Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lammas... not a time to "loaf around"!

Depending on your family’s tradition, Lughnasad (pronounced “loo-na-sa") is celebrated on August 1st or 2nd. It marks the end of the major fruit harvest and the beginning of the ripening of the grain crops--wheat, barley, oats and maize. (In Ireland and the British Isles, wheat is called “corn”, while American corn is called “maze”). At the start of August (now only a few days away!), with one harvest done and the next not yet begun, there was time (in the ancient world) to set up markets, make deals for the sale of the crops to come, arrange marriages, resolve problems and debts in council, and to enjoy games and competitions.

In the spiritual world, it was a time to celebrate Lugh, the Celtic sun god. It is important to remember that there is a little goddess celebration in the God Season (which runs from Samhain to Spring Equinox – with Imbolc in the middle honoring Brigit), and a little god celebration in the Goddess Season (from Beltain to Mabon). Some believe that Lughnasad honors the “death” of Lugh, because the sun has begun its journey towards winter and shorter days. However, Lughnasad actually celebrates the death of Lugh’s foster mother Taillte, and all games, gatherings and fairs were dedicated to her.

The other name for Lughnasad is Lammas. This comes from the words “loaf mass.” In Pagan times, folks would gather a small amount of green (un-ripened) wheat, thresh it, and bake it into a small loaf of bread. Each person attending the ritual meal would consume a tiny part. It was barely edible, but by willingly taking a nibble of this awful bread, the individual was showing the gods that he or she had faith in them, and trusted that they would bless the fields and the coming harvest.

Come back on Friday--Lammas Eve--for a printable coloring page!

When Christianity came to Europe and the Celtic lands, the people would not give up their cherished tradition. Like so many other Pagan practices, it was adopted by the church. The loaves that were baked from the green wheat were now brought to the Christian altar and blessed during a special “loaf mass.” They were consumed at a family meal later.

The health of the crops, the land and the people were thought to be bounded together. There was a countrywide truce at Lughnasad, so folks traveling to one of the major fairs – such as the one at Telltown – could get there without fear of being attacked along the way by feuding tribes. Once there, however, they could “battle” each other in feats of strength, agility, and speed. The champion, or winning team, would bring strength to their district and land. Even the fairies of the rival districts were thought to do battle, the looser returning home to find blight on their potato crop.

Horses and cattle were forced to swim across rivers and lakes because it was believed to remove negative magic and illness. Women wove wheat stalks and heads into crowns and wore them in order to share in the fertility of the fields, and offerings were given to the gods by throwing them into running water (such as rivers).

So, this Lughnasad, celebrate the sun and its beneficial effects on our food and our lives. Eat healthy, play games in the fresh air, and send your energies to the surrounding gardens and fields. Be strong, and remember: Fall and winter are just around the corner.

by Katharine Clark
Art by Robin Ator

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lammas with the Kitchen Witch!

Greetings and merry meet again! Good Lammas (or Lughnasadh) to you! At this point of the year, we celebrate the first harvest. Nature’s bounty is so evident which makes our Sabbat feast such a wonderful one. Look at the garden, the vines beginning to hang heavily with ripe fruits and vegetables. If you’re an urban dweller, a trip down the produce aisle of your local supermarket will show the vibrant colors and bounty of summer produce. The intent of our Lammas feast is to offer gratitude to the Lord and Lady for the gifts of the harvest, and to enjoy easy to prepare, fresh ingredients. Traditional Pagan celebrations for this Sabbat honor Lugh, the Celtic Sun God who is also associated with the grain harvest as well as other deities who have an agricultural significance. Lammas is closely connected with bread and grains reaped from our early crops. As always, our Sabbat feast is a combination of fresh, seasonal ingredients and foods symbolic of this turn of the wheel. Our Lammas menu is filled with a culinary celebration of harvest and grains as well as quick, easy summertime fare. Be sure to offer your thanks to Mother Nature for providing us with such a rich bounty. Don’t forget to make your corn dollies and decorate your table with sunflowers! 

LUGHNASAD RITUAL BREAD MAN 
A true Lughnasad celebration would not be complete with fresh, home-made bread that’s infused with the season’s best herbs. At our family’s ritual, we form the loaf into the shape of a man to honor Lugh, but traditionally-shaped loaves of bread are just as good. For those who have never made home-made bread before, here’s an easy recipe to use. 

Two (.25 ounce) packages of active dry yeast
2 cups of warm water (110 degrees F)
2 Tablespoons of white sugar
¼ Cup of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of salt
2 Tablespoon of dried herbs of your choice. I use oregano & basil, but you can use a combination of herbs that you like such as parsley, thyme & rosemary
1 Teaspoon of garlic powder
½ Cup grated Romano Cheese
6 Cups of bread flour

Mix yeast, warm water and sugar together into a large bowl. Set aside for five minutes, or until mixture becomes foamy. Gently stir in the olive oil, salt, herbs, garlic powder, cheese and only 3 cups of the flour into the yeast mixture. Gradually add in the next three cups of flour. Dough should be rather stiff. 

When the flour has been incorporated, turn out the dough onto a smooth surface (may need to dust the surface with a small amount of flour to prevent sticking) and knead dough with the palms of your hands for 5-10 minutes, until it is smooth and rubbery. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, and turn the dough to cover the surface with oil. Cover with a damp dish towel and let it sit somewhere warm with few drafts. Allow the dough to rise for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. 

Punch down the dough to release all the air. Shape into two loaves. One or both can be formed into bread men. With a sharp knife or scissors, make a snip up the middle of the bottom of one loaf to separate the bottom part of the bread into legs. At the middle of the loaf, make snips on each side to form arms. Towards the top of the loaf, use the scissors to make a small indentation on both sides to form a neck & head. Place loaves on a greased cookie sheet and allow to rise a second time until doubled in size, about 30 more minutes. 

 Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and let cool on wire racks for at least 20 minutes before cutting. 

FRUITED SUN TEA 
It’s easy to bring the sun’s power right into your Sabbat feast with this refreshing beverage. Exact amounts aren’t needed here, let your taste buds be your guide! 

4-6 Tea bags (a combination of orange pekoe, berry and/or peach teas will give your tea its fruity flavor)
2 Quarts of water
Sugar to taste
Fresh raspberries, peach slices or other fruit as garnish

Add 4-6 tea bags to your water in a large glass jar, using more tea bags if you prefer a stronger flavor--remember, sun tea is not as strong as tea made from boiled water. Cover. Place the jar in a sunny spot outside, moving it around as necessary so that it stays in the sun. Brew your tea to the desired strength, but not longer than 5 hours. Sweeten with sugar (if you wish) and refrigerate immediately. Serve over ice, garnish with fresh fruit and drink in all that wonderful sun energy! Use the same day; since the water isn’t boiled, the tea won’t keep longer than a day or two. 

MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE GREEN SALAD WITH MARINATED GRILLED CHICKEN 
This is one of those wonderful quick & easy summertime recipes that is light, delicious and doesn’t keep you working over that stove on a hot summer day. Exact amounts aren’t included as it’s all done to your liking. 

Skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (approximately one per person)
One bottle of your favorite vinaigrette-style salad dressing
Mixed salad lettuce greens
½ Cup crumbled feta cheese
Kalamata olives
Your favorite salad ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, celery

Cut the chicken breast halves into one inch cubes. Toss them into a large plastic zip lock bag with about half of the bottle of salad dressing. Allow the chicken to marinate for approximately 1-3 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat the barbecue grill or an oiled grill pan. In a large bowl, put your lettuces and assorted vegetables that have all been peeled, chopped, sliced or otherwise cut into bite-sized pieces. Pour some of the remaining salad dressing over the top and gently mix the salad. Fill individual bowls with the salad, sprinkle each serving with feta cheese and a few olives. Remove the chicken from the dressing and discard the marinade. Grill the pieces of chicken until they are no longer pink in the middle and nice grill-marks are made, about 3-5 minutes. Put chicken cubes over each salad and enjoy! 

CORN PUDDING 
There are so many ways to enjoy corn this time of year, simple steamed corn on the cob being the easiest. This is my family’s favorite corn recipe, yet another way to bring this fabulous grain into our Sabbat feast. 

One 16-ounce can of cream-style corn
One 16-ounce can of regular corn kernels, drained of liquid
4 eggs
4 Tablespoons of sugar (you can reduce this if you wish)
4 Tablespoons of butter that has been softened
4 Tablespoons of flour
2-4 Tablespoons of milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the flour into a small bowl. Add one tablespoon of milk at a time, mix with a fork using just enough milk to make the flour into a paste. Mix the rest of the ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour/milk mixture and stir until all the ingredients are well-combined. Spray a 13x9 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the corn mixture into the dish and bake until golden brown and no longer liquid in the center, approximately 60 to 75 minutes. 

BLUEBERRY PIE 
Fruit is so delicious and ripe this time of year, it’s a wonderful dessert without having to cook it. But since it’s a special occasion, we add this extraordinary touch. Any fruit pie would be a welcome addition to a Lammas feast. If blueberry isn’t your thing, a peach pie would be right at home here too. Save the apple pies for the autumn season when apples are at their peak. As with any recipe, once you’ve got the dish down right, play with it. Try different combinations of berries that suit your liking. If you’re ambitious, you can make your own pie crust with your own favorite recipe. I find that the packaged ones (the kind that come in a roll that you can unwrap and fold into your pie dish) work so well and save tons of time and effort. 

Pie crust for a two-crust pie
2 pints of blueberries, rinsed, drained and picked over for stems
¾ cups of sugar (can reduce or add to this amount depending on sweetness of berries)
3 Tablespoons of cornstarch
3 Tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons of butter

For the top: 
Egg wash (one egg beaten with a pinch of salt),
1 teaspoon of sugar

Combine one cup of blueberries with sugar in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring often, until the sugar is melted and the mixture is very liquid, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water together. Slowly add the blueberry/sugar mixture into the cornstarch mixture and whisk well. Return everything to the pan and cook, being sure to stir constantly, over low heat until the mixture comes to a boil, thickens and is clear and no longer cloudy. Don’t rush this step, make sure the mixture turns clear before you continue. 

Pour this mixture into a large bowl and stir in the lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Add the remaining 3 cups of blueberries, stirring very gently, and set aside to cool. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, arranging the oven racks at the top third and lower third of the oven. Roll out the bottom crust and arrange it in a pie dish. Pour the cooled filling into the bottom crust. On a smooth surface or wax paper, cut the top crust into narrow strips and form a lattice pattern by weaving the long strips over and under each other. Slide the entire formed lattice on top of the pie, and crimp the edges of the pie. Carefully brush the edges and top pie crust with egg wash. Sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar. 

Place pie in the oven on the lower rack and lower the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the crust is baked through and a deep golden brown, and the filling is gently bubbling. If the top crust has not started to brown after 30 minutes of baking, move the pie to the upper rack of the oven for the last ten minutes. Cool well before serving.

by Aviva
Art by Sue Miller

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy Birthday...

Cancer!

Positive Traits ~ Imagination, tenacity, tenderness, sensitivity, care, and caution
Negative Traits ~ Stinginess, irritability, melancholy, clinging and cowardice, possessiveness and moodiness.
  • Ruling Planet: Moon
  • Colors: Pale blue, silver, smoky gray 
  • Dates: June 22 - July 22
  • Polarity: Negative 
  • Duality: Feminine 
  • Element: Water 
  • Quality: Cardinal 
  • Body Area: Breasts, chest 
  • Direction: North 
  • Geography: Algeria, Holland, New Zealand, North Africa, Praguay, Scotland, West Africa 
  • Cities: Algiers, Amsterdam, Berne, Cadiz, Genos, Istanbul, Magdeburg, Milan, New York, Stockholm, Tunis, Venice, York 
  • Trees: All trees which are rich in sap 
  • Flowers and Herbs: Acanthus, convolvulus, geranium, honeysuckle, lilies, saxifrage, waterlilies, white poppy 
  • Foods: Fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, melon, mushroom, pumpkin, turnip
Kind and sensitive, Cancerians are known to be private, moody, and blessed with a fertile imagination. However, they don’t respond well to strangers, and often put up a defensive shield (shell) for protection, often unconsciously giving out ‘stay away’ vibes. However, with the right amount of tact and patience, Cancerians will open up to you--in their own time of course--and you'll realize what warm and caring individuals they can be. Eternal mothers, nurturing their friends and family, Cancerians go to lengths to make sure every need is taken care of. However, like the phases of the moon, their moods are changeable. When joyful, they exude a silver radiance, when sad, a bitter gray cloud blocks their auras. While they are easily hurt by the strangest things, Cancerians are unaware of their own insensitivity to others. However, born with a tendency to hoard, saving odd things like old letters, papers, empty bottles (they never throw things out), they will always hold onto friends and loved ones.

The sign of Cancer can be traced to Ancient Egypt, where the constellation was first known as "the sign of the Stars of the Water," and later on, "Two Turtles." (River turtles are found in the Nile and have a hard shell). The Ancient Babylonians called it “the wicked or rebellious one” based on a water creature called Al lul, and later on, the Crayfish.



Hercules, immortalized as the greatest hero of Grecian Mythology, also figures prominently in the mythical origin of the sign of Cancer. The second labor of Hercules (one of twelve assigned by King Eurystheus) was to kill the Hydra, a gruesome monster with the body of a dog, nine serpent-entwined heads, and breath so poisonous that anyone who came close would die from just a single whiff. Hercules had trouble slaying the Hydra. Every time he cut one head off, two more grew in its place. The Goddess Hera sent a giant crab to attack him while he was fighting the Hydra. Hercules crushed the crab underfoot and went on to dispatch the Hydra. Despite the crab's failure, Hera was grateful for its help, and placed it in the sky as the six-starred constellation of Cancer.

After the carefree sojourn as a child in Gemini, the soul evolves into the confusing and somewhat scary phase of adolescence in Cancer. The soul experienced its share of fun and frivolity earlier. It got the thrill of being a naughty child and breaking rules. The confusing and sometimes mortifying phase of adolescence is difficult for anyone to transition through. The rapid changes that occur within our bodies due to puberty, the way our voices begin to crack and develop, new growth of body hair, the start of the menstrual cycle in young girls, the burst of testosterone flowing through boys--so much can be confusing for the being that once was a child. The soul experiences similar changes when it evolves into the sign of Cancer.

Like the phases of the moon rule the cycles of the body, the soul now is easily swayed by Lady Luna and her cycles of lunacy. Unpredictable and dramatic mood swings (courtesy of the moon cycles), and powerful dreams, cause the Cancerian child to cry out aloud in the middle of the night (even when they're octogenarians, Cancerians will always be children). They need tender yet secure bear hugs from their mothers, and their teddy bears to hold onto. This is because all sorts of terrors--real and imaginary--are very real to the emotionally fragile Cancerian, who, like an adolescent, fears what’s out there in the big-bad-world. How they will survive without the security of their mother to protect them? If you ever meet a man who measures every woman in his life against his mother, and his mother always wins, rest assured, he's probably a Cancer (by sun, or other heavy chart influences).


Unlike their Gemini predecessors, Cancerians find it difficult to express their feelings and apprehensions verbally, causing them to turn secretive--dreaming, alone, hiding and pouting, crying in a lonely corner a la Cinderella--imagining that no one understands them, now, or ever. Cancerians, like Cinderella, feel like they are lonely damsels waiting for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet and provide them a life of love, security, and mutual understanding. Trouble sometimes arises with young Cancerian girls who devote themselves to the first man who pays them the slightest attention, leading them to a downward spiral of dysfunctional relationships. All this internalization and heightened inner-drama can lead Cancerians to be (like other water-signs) delusional. It is always wise to encourage young Cancerians with means to express themselves through creative pursuits. This way they can flourish as individuals and get rid of the majority of their pent up fears and frustrations.

The motto of Cancer is I FEEL. This sign is all about feelings. Being the first sign of the element of water, Cancerians experience feelings in ways the signs before it (and most after too) cannot even fathom. Don’t be fooled by their initial shyness. Like Aries, Cancer is a cardinal sign of leadership. What other people might consider illogical fears, a Cancerian treats as sensible caution--a trait impulsive Cardinal leader Aries needs to learn time and again.

The emotions of astrology’s adolescent need to be handled with care; they are fragile. Masters of hiding their true feelings, they crack jokes and mimic friends and family superbly, creating laughter all around them. But only if you stare into their wet dewey eyes, would you be able to see whether that jovial Cancerian is secretly frowning. It’s not what they say, but how they said it that matters. And it’s not just what you say to them, but the way you say it, that they watch. Actions do speak louder than words to them, and gentle gestures of affection and appreciation meet with generous rewards. True, Cancerians can stretch a dollar, and love saving for a rainy day, but they’ll always surprise their loved ones with their abundant generosity.

The Karmic goal of Cancer is to nurture one’s Self and others. The maternal instincts in those born under this sign are extremely high, and they need to learn the difference between clinging to others (for fear of losing them), and nurturing them to be independent. They can’t help but care for the people around them, perhaps because a part of them feels that no one was around to take care of them. The inner nature or destiny of this sign is Power. 

Next time, we'll enter the den of the fiery lion--Leo!

by Zorian Cross 
Art from the collections at karenswhimsy.com

Friday, June 27, 2014

Worts and All ~ Marigold!

Merry Meet, Broomstix friends! Airmid the Fey here again with another useful plant for you.

This time it's marigolds for Midsummer, so sit back and let's find out why this is the perfect flower for this time of the year. First of all, when I talk about marigolds I mean the ones that grow nicely in pots as well as in the garden, also known as English marigolds or common marigold. Their botanical or scientific name is calendula officinalis. These are not to be confused with the wild marigold, Tagetes, which was sacred to the Aztecs and whose petals are strewn on the graves of loved ones during the Mexican Day of the Dead.

My marigolds are the true pot-marigolds, the ones Shakespeare called "flowers of Middle Summer" because they are at the peak of their blooming right about now. These plants first grew in the Mediterranean area ages ago, and now they brighten up the Summer in all parts of the world. The name "marigold" probably came from the old Saxon word 'Ymbglidegold' (try saying that ten times fast!) which means "it turns with the sun."

They are one of the easiest flowers to grow because they like any kind of soil and will flourish in sunshine or shade. If you have Calendula growing in your garden now, be sure to keep picking off the flower heads as soon as they get seedy if you want them to keep blooming. Marigolds are good self-seeders but there's always a chance they may just die off when they go to seed. If you've missed the Spring planting, you'll have another chance to sow Calendula in late August or early September for fall flowering. If you don't have a garden, you can plant the seeds in pots.


There are a lot of old stories about marigolds. In Brittany, there's a folk belief that if a maiden touches a marigold with her bare foot, she'll understand the language of birds. The flower is thought by many to be the herb of love and clairvoyance. In Welsh folklore, if the Calendula flower did not open before seven, it was an omen that there would be thunder that day. In Devon and Wiltshire, they believed that if you picked marigolds, thunder would soon follow. In astrology, this cheery golden flower is a Sun-blessed plant and goes with the sign of Leo. It was thought in the olden times that simply looking at a marigold would banish anyone's sadness.

But let's get back down to earth and see why Calendula is really so useful to us, especially in Summertime. For at least seven centuries, people have been using it for troubles like bug bites, sunburn, chapped lips, or just dry itchy skin. You can get ready-made Calendula salve, gel or cream in pharmacies or health food stores. Or you can easily make your own.

The flowers should be gathered early in the day, when in full bloom, after the dew is dried but before the sun soaks up all the essential oils. The petals are what to use for making the salve. They can be dried whole, but dry faster if the petals are pulled off, separated and spread out to air-dry. Mix in a new handful of petals every few days until you have enough. The dried petals can be saved in a dark-colored glass jar and stored in a cool, dark place to use whenever you want.

To make Sun-Soaked Midsummer Marigold Salve, you'll need these ingredients:

1/4 cup dried Calendula flowers
1/2 cup exta virgin olive oil
1/8 cup grated beeswax
40 drops lavender essential oil (Remember to use essential oil with caution!)

Put the dried flowers into a pint sized canning jar. Add oil and stir well. Cover with tight lid and set on sunny windowsill. When the oil turns a deep golden color, usually in about 2 weeks, strain the oil through several layers of cheesecloth or fine linen. Then, combine the oil with grated beeswax in a small, heavy saucepan. Heat gently to melt the wax, then add the lavender oil. Carefully pour mixture in widemouth glass jars, let cool, then cover tightly with a lid. Store in a cool dark place and it will be good for a year.


Marigold petals can also be eaten (they're rich in Vitamin C and phosphorus). They add a pretty dash of color to salads. KIDS--before you eat ANYTHING, always check with an adult first! And a special CAUTION: Since Marigolds are in the same family as daisies, chrysanthemums and ragweed, DO NOT use them if you have allergies to these other plants or ANYTHING in the Aster family.

Until next time, have a fun and healthy Summer! Bright blessings from Airmid, your Worts'n'All fairy friend!

by Gillian Green
Airmid by Morgaine du Mer

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Temperature

 Oregano was most perplexed, and Parsley and Thyme too. 
The temp at dawn was 33, by evening 82. 
"We don't know what to do!" they cried, "To bud or sprout or seed?" 
"Come on now, Dears," old Catnip mewed. "Summer's all we need." 
"We're much too small," the seedlings wept, "to be so cold, then hot! 
We think we're set to up and sprout then, suddenly, we're not!" 
And while they sadly shivered Summer's sun came into view. 
And so the garden fully knew what Nature meant for them to do. 
They soaked in Sun, and turned deep green, and grew, and grew... and grew.

by Patricia Obsidian
Art by Lindsey Becker

Friday, June 20, 2014

Think about keeping a dream journal...

Do you keep a Book of Shadows? It's always a good idea to keep track of any magical work that you do as it will help you to remember and connect information. A magical working that everyone does is DREAM. Think about keeping a dream journal, or if you keep a Book of Shadows, devote a section of it to recording your dreams. Recording your dreams can give you insight into things that are happening in your waking life. 

When you record your dreams, write them down in detail as soon as possible after waking. Don't worry about how the dream made you feel--just get down as many details as possible: exactly what happened, as well as any sensory details--sights, smells, sounds and physical sensations of touch--that you experienced. Draw pictures and maps. The important thing is to recall as much as you can.

After you get the specifics down, THEN explore how the dream made you feel. Write about why you think you had the dream--are there any connections you can make to things that are happening in your life right now? In the past? Did anyone speak to you in the dream? Do you think there is a message there? The more you focus on your dreams and recalling them, the better you'll get at it.

Start by giving this exercise a try...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Communicating with your familiar--Divine Feline gets you started!

Greetings, human kittens! It is I, the familiar code-named The Divine Feline, typing on the sly while my witch is out to provide you with an insider’s view of all things familiar. Now that we’ve covered the basics (What Is A Familiar?, How Do I Get A Familiar?, What Do I Name My Familiar?), it’s finally time for you and your furry/feathered/finned-whatever! friend to discover the marvelous, magickal ways you can work together! How exciting! My tail is twitching and I’m grinning like my famous Cheshire cousin over today’s lesson: How Do I Communicate With My Familiar?

A strong communication link is the defining trademark of a fabulous witch/familiar relationship! With practice, patience, and plenty of positive reinforcement, you and your familiar will be able to understand each other verbally and non-verbally (psychically). (I define positive reinforcement as the bestowment of a handful of Fishy Crunchies, but to each his own, I suppose.) 


An important note: whether you’re attempting verbal or non-verbal communication with your animal familiar, remember to approach them for practice only when they’re relaxed and happy. (Just as you don’t always listen your best when you’re tired/hungry/feeling cranky, neither will your familiar!)Now, let’s take a peek at some examples and exercises you can try!

Verbal Communication 
By now, you and your familiar have probably experienced, at least a little bit, how verbal communication works. You call them by name they look at you or come to you, right? They meow or bark or cheep, and you fill the food bowl or get the leash, right? VoilĂ , verbal communication!

You can increase your verbal interaction skills by repeating simple requests (“calm,” “stay”) getting increasingly specific with your wishes and their duties (“please bring me the large white candle,” “please don’t lick the salt I laid down for my circle”) as you make progress. (But, anytime you make physical requests, always keep in mind the physical limitations of your familiar’s form. My friend Tyffin the Tarantula can’t fetch anything larger than a cupcake candle--and even that takes him awhile.)

When talking to your familiar, use your normal speaking tone, and avoid using baby-talk and cutesy phrases. (Unless, of course, you’re telling them they’re “Mr.-Mystic-Pretty-Kitty.” That’s okay. Uh, I mean, for cat familiars who like that sort of thing…) And remember, verbal communication goes both ways. If you continue to respond appropriately when they voice what they want (“feed me”/”walk me”/”pet me”/”play with me”) they’ll do the same for you--take it from me!

Non-Verbal (Psychic) Communication 
With dedication and hard work from you both, you and your familiar can ultimately achieve an amazing extrasensory bond that transcends both sound and distance. (I know! Amazing, isn’t it?)

So, how do you achieve this level of awareness? The answer is practice, practice, practice! Here’s an elementary exercise to get you started:

It’s traditional for your familiar to be facing East when you attempt psychic communication exercises, but if they’re already resting peacefully along another compass point, it might be best not to move them. (Lounging on my window perch, I face North--and I loathe to be relocated once I’m all paws-tucked-in and comfy!) To begin, look your familiar in the eyes and project a word phrase (for example, “Blink if you hear me,”) or an appealing image (“Fresh salmon!”) and see if your familiar reacts appropriately.

When you do have that “they heard me!” moment, it’s your turn as the “receiver.” Praise your familiar, then immediately ready yourself for whatever they send back to you. As when it was your turn as “sender,” what you get from them could be in the form of a spoken phrase, or as an image. Just open your mind and see what you get!

Once you’ve mastered psychic communication when you can see each other, give it a try when you and your familiar are in separate rooms. Ultimately, you can work up to sending and receiving phrases and images over many miles! Really! It’s even better than cell phones! (I never can press those teeny little buttons right…)

Oh, hairballs! I hear my witch pulling up in the driveway already! Now I have to project “I was just napping! I was just napping!” and hope she doesn’t suspect what I’ve really been up to! Until next lesson, kittens! Have a divine time until we meet again...

By Ame Dyckman
Divine Feline by Steelgoddess