Sunday, March 25, 2018

Altar Tools Of The Pagan, The Wiccan and The Witch

The Use Of Pagan Altar Tools

Altars are sacred space that Pagans and those who practice witchcraft use to work magic, spells, give thanks, ask for blessings, do rituals and rites. The altar is within a sacred circle that is created by the participant of one or more of the above. Creating a sacred circle will be another article at some time in the future.

Here we will discuss various altar tools that are used on the altar and within the sacred circle. I would like to note that tools are not required to perform any type of sacred work, as visualization can be employed. Altar tools are used to help us create focus for our thoughts and energies while working within the sacred space.

An altar can be any space you set aside for work as mentioned above. Some folks use temporary altars and take them down after using them. This is especially true for those who cannot openly display that they are of a Pagan path. Others have a more permanent setup, such as a table or counter where they leave everything in place after doing their sacred work. We are in this category. Our altar space is in our living room on a table we had donated to us, a rather nice, old wooden coffee table. It is large in the eyes of some, however, it seems that we have out grown it at times!

Various altar tools:

Athame - An athame is a ritual knife/dagger. A sword may also be used in the place of an athame. You can purchase an athame, or use a favorite knife of your own. Once you select which to use, you need to cleanse it and only use it on the altar. An athame is used in the sacred circle for various purposes. Most commonly it is used for directing and banishing mystical energies and summoning. It will also be used to create, open and close a sacred circle. Your athame is never to be used for cutting, stabbing or a weapon. It is your magickal tool used specifically for magical purposes only.

Cauldron - Most of these will be cast metal, usually iron with three legs. They represent the feminine energies and can be used to burn herbs, mix herbs, hold candles and also, as we use one for, to place prayer requests in. About once a month or so, we burn off the requests that have built up in the cauldron.

Censer - There are many types of censers out there. The choice is up to you on what type you may use. We have censers that hang, that sit on the altar and a bowl of salt that we place stick incense in.

Chalice - A chalice is used to hold various liquids. Most commonly you will find that it is used to hold water and is symbolic of the element of water. The chalice can be made of any substance, however many will use ones made from metals. Silver and silver plated are common. A second chalice can be used for holding wine that may be used within your sacred circle.

Pentacle - This is a five pointed start that is set within a disc or saucer. Pentacles are used for protection and also used to consecrate various altar tools such as your chalice and censor. You just place them on the pentacle. The Mother Goddess is represented by the pentacle and is symbolic of the element Earth. They can be made of metal and wood. You can make your own using a piece of wood and carving your own pentacle on it.

Salt - Salt is usually placed within a bowl and represents the element Earth. Many people will use sea salt, however, I have found all salts work. Salt is a very powerful tool for purification and ridding your area and tools of negative energies and vibes.

Candles - As an eclectic Pagan/Witch, it has been my experience that Pagans have to stock up on many candles! Fortunately they are not expensive, but they do add much ambience and spirituality to your altar and sacred space. Commonly a white candle is used to create a source of light on the altar, but many will use a colored one that corresponds with the deity or desire that you may be working with at any particular point. Four candles are used in the four corners of the altar that represents the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Colors are associated with all aspects of altar candles, however, I have found that any color will work as long as they are charged with the proper intent. I will not go into specifics on colors, uses and further placements due to the large amount of space needed for such. This is a thought for a future hub. Tapers are best used on the altar however votive candles and tea candles will work just as well and are less expensive.

Candle Holders - Candles need holders without a doubt. Any type of holder can be used. I have found that glass works well and is easy to maintain and cleanse. Also, picking up some unique holders at various thrift stores and such is great! As with any tools or items introduced into your sacred space, always cleanse them first. I would advice against using wood for holding your candles for obvious reasons.

Wand - Us witches really do use magical wands! The wand is a symbol of the element Air, however some traditions use it as being symbolic of the element Fire. The use of the wand is to direct mystical energies.

Altar Bell - At times your ritual may require the ringing of a bell. There are many types of bells, but what works best is a small bell that can be lightly struck to get that subtle ringing noise.
There are many other items you may find on an altar, but this is a good list to start with. Some Pagans will wear a cloak that can be bought or handmade. Also, you may find a second knife on the altar which is used to carve on candles as well as cutting up of herbs. This knife is called a boline. A candle snuffer is always a great tool to have as well. Using a snuffer shows more respect to the elements than blowing a candle out.

A Book of Shadows is commonly part of the tools found on an altar as well. This is a journal that is kept for spell work, your magical experiences and various insights you may have. In the past the Book of Shadows was always handwritten, and that tradition is still carried over today by many. Others have taken to using the computer to create their Book of Shadows and then printing it out and placing it within a journal or binder as well as saving it on disc and such.

Horehound the Herb: Uses and Benefits Plus Cough Medicine Recipe!

Healthful Horehound

Horehound - Botanical Name: Marrubium vulgare 

(Uses: Herbal and Natural remedies)

The history of horehound goes back at least to ancient Egypt, where it was know by several prestigious names – eye of the Star, Seed of Horus, and Bull’s Blood. 

Horehound is a perennial member of the mint family. It is a bushy plant with woolly silver-white leaves that are wrinkled and opposite and carried on a quadrangular hairy stem. Its flowers are white and displayed in whorls that circle the tips of the stalks that bear them. It is a common wayside plant in both Europe and the United States, horehound is usually found growing in poor, dry soil. It is most easily propagated from cuttings or root divisions taken in either spring or fall. You can also propagate it from seeds, sowing them 1/8 inch deep and one inch apart in the spring after the danger of frost is past. When the seedlings begin to develop, thin them to stand about nine inches apart.

In the garden, as in the wild, horehound thrives in sandy soil in a warm, sunny location, an environment that encourages a maximum concentration of the valuable herbal qualities in the plant’s leaves. Horehound has a characteristic musky odor, which some people find disagreeable, but the smell dissipates as the herb dries.

The plant does not bloom until its second year, but you can harvest horehound in its first year by cutting back the plant by about one-third of its total top growth. In subsequent years you can harvest the plant more fully by cutting back foliage to about four inches above the ground, just before it flowers. You can get two to three cuttings from the plant annually. If the horehound plant is allowed to flower, its seeds will self-sow widely in the garden, transforming it from a valuable herb to a garden nuisance.

Horehound has enjoyed a number of healing uses throughout the histories. It was thought to be one of the bitter herbs that formed part of the first Passover rite of the Jewish people. Powdered horehound leaves have been used to expel worms, and an ointment made with the leaves have been used to soothe itches and wounds. In large does, the herb was used as a laxative. Greeks, Romans, and medieval Europeans used horehound for snakebites, dog bites, and to counteract vegetable poisons.

But horehound is definitely best known as a remedy for coughs and pulmonary complaints and in the treatment of colds. A strong infusion of horehound is used by herbalists to promote perspiration and has been used for breaking fevers, Many people in both Europe and America brew horehound tea as soon as the feel a cold coming on. If a cold has already set in, horehound tea taken three times daily is considered a valuable aid in expelling mucus.

Horehound syrup ad cough drops are famous old-fashioned cold remedies from the 1800’s, but the use of horehound leaves in cough syrup goes back at least to the 1600s.

Making Horehound Cough Syrup
1/4 cup of horehound (fresh) or 1/8 cup of dried horehound leaves.
1 1/2 cups of honey
1 cup of hot water
Pour the water into a pot and bringing it to a boil. Next toss in the horehound leaves and remove your pot from stove, allowing everything to steep for approximately 15 minutes. Strain the leaves and then add the honey to the water, mixing it very well. You can then bottle the cough syrup for later use. Feel free to add more or less honey to adjust the thickness and sweetness of the syrup.

This is in response to the question "What are herbs?"
Herbs are any plant that has leaves, seeds, or flowers and is used for flavoring, food, medicine as well as perfume.

About Cats and Kittens: Most Popular Cat Trees, Condos, and Houses - A Review

Cat and Kitten Furniture

As a servant to a cat myself, I have come to know that her most popular piece of cat furniture is her Cat Condo, Tree or House. They have various names. Cats and kittens both truly enjoy the luxury of having their own space without any doubts.

Most cat furniture of this nature has many levels (to allow those climbing trips full of adventure), to various "holes" that the cat or kitten can crawl into and take a nap. These are commonly referred to as bedrooms. Some have dangling toys that will entertain your cat or kitten when he or she does not want to allow you to entertain her.

Overall, what is the most popular thing that one would expect in such cat furniture? Well, cats enjoy scratching! So you would want to provide a good area of scratching surfaces so that they can keep their claws in shape on their furniture and not the furniture they "allow" us humans to use.

From my experience with several cats over the years and various versions of the cat condos, trees and/or houses, I have learned that there is no cat furniture of this nature that a cat will turn their back on. Most seem very cat friendly in nature and vibrations.

Of course none of us would think of pampering our cats or kittens too much, but giving them their own space to scratch, climb and lounge in a safe environment is not "too much" pampering! Your cat or kitten will be well-behaved and entertained for hours with the introduction of cat furniture of this nature.

Pink 73" Cat Tree Pet House

Pink 73" Cat Tree Pet House

Pink 73" Cat Tree Pet House

The Pink 73 inch Cat Tree Pet House is cat furniture that your cat or kitten will truly enjoy. With several cubbies or bedrooms provide, this cat condo will provide ample space for one or more cats and/or kittens to have a space that is their own to lounge and sleep. 

All surfaces are cat friendly in regards to scratching and climbing and will hold up to years of use.
While being tall, and very impressive, the footprint of this cat condo is not too large and it will not require a large amount of floor space.

Product Features:
  • Condo Height: 73"
  • Base Dimension: 27" x 23"
  • Large House Dimension: 20"(L) x 15"(W) x 12"(H)
  • Small House Dimension: 15"(L) x 12"(W) x 10"(H)
  • Top Three Perch Dimension: 14" x 14"

Armarkat Cat Tree Model

Armarkat Cat Tree Model A8001, Beige
Armarkat Cat Tree Model A8001, Beige

Armarkat Cat Tree Model A8001, Beige

The Armarkat Cat Tree Model A8001, shown here in beige, is a nice top of the line cat condo, house or tree. Consisting of one cubbie or bedroom and many various platforms, this condo will supply your cat or kitten with plenty of room to entertain themselves.

An abundance of cat scratching and climbing services are provide as well as a dangle type of toy that will keep your cat or kitten playing for hours.

The three platforms at the top of this house provide places for your cat to keep an eye on various aspects of their living environment, or you! Lounging is a favorite past-time of cats and kittens without any doubts.

Product Features:
  • Covering Material: Faux Fur
  • Board Material: Plywood
  • Overall Dimensions: 40-inch(L) by 33-inch(W) by 80-inch(H)
  • Max Holding Weight: 80-pound

Armarkat Cat Tree Model A8001, Beige
Armarkat Cat Tree Model A8001, Beige

GoPetClub 70" Cat Furniture Tree Condo Scratcher Post Pet House

GoPetClub 70" Cat Furniture Tree Condo Scratcher Post Pet House

GoPetClub 70" Cat Furniture Tree Condo Scratcher Post Pet House

The GoPetClub 70" Cat Furniture Tree Condo Scratcher Post Pet House has many various levels that will provide your cat(s) or kitten(s) a means for great exercise. Sporting a nice sized bedroom or cubbie, your cat will have an area that gives them a sense of privacy and security.

The entire surface of this cat condo house is made for hours of scratching and climbing enjoyment by both full grown cats as well as kittens.

With the top "lookout" platform or "daybed", your cat will be able to scout and keep an eye on the surrounding environment to keep tabs on cat and kitten related important happenings.

Product Features:
  • Model No: F72 , Color : Black
  • Posts hand wrapped in textured sisal rope
  • Ramp Scratching Board Covering Material : (Sisal Fabric)
  • Board Material : Pressed Wood Covering Material : Faux Fur
  • Overall Size : 38"W x 26"L x 70"H

GoPetClub 70" Cat Furniture Tree Condo Scratcher Post Pet House
GoPetClub 70" Cat Furniture Tree Condo Scratcher Post Pet House

SmartCat Multi-Level Cat Climber

SmartCat Multi-Level Cat Climber

SmartCat Multi-Level Cat Climber

SmartCat Multi-Level Cat Climber

The SmartCat Multi-Level Cat Climber was designed for an area that does not allow for a full sized cat house, tree or condo, yet provides your cat or kitten with an area of private space for climbing, scratching, playing and lounging.

With a design that is unique, this cat climber allows it to be place in an out of the way area such as a doorway or other opening that is not used often. With this design there is hardly any footprint at all and does not create a stumbling or tripping obstacle. Large enough for several cats and/or kittens, this cat climber will offer hours of pleasure and enjoyment.

Product Features:
  • Great unit for scratching, climbing, sleeping, and exercising
  • Natural sisal post is ideal for scratching
  • Spring-loaded bracket system makes it easy to move from room to room
  • Easy assembly
  • Fits on virtually any door

SmartCat Multi-Level Cat Climber
SmartCat Multi-Level Cat Climber

Other Cat Condos, Houses and Trees

Go Pet Club 62" Cat Tree Condo Furniture Beige Color
Go Pet Club 62" Cat Tree Condo Furniture Beige Color

Outstanding Traditional English Beef Stew Recipe

How To Make Traditional English Beef Stew

Steaming hot and ready to be enjoyed. You can almost smell this Traditional English Beef Stew!
Traditional English Beef Stew!
Over the centuries, there has been no dish that has survived in Britain longer than the Traditional English Beef Stew. The endurance over time of Traditional English Beef Stew being consumed by peasants to royalty, gives honor to how wonderful this hot dish satisfies all.

Throughout history, this stew has managed to keep the folks in Britain on their feet, alive and healthy during hard times and especially during the harsh, cold winter times. Not just a stew to enjoy during hard times, Traditional English Beef Stew is enjoyed by folks around the world at any time!

Quite simple, tasty and easy to prepare, once served, the Traditional English Beef Stew will bring smiles to your family and friends.

To convert this same stew into the Traditional Irish Stew, simply substitute the beef with lamb and you will have created the Traditional Irish Lamb Stew.

Cook Time:
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 2 hours
Ready in: 2 hours 30 min
Yields: Serves four to six people

  • 500grams (1 and 1/2 pounds) Diced or Minced Beef
  • 4 Carrots
  • 1 Parsnip
  • 1 Onion, Spanish/yellow
  • 1 to 2 Beef Stock Cubes
  • Water
  • Salt/Pepper/Herbs, to taste
  • Potatoes
  1. Chop the Onion & Carrots and put in the pan (we use a crock pot) with the Beef and cook until meat is browned and Onion begins to reduce.
  2. Add the parsnip and cover contents of the pot with water.
  3. Add the stock cube/s, salt, pepper and herbs to taste.
  4. Bring to the boil, stir, cover, reduce the heat and allow to cook/simmer for at LEAST 1hr.
  5. ***This dish is best if left to stand overnight at this point and then reheated for another 30mins-1hr the next day.. but if you don't want to do that then it can be eaten straight away.***
  6. Peel and Boil the potatoes.
  7. Serve in a bowl with potatoes and a slice or 3 of Bread on the side!

Prepare! (North Korea & Russia) Nuclear Attack Fact Sheet Is Available For All Americans

Nuclear Attack Fact Sheet: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

As we monitor the world situations, only people who are fully ignorant can ignore the very real possibility of a Nuclear Attack from rogue nations such as North Korea, Russia or Iran. Or even from some terrorist group, as that is becoming a more realistic possibility daily.

When I was a child, we used to have the duck and cover drills in elementary school.  This was climbing under your wooden desk and/or gathering in the hallway, lining the walls.  This was in preparation for incoming Nuclear Missiles from the USSR at the time.
Image result for Nuclear attack
Also, there was a large influx of backyard bomb shelters.  These were on display to the public in the parking lots of many grocery stores throughout America.  You could look in through the windows and see stocks of supplies as well as bunk beds and other living facilities.

For us back in the early 60's, this was the normal thing.  There were many hours within the school year teaching us on how to survive a nuclear attack.

Those teachings have become a thing of the past.  One can do a lot of online research and find a tremendous amount of information on how to survive and what items should be in your survival kit (view and read about my kit) for a nuclear attack.

The United States Department of Homeland Security has a great fact sheet that the have prepared that can be download here. (PDF file).  Within the fact sheet, various items are discussed as listed below.

Nuclear Attack:
  • What is it?
  •   Nuclear Devices
  •   Access and Use of Nuclear Materials or Weapons
  • What is the impact of a Nuclear Attack?
  •   Size of Nuclear Explosions
  •   The area effected
  •   Secondary Hazards
  •   Persistence of radioactivity levels
  • What is the danger?
  •   Health Effects from the Shock-wave of Thermal Energy
  •   Health effects from Radiation
  •   Short-term Effects
  •   Long-term Effects
  • What should people do to protect themselves?
  •   Practical Steps
  •   People Sheltering-in-place should:
  •   People Advised To Evacuate Should:
  •   Medical Treatment
  • What Are The Long-Term Consequences?
  •   Monitoring and Clean-up Affected Areas
  •   Control of Contaminated Food Supplies
  •   Economic Impact
  •   Psychological Impact
This four page PDF download also gives links to Additional Information from a variety of sources.

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and any additional information or resources so that others may also become better prepared for the scenario that will more than likely happen in the not too distant future if we continue down the road we are on.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Google Chrome Resolving Host Issue

How to avoid the Google Chrome Resolving Host Issue

For the past few years the problem with long wait times every few clicks while using the Google

The many ways that Google and forums suggest resolving this technical issues that revolves around Google Chrome all involve you actually becoming a tech savvy person to be able to attempt all the various resolutions and have hours of patience.

To this day, none, and I mean absolutely none, of the troubleshooting steps I have tried have resolved the "Resolving Host" problem with Google Chrome.

Again, as with many "Google" things, they show no interest in simply fixing the issue that does not remotely appear using various other internet browsers.

I will not link to all the useless posts for a fix as they do not work.  The"fixes" are simply to drive traffic to ad driven websites, forums and blogs, for generating ad revenue with absolutely no fix.  This is common place anymore.  One simply finds a problem and posts a fix.  Many people have the issue so it drives traffic to the post raising the post in Google search results.  To me, the resolving host issue simply is a ploy by Google to create such scenarios so that their ads are viewed more on these "fake" fix posts by others.

By far, the best solution I have concluded is to simply forgo the fact of the convenience of Google Chrome, to have everything linked, in favor of doing away with the aggravated of the numerous daily delays I endure trying to browse the web.

That being said, I will use Pale Moon (A Firefox variation) as my main browser.  It is a free source browser and has been trouble free over the years I have used it.  It has gotten a tad heavier in weight over the years and uses more memory that it used to, however, nothing as near as the usage of memory by Google Chrome.  You can download the Pale Moon Browser for free here.  It is worth giving it a try, comparing it to Google Chrome.  You can import your bookmarks from Chrome to Pale Moon as well as that option is available.

Feel free to join me in a Chrome free world as you cruise the internet!  I do look forward to any comments, thoughts and/or ideas that you may have!
Chrome Browser has gotten worse.