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Witchcraft 101, Part 2
by Pat Carbonell
As promised, I'm going to cover stone magic and essential oils (related to herbalism) this week.
Okay, stone magic. Remember that bit about everything we think is solid is actually energy vibrating at different wavelengths? Well, that includes rocks. Over the course of human existance, trial and error has found certain stones to be helpful in affecting certain things, particularly with regard to healing. Just as the different chakras control and affect certain organic systems in the body, so too do certain stones.
Okay, so the kicker here is that the color violet is associated with the crown chakra, on the top of the head, which indeed does affect the emotional state, in addition to the spiritual state. The vibrational signature of the color, the chakra, amethyst and lavender all jive with the vibrational signatures of the beneficial brain chemicals affecting mood.
And yes, the color/chakra/stone/herb/flower correspondences do go on... and on... and on.
Just to confuse matters, however, then there are all the traditional associations for stones: tigereye is supposed to be a strong protective stone, the Roman legions used to embed it in their shields; rose quartz is supposed to be the stone of love (I'm not sure why, except that it's pink [blech!]); lapis lazuli was thought by the Sumerians to grant the power of the Divine to the bearer, so it was worn by kings and queens. It can be mind-boggling.
One of the best reference books I've found on the uses of stones is Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham. I've also had The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall suggested to me, although I haven't had a chance to pick it up. There are numerous books available on the uses of crystals and gemstones in healing, and these tend to deal with the stone/chakra connection. There is also a wealth of information out on the Net, but as with everything out here in cyberspace, let the buyer beware!
So how do I do it? I keep a selection of stones in a bowl on my household altar. When I have a situation arise that I want to use a stone for, I scatter them on a flat surface and go over them with my receptive hand, feeling for the right energy. When I find the stone that calls to me, being a paranoid person, I check it against my reference books to see if it's even close to being appropriate. Almost always it's dead on.
Sometimes, though, there is no appropriate stone. Then I use a clear quartz crystal, preferably a Herkimer 'diamond'. These stones, along with opal, can be 'programmed' to vibrate at any wavelength needed to accomplish whatever you want, by interfacing your energetic system with the stones. They carry an energetic charge with great clarity and endurance.
A few years ago I programmed two Herkimer clusters to work in tandem. The first was set up to drain off negative energies from my daughter's room, which was the scene of continual high emotional drama from her and her friends. That was initially just set to drain into the ground to let the earth purify and recycle the energies, and keep all the crap from poisoning Jo's room. Then my sister down in Georgia, who is an instinctive energetic healer (runs in the family), was trying to energetically support a young man crippled with osteoporosis and her sister-in-law who was dying of cancer. I set up the second cluster to link with the first, to pull in the purified energies from the earth down there (the circuit ran down the Appalachians, for anyone who's interested), so she could draw on them to help her loved ones without draining herself into exhaustion. It helped. He's still hanging in there, and so is the sister-in-law who was supposed to be dead three years ago.
Oh, yeah, and the second cluster was blood-locked, so only someone of my blood could use it. I'm not quite silly enough to send something like that "out there" without some kind of limitation on it!
Now, calm down, just because I mentioned "blood" doesn't mean we have to start getting hysterical here. White witches do use blood in some circumstances - usually their own, and only in minute amounts. We're not talking decapitating the chicken and swinging it around by the feet, here.
Essential oils. Back to the subject here. Okay, essential oils are extracted from plants. They are used in aromatherapy, perfumes, medicines, and a slew of other applications. Like herbs, they have a lot of empirical evidence behind them. For anyone who doesn't know, herbs are the primary source of modern medicines. Aspirin originally came from willow bark (that's why you'll keep reading about willow-bark tea in fantasy novels); digitalis from deadly nightshade, etc. etc. etc. This is one of the reasons that in many European countries there has been a concerted effort made to recover the "old wive's remedies" - turns out there's a lot to be said for a mustard plaster for breathing troubles.
For the most part, essential oils are used in this country for aromatherapy. I've actually seen a chart hanging on the wall at my pharmacy that details which oils stimulate which parts of the brain for what results. Like the lavender listed above.
** BIG CAUTIONARY NOTE HERE: Do not use any essential oils without checking a reputable source book for their precautions. There are oils that are flat out poisonous, but are available for pesticide use. There are others that make you light sensitive, shouldn't be used by pregnant women, cause impotence (don't breathe real camphor, guys!) or can cause migraines. Any oil can cause an allergic reaction. Don't mess around. Do the research. **
I have four aromatherapy blends I've developed, that I sell as oils in varying strengths for diffusers, perfume and an after-bath moisturizer. I also blend them into salts for bath salts, and into a massage cream base and massage blend base oil for professional body workers.
I also develop signature scents for people - personalized blends that evoke their personalities and trip some of their brain triggers in good ways. I always involve them in the development, so their noses are telling me which scents they need to be smelling. These scents are never marketed to the public.
Then there are the actual therapuetic blends. These utilize oils that have a definite physical affect. One I call "Breathe Easy", which is a blend of eucalyptus, peppermint and clove, meant to be inhaled in steam or used in a room diffuser. It works well, particularly for people like my mother who can't take oral decongestants. Another is an oil for topical pain relief, for conditions such as arthritis, muscle aches and so forth. I've sold this to people with those conditions and gotten very good reports back from them. Sold some as part of a Christmas basket to a nursing mother, because she didn't want to take pain killers while she was nursing, but oh, her aching back!
Essential oils are probably the most concrete and provable of the aspects of my craft. My primary source book is The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. She is a British aromatherapist, and it is an amazing book. Also, for the more herbalism end of things, I use Herbal Medicine, the Expanded Commision E Monographs from the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. This is the most thorough and complete book I have ever seen on herbal medicines, their drug actions, interactions, uses, etc.
** I stood up to get that book so I could give you the proper reference, and got my seat stolen by a cat - the trials of being a witch with multiple cats **
So there you have the basics, or Witchcraft 101. I had a very abbreviated version of this discussion with a woman who stopped at my Farmers Market stall this summer. At the end, she looked at me wistfully and said "So, you mean there's really no magic?" I told her that of course there is, but magic is just science we don't understand yet.
I was wrong, though, in how I answered her. There is magic alive in this world. Wherever there is love, wherever the sun shines through apple blossoms, wherever the moonlight ripples across the water, wherever babies are born, wherever elders die in peace, there is magic. I've just never known anyone who could clean their house with a twitch of their nose - and man, didn't I feel cheated when I figured out I couldn't!
Next week: Meditations of a Menopausal Witch -or- Aren't you glad I don't hex people?!
Pat will be selling these online pretty quick. Watch for more details.