Archive for January, 2007

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Working with The Celtic Oracle

January 29, 2007

The past week’s Oracle work was slow – these cards needed more time to connect, especially since I was overtired, stressed out, and in flux. Oracle work under exhaustion or stress isn’t the best way to learn a new deck. However, once you’re fluent in the language of your particular deck, you will be able to discern what information coming through is genuine and what is simply a product of your stress. After all, we tend to turn to oracles for advice when we’re under pressure.

I worked with The Keeper of Letters, The First Circle, the Second Circle, The Third Circle, and The Mound of Wonders (the latter moving into the element cards).

Being a writer, The Keeper of Letters was the card to which I connected the most strongly. It also reminds me, in addition to the other skills I’m studying these months, that I need to add Ogham back into it. I’ve done a little work with the Ogham, but not nearly enough to be fluent in it, and that’s what I need.

However, there are limited hours in the day, so I need to pick and chose a few things to study in depth, and in turn, or I won’t retain any of it.

If you have tarot questions, please send them here by Friday, and I’ll answer some of them next week.

On Thursday, I hope you will join me to celebrate Imbolc.

Kiuney!

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Herbal Studies

January 25, 2007

Adventures in Herbal Studies

I piled my various texts on herbs, and also the relevant encyclopedias, and dug in.

I quickly realized that I’ll have to add botany texts to the study pile – I need to know what these plants look like, and the line drawings from 1636 just aren’t cutting it for me.

In any case, since Culpepper’s herbal is still around after all these years, I decided to start with the first herb in his repertoire and work my way through.

It’s going to take a few years.

The first herb is Amara Dulcis.

This herb is also known as mortal, bittersweet, woody nightshade, felonwort. There’s an American Bittersweet, also known as wax work and false bittersweet, and a European Bittersweet that goes by the names above as well as violet bloom, scarlet berry, dulcamara, and bitter nightshade, and, according to Gerard (another ancient herbalist), Amarodulcis and Amarodulciia. He adds that Pliny called it Melortrum: Theophrastus and vitus sylvestris, but disagrees, saying the latter is what he considers “Ladies’ Seale” and not a member of the Nightshade family.

It’s masculine, under the astrological sign of Mercury and the element of Air.

Culpepper goes on and on about its curative, restorative, and magical powers. Scott Cunningham agrees with some of that, but points out that American bittersweet is poisonous. The Encyclopedia Britannica and Audobon’s Nature Encyclopedia agree.

Culpepper is eager to use it for preventing witchcraft, while Cunningham suggests putting some under the pillow to forget a past love.

According to the encyclopedia articles, there are 1400-3000 species in the Nightshade family (depending on which encyclopedia you read).

Here I thought I was starting in the “A’s” and I’m in Nightshade. Go figure.

What I didn’t know was that potato, tomato, eggplant, cayenne pepper, tobacco, and belladonna are all members of the Nightshade family.

My overall feeling and my personal decision for working with “Amara Dulcis” is:
Good for birds
Bad for people, horses, cows, sheep, etc, despite Culpepper’s recommendations
Maybe I’d rub it on a bruise, but I sure as heck wouldn’t ingest it!

And I’m realizing that part of learning about these herbs isn’t just ingesting information (pun intended), but figuring out where they fit into my overall work and life.

I’m tempted to keep a separate book of poisons and antidotes, but in this day and age of paranoia, it might be misconstrued as something nefarious when it’s true purpose is so I don’t have any poisonous plants where my animals can get at them.

Sources:

Audobon’s Nature Encyclopedia. Entry for “nightshade”.

Culpepper’s Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpepper. NJ: Chartwell Books. 1985. H. (originally published in 1653).

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham. Minnesota: Llwellyn Publications. Second Edition: 2001. P.

Encyclopedia Britannica. Entries for both “bittersweet” and “nightshade”.

Gerard’s Herbal: John Gerard’s Historie of Plants edited by Maras Woodward. Middlesex, UK: Senate. 1998. P. (originally published in 1636).

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Working With the Celtic Oracle

January 22, 2007

My progress with The Celtic Oracle this past week was interesting. I’m still in the getting-to-know-each-card stage, working card by card.

I worked more with The Ferryman, and then worked with The Woodward, The Lady of the Ways, The Bride of the Waters, The Druid, The Keeper of the Wheel, The Seeress, and The Woman Made of Flowers.

I didn’t journey will all of the representations – that much journeying in such a small space of time would be unhealthy. But there were certain cards I was drawn to more than others, and I will spend more time with them once I’ve worked through the entire deck.

The Ferryman presents an interesting conundrum. According to Matthews, one can journey with the Ferryman in his boat. According to all the material I’ve read about the entity – the only time you get into his boat is for that final journey. So, while I’m drawn to the card, and I may consult him, my feet will stay firmly on this bank.

The Lady of the Ways resonated – Nehelenia – who is now one of the patrons of my herbal studies. I looked at the card, I read the legend, and there was just that “click”. I will work with her frequently (and with Lugh) on the herbal journey.

The Bride of the Waters was also a powerful card to me. That makes sense – I’m a Pisces. In Chinese astrology, I’m a Water Tiger. I work with Cerridwen and her cauldron. That was more a sensation of familiarity than the sensation of discovery I had with The Lady of the Ways.

And with The Keeper of the Wheel . . .simply a sense of reverence.

On Thursday, I will talk about adventures in herbal studies (which I’m sure some of you will find amusing, and I hope all of you will find entertaining).

Another thing – once a month, I’ll answer genuine questions about the tarot. I’ll answer two or three a month, and you can send them here. However, please only send a real question. Abuse, threats, or attempts at coercion (or conversion) will be sent to both Community Justice and the appropriate authorities. Genuine questions will be answered as completely as I can.

Until Thursday – Kiuney!

(In case you’re wondering, “kiuney” is the Manx word for “ serenity, quiet, stillness” – which is the best way to work with tarot and oracles.

Moon: First Quarter in Pisces
Retrograde: Saturn

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New moon, site, and study

January 18, 2007

Terrific news! My website, Cerridwen’s Cottage, is finally live. Of course, I forgot to put up a page with most of the writing details, but that will go up shortly. I’m excited about it.

Today is the New Moon, and the start of the herbal studies. I’ll talk about the studies on Thursdays here on Kemmyrk, and focus on The Celtic Oracle work on Mondays.

To begin my studies, I stacked my books, lit a candle, and asked for a blessing on the work:

Lady and Lord,
Nehelenia and Lugh,
Watch over me
And guide me
As I embark
Down this road
Of study and knowledge.
Keep me alert and aware,
Open and discerning,
Contemplative and explorative,
In the name of Gaia.

I’m looking forward to this adventure!

Moon: New in Capricorn
Retrograde: Saturn

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Herbal Studies and THE CELTIC ORACLE

January 15, 2007

Preparations for Herbal Studies

The ideal would be to sign up for a course in herbalism. However, due to the chaos in my life right now, that’s not an option.

So, starting when the moon turns, I will pull out all those herbals I’ve collected over the years and embark on a study course, a few days a week. That will give me the foundation, so that when I am able to enroll in formal training, I can progress more quickly.

However, to successfully learn what I need to learn, I need to brush up on my Latin. I only had one year of Latin in high school. I loved it, in spite of a rather flaky teacher. And, in the year I took both Latin and French, I got straight A’s in French. Additionally, it was right before I took my SATs and ACTs, and I landed in the top 90% in the former and the top 98% in the latter – thanks in a good part, to the Latin.

How I will juggle all this, I’m not quite sure yet. I have my Latin textbooks and will hunt down a good site or CD or something. Step-by-step, right?

The Celtic Oracle

Meditation has been a bust this weekend. I can’t seem to quiet my mind at all.

So I’ve only connected with the Wildman and the Ferryman cards. I connected deeply with the Ferryman card – but then, I’ve always felt drawn to the ferryman tending the souls across the River Styx. And Cerberus, the three-headed dog at the gate of the Underworld. I’m more likely to give him a cookie (okay, three cookies) than scream.

I will continue to work with the Oracle at night, but do try to study during the day.

Stay tuned to see how this all works out. I’m not setting up a rigid schedule. I have a feeling some herbs will take longer to learn than others.

I will also rely heavily on The Herbal Tarot to help.

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Working with The Celtic Oracle

January 11, 2007

I mentioned, a few posts ago, that I’m working with John Matthews’s The Celtic Oracle (formerly known as The Celtic Shaman’s Pack).

How does one work with a new deck? There are many ways, and I’ve used various ways with various decks. Because I’m often eager to start working with a new deck RIGHT NOW, I don’t always take the time to thoroughly learn each card first – I jump in and learn as I go.

There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, it works quite well. But this deck is quite different from others with which I’ve worked, so I decided to work with it differently.

I am actually starting with the first card in the pack and working my way through it. I’m doing a meditation with each card, in order, familiarizing myself with each before I move on to the next one.

Because I’ve been ill for the past few days, I haven’t worked each day (or, in my case, night. For some reason, I connect better to this deck at night).

So far, I’ve worked with The Tree of Vision and Tradition, The Vision Singer (Bard) and The Walker Between the Worlds (Vision Seeker).

As a writer, I connected strongly to the Vision Singer/Bard card. The harp enveloped in flames against a pale green background, surrounded by trees with hearts for leaves – and hearts amongst the flames – resonated strongly. As a writer, the personal depth of this card to me makes sense.

In working with the card, my comfort zone and first instinct will be to work shamanically via the Vision Singer. The fact that it is my comfort zone makes me think I should work a little harder to work with The Walker Between the Worlds and The Wildman. Part of growth is moving beyond the comfort zone.

I apologize for not being able to post a photo of the card; I do not have permission from the publisher to do so. I’m afraid, for this deck, you’ll have to rely on my words, and I will try to “sing” them to you in a way to make the images visible to you.

Moon: 4th Quarter (Waning) in Libra
Retrogrades: Saturn

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Competitive/Comparative Spirituality

January 11, 2007

One of the temptations we need to fight as we wend our way down the spiritual pathways, highways, and byways, is the tendency towards competitive or comparative spirituality.

It happens in places like yoga classes all the time – people comparing themselves to each other. Not trying to be their best selves in the asanas, but trying to be better than their classmates, to get more of the teacher’s praise.

Unfortunately, it happens in circles and spiritual workshops as well. We want to be good at whatever we do. Unfortunately, too often, we take it too far and try to prove we’re good because someone else is “not good”.

In reality, they may simply progress at a different pace or have different goals. We can’t compare ourselves to anyone else when it comes to something as ephemeral and personal as spirituality.

What we can do is strive to meet our own goals, and encourage our fellow travelers to do the same.

(Note: This was originally posted on Kemmyrk over on Blogger on January 8, 2007)