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Have a sweet day, everyone!

Heather – Luck, Celebration, and Community (also Alienation and Yearning to belong)

Meaning: Heather honey is so delicious that some beekeepers transport their hives to the moors each summer to harvest the flowers. Heather, like Clover, is considered to be highly auspicious and a bringer of good fortune. A major celebration may be imminent or the time may have come for you to start celebrating all that is best in your life. Heather symbolizes the power and the joy of community, and much of our pleasure and our pains result from living together. We spend much of our time thinking about the difficult aspects of relationships and of our life, to try to make sense of them. But try thinking about your life with a different focus. Spend some time dwelling on all the positive aspects of the people you know and have known. Then do the same for your family and community.

Choosing this card may also be indicative of the fact that you are becoming more aware of the communities you live in – at work, at home and spiritually. You may feel drawn to becoming more actively involved in them, or perhaps you are contemplating a change in your relationship toward them.

This card could also mean that even though you may be trying to get out of a situation, you are probably being driven by a yearning for a deeper sense of community. Choosing this card reversed may indicuatethat you feel you don’t belong – in your family, at work, or in your relationship. This feeling may be mild or severe, but behind it could be the urge to be part of a community or tribe, as well as a loving relationship, in a way that your current situation does not satisfy.

Rather than trying to get away from this feeling by leaving on e situation and jumping into another without much thought, Heather may be urger you to pause and explore more fully your feelings of alienation or not belonging to discover which aspect of your life you need to consider changing.

Plant Info: Heather is a hardy shrub indigenous to most of Europe and Asia Minor, and can grow in both wet and dry areas. Typically topping out and 18 inches tall, it grows on hills and mountains above where the trees will grow, and on open heaths, so named because they are covered in Heather.

The Picts were using Heather to many an alcoholic drink over four thousand years ago – as archeologists discovered on the Isle of Rhum, where a Neolithic shard was unearthed with traces of fermented beverage made with Heather Flowers. Heather beer was made in Scotland for centuries, drunk in the highlands from cattle horns, and in 1994 its commercial production was revived. In the past, Heather ale was popular in Wales and was drunk for its restorative powers.

Heather is associated with good luck, which could be because heather is associated with bees that are also associated with community and celebration. A heather pillow is said to give restful sleep, and adding its flower tips to hot water makes a refreshing tea or bath.

Druid Plant Oracle by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm and artist Will Worthington

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Blessed Imbolc and Candlemas! Brigid was the first goddess I dedicated myself to, and she is still the one I look to for inspiration the most. She has so many characteristics that admirable, so that makes it easy to find a way to connect with her. The local hearth of the women’s group I’m in has been reading and discussing Lunea Weatherstone’s book, Tending Brigid’s Flame. Through that contemplation, I realized the only reason I pulled away from Brigid as a goddess is because she seemed too widespread – like she could be anyone’s goddess. Now, of course, I realize that was my ego getting in my way. While I am dedicated to another goddess, Brigid is still a huge part of my spiritual foundation and a touchstone for me.

But whether you are a devotee of Brigid or not, you can still enjoy her day with some appropriate foods for the day or just by lighting a candle. We’ve set up our altar for the occasion (the box on the right is not related to it – it’s the ashes of our sweet dog Kaitlyn and we simply want to honor her on our small altar space as well). We’ve made the Brigid’s cross from some local grasses as we do not have the traditional reeds.

Many folks like to overlook their employment when it comes to matters of spirit. A good workplace and work that is fulfilling (note that I didn’t say “that you love” – because that’s often hard to get) can create a work life that feeds the spirit. Wayland, the smith of the gods, proves a good example of this. If you’re not there, perhaps focus on your skills, creative project, or some connection that might help you achieve that.

Blessing and have a blessed Imbolc!

Eight of Shields – Wayland

Meaning: Employment, commissions, craftsmanship. The positive, productive use of one’s skills. Focusing one’s energy on work. Employment that brings self-satisfaction. Intense labor. A creative endeavor. Learning a new skill or trade. Having a modest attitude toward accomplishments. Enjoying work and the rewards it brings.

On the flip side, this card could indicate that in the workplace, you feel trapped, despondent, or unmotivated. An unfulfilling profession. Producing poor quality work. Exploitation, vanity, and hypocrisy.

The Story: Deep within the earth, Wayland practices his craft.

The Saxon smith Wayland is the Norse smith Volundr who became incorporated into the mythology of Britain. Wayland was the master craftsman to the gods, whose weapons were so fine that they sang in the air. The coveted work of this god of smiths led King Nidud to abduct him. Nidud hamstrung the smith to prevent his escape and then forced his lame prisoner to work.

The art of the smith and magician were thought to be closely related, and it was by magic that the smith eventually escaped the clutches of Nidud, after which he sought a terrible revenge upon the king’s family.

Over time, Wayland became associated with many of Britain’s ancient sites, and appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The Life of Merlin. The spirit of Wayland is said to haunt a neolithic burial chamber known as Wayland’s Smithy in Oxfordshire. Tradition maintains that if one were to leave a horse and coin at the chamber overnight, on returning in the morning one would find the coin gone and the horse shod.

Legend: An Arthurian Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson

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Two cards were equally insistent this morning, and, frankly, I feel that they compliment each other so I’ve posted both of them. However you honor and celebrate it, may you all feel the blessings of Samhain (or Beltaine for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere)!

ANCESTORS – The love and legacy of our DNA

I walk in their footsteps 
Their wisdom inside me remains
I am unique, yet carry a legacy
Their blood runs in my veins

Whether or not we know our ancestors, we are the product of those who have lived before us, DNA-wise. Externally, we may have the body type of our father, our mother’s eyes, our grandmother’s nose, our great-grandfather’s skin tone.

On the inside, it gets even more interesting. We know now that we can “inherit” the way our body works, blood types, genetic disorders, even propensities for aspects of brain function like introversion, musicality, and mathematics.

Many Pagan paths associated with Halloween believe that we are born perfectly imperfect to be exactly what we are meant to be. What does this mean? It means that the gifts our ancestors left us and the unique synergy of the combination of the physical, mental, and physical that is created within us, sets us up perfectly to achieve our ultimate purpose.

Should the Ancestor card bring itself to your attention, know that you are ready and able to action your birthright of power. You have the support of those who came before you. There may be challenges or struggles but you have everything you need to overcome them. You will prevail!

CAULDRON – Synergy and healing

Where all things come together
Under pressure, flowful synergy
A new thing is created
A crucible of infinity.

A typical depiction of a witch sees her standing over a boiling cauldron slowly stirring the bubbling and mysterious contents. As she stirs the enormous metal over the raw flames, she cackles and incants commands to all the elements, transforming the contents into something magical.

Cauldrons were commonly used in ancient and medieval times for everything from the nightly meal to the making of medicines. This “family crucible” was usually placed within the hearth of the home, making it an essential part of the gathering of family. Much healing and nourishment came from the cauldron.

Should you receive the Cauldron card, it indicates the importance of combining a variety of techniques or elements to get the best result. Do not pull all your eggs in one basket. Refuse to choose just a single rigid pathway when a variety of ways are there to be enjoyed and experienced. You can find your own ways to create something new. The cauldron is a deeply transformational tool – things change once they are put under pressure. Resilience is being cultivated over time and this means that you will be able to withstand any negative pressure much more healthily from the inside out.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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There is plenty of benefit from forgiving and being forgiven, but sometimes it can be difficult to actually forgive others. Take the step because it relieves not only a the load of another person but also of yourself.

Blessings and happy Thursday!

FORGIVENESS – Reducing burden

A wrong is done
Consequences you cannot deny
But to hold a grudge is to drink poison
and think that the other person will die.

Being a cold-season festival, Halloween is the perfect time to pause and think about how things actually are in our lives and what heavy burdens we do not wish to carry through these harder, leaner times. Some of this heavy-heartedness may relate to old relationships or grievances. Some may relate to negative feelings we hold onto tightly about others and even a lack of compassion for the “mistakes” we have ourselves made.

It is said that it takes a “big person to apologize” but in many ways it takes an even bigger person to forgive. When we hold grudges, the negative energy is incredibly toxic. It is like drinking a poison and expecting the “other” unforgiven person to die! Whilst we may even harbor feelings of revenge (and to be honest, that does feel good for a while), it is important that we move those feelings along to forgiveness and release as soon as possible for our own health and wellbeing.

If you have chosen this card, think about who it is that you could be forgiving – and that includes yourself.

The Halloween Oracle by Stacey Demarco, art by Jimmy Manton

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Scrying can take some practice to achieve success with it – or simply learning what type of scrying: water, black mirror, crystal, fire or embers, etc – works best for you. Tapping into your intuition, listening to your gut instincts, is important for balancing the logical brain. Logic is good, but some questions cannot be answered only with logic.

Blessing!

SCRYING – Intuition

Scrying is the divination technique of seeing unconscious images (or images from the divine or supernatural) appear upon or within a surface. People scry into a crystal ball, a black mirror, water, even the surface of ice. It is a very ancient technique and one traditionally enacted on Samhain (Halloween).

The keys to effective scrying are being as relaxed as possible, minimizing possible distractions, softening your gaze and allowing.The enemy of effective scrying is distraction, both from inside and out. Turn off the phone, electric lights anywhere you can see them, any music, and if you are scrying outdoors, take the time to setting into the environment and listen to all the noises so that your mind will not need to break your focus later. It is also vitally important to settle the mind as much as you can.

If you regularly meditate, you may wish to use those techniques or otherwise you can simply shut your eyes and focus on slowing your breath – this is usually very effective. If you have a specific question for the scrying medium, state it up front. Then, when you feel relaxed, turn your focus inward. Imagine pulling your energy within you and then you focus on the third eye point (the chakra point on the center of the forehead, just above the eyebrows) and imagine opening it. Then gaze in a soft unfocused way at your scrying surface and simply allow images to form and observe what present itself to you. Do not engage your rational mind – this is about receiving and not thinking!

Should you pull the Scrying card, I suggest you try it for starters. It also indicates that you may wish to develop your intuition further and not rely solely on the logical part of your mind for all the answers. It takes a balance of logic and imagination and intuition for true wisdom.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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We saw this card last month, but here she is again. While it’s true that the word “witch” had a negative connotation for centuries, now she is usually seen as a force for change and the power each person has to make change for his or herself.

Currently, I’m reading Alice Hoffman’s Magic Lessons, which is a second prequel to her well-known book (and movie) Practical Magic. Once again, her stories remind me that the ability to manifest change in one’s life – and to help others make change in theirs – is one of the most significant powers of a witch. Claim it for yourself.

Blessings and have a lovely weekend!

THE WITCH – The earthly weaver of the worlds

Earth, Air, Fire, Water
A woman lovely, a woman strange
Weaver of the worlds, moon’s daughter
Witch: The catalyst for change

Witches have had bad PR for a couple of millennia now. Originally the healers or cunning women of the village, the very word “witch” is believed to come from the Celtic word “wicce” meaning weaver or wise.** When the new religion of Christianity spread through the land, the custodians of the old Pagan ways, in part witches, were labeled as evil and – as we know from history – persecuted. They were driven underground (or under the night sky) into the shadows of misunderstanding and darkness.

However, for the purpose of Halloween, let’s look at witches as the weavers of magic and change. Through spells and rituals and even through herbal recipes (yes, often brewed in a cauldron), they weave the powers of this world and the next in synergy to solve problems and heal.

Holding the Witch card means that you can weave your own change throughout life and that magic indeed is afoot! You must understand that you have power and it is real. It may also indicate that others may be threatened by your developing personal power and that they may not appreciate or like the changes in you as you grow. Be prepared for this and do not be discouraged. New friends and better opportunities will be attracted instead.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

** This is the oracle author’s view. The etymology of the word “witch” is actually much more complicated than this, and debate goes on about it. I suggest looking it up in the Online Etymology Dictionary and historical sources.

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More now than ever, we need time dedicated to play and having fun. It helps deal with the stresses of everyday life, which have increased for most of us this year. We may have to be more creative than normal to accomplish this, but it is worth the effort.

Blessings!

TRICK-OR-TREAT – Mischief and play

Stalking and stomping
Eyes shining and begging baskets
Faces and bodies
that are no longer ours
Laughing, skeletons and candy caskets

Trick-or-treating is such a fun thing to do, is it not? Yet, why do we trick-or-treat?

Ancient peoples understood that there were both mischievous and perhaps nasty spirits wandering around at nightfall at Halloween as well as happier, more benevolent spirits. They thought that if they dressed as spirits themselves (or other frightening creatures) then they would not be recognized as human and attacked. The idea of causing a little chaos as one of these “spirits” was part of the imitation (and the enjoyment) of thenight. The practice in medieval Britain was aptly called “souling.”

Today, trick-or-treating is a huge event. We spend much time, money, and effort dressing up as our scariest creatures and this has even extended to dressing up as our favorite celebrities and other pop culture idols. Instead of traditional candy apples and barmbrack, we give out a mind-boggling variety of candy. It matters not – the idea of frightening away death and darkness still stands.

I believe that the modern trick-or-treating also unites communities by introducing our families and friends to those around us in a non-threatening and joyful way. Many of us do not know our neighbors – even those who live next door – and Halloween gives us an excuse not to be so reserved and extend our boundaries.

Should you receive the Trick-or-Treat card in your divination, it may well be a time to examine your own life. You don’t have to be a child to let go and have some playtime and you can extend the fun to others. Sometimes we are afraid to make mistakes and play is one way to alleviate the pressure that we sometimes place on ourselves to get everything perfect every time. Alternatively, it is worth knowing that there is a balance between manipulation and mischief – the former is not pleasant and the other has at its core a sense of irreverent fun.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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It’s never a bad idea to consider your community and whether you need to give it more energy or to change it a bit. Community is what supports us when we need it, but you have to supportive to those in your community too – it’s a two-way street.

Also, perhaps you have outgrown some of those you’ve built your community around; it’s not a bad thing to move on from negative people or those who aren’t maturing or moving forward in life as you might be. Admittedly, it can be hard to make these changes, but it opens up time and room for those who will make a better community for you and your family.

Blessings!

SPIDER – Community and web weaving

She spins her silk alone
In the dark with hope of collection
Sticky with dreams,
Weaving the worlds
A wide web of connection

Masses of sticky spider webs make any Halloween decorations complete. The idea of a haunted house covered in the “artwork” of a big, hairy spider is classic horror. Even those of us who appreciate our eight-legged friends still hurriedly brush off those stealthy webs if we run into them in the dark!

Although most spiders are not venomous, humans have an innate fear of them. Perhaps it’s the fangs or the poison. Perhaps it’s all those legs and the way they move. Perhaps it’s where they live – often in dark, hidden places – or the way our Western, popular culture has demonized them by making them giant, fierce, and man-eating! Some cultures though revere the spider in very positive ways. In many Native American traditions, for example, the spider is the creature that gives birth to all other animals and sustains the web of life. The Goddess Spider Grandmother (and there is also a Spider Woman) is a key deity that brings wisdom, safety, and communication to all the tribes. She created and wove all the stars in the sky and makes soft webs for those that are troubled to rest upon and be supported by.

Spiders’ webs can be seen as a symbol of connection, not necessarily entrapment. There is a fine line sometimes between a family or community supporting us and controlling is. This card looks at this discernment. It also suggests you review the way you communicate with the wider community, at work, or generally with others and take steps to improve this or do it slightly differently. It also indicates that there needs to be a balance between what you do for yourself and what you do for others . . . if we give too much to the outside, our strength diminishes and we cannot weave the supporting web for ourselves.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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This is timely for our family as we will be setting up our Beloved Dead Altar this week. Taking time to remember those who came before us is helpful with mourning, ancestral healing, and inspiring us to be the kind of ancestor people will want to remember and honor.

THE LAMP – Remembrance

I light a single candle
Within a lamp for you
A single flame in the darkness
That reflects my heart so true.

While it is a tradition to carve a jack-o-lantern to scare away the spirits, it was an older tradition still to light a candle or a lamp on Halloween night and leave it at the window as a loving guide for those who have passed.

Both as a symbol of remembrance and also as a kind of “leaving the lights on” for those who may wish to come home, the lamp was left on to illuminate the night and perhaps even the sadness that was felt because of the passing.

This card reminds us that it is a positive thing to remember those who have passed by celebrating their life rather than mourning their death. For those with whom we did not have an easy relationship or even those we did not like, leave us with valuable lessons. Sometimes, we learn more from our nemesis than we do from our friends and so the darkness can illuminate our strengths and our true values so that we can live them ore clearly and fully.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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We think of our muscles and flesh as what gives us strength, but in reality the skeleton that lies beneath all that is the structure that gives us the core of our strength and movement. As a metaphor, it works well to remind us that we have strength within us that we do not see everyday. We can face the world – and ourselves (which can often be more difficult) – as long as we remember that there is true strength within us.

Blessings and have a great Monday!

SKELETON – Strength

On the outside is flesh
On the inside is bone
There is strength in vulnerability
In power we have grown

Halloween is a scary festival. It is meant to frighten. We are meant to feel the release of being pleasantly scared. We trick-or-treat even though we know that someone may surprise us, we watch horror films knowing they will scare us, we even dress as skeletons who have no flesh at all and their bones are there for all to see! In short, we show our vulnerability at Halloween and our strength in facing our fears too.

There is incredible strength in showing vulnerability. It can often be the bravest course of action and the most frightening. More often than not, it is a powerful catalyst for person growth even though we may not be able to perceive that at the time.

By showing our true selves and displaying some balanced vulnerability, we can seek and receive greater understanding from others. By admitting that we are wrong or that we don’t have the solution when we are expected to, we leave more room to turn things around faster. By asking for help and support rather than acting as martyrs and feeling resentful shows strength and wisdom, not weakness.

Should the Skeleton card bring itself to your attention, dare to show strength and vulnerability if that is what you really feel. Shame, pride, or embarrassment are heft burdens that need not be carried through the darkest of nights.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacy Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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