Saturday, 12 August 2017

Altar Refresh

One of my recent assignments for the Grey School was to create an altar and write about my experience with it. I already had an altar, and I was thinking about pulling it apart and refreshing it -- this was the perfect opportunity.

I should say, though, that I don't really think of my space as an altar. I don't do magickal workings with it, or leave offerings on it. It doesn't really fit the definition of a shrine, either. I tend to think of it as my "Special Space". I put special things on it, and when I put things on it, they become special. But for the purposes of this blog post, I'll continue calling it an altar.

Here is what my altar looked like pre-refresh:

It's gotten a bit cluttered and dusty since I set it up just over a year ago. The fabric flower had fallen apart when it got too hot from the candle underneath. (Don't ever do that, by the way!) I put some pyrite crystals on there intending to use them in a work and haven't gotten around to it yet. Looking at them always reminded me of that.

In the spirit of the assignment, I tried to make sure I chose every item with thought -- from the statuettes to the cloth. Here is what it looks like now:

I replaced the Tao Te Ching cards with a statue of Lao Tzu. I placed it on an upturned cup which symbolises a mountain. When I first set up the altar, I would take a card and read it every morning. Now I have an app on my phone though, I'd stopped doing that. I prefer this reminder in the form of the statuette instead. The other major change is that I made a small shelf out of a box wrapped in fabric, to put the smaller items on. The feathers are all gathered together in a goblet, and most of the nature things are collected together on the right. I collected the pinecone when I visited Buda House, and the shells when I went on a trip to the beach. They both remind me of how I overcame my anxiety to go on these little adventures on my own.

Refreshing my altar was a really lovely experience. It was great to get rid of the dust and re-think the design. In a way, it was almost like re-thinking what's important to me. Ideally, I'd like to do it at the start of every season, and decorate it with different themes every time.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

What is Astrolenergies? and My Astrolenergies Chart

Astrolenergies is an idea devised by Margaret Copland of Australia. It combines two traditional concepts -- Astrology and the Four Elements -- into one system. Five aspects from Astrology are each assigned an Element, and the combination of the five determines the energies for each day. Like Astrology, the Astrolenergies combination on the day of a person's birth can determine their personality and life path, but because of the five factors involved, there are more variables.

To give an example, I had my Astrolenergies chart done, and I came out as a Triple Fire sign with Earth and Water influences. The five factors on the day I was born are associated with the elements like this:

Day = Saturday = Earth
Sun Sign = Aries = Fire
Moon Sign = Sagittarius = Fire
Moon Phase = Full = Fire
Season = Autumn = Water

My Astrolenergies combination consists of three Fires, one Earth and one Water. This means that I have the personality attributes of a Fire sign, but tempered with Earth and Water attributes. There is no Air in my sign, meaning I don't often show the attributes of an Air sign.

With five different aspects taken into account, there are a large number of signs possible, so Margaret devised a simple set of symbols to represent each sign. Mine is represented as a triangle with two dots. The red triangle represents the 3 Fires in my sign (as a triangle has three sides), while the blue and green dots represent the one Earth and one Water.

According to the system, if the energies for any particular day match your personal Astrolenergies sign, then this is a Personal Power Day for you. Any activity you undertake on that day is more likely to succeed. There are also Strong Element days, where one element is represented four or five times in the sign. These are days to concentrate on activities that relate to the element in question.

My Astrolenergies chart included not only my personal sign, but a list of Personal Power Days and Strong Element Days for the next year. It also details the personality traits for each of the four Elements, and suggested activities (both magical and mundane) that relate to each of the Elements, plus Mixed Days and Balanced Days. There was also a section with suggestions on how to plan your year around the Astrolenergies system. All up, there was 20 pages of information -- I was quite impressed. I'm also a subscriber to the mailing list, and each morning I receive a chart with the day's Astrolenergy and suggested activities for that day. On days when I feel scattered, the chart gives me a potential area to focus on.

I find the Astrolenergies system a very intriguing one: it takes traditional ideas and melds them into a system both broader and more specific than the originals. I'm looking forward to working with it and seeing if I notice any changes or improvements in my life.

* I purchased the birth chart reviewed in this post, this review was not commissioned, and my own personal opinion is represented.
* The drawings are my own. I used my Hobonichi daily diary. I went over the lines a little bit, and I'm putting that down to the fact that I have a cold at the moment!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Urban Divination Oracle Reading

I did this Oracle card reading for the Grey School Divination Club's July challenge. Now that the challenge is over, I'm posting it for my readers.

I am using Professor Pam Wishbow’s Urban Divination Oracle, which is a new deck that I am using for the first time. Here is my oracle reading:

1. My question is: “Should I open an online shop within the next 6 months?” This is something that I’m planning to do in the future, but I have a lot of commitments at the moment and am wondering if I should delay this particular project. I made sure to choose a specific time period.

2. The spread I chose is one I found on Pinterest. I thought it would be an appropriate spread for a decision regarding a project. In my case, the project is a business one, but also has an emotional component. The five cards from left to right are: 1. Past; 2. Present; 3. Hidden Factors; 4. Advice; 5. Outcome if Advice is Followed.

3. As mentioned previously, I am using Professor Pam Wishbow’s Urban Divination Oracle. The cards I drew are as follows. Please note that the guide only lists 3-4 general keywords for each card, and exhorts the reader to apply their own interpretation to the cards.

1. (Past) THE CROW – intelligent ; grudge ; opinionated
2. (Present) THE SPENT CONDOM – abandon ; wisdom ; desire
3. (Hidden Factors) THE BIN – order ; humility ; structure
4. (Advice) THE RAT – depenance (sic) ; pest (Assuming “depenance” means dependence?)
5. (Outcome if Advice Followed) THE UNOPENED CANDY – temptation ; fascination ; seduction

4. Here are my thoughts on the cards I drew:
1. (Past) THE CROW – I ran an online shop selling zines in the past, and one of the reasons I ended up closing it was because I was anxious of what people would think of the content of my zines. While my writing was intelligent and thoughtfully constructed, I was worried people would think I was opinionated. As well, I may have held a grudge because others were more successful than me.
2. (Present) THE SPENT CONDOM – I have the desire to go ahead with this project, whether it’s wise or not. My logical side says that I already have enough on my plate, but part of me wants to throw caution to the wind. I want to act with abandon.
3. (Hidden Factors) THE BIN – While I tend to think of myself as a disorganised person by default, I’ve run an online shop before, and also currently run my friend’s shop when he is sick or on holidays. I’ve been successful with both, and have been able to keep order and follow structure. This is a capability I don’t always acknowledge. “Order” could also refer to purchase orders! (I have a feeling this deck has a sense of humour…)
4. (Advice) THE RAT – The most obvious meaning to this card is that if I open the shop too soon, with too many other commitments, it will become a pest. Wild rats are something that most people don’t like to have around, and perhaps the shop will become like that if I open it too soon and without enough thought put into it.
5. (Outcome if Advice Followed) THE UNOPENED CANDY – I believe that temptation and fascination refer to a desire for buyers to purchase my art and craft items. Assuming that the advice is to wait until more than 6 months has passed to open the shop, this time might allow fascination with my art and craft to build up.

5. It took me a little longer than normal to find the meaning of this reading. I’m not used to working with this Oracle deck – or with cartomancy in general – so I needed to think over the card meanings more carefully to come to a conclusion. I do think this reading answered my question. It indicates that I should wait at least 6 months before opening an online shop. This will give me time to explore my ideas and build up a stock of products that potential buyers will find tempting. However, I should have confidence that when I do open a shop, I will have the organisational skills to be able to run it successfully.

Professor Pam Wishbow’s Urban Divination Oracle.
Pinterest: “Five Card Spread.”

Monday, 31 July 2017

Grey School Summary :: July 2017

Today marks the end of my first month as a student of the Grey School of Wizardry! Unfortunately, work on most of my classes has ground to a halt because I haven't yet been able to obtain a copy of the required textbook, Grimoire for the Apprenctice Wizard. It's been a bit of a saga! It's on the way now though, and hopefully it should arrive this week. Meanwhile, I've been keeping myself busy by participating in non-academic challenges to earn merit points for my Lodge. Merits can be earned for activities such as book reviews, writing about various aspects of magick, craft projects, etc. At the end of the year the Lodge with the most merit points wins the House Cup, so I really want to earn as many as I can!

I've still been working on the class that doesn't require the textbook: Core Energy Practices 101, but that's also been slow going because I'm not used to meditation, working with energy, etc. I have done the exercises several times, but I'm hesitant to write them up because I'm not confident that I'm "doing it right." Already, I'm finding the School challenging in more ways than I'd anticipated! But that's a good thing.

Classes Completed:
✷ Technomagick 101: Internet Safety
✷ Writing and Citing: How not to Plagiarise

Classes In Progress:
✷ Core Energy Practices 101: Centring, Grounding and the Senses
✷ Wizardry 100: Becoming an Apprentice

✷ This month: 2 Total: 2

Merits Earned:
✷ Academic: 2
✷ Non-Academic: 7

Monday, 24 July 2017

Some Thoughts on Astrology

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I've always had a bit of an ambivalent relationship with Astrology. I'm an Aries, but my personality is almost the complete opposite of what an Aries is supposed to be. I'm not courageous, confident, sporty, energetic or hot-tempered. I've always identified more with the personality type of Pisces, Cancer, or sometimes Aquarius on a good day. For that reason, I've always been a bit suspicious that where the Earth is in relation to the Sun when a person is born can determine their personality. That it can determine what will happen to them on any given day decades after they were born seems even more of a stretch.

I've had occasion to think about Astrology again recently though, when I was sorted into my Lodge at the Grey School of Wizardry. There are four Lodges, and students are sorted into them based on their Astrological Sign. Because I'm a Fire sign, I've been sorted into Flames Lodge. I have to admit, I was a little dismayed by this as I don't relate to the element of Fire at all.

Then I remembered that in Chinese Astrology I'm a Dragon. Not only that, but the year I was born in was a Fire Dragon year -- the fieriest sign of all! I tend to lean more towards Chinese Astrology because it runs on a 12-year cycle, and something big has happened in my life every 12 years so far. Plus being a dragon is kind of cool. In my Astrolenergies chart, I'm a triple Fire. It seems like it was meant to be. So I decided to run with it and embrace my fiery side in Flames Lodge! Perhaps it's time I was more confident, and let my enthusiasm for my passions show. Though I'm not so sure on the part about wanting to be the centre of attention ... we'll see!

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There are other ways of engaging with the concept of Astrology, too. The twelve personality types have their own distinct qualities, and it might be helpful to focus on these in a psychological and symbolic way as a path to self-improvement. Working on a different quality each month over the course of a year could be a very interesting journey to take.

From a more scientific perspective, as the Sun and the Moon move through the houses over the course of a year, their alignment within the solar system changes. Could the alignment of the Moon and planets have any affect on our bodies, our minds or our spirits? I certainly think the Moon is close enough to the Earth to have an affect on us. There are many theories from many cultures about what that effect might be, but I always like to rely on my own observations and intuition first. It's something I want to explore more.

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Surprise Parcel from Belladonna & Bones

[This article was also posted at I'm A Table.]

When I heard last week that Belladonna & Bones was offering a limited edition surprise parcel, I jumped at the chance to secure one for myself. I subscribed to Raheli's monthly herb boxes (links to my other blog I'm A Table) before they disappeared into the aether, and it's always a thrill to receive such quality magical items from a local.

As always, the parcel was generous and accompanied by a thought-provoking card. The brown paper wrapping tied with string was a pleasing vintage touch. Here's what it contained:

+ dried mugwort
+ dried marshmallow
+ dried amanita muscaria mushroom
+ Conpluria flying ointment balm
+ Aureus enchanter's divination balm
+ a hand-dipped divination candle
+ a hand-crafted stoneware offering bowl
+ two glass vials

I'm famously bad at growing herbs, so to be able to obtain some from a local source that I know I can trust is a huge plus. The herb-encrusted divination candle is just wonderful. So much care and work has been put into these products.

I was especially excited when I saw the Aureus balm with its citrine crystal and gold leaf embellishment. I need to find some special magick to use it for very soon!

As always I was thrilled with my purchase from Belladonna & Bones. It's not every day that you can find such well-made products, and more importantly: authentic, from a hugely knowledgeable source. Raheli has hinted that she's working on some new products to be released in the near future -- I can't wait to see what they are.

Monday, 10 July 2017

What is the Grey School of Wizardry?

Seeing as I'm a new student at the Grey School of Wizardry, I'm planning on writing about it quite a bit on this blog! I thought I'd share a bit about what I know of the School so far, so you have a better idea of what I mean when I talk about it.

The Grey School of Wizardry is an online school teaching a wide range of magical theory and practice. The sixteen Departments cover everything from Magickal Practice to Lore, Wortcunning to Beast Mastery, and more. A secular institution, the Grey School accepts students of all religions and spiritual beliefs, and strives to teach magic in a way that will fit into any worldview.

The School was established in 2004 by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, a well-respected figure in American Paganism, and is presided over by a group of around 20 senior magickal practitioners known as the Grey Council. Professor Oberon Zell-Ravenheart is the first and current headmaster of the school.

Professor Oberon Zell-Ravenheart
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The Grey School accepts students from the age of 11 onwards, and adults of all ages. For children, the school is designed to be completed over a 7-year period, much the same as mainstream secondary schools. The Grey School of Wizardry is a registered educational institution in the State of California, and thus provides young people with an alternative but legally recognised education.

Students progress through 7 levels. The terms 'level' and 'year' are used interchangeably, as (especially for adults) learning is self-paced and the student may complete a level in less than or more than a year. The format allows for a rate of learning which suits the individual's life and commitments. After successfully completing the seven years/levels, the student graduates and is presented with a certificate and the title of Journeyman Wizard.

To complete each year/level, the student must obtain 24 credits. Each class is worth between 1 to 3 credits, with most being worth 2. This works out at approximately 12 classes per level. The complexity and maturity of classes increases at each level. The suggested completion time for each class is listed in the class description: most range from 1 week to 6 weeks. Although, as mentioned above, learning is self-paced and there are no due dates for any work. To pass a class, the student must submit one or more assignments in the form of either an essay, multiple choice test, or practical activity.

The Grey School of Wizardry Logo
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Being completely online, the School is location-independent. Anyone from around the world can study at the Grey School, as long as they have internet access. Some classes require students to submit photographs, videos etc., but from what I have seen so far, there are no requirements that would preclude any students with a reasonable knowledge of technology. (And for those with less internet proficiency, there are classes which teach subjects like internet safety, taking and editing photos, etc.) Students can apply for special consideration if there are any barriers to completing a class.

Socially, the school is very lively. Upon enrolling, students are sorting into one of four Houses (there are separate Houses for under 18s; the houses for over-18s are called Lodges). Sorting is based on the student's astrological sign. Students can show their House/Lodge pride with t-shirts, scarves and patches available. The School forums are a place to find out information, socialise and discuss various topics. There is also a Virtual campus on Second Life which I believe is very popular amongst the younger students.

At this stage, perhaps you may be thinking -- hmmm, 7 years, 4 houses, entering at the age of 11? Even a wise headmaster with a long beard? Doesn't that sound a bit familiar?

Well, yes! The Grey School of Wizardry is partly modelled on Hogwarts School from the world of Harry Potter. It was opened just a few years after the first Harry Potter book came out, but the idea was around long before that. As Oberon Zell-Ravenheart mentioned in this YouTube video, the idea for the school had been in his mind for a long time, but it wasn't until he saw how popular the Harry Potter books were that he believed the school could become a reality. (Of course, the advent of the Internet and increase in its uptake would certainly have helped.) The School has Departments for Divination, Beast Mastery and even Defense Against the Dark Arts! Of course, there are differences too. The Grey School teaches 'real life' magic, not 'fictional' magic. There's an important difference. Perhaps I'll write a separate post about that one day soon.

These are my impressions of the Grey School so far, from reading the website and the Student Handbook. After all, I have only been a student for one week at this stage! I'm very much looking forward to getting started with my studies, and I'm sure I'll have a lot more to share once I move further into student life.

Grey School of Wizardry Student Handbook
Grey School of Wizardry Wikipedia Page
Grey School of Wizardry: About
Magickal: YouTube Video