It is always interesting to do a tarot reading for a new person and to see what exactly it is that they expect you to do for them. People have very different expectations of what the tarot actually does – sometimes I am called upon to give advice, sometimes to shed light on a current situation and sometimes to precisely map out the future. For me, Tarot is a far more effective tool for the first two instances than it is for giving a prediction of what specifics the future holds.
The common perception of Tarot is that it is a divinatory tool, a way of seeing into the future. While this isn’t wrong per se, it’s a very simplistic view of a tool that offers significantly more value than popular imagery of gypsy fortune tellers in fairground booths would have you believe. Tarot is a tool to help you realize one of many potential futures and to make that future the best that you can. My opinion here may differ to some witches (though I’ll be blunt, it won’t differ greatly to the credible ones) but there is no such thing as a preordained future. As beings with free will we control our own lives and we shape our own destiny - Fact.
As the future is an ever changing landscape, it follows that the real value of Tarot lies in helping the querant to form and command their own future. I’ll be honest, if Tarot was about predicting a predestined future, I wouldn’t touch it. I would have no interest in knowing if there were huge catastrophes heading my own way that I would be unable to influence and I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a position where I had to share the knowledge of future doom and gloom with others. I’d rather not know and it would be kinder to others not to tell them.
I have on occasion sensed a certain disappointment that I am not providing my querant with specific facts about what their future holds - the whole “read my mind” kind of thing. I don’t really enjoy reading for these kinds of people, I always feel they are looking more for a validation of magic and a display of impressive powers than they are in obtaining any useful insight into their lives. There’s certainly a market for that kind of thing, but those seeking pseudo psychic showmanship would be better off in the fortune telling booth than in consulting a witch who seeks to illuminate rather than instruct.
The other irritation I have when reading for people is that they try to make the cards fit what they believe already. They come to a reading with a definite idea and simply want the reading to corroborate it. There is little value in such a reading. Tarot is about opening your mind to different ideas and concepts, it is about questioning your direction and widening your mind to the fact that you may need to do things differently. A good Tarot reading can sometimes send you headed in an entirely new direction, your path illuminated by your willingness to rethink your established ideas. Most Tarot readers have been told at some point that they are “wrong,” but this makes no sense, the cards are there to make you think and to reconsider your own solutions. If you are unwilling to do so, you will derive very little benefit from a Tarot session and you are probably wasting your time and money in attending one.
There is a world of difference between tarot reading and fortune telling. Fortune telling itself is largely based on perception, psychological tricks and the willingness of the participant to believe what they are told. The very fact that a person turns up in a fortune telling booth speaks volumes about what kind of person they are… The fortune teller will have a pretty shrewd idea that the querant is going to buy whatever they are told merely by the fact that they have turned up asking the questions. Simple facts such as whether a person is married are easily discerned (wedding ring, tan line on person where wedding ring removed before the reading) and presented as deep insight, adding false credibility when the fortune teller starts talking about the future. The “trick” is to convince the querant that because the teller can speak with authority and knowledge about a person’s present, they can speak with similar authority about their future. Generally however, knowledge about the present is fairly easily picked up by anyone with a talent for reading people and of course the future can simply be made up…
Some facts are also pretty universal. It’s safe to say that if you are married, you’ve been through some rocky times. No intuition at all on my part to tell you that, but I know that it’s true. Sometimes you don’t feel appreciated, you worry your life is stuck in a rut, you’d like more outlet for your creativity and there’s a lot more to you than anybody else understands. And the reason I know that? Because we all feel those things. No psychic ability required – if you’re human you’ve had ups and downs – simple as that. Presenting universal emotions as psychic insight is a favourite trick of the fortune teller because they know you will believe the truth when you hear it, particularly if you want to hear it. They play on the fact that everybody likes to think of themselves as an individual. But the real truth is that we’re all a lot more similar than we like to think. Telling you that you feel something that 99% of the population also feels isn’t really a winner of a parlour trick in my book.
Fortune Tellers with a basic psychic ability do exist of course. I’m certainly not denying the existence of psychic powers. However I would question the inherent power of anyone who makes a living charging £1 to read palms on Brighton beach as it’s hardly the embodiment of witchy success. I would also qualify that, even if some insights can be gleaned through psychic methods, such ability does not mean that a psychic fortune teller is any more gifted at seeing the future than even a complete charletan would be. An ability to know the present does not entail an ability to see into the future. And remember that there is no one single scripted future - anybody charging you money to tell you facts about a so called scripted future is wrong and either deluded or lying to you. There is a tendency to treat psychics with reverence and awe but, although some are to be admired for what they do, it is important not to place them on the pedestal of the all powerful. Psychic “gnosis” is just another skill, just another way of getting information. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because a person has psychic ability they can also read the future, the two abilities are very different skills indeed.
Incidentally, the other key tool of success in the Fortune Teller’s armoury is the tendency to tell you what you want to hear. I watched a brilliant episode of Derren Brown once where he illustrated this concept perfectly. He wrote out a highly detailed profile for several guests on his show and gave each of his guests a copy. Each of them praised him for having the insight and intuition to describe their personalities exactly. The trick of course was that he gave exactly the same profile to each guest. Because the profiles were positive (and because, again, the type of people on his show will have more than a passing interest in the mind and in the powers of Derren himself) each guest wanted to identify with the profile and found ways to do so. Fortune Tellers work the same way, the only difference being that they are significantly less honest than Mr. Brown and claim psychic powers rather than psychological understanding.
So Tarot has picked up this rather unfortunate association with seaside fun and fakery, which is a shame because, used properly, the Tarot can be a positive tool of reflection and introspection and become a clear guide to shaping your own future. When I read the cards, I am looking not so much for facts and predictions as much as guidance and support. Take as an example my old favourite the nine of swords. Probably the most miserable card in the entire deck. On the surface of it it is a harbinger of gloom, misery and despair. But as we take Tarot to be a guide to a possible future and not an insight into the predestined, I can work with a querant who draws the card and help them to make life choices and decisions which will allow them to circumvent the misery that may happen if they continue to tread the path they are currently on. The people for whom I read have the power to redirect their path, to listen to the lessons from the cards we read together and to use those lessons as a sound foundation in making their lives better and more productive.
Tarot helps a person to take responsibility for their life and to control the way forward so they approach the future they want. The querant, not the cards (and certainly not the reader) are in final command of that future. The skill of the tarot reader is helping a querant to recognize their own power and to assist them in understanding the steps they need to take to bring about the future/s they want.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1080831 (pirshulet)
Quartz is the universal crystal with a huge range of uses and which can be substituted for most other crystals in a pinch. There are many different types of quartz and some crystals that we identify in their own right such as amethyst or citrine are actually just different varieties of quartz. Ask any witch for her desert island disk choices and I bet you a pound to a penny that a lump of quartz would be on it. Quartz is to the average magical practitioner what sage is to a Wiccan – used for pretty much everything...
There are different colours and types of quartz, some of which have specific correspondences – rose quartz for example is associated very much with the heart chakra and emotional matters, smokey quartz is linked to lifting the mood and banishing depression. You can even get quartz with little bits of the mineral rutile in it (hence rutilated quartz), ideal for channelling energy.
I thought this week it would be interesting to look at some of the ways a witch may choose to use quartz and how as a crystal it can be utlised in magical practises. So here are the top ten uses for quartz:
Traditionally the wand of the witch is associated with wood rather than crystal. But crystal can be equally effective in directing the energy of the caster. Long pieces of quartz can be used to define the parameters of a circle or simply to direct will in a working. The idea of a wand is that it channels intention through the properties of the material in the wand. In the case of a quartz wand, the properties of purification, healing, protection and psychic intuition can be utilised to enhance the effectivity of the spell and the power of the witch.
There are many ways to charge crystals – moon water, moon bathing, burying in the earth... But one of the simplest and cleanest ways is to leave crystals to charge on a bed or inside a geode of quartz. Quartz is a charging crystal that rejuvenates your other crystals and leaves them cleansed and charged.
Realign the chakra centres of the body
Got to be honest with you, the whole chakra thing is a bit new agey for me and not something I really get involved in. But as many witches do work with the chakras, I thought I'd pop it in for the sake of completion. The idea is that clear quartz reflects light across the whole colour spectrum, thus having the potential to reach out to each chakra on the corresponding light wave. Some types of quartz have specific associations with a particular chakra, for example rose quartz and the heart chakra.
Quartz has protective properties and can be worn close to the body either in the form of jewellery or popped into a pocket or bra to protect the wearer. It can also be placed at strategic points in the home for protection to the property.
When placed beneath the pillow, quartz assists the sleeper to have dreams of a prophetic nature.
Increases the power of ritual
Quartz finds many a way to sneak into a ritual. It may be worn in the form of jewellery, sewn into ritual robes or even attached to magical tools – I personally have a quartz crystal attached to the end of my staff. The usage is similar to that of the wand, it helps channel the energy of the magical practitioner. However, quartz can also be used to demarcate the boundary of the circle and in this instance it is used for protection, to keep negativity out and enhance the safety of the circle participants.
Clear negative energy from the aura
Quartz can be moved over the body – approx 3-5 inches from the skin itself and rolled slowly around the aura of the physical being. This helps to heal any weak patches in the aura and restores energy. Some witches talk of tears in the aura and using quartz to seal and heal them by rubbing the stone gently in a clockwise motion around the afflicted area. Remember to cleanse your stones after using to heal the aura as they will pick up any residue of negativity clinging to the aura.
Crystal water for healing
The energetic properties of many crystals, including quartz can be infused into water. Quartz is placed in a glass of water and ideally left overnight in the full moon. The water can be used for cleansing magic tools, blessing places and it can even be drunk as a restorative of energies. (Be aware that some crystals are not suitable for creating crystal water due to being water soluble so check and double check before drinking any homemade concoction made from crystals...)
Power restorative/energy store
You can use quartz to store energy and this idea can be expanded to storing emotions, thoughts and even memories. Hold the quartz in the centre of your palm and visualise transferring the energy from yourself into the stone. Allow your energy to flow into the stone and store safely. You can draw the energy from the stone back into yourself by reversing the visualisation of energy flow when needed.
Probably the most widely known use of clear quartz is the crystal ball. A crystal ball is used for divination and prophecy. There are two ways this can be achieved, some seers see a physical image in the crystal and others use a clear unblemished surface to rest their mind and allow them to either see images in their mind's eyes or to enable knowledge to come to the surface of their minds. However it is used, it cannot be denied that the quartz crystal ball plays an important role in magic as we know it today.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/250084 (dvet)
Have you ever noticed how some people have the ability to drain the happiness out of any room they enter, how their personal miasma of misery seeps into the atmosphere, bringing down your own mood just by being in the same room as them? If the answer is yes, then you have almost definitely met a mood hoover…
Mood hoovers are people who project their emotions outwards. They are invariably sensitive and highly strung individuals and they almost always have a tendency to look on the negative side of a situation. Your typical mood hoover is a pessimist – they like being miserable and they want you to be miserable too…
The worst mood hoover I have ever personally come across was a woman I worked with several years ago. We used to attend meetings together and this miserable woman would interpret every comment made as personally and as negatively as she could possibly manage. She would delight in playing the victim and looking for ways to be outraged or unhappy. It was awful - We’d all go into each meeting fairly upbeat and come out wanting to kill ourselves (and each other!). The negativity used to last all day and in the end we started to dread the meetings. It sapped the whole team of their energy and eventually we fell apart as a unit. This shows just how powerful the impact of a mood hoover can be - this woman easily and without effort ruled the emotions of all those around her. Through negativity and her own inclination to misery, she influenced the moods and the personalities of every single other member in the team.
The thing is, whether you like it or not, a mood hoover genuinely does have power. In many situations they have the upper hand. If you know that making a critical comment to them will result in either: a) tears, b) hysterics, c) sulking, d) prolonged drama or e) indignant monologues about why they are right and why you are victimising them, chances are that you will end up being a little reluctant to say anything at all to them. The mood hoover loves drama! In the example I gave of the woman I worked with, she enjoyed nothing more than derailing our meetings. The less work we got done and the more moaning she got to do, the happier she was.
Now to be fair, most mood hoovers don’t know they are doing it. I challenged one once on why she was always so miserable. She was genuinely surprised to discover that everybody who knew her thought she was a miserable little madam. I pointed out that sitting in communal rooms (lol – our banking hall!) and wailing into her desk was probably a good indication of general unhappiness but she didn’t get it. Even when I explained that most people will try to absent themselves from others when feeling miserable she remained oblivious to the fact that her permanent and very public downer was having an effect on everybody else.
So you can’t reason with them… Which begs the question of what can you do when a mood hoover suddenly turns up in your life? Challenging them will only make them cry which will generate more of the drama they so love to feed off. I say if they want to be miserable, let them. You can’t change a mood hoover but you can change the way that you react to them. On a practical level, don’t feed the hoover – they can’t handle criticism, they don’t like confrontation and they certainly won’t be able to take a joke. Avoid all of the above. Creating drama is playing into their hands. The best practical way to deal with a mood hoover is not to react to them at all. Be polite and calm but keep your distance. Look out for the key phrases that indicate they are hoping for trouble and neutralize them with cold formality. And promise to think hard about everything they say, remember that the mood hoover has a fragile ego…
Of course, for those of us conversant in magic there are many more ways to take a swipe at an irritating mood hoover. For those who like the harm none principle, there is simple shielding, designed to repel the negativity from reaching you. For us…ahem…less lovely minded people there is prickly shielding – send the negativity back with a nasty sting, mirror shielding – reflect the negativity right back at them and bouncy shields – bounce the misery ball back into their court. Shielding is ideal from the point of view that you are tackling yourself rather than the individual to find a solution for the problem. I work in a job where I meet a huge cross section of the public, I never know day to day who will have an effect on my personal equilibrium so having strong shields in place is an absolute must.
Shielding however is a very defensive way of dealing with a mood hoover. There is nothing at all to stop you taking direct action to prevent the negativity leaving the personal space of the mood hoover in the first place. I have, for example, performed spells where I have bound the person in their own misery with the intention that it ceases to influence other people. This has the advantage that it takes less of my energy to maintain and it benefits other people as well as myself. In a close knit group where I care enough to bother about the feelings of the others, I would prefer to bind the individual than to expend all my energy strengthening my own shields.
The psychic vampire is a different beast to the mood hoover. Mood hoovers, like I say, don’t know they are doing it. In the case of the psychic vampire, generating moods that will inspire negative energy is a very deliberate act on their part. The psychic vampire gains energy by feeding off the emotions of others (negative energy I am assured produces the best results). I know several witches who boost their powers by deliberately generating conflict and using the energy to strengthen themselves (I don’t personally by the way, I’m too busy writing my romance novels to waste my time arguing with everyone). As far as psychic vampires are concerned, avoid them – any interaction at all will help them to feed off you. Possibly if you have the prickliest, bounciest shields in the whole world of witchcraft you’ll be ok. For the less able, avoid them like the plague.
Now, you would think our friends inclined toward empathy would perhaps suffer more from the attacks of the psychic vampire or the mood hoover but interestingly enough, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. I believe this is because the empath will relate to the individual and be concerned with their suffering and overlook the effect it has on themselves whereas someone less empathetic and more selfishly minded (the Degu Witch for example…) will be more concerned with the effect the person is having on them. I am most certainly not an empathy but unless I’ve taken steps to prevent it, I find myself very susceptible to the moods of others. And often a little helpless… I tend to use confrontation a lot in my dealings with the world but of course confronting a mood hoover or a psychic vampire just makes the situation worse.
There is a type of person (often lumped in with the identity as Empath) who do seem to pick up more on negativity in an atmosphere than others. These people feel distress at general negativity in the air and often crumble entirely when faced with a mood hoover.
If this sounds like you, get some shields in place. If you are not shielding, you’re an idiot, a complete idiot (and if you cried when you read that, you’re probably also a mood hoover, lol).
Incidentally, once you know how to play the game, you can actually have some fun with mood hoovers. I’ve known a couple who listened avidly to everything I said, waiting with bated breath for anything they could interpret as hurtful so they could play the victim. It can be quite amusing to walk them right up to the line but never quite cross it…keeping them dangling, desperate for the drama that you are not going to allow them to generate, but managing to annoy them to the point where they feel frustrated. Probably a bit malicious of me, but then if you think of all the misery they are putting into the world themselves, it doesn’t hurt them to get a bit of what they dish out occasionally. (And yes Mrs Miserable at morning meetings, I do mean you...)
Fundamentally how you choose to deal with mood hoovers and psychic vampires and whether you allow them into your life is your choice. If you’ve got enough strength to repel them and protect yourself, you’re not going to be harmed. My only advice is don’t expect them to change, don’t let them take the moral high ground with their belief that they have the right to be miserable and always, always shield like mad around them.
Image http://www.deviantart.com/art/Vampire-81736008 (Lumpling)
I was lucky enough to find the time this year to attend the Pagan Pride parade in Nottingham. joining approximately 1500 like minded people, some familiar, some new faces (all friendly) in a peaceful march across the city to demonstrate and celebrate the diversity of those who identify as pagan.
The thing that struck me most about all the people I met on the day was the total acceptance of other belief systems. There were witches, shamans, druids, wiccans all marching together with no tensions and no attempt to elevate any one path over another. Such acceptance is humbling but it does make me wonder why the world at large struggles with diversity so much. If people as different as those under the pagan umbrella can respect and rejoice in each others faiths, why is it so hard for other religion to do it? Something to think about...
It was wonderful to see such a variety of people turn out and to have the confidence to express themselves so publicly. All ages were represented (some adorably cute little witchlets!) and people were comfortable enough with their differing sexualities to dress in a manner that embraced the principle of out and proud. It warms my heart to spend time with people who reject the idea of bigotry and discrimination and accept people for who they are. And it was brilliant to see some of the non pagans watching the event and cheering us on. The parade really got the message across, it was all about pride and truly I did feel proud to be one with such an amazing group of people, united in our mission to share our beliefs, if only for a short while.
A lot of people worry about the costs involved in studying the Craft (believe me, my husband included, no way is he letting me and my credit card loose in the witchy shops at Glastonbury...) But following a magical path doesn't have to be costly or expensive. Cheap and simple tools do the job as well as anything fancy bought in a witch shop. Sometimes they can be even better because its something you have either custom made or used your individual ingenuity to improvise with.
So, to illustrate my point that you can find tools of the craft just about anywhere, I completed a little experiment today, I took £10 to Poundland to look for ten items under a £1 that can be used for either ritual or magical workings. And I got some bargains!
Pure essential oils and expensive incenses are great but they can cost a fortune. I remember my Geranium essential oil costing £10 for a small bottle! Keep costs down by saving essential oils for important spell work and don't whatever you do send your money up in smoke by using them to fragrance your ritual room. Fragrance oil is much much cheaper and smells just as nice. Perfect for setting the mood and makes the pricier stuff last a lot longer.
Here's one for the Wiccans. Many Wiccans will use a bolline - the practical knife used to chop things up rather than as an instrument of ritual work. This utility knife would be ideal for peeling wood, carving runes into candles, cutting up herbs. It doesn't have to look fancy, its a working tool. Look for practicality not prettiness!
Pretty much anything that can hold water can be used as a chalice. These two pretty cracked glass effect candle holders would be a beautiful addition to an altar. I can see them on opposite ends of the altar, one for holding fire, one for holding water. That's half your altar decoration sorted for a £1. bargain!
Every witch needs candles. Fact! You can buy pretty coloured spell candles for vastly inflated prices if you like but to be honest tea lights do exactly the same job for a fraction of the price. And beware using long expensive candles if you're the kind of witch who likes a spell candle to burn down in a single working, some of those long ones can take hours to burn down. Tea lights last just the right amount of time that the average spell needs. (If you're worries about colour correspondences you could also try making your own candles from cheap wax crayons - in the holders from your used tea lights!!)
A simple spray bottle. Great for making up sprays for use around the house. You can make your own cleaning sprays, your own room freshening sprays or even use the water diffusing element to spray the intention of your spell around a bit. handy tool on any witch's shelf and doubles up nicely as a plant mister for your herbs as well.
I was absolutely delighted with these. Tiny mini shot glasses. You get loads in a package and you can use them time and time again.... Brilliant to use as offering bowls or for cut wildflowers or herbs for your altar. They are also ideal for ceremonial feasting, mini symbolic glasses of wine or fruit juice. They would also make a great container for blood sacrifice. You could even use them to store dried herbs with a tiny bit of cling film on top.
And they come in all colours of the rainbow!
There is way too much significance attached to the witch's cauldron. The plan and simple truth is that the cauldron was just the cooking pot of its day. So rather than go buy some pentacle engraved iron clad beast, why not just use one of today's culinary tools? This purple piece of ceramic cookware is heatproof and can double as a cauldron for pretty much any purpose.
Expensive robes and gowns are all very nice but just not necessary. Special clothing for ritual purpose is far more about achieving the right headspace, it doesn't actually have a direct affect on your workings. Try buying something simple like a pretty hairpiece and keeping it solely for ritual work. This helps you get into the mood but means you don't have to spend all your money "dressing the part." Comfortable clean clothes or (if its warm) nudity is perfectly sufficient.
If there is one thing in the witch shops that I find totally pointless its the posh BoS/Grimoires. Maybe, just maybe when you've studied the craft for 50 years, you just might know exactly what to write in one. But for most of us, any books of magic are filled with scribbles, crossings out, ripped out pages and the occasional tear stain of frustration. You don't need the tree of life enscribed on the front of your BoS, a plain ruled notebook will work just as well. Personally I still think computerising your Grimoire is the way forward but if you MUST write in paper and pen, use a notebook.
The athame is the ceremonial knife, used for ritual purposes but rarely for mundane purposes. The tool is an extension of yourself to direct your own intention and energy. You, not the tool are doing the work. It follows that you don't need a sexy looking athame to complete effective workings. A kitchen knife will do just fine.
The only limitation is the witch's imagination...
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