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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What do you see in the skies over Stonehenge?

Some people think it's a calendar (sort of), others think it's a temple, but one thing that most people do agree on--because it happens even today--is that Stonehenge is significant to the Summer Solstice, the longest day and the shortest night of the year. This year the Summer Solstice lands on June 21, 2014.  (Visit almanac.com any year to get the dates of all the equinoxes and solstices.)


CLICK HERE to print out a picture of Stonehenge to color. But wait--this is no ordinary coloring page. You'll notice that the top half is empty. There have been stories of angels, spirits, and even UFOs flying over Stonehenge (and other ancient sites too). Because Stonehenge is such a special place, you don't have to physically travel to be there (but, of course, it's nice if you can!). Look at the picture, close your eyes and let your imagination take you to the Salisbury Plain and see the stones rising before you... 

What do you see in the skies over Stonehenge?

by Natalie Zaman
Stonehenge coloring page adapted from the original from coloringp.com

Friday, June 6, 2014

Magical Lives ~ Laurie Cabot

“I return to the earth my wisdom and I call myself Witch!” So said Laurie Cabot after being anointed with oil, dubbed with a sword, and then impaling the sword in the earth, according to author Rosemary Ellen Guiley in her book, Witches and Witchcraft. At 16, she was initiated into the Craft. She beseeched the Goddess and God to help her realize her dream of teaching witchcraft as a science.

Born on March 6, 1933, in Wewoka, Oklahoma, Cabot displayed psychic abilities at six by discussing information she reportedly picked up through extrasensory perception. Because her father was a believer in science and did not accept the concept of a devil, Laurie learned an appreciation for science herself. After a move to Boston at 14 with her mother, she began studying comparative religions. While frequenting the public library, she met a woman who guided her away from Christianity toward other religions. Declaring herself a witch, she introduced Laurie to other witches who instructed her in the Craft. They initiated her, sending her forward on her journey of discovery.

This famous picture shows Laurie walking through the misty streets of Salem.

Laurie has two daughters; Jody was born in 1963, and Penny who was born in 1965. Around this time, Britain’s Sybil Leek had come out as a witch and garnered worldwide attention to the Craft. Leek wrote her bestselling book, “Diary of a Witch” and moved to the United States. Some have speculated that this might have sparked Laurie to action...

In the 1970s, Laurie started wearing the black robes and pentacle associated with witches, along with dramatic black eye makeup which Cabot insists is an ancient tradition. She was declaring her path. The town of Salem, although known for its witch history, was not understanding. Some residents, and even other witches, accused her of commercial exploitation and grandstanding, saying it was silly for her to believe “in all that.”

In this image from Boston.com, Laurie mixes up a potion.

She created the annual Witches’ Ball in 1973 to celebrate Samhain. Today it draws people from the world over. Also during this time, she was actively seeking to be declared the "Official Witch of Salem." The mayor at the time thought it was ‘improper’ and felt it would be a sort of publicity stunt for personal gain that would ‘demean’ the town’s historical reputation. However, in 1977 Governor Michael Dukakis, in recognition of her extensive work with dyslexic children, named Laurie Cabot The Official Witch of Salem.

Laurie opened several stores devoted to the Craft. Her daughter runs The Cat, The Crow and The Crown which Laurie turned over to her. It has become a popular tourist stop. The 1980s saw Laurie expand her range with the publication of her first book, Practical Magic: A Salem Witch’s Handbook. She also founded the Witches’ League of Public Awareness; an organization that is both media watchdog and civil rights proponent for witchcraft.

This picture from the Boston Globe shows Laurie in front of her shop, the Cat, The Crow and The Crown. You can still visit her first shop, Crow Haven Corner if you go to Salem today.

Laurie was dragged into the spotlight during the 1987 mayoral race after the incumbent, Anthony DeSalvo, made insulting remarks about witches and witchcraft. Another candidate, her friend Robert Gauthier, was accused of being a warlock (which, Cabot argues, is incorrect and derogatory; it means ‘oathbreaker’ in Scottish, having been forced upon males accused of being witches during the Inquisition). Cabot, says author Rosemary Guiley, “jumped into the race” to fight for civil rights and the misconceptions about witches. Her campaign received national attention but she later withdrew, citing book and business commitments. She served on the Chamber of Commerce executive board.

Through these events in her life, Cabot was perfecting what she calls The Cabot Tradition, which is a ‘pre-Gardnerian’ system incorporating her belief in science and “practical magic which adheres to the Wiccan Rede: Do what you will and harm none, and the Threefold Law of Return--everything one does returns threefold.” Witchcraft, she says, is never to be used to cause harm or destruction.

The Power of the Witch, one of Laurie's books.

Her most recent undertaking was the creation of Project Witches Protection, an anti-defamation organization which seeks to advocate on behalf of witches. She urges all witches to “fight for their religious freedom” and not to “hide.” After Practical Magic she wrote several more books; The Power the Witch and Love Magic (both with Tom Cowan), Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition (with Jean Mills and Karen Bagnard) and The Witch in Every Woman; Reawakening the Magical Nature of the Feminine to Heal, Protect, Create and Empower (with Jean Mills). Her website, www.lauriecabot.com, offers a glimpse of not only Laurie, but her daughters and friends, personal essays, calls for action, details on classes, workshops, Sabbats, readings and a list of “Do’s and Don’t’s” (i.e. Witches wear black because it “absorbs light information and helps witches be more receptive to psychic impressions and energies.”). It also offers glimpses and snips of her thoughts on political affairs, personal history and other concerns. Throughout her life, Laurie Cabot has been educating people, fighting for witches’ civil rights, defining her Craft and pushing for public acceptance of Witchcraft. This month (March), she will celebrate her 76th birthday and a life of service, study and sharing. Bright Blessings, Laurie!

By Charlotte Bennardo