The Witch’s Desk: Lammas!

 We’re gearing up for the first Pagan harvest festival of the year:  Lammas (also known as Lughnasadh in some traditions).  How time flies; it’s this time of year again.  Summer may still feel in full-swing in your area, but Mother Nature is tapping us on the shoulder with this first harvest of grain, reminding us that it’s not going to last forever, giving us a heads-up to be prepared for the inevitable winter-to-come.  Following is more information on this holiday in our Pagan “Wheel-of-the-Year”, including the Goddess connection, my personal reflections on this harvest festival, as well as correspondences for Lammas, ritual suggestions, and recipes!

Read on, enjoy.

And…Happy Lammas!

ladyamythyst.com/wheeloftheyear.htm

Lammas

(August 1)

As the matron of ancient times would start early to prepare her family for the harsh winter months ahead, so the Mother Goddess prepares us. She reminds us of the bounty yet to come with an early harvest of grain. She encourages us to take stock of what we have, and this pertains to the physical harvests, of course, but it can also include taking stock of ourselves, re-evaluating our goals, our lives, our paths, our relationships, our strengths, and our weaknesses.

This is the first of the harvest festivals, and in the ancient world this was indeed a time of celebration. A successful harvest would mean survival in the harsh winter months. In the northern countries this was, in particular, a celebration of the first harvest of wheat, thus bread is featured in the celebration of Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh.

As the modern day Pagans celebrate this festival they will build roaring bonfires, feed each other a mouthful of bread, and with wine they will toast each other…”May you eat the bread of life.

My Celebration:

Yes, it’s a harvest festival. Yes, bread and wheat, as well as other grains, figure into it. But for me, it was more about the passage of time. It’s about how time plays tricks on us, and as a child on summer vacation from school, these three months seemed like a whole year rolled up into one magickal moment.

August 1 in South Dakota meant lots of lingering blistering summer days ahead, the heat being almost as intense as July; but it also meant something different in the air, that faint scent (an autumn scent), a nuance of change in the sunlight, the slight tinge starting at the edge of the leaves. And then one morning, being greeted with crisp air and a sky so blue it was almost painful to look at, so beautiful it was.

This holiday, this moment in time, is a mystery. It is the ability to look back into the past while standing on some invisible magickal horizon so that you can see the future, but just enough of the future to tease you forward. And you come to this exact same time and place year after year. August 1, another summer coming to a close, one of so many, and another autumn returning. An end, to make way for something new to begin, again, and again, and again.

The figure standing on the horizon grows, matures, changes, morphs, ages, expands, learns, regrets, loves, hates, wonders, questions, fears, laughs, and listens. The figure on the horizon passes through a human life time in the blink of an eye, with one inaudible breath…and then they fade into an ethereal creature of smokey wisps with a voice that is but the wind.

Lammas Correspondences

Herbs: frankincense, wheat, cornstalks, heather

Altar Flowers/Herbs: corn ears, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, wheat

Feast Foods: apples/apple pie, cornbread, sweet potatoes/sweet potato pie, grapes, blackberries

Animals: calves, roosters, deer

Incense: chamomile, rose, rosemary, allspice, sandalwood, carnation

Rituals/Spells: maternal magick, prosperity spells, purification spells, thanksgiving rituals, career spells

Lammas Recipes

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
(with glaze)

For the Muffins:

2/3 cup sugar

Grate 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the Icing:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

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Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.

Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans.

Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing.

[Source:  This blog post is an excerpt from my book The Spiritual Feminist]

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Imbolc: The Next Pagan Holiday

Happy Imbolc! If you’re not pagan, you may recognize this holiday as ‘Candlemas’ (February 2), a holiday celebrating the purification of the Virgin Mary, according to Jewish law, and a presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple, also according to Jewish law. However, long before Judaism & Christianity arrived on the scene, pagans in the old world celebrated this day as ‘Imbolc’, a celebration of birth and lactation, as their herds of sheep began to grow with the birth of lambs. The celebration of Imbolc is in honor of the Old Woman of winter who is magickally reborn as the Young Maiden of spring.

This was also a festival to celebrate the Celtic goddess Bride, a goddess of fire/flame, poetry, craftsmanship, and healing. This goddess is invoked when survival is an issue, whether physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual. When the Roman church invaded the British Isles, they discovered that the people’s devotion to Bride was so strong it could not be eradicated. To solve this dilemma, the Roman Catholic Church renamed the Celtic goddess ‘Brighid’ and made her a saint.

The following is a list of corresponding herbs, flowers, animals, feast foods, etc., that are used in the festivals of Imbolc for symbology, as decorations, and for the magick performed at this time:

Herbs: basil, bay, celandine, benzoic
Altar Flowers/Herbs: angelica, myrrh, flowers that are yellow/white/or blue
Feast Foods: bread, cakes, dairy products, seeds
Animals: burrowing animals, ewes, deer, goats, lambs
Incense: jasmine, myrrh, neroli
Rituals/Spells: candle magick, initiation, hearth/home blessings, fertility magick, healing magick, cleansing rituals

Pagans today celebrate the Wheel of the Year, eight sabbats (holidays) which recognize and acknowledge the changing of seasons, the earth, and nature. This celebration of and homage to the natural world, and the practices that accompany this spiritual path, is called “Witchcraft”.

For more information, including videos, go to: http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/wheeloftheyear.htm

 

Imbolc & the In-Laws

This isn’t just a blog about Imbolc, though that’s a large part of it. It’s also a blog about religious intolerance, ignorance, and the repercussions of both. As many of you who might know me are aware, my spiritual path has caused almost a complete severance of ties between my husband and his family, by this I mean his parents, some aunts/uncles, and his four siblings. The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back came when one of his aunts, (M.), who has been making an effort to connect, called me the other day to chat and wanted to know what the word “Grimoire” meant in the title of my book. I explained this to her, and we went on with our conversation, mostly about her duties and activities in the Lutheran church– I listened politely. The next evening my husband’s uncle (M.’s brother) called. He said: “M. called me the other night. She sure doesn’t think much of your wife. We can’t understand why you married a witch.”

I have to make a couple points here. I find it slightly unnerving and totally Twilight Zone for someone to call and talk to me as though they actually liked me, even ending the conversation with “Love you”, when in fact they don’t. I also find it a very strange experience to be respected and liked by a certain segment of society, and then to walk into a group of people who not only despise me, but may be suspicious and even afraid of me. It’s mind boggling to say the least, and my mind is so spacey anyway, it doesn’t need any extra boggling.

I thought about this situation, and it seems that there are two problems: 1) a lack of information (knowledge). These people know zilch about paganism in any form. They live in a very small rural community, and anything outside their world that is not understood seems to be threatening to them, so they dismiss it with hostility and an Amish type of ‘shunning’; 2) they are extremely intolerant of anything they view as ‘different’, whether it be spiritual practices, or even very personal things like body adornment, clothes, makeup (“You don’t wear black eyeliner do you?”…ummm, Yes!), and we don’t want to go anywhere near the subjects of body alterations like tattooing or piercing.

Thinking about this situation, I took it upon myself to spread some knowledge, hoping that this might turn on a lightbulb somewhere, open a crack to a doorway of understanding, or at at least invite some tolerance into the picture. I’m being optimistic, I know. But I thought I would begin this adventure by writing up a nice letter on Imbolc and sending it along, just as you would letters or cards for any other major mainstream holiday. Whether this will work or not, I have no idea. Here’s the letter I mailed off. I tried to keep it simple. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with too much information at once, just a tidbit to give them a glimpse:

____________________

Happy Imbolc! If you’re not pagan, you may recognize this holiday as ‘Candlemas’ (February 2), a holiday celebrating the purification of the Virgin Mary, according to Jewish law, and a presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple, also according to Jewish law. However, long before Judaism & Christianity arrived on the scene, pagans in the old world celebrated this day as ‘Imbolc’, a celebration of birth and lactation, as their herds of sheep began to grow with the birth of lambs. The celebration of Imbolc is in honor of the Old Woman of winter who is magickally reborn as the Young Maiden of spring.

This was also a festival to celebrate the Celtic goddess Bride, a goddess of fire/flame, poetry, craftsmanship, and healing. This goddess is invoked when survival is an issue, whether physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual. When the Roman church invaded the British Isles, they discovered that the people’s devotion to Bride was so strong it could not be eradicated. To solve this dilemma, the Roman Catholic Church renamed the Celtic goddess ‘Brighid’ and made her a saint.

The following is a list of corresponding herbs, flowers, animals, feast foods, etc., that are used in the festivals of Imbolc for symbology, as decorations, and for the magick performed at this time:

Herbs: basil, bay, celandine, benzoic
Altar Flowers/Herbs: angelica, myrrh, flowers that are yellow/white/or blue
Feast Foods: bread, cakes, dairy products, seeds
Animals: burrowing animals, ewes, deer, goats, lambs
Incense: jasmine, myrrh, neroli
Rituals/Spells: candle magick, initiation, hearth/home blessings, fertility magick, healing magick, cleansing rituals

Pagans today celebrate the Wheel of the Year, eight sabbats (holidays) which recognize and acknowledge the changing of seasons, the earth, and nature. This celebration of and homage to the natural world, and the practices that accompany this spiritual path, is called “Witchcraft”.

Every religious group, while perhaps a majority somewhere, is also inevitably a minority somewhere else. Thus, religious organizations & individuals should and do show tolerance toward members of other religious denominations.

http://www.circlesanctuary.org/liberty

 

 

 

The Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox…Ostara

Date: Approximately March 21

Items needed: The regular ritual tools, plus a small piece of paper and a pen, the cauldron, and the wand. You can decorate the altar with colored eggs and spring flowers if you wish. Incense: flowery or herbal. Take time before the ritual to consider what goals you would like fulfilled for the year. Write them on the paper and place it next to the cauldron on the altar.

History: Eggs colored red have been used at the Spring Equinox as far back as the Mesopotamian cultures. Red is the color of blood and life, while the egg itself represents birth and regeneration. *The Goddess Ostara’s (Eostre’s) celebration day can vary from the Spring Equinox (circa March 21) to the first full moon after the equinox. She is the Anglo-Saxon/Germanic Goddess of new beginnings, fertility, hope and renewal. It is a time of balance between day and night. Her symbols include the hare, colored eggs, and spring flowers. In older times celebrants wore brand new clothing to celebrate her festival. Does this all sound familiar? It should, the symbolism and even the name of Ostaras /Eostre’s festival were adopted by the Christian celebration of Easter which also celebrates renewal and rebirth. One should note, that the holiday of Easter moves every year. It always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.

Cast the circle.

After the circle is cast, take the wand in your power hand; raise your arms in greetings, and say:

“Hear me, Lady and Lord. I ask Your sacred presences in this place while I celebrate the ancient festival of the Spring Equinox.”

Tap the cauldron three times gently with the wand, saying:

“Oh, joyful Goddess of new beginnings and the promise of good things to come, bring warmth and love to this circle.”

Tap the cauldron three times again, saying:

“Oh, laughing God of the forest and regeneration, bring anticipation and power to this circle.”

Tap the cauldron three times again, saying:

“Now I cast behind me the darkness of winter and the past. I look ahead to that which lies before me. Now is the time of planting of seeds in the physical, mental, and spiritual planes.”

Fold your paper in half; hold it up over the altar and say:

“This represents the seeds of my goals and desires.”

Light the paper from the altar candle and drop it into the cauldron, saying:

“I place my dreams and desires into the keeping of the Goddess and the God. May these goals manifest and become part of my physical life.”

(Now is the time for any spell working you wish to do.)

Set the chalice of wine on the pentacle. Take the dagger and gently touch the tip to the wine/juice, saying:

“As this athame is the male, so this cup is the female, and joined they bring blessings.”

Raise the chalice high over the altar and say:

“To the Old Ones! Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again! Blessed be!”

Drink a little of the wine/juice, saving some for the nature spirits.

Take your dagger in your power hand and the candlesnuffer in the other.

Close the circle.

You can find more information, rituals, and pagan lore at my website, on the following page:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/wheeloftheyear.htm

Welcome to My Wytchy Realm

The following is an overview of my website:

The Witch’s Corner

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Follow the url to enter this magickal realm:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com

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The Triple Goddess

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The Maiden

The maiden is overflowing with all of the possibilities of the future. Within her are the seeds of what will be. She is the fresh dawn of a new day. She is strength and tenacity and power. She is unbridled enthusiasm and wonder and hope.

The Mother

The mother is ripe fruit hanging pregnant from the vine. She is the foundation, the nurturer, the protectress. She is fortified with strength and placid with the calmness of a sunny day. She is who we turn to for stability and reassurance.

The Crone

It is the crone we seek in the darkening twilight. We find comfort in her quiet presence and yet we are challenged by her intuitive knowledge and aware of the darkshadows she casts…forcing us to seek the light and answers.

© Amythyst Raine 2007

Reconnect with the Goddess:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/thegoddess.htm

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Divination

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Divination brings to mind the stereotype of the gypsy woman ensconced in her tent, peering intently into her crystal ball—and that may very well be an accurate picture somewhere in the world. I grew up in my grandmother’s house, surrounded by books on astrology, numerology, handwriting analysis, dream interpretation, etc. The world of divination is a natural one for me.

But divination in this modern time of neo-paganism has come a long way baby.

Tarot cards of all kinds abound and fill the shelves at not only new-age and metaphysical shops, but also at the mainstream bookstores such as Borders, Barnes & Noble, Hastings, etc.

Crystals, crystal balls, runes, quija boards are as popular now as they were in times past—more so, perhaps. I like to think of this day and age as the “New Renaissance” for the occult world.

© Amythyst Raine 2007

At the url below you will find information on all forms of divination with links to pertinent sites, tales of my own personal psychic experiences, interviews with Allison Dubois and Patricia Arquette—the actress who plays Allison in the television show “Medium”, and more:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/divination.htm

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Spells & Potions

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This is the “meat” of witchcraft, the most fascinating (and sometimes fear inducing) aspect of The Craft for many people. To most of the mundane world the idea that anyone would have the power and the ability to create change using occult means is awe inspiring and often intimidating. The Christian influence in our culture and on our society has taken such natural power away from the multitudes, deeming it “evil”, “sinful”, and even dangerous.

To those of us practiced and gifted in the use of “the black arts”, it carries none of those negative labels. It is awe inspiring, but in an uplifting and promising way. It empowers those who cultivate its secrets and those who learn to use it wisely. It opens doors of dimensions undreamed of; it embraces the forces of nature in all her glory; it wreaks of a time before recorded history…it calls to those of us with the spirit of the Olde Ones, those of us who wish to practice the Olde Religion, those of us who wish to return to these ancient times and reclaim that which is our birthright.

© Amythyst Raine 2007

Follow the url to my online Book of Shadows:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/spellspotions.htm

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/spellspotions2.htm

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Herbs

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This is the magickal medicine cabinet of the witch, and especially the Green Witch. Those who practice the olde ways have known since time immemorial of the powers contained in the molecules of “the green”. Herbs have been used since ancient times—and still are used today—for their medicinal and healing powers. But the Witch knows that these gentle and lovely plants contain other powers as well…magickal powers to be used and tapped into for spells and potions and rituals and cleansing.

© Amythyst Raine

Follow the url for a list of herbs and their magickal uses:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/magickalherbs.htm

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The Elements

(Earth, Air, Fire, Water)

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FOR ME: Water is the mist of yesterday and today and tomorrow all wrapped up into one magical moment. Water is dreams and visions and questing endlessly to know the unknown. It is divination– searching for answers and listening to the universe for its response. It is the mystical and the elusive…it slips through your fingers leaving you wet and cold and shivering, knowing that you have been touched by the Divine.

FOR ME: Air is the soft breeze on your face that makes you feel touched and not touched. It is thought brought alive and moved through space and time by the Divine. Air is the part of your mind that is clear and sharp and focused and ever changing, never still and never content, but always swept up within another breeze and moved along on the current of time.

FOR ME: Earth is all the treasures buried deep within the soul. It is the material things you long for and were told you shouldn’t have. It is the security of that which is solid and immovable, and it is “manifestation” into the real world of touch and taste and smell and sight.

FOR ME: Fire is that physical passion so burning that it can consume. It is enthusiasm so powerful that it is what drives you to succeed. Fire is that fiery will that doesn’t allow you to give up in the face of adversity. It is what draws lovers together across insurmountable odds and provokes the passion that fights endlessly for justice.

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water…the four elements from which we can draw power to create magick.

© Amythyst Raine 2006

Follow the url for more information on The Elements, including an extensive list of correspondences and a Quarter Call:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/theelements.htm

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Wheel of the Year

(Pagan Holidays)

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The Christian “holidays” all have Pagan roots. This is a fact that was constantly brought up to me years ago by a lady who was my friend and a Jehovah’s Witness. It was her oft repeated reason to me why she didn’t celebrate any of the modern Christianized holidays now.

I am surprised by the number of people who do not know this, and even more surprised at how many refuse to believe it. It just goes to show how completely saturating cultural training can be.

I find the history of our Pagan holidays fascinating and joyful and uplifting. I and my family embrace and celebrate them.

© Amythyst Raine 2007

Follow the url for more information on the Pagan roots of our modern holidays, pagan lore, and rituals for celebration.

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/wheeloftheyear.htm

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Chakras

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The word chakra is Sanskrit for wheel or disk and signifies one of seven basic energy centers in the body. Each of these centers correlates to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column. In addition the chakras also correlate to levels of consciousness, archetypal elements, developmental stages of life, colors, sounds, body functions, and much, much more.

This definition of chakras is taken from:

http://www.sacredcenters.com/chakras.html

Follow the url for more information on the chakras, extensive correspondences related to the seven chakras, and a link to Ambika Wauters website, “The Institute of Life Energy Medicine”:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/chakras.htm

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Rituals

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Rituals put a stamp on the passage of time and the progression of our life stages, from a Wiccaning (baby naming) to a death and remembrance ritual, and all those celebrations and milestones in-between. Rituals validate our existence in some implausible elusive way. They bring family and friends together, open doors to the future, and create memories for generations to come.

© Amythyst Raine 2007

Follow the url and you will find rituals for all of life’s passages and links to sites where you can purchase ritual items and clothing:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/rituals.htm

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Ghosts/Ghost Hunting

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Growing up in my grandmother’s house prepared me for the paranormal occurrences that I would experience in this, my own house. My grandmother’s house was very active and anyone with an ounce of sensitivity to such things was always very aware of it…the feeling of being “watched” when no one else was near you, the hair suddenly standing up on the back of your neck and the sensation that “someone” was standing behind you, unintelligible whisperings in the dark of the night, a blanket being pulled from you by something you couldn’t see, lights going off and on with no explanation—and stove burners doing the same unnerving thing, objects occasionally moving, etc.

Growing up with these occurrences, I thought it was natural—wasn’t everyone’s house like this?

Apparently not, I was to learn as I became older. That enlightenment helped me to appreciate, study, and cope with paranormal activities on a very basic level. It also taught me to conquer any fear.

But witchcraft taught me how to tame these ethereal spirits, how to control them instead of allowing them to control me. Witchcraft taught me it was possible to have dominion over the spirit world.

© Amythyst Raine 2007

Follow the url and enter the paranormal world of ghosts and ghost hunting. You will find a slideshow on ghosts created by me, a list of haunted cemeteries, information on poltergiests, the Bell Witch, TAPS, the “Hauntings Website”; and a section called “Our House”, which reviews our own paranoral occurances that my family and I have experienced.

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/ghostsghosthunting.htm

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My Path

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I am a solitary eclectic witch. My path consists of hoodoo, Wicca, and green witchcraft. I am neither a “white” nor a “black” witch; I prefer to see myself in shades of gray— nothing else on this earth is completely clear cut, the practice of The Craft isn’t either.

I am a hereditary witch, taking after the traditions of my mother, my sister, and cousins. I am now watching my own daughters grow in this path. I was raised by my grandmother, a woman steeped in the study of the occult, yet probably not realizing the title many in this world would have attributed to her.

I am a legally ordained member of the clergy, yet I avoid the usual titles which smack too closely of Christianity for my taste. I prefer the simple, yet deeply meaningful title of “Lady”.

© Amythyst Raine

Follow the url to learn more about my path, with links to sites on hoodoo, wicca, and green witchcraft. You will also find a “code of ethics”, “rules of conduct”, my explanation of the “kitchen witch”, and my feelings on “Hexing and Cursing”:

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/mypath.htm

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Photogallery

I’ve opened a window on this page, a window into my private world.  I have tried to post images on here that I haven’t posted anywhere else, they are exclusive.  I haven’t decided yet whether to continue the Photogallery or relegate it to an archive, but my camera is always ready, and life somehow or other always has something interesting to show me. 

© Amythyst Raine 2007

Follow the url and you will find a slide show, as well as personal photos of my home, gardens, family, & ’stuff’.

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/photogallery.htm

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Monthly Newsletters

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/monthlynewsletters.htm

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/newsletterarchives1.htm

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Follow my raven to the Magick Forest where you can view/sign the guestbook, subscribe to the site, and find links to unimaginable places and incredible people.

http://ladyamythyst.webs.com/themagicforestllinks.htm

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