buying crystals, remember to ask where the crystal comes from and how
it was mined. A lot of crystals are strip mined, which is very harmful
to the land, and when handled often have a feeling of being psychically
fractured or distressed about them.
As pagans who care about the land we will not support strip mining. Open
cast or strip mining excavates large chunks of land to extract precious
minerals without needing to tunnel below the surface. It can cause short
and long term environmental damage through accelerated soil erosion and
through acid water damage.
The exposure of exposed fragmented rocks to water can also create acids
such as sulphuric acid that degrade the environment. As strip mining eliminates
the soil and overlying rock above a mineral deposit, this means that even
with replanting after the mining is completed, it will still take many
years for vegetation and animals to return to the land.
The origin of coral should also be checked before purchase. These ancient
ecosystems are under threat from a variety of causes. The threats include
dynamiting, cyanide poisoning and fine mesh nets (both for fishing), sewage
and sedimentation pollution.
It is shocking to realise that coral reefs in every major tropical region
of the world bleached white from pollution during the 1980's. This bleaching
depresses coral growth rates and in some cases results in mass coral mortality
and enormous aquatic population loss, and contributes to potential species
The trade in ivory and resulting murder of elephants is to be abhorred
and not supported. The way to do this is either (a) not buy ivory, or
(b) only buy antique ivory. Ivory that is old (i.e. decades or more) goes
a yellow colour and eventually to a yellowy-brown. If ivory is white or
cream coloured, you know the elephant has been killed recently.
If you do buy ivory it is worth doing a ritual to Ganesha and asking His
permission to use the ivory.
Whilst it has many positive aspects, Chinese herbalism also contains some
very questionable practices. Obviously no concerned pagan would buy or
support the horrific trade in powdered tiger bones or bear paw pads, or
any other practice that results in the potential extinction of species
and extreme cruelty to animals.
These disgusting trades and abuses of our environment are obviously not
things you would wish to support, so please make your voice heard and
counted by checking out these little details before buying that herb or
beautiful crystal or piece of coral or ivory.
We can make a difference by not supporting companies or trades with questionable
ethics and a damaging policy to our environment and the creatures which
occupy it. Be true to the world and your principles.
Tread gently on the earth
When you go out into nature, it is preferable to walk some of the
way (if driving don't park right next to the site even if it is possible)
to start to attune before you reach the site.
A number of sites are on private land, and consideration must be given
to the owners (often farmers) of this land and their livestock. As pagans
we respect our environment, and that includes all the animals, plants
and people on it.
So if you are tempted to drum into the early hours of the morning, remember
how much this will disturb the local wildlife.
Exploring the site and meditating are probably the best ways to get the
feel of it. During meditation you should get a feel for the type of energy
in the place, and what sort of magickal work could be appropriately performed
there. Some places have a strong death and transformation feeling (appropriate
to Samhain), others a strong feeling of energy and growth (more appropriate
to Eostra or Beltane), and so on.
Rituals should always be performed in harmony with the place you are working.
Another important consideration at a site is trying to contact the site
guardian, seeing if your intuition helps you contact it (or them). Often
they are glad to be considered, and the contact is not too difficult.
Sometimes they are hostile to certain things (like iron at some old or
faery sites), which can be avoided once these are known.
Site guardians respond well to offerings, the nature of which can be determined
through contact. We can make offerings and libations, the nature of which
we can adjust to suit the site and the season. Making offerings of food
and drink you have prepared, as with bread or homemade wine, has the benefit
of giving back your own efforts and energies to the land. However, rather
than always using red wine, it can be more appropriate to use drinks such
as cider for Samhain, when it is appropriate as the fruit of wisdom and
death and transformation (hence their use in apple bobbing, etc, at this
time); hawthorn wine or mead for Beltane (the "May blossom"); barley wine
for Lughnasadh is another obvious example with the ballad of John Barleycorn.
Non-alcoholic drinks such as milk have often been used in the past, milk
and honey being offered in ancient times to deities such as Pan and Artemis.
Apples are very good as an offering for site guardians as well as more
usual offering of bread and cakes. Finding out what the site guardians
would prefer is the obvious course of action in all cases, just don't
be surprised if they have sweet teeth!
Of course all the Earth is sacred, and you do not have to go to an ancient
site to make a contact, or to contact nature spirits. Any woods, rivers,
ponds, open land, etc can be as rewarding to be in as a stone circle,
if approached with the appropriate respect and consideration.
It is important to remember to leave any site in as good (or better) condition
than you found it. Taking a bag to collect any rubbish should become part
of your ritual. Site guardians tend to look more favourably on people
who demonstrate care for their land.
In the same way, when you have finished working at a site, make sure you
do not leave any containers, packets, candle wax or other materials or
objects which do not belong at the site. Offering of food are fine as
they are bio-degradable and can feed the local wildlife.
Natural places contain a wealth of plant and animal life with which we
can learn to communicate, gain wisdom from, read auguries from, and in
the cases of herbs and trees, use parts of them in healing, or in ritual
When gathering wild herbs for healing or ritual use, it is important to
consider the environment. Do not gather rare herbs from the wild - use
cultivated stock instead. Only take from nature that which nature has
plenty of, and limit the amount you take to what you actually need. Most
plants are more potent when the moon is waxing to full, as the sap is
rising and the vital chemicals within are at their highest levels. Similarly,
dawn is the best time of day to harvest most plants, when the dew is still
on the plant, or for purposes of drying, when the dew has just evaporated.
However, there are some variations on this, and different plants have
their own most potent times. Harvesting the plant in the correct planetary
hour and day depending on the planetary rulership of the herb may also
be beneficial, if you want to go into that much detail, but is not strictly
necessary -it is better to gather the herbs as you need them.
There are many good books which give planetary correspondences of herbs,
(Culpepers Complete Herbal to name but one). It is also important when
gathering wild herbs to make contact with the plant spirits, and to ask
for their permission to gather them, and for their help in the work for
which you wish to use them.
When you gather the herb, first stroke the part of the herb that you are
going to pick (the same goes for when cutting a wand from a tree), visualizing
the energy in the herb separating, so that there is energy within the
part you are gathering, but you are not taking all the plant's energy.
Visualize a gap in the energy, so that the point at which you cut or break
the plant is "dead", and the plant will not be hurt by the cut. Next,
seal the wound by gently holding the cut part of the plant and channelling
healing energy to the plant. If a whole plant is gathered, it is best
to use a magickal tool such as a consecrated knife to loosen the earth
around the roots before pulling the plant out. An offering should immediately
be made to the plant spirit (such as milk and honey poured onto the earth
it has been pulled up from), and if the plant is in seed, return some
of the seeds to the earth.
Gathering of herbs should always be done with care and reverence. As pagans
we must lead the way in caring for our environment, by recycling, by not
littering, by supporting animal welfare projects, by not supporting trades
which practice wanton cruelty to animals like factory farming, by practicing
our beliefs rather than paying them lip service to them.
In the words of Friends of the Earth,
"Think Global, Act Local."
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Journal 1 Contents
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of Power review