The Seven of Wands and Wild Hares

When I draw cards for myself or others, I always read the “wild hares.” These are the cards that seem to slip out of the deck of their own volition — not through careless shuffling, but seemingly without provocation. You can be shuffling just fine, and still end up with a loose card or two… and sometimes they’re significant.

Some readers use the wild hare as the first card in whatever spread they’re using. Personally, I don’t. Rather than placing it in the spread itself, I set it to the side and use it for added context. These cards generally don’t change the entire tenor of a reading, but they’re often very insightful.

This time. I drew the Seven of Wands. This card generally signifies a struggle against some form of opposition, whether it be a competitor or a challenging circumstance. In the Crow Tarot, the Seven of Wands specifically indicates that though you might be on top of things at the moment, there are always forces ready to topple you.

Lately, I’ve been feeling it. Things are coming together for me, but I can feel physical and mental fatigue tempting me to rest on what I’ve already done. I should work on increasing my dose of sertraline, I need to keep on top of the exercises my psychologist has prescribed to me, but, since I’m feeling better (not well, but certainly much better), the temptation is always there to let myself become lazy. My shop exists now, but I should work on adding new things to it and helping more people find it. I need to keep working on shoring up my finances. There are plenty of places where I’m doing well, but I need to keep doing if I’m going to maintain that.

And, as I shuffled, the Nine of Cups slipped free. I have a bit of a history with Cups and Wands — tons of them have been appearing in readings for me, not that that’s really a surprise. The Nine of Cups is fulfillment, optimism, joy, and positivity. It’s a fantastic card to pull (whether you’re actually drawing one, or just have it sneak out at you).

In this context, it seems that things are continuing to look up for me. I am in a place of happiness and good things, but I’ll need to work to keep them. I’m not surprised. The kind of minor successes and small, comfortable miracles I’ve had lately are things that come with effort, and disappear with a lack of it.

Three white candles in the middle of dried vines.

The Magical Properties of Wax

Candles are a cornerstone of some of the most simple — and powerful — magic there is. Pretty much everyone’s first spell is some form of candle spell, because they’re inexpensive, easy to come by, and effective (once you know how to use them). A lot of care and thought goes into the selection of a candle’s size, color, and even shape. This got me thinking… What about the wax?

candle-397965_640.jpgCandles made from the wax of the bayberry plant are traditionally burned on new year’s in order to bring prosperity into the home. We’re also way past the days when all we had were bulk paraffin chime candles. There’s some history behind using specific wax candles for specific purposes, and a lot of options out there. It made me to do some experimenting.

Bayberry wax is typically, but not always, green. I’ve also seen plenty of bayberry candles that have turned out beige, brown, or even a grayish color. So, assuming that it isn’t the color of the wax alone that gives it its associations with prosperity, that gives me a jumping off point.

 

 

Looking at the metaphysical properties of the origins of each wax and my own experience, here’s what I’ve found:

Palm wood is said to be associated with transformation and transitions, but also peace and relaxation. Wands made of palm conduct energies around them and stimulate intuition. While not at all analogous to the living wood, petrified palm wood is protective and grounding. While those are typical traits of petrified wood in general, they seem to go hand-in-hand with palm’s ability to help us navigate transitions and upheaval.

Palm is one of the waxes I don’t have much experience with, in a magical sense. Based on its other properties, I’d use candles made of palm wax for stability and protection, particularly when it comes to weathering major life changes.

Beeswax is a bit different. Honey is frequently used in sweetening jars, to anoint other candles, and so on, because it’s sweet and sticky. It’s an attraction ingredient par excellence, and its inviting golden color certainly doesn’t hurt.

I predominantly use beeswax candles in my practice, but they’re especially good for spells that involve drawing things to you — like love, money, friendship, and so on. Good beeswax even has a warm honey smell that’s absolutely wonderful while it burns.

Another nice thing about beeswax is that it’s fairly firm. So, if you use it in a spell to bring something to you, and you want to dispose of the candle’s remains, it’s really easy to melt the candle stub down and form it into a love-, money-, or whatever-drawing amulet. Soften the wax, flatten it, and inscribe it with a rune, symbol, sigil, or even just a word expressing your intent, then use it however you please.

Paraffin is where things get a little strange. It’s a byproduct of the petroleum industry, which leads a lot of people to view it as less natural than the alternatives out there. It does release compounds like toluene into the air, which keeps it from being the best choice for anywhere that isn’t well-ventilated. I haven’t found any sources for magical properties of paraffin itself, other than as a base for candles. I was able to find a few for petroleum jelly, which is often used as a base for herbal salves, but they primarily touted its ease of use as an ointment.

Some sources cite petroleum’s origins as a good basis for ancestor magic — even going back to our non-human ancestors.

It seems that few people have really delved into the magical properties of paraffin, which I can understand. If your practice relies on using materials that are as close to nature as possible, it’s hardly going to be your first choice! Paraffin’s history of use seems to indicate that it’s like a white candle — while it might have properties of its own, it’s also a neutral, all-purpose stand-in for other waxes. Its associations with the ancient dead also make it useful for death-related or ancestor work.

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Soy is another option for candle wax. Traditionally, soybeans are associated with prosperity and luck. Soy milk is used in recipes for employment and business success. In magical cooking, soy ingredients are said to promote psychic awareness and spirituality. As the seed of the soy plant, soybeans also have obvious connotations of growth.

Soy wax is a great choice for spells and rituals for financial gain and abundance of any kind. (I like it when I’m looking to grow my bank account!) I have a fantastic soy-based candle by Enchanted Botanicals that I light before spells to establish a sacred space — that soy-seed-growth energy is an excellent foundation for spellwork.

Tallow is a bit hard to come by now, because it’s made from rendered animal fat, sticky, and not quite as appealing as other waxes for candle crafting. Since it’s sticky, it made for an excellent vehicle for magical herbs — all you had to do was roll it in fresh or dried herbs, and you were good to go. Raymond Buckland recommends against using tallow for candle magic in Advanced Candle Magic, but this seems to be a purely practical concern (tallow can be smelly and messy).

As animal fat, tallow has connotations of wealth and sacrifice. It’s a food, so, by burning it, you’re giving up something you could use for your own sustenance. This would make it a worthwhile choice for an offertory candle — as long as who- or whatever you’re offering it to doesn’t have any taboos against the animals used in making it!

For more specific magical properties, you’d have to look at its origins. Pigs are associated with abundance, prosperity, and fertility. Cows are associated with nurturing, protection, and fertility. Sheep are associated with peace, harmony, and tranquility.

There are other options for candle wax out there, including clear gel (which is probably closest to paraffin). I’d like to experiment with them and see how I can expand this list.

 

The Six of Cups (is Confusing and Full of Babies)

The Six of Cups is often read as relating to children — either revisiting memories of your youth, your “inner child,” or literal children around you. I confess, I’m not a big child person. I like other people’s children just fine, but that’s largely because I can give them to someone else when they get whiny. I’m more vodka aunt than wine mom, what can I say?

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The Six of Cups from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith.

That’s why it surprised me to draw the Six of Cups this week. I didn’t ask anything specific really, just did my usual one-card weekly reading. It’s got me thinking, though.

One of the big associations with the Six of Cups is simplicity. We often speak of a “childlike simplicity,” and a number of things attend that: joy, innocence, creativity, a sense of playfulness. In this case, I’d be surprised if the Six of Cups referred to literal children. My S.O. and I have none, nor does anyone immediately around us, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

At least, I hope not. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t immediately open my calendar app and began doing some quick ovulation math. Fortunately, I think we’re in the clear.

One interpretation of the Six of Cups is a time of happy nostalgia and good childhood memories. It might indicate a trip to your hometown, reconnecting with people from your youth, and so forth. There’s a little irony here in the fact that I spent my last therapy session talking about how hard I worked and planned in order to escape my childhood home as soon as I was able, even to the point of avoiding close friendships and teenage romances in high school — what was the point, if they’d only make it hurt when I left? So I don’t think that’s it. Without any cards surrounding it, I also hesitate to assume it’s talking about child abuse.

There could be a connection to the Ten of Wands from last week, though. While the Ten of Wands speaks of taking on a burden and carrying it to the end (in fact, being very close to the end), the Six of Cups can also point to the need to release some adult responsibilities and enjoy being childlike again… At least, for a little while.

I have taken on a lot of new responsibilities recently, so that could be it. I don’t think I’m stressed enough to drop everything and let my (metaphorical) hair down, but it’s good to know the most useful way to unwind if I do.

 

 

 

Crystal Power, Crystal Healing

Note: This post contains affiliate links to the book(s) I mention. These allow me to earn a small finder’s fee, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting writers and this site!

cpchI recently picked up a copy of Crystal Power, Crystal Healing, by Michael Gienger, based on a recommendation by the lovely people behind Dreaming of Avalon. What really intrigued me was the idea of a more “scientific” guide to crystal healing — that is, one that’s based on trials and a definite system, as opposed to some of the very vague information circulating on the internet.

While I can’t necessarily say that the information in Gienger’s work adheres to the scientific method, it’s a fascinating read nonetheless. He breaks crystals down by their structure, mineral class, elemental composition, color, and method of formation. This yields some very interesting ways to choose a stone for your particular purpose. For example, halides have a dissolving property, chlorine-containing minerals break down tension and stress, and green minerals help release emotions. By cross-referencing your lifestyle with the specific chemical properties that would be the most helpful to you, you can find a stone to try working with — or, perhaps most interestingly, get advice for the next geological formation you should visit or move near.

A fair amount of Gienger’s advice runs contrary to what I’ve seen in numerous other crystal guides, which I rather liked. (You won’t find dodgy claims of curing cancer or reversing heart disease, for one. Any physical healing properties are discussed in a supporting sense, not a curative one.) If you’re meditating or working with one of the handful of usual suspects recommended by crystal expert and not getting anywhere, you may want to see what Gienger suggests. Even if you aren’t into working with crystals as a healing tool, the sections on lifestyles, crystal formation, and chemical properties make for a fun, intriguing read. (I learned that I’m rhombic.)

Overall, I recommend this to anyone who uses crystals, even just in a crafting or jewelry-making sense. It’s an interesting book, dense with information, and probably has something to teach even veteran crystal-workers.

Here’s to new beginnings!

Well… Re-embarking on an old one, but in a new direction. Still counts!

I started my Etsy shop years ago. It was an experiment, a new way for me to stretch my limits and see what I was capable of. I’m doing some more stretching.

All of this is to say that I have new listings available — tarot readings, prints of my artwork, you name it. (As long as you are naming one of those two things.)

shop

Whoo!

ravsundetailAll of these are high-quality prints made using the giclée

process, on Somerset velvet fine art paper. In the future, I’d like to offer some of my original work, too, and maybe some jewelry. For now, I’m focusing on prints and seeing how things go.

Painting has always been a way for me to work through things. For years, I suffered from crippling thanatophobia — living almost seemed pointless if it was all going to end eventually, and nonexistence was terrifying. Painting ravens, crows, and other carrion birds and death imagery in bright, lively colors was one way for me to come to terms with things. To stop seeing death as something to be feared, and, instead, as a part of the cycle of life. It was a big step toward my goal of death positivity, and it was through death positivity that I could really start living.

Now, I’m not afraid. I love the aesthetic quality of juxtaposing carrion birds and bright colors. I take a lot of inspiration from ravens and crows in my artwork, my divination, and my magical workings. (I even have a raven-inspired oil that I use for journeying work that’s amazing.)

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I hope my work resonates with you, too. 💜

The Ten of Pentacles (goes cha-ching)

I’m not going to beat around the bush this week — I didn’t have any particular circumstance that led to me asking my deck for guidance, I just wanted to pull a card to tell me about the upcoming week. My S.O.’s back from a work trip, I’m feeling pretty good, I even did a small working to plant some seeds for the Taurus full moon we’ve got coming up. A little honey, a little sweet orange… It’s a good time for it.

Perhaps needless to say, I was pretty stoked when I drew the Ten of Pentacles.

Tens are the culmination of the Ace-Ten cycle in the pips cards. Pentacles are the suit of earth, money, foundations, and stability. Even without going into some of the more specific meanings of the Ten of Pentacles, it’s a very positive card in the realm of prosperity.

Pents10The Ten of Pentacles points to a home life that is happy, stable, and secure, both in an emotional and a material sense (though perhaps more material than emotional, as emotions are the domain of the Cups cards). It can indicate setting up something that will contribute to your financial security, like a business, a pension, or an investment. The energy’s right for creating long-term stability for yourself.

This comes at a really opportune time for me, especially today. The stars aligned for me to finalize some printing proofs and take some product photos, and my shop is up and running again! I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m happy to see that things are on my side. (More on that later, though.)

My S.O. just finished a week of work training, so this bodes well for him, too. While not strictly monetary, this investment of his time (and his company’s investment in him) still goes a long way toward establishing stability for us.

Things honestly couldn’t be better!

The Magician

The Magician is resourcefulness. He means creativity, power, and the ability to achieve your goals. He shows up to tell you that you have the things you need to do the things you want.

In my case, I think he means serotonin.

It’s kind of funny, really. I’ve tried cognitive behavioral therapy, which had some success for some aspects of my anxiety. (What’s the worst that can happen if I embarrass myself in front of people? They get a cringy-funny story to tell, and, since I don’t mind laughing at my own dumbassery, so do I.) However, it did not work super well for others. (There’s a 99% chance I don’t have a heart condition, but, if I am wrong, I die and cats eat my face.) I already meditate, breathe diaphragmatically out of habit thanks to several years of singing class, and practice roughly seventeen different kinds of relaxation and mindfulness techniques.

I use aromatherapy — there’s a duke’s ransom in lavender, sweet orange, and ylang ylang oil in my bedside table. I use herbs, even though lemon balm mostly just makes me sleepy. I carry crystals, which helps considerably with the meditation and mindfulness. Even so, I still felt panicky.

It wasn’t until trying an SSRI that any of it really started to stick. Even though I’m on the tiniest dose imaginable, the difference is already noticeable.

There are a lot of witches who aren’t willing to do healing spells or health-related divination, and I can’t blame them. Magic works best when it’s focused on something — it’s why I don’t really hold with a lot of the pop-witchcraft ideas of doing things like enchanting your tea for prosperity. Nonspecific witchcraft brings nonspecific results. If you cast a healing spell, what should it do? If you ease soreness, you’re really erasing one of the body’s signals that tells you something is wrong. Ease inflammation, and you’re really altering a powerful mechanism for healing. Without knowing the root cause of something, without knowing what it is you’re really trying to change, it’s difficult, at best, to address.

The trouble with mental illness is that there often isn’t a simple way to diagnose it and figure out the root cause. I have intracranial hypertension, and I know this because a very nice team of doctors stared into my eyes, stuck needles in my spine, and ran more tests than I previously knew existed. I have anxiety, but there’s no blood test for that. They can’t stick me in an MRI and tell me why my brain malfunctions the way it does. The best tools I have right now are persistence and experimentation. They can’t tell me if it’s genetic, from some form of trauma, or has some as-yet unknown etiology. Fortunately, that experimentation is starting to pay off.

It isn’t that I was performing CBT wrong, or meditating improperly. It goes deeper than that, in ways diet and lifestyle could only help so much. I’m happy I’m closer to understanding my panic attacks and anxiety, and I can’t even tell you how happy I am that I feel like I can finally do something about it now.

I’m not one hundred percent where I want to be yet, but I know the way to get there.