When Darkness Falls: Cooking and Heating in Winter as Our Forebears Did

When Darkness Falls: Cooking and Heating in Winter as Our Forebears Did

by Catherine Harper

As I write this, we are in the midst of the false spring that is so often January’s mercurial gift to the Pacific Northwest coast. Around the borders of the garden daffodil bulbs are sending up small green teeth. The days are sunny and mild, and my over-wintering broccoli has started to form heads. Is it just coincidence that just as the season tries to so mislead us the seed catalogs begin to arrive? The sunset through the trees beyond my study window has painted the sky the color of salmon, and it is not yet wholly dark, though it would have been at this time only a few weeks before. It’s an easy time to think of Imbolc ahead.

Imbolc is a celebration of first stirrings, new beginnings, gradual lengthening of days and return of the light. In this green country by the sea, where winter’s sleep is never much more than a nap, it might almost be redundant, the transition from grey, rain and green to more of the same with swelling buds. We prune the apple orchards and light a candle (the more faithfully because Imbolc is also my brother’s birthday). It is a restless season, a gradually accelerating rising toward the lighter portion of the year, and as such it can be a difficult time for reflection. And yet reflection sometimes finds us, though we did not look for it.

Recently, our house was without power for several days, and many of our plans were put on hold for that stretch. I was given ample opportunity to think of the passing of the darkest time — even as winter is still with us — and time to think of the small ways in which the light returns to us. Now, we are well set up for such occurrences, and it is not uncommon for us to heat the house and cook our dinner with the wood-burning brick oven. Similarly, we often eat by candlelight. But to fire the oven every day, banking the coals each night and then stirring them to light the fire the next morning, is something else, as it is to read and work out and clean the garage only by the light of candles and oil lamps or the short hours of daylight. What has been at most ritual, and at least conceit, becomes both drudgery and discipline.

By the third day, the eyestrain from the dimmer light even of many candles was feeling ingrained. I had learned to take a hot water bottle to bed with me every night because, while the oven could heat most of the house, the master bedroom is too far, and the bed itself bitterly cold when I first entered it. We swept and washed dishes as much as possible while we still had daylight to see our work by, and brought in wood before going to bed so that it would be there to start the morning fire. Beyond the work itself, which wasn’t excessive, the routine was exhausting — some combination of the cold and the dark and the tedium of normally simple tasks leaving me stumbling with fatigue each night. And yet, in its way, it was deeply satisfying.

In my magical work in and beyond the kitchen, much of what I do is creating a web of connections. I buy the food that is in season to make another link between myself and the turning of the year. I buy from local farmers to strengthen my connection to the land, and from people I know to strengthen my connection with the community. But we all live in and amongst many such webs, if not all of them so deliberately chosen. The pieces of our world — every aspect of our lives — is vastly interdependent, and the electrical networks are one such tangible example of the ways in which we are connected.

If there is something to be learned from building and choosing to put our energy into certain connections and so reinforce them, so is there something very basic and primal about stepping aside from some of the default connections in our lives. The break from my routine, the rhythm of tending the house and heating and lighting it by our own labors, became an opportunity to step back and consider the interconnections of our lives and the routines we had taken for granted. And, of course, a chance to consider a little the lives we might be living had we been given fewer technological blessings. I think for those who are plunged into darkness less frequently by the vagaries of the weather and the electric companies, spending the occasional stretch of time without power, perhaps the length of a meal, can still be a useful exercise.

It is generally assumed that those who are in the magickal community are well equipped with candles, but our uses of them do not necessarily emphasize the efficiency of lighting, so here are a few suggestions:

Most people know that a candle backed by a mirror or other reflector will shed more light. A candle near a white wall will also reflect its light better than one near a dark surface.

Candles much more than two inches in diameter will tend to use up the wax at the center of the candle without melting the wax on the outside, so gradually the wick and flame will drop down below the level of the outer rim of wax. This is pretty and atmospheric, but does not provide especially efficient light. On the other hand, candles of much less than one inch in diameter will burn down quite quickly, which can be useful in spell work, but is annoying for lighting purposes.

Most grocery stores carry large boxes (usually of 72 candles) of Shabbos candles in their Kosher food section. These are plain white four-inch candles that are usually quite cheap, and they are less likely to be sold out during power outages.

I have often seen candle jars used in outdoor rituals, but seldom seen them used indoors in the manner in which we employ them. These are versatile lanterns that can be comfortably carried or set down, provide light in all directions and are fairly kid and cat safe because they can be tipped over without ill effect. To make one, wash and remove the label from a large spaghetti sauce jar or other large glass jar. (Hot water will soften the glue that holds on the label.) Find two candles that are not taller than the jar. Light one candle, pour a few drops of its hot wax into the jar and then quickly stick the bottom of the other candle to the jar bottom with the hot wax. The jar, being glass, allows light to shine all around, and is far enough from the flame that it doesn’t get hot enough to burn your hands when carried.

Oil lamps are a convenient light source, but only the lamps with properly ventilated chimneys are able to provide especially bright light. In my experience the lamps burn best when the wick is at least occasionally trimmed, and the end of the wick is roughened or frayed a bit by rubbing a knife-edge across it. Oil lamps also provide much better light when their reservoirs are full than when they are near empty.

Cooking

I should have known when we bought a house already equipped with a fireplace, woodstove and the built-in barbeque that was later converted into my brick oven that we lived in an area where power supply could be a bit uncertain. Instead, to my surprise, six weeks later we were treated to three days in the dark with a woodstove I hadn’t entirely made friends with and a foot of icy slush on the roads. But the corollary to our frequent outages is that we are well set up to deal with them, with wood stove and brick ovens, lamps, sconces and chandeliers. Most houses, and apartments even more so, are not so well prepared.

Now, I assume people who already have woodstoves, brick ovens, grills, barbeques, masonry cookers and other such relatively expensive fixtures are already fairly well acquainted with their use, but a few tips anyway: If you haven’t cooked over your woodstove, it’s good to keep in mind that most of them that are not built specifically for cooking will provide only the equivalent of low heat from a standard burner unless you fire them very hot. You’ll have better luck simmering a stew than frying an egg on them, and you might want to put a pot of water on top right off so you don’t have to wait later on for it to warm. Barbeques and grills can be used year round in our mild climate, but they should be used outside if you are fond of breathing. (Though one can often use a hibachi or other small grill in one’s fireplace, assuming that the fireplace is large enough to accommodate it and that the draw is strong enough.)

Luckily, the lack of such amenities doesn’t put you out of the running. If you would like to cook over flame, don’t have wood-burning appliances and don’t want to invest in expensive equipment, there are a number of low-cost options. The simplest is the tried-and-true can of Sterno or similar canned heat product. These are readily available at grocery stores and fairly safe for indoor use, unlike most camping stoves, which need a lot of ventilation and should only be used outside. For a few bucks more you can buy a collapsible Sterno “stove” from your local army surplus or camping supplies store, which will shelter the flame and support a cooking pot.

The collapsible Sterno “stoves” or other similar trivets can also be used above tea lights (which are good for warming tinned soup, if less good for more serious cooking, though you can do a bit when you use more than one at a time), alcohol burners or other simple flames. We have been using our fondue burner, which is essentially a small adjustable alcohol burner with a heavy iron trivet, as a general-purpose stove, and it boils water quite readily. Fondue burners can be found at culinary stores, and other types of alcohol burners can be purchased through chemistry supply companies.

Most of these improvised burners will not give you as evenly distributed heat as will most stoves, so you must either use them with thick-bottomed pots that distribute heat well on their own or make soups, sauces and other largely liquid things that will not mind the uneven heat so much. Another good standby is couscous. You can add one part couscous to two parts boiling water and then cover it and let it cook away from the flame entirely (this also makes for fairly fuel-efficient food, which is why couscous is a backpacking favorite).

If you are fortunate enough to have a fireplace, more options are available to you (though if you have attempted to cook over a fireplace without appropriate equipment you already know that other than hotdogs and marshmallows, your options can be rather limited). An open fire is romantic, but to cook over it effectively requires some preparation. First of all, for most things it is much more effective to cook over hot coals than open flame. So you’re often best off building a fairly large, hot fire and letting it burn down before you attempt to cook over it. (For a similar effect you can use charcoal briquettes in your fireplace or add them to your wood fire.)

Next, of course, you need some way of supporting your food over the fire. A spit can be improvised, but is often fairly difficult to manage, especially in modern fireplaces. For the least expensive route, one can rely on the camper’s favorite of wrapping food in tinfoil and setting it among the coals and ashes (not directly in the hottest part of the fire) to cook. “Hobo stew” is a combination of meat and vegetables cooked by this method, a bit of a chancy proposition, but fun, simple, and potentially tasty. Or, most camping supplies stores sell inexpensive lightweight collapsible grills that can fit in your fireplace. These can hold pots and pans as well as grill meat and vegetables.

Of course, if you want to get at all serious about cooking in your fireplace, you should at least look at what is often considered the most flexible of fireside cooking tools, the Dutch oven. It has been claimed, and to a great extent demonstrated, that pretty much any dish from the Western European tradition, and a great many others from elsewhere, can be made in a Dutch oven. The Dutch oven is a heavy cast iron pot with feet that will hold it above burning coals and a rimmed lid that will allow you to place additional coals on top of it. They come in a variety of sizes, and can be used to make anything from wedding cakes to stews to omlettes. Dutch oven cooking is a subject one could write a book about, and indeed many people have.

In the end, there is the eating. Almost by definition it is a dinner by candlelight, but it need not be a formal one. We hand out one bowl, spoon, and fork apiece, because bowls are harder to spill food from and more amenable to being held in one’s lap while you sit in front of the fire or curl up with a blanket in the living room. Fewer dishes are a blessing when light and hot water are limited, too. Like the food we make camping, a meal cooked at home over fire is fully realized in its simplicity. Even tinned soup and crackers becomes delicious as our labors give us a more intimate connection to the food and its preparation. Fire, food and hunger are primal things.

Spirit Guide Contact Spell

Spirit Guide Contact Spell

 

You will need:

Altar Candle
Black Candle
3 Purple Votive Candles
3 White Votive Candles
Athame
Crystal Ball or Scrying Dish
Incence: Anise, Cardomon or Coriander
Censer
Oil: Jasmine, Lemon, Rose, Sandalwood
Bathing Herbs: Cinnamon, Frankincense, Myrrh and Sandalwood

Mix together a sachet of the bathing herbs, or alternatively blend an oil – these should be added to the water you run for a ritual bath.

Once you are immersed in the water breathe deeply, visualise a ball of protective light around you. Meditate on the reasons for contact, visualise the steps you will take and what you wish to say to your spirit guide.

Cast a circle if that is your tradition.

Light the incense.
With the oil, dress the Altar Candle and the Black Candle while concentrating on the purpose of the ritual. Light your Altar candle and your Day candle and state your intent:

“I am here to make contact with my Spirit Guide, and to acknowledge him or her”

With your Athame, inscribe Violet Candle #1 with the word “Spirit”. Dress it with oil.
Light the Violet candle #1, direct your energies into it, and say:

“Here do I light the first Lamp of Spirit. May its light reach out across the barriers from
this world to the next. May it make contact with that World of Spirit into which we will eventually enter.”

Take your censer or incense wand and swing in around censing the whole area
around the altar, while rhythmically repeating the word “Merge” and building up
energy to focus.

Replace the censer and pick up Violet candle #2. Inscribe it with the word
“Spirit” and dress it with the oil. Put it back on the altar, light it, direct
your energy into it, and say:

“Here do I light the second Lamp of Spirit. May it’s light also reach out across the barriers from this world to the next. May it make contact with that World of Spirit and help spread the light, illuminating the passageway between our worlds.”

Again, take the censer or incense wand and cense the entire area around the
altar while chanting the word “Merge” Build up your energy to focus.

Take violet candle #3, inscribe with the word “Spirit”, dress with oil, charge
with your energy, light it and say:

“Here do I light the third Lamp of Spirit.
May its light also reach out across the barriers from this world to the next. May the light
from these three lamps blend and grow, dispelling all darkness and lighting the
way that my Spirit Guide may come to me and speak with me here today.”

Inscribe the 3 white candles with the word “Truth” and anoint each candle with
oil. Light the 3 white candles in order of 1, 2, 3, and say:

“Here do I build Truth. As these candles burn throughout this ritual, their power
generates nothing but truth in all that transpires between this world and the next.
Through these candles there is truth in all communications that come to me”.

Again, cense the entire altar area while chanting the word “Merge”.

Replace the censer and continue chanting. Sit comfortably while chanting, and
gaze into the crystal ball, or the scrying bowl. Continue chanting until
you feel it is right to let the chant taper off.

Continue to quietly look into the crystal ball or bowl, not trying to picture
anything. Keep your mind blank, so whatever comes will appear will come in its
own free will.

Gaze into the centre of the crystal, there is no need to try not to blink. Look
into the crystal and blink naturally. Try not to notice anything in your
peripheral vision, just the centre of the crystal.

Eventually a face or figure will appear. This may take a long time, or it may
appear almost immediately. If it doesn’t come at all within approximately 20
minutes, abandon this attempt, extinguish the candles in the order in which they were
lit, leave the altar set up, and try this ritual again in three days. You should
have results within a month at most.

When a figure does appear, ask if he/she is your Spirit Guide. You will hear an
answer. You may not hear it out loud, or even see the figures lips move, but you
will be aware of the answer. This is how most of your conversation will proceed. You
will ask your questions mentally (or out loud) and the answers will be clear
inside your mind.

Ask if you have more than one spirit guide. If yes, ask them to appear also.
You may ask anything you wish to know, but it is suggested to establish a
connection first where your Spirit Guide may appear to you at any time, or at
specific times, so that you can converse with other spirits through him/her.

When you have finished speaking with your Guide, thank him/her, then sit for a
moment with your eyes closed, meditating on all that you have learned.
Extinguish the candles in reverse order to clear the circle.

Today’s Runes for July 12 is Dagez

Dagez means daylight, and represents divine light. This rune generally refers to dawn (the initial sparking of energy) or to midday (the climax of energy). Both dawn and midday are symbolic of change, but unlike the changes in the perpetual circle of the year which are slow and subtle, the changes over a day are much faster and more dramatic. The breaking of a new day is symbolic of the rapid illumination of dismal circumstances, and is suggestive of Satori. Be careful – although this rune generally suggests a positive change, the symbology of a peaking point suggests that there must be a change downward as well. Fortunately for some, this rune is cyclic and irreversible, and so permanence is not promised – the only thing you can be sure of is an exciting ride.

Magickal Spell for July 12th – Yellow Crystal Sun Spell To Get Your Talents Noticed

 

 

A Yellow Crystal Sun Spell To Get Your Talents Recognized

The sun is associated with success and the flowering of talent, as well as financial rewards. If you work hard and get results but are passed over for promotion, or you are labeled so reliable but unexciting, a sun spell will make sure you shine.

You will need:

Any small sparkling yellow crystal, such as a topaz, citrine or spinel, or a clear quartz crystal.

When to cast:

In early morning sunlight or natural light on a Monday.

The Spell:

  1. Hold the crystal up to the light in your power hand and say: “Sun enter and empower me that I may likewise shine.”
  2. Lift the stone to your mouth and blow slowly three times on the crystal to endow it with your essence.
  3. Wear or carry the crystal. When you get to work, set it where the light will continue to fall on it right through until 3 p.m., (you may have to use artificial light on a dark day or in a dark workplace).
  4. Repeat the first two steps at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m., (or as close to these times as you can), each time returning the crystal to where it can absorb light.
  5. Take the crystal home with you after work and repeat the ritual each day, right through your working week.

Allowing Our Light to Shine

Removing Obstructions

by Madisyn Taylor

When we remove obstructions in our path our light can more easily come forth.

 

There are times when we may not feel at our best and brightest. At those times we can take a look at what we might do to let our inner light shine to the fullest. Because we are physical, mental and spiritual beings, we need to determine where our spiritual light is being filtered or blocked. We can work from the outside inward, knowing that we are the only ones with the power to dim our lights, and as we clear away the layers we can get out of our own way to feel the warmth of our own light shining again.

As vehicles for our mind and spirit, our bodies require proper maintenance. Caring for ourselves is like polishing–helping to clear away the accumulation of physical debris that keeps us from operating at our fullest capacity. A simple shift in our thoughts can positively affect our mental state, moving from complaints to gratitude and applying the powerful light of love to any shadowy thoughts. A change of scenery can allow us to see the world in new ways too.

Once we are free of our restrictions, we can become still and connect to the power at the center of our being. It is always there for us, but when we forget to connect, or siphon our power in too many directions, we cannot make the most of our energy. Starting from the inside out may direct us to take the right steps for our journeys back to the light, but sometimes it can be difficult to find the stillness if our bodies and minds are in the way. As we practice steps to keep our energy flowing freely and without obstruction, we shine our light brightly, illuminating our own paths and making the world around us glow as well.

 

Daily OM 

Knowing Right and Wrong

 

Author: Stewart Bitkoff

On one level people want simple answers and to be told what to do. On another they want freedom to choose and make their own decisions. People are multi-level and have the capacity to make their own choices as well as accept direction from others. Discordance sets in when the guidance from others or authority does not fit what the individual wants or feels is right for them. In this case, the individual is in conflict and looks for something else.

Most people are taught a philosophy of ‘right and wrong.’ At an early age aspects of this protective mechanism are projected into daily life and are part of social and religious training. For example, if you do not get-up on time and arrive timely at school this is bad. As an adult, being late will eventually result in loss of job. Or as a youth, if you take street drugs, this will lead to personal problems and addiction.

It is difficult to disagree with these two maxims about daily life. Get places on time and do not take potentially damaging street drugs. However, to complicate matters other factors may be at play. Perhaps the individual is getting to work late because of an inner, hidden unease with this type of work. In time, after warnings by the supervisor, the worker realizes this and moves on. Or the youth experimenting with recreational drugs uses this learning in a future career in brain chemistry. Or in a more damaging scenario, after years of addiction the person sobers up and becomes a drug counselor who, because of personal experience, helps dozens of others.

From a higher perspective, looking at events: travelers are taught to take a more longitudinal and holistic view of the effect of specific actions. In real life, often it is not a simple matter of an action being ‘right or wrong.’ Actions are complex and involve others, having both a collective and individual effect. Before making many decisions it is wise to consider their long term and multi-level effect.

As an example, how about the common situation where your beloved asks- do you think I have put on a few pounds? Does this dress/suit make me look heavy? Sometimes telling the truth can be unnecessarily hurtful, particularly if the individual has been struggling with their weight. In this situation, I’ll leave it to you to figure out what is right or wrong; in most things, we are free to pick and choose.

Further when viewing the effect of personal action, it is impossible to know all the variables involved; particularly over a long period of time and actions that affect countless others. However, for the spiritual traveler, it is possible to know some of this and begins by asking the question: will this action bring me closer or distance me from my higher destiny?

The answer to this question may be thought out as well as perceived. First, we rationally consider and list the effects using what we term our common sense. Next, we use our intuition, requesting if the action will bring us closer or distance us from our higher self. Perception is intuitive knowledge that emerges from our collective consciousness. By turning inward, the traveler unlocks this holistic awareness and uses this answer along with their rational thought to arrive at an action.

At an early age, it is important to learn about the difference between right and wrong. It is important to learn some things are good for us and some things are not. Yet, spiritual teaching must go deeper, illustrating and considering the aspect of longitudinal effect and destiny. While one piece of chocolate may be tasty and even nutritious, twenty is not, particularly, if we are diabetic or prone to dental problems.

Most spiritual training programs teach the traveler to pray, or turn inward in some fashion or another before taking an important action. Within each person, there is an inner voice or capacity to know if an action will bring us closer to our own higher self and the higher destiny of the universe. Most people have forgotten to develop and listen to their own inner voice and have relied upon others to teach them about right and wrong.

This original social, moral and religious teaching, about what is useful in life, was intended as a beginning; and the traveler, as they matured was to be instructed on how to make their own more complex, intuitive decisions. For many, this has been omitted from their training and they continue to rely upon limited and simplistic learning constructs.

Many of which have been tied to a hidden and sometimes not so hidden ‘fear and reward’ system. In a sense, for these travelers, their thoughts on certain subjects have become fixed, often engineered by others.

*
Humanity is conscious energy
Burning like sunlight.
By reflecting the Light into this world
Humanity neutralizes personal spiritual darkness.

Embrace your own inner beliefs
And then travel beyond them.
Embrace higher knowledge
And as the Source Wills
You will become a sun unto yourself:
Knowing right from wrong,
Dissipating your own lower needs and desires.

*
What some call religious training and tradition:
Often is based upon historical and no longer accurate,
Incomplete information; also, in some presentations
There is tendency to misapply traditional exercises to this culture.
Further, many sacred books include
Selective reportage by believers and historians;
With altered teachings to control desired behaviors
Which were insisted upon by the ruling entity or clergy.

Remember many cherished religious traditions and behaviors no longer serve any real or spiritual function. However, they do increase people’s feelings of comfort/tradition and need to be viewed within their emotional framework.
*

The Law

Traveler: Holy One, tell me of the Law

Master: The Law is Inscribed on the heart of each person. Beneath the layers of dust- from selfish living- that surround each heart, is the Golden Rule. The Law is also Written in the Books and is known to all. It is written: That which brings you closer to your higher self and the Beloved is the Measure.

Travelers know what is right; yet, allow themselves to be deceived by their desires. If a traveler would ask their Higher Self or The Light to help make their decision- each would correctly and reach higher.

If you will pray, the Light will cleanse your heart and The Law will be inscribed upon it- Lighting the Darkness. SB

Lighten Up – Pagan Lightbulb Jokes

How many Gardnerians does it take to change a lightbulb? 13 consistng entirely of man-woman working couples

How many Rad fems does it take? 7: one to do it, 2 to organize the creche and 4 to debate the meaning of the word unscrew

How man Crowleyites does it take? They can’t. Uncle Aleister didn’t leave any instructions.

How many Chaos magicians does it take? They don’t need to–they are used to working in the dark.

How many Zen Buddhists does it take to change a light bulb? Two. One to change it, one not to change it.

How many Zen Masters does it take to change a light bulb? None. The universe changes the light bulb and the Zen Master gets the hell out of the way!

How many Gardnerians does it take to change a light bulb? 1. I can’t say. It’s oathbound. 2. I can’t tell you–you’re not a third-circle initiate!

How many Alexandrians does it take to change a light bulb? 1. Same number as Gardnerians. 2. What do the Gardnerians do?

How many Dianic women does it take to screw in a light bulb? That’s W-I-M-M-I-N, and that’s not funny!

How many Solitaries does it take to change a light bulb? Who cares!

How many Dianics does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but that bulb has really got to want to change.

How many witches does it take to change a light bulb? 1. None… they call the electrician who’s also pagan and keeps the money in their community. 2. None — if a candle was good enough for Gramma it’s good enough for me!

How may light bulbs does it take to change a Gardnerian? None, they can do it all by themselves, thank you very much!!

How many Asatruar does it take to change a light bulb? None. The light from the burning monastery is sufficient, thank you.

How many Druids does it take to screw in a light bulb? They don’t screw in light bulbs, they screw in stone circles.

How many Druids does it take to change a light bulb? Thirteen; one to hold the bulb, and twelve to drink enough to make the room spin.

How many ceremonial magicians does it take to change a light bulb? One; he stands still with the bulb, and the universe revolves around him.

How many Witches does it take to change a light bulb? Depends on what you want to change it into.

How many Thelemites does it take to change a light bulb? None. Crowley never wrote a book about it.

Winter Night’s Blessing (Storm Moon)

Winter Night’s Blessing

(Storm Moon)

While preparing for bed, read this blessing aloud as part of your nightly prayers:

When the nights are dark and stormy,
And things become hard to see,
Dear God and Goddess
Help to keep the light within me glowing.
So that no matter which way the wind’s blowing,
I am on the Path I should be;
I am one of the blessed,
Who seek complete union with the Divine,
I am one of the shining ones,
Whose light continues to brighten the night.
In the name of the Lord and Lady, Blessed Be!

As you drift to sleep, imagine that you are the candle that the Goddess has lit. Imagine your light burning bright and shining like a star in the night sky. Every night, your light grows brighter and brighter and your life becomes filled with the joy of Divine Love.

Lady A’s Spell of the Day for Feb. 3rd – Spirit Animal Protection Spell

Spirit Animal Protection Spell

This spell is used to call upon otherworldly beings, such as your Spirit Animal or Totem, for protection and guidance.

Items You Will Need:

  • A black candle
  • A white candle
  • Two candleholders
  • Matches
  • A photo, figurine, painting or other image of the animal whose help you are soliciting

Best Time To Cast Spell:

  • Any time

The Spell:

Think about various animals and their distinctive qualities. Bears, for example, are strong and fiercely protective. Foxes are clever, experts at dodging difficulties. Which animal’s characteristics will best serve and guide you now? When you’ve chosen an animal helper, find a photograph, small figurine or another symbol of that animal.

Collect all the ingredients listed above. Cast a circle around the area where you will do your spell. Fit the candles in their holders and set them on your altar (or another surface, such as a tabletop). As you face the altar, the black candle should be at your left and the white one on your right. Light the candles and place the image of the animal between them.

Gaze at the animal image. Sense this animal’s presence near you, not necessarily as a physical creature but as a spirit being who will accompany you wherever and whenever you need him or her. Breathe slowly and deeply, bringing into yourself the qualities you seek from that animal: strength, courage, speed, cunning, and so on. Feel your fear ebbing away. Ask this animal to share any suggestions that might help you. An answer may come in the form of a vision, insight, sensation, sound, scent, or inner knowing.

When you feel ready, extinguish the candles and pick up the image of your animal guardian. Open the circle. Carry the image with you for prtection and reassurance.

How many members of your sign does it take to change a light bulb?

How many members of your sign does it take to change a light bulb?

Aries: Just one. You want to make something of it?

Taurus: One, but just “try” to convince them that the burned-out bulb is useless and should be thrown away.

Gemini: Two, but the job never gets done — they just keep arguing about who is supposed to do it and how it’s supposed to be done.

Cancer: Just one. But it takes a therapist three years to help them through the grief process.

Leo: Leo’s don’t change light bulbs, although sometimes their agent will get a Virgo in to do the job for them while they’re out.

Virgo: Approximately 1.000000000000000000 with an error of 1 millionth.

Libra: Er, two. Or maybe one. No — on second thought, make that two. Is that okay with you?

Scorpio: That information is strictly secret and shared only with the Enlightened Ones in the Star Chamber of the Ancient Hierarchical Order.

Sagittarius: The sun in shining, the day is young, we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us, and you’re inside worrying about a stupid burned-out light bulb?

Capricorn: I don’t waste my time with these childish jokes.

Aquarius: Well, you have to remember that everything is energy, so…..

Pisces: Light bulb? What light bulb?