Full Moon Readings for February 2017

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Hello, all! It’s that time again: This serves as the reminder post for the Full Moon on February 11th, 2017. All three of my available slots for January were taken within the first day of my posting for it, and I very much enjoyed being able to give those people their readings.

As always, these free readings will include a picture of your reading, and a detailed interpretation of the spread. These will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There are two methods by which you may contact me for this service: via the contact page on this blog, or via the “ASK” button on my Tumblr account. Please, in the greeting for your request include the month/year you are requesting a reading for (example: ‘Hi, I’m _______. I’d like to request a slot for the full moon of January 2017!’) so that I can keep them all separate in my inboxes. Then, feel free to leave me a question you’d like answered or a brief explanation of a situation you’d like a reading on. If you message me on Tumblr, please include an e-mail address to which I can send your reading once it is finished.

Some helpful tips are included on my tarot readings page on this blog.

Also: This coming full moon will be in the fiery sign of Leo and falls three days before Valentine’s Day! Perhaps this would be a good time to ask about matters of self love, romance, and creative endeavors? 😉 I look forward to hearing from you!

~Rachel

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YT Pagan Challenge: Divination Methods

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As was promised earlier today, there is a new YouTube video up and posted on my channel! This one covers topic six of the 2017 YouTube Pagan Challenge: What kind of divination techniques do you prefer? Do you record your divination results in your grimoire? The video has a little bit more show-and-telling of my different decks and tools, but as always, I wanted to post a blog post to accompany it.

My oldest deck is the first pictured above: The Druidcraft Tarot, illustrated by Will Worthington. This is the deck I tend to use for the majority of my readings for other people- at least as far as doing readings in more public settings go. This deck, with a few exceptions, follows the sort of order and style of a traditional Rider-Waite-based deck. Two of those exceptions I remarked on in my video were Cernunnos to replace The Devil, and Rebirth to take the place of The World. Overall, they’re a very easy to read, vibrant, and colorful deck that plays a bit more at the Celtic flavor of things than the traditional Rider-Waite style does. The only slight dilemma with these is that they are huge cards, and a little difficult to shuffle with.

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This next deck is The Wildwood Tarot, also illustrated by Will Worthington (I love his art style and the decks with his illustrations if you cannot tell). This deck was purchased some years back- I want to say about four or five now. This is the deck I use almost exclusively for Wylde Hunt-inspired readings. If I need to get in touch with nature, my wild side, my spirit guides associated with the Wylde Hunt, etc. these are my go-to. This deck is a bit different. All of the minor arcana are accompanied with a sort of key-word for the card, the court cards are all animals, the suits are different (stones, vessels, bows, and arrows rather than pentacles, cups, wands, and swords), and many of the major arcana are different. For example see The Woodward in place of Justice, or The Blasted Oak instead of The Tower, above.

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As far as the deck I am least connected to (as of right now, at least) goes, it would have to be The Tarot of the Hidden Realm (or Secrets of the Hidden Realm or Tarot of the Hidden Realm? I feel as though I’ve seen the name listed a few different ways, and now I’m feeling like I’m going a little nutty and have been using a wrong name this entire time). This deck is absolutely gorgeous, and I was really excited when I picked it up a few years ago. It seems to come and go in importance for me, though. Not all of the cards have as much of a deep image to probe into as the Will Worthington illustrated decks (which isn’t always a problem, as you’ll see below). Something about the closeness of the people in the images to the foreground of the images and the lack of other imagery (besides the gorgeous Celtic knotwork) makes it difficult sometimes to read the cards. You have to be good at reading the people in the cards for these to really work, and it gets to be difficult at times.

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My current working deck will be quite familiar to those of you who have received tarot readings from me online or in-person over the last several months. I actually purchased The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot as a sort of compromise to not getting Th e Wild Unknown Tarot (this was of course before I realised The Wild Unknown was going to be becoming more easily available very very soon). It had that same sort of scratchy style and strange imagery with bright vibrant splashes of color that had drawn me to the other deck. Its almost complete lack of human faces and the darkness of some of the images have really caused me to do some psyche diving with this deck, and working with them is a challenge in all the right ways. Right now it is my absolute favorite deck, and you will probably be seeing a lot more of it in the future.

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My cartomancy practices also include oracle decks. The first that I have in my possession is The Heart of Faerie Oracle by Brian Froud. This was one of the treasures I picked up in the month that I studied abroad in the United Kingdom. While poking about shops in Glastonbury, I found this as a used copy in a shop. As it was a) so inexpensive, b) in Glastonbury and I was shopping for some witchy treasure, and c) Brian freaking Froud, I had to get it. Brian Froud is, of course, the conceptual designer  behind much of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, which has been one of my favorite films since I was a small child. Needless to say, this one was coming home with me! This particular deck deals a lot with questions of relationships with others and various archetypes people might take on. It’s a really beautiful and interesting deck to work with.

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My other oracle deck is The Wisdom of Avalon Oracle by Colette Baron-Reid. Are you sensing a bit of a Celtic theme here? This one again, deals with different animals sacred to the Celts, archetypes to be found within the Arthurian legends, and some more abstract concepts such as Death or Focus. This was gifted to me by my good friend, Mark, several years ago, and has been a really useful tool when doing simple readings for myself and others.

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I don’t limit myself to just card reading, though it is by far my strongest suit. I also have a scrying mirror (which is a dark brown agate slice that I’ve blessed and empowered for that purpose. I have a very difficult scrying in the traditional “look-in-the-mirror-and-see-things” sense, but I’ve had a great deal of luck in placing it under my pillow and interpreting the dreams or meditations that come from that.

I also have two pendulums, both were gifts. One is made of amethyst, and the other from deer antler (that one was actually supposed to be a ceiling fan pull, we believe, but it works quite well as a pendulum!). Pendulum work is really fun and easy to do; both my mom and I have a knack for it, but I find it really limited in its usefulness, so I don’t use it often.

And finally, my Ogham staves. There’s a video floating about YouTube somewhere on an old channel I had about how I had constructed these. They’re basically just flat popsicle stick- type pieces of wood with the Ogham symbols and meanings written upon them. I tried for a very long while to get into using them more often, but I’ve found that I’m a much more visual person. I need the deeper, more detailed imagery of cards in order to really get a feel for the answers I’ve been given. This is the same reason I no longer use Runes in my divination practices.

As far as recording my divination work? I always do. More often than not, it’s simply in the smaller hardcover notebook I carry around, but I do write out the more important and weighty readings or the ones that accompany some form of ritual into my larger Book of Shadows as well. I think it’s always important to record such things because otherwise, it’s very difficult to reflect back and see patterns in personal growth and practice, and how things came to manifest versus how you interpreted them at the time.

Much love and many blessings,
Rachel

Imbolc: The Light in the Darkness

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As the new solar year gets under way, it is nearing the time of Imbolc. In Druidry, and indeed for many neo-Pagans, this is a festival that marks the returning of spring. The light has started to return to us following the Winter Solstice, or Yule, and the first signs of new life can begin to be seen. It is associated with a return to youth, light in the last dark months of winter, a time for stirring from our post-holiday stupor, as it were.

I do quite honestly believe that this year is the first year in which I feel these things in any sort of real sense. For several years, my practice often completely overlooked the festival altogether. How could I celebrate the coming of spring when I’m up to my rear in snow? Where was the light at the end of the tunnel when we’d hit only about a quarter of the way through the Winter Semester of the academic year? After the solar New Year’s glimmer and excitement had faded, it was altogether much more difficult for me to find that same light still burning by the time we had reached Imbolc. A bit of a seasonal rut and bout of depression seemed to hit every February without fail as I juggled work, school, and social life, as well as trying to even find the motivation for the simplest of continuances of my pagan practice. Celebration and ritual generally wasn’t in the schedule for me.

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This year feels different, and I’m a little disappointed that it a) took me this long to find a connection with that idea of hope and of light returning for this sabbat, and b)is occurring right before I move to a drastically different climate where I’ll have to learn again the patterns of the Wheel of the Year as they unfold in the tropics rather than in my rather temperate home state. Perhaps it’s the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having; I was able to take a walk in the ravines this afternoon without gloves or anything of the sort because it was nearing forty degrees Fahrenheit. I’m almost more willing to believe that spring is nearing this year. It might also be that I’ve something new to look forward to in the coming months: graduation and the start of a new life.

Early January was sort of riddled with a deep depression that I had sunken into, but now that things have started to move forward, I’m gradually feeling a bit better. There’s something stirring, and I’m hoping it’s something better than last year had to offer about this time.

Here’s hoping you all have a blessed sabbat however you do- or don’t!- celebrate it. May the quiet and steadfast light of hope and life reborn be with you as The Wheel continues to turn.

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

YT Pagan Challenge: My Witchy / Psychic Talents

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Hello all! I’ve learned, as of this post, that WordPress will no longer let you imbed YouTube videos on your posts with the free plan (or at the very least, I can’t figure out how to do it now!) At any rate, I’ve posted another video on my YouTube channel that discusses Witchy/Pagan talents. The fifth topic for the YT Pagan Challenge was: Do you have any magical talents, psychic techniques, which you consider your specialty? Like I did with my previous video, I want to keep making blog posts to accompany the new vids.

So! On to the topic of witchy talents. As I discussed in the video above (and more than likely in posts throughout this blog), I’m not someone who does a great deal of magic. Candle magic tends to be my go-to for spell-craft, and I guess I’d consider that my talent / technique as far as that goes. Beyond that, I tend to have a sort of knack for just… guessing or intuiting what something could be used for.

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An example of this was one summer, while I was roaming around my back yard and the forest behind it with Mark, we came across a white bush growing amongst all of the cedar and pine trees. We’d been gathering some wildflowers and the like for making a Midsummer incense, and came across it. I’d mentioned that it gave me the vibe of being good for magic involving love, light, the sort of spirit of summer, or something that would be useful for weddings. Sure enough, once we’d researched it, we found that it was a magnolia bush- and it was indeed useful for spells involving love, fidelity, friendship, happiness, etc.

Basically, I have a very difficult time remembering things in the encyclopedic sense, and a great deal of luck in just being able to intuitively know things.

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I also learned this summer that I’m good at scrying- though not in a traditional sense. I have (and you can see it in the video above) a dark brown agate mirror that I found at the local Pagan Pride Day festival. This summer, while I was on a camping trip, I cleansed and blessed the mirror in a stream and by the light of the moon at the beach we were near.  I placed the mirror under my pillow, for the entirety of the trip and a number of really vivid dreams. I can’t get mirrors to work in a normal “look into the mirror to see x” sense, but I’ve found that using it in that way works quite well.

Beyond that, my real talents in my practice are mostly in making my own tools and ritual jewelry, and tarot. I sculpt my statues for my altar space and have made a number of the pieces that I actively use in ritual.

I  had a lot of fun making this video and blog post, and look forward to following it up with more in the YouTube Pagan Challenge.

Blessings,
Rachel

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A Humble Tribute to David Bowie

Very few moments are as burned into my memory as the night I learned, one year ago today, of David Bowie’s death. I was ill-prepared this evening when, as is my sort of ritual, I clicked over on the “Memories” feed on Facebook. The heartbreak is just as great now as it was then.
But there isn’t just sadness: there’s a remembrance. He touched the life of countless artists, musicians, actors, etc. both famous and not. There are other people, just like me, who still feel the heaviness of losing him as if it were just yesterday… And, most touchingly, my identifying with Bowie and his work had a lasting impact on those around me. I got to re-read the messages, posts, etc. of people saying “I heard the news, and immediately thought of you.” Me. I would never have dreamed that that connection would be so strong for some people- some of whom I’ve only talked to in courses I’ve taken and the like. It fills me with a great amount of love, and pride, and awe still.
The next few days, I’m sure will be solemn as more of those memories show up on social media. I’ve already spent the past few days revisiting Labyrinth and a good deal of his music- including the EP “No Plan” that was released this year on his birthday. 2016 was a year full of losses, and David Bowie was only one of the first in an absolutely devastating list of pop culture icons lost in this past year. It left me, at times, wondering how we would ever recover from that loss… But it is also important to remember that death clears the way for new growth. The endless song of creation cannot continue if nothing dies off. All that’s left to do is pick up the torches they had to set down, and carry on with their memories in our hearts and inspiration, and continue their work: of creating, of holding space for all of the other weirdos and creators out there.

-Much love to you all,
Rachel

YT Pagan Challenge: Books of Shadows and Witchy Journaling

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Today, I posted a YouTube video (well, I posted a couple of them, but this post is really only concerned with one) for the YouTube Pagan Challenge. The first four prompts from the challenge were centered around Books of Shadows and journal-keeping for one’s witchy practice:

1. Show and tell – your grimoires, notebooks, journals etc. What type of book do you prefer?
2. How do you protect and consecrate your book?
3. How to organise your book – a table of contents, book marks, etc.
4. How to start your book -getting over perfectionism – creative techniques.

For my own work, I keep two books that I work in at any given time. One is the big book, my Book of Shadows (or as my college witchy friends lovingly refer to it: the “Book o’ Shit”), and the other is a little hardcover sketchbook.

The smaller book is the one I carry with me wherever I’m wandering. I take it to classes, walks in the woods, just while I’m hanging out with people- literally everywhere. This book acts as sort of a scratch book. It’s a place where I’ll scribble out poetry, work on spell and ritual ideas, take tarot notes, draw or write things that inspire me, journal a bit if I’m not feeling it’s something that warrants an entire Book of Shadows entry. It is literally a day-by-day response to what things I’m experiencing and being inspired by.

I find this is a really easy way to take notes and be a little messy and free-form with things. Often work that I start in this book ends up more fully developed and expanded upon in the bigger one. The larger book tends to be a little more formal, whereas this one literally has anything and everything that needs to be jotted down and gotten out of my system.

My Book of Shadows, despite being less scratchy than the smaller notebook is still sort of just a loosely organized thing. Like the smaller book, it’s basically just organized chronologically. Rituals, journal entries, tarot readings, etc. are all sort of just put in as they happen. Because I use large sketchbooks as my books of shadows, it’s a little more difficult to plan out organized sections, so I’ve found that using them as art journals of my practice works best.

As far as blessing and consecrating my book(s) goes, I’ve sort of fallen to just using the intent I have when starting the book, and being selective with what from them I share with others. At the beginning of them, I usually have a little statement of purpose (it’s inside the little green card in the one picture above), that explains where I am on my path as I start the book, and where I’d like to be at its finish. None of this is really formally ritualized. It’s mostly just about how I treat the book as it’s being used.

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However, I do (like many others) really like being able to find spells, recipes, etc. more quickly. After five books of shadows, it can be sort of a pain to remember: a) which frigging book x thing is in, and b) where specifically in the book it might be. In the last couple of years, I’ve found that Microsoft OneNote has been a really valuable tool in helping me organize things.

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It works like a sort of digital binder: it allows me to make separate sections for different topic areas I’m studying, rituals, tarot spreads I find online, etc. For and personal rites I often type out documents to use as notes during the ritual; the OneNote program allows me to put printouts of the files into my pages so everything is easily accessed. It also copies links when you copy and paste things from the internet, so you can follow them through to the webpage you found them on as well; this has been really helpful in keeping track of where I found some of the things I spot on Tumblr.

Once I’ve finished a Book of Shadows, I always bookmark all the important spells, rituals, poems, etc. within it and make digital copies of them in the digital notebook. It works wonders, and can be accessed online through my Microsoft account.

My biggest advice to anyone hesitating to start a book is just do it! Not writing your experiences down can make things really difficult. I was horrible at record-keeping in the earlier years of my practice, and I find myself looking back over things and being confused as to context, wondering how certain things did/didn’t work out etc. There is always time to make prettier, cleaned-up versions of your notes and the like. While elaborately drawn, leather-bound books of shadows are aesthetically pleasing, the real reward will be in having personal references of your work to look back on in the future.

Blessings,
Rachel