Welcome

Merry Meet, all. This blog is the humble writings of a teen Pagan who merely wants a place to share with others of like mind. All are welcome here, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation. If you don't like me or my beliefs, kindly don't try and convert me. I don't need to spend my limited free-time arguing with anyone over religion, least of all random strangers off the internet. Have a wonderful day, readers, and blessed be! )O(

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21st, 2014

The last couple of days have been pure insanity, so allow me to catch you up on some of the Pagan things I've been doing.
On Thursday, my family went to a local Botanic Gardens for the afternoon. Besides lots of pretty flowers, I saw some things relevant to this particular blog:


This, if you can't read the sign, is Artemis Silver Sage. Sage is a wonderful herb of purification, and if you were doing a working with the Goddess Artemis or any of her sacred animals, it might be worth the research to find some at a garden center. Besides its purifying qualities, this particular Sage has the added benefit of having leaves that are positively downy with fuzziness.


There was this depiction of Pan on a dry fountain in the English garden.


Outside the English garden, someone had crafted a statue titled "The Guardian" with these massive Quartz crystals set in the center; the whole matrix was longer than my forearm. Whether or not the artist actually has the crystals empowered to act as a Guardian of the garden, I couldn't say. Nevertheless, one could absolutely use crystals around the home for protection as desired.


The three trunks in the center of this picture belong to an Alder tree. I immediately thought of my blog when I saw it, because for some unfathomable reason, my "Celtic Tree Month: Alder" post is still my most popular, with over 5,200 views at this time. Here's a photo of one such tree I can actually claim to have taken!


There was also a big grove of birch trees which I felt had to be included. Birch is sacred to many deities, and is particularly noted in Wicca as being a tree of the Goddess.
On Friday, I went downtown with a friend to see a showing of A Midsummer Night's Dream (it was brilliantly done), and Saturday was spent at the zoo. Yesterday was occupied primarily by church and work, and now, finally, I have a moment to sit an catch up.
As many of my followers are probably aware, I am off to college next month and have been scrambling to get things ready. On Saturday, I found a marvelous little couch at a garage sale for $20 that will be perfect for my dorm - I'm considering it a Goddess-given miracle. Additionally, I was able to get a bunch of books from the library yesterday, so expect posts in the near future regarding the metaphysical subjects I'm now perusing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16th, 2014

I decided I'd round out my Japan posts with photos of all the lucky charms (omamori) I bought from different shrines and temples. For the sake of scale, all of these are between one and three inches long.

From Itsukushima:


A general "good fortune" talisman, embroidered with the island deer.


A talisman for good luck in academics, taking exams, etc.

From Kinkakuji:


A "traffic safety" amulet, which I'm assuming extends likewise to safety during travel.

From Kiyomizudera:


A squishy little talisman portraying the god of business success.



A dragon talisman for good fortune.

From Jishu:


A talisman for improving "the luck in love of one's zodiac sign". I'm a Pisces.

From Meiji:


I was so worried that I'd lost this one because I couldn't find it the other day, but when I got my keychain holding all of these out to take pictures, there it was! This amulet promotes oneness of the mind and body.


The writing on this carved wood reads "kodama", which is the Japanese word for "tree spirit" (similar to the European dryad). These spirits of the forest are generally benign, unless their tree is attacked, in which case they may curse the person who cut it. According to the Meiji shrine website, these wooden bells are made from the wood of sacred trees which have finished guarding the shrine precinct and allow for the oneness of human spirit and nature.


And then there's this: my little desktop shrine for academic excellence.

All of these are definitely coming to college with me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15th, 2014

I got to go with my family and some family friends to a state park this afternoon, which made for a nice change from our usual schedules (not to mention VBS again this morning). We went to a huge forest/bog area alongside one of our rivers. It was cold for July (in the mid 60's) and we could tell a storm was brewing, but the sun was still out and the air was fresh. It was just really great to relax outside for once and see some wildlife (cranes, swans, egrets, butterflies...). Before we started out walk on the trails, I made a little offering to the local energies and asked that we have a safe, refreshing walk. I guess they must have heard, because the rain held off for something like three hours and then started the instant we were all back and buckled into our cars for the trip home!
If you're going to take a walk through a local park or nature preserve, consider making an offering of your own. It could be something as exquisite as a small gemstone or as simple as a crust of bread from your picnic lunch, a splash of water, or a bit of hair. It's a good way to introduce yourself to regional powers, or to strengthen existing relationships. That being said, you needn't spend your entire afternoon trying to establish contact with the intangible, either. There's plenty of magick to be had just in finding raspberry bushes, watching fat squirrels climb up tree trunks, and seeing little three-year-olds stalk a butterfly.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14th, 2014

This may be about to qualify as the worst week of the summer. It's that time of year again, ladies and gentlemen - the dreaded Vacation Bible School week.
Even when I was a cute little Christian girl who wore dresses to church every Sunday, I hated it: the campy songs, the pointless recreational games, and the (frankly bizarre) skits. Now that I've graduated the program itself to having to volunteer as a teen helper it's gotten marginally better, especially since I can just help in the arts and crafts room all morning, but the fact remains that there's overly-catchy VBS songs playing on a loop the whole three hours, and I have to stand there watching cute kids make cute crafts and then tell them that they're supposed to ruin what would otherwise be a nice project by plastering "I heart Jesus" on it.
Don't get me wrong: I wholeheartedly support religious freedom in this country and likewise understand that Christian parents feel it is important to see their kids brought up in the church. On the other hand, my mom is well aware of the fact that I don't do the whole Christianity thing, and I still have to do VBS in the summer and teach Sunday School during the school year. I do my best to humor her, but after fifteen years, its gotten a little old.
Usually, I can sort of muscle my way past the gag reflex because often the crafts are at least fun and can be made in such a way that you don't have to glue the pink glittery crucifixes all over them. In the past, I've ended up taking the VBS crafts and making things like a divination cloth, a hanging lantern for an electric candle, an offering basket for my Mabon altar, and the like.
This year, on the other hand, all the items in question look like they're going to be kitschy projects that are fun for six-year-olds for the five minutes after they get home before they get abandoned in the closet for the next evolutionary age. There's one thing that looks suspiciously like a prayer bead bracelet that may be redeemable, but after an entire morning of foam monkeys saying, "God's love is GIVING!!!", I'm about ready to hand in the towel.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Meiji Shrine

Of all the historical sites we visited in Japan, the Meiji Shrine was by far the newest, having been founded in 1912 to honor the Meiji Emperor's role in the Meiji Restoration. Construction began in 1915, and was completed in 1921. The original building was destroyed in WWII, but has since been rebuilt.


All of these are empty sake (rice wine) barrels donated to the shrine annually as an offering. The writing gives the brand name; many companies have been donating barrels every year since the establishment of the shrine.


The Torii gate is enormous. The three gold medallions are the Imperial Seal - sixteen petalled chrysanthemums, a repeating motif throughout the shrine grounds. 


This is the interior of the shrine.


These boards, called "ema", are available for purchase by patrons for the equivalent of $5 (500 yen); one writes a personal prayer or petition on it, and the following morning the shrine priests bless them and hang them on the displays around the tree. That rope around the trunk? It's a special Shinto decoration demarcating sacred space.


I was not exactly clear on whether the bonsai tree display was a year-round thing or if it was a temporary exhibit, but while I was there, the shrine was exhibiting lots of donated bonsais. This particular specimen was 300 years old.
Not exactly pictured is the forest surrounding the shrine, with hundreds of thousands of trees, all of which were donated and planted when the shrine was first established. It's an absolute delight to walk through. Not only is it stunningly beautiful, but you get a real sense of both history and magick, like the trees know something you don't and are whispering about it to each other. That's what I thought, anyway.
The Meiji Shrine had some of the coolest amulets, in my opinion, so I got a couple of them. One was a mini wooden shrine for improving academic excellent, another was a wooden sphere for the union of spirit and nature, and the third was a silver charm for the union of body and soul. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the latter; it's possible that it got mixed up in the packaging when I was taking my things out of my suitcase, which is somewhat upsetting. Still, I figure that if it's meant to come back to me, I'll find it sooner or later.

Astrology, Party-Style

I was at my friend's graduation party last night talking to her sister and her sister's parents when I found out that her stepdad, Bob, is a huge astrology buff. It was really interesting to sit and talk with someone who had taken chart-drawing classes and owns ephemeris and everything. We had a fascinating conversation about it, and it was really cool to meet someone knowledgeable on the subject! I only dabble a bit myself; I can draw a basic chart, but nothing especially fancy. He, on the other hand, was clearly an expert and could tell all sorts of things about me even just as I told him what signs my planets are in.
I never expected to get drawn into a discussion of metaphysics at a grad party, but it definitely made an otherwise lacklustre evening memorable!

July 13th, 2014

Black Tourmaline (aka Schorl)

Physical Characteristics: This is the only common mineral to form three-sided prisms, and the stone Tourmaline can be found in every color of the rainbow, different colors having different properties. Black Tourmaline gets its color by being rich in iron; pieces may exhibit reddish spots if the iron has been exposed to water.

In Nature: Tourmaline is a crystal Boron silicate found in Granite and metamorphic rocks. Heating or rubbing this stone causes it to develop slight electromagnetism, while Japanese research shows that even the smallest specimens always hold a constant electric charge of about 0.06 mA.

Chemical Composition: (Ca, K, Na) (Al, Fe, Li, g, Mn)3 (Al, Cr, Fe, V)6 (BO3)3 (Si, Al, B)6 O18 (OH, F)4
 Mohs Scale Hardness: 7 - 7.5 (middle-high)

Can be Found: Primarily Brazil, Africa, and the USA

Healing Properties*: Because it is such a powerful conductor of energy, Black Tourmaline is an excellent healing stone. Tourmaline wands are most often used for this purpose, but even chunks of the stone will do in a pinch. It soothes panic attacks, cures motion sickness, and reduces fear of the dark and/or confined spaces. If lustre of the hair and nails is a problem, one might consider using Black Tourmaline to repair keratin damage. The stone works with conditions of the lower back, legs, and feet, realigns the spinal column, and relieves pain caused by muscle strain, arthritis, and scar tissue.

Magickal Properties: Black Tourmaline is a scrying stone, but it is most famous for its protective qualities, of which it spans the full spectrum. It wards off negativity caused by people acting as emotional drains, shields against environmental pollution and electromagnetic smog, and purifies the mind and body of even the most severe negativity, including substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. Besides being protective, it is a stone firmly rooted in Earth energy which makes it an ideal grounding stone for meditation and healing.

Chakra Association: First (Root) chakra

Element: Earth
Energy: Projective

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!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jishu Shrine

Another exciting part of the Kiyomizudera Temple is the shrine built on the same grounds.

Jishu Shrine

Jishu is a shrine to Ookuninushi, the Japanese god of love and good matches (think Japanese Cupid). 


This is the entrance to the shrine itself; note the tell-tale Torii gate through which one must step to enter.


This is the shrine itself, in front of which are two rocks, placed six meters apart. It is said that if one can walk from one stone to the other with their eyes closed, they will find true love. A friend or significant other is permitted to help, which is especially good since the shrine is both small and very popular, so there are a lot of people to walk around. 
Jishu sells lots of love talismans; I bought a small red one with the Pisces fish on it to "improve the luck in love of one's zodiac sign". I'm a Pisces in Western mythology, and a rat in Eastern. Most Japanese zodiac memorabilia uses the Eastern animals, and frankly, I don't care for being a rat, so I was excited to see a Pisces charm and figured I'd get that one.

July 12th, 2014

Desert Rose


Physical Characteristics: These rose-like crystal formations have "petals" of crystal flattened along the "C Crystallographic" axis, fanning open in radiating clusters. Ambient sand is incorporated into the crystal, which affects the overall color.

In Nature: Desert Rose is formed of Gypsum, Barite, or Selenite. These clusters form in arid, sandy regions such as shallow salt basins where evaporation occurs. Celestine and other evaporites may also form Desert Rose.
(Some websites have tried to tell me that this is a stone formed at lightning strikes or by some other equally improbable means. Sorry, but I'm trusting Wikipedia on this one.)

Chemical Composition: CaSO4・H2O
 
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Desert Rose already contains water. DO NOT cleanse it in liquid, as it will dissolve. Some websites talk about making "Desert Rose Water", but I strongly advise against it.
 
Mohs Scale Hardness: 2 - 3.5 (low)

Can be Found: Tunisia, Algeria, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the USA (Barite Desert Rose is the state mineral of Oklahoma)

Healing Properties*: Use Desert Rose to shield against X-rays, radioactivity, and UV rays. Further applied, this stone will treat sunburn and similar skin conditions, or ease geopathic stress caused by nearby power lines or computers. It may treat acne or eczema.
 
Magickal Properties: There is a lot of BS on the internet about this crystal, and very little that is actually useful. For example, a couple of websites recommend it for warding off "redundancy". What? How is that useful to anybody? The irony of this particular "property" being listed in multiple places is not lost on me. Even my crystal books are markedly unhelpful. However, where minerals are concerned, let it not be said that I have no enthusiasm for research. 
I dug around a bit, and found some information that actually looked credible. Right off the bat, if you have a Selenite Desert Rose, all the properties of Selenite apply. The same goes for stones formed out of Gypsum or Barite. Moreover, Desert Rose clarifies thinking and calms the mind, making it ideal for use in meditation. It is a stabilizing stone, and is considered a helpmate in business transactions because it removes obstacles from one's path and assists in financial growth. Native Americans believed that spirits of the deceased carved these "roses", and so they are ideal for psychic magicks, communing with the Otherworld, and remembering one's ancestors. The stone has generally protective qualities, and will link the Sixth and Seventh chakras to initiate psychic experiences tempered by sensory experience. Meditating on Desert Rose may make multi-layered situations plainer to understand, and has a marked effect on one's dream state. If lucid dreaming, astral travel, or astral projection is desired, working with Desert Rose may ease the process.

Chakra Association: Sixth (Third Eye) chakra

Element: Air (This is my own association, owing to the stone's airy texture coupled with it's associations with the mind and receiving information. Those few sources that even list an elemental correspondence put it down as Fire, which to me doesn't make a lot of sense.)

Energy: Receptive

Planetary Association: Mercury (Also my own association, for most of the same reasons as above.)

*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!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Kiyomizudera

And you thought I was done talking about my Japan trip! ;) Not even close. It does give me a lot of blog fodder, though, so I may stretch it out just a bit.

Otowa-San Kiyomizudera

Literally "Clear Water of Mt. Otowa Temple", Kiyomizudera is another famous Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Founded in 778, before Kyoto was made Japan's capital, the temple buildings have been burned down numerous times. Most of the present buildings were rebuilt by the Shogun Tokugawa in the 1630s. In 1994, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as a historic monument of ancient Kyoto. 
Kiyomizu Temple is a stunning example of Japanese architecture and worship, but regrettably, I only have a few pictures since many of the buildings prohibit photography. 


This is the Deva Gate and primary entrance into the temple grounds. Devas (Ten in Japanese) are Buddhist entities who live on higher planes. They are invisible to the human eye, but those with special extrasensory capabilities may possess the power to hear their voices or see them psychically, or the spirits may take on an illusory form to manifest themselves on the human plane. Their powers include flying and moving from place to place with great speed; the more powerful varieties neither eat nor drink. Under the umbrella term "Deva", there are many varieties of spirit, each having their own abilities and place in the universe. They are arranged hierarchically and in this way could be considered comparable to angelic choirs in Christianity, but a Buddhist would likely caution one to not assume that Devas are equivalent to angels; indeed, some important distinctions exist that one should be aware of. For starters, Devas are not paragons of morality. They certainly can be, and many are, but it is not a requirement. Some possess human vices like arrogance or pride, and likewise they are not omnipotent. Furthermore, Devas are not immortal (though their life span may be billions of years), and they reincarnate just as all other mortal beings do in Buddhist belief. A Deva may come back as a human, another Deva, or something else altogether. It is not easy to work with this brand of spirit, as getting their attention is a challenge, but if they can be contacted they tend to give valuable advice and insight.


Remember the Komainu from Itsukushima? Here's another one, right outside the Deva Gate.


This one is not my picture. It shows the main hall of the temple and the terrace which provides a stunning overlook of the valley and of Kyoto beyond. In this hall is enshrined Kannon Bosatsu (remember her from Kinkakuji?) and I got to see a group of monks performing mass here as well as individuals making offerings and prayers.


This (also not my picture) is the goddess Kannon shown in her form of having 11 heads and 1,000 arms. According to legend, she saw all the misery and suffering in the world but could not answer all the prayers of her supplicants, so her head split into 11 pieces and now she has 11 mouths with which to answer. Likewise, her hands could not offer help to all of humanity, so her arms split apart and now she has 1,000 of them to aid her in her task. The Kiyomizudera statue is hidden most of the time; according to my research, it is only viewable once every 33 years.
The name, Clear Water Temple, comes from the fresh mountain springs which have been flowing since the temple was founded. There are three springs, and patrons wait in a long line to hold a bamboo ladle under the water and drink. Each spring has a different association - longevity, wisdom, and love - but it is generally considered bad form to drink from all three.
I did buy lucky amulets here, of course. One is a small figure of the "god of Business Success", and the other has a dragon printed on the fabric for good fortune.