Category Archives: Divination

Someone Else’s Omen

I saw an owl last night — what do you think that means?

There was a feather on my porch this morning — what should I do?

Does anyone know what a bird with a yellow chest signifies?

I lit a candle last night and this morning I saw a fox — thoughts?

Is a spider in the house bad luck, or good?

Sometimes, when I am stuck for anything in particular to write about, I will wander these, our ‘world wide webs’, seeking out inspiration.  Upon my last such foray, I noticed, and not for the first time, a vast quantity of questions like those above, clogging up a number of the Pagan forums.

Now, I am not one to say that the birds and beasts do not ever have messages for us.  My regular readers may recall the story of my encounters with the Morrígan in raven form.

I do not scoff at the possibility of such meetings, only their seeming frequency.

These are rare events!

And, at least in my own experience, when they do happen, we KNOW it, without question.  Even if we are unsure of what the message means, we know that we have received one, and without having to consult some random stranger in an online forum.

So where then, does this idea come from: that the ‘spiritual switchboard’ must be buzzing madly with messages for us?

Is it something that new converts to the Pagan world bring with them from their monotheistic upbringing?  Our Christian friends, for example, are given to believe that the world was made for them, and that all things happen for some greater purpose.

So if we combine that idea, with the more Polytheist/Animist notions of a world populated with spirit beings, do we then end up with a natural order where every passing insect is vying for our attention?

It just doesn’t work that way.

Natural Omens?

If the Natural Practitioner, the Witch, the Shaman, and yes, even the Druid, hope to find their place in the universe, they must take one truth to heart…,

There ‘may’ be a reason for everything, but odds are, that reason has nothing to do with us personally.

If we want to hear the voices of the gods, we would do well not to drown them out wondering about the motives of every ladybug that takes flight.

And if there is a message we should take away from our various and random wildlife encounters, that message should be that, despite the best efforts of our species, the natural world is still hanging in there.

The owl, and the fox, and that bird with the yellow breast?

They’re doing their own thing, and I have no doubt that they are happy to be left alone.

Most of nature’s creatures are quite busy enough with the business of survival, without the bother of acting as someone else’s omen.

The world is not here for us.  The belief that it is has allowed us to unleash unspeakable harm in the last millennia.  I do not think such an idea will fare us any better in the hands of well meaning Pagans, than it did with our Monotheistic friends.

We would do better to adopt the belief that we are here for the world.

When the birds and beasts glimpse us from afar, let our sudden appearance not be one of ill portent.

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Filed under Divination, Nature, Religion

By Leaps and Bounds

I sat gazing at the fire, watching keenly as its flames climbed into the night and sent sparks dancing among the stars.  I watched, and could not leap.

I had been saving timber aside for months.

There are many traditions about what sort of wood should be used to build the Beltane fire, but I usually select from among the cuttings I make on my own property.  There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the logs and branches that I choose, except that some ‘want’ to be fed to the ritual fire, and others very much do not.

Each fire is unique, in both the way that I stack the wood and in the extra components that I include as I do so.  In the past I have included packets of herbs, or sprinkled oils, or folded slips of paper with messages secreted within.

This year, there was only the wood, and then the flame.  And I could not leap.

However different the composition of the fires may be from year to year, they are also very much the same.

We light the fire on May Eve, when the bounds that divide our world from the Otherworld are nearly absent.  By will and by rite the fire burns in both worlds.  It burns as a beacon, calling man and spirit and gods alike, to gather near, and to indulge themselves in that shared warmth and light.

We stoke the fire, and the heat of it penetrates us, moving through flesh, bone and spirit.  It burns away the cares and worries of our yesterdays.  It purifies body and soul and the airs through which it passes.  For this reason we snuff out the fires in our homes and relight them again from the sacred flame of May.  This is why we circle or dance around the flames, and why, in times now long past, the herdsmen would drive their charges past the fire, or between two fires built for this purpose.  The light and the heat are kindled to purify and to protect.

We may even take a bit of that flame, and walk the bounds of our property, whispering words to be carried away on a curling trail of smoke, to protect ourselves from those who would do us harm – in this world or the other.

And then there are those of us who feel called to leap through the flames.

The old stories say that we do it for luck, but it may just be that the power of the flame gets the blood racing and drives us into the air.  Or maybe, knowing that the fire burns in two worlds at once, we feel compelled to break the bounds and touch, if only for the space of a second, that elusive realm.  It might even be a hint of the daredevil, showing through in the heat of the moment.

As with most things, I tend to think there are multiple truths to be found here.

It is enough to say that every time I have built the fire, when I have stoked the flames to their highest, I run, and I leap through the rising blaze.  And when I land on the other side, I do so having lost much of the baggage I’ve collected since my last passage through the flames at Samhain.

But not this year.

Through a foolish accident which I will not bother to describe here, I broke the big toe on my left foot.  Damn, stupid, idiotic luck!

I limped through the few days between the accident and May Eve, my thoughts on the fire and the feast to come.  And it was not until I stood before the roaring flames that I realized I would not leap into May as I have always done.  I was, I am, for the moment anyway, bound to earth.

I didn’t know how much I would miss it.

And so I sat, and I watched the fire burn, and I felt bad for myself.

Then, I felt bad about feeling bad, knowing full well that there are plenty of people who have never known the joy of leaping over the Bel-Fire, and knowing that soon enough, I’ll be too old to manage it, whatever condition my bones might be in.

And as I sat there, stewing in my melancholy,  I noticed something to my right, glowing in the darkness, just at the edge of my peripheral vision.  Turning my gaze, I saw that it was a small moth, hovering not a foot from my head, and facing the flames.  It was not flying erratically, it did not trace that all too familiar doomed spiral, it simply hovered there, perfectly still in space, except for the blurred beating of its wings.

Turning back to the flames myself, I looked deep within that dancing, spiraling light.  I took a breath, and then another.  I let go of my self pity, my disappointment and frustration.  I accepted my place in the invisible circle which had formed around the fire.  And I finally, though I have unsuccessfully sought visions in the flame many times before, this time I traveled through the fire, though my feet never left the ground.

We learn and grow by leaps and bounds.

Sometimes we thrust ourselves freely into the unknown, never minding the risk, and knowing full well that we might stumble and fall, because we believe there is something to be gained along the way.

Other times, we feel ourselves bound by as much by circumstance as by gravity.  In those moments we may choose to bow down to the limitations which have been thrust upon us, or we can look instead for the shapes hidden within those boundaries.

Beltane Fire

Though late for those who celebrate on the 1st of the month, and early for those who remember ‘Old May’ on the 11th, I wish you all a joyous holy day.  To my friends south of the equator where time runs funny, a blessed Samhain to you and yours.

After a month long absence, The Stone of Destiny resumes its regular Monday posts (although I may be introducing an occasional ‘skip-week’ when things get hectic).  There may be other changes in the wind as well, which I will reveal when, and if, it becomes appropriate to do so.  For now, it’s just good to be back!

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Filed under Celtic Polytheism, Divination, Holidays, Religion, Spiritual Journey, Traditions

The Astrology Post

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the things in which I believe, and very little time talking about the things which I don’t.  There are several good reasons for that, the primary one being, that I enjoy talking about my beliefs.  Talking about them helps me to explore them further, to poke and prod them, learning more about their depths and limitations.  It’s a big part of why I’m here.

On those occasions in which I write about the things I do not believe, it is typically because someone, somewhere, thinks my lack of belief is somehow an impediment to their own freedoms, or the American way, or something equally silly.

There are, however, those rare occasions, when I simply feel compelled to clear up certain assumptions that have been made along the way.

These assumptions do no real harm to me or mine.  They just cling there like some benign bacteria, ever present yet mostly invisible.

Yes, I said, “mostly invisible.”  If left alone for long enough, these assumptions may begin to grow and multiply.  Eventually, they start to itch.

I don’t believe in Astrology.

It’s not a big deal but it may come as a surprise to some people.

People have this strange tendency to think that if you believe in one thing that they consider “odd” you are far more likely to believe in all the other things that they consider “odd”.  Assumptions, it seems, do not come individually wrapped but rather appear in prepackaged assortments.

“Ah yes, you believe in mythological gods and magic, therefore you must also believe in Bigfoot, U.F.O’s and Pyramid Power.”

What the people making these assumptions fail to take into account is the primary commonality defining the items within the category is their own personal definition of the word “odd” (or “crazy” or “ridiculous” – exact phraseology, like milage, will vary).

The Humanists in the crowd will, at this point, start clearing their throats and muttering “scientifically provable” to each other along with ample back patting.  On the other side of the room, the particularly devout Christians will bang on that Astrology is a falsehood and a sin against god – this despite the fact that the Bible uses it as a proof for the divinity of Christ.  I’ll leave them all to it.  Which ever side you are on, it still comes down to what ‘you’ choose to believe and what ‘you’ choose to label as “other”.  Your criteria (however scientific or religious) are your own.

For me, Trickle-Down Economics, U.F.O’s, and Astrology, all fall into that “other” category along with Bigfoot.  Sure, there may be a few blurry photos and some questionable math, but nothing solid enough for me to really put my finger on.

If my goal here is to more clearly define my own beliefs, to myself and others, than I must also be clear about the things in which I do not believe.

And so, I don’t believe in Astrology.

Well, for the most part.

I mean, it’s not as if I don’t think there is ‘something’ to it.

I’ve dated and then been burned by too many Scorpios, to think there wasn’t some commonality there.  I just don’t see what it could have to do with the stars.

Yet, aside from the Sun and the Moon, our other planetary neighbors are so far away that their gravity, their magnetic fields (where such exist), and the minuscule quantity of reflected sunlight they bounce Earthward, could have no measurable effect upon us whatsoever.  Indeed, the other seven planets, Mercury thru Neptune, could wink out of existence this moment, taking poor Pluto along with them for old-times sake, and we wouldn’t even notice it had happened until the riots broke out at N.A.S.A.

I cannot think of a way in which it would matter what random grouping of unrelated stars the planet Jupiter was passing in front of at the moment of my birth.  I am a product of genetics and environment, not some imagined planetary confluence.

In Astrology Sagittarius is a Half-man, half-beast archer who is tutor to heroes. In Astronomy Sagittarius is a teapot. Conclusion: The most powerful science of all is Marketing! I mean seriously, a teapot!?

Or are we perhaps, thinking about the whole thing in entirely the wrong way?

What if we thought of the heavens in the same way we think of a clock.

We watch the hands as they move around, pointing at different combinations of numbers along their way.  We know that certain of these combinations correspond to our growing hungry or tired, but we never make the mistake of believing that these things are caused by the positions of the hands on a clocks face.

(Sit down Pavlov! I’m not talking to you.)

What if these patterns which seem to have some influence over personality type (among other things) have nothing to do with the movement of objects in the heavens except that such movements are regular enough to line up (however roughly) with whatever other patterns we may notice in our lives.

Correlation may not equal causation, but it’s still a handy tool for keeping track of things.

I just don’t know.

As a polytheist, it is in my nature to accept that not only are there multiple versions of the truth, but that sometimes multiple truths may stand in conflict.

This does not mean that I just accept any crazy idea that comes down the pike.

I would need to see a lot more evidence to make me believe that something like Astrology might actually work.  Until then, I’ll put it firmly in the ‘maybe’ column where it can keep Bigfoot company.

Pyramid Power and Trickle-Down Economics are still crazy.  That hasn’t changed.

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Filed under About this Blog, Divination, Modern Life, Science

Drawing ‘The Tower’

Each morning, before I rise from bed to begin my day, I consult the oracle.

I take a stack of seventy-eight cards,

Shuffle them five times,

Cut the deck,

And draw.

One card, face up, to provide an inkling of the day ahead.

I began this little ritual a little over a month ago and was immediately surprised by how often the same cards came up.  Day after day after day, I draw the same card, only to see it replaced a few days later, by a different (if thematically similar) card.  A day or two pass, and it’s back to the first card.

In one respect it has been reassuring.  The oracle certainly seems to be representative of the patterns in my day to day.  Even if my days have a certain “sameness” to them, what are the odds of pulling the same card again and again, from a throughly shuffled deck?

Check that.  I have no doubt that somewhere, someone is busy calculating those odds exactly, determined to show that the likelihood is actually much greater than I think, and that the whole exercise is a waste of time.

Spare me, oh statisticians, I have better things to do than to listen to you explain that pulling any single card out of seventy-eight, repeatedly, over multiple days, does not represent a pattern.

The pattern, I am afraid, is there to see, and all your calculations be damned.

I wish it were otherwise.

As of late, almost every card I have drawn speaks toward my need to overcome the challenges and adversity in my daily life.

Yes, thank you.  I hadn’t noticed.

My regular readers may remember that a couple weeks ago I mentioned that both my refrigerator and clothes dryer were on the blink.  Additionally, my work days have been exceedingly hectic;  money is tighter than ever;  I’ve had to rule out any vacation plans until sometime next year;  My kitchen sink is thoroughly clogged;  Some unknown animal has been trying to dig up the grave of a lost pet in my backyard;  and on top of all that, Winter is on it’s way and up in my attic there is a furnace that stubbornly refuses to light.

I was ticking off a few of these points to a friend the other night.  I also mentioned that I had arranged to have the refrigerator and dryer serviced the following day and that perhaps, with that done, things might begin looking up.

“Yeah, until you have a car accident,” she joked.

I asked her to refrain from jinxing me.

Actually, I may have shouted.

In any case, the repair guy came and went, and the dryer is now happily fixed.

The fridge?  Yeah, not so much.

Oh, and I was rear-ended on my way to work on Saturday, and only narrowly avoided being plowed into the back of a bus that was stopped in front of me.  My car seems to have taken little damage (remarkable considering what happened to the front bumper of the Ford F-150 that slammed into it), but my body feels like…,

Well…, it feels like I was hit by a truck.

If anyone dares suggest that, “at least I still have my health,” I will surely punch him in the nose.  It’s been that kind of week.

Which brings us to this morning.

Shuffle…Shuffle…Shuffle…,

Shuffle…Shuffle…,

Cut and Draw.

The Tower card of the Rider Waite Tarot Deck

Screw that!  I’m staying in bed.

For those unfamiliar with the Tarot, this is the “your world is crashing down around you” card.  No kittens and kisses here folks.  This card is all about watching whatever castles you’ve carefully built up, go washing away with the tide.

Now my rationalists friends are, I have no doubt, already coughing politely into their fists.

>ahem<

“You can’t possibly believe in the Tarot,” they will say.

And I don’t.

Or rather, I should say that I neither believe nor disbelieve in the Tarot.

Much in the same way that I neither believe nor disbelieve in a barometer.

These things are tools, and handy enough when we know how to read them.  The choice to use them, or not, is ours, but their functionality does not require our belief.

Even so, when the barometer drops suddenly on a spring day in Texas, one would be wise to seek shelter – whatever your beliefs.

The same may be true of certain cards.  In my experience, The Tower is the card that says, “stop pushing against the wind, find a hole, and just ride out the freaking storm.”

And so here I am, hunkering down and waiting for this particular squall to blow itself out.

— Work – Bills – Furnace – Fridge – Sink – Car – Whiplash —

It’s okay.  I can wait.

Because, the good news here, is that the storm always passes.  The Towers that we build up may get blasted into smithereens by lightning sent down from the Fates or the Gods and just blind, stupid luck, but when the smoke clears we may find that we have a stronger foundation upon which to build again.

We are mistaken when we measure our lives by the bricks that we lay down one upon the other.  A better gauge, I think, is our determination to start stacking those tumbled bricks up again, knowing all the while, that eventually we will draw The Tower yet again.

When I start building again, I think I’ll find a way to work in some flying buttresses.

I like them because they’re both functional and attractive.

Now then, where are those cards.

Shuffle…shuffle…shuffle…,

 ADDENDUM:  It did not occur to me, until I had already written this piece, that this is my 78th post on this blog.  That’s seventy-eight posts and seventy-eight cards in a standard Tarot deck.  Simple random chance at work, I am sure!  😀

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Filed under Divination, Modern Life