Magical Missive: Home Sweet Home Candle Magic

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles,

A little candle magic Magical Missive to get your December off to the right start. As we know the holidays can be a really stressful time for our families. We are busy, often we get sick during this season, we are spending more money than we usually do…and on and on. There are practical ways to navigate these challenges (hello Vitamin C – I see you), but there are also magical supports we can call on to help us address them as well.

One of my favorites? This candle rite for a peaceful, sweet, and loving home and family environment.

What you will need:
1 blue or beeswax devotional candle
blend of the following dried herbs:
• dried lavender flowers
• crushed vanilla pod
• dried pink rose petals
• pen & paper
• blue & white loose glitter
• olive oil or a ritual oil for peace and calmness in the home

Significance:
Lavender is a sacred flower that has been used in soothing and restorative remedies since at least the Middle Ages. Its calming properties care called on today in herbal medicine, homeopathy, and cuisines as well. It is sacred to many Goddesses and believed to bestow a level of protection on the home as well, especially when planted near the front door.

Vanilla Pod is both sweetening and warming and called for in many enchantments where the goal is to warm people up to each other so that they are kind, gentle, and loving towards each other.

Dried pink rose petals emphasize love, friendship, and the ability to get along with each other.

Glitter to decorate your candle and make it pretty!

Ceremony:
General Instructions for dressing devotional candles ~

If you are working with a paraffin candle, poke holes in the top of it – I like to make 3 or 4. You may use an ice pick, screwdriver, knife or other tool for this.
If you are working with a beeswax devotional candle as I do, then you are going to have a much harder time poking holes into the candle. Instead you may proceed without the holes.

Combine your herb mixture. Sprinkle 2-3 pinches of your herb mixture onto the candle.

Drop 3-4 drops of oil onto the top of the candle.

Add any curios like clear quartz crystal chips, small chunks of rose quartz, or a light drizzle of honey and finish with glitter.

Note – you do not want to “drown” your herbs in oil nor do you want them to be so dry that they catch fire when you light the candle wick.

Write out your petition and anoint the petition paper with the oil you used to dress the candle.

Place petition underneath candle, bless the candle with focus and sincerity for the manifestation of your desire.

Knock the candle 3 times to “seal” it, and then light it, allowing it to burn undisturbed.

Obviously do not leave a flame unattended unless it is in a fireproof container.

Final act:
After your candle has finished burning, you may look at it and see what shapes you find in the glitter and debris. These may be construed as signs and give you information as you work to read the candle.

And, if you liked the above candle recipe or this one for fast action, then you might really like the Lunar Lights candle service. A candle lit on your behalf, with your specific petitions and intentions, every month on the full moon.
Order here. Deadline to order is December 7th.

Wishing you a blessed (and sweet!) season!

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missive: Nailed It!

Alchemy and Magic

M

iracles,

While much of magic is concerned with change and transformation there are also times in life where what we are seeking after is less change, less movement, but rather stability and certainty; times when we want to nail it! In these cases we can turn to a special family of rituals that center around the act of nailing or pinning something down, fixing it to a point of stillness and (semi) permanence. My favorite example of this from childhood is Peter Pan’s need to fix his shadow back to himself, that is a storybook case of nailing something down.

Outside of fairy tales, when we encounter a situation, like a great new job or a piece of land we feel called to protect, that we want to stabilize and keep fixed to ourselves, then we are ready to enact this kind of magic. As Sacred Artists and soulful seekers though we always begin our outer magical work with some inner questions both to help us gain clarity about what we are actually trying to accomplish and to enable us to write the best petition for our ritual work once we are ready to move forward with it. Before nailing or pinning anything down it is important to get clear on what it is exactly that you want to nail down and why. For instance, you may want to nail down a piece of land that has been in your family for many generations that one of your siblings wishes to sell. If your intention is to nail down the piece of property and then live on it and/or maintain it in perpetuity then all is well, but if your intention is to nail down the property and then sell a few years down the road at a higher rate then be aware that once you have nailed down something it is deeply connected to you and selling, getting rid of, or exchanging the nailed down item for something else may be quite complicated. This is because when we magically work to nail something down we are actually expressing through ritual a deep and abiding commitment to whatever it is we want to stabilize and secure. That commitment works both ways – if done properly the nailed down item will be stabilized and secured and/but you will also be on the hook and responsible for it going forward. For this reason it makes sense to only nail down things that you really can consistently show up for and be committed to.

What can be nailed down:

Land – in the oldest rites for nailing or pinning down something – rites which we can find world over in various forms – land, and later, homes, are usually the first items that are secured. A piece of land may be nailed down so that it remains in a specific community or family line forever. A home may be nailed down so that it remains connected to a specific piece of land, individual person, entire community, or specific family line. Because in so many cultures even today obtaining “ownership” or stewardship over a piece of land is a mark of success and viewed as the beginning of a new and better life, the act of nailing down a piece of land and/or any dwellings upon it is still quite popular. During the housing crisis in America I saw a spike in my own practice of people asking to have their land or property nailed down so that it would not go into foreclosure or so that, if it had, they could get it back.

Jobs – Like land and homes, many of us have an ideal job and once we attain it we may choose to stabilize the situation by nailing it down. This is usually performed with high earning jobs or dream jobs. It is not advisable for jobs where there is room for promotion and advancement because when you nail down a job you nail down that specific job and position, often making later advancement more difficult for yourself. In certain cases the intention may be not only to nail down the job but also to nail down the moment when the individual is at the height of their earning potential, so if you love your job and know that you are making as much money as you can possibly make from it then you might consider nailing it down.

Relationships – There are some relationships that can very much benefit from being nailed down. Typically these are not romantic in nature but beneficial in some specific way, such as a mentor/mentee relationship or a relationship between a source of spiritual support (like a minister or priestess) and an individual who is unstable and trying to become more stable, such as an addict. Another situation where I have seen relationships positively nailed down is between individuals who are chronically ill or differently abled and a medical team that they have a great rapport with. The risk that nailing down a relationship runs is that the relationship becomes stagnant, outdated, and is then difficult to move on from when the time is right. For this reason while nailing down relationships that need to be fixed and stable is tempting, I always prefer (and advise) that people work with something less coercive (like a sugar jar).

Health – Good health can be nailed down as can a certain level of fitness, youth, or even an ideal weight. Again, think carefully and feel into the situation before taking action. If you are one of those people constantly seeking to improve your health, appearance, or waistline (I’m looking at you Virgo) then nailing down a specific moment in time will frustrate you as it becomes difficult to improve upon it. If, however, you have just come out of cancer treatment and received the good news that you are cancer free then you may well want to nail down that moment.

Finances – One of my friends used to run a hedge fund on Wall Street and he told me that everyone should have a number, a financial, monetary number, that once reached is enough. Everyone’s number is different of course depending on what your needs actually are but everyone should have one. If you know your number then when you attain it you may want to nail it down, ensuring that you do not go past it or dip beneath it.

Identity – While in most cases a sense of semi-fluid and shifting identity is beneficial and keeps us from becoming overly fixed into a single way of being or too rigid, in some cases an individual really will benefit more from a definite and fixed sense of identity. This can be a very useful magical support for people who experience a regular loss of a sense of self due to external events that they only have limited control over or internal situations (such as mental disequilibrium) that they are actively working with and treating. For minority and disenfranchised groups there is a great deal of work to be done around reclaiming a healthy and proper sense of personal as well as group identity so when that work is done and an individual feels that they have really uncovered and reclaimed their true, essential self, they may want to nail that down as well.

Mastery – Skill building and development when practiced consistently can lead to mastery. While true masters are the first to tell us that they never stop learning, there are certain times when individuals may want to nail down a specific skill that they have mastered so that they have access to it going forward. The challenge with this is that it can keep you from expanding your knowledge and learning even more.

Accountability situations – a new exercise regime, nutrition plan, daily practice, or any kind of situation where you want to be disciplined and accountable is also game for being nailed down. Again, the limitation here is that if the system stops being supportive or needs to be changed in some way then it becomes much harder to do that.

Baneful situations – occasionally in our lives we experience malevolent energies, evil situations and/or people that need to be nailed down not so that they are stabilized but rather so that they are immobilized and cannot harm any longer. Some traditions refer to this as binding and it can be done as a literal binding but in situations like this we can also work with nails to great effect.

Tools for nailing down:

Old railroad spikes – these are the big spikes that are used to connect and nail down railroad tracks. They are worked with almost exclusively in nailing down pieces of property and/or physical dwellings. Railroad spikes are especially valued for this kind of magic because they are made of iron which is an incredibly magical material. You cannot pry them out of railroad tracks because that will make trains derail. You can pick them up along side of the tracks although technically that is illegal unless you have the permission of the railway company. You can also purchase them from some spiritual suppliers.

Old Iron Nails (usually square cut) – these are old fashioned nails used primarily in wood working that can still be found at a good hardware store, on the web, and in stock with certain spiritual suppliers. they are usually made of iron which as stated above is beloved for its magical, specifically protective qualities. Iron nails can be worked with in place of railroad spikes when the land or dwelling that needs to be nailed down is smaller or the nailing down needs to be more subtle.

Pins or Needles – Pins or needles can be worked with in nailing down items from all of the above categories with the exception of land or dwellings. Silver pins and needles are the best to work with but any kind can do in a pinch.

Coffin Nails – these are exactly what they sound like, nails that were used in the construction of a coffin. Coffin nails are worked with when a baneful situation is being addresses or when someone wants their ancestral lines to support them in their work.

Techniques for nailing down:

Land/home – When it comes to nailing down land and/or a physical dwelling the process is pretty straightforward. In the case of a physical dwelling you will need to note every corner of the dwelling – so many houses have four corners but some have more, depending on the shape and size of the house. You are looking at the outer corners of the home, the ones you can see when you walk around the building. In the case of a piece of land you need to note the exact shape of the lot and how many corners it has.

Once you know how many corners you are working with procure that number of railroad spikes or iron nails.

During sunrise go out and begin placing spikes in the ground at the corners you have noted. The spikes need to go into the ground and should be driven in all the way so that only their tops flush against the ground. This may take some preparation on your part as you may need to deal with materials like concrete or asphalt that cannot have spikes driven into them with ease. There is no workaround for this – if you want to nail down the property or dwelling the spike or nail needs to go directly into the ground.

As you nail in each spike recite your petition or prayer. You can pray straight from your heart or you can use the following petition:

Blessed Ones in whom I live, move, and breathe. From you all emerges and unto you it shall return. Aid and assist me as I work in nailing down {name whatever you are nailing down} so that it is safe, secure, stable, and bound to me as I am bound to it ever more. May it be so/amen.

Move in a clockwise manner until all nails have been nailed into the ground.

Within the now nailed perimeter find a healthy tree and make an offering of fresh water to the tree, thanking the land spirits for working with you.

At this point, cultivate calmness and then go into a light trance and ask the land spirits if there is anything they need from you to keep the land/property safe. They may ask for something specific. If they do and if you agree to provide it to them then you can leave a bit of the offering on each of the nail heads. For instance, if the spirits of the land ask for tobacco you can leave a pinch on each nail head, if they ask for water you might pour a bit over each nail head.

Activate the protection and permanence of the nails by sprinkling some of your urine on each nail. This may sound gross but it is an old school and still widely practiced (believe me here) way of marking a specific territory as yours.

Note: in my experience and the experience of my clients you will have the best working relationship with a piece of nailed down land or property if you go into that relationship with the attitude that you are a caretaker or tender as opposed to owner.

 

Everything else – In all of the other cases the nailing down process is slightly different. You will need a picture of yourself and then something on a piece of paper that represents whatever you wish to nail down. So for instance, if you want to nail down a job then you need a current picture of yourself and the job title. You will do this work at the base of a healthy and vital tree.

Write your full legal name over your picture three times.

Align your picture with the paper that has the image or words describing whatever you are nailing down on it so that your picture faces inward towards the image or words describing your target. (Pro tip: use a bit of honey to stick the two pieces of paper together so that there is sweetness).

If you have personal concerns you want to work with for this such as hair or nails then you would place them in between the two pieces of paper.

Place the papers on the ground in front of the tree. Once you are ready, pray out loud or use the petition given above.

If you are working with an iron nail then drive one single iron nail through the center of the papers until the nail is all the way into the ground.

If you are working with pins or needles drive one down in each of the four corners of the papers and then a fifth in the center of the paper until they are all the way down in the ground.

Cover up the paper packet with dirt. You may work with graveyard dirt from an ancestor if you would like to include your ancestors in on the work.

Cover up the area so that the papers are well and truly buried in the ground. Thank the tree and make an offering of fresh water to it. Cultivate calmness and then go into a light trance to find out if there is anything else the land spirits might need or ask of you before you depart.

Baneful Situations – If you are nailing down a baneful situation or toxic person then the intention is to restrict and immobilize said situation or individual so your petitions and prayers will be modified to reflect that. This is where you would employ coffin nails if you wish to call on the aid of the Beloved Dead to assist and support you in incapacitating the predator/predatory situation. In this case you would not work with an image of yourself (or any of the victims of the individual/situation), rather you would work with an image or written description of the situation and you would take the paper to a graveyard.

For work like this I was taught to seek out the aid of a departed spirit who was a solider in their living life – a good soldier or in some cases an honest law enforcement officer. If you have ancestors in your family line who were either then you can work directly with them, if not then you will need to do some research and feel into the various spirits at the graveyard to determine who is willing to work with you and what they might want in return.

Once you have done that work you can take the paper to the grave of the spirit you are working with.

If you have personal concerns fold them up into the paper, then place it on the ground approximately where the departed person’s feet would be – this placement is symbolic of your spirit helper bringing the individual or situation you are seeking to immobilize “to heel”.

Drive a coffin nail into each corner of the paper and then one into the center of the paper until the nails are flush against the ground.

Cover over the paper with extra dirt from the graveside.

Leave an offering of fresh water, plastic or fresh flowers, and coins to thank and pay the spirit for helping you in your endeavor and if anything else was promised to the spirit, then make sure you pay it. After this kind of work it is always a good idea to follow up with a spiritual bath.

Working with spikes, nails, pins, and needles is often considered more coercive magic, there is an edge to it, a forcefulness that some do not appreciate or approve of. I can understand the hesitation but I love this kind of magic precisely because it makes us get really clear about what our intentions are and why we are doing what we are doing. There are moments and places and times where we need to be more solid, fixed, stable, and sure-footed, where we need to know that we are both protected and stabilized, this is the magic that speaks to those needs. It is old, simple, deeply practical, and accessible to all. So don’t be afraid to go out and nail it!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Volume One

Learning and Community

M

iracles,

Welcome to the newest series I call Hearth and Home. You will be able to find it posted here on Canto, and sent with love to the Lunar Letter list. (Join in the fun here). The picture to your left is a drawing by my almost-seven year old son, Jasper, who wanted me to share it with all of you. And so it is that sharing is the theme of this new series.

First of all, I want to extend a warm thank you to so many of you. Everyone I have had phone conversations with over the past month has asked me how I am doing on the book and how I am feeling in my pregnancy – to say nothing of the private messages I have received on FB, Insta, and Twitter. They mean the world to me.

Writing a book and being pregnant at the same time have become for me deeply intertwined experiences. In brief, I am now five months pregnant, and my official due date is June 11th – right around the time the manuscript is due for Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary, to be published by Sounds True, in 2019.

The journey to get to this moment has been eye-opening and tremendous, and it has encouraged me to share more openly than I usually do with all of you miracles.

If we were visiting in person, I would invite you into my home, ask you to sit at my hearth, and I’d serve you Topo Chico with lime, if it was a warmer day (which usually it is); or the tea of your choice or strong coffee roasted in high mountains.

Coffee, I should add, is a sort of medicine for me – not to help me wake up, but to help soothe my asthma. I actually don’t drink a lot of it; I nurse one cup slowly, the Arabic way I like to think (a nod of appreciation to Philz Coffee in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose charming owner is from the Middle East. They are a pretty famous outfit now, but when I started going, you could still see Phil in his awesome fedora working quality control – the BEST).

When I say strong coffee, y’all, I mean it. None of this new-fangled, hipster, light roast for me – no thank you! The blacker the roast the better in my opinion, and my favorite is the Tres Estrella blend (Three Stars for those of you non-Spanish speakers) from Ohori’s Coffee in Santa Fe.) All of this is to say that you should not be surprised if, after an hour of this make-believe conversation, it would seem as though I have barely touched my coffee at all. I’d be asking you tons of questions (those of you who have had readings with me or worked with me one-on-one should be nodding your heads right now) and my darker-than-the-deepest-night roast coffee would be cold and forgotten!

I like to ask questions. At the end of the day, you will discover that one of the deepest truths about me is that I am a lover of learning. One of the most important things this means to me is that I do not have all the answers. I often tell my students in the Miracle Tree Sessions and Spinning Gold that I am learning right beside them – that’s not just a thing I say – it is something I deeply believe and know to be true.

Sometimes I encounter newcomers in my community who think of me as an expert or a guru of some kind. As Jasper would say: no way! Our intuitive gifts and our Sacred Arts practices do not give us a right to omniscience nor to omnipotence, and, in my opinion, it’s better that way: life is much richer and more overflowing with surprises, wonder and goodness. Our gifts are the very expression of soulful seeking after beauty, truth, wholeness and holiness. If we had all the answers already, there would be no need for these gifts in the first place!

Every day and all encounters, in every way, present little opportunities for learning, and this experience is part of the warp and weft of not only my own life-tapestry, but my family’s as well, and my Sacred Arts practice.

As I was thinking about my desire to share with all of you the various happenings, then, I decided that I wanted these more personal posts to reflect most of all this sense of a living learning that makes up my actual life and practice. And I really want to do this with an eye to the end of giving all of you a glimpse of the way one gal, a Sacred Artist, interprets the meaning of living an enchanted life from the inside out, as well as offering a sense of the Sacred Arts in action, in the glorious mess and chaos and wild beauty that is life right here and right now.

So, for those who are interested in the more personal aspect of the Sacred Arts, I invite you to grab the beverage of your choice, kick back, and get comfy. Whatever else I may be accused of, brevity is not on the list!

The story for the past few months begins at three or four am, when I rise every morning to begin writing. I have always been an early riser (and now with a one pound jelly bean shifting and twirling during wee hours, it is especially easy to get up) and so sitting down to write before everything else just made sense.

The house is quiet. The moon, in whatever phase she inhabits, shines through the window at my desk, and after I write, I perform my morning devotions, which involve rituals, chanting, prayer, and magic. As I write, I sometimes seem to sense the little one saying to me “Um, really Mommy? That sentence just will not do”, or “Oooh, that’s a good one!”

You might be interested to learn that I am handwriting the first draft. Yes, that’s right: handwriting. It is nearly finished, two chapters to go. There will be many more drafts to come, but the work has been steady and swift – every morning the next batch of pages, one after the other. I find that for me, handwriting the book at this early stage makes up in feeling, depth and clarity of thinking for what it may lose in terms of speed and efficiency.

Once the entire manuscript has been handwritten, I will then type it out, molding it in slightly different ways as I do so, and then begin on the second draft. (A wise old teacher once compared this stage of the writing process to a momma bear licking her cub into shape.) Writing in this way is also easy because if I lose electricity – which actually happened a few times this Winter in San Antonio – or if a new idea comes to me, I just write it down. My handwritten pages are already festooned with hot pink post-it notes. It is all very high-tech.

The idea of handwriting the first draft actually began with a fiasco. At the end of December’s Mercury Retrograde, my seven year old laptop took a tumble and, as the Ancient Greek poet Homer says, bit the dust. In an instant, without a threnody of underwater goddesses to support me or announce the departure, I discovered that I had lost the nascent files I had created for the book. Oh, there was a moment of despair! But then, I realized that I had actually handwritten the pages first. So I went to my three ring binder and saw that, indeed, the pages were still there in my spidery scrawl. No batteries or plugs were needed to access them; and, as long as I keep the sheets protected from the elements, they have just what I need to make the most solid start I can muster. And from that point, I haven’t stopped.

In my course Spinning Gold, I refer us to J.R.R. Tolkien  “eucatastrophe”, a narrative element he identifies in Fairy Tales. This tumble-down topsy-turvy destruction of my old trusty laptop is a little example of eucatastrophe, because – as a result of this loss – not only did I discover a better way to approach the writing of my book, I also decided to replace my laptop with a desktop which is much better for my posture and my health (my dear friend Theresa Reed – the Tarot Lady – who also happens to teach yoga was like: DESKTOP. NOW. She is wise). Handwriting the first draft has also cut down on my screen time, which has been very healthy for me and for the wee one.

So both the book and the baby have forced me to take a fresh look at some of my daily habits. This, my friends, is one of the first steps of Sacred Arts in action; one that I have seen many of you do as well.  For me, as I have been writing the book, I have felt the need to allow my own ideas their own space, silence, and time for gestation and deep metabolism.

Reading too much, or the wrong things, taking in information without proper discernment, can muddy those waters. One becomes more sensitive here. Actually, our community of Soulful Seekers is full of sensitive folks – those who feel deeply, who take external information and stimulus in a deeply internal way. For me, as I felt a growing sensitivity occur on multiple levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, one of the biggest changes I’ve made has to do with my intake of news. My habit was to look at various news items on the internet, or an app on my phone, just as a matter of convenience.

I started noticing that I never really spent any time with any one of the items. Glancing, skimming, here and there, working with the general, most vague impressions of things. How could I not feel ashen blooms of anxiety on a regular basis? I want to be an informed citizen AND there had to be a better way, other than exposing myself to huge amounts information, without being able to process or digest any of it effectively. I also noticed that in my community my students were experiencing something similar – so many of us are on media and social media overload these days.

So now I have put a stop to all of this glancing and skimming, and have migrated offline to ‘slow’ media and long form writing – to my favorite weekly periodical the Economist, a British publication.  I’ll work through it, slowly all week, from cover to cover.

I don’t agree with everything there, but I like the style of thinking and reporting, its global scope and comprehensiveness. When I have the time to take a short break from my writing, my teaching and counseling work and my devotions, I grab my strong coffee, usually in the afternoon (which I still haven’t finished, by the way, and since it has grown cold, I ask my sweet husband to warm it up for me); I turn everything off, I slow down and I take my time. I am happy to report that this way of approaching the news – looking to offline sources of long-form writing and analysis – has promoted some very good ‘mental’ digestion – has helped to build a kind of psychological toughness, and promotes the development of knowledge rather than merely fleeting impressions of things. I do the same thing with fiction – right now I am reading the Antelope Wife  by Louise Erdrich.

Once you begin to look at the basics, there is no stopping. One thing leads to another. We pay attention to one place and others unfold. (This is why, by the way, I teach about and encourage the interrelationship and wholeness that holds between all of the Sacred Arts.)

So I’ve also become aware of some unhelpful ideas when it comes to book writing. I know many of you are writers yourselves, and probably a few of you would like to publish a book one day too. One of the ideas I had when this process started was that I would have uninterrupted days where for hour upon hour all I could do was write. Conversely, is the fear that if we don’t have long stretches of uninterrupted hours, there would be no way I would ever finish the work.  But after actually having a few of these halcyon days of zero interruptions over the Winter, I realized that, for me at least, having long stretches of time to do nothing but write was a kind of hell.

I love writing so very much. But I also love and have a duty to teach my Spinning Gold and Miracle Tree students, I love my one-on-one sessions, I love creating ritual and ceremony for my Witch In Your Pocket and Lunar Lights clients, and so on. I love every part of my work. I realized I have watched it feed and nourish the writing in some unexpected ways. It turned out, devoting all my time to writing choked out one of the more important sources of inspiration for my writing, which, after all is said and done, is all of you. What I discovered is this: I don’t need all of the time, I just need the right amount of time.

As I tell a story of magic with pen on paper there is another magical tale growing inside of me. I am one of those lucky and blessed women who seem to have easy pregnancies (though I do feel that I made up for it with my first labor which was thirty-six plus hours). This pregnancy has been markedly different from my first, because now it is not just two who are affected by the little one; it is also our first child, Jasper.

This pregnancy is also different because I am thirty-seven, whereas I was twenty-nine when I was pregnant with Jasper. During my first pregnancy, I discovered how pathologized pregnancy is, at least here in the US (I cannot speak to other traditions in other places). You are often made to feel almost as if there is something wrong with you for being pregnant – that you are fragile and must be hawk-eyed by every doctor and nurse, that you require many medical personnel doing medical things around you all of the time. Because of some of the health issues in my family, my husband and I both chose to have our first child and this next child in the hospital. And I love my Ob-Gyn – she is the bees knees and does not make me feel like a sick person at all.

But, the culture around pregnancy and pregnant women has A LOT of shifting to do and that is ESPECIALLY true if the woman is over thrty-five. As I reflect on this, I think there are bigger ramifications that it speaks to. I wonder if this is part of what happens when we have any kind of liminal experience, which pregnancy and birth definitely are; but so are others, like divorce, physical illness, recovery from addiction, or mental breaks – each of these events have undeniable physiological realities and may require medical treatment and intervention.

But to think that the only reality they carry is medical – that there are not other, more subtle realities also at work and that there are not other, more magical treatments and supports that are also appropriate – seems very short sighted to me. It does not gel with any of the traditions that I am familiar, nor with ones deepest sense and experience of things. A pregnant woman needs both her physical and metaphysical needs attended to in various ways. She also has a specific kind of access to magic and the liminal that can be of benefit not just to her, but can and should be to the benefit of the entire community. So yes, lots of room for improvement here.

Of course when Baby Saussy (whom we are calling Sausalito for the time being) kicks and moves and twirls and tumbles, I am not concerned with the fact that large parts of the culture pathologize pregnancy. I am much more interested in talking to the little one, engaging in my morning rituals of prayer and chant and magic, and writing up some information on making magic that supports conception, safe pregnancy, and then the wonderful, wild, ride that is being a parent.

I am also deeply aware, even more than usual, of the large percentage of our community who cannot or have chosen not to have children. I have written to you all before and I know that for many of you, reading this brings up all the stuff – excitement and love for me and my family (which I am so grateful for) but also sadness, depression, even anger too. I get that. I want you all to know that when it comes to this momma, you are seen, you are beloved, and you are held as precious. My beloved and I are so grateful that our boys have a large community of men and women who they can call on for guidance, inspiration, mothering and fathering in all of the different ways that mothering and fathering can and do happen. You all are a vital part of our lives.

When it comes to magic, my big effort over the past month has been to say thank you. I was gifted with a wonderful gratitude jar and card set for Yule. Every day I write down something that I am grateful for and I also text it to my best girlfriend. Sometimes the things are what you would expect: grateful for a healthy baby, grateful for an amazing husband, and sometimes they are not: grateful for pain that gives me information, grateful for hot water – what an incredible luxury that is!

On the 1st of January I created a big gratitude altar for my Holy Helpers complete with tons of flowers and good candles and their favorite foods. I did not ask for anything. I just spent time saying thank you for what has been given. It felt so good. The shifts felt in my life and family over the past thirty days because of that practice have been noticeable and it is now a regular part of my monthly rituals.

So ending this first letter on that note seems just right to me. Some things that I am grateful for right now and that I would love to share with you:

My beloved husband and the amazing not for profit he runs alongside managing all of the operations for my business.

My son’s fantastic art making (see above) and the fact that I get to live with artists and musicians.

My allowance of one cup of coffee – which I will shamelessly nurse throughout the day and ask my husband to heat up for me again and again and again.

Really cute kittens. 

This book.

This service.

This blog.

The fact that Tarot and Photography are talking to each other.

Open roads.

And each one of you.
In love and magic,

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Purify, Protect, and Bless: How (and why) to make a Salt Jar

Ceremony and Ritual

T

he salt jar is a simple homemade sacred vessel, the purpose of which is to purify, protect and bless not only the spaces you inhabit, but also your aspirations and intentions. This is one of the illuminations we are working with in this month’s Spinning Gold coursework and I decided it would useful to share here as well.

Cleansing and blessing are two fundamental acts we find across the broad spectrum of the sacred arts; they are essential skills. The salt jar is a specific version of cleansing and blessing – one that is portable and that has a long history starting out (as did honey and sugar jars) as a special type of Jewish bowl blessing. Just as creating a sugar jar for yourself can bring sweetness into your life in accordance with the sympathetic magical traits associated with sugar, creating a salt jar can create an opportunity for purification, protection and blessing.

Salt is one of the oldest magical substances, entire books have been written about this ingredient alone. It has long been seen to have protective and preserving qualities and is used as a food preservative even today. Salt is also deeply associated with cleansing as the many cleansing and baptism rites calling for either the use of ocean water or water to which salt has been added attest to. The substance is understood to both remove and absorb negative influences or damage caused by the evil eye. As such it is also a blessing ingredient and I take this part quite literally, for without the right amount of salt in our bodies we would die.

A few years ago I began making salt jars on behalf of some of my clients, we have found them to be extremely effective at dealing with the following:

  • hitting a magical “reset” button for relationships that have been recently plagues by illness, fighting, distrust, or heavy stress
  • supporting and encouraging individuals who are breaking the chains of addictive behaviors, thoughts, actions, or emotions that keep holding them back
  • protecting and blessing new babies and families who have been blessed with new children
  • removing streaks of bad luck and difficult times
  • recovering from illness and/or trauma either chronic or acute in nature
  • cleansing an individual who is undergoing or about to undergo an initiatory experience
  • protecting pregnant women
  • protecting and blessing elderly family members
  • restoring peace to fraught relationships
  • to avert jealousy and ill wishes away from an individual and their family

 

Making the Jar

1. Choose a glass vessel. Vessels can be plain and simple as a little mason jar or elaborate as a colorful blown glass. If you use colors, be aware that traditional colors for this kind of work would be blue or red. Whatever you choose, keep in mind you will need to be able to shake it.

2. Salt – Kosher salt is recommended as it has been blessed.

3. Create a petition and place petition in jar. (See below for instructions)

4. Fill jar with salt, giving the jar a little space at the top.

5. Breathe into and the cap and seal the jar.

6. Hold it your hands. Bless it in whatever way you want.

 

Writing the Petition

You will need a pen and a piece of paper the size of a post-it note. Use whatever quality of paper you wish. Write your full legal name on paper three times. Turn the paper 90 degrees clockwise. Write the following over your name:

“May I be cleansed, purified and protected, today, yesterday and all of my days.” Finish by writing “Amen”, “May it be so” or “It is done”.

Fold paper, or roll it up and place in jar or bottle.

Other additions to the jar

There are some traditional ingredients that are often added to these jars and many of them live in your kitchen, they include:

  • Rue – the Greek word for this Mediterranean herb means “to be set free” and the leaves of the herb are shaped like little eyes. It has long been an additive in rites and ceremonies designed to address and remove negative influences caused by envy, jealousy, bitterness, and the “evil eye”.
  • Gold – a small bit of jewelry or even a broken gold chain will work just fine. Gold is added to a salt jar when one especially desires to protect their wealth and/or good fortune. It may also be added for salt jars made on behalf of expectant mothers or newborn children to ensure that they prosper in all ways.
  • Rosemary – another Mediterranean herb like rue, rosemary has long been associated with blessing and keeping the peace in a home and family.
  • Cloves – these pungent spices are worked with in numerous folk magic traditions to restore clarity and open the road for reconciliation in relationships that have been damaged.
  • Garlic – perhaps the best known protective herb, five single garlic cloves when tied together and placed into a bag or a salt jar are considered symbolic of the blessed “hand of Solomon” the wises man to have ever lived. Adding garlic ensures stronger protection and increased clarity and wisdom.
  • Sugar – for couples or families that are having a rough time I like suggesting that they make a combination sacred vessel working with both salt and sugar – the sugar keeps things and people sweet while the salt confers the benefits mentioned above.
  • Onion/wild onion – this is one of my personal favorite additions as it grows naturally where I live in both spring and autumn. Onions are worked with in both sweetening rites and as absorbing forces for harm and negativity.

Working with your salt jar

Like sugar jars, salt jars can be worked with in several different ways. Provided you use a vessel with a fireproof lid you can burn a candle on the top of the salt jar and pay attention to how the candle burns. You can use the jar much like you would a ritual rattle – shaking it rhythmically while singing or praying and also shaking it over people, places, or objects that are in need of cleansing, protection, and blessing.

Finally, for the plant people among my readers, you may have noticed that many of the additions I recommend are edible. You can indeed make a salt jar filled with delicious herbs like garlic and rosemary and then use it to season your foods. This has the extra step of allowing you to take the blessing of the salt jar directly into your body. NOTE: rue is NOT edible.

What I love best about the salt jar is what I love best about folk magic traditions world – over, the profoundly transformative is so often found in the every day – enjoy!

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Way A Spiral Moves

Lunar Letter

Dear Miracles,

I find myself sometimes craving quiet space for the reflection, connection and wonder that reading deep and luscious books can create. So, after a little ritual and nestling in my rocking chair next to a big open window, within clear view of old pecan and young oak trees, I opened my book. Cup of tea at hand, I was ready for anything.

Or so I thought.

I soon came across something in the book (name of author shall be unmentioned) that stopped me in my tracks. The author made the claim that the human future is “off planet.” I was surprised by this, by what amounted to a denial of earth bound existence – quite unexpected given the other parts of the book.

I was truly stumped. Are we not in or among the stars already? I wondered, thinking of our place within the Milky Way Galaxy, with its wondrous barred spiral structure.

The other day a dear friend of mine asked where people begin when they work with me. He was asking a practical question: when I send people to your site, where can they start? To which there is a practical answer (sign up for this lunar letter and then enroll in Spinning Gold). But the question goes much deeper than that, doesn’t it? When it comes to the sacred, the magical, the meaningful, when it comes to wholeness, healing, and holiness, where do we start? This is really a question about path, beginnings and endings.

I have noticed a trend lately, and I’ve seen it among sacred artists and those who love the arcane and esoteric; but I also come across it quite regularly in peer-reviewed scientific journals, political discourse and social commentary, as well as popular entertainment. It is a story I can bottom line for you in this way: we should start and end as far away from here as we possibly can.

Fleshing out the story from its bare bones, it sounds like this: You need to move. But don’t stop moving. Don’t ever, because you might die. But don’t only move, but move forward and move away from where you are standing right now. The more off the ground you can get the better. If you move fast enough, long enough, you can move into a different stratosphere, maybe a different economic or social bracket. If you keep moving you can actually escape the earth all together and head out into that final frontier that is becoming so much more tangible now – off planet, outer space.

Have you noticed how opposed cultural forces like cutting edge scientists and evangelical Christians are now telling the same story? How they understand the tale and whether or not it has an ultimate moral is up for debate; but the story is the same in both. Our current planet has been too degraded, the wounds it has suffered too irreversible, such that turning away and above, turning to heaven, is the next logical step. This is no longer a fringe theory. It has been breaking into the mainstream, touted by those “in the know” as the next big thing. They could be right. Heaven and earth know that we have been looking for ways to slip our mortal coil since we first realized there might be some difference between spirit and matter.

It is easy to forget that the body and earth are not “made” of matter. After all this time, the nature of the body still quite eludes our grasp. A family friend of mine of many years, a brilliant woman and an accomplished doctor (and, as it happens, my ‘fairy godmother’ or FGM) reminded me of this indirectly when she related to me how death and dying in the field of medicine is treated – as a matter of policy and procedure – like a pathology, a disease. She is as tough-minded a scientific skeptic as can be, but much of her life’s work has consisted in promoting the far healthier view that death is part of life – not a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.

This effort to “solve” death is related to the more extravagant but more and more plausible and popular dream about going “off planet.”  For both projects or intentions, limitation has somehow got tangled up with ‘badness’ in a sort of baseline or absolute way.

Limitations are more than necessary for life; they are life.  We come to know our world and ourselves by contrast and in relationship to what is different from it.  The world of the stars, the world of animals and trees, the ancestral world of the dead, the world of spirits and the gods, even the world of the sea, the world of the land and sky –  are all different from the world of human affairs, yet help to identify it. Even this human world is itself differentiated, differentiated in time and place, by law and custom, but also function: the world of yesterday and the world of today; the world of hearth and home, the world of business and the market, and the world of public realm; the world of children and the world of adults and world of elderly; the world of work and of leisure, and so on.

We find ourselves constantly having to move through different worlds, even in the span of single day and a night. We find ourselves in some significant relation of dependence on what is other.  Being able to envision how all these worlds relate is what visions of the Otherworld, as it seems to me, have always been about. But right here – within our “real worlds” experience, it is clear that our true pathway in life to human flourishing or well-being, could never finally be attained by a series of shortcuts or moonshots. Our true pathways are held within certain horizons. No matter where we go, to whatever degree we extend our senses by means of special instrumentation, those horizons follow us.

In mystical traditions world over the path – of knowledge, of action, of devotion – is not straight nor is it simply crooked. It is not a circle or a maze, but rather something that geometrically borrows from each of the above – a spiral. A spiral with dimension, descending into the lowest levels of the Underworld and reach up and out into the Imperium. We see this shape in the most essential and microscopic levels of life and see it again perfectly visible, obvious, and accessible to all in daily life. We see it reflected in the structure of our own galaxy and the double-helix spiral of our DNA.

For all of our instruments and data collecting, I believe the ancients understood the stellar realms in some ways much better than we do. It is easy to catalogue what they got wrong in their observations, but much harder to make sense of what they got right. Practically of course it makes sense when we remember that, for our ancestors, the stars were both full of wonder and necessary information, including whether the rains would fall at the needed time or the fish would run that season. That necessity allowed the ones before us to have a real relationship to the starry realms – to get to know individual stars and planets, to see them as allies, guides, and challengers, to love them in exactly the way that children do to this very day. When we begin seeing stars as astral phenomena that can be catalogued and measured but never spoken to as one might speak to a grandmother or grandfather, something is lost.

So it may be useful, as we moderns turn our attention to the heavens once more, to reflect on what those who came before us taught about the Otherworld, as well as the lessons of our own galaxy.  If we were able to sit down with them and ask where do we begin? they would tell us there is only one place to begin: at the beginning. Begin where the feet touch the ground and your breath feeds the trees, right there. Begin with the words you have to communicate. Begin with the person sitting next to you on the hot, afternoon rush hour bus, with the little girl at the table across from you playing with dolls, with the friend you haven’t called in a long while.

The Otherworld is not some fantastic place sitting in a far off galaxy and waiting for the day when we are smart enough and technically advanced enough to travel beyond the speed of light; nor is it some edenic place waiting for us to utter the just right words while standing on one foot and with one eye closed. It is right here, like the breath in our body; it is the breath running throughout our physical world here and now enlivening and enchanting always. You don’t have to move at all. You can, and if you want to by all means do; but I would say move the way a spiral moves – going back and forward, side to side, up and down – it gives you so much more range – and the place where you end will have dimension, dynamic, and verve that allows you to see it for what it really is: the same place where you started, only deeper and vaster now, capable of holding so much more.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Thanksgiving Prayer

Prayer and Blessing

D

ear Miracles,

A little blessing to share with each of you, who I am so thankful to and for, that you might make use of it whenever you have need.

For the spaces in which we gather, thank you.
May all have a safe space in which to gather.

For the ones we gather with, our people, our creatures, our blessed and broken lands, thank you.
May all find friendship in many places.

For the food that we eat and the water that we drink, thank you.
May all have access to safe and wholesome nourishment.

For the harvest we call in, thank you.
May all have the opportunity to plant seeds, nurture growth, and taste the fruits of their labor.

For the many loves we celebrate and share, thank you.
May all have the capacity to give and receive love many times over.

For the very breath we breathe, thank you.
May all have the chance to live their best possible life.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now, ever, always.
Thank you.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

What are you really banishing?

Ceremony and Ritual

D

ear Miracles: On Sunday we performed our weekly house cleaning followed by our house blessing. It is a wonderful family ritual that we all get involved in. As we went through the house with our white sage I was standing at the wide open back door repeating my mantra for banishing:

I banish thee, I banish thee, I send thee out and set thee free to dwell in river, air, and stone and never through our home do roam.

As I banished anything that was not welcome I called it out by name:

envy — be gone
fear — be gone
lack — be gone
wrongful pride — be gone
anger — be gone
greed — be gone
miserliness — be gone
selfishness — be gone

We are a happy crew at my house, and I wouldn’t say that I/we have experienced  many of these feelings and thoughts in a significant way over the last week, but – human nature being what it is – they are always there and they are never useful, good, or loving.

All too often we sacred artists think of banishing external funk and negativity — vibes that are just hanging out around us and need to be cleaned out. That is not wrong or bad but it is incomplete. The next time you banish ask yourself: what inner states do I need to let go of too?

Then…bid them farewell.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.