The Haunted Fate

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Herbs – Rue

Rue (Ruta graveolens), also known as Herb of Grace or Common Rue, has been captivating my attention lately. It has many magical uses and it is an excellent addition to mojo bags and spells of protection. I have often used Rue water and leaves for just such things, but lately I find myself wanting to explore this herb more deeply.

For instance, Rue can also be used to bring weath. In Helping Yourself with Selected Prayers, there is a wonderful prayer to be used along with rue tea which is then sprinkled over your threshold and around the house. I couldn’t wait to try this and must say it proved very successful.

If you find that you have difficulty growing your own, Mountain Rose Herbs is a great supplier of organic rue. The Flower Essence Society has a very in depth look at the herb for further

As often as I have grabbed Rue for this or that, I must admit to never really bonding with it before. I always encourage people to get to know the plants they use. Cultivate the plant and the relationship with the plant to fully utilize its potential. My recent fascination with Rue is a great reminder to myself to not forget this, especially with the herbs I don’t use often or can take for granted. Happy magic making!

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Family Ghost Stories

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Shakespeare, Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

There seem to be two kinds of families – those who have family ghost stories and those who don’t.  I come from a family full of them and they were often told over late night conversations around the kitchen table.  These are some of my favorite childhood memories.  The stories challenged me to think about my views of reality.  I was shaped from an early age into someone who accepts the possibility that there is much more to the world around us than most of us ever realize, as so eloquently phrased by Shakespeare above.

According to the stories, mediumship has always run in the family.  One of my great aunts had the gift of sight so strongly that she was constantly nervous and everyone teased her about it.  Still she was often sought out for counsel.  It wasn’t uncommon, so the stories go, for her to have some pertinent information for a family member provided by someone formerly deceased.

The family once moved into a house owned by a butcher who had, during  a particularly stressful time, hung himself from the upstairs balcony.  Before too long, they were awakened by the sound of a little bell ringing.  Upon investigation, they found the spirit of the butcher riding his bike around the dining room table ringing his bike bell as he did when made home deliveries in life.  After several weeks of this performance they found another place to live.

My great grandmother had frequent visits from her own mother, who had died very young, throughout her entire life.  She also claimed to have a friendly sort of spirit that would shake her big toe every morning to wake her so that she never overslept.

Each of these stories, including the ones not shared, are precious to me.  They are part of the rich fabric that holds a family together.  They reveal what was important to each person, even though they are now long gone.  If you have family stories too, I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into mine.  And if you don’t, I hope you found them as mysterious and entertaining as I did when I was a child, gathered around a table in the dark of night, hearing adults share in hushed whispers the experiences they might never admit to in the bright light of day.

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Threshold Experiences

Throughout folklore and legend, one of the more likely places for otherworldly experiences to take place is the threshold. The threshold is any place of transition such as doorways, gates, halls, bridges, dusk, dawn, the waterline, and the place where mist ends and visibility begins.

It should also be mentioned that there are psychological thresholds as well like life transitions and first meetings.  There is an excellent book by Michael Conforti called Threshold Experiences: The Archetype of Beginnings which examines this psychological territory from a Jungian perspective.

Thresholds have a naturally mysterious quality about them. They represent the unknown, what comes next, and the inevitability of change. This makes us uneasy as these are all things to which we can be naturally resistant.  We may fear the unknown, dread unpredictable change, or want to hold onto the present.  Even positive change is not without apprehension, because we can never be completely sure it will be positive until we get there.

This creates a natural atmosphere for us to experience something “out of the ordinary”. We may glimpse a figure that is not there when we look more closely, or feel the hair stand up on the back of our necks. Standing in a field before morning, with the fog hanging low into the tree line makes it easy to understand why our ancestors saw Fae cavorting or wandering spirits just outside the place of clear seeing.

Have you had a threshold experience? Share about it below!

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The Ghosts of Christmas

Most of us know tlightshat Halloween (Samhain) is the traditional time the veil between the worlds is thin and spirits can travel easily between them. However, many people experience the presence of departed loved ones at the holidays.  We often cry for no reason when hearing certain songs in spite of the festivity of the season, we hear the echoes of Christmases past, and we may have dreams about those who are no longer with us.   The emotions brought about during the season, and the focus on both family and memories, provide a perfect atmosphere for spirit communication.

In my family the kitchens were the hub of the holiday, with the in-law apartment oven and my grandmother’s primary oven going non-stop at the same time.  There was much bustling and making and arguing over recipes.  There was special holiday coffee and talk of family members I never met because they were before my time.  This was my family, who were not without their demons, at their best.

These days, my grandparents and great-grandparents are long gone.  At the holidays, though, they might as well be at the table.  When I make the traditional family stuffing, they argue about how much sage I should add.  I often get told I am going to over or under cook the meat.  Most of all though, I feel a loving connection to what once was without the angst that sometimes accompanied the reality.  This is the gift of the season.

If you are cooking and you hear a remembered voice softly speak in your memory, remember those we loved.  If you have something burn just like Aunt so-and-so always did, enjoy that laughter shared at the table.  And if you are feeling adventurous, after everyone is finished, prepare a little plate with favorite foods, and maybe a cup of that coffee everyone was drinking, or eggnog, or wine, and put it on the table for those who are gone.  Light a white candle next to it, and go on about your festivities.

Happy Holidays, and blessings all around!12262013lightingcandles