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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Goddess Nephthys

  • Other Names: Nebet-het, Nebt-het, Nebthwt
  • Titles: Lady of the House; Lady of Life; Lady of Darkness; Lady of Death that Is Not Eternal; Mistress of the West
  • Origin: Egypt
  • Attributes: Skull and bones
  • Colors: Black, red
  • Planet: Moon
  • Birds: Vulture, crow, kite
  • Animal: Snake
Nephthys is almost universally depicted as a woman with the hieroglyphic symbols of her name (a basket and a house, stacked on top of each other) situated atop her head, though she can also be depicted as a bird (most often a kite or some other form of falcon/hawk). She was associated with funerary rituals throughout ancient Egyptian history and was venerated not as Death itself, but as the companion who gives guidance to the newly deceased, and as a Lady With Wings who comforts the deceased's living relatives.

 Quiet Nephthys is overshadowed by her famous and more flamboyant siblings - Isis, Osiris, and Set - yet she, too, is a vital, significant and powerful deity. Nephthys is the spirit of magic, sorcery, darkness, decay, death, and immortality. She was also said to be the source of both rain and the Nile river (associating her with Anuket) and was thought to protect women in childbirth (with the assistance of her sister, Isis). Thus she was closely associated with both death and life.

Isis, Nephthys, Osiris, and set are quadruplets. Isis and Osiris fell in love in the womb and were married. Nephthys and Set were paired off by default. Set desired Isis, too. Nephthys wished to bear a child, but Set was infertile (like the desert that he represented) and was frequently described as either bisexual or gay.

Some believe that Nephthys was originally conceived of as the female counterpart of Set. He represented the desert, while she represented the air. As his female counterpart, Nephthys was often considered to be barren as well.

As a goddess of the air, she could take the form of a bird, and because she was barren she was associated with the vulture - a bird which the Egyptians believed did not bear children. The Egyptians thought that all vultures were female (because there is very little difference in the appearance of a male vulture), and that they were spontaneously created from the air. While the care shown by a mother vulture for her child was highly respected, the Egyptians also recognised that vultures fed on carrion and associated them with death and decay. As a result, Nephthys became a goddess of death and mourning, as well as childbirth and protection.

Although she was technically infertile, later myths claimed that she was the mother of Anubis by either Osiris or Set (depending on the myth). According to one myth Nephthys disguised herself as Isis to get the attention of her neglectful husband Set, but instead seduced Osiris (who apparently did not realise that it was Nephthys). An alternative myth made it clear that Nephthys intended to seduce Osiris from the beginning and drugged his wine to make her task easier, while a less common myth held that she did trick her husband into a brief daliance in order to concieve Anubis. It is suggested that this tale also explained the flowering of a plant in a normally barren area because Set apparently discovered the adultery when he found a flower left by his brother Osiris.

Although she betrayed her sister and they underwent a period of estrangement, they eventually reconciled. When Set killed Osiris, Nephthys became Isis' great ally and constant companion. Nephthys shared maternity of Anubis with Isis. Anubis invented the mummification process, which ultimately helped to resurrect Osiris. Nephthys also assisted in the temporary revival of Osiris' virility, so that Isis, too, might conceive a child.

Nephthys is a modest but determined spirit. No cult centers have been discovered that are dedicated to her alone, but she shares shrines with others. Shunning the spotlight, Nephthys quietly sets about fulfilling her desires. She has her son, her beloved sister, and eventually found personal satisfaction as consort to Min. She is venerated with all three.

Nephthys is a guardian spirit, invoked in magical rites. She may be petitioned for fertility, especially by those who have been assured that they will never have children but wish to prove naysayers wrong.

Nephthys guards the threshold between life and death, fertility and sterility. Egypt was known as the Black Land with black, the color of the rich, fertile soil, considered emblematic of life and abundance. The harsh, dry desert, which challenges survival, was known as the Red Land. In Egypt, the dividing line between fertile earth and the desert, the black and red, was visible. One could literally stand with one foot on fertile land, the other on barren soil. Nephthys straddles, determines, and rules over that borderline.

Found in: Encyclopedia of Spirits

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bring to me

Bring me the milk of Aset, the flood of Nebt-Het, the overspill of the lake, the surge of the sea, life, prosperity, health, happiness, bread, beer...

~The Pyramid Texts

Isis' Birthday

"...O King, I have given to you your sister Isis,
that she may lay hold of you and give to you your heart for your body."
(first mention of Isis in the Pyramid Texts)

The birthday of Isis falls either on July 17 or July 30. She may be the most venerated goddess on earth. Venerated in Egypt for thousands of years, her worship spread from East Africa throughout Western Asia and Europe as far as England's Thanes River. Statues of Isis even traveled the  Silk Road and may eventually have evolved into Kwan Yin.

Isis is so multifaceted that the Greeks identified her with Aphrodite, Demeter, Artemis, and Persephone. The myth of Isis and Osiris, her beloved twin brother/soul mate, is among the most beloved of all romantic tragedies. Isis is the lady of many names and many forms. She is the beautiful young, privileged princess and the grieving, poverty-stricken widow dressed in rags. She is the greatest sorceress on Earth, in possession of the Ineffable Name, the most powerful word in creation and the poverty-stricken single mother in hiding, forced to beg to feed herself and her son.

Isis is the most compassionate of deities because she has lived the life of an oppressed woman, and she is the most powerful, because as Mistress of Magic, she knows all and can do all. Isis can resurrect the dead and can bestow the gift of fertility. She heals the ailing and protects travelers at sea. There is no miracle that she cannot perform.
  • Offerings: Traditionally Isis accepts offerings of milk, honey, flowers, incense, and candles.
  • Colors: Black, blue
  • Element: Water
  • Botanicals: Vervain, myrrh tree, sycamore, fig
  • Mineral: Bloodstone
  • Metal: Gold
  • Sacred creatures: Snakes, cows, crocodiles, scorpions, kites (a type of raptor), swallow
  • Planet: Moon
  • Constellation: Virgo
  • Star: An Egyptian name for the star Sirius (Sothis)  is "Soul of Isis." Sirius first appearance in the night sky signaled the annual Nile Flood.
  • Favored People: Theoretically everyone, but especially women, single mothers, orphans, occultists, and mariners.
Spirit allies: Isis is frequently accompanied by an entourage of spirits, including Anubis, Nephthys, Heket, Min, Bes, Khnum, Selket, and the Scorpion Guardians. She is a friendly, gregarious spirit and will share her altar.

Emblem: The tyet amulet, also known as the buckle of Isis or Blood of Isis is a protective amulet usually formed from carnelian or red glass and representing the goddess' menstrual blood-soaked sanitary pad.
Sacred sites: There is a theory that the name Paris derives from Par-Isis, meaning the barque or grove of Isis. In Roman times, Isis had a temple at the western limits of the city, the marshes on the Left Bank of the Seine. The churches of Saint Sulpice and Saint Germain-des Pres are built over sites once dedicated to Isis.
Iconography: Isis is portrayed in many forms.
  • Traditional images of Isis are the prototype for the modern Madonna and child. A woman, frequently carved from black stone, which in Egyptian cosmology represents eternal life, holds a nursing baby to her breast.
  • She wears a crown topped by a throne (the meaning of her name) or a crown of horns cradling the full moon.

 Manifestation: Isis is an incredible magician and can take any form she chooses. She may manifest as a cow, kite, or swallow. She may appear as a beautiful queen, a pregnant woman, or a woman absolutely devastated by despair and grief.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The God Set

Also known as: Seth, Sutekh, Setesh, Setan, Seteh
Origin: Egypt
Appropriate Offerings: Beer, incense. Set's devotees traditionally refrain from eating pork.
Color: Red
Constellation: The Egyptians called Ursa Minor the Jackal of Set.

Set, Lord of the Desert, Chaos, and Disorder, is among the set of quadruplets born to Earth and Sky, Geb and Nut. His siblings are Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys. Both Osiris and Set loved their sister Isis, but she chose Osiris. Set married Nephthys, but she too loved Osiris, so theirs was not a happy marriage.

Osiris was assigned to be the Ruler of the Black Land, the fertile belt of civilization around the Nile River. The Egyptian name for their country was Kemet, "Black Land," so Osiris is the first pharaoh, king of Egypt. Set was assigned dominion over the Red Land, as the Egyptians called the harsh, barren desert. Appeals are made to Set to keep bad weather far away; he has dominion over rain, sand, and wind storms. Residents and travelers in the desert may request Set's favor.

Set is a powerful magician, second only to Isis. He is a master of love and sex magic and is petitioned for assistance with contraception and abortion. Set appears on many ancient uterine amulets:
  • Some were employed to "open" the womb,
    requesting assistance with menstruation, conception, or birth.
  • Set is also featured on amulets to "close" the womb,
    intended to procure contraception or abortion.
Sometimes a hero, sometimes a controversial figure, Set is now typically portrayed as the villain of Egyptian mythology, although this was not initially so. Set was considered a balancing force. Without chaos and confusion there would be no order; without the heavy, thunderous storms there would be no good weather; without the desert and foreign lands there would be no Egypt. Set was a counterbalance to the 'good' side of the Egyptian universe, helping to keep everything in balance.When Set and Horus, his opposing force are in harmony, life on Earth proceeds smoothly.

Set is also among the most powerful guardian spirits. He rides in Ra's solar barque and protects him from all evil. It was he who defended the Solar Barque each night as it traveled through the underworld, the only Egyptian deity who could kill the serpent Apep - Ra's most dangerous enemy - each night as it threatened to swallow the Barque.

Set is responsible for killing Osiris - not once, but twice. This myth serves to remind how vulnerable Egyptian agricultural civilization was to the encroaching desert. He is now most famous for his rivalry with Horus, his nephew. Although frequently described as the loser in that battle, it actually was a stalemate finally resolved when Set brought the case before a Heavenly Tribunal. Ra favored Set, arguing that he was the more experienced ruler.

The case was finally resolved by Neith, whose judgment was accepted by all. Horus was awarded the throne of Egypt, but Set was compensated for his loss by receiving twice his existing property and two new wives - the Semitic love, sex, and war spirits, Anat and Astarte.

Set was profoundly associated with the Hyksos, the Shepherd Kings, the Western Semitic invaders who ruled Egypt. They adored Set and built temples for him, including one of their capital city of Avaris. Some of the hostility displayed toward Set in Egyptian mythology may stem from these associations.

Set is also associated with YHWH, the Jewish god. Notably both are married to Anat. The epic battle between Set and Horus may be a metaphoric retelling of the expulsion of the Hyksos or even of the Biblical story of Exodus.

Favored people: Redheaded people or those with ruddy complexions are considered under Set's dominion (redheads faced discrimination in ancient Egypt).

Iconography: He appears as a man with the head of a Set beast, a creature which has not been definitively identified but bears resemblances to aardvarks, anteaters, and jackals, or some hybrid of all these creatures.

Creatures: Crocodiles, jackals, hippopotamus, donkeys, gazelles, and pigs as well as the unidentified Set beast. The set beast may now be extinct, a creature who exists only in the spirit realm.

Set is also associated with the salawa (or salaawa), a mysterious canine allegedly responsible for eating livestock and attacking people. The salawa is a cryptid, meaning a creature for whom no scientific evidence currently exists. Salawa attacks and sightings have been reported from the Luxor region. It reputedly has square ears and a forked tail like the Set beast.

Sacred sites: Set rules the desert. His main cult centers were at Tanis, Ombos, and Naqada

Found in: Encyclopedia of Spirits

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Acacia Incense For Psychic Power

The acacia tree has been associated with the sacred since the proverbial time immemorial, from the myth of Osiris to the Ark of the Covenant. Burn it as incense to stimulate and enhance psychic ability as well as to provide contact with the sacred.

  • Basic Acacia Incense:
    Burn dried powered acacia and allow the fragrance to permeate the area.
  • Osiris Incense:
    Blend Acacia, frankincense, cypress, and cedarwood and burn wafting the fragrance as desired.
  • Sacred Wood Incense:
    Blend dried powdered acacia, sandalwood, and frankincense. Burn the powder to enhance and develop psychic power and vision.
Found in: Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells

Guardian of the Dead Spell

Osiris, Lord of the Dead, presides over the Western Lands, the ancient Egyptian after-life. He may be petitioned to guard the soul of a loved one. Burn frankincense and gum arabica in Osiris's honor; light black and green candles...

... I am so sorry to do this to you, but this post has been moved to my new website, Book of Shadows, and can be found in its entirety here: Guardian of the Dead Spell

The God Osiris

  • Also known as: Auser
  • Origin: Egypt or Libya
  • Creature: Cat, guardian of grain storehouses.
  • Colors: Black, green
  • Trees: Acacia, willow
  • Botanicals: Frankincense.
Osiris, ancient deity, is a culture hero. He invented agriculture: the sacred rites of grain. He taught people to bake bread and brew beer. Osiris invented wine, built the first temples, and taught the art of sculpting so that the first statues were formed. He taught musical and theatrical arts. After teaching these arts in Egypt, Osiris traveled around the world, transmitting his knowledge. He left his sister/wife Isis home as regent of Egypt.

Osiris is most famous as a central, if passive, figure in a long, complex Egyptian saga. His brother and rival Set killed Osiris. Isis, Mistress of Magic, together with a posse of spirit allies, attempted to resurrect him. Anubis invented embalming, and Osiris became the first mummy.

Osiris has two primary functions:

  1. He is the lord of grain, the original John Barleycorn, cut down in his prime every year. The death of Osiris was the subject of annual festivals possibly the prototype for modern Christian passion plays.
  2. Osiris presides over the Egyptian realm of death, Although usually envisioned as a passive figure, Osiris does command an army of ghosts.

Eldest child of Geb and Nut, posthumous father of Horus, Osiris is the most widely known and most deeply revered of the Egyptian pantheon. He represents, first and foremost, the Path of Destiny, and the Life beyond life. He is the Judge of departed souls in the Hall of Two Truths, and He is the general guardian, guide, and ruler of the afterworld of departed spirits.

The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with the problem of what occurs in the way of an afterlife and what the ultimate spiritual destiny of mankind is. Thus Osiris represents the promise of eternal life and the triumph of order and meaning over chaos. Defeated by his nemesis (and younger brother) Seth, He rises once again in an eternal cycle symbolized in the material world by the cyclical rising of the Nile and in the astral world by the passage of Amon-Ra, the holy sun and the cyclical appearances of Sothis, the star Sirius. Osiris is thus Friend, Saviour, and ultimate master of mankind.

Osiris plays such a complex role that the Greeks identified him with three deities:
  • Apollo, Lord of Music, Order, and Civilization
  • Dionysus, inventor of beer and wine
  • Hades, Lord of Death
In Egyptian Royal tradition, as each Pharoah is the living incarnation of Horus in life, so in death they are transfigured into Osiris.

  • Manifestation: Osiris is not just the spirit of grain, he is grain.
  • Iconography: Osiris is portrayed as a crowned mummy. He is sometimes depicted with wheat sprouting from his body.
  • Attributes: The crook and flail of kingship - Osiris, Lord of Death, is the only Egyptian deity who does not carry the ankh, symbol of life.
  • Emblem: The Djed pillar is usually understoon as Osiris' backbone and represents stability but may also represent his lost phallus or the tree trunk that housed him.
  • Constellations: Orion is the home as his soul. Egyptian astrology perceived what we call Ursa Major as Osiris' funeral bier.

Prayers and spells were addressed to Osiris throughout Egyptian history, in hopes of securing his blessing and entering the afterlife which he ruled; but his popularity steadily increased through the Middle Kingdom. By Dynasty XVIII he was probably the most widely worshipped god in Egypt. His popularity endured until the latest phases of Egyptian history; reliefs still exist of Roman emperors, conquerors of Egypt, dressed in the traditional garb of the Pharaohs, making offerings to him in the temples.

From: Encyclopedia of Spirits and other sources

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Magickal Properties of Water

Water magic is very versatile; it incorporates techniques that bring about changes both within and without. For water magic to occur within, one must consume the water or call upon that aspect of the self. For it to occur without, one must bathe in it, swim in it, cleanse with it, etc.

The magical properties of particular types of water can be used for the following purposes:
  • Creeks and streams: Purification, harmony, cleansing
  • Dew: General health, eyesight, beauty. Dew is said to be especially powerful if gathered at dawn on Beltane.
  • Fog and mists: Creativity, balance, partnerships.
  • Ice: Transformations, balance, creativity.
  • Pond or lake water: Peace, contentment, relaxation, self-reflection.
  • Rain water: Energy, protection, cleansing. The first rain that falls in the month of May is considered sacred.
  • River water: Cleansing, moving forward, protection.
  • Seawater: Health, magical power, manifestation of goals. An old Welsh belief states that a spoonful of seawater a day will ensure a long and healthy life.
  • Snow: Transformations, balance.
  • Spring water: Growth, holy water, cleansing, protection, prosperity.
  • Swamp and waste water: Banishing, binding.
  • Waterfalls: Power, energy, success.
  • Well water: Healing, wishes, intuition.
The areas surrounding the water can be used for the following magical purposes:
  • Beaches: Rituals, spells, fascinations, meditation.
  • Harbors: To promote abundance and prosperity; to serve as an aid in banishing things.
  • Riverbanks: To increase personal power
Found in: Elemental Witch

Natural Springs and Magick

There is something wonderfully magickal about fresh clean water pouring out of rock for no apparent reason. This was especially true in the days before modern plumbing, when water was collected daily from wells, lakes, springs, and other natural sources.

Fresh water was life itself, and in ancient times, rituals were often performed at wells, springs, or fountains. These were the most common places for shrines and altars to be erected. Ishtar, the Babylonian moon goddess, is closely associated with springs. Many of her temples were placed in areas that contained a natural spring.

The modern country of Greece boasts of well over seven hundred natural hot mineral springs. All of them are touted to have a healing effect on the body and regenerative properties due to the presence of natural minerals.

The natural thermal springs as Skala Thermi, on the Greek island of Lesvos, are sacred to Artemis and are recommended for people with asthma, any female problems, kidney and bladder troubles, high blood pressure, or liver ailments.

Many natural springs are connected to dreams. They tend to have a radiioactive quality and cause the visitor to become drowsy. Sleeping at such sites is thought to induce prophetic dreams.

Ponce de Leon, the famous Spanish explorer, spent his life devoted to the quest to find the legendary Fountain of Youth. When he stumbeled upon a natural spring in what is now the city of Saint Augustine, Florida, the thought he had found it. The fountain of Youth was reputed to have magical waters that guaranteed the drinker a restoration of youth.

The Fountain of Kanthos was said to have a special magical power. It was thought to have restored the goddess Hera's virginity on her annual bathing sojourns.

The fountain Elivagar was in the center of Niflheim (the Norse version of the Underworld). Unlike the clean, clear water of most fountains, Elivagar produced a black, poisonous sludge. It fed the eleven rivers of Niflheim.

In China, the fountain at Pon Lai was believed to gift the drinker with one thousand lives. This legend dates back to the Chin Dynasty, circa 265-420 CE.

Bathing in and drinking the miracle waters was a favorite pastime and healing influence in many cultures. The Roman bathhouses emerged as an alternative within city walls to the natural springs in Greece.

Found in: Elemental Witch

The Furrinalia

On this date (July 25) in ancient Rome, the annual Furinalia (also spelled Furrinalia) took place in honor of the Goddess of springs, Furrina. This was the time when a drought might begin to "bite," and the value of springs is appreciated....

... I am so sorry to do this to you, but this post has been moved to The Pagan Calendar, and can be found in its entirety here: The Furinalia

The Goddess Furina

Alternate Spelling: Furrina
Origin: Etruscan or Italian
Favored people: Thieves, robbers
Element: Water and Earth
Feast day: July 25
Time: After dark

Furina is the ancient and mysterious matron goddess of thieves and robbers. Her name derives from the same root word as "fortune." Furina was not a forbidden or suppressed goddess venerated only by miscreants. She was officially incorporated into Roman state religion. Furina had her own annual festival. She had a priest, a temple, and a sacred grove on the Haniculum ridge alongside the Tiber's west bank. (The site is not occupied by the Villa Sciarra.) Furina was associated with a spring in her grove. Some scholars theorize that she was originally a spirit of the watery depths.

From: Encyclopedia of Spirits

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sign of the Sunflower

"I will brighten your darkness."

If you were born between July 23 and August 21, you were born under the sign of the Sunflower. Sunflower signs are warm, open, and natural leaders. You rise to any occasion with confidence and assurance – you have no doubt that you are the perfect person for any challenge...

... I am so sorry to do this to you, but this post has been moved to my new website, Sigils Symbols and Signs, and can be found in its entirety here: Sign of the Sunflower

Friday, July 22, 2011

St Anne's Eve Marriage Divination

This is a hard trial, but what is not possible to any young lady who wishes to know her lot in marriage? —that most important change in human life.

Prepare yourself three days previous to the eve of this female saint (July 25 is the eve of Saint Anne's), by living on bread and water and sprigs of parsley, and touch no other thing whatever, or your labor will be lost.

The eve begins at the sixth hour. Go to bed as soon as convenient, and speak not a word after you once begin to undress; get into bed, lie on your left side with your head as low as possible, and repeat the following verse three times:

St. Anne, in silver clouds descend,
Prove thyself a female's friend;
Be it good or be it harm,
Let me have knowledge from the charm;
Be it husbands one, two, three.
Let me in rotation see;
And if fate decrees me four,
(No good maid could wish for more),
Let me view them in my dream,
Fair and clearly to be seen;
Bnt if the stars decree
Perpetual virginity,
Let me sleep on, and dreaming not,
I shall know my single lot.

Found in:
Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mary Magdalene Sleepover Party

Mary Magdalene's Eve is considered especially fortuitous for phrophetic dreams. Even without deliberate request or ritual, pay attention to any spontaneous dreams received. The following British dream spell is, traditionally, performed by three women, preferably sisters, on Mary Magdalene's Eve (July 21).

This ritual was also once a sleepover party game, perhaps instigated by parents desiring peace and quiet, since the participants can't talk!
  • Blend equal parts of wine, rum, gin, vinegar, and water.
  • Use a rosemary wand to sprinkle this liquid around the room (or rooms) where you'll sleep.
  • Sprinkle in all the corners, on the bed, and finally, on yourselves.
  • Go to bed without speaking another word until after any dreams are recorded.
From: Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells

Mary Magdalene Rosemary Dream Spell

This British dream oracle is simple to accomplish but is reserved for one night only: The Eve of Mary Magdalene's feast day, the night of July 21st.

To produce prophetic dreams:
  • Blend wine, vinegar, and water in a bowl beside your bed.
  • Soak a rosemary wand in the bowl; then gently shake off the excess liquid.
  • Place this wand between your breasts, or on your chest, and go to bed without saying another word.
What is a Rosemary Wand?
It is a twig or branch of fresh or dried Rosemary, sturdy enough to use as a wand.

From: Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Look -
The moon thumbs through night's book.
Finds a lake where nothing is printed.
Draws a straight line...

I am so sorry to do this to you, but this post has been moved to my new website, Widdershins, hosted at, and can be found in its entirety here: Look!

Moon Day

moon goddess
Themes: Moon; Communication; Cycles; Meditation
Symbols: Lunar (silver and/or white items or any corresponding plants, stones, etc); Coconut
Presiding Goddess: Hina

About Hina: This Tahitian goddess is the Lady in the Moon who shines on us with her changing faces. As the dark moon, she presides over death. As the waxing moon, she is the creatrix who made people from clay and the moon, her home. As the full moon, she embodies a mature woman's warrior spirit. As the waning moon, she is the aging crone full of wisdom and insight.

According to tradition, coconuts were created from the body of Hina's lover, an eel god, after he was killed by superstitious locals. She also governs matters of honest communication, and when properly propitiated, Hina sometimes acts as an intermediary between humans and the gods.

To Do Today:

On July 20 in 1969, American astronauts visited hina in person, landing on the moon's surface and exploring it. In spiritual terms this means taking time to explore the magical nature of the moon today. If the moon is dark, it represents the need to rest from your labors. If it is waxing, start a new magic project and stick with it so the energy grows like the moon. If Hina's lunar sphere is full, turn a coin in your pocket three times, saying "prosperity" each time so your pocket remains full. If the moon is waning, start taking positive action to rid yourself of a nagging problem. Eat some coconut to help this along by internalizing hina's transformative powers.

Found in: 365 Goddess

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Calling Upon Kwan Yin

Kwan Yin, (also spelled Kuan Yin or Quan Yin) the Buddhist Heart of Mercy and Queen of Compassion, is no forgotten deity but among the most popular on Earth today. She is a tireless, ever-vigilant protective guardian. Although her appearance is milder than that of a warrior spirit, she is no less powerful. Kwan Yin achieved nirvana but refused to leave Earth as long as any person still suffers. Kwan Yin vows that if you call her name in times of anguish, she will come and assist you.

Found in: Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells

Kuan Yin Mantra

Mantra: "Namo Kuan Shi Yin Pusa"
Translation: I hail to the Bodhisattva who listens (with mercy) the voice of the world.

Source: YouTube

Dharani of Great Compassion


General Translation:

Adoration the noble Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva, the great compassionate one.

Having paid adoration to One who Dispels all Fears, O noble Avalokitesvara, to You adoration, O Nilakantha.

I shall enunciate the 'heart' dharani which ensures all purposes, is pure and invincible for all beings, and which purifies the path of existence.

Thus: Lord of Effulgence, the World-Transcending One. Come, come, great bodhisattva, descend, descend. Bear in mind my heart-dharani. Do do the work. Hold fast, oh Victor, oh Great Victor. Hold on, hold on, oh Lord of the Dharani. Move, move oh my immaculate image, come come.

Destroy every poison. Quick, bear in mind, quick, quick, descend, descend. Being enlightened, being enlightened, enlighten me, enlighten me. Oh merciful Nilakantha appear unto me. To you who eyes us, hail. To the Great Siddha hail. To the Great Siddha in Yoga hail. To Nilakantha hail. To the Boar-feaced hail.

Adoration to the Triple Gem. Adoration to the noble Avalokitesvara bodhisattva, hail.

Source: YouTube

The Powers of Kuan Yin

World-Honored One!
May I ask once more
The reason that this holy Bodhisat
Is named as Kuan Yin?
The World-Honored One replied
By uttering this song:

She responds well to all places in all directions!.
The echoes of her holy deeds
Resound throughout the world.
Her broad vows as deep as the ocean.
When, after countless aeons...

... I am so sorry to do this to you, but this post has been moved to my new website, Widdershins, and can be found in its entirety here: The Powers of Kuan Yin

Kwan Yin

The Goddess of Mercy
She Who Hears the Cries of the World

Also known as: Guan Yin, Kuan Shih Yin, Phat Ba Quan Am, Sung-Tzu-Niang-Niang
Alternative spellings: Quan Yin, Guan Yin, Kuan Yin,

Kwan Yin is the very essence of mercy and compassion; among the most beloved and well known of all spirits. Technically, Kwan Yin is considered a Bodhisattva, venerated as such throughout the Buddhist world but she also possesses the stature of a goddess and many consider her to be one, not just modern Western goddess devotees but also in East Asian folk religion.

Kwan Yin is a spiritual phenomenon; she transcends religious boundaries and is also found in Taoist and Shinto shrines, even in the shrine of her main rival, the Lady of T'ai Shan.
  • Kwan Yin is a great favorite of independent practitioners and goddess devotees everywhere.
  • Kwan Yin protects the helpless, particularly women, children and animals.
  • She bestows good health and fertility.
  • She guides and protects travelers especially seafarers and sky travelers.
  • In recent years, Kwan yin has emerged as the guardian of air travel.
  • She protects against attack from either animals or humans.
  • She breaks cycles of rebirth, punishment and retribution.
  • Kwan Yin provides protection in the realms of the living, the dead and anywhere else.
Kwan Yin's true identity is subject to debate. Officially she is an aspect of the Bodhisatva Avalokiteshvara. The Lotus Sutra, which describes Avalokiteshvara, was among the first Buddhist texts translated into Chinese. Avalokiteshvara translated into Chinese is Kwan Shih Yin. The first Chinese statues of Kwan Shih Yin aka Avalokiteshvara, appeared in the 5th century CE and depict him as a slight, graceful, androgynous man.

Kwan Yin as we know her today first emerged from China's wild northwest frontier, by the Silk Road, sometime between the 7th and 9th centuries CE and began to move into the Chinese heartland during the 9th and 10th centuries along with detailed legends of her life, which do not correspond to Avalokiteshvara but to the Taoist goddess, Miao Shan. Kwan Yin may really be Miao Shan assuming the official guise of Avalokiteshvara as Buddhism was then socially dominant while Taoism was disparagingly considered folk religion. Her strong identification with horses may also indicate her origins on the western frontier.

Alternatively, many believe Isis, Mary Magdalen, and/or Mary, Mother of Christ traveled the length of the Silk Road, finally emerging as Kwan Yin or that their images may have served as a portal for a frontier spirit. Whoever she is, she is entirely good. The desire of so many individuals and traditions to claim Kwan Yin testifies to her appeal and power.

Favored people: Women, children, exiles and travelers but Kwan Yin vows to respond to anyone who calls out her hame in his or her moment of fear or suffering. She offers aid, mercy and compassion to anyone who suffers. She helps not because of who you are, but because of who she is.

Iconography: Kwan Yin has many forms. She is typically depicted as a kind, beautiful woman dressed in white. In her fertility goddess path, she carries at least one child. These statues closely resemble images of Isis or the Madonna. Kwan Yin is depicted with one-thousand eyes and one thousand arms indicating her ability to see all and help all. Kwan Yin may be accompanied by her acolytes, a small girl and boy.

However, Kwan Yin is a goddess of the masses. Not everyone can afford a statue, and so Kwan Yin's name or even her title, the Goddess of Mercy, written on a piece of paper and posted where it is visible is considered just as powerful and effective as an image.

  • Color: White
  • Animal: All are sacred to Kwan Yin but especially horses
  • Bird: Peacock
  • Tree: Willow
  • Gem: Pearl
  • Metal: Iron
  • Number: 19
  • Attributes: Rosary, lotus, a sutra vase from which pours compassion, a willow branch symbolizing her powers of exorcism (according to Chinese shamanism, demons flee from the presence of willow); fish basket
  • Mount: Lion or hou, a mythic lion-like creature; dragon; giant carp; dolphin
  • Sacred days: The first and 15 of each lunar month, the New Moon, and the Full moon.
  • Feast days: The 19th day of the 2nd Chinese month is Kwan Yin's birthday. The 19th day of the 6th Chinese month commemorates when Kwan Yin became a Buddha. The 19th day of the 9th Chinese month, the day she first wore her sacred pearls.
  • Offerings: Oranges, pomegranates, spices, incense; Iron Goddess Oolong tea; offerings on behalf of needy women, children, and wildlife.
Note: Kwan Yin is a vegetarian. Her image on restaurant menus often indicates that vegetarian fare is served. Give appropriate offerings (i.e. don't give her steak). Many devotees adopt a vegetarian diet in her honor but even those who do not, traditionally eat vegetarian on her sacred days.

Kwan Yin epitomizes goodness. No one is kinder, more compassionate or more benevolent. Kwan Yin doesn't possess a single malevolent or malicious impulse. She is also exceptionally responsive, as evidenced by her world-wide veneration. If you are new to spirits or are generally afraid of them, Kwan Yin may be the right spirit for you.

From: Encyclopedia of Spirits

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bad Luck Begone Powder

This botanical powder makes no promises about bringing good fortune but allegedly counteracts bad luck and protects from its effects. Nine, seven, and five are numbers of protection - incorporate these numbers into the quantities of botanicals used.

Blend the following ingredients, grinding them together:
  • Nine dried bay leaves crumbled
  • Frankincense...
I am so sorry to do this to you, but this post has been moved to my new website, Magickal Apothecary, hosted at, and can be found in its entirety here: Bad Luck Begone Powder

Bad Omens in Nebraska

The signs, omens, and portents in the following collection have been reported by inhabitants of Nebraska and most of them are beliefs or sayings commonly known in the central western region. Although the list must be far from complete, it is probably representative of the bulk of current (1933) superstitions of Nebraskans.

  1. If a dog howls at night, it is a sign of the death of a friend.
  2. If a dog sits and howls at the moon, it is a sign of death.
  3. One death will be followed almost immediately by two more in the family or the neighborhood.
  4. If a bird flies into the house, it is a sign of a death in the family.
  5. If an owl hoots near the house, some one in the house will die within a short time.
  6. If an owl hoots three times on the property of anyone, it is a sign that there will be a death in the family of the person who owns the land.
  7. If you hear an owl hoot at night, you will soon hear of the death of a friend.
  8. If a loaf of bread be found upside down, there will be a death in the family.
  9. If a light on the order of a will-o'-the-wisp passes around the house, it is the sign. of a death in the house within a short time.
  10. If a mirror falls, there will be a death in the family.
  11. If you break a mirror, there will be a death in the family within a year.
  12. If two people in a fanlily die within a year, a third death will occur before the year is out,
  13. If a child js unusually bright and good, it will die.
  14. If a cock crows at midnight, it is a sign that the death angel is passing overhead.
  15. If you sneeze before breakfast on Sunday morning, you will hear of a death before the end of the week.
  16. If lighted candles are placed at each plate, the person at whose place the candle burns longest wiIl live longest, the one whose candle goes out first will be the first to die.
  17. If a bird pecks at the window of a home, it' is a sign of a death in that family within a year.
  18. If a ticking sound is heard in the wall, a death may be expected in the family.
  19. A sparrow flying around the house is a sign there will soon be three deaths in the family.
  20. If you meet a funeral, there wiIl be a death in the family.
  21. The first person the cat looks at after washing its face will die soon.
  22. If it rains into an open grave, another member of the family will die within a year.
  23. If a baby cuts its upper teeth first, it is digging its own grave; that is, it will soon die.
  24. If you look into a mirror at a funeral, you will be dead before the end of a year.
  25. If three lights are accidentally placed on the table, it is a sign of a death in the family before the end of the year.
  26. To carry a pan of coals through the house is a sign that there wilI be a death in the family.
  27. Carrying a spade through the house forebodes a death.
  28. A spade, a hoe, or a shovel should not be brought into the house. If they are, there will be a death in the family.
  29. To carry a sharp instrument through the house is a sign of a death in the family.
  30. If you open an umbrella in the house, some one in the family will die soon.
  31. If you count the cars of a freight train, some one in your family will die.
  32. If you count the number of carriages in a funeral procession, some one in your family will die soon.
  33. If a person counts the number of cars in a funeral procession, he will cause a death in his family within a month.
  34. After a funeral the first person to leave the graveyard will be the first to go back; that is, to die.
  35. If you cross in front of a funeral procession, there will be a death in the family.
  36. A funeral on Sunday means another death in a short time unless a wedding follows the funeral.
  37. If you knock at your own door, some one in the family will die.
  38. If a baby under a year old sees itself in a mirror, it will die before the year is over.
  39. If you pass anyone cn the stairs going in the opposite direction, there will be a death in the family.
  40. If all the members of the family are not home at Thanksgiving, there will be one death in the family before the nest Thanksgiving.
  41. If a child is named for someone who is dead, he will die young.
  42. A green Christmas makes a black graveyard.
  43. To rock an empty rocking-chair forebodes a death.
  44. If you break a needle while making a garment, you will hear of a death before the garment is worn out.
  45. If a hen crows, there will be a death in the family.
  46. To grieve over the death of a pet is a sign of a death in the family.
  47. If a funeral procession crosses your path, you will have bad luck.
  48. If it rains during the funeral procession, the relatives of the deceased will have bad luck.
  49. It is bad luck to cross between the carriages of a funeral procession.
  50. If a tug comes unhooked going to the grave, it is a sign of bad luck.
  51. It is bad luck to count the cars in a freight train.
  52. It is bad luck to turn around in a car, if you are a member of the funeral party.
  53. Friday the thirteenth is an unlucky date.
  54. It is bad luck to begin a job on Friday.
  55. If a garment is begun on Friday, you won't live to wear it out.
  56. If a garment is begun on Friday, you won't live to finish it.
  57. Never cut out a garment on Friday, unless you finish it that day. Otherwise you will have bad luck.
  58. It is bad luck to set out on a journey on the thirteenth.
  59. If you break a looking glass, it means bad luck for seven years.
  60. Don't sweep dust out of the door on Monday. It brings bad luck.
  61. You must not sweep with a broom across the threshold after dark or you will sweep away your luck.
  62. If you sweep dust over the threshoId after dark, you are sweeping away your wealth.
  63. Don't sweep dust out of the door on New Year's day. It is bad luck.
  64. It is bad luck to move a broom.
  65. When sweeping the floor, don't brush the broom against any one else or it will bring that person the worst of luck.
  66. It is bad luck to carry ashes out after sundown.
  67. It is bad luck to carry a hoe through the house.
  68. Carrying a garden tool through the house is a sign of ill luck.
  69. If you drop a fork, you will have bad luck.
  70. If you drop a knife, you will have bad luck.
  71. It is bad luck to spill the salt.
  72. It is bad luck to have a picture hanging crooked in the house.
  73. It is bad luck not to have the Christmas tree down by January 2.
  74. It is bad luck to rock an enipty chair.
  75. It is bad luck to watch a person out of sight.
  76. It is bad luck to tell any one "good luck".
  77. Never walk under a ladder. It is the worst of luck.
  78. It is load luck to shut an open gate as you pass by.
  79. If you see the moon over your left shoulder, you wiIl have had luck.
  80. It is bad Iuck to carry a two-dolIar bill.
  81. If you pick up a pin with the head toward you, you mill have bad luck.
  82. The opal brings misfortune except to those born in October.
  83. If the first person to enter your house on New Year's day is a woman, you will have bad luck for the year.
  84. If Christmas day on a Sunday fall, A troublous winter we shall have all.
  85. Wearing pearls is a sign of sadness or misfortune.
  86. It is unlucky to seat thirteen people at the table.
  87. If you put a garment on wrong side out, Do not change it back all day. For that would drive your luck away.
Found in: Signs, Omens, and Portents in Nebraska Folklore

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Maidens Fair on Hen Mountain

Themes: Arts; Humor; Relationships; Love: Fertility; Wealth; Health; Beauty.
Symbol: Light
Presiding Goddess: Amari De

About Amari De: In Romania, Amari De is a Gypsy goddess who is the great mother of all things and the personification of nature. According to lore, she bestows wealth, health, beauty, love, fertility, and insight to those who seek her. Descriptions say that she was so holy that a divine light always shone from her face. (see note below)

About the Festival:

Targul de Fete (Maidens Fair) on Muntele Gaina (The Hen Mountain) is a traditional Transylvanian folk festival. This fete was originally a marriage fair where young people came looking for partners. Over time the custom faded, and now it is more of a crafts, costume, and musical exhibition with lighthearted satire and nightlong bonfires that glow with Amari De's light.

The fair usually takes place on the Sunday before 20th of July on the flat top of Mount Gaina (roughly 33km west of Campeni) near the village of Avram Iancu. Villagers in traditional costume walk up to the mountain plateau for dancing, feasting and possibly even choosing a mate.

It is the largest festival in the region. The most famous performeres of traditional Romanian music, as well as local dance ensembles, come to celebrate.

To Do Today:

In keeping with this tradition, if you're planning a wedding or engagement, today would be a wonderful date to consider for either, as it draws Amari De's positive energy to that relationship.

This is also a good time for single folks to get out and mingle, carrying an Amari De love charm along for a little extra help. Find a little piece of luminescent cloth (like a fine silk that shines) and wrap it around a pack of matches. Bless the token saying:

Amari de,
bring love my way!

Ingnite one of the matches before going into a social situation so Amari de can light your way.

Found in: 365 Goddess

Festival of Amaterasu

Today, July 17, is the Festival of Amaterasu. Amaterasu is the beautiful, radiant kami of the sun, but she is more than just the shining sun; she is a great goddess who provides for people and protects them. Amaterasu was the first to cultivate rice, albeit in heaven. (Her grandson, Ninigi, eventually brought rice to Earth from her celestial paddies.) She also invented and taught people the arts of weaving and cultivating silkworms. Rice, silk, fabric, all are gifts of Amaterasu.

Also known as: Amaterasu-omikami
Sacred Names: One Who Makes the Heavens Shine; Heaven-Illuminating Great Deity
Origin: Japan
Classification: Kami
Planet: Sun
Attributes: Mirror, sword, jewel (Japan's three sacred treasures), also bow and quiver of arrows
Tree: Cryptomeria (Japanese Cedar)
Flower: Chrysanthemum
Animal: Horse
Appropriate offerings: Rice, silk, fabrics
Sacred days: July 17th (Festival of Ama-Terasu-O-Mi-Kami ) and the Winter Solstice
Sacred sites: Japan in general, but specifically Ise

Her most famous myth involves her withdrawal into a cave. Susano'o, Amaterasu's bother, Spirit of Chaos, went on a rampage. He trampled Amaterasu's rice fields, filled her irrigation ditches, and threw excrement into her palace. Amaterasu protested strongly, but Susano'o's response was to profane her weaving workshop by throwing the corpse of a skinned horse, the sacred solar animal, at her weaving maidens. The impact of the horse's body caused one of Amaterasu's handmaidens to fall against her wooden spindle, piercing her vagina, killing her.

Livid, grieving, and just plain disgusted, Amaterasu shut herself up in a cave and refused to come out. The world was plunged into darkness, a never-ending solar eclipse. Despite the pleading and cajoling of various kami, Amaterasu remained in the cave, swearing she would never emerge. Although attempts were made, Amaterasu was too powerful and radiant: she couldn't be forced out. The world began to whither and die. Famine spread.

Eight million despairing kami camped outside Amaterasu's cave and debated what to do. Uzume, Spirit of Joy, hatched a plan. Mounting a drum, she began to dance, distracting the kami, who momentarily forgot their woes and joined in the mirth, laughing, singing, dancing, and drumming. Inside the cave, Amaterasu wondered what was going on. she called out, only to be told that there was a new goddess in town. She poked her head out of the cave to see. Instantly a magical sacred mirror was thrust in front of her: she was entranced by her own beauty. Before she could even think of returning to the cave, she was pulled out and the cave sealed up. After some negotiation, she returned to her previous role, but this time as chief of the Shinto Pantheon.

In Shinto faith, Amaterasu is the prime deity (kami). As supreme deity, it is she who the Imperial Family traces their lineage back to. She is the divine ancestor of the Yamato clan. As they grew in prominence and influence, so did she. Or vice versa. Her grandson, Jimmu Tengu, became Japan's first emperor and founder of the Imperial Dynasty. Although considered the literal ancestor of the Japanese royal family, she is also the spiritual mother of Japan in general. Japan means "Land of the Rising Sun"' the sun on the Japanese flag may be understood to refer to Amaterasu.

Amaterasu's main shrine is the Grand Shrine of Ise (Ise-jingu), located in the center of Japan, south of Nagoya. Her most sacred items -- the sword, the mirror and the necklace -- are kept in the shrine. Shrine rituals are performed all year round in honor of Amaterasu. The cave to which she withdrew, Ama-no-Iwato (Heavenly Cave of Darkness) is in the vicinity, too.

Found in: Encyclopedia of Spirits

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Meditrina Healing Charms

In Italy this is a time (July 16) to go to Madonna del Carmine's church bearing an emblem of one's sickness so the Madonna can heal the malady. We will be turning to Meditrina instead, invoking her power to make health-provoking amulets for physical protection and a healthful wine.

Theme: Health
Symbols: Healing Charms; Herbal Preparations

About Meditrina: This Roman goddess of healing magic specializes in the use of wines, hers, and empowered charms to restore our health when summer colds or weariness set in.

To do Today:

To make yourself a Meditrina charm that keeps health with you, place a pinch of caraway, marjoram, nutmeg, and thyme in a green cloth and tie it up. Put this in the sunlight (considered healthful) for several hours, then bless it, saying:

Meditrina, see my need.
I am open to receive.
Throught the day good health impart,
in my body, mind, and heart.

Carry this often. To change it so it protects you from sickeness, use a red-colored cloth filled with apple peel, allspice berries, and a pinch of cinnamon.

To make an aqua vitae (a healthful wine) that will internalize Meditrina's well-being, begin with a base of apple juice or wine. In this base steep a cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and a bit of honeycomb. Do this during a waxing moon if possible to promote growing health, then drink as desired.

Found in: 365 Goddess

Feast of Our Lady Of Carmel

The Goddess has many forms. Today, July 16, is the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is the title given to the Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late 12th and early to mid 13th centuries. They built a chapel in the midst of their hermitages which they dedicated to the  "Lady of the place."

Since the 15th century, popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has centered on the Scapular (a brown ceremonial apron) of Our Lady of Mount Carmel also known as the Brown Scapular, a sacramental associated with promises of Mary's special aid for the salvation of the devoted wearer. Traditionally, Mary is said to have given the Scapular to an early Carmelite named Saint Simon Stock.

If this form of the Goddess appeals to you, or if you're feeling particularly desperate, you can light a candle and recite the following prayer to the "Lady." She is often invoked in prayers for healing:

Prayer to the Blessed Mother of Mount Carmel:

"Oh most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. Oh Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. Oh Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee (say three times). Holy Mary, I place this prayer in your hands (say three times). Amen."

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rowan Wood Magick

Rowan wood is among those special botanicals most closely identified with the magical arts. Its nickanme, "Witch wood," indicates that rowan places witches' power into your hands.

Witch wood repels malevolent enchantment and guards against malevolent spirits and ghosts. No nickname is needed, however, to emphasize rowan's magical roots: related words include the Norse "runall" meaning "a charm" and the Sanskrit "runall" indicating "Magician." In Norse mythology the first woman was created from rowan wood (men derive from ash), while rune staves were traditionally carved from rowan wood.

Although any rowan tree is perceived as magically powerful, some rowan is more potent than others and hence especially valued for its gifts of magical protection. These most potent rowan specimens include roan growing near standing stones or stone circles, according to British tradidion, and rowan growing out of cliffs, crevices, or even out of other trees, especially other roan, rather than Earth herself in Scandinavian tradition. This is known as "flying rowan" and is considered most powerful.

Although this is advisable for all trees, because rowan is so powerful and sacred it is extra important to remember to ask permission from the tree and offer a gift or libation before taking any part of it.

Should you be required to enter a place of malevolent energy, sew a bit of rowan inside your clothing to protect against evil entities of all sorts, as well as against evil intentions.

To protect against psychic attack, nail nine sprigs of rowan across the door lintel. As an alternative, wear sprigs, flowers, or rowanberries in your hair or hat.

If you don't have access to a rowan tree, you can use chalk to draw rowan tree berry patterns onto your doorsteps (after they have been cleansed and cleared) to keep away malevolent spirits.

Found in: Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells

Day of Rauni

The Day of Rauni (July 15th) is a Finnish and Cornish holy day. The Cornish goddess Rowana or Rauni, guardian of rowan trees, is patroness of the secret knowledge of the runes.

  • Origin: Finland
  • Other Names: Rowana
  • Presides over: Fertility and Childbirth
  • Tree: Rowan
  • Offerings: Water, plants, and mountain rowans
  • Favored people: herbalists, botanists, rune casters

Rauni, the rowan tree goddess, embodies all inherent powers of this beloved sacred tree, which is integral to Northern magical and spiritual traditions. The rowan, also known as the Witch Tree or Rune Tree, is a small tough tree able to thrive in very poor soil. Among other metaphysical properties, rowan trees provide spiritual protection.

Because her tree is protective, its wood, bark, and leaves, used for making protective amulets, are especially effective if cut today. A simple charm consists of binding some leaves and bark up in white or gold cloth with red thread while visualizing the goal of the spell.

According to one Finnish creation myth, the rowan (really Rauni in disguise), is Earth's first tree. In the beginning, Rauni came to Earth and saw that there were no plants. She assumed the form of a rowan tree. Her husband, thunder spirit Ukko, struck her with lightning and she conceived. Rauni and Ukko are the parents of all plants.

She is also the anodyne goddess invoked to heal, minimize, and eliminate pain of all kinds.

Source: Encyclopedia of Spirits

Is it raining?

Today (July 15) is St. Swithin's day. If rain falls on St. Swithin's day, the Romanies believe, forty days of rain will follow.

From: The Good Spell Book

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Welcoming The Dead

According to Japanese Buddhist belief, every summer at this time spirits of the dead return to visit their families. O-Bon is a Buddhist ceremony for welcoming back and appeasing the souls of our ancestors.

During the course of this festival, the souls of the dead are guided home, feted for several days, and then sent back to the spirit world.

The formal name of this festival is Ura-Bon. Depending on the region, the Bon Festival may be held one month later, during August 13th-15th.

The word O-Bon has its roots in the Sanskrit word ullambana, which means ‘deliverance from suffering’. The festival combines early Buddhist rituals designed to rescue the souls of the dead from hell, with native Japanese agricultural rites and the Shinto tradition of welcoming back the souls of ancestors in late summer.

Traditionally, the bones of the deceased are placed in individual urns and kept with their ancestors in a family tomb (ohaka). For several consecutive evenings during the week of O-Bon, paper lanterns painted with the family crest are hung to guide the ancestral spirits to the ohaka.

Alternatively, small welcoming fires (mukaebi) may be lit at the entrance to the home, or in front of the gate early on the evening of the 13th to receive the souls of the ancestors.

It is also customary at this time to clean the family grave and present fresh flowers and incense. Those who are unable to travel to their family burial place may instead spruce up the domestic altar. Houses are cleaned and decorated and a place is sometimes set at the family table for the recently departed.

Although many Japanese also hold Shinto beliefs, it is Buddhism that is associated with rituals concerned with death. Therefore it is the Buddhist household altar — the butsudan — that remains the focus of attention during O-Bon.

Offering stands and a small tray with tiny dishes for the symbolic meals offered to the ancestors are brought out, and a special shelf (Shoryodana or 'Shelf of Souls') is set up in front of the altar; it is here that, for the duration of O-Bon, the spirits are believed to dwell.

At the end of three days (on the 16th), the lanterns are again set out to guide the spirits back, and an okuribi (farewell) fire is lit to see off the souls of the ancestors.

Collected from various sources including Mythic Maps

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Healing Bone Broth

Bone broth is the most accessible “cure-all in traditional households and the magic ingredient in classic gourmet cuisine, stock or broth made from bones of chicken, fish and beef builds strong bones, assuages sore throats, nurtures the sick, puts vigor in the step and sparkle in love life–so say grandmothers, midwives and healers. For chefs, stock is the magic elixir for making soul-warming soups and matchless sauces....

... I am so sorry to do this to you, but this post has been moved to my new website, Eating To Live, and can be found in its entirety here: A Healing Bone Broth
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