on things you'd like to see me pin or want to share your Pinterest account for me to follow, just let me know in the comments.

A Happy Monday eve to all!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Historical Tidbits- St. Patrick's Day



        Chances are that wherever you may be reading this from you know that tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. In Western Culture I know from experience this means a lot of green everywhere, people wearing "Kiss me I'm Irish shirts" and inebriated individuals crowding the pubs for a pint of stout or green ale.

         I am extremely proud of having roots in Ireland, Scotland and Wales but I don't really like what St. Patrick's Day has become, the use of stereotypical Irish drinking habits as an excuse to get drunk.

A Brief History of St. Patrick


        St. Patrick, the saint who St. Patrick's Day is named after, was born in Roman Britain around the end of the fourth century. He lived in Roman Britain with his parents until approximately the age of sixteen at which time Irish Raiders kidnapped him and brought him back to Ireland as a slave. After six years of slavery, St. Patrick managed to escape his Irish slavers and returned to Roman Britain before travelling to France to study Christian theology. Within just a few years, he was ordained a Christian Bishop.


         Following his ordination, St. Patrick returned to Ireland to spread the religion which he felt gave him the fortitude to endure his slavery. When St. Patrick arrived in Ireland, the Druids held great power as royal advisors, and even he is said to have acknowledged the power of their magic. However St. Patrick bided his time and was eventually able to win over the King of Tara's son Conall, and influence the conversion of pagans at the highest levels. St. Patrick's success of converting pagans to Christianity was so great, that many other Christians were inspired by St. Patrick to become missionaries in Scotland and Ireland.

       To describe it wryly, upon his death on March 17, 493, St. Patrick's legacy was one of painting all magic (that even he admitted was powerful) as evil, in order to prove the Celtic pagan faiths and spiritual paths such as Druidry, heretical.

The Origins of Modern St. Patrick's Day Celebrations


St. Patrick's Day, New York 1939
Photo Credit: History.com

       In the eighteenth century the first St. Patrick's Day parade was lead by Irish soldiers, not in Ireland but in New York. When the Potato Famine hit Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century and thousands of Irish immigrants flooded into America, the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade became an opportunity for Irish-Americans to demonstrate pride in their heritage. Shortly thereafter, political hopefuls began to recognize the power of the "green-machine" and attending the world's oldest civilian parade became a "must". Then. in 1995 the Irish government capitalized on all the attention Ireland received from St. Patrick's Day celebrations and focused a tourism campaign around March 17th.

      So, even though St. Patrick's day was originally solely celebrated to commemorate St. Patrick as the man who brought Christianity to Ireland, little of this purpose remains except in the Christian Church. Today St. Patrick's day is recognized primarily as a celebration of Irish heritage and as a chance to become completely inebriated.

My Final Thoughts


       Overall, I respect both the religious and cultural aspects of the tradition of St. Patrick's Day, though it must be said that I don't support St. Patrick's forceful conversion of pagans and condemnation of their beliefs as heretical. However, I resent that the capitalistic culture of our society has endorsed St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to get roaring drunk.




Sources: 

Patrick the Saint by: Mary Cagney retrieved from Christian History Vol. 17.4 p. 10
Discover Northern Ireland
History.com

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Which Witch is Which?

        If you asked me what a witch was a year ago I would have answered: a woman who flies on brooms with a black cat, a character in Harry Potter or Charmed, people who meddle in Satanic sorts of things, conjure demons and hex others. Though I'd love to go to Hogwarts and fly on a broom, I am quite allergic to cats so apparently I could never be a witch. I mean really, how can I even considered witchcraft as my path?! I wasn't invited to Hogwarts, I can't fly on a broom and am too allergic to consider owning a black cat.


A little collage of some Witchy stereotypes
       Even older than all the previous assumptions about witches, is the stereotype of the evil witch. From Snow White to Wicked, the misconception that a witch is an evil, periodically green, spiteful old woman is far from uncommon.

The Evil, Green Witch

       Though witches may be commonly mistaken today for old, green, hags who are liable to curse anyone they see it wasn't always this way. Let me tell you the story of the Wise Woman before Christianity....

The Wise Woman




Once upon a time, in a land fa,r far away across a vast body of water called the Atlantic Ocean, lived a young woman. She lived on the island not yet called Great Britain, in a small peaceful village surrounded by forest green highlands and was called Wise Woman, for she knew many things.

One day while tending to her garden, a villager approached her house. Running forth and clasping her hands in his own, the villager begged her to come quickly for his pregnant wife had begun her labour. Quickly gathering herbs to soothe the future mother, Wise Woman lifted her skirts and and with haste to the villager’s home. When she arrived she set about the monumental task of preparing the room with enough supplies for the birthing process and then focused on the task at hand. After a time that seemed like forever to the villager but was merely a few hours, Wise Woman bathed the new born and handed the villager his healthy baby son.

            Several years later, Wise Woman, when returning from a walk from the forest where she had gathered several medicinal herbs that would not take to her garden’s soil, the villager once gain approached her house. “My son he is sick, could you help us?”, asked the villager. And so it was that once again Wise Woman found herself in the house she had helped birth a child seven years ago, brewing a tea to settle the boy’s stomach so that he could rest and heal. Wise Woman cared tenderly for the boy for many days until his colour returned and he regained the look of life, then she quietly gathered her belongings and returned to her home.


            As time passed, Wise Woman’s hair greyed and her skin wrinkled delicately around her mouth when she smiled, but she never ceased tending to her garden or to the needs of her villagers. She helped many a mother successfully birth a child, healed wounds, and sat by the bedsides of the sick and dying easing their passage to the Otherworld. And so it was that Wise Woman lived the rest of her days in peace, and passed away quietly in her home at a ripe old age with birds singing to her on her windowsill.





      Most fairytales have a conflict which a dashing prince solves, but the Wise Woman in this story didn't need a dashing prince to solve her conflicts, she had none, she simply lived her life peacefully healing the villagers.

      For as long as people have walked the earth, witchcraft was never a problem, and neither were the witches, wise women, or shamans who practiced it. Then along came Christianity and its anti-witchcraft, anti-pagan bible. If the pagans continued to believe in their gods and goddesses, and went to the wise woman for help, Christian rules could not control them. To solve this problem, the bible depicted the Christian devil an anti-deity that unique to Christianity, in the likeness of the Celtic pagan all-father Cernunnos. The antlers upon his head which originated from his deep union with nature became horns, his skin was painted red and suddenly the wise woman who was simply working with the all-father of her religion became the witch summoning the devil.


     From this point onwards witches were almost universally condemned for their knowledge of nature, energies and the spirit world. They were burnt for heresy, whether they were witches or simply a woman making tea to soothe her cramps. Christianity's effective labelling of the witch as evil was so powerful and resonating that even today the word witch has a negative connotation. Just think of how many times you have called a woman a witch instead of bitch, even if only in your head. I know I can't claim that I haven't, though now that I am more aware, I refrain from this distortion of the word witch.

      So, which witch is which? I can't say that everyone who practices witchcraft has good intentions, it is simply human nature that there are bad seeds but witchcraft is not the practice of summoning the devil. In reality, the witch is a woman or man who practices witchcraft by working with herbs, the energies of the universe and the spiritual world.

     If you have any questions about the history of witchcraft, witchcraft today or any requests for future posts be sure to let me know in the comments!


Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Weekly Herb- Rosemary

   


       After putting The Weekly Herb on a bit of hiatus these past few weeks as I buried myself in the blanket of hibernation, I've decided that now that I'm getting back into the feel of blogging again to renew my Weekly Herb postings. When trying to decide what herb to write about this week I'll admit that I rather impulsively chose rosemary after a brief recollection of one of my favourite childhood shows, Rosemary & Thyme. Every week when Rosemary & Thyme came on, my mom would pop a bag of butter popcorn and we'd curl up under the blankets together and watch the two gardeners solve mysteries together. So here's to Rosemary & Thyme and becoming in tune with nature!

A Little Bit of History


         Rosemary derived from the Latin words, 'ros maris' which literally translates to "dew of the sea", was most likely named after its native Mediterranean home along the shore line. Later as Christian influences began to dominate, this herb was named as the Rose of Mary, referring the to Christianity's Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

       During the Middle Ages it was believed that rosemary held protective powers which could dispel negativity and as such it was commonly placed beneath pillows before bed, to prevent nightmares. Rosemary has also been incorporated into wreaths and bouquets since the middle ages to stimulate 'happiness of hearth and home'.


      Historically rosemary has also been associate with love, marriage and fidelity. English folklore encouraged a bride to give her groom a sprig of rosemary on their wedding night to ensure his fidelity. Both Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon's first wife and Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife are said to have incorporated rosemary into their marriages. Josephine reportedly encouraged Napoleon to bathe in rosemary scented waters before their couplings and Anne of Cleves wore rosemary in her hair on her wedding day. Considering that Anne of Cleves was one of only two of Henry VIII's wives who survived him I personally think that rosemary must have provided Anne of Cleves with some protection if not a romance.

Medical Properties

      In addition to being a protective herb believed to dispel negativity, it is also traditionally found in medical cabinets. Initially rosemary was believed to cure migraines, joint disorders, poor digestion and muscle aches. Queen Elizabeth of Hungary was even reportedly cured of the joint paint which resulted in her semi-paralysis by sipping on water infused with rosemary.

       Even today rosemary is highly regarded for its medical properties, it is known to contain salicylic acid, a key ingredient in many acne medications and also a preliminary ingredient in aspirin. Today rosemary oil is used as a massage oil to soothe sore joints.

      Researches have also discovered that the plant contains certain chemicals which inhibit the degradation of acetylcholine (a necessary chemical for proper brain function). As many alzheimer's patients suffer from a loss of acetylcholine it is plausible that in future rosemary may be incorporated into medications to treat memory failure.

Magical Properties 

Protection: Associated with its negativity dispelling qualities
Healing:Associated with it medical properties
Memory / Mental Clarity: Due to its preventative role against acetylcholine degradation
Love: Due to its incorporations into marriage ceremonies

Planet: The Sun
Elements: Fire, I would also add water considering as it is named "dew of the sea"

Sources:





Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Twelve Years A Slave vs. Django Unchained

         Due to the recent film adaption of Solomon Northup's autobiographical narrative, Twelve Years A Slave has gained an exceedingly high amount of recognition. Recently I went to a movie night event held by my university's history society showcasing Django Unchained. The reason I bring this up, is that at this event the hosting professor opened discussion on the film based on film reviews of common websites such as Rotten Tomatoes . In one of these reviews a commentators suggested that the film Twelve Years a Slave was a more realistic adaption of Django Unchained, a view which the professor contradicted.


       The narratives of both Django Unchained and Twelve Years a Slave, were set in 19th century America when the slavery of African Americans was a common, if not nation-wide accepted practice. Despite the fact that they were set in the same time period and in the context of slavery I would argue that they are, as my professor has suggested wholly unrelated. While Twelve Years a Slave was written by a wrongly enslaved person himself about the events that occurred to him while enslaved, Django Unchained is a film designed for entertainment purposes. Though Django Unchained touches upon the inequalities slaves experienced it does not base itself in history nor does it reference historical events.


       Furthering the argument that the film production Twelve Years a Slave does not serve as a sort of 'make-up' for the historical errors of Django Unchained is the undeniable fact that Solomon Northup wrote his autobiographical account at least a century before Django Unchained was even conceived.


       What's more, is that the genres of the respective films are obviously polar opposities. Django Unchained is evidently an action film as exemplified by the scenes of gratuitous violence where the excessive amount of blood begins to = abstract art + a bucket of paint + a child with a sugar high. It is also of note that the type of violence executed in Django Unchained is more akin to the violence expected in a mature video game than that of history. In comparison to the genre of action which Django Unchained so clearly fits into, Twelve Years a Slave was evidently filmed as a Drama. As a dramatic film, Twelve Years a Slave does not devolve into gratuitous violence but rather depicts a more accurate version of the violent acts that were committed against Solomon and other slaves.


     Overall, I though that both were good films in their own right so long as you don't expect Django Unchained to be a historical film and are willing to remind yourself of the deplorable history of slavery that Twelve Years a Slave so honestly depicts.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

My Spiritual Journey to Witchcraft

      In my last post, Inspiring Things, I mentioned that witchcraft is something I find inspirational and so I decided to share my spiritual journey to give a bit of background as to how I discovered the craft.

       I wasn't always a witch, I haven't even been a witch for all that long, like millions of others I belonged to one of today's most prominent monotheistic religions, Christianity. I went to a Catholic School for fourteen years (if you count kindergarden), so for pretty much my entire life I have been Catholic, at least in name. But labels are dangerous, they lead to often lead to false assumptions.

Photo Credit: CeltArts

      For years I questioned Christianity, and the strict teachings of Christian Churches, both Catholic and Protestant. The more I questioned, the angrier I got and the angrier I got the more I questioned. It was an unending cycle and personally, I think thats a good thing. For me the basic principles of love and universal acceptance which the Church taught, never aligned with their practices, which excluded homosexuality, failed to deal with massive sex scandals (like the sex scandals written in a Bishop's Man), which was against contraception and was also, to throw out a feminist word, patriarchal.

    (Despite all the things I just said I must assert that I don't oppose Christianity so long as it is used to inspire people to strive to better themselves and the world. It just doesn't align with my beliefs.)

     So there I was at a cross-roads, one foot in the contradictory acceptance teachings of Christianity and the other in the great unknown. I stood at this cross-roads for several years not sure where I could even go if I stepped into the great unknown. Then in the early summer of 2013 caught in a bit of a crisis in my life I embarked upon a rather serious soul search.



       I have always felt a deep Celtic connection, so naturally my first step into the unknown was directed towards the ancient Celtic belief systems. The first of these that I came across was Druidry. I spent quite a while researching Druidry and found to my amazement, that it did not revolve around human sacrifices, as I had been lead to believe. I mean, I knew that human sacrifice was likely not used by today's Druid's but I nonetheless half expected them to have some satanic basis. However,  I discovered that rather than satanic worship, Druidry focussed on reconnecting with nature, personal creativity and the search for knowledge. Needless to say, as someone who felt like they had quite literal roots extending into the Celtic earth I was shocked and more than a little excited.

Photo credit: Down The Forest Path

      So I read, and read, and read. Everything seemed to click, yet something told me I wasn't finished my spiritual quest just yet. I also wasn't ready to commit to the years of studying it would take to become established as a Bard, Ovate or Druid. Though I decided to continue my spiritual journey and didn't settle upon Druidry my research taught me a few very important things: I believed in nature,  and I belonged in a religion rooted in the Celtic tradition. Druidry also introduced me to Wicca.

     I think its important to distinguish the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft before I continue. Though at the time I believed Wicca and Witchcraft were interchangeable terms as so many in the Wiccan community consider them to be, they are most certainly not the same thing. I'll write in more depth about the differences between them in the future but for the purpose of this post here is a quick contrast between Wicca and Witchcraft:


Photo credit: Religion Facts
Wicca:                                                              
-Founded by Gerald Gardner in the 1950's            
-Is a religion                                                    
-Based on two deities, the Lord and the Lady        
-Incorporates specific ritual tools  i.e. wand          
-Honours the God and Goddess with an Altar        
-Operates on a Crede

Witchcraft:

-Has no specific founder
-Is a practise not a religion
-Does not explicitly worship deities, though a witch may choose to worship a deity(ies)
-Does not use specific tools                                        
-An altar is optional
-No specific Crede, a witch operates based on personal morals


    Initially, unaware of the difference between Witchcraft and Wicca I believed myself to be a Wiccan witch, feeling a deep connection to the witchcraft aspect of the religion. But I never really got around to setting up an altar and though I felt that there was a greater energy that was both male and female which looked over the earth, I felt no connection to the Wiccan Lord or Lady.

      Despite these internal discrepancies in what I felt about Wicca, I nonetheless continued to practice some of the celebrations and followed the suggestions of many Wiccan books on how to get in tune with nature. But the glove simply didn't fit, so I kept my new knowledge of energies, herbs, and the Wheel of the Year close and let the rest slide into the background for a few months.

       Then, I had a path altering conversation with my aunt about two months ago. She told me she had been feeling the exact same way, the disconnect from the altars, the deities, and the Wiccan rituals. She then told me that she had realized her path was traditional witchcraft. After our conversation I did some further research of my own and discovered that non-Wiccan, secular, or traditional witchcraft was where my beliefs lay (basically the second column in my contrast chart above).



      So that's me, I'm a traditional witch who doesn't follow Wicca. I connect with the earth and its energies through witchcraft without a religious focus. I'll be going into greater depth about some of the religions and paths I've mentioned above in future posts, so stay tuned!

Feel free to share your own spiritual journey in the comments, I always reply! :)

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Inspiring Things

       When I logged in this afternoon to my blogger account I noticed that the last post I wrote was almost two weeks ago. I do apologize for neglecting you, my readers, for the past few weeks but I do promise that I am going to try and maintain 2-3 posts a week as I originally intended to do when I started this blog at the beginning of the year.

     Anyhow as I was sitting in bed just now I came to the realization that I could do with a little bit of inspiration, I mean who can't do with some inspiration now and again. I don't really think I'm going to be doing a whole lot over the next few hours of today but rest considering I went for a chest xray yesterday and discovered I have pneumonia. Nonetheless I feel like thinking about inspirational things so I thought I'd share some of the things that I find inspirational...

Love

Whether its literally puppy love, family love, friendship love, or romantic love. Love is inspiring. It fills you with all the warm fuzzies, dries your tears, holds you close, kisses away the bad days and makes the good days even better. 

Music

All over Facebook lately have been lists of bands that have inspired people. Music is universal and has the ability to touch so many different people because the variety of its genres provide a niche, or multiple niches for everyone. Some bands and their lyrics which have inspired me:

"The path to heaven runs through miles of crowded hell right to the top, don't look back, turn in the rags and give the commodities a rain check.... its time to begin isn't it I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit I'm just the same as I was, now don't you understand I'm never changing who I am"
-From the Album Night Visions by: The Imagine Dragons 

"When the days are cold and the cards all fold, and your dreams all fail... but with the beast inside there's nowhere we can hide...look into my eyes its where my demons hide"
-From the Album Demons by: The Imagine Dragons



"When you're happy like a fool let it take you over, when everything is out you gotta let it in"
-From the Album Waking Up by: One Republic



"The stars the moon they have all been blown out, you left me in the dark, no dawn no day I'm always in this twilight in the shadow of your heart"
-From Lungs by: Florence + The Machine


Angels and Demons Soundtrack Theme by Hans Zimmer


-Sebastian From the Brideshead Revisited Soundtrack




Books


    Since I was small books have been the best sort of escape on the worst days and the nicest way to relax on the best.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  - C.s. Lewis

Here are two books that have inspired me and helped me through some emotionally stormy weather in the past:

-Sarah's Key by: Tatiana De Rosnay
-The Historian by: Elizabeth Kostova



Nature



Witchcraft

      I chose two pictures of candle spells I did to demonstrate this because, candle work is the most common type of witchcraft that I practice as it helps me to centre my energies. Also my piggy and boyfriend's foot are also depicted in the picture below, both of whom inspire me on a day to day basis... the boyfriend, not the foot that is. 






What Inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments below I always respond to the comments of my readers :)



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