Curious Things This Week — 12/4/16

Hello! This week, I have for you:

Rescue Goat With Anxiety Only Calms Down In Her Duck Costume — I’ve found my patronus.

The Catalogue of UK Entrances to Hell — Remember, it’s best to never approach a hellmouth. If you must, do so on your stomach and remember to wear rubber gloves for 3-4 days afterward.

Crocodile Mummy Found Packed With Dozens of Smaller Crocodile Mummies — The smaller crocs managed to go undetected until high-powered scanners took another look at what turned out to be the worst Kinder Surprise egg ever.

How to Divine the Weather with a Wishbone — Did you save it? Hold onto it long enough, and you may be able to tell what this winter’s weather is going to be like.

Hidebound: The Grisly Invention of Parchment — While the rest of the world was using papyrus or silk, Greece invented a way to write on skin.

Lastly, I leave you with a song:

A Super Simple Skincare Potion

Hello! I haven’t written much lately, I know– this week ate up my time. I do have some new things for you, though, like this magickal skin toner recipe based on this ACV skin toner recipe from Coconuts and Kettlebells. I have sensitive skin (oh man, do I have sensitive skin), so I went with 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. I also had about a quarter of a bottle of Trader Joe’s organic apple cider vinegar left, so it worked out pretty well.

It’s a waxing moon right now, which is good for increasing things. Yesterday was Friday, which is a good day for timing spells that have to do with love and beauty. If you follow the Chaldean order of planets, the hour of Venus happened around 11:45 AM yesterday. So, around noonish was a good time for making beauty preparations (or, if you’re a working witch, around 6:10 PM during the next hour of Venus).

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Anyhow, here’s what I put in this stuff:

  • 1 part apple cider vinegar
  • 3 parts distilled water
  • 3 pinches of empowered lavender buds**
  • 3 pinches of empowered chamomile flowers
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil
  • 9 clear quartz pebbles

 

Mix the ingredients together (do it in a bottle for easy shaking) and allow them to macerate for at least a day.

Why lavender and chamomile? Simple. The natural volatiles in lavender oil are very helpful for healing skin, and I’ve had good luck using the essential oil to soothe acne and minimize scars. Chamomile is also very soothing, and good for diminishing redness. If you like chamomile tea, you can even use your spent tea bags as a toner– once they cool, of course!

Lavender is also associated with love and healing, while chamomile is associated with love and luck. They’re good herbs to use in preparations designed to increase your attractiveness, even if they aren’t explicitly “beauty” herbs. Personally, I associate them with beauty anyway, even though a lot of herbal grimoires attach other properties to them.

After you’ve allowed it to sit, it’s ready to use. Apply some to a cotton ball or tissue, and gently swipe over clean skin. DC has very hard water, so the mild acidity helps remove some of that lovely magnesium stearate residue that washing can leave behind. If you like, you can create a simple love-drawing or beauty sigil and “draw” it on your skin with the cotton ball or tissue.

Hope it works for you!

 

** There’s been some talk about lavender being associated with breast cancer and hormonal problems. This study on prepubertal gynecomastia in boys appears to support the conclusion that lavender oil is estrogenic. I don’t agree with the authors’ conclusions for a couple of reasons. In the first study, the sample size was much too small to draw a useful conclusion. The boys in it were also using cosmetic products that contained lavender oil, there was no attempt made to isolate lavender oil and determine if it was actually the offending ingredient. Lastly, people have been using lavender oil for ages, without reporting signs of estrogenic effects– if there are any, they’re pretty weak. It’s entirely possible that another ingredient in the cosmetics the boys were using was responsible, or that they had idiopathic gynecomastia that resolved after a short period of time.
With a single digit sample size, there’s really no way to draw a meaningful conclusion.

There have also been a few studies on lavender oil’s effects on hormone-sensitive cancers. If you’re currently a cancer patient, you may want to stay away from lavender oil. That said, it’s important to remember that using lavender oil topically or for aromatherapy isn’t the same as applying it directly to cancer cells.

 

Channeling the Inner Goddess 8: Give Me a Beat.

So, I didn’t make an attempt last week. Part of this was because I legitimately didn’t have the time, but most of it was because I completely lacked the mental energy. With people, including myself, having their future survival jeopardized, I didn’t have it in me to do a whole lot of inner goddess seeking.

Last time, I tried to channel my inner goddess using dance. It was fun, but ultimately inconclusive. Maybe I just need the right music. Or, in this case, no music at all.

This time, I’m going to try using binaural beats.

Binaural beats are two rhythms played slightly off-kilter, one rhythm to each ear. When your ears pick them up (via headphones), your brain attempts to make sense of them by filling in an extra pulse in between them. As you listen to the rhythms, your brainwaves begin to shift toward the frequency of the phantom pulses it’s creating.

I could go deeper into Rife frequencies, the Schumann’s resonance, and brainwave entrainment here, but I’d like to keep this part simple. I know I’ve mentioned brainwave entrainment before without going into much depth, but it’s a pretty enormous topic with a lot of different schools of thought.

One idea is that binaural beats are the key to good health, and can be fine-tuned to fix very specific health problems. I’m not sure if I agree with this, as there seems to be a lack of research supporting it. Another idea, with some research to support it, is that different brainwave frequencies correspond to different mental states and binaural beats may be able to help you “hack” your brainwaves and help you achieve these states. This is why I like using them for meditation, trancework, sleep, and relaxation. Depending on what I use, they can be like a cup or two of chamomile tea, or techno-witch flying ointment.

But can it help me channel my inner goddess? I’ve tried meditation before. I’ve even tried meditating with frequencies before. Maybe there are some specific ones I haven’t tried that can help me out here.

Bingo:

Alright, time to fire this up and see where it takes us!

Well, while soothing, I didn’t really experience anything different from the first time I attempted to channel my inner goddess through meditation. At least, not in the goddess department. I do have some conflicting feelings, though– on one hand, I feel like this period of relaxation is exactly what I needed. On the other, I’ve been really chafing against being still lately. I’m inclined to chalk that up to the same worries and desires for action that are going through a lot of people’s minds right now, but it might be cause for a deeper look. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

30 Day Tarot Challenge: Day 10. Momentum.

Click here for the previous day.

I haven’t been slacking, I promise! With the protesting and threats of authoritarian police action going on, I took a couple of days to make some protective amulets for some people– a process which required some of my cards (specifically the face cards, strength, and the chariot). Rather than continue the challenge sans a full deck, I figured I’d put it off until I was done doing what I had to do. Now they’re all made, the deck’s been reunited, all the cards are shuffled, and we’re ready to go.

So! Momentum. I have a lot of things going on that I wish had a bit more alacrity. What will help me give momentum to my dreams? Is there anything I can do to speed things up a little?

I pulled…

The Star.

The Star, pictured here with my foo dog, onyx ravens, mutant aloe family, etc.

Upright, The Star represents hope, inspiration, and serenity. Think of it like “wishing upon a star.” All told, it’s a pretty positive card to get. Does this mean I’m moving in the right direction to give my desires momentum? It looks like! As far as I can tell, I need to have faith that I am doing the right things. That’s not always necessarily easy for me– I have a bad habit of second-guessing myself, doubting my own power and agency in situations that are important to me. Pulling The Star right now is reassuring.

Reversed, it represents discouragement and a loss (or lack) of faith. While not necessarily always a bad card, I’m pretty glad that’s not how it shaped up this time.

Curious Things This Week — 11/20/2016

Hello! This week, I have for you:

The Japanese Museum of Rocks That Look Like Faces — Shozo Hayama spent 50 years collecting rocksnaturally shaped into faces. This museum, run by his widow, sprang from that collection. (Check out the pompadour on Tiny Rock Elvis.)

Orgies, Homosexuality, and Prostitutes: What Sex Was Like During the Black Death — “[L]ife goes on, as they say, even during an epidemic.”

Protect Your Library the Medieval Way, With Horrifying Book Curses — As someone who maintains several journals and various grimoires, this is so cool.

Cemetery beekeeping, honey operation buzzes among graves — Would you eat honey from a cemetery?

Found: Two Moose Frozen Together in a Final Battle — They either didn’t realize the cold was creeping up on them as they fought, or the victor ended up drowned under a half-ton headdress.

Ghost Drivers In China Are Scaring Uber Riders Into Canceling Trips — Some less-than-honest Uber drivers in China are relying on spooky profile pictures to scam riders out of money.

Lastly, I leave you with this clever little dork:

Playlist: More Tunes for Rad Witches.

Round two of Tunes for Rad Witches, featuring all of the songs I either didn’t know about or didn’t think fit into the first playlist. Links lead to lyrics, translations, and band pages where appropriate and available.

Colossus (Instrumental) — Afro Celt Sound System
Trotto (Instrumental) — Estampie
Fee Ra HuriOmnia
Hunter’s Harp (Instrumental) — Dirtwire
Rego RejtemThe Moon and the Nightspirit
Desert Phase (Instrumental) — Kaya Project
Dance of the Satyrs (Instrumental) — Daemonia Nymphe
Witches’ RuneS. J. Tucker
Deo’s Erotas (Instrumental) — Daemonia Nymphe
PaganThe Moon and the Nightspirit
Oyneng YarFaun
Diese Kalte NachtFaun
Remember What You Told Me (Instrumental) — Rising Appalachia

Magick Self-Care.

Self-care is what let people stay strong enough to keep functioning and help others. It’s what helps you avoid burning out or breaking down. A lot of people neglect it, or even feel guilty for doing it, but neglecting adequate self-care is one of the most needlessly self-destructive things you can do.

There are plenty of ways to take care of yourself in a mundane fashion– take a few minutes each day to breathe deeply, make sure you drink enough water, prepare a healthy meal for yourself, get to bed in time for a full night’s sleep– but there are magickal ways to take care of yourself, too.

Ways to Take Care of Yourself

  • Practice grounding. This helps you release and return your energy to its natural state. It’s not quite as glamorous as spellcraft, but grounding is an integral part of any magickal practice and a vital part of properly taking care of yourself.
  • Make time for meditation. I know I say this a lot. I only restate it so often because I have personally experienced the enormous difference that regular daily meditation (even though I do it a bit differently from most people) has made in both my practice and my mental and physical health.
  • If part of your practice is distressing you or preoccupying your thoughts, put it on hold for now. I’ve heard stories of some people who’ve become wrapped up in divination as a way to alleviate some of their anxiety. While this may work for a lot of people, in their cases it led to sleepless nights while they thought through a thousand different interpretations of the symbols they saw. Don’t worry about letting part of your practice be for a little bit– you can always resume when you’re in a better place. You aren’t less of a witch for doing so.
  • Take a magickal bath. A regular bath can be super comforting and soothing, but invoking your deities (if any), adding the right herbs, and improving the ambience with candles and music in a ritual bath setting is even more so.
  • Enchant your tea. Trace a clockwise spiral over the surface of the liquid with the index finger of your dominant hand. Feel yourself channeling healing, protective energy into it, making the tea dance with sparkling golden light. As you do so, say, “With this tea, I bring calmness, peace, and resilience into myself. I will continue my day relaxed and renewed.”
  • Perform a self-care spell. Here’s one from Llewellyn’s site, but it’s easy to make your own along the same lines. It doesn’t have to take very long, just a few minutes for you to acknowledge your needs and state your intent to have them fulfilled.
  • If you’re a healthcare provider, social worker, crisis counselor, teacher, or in another position that leaves you at risk for burnout, consider pre-loading some tea lights with cleansing, peaceful, healing, and soothing herbs like mint, lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang. Channel healing energy into each one, and save them for the days when you most need a tiny self-care boost.

 

Chamomile, my self-care herb of choice.

Chamomile, my self-care herb of choice.

Self-Care Herbs

If you’re interested in crafting your own self-care rituals, some of these herbs might be helpful:

  • Allspice. Associated with luck and healing, allspice berries have a warming flavor that makes them suitable for including in magickal recipes.
  • Anemone. Associated with protection and healing. Anemone blossoms (particularly red ones) provide protection when grown in or around a home.
  • Apple. Associated with healing and love, apples have a long history of use in magick. Best of all, if you’re one of the many people who gets colon trouble from stress, the fiber in apples may help calm things down.
  • Ash. Associated with protection, prosperity, and healing. A stout ash staff keeps evil at bay.
  • Blackberry. Blackberry fruit is an excellent ingredient in healing potions, while the thorns can be added to protective spells.
  • Borage. Borage helps lift spirits and imparts courage.
  • Cedar. Cedar smoke is purifying, and it’s also associated with healing and protection. In aromatherapy, western red cedar is said to have a strengthening effect.
  • Chamomile. These daisylike flowers are associated with sleep, healing, and purification. They also have a very calming effect when used in a tea, and I love adding them to sleep sachets and healing brews.
  • Eucalyptus. Eucalyprus is associated with healing and protection, and can be discreetly carried and used in the form of products like VapoRub.
  • Lavender. Associated with love, peace, happiness, and protection, lavender is an herb I don’t think any home should be without.
  • Lemon Balm. Associated with healing and love. Tea made of lemon balm has a mildly sedative effect.
  • Mint. Associated with healing and protection, mint is a great ingredient for healing teas. As an added benefit, mint tea can help quiet a nervous stomach.
  • Wood Betony. If you’re suffering from nightmares, some wood betony placed under your pillow can protect you.
  • Ylang ylang. Associated with peace and love, ylang ylang oil is frequently added to aromatherapy preparations for relaxation.

 

Sometimes magick isn’t enough. If you’ve tried everything and still don’t feel like it’s helping you maintain an even keel, don’t be afraid to reach out. Look for a good therapist if you have the means to do so, or, if they’re an option, reach out to your friends and family for emotional support. If things reach a crisis point, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you feel unable to talk to someone, please consider the Crisis Text Line.

So You Aren’t Able to Protest.

That’s okay. It really is. Don’t let anyone shame you if you are not physically, mentally, or emotionally able to be out on the streets right now. Not everyone can.

That said, there are other things you can do. A lot of other things. Most of them won’t cost you anything– some of them can even save you money.

If you wish you could protest, or are a protester and wish you could do more, please consider some of the following:

The “Were His Problem Now” Calling Sheet. A list of phone numbers, a weekly call-to-action, and simple instructions on when to call, what to say, and how to follow up.

The List of Companies to Boycott. A lot of companies carry Trump products, and many people are choosing to boycott them to show that they don’t support him or his politics. I understand if you’re not able to boycott all of them (I’m visually impaired and unable to drive, so Amazon is kind of a lifeline sometimes), but do what you can. If you choose to boycott a company, contact them to tell them why. If you cannot boycott a company, contact them to tell them you’re considering a boycott, and tell them why.

The Doc of All Docs: Resources, Job Opps, Representatives to Call, Places to Boycott, Etc. A master doc of other actions you can take, companies you can support during the boycott, suggestions to prepare for January, and more.

Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide. Southern Poverty Law Center’s ten principles for fighting hate in your community.

Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry. Don’t ignore bigotry. Ignoring it is as good as approving of it. Here’s a list of common situations, and concrete ways to respond to them.

Fight the spread of fake news. We all get taken in by clickbait now and then, but we can still help keep it from spreading. If you’re a Chrome user, this extension can help flag biased, clickbaity, or outright fake news sites for you.

Lastly, do not sit quietly. Keep circulating petitions, sharing protest pages, and posting articles from verified sources. If you’re one of the people who doesn’t have to worry about their safety during the next Presidential term, you can attempt to reach out to Trump supporters and other people calling for unity and understanding if that’s a thing you feel compelled to do. Understand that people who are not in that position may not be able to, or have no desire to be silent and compassionate towards their oppressors.
Don’t chastise people for rejecting unity right now.

 

30 Day Tarot Challenge: Day 8 + 9, Uninspired and Gifts.

Click here for the previous day.

What has the power to drain my creativity? I feel like I’ve had a number of ideas lately, but I haven’t really been able to execute them all. I also feel like my energy’s being sapped by everything going on around me right now– I don’t have a lot of it to begin with. When you add in the fact that I’m not entirely sure my friends and I will survive the next President’s term, it’s a little tiring.

As for gifts, I took this more literally than metaphorically. Rather than get navel-gazey today, I asked about material gifts.

I… was not surprised by either of these cards. One thing did surprise me, though.

The Tower, and The Lovers.

The Tower, and The Lovers.

 

The Tower did not surprise me. Obviously, one of the things sapping my inspiration is the destruction of a lot that I thought I knew. Like the concept of the essential decency of my fellow man.

What I did not expect, however, was The Tower falling out of the deck as I was shuffling, flipping over when I went to draw, and then being the card I drew after re-shuffling. And then, when I was afraid I may not have shuffled enough, being the card I drew after re-re-shuffling. That’s… that’s a lot of Tower. Apparently my deck is not messing around today.

As for The Lovers, it’s unsurprising that a gift will come from a partnership. In all likelihood, it refers to my actual lover. (I love the artwork on this card, though. The full moon and new moon imagery is pretty rad.) It could also refer to something coming in the form of a partnership, which would be pretty interesting.

Maybe there’s a way I could turn a potential loss of inspiration to my advantage, though. Anger is inspiring, and I have it in no short supply. A lot of art, music, and writing is going to come out of the situation going on right now. There’s also no shame in being uninspired– a temporary reprieve from the drive to create things is like a rest in a song. It’s a tiny silence that gives the rest of the music around it color, shape, and context. It’s not always a bad thing.