My Mesa

In my shamanic work, I have a few tools of the trade. While my rattle and drum are two of the most important, there are others that are just as helpful and powerful. Today, I want to talk about one of my tools that I use everyday… my mesa.

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One of the first tools that my teacher had me work on was my mesa. The mesa is a sort of sacred bundle. I carry spiritual objects in it that relate to my power, or objects that I use in my work. I bring it with me when I work with clients. It’s like portable sacred space. As I set up, I open my mesa, set out the items in a sort of mandala, and light a candle. The only part that can be bought is the cloth itself, which is where one starts in making their mesa.

There are certain fabrics that aren’t conducive to this work. Most synthetics don’t hold a healthy charge at all. So, cotton, silk, or wool are best. I found my big mesa cloth at a fabric store. I hemmed the edges with embroidery floss, working in my energy into each stitch. The red cloth is actually from my first mesa, the one that I made on my Assateague adventure with my teacher, Adhi. She had found the material at the Goodwill in Burlington, VT.

My connection to my mesa began with the cloth. I was told to sleep with the cloth under my pillow. The idea was to connect it to my dreaming self, and to see if I had any interesting dreams that could relate to the mesa I was building. While I didn’t have any dreams worth noting, it was an interesting start to connecting to the future mesa.

One of my first big items in my mesa I found on the Autumn Equinox a few years ago. I wanted to find some sort of power object for my mesa before winter came, and the Equinox seemed as good a day as any to search for one. I put it out to the universe that I only had a half an hour to find one, so if it wanted me to have something, I needed it to guide me to something in that half an hour. I made an offering to the land, and tried to to listen to Spirit as to what direction to head in. It was difficult to find the focus to hear, but about 20 minutes in I had a pretty clear sense of the direction I needed to head. I ended up in a swampy area that I must have been through a hundred times before.

I was getting a little worried and skeptical.

Then, I felt my gaze directed past a mossy log. There, hidden in moss and ferns, was a deer skull and a few vertebrae. It just so happens that deer is one of the animal spirits I work with. Specifically stag. And here, hidden for years, was a skull of a buck.

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He was in a little bit of a rough state, so I rubbed him down with cedar oil and beeswax, then wired him together. He is now part of my mesa, a connection point to spirit for me.

Talking about deer and my mesa, it was that autumn that I did not harvest any of my apples. I let them fall from the trees and lay about on the ground. The deer were frequent visitors throughout the winter, digging them up from the snow and snacking on them. The spring of next year, an antler lay next to one of my apples, as if it was a gift in return for the apples that I had left for the deer. That also made it to my mesa. It’s a powerful tool for removing things from client’s energetic body, as well as a tool to help things move in the correct flow.

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There are quite a few other items in my mesa that connect me to other animals and places that assist me in my work. I have a dried seahorse, feathers from birds that I work with, a rock from my favorite mountain, seashells to keep me connected to the ocean, and more. It’s personal and ever changing. I feed it with offerings and prayers so that it can continue in assisting me in healing and connection to Spirit.

On a side note, Josh and I have officially began fully using our studio. We’re still figuring out hours, and the what and when of our workshops and events, but that will have been all hammered out by this upcoming weekend. One detail that has been decided is that Deep Earth Arts Studio’s website will merge with mine. That means some of the old blog links won’t be usable in a week. All my old blog entries, as well as my future ones, will be found there. I’ll post when the merge happens both on my Facebook and the Deep Earth Arts Facebook. All the pieces are coming together, and I have to say that I am excited.

 

See you all on the other side….

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Lessons in Weeding

It’s been a little crazy over here in my corner of the world. I love Spring, yet the season moves at its own pace. Sometimes it feels like it’s taking forever. When everything starts going, though, it can be quite the adventure trying to keep up. The plants are on their own time and they plan on doing their thing with or without me. The race between the plants and I is on.

Along with that race, my husband and I are in the midst of putting together the plan for our studio space, its set up, and what we are doing in it. Reiki, runes, shamanic work, tea, and more… it’s quite the fiasco! The date of our Open House closes in, and there is still so much to be done.

I know that this is the craziness of late Spring. Summer creeps upon us to envelope the sweet unfurling from the Winter months to greet us with a verdant world wrapped up in hot weather, plants everywhere, and adventures to be had.

It’s overwhelming and glorious.

In this craziness, I have to remind myself to take moments to enjoy it all and listen. This is a big part of my shamanic practice: taking time to stop and listen. My teacher Adhi has her apprentices taking time everyday this month to find something that the Earth offers and eat it. Whether it’s burdock, dandelion, or sorrel, we are to take time to taste and commune. If there’s a plant type that we continue to hit up, take some time to sit with it. Maybe make offerings or rattle to it. See what happens.

I’ve been turning my weeding regimen into a chance to explore this practice. Goutweed has found a home in a few of my garden beds and if I am not careful in eradicating it, it will happily (and aggressively) take over any space it can get. It’s also a medicinal and edible plant. It was used primarily for arthritis and (did you guess?) gout. While I am not aware of any magical history with goutweed, it is an interesting plant that is very intent on covering open spots.

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So, I am exploring my relationship with this weed. It’s tenacity is surely part of its magic. Its taste is a little unusual for the more modern palate, so I understand why it’s not a popular food in our cuisine. I have yet to really sit with it and listen. When I do, though, this is my plan. I can start with giving a plant an offering of tobacco. Say hi. Introduce myself. Then, I sit and listen. I don’t just listen with my ears. I use my entire body. I am in stillness, receptive to anything that the plant might throw at me. I can also try rattling to get my brain in a more receptive state, as well as another method of honoring the plant.

Take some time this week. Sit with a plant that you can identify. Taste it if its edible. Sit with it in silent meditation. What does it look like? What does it make you think of? Why? See if you can get any impressions from it. Plants and trees have surprised me many times with the insight that they have offered.  Don’t expect a voice (though, if your brain is wired to receive information that way, it’s possible). It can be a gut feeling. It might be connected to a thought. You can even try sleeping with a piece of the plant under your pillow to see if you can get something in dreams.

I’m still in the beginning stages of my relationship with this plant that I am trying to keep in check. I’m sure that there’s something to be learned even in the antagonistic nature of this plant. I just have to dig and find it.

In other news, I had mentioned in a blog a while ago about a project that I wanted to do with planting amulets under trees and seeing how it affected the surrounding area. For those of you who are interested in participating, please reach out to me. I’ll supply the amulet. All you have to do is get a tree and plant the amulet beneath it. Worse case scenario, you have a beautiful new tree in your yard.

I hope it has been as beautiful where you are as it is up here. Stay tuned to hear more about the new studio space and all the things that we will be offering there.

 

Until next week

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Ancestral Homes

I was visiting my friend Sandy this week, talking about life, adventures, and magic. I don’t quite remember how it came up, but we began talking about the ocean. She mentioned how she appreciated the ocean, but it didn’t do anything for her that the mountains and rivers up here couldn’t do. This blew my mind. I love the ocean. I love the power that it emanates. I’ve even wrote about it. I always figured that most people in this work felt the same way.

I knew that some people had an adverse reaction to it. My husband is happy to live miles away from the ocean. All the reasons that I wax poetic about it are the reasons that he wants to keep distance between the ocean and him. When I visit the rocky New England coasts nearest to us, I feel the primordial power of the massive body of water that life crawled out of billions of years ago. This ancient nursery of life is this old power that is so much bigger than us, and a force of equal measures creation and destruction. It draws me to it, while Josh recognizes the power and stays the hell away from it.

He likes to say that he comes from river people. His family has deep roots in the area. My dad’s family comes from the shores of southern New England. I’ve recently been researching ancestry, following my dad’s family tree. I can follow my patrilineal line pretty far back to when we first came to America. After my 8th great grandfather bought land in Rhode Island, he returned to France, loaded his wife and son on a boat, and moved his family to America. While he died on the road over due to being on the losing side of a duel, his family took root in the coastal town that they considered their new home. Looking through the movements of my ancestors, we’ve always lived next the ocean. My brothers and I are the first in 9 generations (not counting my French ancestor that died en route) not to live on the coast.

While I stand by my belief that the ocean is a powerhouse that has a certain healing power, I wonder if part of this is genetic. Is there something that my ancestors passed to me that influence the way I think about and experience the ocean? I recently read a quick article about research in genetic memory, and a quick Google search reveals more research. It’s an interesting confirmation of certain branches of shamanic work, specifically breaking unhelpful generational patterns. While there can be unhelpful patterns that are passed genetically, can there also be connections to place (connections that can be formed in only a handful of generations)?

It’s been an interesting exploration for me, especially as one that hadn’t felt a strong call to ancestral work to begin with. It’s even more interesting to explore the idea that parts of my spiritual practice are colored by where my ancestors lived, even when I didn’t necessarily think of it as an ancestral connection until recently.

Just a few thoughts as I explore my roots and my past. A quick post on ancestors and the sea, the primordial womb of Mother Earth, seemed appropriate for Mother’s Day. So, I ask you: how has your family tree influenced your spiritual practice? How much does your family history shape your view of the world?

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Medicinal Weeds

Spring is unfolding up here in northern Vermont. The red trillium is up (though not flowering yet). I’ve seen pictures of people getting ramps, but I haven’t checked my ramps patch yet. If fiddleheads aren’t up yet, they will be. Trees are budding, and the gardens are in need of attention.

Capitalizing on the beautiful weather, I went out to clear, weed, and collect. It’s amazing to me that the weeds that I am fighting are also medicinal allies. By trying to take up space in my gardens, they force me to harvest them in a timely manner. As a procrastinator, I can appreciate this.

In the bigger picture, these “weeds” are all part of mother nature’s plan to claim and cover soil, prevent erosion, and begin the process to grow a forest. Garden’s aren’t exactly natural, however eco-conscious and organic your methods are. A garden is an attempt to keep the waves of nature’s growth cycles static and in favor of one species… namely, us. Ecosystems create systems that rely on change and diverse interactions. In gardens, we are intervening to create something that works for us in production and aesthetics.

Weeds can be advantageous to us, though. As I said, a lot of these tenacious plants that invade our garden are really medicinal plants that are growing where we don’t want them. Some of these plants, I’m giving in and letting them take over some space. Why weed them and search for them in the wild when I need them when I can have them in my garden?

The first weed that I had to tackle was the ever present burdock (Arctium lappa). If you live around here, I’m sure you’ve ran into this plant before. This biennial looks a little like rhubarb when it’s young. When it gets into its second year of life, it grows tall and makes the burrs it’s famous for. My dogs have a knack for getting these stuck in their fur after a few minutes of running around outside. The sticky burrs of burdock were the inspiration for velcro, with the hooked ends of their seed pods easily latching onto hair or clothing.

It’s astrology is Venus in Leo, and it has been used in protective work. Medicinally, the root is used in medicines for the liver and skin. It’s deep taproot is full of nutrients that the plant has mined from the earth. It should be harvested in the spring before the second year of its life. If it’s the first year, at this time of year it’s small. The second year, the root has had a year to grow. The taproot can grow up to 6 feet long, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to get all of it. I mean, look at that root!

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Now is the perfect time to get it. The sugars that it stored to make it through the winter are still present, so it’s not as bitter as it will be once those sugars are used to produce the plant. You can actually eat it now. It’s a bit like a carrot, but that bitterness is a little present already so it may not be suitable for everyone’s palate.

After I harvested a bucketfull of burdock root, I noticed this little patch of green in a nearby garden bed. This is one of my favorites, stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).

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I could harvest these young plants if I wanted to, but I’m going to transplant them elsewhere. This also gives it time to get a little bigger. At this young age, the hairs full of formic acid that give nettles their sting have yet to form well. While these hairs aren’t a problem once nettles are dried or cooked, they are not a pleasant experience when carelessly handling the older plant. The rash they give last for about a day and is more annoying than painful. I don’t necessarily suggest going out of your way to experience it, though (unless the idea of urtification appeals to you).

The astrology of nettles is Mars in Aries, and is used in matters of handling crisis, strength of will, and anything that would be considered martial. Medicinally, it’s used for arthritis, prostate support, the urinary system, and more! It can also be eaten, as long as it’s steamed or cooked. If you’re interested in getting some dried nettle to try out in magic or tea, you can buy some from me here.

As I continue through the garden, a third invader keeps popping up. The lowly dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)! This lawn invader originally came from Europe, but has happily naturalized, annoying both lawn purists and gardeners alike.

Dandelion is a Jupiter in Libra sort of plant used in protection, vision, and success. It is a great diuretic that also has high levels of potassium, a mineral that is often depleted by other diuretics. It’s also good for your liver, your skin, and a bitter. Many of us who grew up in rural areas have memories of eating dandelion greens in a spring salad. At this point of the year, it’s time to go for the roots. They will have some of that winter sugar, like the burdocks. Getting them now is also easier then fighting with them later in the year.

Together, these three can make a great spring tonic to do some body spring cleaning. They are all relatively easy to identify, and are incredibly safe. They are also probably growing in your garden where they shouldn’t be, so harvesting is made easy. You can weed and collect at the same time.

I hope everyone has been enjoying the beautiful weather as of late. I know that I have. In fact, I think that I will go out and enjoy it some more. Invasive medicinals, watch out!

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Thoughts on Reiki

Today, my husband asked me to teach him how I do Reiki. He recently completed his Reiki Level 2 class, and is playing around with what he had learned. I think that most people start developing their own way of going about their Reiki practice if they do it long enough, and I’m no exception. His question made me stop and think.

How do I describe what I do?

After a little thinking, and paying attention to what I do when I am doing Reiki, I think that I can give it a little explanation here.

First of all, for those of you who are not familiar with what Reiki is, allow me to offer a quick crash course. Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki, was born in 1865 in Japan. His life story and how he came up with Reiki is a convoluted story mixed with myth and Christianization to appeal to western audiences. It is believed that in the early 1920s, after a 21 day session of fasting and prayer on Mount Hiei, he developed (or was given) the practice of Reiki.

It’s hard to say how it has changed from Usui’s day to what we are taught in the US today. Hawayo Takata, a student of a student of Usui, is the one credited to bringing it to the US. She is also credited to giving Reiki’s story a more Christian flavor so it would be received more favorably in the West. She may have changed some of the information as she taught it, which may account for a few of the different schools of Reiki. Adding to that, different people taught it differently as it spread. Some would add stories of it originating in Atlantis because they “channelled” it (or it made for a great story that those in the New Age movement would eat up). Some would add extra symbols.

So, here we are in the early 21st century with quite a few different schools. I’ve learned primarily from two Reiki teachers, and both taught the system differently. What remains the same is the basic idea of what Reiki is. Reiki is a way to channel energy through the practitioner into the client to balance the clients energetic field, balancing the emotional, spiritual, and physical. This is taught to the practitioner through three classes (sometimes there is a sort of 2.5 level, but I believe that to be just a way for the teacher to make an extra buck) and three attunements. The attunements are the most important part, as it teaches you what to connect to. In the second level, you are taught symbols that are used both in healing, strengthening your Reiki practice, and (eventually) attunement of others.

When you are first taught Reiki, after your attunement you are taught to pull the energy out of the sky. That’s how I did it for the longest time. Then, I began to learn about the rituals in the revivalist Druidry of the AODA. One of the main tenets of the work in the AODA is that there are three sources of power in magical work: the cosmos, the planet, and you (fed by your own mix of the cosmos and the planet). It’s interesting to look at other magical and spiritual practices through this lense. It also suggests that there is better balance when using all of these.

I decided to try and mix this practice into my Reiki. I still myself, get myself out of the way, and let the flow of power travel down my center line, from the sky to the earth, from the earth to the sky. They meet in me, mixing in me, flowing through my hands into the Reiki power symbol that I am visualizing over my client. I usually also work in a silent prayer to the Creator, as well as my guides and the client’s guides.

I find that the more that I let go, the better the practice. Sometimes, I can feel my guides move my hands somewhere on the client. I try to pay attention to what I’m doing, sometimes reaching in and asking the client’s body what it needs. My goal is to smooth out anything that feels out of balance, as well as clear any blockages in the central channel. While a practitioner is taught specific hand positions in Level 1, I have never really used them. I focus on specific chakra points, and feel where my hand is needed.

I have found that one of the interesting things that changed in my Reiki practice when I added a terrestrial flow was a lot of heat. Sometimes, it heats up my body so much that I sweat. That’s why I have to rock a bandana in summertime sessions. I imagine getting hit by your practitioner’s sweat would ruin a perfectly good Reiki session.

Another thing that I do differently than many other Reiki practitioners is I place a rock at the client’s feet. I had a teacher suggest this to help ground. I like the feel of it, and I enjoy working a little bit of nature into the practice. I also use a rattle and drum. My drum can assist in breaking up blockages, and my rattle can assist in sealing in the session, as well as acting as a sort of energetic cleanse.

There is more to Reiki, such as cutting energetic cords, or removing anything that shouldn’t be in a client’s energetic field. This goes more into shamanic work, though. This is why I like to refer to my practice as more than Reiki. I work in all of the other modalities that I have learned on this path.

If you have any questions about Reiki, or how I go about it, ask in the comments on my website or on Green Mountain Mage’s Facebook page. I’m always happy to talk shop.

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

The Rune Goon

I write this a few nights before this entry will actually be published. We are winding down from packing and getting ready for a trip to New York City with our kid. As I talk to Josh about what I should write about, he mentions that I haven’t written a blog about him, and I suppose that’s true. I haven’t really mentioned how he stepped into his ability as a Rune reader.

For quite a while, he stayed away from anything seriously esoteric as well as he could. He would sometimes participate in my home seasonal ceremonies, and I would tell him that he was a powerful person. It’s not an empty platitude. He’s like a big battery. He would also pick up on ransom threads of fate, like telling me randomly that I would get a job offer a half a year later at a local candle factory. He would sometimes pick up on information that he shouldn’t necessarily know about people. He had a knack for being psychic.

It wasn’t until he made a personal pact with the Universe at a local Abenaki healing springs (seriously… look up Brunswick Springs) that things began to really unfold for him. He learned Rune divination and magic from a psychic friend (Sali Crow, medium extraordinaire and witchy author), while connecting to his ancestors buried in nearby cemeteries. Looking back on it, it was all kind of like a bizarre movie. Connecting to his Pequot Great Great Grandmother as a spirit guide, finding that the Runes and Norse mythology really resonated with him, and being open about his experience and gifts made life a little bit of a rollercoaster. Everything happened all at once last summer, and he really stepped into his power.

I don’t really remember when he decided to start doing Rune readings publicly. I do remember his “I’m So Witty” grin when he figured out the perfect name for his Rune reading persona: The Rune Goon. I don’t think many could pull off a moniker like that, but he does.

As he explored his gift, we began to realize how our work complemented each other. His readings uncover a lot, and expose people to life truths that they may or may not want to face. That’s when it’s best to send them off to me to do some work in assimilating information, calming, and centering. That’s why we often offer dual sessions. See Josh. Get a good cry in. See me. Leave feeling good.

I guess there isn’t much else to say, besides to encourage you to go and check out his Facebook page. He posts the Rune that he pulls everyday. If you’re interested in learning more about Runes, or getting a reading, he’s the guy you’re looking for.

I should stop now and get some rest. Tomorrow is a long train ride to NYC with my family. I’ll be on the lookout for something interesting to share while I’m down there. Who knows what I’ll find.

 

Until next week

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Clearing Space With Herbs

Using the smoke of cleansing herbs has long been in my practice. Physically, the smell helps bring me into the mental space I need to be to do spiritual work. Smell has strong links to memory, as the information from smells go from the thalamus to the hippocampus and amygdala, key brain regions involved in learning and memory. It’s certainly a fascinating, underappreciated sense! The herbs also interact with the vibes of the area. Most plants used in clearing work have a fiery nature.

I was recently reading the work of author Josephine McCarthy who suggested that there is a connection with these cleansing herbs and the area that they grow. She mentions that she doesn’t have a lot of luck with white sage (Salvia apiana), an herb commonly used in energetic clearing, because she lives in England. White sage is endemic to the warmer, drier areas of the states and has a long history being used by various Native tribes in ceremony. She prefers using frankincense, which does not grow on the British Isles, but has a long history there via the Church.

I’ve read articles about people calling out the overuse of white sage in cleansing as disrespectful and culturally appropriative. I believe it to be situational. It would be cultural appropriation if used in a quasi Native American ceremonial way without correct context, cultural connection, and cultural permission. Used as an herbal agent that works in a certain way seems to me to be working with the land. As a white man in an area that white sage does not grow, you can take my thoughts on that as you’d like.

In my practice, I’m fond of Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens). It’s wood from a tree that grows in South America. The name means “holy stick” and I am sadly unaware of its history beyond that. It’s commonly used in energetic clearing, and has a pleasant smell. It does the work, and does not offend the noses of those who dislike the smell of white sage.

Following the idea that plants that have a connection (historical or ecological) to the area you are cleansing are more effective, I wanted to mention some plants that I’ve used in this work that you can grow or harvest in northern Vermont. I will be using some of these in my work in the future, but not all the time. As they carry some of the skunkier notes that make people dislike white sage, they may not be for everyone.

Cedar

 A twig of the cedar tree up the road from me

A twig of the cedar tree up the road from me

The type of cedar that grows around here is white cedar (Thuja occidentalis). It has a very fiery nature, its astrology being Jupiter in Sagittarius. They are commonly found in graveyards due to a symbolism of eternal life. Interestingly, cedars seem to have a history in different cultures in dealing with death and purification. It might have something to the compound called thujone in it, which acts as an insect repellent, a wormer, and a mild neurotoxin (not one to repeatedly take internally in large doses, especially in essential oil form). That also protects the wood from rotting quickly. Our bodies deal with it just fine in small amounts, which is why it’s perfect for a cleansing smoke. It smells great, and has been used in conjunction with white sage for a very long time.

Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina)

 Taken from Wikipedia

Taken from Wikipedia

This was a plant introduced to me last year. While it does have a sweet scent, it is not an actual fern. It is a deciduous bush that has history of being used as a medicinal plant. I have yet to personally explore that aspect of the plant, but the claims range from an expectorant, to treating ringworm, to covering a host of other ailments. What I do know about it is that a teacher suggested using it to clear space. She felt that it worked better than white sage. I don’t know if part of it is its connection to the land, but that is part of my theory. There is one drawback… when burnt, it really smells like pot. If you’re using it in a situation where that doesn’t matter, it’s great. It’s probably not appropriate for a lot of client situations, though. Depends on the space and the client, I guess. That being said, it works very well. I use it in a mix when I’m doing ceremony for myself.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

 Also taken from Wikipedia

Also taken from Wikipedia

This herb can be found growing beside roads pretty much everywhere up here. It also has a rich and varied history in the magic and medicine of China, Japan, Korea, medieval Europe, and beyond. Plants in the Artemisia family seem to have that in general. Its astrology is Venus in Cancer, and it is another fiery plant. It is used medicinally for menstrual and digestive issues. Magically, it has a history of use in works of protection and awakening psychic powers. I like to make a tea out of it with lemon balm before I work with clients to help me with compassionate insight. As a tea, it is also used to encourage dreaming. Chinese medicine has long used burning mugwort in a process called moxibustion, where a stick of mugwort is burnt over certain pressure points to restore proper flow. Burnt in a ceremonial sense, it can clear a space and open your third eye a little. My husband uses it to clear his space for readings. This one also has a pot-like smell, but not as strong as sweet fern.

Common Sage (Salvia officinalis)

 It's still dead out there. I have to keep using pictures from Wikipedia.

It's still dead out there. I have to keep using pictures from Wikipedia.

Yes! You can totally use culinary sage! I had a teacher who said that it worked way better for her than white sage (again, that possible connection between the plant and where you use it). It has a lot of history in medicine and food. Yet another fiery herb, its astrology is Jupiter in Taurus. I have yet to try out home grown sage in this work. I live right at the edge of where you can grow sage, so I haven’t tried until last year. I’m still waiting to see if the plant made it through the winter. If not, I have to try and create a better microclimate for it. I will get it, someday.

So, there you have it. Four herbs to try out in cleansing space that you can forage or grow up here. Feel free to comment here on the website, or on the Facebook page as to whether you’ve worked with any of these. I’d love to hear about your experience.

Until next week

-The Green Mountain Mage

Adventures in Medical Dowsing

A few months ago I started a medical dowsing class with my teacher, Adhi. It’s fascinating stuff, looking at dowsing rather differently than the traditional dowsing that I was aware of previously. I’m still going through the information and perfecting my practice, but I can share some of the details with you.

The idea of this certain method of dowsing is to figure out how to calibrate the pendulum to specific frequencies for different sorts of work. The frequency that we normally use is one that is supposed to be the same wavelength of healthy chi.

Using the person’s energy field, or something with a link to the person (such as a picture, or even a hair), the dowser uses that specific frequency to test what is operating in a healthy range. You can test body parts or parts of the energetic body (such as the chakras) to see if they are operating in that healthy “sweet spot.” Much like kinesiology, the dowser can also test how certain products, food, or herbs will interact with the patient.

The applications go further than that. The dowser can also use that frequency to see if there are any unhealthy energy spots on the property that might be affecting the client. There are other frequencies to test for any energetic attachments, as well as the client’s connection to their higher selves.

I go into a lot of dowsing work with skepticism. While I recognize that dowsing started because it was an effective way to find water, it seems that there are some branches that have gone deep into crazy country. Once you get into realms that can’t be really confirmed one way or another, that gives room for some eccentricities to really bloom.

I know of dowsers that get very accurate results, though, so I don’t throw it all out. My teacher is one of these dowsers. She’s shown me a few of the tests that she runs on her own to confirm some of her dowsing work. An example is dowsing out plant interaction with the planet’s magnetic field. She had worked out a dowsing protocol in plant positioning. The group that had been positioned via the protocol had about 25% more growth than those that hadn’t. It was the same group of seeds, in the same windowsill, planted in the same planting medium, and watered at the same time. The only difference was the dowsing protocol.

So, when I saw that she was offering the class, I was happy to jump on. Now it comes to personal practice and experimentation. I’ve been able to work out information that I didn’t know previously about the health of willing participants. I’m still getting a feel for it and I still have a lot to learn and experiment with. As I get a little more experience under my belt, along with sufficient practical results, I’ll be looking for test subjects. You know, for those of you who are local and adventurous.

Dowsing itself is supposed to hook into our subconscious selves, enabling us to collect information that we innately know. It’s an interesting field that seems to lack reason for working, yet still works. That’s a part of this work that I love. We have a hard time explaining some of this scientifically, yet it still works. I’m looking forward to diving into this more and seeing what results I find.

And on that note, I’m off to try and figure out a few mysteries of dowsing. Wish me luck.

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Spring Fever

Spring is here in the northern woods of Vermont, and I’m excited to be finding some of my springtime favorites growing in the woods around me in about a month. I thought that I would share a few of them with you.

The first is fiddleheads.

 Taken from Wikipedia

Taken from Wikipedia

These little guys are a northern delicacy that have an amazing nutty flavor. They’re actually fern fronds that have yet to unfurl. I only pick Cinnamon Ferns (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), but I hear that Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) can also be used. They are sources of fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and iron. As for the more esoteric sides of ferns, I only know that they have a traditional connection to weather magic. The spiral is a symbol of cosmic forces and the cycles of nature, so that could potentially part of its symbolism.

The next edible that comes to mind would be ramps (Allium tricoccum).

 Also taken from Wikipedia

Also taken from Wikipedia

This relative of onions, leeks, and garlic sprouts from the ground pretty early in the season. If they find a spot that they like, I’ve seen them claim the side of a hill. They are picky about their spots, though. A friend had bought a bundle of ramps from a farmers’ market that was harvested roots and all. I tried planting some of them in a few different locations that I thought might work for them. Only one spot survived, and they aren’t big fans of where I put them either. This pickiness, along with heavy harvesting, makes them a little scarce. I have yet to harvest mine, in hopes that they will spread a little more. As with most alliums (the garlic and onion family), I imagine that they would be classified as a fiery energy. They could be used for banishment work. They also have some of the similar medicinal qualities, due to their shared sulphuric compounds.

One of my favorite wildflowers happen to be an early spring popup around here. It had a few names: Red Trillium, Trillium erectum, or, my personal favorite, Stinkin’ Benjamin.

 Another from Wikipedia. I need to get out and take some spring photos this year.

Another from Wikipedia. I need to get out and take some spring photos this year.

The beautiful red flowers are striking in the shady spots that you can find them. As you may have suspected from the third name, the Stinkin’ Benjamin has a… “unique” odor. The best way I can describe it is as if a fish was left in the sun for a few hours. Because of how early it comes up, it’s pollinator of choice is another early comer, the fly. Its roots do have medicinal uses, though. The root, along with the root of other trilliums, has been used for menopausal issues, women’s hormonal issues, and coughs. Even though the red trillium seems to be one of the few trilliums not endangered, I still leave the wild ones alone. Symbolically, their three red petals could be a metaphor for the Trinity of your choice. There might be some symbolism to the offensive smell. I have never read about trilliums in any books on magical properties, to I’m left to potential metaphor and intuition on that front.

The final springtime favorite that I will mention is maple syrup.

 Another from Wikipedia.

Another from Wikipedia.

I work with maple trees often in my energetic work, so I couldn’t skip this one. Vermont and its surrounding states are all in the middle of what we call “Sugaring Season.” The taps that maple producers put in their Sugar Maple trees (Acer saccharum) months ago are flowing with sap, and will be until the trees begin to bud. While the days up here have been in the 40s Fahrenheit, the night temps are still dipping below freezing. As the weather warms, the trees will stop producing clear sap. It takes about 40 gallons of this clear tree sap to be boiled down to one gallon of sweet, sweet maple syrup. While maple has its place in indigenous mythology concerning how humans learned how to make maple syrup, most of the information on energetics and correlations of plants that is used in present day comes from Europe. With its lack of presence in these tomes, I take it that there aren’t really any maples that way. So, we are again left with metaphor and intuition. I know that the sweet nature of its sap lend it to works of love, and giving. That jives pretty well with the juju I feel from the maples I work with, so I’ll roll with that. Maple syrup is also a great gift to ancestors and nature spirits. I mean, who doesn’t love good maple syrup?

So, you all know of some of the things that I will be on the lookout for as this month unfolds, and everything begins to warm up. This spring weather is getting me ready for days of working in the gardens. Now, if only all this snow would finish melting.

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Offerings

I had a request to talk about offerings to spirits! So, let’s tackle that.

When one does work with other beings, it’s always a good idea to have some sort of exchange, or an offering of good will. When I hike, I like to make three offerings. One at the base of the trail, asking for a safe hike, one at the top of the mountain as a way to honor how majestic it is, and one at the end to thank the mountain for the safe trip. It’s certainly not a necessity. Most people just hike and they’re just fine. I think it’s more polite to offer to the mountain or trail, as well as it sets the mood for the hike. I’m not there just for a walk that I can do anywhere. It’s a pilgrimage, and the mountains are living beings to me.

When doing ceremony, offerings are an important part. Ceremony is usually to honor, or to ask help in something. If you go into that expecting that you deserve help for nothing, or just your presence is honoring enough, is a little short sighted. Offerings give us perspective in our place of things, that we are not the top dog that the universe bows down to. Instead, it creates a give and take.

In short, it begins a relationship.

I believe it’s an important part in communicating with things that aren’t necessarily considered as communicative… or, such as in the case of the mountain, alive. When I began to work with the drum, I was reminded to make an offering to the drum, to warm the drum to me. In the work that I do, everything is assumed to have some sort of spark of consciousness. How we interact with that spark of consciousness can change the way we act in the physical world.

When it comes to what you offer, I find that intuition can play a large part in it, as well as tradition. I usually stick to herbal offerings, but some people use coins, hair, or whatever their specific tradition calls for. We all know about the idea of animal sacrifice, something that has played a role in a lot of cultures. While definitely not something that is considered in our continent, it still does have a place in other parts of the world, where the animal is ritually done in, then eaten usually by the community. If you are a meat eater, and this idea rubs you the wrong way, you might want to take a moment and reflect on the non-sacred killing of animals that happen so that you may have a burger. There’s a lot of weight on that subject, though, and further discussion would take a blog or two on it’s own. I’ll say that I don’t have any animals I’m raising for meat right now, and blood seems to me to be a little too dark to offer to spirits I work with.

The offering I do often use is tobacco. It runs on the idea that tobacco has had its place as a sacred herb to indigenous folk, and the land recognizes it as something that is a sacred gift. People use cornmeal and sage for similar reasons. The intuition comes in when you add herbs to the mix. I had a surplus of Sweet Annie Herb a year back, and it felt right to add that to my offering mix. It had a pleasant smell, and it was something that I grew.

Another offering that I like is one of music, or spoken word. Even singing to a mountain, as silly as it might sound, can be a magical experience. It adds extra vulnerability, and one that I love to mix with an herbal offering.

There is also specific offerings to the spirits, plants, or land formations that you are working with. I was taught that it is traditionally proper to offer white flowers to water spirits. There are great cleansing herbs, like cedar, that are appropriate to offer to a fire. If I’m headed to a specific place to make an offering, I keep what I’m working with in mind, and try to feel out what that space would like. That can begin the conversation, and I like to think that the land appreciates that extra effort.

And that’s all I really have to say about offerings. I’m going to head out an enjoy the beautiful sun that’s poking through the clouds outside, maybe make a little offering to the spring that supplies our house’s water.

Cultivating gratitude for the sun and running water

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Oghams

I know I’ve mentioned Runes often enough in this blog, but I believe I’ve only mentioned Oghams as a sort of “Celtic Rune” that is connected to the Wheel of Life pathworking symbol I use. I don’t know if they’ve ever had a full blog post, though. So, I thought that it would be appropriate to delve into an old Irish alphabet on St. Patrick’s Day.

Let’s start with what the Oghams (which are, as I understand it, pronounced oh-ams… the g makes an almost sigh like h sound) look like. They’re essentially tick marks on a line. Either shown a vertical or horizontal line, they are usually read down to up. To give you a little hint as to the direction you are to read them, there can be a sort of arrow to show you where the line is starting. The picture below shows the word “Ogham”, starting at the bottom above the arrow showing the direction it is written.

IMG_20180317_150914.jpg

The history of the Oghams are a bit murky to me, and seem to be rather murky to historians who know far more than I. Some historians say that the earliest record of the Ogham is from the 4th century AD, but it has been argued that it is as old as the 1st century AD, or perhaps older. Inscriptions of Oghams are found mainly in Ireland, but have also been found in Wales, England, and Scotland.

It is an odd alphabet, as according to medieval information on the Oghams, some of the letters stand for sounds not present in the Irish language. Some suggest it was patterned after Latin, or from a pre-Celtic Irish language from megalithic times.

There were originally 20 letters, with five extra letters added on to the alphabet in later years. The original fews (as the letters are called) were separated into four groups of five, as each group ranged from one to five tick marks in their group (each of these groups of five called feadha).

IMG_20180317_223323.jpg

The last, newer five are called the forfedha. They have a different style, certainly not as easy to carve into wood or stone as the original ones were.

IMG_20180317_160837.jpg

Each letter has an association with a tree, as well as other associations tacked onto them throughout the years. This is where their use in divination comes in. Each Ogham can be used for divinatory or magical purposes. Whether they were used originally for such purposes, I don’t know. I swear I read about a story of an ancient Druid who used them in divination, but, for the life of me, I can’t seem to find where I read that. So, we’ll have to stick with the fact that whether they were used in that capacity in ancient times or not, they are used as such now.

An example is the first few, Beith (the first one in the picture of the first feadha above). This few represents the birch tree. In divination, it would represent beginnings, renewal, rebirth, and purification. Generally, a pretty good few to pull in a reading, unless you were looking for the continuation of a stable situation, as renewal and rebirth requires change.

Oghams have a few interesting historical points. The poet Robert Graves discovered a book that had an incomplete listing of the Oghams (the first thirteen, specifically). Thinking that he had figured out an ancient Celtic lunar calendar that corresponded with Oghams and trees, he put a system together. I’ve read a little about it, and it seems interesting and, though not historically accurate, magically useful if it aligns to your cosmology.

There’s also the matter of the order of the Oghams. I originally learned them from “The Druidry Handbook” by John Michael Greer (one of the sources that I have used for this blog entry). In that book, JMG mentions that there are two ways people order the first feadha. He uses the order BLNVS (Beith Luis Nuin Fearn Saille), as that was the way that it was taught to him. He also noted that the letters almost form the name of a Celtic solar deity, Belenos, and the other order may have been a sort of Christianization of the Oghams. It seems, though, that most of the rest of the people that work with Oghams in magical practice, as well as most of the scholars that I’ve come across in literature, say that the first Oghams are represented in the order of BLVSN. The mix up can make understanding what the last three fews of the first feadha mean if someone is writing with Oghams. Because I first learned them via JMG, I read them as he taught them, though it is most likely not historically accurate. That is the interesting thing about divination, though. As long as you settle on a meaning between you and the powers that be in the universe, the message can still be carried through.

If you are looking for information on the Oghams, you can find them in “The Druidry Handbook” by John Michael Greer, or in a lot of places all over the internet. I know there are a lot of books out there, but I don’t really know too many that I can personally vouch for. So, if you find this set of symbols intriguing, do a little research. See what you can find.

On a completely different note, I’d like to announce that Josh (my husband) and I have a new space we will be renting out for readings, Reiki, rattling, workshops, and more very soon. You’ll be able to find us below the Juicy Girls Juice Bar in Littleton, NH by appointment. You’ll be hearing more about that as it unfolds. We will be having an open house on the solstice, having set up fully by June. I’ll keep you all posted.

 

Stay warm. Though the Equinox is this week, it’s still rather wintery up here in northern Vermont.

 

Until next week

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Circles and Community

I’d like to start off with an apology. I try to write blogs every week, and I missed the last one. Between my husband’s birthday, family stuff, and a major case of writer’s block, I couldn’t come up with anything. Trying to come up with a subject can be tricky from time to time. If you enjoy reading this blog, subjects you are interested in me tackling are always appreciated.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a magical community event led by my friend Stacey Doll. We created a central sacred space, did some yoga, did a little journeying, did a little chanting, and opened up. While I’m super comfortable being opened up to, I have a hard time opening up to others. There’s a certain level of being authentically there with a bunch of people that you don’t know that makes me uncomfortable. Unfortunately for me, I believe this to be an important part of my work. To help others, I have to be able to help myself, check in, and be aware of any issues that may get in the way.

I get in my own way a lot. In fact, that’s what my journey taught me that night. I won’t get into the weird symbolism of my subconscious, but I believe that Spirit was telling me a lot of the obstacles that stop me in my work are me. It’s one of those obvious things that I forget to pay attention to. I can be my worst enemy. Part of my work is finding those parts of me that are no longer useful, and leaving them behind.

One of the interesting connections that pop up in many Shamanic cultures is the dismemberment experience. In initiation, the spirits take apart the shaman to be in their dreams, then make them whole again. It’s representative of the spirits taking away all that you were so you emerge into the world as something entirely new. It’s a scary premise, but apparently an important initiation. It makes sense. As I said, I get in my own way. So, here I am, trying to leave behind the parts of me that get in the way.

What happens if you don’t face your own issues and make peace with them in this work? From what I’ve seen and experienced, one of two things. You slowly get off of the path of the shaman, or your issues start to get a little more aggressive in trying to get your attention.

I think that people sometimes think that this sort of path is all flowers and light. I heartily disagree. If you don’t face your shadows, ignoring them because they’re not pretty, or “high vibration” enough, they tend to come out for you. We can’t do the work with others without expecting to do the work for ourselves.

It’s not a once and done deal, either. I have a good amount of shit that I have to work through still, though happily less than what I started with. That’s part of the learning experience. Through working through your own stuff, you have a beginning blueprint on how to help others. Just a beginning, of course, because everyone has their own unique way of dealing with their blockages and trauma. It’s a start, though, and a point where you can feel compassion more deeply.

Another thing that came up due to this circle is the importance of community. I know I talk about that from time to time, but having a group to do a little magic with felt really good. My teacher has also been encouraging her students to begin creating community. So, I will be planning a few full moon fires when the weather gets warmer. It’d be nice to get out in the moonlight, fire and drums ready to make a little magic. I’ll keep everyone posted about those, as well as workshops that I plan on leading this summer.

I want to leave you all with a thank you. Thank you for being part of my community, for being interested in what I have to write, and being part of trying to make the world a little better. You are all much appreciated.

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Reconnection

The Shaman I am apprenticed to often talks about the conversation that is happening around us. Trees interact with each other via the massive network of fungi that connects the forest. There is an interaction between plants and the soil type, seen by noticing what plants grow where. Red squirrels are always chattering at intruders, giving away the intruders location to the listening ear. There is so much information that can be gleaned from around us by just noticing the way that life and the elements are interacting.

We, as humans, are so dependent on conversation and interaction. The importance of relationship between us, our food, and our planet is often understated. We like to think of ourselves as beings outside of the feedback systems of the ecosystem we live in, but nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes down to it, we are a very cunning, social species on the planet earth who may just be in over their heads.

I’ve been thinking about relationship a lot recently. As my family and I were out doing errands, an interesting TED Talk came on the radio. It was an author named Johann Hari delivering a speech called “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong.” Essentially, he speaks about the roots of addiction in disconnection. It was fascinating, although some see some errors in his train of thought. It struck me as something rather shamanic.

Part of the role of the Shaman is to help heal and build community. It is about finding, strengthening, and creating connection. Connecting to the world of Spirit is only part of this. As I mentioned, we are social creatures. We need connection to each other, to the world around us, and to some sort of purpose. When we lose that, we try to find connection in some other way. I’m not suggesting that this is the only reason for addiction, by the way. There are real chemical and biological components involved. There is language in shamanic practice to cover those aspects, too. What people might call a “family curse” could really be a genetic predisposition to a problem. The chemical hooks of a chemical are part of its “spirit.” We fall in danger of those hooks when we lose correct relationship with a plant or substance.

I’m a firm believer that everything has its use, its place in an ecosystem. Even illegal drugs have a medicinal side. When used correctly, we use opiates to deal with pain when it becomes too much. Cannabis has medical uses, just ask any medical marijuana enthusiast. Hallucinogens have their place in different indigenous spiritual traditions. Even cocaine is derived from Coca Leaf, a plant with a strong place in certain South American cultures for its benefits. Alcohol is a great extractor of herbal medicines, and can be used to open people up to themselves and others. It’s when we fall out of correct relationship with these things (or change the plant to become something that it was not meant to be) that it becomes a problem.

We as Americans aren’t that great with relationships, though. Maybe it has something to do with the loss of connection to Spirit, and the loss of connection in community. Maybe it’s the way that we structure society now. Maybe it’s the vapid nature of social media. Maybe we are experiencing a loneliness epidemic (though loneliness and connectivity are not synonymous). Maybe it’s just the way it is. I don’t know. I do believe that connectivity and community are important healers to the heart sickness that seems to be growing in our world.

I think that the world needs connectors and healers now. I’m still trying to figure out what my part is in helping to connect and heal the world about me. What do you think the world needs right now?

Until next week

-The Green Mountain Mage.

Finding Boundaries

The concept of strong boundaries has always been something that I struggled with. When I was younger, I wanted to expand my ability to feel the feelings beyond myself. I wanted to be able to easily read other people’s emotions, so I could be a better source of support. It soon became quite counterproductive, as I would pick up people’s emotions without meaning to, becoming lost in what I was feeling.

Then, there was the extra layer of feeling out who I could safely be myself around. A healthy amount of caution mixed with a low self esteem soon led to me being far too jumpy around anyone I thought might not embrace my “otherness.”

Finally, we add in a weird hero complex. I believe it to be tied into what I am supposed to be doing in this life. Left unchecked, though, it can lead me to overgive of myself. When you go into a situation where you feel a person can benefit from some energetic support, it can be easy to give of yourself to help that person. Done with your own personal energy, that can leave you drained, and useless. It also usually only helps that person feel better, but not to actively change anything that was wrong in the first place, creating an unhealthy relationship between you and the person you are trying to help.

I know I’ve discussed energetic exchange before, but I’m not sure how much I’ve discussed how guilty I was of going about it unhealthily when I was younger. I would be happy to let someone drain me, if I felt I was helping. Learning Reiki, and learning to be a channel to healing energy helped me out immensely in that aspect. I know that, if I’m not careful, people can still draw away my energy.

The work I’ve been doing in boundaries has mainly been in reference to the first two. Mainly the idea that it’s okay to stand in conflict. This may seem to be a no brainer for some, but for those of us that dodge conflict like it’s the plague, it’s an interesting notion. When I am interacting with someone who’s energy is more aggressive or pushy than mine, I usually shrink back. I don’t stand my space. I think one of my life lessons is in owning that I have a right to my being and space just as much as anyone else, and this stems from it. It’s okay to stand my ground and be me. Sometimes, that takes a courage for which I must dig deep.

I’ve talked about keeping space and riding the emotions that you’re picking up from others while not owning it. That is part of it. I think the next step is owning my own emotions. It seems that there are quite a few people out there, especially in the spirituality scene, that demonize certain emotions. A great example is anger. When I flipped my car two weeks ago, I was texting a friend and talking about my process. I mentioned that I was angry about it. The anger wasn’t running the situation, or boiling over into other parts of my life. That was just what I was feeling at the moment. Digging deeper, it’s really a secondary emotion to the scary nature of it. She told me that I shouldn’t be angry, because it didn’t serve me in the end. I  changed the topic, talking about the secondary emotional nature of anger, but it made me pause.

Why shouldn’t I feel it?

I can’t ignore it. That would be burying it inside to let it fester. Instead, I felt it. I sat with it. If I needed a way to release it, I would have found it. Anger has a purpose in our lives, like lust, or dislike. Lust leads to procreation, which leads to life. I dislike pain, which generally keeps me out of really dangerous situations. It’s when anger, lust, dislike, or fear gain too much power in our lives. One of the ways to hand those emotions that power is to ignore them and what they are trying to communicate to us. Sometimes, we need to sit with them and listen to what they are trying to tell us. Once we do that, we can figure out how to fix the problem that is creating these unwanted emotions.

Sitting with our emotions is part of knowing ourselves. The better we know ourselves, the better we can set healthy boundaries. We can stand in our belief. We can say no to things that we really don’t want in our lives. We can use boundaries as a way to keep ourselves, while keeping them permeable and changing so that we can still feel the world around us.

I’m still figuring it all out. I’m still striving to keep a good connection to myself, and the person I strive to be, all while being aware of what’s happening around me, and where the people around me are at. It’s not always easy, but I’m learning.

Anyways, these are my thoughts on the issue. Remember, if there is a subject that you’d be interested in hearing about in this blog, reach out and let me know. Until then, I’ll keep going off about subjects that pop up as something folks might be interested in and personal explorations into the world of herbs and spirit.

 

Until next week

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Sometimes, the work that I do is way less flashy than it is in the movies. People sometimes expect pyrotechnics and earthquakes. That’s just not how it works, though. I mention this because I had mentioned that I was doing a energetic cleansing of a building last Sunday, and I said that I was going to talk about it a bit.

There were no pyrotechnics. There were no earthquakes. There wasn’t poltergeist activity that left me dodging levitating furniture. It was a lot of me singing, praying, visualizing, and trying to communicate that it was time to leave the building.

Let me back up.

This building is an old mill building by a river that is now used by multiple businesses. From what I’ve gathered, the river plays a large part in directing certain spiritual energies and entities to this building, and the theme of a river doing this may be a reoccurring one. I know that the building was bought by another company in the mid 1800s, but I don’t know when it was built. It’s old, though. Being an old mill by a river gives it enough chance to have spirits of people who might have worked there, along with anything wandering the area that the river kind of pushed into there.

I’ve been in this building multiple times, and have always had the feeling that I was not alone. I could feel ghosts. I even tried to contact one once in a meditation class that was taking place there. I believe I did, but it was a long time ago and, as a lot of this work goes, I just wasn’t 100% sure.

Eventually, a friend who owns one of the businesses asked me to try and clear out the space. She was tired of the creepy feeling there, and was looking for a little good juju in the building. I agreed, with one caveat:

I’ve never tried to clear a building like that.

So, I checked in with my teacher for a little guidance, and we worked out a plan. She works a lot with BioGeometry, a system of dowsing and energetic working that was created by Dr. Ibrahim Karim. She helped me come up with something that I could place on the property to divert heavier, unhealthy energy that might be brought in via the river. So, I made a makeshift amulet of sorts out of a plastic pipe, marbles, and whatever else seemed like it worked. I know. It sounds odd, but I wanted to see how well it would work. I headed to the bank of the river to talk to it. There did seem to be a spot where weird energy was accumulating. Unfortunately, it was a sort of flood plain before the building. With the ground frozen, I couldn’t bury the amulet safely, so the next flood would wash it away. Instead, I placed it in a safe spot as close to the floodplain as I could put it, with plans to bury it late spring.

A week later was the day that I was to do the clearing. I woke up well before dawn, gathered my supplies, and headed out. My plan was to sort of ride the energy of the sunrise to help me clear the space. I arrived, felt around for light switches, and made my way to the center of the business that I was helping out. I set up my mesa, and sat to listen.

I could feel the spirits there watching me. I announced my plan as I gathered my drum and a bell and walked through the business, then the building at large. The place that I felt the most activity was the second floor. I was expecting to feel it in the basement, but it wasn’t that bad at all. Perhaps the amulet had already began its work. I drummed as the hanging bell rang, and I prayed for the space. I sang a little of a power song a medicine man once taught me when it felt really intense.

Returning to my mesa, I proceeded to try out a banishing ritual of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn. I have to say, I’ve had better success with it in the past than I did in that moment. I imagine it’s due to the fact that it’s not a ritual I often practice. I then broke out my mix of sweet fern and cedar to smudge the place.

I rarely use my charcoal incense disks, as they burn for a while, and I feel that using them is an investment of time. So, when I tried to light the one that I brought, my inexperience shined brightly. It might have been too old, it might have been incompetence, it might have been both. I couldn’t keep the damn thing lit. Without it, my herbs would not be producing the cleansing smoke I needed. Muttering to myself that I knew I should have made a smudge stick out of these herbs instead, I continually lit the herbs to produce a meager smoke. It was a failure. I also noticed that the sun was rising quickly, and that this building was BIG! Between the size, the age, and the amount of spirits in the place, I began to feel overwhelmed.

In the end, I focused mostly on the business I was there for. I really had wanted to tackle the whole building, though. I ended it with the Sphere of Protection ritual that I often use. That had a stronger effect than normal. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it uses elemental forces, along with energy from the planet, the cosmos, and a synthesis of those powers to bring balance. I could feel the balanced force (referred to in my tradition as the Lunar Current) moving through the beams of the building. That was the surprising success of that morning.

I recently revisited the building. The business does feel lighter, as does most of the building. There are still entities on the second floor, though. As someone who has taken on the responsibility of clearing this building, I want to try it again. I’ll go a little earlier next time, though, as well as figure out my smudging problem. It’s interesting that the biggest problems that got in the way were very mundane and boring. I’m okay with that.

I do have a little funny story to add to it, though. In the middle of the Sphere of Protection, I heard what sounded like a sudden hailstorm coming from the eastern side of the building. A little perturbed, I went to investigate, all while asking my spirit helpers to have my back. I opened the one door I had yet to explore to reveal….

A hopper for wood pellets. The sound was the pellets pouring into the heater.

And they gave me a little bit of a scare.

Next week, I’ll talk about some work I’ve been doing with personal boundaries, and some wisdom that I’ve found concerning them.

 

May your week be warm and enjoyable

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Eclipse

I find the idea of astrology fascinating. When I speak of astrology, I’m not talking about birth chart daily horoscopes you’ll find in the newspaper. That is generally rubbish, as far as I’m concerned. No, I’m talking about how the movement of our planet in relationship with the movement of the planets, stars, and moon affect the flow of energy. I have done a little research into it, as it can be an interesting addendum to magic work. At least, so I’m told. I’m still playing around with it, forming my own thoughts.

The idea that life is affected by position of our planet, our sun, and the way that the closer planets in our solar system reflect the sun back to us makes sense, in a way. The sun is already a major player in why we are physically here. Daytime and nighttime also feel drastically different from each other, and I mean that in more ways than simple heat and light. Maybe it's the way that life reacts to that lack of light and heat that creates the energetic shift, but I believe it to be more than that.

I bring this up as I contemplate the recent lunar eclipse. There is a lot of different views of how eclipses affect the unseen world, and I’m personally trying to grasp what I believe about its energy. They have a bad rap, and it is said that the effects of an eclipse can be felt days before and after. Usually, that makes me think it’s just a scapegoat, but, along with the beautiful full moon that we had, it seemed to be a little more intense than usual. That feeling is further exacerbated by the chaos of life here on my hill in Vermont. My step-son was thrust into the position to save a life last weekend. His mother’s boyfriend’s heart stopped as they were hanging out. As the man collapsed, my amazing step-son kept his wits about him, called 911, then proceeded to put his recent CPR training to use. Not bad for a fourteen year old. The man recently came out of the coma that had resulted from his cardiac arrest, about as fine as one can be for being dead for a bit. While it’s amazing that our kid saved a life, that’s pretty traumatic fare that most people don’t have to go through.

Then, yesterday, after a fight with the doctor’s office about some asthma meds, what looked like a clear road ended up being treacherous. I somehow found the only patch of slush on the road, spun 180 degrees, slammed into a boulder, and launched my Volvo wagon into the air. After finishing a complete roll over, the side of my car slammed into an apple tree, roughly putting the vehicle back, right side up, onto its tires in the snowy woods. While I came out of it a little sore, I’m perfectly intact. No broken bones, no blood, minor bruising. I’m still at a loss of how it happened. Good snow tires don’t slide across perfectly dry roads like that, yet here I am.

Now, I’m not blaming the eclipse. The earth’s shadow did not fall upon the moon to specifically warn my family that life was going to get a little crazy. The words of an author that I respect do come to mind, though. I can’t remember the exact quote, but John Michael Greer said something to affect that magic is just the art of intended coincidence. It stems from the idea that magic can cause physical change in the world, as long as it doesn’t break the laws of physics. Instead, it looks more like a coincidence that after a ceremony to call rain, air pressure changed as it does, and rain followed in what seems to be a natural course.

This is absolutely conjecture, yet it seems to me that the area has been a little more chaotic recently. Maybe I’m projecting, or maybe I’m seeing it through the lenses of my own crazier-than-usual life, but it seems everything around here has been more open to disorder. Could part of this be connected to the eclipse of a powerful full moon? Why not? Everything is connected in ways that we have yet to fully understand.

The experiences of my step-son and I both remind me of the rune hagalaz, the rune that shakes things up. If my step-son wasn’t there, his mom’s boyfriend would have died. Josh keeps thinking that my crash was something reaching out to prevent me from finding a more catastrophic experience down the road. What if these are acts of the universe to change for the better, but the change itself is still powerful and traumatic. It reminds me of some of the healing work that I’ve been trained to do. The act of facing your trauma and shadows. It can be hard, and it’s rarely fun, but it leads to a deep healing. Maybe that’s the energy of the eclipse. Maybe there’s a bigger pattern in the chaos.

Or maybe it all just happened, and the proximity to the eclipse is just a coincidence. Maybe it’s all false equivalency.

On a side note, concerning the solar and lunar forces, tomorrow I am heading out to an old building to do a clearing. I’ve felt that this building is haunted for quite a while. Recently, the owner asked me to go in and try to do a clearing, as she finds the building creepy. This being my first building that I’ve tried to clear of noncorporeal beings, this is going to be an interesting experience, one that I will share about more next week. The reason I mentioned solar forces in conjunction with solar forces is that I plan on heading there before sunrise to try and use the energy of the sunrise to help me clean out the space. It may be successful, it may not. Either way, it will be interesting. I can’t wait to share the story with you next week.

 

Be well. Be safe.

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Where it all comes from

I usually have the subject that I'm going to write about in this blog planned out well before I begin writing. Today, though, I'm here at my step-son's track meet, utilizing some down time to write. But, about what? I know there are a whole lot of cool topics out there to tackle, but I'm not in a place to write about them.

Why? I think I'm feeling a little fatigue from the work.

This is, of course, not a complaint. I love the work that I do, and it's worth me feeling tired. It's just an interesting observation.

In my years of Reiki, I rarely feel a great amount of fatigue from doing healing work. After all, my work is to be a channel for Reiki energy, not to supply it myself. It's as I work more into different modalities, though, that I feel myself using energetic and mental "muscles" that I don't normally use. I'm beginning to feel the after "workout" slump.

It seems the shamanic work in particular can take it out of me. When using my rattle to reach a state of trance, the work I do in my trance and the emotions uncovered and experienced by both myself and the client can be tiring. I feel that way especially when I ride intense emotions with others. You know that exhausted feel after you've had a cathartic, ugly cry? Yeah, sometimes I feel that way after an intense session. Again, this is what I want. This is the work that I'm supposed to do. I've just had a full week of it.

It started with the rattle I began to make last week. I wasn't paying attention to the work as closely as I should have been. When imbuing something with power, it's best to draw that energy from something bigger than yourself. I was not. After I typed up the blog on the rattle, I noticed that I had dug into the well of my own energy without meaning to. Whoops. This can sometimes manifest in physical symptoms, as it did with me that evening. Nothing a little sleep couldn't fix, but it still messed up my plans for the day. 

Later this week, I decided to do some needed ancestor work. I rattled, and dug deep. I had some personal revelations and experiences that culminated in the message "Why the hell aren't you more focused on your work in helping people!" It made me face some of my insecurities and reasons why I hold back in this work. Not fun work, but important.

I catch my breath in time to do some work with clients, which led to a full day of rattling and journeying. It was good, but, wow, I'm feeling it today. 

I guess what I'm getting at is beware of the work of the healer. It's not always sunshine and roses. If it is, I suggest breaking through that. In the work that I do, it seems that the messier the session, the more healing it is. Part of finding healing is facing things that we don't want to face, and that can be exhausting. In the end, though, it's incredibly liberating.

Friday Night Rattle Making

Have you ever wondered what your younger self would think of you? That thought crossed my mind yesterday, as I thought of what a Friday night might have been in my earlier years. I wonder how my younger self would have responded to see how I was spending my Friday night: sitting on the edge of the tub with a few knives at my disposal as a I scraped away at a piece of deer hide, offering prayers to a deer spirit.

My husband has been partaking in a few learning experiences that have presented themselves to him in the realm of Norse trancework. He has been using recorded music to go into trance, but he has bumped up against some work where he needs to make the sound he uses to go into trance himself. He needs a magical sound maker.

He could use my rattle or my drum, but it’s better that he have his own. So, to help him out with this, I offered to make him a rattle. I could use the practice, and it would be more meaningful to have one made for him instead of just buying one.

The first step was to get the hide. I have a deer hide given to me by my sister-in-law’s brother about a year ago, and this was a perfect moment to use some of that. I trudged through the snow to get to the barn where it is. I sat with it, getting ready to take some off, when the spirit of the deer decides to reach out to me. He wanted me to know that he’s a little pissed that I haven’t taken better care of the hide.

I took the piece of hide inside, put it in a bucket of water, Borax, and salt, and make offerings to it. Working with annoyed spirits does not make a good sacred tool. The deer spirit is right, though. I didn’t clean it off as well as I should have at the beginning of the last summer, so it could be in better shape. In penance, I offered prayer and herbs along with the salt and borax to properly clean and care for it.

After a few days of that, it was time to start the actual process of rattle making. I took the hide to our tub to get a good look at it. The fur was still there, and that gets in the way of cutting, sewing, and muffles the sound of the rattle. The Wahl Show Pro Plus dog hair trimmer is the best thing ever in that situation. If it wasn’t for that, I would be cutting with scissors and scraping with knives all night.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of handling wet hide, it’s not exactly pleasant. It is a great material, though, and being a local deer gave the rattle a connection to the area. It also makes one ponder their life choices as one scrapes any detritus off it while sitting on the edge of the tub on a Friday night. Hence the beginning of this blog entry.

After it was clean and ready, back to the bucket it went with a fresh batch of water. I made offerings to the water (white flowers and sea salt), the deer (tobacco), and the future rattle (a mix of sage and lavender), along with a little more prayers and thanks. I instructed Josh (my husband) to go and make an offering that seems right to him.

Fast forward to this morning. I took the hide out of the water, and cut out the shape of what could be described as a fully deflated balloon from half of it. I used the cutout to make the same shape with the other half of the hide. I broke out my leather hole punch, and begin ringing the outside with holes about half a millimeter apart (except for most of the skinny part of the balloon shape). After finishing both shapes, I broke out the thread. I usually use waxed thread or sinew, but I had neither. Doubled up upholstery thread it was!

The sewing is part of the magic for me. I like working in energy and intention with sewing. I see it as light that I sew in along with the thread, or the thread capturing certain words or phrases. As this is for Josh, I just put love into it. I keep on thinking about how much he’ll love it. I don’t want to affect the feel of it too much. I want it to feel wholly his.

I then lugged up this cauldron of sand we have. We have used it as a big ashtray before when we have large amounts of people over, and we want our smoker friends to have a place to put their cigarette butts that isn’t our lawn, road, or garden. It’s clean now, and I need the sand, so up to the mage room it goes. I started filling up the hide pouch with sand, tamping it deep in with a stick. As soon as I could fill it no more, I hung it up to dry. That is where the project stands now.

Once it dries, I will empty out the sand, and begin the process of finding the right sound for Josh. I have a jar of old Jacob’s Cattle Dried beans that I harvested years ago, and I’m sure they do not have a high germination rate. Instead, they should make a great sound in the rattle. If that’s not the sound Josh is looking for, we keep searching. He has to also pick a type of tree that he wants to make a handle out of, and preferably go find the perfect handle. We’ll attach it and seal it to the rattle head, once we have the right insides for the right sound. We’ll decorate it as he likes with leather, cloth, braids, feathers, paint, or whatever else he might want.

Once he has a rattle, he will have a tool to create a monotonous sound that he can use to go into trance. I’m feeling pretty good about the project, so I wanted to share with you a little bit of the process. After all that hide cutting, hole punching, intentional sewing, sand packing, and now blog writing, my hands are feeling a little tired. I’ll end the blog with this.

I think that my younger self would totally approve of my Friday nights. He was pretty weird, too.

 

Until next week

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Fire Cider

I have a favorite immune support concoction that I love to start my morning with when I have it on hand, especially during the winter. I always seem to have a hard time setting aside time to actually making it, though, which is a shame. It’s a recipe called “Fire Cider.” The well-known Herbalist and Author Rosemary Gladstar came up with it in the 70s (though recipes like it may have been around before that) and she has been perfecting it ever since. There is an interesting legal battle concerning the name “Fire Cider” that’s been waging for a few years now. I urge you to look into it, as it highlights some interesting quirks of herbal work and copyright, but it’s not the focus of my post today. Instead, I want to talk about the product itself, how to make it, and where it plays a part in magic.

The recipe for Fire Cider calls for an apple cider vinegar, preferably unpasteurized. The herbal ingredients are:

  • ½ cup of chopped horseradish root

  • ½ cup chopped onion

  • ¼ cup chopped garlic cloves

  • ¼ cup grated ginger

  • Chopped fresh or powdered cayenne pepper to taste

  • Chopped fresh or powdered turmeric (an addition of mine that usually matches the amount of cayenne I put in, if it’s powdered. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on fresh turmeric, maybe an ⅛ of a cup?)

 

You may notice that these herbs are all food. That being said, the amounts of this recipe can be tweaked to taste or availability. Take these herbs, mix them together in a mason jar, cover them with the apple cider vinegar, gently warmed, but not hot. Put the cover on, and shake it once a day. Usually it’s suggested to do this for a month, but if you’re feeling like working a little extra magic into it, you can do it for a moon cycle.

When you’re ready, strain out the fire cider with a cheesecloth, add honey to taste (or not, if you don’t want or need the sweetness). Take a shot a day, or more if you’re worried about getting sick. This recipe leaves a lot of room to change things around. Some people add orange peel for the taste (and maybe some Vitamin C), or Cinnamon for its taste and medicinal properties. The important parts are the apple cider vinegar, onions, garlic, horseradish, and ginger. The cayenne is highly advisable, but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker.

The herbs in this concoction are generally warming, and are great at taking out a lot of different sicknesses before they settle in. If you take it before your coffee, its zing and heat will wake you right up. It’s also great for your circulation, and you’ll have the immune system of a champ with it.

While looking at the jar of Fire Cider sitting on our kitchen counter recently, I began to wonder what the magical properties of the herbs I’m extracting via vinegar are. That has to have some effect on the imbibing individual, doesn’t it?

These herbs actually have a lot in common in the more esoteric senses. As garlic and onion are related, this makes sense. They both have connections to Mars, and are used as protection against hostile magic and malevolent spirits. I think that magic and physical response are two sides of the same coin, and this makes sense. As these herbs dispel illness, they also dispel bad vibes. They are protectors that also have a connection to martial matters and male sexuality. With their history as ways to support heart and circulatory health, it would make sense that they are also connected to these things.

Ginger also has connections to Mars (a Mars in Aries astrology, just like garlic). It is used in magic concerning protection and sexuality. Could this be another connection to its use as an herb of the circulatory system?

Horseradish is also connected to Mars, and used for purification and protection. It’s medicinal uses are many. When grinding it, sometimes I have to use goggles it makes my eyes burn. It is well deserving of its fiery reputation.

I actually couldn’t find anything on the esoteric uses of cayenne, but I’m sure they’re out there. It’s certainly a fiery herb, and great medicinally for getting things moving, circulation, and kicking out illnesses. It also has a good amount of Vitamin C.

Turmeric has a history in magic as an herb of protection. Medicinally, it has some great anti-inflammatory actions that are a fine addition to the Fire Cider. I also like the taste, it fights blood clots (like a lot of the other herbs in this recipe), and there is interesting research on it helping the body fight cancer.

Vinegar itself has often been used in magical practice. I have a few herbal vinegar extracts that are waiting to be finished and mixed together to make a home cleansing vinegar wash. Vinegar itself has protective and cleansing qualities. It’s used in exorcism and banishment. I’ve even read that some people put out a bowl of vinegar in energetic troubled areas to make it difficult for negative energies to take shape. It is also classified under something that has a fiery energy.

Fire Cider has more fire in it than just in taste. All of these ingredients seem to have some use in protection and banishment, which is essentially what an herbalist is trying to do to winter illnesses with this concoction. Not only will it keep you physically healthy, it might also do the same thing for you energetically. Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’m going to strain out the batch in my kitchen and take a shot. Yeah, it’s early afternoon, but it’s sounding like a good idea to me to get a shot in.

 

Happy experimentation!

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Red Flags

I was gifted with a few great books this Christmas, with subjects ranging from herbal alchemy, to ceremony, and even a little bit of hoodoo. I couldn’t have been more pleased. One of the books that fascinated me is called “Becoming Supernatural” and I began to dive into reading it soon after receiving it. A few pages into the introduction, a few red flags started to wave in my mind. It looked like the book had a streak of pseudoscience. Now, this doesn’t still my interest in the book. It looks like it also contains some factual material that will yield a deeper understanding on how our brains work in the realm of the spooky, as well as some interesting meditations that the author claims had some amazing positive effects on those who have tried them. I’ll slog through some “fake news” to glean some truth (while using it as a way to practice my critical thinking skills, pointing out what I believe to be bunk, and why).

This brings me to the topic of the blog today. There are some easy to find red flags in spiritual thinking and literature that can at least make one stop and try to figure out if the thinking or literature will actually serve to help you or take your money. I thought that I might share a few of them today.

 

  • Name Dropping Quantum Theory

 

Quantum mechanics became the darling of the New Age scene as it seems to do the impossible, such as light acting differently due to observation, or particles pulling seemingly improbable shenanigans that don’t quite jive with our understanding of physics. The problem arises when one looks closely at the experiments that help create some of the quantum weirdness out there. The correlation between quantum mechanics and the New Age movement is usually born from a misunderstanding of what is actually happening, or trying to create false equivelency between everyday life and the actions of particles on the atomic level.

Because of this, any work in the spiritual realm that readily drops how quantum mechanics proves that it is more of a science makes me jumpy at best. It can be from a misunderstanding of quantum physics (not many of us really understand it, myself included). It is the predatory spiritual movements that really get my goat, though. The ones that drop the word quantum in their practice, and use it as a way to sell it to the masses as scientific spirituality. Either way, beware of the “Q” word in spiritual practices. It may just be an honest misunderstanding, or it may be a way to fool you.

 

  • The Hard Sell

 

True stories of how a practice changed the life of someone is useful anecdotal evidence when we try to tackle subjects outside the widely accepted world view. It can also be a selling point for a product. If you feel like someone is leading up to asking you for money, it might be wise to take a step back and check out the intentions of the book or person trying to sell a “spiritual product.”

I know. This comes from a guy that charges for sessions, and tries to sell items of spiritual significance online. It may be shocking, but I don’t do this for the money. I like to be paid for my time. I like to have enough wealth in my life for food, home, and a little fun. That's not why I do what I do. I do this work because I am passionate about it, and I feel that, in a way, I’m supposed to. There is a line where people start putting the money’s importance before the importance of how our practice helps others and the world, though. It’s a difficult balance in this line of work, but there are people out there who are very blatant about what they’re in this for. If you feel like someone is pushing a product more than the work, you might want to pause and get a better feel for who you’re working with. A few other things to look out for in this would be promises of instant results, lots of spiritual power and wisdom accrued in a weekend workshop, claims that their product is the only way to enlightenment, promising abilities and wisdom that the promiser does not/cannot display, and other general signs of sleaziness.

 

  • The White Savior

 

This is a little specific to cultural traditions, and not a problem that I’ve noticed in “Becoming Supernatural.” It is a problem in spiritual literature, and I figured I would address it. This is a trope that could easily be found in a handful of 90s books on shamanism or Native Traditions. The story is about how a culture gifted their secrets to some white person from California to save their tradition, and share (read: sell) this wisdom with other well off folks. This is kind of tied into the hard sell (there might even be a little bit of quantum name dropping) as it usually leads to some kind of plan to make lots of money off of those looking for lost cultural connection.

While I’m not suggesting that cultural wisdom cannot be gifted to those outside of said culture, and taught by an outsider (with permission where applicable), I find that those folks who practice real cultural tradition that they weren’t necessarily born into don’t see themselves as the savior of that culture. They are sharing what was given to them to share.

So, when an author comes out of the woodwork claiming fantastical things (*cough *cough* Lynn Andrews *cough* Carlos Casteneda) that they learned from a culture that had kept it previously secret, it’s a good sign to at least research the culture they claim to represent. Is it in line with what the culture openly shares? Do they have open backing from people in that culture? Does it actually reference a culture, or is it vague (marketing as “Native American,” “African,” or “Celtic” wisdom) without specific groups or regions (such as Abenaki, Ethiopian, or Welsh)?

 

Okay. This is something that one could write a book about. I’ll leave it at these three today, but I imagine I’ll revisit this topic in a later blog post. I’ll leave you with the suggestions of source checking and research.

On another note, you may have noticed that I have posted my blog on Saturday instead of Friday for the past few weeks. Friday seems to be an inopportune day to get a blog out. Henceforth, my blog day will be Saturday!

Also, if there is any questions you have, or a subject you’d like me to approach on my blog, please let me know! I’d love to take suggestions.

 

May your week be beautiful

 

-The Green Mountain Mage