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

Dear Miracles,

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 is truly amazing and my soft hands are the proof! 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 2In her own words: Jen (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.


 

Find Jen on the World Wide Web:

Rue and Hyssop - www.rueandhyssop.blogspot.com

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

 

 

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.

 

Something Wicked this Way Comes: 13 Points About the Evil Eye

eyes-on-the-table-1938

Dear Miracles,

The “evil eye” or mal ojo as we call it here in San Antonio, is a pan-cultural idea that encompasses a host of beliefs regarding negativity, bad luck, and misfortune. Quite a few scholarly articles have been written on the evil eye but here is the low down information you absolutely need to know.

The first thing to recognize about mal ojo in our current time is that we can carry it with us, in us, and not even know it. Anytime we are seeing incorrectly — with envy or pride or lust or selfishness we could rightly be said to be suffering from the evil eye –our eyes are literally being taken over by an evil force, call it energy, call it spirit, or simply bad will.

In traditional spiritual work the best cure for one who has the evil eye put on them is a limpias — a spiritual bath, and that is the best way to cure oneself of incorrect seeing too — it is a time of cleansing and reconciliation to the self and your true purpose, it can be a time of recommitting to the work you have to do in the world. May it be so. With that said, here are other facets of this idea which may be of use.

1.) The evil eye is everywhere. In every culture that is. The belief that people can intentionally or unintentionally wish you ill or harm is found throughout the world and throughout time. Usually people focus on the beliefs surrounding the evil eye found in Judaism, the Mediterranean countries, and Middle Eastern countries like Turkey or Iran, but plenty of beliefs about the evil eye can be found in Western European, Central and South American, and African countries too.

2.) Most often the evil eye is believed to be given to someone unintentionally. There are plenty of cases of people feeling that someone has deliberately decided to try to ruin their life through negative thoughts, malevolent prayers, or outright destructive workings. More frequent, however, is the belief that someone called down the evil eye through their own jealousy and was not really trying to harm the object of their attentions.

3.) Symptoms of the evil eye vary from time to time and place to place–but many of them include a general idea of “drying out.”  Water is generally associated with life and life giving forces. When we are too dry we are not as generative, fertile, prosperous, or healthy.

4.) Children and older people are traditionally believed to be the most vulnerable to the evil eye as are women who have just given birth.

5.) Salt is a world wide curative for the evil eye and is also seen as protective against it. So are the colors blue (featured in many of the apotropaic charms we find for the evil eye today) and red–which is favored as a cure and protective color against the evil eye in parts of Africa, Italy, and the UK.

6.) Sugar is second only to salt in its curative abilities as the evil eye is believed to make someone’s life bitter as well as dry. Sugar brings moisture and sweetness to the situation.

7.) Along with sugar and salt, Spiritual Cleansing, is seen as another essential step in both warding off and combating conditions resulting from the evil eye.

8.) The evil eye does not necessarily only come from other people. Many traditions believe that it can be cast on a person by spirits who are displeased or offended for whatever reason.

9.) Rue is the herb most popularly called on to address and combat cases of the evil eye–perhaps because of it’s tiny eye-shaped leaves.

10.) Blessed water/Holy Water can be used to wash someone down who is believed to be afflicted with the evil eye. Start at the head and work down to the feet then dispose of the water at a four way crossroads.

11.) Gold jewelry is a potent ward against the evil eye in many countries.

12.) Conditions brought about by the evil eye can be chronic/repetitive or acute and isolated events.

13.) In Western Europe one old and favored trick to use, is to immediately turn your clothes inside out and walk backwards or in a widdershins (counter clockwise) circle.

 

Optimize your Omens

Faerie Godmother by Brian Froud

Dear Miracles,

I wrote in Christmas 2012 about paying attention to the 12 days after Christmas — also known as Omen Days — but this is a quick reminder to do it! This is a wonderful and fun practice to participate in that leads to an increased awareness you can bring with your throughout the new year!

The Omen Days are an ancient practice around the ecclesiastical celebration of Epiphany. They were popularly known as the 12 days of Christmas and during each day one was encouraged to pay special attention to signs and omens around them in the belief that what they perceived would be a good indicator for their next year.

Begin the process on December 26th which corresponds to January 2014, continue through January 6th which corresponds to December 2014. You can do this in as spontaneous or deliberate manner as you like. Last year I simply paid close attention to what was happening around me and kept a log. But you could also pull a tarot or oracle card or work with another divination device of your choosing to get a more streamlined message. Keeping some sort of written record is obviously useful because you may not remember what your omen for January 6th was by the time you hit December 2014.

Venus in Retrograde

Birth_of_venus

Dear Miracles,

So…today/tomorrow lovely Venus, the planet ruling love, romance, sex, and relationships of all kinds is going to start her retrograde.

Quick reminder: retrograde is when a planet appears to be going backwards in their elliptical orbit. The most famous retrogrades are the three periods of Mercury in retrograde that we experience every year; a Venusian retrograde is a different animal altogether.

Typically this is a time when deep romantic relationships are either made or broken — if there has been a someone in your life that you have been ambiguous about (or they you) then expect some rapid clarity and decisive action with respect to that situation over the next month. Often old lovers and exes may also show up…especially if there is unfinished business to deal with. Of course, all partnerships you have and deep emotional ties are fair game for review and re-assessment, two activities that are present in a retrograde no matter which planet is reversing their celestial tracks.

From a ritual perspective this can be a beautiful time to work on reconciliation work that is favored to succeed, have deep talks with your object of affection, and made final decisions about whether you should stay or go in your current partnership. Because of the decisive element in this retrograde it can work well for break up work too. For married couples and those in deeply committed relationships, use this time to consider what is working and what might be improved in the coming year…and above all make time to be together in all ways that feel pleasurable and luscious.

Honey jars are a perfect way to celebrate a Venusian Retrograde but if an ex shows up where they are not wanted, don’t forget about protecting yourself from the ugh vibes!

Many Branches–Going Bright with Candlesmoke Chapel

Dear Miracles,

I’m so delighted to introduce you all to two more of my favorite Sacred Artists. Joseph and Sara Magnuson are friend, colleagues, and collaborators who make beautiful and truly magical spiritual products. From sublime ritual oils to sweet sugar jars and of course their stellar candle services — these two run one of the most authentic spiritual supply businesses I have come across in years! 

 

sara-and-joeIn their own words: Candlesmoke Chapel is a husband and wife collaboration dedicated to crafting high quality magical and spiritual goods. We’ve been crafting our own supplies for years and are proud to offer our products and services to others. Our work and studies include traditional witchcraft, hoodoo, genealogy, folklore, and herb lore. We are always working to better our own lives and are committed to helping others achieve their desires through the use of magical and spiritual practices.

 

 

Find them on the World Wide Web:

www.candlesmokechapel.com
www.etsy.com/shop/candlesmoke

 

1.) Candlesmoke Chapel fills many different roles, but one of the things that you two do beautifully is create homemade spiritual supplies–how did you get started in this work?

Both of us have been interested in and studied various paths and traditions our whole lives. After many years of learning and practicing, we found ourselves drawn to the principles behind conjure and rootwork. This became a jumping off point for us, so while we don’t practice conjure and rootwork exclusively, we find that the tangible aspects of working with candles, roots, herbs, oils, incense and washes speaks to us. We believe that having these items to physically work with helps to focus one’s intent and purpose.

In working with these types of items, we’ve been in and out of every botanica and occult shop we’ve come across. Even though there seems to be lots of options out there, we weren’t always satisfied with the quality and the general feeling behind most of the products we found. So we decided to make spiritual supplies for our own personal work, and quickly found that they were powerful and effective. We started giving items to friends as gifts and doing work for people we knew for free. The feedback we received was awesome and we’ve just kept growing!

 

2.) You also offer readings through Candlesmoke Chapel–what is your favorite subject to read on and what question would you like to never be asked again?

We’re going to answer this question separately because we each do different types of readings…

Joseph – I read with the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot and my favorite kind of readings are open-ended, general questions. I love it when the client just says, “tell me what you see.” This gives me the opportunity to really open up to the cards and the client’s energy and look at any and all possibilities. I really enjoy all the readings I do, but if I had to pick I’d say the most difficult readings are the third or fourth go-around on the same issue; when the client doesn’t like the answer they got the first couple of times and they keep wanting another reading to see if something different will present itself. These are difficult because I know they’re unhappy with their situation, but I won’t just tell them what they want to hear.

Sara – I read with the Animal Medicine Cards and my favorite kind of readings are about how people can move forward with something in their life. I love questions about feeling stuck in some way and guiding the client to the animal spirits and energies that they can learn from and call upon to bring themselves up to the place they want to be. I love helping people see the connections between other living creatures and themselves and watching that “aha” moment when the client sees how it all comes together. Like Joseph, I enjoy all the readings I do but, due to the nature of the cards I use, the most difficult question I get is “tell me what my spirit animal is.” People are usually asking this question without a real understanding of what that means and they’re typically not interested in doing the inner work necessary to discover this themselves. It can be challenging to explain to someone who doesn’t want to look within themselves that no one can tell you what your spirit animal(s) is/are.

 

3.) Talk to us about bottle spells–how do they work and what you do guys love about them?

We love bottles spells and especially sugar jars! The idea behind any type of bottle or container spell is to create a magical battery. You’re creating a small space that is super-concentrated with ingredients suited to your purpose. Immersed in that super-concentrated space is a paper with your desire written on it, your handwriting on the paper adding more power to the purpose of the container. Add some personal concerns, like a strand of hair, and this can be some powerful stuff! We create the jar for your purpose, you add your written paper and personal concerns and we provide you with instructions on how to work the Sweetening Jar on your own.

There are tons of different types of bottle spells and we focus on Sweetening Jars, specifically sugar jars. They can be made with many different kinds of sweeteners, but our preference is for sugar because it tends to manifest movement in a situation more quickly than something like honey. There’s also a physicality involved with shaking a sugar jar – seeing the magical ingredients tossing about; hearing the sound it makes and getting into a rhythm like a musical instrument. Our Sweetening Jars currently focus on romantic love situations, but we’ve done custom jars to help create a peaceful home and to help draw more clients to a business. There are lots of situations that can use a little sugar!

 

4.) You are a married couple doing awesome work together-are there any particular challenges or benefits that you find in working together on all your different projects?

One of the biggest benefits for us is that we’re passionate about the same thing. We’ve seen lots of situations where one person can’t be very open about what they’re doing, or even has to hide it, because their significant other doesn’t get it or isn’t into it. Yes, we’re a married couple, but we’re also best friends – and who doesn’t love hanging out with their best friend! There’s also two sets of eyes on everything we make. It’s invaluable to have someone else that you trust to smell, touch and test a new creation; it’s the in-house quality control department. Luckily, we have a very honest relationship so the quality control department takes no BS! We openly and honestly give each other our feedback without worry of hurting any feelings. The best benefit is getting to collaborate; we love putting our minds together to develop new products and services. Even though we’re walking this path together, we each have differing sets of knowledge and our own ways of looking at things. If one of us doesn’t know something or can’t figure something out, the other one can almost always find the solution. The only real challenge for us is arguing over who gets to use the big work table and who has to clean up!

 

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

Trust yourself. Completely block out what anyone else thinks and do what you feel called to do. Keep doing what you feel passionate about and practicing what you believe in because it will shine through in everything you do. Not only have we learned this lesson in our own work, we also run into these issues with our clients. This advice is not just for someone following a path in life, but also for those who are working to change a situation. It’s not just about big-picture, life-choice questions and even applies to the little things. After you get a reading, or use a product, trust yourself. Block out all the extraneous stuff and do what you feel called to do. Practice what you believe in and the right path will appear.

A Blessing of the Body

Dear Miracles,

I am really honored that this blessing which I wrote years ago inspired Diana of the BunnyKissd blog to put it to one of her gorgeous photos. In the midst of your hectic Holiday it is our prayer that you too will take a moment to recall how blessed and beautiful you are!

10200568963_4fb3b58119_k

 

Many Branches–Creating Sacred Space with Jacquelyn Tierney

Dear Miracles,

Jacquelyn Tierney is one of my favorite Sacred Artists! She is a dedicated student of mine and a beloved colleague who fuses her background in art and design with deep psychic skills and profound mediumship. Spend some time with this beautiful soul and come back feeling refreshed and inspired!

Jacquelyn-Tierney-Web-03In her own words: Jacquelyn is an Artist, Traveler, Psychic-medium, Feng Shui Practitioner, Destiny Reader, and an Old Soul. She has a background in the fine art of printmaking as well as the history of decorative arts and design, with a special focus on 18th-Century German Palatial Interior Architecture and the history of Italian gardens. Today, Jacquelyn specializes in working with the energetic history of antique and vintage objects and historical properties. Combining her love of art, furniture, and object history with her mediumship abilities enables her to look at and understand the history of objects and spaces not just through a scholarly lens but also through an energetic one as well.

She also connects with loved ones on the other side, reads destinies, and in her spare time travels the world.

1.) Your work fuses disciplines as diverse as Feng-Shui, Mediumship, and Psychometry. What is the thread of commonality running through all that you do?

Working with and understanding energy.

This is actually a question that I used to ask myself over and over and over again before I had a lightbulb moment in 2012. I realized that every subject I had studied and explored up to that point in my life–printmaking, wallpaper, type, design history, 18th- century stucco work, garden history, Feng Shui, mediumship, destiny cards, and the list goes on–was not as separate from one another as I thought. In fact, all of these subjects were connected like a large staircase leading me to what I am doing today which is reading, communicating, and working with energy in order to help my clients create lives and environments that support their needs and desires. Sometimes my work takes place in the garden; at other times in the home or through the computer.

I will often use two or three of these disciplines in one session with a client as well. For example, if I have been given an object to read (psychometry) I can also inform the client of the most auspicious placement in their space based on the object’s energetic history and provenance (Feng Shui).

 

2.) Some of your work specializes in objects or even estates that are antique, vintage, or ancient. What led you to this kind of work and what do you love about it?

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by old objects and other people’s stuff as well as the rooms that often house these older items such as attics, basements, closets, crawl spaces, and private spaces. As a child, one could find me organizing my mother’s friends’ closets on the weekends or rummaging through neighbor’s basements. This gave me the opportunity to inspect the contents of every box and drawer and get to know people in a more intimate way–even if I didn’t understand what I was looking at. Today, I still love inspecting all the nooks and crannies for hidden truths and secrets.

I believe the objects we collect and the spaces we inhabit tell a story about our soul’s history not only in this incarnation but also in our past lives too. That’s one of the things I love most about this work–collecting the stories and uncovering those hidden truths and secrets. I also love the deep connections I am able to make with other people through the exchange of those stories because even though our paths in life may be different, or we are from different generations, we all experience the same basic emotions of love, joy, sadness, and grief. We are all human.

 

3.) Tell us a bit about Possessed–your how-to guide on “collecting, editing, and manifesting”

I wrote Possessed as an introductory guide to help others understand and strengthen the relationship they have with the energy of their objects and spaces. Because everything is composed of energy, it helps to know the history of the energy being brought into your space so that whatever you are bringing in is supporting you. The book also provides suggestions on how to clear the objects once you have had a conversation with them.

Let’s say you have picked up an object from a garage sale or your interior decorator acquires furniture from an antique store. A couple of questions to start asking yourself are: “Where have these pieces been? What energetic memories did the objects collect from their environments?” If the desired object was pilfered from a holy place, you might want to know if any curses will be tagging along. If the object is a ring that has been through a few divorces, it would be wise to not give it to your fianceé. On the flip side, if an object is from an ancestor that you feel deeply connected to, keep it near you to help channel their spirit. Once you have acquired this information you can then go ahead and clear the object as part of it’s initiation into a new chapter of life.

 

4.) You also have a relatively new service that you have rolled out called “Design for Woo-Woos.” Tell us everything about it!

Design for Woo-Woo’s is a graphic design service I have developed specifically for practitioners of the sacred arts and woo-woo who want to infuse more of their soul’s essence into their website and online presence. Too often, I find energy workers getting stuck with cookie-cutter sites and fluffy graphics that look like they have been pumped out of a big corporate machine. This is unfortunate because each one of us is unique, therefore, making our practice unique. Our web presence should reflect that.

I also take a very woo-woo approach to designing. When a client comes to me with a request I want to get to know their soul. What is their soul’s history? How has it evolved? Where is it going? I look into what really turns that person on visually and spiritually. I even talk to my clients about the past lives that they may want to channel in the work. When the vibration of our soul is embedded in the visual design of our online presence, we are saying we are comfortable being honest with who we are as spiritual beings and practitioners. As a result, we attract ideal clients for our work.

 

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

Life is a journey that doesn’t end here. I tell this to my destiny reading clients to help them adjust their perspective and see their current life as a chapter of a very large book rather than a single race with a set finish line. Sometimes, we get so focused on our timeline of goals or what we should be accomplishing and experiencing in this lifetime that we forget to slow down and enjoy the earthly delights right in front of us. We rush through the magical changes that take place when the seasons transition, the way our pet’s heartbeat feels as he/she lays on our chest, or how the flora in a far off land can be tasted just by licking a dab of that land’s local honey. All of these moments are also a part of our larger purpose here on Earth. They can only experienced when we slow down and notice where we are now and our movement during each step of our journey. Besides, if you don’t complete something this time around you’ll get another chance in the following incarnation.

Many Branches–Making Magic with T. Thorn Coyle

Dear Miracles,

The first time I met Thorn was in 2000 at a Black Heart of Innocence workshop she led deep in the heart of Texas. I knew then that she was a teacher with deep intellect matched only by her very real compassion and dedication to her craft and path. I have really enjoyed watching her continue to grow and teach others how to do the same thing. Thorn has written three books, teaches her spiritual path all over the world, and produces some of the most lucid writings in the Pagan community today. I respect her work deeply and am delighted to share some of her fantastic insights with Milagro Roots readers!

 

media-thorn-3-lgIn her own words:

T. Thorn Coyle is a magic worker. Author of the “Make Magic of Your Life: Passion, Purpose, and the Power of Desire,” “Kissing the Limitless,” and other books, she blogs on spirituality and politics for Patheos and Huffington Post and at her own blog: Know Thyself. Her work reaches people all over the world through her spiritual direction, vibrant workshops, webcasts, and online classes. Pagan, mystic, minister, and social justice activist, she lives by the San Francisco Bay.

 

1.) You work with the saying of the Delphic Oracle, Know Thyself. How does magic help us know ourselves?

Magic is the marriage of breath, will, and desire. When we shift our relationship to breath, to life force – the vitality that flows through everything – we shift our relationship with ourselves. When we allow ourselves to open to desire and find the places where want meets need, and follow that thread, we are confronted with our deeper selves. We come to a place where we face fear, insecurity, hope, anger, deep longing, and love. That work helps us to set our intentions and put them into action because we have more clarity about who we are. Working magic helps birth our desires into the world. To step into the flow of magic, we have to know ourselves. To know ourselves brings us more deeply into magic.

 

2.) You are a well-respected voice in Paganism today and I know you have studied with Sufis and Catholic Workers as well. One of the topics that I am hearing more and more about is the relationship between Paganism and/or Earth based religious systems and other religious traditions. What kind of relationship would you like to see develop between them? What should we be putting our energy towards?

A relationship that cultivates both a sense of Nature as sacred and self as part of Nature is a healthy and fruitful one. Nature as sacred means that the cosmos is alive; Divinity flows through the stars, the trees, the rivers, the insects, the black holes, and every human being. Coming to recognize that, we can learn to better love ourselves, one another, and the world. We enter the flow where healing is possible. Recognizing the sacred helps us toward a deeper sense of service, which is very important: we have to help one another or we are lost. Helping one another includes honoring this gorgeous planet. The mystics of all religious traditions had a deep sense of connection. They loved humanity. They loved animals. They loved holy Nature. They drank wine and gazed at the stars. We can foster this mystical connection by starting at our core and moving out from there.

 

3.) Your latest book is Make Magic of Your Life-which I read and enjoyed. Why this book and why now? What was driving you to write it and share it with the world?

In working with spiritual direction clients and students, I noticed that people were hesitant to manifest what they wanted and felt very conflicted about desire. They felt unworthy, or selfish, or confused. There was a strong sense of disconnection from what their heart and soul wanted and needed. That drove me to write and teach more deeply about the power of desire and how passion can lead us toward our purpose.

Our purpose is often simple: it is the thing we gravitate toward, or just the thing we find ourselves doing. It often feels quite ordinary to us! It is easy to make desire and purpose into something that feels overwhelmingly huge. This stops us in our tracks. Make Magic of Your Life walks us into desire and purpose one step at a time. It provides entry points for the tentative, and deepening for those who feel well on their path. Sometimes we get stuck. My hope is that this book will help activate us once again.

 

4.) You write and you speak but you also teach. Tell us about your teaching programs: Who are they for?What do they teach? How can those interested learn more?

In my teaching, I attempt to pass along techniques to know ourselves better, to integrate all the parts of self and soul – even those that feel unacceptable – so we can come into greater internal alignment. The better aligned we are within ourselves, the easier it is to be in alignment with the sacred around us. When we align with the sacred around us, we grow in beauty, strength, and service. We open up the world and help create something new.

I welcome sincere seekers from many paths.

 

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

Don’t forget to listen. Drop into your center – over and over – and find the silence there. Listen to your soul. Listen to the cosmos. Then speak. We need your voice.

 

Find her on the web:

website

Twitter: @ThornCoyle 

Facebook

Youtube

 

 

And for the love of deep desire get her book!

Book Trailer!

Patheos Book Club Reviews

 

 

 

So Fresh and So Clean–How to spiritually clean yourself, home, or car

Rackham

Dear Miracles,

We can all feel the difference between a messy room and a clean room. Clutter, refuse, and objects that are not in their proper places create confusion, imbalance, and waste our time.  This is true for our physical lives as well as for our emotional and spiritual lives.  In our relationships, for example, we can see how continually bringing up issues from the past that need to be released and buried can damage the present.

When life feels stuck, when you are spread too thin, then you know it’s time to spiritually cleanse.

Think of a clean kitchen. Maybe the kitchen is sparkling and spotless or maybe it is a little dingy around the corners but more or less clean.  Now imagine someone walking through that kitchen with mud on their feet, leaving their muddy footprints all over that clean kitchen floor. If this were really your kitchen what would you do?  Would you leave the muddy footprints where they are, ignoring them and hoping that they would go away?  Or would you get out the mop and go to work on them? Most of us would not leave muddy footprints in our kitchens, but I am constantly surprised at how many folks refuse to clean up the muddy foot prints that have trekked all over their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.

 

The problem of course is that one cannot take a bottle of pine-sol to the soul, but we can spiritually clean ourselves just the way we would clean a kitchen floor. 

Spiritual bathing is a tradition found throughout the world and is present in many different cultures and religious practices. The use of sacred, purified water in combination with prayer and focused intention has been with us since ancient times. Special waters, herbs, roots, oils, and other preparations may be involved in spiritual bathing. Certain prayers, recitations, or mantras are also usually part of the rite. One of the best examples of spiritual bathing today is baptism.

bath

For folks that are suffering from baneful magic that was worked against them or who simply feel stuck, confused, or believe that their luck has turned against them, the first level of cleaning is personal and physical. The most simple and straightforward way to cleanse on this level is by taking a spiritual bath. If you want to make your own blend try a traditional Three Ingredient Cleansing Bath by using any 3 herbs or minerals from the following list:

  • Kosher Salt
  • Alum
  • Table Salt
  • Cumin
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon
  • Pine needles
  • Mint (pepper, spear, lemon)
  • Sage

These are just a few options that I have personally had success with and that my clients adore. For a full list of herbs and roots that can be used for a variety of conditions my go-to books are Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic and Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. If you have both of those titles and want more green goodness check out the herb section of my Amazon store for other excellent titles.  Of course by this point you are probably wondering exactly how one takes a spiritual bath — what is the ritual? Download free instructions for that here.

A spiritual bath is usually the first step in personal cleansing, but it’s important to keep in mind that the places and spaces we physically occupy can also accrue their own energetic funk and need to be cleaned up from time to time. When it comes to cleaning any physical space there are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind.

 

Clean from top to bottom (this is just practical sense, you dust before you vacuum) and back to front.  This applies whether you are cleaning a room, cubicle, entire house, or vehicle.  My favorite spiritual cleansing agent is one that my mother and I make every year–Momma Hen’s Fabulous ‘n’ Famous Floorwash. I also like Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena scented products which are made from essential oils, are biodegradable, and phosphate free.  Lemon Verbena is one of many herbs used to spiritually clean, unlock doors, open the way, and attract good luck.  You can also add your own favorite magical ingredients to a commercial cleaning product that you favor.

Whether cleaning a single room, home, or vehicle start in the back and move to the front. When cleaning multiple rooms after the first room has been dusted, mopped,  and vacuumed light a small white candle that has been anointed with an oil for abundant blessings or if you are on a budget, olive oil that you have prayed over. Place the candle in the room and let it burn all the way out, repeat a prayer or affirmation of your choice for blessings and success over the candle and then proceed to the next room of the house. An appropriate incense may also be left to burn in the room along with the candle.

If you have co-workers who are negative or attract bad luck or you are stuck in a job that is not rocking your world or dealing with aggressive supervisors then magically cleaning your work space, office, or cubicle is a good idea.  Follow the same basic guidelines for cleaning a house.  Skip lighting the candle and the incense, and if vacuuming is not feasible then lightly dust your area with sachet powder for abundance and good fortune, like Promise Land.

Vehicles are another area that can benefit from spiritual cleanings.  Again, the principle is the same–cleanse from top to bottom and back to front.  Make sure that you cleanse the inside and outside of the vehicle, including the tires.  Use a blend of Abundance-Bringing and Protection and sachet powders dusted lightly on the tires and into the carpet of the vehicle.These smell wonderful and provide an extra added layer of protection.

A final common question is, once you have spiritually cleansed the home and taken a spiritual bath, what can do you to keep the work going? One traditional way of maintaining that so fresh and so clean feeling in between major spiritual house cleanings or spiritual bathing rites is to smudge yourself with a wing feather or a feather whisk. Depending on your spiritual tradition(s) working with black hen feathers, Turkey Vulture feathers, a Turkey tail fan, or Dove feathers may be appropriate.

37677628b91705060b5eccda5d32f78f

 

Why birds specifically? Chickens and Turkeys are all ground dwelling birds that forage food and have a varied diet, they can adapt to different kinds of food, and left to their own devices their diets include a large percentage of insects and bugs that also happen to be parasites.  As they search out and consume pests in life, they are believed to spiritually search out and consume parasites and negative gunk that may have become attached to you. Turkey Vultures, also known as Buzzards in America, are carrion feeders that have powerful organisms in their gut that can transfer something rotting and spoiled into valuable, life-sustaining nutrients. Birds like Doves, Hawks, and Owls all have deep folkloric significance and their feathers are used in ritual settings. Remember, however, that the last two especially are often protected under the Migratory Bird Species Protection Act and harvesting feathers from them is illegal unless you have the right license.

If working with bird feathers does not appeal then a bundle of herbs — either fresh or dried — can be used instead. This is something that can be done on a daily or weekly basis-when you wake up in the morning or when you come home at the end of the day. Start at your head and work your way down brushing off any negative juju you feel that you may have picked up during the course of your day. Fumigating or smudging with an appropriate incense can also be a fast way to clean in between spiritual baths. Another good trick? Use a soap that is made with one of the cleansing herbs mentioned above-or a herb and essential oil combination that resonates for you as your daily soap.

Do note: none of these quick tricks make up for or replace the full benefits derived from a spiritual bath but they can help to keep you clean and refreshed on a daily basis!

Archangel Michael-Who is Like God-Angel of Healing, Protection, and Victory

altar-of-archangel-michael.jpg!Blog

Altar of Archangel Michael by Gerard David; 1510

 

Dear Miracles,

Archangel Miguel as I have always thought of Him is a potent spiritual ally. One of the four guardian angels of tradition, he is most often petitioned for protecting those who protect others, but his story and his vastness contain so much more than that. Of especial interest to me and in my work is Michael’s relationship to women and children — he is sometimes called the Advocate and he certainly has a history of advocating for those two groups. I celebrate his feast day, also known as Michaelmas, on September 29th as all of my Catholic family members have done for oh so long. Please allow me to tell you a bit of the history and story of this most venerated figure.

2

Archangel Michael prayer card

 

History

Archangel Michael is a holy figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. His name means “Like Unto God” or “Who is Like God” In Catholic and Christian Orthodox traditions, he is sometimes known as Saint Michael or Saint Archangel Michael.  Catholic and Orthodox traditions venerate him as the patron saint for policeman and soldiers. In Muslim tradition, some believe him to be one of three angels that visited Abraham and he is mentioned once in the Qu’ran. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, he is the one who presents God with the prayers of the people. Other traditions hold that Archangel Michael is actually Adam from the Book of Genesis or that he is the pre-incarnate figure for Christ. Tradition names him as the angel who foretold Mary, Mother of God, of her approaching death.

In Jewish tradition, Archangel Michael is the closest angel to God. He is Captain of God’s army as well as ruler of all natural elements such as rain, wind, and storms. His nemesis is the Angel Samael. When Samael was cast down from heaven, he grabbed Michael’s wings, hoping to bring him down as well. Some traditions also say that Michael and Samael are in constant battle over the state of Moses’ soul. In Rabbinic liturgy, Archangel Michael is seen as the staunch defender of Israel. His depiction in the Book of Daniel as “a great prince who stands up for the children of your people” led to a place for him in Jewish liturgy despite Rabbinical prohibitions against seeking the intercession of angels between men and God.  Due to Michael’s role as a defender of Jews and Israel, two Jewish prayers are specifically recited in his honor.

In the early Christian tradition, shrines and sanctuaries were dedicated to Michael. Though he is mentioned as leading God’s army against Satan in the Book of Revelation, these early Christian shrines and sanctuaries dedicated to Archangel Michael were actually for the purpose of healing. Saints like George were considered martial whereas Michael was believed to be a healing force. When a devastating plague hit Rome in the 4th century, Michael was invoked for healing and aid and during this time he came to be known as “Archangel” and/or the “Prince Among Angels.”  By the 6th century, feasts were held in his honor. Various feasts and feast days have been associated with him ever since.

In Roman Catholic tradition, Michael is assigned four specific roles:

  • He is the Captain of God’s army fighting against Satan and Hell
  • He is the Angel of Death who carries the soul away from the body when death occurs
  • He weighs the Soul-According to this tradition, Archangel Michael weighs the soul with perfectly balanced scales. For this reason, he is often depicted holding these scales
  • He is Patron of the Chosen People (Jews) of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) and Guardian of the Church.

These Catholic teachings are not strictly required beliefs (church orthodoxy) but “strongly encouraged” by the Church.

 

Michael is known for giving his protection especially to mothers and children. A Romanian story from 1900, involving an infant-eating demoness named Avezuha and her attempt to harm both the Blessed Virgin and the infant Jesus, as retold by Diane Purkis in her marvelous book At the Bottom of the Garden relates :

“…when she [Avezuha] meets Archangel Michael she declares ‘I am going to Bethlehem in Judea, for I have heard that Jesus Christ is going to be born of His Virgin Mother Maria, and I am going to hurt her.‘  Whereupon the Archangel Michael took hold of her head, fastened an iron chain round her, stuck his sword into her side, and began to beat her terribly in order to make her tell her secret arts. She began and said ‘I change myself into a dog, a cat, a fly, a spider, a raven, an evil looking girl, and thus enter into the houses of the people and hurt the women and bring trouble to the children, and I bring changelings, and I have nineteen names.‘ And the Archangel Michael said to her, ‘I tell thee, I conjure thee, that thou shalt have neither the power to approach the house of X the servant of the Lord, nor hurt his property, his flocks, nor anything else that belongs to him. Thou shalt go to the desolate mountains where no one lives, and there shalt thou abide.‘”

the-archangel-michael-defeating-satan-1635.jpg!Blog

The Archangel Michael Defeating Satan, Guido Reni; 1635

Working with Archangel Michael

In the American folk magic tradition of Conjure, Archangel Michael is seen as a powerful defender of those who are unable to defend themselves, including women, children, slaves, and other minorities or marginalized groups. His association with healing can be seen in his connection to Angelica Root (Angelica Archangelica) — a root used in many peace and tranquility formulas and rituals. His association with martial endeavors and victory can be seen in the writings that invoke him along with the use of Bay Laurel leaf-an ancient symbol of conquest and victory. In Currendera tradition Michael/Miguel is called upon when opening up the Southern quadrant and also for healing and protection — in these latter roles his image is often painted directly onto or over the front door of a home. In Western esoteric traditions involving ritual and ceremonial magic, Archangel Michael is often aligned with the element of Fire and the direction South. For those grounded in a specific Christian religious tradition, Archangel Michael’s role as healer and psychopomp are at least as emphasized as his role in military and police pursuits — if not more so.

I petition and invoke Archangel Michael’s aid for a number of situations-for protection, healing, mercy in the face of sin or error, and, of course, victory. I find him to be a strong protector not only of women and children but of entire families. Despite his widespread veneration across many traditions, Archangel Michael does not have many specific offerings associated with him. When I invoke his aid and intercession, I repay his gifts with flowers, Jordan almonds, honey, and donations to battered women’s shelters and/or Jewish charities.

I remember very clearly when Archangel Michael made his presence known to me—I was 7 months pregnant and it was December. I had a vivid dream of the Angel and he was holding an old-fashioned Archangel Michael packet. He told me I needed to start making them and in my dream I thought—”Ok, but I can hardly sew!”

He told me to learn so I did. Clear, concise, to the point, and direct — that is Archangel Michael. May his presence bring you strength and protection in all of your work.