Category Archives: Magic

A Voodoo Dream—Is It a Nightmare?

Welcome to Whimisical Wednesday

a blog for fabulous writers

It’s Whimsical Wednesday, the day I may or may not blog and you never know what to expect. Today, on Jessica Aspen Writes, I’m lucky to showcase romantic suspense author, Alana Lorens. I met, Alana, at Margie Lawson’s Deep Immersion workshop. Up on Margie’s Mountain there is magic and mystery in the air. Why else would so many of the women I met up there have become such terrific authors? Including, Alana. You may remember my showcasing her previous romantic suspense books in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer series, Conviction of the Heart, and Second Chances. (Click HERE for the post) And I know you’ll want to check out her other books (written as Lyndi Alexander) as well (see her bio below for more info.) Without further delay…here’s Alana!

A voodoo dream—is it a nightmare?

New Orleans is a fabulous old city of the South, a culturally-rich city that draws from roots in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. The French Quarter, in particular, is often recognizable by its cast-iron balconies the french quarterand its colorful streets full of delightful little shops where one can find objets d’art and many other interesting things.  new orleans blue doors

But New Orleans has a darker side, also long set in its history. As anyone who’s been following the current season of American Horror Story: Coven knows, voodoo has been practiced in the city and surrounding areas for many years, and the name most associated with voodoo in New Orleans is that of Marie Laveau.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines voodoo as: A religion practiced chiefly in Caribbean countries, especially Haiti, syncretized from Roman Catholic ritual elements and the animism and magic of slaves from West Africa, in which a supreme God rules a large pantheon of local and tutelary deities, deified ancestors, and saints, who communicate with believers in dreams, trances, and ritual possessions. Also called vodoun.

voodoo alter museum  As in most practices, the majority of those who practice this religion use it for purposes of good—to heal the sick, to help the hungry, or those addicted to alcohol or drugs through direction of spiritual energy and protective amulets called gris-gris. But there are those who use its arts for evil, to gain personal power, to mete out revenge, and to harm others. This is the picture many Hollywood films have used to demonstrate voodoo and its practitioners, often with dolls stuck full of pins or blood-soaked curses.

voodoo dreams by alana lorensVOODOO DREAMS is the story of two separate lawyers from Pittsburgh, who innocently jet off to the city of New Orleans at Mardi Gras to escape their worries and troubles, only to find a whole lot more waiting for them there—as well as the possibility of love.

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious—but handsome—lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

 Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her—especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

Excerpt:

The voodoo priest Copper placed the boat in the fire, and it vanished in a burst of white flame.

“Damballah has received your petitions!” he proclaimed. “We shall now glorify him!”

He bent before the altar and reached into a screened box. A flourish of drums preceded a moment of reverent silence as Copper drew out a huge gold-flecked python. He held the undulating snake up in the firelight. The monster had to be at least ten feet long.

A dancer moved forward to take it from the priest. It curled around her as Copper oiled his hands from a jar on the altar, then massaged the snake.

“Great God Damballah, we hail your presence among us,” he intoned. “Those who have gathered pray your blessings upon us and the granting of our deepest desires.”

The dancers slowly weaved forward in a line, backs undulating in rhythm, giving the appearance of a snake themselves. In sharp contrast, Brianna now stood still, eyes closed.

Evan wanted to call out to her, but found his voice missing. Again.

What was it with these ooga-booga guys anyway? The next one that shut him up would have his attitude seriously adjusted.

Copper moved toward Brianna, a silver dagger in his hand. Where had that come from?

The dancer with the snake followed close behind him.

Evan tried to jump up but found himself stuck to the bench.

Copper took Brianna’s hand, turning it palm up. A slice of the dagger slit her finger. She didn’t even react.

Red blood collected on her finger, and Copper held it over the snake’s head until it dripped onto its nose. The snake’s tongue flicked out, tasting the blood. Copper pulled gently on Brianna’s arm until it was extended. The snake inched up Brianna’s stiff arm, poking its ugly face around the back of her neck, slithering down her other arm until it graced her like an evening stole. She shifted to bear its weight, standing with her arms out as if crucified.

His own skin crawled, as the snake moved around Brianna’s bewitched body. She’d shared with him how much she’d hated all the snake depictions at the museum. How could she calmly let this happen?
VOODOO DREAMS is FREE!!! December 17-21 at Amazon.com 

Bio:  Alana Lorens dreamed for many years of being a spaceship captain, but settled instead for inspired excursions into fictional places with fascinating companions from her imagination that she likes to share with others. She has been a published writer for over thirty years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at a newspaper in Homestead, Florida, with a list of eclectic publications from horror to tech reporting to television reviews. She writes urban fantasy and science fiction under the name of Lyndi Alexander. The Elf Queen, her first novel, was released by Dragonfly Publishing in July 2010; the series continued with The Elf Child, The Elf Mage and The Elf Guardian. She’s now working on the space opera Horizon Crossover series, and a YA trilogy, The Color of Fear—the first book, WINDMILLS, was published by Zumaya Publications this summer.  Writing as Alana Lorens, she produces romance and romantic suspense, including the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer series, standalone novels of romantic suspense,  CONVICTION OF THE HEART, SECOND CHANCES, and the latest, VOODOO DREAMS, released by The Wild Rose Press in October 2013.

She is a single mother of seven, with two special needs children at home with her in Pennsylvania, and she volunteers at her local shelter for domestic violence victims, believing in every person’s right to be safe.

For more information, see Alana’s website and check out her Facebook page to become a friend!  Happy holidays to you and enjoy!

all photos in this post (with the exception of the cover for Voodoo Dreams) are credited to Alana Lorens

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Filed under guest post, Magic, romance, romantic suspense, Suspense, Whimsical Wednesdays

Marigold and Dandelion Eggs to Celebrate Spring

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog

It’s spring, and with Easter coming up I thought it was time for another recipe from A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook, by Patricia Telesco. Ostarra is the holiday most Wiccans celebrate at this time and it has much to do with fertility, hence the symbolism that has carried over into Easter with the eggs and bunnies, and of course, re-birth.

Oh, and I included the variation below with similar magical foods for those of us with no marigolds or dandelions this early in a snowy spring!

a kitchen witch's cookbook by patricia telescoMarigold and Dandelion Eggs (Medieval France)

The marigold is said to be one of the flowers which gives forth small bursts of light, usually near twilight on clear days, like a beacon or flash of insight. In the language of flowers, dandelions are ancient oracles. they are also high in vitamin C. make certain the dandelions you use are free of pesticides.

  • 4 whole dandelion buds
  • 2 tbls butter
  • 2 marigold blossoms, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Pick the dandelion buds when they are just about to open. Melt the butter in a frying pan over low heat. Sauté the dandelions until they open wide. Beat the marigold, eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Pour over the dandelions, which will poke through. cover: cook over low heat until the egg is set and dry on top. Fold in half. Yield: 2 servings

Variation: For the same magical results without the flowers, substitute 1 cup diced cashews, 1/4 tsp orange rind, and 1/4 cup diced, peeled oranges.

Magical attributes: Sun magic, positive outcomes in legal matters, prophesy, simple joys

Celebrations: Spring and summer festivals, Birthday of the Sun, Samhain, Candlemas, Sun Dance

taken from A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook, by Patricia Telesco, Llewellyn Publishing, 1994

Rituals of Celebrations by Jane MeredithInterested in other Wiccan Celebrations? Check out Rituals of Celebrations, by Jane Meredith.  Lewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac and Seasons of the Sacred Earth, by Cliff Seruntine.seasons of the sacred earth by cliff seruntine

Llewellyn's Sabbats Almanac

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Filed under Magic, recipes, Thursdays Bite, witches

The Darkest Night

Yule Celebration 2012

yule wreath

This Thursdays Bite we are planning for Friday, December 21st, the Winter Solstice, or Yule. The shortest day of the year and the advent of the zombie apocalypse.  (Just kidding!) Yule is the time  we pull our loved ones close and linger around the fire. The time for celebrating the re-birth of the sun and thinking about what we’d like to get rid of in our lives and what we’d like to keep.

Yule is also a great time to look back at the year and ruminate about what went well, and what we could be doing differently. When the new day dawns and the days get longer, how will you be spending your hours?

This year I’ll be frittering away a child free weekend with my husband. Yep, a little early Christmas present for both of us. And boy do we need it. This has been a stressful fall and winter, and it’s not because our zombie preparedness kit is incomplete. ( I need a portable water filtration system. Maybe Santa will bring one.) I also have started looking at next year’s goals and analyzing what the heck went wrong with my goals this year. I have a pretty good idea that it was all my family stuff interfering and plan to just tell everyone in 2013 to “Go away! I’m writing!)

Okay, we’ll see how that works.

I do have some fun things lined up already for the New Year. I’m taking a class on the ins and outs of self-publishing. I’m too nervous to dip my toe into that pond without some cold hard facts and some hand holding so the class on Author EMS by Amy Atwell and Kelli Finger looks perfect. It promises to teach me enough about the whole shebang to figure out if it’s just too much work, or if it’s something I want to do. Definitely an interesting start to the New Year.

The other class I am taking is not such a fun one, but it’s necessary. It’s Taxes For Writers and it’s on the Colorado Romance Writers site HERE. I’m moderating that one, so  I’ll have to get on the loop every day. That’s one way to make sure you actually participate in a class. Not that it won’t be a good class, but taxes are not my forte. I have to confess. I haven’t done taxes since I got married. Yes, it’s a June and Ward relationship. Jeff does the taxes and I stay home and write. I’m not complaining, no way!

Just for fun, while you’re thinking about your year and clearing out the old to make way for the new, here is a recipe to celebrate on Friday. Something fun to do with your sweetie or the kids or just by yourself while you watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

What do you do on the Winter Solstice? Do you celebrate the dark and the return of the light? Do you take the time to analyze the year, or do you save that for New Year’s Day? What about baking? If ginger bread cookies are not your thing and you would like some delicious recipes check out the Holiday Yum Recipes on More Cowbell.

From the Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook: “Make gingerbread cookies both for yourself and for your tree spirits to encourage the return of the sun.”

Magical Colors:  Green (Growth, prosperity, faith and health) and Red (strength, courage, vitality, fire)

Now let’s do what any good kitchen witch would do and combine these magical ideas and make iced ginger cookies. Ginger ( health, cleansing, vibrant energy and zeal) is a sunny warm flavor perfect for summoning the light and banishing the dark during the cold winter months.

Rolled Gingerbread Men (and Women!)

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molassas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbl vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking pwder
  • 1/2 tso baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

Beat shortening, add half the flour and all the rest of the ingredients- beating between each addition. Once thoroughly  mixed, beat in the rest of the flour. Cover and chill until workable (approx 3 hours). Roll out 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Cut a small hole in the top of each cookie. Bake 375° for 5-6 minutes. Don’t over bake. Cool on cookie sheet and decorate. Tie ribbon through the top and hang on the tree.

If, for some strange reason, you would like your icing to actually be hard because you expect your cookies to last on your tree. Be sure to use Royal Icing. And, to avoid the Solstice Sickies, use powdered egg whites in your icing. This will take care of the salmonella question.

I want to thank everyone who dropped by for the Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop. I met a ton of new people and we gave away some great prizes. Congratulations to AJCraig for winning my e-copy of Little Red Riding Wolf. Grand Prize winners listed HERE.

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Filed under Magic, recipes, Thursdays Bite

Waving Your Magic Wand

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog

It’s November first, and I’m going into Nanowrimo hibernation this month, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see me around. I’ll reappear in December like I usually do, even without attempting Nano, November tends to be a busy month. But I’m going to continue to keep up with the blogging. At least that is my intention.

So to celebrate last night’s Halloween I’m  sharing some of my favorite items from my house. I think someday I would love a house as interesting as the Adams family mansion, where everything you look at was collected by someone interesting, and everything tells a story.

A few weeks ago I blogged on being a mermaid and where you could obtain a real mermaids tail to make your dream come true. If you missed it click HERE. I didn’t just discover that you could purchase a mermaid tail, I read about it in my local paper- The Daily Camera.

Jessica Aspen's Magic Want

It’s amazing to me the variety of stories our paper comes up with. In preparation for Halloween they also ran an article about where you could obtain a real wooden wand. Not a plastic wand from a toy store, but the kind that is made especially for you. That article is HERE.

Yes it’s true. In the town of Lyons, a few miles away from where I live, you can obtain a real wooden magic wand.

But I don’t need to.

I already have a magic wand and it was made especially for me by my brother-in-law. Just like in Harry Potter he carefully chose the type of wood, walnut. And he even hand crafted the box.

Isn’t it gorgeous.

Handcrafted just for me by the wizard of wood himself, my very own wand.

Green glass ball on creepy tree stand

And as if that isn’t enough, I have my very own magic (not so crystal) ball. Actually I have a few of these, but I love the colors swirling around this one. It makes it really look magical, especially perched on my latest pillar stand.

I love Halloween and I hate to pack away the decorations, especially since so many of them are real works of art. Several years ago I started collecting decorations that are not plastic or orange, although I still have lots of those. Some of these stay out all year and I think my new creepy tree pillar stand may have to do that this year. Why not?

Dragon with crystal ballAnother interesting thing about my house is that I am not the only collector. My husband loves dragons. And gargoyles. I used to fight it. People will think it’s weird. The neighbors, the children’s friends, his mother. But I’ve given up. Now I just enjoy them. So to close out this spooky season, here’s one of my favorite dragons.

Oh, and is that another “crystal” ball? Thanks mom for that one!

Maybe someday I’ll have the mansion with the secret passageways to match, but meanwhile I’m enjoying leaving a little Gothic around the house all year long.

Do you have any decorations you hate to put away? Something unusual that doesn’t scream “I live in the suburbs”? What about Christmas decorations, or other holidays? What can’t you bear to put away?

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Filed under About the Author, Magic, Nanowrimo, paranormal inspiration, Thursdays Bite

What is Magic? A #rhetorical puzzle for you to solve.

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog

Today I am proud to introduce fan fiction author FireKat Archer. Firekat is a fan of Batman and Hetalia (if you don’t know what Hetalia is, picture male/male romantic World War Two satire). Firekat is a pre-published author who writes m/m YA dystopian novels and today is theorizing about the mystery behind magic.

But wait! This post also has a puzzle for you to solve…it is filled with rhetorical devices! See how many different rhetorical devices  you can find!

What is magic? Is it wizards and witches casting colorful spells at each other, or dragons hoarding golden treasures? Is it fairies and elves populating the woods, carting off lost teeth? Or is it something else? Something less tangible, but no less real. Something that gets lost in the everyday because that is what it truly is. Ordinary.

Perhaps magic isn’t miracles, it’s the miraculous. It’s the fact that bumblebees can fly, even when physics says it should be near impossible. It is in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the sights we see, the things we touch. It’s the reason why atoms that should blast themselves to bits with opposing forces stay together and bond to make the universe. It’s that first breath of spring and the dying gasp of winter. It is nothing, and yet everything. Everything that will ever be, and some things that are impossible.

Magic isn’t something that you can touch, it’s something to know and feel and live and not something you can analyze. It’s not something sleeping beauty castle at disneylandyou can put into a Petri dish and figure out how it works. It just does.

And the fact that it is unknown how enchantment works impacts its existence not. It putters on, much like gravity. It affects us whether or not we know the equation to solve for it. Magic is as old and mysterious as time itself, ever-enigmatic idea of seconds and minutes and hours, and perhaps it is even older, for what existed before time began? We’ll never know.

But what is magic really doing in this world, a world that sometimes seems too dark and horrid for any magic to exist. No Tinkerbell to help us fly with fairy dust, it would seem. But we do fly. To the moon, to far-away places, and to beyond the stars. Magic ignites that drive to go beyond what is possible and find magic. To create and make our own, tangible magic. That is what it does in this world: magic impels us to do more, be better, to leave behind the destruction, and the destruction behind to leave.

So look for the miraculous, that extraordinary in the ordinary, the proof for all to see, if they have eyes for the seeing, of the sorcery that runs in the veins of the world. Breathe the sharp cold of fall in and watch the leaves fall, and know that you are watching magic at work. Perhaps it is not casting spells or creatures flying, but something better. Something that affects us all, and leaves us with the knowledge that life, indeed, is magical.

What are your thoughts on magic? What is it really? And how many rhetorical devices did you find?

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Filed under guest post, Magic, Thursdays Bite, writing craft

Mermaids

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog

Have you ever dreamed of being a supernatural being? A vampire? A werewolf? A mermaid?

I’m sure you’ve heard of how you can have a dentist apply fangs to your real teeth, and of course there is always makeup, but slipping on a tail and sliding into the pool has always presented a problem for people with legs. But now there is a woman who is making the dream reality. Stephanie Summers is operating the business Fish Butts.

Ariel at the paradeFor a base price of $1500 you too can be a mermaid. These tails are amazing. They look real and you can actually swim in them. (Make sure you have someone to pull you out if things go wrong.) They are designed with small holes in the sides to let excess water drain, I’m sure Disney’s Ariel would love them.

I would post photos, because they are really cool and would sell mermaid tails for Stephanie, however, due to the recent paranoia on posting photos I will merely say, HERE is the original article I read in my local paper, check out the fab photos.

Traci Hines is a singer and one of the things I love about her is her 1950’s pin-up style. She does some great goth work as well. Maybe I’ll do a photo shoot á la Traci Hines someday. Ooo la la! On her Facebook page she sports a gorgeous tail. Check out Traci Hines Facebook page HERE.

Want to see a mermaid swimming in her tail?

And just in case you were wondering how this relates to Thursday’s Bite. Here are some links to discover Mermaid Paranormal Romance. Enjoy!

Paranormal Romance Everything

All Romance Writers

Ever dream of being a mermaid? Would you spend the big bucks to do it? How do you think that big latex tail feels?

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Filed under Book Trailers, Magic, mermaids, paranormal inspiration, Thursdays Bite

Love in a Jar

Thursdays Bite

(in a big way)

Fall is here, and so is harvest time. I don’t know if it’s the drought or if it’s just one of those years, but this is the year everyone’s fruit trees bore amazing bumper crops. Even my MIL’s nectarine tree that we’ve been making fun of for years out-did itself. From one scraggly fruit every three or four years to this year’s so-much-fruit-we-couldn’t-pick-it-all, that tree gave it’s all. We’re not expecting another nectarine, ever.

a kitchen witchs cookbook by patricia telescoAnd since this is Thursdays Bite, today I’m sharing Pagan harvest recipes from the Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook byPatricia Telesco. If you are interested in easy ways to add magic to your life or just use some very unusual recipes, this is a terrific book. Kitchen magic is everyday magic that mothers and grandmothers have been using for a long time. If you’ve ever made cookies to heal broken hearts or brewed up soul strengthening chicken soup- you too have used kitchen magic.

One major tip for a magical kitchen:

Keep it clean. Before cooking a magical recipe you want to be sure you cleanse your kitchen. Use something basic, like vinegar in a spray bottle of water, center yourself, and then clean away with a cleansing attitude. Waft some sage in the air and you are good to go. Starting with a fresh clean counter is not only good for your health, but  it will ensure your magic in your recipe stays true.

This is especially true when canning. Follow all canning rules. Lots of boiling hot water and a very clean kitchen make for lovely jars to open later, or to give as gifts during the holiday season. And check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation for tips on canning and preserving.

Quote from the A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook:

The primary objective for canning and preserving has been, until recent years, as a means to supplement porvisions during times of scarcity. Today, we preserve as a way of using extra foods, and their potency, for a rainy day! There will be creations such as “Mary’s Strawberry Syrup for Love,” and “Aunt Jane’s Protective Pickles” (heavy on the garlic), and “Sight Sauce” neatly lined up alongside other foods. The added bonus here is that your magical energy is already prepared and ready for any tine you need it, with nothing extra to do but oopen the jar. These goodies also make lovely gift ideas. It is interesting to note that Hermes, the Greek God of communication, is attriguted with teaching humanity about “hermetically” sealing items. he becomes an appropriate patron deity for kitchen withces during their magical canning and preserving efforts.

For some odd reason my parents occasionally canned chutneys over my lifetime. I’m not sure why, but every once in a while they would get together, go on a shopping spree, and spend a day in the kitchen peeling, seeding and chopping. Then, that Christmas, they would present the family with beautiful jeweled jars of chutney. Now, since my parents are one of those successful love stories (they’ve been married for 57 years), maybe there is love to be found in a jar of chutney.

New England Fruit Chutney for Lovers

In some form or another, each fruti and spice in theis recipe can be used to woo and tempt love. The vinegar and salt add precision and extra energy to guide your magic towards its goal.

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 large apples, peeled and chopped
  • 4-5 apricots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 large pears, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 2 oranges, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • Rind of 2 oranges, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of grated lemon rind
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger root
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cider vinegar plus 1/2 cup
  • 3 cups packed brown sugar

Jessica’s note:(For canning method instructions, please see the National Center for Home Food Preservation)

Place the onions, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, oranges, orange rind, lemon rind, raisins, ginger root, garlic, nutmeg , allspice, cinnamon, salt and 2 cups of the vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil: stir regularly. Reduce heat; simmer for 1½ hours. Make sure all the fruits are evenly cooked. Stir in the sugar and remaining vinegar; simmer 1 hour.

Fill jars; leave ½-inch headspace. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Age in a dark place for at least 8 weeks before serving. This chutney is very pleasing with cheese breads and baguettes. The bread can be cut into the shape of hearts before serving. Yield: About 7 half-pints.

Magical attributes: The energy of romance, clarity of love, youthful vigor and idealism.

Elaine Cougler's Chutney Jars

Elaine Cougler made chutney. Yummy!

If any of you make the chutney, please let me know how it turns out. I do love chutney, but you can see why I have never even attempted it. My forays into canning have been mostly failed jams and a bumper crop of alcoholic peaches! Yum!

Have you ever tried a magical recipe? Stirred some love into oatmeal cookies, or tried to entice a beau with pecan pie? Share your stories with me, canning attempts and all!

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Filed under About the Author, Magic, recipes, Thursdays Bite

Merry Meet on the Solstice Day

Thursday’s Bite

a paranormal blog

Today is officially the shortest day of the year and the day when some traditions mourn the death of the old king and welcome in the new king. We see this reflected in Christmas and in modern pictorials of Old Man Time and Baby New Year. But we also see it throughout fiction as the sacrifice of the summer king.

The idea that sacrifice is needed by ourselves and our gods plays throughout history, fantasy, and paranormal fiction, but nowhere have I seen it done better than in the book Lammas Night written by Kathryn Kurtz. Kathryn Kurtz is a fantasy author who is most famous for the Deryni novels and you can find out more about her HERE, but I have always loved her story of magic through the ages that she captured in Lammas Night.

In the book England is faltering under the constant attacks of the Nazi’s and the pagan population (which has been fractured and hidden) decides they need to do something. Interwoven within the story of the secrets of the English Pagans is another story, one that comes down through time, of heroes and kings and their sacrifices in times of need. And this is definitely a time of need.

Now Lammas is actually the celebration of Lughnasadh, and occurs in August. But, I can’t help but think of this story of the death of the king when it comes to the winter solstice. Summer’s king has died on Samhain (Halloween) and now is the time of year when the holly king is celebrated. This is the time of year when celebrations of light occur. And this is the time of year when sacrifice is needed to stave off the winter and starvation.

One of the best Winter Solstice celebrations I attended we asked everyone to walk a spiral labyrinth and on their way in to think about what they wanted to leave behind. When the center was reached and we turned around we were supposed to leave it there and walk out, free and open to the New Year and possibly to new versions of ourselves.

As we celebrate the close of 2011 and welcome 2012, what changes are you making to your life. Are there things that need to be purged, or sacrifices made to make the New Year better? When you ring that bell at midnight, what will you be leaving behind?

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Welcoming the Dead

Thursday’s Bite

a paranormal blog

Today I’m welcoming Keridak Kae to Jessica Aspen Writes. Keridak’s new book, Protection for the Inner and Outer Self is a non-fiction guide that includes stories and techniques for psychic self-protection.

Welcome the Dead

It’s the time of year when the veil between the spirit world and our world thins.  Are you ready to welcome your guests: the spirits of loved ones, friends, pets or perhaps others?  What is your role as hostess? How do you become Martha Stewart to the un-bodied?

First, relax.  The world of the dead is not a frightening one.  The spirits that will be visiting are benign, often caring and occasionally curious.  They want to know how you are doing. They offer messages.

J R Schultz, recognized medium, shares that ghosts often return to let you know that they are okay and that you should move on with your life.  He says that time, and other things that are so important to our everyday world, don’t exist on the spiritual plane.  Their attachment to us is still strong.   They are not returning to hurt or scare us.

Nov 2nd is the Day of the Dead. In Mexico (Día de los Muertos), alters will be set with pictures, mementos and favorite foods.  Dancing in the streets, laughter and song all welcome those who have passed over to return and celebrate.  You might create your own alter.   In some homes a place is set at the table, as a welcoming gesture on this day.  Or go all the way and have a party!

Oct 31th is the day when the veil is open and the spirits freely pass from one world onto the next.  The jack-o-lantern was considered a way to scare the spirits away.  Those wanting to have their houses passed by carved the scariest faces.  It is unknown if this was a successful method, but you might consider a happy face or saving the pumpkin for pie.   Halloween can be the best night for communing with dead and talking with your loved ones.

Plan your evening.   If you are highly intuitive you probably talk with the dead on a regular basis.  In this case make the night a celebration, just as you would a birthday party.  If you are less intuitive or just wish to explore possibilities the Ouija board can be an excellent way to make contact.

Calling a specific name and asking them to come to you will let the spirit know that you are ready and open.  Place your hands on the disk and allow it to be guided across the board.  You may want to record your session: partly to say the letters or other symbols that the disk points to; partly for later recollection; and lastly to see if there are any audio messages.  A soft voice in the background, music or other sounds may happen unheard in the background, yet caught on the recording.

Dreams and meditation are another way to allow spirits to contact you.  Direct your dream by saying the person’s name as a chant before sleeping.  Keep a pen and paper handy. Upon awakening you may have impressions that will quickly fade.  You might also have the desire to write…possibly channeling the otherworld.

Candles always heighten your connection with the spirit world. Choose a white one if possible.  Add mementos, flowers, stones as you wish to create the welcome. These can be placed around the room in any aesthetic way.

Though the ghosts will not harm you other negative influences may come by and it is always best to be protected when in an open, receiving space.  

If you are concerned about unwanted guests, state out loud that only those who mean you well are welcome.  An added level of protection  is to draw a circle around yourself or sleeping area – this can be done by imagining white light, trickling salt around or taking a piece of chalk.  Smudge the room ahead of time and use a protective scent such as cinnamon or sandalwood.  The wearing costumes or masks comes from the Gaelic belief that looking like an evil spirit would please it so much it would not bother you.

Send a photo, or comment on your experiences during this highly sensitive time.   treats@intuitivesinternational.com   

For October/November I will send you a ghost cookie recipe and 2 other tasty treats recipes for your celebration.  By the way:  after you have offered goodies to your guests it is perfectly acceptable to eat the leftovers!

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This articles is free use – please include her contact information when publishing in your email newsletter or blog:   Keridak Kae Silk , Author, Life Coach, Tarot Reader  is the President of IntuitivesInternational.    www.keridakkae.wordpress.com or 866-279-8666.  Protection for the Inner and Outer Self is available in e-format with the paperback version out soon. Follow @KeriSilk on twitter.

Keridak Kae  a magic, mystery and divination writer based in Wisconsin. Upcoming: Protection for Your Inner & Outer Self (10/2011); Featured short story “Across” in The Best of Milwaukee Writer’s Circle 2011.   Founder and President of Intuitives International, Keri  blurs the lines of magic and reality; manifesting her own joyful life and using her gifts to help others.   @kerisilk on twitter  –  listen to Connect, Grow, Prosper Tuesday mornings on Blog Talk Radio.

Leave a comment to be entered in Jessica Aspen’s Halloween Treats contest. Today’s book is Jacuelyn Frank’s Seduce Me in Dreams. Monday’s winner is Brinda Berry, send me your address in the contact box on my contact page and congratulations!

Update: Congratulations to Sharon Clare for winning Seduce Me in Dreams!

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The Elements of Magic

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog

Due to my crazy schedule attending the CRW retreat, getting CRW’s AOE contest and tea organized and the upcoming second challenge of the Thrid Writing Campaign, (as well as taking a sick day) I am taking the liberty of re-posting my first column from Paranormal Freebies Wizzards, Witches and Psychics, Oh My! Thanks for your patience.

Wicca (pronounced /ˈwɪkə/) is a specific Neopagan religion. Its adherents are referred to as Wiccans, though the terms Witches or Crafters are also used.[1] Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century,[2] Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the “witch cult” and “witchcraft,” and its adherents “the Wica.”[3] From the 1960s onward, the name of the religion was normalized to “Wicca.”[4]

Source: Wikipedia

Wiccans practice a variety of different kinds ofmagic. One of the most popular kind is described in books by the now deceased author, Scott Cunningham. Scott’s magical spells are based on working with the harmonies of nature and the four elements. Earth, air, fire and water.

Earth, is the first element. Dense, solid and nurturing Earth is used for growth, prosperity and fertility spells. Ritual tools include dirt, heavy or green stones, earth smelling herbs and the metals iron and lead. Earth is represented by the color green and the pentacle. Its season is winter, its direction is North and the astrological signs are Tarus, Virgo and Capricorn. Spells that are based in earth are spells that need grounding, stability or refer to growth or finance.

Air’s ritual tools include fragrant flowery herbs, wind instruments (such as a flute), light weight stones and the metals tin and copper. Its represented by the wand and the color yellow. Air’s season is spring and its direction, East. Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are all Air signs. Spells for travel, knowledge, instruction freedom and recovering lost items all benefit from an air ritual. Air encompasses divination, concentration, visualization and wind magic.

Fire’s basic nature is complex. From warming the hearth to destroying woodlands fire has many jobs. It is purifying, destructive, protective, sexual and forceful. Its color is red and its tool is the knife. Stinging or thorny plants, plants from hot and desert areas and ones that provide heat such as coffee or peppers are all useful in fire rituals. Summer is its season and South is its direction. Gold and brass are its metals. Aries, Leo, Sagittarius are all fire signs. Use fire in spells for protection, sourage, sex, energy, authority and banishing negativity.

Water is used for cleansing and healing. It is the element of the psychic and love. Use aquatic plants, succulents and flowers that represent love in water rituals. Its stones are blue, transparent or translucent and its metals mercury, silver and copper. Autumn is water’s season and West it’s direction. The cup or the cauldron is its tool. Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are water signs. Use water in spells and rituals for love, purification, healing, dreams, sleep and psychic awareness.

In a Wiccan ritual all the elements will be represented, but on draws on specific elements for support based on the type of need. A spell for protection from a stalker might use a candle, a garnet and cayenne pepper. A spell for prosperity green herbs and a sketched pentacle. Rhymes and formalized words are used to clarify purpose and strengthen the spells. There are many books and places where you can find more information on Wicca and the four elements. But remember, in Wicca the one rule holds sway: An it harm none, do what thou wilt. In other words, before you do a spell you must be sure of your intention.

Are you interested in magic? Have any questions about the four elements or Wicca? Leave questions, comments and ideas for future blogs in the comments section.

All the information on the four elements found here is from Scott Cunningham’s book Earth, Air, Fire & Water, More Techniques of Natural Magic from Llewellyn Publishing.

This is just a short blog and cannot convey the subtlties of Wicca and Elemental Magic. For more books and resources visit Llewellyn’s home page http://www.llewellyn.co

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