Ways to Celebrate Samhain

I am super excited for the Halloween season. It has always been my favorite holiday (yes, even more than Christmas). There is so much magic and mystery in the air. As a child, I would go gun-ho in the spirit of Halloween (no puns intended). I would decorate the house, carve jack-o-lanterns, and of course, dress up! Growing out of the commercialization of this holiday, I have developed a respect and interest in the traditional practices of this holiday…

History lesson! Halloween’s origins date back over 2,000 years ago to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-een). The Celts celebrated this time as the end of their year, since they only had two seasons. It falls halfway between the Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice and was meant as a time for celebration and the end of the harvest and the preparation of winter. painting-large2Other festivals from other cultures and religions fall at this time, such as the Catholic holiday, All Saint’s Day & All Hallow’s Eve, which honors known and unknown saints.  Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated at this time to honor former relatives.

So instead of Halloween, I am celebrating Samhain this year. It seems more appropriate for me to connect with these ancient energies and celebrate the old ways of this holiday. I’ve been very eager, doing research as to how to celebrate my first Samhain. I have devised a list of ways to commemorate this time and am sharing them with you for your own ideas of how to celebrate!

Ways to Celebrate Samhain

1. Have a Bonfire – Celts would have bonfires to symbolize the sun. They would continuously add wood to the fire, fueling it and representing the sun’s power to continue providing warmth and light through the bleakness of winter.

2. Carve a Jack-o-lantern – In order to prevent harmful spirits from entering a household, people would hollow out pumpkins and gourds, carving scary faces into them and placing them in windowsills or doorsteps, frightening lurking spirits away.

3. Dress up – Another method people would use to avoid evil spirits was to dress in costume and wear masks to disguise themselves whenever they ventured out. This was to trick the spirits.

4. Communicate with Spirits – At this time, the veil between our world and the Spirit & Fae world is thinned, allowing this time for communication with the other side. Heighten your psychic abilities and connect with the spirits through the stones, moonstone, amethyst and quartz.

5. Honor your Ancestors – Since the ability to contact with spirits is very strong at this time, people would take this opportunity to contact and honor their ancestors. Visiting graves, making alters, or simply remembering your pasted on relatives and those memories of them.

6. Divination – Divination rituals were typically practiced during Samhain. Often times, these revolved around future love and romance. One method was to peel an apple into one long piece. When the peel comes off, it was dropped on the floor. The letter it forms was the first initial of that person’s true love’s name. There are many ways to practice divination. For a closure look at divination methods, check out my post, Divination 101.traditional-Halloween-soul-cakes

7. Cook a Feast – Samhain is a celebration, and what celebration wouldn’t be complete without a special meal? Some foods commonly associated with Samhain are pumpkin, apple, root vegetables, hazelnut, and corn. Soul cakes were a popular treat baked and given out in commemoration of the dead. Ciders and ales also were consumed during this time.

Whatever you decide to do this Samhain, I hope you have fun and enjoy the spirit of the holiday!

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Stone Pairing: Poland

Poland-Flag-WallpaperAncestry has been one of the many interests in my life. Tracing my family’s lineage, I not only discover more about them, but myself. My dad was born in central Poland, coming to America when he was only nine. We still have many relatives in Poland, and my dad and Uncle remain in contact with them. My mother’s side has been in the Chicago area for a few generations, but the main ethnicity on her side of the family is Polish as well.

Growing up, I took great pride in my Polish roots, dressing up in traditional attire for holidays, listening to Polka, and eating comfort foods such as perogis and guampki. I was passionate about my cultural background.

So how does this tie into my mystical world of crystals and energy? There are certain stones that have special meanings to different cultures. If you are very in touch with your heritage, these stones may resonate with you more. And visa versa, if you would like to connect more with your roots, stones associated with that culture are a way to do so.

Wanting to honor my Polish ancestry, here are stones that I found work with that energy:

Amber – A soft gentle stone, if you want to call it a stone. Amber is actually resin from trees, fossilized for over 400,000 years. Baltic Amber, found in the Baltic region, is prized for its clarity. Amber helps smooth emotions, removing negativity and stress, and relieving fears and anxiety.

Red Jasper – Associated with the base chakras, Red Jasper assists in rebirthing and cleansing the aura. It strengthens your boundaries and is an excellent stone for courage and inner power. This ties into the qualities of the eagle, Poland’s symbol. Red Jasper also represents the color of the flag.

Sodalite – This blue stone reminds you to stay true to yourself, but also is useful for harmony within groups, stimulating trust and companionship. It Associating with the throat chakra, Sodalite is good for communicating, allowing stories of family and ancestry to be shared.

Dobrywieczur.

Divination 101

When I first got involved in the metaphysical, divination was something that caught my interest, thought I knew very little about. Derived from the Latin word divinare, meaning, “to foresee”, divination is the practice of seeing into the future. Having roots that date back thousands of years, it has been practiced by many cultures throughout the world. Ancient Egyptians would scry or crystal gaze, while some African tribes would use animal bones for divination purposes.

There are many different ways to practice the art of divination. I’ve compiled some common ways that people have used to foretell the future:

Tarot Cards – Tarot cards are a deck of 78 cards, a major arcana and minor arcana consisting of four suits, with specific images on each card. The used of tarot cards started in Europe during the 15th century as a card game.

Runes – Meanings associated with certain symbols are etched onto small pieces wood, bone, or stone and are pulled typically out of a bag or bowl, telling the future. Commonly used by Norse, this method has been around since before the Bronze Age.

Tasseography (Tea Leaves Reading) – This involves interpreting patterns/symbols in used tea leaves, coffee grounds, or wine sediment. The symbols each have different meanings. While tea reading is popular in European cultures, Middle Eastern methods involve coffee grounds.

Pendulum – A pendulum is a long string/chain with some weight (usually a brass or crystal) at the end. Asking the pendulum questions and based on the movement of the swing will decide the future event. It was used as a method for midwives to determine the sex of an unborn child by using the pendulum over a pregnant woman.

Scrying – Commonly known through crystal ball gazing, Scrying is peering into some form of crystal, whether it be a flat disc or ball and obtaining visions. It is one of the oldest forms of divination, being dated to China in 3000 B.C., Egypt in 2500 B.C., and Greece in 2000 B.C.

Numerology – This is the practice that numbers coincide to specific events. This can range from calendar dates to your name and the meanings behind them. This was practiced by ancient Egyptians and Greeks.

Astrology – This is the method of divination based on the alignment of the stars and planets and how they affect us. It ties into the zodiac associates with horoscopes. There is the Western version, which has the twelve zodiac symbols: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc. There is also the Eastern version, which instead of based upon the months, follows the years: Ox, Rat, Pig, etc.

Palmistry – This is the practice of looking at a person’s palm and seeing the future based on the mounds and lines in their hand. Palmistry has heavy history in Eurasian cultures such as Indian, Persian, Chinese, and Tibetan.

Since divination is tapping into your Third Eye chakra and your own psychic abilities/intuition, find a method that works best for you. For me, I enjoy Tarot cards and have connected strongly to that tool. There is no “right” way to practice divination. Every person’s experience is different, and based on how open your Third Eye is, it could take more time to develop your divination abilities. In all, be patience and have fun!

The Hunter’s Moon: Full Moon of October

The moon has strong impact on our emotions and behaviors. Astrologists knew this, and connected the moon to these characteristics. The phases of the moon cycle also have influence, and different phases represent different experiences within ourselves. The full moon is the time in the moon cycle where we are most sociable, tending to enjoy crowds and gatherings. We have increased energy, especially in the evening. The full moon connects to the Goddess, so we tend to have more sexual energy at this time as well, feeling flirtatious, sexy, and lighthearted.

The Triple Goddess Symbol, representing the three stages of woman.

The Triple Goddess Symbol, representing the three stages of woman.

Full moons are a time for rituals that involve releasing things that no longer benefit you. This could be old habits, unhealthy people, etc. It is also a wonderful time to harness the lunar energy and cleanse your stones and crystals. Place them out in the full moon light overnight to charge them and rid them of old, unwanted energies.

Being associated with the Goddess, full moons are a time to connect to your intuition and psychic abilities. Lucid dreaming is strongest at this time, and the ability to recall dreams is very high. Divination is a ritual that is good to practice during the full moon, and since All Hallow’s Eve/Halloween/Samhain is approaching within the next few days, this full moon is a very heightened time for it. I usually take this time to do my tarot reading for the upcoming month. tumblr_mpy00wd9oe1r0bap0o1_1280Scrying, Runes, Dowsing, and Tea Reading are all good ways to practice divination.

October 27th marks the full moon for this month. Many cultures around the world named the full moons in association to what was happening at that time of year, in order to keep time. Known as the Hunter’s Moon, this was the start of hunting season, preparing for the long winters ahead. It is a good time to align yourself with nature and conducting magical rituals concerning animal issues, such as finding your personal animal guide, totem or relating to your birth totem.

Have a mystical, magical full moon!

Raise the Energy of your Space

Little fact about myself: I graduated with a degree in Interior and Environmental Design. I am not trying to be biased when I say that the places and spaces we come in contact with have significant impacts on our health. During my education, I learned the psychology behind design. Ever wonder why many fast food joints use the color red? Red is a stimulating color, increasing appetite and energy, which is perfect for those grab-and-go restaurants. This is also why their signs/logos are typically red. This way, they catch your attention while driving. Another psychological fact about restaurant design; why do most people prefer booth seating? The reason relates to our primal survival instincts of safety and security. When we sit in booths, we feel more protected as opposed to sitting with our backs exposed at table seating. Fascinating no?

Outside my schooling, through my own learning, I discovered how not only can spaces impact our mental and physical wellbeing, but our energy and souls. Everything is connected. You may have heard of Feng Shui, and how the arrangement of furniture and use of shapes, elements, and color can affect the energy of a space. This ancient practice is one way that helps balance and heighten the Chi, or energy, which in return affects our physical bodies and mind.

While the art of traditional Feng Shui is very extensive, anyone can increase the vibrations of their space. Here are some simple tips and tricks that I have come across for increasing the vibrations and giving balance to one’s space:

1. Declutter: A messy space disrupts the flow of energy, causing mental stress in the process. A tidy space allows the energy to flow smoothly and brings peace of mind.

2. Utilize the five senses: Often times, we focus our attention on visual aspects. While ascetics can raise the vibrations of a space, we shouldn’t forget our other senses. Find and add different textures to stimulate your sense of touch. Have incense, fragrant candles, and/or potpourri to incorporate your sense of smell, and play music to impact your sense of sound. For taste, there isn’t much that can be done, but sometimes our sense of smell affects our tastebuds. They key is to incorporate more of our senses than just sight.

3. Notice the corners: Energy tends to sit and stagnate in the corners of a room when these spaces are empty. Adding an arrangement or furniture to the corners of a space allows the energy to flow freely again.

4. Add some crystals: Crystals give off their own vibrations, which can increase the energy of your space. Different stones give off different energies, such as Amethyst can increase peaceful energies (which would be perfect for a bedroom), while Citrine brings wealth and prosperity in a space (good for a office/work environment). When placing stones in your space, I recommend larger specimens, ideally clusters since they radiate their energy in all directions as opposed to small tumbled stones that are meant more for personal, hand-held use.

Celestite is a high vibrational stone and is great for a meditation room.

Celestite is a high vibrational stone and is great for a meditation room.

5. Add some plants: Like crystals, plants give off energy as well. Studies have shown that plants actually help with mental health, reducing stress and depression. They also help with physical health in a number of ways, from reducing colds to helping with allergies. Acting as air purifiers, they are a wonderful addition to any space.

6. Add a Himalayan Salt Lamp: Our bodies naturally release positive ions in the air, and if unchecked, overtime this can lead to allergens to form in the space, causing respiratory problems. Salt lamps release negative ions, which counteract and balance out the positive ions we emit. Plus, the soft warm glow these lamps produce has very soothing effects as well.himalayan_salt_lamp_mini

7. Decorate: I feel that this tip is a given, but non-the-less, it is important to emphasize how you want to add your personal touch to a space, thus adding your energy. Picture frames, personal knick-knacks, and other accessories that resonate with you can increase the energy of a space. Don’t forget neglected areas, such as adding wall art and rugs.

Be creative and have fun! If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer. Namaste.

Stone Pairings: Connecting to Ancient Egypt

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I have a strong connection to ancient Egypt. Egyptians were very advanced for their time, developing new technologies, writing systems, and architecture. Not only were they advanced in science, but energies as well, communicating with higher beings who were said to have given them the means to many of their systems. Many awakened souls have past lives in ancient Egypt, myself included. Wishing to awaken this part of me, I have been connecting to stones that have significance to ancient Egypt, hoping to unlock new information about myself and my karmic past. I have multiple stone pairings for Egyptian energy. I have a necklace with Lapis and Red Jasper, as well as the Ankh, which was a tool used by Egyptians to redirect energy, as well as being a symbol for eternal life. I also wear Malachite and Turquoise rings and just recently purchased a lovely Azurite specimen. Hopefully with all this Egypt energy, I will connect with my past self soon!

Here is my precious stones pairing of ancient Egypt:

Red Jasper-Thought to symbolize the blood of the Goddess Isis, the Mother Goddess, this stone was used to treat infertility and increase sexual vigor. Red Jasper is a good grounding stone, helping boost strength and aids in protection.

Carnelian-Called the “setting sun” by Ancient Egyptians, Carnelian symbolized the blood of life and immortality, connecting to the Goddess Isis. It was worn to promote love, passion and desire. With training, it may be used to see into the past.

Malachite-Used to promote inner visions, Malachite was worn by Pharaohs, serving as a grounding force to help them channel higher energies onto the planet. A stone of dreams, Malachite brings vivid memories to life.

Turquoise-This stone was prized for its powers of protection and good luck. It honors the Hathor, the Goddess of joy and fertility.

Lapis Lazuli-A special stone to Egypt, Lapis represents the heavens, symbolizing creation and rebirth. Used by healers, priests and royalty to enhance psychic abilities, wisdom, and inner vision. It opens the Third Eye to promote spiritual journeying.

Azurite-A very psychic stone to Egypt, Azurite was said to contain mysteries only known to the high priests and priestesses, used in ceremonies for greater insight, for visionary powers, and particularly for hypnosis. Resonating with the Third Eye, Azurite is good for past life exploration and developing psychic and intuitive gifts.

Chakra Animal Guides: What they are and how to find your own

One side of the metaphysical I connected with on my journey of the self was learning about my animal guides. Native Americans and Shamans believe that animals hold lessons to be taught and have spiritual/inspirational powers attached to them. They believe in Totem Animals, which are animals that connect and follow you for life, in both the physical and spiritual worlds. Connecting to this notion of totem animal guides with the energy fields within our bodies known as chakras, we have chakra animal guides, or an animal that correlate with each chakra. Each chakra houses a specific set of functions in our body that helps us achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance and unity when properly functioning, and the animal guide associated with that chakra is a way to assist us with this balance.

A watercolor I created of my chakra animals.

A watercolor I created of my chakra animals.

Our animal guides represent and reflect many characteristics we possess. They also have a lesson associated with them, which typically is something we need to learn in order for us to achieve karmic growth.  For example, one of my animals is the bee. The lesson that the bee tells is to slow down and enjoy the sweetness of life and the fruits of your labor. This has been a lesson that I have struggled with and thankfully overcame, but for a while, I was so caught up in my head, too focused on my thoughts and all work and no play. The bee helped me realize to slow down, I only get one life, and I need to enjoy it!

So how do we find out our animal guides and connect them more specifically to our seven chakras? Only you can discover your animal guides. It isn’t something someone can tell you, because it is a discovery of the self. There are some guide lines (no pun intended) to help you figure out your guides though.

How to Find Out your Animal Guides

A good way to get started is by finding out your seven animal guides before you connect them to a specific chakra. Think of your favorite animals. Chances are one or more of them is a guide. I have always had a love for frogs. It turns out, it was one of my chakra animals, specifically my throat charka. Maybe you don’t have seven favorite animals. Are there any animals that have been popping up in your life recently, or you have been fascinated with? They could be your guides as well. I have had an interest with octopi, though not my favorite animal, they have captured my curiosity with their grace and mystery. Turns out, this animal is my sacral chakra guide. Similarly, are there any animals you are afraid of? These could also be guides, and being afraid of them can mean that there is a strong lesson to learn from these animals. Compile a list of animals to work with.

Now that you have a list of animals that you connect with, it is time to find out their meanings. There are a bunch of different websites to go to find the symbolism and representation of animals. I personally like Shamanic Journey, because they give you a detailed description of the powers associated with each animal as well as background of the animal and some brief history of the ways that the animal has been linked to Shamanic practices. Write down the meanings of each of the animals on your list.

After figuring out the meanings behind each animal, time to sort through the list and to connect an animal to each chakra. It is good to know what each chakra represents. Again, there are multiple websites for chakras. I actually wrote an article explaining chakras on my other site, Conscious Oms. Check it out if you want to learn about what properties each chakra helps. Once you know this, you can determine which one of the animals matches to each chakra. Look at the characteristics of each animal and what they represent. For example, the animal that connects to my solar plexus chakra is the bee. The bee represents hard work and service to others. It is known also as a symbol of joy and rebirth, connecting to the Egyptian sun god Ra. The solar plexus is the chakra that houses our identity/ego, our sense of joy and warmth, and connects to the ruling planet of the sun. Finding these similarities and connections between the animals and the chakras, you can ween through which animals are truly your chakra animal guides!

If all else fails, a good way to determine which animal is a chakra guide is through intuition. It sounds so silly, but truly, your gut feeling is so important. We have it for a reason. So if you just have a feeling that the dragonfly is your third eye guide, it probably is.

Happy self discovery.

Crystal Pairing for Autumn

The 23rd of September marks the Fall Equinox, otherwise known as the first day of Fall. There is such a warm magic at this time of year. The leaves start to ignite if flames of gold and red hues, and the air gets crisp with the foreshadowing of winter. It is part of the continuous cycle of life, and Autumn is the season that reminds us that change is inevitable. At this time of year, people would start to prepare for the long winters ahead by harvesting the crops of that previous summer. Festivals and celebrations in honor of a good bounty would take place. In all, fall is a time to give thanks and embrace change.

While there are many stones that connect to the energies of fall, two in particular spoke to me: Smoky Quartz and Fire Agate. These stones combine bring forth the warm fire energy of Fall as well as the connection to the earth.

Smoky Quartz is a grounding stone that not only connects to the earth and root chakra, but to your higher self and crown chakra too. It helps ground oneself and like the changing of the season, allows us to let go of things that no longer serve or benefit us. Connecting to the fire and air elements, this stone is perfect for this time of year.

Fire Agate is a protective stone that brings forth more fire and air energy. While most people connect the warm fire hues of the trees to the season of fall, air is also an important element connecting to this time. The Equinox happens on the 23rd, which marks the beginning of the zodiac calendar for Libra, an air sign. Traditional agate connects to the air element, but this fire agate also brings forth the fire energy to the mix. It was often used in alchemy and thought to contain the essence fire itself. It invokes passion and love in everyday life.

Combining these two stones together, you are all set for those fabulous fall energies. Happy Equinox!

Crystal Pairing for Prosperity and Wealth

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A few months ago I was on a desperate search to find a job in my career field. I sent out countless applications, followed up, and even went on multiple interviews, but I was not able to land a job. I was in need of money to pay off student loans and wanted any help I could get in finding and getting a job….

While I was still applying and searching for jobs, I decided to pair a few crystals together to help me with my venture. Within a month of creating this pairing, I got a job working for a local designer in my hometown. Within a month after that, I had gotten a job I had interviewed for in Chicago. I placed my pairing of stones in the wealth corner of my room, along with my “piggy bank” and can say that things have been looking up financially for me since that.

Here are the stones I paired for attracting prosperity and wealth:

Citrine-Having been called The Merchant’s Stone, Citrine helps attract and maintain wealth and abundance.

Green Aventurine-Known as The Stone of Opportunity, Green Aventurine is a lucky stone, helping manifest prosperity and wealth. It is useful in aiding in new beginnings and helps boost chances/opportunities. A very lucky stone indeed!

Carnelian-A stone of courage and motivation, Carnelian has been used as a talisman for success in money making ventures. It is said to attract prosperity, new resources and good luck and can help in the success of careers.

Crystal Pairing For Plant Growth

Crystals can be used in many ways. Not just for ourselves, but plants as well. Just like how crystals tap into our energy frequencies, it is the same notion for plant life.IMG_4789

About three months ago, I bought a succulent grouping. These little guys were on clearance due to the lack of growth and poor dismay they were in. Knowing that all these babies needed was a little love (and some crystal love too), I took them home and now look at them! They’re growing like weeds. The crystal pairing I used certainly helped with that process. Just plant them in the soil, or place them in the pot near the plants to facilitate healthy plant growth.

If you’d like to help speed up your plant’s growth, I’d recommend the following stones:

Moss Agate-Moss Agate has been known throughout history and in many cultures as the stone of gardeners and agriculture, connecting you to nature. It promotes abundance and new growth. This stone connects to Gaia, the Greek Earth Mother Goddess, who herself, is represented as the being of Earth itself.

Green Aventurine-This stone has a very strong connection to the Earth as well, being commonly used in gardens. A “Growth Crystal”, Green Aventurine promotes healthy new growth, in people and plants.

Leopardskin Jasper-Known as the “Supreme Nurturer”, all Jaspers provide strength and healing. Associated with the Root Chakra, which connects us to Earth energy. A Shaman stone, Leopardskin Jasper attracts the right energies into one’s life in order to heal and move on. This stone also connects to Gaia, or Mother Earth.