Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Earthquakes & Elevators: NOT a Fun Combo

Sorry for the long hiatus; I got busy finishing the draft to IMMORAL MAGIC, then the holidays snuck up on me! Meanwhile, I had another elevator dream around the time my busy season began . . .

In this latest edition, I was riding up alone in an elevator when I suddenly felt disoriented, like the elevator was tilting sideways. Within a few seconds I realized there was a major earthquake, and I was trapped. Being a Californian, I don't generally panic in the face of ground shift, but here I was gripped by an overwhelming sense of helplessness and fear because of my precarious position. I was certain the elevator would give way, plunging me to the bottom. (It did not, and when the quake was over I managed to escape somehow and into a dream shift that is another interpretation unto itself.)

What's with all the ups, downs, and shaking in my dream world? Elevators represent our position in life and career, and ascending means we are climbing the ladder of success. Yay me. Except the elevator tips sideways, gets shaken up, and threatened to not take me where I needed to be. Earthquakes represent a "shaking up" of our life and emotions, a threat to our stability, dire ends, and feelings of helplessness, the latter echoing the overriding feeling experienced in the dream.

This most closely mirrored some feelings about my writing career over the past months, as I sought to promote my first novel while seeing a second published. At the time, I'd heard my next full-length novel was pushed to the back burner and other full lengths were still in progress or under consideration. In the back of my mind, I struggled with the issue of wondering whether that first novel was just a fluke. I wanted to prove to myself that getting published wasn't just a lucky one-time dream. To boot, the reading public (and well meaning friends) aren't about to let a writer rest on their laurels! When I talk about the first novel people respond with, "That's great. When's your next book coming out?" Though in waking times I can tell myself logically that I'm right where I need to be, it's obvious that some subconscious pressure needs a release valve in my dreams. Isn't it great that we can have that?

Fortunately, not long after this dream I got word that another of my books, A Grand Seduction, was accepted for a 2008 release. So we'll see if that puts the brakes on nights like this for the time being!

What are YOUR natural disaster dreams? Post here and I'll interpret your wildest dreams...FREE. Until then, may your best dreams come true...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Reverse TiVo Your Dreams

November is National Novel Writing Month, and as I swung into gear to work on this year's project I realized I didn't have any dreams to post here this week. Why? Because I've reprogrammed my brain to handle writing tasks while I sleep, to help me beat the "50,000 words in 30 days" challenge. It dawned on me that this might be an interesting topic to share this time around--how to ask dreams to work for you.

Programming yourself to dream solve isn't restricted to writers, of course. You can ask your subconscious to mull over all sorts of issues--financial debacles, relationship niggles, or career move struggles. For me, I often set my mind to working on a character motivation or plot point, and sometimes find a whole chapter or two sitting in my head the next day.

How do you program your subconscious? As you lie down to sleep, tell yourself that you want to work on "X" issue, then focus on it as you unwind. This can be a bit sticky if the problem at hand is stressful, as you may find it tough to slip into a relaxed enough state to sleep. If this happens, steer your mind away from the anxiety associated with your issue, and toward objective, systematic solutions. Picture yourself after having solved the problem, happy and moving on to better things. Then let your subconscious take over as you drift away.

When you wake up, a pen and paper at bedside is useful to record impressions you have. Did you actually dream? Write it down. Answers may lie there. Even if you do not dream or your dream seems in no way connected, your mind may still have come up with suggested answers! Ever have those moments when an answer "suddenly" pops into your head? As you rise to face the day, ideas may occur to you. Jot them down. If you're truly fortunate, you'll have figure it all out overnight. Other times, several sessions may be necessary. And yes, this all takes a bit of practice for most, so don't expect miracles the first tme you try. Still, after you've done dream programming you'll find it helpful in all sorts of ways, from learning and retaining new information to writing your way out of an inescapable plot corner!

Next time you find yourself in a pickle, try setting your mind to the task while you sleep. You may be surprised what it can do while you're "out of the office."

Until next time, may your best dreams all come true. . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Are Death Dreams Predictions?

This week's dream comes from Donna M., whose disturbing nightmare poses a very interesting and common question.

"I had a disturbing dream [...]a few weeks prior to our family celebration of my parents 50th anniversary... My sister-in-law, Donna, called me in the middle of the night to say that he's gone...terrible car accident. My chest pounded. Who I said. Your brother, Tommy.
What the! I yelled. Please call your parents...I can't bare to tell them. Try calling the realtor too to get our security deposit money back...I need it to bury him. I screamed and woke up in a pool of sweat. My husband woke up and asked me what happened. I wouldn't tell him in fear that it would make it true. Couldn't shake the sinking feeling for days. Even called him during the day...which I never do...just to make sure all was okay. ..What's up with this?"

Dreams about a loved one dying can be quite frightening and disturbing, to say the least. Many fear these are some sort of prediction. Good news: death dreams often having nothing to do with physical death.

When we dream of a sibling or other relative dying, this can reflect a couple of different things. Perhaps we perceive a change in the relationship, or that something there has been lost. Or, we perceive that the person possesses qualities we lament not having ourselves. That this dream came before a big family event is not surprising; perhaps anticipation of seeing someone you were close to as a kid in the same setting brought up some feelings of how time changes things.

Do YOU have wild, confusing, or odd recurring dreams? Post a comment or Email me at writerlisalogan@verizon.net, and I'll be happy to interpret common symbols for you free!
Until next time, may your best dreams all come true...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shirtless Spouse: Life of the Party??

This week's very interesting dream comes from Trish over on MySpace...thanks Trish!

"My husband and I were at a party. Some unknown couple was celebrating[...] (unknown in as I'd never met them, nor do I know what they were celebrating --you know how dreams are).

Dear hubby was flitting around after the wife like a rutting hound dog on a scent, posturing and posing like a true idiot. When caught, shirtless and "stretching" to show off his physique, he shot me two birds and kept right on primping.

Now, obviously I'd be sure this was telling me Hubby was being less than true, but honestly I'd have no conscious reason to believe that is true --though I did warn him to tell his sleeping self the next time I caught him in any such act he'd be fed to the worms. Any ideas?"


Don't call the lawyer just yet! The key to the whole dream in this case is not your spouse's seedy behavior, but rather the setting.

Parties represent our social setting and groups of friends. When parties are awkward or go badly, it indicates either an uncertainty about social skills or status, OR a need on your part to get out more and enjoy social surroundings (you're "missing out" on the fun).

Your husband's unforgettable cameo can mean different things. From the aspect of the social setting, it could be that someone with status in your circle has skills that get them a leg up in social settings, but you don't approve the methods--OR don't believe you could follow suit and achieve the same results. A feeling of not measuring up, if you will. Alternately, there could be subconscious fears of being abandoned (by friends or by the spouse), or that you feel a lack of attentiveness in your relationship.

I hope that some of these click for you, combining to give you a picture of what this dream was trying to say. Rest assured it is NOT a harbinger warning you not to take your husband to the next soiree! :)

Do YOU have wild party dreams or others that make you go "what the...?" Post a comment or Email me and I'll interpret common symbols FREE...and you might just wind up in my next blog on our Wildest Dreams! Until next time, may your greatest dreams come true...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Haunted Bathrooms and Other Wonders

Ever dream you "gotta go" or are trying to find a bathroom and can't? Bathroom dreams are very common, and not (always) because our subconscious is tryng to tell us that we "gotta" in real life. Someone shared a intriguing twist on the bathroom theme with me a couple of days ago, and I thought it would make an interesting topic for the blog.

Usually, we dream of toilets that are perhaps dirty, overflowing, or publicly exposed. This person, on the other hand, had a rather unique problem in the Little Dreamer's Room--the toilet was haunted. It moved around the bathroom of its own accord like a fiendish apparition--and half of it disappeared. Intrigued, I hit research mode to piece this puzzle together.

Bathroom dreams tends to relate to the need to express feelings, to literally "relieve" ones' self in the emotional sense. Hauntings, on the other hand, indicate early trauma, repressed feelings/memories, or guilt/fear about things we have done. Disappearance, like seeing half the toilet vanish, can indicate a desire to be rid of something.

In talking to the dreamer, a relative's near fatal illness had prompted a trip to their hometown a week prior, where being around family brought to the surface a great many memories of past anxieties and regrets. Thus, this dream seems to indicate that while this person wished to relieve these powerful feelings, they were unable to do so in that setting.

What are YOUR wildest dreams? Post them here for a free interpretation, or contact me privately. Until next time, may all your best dreams come true!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Dream Police?

(What are YOUR wildest dreams? Post them here, or contact me privately. I'll be happy to interpret common symbols for you. )

While some late hours have cut into my own dream time, someone came to me recently with a dream that I found quite intriguing.

The dream began with the dreamer being asleep in his bed (in the dream, not just in real life), and sirens just outside waking him up. Still in the dream, he walked to the bedroom window and looked out to find police cars outside, and even more unsettling, an officer just outside his window. Bizarre, considering the dreamer lived on the second floor! In midair, the policeman turned, saw the dreamer, and crashed through the window, attacking and choking him. Several times the dreamer believed he "woke up" in real life, only to find the dream starting over again. When he really DID wake up later on, he wasn't sure whether it was real or still the dream!

There were a few key elements I wanted to explore, the first being a commonly experienced dream: dreaming that you're asleep. Ever have those? This can denote something you've unconsciously allowed in your life, or situations going on around you that you weren't fully aware of.

Police in dreams does not necessarily mean you've done something illegal, but they can indicate personal guilt over an issue. Also, they can represent social issues and your sense of right and wrong in social settings. If the police are hostile or abusive--as in this case--this can mean the power of social ties or society as a whole to abuse you.

Flying dreams are very common, but normally it is the dreamer flying. That the policeman flew can demonstrate that social issues are rising above the dreamer, gaining control over him. The attack itself shows the dreamer feels attacked emotionally in real life; that he was choked, specifically, represents an inability to accept something (can't "swallow" it).

In talking to the dreamer, the meaning was obvious. He'd recently had some problems within his social group over his own behavior, which he hadn't realized was an issue. He'd also been left out of some social activities and in general felt on the short end of his relationships. Feelings of being attacked and abused over an issue he was guilty of, but hadn't been aware of until after the fact, shows clearly in this dream.

Until next time...here's wishing that your best dreams come true...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I Dream of FIRE

That's right, I'm back--after summer break I'm here to tell you about my--and YOUR--wildest dreams! And let me tell you, this summer offered me a doozy!

Last week's dream was an odd twist on an old standby. I have occasional, recurring dreams of fires--not simple house fires, but epic, sweeping monstrosities that threaten to take down entire towns. They always come up over a mountain-lined horizon, with me in a dramatic struggle to pack up and evacuate. In real life, I live near mountains that are plagued by fires, including one that made nationwide news the week my youngest was born. Yet, I'm too far "downstream" to be in true danger from mountain fires. Besides, these dreams started well before the vast fire mentioned.

Here's the weird twist: as the fire prepares to crest the mountain and come down my side, an assortment of people I know (cast as neighbors sitting on the border of the fire in this dream) are grabbing lawn chairs and blankets. Not to evacuate, mind you--they are happy, excited. They want to WATCH the spectacle. One friend, with whom I lost contact in real life this year when she moved away, is particularly jazzed. "It's coming!" she tells me. "Come on!" She plops down a pair of beach chairs... "here's a good spot to watch." What the...? Shouldn't she be packing her pets into the back of a car in terror, or at least hosing down the roof?

Fire in dreams can represent many things, depending on the context. As one might guess, fire CAN represent destruction or anger, a sense of being out of control. However, you might be surprised to know that it commonly symbolizes emotion, passion, urgency,and sexual or personal energy. Such things may be coming, transforming, or being damaged--depending on how and where the fire occurs.

Recently I was in a situation where my desirability was challenged (in short, the green-eyed monster came out to play, BIGTIME) and was so upset that I rallied to give myself a life and body makeover. Diet, exercise, new hair style and color, etc etc. Not surprising, then, to see fire in my dream. Here, fire simultaneously represented my anger in having my sense of physical appeal damaged AND the passion and urgency with which I "transformed" myself to regain it.

Where do the freaky spectators come in? People in dreams tend to represent social aspects of our dream issues, as well as qualities we wish to possess. My real life transformation was dramatic and sudden, and did NOT go unnoticed--people have been quite abuzz about it. They talk about it when I'm not around, I'm told; a few folks didn't even recognize me. Thus, their excitement about my "firestorm" turned up in the dream. The friend from my past is a vivacious, popular, and grounded woman who is very aware of her sensuality and not afraid to use it--and others are attracted to her dynamic qualities. These of course being aspects I was trying to gain for myself, she became center stage for my dream performance despite her distance in real life.

Do you ever dream of fires or other natural disasters? Do you have vivid dreams after your eyes have turned a deep, fiery shade of GREEN? Let me hear about it! Post your dreams here, or send me a private message. I'll interpret common symbols for you, free.

Until my next wildest dream...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The "Green" Writing Challenge

As part of a personal to make my lifestyle a bit "greener," I took a look at my writing and how much it potentially affects the environment. Realizing there were a lot of things I could do to minimize this, I developed the Green Writing Challenge, and have made a commitment to green up my writing career this year.

What makes writing un-green? Here are some ways our job impacts the environment:

*Trees used to make thousands of sheets of paper, envelopes, pencils, and stamps we use to write, print, copy, and mail submissions and promotional materials...and produce the books themselves
*Emissions and fossil fuel use from autos, trucks, trains, and airplanes used to ship submissions, promotional items, and books worldwide
*Emissions and fossil fuel use traveling to and from book signings, conventions, speaking engagements, and other writing-related meetings and events
*Emissions and energy used from electronic devices: computers, monitors, laptops, printers, fax machines, palm pilots, copy machines, and cell phones

...and so on. Now, it's not possible to be in this business and have ZERO impact on the environment, but it is highly possible to reduce it. If every author made just one small change in their writing this year, how much energy would be saved? How many barrels of fossil fuels would be spared?

And thus I challenge YOU to participate in The Green Writing Challenge. Commit to just one "green" substitute this year, such as the following:

*Submit your next manuscript electronically
*Reduce the quantity in your next mass mailing
*Swap one mass mailing in favor of an electronic mailing
*Shrink your next mailing from a press kit or full sheet/envelope to a postcard
*Skip one convention and do an online conference instead
*Turn off your computer, printer, and other peripheral devices when not in use
*Do late-night writing by candlelight, or switch to energy-saving bulbs
*Forego one appearance/signing/tour and do a virtual book tour instead

Readers, Publishers, and Merchants...you can help Green Writing, too!
*Commit to buy at least one eBook this year
*Consider ePub or POD alternatives
*Look for energy-saving green technologies to apply to your business
*Support/patronize authors/publishers who commit to green technologies

Want to join The Challenge? Sign up on the official guestbook HERE, or visit my Squidoo lens and sign in HERE! Let me know what one change you will make this year.

Happy Greening!

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Flights of Fancy" Dreams

I've been so busy editing for Eternal Press and finishing up my twisted fairy tale, Sindarella, that my head hasn't seen the pillow until five a.m. this past week. When my sleep gets that erratic, even my dream life is too tired to make an appearance. So this week, I've decided to talk about a dream just about everyone has had at one time or another: flying.

Aren't dreams like this grand? You're doing this thing or that when suddenly you take off, soaring high in the sky like you could conquer the world. It's freedom, it's magic...and it feels so REAL. Children have them, teenagers have them, and adults of all ages.

So what do flying dreams mean? Generally, when having the above soaring-and-feeling-free dream, it means POWER. You're on top of a situation or experiencing a new freedom in a manner that had been restricted. Your perspective is upbeat and positive in a certain area in life. Perhaps a child has gotten some new privileges at home, or a grownup just received a job promotion with greater benefits. Or, it could mean you have overcome a barrier in your life and have "risen above."

Of course, there ARE flying dreams that are a bit less fun. Some feel fear while flying, or are having trouble staying aloft. Fear suggests that you are struggling with a particular barrier or challenge in life that you are afraid to face, or afraid you cannot overcome. Trouble in flight indicates feeling a lack of control or doubts about a certain situation in your life. If the trouble is due to barriers like trees, this means there are people or barriers blocking your way to success over the situation.

I hope all your flying dreams find you soaring high and carefree!

Meanwhile, what dreams have YOU had lately? Post here or send me a letter and I'll be happy to interpret symbols...free!

Sweet dreams...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Post Your Dream...I'll Interpret

Welcome to this week's Wildest Dreams...

In my latest wild dream, evening had just fallen and I went out on my balcony. There, I pointed out a particularly bright star in the sky to a stranger-that-I-knew. I was very intrigued with the star, and for some reason it was important to me to explain to the stranger that it wasn't actually a star at all, but a planet.

Turns out that stars and planets have specific meanings in dreams. (As does just about everything, as we've been discovering on these weekly journeys into the subconcious.)
Dreaming of nighttime has significance, too. Night represents barriers and obstacles to achieving goals. It can also signify new beginnings. In my dream, a bright star lit the darkness. Stars indicate fate, luck, and desires of fame and/or fortune. Even more, THIS star was more than it seemed--a planet--which indicates creative energies and new adventure.

Once again this seems to relate back to my writing career, and some themes I've been discussing recently with friends and associates. There are always obstacles when one desires to write for publication--time, money, market trends, Time, (friendly) competition, mental fatigue, and did I mention, TIME? Still, when one has the desire, one can choose to funnel some of their creative energy from putting words on paper to finding ways to ride their shooting star around any obstacles in their path. This is something I've been "waking" on recently.

As always, feel free to post here or contact me with your wildest dreams, and I'll give you an armchair look at common dream symbols. Meanwhile, may all YOUR shooting star dreams come true!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

(Forgetting) My Wildest Dreams

Well I went and did it...had an interesting dream last night and woke up thinking, "that will be PERFECT for this week's dream interpretation blog." Then I promptly went and forgot it.

Which brings me to another aspect of using dreams to unlock your subconscious--you have to remember them first. For those of us whose mind is closer to Swiss cheese than a steel trap, a dream journal comes in handy for this purpose.

A dream journal needn't be fancy--a small spiral-bound notebook will do. Keep it at your bedside along with a pen, and get in the habit of writing down at least a Cliff Notes version of your dreams upon waking. Don't brush your teeth, check Email, or anything else before doing so, as important details (or the entire dream) may slip away.

I'd stopped doing this, as my preschooler had taken to using the free pen and paper as her personal art studio. Instead I'd taken to reviewing dreams mentally on waking, committing details to memory. As I'm no longer a spring chicken, this was a sticky wicket at best. Some days I head straight for my writing desk and type up dream inspirations immediately. Too often, however, I get thwarted by vital distractions like my kid's breakfast or watering the plants. So it's back to the journal for me. Think I'll tuck it under the mattress to spare it from my child's Michaelangelo complex.

Now, for those of you who HAVE managed to remember a recurring or unusual dream, don't be shy! Post it here or contact me at writerlisalogan@verizon.net for a free interpretation of common symbols!

Until next week, Pleasant Dreams....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Book Trailer Contest on MysteryAuthors.com

Got a mystery trailer or been wanting to make one? ENTER MysteryAuthors.com's SIZZLING SUMMER BOOK TRAILER contest!

If you have a promotional trailer for a book in the Mystery genre (or subgenre) you are eligible to enter. To submit, send a link to your trailer to MysteryAuthors@verizon.net during the month of July. Put BOOK TRAILER CONTEST in the subject line. Please include your name, title of your book, and the name of your trailer's creator. Deadline for entries is August 1, 2007. NO entry fee!

All entries will be posted for viewing on the site, and visitors will have a chance to watch and vote on their favorites during the first two weeks of August. Winners will be posted on August 15.

The winner of JUDGE'S CHOICE will win a FREE YEAR of membership on MysteryAuthors.com! Other winners will receive a special award they can add to their trailer and/or display proudly on their website. Winning entries will also be showcased on MysteryAuthors.com through the end of September, and will be acknowledged in Lisa Logan's Do-It-Yourself Trailer Workshop.


Don't have a trailer yet? Visit http://lisalogan.net today and check out the free how-to workshop! It's easier than you think.

Good luck!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Roller Coasters & Monkeys Dropping Bananas

Yes folks, my dream life's been at it again... sending me off an another foray into "What the Heck Was THAT All About?"

I received a good deal of feedback after my last dream blog, with several people writing to ask about dreams they've had. So I've decided to make interpretation blogs a regular offering from My Wildest Dreams!

In last night's dream I'm walking along a tree-lined street. Suddenly, something falls from a tree onto my head. It's a small cluster of bananas. (Never mind I am NOT standing anywhere near a banana tree.) I look up, and see a monkey. He's obviously knocked loose his breakfast, and I step back so he can retrieve them. I look up again, see another banana, and start eating it. Another monkey comes and steals it from me.

Next thing you know, I'm inside about to take the first test ride on a roller coaster I happen to own. It gains speed, headed right for the loop-de-loop...and halfway up the loop, it breaks down and stops.

Enter my dream interpretation sources, which tell me some surprising (and potentially naughty) things. Not surprisingly, bananas in dreams tends to indicate items of a, er, sensual and phallic nature. Now, monkeys snatching my bananas might sound like I need a love life overhaul, to say the least, but I discovered that monkeys hanging from trees also represent being troubled by young ones. Enter my preschooler, who's been a real handful lately AND who has been interfering with my sleep patterns ("stealing" my night hours with wakefulness). The monkey business in my dream makes more sense.

Roller coasters involve, not surprisingly, ups and downs in our lives or erratic emotions and behavior. In truth, I'd been so busy lately that I HAVE been rather, well, MOODY. And thus, the mystery behind another wacktastic dream sequence is solved.

Is YOUR subconscious trying to tell you something? Post a comment here or contact me!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I Have a Dream (Interpretation)

Note: some might find the dream mentioned mildly disturbing. Not for the easily nauseous.

Those who have visited my web site have seen my slogan, "Writing in My Wildest Dreams." My dream life is fairly vivid, sometimes in color, and usually well-remembered. I can even program my dreams to work on stories for me. Then again, my REM state has a life and will of its own, and wackiness DOES ensue.

I had one of those dreams this week. One minute I'm in an elevator with a group of strangers-that-I-know, the next we're hanging perilously to girders inside the elevator shaft. I shout a warning to one girl who looks ready to fall. Alas, she slides away into blackness, and the rest of us are helpless to do anything but watch.

Then, BOOM! It's me at the bottom of the shaft, back broken and part of one leg gone. Yet I'm quite calm, smiling and positive as paramedics (instantly on the scene) extricate me. Then the dream fast forwards and I'm happily recounting my tale to a friend on the street, me on crutches and encased in a plaster cast. Can we say, ohh-kayyyyy?

I turned to a dream guide guide for insight into this latest wild and woolly, and thought I'd share my findings here. Falling dreams involve a sense of insecurity or situations that are out of the dreamer's control. Elevators mean the same thing, or indicate a rise (or fall) in position or status. Turning into someone else in a dream--as I became the woman at the bottom of the shaft--indicates some aspect of the dreamer is changing. Back and leg injuries have specific meaning as well: dreaming of your back denotes ones' status, or some kind of pressure placed upon you. A crippled/missing leg indicates a lack of balance in life.

In putting these themes together, I was instantly able to recognize a subconscious fear with my writing career. I've got one book published and others under consideration. There's a bit of insecurity in that position, though one might believe a first book contract would surely eliminate lack of confidence. Not so. Enter whispers of, "Was the first just a fluke?" and the reason for my dream becomes clearer.

Once in a publisher's hands, manuscripts representing my (hopeful) rise as an author are out of my control. Meanwhile, self-applied pressure to further writing goals strains the seams of my daily schedule, putting things out of balance as I work to juggle job, home, family, and writing. Despite the pressure, fear of failing, and risk, I'm doing what I love to do. Hence my seemingly misplaced happiness throughout the dream.

What did this tell me? If nothing else, I decided I could use a few days away from my writing desk. So I put away my writer's hat, grabbed a favorite book, and planted my nose firmly therein.

Have you had recurring or particularly odd dreams? Dreams involving falling or other themes described here? Feel free to share. And keep on dreamin'! They might just be trying to tell you something.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Virtual Writing?

See what happens when I don’t have a blog challenge? I get fat, sassy, and downright blog lazy. Not that my lack of blogness represents a lapse in writing. I just finished a red-hot novella, SUITE SEDUCTION, and am back at work on A GRAND SEDUCTION. (Gee, that word keeps cropping up in my titles these days.) Also, in preparation for my summer writing “hiatus”(haw haw) I’m in the process of reviving the video game romance soap that spawned my upcoming IMMORAL MAGIC trilogy, CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’. In fact, that’s the topic for today’s blog: “live action writing.”

Ever hear of The Sims? It’s a video game that allows players to create virtual people, build impressive 3-D homes, and watch/guide them through life: jobs, marriage, kids, aspirations, old age. Zzzzzzz. Sorry, did I bore you? Wait, it gets better...especially if you’re an avid reader or writer. A growing number of players have discovered the handy in-game storytelling feature, by which Sims become actors and their environments sets in sagas representing every genre under the sun.

Now, let’s say you’re a writer or reader whose muse or TBR pile took the day (or month) off, and good plots are about as prolific as June bugs in December. Enter the Sims. Load the game, make a random Sim or five, and stick ‘em in a neighborhood. Become a virtual fly on the wall. Allow Sims to interact and move around on Free Will. They manage to do some pretty weird/wacky/funny/disgusting things. Using the game camera, take loads of random snapshots. Develop your keen sense of reader or writer curiosity, and ask yourself what’s going on. Why did the Sim just tell off the strange woman passing by? Why did the thought bubble over his head indicate a longing for romance/food/a shower? Why on Earth did a gypsy fortuneteller just stumble across the lot, shining up her crystal ball? Before long, any reader or writer worth their printer ink may find their Sims have just sprouted the seeds of a good story.

Or say you're a writer already penning your masterpiece, but find yourself stuck on a plot point or character motivation. Create your story in 3-D, then let your Sim character take over for a bit. By being able to dictate certain personality traits, you’d be surprised how spot-on some of their reactions can be. They could help you write yourself out of the corner. Not only that, but it’s a darn fun way to battle the tedium of writer’s block.

While I certainly don’t use Sims to write all (or even many) of my stories, it did form the basis for the above mentioned trilogy of books. It’s a far more useful tool than most folks passing it by on store shelves may think. So the next time you find yourself without a good book to read or write, go play a game. The kids who love to “waste time” with video games may have been taking the literary high road all along.

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:

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:

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:

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:


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:

OR, for more on the pleasure principle aspect of tantra, try these:

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:


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:

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:


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...


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:


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:

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:


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:

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:


**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.