Viking Symbols and Pagan Jewellery

I love Viking symbols because they are filled with beautiful imagery and the powerful stories and mythology from the Norse culture.  Here are some of my favourite Viking signs and symbols that have also been made into gorgeous Pagan jewellery.

Jorgmugand and the Sunwheel

Jormugand is a sea serpent that was one of the three children of Loki and his wife the giant Angrboda.  Jormugand was growing very quickly and this made the other gods nervous, so one day Odin decided to throw him into the sea.

Viking Symbol - Sunwheel and Jormugand
Viking Symbol – Sunwheel and Jormugand

This didn’t really do much as Jormugand grew bigger and bigger until he was able to surround the whole world and grasp his own tail, and because of that he earned the name Midgard Serpent or World Serpent.

Jormugand can be found deep in the ocean where he bites himself in the tail, and we are all caught in the coils of his tail.  In many ways then, this Viking symbol stands for the concept of eternity, or perhaps the cyclical nature of life, on the other hand we are still left with a feeling of uncertainty (no fluffy happy endings in Viking mythology!) since the story goes that if he lets go of his tail we will all die, and when the universe ends, Jormugand and his arch enemy Thor will fight to the death.

However this symbol can be made less dark in the way it is shown in the pendant on the right – Jormugand circling the Sunwheel.

The Sunwheel is a very sacred symbol which can be found on rock carvings and ancient jewellery from the Norse times. The sunwheel symbolises how important sun is to farming and agriculture, and so added to Jormugand really does represent the cyclical nature of life.

 

Thor’s Hammer

Thor's Hammer
Thor’s Hammer

Thor’s hammer, known as Mjollnir, is the hammer (sometimes depicted as an axe or club) of the fearsome god Thor, and was a very popular pendant in ancient times, since many ancient hammer jewellery pieces have been found.

This mightily powerful weapon is even capable of leveling mountains and so becomes a wonderful way of symbolising strength, both inner and outer, and also precision, since using Mjollnir meant that Thor would never fail in his aim.

Other magickal qualities of the Hammer meant that Thor could throw it and always find it again, and also he could make it so small that he could hide it in his Tunic if he wanted to.  Having a small pendant then, that you can display or hide under your clothes, seems very fitting!

Thor was a particularly popular god for medieval Scandinavians and many ancient pendants of his hammer have been found, and is now an important figure for many Pagans.

The Hammer of Thor was also worn by people as a way to outwardly display their Pagan faith and as to show their opposition to Christianization.  Many people also practiced syncretic beliefs, meaning the combining of two or more religions, and moulds of a combined cross and hammer have been discovered.  This can be seen in the Wolf’s Cross which was a famous Icelandic pendant, worn by both Pagan Vikings and Christians.

 

Eagershelm

Eagershelm aka Aegishjalmur
Eagershelm aka Aegishjalmur

Aka Aegishjalmur – aka “helm of awe’.  This Viking symbol was used for protection, particularly in battle.  It was originally a helmet won by Sigurd when he killed the dragon Fafner, but for the Viking people it was not actually used as a helmet, instead this symbol would be worn over the forehead, maybe scratched into the inside of the helmet, or even drawn on the head using blood or spit.

A warrior about to go into battle would press Aegishjalmur against his head (or draw it on) and say ‘I bear the Helm of Awe’, giving him power and strength in battle, both mentally and physically.

There are also other ways of using and conceptualising Eagershelm, for instance it can be used to put fear into the minds’ of enemies or even to calm the fear in yourself.

Elhaz - Norse Rune
Elhaz

Further magic can be found in the Aegishjalmur, in the way that runes are hidden inside the symbol, particularly the rune Elhaz which can be also be used for protection, and is thought to symbolise an elk’s horns – a powerful symbol of self protection.

 

Elhaz keeps in good energies and helps to repel the bad, making it ideal for creating a sacred space or even pushing away negative energy and negative people. This rune can be found eight times over at the ends of spokes of this sign, but also eight times more within the spokes itself, making Aegishjalmur an incredibly powerful viking symbol.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to share your favourite things from Norse symbolism.  For more Viking Symbols and Handmade Jewellery, please visit my shop! Or read this article to find out how to magickally charge your jewellery.

Wiccan Supplies Essentials

Here’s your guide to some of the most useful and essential Pagan and Wiccan altar tools!

Guest Post by Moon Light’s Magic

Wiccan Supplies Essentials

The Athame
The Athame is a ritual knife used in the witch...An athame or athamé is a ceremonial double-edged dagger, one of many magical tools used in Classic Witchcraft and other Pagan beliefs and religions such as Wicca for different ritual knives. A black-handled knife called an arthame appears in specific versions of the Key of Solomon, a grimoire originating in the Middle Ages.

The athame’s main use is for ritual and magical purposes only, to direct energy if things such as herbs or cords need to have to be cut, one more knife called a boline – a white-handled knife – is used. An exception is the “kitchen witchcraft” philosophy, which actively encourages the use of magical tools for mundane purposes to improve the witch’s familiarity with them.

An athame may well be employed in the demarcation of the Magic circle rite.

As a masculine principle, it is usually utilized in combination with the chalice, as feminine principle, evoking the act of procreation, as a symbol of universal creativity. This is a symbol of the Wonderful Rite in Wiccan rituals. Some contemporary witchcraft traditions may well prefer not to use iron blades, instead preferring alternatives such as copper, bronze or wood. This is most widespread amongst traditions that have a specific fondness of the Sidhe, to whom iron is supposedly harmful.

Pentacle ChaliceThe Chalice
In Wicca a chalice, as a feminine principle, is usually employed in combination with the Athame (ceremonial black-handled knife), as male principle. Combining the two evokes the act of procreation, as a symbol of universal creativity. This is a symbol of the Excellent Rite in Wiccan rituals. A chalice is also utilized in the Tiny Rite.

A chalice is a symbol of the element of water, a feminine element representing intuition, gestation, psychic ability, and the subconscious. The Cup also stands in as a symbol of the Goddess, of the womb, and the female generative organs. The chalice is often interchangeable with the cauldron.

Wiccan Altar Bell
Wiccan Altar BellBells are like the Voice of the Goddess. When you ring one, it brings the Divine’s attention to you. And your attention to the Divine.

A bell with a lovely tone will call gorgeous, healing energy to you. Bells can also be utilized to clear energy. At the end of a ritual is a good time for this, but if unwanted energy crops up throughout a ritual, you can use the bell to disperse it. The purpose is that the clear tone of the altar bell will drive away negativity and keep evil spirits at bay. There are claims that evil spirits can not tolerate the sounds of a clear high pitched bell.

Employing an altar bell to call upon the goddess will guarantee you are far more protected throughout your rituals, spells, and ceremonies.

Altar Cloths
Pagan Altar ClothIn specific Neopagan faiths, Wicca in specific, the altar cloth is placed on the altar exactly where magical workings are performed. Several altars are patterned with pentagrams, the classic symbol for Wicca.

Altar cloths prevent damage, dirt, and grime to form on your altar. It is usually best to maintain your altar clean to guarantee you appease the several gods or goddesses you may possibly be calling upon in you rituals. Keeping ones altar untidy can show disrespect to the gods and goddess, so be confident to clean your altar cloth often. Several altar cloths can be put into the wash with your other clothing whenever it is time for you to do laundry.

Altar Tiles
The altar tile is often a pentacle and used on a Wiccan altar as a focal point for ritual work. It is commonly made of metal, wood, or clay stoneware.

Pentacle Altar TileThe tile itself is usually inscribed with the pentagram (5-pointed star) and at times with other symbols. The star symbol represents the four elements of earth, air, fire, water and a fifth element of spirit, as represented by the Goddess and God. The tile is positioned with the spirit tip pointing up to signify that the spirit rules more than the elements.

Moon’s Light Magic also has an info blog about ritual tools, Wicca, Witchcraft, the occult, paranormal, and divination where you can understand almost everything you need to know on these subjects:
Wicca and WitchCraft Details Weblog
Searching for Wholesale? Wiccan Supplier provides 40% off retail price on all their Wiccan supplies.
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How to use and activate Crystals for Healing

So you’re thinking of getting some healing crystals or maybe you already have them and you want to know what to do with them, here you will find out how to cleanse and activate the crystals so that you can receive the maximum benefit from them. If you haven’t bought any yet you can take a look in my shop to see the various healing properties of each crystal, there are also gift sets for things like curing insomnia, boosting confidence or beating depression naturally. Alternatively you may wish to get a Rock Crystal of the Quartz variety which is one of the most powerful of stones and is all purpose.


 

A rose quartz pendants can help you heal.


Firstly the crystals need to be cleansed and activated.

There are different ways to cleanse crystals, and some people advocate cleansing them with cool water, preferably mineral, then leave them to dry – drying them with a towel for instance attach fluff which collects negativity. But be aware that certain precious stones should not touch water. I prefer using natural (ie not idodized) sea salt – you cover the crystals with the sea salt and leave them for about 24hrs. Then you remove the salt and leave them for a day in the sun or if you are not seeing much sun at the mo then moonlight is good too!

Since the dawn of time, Lapis Lazuli has been a powerful stone associated with royalty. It is a very strong stone that evoked the powers of the third eye chakra. This helps in being more creative, intuitive and even allows you to enhance your psychic powers.

Secondly you must attune your mind to the crystal/s.

  1. Play some soft gentle music to get you relaxed and in the mood.
  2. Place the crystal at eye level next to a lit candle and focus on the flame. This will help to calm and focus your mind and remove any other distractions, which is essential for crystal gazing.
  3. With half-shut eyes watch the light expand and let the glow illuminate the far edges of the room.
  4. Breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly, deliberately breathing onto the crystal.
  5. Now imagine yourself in a favourite place, if there is no where you can think of in particular then choose an idylic setting, such as in the woods, in a field full of flowers or on a deserted beach.
  6. You’re doing well! At this point you will be becoming attuned to the gemstone, and this will allow the healing energies to flow between you and the stone.
  7. Now take your crystal to a peaceful and light place – it can be indoors or outdoors, and this time without the candle, concentrate on the crystal until its body light explands. Let its energy field surround you as you breathe in the crystal’s vibrations.
The Dolphins Triskilian for Guidance and Inner Peace represent harmony and spirituality while the traditional Triskilian design shows the three realms of being. This charm may be worn for guidance and inner peace.

Now you can carry your crystal about with you on your daily business, be sure to play with it or touch it in your pocket or whatever, the more contact you have with the crystal, but also the more focus you have on it, the better it will work. At night you can put it near or under your pillow so it can work whilst you sleep.

If you have a bad experience or a difficult day, you should cleanse the crystal again using one of the methods mentioned above. You may wish to do the attuning process again as well. The more you do this process the easier and more natural it will become.

Happy Healing!

StormJewel x

Amethyst, gemstone of the heavens set on the symbol of fire with the Sigil of Cassiel, Angel of Saturn inscribed for Karma clearing.
Chatoya – Tigers Eye Pendant for Inner Confidence

Voodoo and Hoodoo Beliefs and Magick Around the World

Voodoo is an ancient art of magick, healing and meditation coming from Africa.

In my previous article (Voodoo and Hoodoo – what are they really all about?), I explained how West Africa is the cradle of Voodoo, and talked about the nature of the religion there, as well as giving you a look into a young initiates ceremony.  In this second part of the article you can find out more about Voodoo in different parts of the world, and learn about the magick and practices of Hoodoo

Voodoo in Haiti

As I explained the previous article, Voodoo traveled to countries such as the US and Haiti, through African people being sent into slavery, and the religion became different things in different places.  The Voodoo (or Vodou) of Haiti is close to that of Benin, although has absorbed many religious elements from Christianity.

Voodoo in Louisiana and New Orleans

Like the Voodoo of Haiti and the Hoodoo of the US, Christianity has been a large influence upon the beliefs of this religion, whilst at the same time keeping much from the Voodoo of Benin.  The flexibility and adaptability of Voodoo is no doubt a lot to do with the face that there is no formal doctrine or sacred book, and knowledge is passed orally.

Like Paganism, the religion can mean different things to different people, but a core belief is that the main God does not interfere in the everyday lives of people, instead it is spiritual forces which affect everyday life.  Just like the Voodoo of Benin, communication with the spirits is achieved through dancing, chanting, drumming and so on, and ancestor worship is also important.

Louisiana Voodoo is commonly used to help people with sicknesses, addictions and other ailments, and also to help the hungry and poor.  Rituals tend to be conducted behind closed doors.

Jesus Christ and Mary are important figures in the religion and reciting the Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer is part of Louisiana Hoodoo practice.

Superstitions, Spells and Voodoo dolls

If you lay a broom across the doorway at night, a witch can’t come in and hurt you.

Here are some spells and superstitions from Louisiana Voodoo

  • A lock of a girls hair brings good luck.
  • If you lay a broom across the doorway at night, a witch can’t come in and hurt you.
  • Having a woman visit you the first thing on Monday mornings is bad luck for the rest of the week.
  • If you sweep trash out of the house after dark you will sweep away your luck.
  • Don’t shake a tablecloth outside after dark or someone in your family will die.
  • If a woman sprinkles some salt from her house to yours, it will give you bad luck until you clean the salt away and put pepper over your door sill.
  • If a woman wants her husband to stay away from other woman, she can do so by putting a little of her blood in his coffee, and he will never quit her.
  • If a woman’s husband dies and you don’t want her to marry again, cut all of her husband’s shoes all in little pieces, just as soon as he is dead, and she will never marry again.
  • You can give someone a headache by taking and turning their picture upside down.
  • You can harm a person in whatever way you want to by getting a lock of his hair and burning some and throwing the rest away.

Whilst Voodoo dolls are usually thought in Western culture to be a way of harming people, this is incorrect, they are to bless people.  Pins are stuck in the dolls to attach a picture of the person to the doll, thus creating a magical link, and then a magical cure is performed using a special recipe (the cure is known as a gris gris), and is usually either for love, power, luck and finance or removing a curse.

What is Hoodoo?

Hoodoo Lucky Hand Root Orchid
Hoodoo Lucky Hand Root Orchid

Hoodoo can be called folk magic is better understood as a collection of magical practices rather than a religion, and this is made clear by changing the name from Voodoo to Hoodoo.  Hoodoo’s magick focuses on using roots, herbs and natural elements for magical and medicinal use.

However there is still worship of deities, and like the Haiti Voodoo, (in fact perhaps more so) many Christian elements have been absorbed into the religion.  Christian figures such as Moses are worshiped, and the Bible is seen as a source for spells, particularly the Psalsms.  The bible itself can be carried as a talisman to keep people safe.  Hoodoo also absorbed certain Native American practices as well.  Like Paganism there is no formal doctrine, or structured hierarchy, and knowledge tends to be passed on orally.

 

Some Magickal Items of Hoodoo

Goofers Dust To Defeat Enemies
Goofers Dust To Defeat Enemies

Hoodoo magick items have become popular with people from all around the world, and from all traditions. I have tried Goofers Dust To Defeat Enemies.  This green dust can be thrown on the land of someone that means you harm, to bring confusion and bad luck to their household.

This works well in tandem with Hot Foot Powder Incense, which can be sprinkled around your home to keep away enemies and troublemakers and to bring peace to your household.

Lucky Root Hand
Lucky Root Hand

Another popular Hoodoo item is the Lucky Hand Root for Protection and Good Fortune, so called because it resembles a small withered hand (but it’s only an orchid root!).  This root is known for bringing good luck and safety, and is particularly used for bringing luck to gamblers.

Cobra Black Snake Pellets can be used in rituals of protection, and are also a great magickal aid for spiritual healing rituals, cleansing such as cleansing a space for an altar, or a new home, and to assist in removing curses or jinxes.

Finally another popular Hoodoo ingredient is the Adam and Eve Roots for Love and Marriage proposals.  This can be used in two ways, firstly a charm to encourage that special someone to propose, or for good luck to encourage the person to say yes!  Secondly it can be used by lovers to help discourage rivals and prevent temptation.  The woman carries the round white seed and the man the long bud.

Want to know even more about Voodoo and Hoodoo?

Here is a great site full of interesting information, written by a Voodoo practitioner.  A page I found particularly interesting was this one which goes into more detail about what Hoodoo is and where it came from.

Are you interested in Voodoo and Hoodoo? Have you or would you try Hoodoo Magick?  Comment below and feel free to ask me any questions beliefs or practices, or contact me privately through my website if you prefer.

Voodoo & Hoodoo – What are they really all about?

Voodoo in Benin
Voodoo in Benin

In the west, commonly when someone mentions Voodoo, it evokes ideas of black magic, devil worship, scary sorcery, and films tend to depict Voodoo as originating in Haiti.

But in fact this scary reputation mainly comes from Europeans and Christians from the past who sought to quash and dehumanise the people of Africa and their religions.

 

Where does Voodoo come from?

Some people believe that Voodoo is the world’s oldest religion.

The religion of Voodoo, (or Vodoun as it is also known, particularly by those who practice it), is thought by many to originate from Benin, a country in West Africa, but is also practiced on the West coast, including people from Togo, Angola, Nigeria and so on.  The slave trade in 16th-18th century meant that many Africans were shipped to places such as Cuba, Haiti, Brazil and the USA, spreading the religion.

However the religious aspects were often changed and lost in these places and much of Voodoo became Hoodoo, which is generally thought not to be a religion, instead mainly focused on the magic and medicinal aspects of Voodoo. I’ll be explaining more about Hoodoo in my next article.  The word Voodoo actually comes from Vodou, which is the name of the spirits that the people worship.

For many years Voodoo had to be practiced in secret, until 1996, January 10th which is now Nation Voodoo Day in Benin, and people celebrate with song, dance and sacrifices.  This suppression was due to the European colonial influence and also the zealous Christians, who generally tried to quash local religions, perhaps believing this was a good way to control people, and in colonial times fines, torture and death could be imposed upon people found to be practicing Voodoo. Today there are an estimated 50 million worshippers around the world.

So what is Voodoo all about?

Voodoo is an animistic religion, which means that the followers believe that god is in everything from the leaves of trees, to the wind that blows.  It’s a Polytheistic religion, like Paganism, meaning that there are many gods, and again similar to Paganism is the idea of revering nature.  Ancestor worship is also another very important aspect.

Ceremonies and Rituals of Vodoun

There are complex ceremonies and rituals in which the aim is usually to make contact with a spirit (the Vodou), perhaps an ancestor, or one of their lesser deities (called the Loa).  People try to gain their favour by offering animal sacrifices and gifts, in order to get help such as better health, luck or abundance.  The humans and the Loa are co-dependant in this way, with the Loa giving protection and good fortune and the people giving gifts.

Rituals are also held to celebrate lucky or important events, such to give thanks for rain, for marriages, births and deaths, and for healing.

Ceremonies often last all night and are an exciting affair, with singing, drumming and chanting.

The Sakpata Guardian Ritual

Let’s follow one girl – Ianthe (meaning violet flower) into her initiation and receiving of her guardian

First the oracles are consulted to see which divinity she will align with, who will become her supernatural guardian?  The god Sakpata is revealed – god of disease and protection.  He is at once feared and respected for his power.  To become his initiate is a long process.

For nine whole months Ianthe stays in a special temple where she learns the esoteric knowledge of Sakpata, including secret dances, words and language, and the secret name of Sakpata.  Her cheeks are scarified (ritual scarring) to indicate the change and knowledge she has received.

The initiation day

Today Ianthe is wearing a white bonnet, with a cowrie shell necklace, a bright print dress that looks like small pox!  Why? Because Sakpata is also the God of pox.

There is excitement in the air and everybody is anticipating the great feast to come, as well as a whole day and night of celebration and ceremony.  Everyone is dressed in fine clothes and jewellery. There are people with strange costumes.

We can hear the atmospheric shaking of rattles and rhythmic beating of drums.  The village is filled with the chanting and dancing of the priests, priestesses and students.

The dancing and chanting builds in intensity, with women cartwheeling and shimmying low to the ground, until one dancer becomes possessed by Sakpata. She flails and convulses until the god takes full control. This dancer now embodies the god and is treated with the respect that a god commands.

At this point an animal is sacrificed to the Sakpata, and he initiates Ianthe and then leaves.  Soon after the feast begins and people enthusiastically begin to eat and celebrate.

Ianthe is now a fully fledged initiate and will have to follow certain rules and laws in her life (specific to her new guardian Sakpata), for instance she may not eat gineau fowl or have sex on market day.

The ritual and process has been very costly to her family, but to not have such a ritual would be unthinkable, as everybody must have a spiritual guardian that they can call on for help.

Take a look at part of a Vodoun ceremony here. This is a ritual to honour one of the gods.

 

 

 

The Magick of Voodoo

So I’ve written a lot about the rituals and ceremonies, but does Voodoo use magic?  Yes, and this is most obvious to visitors of Benin at the Fetish Markets, where items of power and potions can be bought, such as parts from dead animals, love and money potions.  Part of the scary reputation of Voodoo may come from these markets where things like cured apes heads can be bought (said to aid memory) or dead owls and vultures which are used to counter a curse.

Some people argue that all religions have a dark and a light side, and others say that the bad stuff you can buy at these fetish markets is not actually Voodoo but Bokors (sorcerer) items.

Is Voodoo Cruel to Animals?

I don’t know whether these animals are dead already before they are changed to fetish items, but I have mentioned a lot about animal sacrifice.  It’s important to remember that the sacrificed animals are always eaten, and that the conditions animals are kept in are far preferable to those found in the mass farming of the west.

Morals

The morals of Voodoo focus on love and support of your family and community, and it is highly valued to be able to protect yourself and those around you when needed.  Dishonour and greed are highly frowned upon.

Find out more about Voodoo and Hoodoo around the world, in part 2 of this article, coming soon!

Image Credit: Vodoun.fr

Healing – How does it work? My Thoughts

Crystals for Healing

As I write this I am recovering from a seriously nasty virus, so have been thinking a lot about healing (well I was thinking about it before but have had even more time now!) and what it is that makes it work, be it reiki, acupuncture, crystal healing, qi gung, self hypnosis or any one of the many other types of alternative and holistic healing.

First off I’d just like to point out that I’m by no means a healing expert or guru, but have a small amount of experience in that I have taken the first level of reiki training, have received different types of healing, and have been working with meditation and energy work for many years.

The first thing that all these types of practices have in common is the use of energy (or Qi, or Chi or life force, or vital energy or whatever you prefer to call it/think of it as.

Practices such as reflexology and acupuncture work (as my basic understanding of it goes) by realigning the energy pathways, or meridians that flow through your body.  In common with so many alternative healing practices, these systems believe that many things (including physical and emotional events) can cause blockages in your energy lines, leading to illness and disease.

I once spent some time listening to a Paul Mckenna self-hypnosis CD which aimed to help you keep your immune system strong and healthy by learning to give yourself an endorphine boost.  He sescribes how the place where endorphines are released can be different for different people, but for me it was the heart chakra, the same place as the reiki energy fills up first before going on to heal the rest of me, interesting I thought….

The plot thickened the other day when I read that certain people believe that acupuncture works by stimulating your endorphins.

Things continued to get more confusing when I practiced a relaxation meditation that involves following the path of energy around your body, common in things like mindfulness, yoga, and also in Robert Bruce’s New Energy Ways.  I felt the energy course around my body, particularly in my hands and feet – very similar to what I have felt when practicing the tarot, but also when trying out QiGong.

Reiki, unlike say reflexology or acupuncture, is a passive form of healing in that the healer is merely a channel for a an energy source that exists outside (but also inside!) of our bodies.  My reiki healer would often say how much she liked giving reiki treatments since it was also a treatment for her.  Yet I began to wonder, since the feelings of energy, the burst of pleasure associated with endorphins, was pretty much the same as what I had experienced from all these other metaphysical practices.  Was reiki just a self delusion?  Tricking yourself that there is something greater when it’s all within you?

But then I realised the (perhaps obvious) answer – This energy, this Qi, Life Force, Love, Divine Light, Mother Nature, God even if you are religious, whatever you call it, is not only within us, but also powers the universe.  It is the thing that I think I have always believed makes the world go round so to speak.  And importantly, it’s all the same thing!  Whatever you call it, however you manipulate it – drawing it in from the world or redistributing it in your body, it’s the same, all is one!

The feeling of endorphins being triggered is a sign of us connecting to that universal force. love, whatever, and is a very healing thing.  Even before I connected all this I began to intuitively feel that whenever I triggered that feeling, I was getting some strong healing.

We love to be in love as that triggers that feeling, but a relationship can also bring negatives, but if, as someone once suggested to me, we can hang on to that feeling of love, regardless of there being a single object of it, we can be happy and healthy.

You probably know the way that when you start thinking of something it keeps coming up in new ways, (some people call this synchronicity) and having just started QiGong, the first exercise I am learning is called ‘Butterfly Dancing in Front of Flowers’ and is all about opening your heart to the universal energy – what a great time and place to start this journey!

What are your thoughts on this?  Was this obvious to you all along or has it made you think?  Do you have other ideas on the way healing (and energy) works?  Get involved below!!

Qi Gong – What is it and why do it?

Learn Qi Gong
Learn Qi Gong

A while ago a friend showed me some QiGong (aka Chi Kung) and manipulation of energy and I was very impressed and excited by what I had seen, particularly as I have been looking to add an active meditation to my range of meditations.  Qi Gong has been a very powerful influence in his life, helping him to beat a downward spiral of drug addiction, and also helping him to attain new levels of spiritual understanding and awareness.  Unfortunately there are no Qi Gong teachers local to me, so when I found an online course by a well respected QiGong teacher I decided to give it a go!

It’s 22 week online course that I’m very enthusiastic about, so I thought I’d write a little blog post about it and keep you updated as the course progresses!

So what is QiGong?

QiGong is an ancient Chinese form of active meditation. It is very similar to practices such as Tai Chi (although much easier to learn!).  It is part of Chinese medicine, other aspects including Chinese herbs and Acupuncture.

Literally translated:

Qi = Energy (and you may know this by the name Chi, but also Mana, Aura or many words depending on what part of the world you are familiar with)

Gong = Work

So put that together and you have Energy Work.  What does that achieve?  Well I’ll go into more detail shortly, but first, why practice something like QiGong?

 

If you read my blog regularly you will know that I am very keen on meditation and energy practices for a range of reasons, here are some of the main ones:

  1. Relieves stress and anxiety
  2. Deepens spiritual awareness
  3. Improves psychic & healing ability
  4. Keeps you both mentally and physically healthy

QiGong brings extra benefits, as explained by Marcus, my online teacher for the next 22 weeks – a sincere seeming guy who has been taught by masters in China and practicing for over 10 years.

So what are the extra and specific benefits of practicing Qi Gong?

  1. To improve your health and vitality
  2. To increase your longevity, in other words to help you live a longer and happier life
  3. To increase your internal force – this will help provide you with amazing stamina and endurance and can also assist you in practices that require energy manipulation such as healing and psychic ability
  4. To expand your mind – like with any good meditation practice, it can help improve your memory, creativity, intelligence, awareness and your ability to articulate your thoughts.
  5. To take you further on your spiritual journey – meaning to help get you in touch with your inner self, but also with the universe, other people, and understanding and enjoying your place within that.

 

Energy Work and Health

Chinese and Japanese medicine and in fact most alternative forms of medicine believe that we have energy lines or meridians flowing through our bodies.  If these flows of energy become blocked, many unfortunate things can result, from emotional conditions such as depression, to physical illnesses and dis-eases.  Energy work keeps us healthy and happy and is the key to almost all alternative forms of medicine I have come across, including Reiki, a form of healing I am passionate about.

Ok well that’s enough for now, so far I’m really impressed by the info and explanations that Marcus has provided about Qi Gung (there’s written material and videos for each week) and I’m off to practice the first form of the course which is called, most poetically ‘Butterfly dancing in front of Flowers’.  This form is all about opening your heart and body.

Do you or have you practiced QiGong?  Is is it something you are thinking about?  Why not join me on my journey and we can learn together!  If you are keen to learn more about the course Marcus is offering, you can try a two week trial of QiGong and see what you think!

What is Mindfulness?

If you don’t know what mindfulness is, then check out this short video clip. Lots of much better videos on mindfulness from Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh and others on www.LearnMindfulness.co.uk Thanks for watching!
Video Rating: 4 / 5

Pagans protest at treatment of the Norse God Thor

There is also the additional concern, as Eric Scott pointed out, that the film makers felt that they didn’t really have to worry about what people would think, unlike one of the mainstream religions such as Christianity.

Eric Scott wrote a post at Killing the Buddha that set off a big debate on “What happens when Hollywood gets a hold of your gods.”

The truth is, I looked at the toys in my hands and I saw the result of millions of dollars of development and thousands of hours of manpower, put into something bearing the name of a god, my god, and it had nothing to do with me. Their Thor was a god forgotten by all except the few quiet geeks who read his adventures in Journey into Mystery and The Mighty Thor for forty years. It wasn’t that they meant to upset or unsettle me; they simply realized that people like me were too few to matter. It’s impossible to think of a story about Jesus like this, not written to pander to or irritate Christians, but simply not considering them at all.

Eric Scott goes on to make the point that representations of mythic figures change frequently, and depict different things depending on the context:

Of course the Thor of the movie, and the comics that I grew up reading, is not the same Thor whom Snorri Sturluson wrote of in the Prose Edda, who perhaps is not the same Thor the Norsemen worshipped in the time before Christianity came to Northern Europe. The character Chris Hemsworth plays is not the deity I worship, the god whose symbol hangs around my neck. Anthony Hopkins, in his Hollywood regalia and metallic eyepatch, is not the Gallows-God I pray to. And even if the film is terrible, perhaps someone will watch it and then pick up Kevin Crossley-Holland’s The Norse Myths at the bookstore, and that will make it worthwhile.

On the plus side, many Pagans have actually been pleased with the film, saying that Thor is actually represented in a positive light, a great improvement on the demonification of Paganism that is common in everything from depictions of hag like scary witches at halloween to those who present pagans as devil worshipping.  And as Eric Scott says, if this film switches people on to the actual mythology behind Thor, this could be a good thing.

 

I haven’t seen the film yet but will definitely be checking it out.  What do you think?  Have you seen the film?  Do you think that filmmakers should be dealing with this issue in the same way as they would have had to with other deities?

(via USA Today)

 

 

Bird Magick – Bring Nature into your Spells, Healing & Rituals – Part 1

Bird Magic
Bird Magic

Paganism is usually thought of as a nature religion, but for many Pagans who live in a town or city, and even for those in the countryside, it can be difficult to know how to incorporate nature into your rituals and spells.  Elsewhere I suggest finding things from nature and putting them on your altar or using them in spells and rituals, but here I will describe another way of interweaving nature with your life and beliefs!

Since birds vary so much in physical characteristics (from big to small, from many coloured to plain) and in character (eg some birds being hunters, other singers, others more family orientated, and many a combination), we can use them as symbolic forces to aid in healing, balancing our weaknesses, and nurturing our strengths.  Through the wisdom and power of bird medicine we can life up our spirits and strengthen our sense of clarity and balance.

 

Bird Magick – The realm of air and sky

The skies have long been associated with a freedom far removed from everyday life.  When we feel depressed or unable to act, bogged down in everyday life, we can look up at the birds for inspiration to leave the mundane world and life ourselves through the air by potent magical ritual.

Just as the ancient Greeks and Egyptians among others revered many birds, such as Osiris or the Phoenix, so in Western religious lore through Angels can we see a link between birds and holiness.  Birds link us to this realm of the sky by at once living on earth but being able to fly high.

The realm of air is connected to oxygen and breath.  One of the best things you can do for a calm mind is to take deep slow breaths and draw energy into all parts of your body, this is at once relaxing and enlivening.  Thinking about birds can help to remind us to slow down and truly draw in and appreciate the air element, and the way in which it can bring us pleasure and calmness.

Bird Medicine

As with any aspect of Paganism and Wicca, your imagination is in a way your only limit to the way you practice both life and magic, but here are some suggestions of ways to connect with bird medicine.

 

Watch and Learn – First step

Birds make amazing entertainers if watched regularly.  You will soon learn to know their habits and routines and see many quirky things they do.  Get some binoculars to really get close to them, and see their markings and behaviour clearly.  By practising bird watching you can improve your skills of patience and observation and enjoy nature in an engaging way, as well as gain a deeper understanding of these mystical creatures.

 

Study and Draw – Second step

You can study natural history books and draw them in a sketchbook that you keep specifically for this purpose.  This will really help you to understand their abilities and special powers and characteristics, and from there you will begin to realise how to incorporate these traits into your own life.

 

Feather Healing – Third step

When you’ve found a bird that you feel a particular affinity to, try and get a feather of it.  Feathers contain the energetic properties of the bird, and to make the connection between you strong, it’s important to either find or be given the feather. Be careful though as some feathers are actually illegal to own, such as the eagle feather, unless you are classed as a native american.

By placing the feather on your altar or sacred space, it will help you to remember and connect with the bird’s healing medicine.  You can honour the feather in your rituals and prayers, why not say it’s characteristics and strengths out loud?  You should make offerings to the spirit of the bird – what you offer is up to you, you may wish to offer your own hair to cement the bond, or gather acorns, nuts, herbs or other natural things.

Coming Soon – Part 2 – Birds and Their Healing Properties – Discover the powerful characteristics of the crow, heron, eagle and more!

 

Thanks to Jonathan Keyes for the inspiration for this article