2017: A Fool's Journey


I've been foolish most of my life, and that didn't entirely change as I got older. I waited for maturity to hit me like a train but instead I discovered it is an endless journey that is only accomplished through age and introspection.  Being foolish doesn't mean I was stupid, it means I made the same mistakes everyone makes on their journey to self discovery and appreciation.

One of the things that's been most revelatory this year is how much I tend to edit myself for the benefit of avoiding drama.  There's a safety in being compliant that allows me to avoid confrontation, on the other hand, it is not in my nature to let things slide, to say nothing.  I'm learning the balance between the two, the balance between kindness and honesty, because these two concepts don't play well together.  The fun part has been refusing to keep up that pattern of compliance.

The people in your life who love you won't take your happiness personally, they wont hold your gains against you.   People who love you will not play you for a fool, they will celebrate your happiness whether it involves them or not, they will be happy for your gains and feel for your losses.  2017 was about hate and love.  I chose love.

 


This years theme was Self Care- a hot topic in the pagan community as of late, and an even more important aspect to reclaiming the sense of unified spiritual self for a woman of color during these times of empowerment.   When we circle up to talk about what we need, it usually comes down to needing to feel cared for, to care for ourselves.  I went from dismissive of my background to embracing of my whole self in a very short amount of time, 2015 to 2017.  I went from fitful sleep and extreme isolation to being rested and open.  I went from fearful of every move and every word to being easily engaged and ready to be seen.  And I deserve to be seen. Have you met me?  I'm great.  "I am green.  I'm gorgeous.  I'm everything that starts with a G..."

Haughty and charming, shy and reserved all at once, I am my mother's child.  That was another act of healing this year took; having a come-to-Jesus with both my parents, resolving a lot of years of pain and resentment over the course of the last few months.  Most of that is thanks to my sister Kendra, she's my rock when I'm a wreck, and she knows how to handle us all.  With that kind of love in your life, you've got to be grateful for it.  I don't always show my gratitude because I often feel unworthy of whatever good is done for me, but I know I'm good enough to be loved, so I know I need to work on being grateful instead of fearful.

When you've got severe Social Anxiety Disorder, it can be perceived as selfishness and narcissism.  In a way that can be true sometimes, but the the foundation is fear: genuine, crippling, all-consuming fear of being perceived negatively.  It haunts my every waking moment and impairs my sleep for days on end.  All you can do is keep smiling and remind people that it isn't them.  It's you.  And you're fine, you're normal, you just operate on a different wave length.  And that is OKAY.


I'm in a coven now.  We emerged as an off-shoot of our Black Student Union as a way of keeping the sisterhood of melanated women connected as we move on with our respective paths.   We can go months without seeing each other.  But it's a coven the likes of which you should fear!  We don't practice magic together.  We ARE magic together.  We aren't all witches, but we are most certainly witchcraft.   Our nights, however they are spent, make magic for us all.  Sometimes it's a quick get together to watch old hip hop videos (or in my case, they're trying to bring me up to speed with current music, heh), sometimes it's bath jar making and hoodoo sugar boxes, some times it's just talking shit on our smoke break in the Greenbelt where we all work/worked.  It's anything, it's everything, it's nothing.  No pressure for me to show up or talk. No expectations for me except to just be myself.  And I am myself.

They're all so beautiful and so much stronger than me in their own ways, and yet I'm the oldest so the dynamic is interesting and new.  Dev is the nurturing sunflower who loves with their whole self; you'll never feel alone with them because they makes you feel like the most important person just by looking at you. Shatarra is the bad-ass with eyes like cat- yet beneath that exterior is a soul so sensitive she'll make you weep at the depth of her.   Ruzeda's the fashionista with superb style who speaks her mind without reservation and it is refreshing to be around- the realness of her is tangible and exciting.   JB is the future of the America, I'm certain of it; I've never met someone so even-keeled and steely-backed....if she has fears, I've never seen her bend to them.   Char is generosity and success wrapped up in drive covered in cuteness, the kind of mind you want running your show because she thinks of everyone and everything with deep consideration.   Carmen is sexy and sweet and smart and every kind of good S word you can think of; just painfully beautiful and exceptionally poetic, she's a distraction in the best way.  I just met Amina but she's a stunner, definitely one of those classy and driven girls that's going to go places, you can tell, and she's made all of us, especially our Will, so very happy.   Me?  They tell me I'm like the knowing older sister.   I really love them.


Gods... I just love.  I love deeply and totally.  I love ME the most, which is why I also know it's important to be honest about what you DON'T love...  I don't love being guilt tripped, or family time, or doing my art with other people watching, or eating food I don't want, or hanging out for hours without a specific goal, or lengthy small talk.  But all of those things are my boundaries and I've learned not to apologize for them.  I'm never going to be the kind you can just get close to whenever, and I'll never be the kind to want to just hang around all day.  I'll always prefer my own company to anyone else, but it certainly does feel nice to know that when I occasionally get bored with my solitude, there's a team waiting for me who understand, respect and even like that about me.  Balance is all a Libra can ask for, right?

feasting is an important part of any magical gathering, right?  We do it up.
The Fool in me always knows how to sabotage myself.  Along the way I stumbled.  I made friends with some bad people and got myself into some scary situations on occasion.  But...  I fell in with a circle who only seek to bring me up, to raise me up, and I'm growing up with them, learning to love everything about my blackness.  I found out how to step back and let things be.  I persisted and failed and still something good came of it.  I lost something unexpectedly and had to grieve all over again.  I fell out of friendships with people who predator on my compliance.  I learned to ask for space without feeling guilty.  I learned how to stand up to men who scare me, I learned how to stand up to girls who bully me.  I learned that being 30 doesn't save you from making an absolute ass of yourself nor does it save you from feeling like a child, but it saves you from giving too much of a damn.

The Black Power Tarot,, a gift from a covener
Flawed and foolish, that's what I am, that's what we are.  The Fool's journey only moves forward in the right position.  With my stars aligned and my allies beside me, I move into the next year a little wiser, a little harder and a lot less ready to say sorry for nothing...

I'm not fooled by the unknown things ahead,  I have me and I have my slice of the world.  I don't feel foolish at all anymore.

Tall Poppy: Top Ten Tarot Decks of All Time

10. The Golden Botticelli Tarot by A. Atanassov, Lo Scarabeo
A perfect deck for an appreciator of quintessential Renaissance art; it is romantic, well edited and tailored to the traditional tarot mythos.  My favorite aspect is the vibrant colors and the play of the gold foil against the soft pastels common to the style. 

9.  The Alchemical Tarot: Renewed 4th Edition by Robert M. Place
A favorite among occultists, this deck is complex, vivid, modern and beautifully illustrated.  The prominent use of alchemy symbolism, astromancy and hermetic art lend to the classic vibe of this deck. It's polished and glossy which can bother some readers, but I rather like it's durable print stock.  This deck would appeal to the esoteric minded seer. 

8. The Tarot of the Absurd by The Barefoot Fool 
I've reviewed this one before so I'll keep this brief:  it's contemporary, strange, easy to read and eye catching.  The vendor is kind and helpful and their work is a fascinating play of shapes and dynamic movement. 

7. The Etruscan Tarot by Riccardo Minetti, Silvana Alasia, Lo Scarabeo
The Etruscan culture is fascinating to learn about, and most of what we know of their aesthetic is gleaned from the impressive and vast amount of art work and artifacts left behind. Drawing from the sources of vase paintings, frescoes and mosaics as well as graffiti and etchings, this deck portrays the tarot through the mythology and social life of the Etruscans, whose style resembles a multitude of cultures who influenced them.  History fans will like this deck, I know I certainly do.

6.  The Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini, U.S. Game Systems Inc.
A retro deck from 1970 with a cult following that's lasted damn near 50 years, it is exceedingly difficult to find an original in mint condition but well worth the price if you do, it belongs in any classic collection.  It is one of the classic Waite-Smith schools of deck but its style is just individual enough to make it its own class of deck rather than a Waite-Smith clone. The characters depicted are elegant, the colors somewhat muted by age but none the less vibrant.  Vintage decks like these appeal to the younger crowd of readers these days and I'm hoping the style will make a resurgence.

5.The Dame Darcy Tarot by Dame Darcy
The Dame Darcy is absolutely one of my babies, a deck worth keeping close and passing only to a loved one.  This deck is so much fun- it ranged between cutesy and  pleasantly-cartoonish to raw and abstract.  The entire theme is oceanic, maritime and board-walk, you will love the feel of them as they shuffle.  It's an extremely feminine deck and will appeal for its diversity and individuality.

4. The Golden Thread Tarot by Tina Gong at Labyrinthos
I reviewed this deck a while back on my Reviews page and I stand by my belief that this is among the most high quality and lovely decks you could possibly purchase.  Not only is the artwork fun, interesting, graphic and well designed, the quality of the cards is top-notch and you can download an app which arts as the companion book and guide to this deck.  I can't recommend it highly enough for readers who appreciate a slight quark to a serious deck.  They move like water when shuffled and come in a quality two part box.  Golden decks are a particular favorite of mine and I make a habit of collecting every golden or gilded deck in production, I must say, this one takes the cake when it comes to the illuminated deck game.

3. The Ophidia Rosa Tarot by Leila & Olive
Once in a while, I receive a piece of artwork so stunning I spend a whole day with it in my hands, just staring at every inch of it.  This deck is the single most impressive deck in my collection; it has it all- quality, metaphor, meaning.  It appeals to my naturalistic sensibilities and aesthetic as an herbal occultist.  The vendors/artists are punctual, talented and stylish and this deck reflects their talent.   For a review, visit HERE.

2.  The Golden Tarot of Klimt by A. Atanassov, Lo Scarabeo
The Klimt is the deck I use the most.  I've read the majority of my readings with this deck, both privately and publicly.  It communicates with me on every level because Gustav Klimt communicates with me.  The gold foil is expertly applied, the art chosen for each card is well chosen in my opinion, though it can take a little bit more interpreting.  There's a dreamy sweetness to the cards as well as a stark realism that gives this deck a mass appeal.  I recommend this to any painter, any sketch-artist, anyone who glows in the presence of creative expression.  This is the deck for you.

1.  The Morgan Greer Tarot by Bill F. Greer with Lloyd Morgan, U.S. Game Systems Inc.
The ultimate learners deck; it is classic, vintage and colorfully illustrated.  The shapes are pleasing and rounded, nothing too harsh or edgy and it captures the themes in tarot necessary to learning and memorizing the common themes of cards; red roses, white lily, dogs, crayfish, crescent moons under feet and blue mantles; each is ripe with symbolism which deciphers deeper meanings of the cards and their spirits.  For any beginner, this is the most highly recommended non distracting deck, I'd say far superior in translation of imagination than the Waite Smith.

Deck to watch for...


I have a feeling...I have a deep resonance with this deck and with the artist.  They are a marvel, and totally charming and cognizant of their fan base.  It looks like death and gold and glorious meaning.  I'm especially excited to see a P.O.C person do a deck relevant to their beautiful heritage.  I'm in awe of the style already and was really happy with the vendor's updates. I'm looking forward to this deck in February and am honored to have backed it.  I'd have bought twenty if I could!  It's just... well, it's bound to be something special. I have a feeling.  Amrit Brar: you are a fantastic artist, may you always be inspired!

"Step into my parlor,"
said the reader to the guy.

Threads



Thread + Essence 
For sigils of the papaver 

For sigils of the nightshade (nightshade pollen powder)

For the sigils of sweetpea and Mercury

For the sigils of Ivy

The High Priestess: Mary Jane

The High Priestess.
Mary Jane



Mary Jane is the eldest.  Industrious but lazy, and extraordinarily kind, Mary Jane (better known as Sativa when she's working, Indica when she's sleeping) is neither cruel nor stupid.  While it seems she keeps the company of dreamy fools, she's the beloved muse of the keenest minds the world has ever known; inspiring musicians and painters and great thinkers alike. 



Unlike her sisters of vice who are dangerous by their chemical nature in large amounts,  she's good for just about everyone and everything-- though her antics can make some people a little paranoid.  Her sister Vino is a killer, causing men to drown in their sorrows, and her other sisters, Cacao, Coffea and Camellia have a capacity to strike a man dead through the heart, but not Mary; she'll lull you to sleep long before you've had too much of her... except in food form, she can get a tad crazy when she's being eaten.



She takes many lovers, all lovers, and never hides her free love affairs, preferring to appease all and choosing no favorites.  She doesn't abide conflict well, and will seek to bring peace through confusion, euphoria and humor when called to aid her children.  She makes no distinction between celebrities and commoners, holds no judgement and never kills with a kiss.  As the great chemist and bard R. James once spoke in his famed works, "I'm in love with Mary Jane, I'm not the only one. If Mary wanna play around, I let her have her fun. She's not the kind of girl that you can just tie down. She likes to spread her love and turn your head around." 


in her lap is a pile of hemp seeds, an offering. 
She's a social creature, MJ, and she's generated her own extensive lore.  The ancient bards of Liverpool sang her praises, and sought to get her into their lives.  Great philosophers like Lord Sagan of Cosmos turned to her for her healing, her wisdom, and used her power to uplift the minds of generations.   It is said in the old tongue that she prefers to move widdershins in this world, finding it easier to be passed to the covener to one's left.
"When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself."- Bob Marley.

Tarot Review: Ophidia Rosa and Absurd


The Ophidia Rosa Tarot


Wow.  I mean wow.  This deck is a combination of rustic, feminine, botanical, natural, grave and sweet.  It is highly detailed and beautifully printed with golden edges and thin lines, presented in a smooth black illustrated box complete with a leaflet for basic reading (no reversals); I'm floored.  Snakes and moths, spiders and fungi act as spirit guides through this world of floral interpretation and symbolism.  The illustrations are simple, like they were taken from the diary of some wild botanist; a dreamy garden of familiar and magical herbs.  They aren't traditional Raider Waite Smith or Marseilles style, they will have to be interpreted a little differently and really studied before rendering accurate-to-the-deck readings, and I've never been so excited to commit a new style to memory.  Though there is a bit of resistance to the push of the cards during the corner shuffle, they move nicely under simple shuffling techniques and become smoother with use as most decks do.  Everything about this deck is quality so the cost is well worth it.  For a green witch like me, this is a dream-come-true of a deck and will probably join main circulation in the Parlor.  I highly recommend this deck to readers who want quality and substance with simplicity.



The Tarot of the Absurd


I found this deck refreshing, odd (in the best way) and personable.  Not only is the artwork somewhat androgynous, gender bending and queer; it was diverse in sizes and shapes, it expressed femininity and masculinity in fluidity... I was really pleased with the style, and even more so with the detail of the artwork in every single card, no matter how simple it appears at first glance.  The theme borders on hip art-house but ventures into almost cartoonish exaggerations without being cartoonish at all (not that I knock that genre); it's just very contemporary and clean, all rounded lines and stark contrasts.  Absurd is such a well done deck with quality printing, the cards have a cool smoothness to them that I found easy to shuffle.  It quickly became my most popular requested deck from the Collection for the last few weeks, especially among my black and queer clientele as well as art students.  Black and White decks are a popular new phenomenon in tarot, and this is among my favorite decks because it stands out from the others vividly.  This deck tells a story for sure, but also meanders like a dream.  Shipping was swift and the vendor was kind, attentive and charming, definitely the kind of vendor I'll be frequenting in the future (as should you).

The Mirror That Reflects the Moon

My personal mirror, belonged to my great great grandmother and passed along down to me.  It used to be hinged in a huge dresser but the dresser is in storage while the mirror remains with me.  It has seen death.  It has been bloodied and lost and witness to many lives.  It sits across from my bed.  I have no taboos about the mirror regarding its use in my work- it's part of my family and part of our sentiment and superstition, so it watches me... covered behind a curtain. 
Catoptromancy
the art of the reflective diviner, the love fortune-teller, the illuminated healer...
and the unlucky.

As Samhain approaches, mystics, occultists, witches and wanderers start unpacking their arsenal of divination tools, hoping to catch that wisdom in the ether. Some witches only whip out the big guns for the holiday.  Usually, this means oracles, spirit boards and ouji.  For me, this time of year is for the mirror, the Nichols Mirror.  My family mirror is more than just a little spirited.  It's watched so much death and magic, it sits unused and covered by iron chains and necklaces most of the year.  Then Samhain comes and this tool of which I am weary comes out to speak.

A little about mirror folklore...

The magic of mirrors was beheld by our ancient ancestors since time unknown, long before the Roman specularii, even in the hands of the famed and powerful like Pythagoras, Catherine di Medici and John D (who's mirror was a polished slab of black obsidian).  They can become haunted like those of the Myrtles Plantation or St. Mathias Mission House, and they are even inhabited by their own court of legendary demons like Bloody Mary, Doppelganger and the Black Madam.  A black mirror is said to be specifically for skrying; for seeing beyond what we perceive with the eye.  Clear mirrors were believed to be able to act as portals and summon demons.  Hand mirrors were a tool of love while wall mirrors were a source of fearful superstition as they were believed to be able to capture the souls of those passing near it regularly.   The most dangerous kind of mirror according to folklore, is that of water.  The mirror of water was often associated with enchantment and death, leading people to their demise in its depths.  However, wells as a type of mirror were utilized in their own manner by method of one looking at well water through the reflection from a hand mirror.  This double portal was supposed to show the future.  This kind of well-mirror magic survived in American regional folklore. 

"Mirrors train the inner eye to perceive the unseen.  Throughout history, mirror gazing has been used to look into the future, aid in healing, answer questions, solve problems, find lost objects and people, and identify or find thieves and criminals."
- Rosemary Guiley, Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy

The power of the mirror sometimes appears to lie in protecting oneself and home from mirrors, rather than using the mirror actively.  It is a passive tool, one that is gazed upon or manipulated by smoke, light and water in order to distort the world and give us visions of the world in between the realities we accept.  Smoke and mirrors with candle-light is a well known divination aid that alters the way we read palms, cards or spirit-boards; it's more than parlor tricks to trick the eye, when those involved know exactly what's going on, the manipulations become a tool of reflection, a path to distinguishing the eye from the inner eye. 

Themes~

  • fortune and misfortune
  • apples and love
  • water and blood
  • voodoo dolls
  • necromancy
  • healing
  • divination (catoptromancy)
In love charms, the light of the moon becomes the method by which the world of the mirror is altered, the mind becomes transfixed and visions are obtained.  Water used upon the mirror was supposed to open a portal between worlds, allowing spirits or otherworldly things to birth into our world.  Blood, was a message, sent to the spirits as both sacrifice and query. 

"Hold a mirror face downwards over the center of the well and your future husband will appear in the glass,"
- Cora Linn DanielsEncyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World  Vol I-III (p.66)

Primary attributes in folklore are love charms; specifically spells by women to obtain faithful husbands, the prediction of death omens and to speak with the spirits of the dead or demons themselves, to contact the devils directly, or in some cases, to bind spirits from a place or even heal the grief-stricken.  In terms of love magic, the mirror served as a portal by which one could see the image of their future lover, it reflected a possibility which had to be observed in darkness and with an offering of some sensuous food- specifically the apple.  

"In Scotland the lassy slips alone and unperceived to a dark room containing a mirror where a moonbeam falls.  She stands before the mirror eating an apple, and intently regarding the mirror in which soon appears the reflection of the face of her future husband."
- Cora Linn Daniels, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World  Vol I-III (p.66)


"Some of the maidens waited for the pagan feast of Samhain to learn their lovers identities.  To learn whether love lay ahead, young people would cut an apple into nine pieces at midnight on Halloween while standing before a mirror.  The spell required each piece to be speared with a knife of silver and held over the left shoulder, one piece at a time.  Upon stabbing the ninth piece, the intended's reflection appeared."
-Rosemary Guiley, Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy

The apple, its fruit and blossoms, its bark and leaves, each are component to Venusian magic and ever associated with lust, femininity and desire.  Apple blossom saining or holy water is used as fertility baths during the rites of spring and other solar festivals in contemporary pagan traditions.  Mirrors happen to also be one of the image attributes of Glittering Venus (The Picatrix), just as shells and combs are always featured with Venus, so is a hand mirror, and this symbolism carried on through time and across the world, influencing love rituals and glamour magic alike, and most notably, the apple always seems to make an appearance where Venus and Aphrodite's invocation and artistic images are concerned.

"On the last night of October place a mirror and a clock in a room that has not been used for some time, and at a quarter to twelve take a lighted candle and an apple, and finish eating the apple just as the clock strikes twelve and then look in the mirror and you will see your future husband."
- Alabama Folklore, Memoirs of the American Folk-lore Society

The curse of beauty, desire and the pursuit of love/lust is the legacy of Paris and that apple he chose from the most beautiful of the goddesses.  He could have had wisdom, he could have known victory; he made the same choice I'd have made.  I chose the golden apple of Pandemos and never once looked back.  The apple and mirror are a duet in the poetic romance of love magic.

"Look in a mirror at midnight on St. Agnes Eve, stick a pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of the man you will marry."
-Thomas G. Manning & Ambrose N. Burton,  A Collection of Folklore By Undergraduate Students of East Tennessee State University (1966)

Water- including "magnatized water" like that of the Magnetic Mirror, human blood, candles, moonlight, cloth and apples are all tools used in conjunction with mirrors in order to obtain some mystical goal.  In the case of Pythagoras, he is said to have, according to Agrippa, foretell by moonlight and mirror, the exact method is subject to some debate- the legend also says it was witches from the famed Thessaly line who taught him to divine this way, where they themselves used blood to write their oracles.  Water is the elemental association with mirrors, and its rulership falls under Luna.  Its associated stones are obsidian, onyx and hematite, its herbs are mugwort, wormwood and vervain, its time is midnight and dominion is the full moon.

"Magic mirrors, which were used for scrying aid to communicate with spirits; the most ancient of these is the surface of a liquid such as water, oil or ink." 
-Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy

There is a good deal of stigma and fear surrounding mirrors and their powers, much of it derived from the fear of being captured in time or a fear of doorways between the sacred and mundane.  According the funereal folklore of New England and the Midwest:

"Mirrors must be covered or turned to the wall: looking into a mirror while the corpse still lies in the house will bring another death within the year and at the same time and on the same day that the looking occurred."
-Duncan Emrich, Folklore on the American Land (1972)


On the one hand, the mirror can be a portal through which desires are gleaned, on the other, it was regarded as a portal between worlds through which spirits- even demons- may contact or watch over us. 

"Look in a mirror at a glass on a table behind you-- a glass in which a ring has been placed, and you will see your future mate."
-Frank C. Brown, North Carolina Folklore Collection

Like nearly all magics associated with love, the mirror is equally a tool of the necromancer and is part of the fabric of folklore related to haunting.

"Pausanias says, that this method of divination was in use among the Achaians; where those who were sick, and in danger of death, let down a mirror, or looking glass, fastened by a thread, into a fountain before the temple of Ceres; then looking in the glass if they saw a ghastly disfigured face, they took it as a sure sign of death; but. on the contrary, if the face appeared fresh and healthy, it was a token of recovery."
- J. S. Forsyth, Demonologia, Or, Natural Knowledge Revealed: Being an Exposé of Ancient and Modern Superstition (1831)

"He who looks in the mirror at night sees the devil there."
- Cora Linn Daniels, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World  Vol I-III (p.66)

In terms of taboos regarding the mirror and its inherent power, there exists a great deal all over the world,  the most common prohibitions being:

  • Looking at a mirror at night- ill fortune; sometimes this was said to be most dangerous at midnight or in the light of a candle- with the exception of certain love charms which may require it: "When darkness has begun to overspread the earth, go into a vacant room and stick nine pins, one above the other, into a new candle; light it, and wait until, as it burns down, the last one falls.  Probably a form will slowly define itself in the air, or the wished-for face look out from a mirror."- Journal of American Folklore.
  • Making faces in the mirror- was said to conjure the devil and his court.
  • Sleeping across from a mirror- ill omen, however sleeping with a mirror under the pillow was encouraged in love magic,"If you put the mirror under your pillow for three successive nights, you will dream of your future husband."- Cora Linn Daniels, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World  Vol I-III (p.66)
  • Breaking a mirror- bad fortune in general, unless the mirror is clothed and then shattered due to possession.
  • Candle-light before a mirror- ill omen when done at night.
  • Moonlight- shows death or reveals the future, depends on your perspective- it was used in Western European charms to reveal the identities of lovers simply by gazing during the night(Daniels, Cora L.), often while eating or distributing an apple, however it was also said to reveal the faces of those to die in Southern folklore, which is why they were to be covered after someone dies- for fear of spirit possession and entrapment (Brown, Frank C.).   The mirror was also an instrument of the sun, and was also used in the luminous magic of Solar light to cast out doubts, to heal, to reveal, to honor the gods and to reveal hidden things and they were also believed in Afro American folklore to attract lightning, necessitating being covered during storms. 
Reading and references...

  • The Frank C. Brown Collection of NC Folklore by Frank C. Brown
  • Encyclopedia of Occult Scienses Vol.VI by Maffeo Poinsot
  • Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World  Vol I-III by Cora Linn Daniels
  • Drawing Down the Sun: Rekindle the Magick of the Solar Goddesses by Stephanie Woodfield
  • Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy by Rosemary Guiley
  • Folklore on the American Land by Duncan Emrich
  • A Collection of Folklore By Undergraduate Students of East Tennessee State University (1966) by Thomas G. Manning & Ambrose N. Burton

Before the Dark of the Moon

I took a personal day recently, just to myself, to do some petitioning for my neighbor in need of help, to see backwards, to see forwards. There are things to be seen, and things to be hidden.  Everything seems clouded to me right now, especially my judgement.  It's reminding me to be careful and heed the three swords on my arm; I'm a creature of conflict and part of my nature is the struggle to confront conflict head on.  If my soul had a form, it would be wind and  leaves; fluttering, fickle and hard to catch.  These are the conflict times, the Hag of Winter has ridden in.   The last great harvest is coming soon.  I plan to spend it with the sorrors; my black girl magic night witches.  I guess I'm in some kind of coven, a sisterhood of black community associated ladies who meet every so often to express our magic selves.  We've decided to do our own samhain.




The Folklore of Mole Medicine

"The mole resembles a dead man in his tomb."-Daniel Ogden, Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts of the Greek and Roman Worlds

Moles almost seem like an unlikely ally in a witch's work, unfashionable and unmentioned in contemporary magic where she enjoyed relative renown in old-world occultism.  The folklore of the mole in both Europe and North America paint this spirit as lucky, prescient and medicinal in nature; both physical and metaphysical.  When we look to the history of the mole in Western lore, we come to some fascinating and even gruesome approaches to working with moles on a magical level- it is part of the healing magic of mole-lore, this ritual of sacrifice, as distasteful as some may find it in the modern-day.  The mole engenders a great deal more taboos regarding its treatment for its medicinal and otherworldly properties.

scavenged skin from a crow's kill in the orchard
It should be noted that the nature of mole magic appears to largely by sacrificial means, violently at that; the power must be wrestled or smothered or cut from the ally.  However, I have not noticed the same trend or principle in some indigenous Northwest spiritual systems which appear to follow a more purely animistic approach, including taboos regarding the harming of or devouring of mole for those who become touched by mole medicine.  However, throughout the American South and Midwest, the (largely of European and African influence) folk magic of talpids is steeped in blood and flesh and ripping and suffocating and sacrifice.

In it said in Roma lore, "moles never touch the earth that has been stained with blood." Strange lore given the talpid as a carnivore and man's violent relationship with the creature, but then again, the superstitions of lore believed moles to be blind, which typically they are not. I can't imagine anyone would enjoy the flesh of moles, it smells rotten as it cooks.  Most accounts regarding the consumption of mole suggest the devouring of the raw, fresh, bleeding and beating heart of the mole in one swallow, gaining a number of powers in reward for doing so.  The heart, head, liver, flesh, entrails, teeth, paws-- truly the entire creature is believed to have curative, oracular and protective virtues in every sense.  As someone who burrows along the tunnels of the mole spirits, I appreciate the mole as the symbol of introverted diviners, strong healers, and vicious guardians; all my kin.

Remembering. Understanding. Foretelling.
"The supposed blindness of the creature, a view established in classical times and persisting to the present, its sheltered and solitary life, and its acute sense of hearing have invested the mole, in popular fancy at least, with divinatory powers, but particularly with the power to predict death."-Wayland D. Hand, American Folk Medicine: A Symposium

Those who have handled moles and/or been handled by the mole spirit know well the otherworldy prescience of the mole; she seems ever aware through sheer connection to the earth and the roots within of the comings and goings of the world.  The bones of history seep down into the earth, where she labors and moves.  Moles are asocial and reflective creatures, cunning and surprisingly vicious.  I've enjoyed working with the mole in my oracular work, including during cartomancy sessions, it gives me a sense of sight even in the darkest visions.

Moledaughtering includes leaving worms on the mole mounds in the yard, sometimes I just sing out into the night, in the dark.  I'd never think to harm the mole, that's part of the taboos of those animals with which one works on this level; all of my gifts are received through scavenging in the garden and trade.  Their nature is solitary and observant, underestimated and shy, and they are best approached in one's own territory, in the garden and wherever they build their mounds.  Quiet reflection as you watch their slow, quiet work is a good way to acquaint yourself with the introverted nature of the mole.  They aren't interactive teachers; they're a mystery school and I don't interfere, just watch.   I commiserate on that level- preferring my own company and some earth to dig in, and so nothing need be spoken.  Moles know what's up.

Personal experience aside, Pliny the Elder talks of mages using mole's entrails for divination- the heart when eaten warm and pumping gave one the ability to see how immediate business would turn out- Pliny says the mole is particularly powerful because it is "blind, buried in darkness and resembles the ""interred.""- however most moles aren't actually blind.  The association of moles with luck appears in mainstream occult circles in the books of Occult Philosophy by 16th century by scholar Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and relates to ones' desire to obtain the powers of eloquence, persuasion and legal acumen and also features a bit of occult herbalism in this charm:

"If any man shall have this herb (swallow wort), with the heart of a mole, he shall overcome all his enemies and all matters on suit and shall put away all debate."-Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy

The mole, when her heart is consumed, was believed to grant immediate clarity while squeezing the life from a mole (popular in Eastern European and even French folklore and then revived in German American folk-magic) in sacrifice granted the ability to heal with that hand (a hand of power).  The idea that a hand that takes a mole's life through superior force of strength would be granted healing powers was so pervasive it found its way clear across to the American South among hoodoo practitioners and to the European Pennsylvanian settlers and is attested to in the folklore of those regions (Hand, Wayland).

"When a human being takes hold with his right hand of a live mole and keeps the mole so long with a tight grip until it dies, such a hand obtains by this miraculous proceeding, such marvelous power, that cancer boils, repeatedly rubbed by moving up and down with this hand will burst open, cease to form again and entirely vanish." -Cora Linn Daniels, C. M. Stevans, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World Vol I-111 

But also, English and Scottish folklore tells of mole as a healer; if one is to carry the hand of the mole itself- its paw.  This paw, especially when combined with other healing fetishes was said to guard against or even cure all sorts of ailments including toothaches and arthritis. The paw has a particularly well-known use but Pliny the Younger and Paracelsus also described the liver, head, and body of moles themselves as having a plethora of healing qualities when administered in particular fashion, and indeed they were used extensively in the healing of animals and humans alike using the organs, skin, and flesh of moles. In Southern and Midwestern American folklore, the mole's paw will guard one against the evil eye and was also an amulet to protect children from all manner of well-known childhood ailments like colic and toothaches.  The blood of the mole was said to cure warts (Hatfield, Gabriel).  The mole spirit is helpful to those they connect with it seems, by any cultural standard and here in the Northwest, the mole enjoys a reputation for good medicine.

"Alternatively, North American Quinault shaman Sammy Hoh valued his helping spirit in the form of a mole for its digging abilities, telling anthropologist Ronald Olson that when he was attacked by another shaman, who has sent a spirit to 'block the path' and prevent his (Sammy's) return from a journey into the spirit worlds, he was fortunate in having Mole for a spirit, who was of course able to burrow under any obstruction'." - Emma Wilby, Cunningfolk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanic Visionary traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic

Obtaining mole volts the old way may no longer be tasteful for most pagans and in most places there are laws regarding how one handles pest-status animals, so I strongly suggest working with those materia surrounding moles and their magical/medicinal properties; these include the soil of the mole's hill which is used in ointments for muscle and nerve soothing (Marcellus of Bordeaux) as well as whatever seeds and stones which are pushed up by moles as they are considered gifts or good omens.

"Wearing the bone of a mole under the left armpit is a protection against witchcraft.- The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore

However, if one does come into possession of a mole's body through natural means and scavenging; mole's teeth make fetishes to guard against illness and harm and the tooth of the live mole was said to be utilized in Midwestern folk magic as a form of transference to remove a child's toothache (Hand, Wayland); the dehydrated heart, powdered and kept in a bag is used in matters of persuasive charms.  The liver is said to aid in speech and the dried paw kept in a small bag with the sacred herbs of the mole, her bones and related materia will conjure the aid of the mole spirit when one is lost and needs to foretell the best outcome.

"To Drive Away and Vanquish all Foes: Whoever carries the hemlock herb, with the heart of a mole, on his person, vanquishes all his enemies, so that they will not be able to trouble him. Such a man will obtain much. When this herb is laid under the head of a sick person, the sick one, when he sings, will get well; if he cries, he will die."- Cora Linn Daniels, C. M. Stevans, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World Vol I-111- CL Daniels,

We speak a lot on the subject of guides and spirits and allies, but we don't always address how the humblest creatures, closest to the earth and quiet in nature offer so much spiritual wisdom, we can forget that our ancestors whom we honor revered even the strangest beasts.  It's trendy; wolves, snakes, owls- they're the cool kids of the pagan worlds, they're all too popular and many are convinced they are allied to these beasts.  Maybe they are.  What I suspect is there are a lot more animists and shamans out there who's closest allies and familiars are the quiet and shy beasts of the world who aren't so glamorized in mythology; beetle witches and snail sorceresses, squirrel spiritists and mole magi...

"If any man shall have calendine with the heart of a Mole, he shall overcome all his enemies and all matters in suit and shall pull away all debate."- Albertus Magnus,  The Booke of Secretes, London, c. 1560

Sometimes those allies to which we owe a great deal of passion are the unassuming kind.  It's okay.  Those kindred, like the mole, they teach us that nature's introverts and solitude-seekers, independent and vicious, knowing and listening are all around us, even beneath us at this moment, following their own way and fearing no darkness.  Me and the mole know the score.

Correspondences of  Mother Mole
Rulership~ Saturn
Element~ Earth
Herbs~ hemlock, milkweed, swallowworts
Invoke~ worms, larvae from within the seam in a fruit-bearing tree
Offerings~ songs of the earth, worms 
Time~ night, Saturn's day, hour of earth
Banes~ castor, dog's teeth amulets, lightning
Gifts~ divination, understanding, foretelling, healing, luck, overcoming and getting through
Sacred Volts~ all parts and all places in which it dwells; the soil it stirs and stones it upturns
Sacred Parts~ all parts especially the warm heart, paws, teeth, and liver
Colors~ black and grey
Numeral~ 1 
Stone~ pyrite, jasper, onyx
Realm~ subterranean, hell
Tools~ dusts of art, sacred soils, the plow of the sacred furrow


references and reading...

  • Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World Vol I-111 by Cora Linn Daniels, C. M. Stevans
  • Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine: Old World and New World Traditions by Gabrielle Hatfield
  • Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Agrippa
  • Marcellus of Bordeaux and the Beginning of Medieval Materia Medica by Jerry Stannard
  • The Frank C. Brown Collection of NC Folklore by Frank C. Brown, Wayland D. Hand
  • American Folk Medicine: A Symposium & Magical Medicine: The Folkloric Component of Medicine in the Folk Belief, Custom, and Ritual of the Peoples of Europe and America: Selected Essays by Wayland D. Hand
  • Cunningfolk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanic Visionary traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic by Emma Wilby

Absurd Moon

Waxing Moon. Moon's Day. Hour of the Moon (last Monday)

I chose two tarot and a lenormand, all of them with vintage and rare feels to begin this journey.  I had a lot of questions, and a lot of answers came. 

The Chelsea Red is a limited lenormand, she tends to read for life more than the heart.  It's my favorite buy from a few years back.  The Tarot of the Absurd is a new addiction to the collection; It's a beauty and moves in the hands like water, I'm fond of the stark artsy style and it is easily one of the highest quality monochrome decks I've ever seen.   I'm very fond of this deck and it's very cool and professional creator Barefoot Fool.  She's the noise, give her a gander.

Tarot of the Absurd.
Vintage 1970 hand-me-down Aquarian Tarot.  Doesn't get used too often because of it's delicate nature, much like my vintage Hoi Polloi, but occasionally it's exactly what I need.



Mama Cacao

Cacao Woman
Theo


Theobroma, known affectionately by the her nickname, Cocoa, is the bittersweet younger sister of the bunch.  She wont expand your mind in a haze of smoke, nor will she dance you into divine madness, but she will comfort and warm you and fill your bellies with satisfaction when her sisters are done with you.  Her power lies in stimulation, education, in joy and euphoria, and in transforming herself from bitter dark to sugary white depending on her mood.  Her spirit is uplifting and unafraid.  For a woman on her period, Cacao is a sacred saint, like her sisters, and seeks only to ease the pain.  She keeps her own friends very close to her; vanilla, damiana, chili and allspice- they know who runs the show and they all love to stop the world and melt with her.  Her skin comes in every shade; from dark to milk brown to white, even ruby.  Too much of her pure essence will poison you, too little will sadden you.
With damiana flowers in her hair and glass beads on her arms, gold hoops in her ears, with a bowl of chili and allspice, and her supply of red, green and yellow cacao pods, she is ready for the ceremony.
Her tastes run expensive; she lives for the finer things and prefers offerings in cups of gold, in ornate terracotta pots, or wrapped up with a golden ticket.  Just the smell of her makes men smile, and the taste of her has earned her a reputation as an aphrodisiac, a seductress of senses. Alone, she can be a tad bitter, but with friends she sweetens and spices up just fine.  In her most refined form, she is worshiped on birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Halloween- any day of joy, she'll be found giving her offerings and receiving sacrifices in the form of rotten teeth and tummy aches. 



damiana grows from her gown, a companion herb used in cacao aphrodisiacs
When you've worshiped Mary Jane, your mind grows full but your mouth runs dry, and so you turn to Vino for libations and sacraments, which invigorates your mouth but hollows your stomach.  This is where Cacao casts her holy power; that of savoy truffles and salty balls.  She fills the heart, just as wine fills the spirit and sativa fills the imagination.  The trifecta of natural pain relief is made whole by Cacao in all her forms. 


"Cool my brains and soothe my head
Stimulate me my Co-co-co
Sneak into my empty bed
And educate me my Co-co-co"

-
stellastarr*

This Is Here. This Is Home

Cascades, North.  The water up north can be a clear turquoise blue due to the sediment run-off from the mountain's glacial waters.  I only go North of Seattle for places like this, for the raw beauty of Washington. 
Riverton view of South Cascades in winter.  Beyond those trees is the Tukwila Valley, Renton and Kent.  In winter this place really is a hilly death trap, but it's beautifully quiet in the snow.  This is my home.
Downtown Seattle, Needle.  I spend some of my free time down by the Bay, in the mystic scene.  Beyond that summer smog and dark blue bay is a volcano waiting to destroy the valley of  Takoma, Tahoma, Puyallup, Enumclaw, Kent, Auburn and probably South Renton too.  We Tukwilians and Highlanders are poised for survival, while some of the Downtownies will probably slough off into the Sound.  Adios fam...
Skagit River, the coldest damn waters I've ever known. 
Across the Sound are the San Juan Islands, Neah Bay (Makah territory) and the Olympic Range. You can see for miles from Downtown Seattle, especially if you can get up to the Needle or Columbia Tower. 
Lake Union, Gasworks, Fremont, Mt Baker and the U-District are out beyond those low strange buildings (our pop culture museum).  Over the hills on the right is Lake Washington and Bellevue (where the rich kids live), and to the left is Queen Anne and Ballard (where the rich kids live). What you don't see is the copious amounts of homeless people, the parks filled with transients living among refuse, the endless lines of people waiting for work, for homes, for hope.  Yes, it's a beautiful place... ruled by a sneering elite who spend more on sports arenas, Starbucks and beautification programs for the upper-class neighborhoods than they do on opening up land and buildings and opportunities for our swelling population of impoverished peoples.  It's easy to ignore on your commute ... tent-city bridges and makeshift favelas beneath every bridge in Georgetown, under every overpass in the I-District.  
This is the actual coast of Washington; not an estuary like the Sound or a massive lake like Lake Washington.  This is down in Quinault territory.  The national rain-forest a few miles north of this beach is a mossy wonderland, with springs and marmots and nursing logs bigger than school buses.
Skagit country.  Too far north for my tastes, but there's no better place to find eagles tearing salmon from the chilly rivers, deer leaping from trail to trail.

South Puget Sound.  This is my territory, where I do my green work, beside the Sound and Rivers and Hills and Wetlands, in the shadow of the the God-Mountain.

helpful tips..

Tukwila- Tuh-QUILL-uh
Puyallup- Pew-Al-up
Skagit- SKA (short A as in Ash)- Jit
Quinault- Quinn-ALT
Makah- Ma- KAH
Neah Bay- Knee-UH bay
Takoma- Tuh-Coma
Tahoma- Tuh- HOME-uh
Enumclaw- EEn- Uhm- Claw
Puget Sound- Pew-jit Sound
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