Thursday, April 26, 2007

Zodiac: Practical(ly) Magic

I can't believe it...the final post in my A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical! And now, the letter Z...

Zodiac: The twelve constellations through which the sun, moon and planets cross. Each constellation is attributed a "sign" containing special significance depicting various aspects of life.

Ask a majority of people, "What's your sign?" and they can tell you easily. Knowing ones' birth sign is widely accepted, though few understand what it means.

The belief is that the position and alignment of stars and planets at the time of ones' birth can describe their personality attributes. This goes along with my month-long underlying theme of universal energies and their impact on all things; in this case, the type and position of energies affect a child's personality at birth.

Of course, one might turn this around and argue that a child already possesses these traits beforehand (in which case, perhaps their energy influences the date of their birth). Either way, it is interesting to note that a large percentage of people find commonalities between their personalities and the characteristics of their "sign."

For instance, as a Cancer I am said to be creative and drawn to occult and psychic phenomenon, as well as very family oriented with a tendency toward having a large family. I am a mother of seven and the author of a novel with psychic themes, currently writing a blog series on mysticism. Cancers are also notoriously moody creatures, as anyone who has my regular acquaintance can attest. We are drawn tightly to the moon and water, both of which describe me.

If you've never looked up your sign's traits, it may well prove an interesting study. But outside of the momentary entertainment value, who cares? It's not like you need someone to tell you what you like, after all. Still, using the zodiac can help you improve self awareness, be mindful when selecting a compatible mate or career, and to watch for potential pitfalls in life as well as your health. (Certain signs tend to lean toward particular types of ailments.)

Because the line up of stars and planets pull energy in varying ways (think of the way the moon's energy and pull affects the tides), the zodiac is used to predict the future. Such horoscopes are popular enough to be featured in just about every daily newspaper on the planet. Though I find discrepancy at times between various horoscopes (much like scientists may disagree on a particular theory, some astrologists may differ in their reading of astrological signs), I've been suitably impressed on numerous occasions. Not enough to consult the zodiac before deciding what color shirt to wear, but enough to respect the fact that there is value inherent in understanding the mysteries of the zodiac.

If you're interested in further information on birth signs, the zodiac, and astrology, check out these sites:
http://www.astrology-online.com
http://www.astrologycom.com/zodiac.html
http://www.evolvingdoor.ca/zodiac/signsindex.htm

Zodiac: Practical(ly) Magic

I can't believe it...the final post in my A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical! And now, the letter Z...

Zodiac: The twelve constellations through which the sun, moon and planets cross. Each constellation is attributed a "sign" containing special significance depicting various aspects of life.

Ask a majority of people, "What's your sign?" and they can tell you easily. Knowing ones' birth sign is widely accepted, though few understand what it means.

The belief is that the position and alignment of stars and planets at the time of ones' birth can describe their personality attributes. This goes along with my month-long underlying theme of universal energies and their impact on all things; in this case, the type and position of energies affect a child's personality at birth.

Of course, one might turn this around and argue that a child already possesses these traits beforehand (in which case, perhaps their energy influences the date of their birth). Either way, it is interesting to note that a large percentage of people find commonalities between their personalities and the characteristics of their "sign."

For instance, as a Cancer I am said to be creative and drawn to occult and psychic phenomenon, as well as very family oriented with a tendency toward having a large family. I am a mother of seven and the author of a novel with psychic themes, currently writing a blog series on mysticism. Cancers are also notoriously moody creatures, as anyone who has my regular acquaintance can attest. We are drawn tightly to the moon and water, both of which describe me.

If you've never looked up your sign's traits, it may well prove an interesting study. But outside of the momentary entertainment value, who cares? It's not like you need someone to tell you what you like, after all. Still, using the zodiac can help you improve self awareness, be mindful when selecting a compatible mate or career, and to watch for potential pitfalls in life as well as your health. (Certain signs tend to lean toward particular types of ailments.)

Because the line up of stars and planets pull energy in varying ways (think of the way the moon's energy and pull affects the tides), the zodiac is used to predict the future. Such horoscopes are popular enough to be featured in just about every daily newspaper on the planet. Though I find discrepancy at times between various horoscopes (much like scientists may disagree on a particular theory, some astrologists may differ in their reading of astrological signs), I've been suitably impressed on numerous occasions. Not enough to consult the zodiac before deciding what color shirt to wear, but enough to respect the fact that there is value inherent in understanding the mysteries of the zodiac.

If you're interested in further information on birth signs, the zodiac, and astrology, check out these sites:
http://www.astrology-online.com
http://www.astrologycom.com/zodiac.html
http://www.evolvingdoor.ca/zodiac/signsindex.htm

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Yule" be Home for Christmas

T-1 entry in my April A-Z blog series on all things mystical! Here's the letter Y...

Picture it: December, a crackling fire; mistletoe; a wassail bowl of hot apple cider; honey-glazed ham, plum pudding, and fruitcake;decorating a tree; celebrating the birth of God. What holiday is this?

Of course this is a no-brainer. Christmas. . . the holiest of holidays in Western belief. Also known as Yule, a celebration that dates back to ancient times.

Yule is held each year at the time of the Winter Solstice, somewhere around the 21st of December. It is a time when the male God (or the sun/son) is born into the Wheel of the
Year, bringing increased light in a time of darkness as the days once again grow longer. Feasting common at this time was done to celebrate the coming return of another year's bounty.

That Yule is an ancient pagan celebration comes as a surprise to many. Christ himself was actually not born in December, but sometime in the summer. When ancient Rome merged Christianity into their beliefs, the similarity in themes made Yule the ideal time to commemorate the birth of the Lord.

Certain aspects of the holiday were either banned or condemned at one point or another. Mistletoe is not commonly seen in churches because of its pagan roots; some also spoke against decorating Christmas trees (though in fact, ancient pagans did not actually cut down trees, but rather decorated their homes with boughs collected from evergreens). Yule was all but banned during the Protestant revolution as well, decried as a sinful heathen practice. Indeed, even in the U.S. Yuletide festivities have been declared illegal--in Boston during the mid 1600's.

The common themes of birth of the "son" and bringing light to the world make for an interesting comparison between varying beliefs. The same celebration, the same reason, merely with a different name.

So the next time you light a yule log or drink from a wassail bowl, you might wonder what these practices signified to your ancestors.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Xenology: Study of the Unknown

Down to the last three letters of the alphabet...

Xenology (from Greek language xenos = "foreign, guest" and logos = "word") denotes research or information about foreign, alien, secret or generally unknown things. In other words, this might have been a good title for my April blog series on all things mystical.

True, it more aptly applies to the study of alien life forms (and in fiction at that), but it seemed fitting that the study of foreign and secret concepts applies as much to mysticism as it does to whether there are creatures out there capable of delivering the Vulcan neck pinch.

As is the case with many things outside the realm of common discovery, fear of the unknown has branched this field off into a full blown phobia: xenophobia. The fear of foreign and alien individuals is a real and documented one, and though general discussion in the area lies within the realm of nationality rather than beliefs per se, I find it equally applicable to the fear of those who practice mysticism.

There are those who walk along the frontier of adventurous and terrifying discovery. These explorers have been decried as wizards or demons as they've toyed with dangerous forces to unlock some of the greatest powers and mysteries known to man. These wielders of magic do not fear the uknown--they merely test its limits to determine where, ultimately, our place in the universe lies.

Call them foolish, call them doomed to suffer brimstone, but they are at work even today, and in vastly increasing numbers. Who are these brave warriors of mysticism? They're called scientists.

Their discoveries, though met with skepticism, fear, and downright rejection, today enhance the lives of most everyone on this planet. Who's to say that today's freaky mystic won't become tomorrow's science whiz?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wave a Wand, Save a Spell?

W....down to the "w"ire with this A-Z blog series on all things mystical!

Magic wands. No discussion of mystical items would be complete without a mention of them. The idea conjures up images of magicians tapping top hats and pulling rabbits out, fairy godmothers, or Harry Potter tales where the wand chooses the wizard.

Wands are, in fact, true magical tools employed by those who follow paths of mysticism such as I've described throughout this series. However, whereas trick magicians use wands only as misdirection and much fictional magic cannot be performed without one, real life wands are used as an optional tool to direct energy toward a goal. The wand is neither vital nor superfluous; the way a power drill is helpful, yet not a requirement for hanging a large painting.

Wands can be made from just about anything, including wood, metals, crystals, or plastic. Natural elements are considered more effective, and wood has special significance as both a traditional material and one from a "living" source. Others feel metal makes a better tool for attracting energy. Wands can be purchased or made, though many consider that a handmade wand innately possesses more of the user's own energy, thus making it a more valuable tool from the outset.

What does the wand do? When the user wishes to implement energy in order to achieve a goal, they can first use the wand as something of a lightning rod, collecting the positive thoughts, will, and intentions of energy along its length. It is then pointed or directed at the goal (either figuratively or directly by pointing at a picture of the goal, a bill that needs paying, etc) and the energy is "released" by the practitioner, sent off to perform its work.

Though the wand is not an absolute must-have (indeed, some feel the mind alone or the bare hand is a better tool for sending out energy), those who do use one treat them with respect. These are generally not allowed to be handled by others, lest the energies of negative aspects of outsiders be transferred to the wand. The wand is never waved about or pointed in jest, just as a gun owner would (if they are wise) never do so with their weapon.

Often about the length of a forearm, larger versions of the wand are also common. These are called "staffs" and have been associated in folklore with wizards (like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings). If you recall from that particular story, the staff bore a large crystal in one end. Though not required, crystals are often used at the tip of wands and staffs. As we learned earlier in the series, crystals contain a great deal of stored energy, and are thought to be effective conductors of such. Thus they make a good addition to a wand of any size.

Some interesting handcrafted wands can be seen at:
http://www.sticksstonesnbeyond.com/wands.htm

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Visualization:SEE the Magic

As we near the final stretch in my A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter V...

As a childbirth educator for a dozen years, I taught the value of visualizing a goal in order to help achieve it. By instructing women to picture their bodies doing the intended work--and holding their precious babies at the end--they were able to help ease the process of birth. It wasn't until some time later that I learned this principle could be applied to many aspects of life. Positive visualization can be utilized to effect many results--in career, finance, health, family, even spirituality.

Most people already visualize, but the typical emphasis is on negative results. In such visualizations (perhaps better known as worry or fear), we may imagine what would happen as we approach an ATM alone at night, or slam on our brakes and picture someone smashing into the back of our car. By simply turning that focus around to embrace positive outcomes, we can greatly impact our lives.

What can simply picturing a desired goal change? For one thing, our own emotions and feelings. By emphasizing the positive, we can instantly have a more balanced and positive flow of energy by which to empower ourselves. Who is more likely to effect change, the negative soul who has given up to apathy, or the positive thinker who expects their actions to have a desired impact?

From a mystical standpoint, positive energy released toward a goal helps achieve it. Perhaps it is as simple as the added brain boost given by adding the creative power of the right side of the brain to the logical left. That's more brain for the buck.

Many practices depend on the power of visualization to help assist in reaching goals. In Feng Shui, for instance, the visualized intent of every item placed for balance is considered even more important than the act of placing it. In many religions, such focused positivism is called "faith." Even in magic, visualizing the goal is tantamount, more vital than using the right colored candle or proper herb concoction.

How do you do visualization? To start with, find a quiet place or time (for me, this occurs when I'm lying down to sleep). Relax, breathing slowly and regularly. Now, select the goal you are aiming for. Let's say you're after a job promotion. Picture it in your mind, as clearly as you can. See yourself in the boss' office, him shaking your hand while giving you the good news. Visualize moving into the new office, setting your box of personal items down on the new desk. Picture yourself performing tasks in this new capacity, and smiling as you deposit fatter checks in the bank.

Such focused thought can easily be waylaid by other images--an overdue bill, an unpleasant confrontation, a task you forgot to take care of. As soon as you realize you've been sidetracked, say STOP loudly in your mind. Shift focus back to your positive visualization. Do so as often as you must.

Chances are, if you perform this in bed at night you may wind up falling asleep. Good! You were able to relax enough into this positive approach to allow it to work. Repeat this process for a few minutes each night and you'll soon find yourself better able to produce--and sustain--vivid imagery. Before long, you can produce positive imagery in a variety of situations, at any time of day.

With the power of your own positive thought in your corner, you may be surprised at how different life becomes. The ability to achieve largely depends on our belief we can achieve it. Try visualization, and see where it leads you along the path to your goals. Good luck!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

As the April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical begins winding down to a close, here's the letter U...


Angels among us... such is believed by a variety of religions and has been portrayed in an endless assortment of fiction novels. Everyone from Dean Koontz to Clive Barker has written about the role of angels in our dimension.

Did you know that many New Age and pagan followers also believe in angels? What's more, that one of the archangels is the keeper of this blog series, if you will...the one who resides over hidden mysteries and intuition, prophesy and insight. He is Uriel.

Uriel is one of the four archangels, each associated with a specific direction and element. Uriel is attributed to powers of the North and of the Earth, and is often portrayed wearing "earth" colors--greens and browns. Sometimes he is shown bearing a scroll, which represents wisdom. He is also associated with the planet Venus.

Some lore has called Uriel the "Angel of Death," which makes him decidedly less friendly sounding than one might hope for in an angel. In fact, this association refers to him as a source of comfort to those in their hour of need, rather than as a grim reaper come to exact punishment.

Not that an archangel is a being to trifle with; Uriel is the angel depicted standing over the Garden of Eden with a fiery sword, barring entrance. In fact, despite his association with Earth elements, it may be of interest to some to note that he is also known as the Flame of God, Light of God...or "Sun" of God. He also oversees thunder and lightning.

Those who engage in spiritual practices where angels are looked to for guidance and strength would call upon Uriel during times of change or transformation, or when in need of calm in times of stress and anger. As the keeper of mystical insights, he can help guide those having difficulty tuning into their inner psychic.

For more information on Uriel, check out these sites:

http://www.anewbelief.com/Angels/uriel.html
http://www.uriel.com/uriel/index.htm
http://www.shininglite.com/new_page_4.htm

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tantra: Divine Romance

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter T...


In my earlier blog about the Kama Sutra, I mentioned that the ancient text had a great deal more to offer than advice on bedroom gymnastics. Today let's talk about another mystical word with more to offer than the distinctly sensual connotation imparted to most who hear it: Tantra.

Indeed, sexual rites are an important part of this tradition, but only a part. Tantra is a term which applies to a variety of beliefs throughout Eastern religions, including Hindu and Buddhism. The word tantra is taken from Sanskrit, meaning "continuity," "weave," or "loom." Tantra is based around the ideal that within each human being lies all elements found in the universe; a complete microcosm of energy inside all of us. In short, we are the universe made manifest. Thus, by experiencing energy on a personal level by way of meditation, yoga, sexual rites, and other mind-expanding techniques, tantra followers believe they are better able to understand the universe itself.

In Tantrism, as with many religions, this energy is formed of both male and female components, and goddess worship is a part of this practice. As humans are the microcosm of the universe, but inherently only posess either male or female energy, ultimate bliss can only be experienced by uniting this duality. The melding of our male/feminine components creates a cosmic whole, and that completion can provide a unique sense of universal balance. Tantric sex, then, is not a mindless concern of frothing orgies, but rather a sacred and deliberate practice for the attainment of spiritual knowledge and personal enlightenment.

True, many have adopted tantric techniques with no interest in the religion other than spicing up their bedroom routine. It is certainly possible to experience heightened and unique sensations by doing so. As such, many texts have sprung up in recent times describing (and typically, illustrating) "tantric sex" as a stand-alone companion guide for the bedroom.

Certainly, one need not be a practitioner of tantra as a whole in order to enjoy some of its better known benefits, though arguably the level of pleasure the weekend dabbler could achieve would not be as intense nor spiritual as the devoted follower.

If you are interested in learning more about tantra as a whole, check out these sites:
http://www.tantra-kundalini.com/
http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/hindu/devot/tant.html
http://www.khandro.net/Buddhism_tantric.htm

OR, for more on the pleasure principle aspect of tantra, try these:
http://www.thirdage.com/guides/romance/sex/tantra.html
http://tantra.com/

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Samhain:New Year's Trick or Treat

As part of my April A-Z blog series on all things mystical, here's the letter S...

This is the second of three pagan holidays I will discuss in this series, all of which crossover into popular contemporary holidays. Of these, Samhain is considered the holiest day of the year.


Samhain is the pagan New Year, celebrated since the time of the ancient Celts, who divided their calendar into four seasons, beginning with Samhain in November. Throughout much of the world, the eve of Samhain is celebrated on October 31 under a variety of names: All Hallows, All Saint's, Guy Fawkes' Night, the Festival of the Dead...and Halloween.


Why such a focus on all things dead and macabre at this time? The belief surrounding this is that the veil between the worlds of the living and dead are thinnest on the eve of Samhain, making contact with spirits and the deceased most likely. Those who had passed on could return to their former towns, where folk would provide food and merriment to entertain them with. As with all New Year's celebrations, it is a time to remember what has gone before, and to reflect upon that which lies ahead. In addition, pagan tradition holds that the end of the year marks the death of the God, who will be reborn as the Wheel of the Year turns again.


Divination is a common practice at this time, as the thinning between worlds makes it easier to seek answers from the beyond.


From a practical standpoint, Samhain was also a time to celebrate the final gathering in of peoples and food stores in preparation for the long winter months ahead.


Trick or treating began during the Middle Ages, though initially called "souling." Poor folks would go door to door on All Saint's, begging for food in exchange for prayers for the dead. Though souling was not practiced worldwide, many countries adapted the modern version.


Bobbing for apples, another common "Halloween" tradition, was based on a game of divination the ancients played to predict marriages for the coming year. The apple represented the goddess Pomona, goddess of fertility, and young unmarrieds would bob for these apples either in barrels of water or hanging from strings. The first one to succeed at biting into an apple would be the next to wed. Far from mere fun, the ability to survive to adulthood, and wed to bring forth a new generation, was a tough prospect in ancient times.


Though some of the spiritual implications and origins of the holiday vary from region to region, some form of celebration of the dead can be found in nearly every part of the world, most at the same time of the year. It is interesting to note such similarities coexisting from ancient times between the wide and varied beliefs of modern cultures.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reiki: The Tesla of Healing

As part of my April A-Z blog series on all things mystical, here's the letter R...

Remember the Tesla coil from science class? The man behind the energy was viewed by some to be an eccentric madman. However, his experiments and principles led to the development of many commonly known modern techniques, including the turbine pumps, electric vehicles, and wireless energy transfer. Tesla was known to have said, "Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe."

Enter Reiki, a method of healing by which the practitioner draws energy from around him/her and directs it to an afflicted individual. The energy then settles where healing is needed--provided that the person in question is able to accept and receive this energy. Developed by a Japanese Buddhist, Reiki is believed to have been taken from earlier Chinese medicinal and Yoga practices, but the founder claims his meditations and study awakened something entirely different.

The Reiki practitioner learns this skill by way of formal training, though these days such training can be self-acquired by way of online classes. Such teaching is necessary to learn how to draw and direct Reiki energy, as well as proper techniques to aid healing and attune spiritually in order to better acquire strong healing energy. It is not a single curriculum, however; different schools offer variation in methodology.

Reiki's near laying on of hands approach has been likened to faith healing seen in Western religions. Far from a rarely seen practice, over a million people in the United States alone claim to have received Reiki treatments. In recent years, concern over the environment has led to some broader application of Reiki energy among some, by way of global healing efforts.

Does it work? As with many holistic approaches, science is critical. At best, Reiki is felt to be a pseudoscience that offers a placebo effect, and the medical community worries that those with life threatening conditions may shun traditional methods in favor of this unproven approach.

Either way, one wonders whether Reiki will, in time, become a machine driven by unseen forces in the universe, much like Tesla predicted. After all, his principles have been used to demonstrate the truth in other "pseudosciences."

For more information on Reiki, visit these sites:

http://www.reiki.com/
http://www.reiki.org/
http://threshold.ca/reiki/

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


As part of my A-Z blog on all things mystical, here's the letter Q...
Qabbalah (also spelled Kabbalah or Cabalah) is a branch of Judaism that acknowledges and delves into the study of mysticism. Though dating back to ancient times, Qabbalah is still in wide practice today.
Interestingly, whereas many religions advise training up family members from a very young age, those interested in Qabbalah are not permitted to study unless they are part of a select group--at least forty years old and married.
A commonly seen symbol for this Jewish mystical tradition is the Tree of Life seen at left--a symbol found in nearly every culture. In its Qabbalistic inception, the tree is comprised of a sephiroth, or a series of ten interconnected spheres representing a map of the psyche and the universe itself. Within this tree lies secrets tying us to the world of the material and the supernatural.
Practitioners of Qabbalah believe that understanding its mysticism brings them closer to God--bringing enough understanding of the divine to invoke prophecy and other mystical abilities. They believe that letters and numbers and their relationships have magical significance. Gnosticism is often an element of Qabbalah--in short, the belief that God's knowledge has been imparted by way of secret teachings.
Many mystical uses of Qabbalah are practiced, including astrology, healing, and divination. Enough fear and dispute existed for a ban to have been enacted against its practice--a ban that was lifted in the 1600's. The religion gained some notoriety a few years back when Madonna began her own study of its mysticism.
For more information on Qabbalah, check out these sites:
http://www.bookrags.com/research/qabbalah-eorl-11/

Monday, April 16, 2007

For Whom the Pendulum Swings

As part of my April A-Z blog series on all things mystical, here's the letter P...

During this series I've discussed divination and the use of crystals. Today I'll combine the two and talk about pendulums. Though most commonly used in timekeeping devices, pendulums dating back as far as 2,000 BC have been used as a way to divine the answers to questions.

A pendulum consists of a length of chain or cord with a weighted bob on the end. For divination purposes, this weight is often fashioned from an elongated crystal. Though any crystal can be used, some common ones thought to aid the divination process are amethyst and clear quartz. Any item can be used as a weight, however, including rings (a wedding ring dangled by a string over the belly of a pregnant woman is an old way of predicting the infant's sex), washers, keys, or paper clips. A smaller item is generally attached to the opposite end to serve as a handle, which helps reduce inadvertent directing of movement.

It is recommended that pendulums be spiritually cleansed and charged to the purpose before use first. For quick and simple purposes, start by clearing your mind and taking a couple of calming breaths to relax yourself and focus on your goal. Next, determine how the pendulum will give you answers. Several methods for this exist, but one way is to let the pendulum inform you how it will move for a yes and a no answer. Hold the pendulum as still as possible, then ask simple yes or no questions to which you already know the answer. A pattern should emerge: a certain motion--back and forth, perhaps--for yes, a different motion for no. Sometimes a circular motion will be observed, which can mean either depending on the pendulum OR that the question is something it does not choose to tell you the answer to at this time.

Your questions should not only be simple yes or no types, but they should also be clear and concise. It's not enough to ask whether you'll have a good day at work; ask whether you will accomplish a certain task (specify) on a certain day.

To determine the sex of a baby: Have the pregnant woman lie down. Suspend her wedding ring or another item--preferably but not necessarily one belonging to her--over her abdomen. Get the pendulum to hang still, then watch it begin to move. A circular motion means the child is a girl; back and forth indicates a boy. Though technology has unlocked more direct means of determining sex, this is still a fun and easy exercise to try.

Another way to test a pendulum is to shuffle a deck of cards, set the deck in front of you face down, and hang the pendulum above it. Ask whether the next card is black or red (determine which motion it will use for each by testing several times first) and place each correct answer into a separate pile. You may be surprised at how often a good pendulum will get it right.

How (and whether) this works is a matter of much debate, of course, and some fear that evil spirits actually direct the swing of the pendulum. I tend to believe a more practical explanation exists--perhaps this tool uses energies from our own subconscious to bring information across the gap between our intuitive right brain and logical left.

Whatever the explanation, pendulums have proven successful enough to have outlived many other tools developed thousands of years ago.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ostara:The Holiday in the Holiday

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter O...

Ostara is one of eight pagan holidays throughout the year, celebrated at the time of the Vernal Equinox--typically late March or April in the Northern Hemisphere. It is named after the spring Goddess Eostre, or Eostar. Her symbols are the egg and the rabbit. She is often depicted with a rabbit at her side. Colors are pastels, typically light greens and yellows.

Sound familiar?

Ostara is a time to reflect on life's balance, as the Vernal Equinox balances equal parts of day and night. It is a time to celebrate spring and new birth. Gathering wildflowers and planting seeds is a common tradition at this time. Honey, cakes, soup, ham, eggs, and marzipan are common foods. Some use dandelions that pop up at this time to greet the spring in salads or lightly sauteed. Nasturtiums and other early spring edibles are seen, too, as is dandelion or nettle wine. Egg decorating, egg hunts, and egg and spoon races and among festivities.

One trick that can be attempted to demonstrate the perfect balance of the equinox is to take an egg (uncooked) outdoors and find a fairly even surface. Just before the actual time of the equinox itself (consult an almanac for information), set the larger end of the egg on the ground. It is said that the egg will balance itself upright just for the few moments before and after the equinox.

This festival was one of the prime spring celebrations among Germanic tribes before Anglo-Saxon/German heathen conversion to Christianity. Many of the traditions of the pagan holiday were kept while merging beliefs into the holy Christian remembrance of Christ's resurrection, including the name "Easter" after the heathen goddes for which the celebration was named. Since the holiday reflected rebirth and renewal, this made for a natural tie-in with the resurrection of the Christian Lord. A slight change was made so that Easter would occur on a Sabbath--Ostara is celebrated at the actual time of the Equinox, whereas it was decided Easter should take place on the first Sunday following it.

Many find it surprising that some of the holidays they celebrate did not necessarily originate with the founding of their beliefs, but were adapted from older practices. Ostara is not the only such tradition, and later in this series I will be disussing some others worth mention.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ancient's Guide to New Age

As part of the April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here' the letter N...

Clarice had a perceptible touch of free spirit, yet didn't flit about waving crystals at him or using the lingo of some other New Agers he'd had the curious experience of meeting.
--Excerpt from VISIONS

For many, the term "New Age" evokes images of tutti-frutti hippie types who wear bangle bracelets and tie-dyed skirts, slap tambourines, and worship crystals. But what IS New Age, really? Is it really "new?"

First off, New Age is a belief system--and yet it is not one. It is not organized like Judaism or Christianity. Rather, it is an umbrella term for those who follow their own spiritual path through a variety of means. New Age followers tend to have forged their paths by drawing from a spectrum of diverse beliefs: Shamanism, Eastern and Western beliefs, Paganism, and Kabbalah, for instance. So while New Age in and of itself is considered a "new" practice, the principles from which it is derived date back as far as ancient times.

Skeptics and critics of the movement often argue that a self-guided spiritual path without a sacred book to guide it is invalid or immoral. However, many modern religions are hybridized from a series of earlier beliefs. (Tomorrow's blog will discuss one of these--Oestara or Ostara.) Scientists also criticize the movement because some practitioners have cited scientific examples to demonstrate mystical principles.

Defining New Age to an exact degree is difficult because it lacks a standard set of beliefs and practice in order to claim membership. However, there are several attributes commonly seen among those who are part of this movement. Here are just a few:

--Environmental concerns and reverence for all life and matter
--Acknowledgement that all things are connected by a spiritual energy, for which God can be a name
--Belief that feminine forms of spiritual and/or divine energy exist
--The mind has abilities that exceed the natural and taps the supernatural, such as in psychic power
--Crystals and rocks contain energies with special attributes, which can be channeled for healing and other uses
--Meditation is a valuable practice for a number of physical, emotional, and spiritual ends.

A "New Age" individual needn't necessarily subscribe to all these common threads nor adhere to stereotypes, but they typically follow at least some of these ideas.

Do you believe any of the above? Perhaps YOU are a New Ager and just never realized it!

For more information on New Age beliefs, visit these sites:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/newage.htm
http://altreligion.about.com/od/newage1/New_Age_Metaphysics.htm

Friday, April 13, 2007

You are the Magic

As part of my April A-Z blog on all things mystical, here's the letter M...

If you've been following my series on all things mystical you might have thought my "M" word would be "mysticism"...but I thought I'd talk about Magic... why we all have it, and how many use it on a daily basis whether they realize it or not.

There are varying household definitons of magic, served up primarily by writers of fiction and fancy. In some lore, only a chosen sect have the gift; in others, the magic lies with the wand (or hat, like Mickey Mouse's The Sorcerer's Apprentice). Or perhaps a user must spend a certain degree of training time before abilities are unlocked. But how about a more pragmatic view of magic?

Magic, in a very real sense, is the use of ones' energy and will to achieve a desired goal. Ever hear of the power of positive thinking? That's magic. Are you a writer who was taught to push forward, dedicate effort and keep an upbeat approach in order to realize your goal of being published? That energy is magic,too.

All things are comprised of energy, so directing and manipulating energy is how we impact change. We boil water to make steam, or freeze it for ice. The same science applied to other types of energy work in similar (albeit more mystical) ways. Sure, there are downright metaphysical implications. Consider that it may not sound very magical to talk about willing a board to break by hitting it, but ask a martial arts student how they are taught to do it. They'll tell you it has more to do with proper focus and the mental direction of energy (chi) toward the goal than it does with physical strength.

Granted, this particular birds-eye view isn't one where you will see money materialize from nothing, or watch martial artists fly through the air without the benefit of stage wire. But the power of attitude, thought, and focus has been known throughout history as one of the most valuable forces on Earth.

Magic is done through a variety of actions, which is where stories of potion making, magic wands, and strange rituals come about. The mental concentration, energies raised, and items employed makes it more focused and powerful, the way expending energy on improved writing tools or classes and workshops increases the chance of writing success. However, magic can also be as simple as lighting a candle, meditating, visualizing a goal, or even praying.

Yes, I must insert the "results vary" disclaimer here, and those with practice are likely better able to move metaphysical energy for a desired outcome. Consider the martial arts master and the student taking his first lesson. Who will most consistently be able to break a board? Still, each and every one of us has innate ability to use all the energy at our command--our thoughts, our will, and our physical and spiritual strength--in order to change our lives and environment. There's nothing more magical than that.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Litha: A Midsummer's Dream

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter L...

Midsummer is perhaps most widely thought of in terms of Shakespeare's work, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Did you know that this play's timing and use of faeries ties in with one of the eight holidays in pagan tradition?

Litha, or Midsummer, is held around June 21 at the time of the Summer Solstice. This is the longest day of the year, and a celebration of the height of the sun's power even as it begins to fade for the rest of the year. It is a celebration of the earth's fertility, and felt to be a time of special magic, where plants have healing powers and faeries, elves, and sprites are more readily seen. Those who use crystals in their workings will often "recharge" their energy out under this special sun. Young people would pick bouquets of the extra-magical midsummer flowers to place under their pillow, believing it would give them psychic dreams about their future spouse.

Bonfires were common to represent the power of the sun, and people would leap over them. Traditional colors for this festival are "sun colors"--gold, red, and orange. Even foods served for feasting are often kept along this color scheme (carrots, oranges, meats with red BBQ sauce, red wines or beer). The practice of celebrating Midsummer (and the remaining times of solstice and equinox) has been carried forward since ancient times, and like many pagan traditions was Christianized and converted into St. John's Day, where it is still celebrated in many countries worldwide. Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and Lithuania are just a few who recognize this holiday. Midsummer's Eve in Ireland is called Bonfire Night.

Dancing (including a maypole dance, still common in Sweden), drinking, and merrymaking is common at Litha, while those who have combined it with Christian practices sprinkle holy water, and their bonfires are called "St. John's fire," after John the Baptist for whom the revised holiday is named.

So as Litha approaches this year, put a flower under your pillow and see if you have a Midsummer Night's Dream of your own!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kama Sutra: More Than You Think!

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter K...

Kama Sutra...or kamasutran... most of us have heard of it, and allow ourselves a tight smile or snicker when we do. The word invokes thoughts of a kinky manual... a sort of encyclopedia of interesting "positions." Right?

Yes and no. Did you know that the Kama Sutra (translated as "Love Text") is actually a sacred volume? Penned in Sanskrit sometime between the first and fourth century AD, its credited Indian author, Vatsayana, was believed not to have "written" the text, but rather had it dictated to him by the doorkeeper of the ancient god Shiva. The doorkeeper was so moved with awe over the sounds of the god and his goddess during the throes of marital union that he was compelled to reveal these secrets for the good of humankind.

In truth, only one section of the text actually deals with the positions for which is it famed. The remainder is dedicated to concepts of virtuosity, enjoyment, liberation, and prosperity (dharma, karma, artha, and moksha respectively), all of which are considered pursuits of individual self improvement that in turn improve relationships. (Including the divine act of male-female love.)

While often confused with Tantric sex, the Kama Sutra in fact involves a very separate Hindu practice and is not part of tantra.

Few texts are remembered in the next decade, let alone remain a household name that is still in print thousands of years later! Yet the Kama Sutra text has been revised numerous times, including a handful since the year 2000.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jolt Your Love Life...with Jasmine!

As part of April's A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter J...

In keeping with yesterday's topic of incense and various aromas, today let's talk about Jasmine and it's role in great S-E-X.

That's right! Jasmine is an aphrodisiac...a powerful enhancer for all things lustful and seductive. It's nature's own Love Potion Number 9.

Sound wacky? Consider this...ever smelled night blooming Jasmine? Its heady aroma has been called both romantic and "intoxicating." It's no surprise, then, that it is believed to give a boost to the libido.

How do you harness this power the next time you're setting the stage for seduction? Start off with a few drops in your bathwater, or apply a bit of Jasmine to wrists and behind the ears. (Note--true essential oil is very potent and should be diluted before applying to bare skin.) A drop or two on a light bulb ring diffuser in the bedroom is nice, too. A few drops of oil in a spray bottle of water can mist the room with sensual fragrance.

Dried Jasmine can be placed at the bedside table, or used in a sachet under the pillow. Or, go totally natural: if your bedroom has a sunny or partially sunny exposure, plant some Jasmine outside the window for an explosion of seductive fragrance on those long summer nights.

One word of caution...Jasmine is also associated with the Isis, the Egyptian goddess of magic, fertility, and motherhood!

So well documented is Jasmine's mystical powers of aphrodesia that the herb will make a cameo appearance as a love spell ingredient in my upcoming novel, Immoral Magic. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Don't be "Incense-itive"

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter I...

Incense.

For many, the term conjures up images of tie-dyed hippies or teenagers trying to rid their room of that "mari-j-uana" smell before Mom and Dad find out. But incense has many spiritual and mystical uses outside the "sixties mind-expanding" variety.

Ancient Egyptians, Jews, Eastern religions, Native American Indians, and even Catholics are no stranger to the practice of offering up incense during rituals. Its smoke and pleasing aroma is used as a form of prayer and worship. Pagan religions also use incense in this manner. Incense is also used in rituals, Feng Shui, and other practices in order to purify or sanctify a space.

From the purely mystical aspect, incense can be used to help make the "shift" in consciousness necessary in order to access the higher self or subconscious, useful for meditation practices. Watching incense smoke can have a hypnotic effect some use as an aid in divination. Incense is said to be able to attract spirits inhabiting a household or building.

Why is incense so important? Leaving the mystical behind for a moment, consider smells in general, and how powerful they can be. Not in the literal "Mom Made Cabbage Again" sense, but in the FEELINGS they can evoke. Have you ever caught a whiff of something that immediately took you back to your childhood? Recalled a favorite (or not so) moment in your past? Our olfactory sense has powerful ties to our brain, as well as our sense of taste. So perhaps it is also a potential source of energy connecting us to mystical forces, deity, or our higher selves.

Just as certain smells transport us to various destinations in our past, different aromas are used for different purposes. Frankincense, for instance, is used for purification and as an aid to meditation. Jasmine is common for love and attraction, lotus for blessing and meditation. Mint is used for money, healing, and travel. Lavendar is common for peace, blessing, and children or marriage. Sandalwood is another good choice for protection, meditation, or purification. Spice up the bedroom with Patchouli, which is associated with lust, fertility, love, and attraction (as well as money and clairvoyance).

Incense can be burned in stick, cone, or loose forms, and should be watched carefully.
For more information on incense and its uses, check out these sites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incense
http://www.bewitchingways.com/charts/incense.htm
http://www.luckymojo.com/incense.html

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hematite: Invincible Warrior Stone

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's "H"...

To take yesterday's discussion of gems and their uses a step further, today's topic will focus on the mystical properties of Hematite, a gray-black stone with a silvery cast on its surface...somewhat like a mirror. This is thought to aid in reflecting away negativity and evil. Hematite's powers lie in balancing mental capability, grounding decision-making skills, and in technical thinking and memory recall. Probably for this reason it has also been called the "Lawyer's stone."

Hematite is also commonly seen used as a "worry stone," a smooth polished rock one can hold and rub during times of heightened stress in order to relieve tension.


The ancient Egyptians believed in the power of Hematite strongly enough to use the stone to create many of their magical amulets. Ironically, though Hematite possess qualities commonly used for calming and grounding one's emotions, its lore of origins relate to Mars, the Roman god of war. The word Hematite is derived from the ancient Greek word for blood, and some cultures believed the stone was actually formed from blood spilled on a battlefied. Roman warriors used Hematite for protection in battle, some convinced its powers made them invincible. Even today, Hematite is said to have karmic and actual healing abilities for those who were warriors in their present or past lives.

Medicinal uses of hematite including the homeopathic treatment of anemia and blood or nervous disorders, leg cramps,spinal alignment, and fractures.

A handsome and inexpensive stone, Hematite makes attractive jewelry for men and women alike, particularly set in silver to showcase its own silvery reflective surface.

For more information on Hematite, check out these sites:
http://www.bernardine.com/gemstones/hematite.htm
http://www.semiprecious.com/HEMATITE.htm
http://www.trinitylondon.com/hematite.asp

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Need to De-Stress? Wear a Gemstone

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mysical, here's the letter G...


Ever see a "New Ager" and laugh about the crystals they wear? There's been no lack of jokes about those who see beyond the fashion statement of gemstones as having "rocks for brains." Did you know they are simply using gems as tools? Not such a tough concept, when you consider some of the first tools known to mankind were stones.

As we know from science lessons, gems are formed from pressure in the Earth. Some of the tremendous energies from this process are trapped inside the stone as it is forged. It is that energy that is used as a tool--for healing, divination, or a variety of other purposes. The type of force on varied soils create the characteristics inherent to each gemstone.

That rocks have different "personalities" has been long and widely accepted. Chances are you've heard of birthstones? These are a nod to similarities between the properties of certain gems and certain zodiacal signs.

Here are just a few common stones and some of their properties:

Amethyst--psychic awareness, peaceful sleep, stress relief, meditation aid, truth
Citrine--helps prevent nightmares, aids creativity and productivity
Jade--wealth, wisdom, business
Tiger's Eye--luck, honest, courage, confidence

Gemstones can be either worn as jewelry or carried in order to experience the effects. Pendulums, "wands" for healing, and soaking stones in water (some should not be soaked, like opals) to create gem "elixirs" are other ways to draw out a stone's inherent energy. Please note, some gem elixirs are highly toxic. Do not ingest!

Try this exercise some time: place a tumbled or jewelry gemstone in your hand. Close your eyes, and feel for its unique energy. Does it feel warm or cold? Weighty? Is there a sensation, like the stone is vibrating? Try a few different types of stones, noting the difference in how they feel against your palm. Also, different people react more or less to different kinds of stones. Which one resonates with you most strongly?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Feng Shui for Writers

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter F...


Early in my writing career I was faced with the challenge of turning a tiny corner of my bedroom into an author's haven. While looking for help to tackle the clutter and lack of space, I stumbled across the concept of Feng Shui.


At first, I thought this ancient Chinese practice too mystical to be practical, but a bit of study revealed that its principles have a sound, logical base. Changes as simple and obvious as reducing clutter and applying proper lighting to the area are vital to Feng Shui. Emboldened by the logic, I used simple techniques to regain lost ground and transform chaos into a serene retreat where creative ideas beg to flow.


Feng Shui is the study of the effects of one's environment on various aspects of life, and its practitioners take the adage "Everything in its place" to a whole new level. Everything has a specific placement--even color and decor. The space to be changed is divided into eight sections: Career, Knowledge, Children, Family, Wealth, Fame, Marriage, Health, and Helpful People. This is using a BaGua octagon. http://architecture.about.com/library/nbagua.htm has an example of the BaGua. Specific elements and colors in each area enhances the aspect it represents. For instance, candles and bold reds or purples are useful in the writer's Fame area, to boost the vibrant fire of success. Fame and Career areas are also good spots for posting book covers, awards, and other tokens of success. To get money flowing, hang windchimes or place fountains in the Wealth or Career areas. A faceted crystal hung from almost any area can bring positive energy and change as well.


Does it really work? I believe the answer is a resounding yes. When entering the improved workspace, the bold inspiration of color on the walls, soft bubbling chatter of the fountain, and prismatic glitter from chimes and crystals provide an invigorating, yet peaceful place in which to let imagination stream onto paper. Needed work essentials are clutter-free and easy to access. My productivity grew better than ever, and the elusive door to becoming a professionally published author finally opened.


Once I started Feng Shui, I found it hard to stop. The rest of the house soon followed, and years later I still strive to refine and manage its practice, inside and out.


Whether my results are due to mystical forces or my own intention to improve my writing area, I cannot say. Either way, I'm convinced that the ancients had a leg up on managing modern daily living.


For more information, check out these sites:

FengShui.com
FengShuiSociety.org.uk
FengShuiNews.com

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Are YOU an Empath?

As part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter E...

"Don’t be sad, Mommy. I believe you."
It took a moment for the words to poke through Glory’s thoughts and assemble themselves in a recognizable order. "Believe me?"
"About the things you see."
Glory stared at her, stunned. "H-how do you know about that?"

--Excerpt from VISIONS

In VISIONS I hint at the fact that the child character, Jade, has some intuitive abilities. In part, she is an empath--one who can read and sense the emotions of others.

Empathic ability is a common trait, and many have this talent in one form or the other. Being an empath, however, is not the same as having sympathy. Anyone can feel for the situation or struggle of another. Sympathy is a form of understanding. An empath, on the other hand, actually picks up--immediately takes on--another's emotions. For instance, you might be sitting happily after a satisfying day, then have a friend call in a foul mood. A sympathetic soul would probably stop smiling, but would retain their sense of self as they tried to hear out or cheer up the friend. An empath will suddenly find that THEY are angry as well, as if the other person's feelings were contagious.

Some empaths can also pick up on what someone else thinks about them that are not said out loud. This can create as stressful situation if the thoughts are negative.

Such abilities, obviously, can cause problems for the empath. Taking on negative emotions can mean a tougher day, sure, but it also means tossing those feelings back at others. Perhaps then I should add this ability can cause problems for those AROUND the empath!

Empath's abilities can be controlled, by a conscious effort to examine the "out of nowhere" feelings and attempting to push them aside. Easier said than done, perhaps, but a skill that can be attuned with practice.

Do you have any empathic abilities? Post about it here! If you’re not sure, take this quiz to find out http://quizfarm.com/test.php?q_id=224770 .

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

...To Divine is Divine

...As part of the April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's the letter D...

This could have been any doctor’s waiting room, or perhaps a medium-rent attorney’s office. There was no incense, palmist maps, or Tarot cards anywhere. Glory let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. --Excerpt from VISIONS

One of the themes of VISIONS is that neither of the primary psychic characters starts off with a positive view of their powers. Divination, crystal balls, Tarot...they consider such techniques parlor tricks, either to be openly mocked or rejected as vastly undesirable. Ironic, considering they both are able to divine future events.

What is divination? How is it done? Divination is the prediction of future events through a variety of means. Reading cards, swinging a pendulum, touch psychometry (clairsentience), scrying (looking in a crystal ball, mirror, or water for images)...these are just a few of dozens of methods by which people have claimed to be able to predict the future--or to see current events occuring in another location.

Some fear such "occult" practices, claiming those who succeed do so through the influence of spirits or demons. Most merely scoff, declaring such powers impossible and dubbing those who say otherwise frauds. But those who believe--both the doers and the receivers--have other theories to offer.

One possible explanation is that the subconscious has stores of knowledge that can be passed to the conscious. Divination simply contacts that "higher self" and requests the information. Science has also done work on mathematical probability--that is, the ability to predict outcomes or solve problems with specific algorithms. Divination techniques like numerology and the I-Ching use numbers to foretell probability.

As science has many mysteries in the galaxy left to explore, I think it entirely possible that mystical powers are nothing more than a fact science has not explained yet. I've experienced things that make no sense otherwise. How else can my toddler speak out loud what I am thinking, or know the moment a family member leaves the house no matter where she is?

Volcanoes were once thought to be angry gods (still are, in some cultures.) Then science came along and told us what they truly were. If you went back in time and lit a cherry bomb in a primitive culture, you'd be declared a wizard. Here and now, it's a science any school-aged kid can master. Same holds true, I suspect, with magic and psychic power.

Sure, charlatans exist. But many with hit-and-miss records are simply honing their talent. No one expects a ballplayer to hit a home run every time, after all. Diviners (soothsayers, fortune tellers, etc) shouldn't have to, either.

What do you think? Have you used any methods to "divine" the future? Do you believe it can be done?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You're a Clair-Who?

Part of my April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here's today's letter, 'C'...

“So, Glory, you’re clairvoyant...and clairsentient,” Clarice said.
Glory shifted a bit in her seat. “I’m what?”
“You not only have premonitions of the future, but feel the emotions of others.
“Oh.” Great, so there’s an official name for what ails me, she thought. She realized that she’d never bothered to try and find out.
--Excerpt from VISIONS

When I was researching psychic phenomenon in order to write the main female character for VISIONS, I ran across an interesting twist to the typical 'mind reader' image...the power of clairsentience.

Clairsentience is the ability to know facts about a person by employing the senses, typically to touch the person or handle an object connected to them. This can also encompass a full sensory experience of a psychic vision, as opposed to simply having images of the future "come to mind." Clairsentients may also be able to detect spirits in the vicinity by noticing smells, or experiencing sensations of being touched or having their hair stand on end.

This was a fascinating concept to me, in that the power of touch is well documented by science. Orphaned infants, for instance, who are denied human touch grow weak, depressed, ill, and may even die. It made sense to me that clairsentience--touching someone for a greater access to their innate energies--would aid in psychic visions.

Clairsentients also can project their senses out around them, in order to hear, see, or feel things going on at a distance or another time. This prompted some "What if" thoughts of my own, and I wondered what might happen if a clairsentient inadvertently pushed out her SIXTH sense--her psychic ability--when contacting another person. It seemed to me that this could jump start that person's own latent abilities. Thus, the fictional concept for VISIONS was born.

In reality, clairsentient ability can be developed--but not simply by bumping into a psychic. It is believed that the skill is honed through meditation, chakra work, and various exercises in concentration and outward focus.

For more information on Clairsentience, here are a few sites to check out:
http://home.xtra.co.nz/hosts/Wingmakers/Clairsentience.html
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/your_intuition/47490
http://www.occultopedia.com/c/clairsentience.htm

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Psychic Power of...Bay Leaf??

Part of my April blog series on all things mystical from A-Z, here's today's letter, B...

In my novel VISIONS, Trenton Dane gets a strong jolt from a psychic that jumpstarts his own latent paranormal abilities. But did you know that the secret to pumping up your sixth sense is likely sitting right inside your kitchen cupboard?

Bay laurel leaf has long been lauded for enhancing psychic abilities and dreams. To aid sixth sense anytime, prepare a small sachet to wear around your neck, particularly during meditation or relaxation. This sachet can also be dropped into bathwater for a prophetically enhanced soak. You can increase the psychic effect by burning the leaves.** One easy way to burn bay leaf is to simply drop one or two small leaves inside a burning jar candle. Watch carefully.

Want to increase the likelihood of prophetically-linked dreams? Scatter a few bay leaves under your pillow or make an herbal "pillow." Include a tumbled amethyst stone under your pillow and/or white, purple, and/or silver in your bed linens to enhance the effect.

Bay leaf is also said to ward off negativity when planted around your house, and can be burned to break curses. Some less "mystical" medicinal uses for bay leaf are pain relief, aid for colic and digestion, and to treat sprains or bruises.

For more info on herbs and their "mystical" properties, check out these sites:

http://grandpasgeneral.com/bosinrec.html
http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/kindlethef...lproperties.htm
http://web.ndak.net/~tarna/mysticrealms/herbs/bay.html

**CAUTION before ingesting or burning any herb, be sure to read up carefully to make sure it isn't toxic. "Bay" laurel leaves are the only members of the laurel family that are safe, for example. Also, note that bay leaf when prepared as an essential oil is mildly narcotic. It is also wise to avoid herbal remedies if you are pregnant or nursing, except under the recommendation of a physician.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Auras: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

My publisher challenged all their authors to blog on 26 topics during the month of April, one for each letter of the alphabet. In keeping with my novel VISIONS, I will be doing a series on all things mystical.

With no further ado, here's my installment for the letter "A"...

Auras

"You can find her," she'd said, "through her aura."
New Age, here we come. "What do you mean, look for some pulsing neon arrow over her head?"
--Excerpt from VISIONS

In my novel, actor Trenton Dane is instructed to seek out the seductive psychic haunting his dreams by feeling out her aura. Needless to say, he is skeptical of such "New Age" talk, as many of us would be.

But is it "New Age" mysticism? The existence and relevance of auras are found throughout many cultures and spiritual beliefs. In Christianity, for instance, the aura shows up as a pure white or golden "halo" around saintly beings or deity such as Christ. Eastern religions also depict auras as halos in artistic renderings of holy figures.

What is this mystical-sounding entity? Most of us know auras refer to an invisible light around us; some claim to be able to see and "read" auras. Auras are generally thought to be magnetic fields or vibrations surrounding all things--even nonliving things. Rocks, crystals, water, etc have auras, though they are generally unchanging. A living being's aura changes with time and experience. What's more, the color and brightness of one's aura is a key to the type of energy they put out--in terms of personality and character.

This might sound like a load of hogwash, but did you know that scientists are studying this phenomenon and have effectively captured images of auras on film? Using a technique called the Kerlian effect, exciting the electrical field around a being or object produces an electro-photonic glow that can be photographed. Examples of this "Kerlian" photography can be seen at http://www.auraphoto.com.

Okay, so science has discovered auras exist. Who cares? Why is it important?

Since the quality of a person's aura holds hidden clues to the "real" person within, reading these can offer insight into the motives of others. I don't know about you, but I sure could have used the ability to see through someone on one or more occasions in my life. This ability could be especially useful in choosing business and romantic partners, mentors, and spiritual gurus. And the good news is, this ability can be acquired by most anyone through a series of concentration and focus exercises.

If you're interested in learning more about auras and learning to see them, check out these sites:

http://www.thiaoouba.com/seeau.htm
http://www.meaningoflife.i12.com/Auras.htm
http://www.geocities.com/cheyenneskyeforest/bos/auras.html

Good luck!