Encounters with AIRR: Miss catherine yronwode

I am so delighted to offer up a new series for my blog readers-Encounters with AIRR-wherein I will post interviews with the various members of the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers. My clients know that I work in various folk magic traditions and Southern Conjure-Hoodoo are one of the firm pillars of my own practice. AIRR is a consortium of workers in this tradition who offer both intuitive readings and magical advice. It is my privilege to take time out to speak with each of our wonderful workers at AIRR and get their unique perspectives on all things Hoodoo!

My first interviewee is, appropriately enough miss cat herself!

Catherine Yronwode started writing online about Hoodoo and Conjure back in 1994. She wrote the widely acclaimed Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, founded Lucky Mojo Curio Company-a traditional candle shop and spiritual supply house in Sonoma County, California, Missionary Independent Spiritual Church-a church that welcomes ALL Deities to its altars, the Crystal Silence League-where prayer is free, and runs the very popular Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course. Catherine has taught thousands of students and published hundreds of pages online providing free information on Hoodoo, Conjure and the workers, traditions, authors, and merchants associated with it-she is a living master in the tradition and folks can go and visit her, learn from her, and apprentice with her (as I have) still today! She is one of my dear mentors and friends and when I set down with her to ask some questions I learned much-as always. I hope that you will too!

On the Web-you can find cat at:

her official AIRR page

Facebook

Lucky Mojo

Catherine-yronwode

 

What is your philosophy on magic and root work?

Well, i am not a very “philosophical” person, actually. In fact, the idea of “philosophy” kinda causes me to zone out. I love learning things, and i love folklore and folk magic, pretty things, old things, plant lore, botanical medicine, natural aromas, good music, effective prayer, and friendly people — and i have found all of that and more in my study and practice of African American rootwork. That’s not a philosophy, however; it is down home Spiritualism leavened with aesthetic hedonism.

What are your favorite types of cases and why?

I like cases for new love, for spiritual protection, for growing a business, and for enhancing spiritual connectivity. I like teaching, and i do some of my best work as a conjure consultant, teaching clients to do their own spells, one-on-one.

 

If you could give prospective clients one piece of advice, what would it be?

“Be always sure you’re right — then go ahead.” —  Davy Crockett (1786 – 1836)

 

Many of my readers are familiar with AIRR but a few are not, can you tell us a bit about the organization-how and why it started?

The Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers grew out of my work as a pastor at Missionary Independent Spiritual Church. In late 2007, the church’s Board of Bishops decided to create a directory listing of spiritual workers whose reputations were good and whose practices were traditional and authentic. In 2009, the AIRR web site, a collaborative project of many hands, went online, teaching good, old-fashioned hoodoo work to the public, educating the public about how to b a rootworker’s client, and offering the services of our selected group of diviners and conjure doctors. There are now several hundred informational pages at the AIRR site, and more than two dozen Associates of AIRR are listed in the directory.

Probably the best way to find out more about AIRR is to read our “About AIRR” web page, which is here: http://readersandrootworkers.org/wiki/About_the_Association_of_Independent_Readers_and_Rootworkers

 

Hoodoo/Rootwork are areas of folk magic tradition that are rapidly growing in popularity, as one of the first voices and most prolific writers (and my dear mentor!) on all things Hoodoo related what are your thoughts about the growing popularity of the tradition?

This is a difficult subject for me to address. Obviously when i first went online with information about hoodoo, in 1994 few people knew what i was talking about. When i placed my writings online in 1995,, the web was very young and few people had access to it. Now, almost two decades later, knowledge of hoodoo is everywhere — but so are attempts to appropriate it, water it down, transform it, co-opt it, and put masks upon it that make it look like Paganism or African Diasporic Religions or Latino Folk Catholicism ot New Age spirituality or Gothic magic.

I will simply say, as i have said all along, that hoodoo is a cultural treasure of the African American community and that all those who study and practice it must honor and respect the African American culture-beaers whose gift to the world it is.

 

You also run the highly successful traditional candle shop and occult store Lucky Mojo Curio Company-it sometimes seems that like brick and mortar bookstores, brick and mortar occult shops are a dying breed-do you think that having physical shops available to the magical community is essential and can you talk a little about the role of the traditional candle shop within the Hoodoo community?

I disagree with you that bricks and mortar conjure shops, occult shops, metaphysical shops, or magic shops are a dying breed. They are everywhere, and if the people who run them have good business sense and are willing to work long hours to aid clients and customers who are often in spiritual, physical, emotional, or personal need, they will both prosper financially and be of service to humanity.

I have seen all too many so-called spiritual shops go under due to the owners’ ignorance about the desires of their clientele,  lazy work habits, mental instability, personal drama, failure to engage the local community, or mistaking liberality for tolerance of drug and alcohol abuse, . Running a shop of any kind — whether it be an auto repair shop, an antique shop, a reproduction vintage hardware and lighting shop, an antiqurian book shop, or a hoodoo candle shop — is always going to be hard work, and will require a steady hand, an inventive mind, and enthusiasm for the business of business — for doing the books, stcking the shelves, and greeting the customers.

As for myself, i do maintain a traditional candle shop — but i do so in an untraditional location, in Sonoma County, California. People travel long miles to come to my shop, and it is my pleasure to make the destination worth the drive. We take a lot of time serving our walk-in trade, even though walk-ins account for only about 10% of our total sales volume.  Without the walk-ins, we would have no excuse to maintain the shop’s beauty, and we might then just as well be a warehouse. The walk-ins are the impetus to craft a beautiful architectural and garden experience — and that benefits everyone in the shop, because, after all, who wants to work in a warehouse when you can work in the most delightful little candle shop in North America?

Saturday Review: Candlesmoke Chapel is Smokin’!

Today’s Saturday review is going to be a wee bit different! I am not doing a book review, rather I am reviewing some truly fantastic products from my friends Joseph and Sara over at Candlesmoke Chapel. I received a box of goodies from them last week and to say that I was truly impressed is an understatement! Long time readers know that I am a fan of Lucky Mojo Curio Company supplies-so much so that I carry them at my own store. Besides the oils, powders, baths, and washes that my mom and I make, I carry Lucky Mojo and no one else because no one else has achieved the same level of high quality+exacting standards that I expect in my spiritual supply. But after sampling and playing the Candlesmoke products I emailed Sara and asked about wholesale terms (turns out I’m a bit early but I’m getting on the waiting list!)—that was how much I LOVED their stuff.

The Products: I received a sampling from a wide variety of Candlesmoke’s offerings:

Red Brick Dust

Van Van oil

Psychic Boost Oil

Sweet Love Sweetening Jar

Whole Angelica Root

Whole Queen Elizabeth Root

 

The Feel

All products came beautifully packaged. I tend to ignore packaging on products but I loved these-they have a steampunk meets Victorian-gothic feel that I truly dig. The oils are affixed with tags that tell you what batch and number your particular bottle is-which is great for clients who strongly prefer one batch over another. The whole roots had gorgeous cards indicating what possible uses for them might be and what their position is in folk magic and folk herbalism. Everything is saturated with the goodness that comes from hand made products-they just feel better! I especially love their red brick dust which comes from the couple’s own home and is over 110 years old-that is strong protective magic from a solid hearth.

 

The Goods

My neighborhood is usually pretty quiet but the week I received my gifts I used the Red Brick dust to sprinkle around my home and upon my threshold. Interestingly, there were a spate of robberies along my street last weekend but my house was not touched. Our beloved Red Doberman, Honey, may be a deterrent but I believe the red brick dust helped out too!

The Psychic Boost oil is delish! It smells of Anise but its not overpowering. I used some on my hands and then shuffled one of my decks of cards. Since I am an intuitive by trade I found that this oil worked in two ways-it made me even sharper than I usually am but it also boosted business so that I am booked through the first week of December!

Their Van Van oil is top of the line. I am currently using it in some road opening work at the moment and I am very pleased with the results! It is a beautiful oil-so fresh, so clean, and so chock full of Van Van goodness!

I’ve yet to put both roots to work but I anticipate doing so with glee-I love their shape and feel-they are some of the most beautiful whole roots I have seen!

Finally, I am in love with Candlesmoke’s Sweetening Jars! I think this is a brilliant idea for anyone who wants the benefit of a honey jar or a sugar jar, desires something beautifully, professionally, and lovingly made but wants to do the actual work themselves. I like sugar jars a lot because you can shake them up more effectively than honey jars and Candlesmoke’s sweetening jar smells fantastic and feels very potent-of course-they are made by a happily married couple and that brings its own special magic to the table!

You can find all of Candlesmoke’s delightful products at their Etsy store, follow their adventures at their blog, friend them on facebook and follow them on twitter!

Thankful for it All

I suspect I am not alone when I tell you that Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday for me. It feels festive yes, but also rapacious and ravenous-so this year I decided to explore that more.

On the one hand, some of my earliest childhood memories circle around Thanksgiving-when we would go up to the (then) tiny town of New Braunfels to see my great aunt and her husband in their circa 1800’s log cabin, sit by her wood burning stove next to the old piano, and snap the turkey wishbone with her-those are memories that I cherish. Or the later parties at my own parent’s home-when a bonfire was lit and champagne was poured, or the time we visited best friends in San Mateo and I had just gotten engaged and in a flurry of hand waving thought for a moment I had lost my engagement ring-that as an exciting holiday! So I have these positive associations with Thanksgiving-friends, family, gathering in a circle. I’m a folk magician-circles are magical for me and any excuse to make one is a good excuse.

On the other hand, I am not ignorant of the weird heritage around the holiday-how the story that we tell children of Pilgrims and Indians getting along and being friends is pretty much false. How the First People of this country were herded, hunted, and pillaged in every possible way-treated not as animals but as something less than a being period is something we tend not to dwell on. I’m part Cherokee ad Choctaw. I don’t look it at first-I have long strawberry blond hair and very pale skin that’s freckled (thank you Scotland and Ireland) but I have had more than one Native American get up close and personal and start to see the faint traces of those blood lines-in my high cheek bones, the texture of my hair, the brown of my eyes. Like many in the Deep South+Texas region my Native American heritage is not well documented outside of family narrative-which I take more seriously than a piece of paper. The stories are not always pretty-they feature alcoholism, poverty, murder and attempted murder, infidelity, neglect of children, kidnapping, abandonment, and rape.

For a long time I grappled with this-it seemed very far removed from me-much farther than the three hour difference between where I grew up in San Antonio, and the deep piney woods of East Texas-which feel like another region in another-less civilized-era that I am glad I don’t live in. And yet. That blood is in my veins. Those people are my people, they are my ancestors-without them there would not be a me. And there are also the funny stories-how my great grandmother who was full blood Cherokee kept a chicken snake in her cabinet to keep out the mice (giving my maternal grandmother quite a fright the first time she went into the kitchen)! Or how she would braid her long, black hair tight, tight, tight, and then take a match and burn away any hairs that stuck out of the braid.

I have found through the years that I did not want to run away-not even from those scared, damaged, and twisted parts of my heritage. So after being out of the state for 10 years I returned home-to my own small tribe and to accept all the aspects of my heritage-good, bad, ugly. Now, three years after my return I can say that I know I did the right thing-or perhaps it was the only thing to do. My magic is deeper, my family is closer, my own tribe-though imperfect, is the place where I most belong.

So as I circle ‘round the table this year I will carry this paradox within me-the joy of gathering, of conviviality, or family-and the fact that in part at least the festival was made possibly by the destruction of those exact experiences for other people-who are also my people. And what I realized this year is…

 

I am thankful for it all.

 

Thankful for the joy and beauty.

 

Thankful for the laughter and friends.

 

Thankful for the pain and suffering.

 

Thankful for the crimes and punishments.

 

Thankful for the forgetting.

 

Thankful for the remembering.

 

Thankful. For. It. All.

 

What are you thankful for?

Petition for the Day: May you find Sanctuary, right here, right now

I am in gorgeous Santa Fe this week-a place I lived and loved for 8 years-and that still holds a strong presence in my heart.

Over several years of having my own business I have discovered how to travel in a way that works for me. I do not go completely on “retreat” mode-for me that approach was stressful since it amounted to putting a “closed” sign on my virtual empire-with the resulting insane backlog of work and correspondence waiting for me when I came out of retreat-ick! Then I need a vacation from my vacation!

Instead I check emails between long meandering walks through the Sangre de Cristos. I respond to new client queries as I sip on sage infused chai, and I light candles and bless a honey jar before heading out for a night of spicy tapas in the sparkling mountain snow. I hang out with old friends and trade my intuitive consultations for high carat gold jewelry.

I pray.

I wander.

I strengthen old friendships.

I walk hand in hand with my beloved.

I buy my friends good chocolate and tell my mom she should buy those silver earrings-I find sanctuary amid-and not away from-my work.

Sanctuary is a tricky concept.

I think that most of us feel that we have to go somewhere gorgeous and be on silent mode for a week at least before we have really encountered sanctuary. The truth for me is that my work comes from the heart and so I carry it with me wherever I go. Once I accepted that I was able to create sanctuary wherever I was-whereever I am or may be…whether its in these blood red mountains feathered with snow and ice or my own cozy home in San Antonio.

It is liberating, clearing, and creates more space for the grace to flow.

So…my petition for you this week…May you find sanctuary. Right here. Right now.

Of Bones and Blessings, Cursings and Curings and Walking in Between

On this day when the veils are especially thin I am thinking of the old saying that in order to know how to heal you must also know how to hex or in order to cure you must be able to curse. Or how about this one from a 14th century Scottish man referring to a local cunning woman “she was either a witch or a woman of God.”

Any way you slice it the line between benevolent and baneful magics is ever present and thin-but on days like today it is especially so.

I remember reading in Brian Froud’s Book Faeries about the Scottish tradition of the Seelie and Unseelie Court-the belief that the Unseelie court of faerie ruled the dark part of the year from Samhain until Midwinter. The Unseelie court was believed to be composed of the more mischevious or in some cases downright harmful and deadly faerie creatures. In honor (and fear) of their reign farmers would leave untouched any crop that had not been harvested by the evening of October 31st-it was considered forfeit-an offering for the faeries and not fit for human consumption. This is just one of a plethora of traditions found around the world that recognizes the change in power and energy as the life/death/life cycle circles around and around spiraling into the heavens and down into the dark earth. It is those apparently opposing forces that are also at play with the curing and cursing dynamic.

As a student of Ancient Greek, among other things, the issue of cursing and curing comes out of language-as is well known in entheogenic circles, the greek word for poison is the same word for medicine (pharmakon)-where, etymologists may be able to see, we get current words like “pharmacy.”

Many of our natural poisons have incredibly potent healing properties-the digitalis derived from Purple Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea) can stop a heart or assist in curing congestive heart failure, Black Henbane (Hyosyamus Niger)-a very toxic plant in some respects can be used to induce visionary trance and the sensation of flying but also as a topical analgesic as can the even more potent Monkshood (Aconitum)-which has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and Belladonna (Atropa Belladonna) from which the drug Atropine is derived and of course perhaps most famously most snake antivenins are composed from the original venom itself.

Knowledge of the Poison Path (as Dale Pendell terms it) is sought out for many reasons-people want to understand these plants and poisons that have held such allure through time and history, people want to experience hallucinations or get high for recreational reasons, devotees wish to engage in ritual usages-some of which are millenia old, but as Aldous Huxley famously wrote when high on Mescaline-derived from yet another plant-Peyote (Lophophora Williamsii)-the doors of perception are opened.

The Poison Path is a rich place to begin any consideration of the relationship between curing and cursing because our first and truest teacher-Nature-often combines these elements in the same being. A little too much of that and you are sick or dying, but just the right amount and you can be saved, pain-free, wholesome.

What I have learned in my own practice is that these poisons/medicines have the ability not only to cure or kill-they can pierce through our current perceptions and reveal new possibilities that were hidden behind a veil of illusion. This idea of being pierced is as old as cupid and even older-I feel it finds one of its most beautiful expressions in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.

In Catholic and folk-Catholic-magic traditions the pierced heart is a requisite for curing or cursing-I believe that in magic period a pierced heart is a requisite because the pierced and sacred heart represents a heart that has been cut, punctured, wounded in some way and yet is still vital, still beating, still blessing, sacral, and sacred.

This sacred heart-often depicted as wrapped in the crown of thorns worn by Christ during the Passion is pierced by the suffering of humanity as well as the sufferings-large and small that we all experience in our daily lives. It is our sense of safety and security that is punctured and separated, our sense of isolation that is questioned, our moments of selfishness illuminated and called out for what they really are. The pierced heart is experienced by the one who sees beyond the veil-through life experience, through innate wisdom, through poisonous allies, or through ineffable mystery.

It is a theme we see in baneful magic again and again-the piercing and puncturing of a heart-to wound, curse, or in some cases sting into regret and recognition-and yet having a pierced heart is absolutely emphasized in healing and love work as well. For me, the iconography of the pierced heart has always spoken not only to the relationship between cursing and curing-but also to the relationship between life and death.

Living in the Southwest where the harvest cycles definitely do not follow that of the Celtic year, I know our own land wights and spirits are on a slightly different calendar, but we have our own versions of the life/death energies-and one of the most popular dualities right now if that of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe-Our Lady of Guadalupe & her skull sister Santisima (or in some areas Santa) Muerte-Most Holy Death or Our Lady Most Holy Death.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

These two are actually sister figures-both based on ancient Nahuatl Goddesses. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Catholicized incarnation of Tonantzin while Santisima Muerte is a Catholic-folk and increasingly so-called “narco” saint based on the Lady of Death Mictecacihuatl. In Nahuatl-Aztec culture Tonantzin was an earth & fertility Goddess-bringing life giving rains to the hills, valley, and canyons-bestowing life giving properties on the land and the people-and some believe that she is specifically affiliated with the Agave plant and its various ritual and ecstatic uses. Like the Summerian Inanna and her skull sister Ereshkigal-Tonantzin had a relationship with her own shadow sister, Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of Death. In Mesomamerican culture death was highly esteemed because the ancestors were seen to be guiding forces of both wisdom and prophecy. Therefore the Lord and Lady of Death had to be propitiated whenever someone passed beyond the veil so that they would accept their soul and as it were, make a home for them. Mictecacihuatl possesses the guise of Santisima Muerte-who has interestingly become increasingly allied with those involved in the illegal drug and arms trades in Mexico and the US-Mexican border-but she is also known throughout the Southwest simply as La Huesera-the bone woman-and is venerated as such-the Mother of death-who sings life into the bones so that the cycle may spiral out yet again.

Santisima Muerte-Holy Death

I am always interested in ideas that are apparent opposites but underneath share a solid unity with one another. In the case of hexing and healing or cursing and curing I believe that this foundation is strongly present-and the folk magician should at the very least understand the relationship-perhaps as the winds blow from the otherworld into our own they will carry a bit of wisdom with them to aid us in our efforts.

 

May you all have a beautiful Halloween, Blessed Samhain, and delightful Dia de los Muertos!

Resources:

Dale Pendell, Pharmako/Gnosis

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Untie the Strong Woman

Daniel Schulke, Veneficium

Petition for the Day-May there be Harmony…true Harmony

Much is made, thought, and said about harmony-especially as it pertains to religious belief.

We should all live in harmony.

We should strive for harmony with each other as well as peace and understanding.

Most importantly of all…BE NICE.

The teeth and sharp bones of the modern world poke and prod at this belief-challenging those of who are orthodox in their devotions as well as those who are not, to confront issues head on that our ancestors apparently did not have to deal with.

Social concerns, political platforms, behaviors resulting in our continued degradation of Creation-it can feel so heavy and taut at times and when we look back to history in an attempt to learn from it-we often feel that there is nothing but silence. 

These are new problems for a new and modern world-our religious celebrations, traditions, and ceremonies do not always answer them.

Cutting even closer to home is the tension between our own personal beliefs and the beliefs of our Church, Mosque, Synagogue, Circle, and Temple. No religious person that I know is 100% on board with everything their faith espouses-in fact, some of the most exciting and thrilling Theological discoveries come our of sharp disagreements between personal conscience and religious doctrine.

Our world rubs raw against faith and our personal beliefs bristle at times against it as well.

For some the answer is found in assimilation-the divide between the secular and the sacred grows thinner and thinner until there is no divide at all. Our houses of worship becomes worldly and allow us as a result to be fully of the world-this can be a sell out position or a study in Divine Immanence depending on who you talk to.

On the flip side, some religious communities become increasingly insular-they seek a sharp distinction between the organizing principles of their faith and the world in which we live with its sometimes callous disregard and mockery of those who see things from a different perspective, are branded more “conservative”, or perhaps most devastatingly of all-are found to be simply disagreeable with anyone who does not espouse their same principles.

Again-the move of separation can be held as escapism from modern life’s thorny problems or the creation of a modern day sanctuary wherein it is possible to truly and fully know thyself.

Many of us find ourselves in a middle ground-there are principles of faith and belief that we adhere to, that illuminate our soul’s longing and purpose.

And yet. And still.

We have thoughts, feelings, beliefs and even expectations that sometimes experience painful disagreement with the faith(s) around which our lives navigate. It can leave us feeling confused, disheartened, longing for a “simpler” time devoid of these complicated social and political issues.

Empty…desiring strong leadership, a path marked the “right way” and sorely tempted to buy into attractively packaged “simple” solutions that are anything but simple and often leave greater problems than they have solved.

Broken and Fractured...in my own practice I hear this again and again-unsure of what the right way to live really is, but sure that considering that question-with an end to answering it, is our most essential life work.

What we do not feel is harmony.

Harmony is peace, tranquility, serenity.

Or is it?

The word is Ancient Greek in origin and it means to fit together, to join. Sounds good so far-isn’t this what we seek in our own lives? Reconciliation with each other, with our time and culture, with our God(s)?

The key is in knowing what is being fitted together and joined, in music harmony is created by joining different pitches, tones, and notes to each each other with the ancient understanding that the whole is greater and more beautiful than the individual parts. The separate tones and pitches though-they may well be dissonant with each other-another musical term that means pretty much the opposite of harmony-disagreement, separation.

Like so many things to a point its a matter of perspective. If you were to listen to only two parts in what should be a four part harmony the sound might be displeasing, cacophonous, it might even be broken and fractured. When joined by the other two parts though that broken sound can soar into something sublime and beautiful-rich in texture and meaning-complete and completely joined.

Harmony is not unison-it is not everyone of us agreeing with everyone else-in our congregations, our neighborhoods, our political communities for the sake of going along to getting along or “niceness.”

Harmony is flat, boring, and actually absent without its inherent tension.

Nor is it simply dissonance-disagreeing to disagree, becoming fossilized and hardened in one way of looking at things and discerning truth from fiction because its easier that way. Harmony emerges from different strands-each unique and each incomplete without the others.

Our differences-with the world in which we live and the faiths by which we abide are too often seen as a lack or indication that something has gone terribly awry instead of the sign of our continued, vigorous, search for that which is holy, blessed, and true.

To our own ears the voices sound rough, unruly, and separate from one another and the Divine-but I wonder amidst that feeling of loneliness, does the Divine hear something whole, complete, and beautiful?

So my petition for the day for you is-May you experience harmony in your life-the real kind-that is full of the kind of creative tensions that births the stars and beauty that simply shines forth!

 

Charms & Enchantments: Spiced Figs for Fertility and Abundance

This recipe came from my great aunt Mary Margaret-she passed over ten years ago and was the first person outside of my immediate family that taught me how to perform simple divinations with chicken bones. She also had this fantastic recipe-which reads like a magical ritual as I think you will see. I spend the month of October preparing for Samhain & Dia de los Muertos/All Saint’s Day all of which are celebrated in my family-this was one of the first recipes to honor the ancestors I whipped up this year:

Ingredients:

3 quarts whole, un-peeled, figs (Figs are traditionally associated with fertility, abundance, and the female reproductive organs. In some Hindu traditions the World Tree or axis mundi is actually a fig tree. In Conjure figs, specifically the leaves, are also used for friendship. In various Mediterranean traditions figs are eaten by women who wish to conceive a child.)

6 cups sugar-(to sweeten someone to you or keep a relationship sweet).

1 cup apple cider vinegar-(to sweeten, cleanse, and preserve).

2 quarts boiling water

Small cheesecloth bag of whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and whole allspice-(cinnamon is a powerful agent for love and money drawing work and also to speed situations/people along, cloves are for friendship and kind feeling, allspice ushers in abundance).

Directions:

Cover figs with boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes.

make syrup of water, sugar, vinegar, and bag of spices

Drain figs then boil in syrup for 10 minutes for 3 mornings in a row

The third morning pack in sterilized jars and seal

I love the fact that she gives the directions to boil the figs in the syrup for three mornings in a row for ten minutes each time. Obviously you could boil them at ten minute intervals through 1 or 2 days and clearly you could boil them at a time other than the morning but this was her recipe and I honor it in its entirety.

 

 

Shuffling the Deck: Getting Upside Down with the Hanged Man

Two weeks ago I rolled into yoga class on for my Thursday evening level 1-2. It was a day like any other day for me-I had a roster full of awesome clients I had spoken to, had done a wee bit of ritual magic and crafting and was ready to wind the week down starting with this class. I started practicing yoga over 10 years ago when I was in college-I have had periods where I attended religiously and periods where I have not but I have found a studio in my ‘hood that I adore so I am now a weekly fixture. So there I am with my hot pink mat and old yoga pants-kind of thinking to myself that I don’t want to be here. Its going to be another frustrating class of trying to do something that my body doesn’t really want to do. I ignore this internal dialogue (its always present) and get on with the getting on. My teacher starts talking about the shifts in perception that are possible in yoga and my mind drifts immediately to the Hanged Man card and then I know that we will be doing inversions before class is over. Slump. I can rock out a half way decent shoulder stand but I know that head stand is just not going to happen for me-it never does, yet tonight as always I will try. We get to the last 15 minutes of class. Its time for head stand, I am pretty warmed up but not expecting anything exciting to happen. I fold down into dolphin pose, kick up, and hey…there is one leg up in the air and now here’s another! I’m in headstand! It requires effort but less that I thought, what it really required like my yoga teacher said, was a perspectival shift. A movement from holding the pose (and myself) in fear to holding it in love. One small pose, and I know there will be times where its not as easy as it was that Thursday, but it has huge ramifications for how I hold my yoga (and all devotional) practices.

 

 

So…how does all this relate to the Tarot card the Hanged Man?

 

Looking at the card we see…

  • A young man hangs from a tree, his left leg tied to a T shaped branch his right leg bent at the knee with his right foot positioned behind his left thigh.
  • His arms are both behind his back and I get the sense from looking at the card that his hands are tied.
  • A halo of light surrounds his head, his face looks serene, and the colors of the card are vibrant.

One of the first things that hits me about the Hanged Man card is how it presents an immediate paradox. Scary title, bright & pretty colors. Scary position held with relative ease and peace. Then of course curiosity sets in—why? Why is this guy hanging upside down? Why does he have a halo around his head? Obviously he knows something I don’t! My saying for the Hanged Man is: knowledge, wisdom, and power gained through sacrifice.

 

In Divination I have been taught 6 distinct ways to interpret this card:

1.) In its upright position it indicates that a shift in perspective is required before the situation can move forward. I often refer to this as a 180 turn around-you thought it was one way but after you see it a bit more clearly you discover its actually a different thing all together.

2.) Also in an upright position it can indicate initiation, the decision to be initiated, Shamanic journeying into the other words (and often the underworld), and/or the endeavor of magical training.

3.) Reversed or upright the card may indicate that self sacrifice is required. This is certainly the case in the second interpretation where sacrifice is the payment the initiate makes, but it is also usually required in the first case as well—usually in order to shift our perceptions we must make an offering of the part of ourselves that refuses to be moved from our current position.

4.) In a reversed position it may also indicate that the querant or someone related to them needs to reconsider their stance or position on a certain issue.

5.) Finally, in a few cases when reversed this card can indicate that the time of initiation is over and the initiate has emerged with wisdom gained through experience and sacrifice.

6.) My uber practical side comes out sometimes when I get this card for a client-we talk about what their “hang ups” are and why they keep standing in the way!

Would you like to know what the Hanged Man tarot card, and the stories of Jacob’s Ladder, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Norse God Odin and his World Tree Yggdrasil have in common?

They are all examples of the Shamanic experiences with the axis mundi or World Tree. In a nutshell the central figure of the Hanged Man card is the Shaman-and the magic he is learning is not the elite, higher ritual magic we find present in the Magician card-rather it is the wilder magic of the shaman or astral traveler who possesses the skill and ability to go from our world into the worlds above and the worlds below-to seek out knowledge and wisdom and bring it back for the betterment of our land and community. This is the esoteric truth behind the Hanged Man card-the shift is perception occurs because the initiate has agreed to sacrifice a part of himself and in return gains the ability to pierce the veil and travel between the worlds.

While that sounds all mystical and magically high minded, the truth is that we all participate in this process to some degree. Whether we are striving to see another person’s position in a disagreement or relinquishing a long held yet severely self limiting belief we are engaging in our own process of moving between the worlds that we know best into worlds that are less familiar. Like Ishtar descending into the underworld to encounter her skull sister and rescue her beloved, we must leave cherished parts of ourselves behind to emerge different, new, and more full complete in our knowledge and wisdom that we were before.

Practice makes Perfect! Spend some time with the Hanged Man by considering these questions:

1.) What are your hang ups? What pushes your buttons like nothing else-is this a belief/feeling/experience that is vital to you or is it limiting you now?

2.) Have you ever shifted your perspective in a radical way before? Tell me about it!

3.) What part(s) of yourself will you let go of for deeper knowledge and wisdom?

Getting Courageous with Kate

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with the remarkable Kate Courageous from Your Courageous Life.

We riffed on why fear can be a great teacher, how reality is limited (and limiting), and the good, bad, and ugly sides of manifestation among other things.

Our conversation was full of verve and truth-it may even inspire you to let me know the role that fear plays in your life in the comments section below. To get more of Kate’s wisdom sign up for her newsletter (I get it and I love it!) and check out the Coaching Blueprint 2.0-a guide to creating a coaching practice the “lights you up and pays the bills!”

20 Magical Ingredients that live in your Kitchen & Suggestions for Use

Ritual Magic can be high and mighty-it can involve costly and exotic ingredients and stunning altar set ups-and I like workings like that. But I also like down home herb magic that takes place by the kitchen sink and calls upon a few simple ingredients that most of us have in our spice pantries and cabinets. Here are twenty of my faves.

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1.) Coffee-use it to compel people and “encourage” them to do what you want, serve a cup of coffee to someone that you need to bring over to your point of view, add a spoonful of sugar if you need them to be sweet to you and add a pinch of cinnamon if you want them to give you money. Murmur their name over the cup as you stir clockwise calling out your desire.

2.) Cinnamon- for hot herb magic action sprinkle a pinch combined with sugar outside your place of business to draw customers, use it to heat up love situations, dust a candle with cinnamon and peppermint in honor of St. Expedite.

3.) Cardamom-add whole pods to a charm bag or mojo hand for love and sex, dust in its powdered form on candles along with cinnamon for a sex me up spell, use whole pods along with dried rose petals, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean in olive oil for a love unguent.

4.) Honey- though not specifically herb magic honey is a handy and common kitchen goody. Use in a honey jar to sweeten your romantic relationships, get the promotion, or make your in laws favor you.

5.) White, Red, or Balsamic Vinegar-great for baneful workings to break up people working against you-put them in a mason jar with vinegar, hot red peppers, and poppy seeds so that their conversations with each other become confused, inflammatory, and lead to break ups. Sour someone’s words, or close the mouth of a gossip by taking a petition paper and placing it in a bottle with vinegar and alum.

6.) Kosher Salt-Kosher salt has actually been blessed and may be sprinkled along with cumin seeds around the circumference of your home for blessings and protection. May be mixed with oils and herbs for any number of spiritual baths, may be used to cleanse a room or space when combined with holy water.

7.) Black Peppercorns-use in baneful workings when an enemy needs to feel the heat and vamanos! May also be used in harsher compelling workings-like when the insurance company is holding out on you-in the latter case combine with licorice root-which makes a delicious and soothing tea by the way.

8.) Red Pepper-has a long history of use in herb magic and can banish unfriendly people from your life, “hot foot” unwanted visitors and in the cases of sweeter red peppers like Arbol chiles, a tiny pinch may be added to sluggish love affairs to get the object of your affection to respond/wake up!/contact you.

If you are being visited by someone and you want them to leave sooner rather than later dust your broom with a bit of red pepper and sweep it out onto the path they will use to enter your home, calling their name and stating that they need to keep their visit short.

9.) Lemongrass-an essential ingredient for cleansing herb blends and bath mixes as well as communication blends. Used in road opening work. May be mixed with peppermint, sage, and kosher salt for an on the fly spiritual cleansing bath chock full of good herb magic mojo! Also a key ingredient in Sacred Washes and Sprays.

10.) Sage-Used for cleansing-this is sometimes referred to as Turkey sage-its not the white sage you find in smudge sticks but it may be burned as a purification rite nonetheless. May be crushed and combined with Solomon Seal Root and Deerstongue leaf to inspire wisdom and eloquence in speech and speaking engagements.

11.) Rosemary-encourages peace in the home, hang a few sprigs above the door tied with blue ribbon to foster a sense of serenity and tranquility. Combine in food with lavender, thyme, and garlic for peace and protection, add to charm bags for peace and gentleness, also aids memory and concentration.

12.) Crab Shell—powdered crab shell is the best on hand substance for reversing bad luck. Use it in doll babies, box spells, and candle workings-in the latter sprinkle the crab shell powder around the candle widdershins (counter clockwise) to undo damage.

Work with salt, sage, bay leaf, peppermint, and/or ginger to invoke blessing and protection. You can get crab shells from your fishmonger-just ask! Typically the shells are worked with in powdered form so they need to be dried out, set them in the sun or oven-but if you put them in the oven open up the windows-they are a protein and they can get smelly.

13.) Bay Leaf-for victory, triumph, and success. Bay Laurel crowns were awarded to stellar poets and soldiers in Ancient Greece and Rome. They are also a key ingredient in traditionally made Archangel Michael packets and sacred to Archangel Michael.

14.) Sugar-use to sweet people to you, combine with cinnamon for money, use to candy rose petals for love magic, create a lover come, lover stay body scrub by combining one cup sugar, half a cup olive oil (or almond oil if you have it), a handful of dried red or pink rose petals, lavender blossoms, and Cardamom pods-add one cinnamon stick to the jar and voila!

15.) Olive oil-may be used in place of any ritual anointing oil in a pinch, is the base for many hi altar or temple type oils, traditionally used to anoint a beloved’s foot after a foot washing ritual.

16.) Vanilla Bean-fosters sweetness and home sweet home feelings. Stick in your sugar jar for peace and warmth in hearth and home, use in making truffles or ice cream for drawing and fostering love and romance. Another herb magic standby that I consider essential to have at all times.

17.) Flour-use to make bread for offerings at the altar, combine with other ingredients to make magically inspired cakes and biscuits, combine with salt and stamp with meaningful symbols to create a powerful ward against the evil eye that may be hung in the kitchen or home. Use arrowroot powder as a base for making your own sachet powders.

18.) Butter-roll in herbs like Thyme, Lavender, and Rosemary for home sweet home vibes and serve at a family dinner. Reduce with garlic and a sliver of ginger and a pinch of red pepper and serve to a potential enemy so that you are protected and they are banished.

19.) Ginger-powerful protective ingredient found in herb mixes, anointing oils, and baths. Combine ginger, bay leaf, and cinnamon to protect your ability to success and prosper.

20.) Milk-set out as an offering to the faerie folk or as an offering to certain Spirits and Deities on the altar. You may also use milk as a vehicle through which personal concerns can be delivered when the milk is consumed by the target. In Conjure bathing with the milk from a black cow imbues one with special protective properties.