Divining with Animal Guides Now Available For Pre-Order

September 22, 2017

You can now pre-order my next book Divining With Animal Guides: Answers From the World at Hand through Amazon US or Amazon UK. Pre-ordering the book generates interest and helps the publisher with promotional decisions, so if you want to read this book, please consider pre-ordering. You don’t have to pay until the book is shipped. Publication date is February 23rd.

Here is another excerpt:

Ravens yelling in an aspen tree. Photo: U.S. National Park Service.
No matter how much research is funded and how many papers published, ravens and crows will always understand us better than we understand them. Their survival depends on becoming familiar with our behavior, exploiting our weaknesses and avoiding our traps. They are now so attuned to our ways that they are aware of variations in speed limit along the roads they scavenge and have learned the basics of picnic etiquette.

Though our interactions with crows and ravens have changed as we have changed, the symbiotic relationship between us is ancient. Since they know so darn much about what is going on, it would be surprising if they had not been designated creatures of prophecy. Are they truly omniscient? Do they really know that you will have unexpected guests for dinner, and that the light on your answering machine is blinking? This seems like a bit of a stretch, even for me. The thing of it is, in divination it does not matter what the raven knows; what matters is what we know when we encounter the raven.

When Alexander of Macedon saw ravens quarreling at the gates of Babylon, the emperor knew this was an evil sign, though he continued into the city. A few weeks later he was on his deathbed. Ravens portended calamity to this man in this place at this time in his life. The association of ravens with death and ill fortune is the most widespread and pervasive in Western cultures. In folklore of southern Spain, for example, one croak of the raven means misfortune and three croaks means death.

But is disaster necessarily the message of the raven? When Alexander was lost in the deserts west of Egypt, after torrential rains wiped out the road, two ravens appeared, and the emperor understood they had appeared to guide his party. Soon the conquerors had found the oasis at Siwa. Ravens portended salvation to this same man in this other place at this other time in his life. Whether Classical historians were embellishing or accurately reporting is not important here: the contradictory interpretations show a nuanced view of raven symbolism, dependent on circumstantial variables.

How Do Wild Animals Weather the Storm?

September 15, 2017
Anhinga at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Photo: Euku.

The US has experienced two major hurricanes over the past two weeks, and like many people I have been following the news on these events closely. The last statistics on fatalities that I found report that seventy-one people died in hurricane Harvey and eighty-one in Irma. More than half of the Irma fatalities occurred in the Caribbean. Death tolls from these storms are expected to continue to rise.

As devastating as these hurricanes were, I couldn’t help but compare the loss of life to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, where over 1,800 people died. One of the reasons that many people in Katrina’s path refused to evacuate was that they did not want to abandon their pets. Storm shelters were not allowing pets and buses were refusing to transport people accompanied by animals. This time around shelters were prepared to accept people accompanied by animals and animal shelters were also poised to help evacuees who could not leave with their pets.

So dogs and cats, as well as people, fared better in these major hurricanes than in previous ones. Many people are asking, what about wildlife in the regions where hurricanes made landfall?

Six toed cat at Hemingway House. Photo: Avarette.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, on the south Texas coast, was hit hard by Harvey and is closed until further notice. Major damage occurred at the visitor information center, and it may turn out to be a total loss. Public viewing platforms also suffered damage. A full assessment of damage has not occurred yet due to unsafe conditions for grounds crews. A problem with flooding in this area is almost inevitable petroleum and other chemical contamination as well as debris that could potentially harm wildlife. Refuge spokespersons report that major beach erosion occurred but that the saltwater marshes, major migratory bird habitats, suffered no obvious damage. The good news is that whooping crane migration to this area does not begin until next month. About half of the critically endangered whooping cranes winter at the Refuge.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in southwest Florida also suffered major damage to buildings and boardwalks. The Sanctuary is closed and there is no word yet on when it will be reopened. Again, an assessment of damage to the Sanctuary will not be completed for some time for reasons of safety, in this case the major hazard being fallen trees and unsafe structures. On Big Pine Key, deer have been spotted since Irma tore through. It is unknown what effect the hurricane had on the population of the rare Key deer species. On Key West, Hemingway’s famous six-toed cats evidently survived the storm just fine.

Whooping Crane family at
Aransas NWR. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife.
Birds and animals have a number of survival mechanisms for dealing with catastrophic hurricanes, which is not to say that they all necessarily survive. Many birds and small animals retreat into tree cavities, which provide wonderful shelter provided that the tree does not topple or floodwaters do not reach the cavity. Migratory birds are aware of tropical storms across great distances and will adjust their migratory schedules to avoid major storms. Some migratory birds fly into storms and survive, and they may even hang out in the “eye” until the storm breaks up. In both of these scenarios, surviving birds may be pushed very far out of their natural habitats. A bigger problem for bird survival than immediate deaths from wind and rain is the loss of habitat. Bird habitat is vanishing at an alarming rate due to human development, pollution, and global warming, so habitat loss from hurricanes can have a big impact.

Here are the links for updates on damage assessments at Corkscrew and Aransas.

Have you seen information yet about the webinar I will be leading on Mastering Moon Energies?

New Webinar for October

September 8, 2017

I’m excited to announce that I will be leading another webinar in October.

MASTERING MOON ENERGY
How the Moon Effects Your Magic

A Webinar with Hearth Moon Rising

How does moon energy enhance (or inhibit) the effectiveness of your spells? What rituals work best for various moon phases? How do moon phases and sun positions interact magically? This class will help you use moon and sun energies more effectively in your practice.

The five week class will cover:

1) Dynamics of the moon’s path. Why does the moon effect life on earth so profoundly?
2) How do moon phases and signs influence a ceremony, spell, or activity?
3) How to handle void-of-course and eclipse energies.

The webinar is open to women and men and is appropriate for all levels of experience. Witches, druids, heathens, ceremonial magicians, and shamans will find this class helpful.

The webinar will meet Mondays October 9 to November 6 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time. Meetings will be recorded and registrants will be able to access the lecture portion of the recording whether or not they attend.

Cost is $80.

More information here.

This Disease Cannot Be Excised: Countering Patriarchal Religion

August 28, 2017

Update August 31st. The Return to Mago website is back up and you can read this article here.

Painting of Virgin Mary
Jan van Eyck 1432

It is clear to many feminists that the most important and challenging avenues for pursuing women’s liberation in the twenty-first century are elimination of poverty and freedom from violence. Violence and poverty are heavily gendered, with men the overwhelming perpetrators in these areas and both women and men the victims. As access to government has been achieved in Western countries while male violence and feminized poverty remain, the advancement of women’s rights has stalled and stagnated. A multi-pronged approach is rightly seen as the only way to break through millennia of patriarchal oppression. [article continues…]

Feast of Vulcan

August 23, 2017
Please don’t cook me! Go vegan. Photo: Cassandra Tiensivu.

August 23rd is the Roman Feast of Vulcan. The god was propitiated on this day for a long life. Fish were thrown into the flames as a substitute for human lives. The concept of the fish as a metaphor for the human soul is much older than Christianity.

You can always make paper fish for the Vulcan fire. They burn better anyway. Photo: Pedroserafin.

Solar Eclipse 2017

August 18, 2017

Photo: NASA
Fear around eclipses has been recorded since Babylonian times, and in fact many of the Babylonian advances in mathematics and astronomy were inspired by a need of rulers to anticipate and prepare for eclipses. What’s so bad about an eclipse? It’s a stressful time on the planet, where health, mental health, and relationships can break down. Violence can also be a manifestation of this breakdown. Maintaining stasis is difficult.

Another way of looking at the stress of an eclipse is that some things do need to be leveled. Both the violence in Charlottesville which occurred last week and the subsequent groundswell against white supremacy are manifestations of an eclipse. Decisions to step up the leveling of statues glorifying the era of slavery in the United States are also influenced by the energy of the eclipse.

A solar eclipse is a clearing energy, so working to clear bad habits or uproot problems in a relationship is a way of working with this energy. This is not a time for starting something new, not until the clearing energy of the lunar/solar eclipse combined with Mercury retrograde exhausts itself by the next new moon in late September. It is a time for taking extra precautions regarding personal safety: people are driving a bit crazy right now.

In my own life, the eclipse window has coincided with dental problems, the flu, and an irrepressible compulsion to literally clean house. If you have anything you wish to clear out, literally or figuratively, this is the time.

Goddess of the Harvest

August 11, 2017

All Hail the Winsome Freya

Photo: Jerzy_Strzelecki

All Hail the Mighty Cerridwyn

Photo: Joshua Lutz

All Hail the Nourishing Demeter

Photo: Myrabella

These triple goddesses have traditionally been worshiped in porcine form. The pig embodies the generating, nourishing, destroying aspects of the Triple Goddess.

What’s in Your Harvest?

August 4, 2017

I’ve been eating very well lately. Here is my Lammas offering of food from my garden and local farmers: lettuce, carrot, radish, cucumber, tomato, blueberries, basil, bread. Thank you Goddess!

Raining Mice

July 28, 2017
Photo: US Fish and Wildlife

There is a curious section in Aradia: Gospel of the Witches by Charles Leland that describes the goddess Diana’s incarnation in human form and her marvelous spellcasting to impress the witches. The passage says that “she declared that she would darken the heavens and turn all the stars into mice.” Diana duly accomplishes this feat, the heavens rain with mice, and Diana is crowned Queen of the Witches.

So why does Diana make it rain mice, of all things, to impress the witches? The answer lies in the dual roles of Apollo, as god of light and god of mice. Possibly these roles became syncretized with Apollo as he absorbed many other gods, but at any rate Diana was turning the stars (light) into another of their forms: mice. This is why Diana once chose to make it rain mice.

Cats and Dogs

July 21, 2017
Photo: Brocken Inaglory

Ever wonder about the phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs”? Most people recognize this as a description of a fierce rain shower, but have you ever seen cats and dogs pouring down from the sky?

The folklore behind the saying has two parts. A lightning strike in European folklore (and in some other places, such as the Philippines) is associated with a dog bite. That makes sense: electricity has a bite to it, so being struck by lightning probably would feel like a dog bite.

What about the cats? There is also a longstanding belief in folklore that cats cause it to rain by vigorously washing their faces.

So, raining cats and dogs refers to a type of storm where there is torrential rain (caused by the cats) and lightning (biting dogs).