Salt and Blessings

We returned yesterday from a long weekend of camping at Acadia Park in Maine. Josh did a lot of Rune magic throughout the island (you’ll be able to hear that story when he publishes his blog next week) and we both enjoyed connecting to both the spirits of the island and the ocean.

I was, of course, ecstatic to be by the sea. I submerged myself in those cold northern Atlantic waters as much as I could, connecting to the ocean’s primal power and cleansing myself of any psychic muck I may have picked up. As we drove home, I was deep in thought about the cleansing power of ocean water and methods of energetic cleansing that I use at home. It comes down to something that most every house has, something that we use every day.

Salt.

Salt has a lot of interesting history in many different cultures. Salt has been used by humanity as far back as 6050 BC in trade, food, preservation, and religion. Imagine eating your food without a little bit of salt. There aren’t many out there that enjoy bland food. So, this ocean derived commodity was a big deal (and an important source of dietary minerals).

As I mentioned, people had also noticed applications in spiritual practices. Even the ancient Egyptians used it in their spiritual practices, including mummification. They were far from the last culture to use it in spiritual practice, though. The first modern example that comes to mind is the Catholic Church. Salt is mixed in their holy water, after both the water and salt are blessed. It is then used in baptism and blessing. While the blessing is an important aspect in the usefulness of the holy water, it is the mix of the water and salt that hold the first step towards its power.

I’m sure you’ve heard of fairy tales, myths, or TV shows that involve the magic of salt. Many times it shows up in a protective circle of salt around a magician or a horror movie protagonist. That myth comes from actual use in folk magic as well as Catholicism. It even continues in modern day “tradition” in the practice of tossing salt over your shoulder when you spill salt.

According to John Michael Greer’s “Encyclopedia of Natural Magic” salt’s astrological correspondences are Saturn in Aquarius. Energetically, it absorbs and purifies. These qualities make it a great choice for protection and banishment work. It also makes it great for clearing out psychic gunk that might be attached to you or something that you own. I even make a protection salt that incorporates herbs of blessing and protection that one can use to block out negative energies.

I often use salt in my own energetic clearing. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve begun an exploration into a very intriguing magical system called Quareia. I’m still in the beginning stages of the course, so I can’t really give too much of an opinion of the magical system. One of the first things that you learn in the course is how to make a sort of holy water. The idea is to make cleansing baths once a week for a few weeks to learn how it feels to be clear of the psychic grime that we accumulate throughout our travels in life. It can also be used in clearing a room of unwanted energies, as well as helping to remove simple energetic parasites from someone.

Here’s an example of its use. Josh and I attended a sound healing event. The space it was held in was full of people, so there wasn’t a lot of room to work with. As I laid down, I set the intention that the session was for me and that I wouldn’t connect to those around me as the session went on. I wanted to focus on my energetic stuff, and I didn’t want to get sucked into doing healing work for others while I ignored why I was there. I set up strong boundaries and let the sound wash over me.

Josh had a very different approach. He opened up to feel what was going on in the room. He interacted with spirits of the place and the energies of the people in the room. He didn’t feel anything too out of the ordinary until we arrived home. I noticed that he was edgy and something was off. As we tried to go to sleep, he was wide awake with the feeling that something was off. He had picked up some small parasitic energy from the session, most likely dislodged from someone else during the sound healing session. Josh was an open target! So, I rolled out of bed, grabbed some salt, poured some water, and got to blessing. After dousing him in the salty water mix, he began to feel like his normal self. The salt water had worked!

It may seem like a little thing, but the usefulness of this is pretty fantastic. You can find the blessings I used in this PDF (starting on page 8). I’m still playing around the uses, but it’s shown some promise. It makes me wonder how much of it is the blessing, and how much of it is in the natural properties of the salt and water.

An interesting note in the use of salt, holy water, and cleansing herbs. My teacher Adhi has a theory about the uses of these items in Catholic baptism that may help shut down people’s third eye. She theorizes that the mix of symbolism, salt, water, and herbal oils (all of which, by themselves are useful tools for healing and clearing work) were formulated to help shut down the intuition of the common people about a millennia or two ago. While it may seem a little like a conspiracy theory, the methods that she taught me that employ sacred geometry and dowsing to counteract this “psychic scarring” have a powerful effect. There is certainly something to it! I bring it up to look at all the sides natural magic, and how too much of a good thing can be counterproductive.

Well, that’s all I have for tonight. Thank you for exploring the mechanics of a little natural magic with me.

 

Be well and do good work

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Spirits of my Past

Today is my 34th birthday. Anyone close to me knows that I am really into celebrating my birthday. I can take a day to celebrate another year of exploration of life and the world I live in. It can also be a great time for reflection.

In my reflection, I’ve been going back to my childhood and the form that spirituality took then. I was raised by fiercely religious folks whose belief system was still rocked by the 80s satanist scare. Magic and other forms of spirituality were sure paths to hell.

My childhood was my first magical training, though. My mother and grandmother would probably be horrified to hear that, but it’s very true. I learned a way to interface with Divinity in those years. I learned how to feel energy. I felt the difference between praise songs, how they felt different, how the people singing these songs with me affected the feel of praise, and how the right mix could lead to a mystical experience. I remember learning that many of the kids in the churches I would attend didn’t feel the same, weren’t looking for the same spiritual experience as I was. While I was looking for connection to the Divine and Divine Love, many of the other kids were there because they had to be. I felt the same for many of the parents. It was a social thing that was expected of them.

To be fair, hypocrisy is a human thing that is not just the domain of any one religion. I saw it in the one I was raised in, though, and that was part of what drove me away. From what I saw when I was young, it seemed that other traditions had more developed ways to explore magic. Now that I am older and have waded through a bit of magic theory and traditions, I’ve learned that I was very, very wrong.

You’d might be surprised to find that most paths of power on this continent have Christian roots. Renaissance magical study abounded in Christian symbolism, and the Church hasn’t always been so antagonistic to its practice. It is heavily present in a lot of folk magic like Root Work (Hoodoo) or Pennsylvania Dutch Pow-wow. Even the famous Golden Dawn magical system uses a mix of Christian and Ancient Egyptian symbolism in their work.

When I began to actively research magic outside of my religious experience, I was pretty sure that I had finished my path with Christianity. I thought that I would be jumping into a world of pre-Christian European deities, and that would be that. That turned out to be yet another thing that I would be wrong about.

I’ve mentioned the Sphere of Protection ritual that I practice in other blog entries. In case you’ve missed them, the Sphere of Protection ritual is a practice created by the Ancient Order of Druids in America, a Druid Revival Order of which I am a member. The purpose of this ritual is to align myself with the archetypal energies of the elements, as well as the planet and the cosmos, while creating balance within myself and banishing unbalanced energetics within and about me. Part of this ritual involves intoning divine names. The original example is written using the names of old Welsh deities. They’ve never called to me, so I tried out names from other Celtic deities. I have a connection to Mannanan Mac Llyr after all, so that pantheon group should make sense to use in my daily ritual. Something wasn’t right, though.

Fast forward to a session of shamanic journeying with a teacher of mine. We were meant to go and meet guides who represented the four directions. We started in the East, the direction traditionally attributed to the element of Air. My teacher started drumming, and I began to journey East in my mind’s eye. I was heading into this with an expectation. I work with Hawk, as I’ve mentioned before. He is often attributed to the East and to the element of Air, so I expected to bump into him. Instead, I found the archangel Raphael.

I didn’t expect my meditation to go this route. Raphael is the archangel traditionally attributed to Air and the East. I started to talk to him, but I told him that I thought I had made a mistake. A wrong turn in the corners of my subconscious, if you will. So, I left to find Hawk. As I did, Hawk laughed and told me to go back to Raphael and talk to him. Confused, I went back to Raphael, archangel of Air, archangel of healing. Apparently, I was not finished with Christianity... or, at least, its archetypes.

This was my first hint that I should be working with angelic energies (not my last). This is now a little bit of a weird concept to me, but I think it’s a way of the universe reconnecting me to a spiritual part of my youth. I now invoke the elements of the Sphere of Protection ritual with the names of the archangels traditionally attached to the directions: Raphael for the East, Michael for the South, Gabriel for the West, Uriel for the North, Sandalphon for Below, and Metatron for Above. It seems to work well for me, so I’m running with it. It gives me a good excuse to delve into old angel lore, at least. Who knows where it will take me from there?

Well, it’s late. May your explorations produce good information, and may your roots help you, not hinder you.

 

Until next time

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Planets and Constellations

We are embarking on an experiment in magic today. In fact, this experiment is the reason why I’m posting on Wednesdays. It goes back to the idea of working with the energetic currents that naturally happen around us every day.

Magic and astronomy have gone together hand in hand for a very long time. The idea that different sorts of energetic currents moved around our planet (and us) at different times is an old one that more than one tradition has tried to develop a language for. One of the ways that people could tell where our planet was in it’s cyclical currents was watching what stars we are facing from where we are standing on this big hunk of space rock that we are travelling around the sun on. A common language that people use now a days for these currents is the language of astrology.

Before we continue much further, I’d like to make something known. I am not an astrology expert. I wouldn’t even go as far to say that I know it all that well. I do know enough to experiment with it in my magical practice, though. It is this knowledge that I am sharing.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you will already have noticed that I use astrological terms when talking about the esoteric uses of plants. Lemon balm’s correspondences are Jupiter in Cancer. Plantain’s correspondences are Mars in Capricorn. You may have wondered what planets and constellations have to do with plants. When I speak of these celestial bodies in reference to energetic properties, I’m referring to the energetic currents associated with these planets and constellations. Each of the planets known to Babylonian and Greek astrologers millenia ago and the twelve constellations of the zodiac represent a certain energy. If you don’t know these correspondences, here are some charts that I stole from the internet.

Planetary_Astrology_For_dummies
Zodiac_Astrology_For Dummies

That’s actually what a lot of astrology is all about, as I understand it. The popular pigeonholing of someone due to their sun sign is talking about the yearly energetic current that someone was born into. The constellations that we use to describe this was where the sun was approximately hanging out in the sky about 2,200 years ago. While the sun no longer is in the constellations due to the wobble of the planet, we still use the constellation’s names in describing the energetic currents that happen at that point of the year. Presently, we are in the astrological sign of Cancer. Though the sun nowadays is actually hanging out in Gemini, the current of the year remains the same. We’ve called it the Sun in Cancer 2,200 years ago, and we’re sticking to it.

When getting into astrological birth charts, they are a lot more complicated than one’s sun sign. They cover where the moon was, where the planets were, and other astronomical events at the point of your birth. While fascinating, that’s not what I’m covering today. Instead, I’m talking about charting these energetic currents and trying to ride these currents to be more successful at whatever you are trying to do.

Magically, a good way to do this is to pay attention to where the moon is hanging out in the sky. As I write this, the moon is in between Pisces and Aries at a point that astrologers refer to as “Void Of Course.” Not the most auspicious time, this should have a bad effect on intuition. It’s not a good time to do something magical. It would be better to wait for the moon to go into Aries tomorrow. Not to say that one can’t do something magical, just that it would not be as easy as it would be to wait for a better time.

The other planets in the sky also move through these different points of the sky, and mark movement of energetic currents. The theory is that they are reflecting solar currents flavored by the planet, subtly coloring the energetic movements on our planet. I’m sure you’ve heard of the dreaded “Mercury Retrograde.” That’s when, due to planetary movement and perspective, Mercury moves across the sky in the opposite direction as everything else. While it might be sending vibes of botched communication, it certainly is not the game changer that a lot of people try to make it. When it comes to planetary astrology, though, I usually don’t pay too much attention. They’re pretty far away, so I imagine that their effect is pretty subtle indeed. The moon and the sun, on the other hand, affects us in so many ways, astrology aside. I find the idea that their position in relation to us defining subtle energy shifts intriguing.

This brings us back to the beginning of this blog entry. Why Wednesdays? Well, someone noticed a long time ago that there are seven planets in traditional astrology (the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) and there are seven days in our week. It was only a matter of time until someone assigned a planet to a day. Wednesday happens to be the day assigned to Mercury. While the week seems to be an arbitrary human construct that divides the solar year pretty well, who am I to argue with tradition? Let’s try this experiment out. Will blogging on Wednesday be better at communicating than a Friday (the day of Venus) or Saturday (the day of Saturn, which is not the best choice for communication)? Let’s find out.

Talking about using astrology as a way to follow energetic currents, I will be expanding on that theory and how to use it during my upcoming Amulet Making Workshop. It will be on Sunday (can you guess that day’s planet, and what kind of amulets will be made then?) July 15th from 1 pm to 4 pm. If you’re interested, email me at greenmountainmage@gmail.com and I can tell you more.

Finally, have a fun (and relatively safe) Independence Day (for those of us who live in the United States). Don’t let the void of course moon mess with your intuition too badly.

 

Until next time

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Elemental Rituals

In Ancient Greece, about 500 years before the birth of Christ, philosophers suggested that there was a single material source of the world that we experience. Some suggested it was water, others suggested fire, and I imagine that there were quite a few other suggestions being offered. One of the philosophers of that time, Empedocles, came up with his own theory, one that still resonates in our modern culture. In his poem “On Nature” he introduced the idea that the world was not the product of one material source, but four. He argued that everything was made up by the process of air, water, fire, and earth combining and separating.

This idea has seemed to stick with us as a culture. From the rings in the cartoon Captain Planet (excluding heart, which would be compared to “aether”, or spirit, an addition to the elements from Aristotle), to the movie “The Fifth Element”, these classical elements seem to be well represented by pop culture. Perhaps the correlation between the elements and the states of matter help keep them in our collective mind. Earth is a solid, water is a liquid, air is gaseous, and fire corresponds with plasma.

The lasting awareness of these four categories of the material world might also have something to do with their persistent use in Western magic. The idea of four (or five, if you count spirit) elements seemed to have spread out from Greece, to be integrated in medicine, magic, and philosophy of other cultures. It found its way into Ayurvedic practice, Buddhist texts, Islamic philosophy, alchemy, and astrology. The alchemical and astrological uses of the four elements seemed to have deeply affected the magic of the Renaissance. European ceremonial magic used the four elements, and it seems that a lot of the correspondences that many mages use nowadays stem from their work.

The elements grew to be a bigger metaphor than the actual matter that is earth, air, fire, and water. Each was a handy way to categorize the spirit world, the natural world, and the human experience. Plants, planets, directions, and even archangels were assigned an element, and a lot of these associations live on in ritual magic. There were even beings said to be specifically from elemental realms; undines from the realm of water, salamanders from the realm of fire, sylphs from the realm of air, and gnomes from the realm of earth.

I personally use the elements quite often in my ritual work. In fact, the ritual format that I use relies heavily on it. In my work, I usually call on the four elements, and three different forms of Spirit (which I will cover in a separate post). For actual consecration work, such as blessing a tool or an amulet, I would have a full set up, tools to represent the four elements, a central altar, and a lot more invocation and blessing work than what I do on a daily basis to connect to the spiritual nature of Nature. My daily work doesn’t involve tools, it just involves me.

The ritual I perform daily is called the Sphere of Protection, and it is a practice from the Ancient Order of Druids in America, the Druidic order to which I belong. I like it’s use to connect to the natural world, and how well it translates into ritual for purposes beyond connecting to natural forces. I also like how adaptable it is. One could change it to fit whatever belief system they like, as long as they are interested in working with nature within the parameters of their belief.

The first step of the Sphere of Protection (or the SoP), is to calm your mind. The order suggests imagining that you are standing in a clearing of a forest, surrounded by standing stones. I find that part is optional. The only part important to imagine is the sun shining above you, and the heart of the earth shining below you.  You raise your hands towards the sun and imagine a beam of light streaming down to your hands. You pull the light to the center of your forehead, and intone an appropriate sacred name. Honoring my past with Christianity, I intone the name of Raphael, the Archangel assigned to Air. You then bring your hands to your solar plexus, drawing down the light to that part. There, you intone the second name. I use Uriel, the Archangel of Earth. As you intone the second name, the light shoots through you to the heart of the Earth. You bring your right hand out, the light following, and passing into infinity, as you intone the third sacred name. I use Michael, Archangel of Fire. Your left hand goes out, sending another beam of light from your solar plexus as you intone your fourth sacred name, or word. I use Gabriel, Archangel of Water. I then ask the powers of nature to protect me as I visualize two more light beams from my solar plexus, one before me, one behind me. I then chant the word “Awen”, a holy word of the Druid Revival.

Then comes the actual invoking of the elements. I start in the East, with Air. I draw a symbol for air, invoking it with the Druidic name of the Spring Equinox, Alban Eiler, and the animal that represents air in this tradition, the hawk. I ask for its elemental blessings. I also ask for it to be balanced in my life, as the elements can be destructive if not in balance in your life, physically and metaphorically. I move to face South, the traditional direction of Fire. I invoke it with the name of the Summer Solstice, Alban Heruin, and the white stag. Blessings and balance. Then I face West, the direction of water, and invoke with the name of the Autumn Equinox, Alban Elued, and the salmon. Blessings and balance. Finally, I face North, the direction of Earth, and invoke with the Winter Solstice, Alban Arthuan, and the bear. Blessings and balance.

One ends that by creating the elemental cross again (the bit where I used the names of the Archangels). At the end of that, you focus on the light of your solar plexus, expand it to a protective ball of light about you, and imagine it spinning forwards, sideways in a clockwise manner, and diagonally. This is to solidify the energies of the elements within your spirit body, and help protect you from harmful, unbalanced energies that you might run into.

The ritual actually continues into work with Spirit, but this entry is long enough already, and working with the elements for a while is a good start before moving into Spirit. If you find this ritual intriguing, I suggest looking it up on the AODA’s website, linked here, for a more detailed explanation, as well as other ways people practice it. You can also find it in “The Druidry Handbook” or “The Druid Magic Handbook”, both by John Michael Greer.

 

Until next week

-The Green Mountain Mage