Monday, August 13, 2018

The Morrigan, the Irish Dark Goddess

The Morrigan: Irish-Celtic Goddess of War

A popular dark goddess is the Irish Celtic Goddess of War and Shapeshifting—The Morrigan. She is often depicted as a goddess accompanied by crows, and she is very often depicted on a battlefield.

The Morrigan was a Goddess of War, Destruction, Death, and Transformation. She is called The Phantom Queen. She was known to have the ability to shift into the form of various animals at will—the crow, the bull, the eel, the wolf, and more. She uses her shifting powers and magic in order to win battles.

The Morrigan is thought to have been a Triple Goddess... or perhaps three goddesses in one, similar to the Trinity. Her three aspects are Macha, Badb, and Nemain. She is the daughter of one of the Tuatha de Dannan (the first divine gods of Ireland). She foresees warriors' death before they happen, and is also considered a goddess that protects the king. She is a goddess of sovereignty and many believe she is an ancient earth goddess because of her association with the cow, crow, and wolf. Her war aspect is somewhat dark, in that we can see The Morrigan as the crow that eats the remaining dead off of the battlefield. But out of destruction and chaos comes new life. And let us not forget her other associations with the earth and protection of her people!

Also read:

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Hel, Norse Goddess of the Underworld

Hel (Old Norse Hel, “Hidden”) is a goddess who rules over the identically named Hel, or Helheim, the underworld where many of the dead dwell.

Hel is one of three children born to Loki and Angrboda, the giantess. Her body and face were described as half in light and half in darkness. She was half dead and half alive.

Hel gifted to Odin his two ravens, Huginn and Muninn. Ravens are messengers between this realm and the next, opening pathways to death’s realm.

Her kingdom was said to lie downward and northward, and appears to have been divided into several sections. It was said that those who fell in battle did not go to Hel but to the god Odin, in Valhalla, the hall of the slain.

It was her job to determine the fate of the souls who entered her realm. Hel stands at the crossroads in judgment of souls who pass into her realm. In that, she is linked to Osiris and Isis as well as Hecate. 

The evil ones are banished to a realm of icy cold death and torture. This particular aspect of Hel’s realm was the basis for the Judeo-Christian “hell” to which sinners are banished and tortured for eternity. Unlike the Judeo-Christian concept, Helheim also served as the shelter and gathering place of souls to be reincarnated. Hel watches over those who died peacefully of old age or illness. 

She cares for children and women who die in childbirth. She guides those souls who do not choose the path of war and violence through the circle of death to rebirth. 

Because of Hel’s special role in the deaths of mothers in childbirth and children of all ages who die, she has become, according to some sources, the special guardian of children.

The Vikings viewed her with considerable trepidation. The Dutch, Gallic, and German barbarians viewed her with some beneficence, more of a gentler form of death and transformation. She is seen by them as Mother Holle; a being of pure Nature, being helpful in times of need, but vengeful upon those who cross her or transgress natural law.

Hel has fallen from her privileged position as guardian and ruler through years of being represented as an evil, ugly entity waiting to devour and torture lost souls. Ignorance has used her as a means of scaring children and adults into a supposedly righteous path (instead of allowing free will to guide their actions to do what is right). May we learn and dispel the slander of years by seeing her for the protector, judge, and guide that she originally represented.

Also read:

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec Goddess of the Underworld

In Aztec mythology, Mictēcacihuātl (literally "Lady of the Dead") is the Queen of Mictlan, the underworld, ruling over the afterlife with her husband, Mictlantecuhtli.

Mictecacihuatl's role is to guard the bones of the dead and preside over the ancient festivals of the dead. These festivals evolved from Aztec traditions into the modern Day of the Dead which is also heavily influenced by Catholic Spanish traditions.

According to myth she was once alive countless ages ago—a member of an ancient pre-human race of beings who lived when the world was new. But her time in the living world was short since she was sacrificed to the underworld as an infant. After her death, she grew to adulthood as queen of the underworld. A deity of immense power. 

One of her foremost duties as the ruler of the dark realm is to guard the skeletal remains of extinct earlier races. In the past Mictecacihuatl failed in her duties. According to Aztec legend, the twin gods Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl were sent by the other gods to steal the sacred corpses of those who lived long before–which the gods of the sky then fashioned into living modern human beings. Now Mictecacihuatl must also guard the bones of dead humans, for she believes that our remains could be used by capricious sky gods to build an even more ruthless group of alien new beings.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Mistakes people make when learning magick

Avoid these common pitfalls when studying magick, meditation or mysticism.

Poorly defined goals

What do you want?

It’s a simple question, but most who enter the world of magick and alternative spirituality never ask it, or never fully define the answer. As a result, they’re caught up in the “dazzling lights” of the New Age Pinball Machine, and bounced around between experiences, groups and teachers, never finding themselves or getting to their core issues and drives.

You need to ask this question up front: What do you want? Do you want greater creative skill and power? Do you want to fix a trauma or personal challenge? Are you willing to give up everything and seek enlightenment? Whatever it is, define it now, and then ask yourself if magical means are really the answer, or if more mundane means would be a lot easier. Be clear on this, or you risk getting caught up in the glamour of magick, and forgetting that it’s just a tool, and only one tool of many available to you right now.

Staying in the shallows

Magick is a giant buffet table. Thanks to the shrinking of the world by global communications, you’ll find material from every world faith and esoteric path readily available to you. Hermeticism/Golden Dawn/Thelema; Yoga; Vedanta; Vajrayana Buddhism; Sufism; NLP… the list is limited only by the demand of the New Age marketplace for the next big kick. Just a hundred years ago—in some cases, just a few decades ago—all of these subjects would have been incredibly hard to discover information on. You wouldn’t have been able to just pop down to Barnes & Noble or go on Amazon and have it all handed to you. And in all cases, once you discovered the entry to a path, you would be confronted with a teacher who would explain that the path was the work of a lifetime.

That puts modern seekers in a unique position. We don’t lack access—but what we do often lack is commitment to a path. Most likely, students will browse here and there, reading on a wide variety of paths, or even joining several groups in sequence. This is an incredible way to learn quickly; however, if the buffet table approach takes the place of deep, committed learning in one path or tradition, what happens is you stop making progress. You just get to the edge of your comfort zone in one path before starting over in another, never taking that crucial jump into the unknown. Ironically, this probably takes more time than sticking to one path, at least until you reach that path’s completion stages.

Thinking there is one true path

Once you’ve experienced peak states or personal breakthroughs in a system, it’s easy to generalize: “This is absolutely incredible… everybody should experience this!”

If you’re not careful, you soon become a missionary, talking non-stop about what you’ve experienced, trying to get your friends or family into whatever practice caused the peak state or breakthrough, or even, at the high registers of “Kool-Aid Intoxication,” thinking that you have found the One True Path, and that all other paths are lesser or deluded.

People can stay stuck in this state for days, weeks, months, or years—even their whole life. It tends to be a blockage to progress. It’s a classic behavior of an individual with a weak sense of self: Deep down, they feel themselves to be inferior or lesser than others, so they place all their focus on an all-consuming ideology or charismatic leader that they derive strength and self-worth from serving. If this sounds like an obvious trap, and one you would never fall for, think again: The “One True Path” disease has been responsible for many of history’s greatest tragedies, or the many historical genocides committed by overzealous religious missionaries that worked to “convert by sword.”

If your path is the One True Path, it’s time to leave your cloistered room or insular community and experience what life is like for others of different faiths and life backgrounds. 

Us vs. them mentality

Because people who are into magick and alternative spirituality are often on the fringes, it’s easy to adopt belief systems that reinforce an oppressed identity or “us vs. them” story. This becomes a particularly acute problem when the magick that people are doing isn’t working, or not producing a good quality of life, and instead of changing the behaviors or beliefs that aren’t working, people create a narrative in which some “other” individual or group is keeping them down. These stories about why failure is OK quickly blossom and cross-pollinate, becoming wide-scale conspiracy theories potent enough to infect whole cultures, leaving disempowerment, misery and even genocide in their wake. Examples of this include:

• “The Illuminati are out to get me because I have secret knowledge.”

• “Shapeshifting reptilians/Archons/evil spirits/Satan/etc. are controlling reality and don’t like me.”

• “I’m way too enlightened/edgy/intense/real for mainstream society to handle.”

• “I am a lightworker charged with battling the dark forces, and the dark forces are in control.”

Do you have any of these beliefs, or any similar ones? Let’s take a look at them—what’s the underlying message of all of them? Personal significance. Me me me. All of these scripts allow for personal significance through failure. They all allow you to be a complete fuckup and to simultaneously have the illusion of “winning.”

They are all poison. Jettison them immediately, and instead focus on your personal growth and happiness, and how you can be of service to the people around you.

Trying to be the “best magician” instead of the “best you”

When overachiever types get into magick, they try to learn every single aspect of it and become a Total and Formidable Master. There is no mastery; leave this archetype in the Saturday morning cartoons it came from. Remember: Magick is just a tool. Know your goal, and use the tool to achieve your goal.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be so linear: You may simply be seeking the regular, sustainable spiritual growth that comes from a regular practice of meditation, dreamwork, journalling, yoga, ritual and any other tool you have chosen to use. Wonderful.

The key here is: It’s not a competition. There is no prize, other than becoming more yourself.

Giving your power away

Particularly as a young and untested magician, you will likely be confronted with situations or people that tempt you to surrender your power. Whether it’s an autocratic or abusive guru, a regimented and controlling magical order, or even a tightly controlling ideology, you might be tempted or even frightened into surrendering control of your life in exchange for some tangible or intangible reward.

If you do this, get ready for a painful learning experience!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Mesopotamian Underworld Love Story

Ereshkigal, being queen of the underworld, can’t leave her kingdom. Why? Not sure but I’m guessing that if she does, she’ll unleash the zombie apocalypse. So when the gods are partying and feasting, they send proxies instead so that Ereshkigal can feel included. They send this guy Kakka to Ereshkigal with a message: “Hey sis, thinking of you, xoxo, your brother Anu.” Ereshkigal sends her vizier Namtar to take part in the feast instead.

However, when Namtar gets there, he isn’t shown proper respect by this one guy Nergal. So, of course, because they’re all reasonable all-powerful gods, Anu punishes him by sending Nergal to the underworld (to make amends, possibly? Or just to die a horrible death by zombie. UNCLEAR). The gods give Nergal advice to help him survive (the usual, “don’t eat or drink or smell or cuddle ANYTHING YOU SEE” advice when one is traveling to Hell/Faerie/Underworld), and a chair which will ensure his ability to come back to the world of the living. I’ve always wanted a chair that can take me to the underworld and back again.

So Nergal gets down there, and obeys all of the rules very faithfully, until Ereshkigal puts on a MIGHTY FINE DRESS and takes a MIGHTY FINE BATH and then Nergal is like “one little cuddle couldn’t hurt, right?” And then they cuddle strenuously for six days.

Of course, on the seventh day, Nergal is like, “I’m taking my chair and getting out of here” and goes back to the land of the living.

Ereshkigal wakes up and is Displeased and utters the same curse that our girl Ishtar did in “The Descent of Ishtar”: Send my boyfriend back or “I shall raise up the dead, and they will eat the living. I shall make the dead outnumber the living!”

You know, normal break-up threats.

She then sends Namtar (her vizier) to get Nergal back. Namtar tells the gods that they better just send Nergal back or they’re going to have a zombie apocalypse on their hands.

Nergal, whether willingly or under orders (I can’t tell), goes back. However, this time instead of being let in through the seven gates of the underworld, he breaks them down like an invader. He goes into Ereshkigal’s throne room, marches right up to her, and throws her off of her throne.

And then they cuddle strenuously for another six days.

Nergal and Ereshkigal rule the underworld together after that, and live happily (?) ever after.

The End. 

It’s interesting to see a “gender-swapped” version of the more famous Persephone/Hades story, even though Ereshkigal is much older than the Greek story.

Nergal actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only a representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Spirituality Can Be Harmful Too – Know What Spiritual Bypassing Is

It might sound strange and unbelievable at first, but it is possible that Spirituality can be self sabotaging as well. If we use Spirituality to keep us in denial of all other things that matter, this is sabotaging our development and is harmful for us.

A spiritual bypass or spiritual bypassing is a "tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks”.

True spirituality is not a high, not a rush, not an altered state. It has been fine to romance it for a while, but our times call for something far more real, grounded, and responsible; something radically alive and naturally integral; something that shakes us to our very core until we stop treating spiritual deepening as a something to dabble in here and there.

Authentic spirituality is not some little flicker or buzz of knowingness, not a psychedelic blast-through or a mellow hanging-out on some exalted plane of consciousness, not a bubble of immunity, but a vast fire of liberation, an exquisitely fitting crucible and sanctuary, providing both heat and light for what must be done.

Most of the time when we’re immersed in spiritual bypassing, we like the light but not the heat, doing whatever we can to distance ourselves from the flames.

And when we’re caught up in the grosser forms of spiritual bypassing, we’d usually much rather theorize about the frontiers of consciousness than actually venture there, sedating the fire rather than breathing it even more alive, espousing the ideal of unconditional love while not permitting love to show up in its more challenging, personal dimensions. To do so would be too hot, too scary, and too out-of-control, bringing things to the surface that we have long disowned or suppressed.

But if we really want the light, we cannot afford to flee the heat.

As Victor Frankl said, “What gives light must endure burning.” And being with the fire’s heat doesn’t just mean sitting with the difficult stuff in meditation, but also going into it, trekking to its core, facing and entering and getting intimate with whatever is there, however scary or traumatic or sad or raw.

You are not a failure in Spirituality if you react to situations; it is when you refuse to acknowledge them that you have failed. Another very dangerous form of Spiritual Bypassing, is when you think that you are somehow better than others because you are more at Spiritually aware than others.

This is might cause you to hurt others knowingly or unknowingly and goes against your path of spiritual evolution.

Don’t think that you will never make such a mistake. The fact is all of us are prone to Spiritual Bypassing because it is the habit of our collective consciousness to avoid anything unpleasant at all cost.

We repress all unhappy feelings and unwelcome emotions, refusing to address them completely, even of it comes at the cost of massive repercussions in the future. And using the guise of Spiritual Bypassing is as bad as any other method of denial.

Extracts from 'The Psychology of Awakening' by John Welwood:

“When people use spiritual practice to try to compensate for feelings of alienation and low self-esteem, they corrupt the true nature of spiritual practice. Instead of loosening the manipulative ego that tries to control its experience, they strengthen it, and their spiritual practice remains unintegrated with the rest of their life.

Using spirituality to make up for failures of individuation—psychologically separating from parents, cultivating self-respect, or trusting one’s own intelligence as a source of guidance—also leads to many of the so-called “perils of the path”: spiritual materialism (using spirituality to prop up a shaky ego), self-inflation, “us vs. them” mentality, groupthink, blind faith in charismatic teachers, and loss of discrimination.

Spiritual communities can become a kind of surrogate family, where the teacher is regarded as the good parent while the students are striving to be good boys or good girls—trying to please the teacher-as-parent or driving themselves to climb the ladder of spiritual success. In this way, spiritual practice becomes co-opted by unconscious identities and used to reinforce unconscious defenses.

People with a dependent personality structure, who try to gain approval and security by pleasing others, often perform unstinting service for the teacher or community in order to feel worthwhile. They confuse a co-dependent kind of self-negation with true selflessness.

And spiritual involvement is particularly tricky for people who hide behind a narcissistic defense, because they use spirituality to make themselves feel special or important while imagining they are working on liberation from self.

Spiritual bypassing often adopts a rationale using absolute truth to deny or disparage relative truth. Absolute truth is what is eternally true, now and forever, beyond any particular viewpoint or time frame.

When we tap into absolute truth, we can recognize the divine beauty or larger perfection operating in the whole of reality. From this larger perspective, the murders on tonight’s news, for instance, do not diminish this divine perfection, for the absolute encompasses the whole panorama of life and death, in which suns, galaxies, and planets are continually being born and dying.

However, from a relative point of view—if you are the wife of a man murdered tonight—you will probably not be moved by the truth of ultimate perfection. Instead you will be feeling human grief.

There are two ways of confusing absolute and relative truth. If you use the murder or your grief to deny or insult the higher law of the universe, you would be committing the relativist error. You would be trying to apply what is true on the horizontal plane of becoming to the vertical dimension of pure being.

The spiritual bypasser makes the reverse category error, the absolutist error: He draws on absolute truth to disparage relative truth. His logic might lead to a conclusion like this: Since everything is ultimately perfect in the larger cosmic play, grieving the loss of someone you love is a sign of spiritual weakness.

Since it is the nature of human beings to live on both the absolute and relative levels, we can never reduce reality to a single dimension.

We are not just this relative body-mind organism; we are also absolute being/awareness/presence, which is much larger than our bodily form or personal history. But we are also not just this larger, formless absolute; we are also incarnate as particular individuals.

If we identify only with form, our life will remain confined to known, familiar structures. But if we try to live only as pure emptiness, or absolute being, we may not engage with our humanity. In absolute terms, the personal self is not ultimately real; at the relative level, it must be respected.

A client of mine who was desperate about her marriage had gone to a spiritual teacher for advice. He advised her not to be so angry with her husband but to be a compassionate friend instead.

This was certainly sound spiritual advice. Compassion is a higher truth than anger; when we rest in the absolute nature of mind, pure open awareness, we discover compassion as the very core of our nature. From that perspective, feeling angry about being hurt only separates us from our true nature.

Yet the teacher who gave this woman this advice did not consider her relative situation—that she was someone who had swallowed her anger all her life.

Her father had been abusive and would slap her and send her to her room whenever she showed any anger about the way he treated her. She learned to suppress her rage and always tried to please others by being “a good girl” instead.

So when the teacher advised her to feel compassion rather than anger, she felt relieved because this fit right in with her defenses. Since anger was threatening to her, she used the teaching on compassion for spiritual bypassing—for refusing to deal with her anger or the message it contained.

As her therapist, I had to take account of her relative situation and help her relate to her anger more fully. As a spiritual practitioner, I was also mindful that anger is ultimately empty, a wave arising in the ocean of consciousness, without any solidity or inherent meaning.

Yet while that understanding may be true in the absolute sense, and generally valuable for helping dissolve attachment to anger, it was not useful for this woman at this time.

Instead, she needed to learn to pay more attention to her anger in order to move beyond a habitual pattern of self-suppression, to connect with her inner strength and power, and to relate to her husband in a more active, assertive way.

How then do we arrive at genuine compassion? Spiritual bypassing involves imposing on oneself higher truths that lie far beyond one’s immediate existential condition. My client’s attempts at compassion were not entirely genuine because they were based on denying her own anger.

Spiritual teachers often exhort us to be loving and compassionate, or to give up selfishness and aggression, but how can we do this if our habitual tendencies arise out of a whole system of psychological dynamics that we have never clearly seen or faced, much less worked with?

People often have to acknowledge and come to terms with their anger before they can arrive at genuine forgiveness or compassion. That is relative truth.

Psychological inquiry starts here, with relative truth, with whatever we are experiencing right now. It involves opening to that experience and exploring its meaning, letting it unfold without judgment."

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Three Treasures: Jing, Chi and Shen

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are believed to be three different types of energy in the human body, known as "the three treasures. These are Jing, Chi (Qi) and Shen. Of these three, only Qi has received some recognition in the West so far. Qi is but one of the Three Treasures – the other two are equally wondrous.

The Three Treasures are the fundamental energies that maintain human life.

Master Sung Jin Park, used to describe the Three Treasures by comparing them to a burning candle. Jing is like the wax and wick, which are the substantial parts of the candle. They are made of material, which is essentially condensed energy. The flame of the lit candle is likened to Qi, for this is the energetic activity of the candle, which eventually results in the burning out of the candle. The radiance given off by the flaming candle is Shen. The larger the candle and the better the quality of the wax and wick, the steadier will be its flame and the longer the candle will last. The greater and steadier the flame, the steadier the light given off and the greater the light. 

Jing existed before the body existed, and this Jing enters the body tissues and becomes the root of our body. When we keep Jing within our body, our body can be vigorous. If a person cares for the Cavity of Jing [a space within the lower abdomen], and does not hurt it recklessly, it is very easy to enjoy a life of great longevity. Without Jing energy, we cannot live.

Qi is the invisible life force which enables the body to think and perform voluntary movement. The power of Qi can be seen in the power that enables a person to move and live. It can be seen in the movement of energy in the cosmos and in all other movements and changes. Coming from heaven into the body through the nose (Yang Gate), it circulates through the twelve meridians [the energy circuitry of the body] to nourish and preserve the inner organs.

Shen energy is similar to the English meaning of the words "mind" and "spirit." It is developed by the combination of Jing and Qi energy. When these two treasures are in balance, the mind is strong, the spirit is great, the emotions are under control, and the body is strong and healthy. But it is very difficult to expect a sound mind to be cultivated without sound Jing and Qi. An old proverb says that a sound mind lives in a sound body. When cultivated, Shen will bring peace of mind.

"Jing naturally transforms into Qi, Qi naturally transforms into Shen, and Shen naturally transforms into pure openness, uniting with the cosmic space.” -Master Li

When we develop Jing, we get a large amount of Qi automatically. When we have a large amount of Qi, we will also have strong Shen, and we will become bright and glowing as a holy man.

You can’t really have good shen if you don’t have good jing and qi. These latter two form the foundation from which your shen can shine. This also means that if you have good jing and qi, it will be natural for you to have more shen, though there certainly could be exceptions to this rule.

"All disease and suffering arise out of the imbalances of the Three Treasures, Jing, Qi and Shen." – Ron Teeguarden, M.H.

The Shen represents the forces that shape our personality including mental and spiritual aspects. Shen disturbances generally refer to mental disorders. 

Weak shen will lead to a person that is ruled by emotions. They may be angry, sad, depressed, jealous, or filled with worry and anxiety. Its likely that they’ll be driven by the lower needs of food, sex, security, etc. in excessive ways rather than moving onto higher needs and keeping balance.

Another aspect of weak shen would be the disconnected person. Those that are overly robotic or skeptical and those without any spiritual practice (which can take many different forms).

A person with good shen will be a balanced person, mentally and emotionally. They’ll be well situated to be successful in what they do, regardless of what that is.

When these two treasures are in balance, the mind is strong, the spirit is great, the emotions are under control and the body is strong and healthy.

Also read:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

If you are afraid of darkness...

If you are afraid of darkness... You are afraid of your own soul.

The brightest light is in the darkest night

The ones who know their darkness, have the power to hold the light.

We all need to look into the dark side of our nature - that's where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we're busy denying.

“We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side.” - Kahlil Gibran

"How, although this night brings darkness to the spirit, it does so in order to illumine it and give it light." - St. John of the Cross; Dark Night of the Soul

"Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." - Psalm 139:12

“They wander in darkness seeking light, failing to realize that the light is in the heart of the darkness” - Manly P. Hall

“This is the Night wherein I am lost, the Love through which I am no longer I” - Aleister Crowley

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” -Mary Oliver

"Both light and shadow are a dance of love." - Rumi

''For darkness restores what light cannot repair.'' - Joseph Brodsky

Our culture favors daylight, pleasant things, connection to others and togetherness. But just as sleep restores the body and mind, some struggles of the human heart can only be worked through in darkness, in uncertainty, in solitude, separated from others. It is difficult but inevitable and necessary.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Mars, the warrior planet, goes retrograde

Mars joined Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Pluto on the retrograde roster, and it'll have its sights set on our actions, decisions, and tempers.

Mars goes retrograde from June 26 - August 27, 2018 in the signs of Aquarius and Capricorn.

Mars represents the God of War and rules Aries. Like the ram, Mars is passionate, assertive, and impulsive. 

When it’s going direct, Mars is assertive, straight-forward, and goes after what it wants. However, when it’s in retrograde, our energy and actions are halted. We begin to second-guess our instincts. Action is replaced with inaction, and our assertiveness is diminished, leaving us to question if we really know what we’re doing after all.

As a result, we’ll be anxious about taking on new projects, relationships, and anything else that’s new because we won’t feel totally in control of our instincts and actions.

This can also be a time where many people can get more easily angered or irritated. This can be potentially the most negative manifestation of this period. People who have strong Mars energy or many of those who are dominant Aries or Scorpio may notice these effects the most.

There can be a build-up of inner tension which eventually can be expressed outwardly, sometimes in a passive-aggressive way. If this applies to you, it would be wise to find a healthy way to release anger and ease tension in a way that is not harmful to you or the people in your life.

Mars retrograde is a time for thinking before acting. Don't push ahead, don't force or forge forwards. We should avoid taking risks and playing into our impulses. Mars retrogrades are said to prompt an uptick in accidents, conflicts, and destructive decisions. In other words, make sure your brakes are in good shape, ignore any trolls in your mentions, and think twice before meeting up with your ex "just to talk."

Then — get ready for it — there’s the issue of sexual frustration we might have to deal with. Yikes.

Mars is the planet that governs ambition and sexuality. It is a very masculine energy-dominated planet that manifests as a strong drive within each of us. Depending upon the person, the drive may be of a sexual nature or it may take on a more professional tone, but regardless, it’s one that can almost border on aggressiveness as well.

Mars energy, on a good day, is healthy sexual energy. But when we’re dealing with Mars Retrograde, we’ve got a whole lot of sexual tension going on that we don’t know what to do with. A retrograde period can mean that your desire loses its fierce, blazing heat and becomes something quieter or more unsure.

Mars retrograde 2018 makes challenging aspects to Venus and Jupiter to create an excessive amount of sexual tension. A restricting Saturn influence turns sexual tension into sexual frustration. Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Pluto are also retrograde which further internalized this frustrating energy.

It is also possible that you have struggled with naughty Mars behaviors like anger, rage, violence or sexual abuse. If so, the retrograde phase will bring fated events that force you to admit you have some anger management issues. This too, could be a very painful experience for you.

It’s also a time when we will likely want to heal any sexual trauma that has occurred.

There can be a stronger desire than usual to go back to “fix” old problems and especially disagreements. We may be revisiting or rehashing old friendship matters or thinking about the past. We may be rethinking old relationships or jobs that ended because of disagreements. But while it’s an excellent time for identifying problem areas in our relationships, watch for obsessing over these issues, which is a strong tendency with Mars retro.

Old problems and conditions may resume after Mars turns direct.

As well, until we really get into touch with our desires and goals, it’s better not to commit to something important, mainly because we could discover that the goalposts can change more than once going forward.

Mars retrograde can be a useful time to rest and recharge. This is an excellent for introspection, for reassessing your desires and your methods. You might second-guess your entire approach. You might start to have doubts about the goals you’ve been working toward, or your own instincts, or your single-minded drive. And because it’s happening in Aquarius, it can be a particularly good time to rethink and reassess the ways you strive for freedom, and your plans for changing the world.

If you're not in a reflective mood but still want to stay on Mars retrograde's good side, just do your best to be patient and kind. Rather than being aggressive, be quick to step down and show compassion. As much as this planet is linked to confrontation and, yes, aggression, leaning into that influence during its backspin may come back and bite you later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Neptune Retrograde – Spiritual Quest

Neptune went into retrograde in Pisces on June 18th and will remain there until November 24th. During this period, you’ll experience the crumbling of your old illusions and a soft, yet much-needed, reality check. Over the next five months, our lives are going to shift in really powerful ways, especially in areas concerning inspiration, spirituality, and universal oneness. 

To get a better perspective on what Neptune in retrograde means and how it will affect you, let’s take a look at what Neptune represents.

Neptune is God of the Sea, and its home zodiac sign is — you guessed it — Pisces. So the planet is coming home, in a way. The retrograde trajectory plays around with that a little, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Much like Pisces, Neptune rules inspiration, spirituality, dreams, psychic receptivity, illusion, and confusion. Subtlety is huge on Neptune, meaning not everything is loud and clear. The signs and hints of intuition you receive from this planet won’t be obvious, which means you have to let yourself trust your inner voice to recognize the opportunities and choices in front of you.

This “dreamy” planet is tricky, though, because it also represents illusions and confusion, meaning it’s easy to believe in what you want to see as opposed to what’s actually real. When it’s direct, Neptune is the planet that helps you make excuses for certain things you want to hold onto — maybe a bad relationship or job, for example — because its influence makes it easier for us to ignore red flags rather than deal with them.

However, when Neptune goes backwards in retrograde, it’s time to face the music. Neptune illuminates the dark truths about ourselves and our lives that we’ve held onto for far too long. It might be a painful reality to face, but it’s a necessary one. Listen to your gut and go forth, no matter how scary it might seem. Because the scarier it is, the more necessary it is to face it.

Getting that wake-up call, no matter how vital it is, is no easy feat. Ignoring painful truths usually becomes a habit that’s so ingrained in us that the reality of letting go of something, or someone, can cause us to question everything we thought was real.

Unsurprisingly, Neptune Retrograde is the ideal time for spiritual self-development. Now’s the chance to dig deep to discover what truths you believe in. Who or what do you go toward when you need to find your center? To help alleviate discomfort and confusion, turning to spiritual practices, such as meditation, yoga, or journaling, could be immensely healing during this time.

The good news is, unlike Mercury Retrograde’s short-but-deadly phase in which everything is felt so intensely, Neptune’s Retrograde is a lot longer, which means the reality checks you’ll be dealing with will be slowly drawn out and revealed. You will definitely be in it, but it won’t be so jarring.

Neptune’s retrograde phase might be the time for us to shed those rose-colored glasses, but in its place, we will be able to connect with a much clearer and real-er existence. Remember: you gotta feel it to heal it. We got this.

Also read:

Friday, June 8, 2018

10 Most Deadly Rocks and Minerals

This list details the ten most toxic and potentially deadly minerals that crystalize in the Earth’s rocks, presenting a dangerously deceptive array of stony beauty. These rocks don’t have to be thrown to hurt you.

10. Coloradoite

Coloradoite is a recently discovered crystalline mineral originating in magma veins. The mineral is a mercury telluride compound formed when mercury fuses with tellurium, another extremely toxic and rare metal. Coloradoite therefore poses a doubly toxic threat to anyone daring to handle it. The combination of the two elements poses the risk of serious poisoning if carelessly handled. If heated or chemically altered, deadly vapor and dust is released by this strange mineral. Interestingly, the mineral may be mined for its tellurium content. Tellurium minerals may combine with gold, but were previously not recognized. In a strange twist of fate, the streets of Kalgoorie in Australia were mined in a bizarre gold rush after the realization that gold-bearing tellurides had been used to fill potholes.

9. Chalcanthite

Seductive blue chalcanthite crystals are composed of copper, combined with sulfur and other elements and water. This arrangement turns copper, which is required by the body but toxic in excess quantities, into an extremely bio-available crystal. In another words, the copper becomes water soluble, and may be assimilated in great quantities by any plant or animal, rapidly weakening it and then killing it by shutting down body processes. Chalcanthite should never be taste tested by amateur scientists for salt content, or an extremely serious overdose of copper could result. Just releasing crystals of the blue mineral has killed entire ponds of algae, and posed great environmental threats. Because of the incredible beauty and rarity of chalcanthite, an enterprise dedicated to growing artificial crystals and passing them off as genuine specimens for sale has developed within the geological community.

8. Hutchinsonite

Thallium is the dark twin of lead. This thick, greasy metal is similar in atomic mass but even more deadly. Thallium is a rare metal that appears in highly toxic compounds consisting of rather strange combinations of elements. The effects of thallium exposure are even more peculiar, and include loss of hair, serious illness through skin contact and in many cases, death. Hutchinsonite is a hazardous but dramatic mixture of thallium, lead and arsenic. The three poisonous metals form a lethal mineral cocktail that should be handled only with great caution. Hutchinsonite was named after John Hutchinson, a prominent mineralogist from Cambridge University. The mineral is found in mountainous regions of Europe, most frequently in ore deposits.

7. Galena

Galena is the principle ore of lead, and forms glistening silver cubes with almost unnaturally perfect shapes. Although lead is normally extremely flexible, the sulfur content of galena makes it extraordinarily brittle and reactive to chemical treatment. Galena is capable of taking an equally heavy toll on workers and amateur researchers who are exposed to it. Contact with specimens may lead to lead dust exposure, while workers in mines face a high risk of poisoning from contact with the mineral and the deadly dusts released through production. Once extracted, the lead content from this mineral poses environmental and health threats during treatment and extraction. Galena has a cubic fracture, and if hit with a hammer, the crystal will shatter into multiple smaller replicas of its original shape.

6. Asbestos Chrysotile and Amphibolite

Asbestos is not a manmade product, but one of most terrifying minerals on the planet. Where other minerals act as toxins through their chemistry and sicken victims of accidental poisoning, Asbestos conducts full scale mechanical sabotage on the human lung. Asbestos is a fully natural category of minerals composed of silica the most abundant of Earth’s hard elements, iron, sodium and oxygen. Asbestos deposits consist of aggregates of thousands of tiny, fibrous crystals that can become airborne and lodged in the human lung. Carcinogenic effects occur through persistent irritation of the lung tissues, leading to scarring. Asbestos formations can also be uncovered among any set of silica rocks, warranting caution when exploring. Strangely, natural weathering leads to natural distribution of asbestos in Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, many humans carry some asbestos fibers in their lungs.

5. Arsenopyrite

Arsenopyrite is fool’s gold, but with a difference. One would not just be a fool to mistake it for gold. Equally foolish would be a decision to pick up this mineral on a hike at a quarry, and proceed to use your hands to put trail mix in your mouth. Arsenopyrite is arsenic iron sulfide, which is the same type of mineral as pyrite (fool’s gold, iron sulfide), but with a heavy addition of arsenic. If one attempts to heat or in any way alter the mineral, a strong garlic odor of arsenic will be produced as lethally toxic, corrosive and carcinogenic vapors are released. Just handling the mineral brings one into contact with unstable sulfuric arsenic salts. Interestingly, arsenopyrite may be identified by striking a specimen with a hammer. The powerful garlic odor of arsenic can be briefly detected as the sparks fly.

4. Torbernite

Torbernite is the mineral from hell. The prism shaped green crystals form as secondary deposits in granitic rocks, and are composed of uranium. Formed through a complex reaction between phosphorous, copper, water and uranium, the stunning crystal displays have seduced many mineral collectors into taking a sample for a shelf collection. If the uranium decay from a pocket sized Chernobyl were not enough, lethal radon gas capable of causing lung cancer slowly releases from these hot rocks. This is one crystal to leave alone. Torbernite can occur in granite, so your stone countertop just might contain traces of torbernite. The bright green crystal blooms were used by prospectors as indicators of uranium deposits.

3. Stibnite

Stibnite is antimony sulfide, but it looks like silver. For that reason, the huge, shining metallic crystals of this unstable compound were once fashioned into magnificent eating utensils. But the sword shaped crystals bore the powers of death to those who used them. Stibnite’s antimony laced crystals killed a number of people before it became known that use of the mineral was causing food poisoning of the worst kind. Even in collections, stibnite samples should be handled with great caution to avoid poisoning. Hand washing is advisable after any contact. Mines near Oksaku in Japan have produced the best stibnite crystals in the world, measuring up to a foot in length. Many stibnite samples have the appearance of a miniature steeple.

2. Orpiment

The only thing worse than arsenic itself could be a rock made from arsenic and sulfur. The lethal and chemically reactive orpiment crystals are found growing below the surface in mineral formations, often near hydrothermal vents. The colors are seductive, but holding the crystals in your hands may release carcinogenic, neurotoxic arsenic powder. Like cinnabar, the Chinese made extensive use of this mineral, but to far more terrifying ends. Arrows would be rubbed on crushed samples of these stones and then launched to poison the enemy in a rather fancy way to throw a rock. Orpiment is known to give off a strong garlic smell due to its arsenic content, and may crumble into dangerous powder when exposed to light. The mineral was used as a primary component of ochre paint, and likely poisoned many of the artists who used it.

1. Cinnabar

Cinnabar (mercury sulfide) is the single most toxic mineral to handle on Earth. The name of the crystal means dragons blood, and it is the main ore of mercury. Forming near volcanos and sulfur deposits, the bright red crystals signal danger of the worst kind. Cinnabar may release pure mercury if disturbed or heated, causing tremors, loss of sensation and death. In the Middle Ages and late 1700s, being sent to work in Spanish mines containing cinnabar formations was widely considered a death sentence. Cinnabar was widely used in Chinese history for ornamental food dishes, and intricate carvings were created from chunks of it, sometimes at the expense of the artisans. Even more incredibly, some ancient medical practitioners believed cinnabar held healing powers, and prescribed it for certain conditions.

Also read: Sinister Sparkle: 10 Mysterious & Cursed Gemstones

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Lesser Key of Solomon: Ars Goetia

The Goetia is part of a longer work called The Lesser Key of Solomon (also known as Clavicula Salomonis Regis or Lemegeton), which is a collection of medieval grimoires compelled in the mid-17th century. However, the materials in it date back to centuries before the book. Attributed metaphorically to King Solomon. It is divided into five books: The Ars Goetia, Ars Theurgia, Ars Paulina, Ars Almadel, and Ars Notoria. 

Ars Goetia has its main focus centered around the seventy-two demons. It is an excellent source in demonology. It was an early favorite of Crowley’s and his version is still the most popular one to this day.

The Ancient Greek word γοητεία (goēteía) means "charm, sorcery", from γόης (góēs) "sorcerer, wizard" (plural: γόητες góētes). The meaning of "sorcerer" is attested in a scholion, or commentary, referring to the Dactyli, a mythical race, stating that according to Pherecydes of Syros and Hellanicus of Lesbos, those to the left are goētes, while those to the right are deliverers from sorcery. The word may be ultimately derived from the verb γοάω "groan, bewail" (goáō). Derivative terms are γοήτευμα "a charm" (goḗteuma, plural γοητεύματα goēteúmata) and γοητεύω "to bewitch, beguile" (goēteúō).

Γοητεία was a term for the magic in the Greco-Roman world. Its Latinized form is goëtia; in the 16th century, English adopted it as goecie or goety (and the adjectival form goetic), via French goétie.

The Ars Goetia
The Ars Goetia is the first section of the Lesser Key of Solomon, containing descriptions of the seventy-two demons that Solomon is said to have evoked and confined in a bronze vessel sealed by magic symbols, and that he obliged to work for him. 

The Ars Goetia assigns a rank and a title of nobility to each member of the infernal hierarchy, and gives the demons "signs they have to pay allegiance to", or seals. 

The lists of entities in the Ars Goetia correspond (to high but varying degree, often according to edition) with those in Johann Weyer's Pseudomonarchia Daemonum an appendix appearing in later editions of his De praestigiis daemonum, of 1563.

A revised English edition of the Ars Goetia was published in 1904 by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley as The Goetia which is based on manuscripts from the British Museum, with additions by Crowley, including a Preliminary Invocation drawn from Goodwin's Fragment of a Graeco-Egyptian Work upon Magic, and the essay The Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic. It is not a faithful edition of the source manuscripts but contains several innovations, including some evocations in Enochian written by Crowley. In his introduction, Crowley argues that the work of demonic evocation is merely a form of psychological self-exploration. It has since become a relatively well-known book of magic and has even been featured in places like the graphic novel Promethea by Alan Moore, James Blish's novel Black Easter, and Kevin Kauffmann's Forsaken Comedy trilogy.

Find The Lesser Key of Solomon and the Goetia (and many other similar books) on the right bar of our site.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Shaken Out Of Comfort: The Transit of Uranus in Taurus

Uranus, the planet of great awakenings and change moved out of Aries to Taurus on May 15, 2018, where it will remain until 2026.

While you might not think of Uranus that much (unless you're making a dirty, astrological joke), this is actually the start of momentous shifts to come. Uranus in Taurus will be guiding your life for the next seven years.

Whenever a slow moving planet like Uranus moves signs, it creates a ripple effect that is felt throughout the entire cosmos, and brings a new energy for all of us to explore.

Uranus is known as "The Great Awakener," because he provides us with situations that help shake us into awareness and realize the truths and lies that we're living. 

Generally speaking, the population is disconnected in a serious way. Uranus will challenge the false ideas of who you are, and free you from them. So, this chapter could be a new beginning for some people as they start to see their true nature, purpose, and place in the greater scheme of things.

Uranus is the planet that rules over innovation, technological advances and humanitarian achievements through the process of disruption and disassembly. The sign associated with Uranus is Aquarius, which rules over the 11th house of global consciousness. This is the human element that breaks apart old paradigms and forces growth in collective thinking, all with awareness and action. 

It is the planetary tipping point. Uranus brings revolutions which ultimately better human conditions and they need to be born from chaos. Chaos naturally inspires Order. With this transit affecting the global masses, a sobering reflection on the condition our lives will be hard to ignore. 

Uranus represents that which drives global radical action through the individual to become authorities over our own lives. It is the voice of the people, rules over humanitarian activities and challenges oppression no matter the cost.

Planet Uranus helps you break the rules, resist conformity, focus on alternative way of living, and rebel against society’s expectations. Uranus is brave and is not afraid to explore the unknown in search for a more fulfilling existence.

However, Uranus is in its “fall” (which means that his power is challenged) in Taurus since the energies are an awkward mismatch. Uranus focuses on the future while Taurus clings to the past.

To understand how this transit is going to effect you personally, think about what was happening for you around May 2010 and then again around March 2011. It was around this time that Uranus entered Aries, and now as Uranus is preparing to leave this sign, you are likely to feel a sense of completion to whatever was occurring.

While in Aries, Uranus would have been challenging you to step into a leadership position. You may have made some bold choices around this time, or there may have been significant life changes that shifted the path you were traveling on.

Uranus in Aries was all about making changes so you could step into your power and into the driver’s seat of your life. Perhaps reflect on this and see where you have stepped up in your life and where you have found more courage.

Celebrate yourself for how far you have come, and celebrate the changes that have occurred in your life so far. Try to see them with a positive mindset and just how they have shaped the person you are today.

While Uranus is all about change, growth, and awakening, Taurus is all about consistency, security, and stability. Uranus longs for change, whereas Taurus longs for things to stay the same.

These two energies are not exactly the perfect match, so there may be a push-pull feeling, and you may find it difficult to make or accept certain changes.

The ways that you seek stability and comfort are also going to be up for review under this energy. You may also find that what you once thought was secure and stable is no longer.

In fact, under this energy you may have to rework and reassess what makes you feel secure and stable. You may also have to let go and release attachments to things that once brought you comfort.

So many of us have been conditioned to receive our security and feelings of stability from material goods such as having a house, a job, money and so on. While these things do provide us with security, perhaps we are being called to dig a little deeper and learn to cultivate these feelings from within, regardless of our circumstances.

In a way, Uranus in Taurus is about letting go of your security blanket and learning to step out into the world with a little more freedom and a little more risk.

In some way, we are all going to be required to make a leap forward and to practice trusting ourselves a little more.

The ground beneath us may be shaking or unstable, or there may not be the security we once felt, but this is how we grow, this is how we learn, and this is how we discover who we really are.

On a global level, Uranus is going to create waves for the tech industry, medical research, and in all things relating to beauty and wellness. 

Taurus’ astrological rulership includes money, work, material objects, security, farming, and the food supply. All of these areas will be radically revamped as we grapple with this new cosmic conundrum.

It's in these highly Taurean areas of life, matters of material value and the natural world, that Uranus will work its magic.

Uranus in Taurus is going to be challenging all of us to pay attention to how we are treating Mother Earth. We are going to be encouraged to really think about environmental issues, and how we can protect the planet.

Some astrologists predict that Earth may rebel more than usual with a few natural disasters possible.

During the seven years of Uranus in Taurus there will be more talk and directed action in topics such as sustainability, local farming, renewable and free energies, organic agriculture, and the eco-friendly revolution that will spread into all areas of life.

More people will prioritize living healthy lifestyles. Taurus will ask you to honestly point out areas in your health that can be improved and to properly address them. You may go through a diet change or win over longtime food addictions.

Startling exposés on genetic modifications using embryos to create human and animal hybrids may horrify the world. The vast majority of world-wide scientific research in this field is keep tightly under wraps from the public. However, Uranus just loves to rip the veil of secrecy off things. The mixing of species with the animal and vegetable kingdoms may also start to have some drastic consequences for our health and the birth of incurable diseases.

Spas and massage businesses should flourish, though they will change dramatically by incorporating new cutting-edge healing modes. 

Money is Taurus' main area of expertise and because Uranus likes to break the rules, our long struggling and outdated monetary systems may go through severe shifts. 

Expect some of the biggest banking houses and financial concerns to crumble from Uranus’s lightning bolt zaps. Enormous fortunes will be lost, but new ones arise from the ashes. 

We can expect some very revolutionary ways of handling and dealing with money, both nationwide and worldwide. Many predict that digital money or cryptocurrencies will win over banks or at least start playing a bigger role in society.

Of course, this has an economic downside, as unskilled human labor will be replaced by robots and algorithms.

Novel ways to earn a living and to invest money will sprout up. Being an entrepreneur and starting up your own company will become fashionable. People will take greater risks to gain their financial independence. 

Profit- driven Taurus can help us monetize our creations in interesting new ways.

Making purchases via the internet will be the norm as opposed to physically shopping in stores.

Interestingly, the last time Uranus visited Taurus brought the invention of the first ATM machine and the physical shopping cart!