Merry Meet, all. Hummingbird, here. 18-year-old eclectic Pagan who works primarily in stone magick and some energy work. Demisexual, with a wonderful girlfriend. Not currently following any deity(s) more specific than Goddess and God, but interested in many pantheons including Greek and Shinto. Attending college with end goal of a degree in Interior Design.

This blog is a digitalized record of my life as a Pagan. Here be spells, charms, meditations, notes on the properties of various magickal items, and my own personal experiences with my practice. Sometimes I post multiple times a day, sometimes it's once a month.

All are welcome here. Please, make yourself at home, and let me know if I can help you with anything. )0(

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26th, 2014

Lionfish Mermaid

A bit of Pagan art for you all. Pretty decent for my first time using Prismacolor markers, wouldn't you say? 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25th, 2015

One of my New Year's resolutions was to start keeping a dream journal again. It's a lot easier said than done - the last thing I want to do when I wake up is write, and I have to make sure to always have a notebook and pen next to me, because I want even less to have to get out of bed to write. That being said, when it's done consistently, the benefits of having such a journal are significant.

One result is that you begin to remember more of your dreams, and more frequently. A month ago, I was remembering almost nothing of anything that happened during sleep, whereas now, I can always at the bare minimum recall some major images and themes. More and more frequently, I find myself remembering dreams in greater detail, and sometimes even having multiple dreams in one night. This is, to reiterate the fact, after only a month. As a practice maintained, you can expect to remember your dreams in detail almost every night.

While interesting from a purely theoretical perspective, dreams can actually tell us a lot about ourselves, and by recording them, we can determine underlying patterns to our mental and physical health, among other things. To put this in context, allow me to explain first that I've been recording my dreams on and off again since middle school. As such, I have a lot of material to examine. Also, I have what I am finally self-diagnosing as a generalized anxiety disorder, which tends to manifest itself as OCD. Bearing these things in mind, I've realized over the course of several years that I tend to dream about water when my emotions are particularly strong about something, and that if I'm headed into a period of especially bad anxiety I dream about drowning. It gives me a bit of a heads up into my mental state and the chance to head things off at the pass, so to speak.

On the metaphysical end of the spectrum, recording one's dreams offers a lot of possibilities. For instance, it makes an interesting means of divination. There's all sorts of spells about placing a given herb under one's pillow to dream about a future lover or some such, but I generally go one simpler - often, a particularly vivid dream may give an indication of how the following day will go. Just two nights ago, I had a repetitive dream about triumph over obstacles, and then yesterday I aced the audition I had been worried about. Also, dreams may involve astral travel or meeting with deities and other spirits.

This barely touches on all the things one can learn; consider it my pitch to you to start a journal if you don't already. Sweet dreams...

Image source

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19th, 2015

Well, I go back to class tomorrow! My fingers are crossed for a good day; both of my Tuesday courses are ones I've been really looking forward to, so hopefully it will be a good time.

After spending about a month's worth of days working on it, I finally finished crocheting my Celtic knot shawl. The pattern is available for free here on Ravelry, if anyone is interested in giving it a go (you may have to make a free Ravelry account to be able to view it). I would rate the design as being of intermediate difficulty, although the knot pattern itself was very easy to follow.

According to the woman who posted the pattern, this design came from a book of Celtic knotwork, and symbolizes human interconnectedness and friendship.

I've always loved these seemingly endless pattern, but realized that I actually know very little about the history of their use. As such, I've done a bit of a Google search to learn more about Celtic knotwork.

These popular patterns, generally presenting a stylized image of a knot as opposed to taking a realism-based approach, are found in the Celtic style of Insular art. Insular artwork - also known as Hiberno-Saxon art - developed in the post-Roman history of the British isles. The name "insular" itself comes from the Latin "insula", meaning island. Most insular art comes from Celtic Ireland, beginning around 600 CE.

While the classic Celtic knot came about after the fall of the Romans, the designs may have been rooted in Roman patterns. In the 300-400s CE, knotwork began to appear in Roman mosaic floor tiles. Similar motifs are found in Byzantine, Coptic, Islamic, and Russian artwork of the same time period; given the growth of trade and cross-cultural exchange in this era, it seems probable that the geometric designs of the Middle East spread along the trade routes of the time and morphed eventually into the Celtic knotwork that we recognize today.

Most of our modern understanding of these Celtic art forms comes from its preservation at Christian hands. Therefore, what we know must be taken with a grain of salt, given the contemporary monks' tendency to try to appropriate local practices and erase any Pagan overtones. That being said, it is clear that prior to the Christianization of the Celts, their artwork consisted of predominately spiral, step, and key patterns.

These designs, and variations thereof, found their way into the illuminations of Christian manuscripts, as well as onto gravestones and other cross-bearing emblems. Much of the modern understanding of the knotted designs comes from the preservation of these pieces.

Lots of websites propose potential "meanings" for different styles of knotwork; however, as with much of the rest of Celtic history, few written records survive to document the actual intended symbolism. There is no evidence that I could find to prove a religious or philosophical association with the designs. That being said, a few relatively standard interpretations stand out. The first is the idea of eternity, which should be mostly intuitive, given the fact that the knots usually are endless. Also, associations with nature, man, and the elements seems to be the widely accepted correspondence. Published books on the matter are likely more authoritative on the subject than uncited sources on the internet, so I will leave it at that.

One design in particular that I will mention is the triquetra.

You may recognize this design - most Neo-Pagans probably do. This simple piece of Celtic knotwork is often used in Pagan circles to represent, for example, the Triple Goddess. In Christian circles, it is taken to represent the Holy Trinity. Many variations on the design exist; for instance, the intertwined circle in the image above may be a more modern version.

To my understanding of it, the usage of the Celtic knot has been so widespread and predominately secular for long enough that it is not cultural appropriation to use the designs in one's work. If I am mistaken in my understanding of this, by all means drop me a message.

At any rate, I enjoyed putting together this miniature history lesson, and hope that it has been informative.

Friday, January 9, 2015

January 8th, 2014

I thought I'd put out another book review, this time of I text I bought at a bookstore while in Iowa with my folks for Christmas. The title is Handfasting and Wedding Rituals: Inviting Hera's Blessing, by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein (2003).

I'd like to preface my actual review by saying that I really, really liked this book. It was incredibly inclusive and accessible, and altogether a thoughtful, well-composed read.

Never having seen a text solely devoted to Pagan weddings before, I immediately knew that this was going to be a take-home item for me. Regardless of whether or not I ever have a handfasting ritual of my own, the fact remains that I have multiple friends who might, and truthfully, it seems important to understand the wedding ceremonial practices of whatever religion one subscribes to. 

The book has a dozen or so subheadings, and the information therein spans everything from party favors and choices of incense to developing Quarter calls which won't freak out any of the non-Pagans in the crowd. In fact, that's one thing among many that the book does very well - developing level one, two, and three suggestions, the authors provide varying levels of Pagan over- and undertones. For example, if one wants a handfasting but also wants to invite one's extremely conservative Christian relatives, Raven and Tannin offer level one rituals wherein the Paganism is there, but it's subtle enough that it shouldn't cause an issue. If one is on the opposite end of the spectrum and wants a hardcore Pagan wedding with as much overt ritual as possible, they provide that, too, in the level three handfastings. Level two rituals are written to be somewhere in the middle - a bit of Pagan Lite, if you will - for people whose family and friends are generally supportive, but would be uncomfortable with an ultra-Pagan ceremony.

Another thing that the book does incredibly well is to develop rituals that any couple can participate in. If one or more partners has a physical disability, but would still like to incorporate the traditional jumping of the broomstick, Raven and Tannin provide accessible alternatives. For all those same-sex Pagan couples out there? Raven and Tannin have an entire chapter devoted to LGBTQ+ handfastings, with specific rituals for transgender, genderfluid, bisexual, and polyamourous couples, in addition to the commonly-acknowledged gay and lesbian relationships. Moreover, for those same-sex couples who want to incorporate the symbolic Great Rite in a way they can identify with, the authors provide solutions. Is your significant other of a different religion? Raven and Tannin take that into account as well, providing examples of how to blend wedding traditions across religious lines for Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and so forth. 

For all my fellow theatre lovers out there, have you considered including a bit of drama in your handfasting? If reenactment of mythological weddings (Hades and Persephone, Janet and Tam Lin, etc.) sounds like something you might be interested in, this book provides sample scripts, as well as ideas for costumes and props.

No book is ever perfect, but in general my criticisms here are minor ones. On occasion, the language used was probably more appropriate to the year in which it was published then present day. Couples may find that the substitution of a word here or there is the only change really necessary.

Also, it would have been nice to see a handfasting included for we Pagans on the asexual spectrum. So much of the language in our rituals, no matter which book one reads, focuses on fertility, sacred sex, and etcetera. I don't take issue with that - in many cases, the language is beautifully poetic - but it's not the intent of every couple to "get busy" after they're married. That being said, most of the rituals are pretty easily adapted by changing a handful of words, so it's not like it's a huge deal, either. 

Anyway, if you have any interest in learning more about handfasting in Pagan traditions, I strongly recommend you check out this book.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 7th, 2014

Hazelnut gave me a copy of this book as a Yule gift, and I thought I might review it here for anyone interested in learning more about the fairy peoples. You may recognize the format if you've seen other books by the same publisher, such as The Crystal Bible.

Title: The Fairy Bible
Author: Teresa Moorey
Date of Publication: July 1, 2008

I was impressed in general by the text's content; many similar books that I've read in the past just invent names of fairy species that aren't backed by any sort of history or lore. Granted, many of the texts I've read are intended for younger audiences, but even so. All entries in this book introduce the original mythology for the spirits, and some also give examples of how they have been reimagined in pop culture.

The book's categories are as follows: Water, Air, Fire, Earth, House, Flower, Tree, and Weather. Each category then has the related spirits, as well as information at the end of each section on meditations that can be done to contact these fairies. Most of them also have suggestions for the
 kinds of altars that could be established to attract the type of spirit in question, as well as to make your living space a more welcoming environment for them.

Most of The Fairy Bible's entries come from the folklore of Western Europe,
particularly the British Isles, and I was left feeling like the inhabitants of other cultures were rather under-represented. That being said, the book does incorporate entries for djinn, domovoiye, a few Native American entities, and a Japanese water spirit, so it did make some level of effort.

Still, some of what the author considered suitable content was questionable to me. For example, the book contained sections on several deities, including Pan, Brighid, Hermes, and others. While I certainly don't object to learning more about these Powers in general, it seems to me that it might offend said god/desses to be included in a book regarding Fey. This is not to say that Fey are lesser Powers - many of them certainly possess astounding capabilities - but it seems odd to me that deities which are never portrayed as fairies in their myths are then included in the book.

Not only that, but famous fairy entities that one would expect to see in a book like this - for instance, the illustrious Queen Mab - were hardly mentioned at all.

All in all, I thought it was a reasonably informative book, and most of its meditations and other exercises were well-composed, but buyers should be aware that some of the content is a little watered down, and parts of it come across as more of a "how-to-Pagan" than a strictly-informative guide to the fairy realms. Ultimately, know what you're buying. There definitely is quality information in it, but in places it takes a bit of digging.

I would call it, "fairies for beginners", and not, "the definitive guide" as the cover suggests.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 6th, 2014

Hey there, internet. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to A) remember that I have a blog and B) to remember to actually post things on it. Another one is to start keeping a dream diary again - so far so good on that one.

In any case, I do have some news! Quite a bit of news, actually. Most excitingly, I got together with Hazelnut last Saturday for the first time since September. We exchanged Yule gifts - she gave me a copy of The Fairy Bible (review to follow), and then we went over to Gypsy Haven. They've done so much with the place since I was there last, and the energy feels fantastic. While I could easily have emptied my bank account in there, I only made one purchase, albeit a significant one. The pendant, more or less identical to the one pictured, features a lemniscate (the infinity symbol) set with stones coordinating to the seven major chakras. Insofar as I can tell, the stones in descending order are Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Aventurine, Tiger's Eye, and two kinds of Agate, but those are my guesses only; the sites selling these over the web are incredibly unspecific. 

At any rate, I love it because the lemniscate is a symbol of neurodivergence, as well as an inside joke with my girlfriend, I love gemstones, I need more chakra-related jewelry, and it's also really satisfying to rub the smooth texture of the stones.

We hung out and talked at the store for a while with the owners, and then we all went over to the local drum circle. It was so nice to be back - I hadn't been in a year, at least, and everyone was so friendly, as always. It's truly a great opportunity to recharge my energy. One woman had a rain drum and thunder sticks that her husband had made her, so we closed the evening with a rainstorm drum session, and it was totally amazing. 

In conclusion, I really need to get back to doing more witchy things. I've missed this.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 28th, 2014

I love pottery! Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go over to a craft fair which was also selling raku pots that you could glaze and fire yourself. After picking up some organic soap, I got a little mini pot which I thought looked like a Japanese tea ceremony cup. I glazed it purple on the outside and green on the inside, and then sat and made friends with a really nice family there visiting their daughter. We got coffee together, and then I headed back to the courtyard where they were doing the firing.

This is my pot after I glazed it, but before it got fired.

This is the kiln. The pottery gets heated to 1800⁰ F.

After about an hour, the pottery is removed from the kiln while it's still red-hot.

The ceramic pieces get put inside garbage cans full of wood shavings. The lids are clamped on, and the heat of the ceramic sets the shavings on fire, generating a ton of smoke, The smoke finishes the chemical reactions in the glaze, giving the pieces their signature blend of colors, crackle, and iridescence.

My finished pot. These are not food safe, but can be used to hold water.

One woman, a craft shop regular, had numerous pieces she had made that she was glazing. This one came out rather black on the other side, and she wasn't happy with it, so she gave it to me because I thought it was gorgeous. Just look at the butterflies! So pretty.

I've added my bowl/cup/pot(?) to my altar, and to be honest, I'm super happy with how it looks. I hadn't been sure when I moved into my dorm if I'd be able to have anything really like a permanent altar since I didn't know what my roommate's attitude would be, but I think she's just accepted that I like shiny things and hasn't even questioned why half of my dresser is covered in crystals and has a chalice and a picture of pretty fairies.

It's so cute! Not sure yet how much seasonal decoration I'll be doing. I had to leave most of my usual things at home, so it'll require some ingenuity, certainly, but at least for Samhain, I'm sure there's plenty of places to get gourds or pumpkins around here.

My other vase I set on top of my microwave with my mask, because I'm a designer in training. Even microwaves need to look attractive, and if they have something vaguely theatrical or occult about them, well, so much the better.

If you've never done raku and you get the chance, I really recommend it. It's an ancient Japanese art form that combines all the elements in a manner which is really primal in its nature. The earthy clay, airy smoke, blazing fire, and water to cleanse the finished product are all united by human creative spirit. It's truly a serene art form, and the results are as unpredictable as the elements which go into its creation.

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 26th, 2014

I was reading through some things on Tumblr earlier this evening, and I noticed a few things. We are all constantly bombarded online, on TV, in newspapers, and in nearly every other form of media with a constant stream of stories about war, poverty, abuse, and environmental degradation, so much so that we begin to be afflicted by this miasma of anxiety and a sense of paralysis where the future of our society is concerned. At times, the daily injustices feel truly overwhelming. What these articles too often gloss over is the fact that we are not powerless. We do not have to wait for an ineffective government entity to get their adjectives together to make a difference.
There is a line which crops up with relative frequency in Pagan circles, whether it be in music or literature or ritual. "We are the people. We are the power. And we are the change."
Pagans and all the multifarious derivatives thereof are in a unique position to advocate and to manifest change in our lives.
We are the people.
If not us, then who? Pagans represent people of all genders, sexual and romantic orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, races, levels of physical and mental ability, religious upbringings, and geographic locations; we are quite probably members of one of the most diverse collections of religion in the world. If we will not advocate for equality between people, then who will? We all have suffered from prejudice in one way or another, and all too often we face many kinds of intolerance, for Pagans rarely fit the square peg of the traditional American (or European or Asian or African or etc.) lifestyle. It is in our hands to lessen that prejudice and to break down barriers. We may not always be able to alter people's minds where we ourselves are concerned, but we can absolutely stand up for the rights of others in our communities. If someone makes an offensive joke, call them out. If a person is getting picked on for who they are, help. You, you personally, as you are reading this, have that power.
We are the power.
Go back and reread that as many times as you need to. We are the power, and power is us. We work magick and enact rituals all the time. Who says rituals must be small? Who says that our power is finite, that we cannot stretch ourselves to the ends of the universe and back? I do not expect to do one spell and solve global warming. But I do expect that I can do a spell to solve global warming and know that my energies are going to further that cause. And if everyone does a similar spell of their own, think how much energy could be raised! Do big spells. Do little spells. Change the world one enchantment at a time. Bind and banish perpetrators of sexual assault and domestic abuse. Protect the victims. Do a finding spell to call home your neighbor's lost kitten. Enact a ritual to draw abundance into your whole community.
We are the change.
End of story. Remember that, when the negativity seems too dense. Through our efforts, magickal and mundane, we will and do change the world around us every day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16th, 2014

Ruby Aura Quartz

Physical Characteristics: These crystal points or clusters have an iridescent red sheen on the outside. If they are broken, the original Quartz coloration is visible on the interior. 

In Nature: All of the "Aura" crystals are artificially colored and do not exist in nature. In the case of Ruby Aura, Clear Quartz crystals are bonded in a vacuum environment to vapors of gold and platinum atoms, coating them in a metallic sheath. Many of these treatments involve the application of strong heat (hundreds of degrees) and may weaken the integrity of the crystal structure, making them brittle. As such, it is better to err on the side of gentleness when handling these stones.

Chemical Composition: SiO2

Mohs Scale Hardness: 7 (middle-high)

Can be Found: Quartz crystal is one of the most abundant minerals on the planet earth and can be found worldwide. Theoretically, Ruby Aura could be produced in any laboratory, but be aware that such crystals are usually produced only in small batches, and their availability may be limited.

Healing Properties*: Ruby Aura Quartz is primarily used to heal complaints of the lower back, legs, feet, and reproductive systems. It also possesses antibiotic properties, treating fungal infections and parasites.

Magickal Properties: These scarlet stones are linked to human vitality and passion. Employ their assistance to encourage intimacy in one's relationships. They also have protective qualities, particularly in times of upheaval, providing safety and security. A powerful helpmate for healing the Root chakra, Ruby Aura can be used (in tandem with proper psychiatric care) to overcome the deep emotional scars left by violence, abuse, or neglect. The stone will help its bearer flourish in any survival situation, even those which people choose recreationally (e.g. extreme sports, backpacking, rock climbing, etc.). 

Chakra Association: First (Root) chakra

Element: Fire

Energy: Projective

Planetary Association: Mars

*Magickal healing should never take the place of seeing a doctor and following any recommended prescriptions, actions, or other advice. Magick works best in tandem with physical efforts, anyway, so don't skimp on those check-ups!

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15th, 2014

So after buying a boat-load of crystals this last weekend, I've been trying to sit down and identify them and realized that I've never done a post about Amethyst. Really? But 'tis so. I don't even have an entry in my notebook about it yet. If that isn't a glaring oversight, I don't know what is. Allow me, then, to remedy this egregious error on my part with this:

Physical Characteristics: Amethyst occurs in colors ranging from pink to deep purple. It may also posses red and/or blue hues. These colors are products of iron and other trace elements in the silica structure, as well as natural irradiation. Artificial irradiation may be used to turn Amethyst into false Citrine.

In Nature: This crystal can be found in numerous forms, but most typically as clusters or geodes. Some underground caverns have been opened which are totally filled with Amethyst points.

Chemical Composition: SiO2

Mohs Scale Hardness: 7 (middle-high)

Can be Found: Brazil, Uruguay, South Korea, Austria, Zambia, USA

Healing Properties*: This stone may be employed as a pain reliever for conditions like arthritis. It also addresses diabetes, circulation, and fatigue, as well as asthma. Pregnant mothers may wear it to ensure a safe childbirth and to prevent miscarriage. Those who suffer strong premenstrual symptoms can get relief from an Amethyst. Although Amethyst can be used to accelerate the healing of illness and injury, its primary powers are focused on substance abuse. In fact, the name "Amethyst" comes from the Greek "Amethustos", "a-" being a prefix used still in modern English to mean "not" and "methustos" being "intoxicated". One myth describes how the titan Rhea gave Dionysus (Greek god of wine, theatre, and revelry) an Amethyst to preserve the wine drinker's sanity. In the 1500s, a French poet expanded on this theme by describing how Bacchus (the Roman version of Dionysus) pursued a woman named Amethyste, who refused his advances. The girl prayed for chastity, and Diana answered her, turning her into a beautiful white crystal, because this was how the Greek and Roman deities dealt with mortal problems. Remorseful, Bacchus poured an offering of wine over the stone, staining it purple. Whatever the origin of the crystal's association with liquor, it is a significant one which went so far as to influence some Christians - Western bishops may wear a ring set with Amethyst, alluding to Acts 2:15 wherein the Apostals manage to be sober at 9:00 in the morning for Pentacost. If overcoming alcoholism is one's goal, Amethyst is a tool which will work to your benefit. 

Magickal Properties: When I think "Amethyst", I think "calming". This stone is one of the most powerful emotional soothers in the mineral kingdom. Practically sedative in nature, it promotes calm, happiness, and contentment, easing anxiety and fear. It builds inner fortitude as well as flexibility, changing how its bearer responds to mental and geopathic stressors. With its extremely high vibration, expect Amethyst to clear negativity from the aura. A cluster set in a room will affect the energy of the entire space (I never put mine away!). Not only does this crystal soothe, but it also guards against danger, helping its bearer feel even more at-ease. Worn by travelers, it wards off those who may seek to take them at their advantage, while soldiers wear it to remain clear-headed in the heat of battle. If psychic attack in any form is a concern, Amethyst will divert the negativity. Powerful also in other psychic endeavors, use the stone to open the Third Eye, to meditate, and to lucid dream. Further prescribed uses include telepathy, past-life regression, clairaudience, and communing with spirits, angels in particular. The stone prevents insomnia, and is one of the best stones with which to banish nightmares, especially those which are recurrent. Dionysus was not just the god of alcohol - he was also the patron of the theatre and other visual and performance arts. His connection to the Amethyst therefore makes it an artist's stone, engendering creativity. 

Chakra Association: Sixth (Third Eye) and Seventh (Crown) chakras

Element: Water

Energy: Receptive

Planetary Association: Saturn

*Magickal healing should never take the place of seeing a doctor and following any recommended prescriptions, actions, or other advice. Magick works best in tandem with physical efforts, anyway, so don't skimp on those check-ups!

A side note:
There are other forms of Amethyst. For one example, check out the Ametrine tag. Another kind, which came in the box of assorted crystals I just purchased, is called Chevron Amethyst.

  • Physical: Alternating bands of white Quartz and Amethyst in a chevron (V) pattern.
  • Magickal: A powerful spiritual stone, and one of the best for working with the Third Eye. It deepens meditative states and opens access to higher realms. Any psychic venture will benefit from a Chevron Amethyst.