Thursday, January 21, 2021

Native American Religion

Background

What do we mean when we speak of Native American religion? Unlike Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, it has no single founder. Unlike Judaism, it is not the ongoing story of a people with a strong sense of their own identity. Neither does it resemble Hinduism, with its ancient and all-inclusive adaptiveness. In a sense, Native American religion does not exist at all: There is no one religious expression common to the 250 distinct Native American peoples still surviving as America moves through the 21st century. And complicating the question even further is the fact that few Native American people today can say for sure how their ancestors worshiped before the onslaught of European immigrations: Too much death lies between the present and pre-Columbian America, too much cultural devastation, too many forced conversions to Christianity. The chain of elders preserving tradition was broken by disease and war. Many contemporary Native Americans interested in knowing their own heritage have found themselves in the peculiar position of needing to consult anthropologists for information.

But anthropology has its own problems. Serious attempts to study Native American culture did not begin until the mid-to-late 19th century, 200-300 years after the first European conquests, and 50-100 years after the beginning of serious western expansion. Many Native American people no longer lived in their sacred homelands, and numbers of eastern tribes had completely disappeared. Even when anthropological studies were undertaken, early reports frequently judged Native Americans by the values of European men, discounting their stores of wisdom, their religious insights, and their different approaches to gender roles. Often, the Native Americans interviewed didn't make anthropologists' jobs any easier: The Wintu of California had a saying that when the white men come, "...we will forget our songs." According to the Lakota, "If it was told to a white man, it is untrue." The Hopi learned early about anthropologists' love of publishing and permanently closed their ceremonials to all but their own people. The list could go on and on.

Anthropologists divide the Native American cultures of North America into seven groups: Eastern Woodlands, Southeastern, Plains, Plateau, Great Basin, Southwestern, and Northwest Coastal. Each of these geographical groupings contains many distinct peoples with only the broadest characteristics in common, each with their own culture and religious beliefs. Any attempt to briefly summarize such a rich variety of peoples -- as this page does -- is going to involve inexact generalizations: It can't be helped. Where space permits, examples appear from different tribal groups, but they do not begin to reflect the diversity of Native American spirituality.

Native American - Myth


What part do sacred stories and history play in Native American religion?

In Native American narratives, one can notice two kinds of time: A time before time, or outside time (mythic time), where things are not as they are here, and historical time, similar in most respects to contemporary life. In mythic time, no barriers exist between the spirit and physical worlds. Earth, animals, plants, and humans understand each others' languages. Spirit beings walk the earth openly and interact with human beings freely, sometimes helping, sometimes harming, sometimes mating with them. Gifted humans may venture into spirit realms -- these persons are often called shamans. Native American creation stories, migration accounts (stories of how a people found its way to the sacred homeland), and stories of culture heroes (those who gather the wisdom and rituals that hold a people together) are stories of mythic time. The winter counts of Plains peoples (pictographic summaries of passing years, each year symbolized by a memorable event) are examples of ordinary history.

Stories of mythic time often have the ability to bring the story's audience into that time -- into the non ordinary time of the spirit world. Storytelling among Native Americans -- when the story is of mythic time -- dissolves boundaries. Reenacting such a story overlaps the worlds even more powerfully, filling the people with the power existing in the original happening. The smoking of the Lakota pipe brings the spirit of its giver (White Buffalo Calf Woman) into their midst, as well as joining the smokers together in familial relationship with all of nature. Among the Iroquois, ritually donning a mask made in the image of the Great Defender, or humpbacked one, (assigned by the Creator to cure sickness) brings his healing power into a sickroom.

Family: Narrative and ritual are as inseparable in Native American life as spirit and flesh. Much traditional ritual recreates myth, bringing the story's power into everyday life. White Buffalo Calf Woman's pipe is one example. Among the Northwest Coastal peoples, magnificent masked dancers recreate the mythic beginnings of their families, bringing the power of the founding being -- raven, killer whale, etc. -- into their midst.. Among the Huron, an annual ceremony dramatizes and fulfills individuals' significant night-dreams, thus bringing spiritual health to the whole community. The Navajo of the Southwest recreate the stories of the Yei, or Holy People, in their sand paintings, curing illness through the power of the overlapping spirit world.

Native American - Doctrine


How do traditional Native Americans explain their beliefs?

Traditional Native Americans have had little interest in developing what is thought of as religious doctrine. Their participation in nature and spirit does not lend itself easily to standing apart and analyzing. Inherited tradition, spiritual experiences of ordinary people and religious specialists, judgment of the elders, and the welfare of the people all interacted creatively in each generation to shape religious reality. Spirituality was a fluid thing, responding to changes in a variety of circumstances.

Significant dreams and visions played important roles in shaping beliefs. The 19th century movement known as the Ghost Dance, culminating among the Lakota in the massacre at Wounded Knee, originated in the west with one man's vision of the white race's defeat and the buffalo's return. The 19th century Iroquois prophet Handsome Lake almost single-handedly halted the disintegration of his people's religious traditions by his vision led institution of the Iroquois Long house religion. White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared among the Lakota sometime after 1500 and reshaped their whole approach to life.

Traditional Native American religion today has lost much of its fluidity. Like many dispossessed peoples, Native Americans often look on what remains of their original culture as infinitely precious -- too precious to risk losing. In this way, tradition can harden into an inflexible shell of traditionalism, no longer responsive to the people's experiences or to the changes around them. However, as more Native Americans seek to recapture the wisdom of past generations and apply it to their contemporary lives, their traditions will have a greater chance of revival, as well as ongoing transformation. In academic terms, Native American spirituality may be described as panentheism (deity/spirit present in, as well as beyond, everything). Such a world view assumes the existence of Spirit beyond the visible world, but also dwelling in all that is. Words like animism (belief in spirits in natural phenomena, such as trees, rocks, animals, fire) are commonly used to describe Native American religion, but when one neglects to include the broader presence of Spirit beyond physical nature, this explanation is incomplete. The Lakota concept of Wakan Tanka (most frequently translated as Great Spirit) illustrates panentheism well: Wakan Tanka is the Spirit over, under, and throughout all of the physical world, its guiding principle, present in individual phenomena yet not confined to it, not strictly singular nor plural, neither truly personal nor impersonal. Manitou/manitos of the Algonkians is a similar concept.

Native American Society


How Does American Spirituality Work Itself Out In The World?

Each Native American people handed down its own creation narratives and migration accounts, usually telling of creation by benevolent deities/spirits, who placed the people in their sacred homelands. These homelands often contained the site of a group's emergence from the earth in mythic time and were almost always seen as the world center, the most important and powerful site on earth, around which all else revolved -- and where ritual must be performed to be effective. Spiritually speaking, a Native American people's relationship to their homeland was more like that of a tree to the earth than of a European's attachment to his or her property. The various removals that tore Native Americans from their sacred lands truly left them rootless -- in the sense of a tree that is torn in two. Today, Great Basin peoples continue to pursue long-standing disputes with the federal government about its use of their Nevada homelands for military test ranges. The Black Hills of South Dakota, long the sacred homeland of the Lakota, but now teeming with tourist glitz, are the subject of lengthy, unresolved treaty violation suits by the Lakota people. The Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni of the Southwest are among the fortunate ones permitted to retain a core of their ancestral lands, thus enabling their traditions to survive more nearly intact.

There is no one pattern of religious structure in Native America. Remnants of the urban Mississippian priesthood still remained throughout much of the Southeast in the early contact period. In the urban cultures of the Southwest, each sacred society (called kivas by some) had its own ritual leaders or priests. Complex ceremonials and hierarchies characterized both areas. Among the Woodland peoples, a variety of religious practitioners thrived, specializing in various means of influencing the spirit world, healing, and foretelling the future. Some Great Basin groups sought out persons struck by lightning as their religious leaders. Shamans among the California Shasta tended to be the daughters of established female shamans. Among the Plains peoples, ordinary members of the community became spiritual leaders based on personal abilities. Various names describe the non-priestly religious leaders of Native America: medicine man or woman, shaman, diviner, herbalist, conjurer, healer, crystal gazer, and dreamer are only a few. Where one professional responsibility begins and another's ends is often unclear.

At the heart of traditional Native American society is the value placed on the welfare of the group as a whole. Selfless devotion to "the people" characterized almost all Native American groups. Southeastern leaders demonstrated their greatness by how well they cared for their people and how many spoils of war they could accumulate -- in order to give them all away. Willingness to suffer and die was assumed when the safety or survival of the group was at stake. As the future of the tribe, children were treasured and protected. Women were revered as life-bearers and wielded significant power in many councils. (Most Native American societies were matrilineal, tracing the descent of all children through the mother's line, rather than the father's.)

Most groups' names for themselves translate in their own languages as "the people," or "the humans," in contrast to all other groups, who were necessarily somewhat less than human. Small scale warfare with these other groups was an essential part of Native American life, a means of earning glory and respect and of acquiring slaves, possessions, and sometimes adopted family members to increase the group's strength. In pre-contact America, it never approached the levels of European inspired warfare, nor was its primary goal slaughter.

Native American - Ethics

How Do Native Americans Address Right and Wrong

Concepts of right and wrong in traditional Native American societies tend to be attached to actions that either promote or diminish the even flow of life -- the balance -- that must be kept at all times. Human beings have obligations to behave in certain ways toward all other aspects of creation. If these obligations are honored, harmony and balance are preserved. Poor relationships of any kind -- relationships that fail to follow patterns laid down in mythic time -- destroy the balance, whether it is a relationship between human and human, human and spirit, human and animal, or human and plant. The Navajo word hozho points to all of this. Although it is difficult to translate into English, its sense is of balance, harmony, beauty, and completeness. Wrong actions are those that disrupt balance and harmony, jeopardizing the well-being of a people and the cosmos as a whole. The Cherokee, a people who share characteristics of both Woodlands and Southeastern regions, developed a complex system of keeping this balance. In their world, all phenomena belonged to groups of similar beings, each of which had its opposite. Opposing groups must never be associated with each other except with strict controls and ritual limits. Men and women were members of two such groups (masculine and feminine), and their contacts were carefully controlled. Fire and water were another such pair.

A different, crucial kind of balance was achieved among human beings, animals, and plants. According to traditional Cherokee narratives, humankind's irresponsible killing of animals for food and clothing caused great resentment among the animals, who decided to infect humankind with a new disease every time an animal was killed. Plants took pity on the suffering humans and offered themselves, with their wisdom, as cures for the animal plagues. Ever since that time, plants have been allies of the Cherokee, and hunters have taken great care to follow proper rituals to honor the spirits of animals killed in the hunt. Each tribe developed its own unique formulas connecting human behavior to the patterns of the universe. Sometimes the resulting laws were as complex as those of the Mississippian priesthoods in the Southeast. Sometimes they laid subtle ceremonial requirements on the members of exclusive groups, such as the kivas of the Southwest or the warrior societies of the Plains. Sometimes they were simple and unambiguous, almost absorbed with mothers' milk. But in every case, they attempted to align the tribe's actions with spiritual realities perceived in the universe around them.

Native American - Experience

What is the nature of religious experience in Native American religion?

Individual experience of Spirit was central to much of Native American religion, and the vision quest, common to most of the continent, was the most widespread form of such experiences. Within the priestly cultures of the Southeast and Southwest, however, religious guidance was provided by the priests, who also acted as intermediaries between people and Spirit in major festivals. Visions were generally not sought by ordinary people. Some shaman led peoples also limited vision experiences to those called to be shamans, but, in general, non-priestly societies tended to place greater significance on individual encounters with Spirit.

The vision quest was a structured search for personal vision found throughout pre-Columbian Native America and even to some extent in the Southwest and Southeast. In its most basic form, a vision quest involved an individual alone in the wilderness, spending a number of days fasting and seeking spiritual power/vision for life. In most societies, the vision quest was part of a youth's ritual passage into adulthood. In some societies both boys and girls went on vision quests, in others only boys. Often, a young woman's seclusion took place inside a special lodge, rather than in the wilderness. For some groups, the vision quest was solely a ritual of puberty, a rite in which a young person acquired his or her lifelong spirit guardian. Among other peoples, particularly in the Plains, anyone might seek supernatural guidance in a quest at any critical point in life -- or simply quest periodically as a spiritual discipline. The quest held the greatest significance for young men training to be warriors: Without a spirit guardian, no man survived many battles.

The Chickasaw of the Southeastern region required forest fasts of their young men in order for them to receive animal guardians, but the animal received was predetermined by the youth's clan. The young man's male relatives cared for him during his fast, teaching him all he needed to know about his clan spirits, but no vision was sought. Visions were the privilege of religious leaders alone. Among some Northwest Coastal peoples, the search for spirit guardians became highly ritualized. Like the Chickasaw, the guardian received was predetermined by a boy's birth clan or clan by marriage. The youth's isolation in the forest was brief and symbolic, and the spirit possession resulting from it carefully choreographed. Some Plateau and Great Basin tribes, as well as a number from the Eastern Woodlands, considered a vision to be a call to a shaman's vocation. Among the Southwestern pueblos, even though their ceremonial system focused on group experience, placing no significance on acquiring spirit guardians, individuals still sought solitary visions at times, particularly in aid of hunting, healing, and craft design.

All Native American religions involve rituals that gather the community together in common bonds of experience. Among the Iroquois peoples of the Eastern Woodlands, each year in spring and fall, community ceremonies are led by the "false faces," wooden masked impersonators of the spirit who protects the people from disease, to drive all disease away. One of the most significant annual rituals among the Southeastern peoples was the Green Corn Ceremony, in which the people purified themselves, cleaned their houses, fasted and prayed, and offered up the first ears of green corn in the fire, seeking Spirit's blessing for a healthy harvest. The high point of the festival was the relighting of the sacred fire by the religious leader and its distribution to all the community homes. The multi-day ceremonies concluded with a great feast of celebration.

The Sun dance of the Plains peoples varied from place to place, but was generally held in the summer, at a time when help and insight was especially needed from spirit beings; it took place over several days, during which time men (and in some cases women, although separately and with different ritual) danced around a central pole, often staring at the sun, sometimes attached to the pole by thongs through their flesh: They were offering Spirit the only thing that was truly theirs -- their own flesh -- in an attempt to rouse the spirits' pity and secure their help. At the two-day Zuni Shalako ceremonial held each year in late fall, the Zuni people celebrate the spirit beings' (called kachinas, like the Hopi) arrival at Zuni, bringing blessings and rain. All the scattered Zuni people who can come home to Zuni for the all night dancing and feasts.

Although many Native American groups placed great importance on individual spiritual experience, they were never spiritual consumers, nor were such experiences private. All supernatural encounters were evaluated, and accepted or rejected, by the elders of the group. The purpose of such experience was always the strengthening of the individual for good of the people, never simply personal edification. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Native American Quotes and Perspectives

Inspirational sayings, quotes, and words of wisdom from a Native American perspective, reflecting
Native American beliefs, philosophy and spirituality.

Cherokee Prayer Blessing

May the Warm Winds of Heaven
Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit
Bless all who enter there.
May your Moccasins
Make happy tracks
in many snows,
and may the Rainbow
Always touch your shoulder.
Native American Prayer

Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy - myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.


(translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)
published in Native American Prayers - by the Episcopal Church.


Honor the sacred.
Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we
share the Earth:-
Four-leggeds, two-leggeds,
winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers,
plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.

Native American Elder
Lakota Instructions for Living

Friend do it this way - that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind.

And if you do it that way,
the Power Of The Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.

When one sits in the Hoop Of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the universe.

If you do it that way - that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One - whatever you ask for,
that's the Way It's Going To Be.

Passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman
Go Forward With Courage


When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;
when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.
So long as mists envelop you, be still;
be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists
-- as it surely will.
Then act with courage.

Ponca Chief White Eagle (1800's to 1914)
Earth, Teach Me


Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

An Ute Prayer

If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace...
Treat all men alike. Give them all the
same law. Give them all an even chance
to live and grow.All men were made by
the same Great Spirit Chief.
They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people,
and all people should have equal rights upon it....
Let me be a free man,free to travel,
free to stop ,free to work, free to trade where I choose my own teachers,
free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself,
and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.

Heinmot Tooyalaket ( Chief Joseph), Nez Perce Leader

You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle,
and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles,
and everything and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop
of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people
flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace
and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north
with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This
knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball
and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon
does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great
circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is
in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the
nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop,
a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950

Over a hundred years ago Black Elk had a vision of the time when Indian people would heal from the
devastating effects of European migration. In his vision the Sacred Hoop which had been broken,
would be mended in seven generations. The children born into this decade will be the seventh generation.

When you were born, you cried
and the world rejoiced.
Live your life
so that when you die,
the world cries and you rejoice.

White Elk

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.

Chief Seattle, 1854

Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children.

Ancient Indian Proverb
The True Peace


The first peace, which is the most important,
is that which comes within the souls of people
when they realize their relationship,
their oneness, with the universe and all its powers,
and when they realize that at the center
of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit),
and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this.
The second peace is that which is made between two individuals,
and the third is that which is made between two nations.
But above all you should understand that there can never
be peace between nations until there is known that true peace,
which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.


Black Elk, Oglala Sioux & Spiritual Leader (1863 - 1950)

May the stars carry your sadness away,
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty,
May hope forever wipe away your tears,
And, above all, may silence make you strong.

Chief Dan George
Hold On


Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

A Pueblo Indian Prayer

Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men,
we didn't have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents.
Without a prison, there can be no delinquents.
We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves.
When someone was so poor that he couldn't afford a horse, a tent or a blanket,
he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift.
We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property.
We didn't know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being
was not determined by his wealth.
We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians,
therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another.
We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don't know
how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things
that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.

John (Fire) Lame Deer
Sioux Lakota - 1903-1976


What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.


Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator 1830 - 1890

And while I stood there
I saw more than I can tell,
and I understood more than I saw;
for I was seeing in a sacred manner
the shapes of things in the spirit,
and the shape of all shapes as they must
live together like one being.

Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks
Lakota Prayer


Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery,
teach me how to trust
my heart,
my mind,
my intuition,
my inner knowing,
the senses of my body,
the blessings of my spirit.
Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear,
and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious Sun.


According to the Native People, the Sacred Space is the space between exhalation and inhalation.
To Walk in Balance is to have Heaven (spirituality) and Earth (physicality) in Harmony.
Top

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.


Chief Tecumseh (Crouching Tiger) Shawnee Nation 1768-1813

O' GREAT SPIRIT
help me always
to speak the truth quietly,
to listen with an open mind
when others speak,
and to remember the peace
that may be found in silence.

Cherokee Prayer

Peace and happiness are available in every moment.
Peace is every step. We shall walk hand in hand.
There are no political solutions to spiritual problems.
Remember: If the Creator put it there, it is in the right place.
The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.
Tell your people that, since we were promised we should never be moved,
we have been moved five times.

An Indian Chief, 1876.

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

Cree Prophecy

Like the grasses showing
tender faces to each other,
thus should we do,
for this was the wish of the
Grandfathers of the World.

Black Elk


I do not think the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man.

Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

We do not want schools....
they will teach us to have churches.
We do not want churches....
they will teach us to quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.
We may quarrel with men sometimes
about things on this earth,
but we never quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.

Heinmot Tooyalaket ( Chief Joseph), Nez Perce Leader

Certain things catch your eye,
But pursue only those
that capture your heart.


Old Indian saying
Thanksgiving


We return thanks to our mother, the earth,
which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun,
that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in Whom is embodied all goodness,
and Who directs all things for the good of Her children.

Iroquois


"Give thanks for unknown blessings
already on their way."

Native American saying

There is a road in the hearts of all of us, hidden and seldom traveled,
which leads to an unknown, secret place.
The old people came literally to love the soil,
and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of
being close to a mothering power.
Their tepees were built upon the earth
and their altars were made of earth.
The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.
That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of
propping himself up and away from its life giving forces.
For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply
and to feel more keenly. He can see more clearly into the mysteries of
life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.

Chief Luther Standing Bear 

Monday, January 18, 2021

A Wiccan Ritual

Even though its purely will power and sheer emotional intent that the witch uses in casting spells, certain equipment are traditionally utilized by the practitioner in the performance of spell work, the purpose of these items being to subconsciously "program" the mind with symbolism, making the spell that much more effective. Just remember that it is the practitioner that empowers the object, not the other way around. These are the basic items you will need to practice Witchcraft:

    Altar...Just about any piece of furniture large enough to hold all your candles and other accoutrements will do. It should preferably be made of wood, or you can purchase a large marble block with rubber legs to place over the wood (stone, especially marble, is also a good resonator of mystical energy). It is symbolic of the element of Spirit.
    Athame...This is a name for a ritual dagger. A sword can be used instead or in addition, though swords are usually far more expensive. Daggers aren't too hard to find, and you don't need to purchase one of the many fancy and expensive ones on sale. A simple hunting knife or steak knife will do, as long as its blade is double-edged. The athame is utilized by the witch for summoning, directing and banishing mystical energy. It is never intended to be used as a stabbing weapon; instead, it's a sacred weapon used for strictly magickal purposes. It is symbolic of the element of Fire, though some traditions consider it symbolic of Air. I prefer the former.
    Cauldron...These three legged iron bowls are a powerful feminine symbol, used to hold candles, or brew and burn herbs and scrolls of paper. Cauldrons can be expensive, particularly bigger ones, but a simple metal mixing bowl can do the trick if your strapped for cash.
    Censer...The censer, used for burning incense, can be any shape you choose, is generally inexpensive (unless you want to get a fancy one) and is usually made of flame resistant brass.
    Chalice...This item is used for holding water, and is symbolic of the element of Water. You can get a chalice of any substance, including somewhat expensive metallic ones, but a simple glass normally used for wine will do the job perfectly. You will sometimes need an additional one for holding wine.
    Pentacle...As all practitioners of magick know, the pentacle is a five-pointed star set within a disc. It is a powerful protective symbol, and is very good at consecrating your chalice and censer just by placing them on top of the pentacle. It is representative of the Mother Goddess, and is also symbolic of the element of Earth. You can get a small one normally used as a necklace, or a large one made of wood. You can also use a plack of wood with the star etched in it.
    Bowl of Salt...Also representative of the element of Earth, you should have a bowl of sodium on your altar. Sodium is a powerful substance for purification, and it can expel negative vibes from your ritual area.
    Candles...You will need to stock some candles. Usually a white one is used on the altar simply for light, but I prefer to use one of a color corresponding to a particular deity or effect that I am calling upon. Refer to the section on candle magick to see which color candles are appropriate for which type of spell work, and you should have a variety of candles. You will need four candles specifically to line the four corners of your magick circle, which will represent one of the four elements. You will need a yellow one in the east for Air, a red one in the south for Fire, a blue one in the west for Water and a green (or brown) one in the north for Earth. The candle(s) on your altar represent Spirit. There will be a separate section here dealing with the elements of antiquity. It is best to use taper candles for spell work, as they are the easiest and least expensive to acquire, though any shape or type will do (votive candles are sometimes scented, for those interested in using scents for spell work, or aromatherapy).
    Candle Holders...These are readily available, and you will need several of them, for the obvious purpose of holding your candles. They are most often available in glass, brass or iron. Try to avoid those made of wood.
    Wand...Yes, witches really do use a magick wand. You can use a simple stick for this, or if you prefer, purchase one of the fancy and expensive ones available. It is used for directing mystical energy, and is really a modern addition to the witch's equipment, taken from the Ceremonial Magicians. Oak wood is perfect for your wand, though others types of wood can be used. It is symbolic of the element of Air, though some traditions use it as a symbol of Fire. I've been taught the former.
    Altar Bell...You will sometimes use a bell during the rituals. Any little bell will do, and they are readily available and very inexpensive.

Other items are also employed by the modern witch for spell work. Examples include a cloak worn strictly for ritual purposes (these can be purchased, but are usually quite expensive; it would be much cheaper if you can make your own, though not everyone has this talent) and an additional dagger called a boline used for utility purposes, such as carving symbols on the candles or cutting herbs. It is also good to purchase a candle snuffer, as this is preferable and more respectful to the elements than blowing a candle out.

Wiccans also traditionally compose what they refer to as their Book of Shadows, which is a tome including original spells that they have written, but often includes other things such as personal observations about all aspects of magick and Witchcraft, as well as all personal discoveries and insights obtained while walking the path of the Craft.

The Book of Shadows is intended to be used as a personal reference source for spell work, a journal of one's magickal experience and the accumulated sum total of all of the Wiccan's insights to be left to those who may read it in the future. The Book of Shadows was obviously handwritten in the past and left in notebook form, though today it can be typed on a computer and printed out and stored in binder form, or even completely stored on a computer floppy disk. The Book of Shadows may be kept personal while you are alive, or freely shared with others; a few Wiccans have even published their Book of Shadows.

Each of the previous items are completely up to the individual practitioner.

These items are for sale online from our commercial sister-site at A-rainbow-of-spirituality.com as well as many other quality retailers, both online and in traditional stores.
Purification

Before beginning any sort of Wiccan ritual, either for purposes of devotion or for working any sort of magick, spell work, or healing, it is important to purify onesself. The reason for this is not because Pagans view themselves as impure but rather to leave the mundane world, along with its worries and limitations behind. Traditionally, purification begins with a ritual bath before the ritual, both soaking away worries, and solidifying the purpose for the ritual in one's mind. During the ritual, various items are used for purification, including salt, water, oil, or smoke.

Smoke is also used in Native American traditions, and is often called a smudge. It is a means of purification used in circles and rituals of many Pagan traditions.

How to make a smudge

Native American Shamans often used smudge sticks in their own rituals, and these ever popular tools are a wonderful addition to any from of cleansing ritual or general cleansing you may wish to perform.

Many Pagan Paths, including Wicca, include a practice of smudging for may reasons and occasions.
What you will need

    You will need natural twine or cotton ( I usually choose colors symbolic to the type of ritual I am to perform. For example when completing a house cleansing ritual where there have been negative relationship issues, I would wrap the smudge in a pink colour for emotions and feeling of the heart or perhaps yellow for healing. )
    You will also need a selection of herbs and plant material appropriate for your particular focus. (three examples are included at the bottom of this section)

What to do

    Collect a selection of herbs around 12 to 15 inches in length. Snip them neatly from the plant, sending a note of thanks as you do.
    Lay your plants flat out on a newspaper and assemble them into roughly a straight line of about 2 inches in width.
    Starting at the bottom, secure the end tightly and begin wrapping the cotton or twine around the plant.
    Do this randomly, so that plenty of the leaves show through, whilst encasing the plant securely.
    Working from the bottom to the top and then securing tightly at the opposite end will hold everything together.
    Trim any particularly wayward pieces.
    Lay the smudge on a fresh piece of newspaper and wrap it tightly within the paper. This ensures the stick will dry more quickly and remain held together.
    Store in a cool dry place, change the newspapers every other day and allow to dry for at least a week. After this time your smudge stick will be ready to use.
    If you have any feathers available to disperse the smoke then these are also a useful tool.
    Alternatively, you may purchase smudge sticks already made. Smudge sticks are available from our sister site at A-rainbow-of-spirituality.com

Notes on Smudging

When lighting your smudge stick please ensure you do not leave it to burn. Blow out the flame quickly. Using natural twine prevents the release of noxious fumes into the environment, but please be aware that inhalation of smoke should still be avoided.

Make sure you dispose of your used smudge stick in the most safe and environmentally friendly way possible.

Lavender
Love, Protection, Sleep,
Chastity, Longevity,
Purification,
Pine Healing, Fertility, Protection,
Exorcism, Money

Sage
Immortality, Longevity,
Wisdom, Protection, Wishes

Rosemary
Protection, Love, Lust, Mental Powers,
Exorcism, Purification,
Healing, Sleep, Youth
Sample Ritual

Here is a sample ritual of spell work utilizing your equipment. I wish to thank Pagan author D.J. Conway for this part of the section, as this is a slightly modified version of the ritual she wrote in her books Celtic Magic and Norse Magic. I'm simply switching a few sentences around to make it non-tradition specific.

Sit in front of your altar and take a few deep breaths. Smudge or otherwise purify yourself as you choose. Have soft music playing in the background. Try to pick instrumental music only, as vocals tend to be too distracting. Concentrate on your spell work at hand, and get yourself in a relaxed state. Face the north. Take your athame in your power hand, and beginning in the east, project a line of silver-blue personal energy from the tip of the athame. Only gifted psychics or longtime practitioners can actually see this energy, and they describe it as silvery-blue in color. Walk in a circular clockwise motion (called deosil) until the circle overlaps the point in which it began. The circle will automatically form itself into a protective sphere around your ritual area. Everything you use will be inside the circle...this magick circle will both contain your built up energy until the moment you release it, as well as keeping negativity and astral entities out. Remember, your spell work will attract such entities to your ritual area, so the casting of the circle is important. Try not to break the circle until the end of the ritual (see below).

As you cast the circle, say:
"I consecrate this circle of power to the Goddess and God; here may they manifest and bless their child."

Stand in front of the altar, hold up your arms in greeting to the Goddess and God, and say:
"This is a time that is not a time, in a place that is not a place, on a day that is not a day. I stand at the threshold between the worlds before the gates of Infinity [or Avalon, Asgard, Heliopolis, Olympus, or any other realm of the gods your tradition may worship]. May the Ancient Ones guide and protect me on my magickal journey."
This helps shift your consciousness into a state conducive for ritual and magick.

Take the chalice, filled with spring water, and place it upon the pentacle. Hold your athame over it and say:
"Great Goddess [insert your goddess name], I bless this creature of water to your service. May we always remember the cauldron waters of rebirth."

Place your athame over the bowl of salt, saying:
"Great Goddess, I bless this creature of earth to your service. May we always honor the blessed earth, its many forms and beings."

Take a pinch of salt in your fingers and drop it in the chalice.

Lift the chalice in the air and say:
"Great Goddess, be you adored!"

Walk the chalice around the circle counterclockwise (called widdershins, a direction used for banishing), sprinkling droplets of salt-laden water around the perimeter of the circle to banish negativity. Place the chalice back on the altar and place your athame over the flames of the lit candle. Say:
"Great God [insert your God name here], bless this creature of fire to your service. May we always remember the sacred flames which dance within the form of every creation."

Take the censer with the lit incense and place it on the pentacle. Place your athame over it and say:
"Great God, I bless this creature of air to your service. May we always listen to the spirit winds which bring us the voices of the Ancient Ones."

Take the censer and walk the incense around the circle counterclockwise, banishing more negativity. Next, it's time to summon the elementals to witness the rite and to guard the corners of the circle from unwelcome astral influences. Your four element candles should be in the appropriate directions, and just inside the magick circle.

Walk over to the yellow candle in the east and light it, saying:
"I call upon you, powers of Air, to witness this rite and to guard this circle."
Imagine a spinning vortex of air suddenly whirling outside your circle. Little diaphanous faerie-like elementals called Sylphs (and zephyrs) can be seen dancing in the vortex.

Walk over to the red candle in the south and light it, saying:
"I call upon you, powers of Fire, to witness this rite and to guard this circle."
Imagine a large plume of flame blazing just outside your circle. Long, snake-like and glowing elementals called salamanders can be seen writhing about in the flames.

Walk over to the blue candle in the west and light it, saying:
"I call upon you, powers of Water, to witness this rite and to guard this circle."
Imagine a large fountain of water erupting just outside the circle. Small mermaid-like elementals called undines can be seen swimming and playing in the fountain.

Walk over to the green candle in the north and light it, saying:
"I call upon you, powers of Earth, to witness this rite and to guard this circle."
Imagine a large tree suddenly materializing outside your circle. Tiny elf-like elementals called gnomes can be seen walking in and out of the roots of the tree. Know that these four types of beings are here to protect your circle.

Walk to the center of the altar and say:
"This circle is bound with power all around; within it I stand with protection at hand."

Return to the center of the circle and begin your spell work. You can use spells already written, and found in the numerous books on Witchcraft available, or you can write your own. Walk around the circle clockwise for positive spell work, and counterclockwise for negative. Use your wand to direct the energy that you summon. When the energy is built up to its maximum point, say:
"By the power of the God and Goddess, I bind all power within this circle into this spell. So mote it be!"

Upon saying this, release the energy. The circle will automatically open and release it into the biosphere and astral realms, where it will eventually manifest on the physical plane. You may also want to ground the extraneous mystical energy left over, so it does not remain in your temple area. Use your wand to direct it into the bowels of the Earth, where it can then be utilized by Mother Earth for her own purposes, such as the healing of the planet.

When you are done, you will then dismiss the elementals you have summoned. Do not forget this part! And do it before breaking the circle. [Try never to break the circle during spell work except in an emergency. Remember to keep all pets except for cats out of the room during spell work. For some reason, cats can walk through the circle without breaking it.]

Walk to the yellow candle in the east and snuff it, saying:
"Depart in peace, O powers of Air. My thanks and blessings."
Imagine the vortex of air collapsing in upon itself and vanishing.

Walk to the red candle in the south and snuff it, saying:
"Depart in peace, O powers of Fire. My thanks and blessings."
Imagine the plume of flame extinguishing itself.

Walk to the blue candle in the west and snuff it, saying:
"Depart in peace, O powers of Water. My thanks and blessings."
Imagine the fountain trickling out and disappearing into the ground.

Walk to the green candle in the north and snuff it, saying:
"Depart in peace, O powers of Earth. My thanks and blessings."
Imagine the tree outside the circle dematerializing.

Walk to the candle(s) on your altar in the center of the circle to dismiss the element of Spirit. Snuff the candle(s), saying:
"To all powers and beings of the visible and the invisible, depart in peace. May there always be harmony between us. My thanks and blessings."Imagine the God and Goddess, or any deity and beings you invited into your circle to conduct the spell work with, vanishing from this plane of reality.

Now, take your athame and walk to the edge of the circle. With a quick swipe of your hand, break the circle. Say:
"Though the circle is broken, ever it remains a circle. Around and through me always flows its magickal powers."

This will finalize the ritual in your subconscious. Be sure to place any offerings, such as cookies and milk, outside to the little ones if you called upon the faerie folk for assistance. Your ritual is done. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Living Earth

 We have an ancient and indigenous awareness of the Earth as a living being. We attune to her through our rhythmic sleeping and waking and our receptivity to the magnetic, solar, and elemental forces. Her tectonic, ionic, magnetic and organic systems are analogous to those of our bodies.

Let's consider the metaphorical relationship of our body systems to the five elements that I work with in my healing and magickal work, as well as of the ancient Greeks. (The Chinese and Hindus also use five elements of different names.) The solar and fiery element corresponds to our nervous system. The airy and gaseous element is related to our breathing, vocalization, and hearing, and the watery element to our circulatory and lymphatic systems. The earthly element is related to our skeletal and muscular systems. Our chakra system, which receives cosmic energy, is most related to the ether element. I have recently been asked, "How do these elements and bodily processes affect our relationship with the Earth as a living organism?" The following is an explanation from my perspective.
 
Fire:  We experience the fire element in the desert, the flowers, the auroras, and lightening, which are manifestations of the Earth's eye, brain, and nervous system. We ourselves are electromagnetic systems that are affected by electromagnetic charges in the environment. Electricity is a conduit in both our nervous system and in hour chemical processes.

From fire comes light and darkness, the sources of color. Our eyes receive light waves from the Sun and convert them into photochemical and biochemical pulses which then are decoded by the brain. Both electromagnetism in the body and the light in the eyes are sourced from the Sun.

The Sun itself is like a rotating pinwheel, flinging fiery particles out into space. Upon entering the zones of the poles, these radiated energies stimulate the atmospheric molecules to glow in the auroras - somewhat like gas in a neon tube. The fire of the electrically charged particles from the Sun is deflected by the Van Allen Belt - a ring of particles and cosmic energy that penetrates the outer layers of the Earth's magnetosphere. The magnetosphere acts as the Earth's brain, receiving messages from the Sun and decoding them. Magnetism then enters and exits through the planet's deep interior through the poles.

Volcanic matter is a mutable fireflow within the bones and heart of the Earth. The fire of the desert is part of the Earth's metabolic heating and cooling system. Here, seeds drift before the Sun and reach for the dew in the morning. Underground waters, like blood, upwell in hidden places under the searing Sun.

Air:  The air element consists of all the atmospheric manifestations - the jet stream, the clouds, the rain and the biosphere cycles. Weather, wind, and sound all shape the energy of air. As temperatures change, hot air drifts up and the cooling air sinks down, creating a gaseous swirl. Air particles drift with the clouds, creep across mountains, and sweep into canyons as the breath of the Earth.

Cosmic rays descend through the etheric noctilucent clouds that spread between the ionosphere and mesosphere and fan out towards the ozone layer. Below the ozone is the stratosphere, where mother-of-pearl clouds suspend in midair. Miles below that are the cirrus and cumulonimbus clouds. Below these lies the naked Earth, receiving rain.

The ozone umbrella is the Earth's most far-reaching spiritual aura. Ozone protects us from ultraviolet rays, converting them into heat and chemical energy. Radioactive fallout from nuclear testing and fluorocarbide residue from industrial production have caused ozone depletion, gouging holes in the Earth's auric field and exposing all life to disease.

The Earth's breath gives voice through the sounds of the winds, tides, and creatures. Sound arises from the rhythmic compression of air particles in vibrating bodies. All such molecular movement creates sound, though it may not be heard by human ears.

Water:  Water is the lifeblood of the Earth, as it is to us. Holy creatures slither and swim in the flowing dance of rivers and seas. Springs bring minerals to the surface and distribute them through the tributaries of the planet's circulatory system. A watercourse brings green to the ground and refreshes us with its scent. Lakes give nourishment by storing water, heat, and chemicals in high places that are otherwise arid.

The salt density in our blood is similar to that of the ocean, whose pitch-black depths call us back to the primordial womb that gave us birth. Here subtle energy generates the vital force of life out of the yin darkness. The swiftness of the riptide and the slow undulations of the deeper currents are part of the Earth's intensive rhythms.

Malleable and permeable, water unites. All movements are part of this element. The spinning of the Earth's axis creates the Coriolis force, twisting the oceanic currents to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern. The resulting spiral - carrying the chaos of sand and sea - generates subtle energy that vitalizes all life systems.

As oxygen and blood mix in our veins, so the trade winds set the North Equatorial currents in motion, the great stream deflected by the spin of the Earth. This colossal, reverberating sea circulates the force of life from continent to continent, creating weather from its cyclonic eddies.

Earth:  The earth element is the most physical, the most formed and rigid. Rocks hold the Earth's memory - as in the fossilized protozoa and other simple life-forms contained in layers of limestone. Lying deeper are the slates born of clay, and deeper still, the glittering micashists, and gneiss. The primal rock is granite - composed of quartz, feldspar, and hornblende. The igneous rocks - granite, porphyry, greenstones, basalt and lava - break through the sandstone and limestone layers during volcanic eruptions. These diverse derivatives and structures of the Earth derive from their contrasting interactions with water and fire. The story of the planet is the story of elemental conflict and regeneration through the undulations of time. In the earth element are buried seeds of all things, awaiting a new birth.

Plate tectonics reveal the Earth's skeletal and muscular system. Without these chiropractic adjustments to maintain harmony between structure and movement, cataclysmic Earth changes would result.

Ether:  Comprised of the eternal fusion of subtle energy and light, the etheric element permeates consciousness as well as the body of the Earth. The timeless etheric celebrates the unchanging and the changing. All landscapes, all elements, all forms live in this formless sea. Withdrawn, ether draws out everything to be itself. Invisible, it makes all things visible. Intangible, it touches all.

Note: The ancient idea of all-permeating ether or akasha was interpreted by Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer as a psychic fluid in which planets could create tides or flows of subtle energy. As a healer, he knew that illness resulted when the flows of subtle energy currents in the body were interrupted, thus depleting vital force.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

History of the Tarot

The origin of the Tarot cards is something of a mystery. Aleister Crowley believed their roots stretched back to the ancient Egyptians. The earliest definitive date of the cards' existence, however, is the year 1392.

The cards were originally used for gambling and as instructional tools for young people. No one knows with any certainty when or how they came to be used for divination purposes, but they have been used in this manner for over 100 years.

There are innumerable Tarot decks available. One of the most popular is the Rider-Waite deck. This deck was conceived by Golden Dawn mystic Arthur Edward Waite, and illustrated under his direction by artist Pamela Colman Smith in 1910. If you are new to the Tarot, this is an excellent deck to begin with, as its artwork and symbology are relatively clear and easy to understand.

Other decks that could be recommended for a beginner include the Aquarian deck, the Hanson-Roberts Tarot, and the Robin Wood deck, all of which are nicely illustrated and easy to read. There are also many "specialty" decks, usually based around a particular theme or topic. There's a Native American Tarot, a Witches' Tarot, and an Herbal Tarot, among others. Most Tarot decks contain 22 Major Arcana cards, and 14 cards each of four suits: Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. These are known as the Minor Arcana, and contain Ace through 10, along with four court cards: Page, Knight, Queen and King. Some decks do vary from this setup, however. I can't really speak to decks I have not used, so the following brief reviews of Tarot decks are based only on those decks I have personally used.

    The Rider-Waite deck mentioned above is one I highly recommend. It reads easily, clearly, and although there is a great deal of mystical symbolism contained within it, you do not have to know it, or understand Golden Dawn precepts, in order to use the deck.

    The Herbal Tarot, by Michael Tierra and Candis Cantin, is very similar graphically to the Waite deck, but uses illustrations of herbs on each card. Each card is associated with a specific herb. Although I'm not sure I agree with all the associations, it is a very nice deck, also easy to read, and is especially useful for health questions; the properties of the herbs on the cards which show up (or the herbs themselves) usually will tell you what you need in terms of a health issue. Variations to the standard cards include replacing The Hanged Man with the Suspended Person; the Wheel of Fortune with the Medicine Wheel; and The Devil with Pan.

    The Motherpeace Round Tarot Deck, by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble, brings a feminist perspective to the Tarot. The cards are very unusual, in that they are, indeed, round. They also contain many images of strong women, although there are some males represented as well. The Motherpeace cards substitute Discs for Pentacles, and use the following as Court cards: Son, Daughter, Priestess and Shaman. This is also a very rare deck in that women of color are represented here. Many of the figures represented are nude, so this may not be an appropriate deck for children. I have found this deck to be particularly useful for questions of a deep spiritual nature, and, of course, for readings for feminists.

    The Thoth Tarot Cards, also known as the Crowley deck, was invented by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Frieda Harris. These cards have a great deal of symbolism, including Qabbalistic and astrological symbolism. Crowley uses Disks rather than Pentacles, and has substituted "Art" for "Temperance". He has also substituted Princesses for the Page cards. Numbered cards of the Minor Arcana contain keywords on the cards, i.e., The 10 of Disks is labeled "Wealth". Those familiar with Crowley would do well with this deck, as would those who understand the Qabballah. Others may find this deck difficult to read.

    The Voyager Tarot, by James Wanless and Ken Knutson, is a fabulously artistic deck. Made up of collages, it contains ancient and modern images and symbology. Keywords printed on the numbered cards help with interpretation, but this deck is also very attuned to the subconscious. Deviations from the "standard" in this deck include replacing Swords with Crystals and Pentacles with Worlds; replacing the standard Court cards with Man, Woman, Child and Sage; replacing The Fool with the Fool-Child, Wheel of Fortune with Fortune, Judgment with Time-Space, The Devil with Devil's Play, The World with Universe, Temperance with Art, and Strength with Balance. This is a very modern deck, and those with a strong unconscious and/or who appreciate art might do well with The Voyager Tarot. It is very heavy with many symbols, however, so it may be difficult to read for those who prefer simplicity.

    If you are an "Arthurian nut" as I am, I can't say enough about Legend: The Arthurian Tarot, by Anna-Marie Ferguson. The illustrations are quite beautiful, and if you know the Arthurian legends already, you can almost read the cards based on that knowledge alone. Each card is related to a character or story within the Arthurian landscape. For instance, The Magician is, of course, Merlin. The Moon is represented by Morgan le Fay. The Seven of Swords is associated with the story of "The Sword in the Stone". Changes in this deck include replacing The Devil with The Horned One (Cernunnos); The World with The Universe; the suit of Wands with Spears and the suit of Pentacles with Shields. If you know the old tales, this deck is for you.

    A very unusual deck is the Tarot of the Cat People, by Karen Kuykendall. The deck is set in a fantasy world known as The Outer Regions, within which are The Five Kingdoms (representing the Major Arcana and the four suits of Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles). All the inhabitants are cat lovers, and cats or their representation appear on every card. This deck also portrays people of color. This deck is pretty standard, with the exception of replacing Judgment with Rejuvenation. If you are into cats, or into a sci-fi sort of mindset, this deck could work well for you. I use it primarily for readings on cats, and it is excellent for that purpose.

    My current favorite deck is The Witches Tarot, by Ellen Cannon Reed and Martin Cannon. This should not be confused with another deck called "The Tarot of the Witches" (an ugly little deck, in my opinion). Although The Witches' Tarot is very steeped in The Qabballah (about which I know little), I find it to be a very literal, easy to read deck. However, I have known many people who have tried to read it and simply cannot. Men in particular seem to find it difficult to read. I have found it delightfully funny, straightforward, and accurate. Variations in this deck include replacing Pages with Princesses; The Hermit with The Seeker; The Devil with The Horned One; The Star with The Stars; and The World with The Universe. It's a beautifully illustrated deck (with one exception -- the Six of Swords does not seem to belong in this deck), but because there is a fair amount of nudity, it may not be appropriate for children.

In addition to Tarot decks, there are other card decks on the market which are not strictly speaking Tarot cards, but which may be of interest. There are the Phoenix Cards, which help you discover past lives; the Medicine Cards, which depict animal totems in a Native American tradition; the Sacred Path Cards, dealing with Native American traditions; and the Inner Child cards, which are modeled on the Tarot, but deal mostly with inner child issues (although they can be read like any Tarot deck).

Bear in mind that the above are my opinions and experiences, and you may have completely different experiences. This is just a brief review of a handful of decks I own and have used; there are many more out there, and the point is to find a deck that fits your experience, your knowledge, your feeling. Some decks may leap out at you; you may buy a deck, not connect with it, and find a couple of years down the road that, out of nowhere, you can read it. This has certainly happened with myself and others I know. Seek out what seems to resonate within you, the deck that speaks to you immediately. That will probably be the right deck for you to begin reading Tarot.

How to Read the Tarot

It is extremely difficult to explain to someone else how to read the Tarot. If you are just beginning, my best advice would be to do two things. First, read the booklet that comes with the cards to familiarize yourself with the basic meanings of the cards. Second, meditate on the cards, and see what each card says to you personally. I began by studying the booklets (and a book I bought), and looking up the meanings each time I did a Tarot spread (laid out the cards). Eventually, I knew the meanings well enough and did not need to look them up anymore. I then worked with my intuitive side to open up to the meanings in the cards, which sometimes gave me interpretations that were not in any book, but which were accurate.

You can, if you want, ignore the intended meanings and learn to read the Tarot based strictly on your intuition. If that is right for you, then go for it. However, I would strongly recommend learning the assigned meanings first; then you may ignore them later, when you have developed your reading skills sufficiently. I look at it as the same lesson I learned in Creative Writing class -- you have to know the basic rules of English before you can get creative and throw them out the window!

There are 78 cards in the Tarot, 22 Major Arcana, and the rest Minor Arcana. In general, the Major Arcana have to do with the major themes of life, and with outside influences. The High Priestess represents the spiritual, the intuitive, the magical. The Empress represents the Earth Mother, mothering in general, creativity. The Minor Arcana more often represent themes in daily life, i.e., the Six of Swords traditionally represents journeys by water, and the Ace of Pentacles a new beginning in a financial or other earthly matter.

Each suit is associated with different qualities. Usually, Wands are associated with the element of Fire (although some assign it to Air) and represent activity and energy. Swords are usually associated with Air (but some give Swords to the Fire element), and represent the mental plane, thought and communication. Cups represent Water, the feeling element, and intuition. Pentacles or Disks represent Earth and the physical plane.

If you are interested in numerology, the numbered cards have associations as well. I am not well-versed in numerology, but an example would be that fives represent stress and struggle, while twos deal with balance/imbalance issues.

When you do a Tarot spread, first look at the suits represented, and the Major Arcana. If a lot of Major Arcana cards show up, it's likely that the resolution of the question may not be in your hands, or that the issue is extremely major. If you get a lot of Wands, there is a great deal of energy and movement around the question. If you are reading for someone else and get a lot of Cups, you can bet it's an emotional and/or romantic question.

There are a lot of different ways to lay out the Tarot cards in a reading, but the most popular is known as the Celtic Cross. In this spread, the first card is laid down, the second card laid across the first, the third beneath the first, the fourth to the left of the first, the fifth card is placed above the first, and the sixth card is placed to the right of the first. To the right of this, a 7th card is placed in the lower right, the 8th above it, the 9th above it, ending with the 10th at the top of this straight vertical line. There are variations on what cards get laid down in which order, but this is the one I use.

Each position has a meaning, and which cards fall in which positions will have a bearing on the interpretation. Again, different readers associate different meanings with the positions, but I use the following:

1st: represents the immediate present, and sometimes the person being read for in general
2nd: represents what crosses you, forces that are against you or holding you back
3rd: represents the past, the foundation of the question being asked
4th: represents the recent past, what has just occurred or is just passing
5th: represents the near future, and one possible outcome
6th: represents the further future, and a likely outcome
7th: represents the Querent's (the person you are reading for) feelings about the matter
8th: represents the Querent's environment, influences or people who have an effect for good or ill
9th: represents the Querent's hopes and fears about the matter
10th: represents the final outcome

Most books will tell you to pull a card to represent the Querent and put this down first, underneath the first card. I did this for many years, and a newcomer would be advised to do so. However, while I was working for one of the 1-900 psychic lines, I found that there simply was not time to pull a card to represent the Querent, searching through the deck as the seconds (and their money) ticked away.

So I stopped using the Querent card, and have found that it is unnecessary, at least for me, to use it. As you are starting, the Querent card can help you connect with the energies of the person you are reading for, however, so I would use it for that purpose. Picking a Querent card is usually done one of three ways: you pick a card based on hair color, based on Sun-sign, or based on characteristics. Age is always a factor; Kings and Queens are used for those over 30, while Knights, Pages, Princes and Princesses are used for those under 30. Traditionally, Pages are used for children. If the person you are reading for is a fire sign male under 30, then you would choose the Knight or Prince of Wands (unless your deck equates Swords with fire). If you are reading for a woman with blonde hair over 30, you would most likely choose the Queen of Cups. You don't have to be restricted to Court cards for the Querent card; some people use the Magician or High Priestess, some use The Fool. Since I like to see if and where these important cards may show up in a reading, I rarely chose these cards for the Querent.

Shuffling and cutting the cards can be done in many different ways. Some believe you should never do a violent shuffle of the cards (i.e., the Las Vegas stack sort of approach), but you should shuffle them gently. I have not seen that it makes a difference; if you respect the cards, how you shuffle them doesn't seem to matter. The cards are usually larger than normal playing cards, and can be difficult to shuffle, so shuffle them as best you can. If a card "jumps out" of the deck, look at it before you put it back in and continue shuffling.

I have found that often these "jumpers" are quite significant. As I tell clients, you should focus on your question while shuffling, and shuffle until it feels like it's time to stop. This may be a long while, it may be a very brief time. I can almost feel a hand pushing my hand down when it's time to stop. Just try to feel it out. I then cut the cards twice with my left hand, piling the first pile to the left of the deck, and the next pile to the left of that. I then pick them up from right to left, forming one pile, and turn over the top card. If you are reading for someone else, you can choose to let them shuffle the cards, while you cut, or let them do both. It depends on what feels right to you. Some readers do not believe in letting others touch their deck because of energy transference to the deck. I personally feel that this transference helps the reading, so my clients shuffle the deck while I cut it. On the phone, of course, I do both for obvious reasons!

Next, you lay the cards out in your preferred layout, and begin the interpretation.

As I said, look to the general themes first -- number of Major Arcana, repeating numbers, how many of each suit appears. Then you can start by interpreting the first card (in the first position) within that position. For instance, if Strength appears there, the person you're reading for is currently in a strong position of some sort, or is feeling self-confident. Should this be a reading about, say, whether or not s/he will be getting a promotion, Strength would suggest they are in an excellent position to do so currently. Next you look at what is crossing the person. In this example reading, say the King of Pentacles crossed. This could mean that the obstacle to overcome is another person up for that promotion, or (since Pentacles are money), it may mean that the company may decide not to promote because of financial considerations.

Continue going through the cards until the final outcome card. Should this card be positive -- say, the Ace of Pentacles in our example -- and if other cards in the reading agree, then a promotion would be extremely likely to occur (in spite of the King of Pentacles crossing).

The question of how to interpret reversed cards varies from reader to reader. I personally believe that the traditional interpretation of most reversed cards ("negative" as opposed to the "positive" of the upright cards) isn't necessary; rather, I think each card contains positive and negative qualities within it, and I choose to ignore reversed cards entirely and focus instead on the whole picture.

The most difficult part of interpretation is learning to synthesize the reading into a whole, rather than just reading each card in each position. I can glance at a layout and answer a question almost immediately without having to think about what cards are falling where and what they mean, but that took me many years to be able to do. When I read now, the cards flow into a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end.

If you become stuck on a particular card in a particular position, you can turn over other "helper" cards, one to the left and one to the right of that particular card. In fact, I always turn over two extra cards on the final outcome card; it seems to crystallize the reading. Pages can be difficult to interpret sometimes, so helper cards can be used with them to excellent result.

Play with the cards, open your mind, and enjoy learning this wonderful art.

Shapeshifting

Taking a Different Form


Shape shifting is a type of meditation on the relationship between humankind and nature, in particular animals. Shape shifting is based on assuming certain characteristics of an animal. Traits and talents are also included in these characteristics. These characteristics, traits, and talents are assumed for a limited time and for a particular purpose. A shapeshifter is able to change shape either at will or under special circumstances.

Shapeshifter are not just human; they are also animals and plants. Shape shifting ability depends on the level or degree of energy or quality of life the creature possesses. It is more difficult for plants because they are stationary, and least difficult for human beings because they are most able to understand the dynamics involved. Animals, including humans, are mobile, and it follows that animals are adept at moving and directing energy. It is, as humans, our innate nature, our state of being.

Chinese Taoism


For Chinese Taoists, there are two methods or purposes for shape shifting:

One, to strengthen or improve your vital essence by the study of metaphysics and nature.

Two, to share your vital essence with others. This shift can be accomplished through meditation, channeling, dancing, and singing - as well as chanting, ritual, and making love. More or less, any situation where people merge together as One and build energy.

Toltec Shamanism


Toltec shamans shapeshift and gather energy by pulling together the power from the universe; for instance, from dead stars. Through a complex set of physical movements, breath and intention, the Toltec shaman gathers and collects energy to be used toward specific purposes.

Celtic Shamanism


The Celtic shaman also understands that things never truly die; they merely change form. Thus, the cycle of life becomes more understood. All things continuously change shape. A child grows to adulthood to old age to death and again. Everything is continuously reborn through shape shifting, and the elemental components are constantly recycling.

A glass of water is a good example of these changes. If given a glass of water, you cannot destroy it; it is impossible to destroy the water. If poured our, the water becomes part of whatever you pour it into or onto. If evaporated, it later becomes rain. If drank, it becomes part of the body then waste that is recycled into the Earth. In other words, like all other things, it cannot be destroyed. Nothing can be destroyed. All is ever-beginning, never-ending. All things merely shift shape. This very strongly suggests that shape shifting is a natural state of existence.

How It's Done


Human reason and logic do not necessarily apply to shape shifting. To shift into another person, animal, or elemental energy means being privy to the secrets of a state of being where you are able to feel the unexplainable, the mysterious. By setting aside known and accepted natural laws, like inertia, you can merge into the body of any animal, plant, rock, body of water - anything you choose. This merging allows you to experience the world of instinct. This world is frightening to most humans who have separated themselves from nature and from the "natural" state of being. As you learn more about shifting, and abandon the structures and forces that hold you to the Earth, time and space become very fluid and soft. This creates a gateway to Oneness, a threshold of awareness where your perspective alters and changes permanently.

Once you move through that threshold, you are transformed. It becomes a metamorphosis. The fluidity of reality becomes "normal" and you realize you are not a fixed human being on this planet but a mutidimensional being with the potential of experiencing an infinite number of lifetimes, worlds, and shapes. One important thing to remember in practicing shape shifting is that nothing is what it seems to be, especially time, matter, and space. On a very basic level, shifting allows for a richer and fuller perspective of life and experience. As a way to gather information and build magickal skill, shape shifting connects you with your creative ability and your spiritual center, regardless of your religious, philosophical, or cultural preferences.

The key to learning how to shapeshift is merging, sometimes called the "thirteenth factor." Merging, or the thirteenth factor is the point where there is no division between body, mind and spirit. Everything becomes Oneness, and all knowledge and wisdom are readily accessible in this place of being, depending on your intentions and desire. Merging is the mystic state where you become one with all things. This occurs naturally when you are in a beautiful nature area, and suddenly you feel yourself becoming part of the trees, the waterfall, and the rocks.

It also occurs when you fall in love. You merge and meld with your partner. Another example is the bonding that happens between parent and child, or between twins. The Two Main Components of the merging process are breath and intention. First, your intention needs to be specific, simple, and directed. Focus on the intention before, during and after merging. Second, pay close attention to how you are breathing. Relax. Use "in, 2, 3, 4 - out, 2, 3, 4." Hold your breath briefly in between. Repeat this as many times as needed for you to relax. After practice, you will find that merging becomes automatic.

When you merge into an animal, you enter the energetic being of the animal, stepping into catness or wolfness, and so on. It is as if you enter the domain of essence, becoming the animal, almost like becoming a mirror of the animal. Each animal becomes an aspect of yourself, your eyes, your legs, your heart become one with the eagle, the horse, the lion, etc.

When you incarnate into the physical, you take form and become flesh, embodied and defined. Definition gives temporary form and shape as a human being. Shape shifting allow you to briefly step out of that form. It also allows you to move out of "ordinary" reality into multidimensional awareness, realizing you can be here and there at the same time. It is a strange feeling at first, until you accustom yourself to this new perspective. With practice, you can eventually learn to experientially be in several places (worlds) at once, hence the concept of simultaneous lifetimes.

Done at Three Different Levels


There are three levels of shape shifting: mental, physical (usually accompanied by mental), and astral. 

Nature Spirits - Elementals

Elementals are mystical creatures that dwell within the spirit realm of the elements. Elementals can be related to "nature spirits". These are the spirits that govern all nature, the forces of life that may be summoned to assist in working magick. It's important therefore to understand who they are and what they represent. Earth spirits are known as Gnomes, Air spirits as Sylphs, Fire spirits as Salamanders, and Water spirits are called Undines.

After the Wiccan circle is formed and consecrated with the elements, after calling the Quarters to preside and watch over the proceedings, specific elementals whose natures best suit the work or rite being carried out may then be invited to participate. Care needs to be taken when calling the aid of elementals. Elementals are not always the helpful little creatures we'd like them to be, and can be mischievous, bad tempered little devils if allowed to get out of control.

Gnomes


Gnomes are beings associated with the element of Earth. They possess a vibratory rate that makes them invisible to humans, but one that is still close enough to the lower physical vibration for them to interact with it. Their actions are reflected in the presence of mineral deposits, the erosion of rock, and the formation of crystals and other geological formations.

In ancient legends the Gnomes were protectors of secret treasures concealed in vast caverns beneath the earth. The old sages taught that the Gnomes were not naturally inclined to aid humankind, but if a person won their confidence and trust they would prove to be valuable allies. However, like all elementals, it was dangerous to deceive them or misuse their aid. Elementals work through the subjective nature of men and women, and can influence the human mind. Gnomes have the capability to bring about gloom, melancholy, and despair. Conversely, Gnomes can also bestow confidence, steadfastness, and endurance.

Gnomes are ruled by a king whose name is Gob. His followers came to be called Goblins as tales of them were told and retold over the centuries. They usually appear to humans as small, dwarf like creatures.

Gnomes are the most substantial of the elementals. They dwell in holes, mines, and caverns. They are the most like us in personality, with all its good and bad points, but they are especially prey to all the weaknesses in human nature. They are called upon for help with money matters, stability, and growth.

Sylphs


Sylphs are beings associated with the element of Air. Their activity is reflected in the gathering of clouds, the formation of snowflakes, and the growth and maturity of all plant life. They are the spirits of the wind, and were the source of many Greek myths and legends. Among the Elementals as a whole, Sylphs are of the highest vibration and can thus traverse the dimensions more or less at will.

The Sylphs have a ruler whose name is Paralda. Though essentially creatures of the air, Sylphs reside on high mountain tops. Legend has it that they once spoke to human through caverns and were the voices of ancient oracles.

Sylphs are associated with the activity of the human mind. They can influence and inspire humans; often they are said to gather around the poet or artist in order to impart their inner visions of spiritual beauty. They usually appear to humans in the classic fairy image.

Sylphs are active, quick of movement and speech. They are clever and intelligent, but can be subtle in their persuasiveness. By nature, Sylphs are aloof and detached. They're called for help in creation or resolution of issues involving the intelligence and the mind, or products of intellect.

Undines


Undines are beings associated with the element of Water. In ancient lore they are recalled in the images of water nymphs and mermaids. Springs, streams, and wells are favored by Undines. Their traditional abodes were among marsh reeds and vegetation growing alongside rivers and lakes.

Undines are ruled by Necksa. They are friendly toward humans and their presence has a strong influence on our emotional well-being. The moodiness of an individual can be traced to their elemental nature (such as when we say that a person is "all washed out"). Just as water can be beautiful in a fall or river, it can also be unattractive in a stagnant pool.

The activity of Undines is responsible for the vitality within all liquids - therefore they play a vital role in plant, animal, and human life. Undines appear to human most often in full human shape, as beautiful maidens.

Undines are seen as sensual and graceful in their movements, with very strong emotions. Undines are the most human and seductive of the four elemental types. They tend to be sympathetic and loving, and are most helpful in matters dealing with emotional issues, such as love and friendship, desire and lust.

Salamanders


Salamanders are beings associated with the element of Fire. It is through their activity that fire exists and can be used by humankind. Fire elementals were the first elementals to befriend humans, teaching our ancestors how to make campfires. Salamanders are ruled by king called Djin.

Salamanders move about most freely at night, appearing as balls of light drifting across various bodies of water. Old time sailors often saw them investigating the sails of their ships - from this came the term "St. Elmo's fire", describing the mysterious forks of flame that often appeared on old sailing vessels.

Salamanders have a profound effect on human nature since they are linked to the activity of our bodies through which we maintain a body temperature. They tend to influence general temperament, such as when someone is "hot blooded" or a "hothead". Salamanders often appear to humans in the shape of small, lizard like flames.

Salamanders are explosive, quick in movement, and very bright. They are also unstable, especially with respect to emotions. Fire is traditionally associated with Will, so one can expect Salamanders to be forceful and highly opinionated. They are called upon to help in matters involving the discipline and exercise of the Will and Power, including willpower, conflicts with others, war, and courage. However, due to their unstable natures, calling upon Salamanders carries its own risks as forebodes anomalies may be experienced in the general area in which they're called.

Sensuous Elements Guided Meditation


Close your eyes and relax. Begin breathing slowly and deeply, letting your rib cage fill completely. With each breath in, feel it becoming full with life. As you breathe in, pull in pure, white, clean energy. Let it spread slowly out from your lungs, emanating throughout your entire body. As you breathe out, breathe out all the tension and scattered energies of your day. With each breath in, breathe in relaxation. With each breath out, breathe out stress. Breathe in trust. Breathe out fear. Breathe in love. With each breath, fill yourself with the divine energy that connects us all.

Let your consciousness turn to the East. See yourself atop a mountain watching the bright yellow of the new sunrise in the distance. It is a crisp spring morning and the cool; dampness in the air surrounds you. It caresses you softly...flowing through your hair, brushing against your skin. Feel the energy surrounding you as your clothes softly gather and swirl around you. It holds the newness of the dawn and all the infinite possibilities of the day head. As you watch, the day extends to become weeks.... months....years...millennia...a vast expanse of pure potential.

This is the land of East; the land of air; the land of thought and reason. The home of new beginnings, it is also where your imagination lies. Here you breathe life into your dreams and start them on their way to reality. Here you find the truth and knowledge that you need to make them happen. Here you find the hope and happiness that you feel when they blossom in their fullness.

Feel the wind blowing as its potential swirls around you. Gather it in, bringing it into your body.

East, Air, I welcome you. Blessed Be!

Now you turn your thoughts to the South and the land of Fire. The vision in your mind's eye slowly shifts and changes. You find yourself in Hawaii, surrounded by lush, beautiful flowers and plants. It is summer and the sun is hot above you in the noonday sky. Far off in the distance, you see hot molten red of lava pouring down the side of a volcano. Even at this safe distance, you can feel the heat of its glow on your skin. You stand transfixed, watching as it flows ever forward, re-shaping reality with its power. Without thought or preconceptions, it brings about change as it simply follows its own nature. Yes, it brings destruction, but without hate or malice. And in time, the opening that it creates will be filled by extraordinary beauty.

This is the land of South; the land of fire; the land of passion and energy. Here, we find transmutation as the old is burned away to make room for the new to grow. Here lies the intense pain of death and intense pleasure of rebirth. Here's lies the fires of our loins and the "little death" of orgasm. Fire consumes us. Fire transforms us. Fire drives us to grow...to create...to explode with ecstasy.

The heat of fire radiates throughout your body as you feel the warmth of it upon your skin and within your loins. Welcome it, knowing that it will take away the old fears and pains. Let it open you up to the sacred beauty of your own reborn passions.

South, Fire, I welcome you. Blessed Be!

As the day winds onward toward dusk, you turn to the West. You find yourself walking down to a beach. The cool air swirls around you as it fills with the crispness of autumn. At the water's edge, you welcome the cooling relief as you walk in the surf. The waves refresh and soothe you. So tranquil. The salt air buffets your clothes around you, stirring up memories of all that has gone before. The ocean stretches before you; the mother of all creation. As the sun sets, you gaze out over her clear blue expanse. She is the womb of the earth, from which all of us were born. She nurtures you. She nourishes you and all the children of her creation. Her vast calmness holds you, astounding you with her seemingly endless beauty. This is the same water that sailors have traveled for centuries; ever enduring. How many billion times have the drops of water she holds been evaporated to fall as rain or snow before slowly winding their way from creek to river to finally join together again in her comforting arms?

This is the land of the West; the realm of Water. Here lies emotions and the release from them. Here lies tranquility and peace. Here the Water softly soothes away even those things that Fire can not burn. It takes its own time and moves on it's own schedule, as it slowly wears away layer after layer. Here disasters become peddles and problems become sand.

Let the water wash over you, soothing you, holding you in the embrace of the Great Mother. Invite her tranquility to join you, bringing her cleansing and peace.

West, Water, I welcome you. Blessed Be!

As the sun sets and the Earth moves on toward winter, you seek sanctuary in the mountains, where you find yourself surrounded by a forest. You settle down near the base of a huge, gnarled oak. Leaning backwards against the trunk, the tree cradles you in a nook between its large roots... a custom fit that feels like "home". Stretching out above you, the branches of the tree offer you shelter and protection. Roots reach beneath you, offering sustenance and strength. Under you and all around you, the Mother Earth is alive with life. Even in the quiet darkness that falls as you near midnight, you feel comforted by her support. You know the Earth lives onward as birth, death and rebirth continue, carrying out cycle after cycle. Reach down and feel the sweetness of her stability; of knowing that she is always there. She has been here since before this ancient tree was but a tiny acorn, and she will be here long after these branches have one day rotted away. She holds true and steady to her course as all else moves and changes around her. Here you may rest a while in her safety and where will be the renewed energy you need when you are ready to move on.

This is the land of the North; the home of Earth. Here lies strength and stability. Here the World is firm under you, creating a foundation upon which you may build and work. Here you find the endurance and the responsibility required to sustain creation. Here your dreams become cathedrals and your visions blossom into verdant gardens. Feel the earth firm under your feet. Invite her strength to flow up through you as she joins you. May she bring security and stability to your work and to your life.

North, Earth, I welcome you. Blessed Be!