went to Salem yesterday. that place is so lovely. we left later in the day, and the traffic was horrendous, so we didn't get there until nightfall. still, it was great to walk around there at night. there are lights on many of the low-overhanging trees, illuminating the cobblestone streets. there are corn-husks on the old-fashioned lightposts and Halloween themed shoppes everywhere, not to mention plenty of witchcraft-supply shops. i didn't end up buying anything, because i am fairly poor right now, and i just didn't see anything that i fancied enough. but i really enjoyed seeing some of the jewelry and other homemade wares.
in one of the shops, they also had an altar off to the side. it was basically a shrine to people's ancestors and loved ones. you could write messages on little slips of paper, and include pictures or other mementos and add them to the altar. they were keeping it up until Samhain, and then they said they were going to burn all the messages to send them up to the heavens. neat idea, huh? i'm thinking of doing something similar on Samhain for my lost loved ones and pets, since i already have pictures of relatives and my rat's ashes on my little altar anyway. lost ancestors and loved ones (even pets) are a big part of my beliefs.
anyway, we ate at a neat little cafe and i had a basil/tomato/mozarella sandwich, and i tried a strawberry beer..later on i had a pumpkin-flavoured icecream, yummy eats! we also saw a guy dressed in Jack Sparrow garb, he looked exactly like him, it was eerie! and there were plenty of trick-or-treaters..apparently it's Halloween the entire month of October in Salem. :)
one thing we saw in one of the shops was wooden and handmade spirit boards/ouijas... which reminded me of a couple experiences i had whilst still pretty young (and long before i discovered my path).
my first experience with a ouija board was when i was 12. my best friend Erica had one of those generic store-bought ones, and wanted to use it with me. i was an agreeable and curious sort of kid, so despite the fact that I grew up in a strictly Christian household and was of course told that these were "evil", i ignored such claims (i was never told why they were "evil"!), and we decided to give it a shot. my friend did not grow up like me (surrounded by religion)-- her parents were really down-to-earth hippie types, and were open with her about everything-- so she knew a bit about them. we lit some candles and sat on her bed. she told me we basically had to lightly put our fingers on the oracle, and we both had to concentrate really hard on the same question awhile..then ask the question out loud, and then it would spell out the answer, or point to "yes or no". i found this very intriguing. of course, being as we were 12, we asked it things about boys we had crushes on and the like, rather than in-depth questions. but it DID indeed "move" for us. it "answered" us for most of our silly little questions. the only question i can remember specifically to this day, is that we asked it who i was going to marry (LOL--the things that are important when you're 12!)-- and it gave me the initials "BD". i find this funny now since my boyfriend/alleged fiancee's initials are neither "B" nor "D". but i guess time will tell, lol. nothing particularly scary happened really, but i did get in a boatload of trouble once my Christian foster parents found out.
the other time i got a chance to use one was a few years later. i was 14 or 15. i was watching my older foster sister's kids at her apartment. she wanted to party and drink that night with her friends (she had her kids way too young--she was only 18 or 19 at this time), so even though she was there in the apartment anyway, she wanted me to be there to watch the little ones because she knew i would stay sober. anyway, at some point in the night the ouija board was brought out. the kids were already in bed by then, but i was staying over, so i was still there. and she asked me to participate with her and her friends. once again, i figured why not? my past experience hadn't scared me in any way.
this ended up being a more significant experience for me with the board. we turned off all the lights and set it up in the kitchen. we lit a tapered candle in the middle of the table. there were about 5-6 of us. the beginning started off fairly benign-- you know, typical basic questions and "answers" type deal. then my foster sister wanted to try to contact a spirit of someone we knew who had passed on. but nobody really knew anyone that had died...except for me. my father had passed away when I was 8, in kind of a traumatic way. my sister asked me if I wouldn't mind trying to contact him. i consented..i missed him dearly..of course it appealed to me to have a chance to talk to him again. so we all concentrated on trying to contact him. after awhile, we asked if he was there (specifically asked by name), and got the response "yes". we asked him basic questions really- about him or me- to try to prove if it really was him and not some tricky spirit. i remember my hands were shaking, i felt almost dizzy. i wish i could remember exactly what we asked and responses, but i didn't write it down and it was so long ago now. but i do remember that my sister said something like, "if you are really here with us, give us some sort of sign," and the candle noticeably flickered right after. and i remember going to bed that night, and i really felt that i had talked to him, that i had reached him. it meant alot to me since i never had a chance to say my goodbyes to him in life.
i tried one other time as an adult to use one, but i was alone, and nothing happened. it's been years now since i've attempted or thought about these things.
i'm unsure about what to think about these experiences now. could my friend Erica have been moving the oracle that first time? sure, i guess. all i can say is that i know i wasn't, and that she was my best friend, and i doubt that she would manipulate me that way.
could my sister and her friends have moved it the other time? i suppose. but this foster sister of mine was very close to me, and knew how i felt about my dad. she was there the day they told me the news, she was the one that held me as i cried. i highly doubt she would play such a trick on me, to make me think we were contacting him when indeed we weren't.
is it all just a subconscious mind-game? perhaps. this is the argument many people make: that consciously you don't feel as if you are moving it, but subconsciously you are. i don't know. maybe in some instances, that could be the case. but as i do believe in the spirit realm-- as i have for years, even before i found my path-- i do think there are plenty of instances where the experience is genuine.
knowing what i know now, of the danger that can (though often doesn't?) occur when opening such "doors" as a tool such as the ouija can do at times, i have more trepidation toward trying it again sometime...but i wouldn't rule it out. with the right person or people, and with precautions taken, i might someday give it a more objective chance, based on the knowledge i now have. but i think that there are other, safer ways i can keep contact with benevolent spirits and ancestors without utilizing such means. i like to think that the spirits are everywhere...they are within the trees and cobblestone streets of Salem, and in the breezes that whisper through the autumn leaves. i don't necessarily need a board to "hear" them. i think they are probably with me most of the time.
anyway, i must dive into my mountain of schoolwork now. hope everyone is enjoying beautiful October and living life well and healthily.
haven't been posting much, i know...but i have been reading all the blogs i have been following, and am still deeply immersed in my path, as well as learning about others' paths. i've just been busy gearing up for going back to college (my last full year i think!), making some jewelry to try to get my etsy shoppe back up, cleaning my house, playing with my ratties, that sort of thing.
and of course, reading. the two books i am reading now: "Natural Witchcraft" by Marian Green, and "The Mist-Filled Path" by Frank MacEowen.
these are two decent books-- i have gleaned some insight from them (and they are at least a step up from a few other "101"-type books i've skimmed through)-- but they still don't really relate to my path on a great level. i do enjoy reading about other people's paths anyway though; i think it's important because there are so many different "flavours" of paganism, it's good to educate yourself. but it's been a challenge for me to find ANY book that is genuinely Trad. Craft based, to help me grow in my own path; not to mention the difficulty of finding books without any Wiccan undertones...
that's why i'm SO happy "The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill" will be arriving to my home any day now. i've read several of Robin Artisson's articles online, and his work seems to be the closest to my intrinsic beliefs of any writer i've found thus far (of course i'm sure there's more, i just haven't found them yet). so i have high hopes for this book. the other book that will come with this one is "Hedge-Rider: Witches and the Underworld" by Eric Devries. that looks interesting as well, but i'm more impatient for the Artisson book for sure. all other future books will have to wait until i find a job or make money off etsy. how sad to be broke, but i'll have to switch focus to all my formal educational studies soon anyway.
other topics that have been in my periphery, but that i want to study more or ruminate further upon before posting about:
-charms, amulets, talismans
-"magic" as seen in christianity
-history of runes
-symbols and their meanings
plenty more i can't think of at this second..
as i continue to progress, i'm sure i will begin posting more-- i'm still just really forming the basis of my beliefs, keeping three journals (one for herbs and remedies, one for dreams, one for general thoughts), and studying. so that is my main focus right now. but i'll share some more thoughts and experiences as i feel more comfortable.
i'm a product junkie, i won't lie. my bathroom has a shelving unit built-in, which consists of a few towels, like 1/2 of a shelf of my boyfriend's necessities, and about 3 shelves of all my products. i think i'm addicted to beauty regimens. :-/
anyway, my new path is forcing me to rethink all of this. i really am starting to feel badly about it. in no way is it good for the earth, and some even contain chemicals i probably shouldn't even be using anyway. i really want to stop over-consuming all this unnecessary stuff and get back to basics. i'm not going to throw out all of what i have--i mean that would be wasteful too. but once i'm done with these things, i definitely do not plan on getting anymore. it's a habit i need to break. in the meantime, i'm working on finding natural and homemade remedies, and experimenting with making products in my kitchen. :)
so today i decided to try out a few very basic remedies using stuff already in my house. i tend to stock up on more fruits than i end up eating, same for veggies. i end up throwing some out because they rot really fast. not good! so anything i can do with food before it goes bad in my fridge is great!
so here's a little face mask i whipped up today:
-1/2 mashed banana
-3 tbsp organic soy yogurt
-4 large, mashed strawberries
apparently, strawberries contain natural acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid (which is what they put in expensive acne products!).
banana has many vitamins which help moisturize and smooth dry or aging skin.
soy yogurt (or regular yogurt!) contains alot of lactic acid, which helps soothe reddened skin and cleanses pores.
other things you can add which are reported to be great for natural skincare:
-lemon juice (said to help oily skin-- but be careful, some people including me, have a reaction to citrus juices on the skin)
-honey! (this is said to be extremely beneficial to the skin-- i will be trying it once i have some on hand.)
-oatmeal (natural exfoliant for dry skin)
-avocado (many vitamins and fatty acids help repair and rejuvenate)
-cucumber (cooling/soothing for tired skin)
-tomatoes (rich in antioxidants)
-papaya (for blemishes)
-apples (tone and tighten skin)
my hair is also kinda dry and frizzy at the moment. i cut it two nights ago, hoping that would help (it didn't.) so i decided to try the remedy of just plain old olive oil on my hair. simply comb olive oil through hair, let sit for 20 minutes, then rinse out with cool water. shampoo/condition as usual. my hair does indeed seem to be less frizzy!
-1 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup olive oil
-sephora's vanilla cupcake dry oil (this was the only scented oil type product i had on hand..lol..well it really was a great addition!)
very refreshing! my skin feels soft and smooth.
i'm just learning to make homemade stuff, but eventually i'd like to learn to make my own soaps, lotions, shampoos, etc. ^-^
do you have any homemade "products" that you use? or do you prefer store-bought regimens?
after a long time being vegetarian, i finally decided to take the plunge into veganism about a month ago. of course, me being me, i didn't plan anything out beforehand (i.e. research, recipes). it was sort of a spontaneous effort. i had been considering it for a long time-- i've always felt it was the right thing to do for me personally, for a few reasons. and randomly one day i just decided to finally stop procrastinating and do it.
i was, however, unprepared for several difficulties and challenges. one being the amount of planning it takes just to make everyday meals. no more making an easy batch of cookies-- oh no, substitutions such as molasses or silken tofu should be on hand, things i have never kept in my cabinet ever. no more eating most of the "fake meats" i had come to love and have as a staple, such as my all-time fave, imitation bacon; the majority of these are also made with milk and eggs apparently. no more grilled cheese sandwiches for an easy lunch, or yogurt for snacks. most challenging thing: going out to eat with my boyfriend. he's a carnivore, and i'm sure he always will be. my gosh..trying to find places that cater to both of us is a real lesson in ingenuity and patience.
i was doing pretty well for awhile there. i made some yummy vegan chocolate chip cookies. i made stir-frys, tempura vegetables, veggie sandwiches, bean burritos. i discovered rice dream milk (sooo good) and soy yogurt. i was snacking on nuts and fruits. i thought i had a handle on things. i was patting myself on the back.
then the other day, i was insanely hungry. i hadn't eaten all day, it was 7pm and my tummy was needing a hearty, filling meal. but my cabinets were nearly empty (at least of vegan stuff). alas, the prospect of some frozen veggies and an orange was none too appealing in my hungry state. and we didn't at all feel like going out grocery shopping. and so we ordered pizza. that's right, take-out pizza from Uno's..with extra cheese..and broccoli/cheese soup..and later on, a Nutrageous candy bar for dessert. it tasted fantastic, i'm not gonna lie, i enjoyed it at the moment. but it was pretty much the meal of vegan antithesis to the max.
my body did not like this change at all. my stomach was upset the rest of the next day following. not to mention i was feeling pretty guilty too.
sooo i went grocery shopping tonight. i don't want to give up on this just yet. i know that i feel ten times healthier when i am putting the right foods in my body. i've even lost a little weight without dieting or exercise. (if you knew me, you'd know that's a feat, lol).. my kitchen is now once again stocked with delicious healthy foods and i don't think i'll be ordering any more pizzas anytime soon. and i found a vegan cheese at the supermarket! it's made by Tofutti and it's "mozarella" slices. this may help me out a great deal. cheese is my weakness.
i love animals, and i really do want to stick with this and not just be a part-time vegan.
(feel free to throw any tips my way!)
it's been a lovely few days. the boy and i ate sandwiches at a park near my house a few days ago, and i made another animal friend:
this squirrely came right up to me without provocation and was taking food right from my hand. when my boyfriend tried to feed it, it scurried away. haha. i don't know what it is about animals automatically trusting me. i guess they know who loves them. ^-^
then saturday i went to a lovely shoppe and got several herbs and a beautiful set of amethyst runes. i spent a few hours yesterday researching each runic symbol and its meanings. i am not entirely certain in what capacity i will be using them just yet, but i am sure it will come to me. there's a reason we are drawn to certain things, so i listen to my inner pull on things-- at least i try to as much as possible.
one of the herbs i got was valerian. i put it in a corked jar as soon as i got home, yet by evening my whole kitchen stunk of it. it's now in a tupperware container in a cabinet until i decide to try it. i've heard good things regarding its helpfulness with insomnia (which plagues me regularly). for now though, it can stay sealed up.
i also found a great resource for herbs:
it has many herbal tea recipes, and tons of other ways to use herbs in the home. it gave me several good ideas, as i still have a lot to learn. i have a "magical herbalism" book, which was useful in the sense that it explained different properties of herbs, but i needed something that would give me more practical applications beyond spellwork or ritual uses. i am going to be making some magickal sachets though..
i must end this for now, i have a major bout of housecleaning to do, then i may be falling into "gauntlet: dark legacy" for the evening. i normally don't enjoy video games but we snagged a copy of this old game, and i lenjoyed it back in the day, and i'm happy to reminisce.