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.

Need protection magic that works? Be like Iron.

Lunar Letter

W

hen I was pregnant with Jasper, I would get up early in the morning with my one legal cup of coffee and swing under the stars. As I rocked back and forth, feeling the wind on my face, I would also pray. I prayed that my little one would be healthy and strong, that he would be protected from all harm and suffering, and that no evil would befall him. It was a good prayer because I meant well; but it was not a true prayer. There is a difference.

The longer I carried him and felt the flutter of his little hands and the sure kicks of his little feet, the more I felt the need to reckon with a single fact: there would be suffering, affliction, and fear in my little one’s life – it was an absolute truth, even if I may not like it. So I decided to change my prayer.

Lady of the Moon, who dances among the stars, help me accept the dangers that come with my child’s living and give him the strength to survive the harms that will fall upon him and the endurance not only to survive but to flourish in his darkest hours. May they be few and far between. May he weather them well.

I still pray a version of this prayer for him and for all of my loved ones. It is the truest protection magic I know.

I am often asked about protection. What is the best formula, ritual, or talisman to keep one safe and sound?  The desire for protection is perfectly natural.  But for any magic to really work, we cannot stop at a surface desire.  We must, in all ways, go deeper.

Often the desire for protection is really a wish that no affliction, no trouble, no difficulty, and no hardship will befall us. Understandable? Yes. Useful or wise? No. In this version, protection is something we view as solely external to ourselves – a bulletproof vest, a helmet, force field, a shield. Protection like that can work for a time, but here is the truth: there will come a day when we must go into danger without our vest, when the helmet cracks, the force field falters, and the shield is dropped onto the dusty earth. Then what?

Then we come to know the nature of true protection. Then we understand that protection has less to do with this or that magical charm or talisman and much more to do with the condition of our mind, heart, and spirit – our inner state, our virtue, the stuff we are made of. So when you find yourself in that place, where you are contending with real risk and danger without a net, be like iron.

Iron is the metal belonging to Mars, the ruling planet of the sign Aries, the sign that our beautiful Full Moon will shine out from on Wednesday. In the old traditions, Iron was called on for its unique protective qualities.  One could tap an iron nail into a dying fruit tree, or use iron to nail down and protect a piece of land, or even insert bits of iron into a baby crib to keep the little one safe as they slept. To many, such rituals smack of ignorant superstition, but you all know that I think differently. I believe our ancestors often had surprising insights into the gifts of nature that we, despite all of our sophistication, often miss. I find it fascinating that they already chose to work with a material for protection that is so tied physiologically to our own well being. If you have ever been low on iron in your blood, you know what I mean. Too little iron? Pale, listless, and lifeless. The right amount of iron? Rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes, healthy, robust, and vital.

Iron makes sense as a protective talisman because iron is strong, reminding us that in times of danger, we too must be strong. We must elicit internal strength. Iron is life-giving and tied to vitality, reminding us that what we are looking for is never mere survival, but thriving, flourishing – rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes, and good strong laughter from the belly. What we are looking for is a certain quality of soulful, spirited living. Besides being linked to strength and vitality, Iron endures. Over time it will change its shape, become more twisted, gain interesting colorations and qualities – just like us – but turn up the heat, and melt it down as you’d like, and you will never destroy it. It merely changes shape. Like iron, we must be ready to take on new ways of being in the world.

It is not that working with talismans or rituals for protection is a bad idea: it is not! It is only that when we work with magic externally, we must pay attention to our internal state. And above all, we must realize that no application of magic, ritual or ceremony can take the place of work, attention, and attendance to what matters most.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Something Wicked this Way Comes: 13 Points About the Evil Eye

Alchemy and Magic

D

ear Miracles: The “evil eye” or mal ojo as we call it here in San Antonio, is a pan-cultural idea that encompasses a host of beliefs regarding negativity, bad luck, and misfortune. Quite a few scholarly articles have been written on the evil eye but here is the low down information you absolutely need to know.

The first thing to recognize about mal ojo in our current time is that we can carry it with us, in us, and not even know it. Anytime we are seeing incorrectly — with envy or pride or lust or selfishness we could rightly be said to be suffering from the evil eye –our eyes are literally being taken over by an evil force, call it energy, call it spirit, or simply bad will.

In traditional spiritual work the best cure for one who has the evil eye put on them is a limpias — a spiritual bath, and that is the best way to cure oneself of incorrect seeing too — it is a time of cleansing and reconciliation to the self and your true purpose, it can be a time of recommitting to the work you have to do in the world. May it be so. With that said, here are other facets of this idea which may be of use.

1.) The evil eye is everywhere. In every culture that is. The belief that people can intentionally or unintentionally wish you ill or harm is found throughout the world and throughout time. Usually people focus on the beliefs surrounding the evil eye found in Judaism, the Mediterranean countries, and Middle Eastern countries like Turkey or Iran, but plenty of beliefs about the evil eye can be found in Western European, Central and South American, and African countries too.

2.) Most often the evil eye is believed to be given to someone unintentionally. There are plenty of cases of people feeling that someone has deliberately decided to try to ruin their life through negative thoughts, malevolent prayers, or outright destructive workings. More frequent, however, is the belief that someone called down the evil eye through their own jealousy and was not really trying to harm the object of their attentions.

3.) Symptoms of the evil eye vary from time to time and place to place–but many of them include a general idea of “drying out.”  Water is generally associated with life and life giving forces. When we are too dry we are not as generative, fertile, prosperous, or healthy.

4.) Children and older people are traditionally believed to be the most vulnerable to the evil eye as are women who have just given birth.

5.) Salt is a world wide curative for the evil eye and is also seen as protective against it. So are the colors blue (featured in many of the apotropaic charms we find for the evil eye today) and red–which is favored as a cure and protective color against the evil eye in parts of Africa, Italy, and the UK.

6.) Sugar is second only to salt in its curative abilities as the evil eye is believed to make someone’s life bitter as well as dry. Sugar brings moisture and sweetness to the situation.

7.) Along with sugar and salt, Spiritual Cleansing, is seen as another essential step in both warding off and combating conditions resulting from the evil eye.

8.) The evil eye does not necessarily only come from other people. Many traditions believe that it can be cast on a person by spirits who are displeased or offended for whatever reason.

9.) Rue is the herb most popularly called on to address and combat cases of the evil eye–perhaps because of it’s tiny eye-shaped leaves.

10.) Blessed water/Holy Water can be used to wash someone down who is believed to be afflicted with the evil eye. Start at the head and work down to the feet then dispose of the water at a four way crossroads.

11.) Gold jewelry is a potent ward against the evil eye in many countries.

12.) Conditions brought about by the evil eye can be chronic/repetitive or acute and isolated events.

13.) In Western Europe one old and favored trick to use, is to immediately turn your clothes inside out and walk backwards or in a widdershins (counter clockwise) circle.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Archangel Michael-Who is Like God-Angel of Healing, Protection, and Victory

Prayer and Blessing

D

ear Miracles: Archangel Miguel as I have always thought of Him is a potent spiritual ally. One of the four guardian angels of tradition, he is most often petitioned for protecting those who protect others, but his story and his vastness contain so much more than that. Of especial interest to me and in my work is Michael’s relationship to women and children — he is sometimes called the Advocate and he certainly has a history of advocating for those two groups. I celebrate his feast day, also known as Michaelmas, on September 29th as all of my Catholic family members have done for oh so long. Please allow me to tell you a bit of the history and story of this most venerated figure.

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Archangel Michael prayer card

 

History

Archangel Michael is a holy figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. His name means “Like Unto God” or “Who is Like God” In Catholic and Christian Orthodox traditions, he is sometimes known as Saint Michael or Saint Archangel Michael.  Catholic and Orthodox traditions venerate him as the patron saint for policeman and soldiers. In Muslim tradition, some believe him to be one of three angels that visited Abraham and he is mentioned once in the Qu’ran. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, he is the one who presents God with the prayers of the people. Other traditions hold that Archangel Michael is actually Adam from the Book of Genesis or that he is the pre-incarnate figure for Christ. Tradition names him as the angel who foretold Mary, Mother of God, of her approaching death.

In Jewish tradition, Archangel Michael is the closest angel to God. He is Captain of God’s army as well as ruler of all natural elements such as rain, wind, and storms. His nemesis is the Angel Samael. When Samael was cast down from heaven, he grabbed Michael’s wings, hoping to bring him down as well. Some traditions also say that Michael and Samael are in constant battle over the state of Moses’ soul. In Rabbinic liturgy, Archangel Michael is seen as the staunch defender of Israel. His depiction in the Book of Daniel as “a great prince who stands up for the children of your people” led to a place for him in Jewish liturgy despite Rabbinical prohibitions against seeking the intercession of angels between men and God.  Due to Michael’s role as a defender of Jews and Israel, two Jewish prayers are specifically recited in his honor.

In the early Christian tradition, shrines and sanctuaries were dedicated to Michael. Though he is mentioned as leading God’s army against Satan in the Book of Revelation, these early Christian shrines and sanctuaries dedicated to Archangel Michael were actually for the purpose of healing. Saints like George were considered martial whereas Michael was believed to be a healing force. When a devastating plague hit Rome in the 4th century, Michael was invoked for healing and aid and during this time he came to be known as “Archangel” and/or the “Prince Among Angels.”  By the 6th century, feasts were held in his honor. Various feasts and feast days have been associated with him ever since.

In Roman Catholic tradition, Michael is assigned four specific roles:

  • He is the Captain of God’s army fighting against Satan and Hell
  • He is the Angel of Death who carries the soul away from the body when death occurs
  • He weighs the Soul-According to this tradition, Archangel Michael weighs the soul with perfectly balanced scales. For this reason, he is often depicted holding these scales
  • He is Patron of the Chosen People (Jews) of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) and Guardian of the Church.

These Catholic teachings are not strictly required beliefs (church orthodoxy) but “strongly encouraged” by the Church.

 

Michael is known for giving his protection especially to mothers and children. A Romanian story from 1900, involving an infant-eating demoness named Avezuha and her attempt to harm both the Blessed Virgin and the infant Jesus, as retold by Diane Purkis in her marvelous book At the Bottom of the Garden relates :

“…when she [Avezuha] meets Archangel Michael she declares ‘I am going to Bethlehem in Judea, for I have heard that Jesus Christ is going to be born of His Virgin Mother Maria, and I am going to hurt her.‘  Whereupon the Archangel Michael took hold of her head, fastened an iron chain round her, stuck his sword into her side, and began to beat her terribly in order to make her tell her secret arts. She began and said ‘I change myself into a dog, a cat, a fly, a spider, a raven, an evil looking girl, and thus enter into the houses of the people and hurt the women and bring trouble to the children, and I bring changelings, and I have nineteen names.‘ And the Archangel Michael said to her, ‘I tell thee, I conjure thee, that thou shalt have neither the power to approach the house of X the servant of the Lord, nor hurt his property, his flocks, nor anything else that belongs to him. Thou shalt go to the desolate mountains where no one lives, and there shalt thou abide.‘”

the-archangel-michael-defeating-satan-1635.jpg!Blog
The Archangel Michael Defeating Satan, Guido Reni; 1635

Working with Archangel Michael

In the American folk magic tradition of Conjure, Archangel Michael is seen as a powerful defender of those who are unable to defend themselves, including women, children, slaves, and other minorities or marginalized groups. His association with healing can be seen in his connection to Angelica Root (Angelica Archangelica) — a root used in many peace and tranquility formulas and rituals. His association with martial endeavors and victory can be seen in the writings that invoke him along with the use of Bay Laurel leaf-an ancient symbol of conquest and victory. In Currendera tradition Michael/Miguel is called upon when opening up the Southern quadrant and also for healing and protection — in these latter roles his image is often painted directly onto or over the front door of a home. In Western esoteric traditions involving ritual and ceremonial magic, Archangel Michael is often aligned with the element of Fire and the direction South. For those grounded in a specific Christian religious tradition, Archangel Michael’s role as healer and psychopomp are at least as emphasized as his role in military and police pursuits — if not more so.

I petition and invoke Archangel Michael’s aid for a number of situations-for protection, healing, mercy in the face of sin or error, and, of course, victory. I find him to be a strong protector not only of women and children but of entire families. Despite his widespread veneration across many traditions, Archangel Michael does not have many specific offerings associated with him. When I invoke his aid and intercession, I repay his gifts with flowers, Jordan almonds, honey, and donations to battered women’s shelters and/or Jewish charities.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How to Make Homemade Florida Water

Alchemy and Magic

D

ear Miracles: Today a little kitchen magic DIY for your reading pleasures! Join me in my momma’s kitchen as we make Florida water and homemade rosewater.


Florida
comes from the Spanish word meaning flower “flore” so florida water basically means flower water. (The correct way to say flower water en Espanol is actually agua de flores, of which a lovely reader reminded me). The company Lanman and Murray has been making a commercial version of Florida Water since the 19th century. There are hundreds of recipes for florida water and it is used in all kinds of spiritual activities-from cleansing, blessing, and protecting, to offerings for the ancestors, to healing and removing negativity.

I make my own Florida Water and each batch is slightly different because I use whatever aromatic flowers and herbs are available at the time. Florida water is quite commonly made with alcohol-which adds to its cooling effect.

Below are two recipes that Momma Hen and I recently worked with to create our Spring/Summer batches of Florida Water:

 

Momma Hen’s Rose-a-licious Florida Water:

  • 3-4 bottles of a commercial Florida water of your choice
  • 3 cups roses (we prefer strongly scented antique roses and have over 200 varieties to choose from in our gardens)
  • 3 cups Jasmine flowers
  • 3 cups aromatic greens like mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, basil, Mexican mint marigold, thyme)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

You can use fresh flowers and plants for this recipe. Combine all ingredients together on the new moon and allow to sit for a full lunation. Strain out plant material, add any essential oils you like,  then bottle, spritz, sprinkle, and go to town!

 

A recipe for Florida Water than involves cooking:

This is a recipe that I created and involved cooking the ingredients on low either at the stove or crock pot.

  • 5 cups of Vodka
  • 9 cinnamon sticks
  • 18 all-spice berries
  • one orange peel (preferably dried)
  • 3 cups rose petals (fresh or dried)
  • 3 cups Jasmine flowers (fresh to get the scent)
  • three bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dried angelica root
  • 1 cup aromatic green herbs

Add dried ingredients and cook for about 10 minutes on low. Be careful inhaling the fumes–at this point it will be very Vodka-y. Then add fresh flowers and greens. Cook for 30-45 minutes on low/med-low or even longer. Stir occasionally and then sniff test. You want the botanicals to start outweighing the vodka in your sniff test.

Take off stove, cool, and add any essential oils you like! Bottle, spritz, and sprinkle away!

Rosewater 

And while we were at it-we decided to make homemade rosewater! Usually rosewater is clear and is actually rose hydrosol (the fragrant water created during the process of extracting essential oils from plants and flowers), but there are old recipes for making rosewater using roses (of course) and alcohol (we worked with vodka).

The result is a beautiful dusky rose liquid that smells HEAVENLY. Rosewater is used in blessing work and in love drawing rites.

Sacred Waters and Washes have been used throughout time and are especially loved in climates where its hot for much of the year-nothing cools you down like a quick spray-but if the spray smells good and its magical even better! It is my hope that with a few recipes you can now experiment making your own flower waters.

For those of you who love kitchen magic–have you ever made flower waters before, and if so, how do you work with them?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.