Wednesday, December 5, 2018

13 Essential Gemstones Series: Amethyst


In this series, I will be exploring 13 common minerals and gemstones used in the Craft, dissecting their meaning from science, history, culture and my own experiences.  

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Amethyst



Color: Purple/Vioilet
Appearance: Translucent, glass-like with imperfections and fractures.
Hardness: 7. It can scratch glass and be scratched by steel.
Other Notable Qualities: Amethyst is a type of quartz denoted by its color.


Scientific Correspondence:
Cosmic Energy

While quartz often represents cleansing and purification, the same cannot be said of amethyst.  A violet variety of quartz, Amethyst gets its color thanks to a combination of irradiation and iron impurities.  Radiation is, of course, the transmission of energy and iron is most commonly a working metal, common to our earth's core because of its mass production from high-mass stars.  In this case, scientifically, amethyst can be said to be a stone capable of lending its user cosmic energy from the stars.


Historical Correspondence:
Spirituality - Offering

Because of amethyst's grape-like color, Greeks associated it with wine.  According to lore, a beautiful maiden was on her way to Diana's shrine when she crossed the path of an angry wine god named Bacchus.  In an effort to avenge himself over an insult, he claimed that the first person he ran across would be devoured by tigers and that just so happened to be this maiden.  Diana came to the maiden's rescue, protecting her by turning her into crystal quartz.  Ashamed of his cruelty, Bacchus poured wine over the stone as an offering, which gives the quartz its purple color.  This maiden's name?   Amethyst.  The word amethyst comes from the Greek word amethystos - a- meaning "not" and "methyo" meaning "intoxicate."  As such, Greeks believed that the stone protected the owner from persuasion and drunkenness, wearing and adorning goblets with the stone.

From this story, we see that amethyst begins as crystal quartz, similar to its actual chemical composition.  As quartz, it represents protection.  However, when Bacchus pours wine over the stone to give it its purple color, it turns it into the amethyst we know and gives it a different meaning: An offering to divinity or spirits.  In this context, amethyst can be used to deepen that connection with your patron deity or to assist you in veil-crossing/hedge riding.

This interpretation is further emphasized by its context to other religions and cultures.  For Egyptians, amethyst was called Hemag and was listed in the Book of the Dead as a stone that should be carved into a heart-shape for burial.  Hebrews found it important to spirituality as it was the ninth stone in the breastplate of the High Priest and the twelfth foundation stone for the New Jerusalem.  In fact, many Eastern cultures also use it as a connection to worship, meditation or spirituality and it is a common stone for rosary beads today.  Thus, amethyst could also be associated with general spirituality and meditation.



Cultural Correspondence (USA/Midwest):
Inspiration

In modern times, and particularly in the US, amethyst is most commonly used in jewelry.  The birth stone of February and the state stone for South Carolina, mined amethyst is typically polished and set into rings, necklaces, lapel pins and headdresses, or turned into beads with similar purpose.  The stone can also be set into vases and ornamental displays around the home.  Many crafters as well as big-name jewelers use amethyst because of its radiant violet hue and durability, making it a stone of inspiration for creative endeavors.


Sigil to Invoke Amethyst


Utilize this sigil as a way of invoking the properties of amethyst if you have none available to you.  You are welcome to print this sigil, place it in a grimoire, use it on a spell or put it in your blog with proper credit.  Do not claim this sigil as your own.

References
Mindat.org: Amethyst
Minerals.net: Amethyst
Crystal Vaults: Amethyst
Causes of Color: Gemstone Colors from Defects
Sciway: South Carolina State Gemstone - Amethyst
International Gem Society: Amethyst Symbolism
Gemological Institute of America: Amethyst History and Lore
Jewelry Shopping Guide: Amethyst

**Images of the gemstone were found via a search labeled for reuse.
If you would like an image removed or credited, please let me know.**

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Previously
Clear Quartz
Amber

Coming Soon
Bloodstone
Carnelian
Citrine
Hematite
Lapis Lazuli
Obsidian
Rose Quartz
Selenite
Tiger's Eye
Turquoise

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Winter Solstice / Yule: Ten ideas for solitary witches!


Below are ten crafts, altars, spells and ritual ideas for solitaries that either I personally or other covens have done throughout the past five years.  Enjoy!


ONE
Decorate
Many of the same decorations used by mainstream religions during this timeframe either originate or can work for the solstice!  To see the way I've decorated my home in the past, you can find pictures here, here and here.


TWO
Yule Tree Blessing
Chant a blessing for your Yule tree before lighting it up the night of the solstice, much like I did with my previous circle in 2014.


THREE
Prosperity Ornament
For full instructions on how to create this, click here!


FOUR
Yule Log
Burn a Yule log topped with your favorite herbs for good luck and prosperity in the upcoming year, similar to what I did in 2012.


FIVE
Alternative: Mini Yule Logs
If you don't have a fireplace or fire pit, you can create mini Yule logs out of dried sticks bundled with herbs, like what I did in 2014!  These can be burned in a cauldron or fire-safe bowl - just remember fire safety!


SIX
Wild Hunt Offerings
Set out an offering of raw meat, bread and milk to the Wild Hunt, which passes by during the darker nights of the year.  Read more about this in my ritual from 2017!


SEVEN
Light Candles
To honor the longest night and welcome the coming of the sun, light candles around your home like my previous circle did for our 2015 ritual!


EIGHT
Goal and Release
Write down on individual pieces of paper a series of goals as well as things you'd like to release in the upcoming year.  Store them in separate boxes and check on your progress next Yule!  Circle of Fountains did this as a running theme for several years.


NINE
Ring in the Sun
Honor the first light after the longest night by ringing bells at dawn the morning after!  We mildly altered this to fit for ritual in 2014.


TEN
A Toast to the Sun
Toast the first light of the sun following the solstice with a glass of orange juice, like Circle of Fountains did in 2014.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you a warm solstice full of laughter and joy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tarot Reading Service Review: Cosmic Tempest Tarot


Back in July, I was contacted by Brenna, owner of Cosmic Tempest Tarot, with an offer for a reading in exchange for a review.  As usual, I wanted to wait long enough to assess the accuracy of the reading along with the review.  Now that we're nearing Yule, perhaps you'll consider a tarot reading for someone on your gift list!  If you choose Cosmic Tempest Tarot for your reading needs, here's what to expect.

Structure

Brenna began by introducing the deck she used in my reading.  This particular one was the Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot Deck, which you can find here.


For my reading, Brenna drew four cards.  With each card, she included a four-sentence interpretation and an image of the card for my personal evaluation.  Card placement was not listed and held no significance.  Instead, each of the first three cards presumably described my current situation and the final card described the "main focus" of the reading.  Of course, this process is likely because I requested a generalized reading.  If you have a specific question or choose a particular layout from her website, I'm sure the reading will follow that format.

After the interpretation of the cards, Brenna let me know that she used eleven different stones alongside my reading and that my energy had a "lovely peachy glow."  She offered to draw a few clarification cards for me free of charge if I had any questions.

Accuracy

When diviners ask for a review, I always request a general reading to gauge accuracy.  When Brenna offered the review, I was in a strange place.  I had just left my coven and started therapy.  I was in a place of change and flux.  Brenna's reading reflected that, with her final card - the main focus of the reading - being The Hierophant.  Upright, this is a card of tradition.  Reversed, The Hierophant is all about breaking tradition and, in Brenna's words, "challenging the status quo" by making my own decisions.  For seven years, I had been a part of a coven and lived with my trauma.  I was challenging that aspect of my life.

The reading itself reflected various aspects of that.  Brenna drew the Two of Cups first.  She described this card as the couple's card, indicating an important relationship with someone that always has my back.  This would certainly indicate my husband, who has been by my side through thick and thin.  The second card, the Five of Swords, a card of loss and consequences. Again, Brenna brought up that the status quo is no longer right for me.  She's right: I don't like conflict, but it's time to cut my losses and move on.  That I did.

It's the third card in this set that currently a bit baffling: The Six of Coins.  In this, Brenna said that it was time for me to reap the rewards of my kindness.  "The Universe has seen your willingness to give so in turn, know that you shall receive."  Though we are now three months out from the reading, I have yet to see this card manifest.   Perhaps it's still coming!

A side note that peach auras tend to indicate people who are compassionate and self-sacrificing.  I'm not necessarily commenting on that either way as I'm not the best person to evaluate my own qualities.  I simply thought it was interesting.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I felt that Brenna's reading was on-point!  I was impressed by the accuracy and am hopeful that that third card will manifest soon.  I also appreciated her openness and professionalism and would certainly recommend her to anyone looking for a short, to-the-point e-mail reading.  In terms of price, Cosmic Tempest Tarot is incredibly affordable.  Readings range from $15 to $35, and Brenna offers a free, no-obligation consultation through her Facebook page.  This consultation covers your problems, a plan of action and even a few tarot card pulls!  If you're looking for a tarot reading for the upcoming year or have a friend or family memer on your holiday gift list craving one, check out Cosmic Tempest Tarot.

Cosmic Tempest Tarot
Website