Make Mercury (Retro) work for you!

 

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Mercury in Retrograde is here! It’s that crazy time of year when the wee planet Mercury appears to be going backwards in its elliptical orbit. It is not actually retrograding but from our vantage point it sure looks like it! And Mercury in Retrograde is probably THE most infamous astrological event because Mercury is a small but mighty planet–he rules, among other things, our ability to communicate clearly, think smart, make good deals, and the general area of technology. When a retrograde happens to say the least, it is easy for things to go on the fritz!

Mercury in retrograde is actually a time of year that I really typically enjoy. I mean sure, there is always a repair that has to happen or a technical snafu, but I go into the season EXPECTING those events. If you are like me there is always a project or two that you started that is still hanging around in a half completed state. While Mercury retrograde is not a great time to begin new projects it is a superb time to bring old projects to a close. Paying attention to the zodiac sign that the retrograde occurs in brings a certain level of nuance to each retrograde phase. Consider what particular sets of strengths and weaknesses the sign Mercury is transiting brings to the cosmic table and then think about ways to practically maximize the benefits in your own life.

While traveling during retrograde is not the best idea, considering the way we travel-and if you are a frequent traveler-organizing and streamlining the process for yourself is a great way to take advantage of this time. In fact, the simple rule of thumb is that any activity that begins with an “re” is an appropriate retrograde activity, this includes: reassessing, remembering, recollecting, repairing, responding (to letters and emails), reorganizing, and reconciling!

Always exercise common sense during a retrograde-a bunch of my lovely lady clients always feel the need to start pressuring their significant others into stronger commitment or marriage. This is probably not the best time to do that since feelings can get hurt and intense conversations can go south quickly. Back up your computer, make sure your phones are charged and plugged in.

If you start to feel itchy, twitchy, unfocused, or like you might bite someone’s head off–take a breath, go for a walk, clear your head and then return to it. Pick an organizing/cleaning/de-cluttering project a few weeks before the retrograde actually hits and you will be in awesome shape!

Encounters with AIRR: Dr. Johannes

Though I have only met him in person one time, Dr. Johannes always stands out to me as bringing the best qualities to light both as a root worker and a person. I know him to be incredibly honest with his clients and never willing to allow people to think that magic alone will see them through. His knowledge and scholarly interest in various kinds of folk magic is impressive in breadth and scope, and he also is one of the few members of AIRR based in Europe! Please give him a warm, Milagro Roots style welcome!

JohannesWhat is your philosophy on magic and root work?

Magic, root work, and spells, like any other kind of medicine, requires more than a pill. It requires a person able to give an accurate and proper diagnosis. Seeing the clients situation and the right keys to deliver what they want is crucial to successful spells and remedies. Spells without divination is often like shooting in the dark.

What are your favorite types of cases and why?

My favorite types of cases are study spells for kids and un-crossings. I cannot help but love the result when a kid, suffering from various difficulties suddenly get a kick out of learning and are able to pick up knowledge with joy. The reason why I love un-crossings is the immense gratitude I get from people whose lives have been a mess due to crossed conditions and the joy they express when curses are removed and their lives are changed.

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

My advice would be to twofold – first: think about what the next step would be if a spell is successful. Let´s say you get your cheating ex. back due to a reconciliation spell. Or you get that raise due to a money drawing spell. What it the next step? Will that ex stay for long? What will you do with the money? Never assume anything about the future. Plan it. This requires good guidance, so praying for such guidance should be a habit. The second is to always follow the advice of your root worker if you have been given baths or things to do yourself. Never compromise with a ritual. If you do not want to rise at sunrise to do that bath or if you do not want to get your hair wet then your work is weak and so is your desire. We all know that clients like that are the most likely to mess up a spell. It is like a sick person eating candy instead of the given medicine.

Find Dr. Johannes on the World Wide Web:

Website: www.therootdoctor.se
Facebook: therootdoctor.se
Trolldom Facebook Group: Traditional Nordic Folk Magic
Blog: trolldomhoodoo.blogspot.com.

Blessed New Moon in Aquarius!

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Blessed New Moon in Aquarius guys! If you missed the latest edition of Milagro Roots News or for some weird reason are not subscribed then you have not heard me wax eloquently about how awesome this New Moon is. It is especially great for deep and fast insights into your networks (both for business and pleasure), how you connect with people, and how you communicate ideas. The New Moon is in the sign of Aquarius AND it is well aspected with Aquarius’ ruling planet Uranus so these insights are of the flash of lightening brilliant variety as opposed to gradual or subtle.

Por example: I had a killer dream last night that re-affirmed some biz decisions I have already made and left me with a mean and lean priority list. So…the moon is New at 3:40pm central standard time but the vibe is here right now! Be open to the fresh insights, I would recommend traveling today with a blank book or recording device of some kind, and give yourself some extra space and time this afternoon to really appreciate those flashes of golden insight!

And if you would like to work the the moon on a magical/ritual level then this excerpt from my upcoming Star Magic class will be of interest:

In Magic-The moon can be used to consecrate any object, talisman, or spiritual product with the qualities of fertility, magic, intuition, coolness, objectivity, artistry, and inspiration. In Eastern systems it is also equated with the mind or pure intellect. Work with the New Moon to plant seeds for your newest project or desire (or your physical garden), and work with the waxing moon on things you wish to have grow and strengthen. Work with the Full Moon to celebrate completed projects, increase fertility of all kinds, honor love and romance, and divination rituals, and work with the waning moon whenever you need to let go of/banish things. Finally, work with the Dark Moon (the phase right before the New Moon), for baneful work.”

 

 

Treat Me Right Tonight-Devouring the Dark Moon

Just a quick note loves because from now until Tuesday we are in the Dark Moon period–that time when la luna is preparing to renew herself for the New Supermoon on Thursday. Every newsletter I send out has an article and ritual either for the New Moon or the Full Moon but I don’t get to talk about the Dark Moon very often so I wanted to share. The Dark Moon is the period right before the New Moon. In the sky during this time the moon is almost invisible as it is when it’s New. Dark Moons are WONDERFUL times for deep and meaningful self care. Typically the vibe is more relaxed and passive–these are the times where even if you are an early riser you are more tempted to stay in bed, nourish yourself with warm teas and soups (especially in January), boost your immune system and engage in some thoughtful self care. If there is ever a time where it feels like you can take a day off from your typical ritual practices or spiritual program, this is it and the time is now. Quietude, good candles and some dark chocolate may be the order for the next few days–I know it’s a tough order but I’m sure you are willing to make the sacrifice!

How to work a Void of Course Moon

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We are coming off a Void of Course Moon in Virgo and I thought it would be a good time to say a few words about what exactly a Void of Course Moon is and how you can work most effectively with it. The Moon is considered “void of course” after it passes the last planet in a given sign and is on its lovely way to the next sign in the zodiacal wheel. So, for instance, since yesterday (1/20/14) the Moon has been Void of Course in the sign of Virgo and around 5pm my time today it will have its first aspect in the sign of Libra officially ending the Void of Course time period.

The Moon goes Void of Course pretty often and these periods can be longish–in the neighborhood of one to two days–or they can be quite brief. When considering how to work with a Void of Course Moon, I usually recommend that folks treat this period in a similar fashion to a New Moon minus the starting new ventures energy. Void of Course moons are small but intense moments when we have the opportunity to engage in deep self-care which really translates to paying attention to what is working and is not working in our lives. It is almost like a Celestial magnifying glass is handed to you but of course you get to decide whether to make use of the time or not.

This IS a time when big movements or decisions can happen–in most presidential elections one party has chosen their nominee during a Void of Course moon (and typically that nominee loses). The first pictures of space were taken during a Void of Course Moon, and generally speaking your psychic spidey-sense comes out more strongly during this time, but so can negative patterns that need to be assessed and addressed once and for all.

When considering what ritual vibe is most appropriate for a given Void of Course Moon look at the sign that it is in. For me with the Moon Void of Course in Virgo I have been making lists about what needs to be cleaned and organized in my home in preparation for the upcoming Mercury in Retrograde we will all delight in come February. The sign/house that the Moon has gone Void of Course in points the way for magical work during this time and any work you do can yield long-term and lasting results! Ready to learn more about how to work with the stars and simple, magical, ritual? Star Magic is happening in February!

New Year Prosperity: tips and tricks to spruce up your pocketbook

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We are still in January and for many of us there is still a strong drive to create lasting prosperity in this New Year, yes? The trick, of course, is knowing how one might best go about creating that prosperity. Here are some of my favorite tricks and tip to feather your nest and, maybe, if you are lucky, discover a golden egg!

1.) New Year=New Wallet. If last year’s cash flow was not all it could have been, why don’t you spend some money on getting a brand new wallet? Your wallet or billfold is the home where your money lives–you want it to be a home fitting for lots of cash, right?

Choose a color that is traditionally associated with prosperity and abundance like green (for money cash and growth), red (for power and authority in the world of personal finance and beyond), royal blue (the planetary color associated with abundance creating Jupiter), or yellow/gold (for um, more gold!)

2.) Dress 3 $100 bills with a prosperity enhancing sachet powder and place them in your wallet. When we carry larger bills like Benjamins or even $50′s, we are less likely to break them which translates to less likely to spend on frivolous items.

3.) If possible, get a wallet that has a change purse and use your change frequently–leave it as tips, hand it out to panhandlers–moving change in and out of your wallet keeps the current of money moving in your life.

4.) Take all non essential cards, especially credit cards out of your wallet for daily use. If you don’t have access to your cards you can’t use them. Bam!

5.) Put a tiny lodestone in your wallet to attract and draw more money.

6.) Put a tiny piece of iron pyrite in your wallet OR a piece of real gold. Even a gold earring will work because like attracts like.

7.) Sprinkle sassafras and cinquefoil (five finger grass) in the area where your paper money goes–a pinch works great. Sassafras has long been worked with to make each dollar stretch and cinquefoil is believed not only to bless all that your five fingers do but also to encourage others to favor you.

8.) Choose one area to work on when it comes to financial health. Do you need to draw more in the way of income or lower existing debt? Make a plan of action that includes PRACTICAL steps for you to do. Dedicate a section of your home to this work and only this work.

9.) If you are currently looking for employment make sure you read my tips on Job Getting–they really do work!

10.) If you have not already done so, download the Magnetizing Manifestation phone fest. It’s free and full of more useful information on attracting abundance big time!

Psst! Want to learn more about how to work with planets like Jupiter to increase your prosperity and financial health? It’s your lucky day because I am teaching a class  in February that will answer that question and many more. Head over here to check it out and register!

 

Encounters with AIRR: Devi Spring

What is your philosophy on magic and root work?

devi-springI believe that magic needs be healing at its core – it should be bringing and reestablishing harmony and balance. You can certainly attract or redirect a certain force towards yourself using rootwork, but you need to be properly prepared to truly receive the blessings in order for them to take root and manifest.

Most clients that come to me wanting to change something about their lives – more luck in love, increasing their financial security, greater mental/emotional happiness – have experienced a certain undesirable condition for some time, and under repeated circumstances over a long period of time. So I feel a greater portion of magical work should be focused on identifying, acknowleging, and then working to heal the things within yourself that is allowing the unwanted patterns to recur within your life. Very often by changing a core belief, altering habituated reactions and approaches, or finally facing a trauma that has caused a soul-deep injury with associated armoring, the whole energy around a situation and person will dramatically shift finally allowing the positive manifestations they have been long hoping for.

So my approach to magic and rootwork is very much based in personal healing and empowerment of the client. I do my best to listen between the lines of the problem clients are presenting to me, for what the deeper issue at work is. I imagine that my extensive background as a Usui Reiki Master has colored my approach, as in that healing work the headache a client comes in with is very rarely the actual problem – it may be the perpetual stress from work, or supressing the pain stemming from a toxic relationship that is causing the headache. I would, of course, treat the headache to relieve the immediate discomfort, but I would need to identify and begin to work to untangle and heal the root cause of the headahes so that they would not recurr. It’s the same in my rootwork practice.

Crafting balance and harmony within the client themselves is my primary focus. If I can facilitate their personal healing journey, often the negative condition will clear itself. While they embark on the core work of personal change, I work with them to help alleviate the symptoms and negative effects of their current condition, helping to attract the types of energies & good fortune they want to start claiming. Spiritual cleansings, uncrossings, and road openings are always a big part of this stage of things. I am there to help guide the deeper healing processes as we clean the slate and make way for new abundance.

What are your favorite types of cases and why?

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Until a client is in a place where they are ready to do make the personal changes that will permit the more sweeping shifts in their position, I find magic can often bring only temporary changes.

I work best with clients who are willing and able to be proactive in the work – setting time and energy aside to do the work that is indicated for them, really taking control of their lives. I love crafting custom items like fixed oil lamps, bottle spells, mojo bags, conjure packets and the like that clients then take on and use to start shifting things within their lives and themselves. It’s so enjoyable for me working Spirit into those items, knowing someone with great resolve and in a place to really utilize them well is going to be receiving the Divine blessings that they can help provide. While these fleeting windfalls of good fortune are valuable, they are unable to really anchor into a person’s life for the long-haul. So my favorite types of cases involve clients who have come to that place where they are truly committed to making a change in their life. They can listen and hear the information that the divinations, and my own intuitive advice brings forward to them, and are willing to take steps to begin doing the deep work. We can then both follow and rejoice in the impressive shifts that begin occuring!

I also really enjoy being able to introduce clients to spiritual allies, such as saints and archangels, that will have their back and aid them going forward. Learning how to develop a relationship with a spirit, and to be able to reap the benefits that such a relationship brings, is a wonderful boon. Coaching people through that process, especially when a spirit has communicated to me that they specifically are eager to aid a person and have a spiritual partnership with them, is extremely rewarding. As often as possible, I do my best to forge a new spiritual support system for my clients, to really give them the best chance at long-term success and truly meaningful spiritual empowerment.

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

Look at how you can craft greater balance and peace within yourself, and you will find that the outer manifestations of that in your life as a whole will begin to increase exponentially. Invite Divinity to aid and support you in those efforts, and you will be blessed even further.

 

Find Devi on the World Wide Web:
queenofpentacles.net = my etsy store front where all reading and product sales are done

http://queenofpentaclesconjure.com/ = my main informational website (look for a major overhaul in 2014!)

queenofpentaclesconjure.blogspot.com = my blog with lots of practical work and articles on magic and rootwork

@HoodooDevi = my Twitter account with lots of personal quips, as well as sale annoucements

In Memoriam

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I woke up this morning to this devastating news…that our dear Dr. E has passed beyond the veil. I always liked Eddy for his fun yet serious, kind yet full of integrity approach to all things not just religion, not just magic or spirit work but all of it. I believe that all who were lucky enough to meet and spend time with him in person felt his love and warmth encompass them, I know that I did.

I remember watching him and the care he took with his mother Vicky, seeing what a good son he was and how that in turn made him such a good man. I know that many, many, many of us are raw with his passing…so sudden, so very, very sudden and so to you, and to us I offer up a prayer to one I know he loved too:

La Senora de Guadalupe, blessed and bright Lady, we come to you today with open hearts and open hands asking for wisdom and understanding but above all compassion and healing in the wake of loss and grief that flows over our community. Loss of a friend, a brother, a son, a lover, a colleague, a teacher, creator, mentor, and counselor to so many who had need, how many lives he touched may we remember and honor that. Guadalupe, one who shines forth in your dark and blessed beauty, give us succor in our time of sorrow, for you know sorrow so well and the openings it creates, so that we might love deeper, be kinder, work with more truth and integrity and in so doing keep our dear one close to our hearts forever, amen.

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Of Glass and Fire: How to work with Devotional Candles

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A version of this article was first published in the Summer 2013 issue of Witches and Pagans magazine which is available for purchase here.

If you have ever wandered into a Botanica or latin american grocery store you may have found yourself staring down an aisle or wall filled with brightly colored glass candles–some with silk screened images on the glass, some topped with foil or Saran wrap, and others that are plain and unmarked. These are glass novena candles, also called vigil candles, vigil lights, sanctuary lights, or devotional candles, and while they often go unmentioned in the classic pagan books, they have been used in candle and fire magic for years with great success.

Glass novena candles were first used in Catholic religious devotions known as “novenas”–9 day prayer rituals with the intention of seeking the aid and building a relationship with a specific saint usually for a specific purpose. The novena ritual does not come out of Christian scripture but is derived from ancient Greek and Roman pre-Christian rites around honoring the dead. The devotional candles sanctioned by the Catholic Church were originally 100% beeswax and poured so that they would burn for 9 days–they were sometimes affixed with a paper prayer card of the petitioned Saint which in turn gave way to large paper illustrations of particular Saints on the front of the candle and prayers for the saint on the back of the candle.

In Catholic families and communities the novena could at times take on a party atmosphere-with friends coming over to sit in vigil, feasts shared, and group prayers performed or they could be quiet and intensely private affairs. Through them all the glass encased devotional candle would be burning. Folk magic traditions grew up around novena rituals and their glass encased candles and then in the early 1940′s these devotional candles started getting advertised in spiritual supply catalogs as “religious” goods.

Candle shops that catered to African Americans and stocked supplies for those working in the Hoodoo and Conjure traditions bought from these spiritual supply catalogues and thus the glass encased vigil candle found its way into Southern Conjure. Meanwhile specialty shops known as Botanicas began to spring up as immigrants from Mexico, South, and Central America came into the United States in the 60′s and 70′s. Pharmacies and grocery stores in Latin American neighborhoods also began dedicating an aisle or two to commonly used spiritual products-often with a focal point of glass encased devotional candles-which by this point in time were no longer composed of beeswax but petroleum derived paraffin. Silkscreen printing on glass became popular at this time as well and the devotional candles began to branch out into more mainstream culture-with candles no longer being set only to Our Lady of Guadalupe or Saint Martha for love magic-but instead also getting labeled with more generic petitions like “Love Me” or in some cases maintaining a Biblical connection with a formula like “Adam and Eve.”

By the late 70′s glass encased candles were available in straight up magical supply shops as well as religious supply stores and they are now used by a variety of practitioners for both religious and magical purposes. Pagans who were raised in or around Catholic tradition, specifically Italian or Mexican, Central, and/or South American strains of Catholicism are usually familiar with the glass novena candle already and may find the tradition of blessing and dressing a candle to be second nature. Those who do not may find that working with the magic of a devotional candle is something that appeals to them and opens new windows for the philosophy of fire, as Henri Gamache so poetically puts it.

In modern day candle magic there are several steps involved in preparing your devotional candle. These are: write a petition, “fixing” the candle, setting the candle, reading the candle, and ritually disposing of the candle.

 

Writing a petition for devotional candles

In a traditional novena the devotional candle represents a way to honor a specific saint but it also gives light, energy, and the magic of fire to the devotees’ petition or prayer. So it is in our own magic making-we begin with our petition, our intention, or the desire that we wish to manifest. Looking at devotional candles now we often find that when the candles have paper images in the front and prayers in the back there are sometimes lines underneath the prayers for you to write your own petition. When working with plain devotional candles that do not have any papers or labels affixed to their sides a petition may be written on a small piece of paper and taped to the bottom of the candle or in some cases affixed to the sides of the candle. I have also seen candle shop and botanic owners use a sharpie to inscribe a client’s petition directly onto the glass side of the candle. Another popular way to include the petition is to write it into the wax at the top of the candle-using a screwdriver, icepick, or blade to inscribe. If using paper for your petition you may anoint the paper with ritual anointing oil, pass it through ritual incense, anoint it with your own bodily fluids if appropriate, and/or in the case of affixing a piece of paper to the bottom of the candle enclose small bits of personal concerns within the paper, fold, and then tape it to the candle.

 

Dressing & Blessing or “fixing” devotional candles

Once the petition has been created it is time to bless, dress, or “fix” the devotional candles. The top of the candle may be poked with holes or inscribed with a sigil, name, or short petition-it may also be left alone. Next a pinch of dried herbs or a dried herb mix is sprinkled on top of the candle. Years of burning candles for myself and clients has taught me that the finer the herb mix the better-a spice grinder is ideal for this-and keeping the herbs relatively far from the candle wick is a good practice. The herbs should of course be ritually appropriate to whatever situation it is that you wish to magically address. Thus if you are working to cleanse and purify you may wish to use a pinch of sage, to bring about love work with red rose petals, to increase protection use ginger, to increase academic success consider deers tongue leaf, etc.

After the herbs are added you may desire to include a slightly larger curio (in Conjure the addition of lodestone grit, small pieces of pyrite, and High John the Conqueror root chips is often seen, while in Latin inspired botanicas I have been given devotional candles studded with quartz crystal tips-very pretty!, pennies, and even large horseshoe confetti. Non-toxic, fine, glitter may also be added for extra sparkle and shine.

So far all of the dry ingredients have been added-now its time to add our wet ingredient-a ritual, essential, anointing, or pantry oil. Some essential oils are flammable so it’s important to do your research if you are using a straight essential oil. A more traditional method is to use a ritual anointing oil-these are also usually available at candle shops and Botanicas or you can make your own. I will say that many of the mass market available ritual oils begin with a base of mineral oil-due to its cheapness and personally I steer clear of those. You may make your own ritual anointing oil by gathering dried herbs that are appropriate for your situation and soaking them in almond oil for several weeks or you may simply use olive oil out of your kitchen pantry! The important thing to remember is not to drown your herbs or the candle wick-for doing so will leave you with a weak or dirty burning candle and that will have an impact on how you read the candle. A few drops and you are good to go!

Now the candle has been dressed with herbs, oil, and perhaps some sparkle. And if you notice you also have represented three of the four elements-Earth is invoked by the dried herbs, air is invoked by the scent of the herbs and oil, and water is invoked by the liquid oil. All that is missing is fire! It is time to bless the candle. I have been taught many ways to bless a candle but my favorite way is to hold the candle up at my heart level and speak into it. Sometimes when I do this I go into a bit of a trance and sometimes I will ask my guides for a specific, physical sign during the course of the candle burn to let me know if the magic is manifesting. In some traditions practitioners will set the candle down and clap over it one or three times to seal it, tap the bottom of the candle on the table three times (this is referred to as “knocking” the candle) or using one hand to cover the top of the candle and then lightly tapping that hand with your other hand.

When preparing many candles at the same time I have been taught to take a towel or sheet, place it over them and tap it in the center-all of these are various ways to seal the candle and to let the spirits know that you are ready for them to help you in your magical endeavors! When devotional candles are prepared at a shop for clients they are often blessed and dressed and then covered with tin foil or saran wrap so that the client may carry them home and set them.

 Setting devotional candles

Once your candle has been dressed, blessed, and fixed its time to set it! The best practice when working with glass devotional candles is to set them up in a place where they can burn continuously without interruption. Unfortunately this simple instruction can cause a lot of confusion and worry.

Fire safety is important when dealing with candles of all kinds. If you are away from home for most of the day, have a cat, dog, or small children that are sometimes left unattended then working with glass encased devotional candles may not be the best choice for you unless you can place them somewhere out of reach. It is possible to snuff out devotional candles but I strongly prefer to work with taper or figural candles if I am going to be snuffing a candle out repeatedly. I will say from my own experience of burning thousands of candles that if a glass devotional candle tips over it is most likely simply going to go out-its very hard for a fire to start from one of these lights-but of course caution is always advised.

A devotional candle should really be allowed to sit and burn. I have seen these candles placed in a large aluminum stock pot, in glass casserole dishes filled with water, sand, or lovely rocks, in the kitchen sink, in a bathtub, shower, and fire place. When I lived in a one room apartment and lit candles for clients I placed them in the kitchen sink and bathtub whenever I went out, when I moved into my house I had a local blacksmith make two metal candle houses for me after going to a local Catholic grotto and seeing a design there that I was able to altar for my needs. If you are setting more than one devotional candle do be aware of putting them too close to one another-especially in a closed area like a stock pot-they will increase one another’s heat, melting will happen faster-especially with the paraffin candles-and the glass around the wax can break or scorch.

I like to light my devotional candles with wooden matches. You may light them and say a charm or prayer over them or you may light them in silence. You have now added the 4th element-fire to your magical candle-may it burn brightly!

 

Divination with devotional candles

One of the nicest aspects of working with glass devotional candles is that after they have finished burning you may perform a simple divinatory reading of the glass and candle to determine whether your work is on its way to manifesting or needs to be repeated or refined in some way and you can also pick up other important signs and symbols that may have specific meaning to you and your situation. When reading a glass candle there are three main parts I look at: the glass itself, remaining wax and debris from the candle, and if the candle has a paper petition or label attached to it the paper. On the glass of the candle we may see black soot, discreet scorch marks, a gray fog or haze, or the glass may be completely clean and clear. I have found over the years that performing divination with glass candles is a very personal and subjective art but in most cases a clean and clear glass casing indicates that your road is open and the petition has been heard “loud and clear!” Black soot indicates resistance or obstacles while gray haze or fog can indicate a lack of clarity or a scattered intention. Discreet scorch marks may indicate that the work will manifest in many ways but there may be one specific challenge that is first addressed.

Some people read the candle from bottom to top-meaning that the base of the candle is considered to represent the “present” while the further up along the candle we travel represents the near future and future. Others, including myself, read the opposite way-the top of the candle indicates the present situation and as we move down the candle towards the base we may forecast future events. When considering the wax and debris inside of the candle we may notice that some of the wax has not melted completely, that there is wax-often is specific shapes-along the sides of the candle, and that debris from our herbs and such may also adhere to the inside of the glass-again, often in specific shapes. There are many good books out there that can assist you in decoding the meaning of specific shapes and symbols-books on Tasseomancy and Bone Reading are particularly useful in this respect I find. However, the more you work with these candles the more you will discover your own unique language of symbols-for those of us that come to magic from inherited traditions we often find that a symbol that has deep meaning for us also has meaning for someone else in our family! Sometimes rings of wax will form on the candles and these may indicate the numbers of days/weeks/months you will need to wait before your work full manifests. Often when there is residual wax at the bottom of the candle it may indicate that a similar candle should be lit again for the same purpose.

Paper labels and petitions are usually not effected during a candle’s burn-but every now and then a candle becomes so hot that the paper will singe, scorch and in rare cases catch fire. The specific meanings of these events must be considered within the context of the candle’s intention and the purpose of the papers in the first place.

 

Devotional Candles as spells or part of ritual

So far I have written about devotional candles as a spell in and of themselves-you have a specific need or request, you create a petition, dress your candle, light it and let the magic spiral out into manifestation. But devotional candles may also be used in more elaborate altar rituals as part of the altar set up or as “magical back ups” to your main ritual work.  In these cases one would usually fix and set the devotional candle first so that they are burning and then turn to the more intricate ritual components. Candles worked with in this way may be read in the manner I describe above and they are often read in conjunction with other aspects of the completed ritual.

 

Tricky burns and other situations

Often when we first start working with devotional candles we will encounter the candle that refuses to light, the wick that continues to drown, the herb that catches on fire, floating wicks (especially in paraffin candle  and other similarly trick situations. Schools of thought diverge on what the best methods for dealing with these candles are. On the one hand some practitioners believe that messing with the candle at all destroys the ability to get an accurate read from the candle. For those of us who light candles for clients professionally this is especially difficult because often part of the candle service includes a report wherein the candle is read. Others, like myself, believe the physical manipulation of the candle to ensure that it stays lit and burns as best it can without interruption is part of the service and caretaking of the candles. When a candle has to be physically altered in some manner a note is made and this is considered when the finished candle is read for signs.

 

Ritually disposing of devotional candles-environmental concerns:

Devotional candles have a long history of use in religion, magic, and American folk magic but as we progress into the 21st century I feel some remarks about their environmental impact should be considered. Many old spells call fur burial of candle remains and some practitioners have taken this to mean the remains of glass candles as well. For ecological reasons it is preferable to recycle glass candle casings or better yet-reuse them! The majority of glass encased devotional and novena candles today are made of dyed paraffin. Paraffin is a petroleum by-product and the wax is whipped with air to create a softer, malleable product that can be easily poured into glass containers. Whereas these candles were originally for novenas or 9 day rituals, today’s candles last an average of 4-5 days if there are no difficult burn situations. Parrafin has a specific scent and burning it does release toxins into the air, including the assortment of chemicals that is found in diesel fuel. Some paraffin glass devotional candles also contain lead in their wicks so you have the added worry of burning lead. On the other hand, many people love these classic candles because they grew up with them and they are also very inexpensive. Pull out paraffin candles are available at many spiritual supply stores so that once your original candle has burned out you may clean out the glass casing and insert a new candle in.

For those who do not wish to burn paraffin for whatever reason (I stopped burning paraffin candles myself several years ago due to health concerns and because I had birds that could not tolerate paraffin) there are alternatives. You may buy empty novena style glass containers or any other style of glass container and read your candle, you may also order beeswax glass devotional candles from several suppliers. Whereas paraffin has many negative properties, sustainably harvested beeswax has wonderful properties-including color, scent, texture, the release of negative ions into the air, and the added magical properties of bees and honey! Last time I compared a beeswax novena candle when burned alongside a paraffin novena candle-outlasted the paraffin candle by 4 to 5 days. The downside of beeswax is that it is considerably more costly-but as far as I’m concerned that’s a great motivation to get to know and support your local beekeepers!

The presence of fire through a prism of glass has a magical allure all its own. Glass encased devotional candles are considered a standard magical necessity by some and exotic tools by others–but their ability to function as both spell and divination reading makes them one of the more versatile magical tools and allows for one more way in which our lives might be blessed by the power of fire!

 

Sources:

Cunningham, Scott. Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Llewelyn. 1985.

Dey, Charmaine. The Magic Candle. Original Publications, 1982.

Gamache, Henri. Masterbook of Candle Burning. Original Publications, 1985.

yronwode, catherine. Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic. Lucky Mojo Curio Company, 2002.

 

 

 

 

Many Branches: Setting Roots with Jen Holmes of Rue and Hyssop

So you guys know by now that I seriously love every single one of the people I profile for Many Branches but Jen holds a special place in my heart. First of all, her gardener’s salve truly kicks ass. Secondly, she is not only a dear friend and colleague, she is one of my students and she brings magic wherever she goes. Finally, she has one of the kindest, most down to earth voices, in the entire Pagan blogging community–not an easy feat for a bunch of dirt loving folks! Enter into her wild garden of delights–you will be sure to find a magical treat or two!

jen 2Jen (Rue) Holmes is the lime daiquiri-wielding hostess of the blog Rue and Hyssop, a wandering little adventure in Paganism, gardening and herb-craft, folklore, silliness, and the joys and trials of trying to maintain some semblance of a daily practice. Jen believes firmly in sharing your harvests, daily laughter, and in wearing as many strange hats as you can find.

Jen can also be found at her shop, Three Cats And A Broom, where her gardens in the verdant valley hills bring you herbal goodies to delight your bath, body, and home.


 

 

Why Rue and Hyssop–do these plants hold special meaning for you and if so what is it?

Picking a name for my blog was no easy task. I was going to be writing about my journey and all that it entailed – the garden experiments, my travels, the ups and downs of my personal practices, and the things that were bubbling away in the cauldron. I didn’t want to mislead anyone. The blog was always about my adventures in Paganism, but it was important for me to present it through the lense of my real life, and not try to come off as someone I wasn’t. It had to be real. Although I don’t discuss my uber-personal stuff (who I’m dating, my familial issues, and other too-close-for-comfort tidbits), I do lay it all out when discussing my struggle with keeping up a spiritual practice, or how I’m working through other issues like fear or self-esteem. It’s the kind of thing I appreciate in other bloggers, so there was no chance that I wasn’t going to be genuine.

“Rue and Hyssop” was a perfect fit for me. It served a dual purpose – it was a play on my at-the-time public name (Rue) and highlighted my interest in herb-craft, as well as providing a bit of symbolism for me, a girl who came from a bible-based upbringing (hyssop being a prominent biblical herb) who grew into a woman on a magical-based path (rue being a beloved charm, most notably for the Strega). As for the herbs themselves, they are a cherished part of my garden. Even after working with them for years, I still find wisdom to glean from them.

I think you are one of the brightest voices in the Pagan blogging community–why did you start blogging? As a pagan blogger what would you like to see more of?

That’s a really generous compliment, Bri, and one I’d like to keep working at deserving. When I started blogging almost five years ago, there was not an easy-to-find Pagan community locally. Fortunately that has changed, but I could never regret that it sent me searching online for like-minded people who shared my love of getting dirty in the garden and the wilds, who were fascinated by folklore, and who embraced and celebrated the land and the seasons. I’m thrilled to have met so many wonderful people in the blogging and Pagan communities, and I’m beyond flattered when anyone stops by to read or comment at my little spot on the web. I’m especially surprised at the volume of readers I have that wouldn’t consider themselves Pagan, but who stop by because we share some interest or concern that brings our separate journeys closer together.

I’ve found that this year, the Pagan community seems to be struggling a great deal with divisiveness. This isn’t new, I know, but there seems to have been many opportunities for people to say “we don’t know everything, let’s explore this together,” that instead, have become derisive. The magical and spiritual communities whose boundaries we wander over and through boast some of the most learned, creative, generous, and gifted people on the planet. I truly believe that we can find better ways to express ourselves and our explorations of our chosen path than to knock someone else down to show that we can wield the verbal sword impressively. Having said that, I am often in awe of the strength, kindness, and wisdom of those I’ve met in the blogging community. I’m confident that the people with these traits will outshine the ones who prefer to squabble, and my hope is that we’ll see more bloggers, podcasters, authors, and magical businesspeople stepping out into the public eye and showing the world a diverse community that can work together.

You make wonderful herbal remedies that are both healing and magical–how did you get started in this work and what are your favorite things to make?

When I was ten, at the height of summer I walked through a field of clover barefoot. The bees gorging on clover-nectar took exception to my intrusion and I was stung. My grandmother immediately noted that a stinger remained in my foot and cut a potato in half and placed it on the wound. Within a short time, the sting lessened and the stinger fell out. To me, that was the most magical thing I’d ever experienced. Within the year I was weeding her gardens (very non-magical, if you had asked me) and I was forever bitten – or stung – by the garden bug.

After relying far too many years on over the counter drugs for common complaints such as colds, sleeplessness, or skin concerns, I turned to herbs to help combat these issues. I’d always grown veggies and culinary herbs, but medicinals were new to me. I grabbed a handful of books and found some organic seed companies and never looked back. My current passion is replacing the chemical-laden cleaning and beauty products in my home with my own organic herbal alternatives. And, of course, I grow a few plants specifically for magical use too.

My current favourite creations are the herbal-infused oil products. There’s just something about seeing those plants suspended in golden oils, releasing their invaluable treasure. I put together a herbal salve that is crazy-healing, as well as a massage oil, and I’m working on a facial oil that should be coming out soon. I’m testing it right now and I’m loving what it’s doing to my skin!

What projects are you working on in 2014? What would you like to learn more about?

I’ve been operating my business as a hobby for the past few years and it’s been fun. When I look to my future, I see myself growing and wild-harvesting plants and making herbal creations full time, so there are some big decisions to be made this year in as far as putting a plan into action to see that outcome.

My herbal studies are always ongoing – I was gifted with about a dozen herbal books this year and I’m enjoying working through them. I’m always playing with and testing new herbal creations. Some will make it to the shop and others may end up being more private runs. I made some sample scrubs for a local spa and they’ve ordered them for their permanent line now.

The thing about plants is that you can spend a lifetime studying them and still have only scratched the surface. The same thing applies to spirituality and magical work – there is always something to discover and experience. I’ll never be finished learning.

If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

I’ve spoken of this often lately, but it’s because I’ve really been living it. Find one thing to be joyful about every day. We’d all like to win the lottery, or be a size 2, or hit it out of the park in the IQ department, but even if we are not feeling like our best selves, or life is not being generous with the “good stuff” we can still find something to be joyful about. Just one thing. Really dig it. Smile. Dive into that chocolate bliss. Become intoxicated by the scent of that flower. Giggle mercilessly at your crazy cat. There’s always something to squeal about. It will keep you young, I promise. And people will wonder why you are always smirking.

And be kind. It’s not that difficult.

Find Jen on the World Wide Web:

jen 1

space
Rue and Hyssop - www.rueandhyssop.blogspot.com

Three Cats And A Broom - www.threecatsandabroom.etsy.com