yes this is directly related to the other picture

Okay, so now I can comment...

As I said when the whole thing happened, I wouldn’t even talk about it until they did, if they ever did. Tom has decided to discuss some details, publicly, about his relationship with Taylor Swift in his recent GQ UK interview.  Ban lifted; so here it goes:

Tom is a normal human being, as much as his fans and everyone else are. There was no grand conspiracy, no PR stunt, none of that ridiculous nonsense and hype. Believe it or not, Taylor Swift is a normal human being, too.

It’s the artifice of CELEBRITY that is fake, false, and an illusion. STOP FEEDING THE FAME MONSTER.

Or at very least, remember the definition of ‘celebrity’ : Celebrity comes directly from the Latin celebritatum, meaning famous, and is related to the verb celebrate which means to honor something with the proper ritual. 

In the case of an actor, that would mean we, the audience, show our appreciation of their art by sharing our interest with others and interact with that actor IN PROPER OUTLETS. You know, by attending performances, watching the shows [film, TV, whatever], going to the conventions and Q&A and signings, and yes, enjoying the pictures and interviews that the actor chooses to share.

The famous celebrities that we as fans create should not be expected to simply surrender the right that EVERY PERSON has to PRIVACY. That crosses the line from fandom into obsession. It’s nice if the celebrity wants to open up about personal things, but not an obligation. It’s perfectly okay as fans to daydream and speculate and fantasize SO LONG AS we understand that IT ISN’T REALITY; that such activities are more about US, not the celebrity.

When all this Hiddleswift hype was going down last year, my observation was this: maybe, just maybe Tom and Taylor were just exploring a relationship, one like anyone of us would like to have, just seeing how well they interacted with each other. No predictions of ‘happily ever after’, no ‘my true love’, no ‘this will sell’, no ‘good for career’ stuff. Just ‘wow, I think you’re amazing and I’m attracted to you; wanna see where this goes?’ Unfortunately that got played out in public, for our ‘entertainment’ and for the MEDIA’S PROFIT. And that’s not proper, certainly not honorable, and not a celebration.

Tom is a decent man. Everything I personally saw of him at Wizard World and through legitimate media outlets has shown that to me, and continues to do so. And I wish him much joy in the future, particularly with his relationships, but most of all I wish him some personal privacy while he continues to allow us access to his work and public appearances.

Herbal Alchemy Beyond the Usual

This will be one of those posts that will be slightly controversial, because I’m going to be trying to instruct people. Instructing is a good thing to do, but to do it well, a person must necessarily believe their method of doing things is better than the status quo. And, in this case, I do, for the most part.  There are reasons for this that will be explained.

Lately, I’ve been posting a lot about herbal alchemical experiments and herbs in general. I wanted to offer some recommendations for those who study herbs. It’s almost a plea, because I really don’t like the conventional approach to how they’re studied. The idea here is to break out of the status quo of witchcraft texts and move towards something more solid, because a lot of popular books on herbal magick don’t really offer solid foundations for beginners. Nor do most (but not all) websites. Hence, I felt the need to just come forward with my opinions on this matter.

First off, I recommend newbies ignore a lot of what’s out there, as I’ve said. I could reference some books that I think lead people in the wrong direction, but that strikes me as an incredibly rude thing to do. The problem, though, is that most resources offer no concise information as to why certain herbs have certain associations. In short, they just parrot the associations without backing them up. This is a problem, because it leaves the beginner with no idea why they’re doing what they’re doing. Everything in magick should be done for a reason, and if you don’t know the reason, you’re missing out!

Lets delve a little deeper with examples. A typical book discussing herbal magick these days will list a bunch of herbs and their correspondences. It’ll say that rose is associated with love and mugwort helps with developing psychism. This is all well and good, and is, in fact, traditionally considered true, even, but they never say why. In reality, roses are associated with love due to their appearance in the legend of Venus’s creation, as well as their scent most common colors evoking strong emotions in people throughout history. Mugwort is associated with psychism due to its association with the Moon. This comes from its silvery appearance, which draws to mind the exquisite shades of our dear Moon. The psychism comes in because the Moon reflects the Sun, and the Sun represents truth. Getting at truth is the goal of psychism, so, naturally, mugwort is conducive to doing this due to its Moon-like appearance.

You see? That wasn’t so bad, was it? Indeed, it’s quite fun. It gives the aspirant something to “chew on” rather than memorize. It gives you something to think about, and accept or reject depending on how you react to it. For example, you might decide that mugwort’s color more resembles quicksilver, and thus associate it with the rapidly-flowing forces of Mercury rather than the Moon. You can then use it that way. Or, conversely, you might decide that the above association wholly resonates with you, and use that. It goes far beyond “I need rose petals for my love spell!” and this is the path to more effective magick. It requires significantly more time than just looking up correspondences in a book, but believe me when I say it’s worth it.

A word about astrology, though: it doesn’t have to be part of your practice if you don’t want it in there. It’s true that most conventional associations for the planets stem from astrology (mostly as a result of Culpeper’s work), but you’re free to reject them. You can, if you’d like, spend time getting to know the plant and develop your own associations for it based on the impressions it gives you. You can also look into non-Western traditions and folk traditions regarding these herbs. Just because I chose astrology doesn’t mean that you have to. The point, though, is that you must develop a keen understanding of why you’re using, say, rose or mugwort, and then you’ve got a solid foundation.

I’ve spent quite a few paragraphs emphasizing the need for understanding the why of magick. It’s time I talked a little bit about the why of the why. I’m sure you want to know why I think this method is better, and I’ll tell you. It’s for multiple reasons.

The first, rather mundane reason, is that researching all this herb business gives you insight into other things. I’m getting to the point where I can interpret natal charts with a modicum of accuracy, almost solely because I’ve had the nature of the planets and their Godforms drilled into my head by my herbal research. Similarly, even if you’re working in a non-astrological tradition, you’ll learn all kinds of things by looking into why certain herbs are used. Even if you’re “making up” your own associations for each herb, you’re still learning (about yourself). Mythology, culture, religion, your mind - it’s all in the plants, if you get to know them well enough.

Another reason is that it allows you to develop a spiritual rapport with the plant, even if you’ve just bought the herbs dry. Ideally, we’d all have our own gardens and grow our own herbs, thus being parent to the things that help us with our magick. We would know them intimately. That’s not possible for everyone - it’s not for me. I can’t get anything to grow. Nor can I forage, given how inadequate my area is. Despite this, I do firmly believe I can connect with the egregore of a particular plant, by studying how it functions in tradition. Realize that, regardless of what tradition you’re operating within, these plants have been used for these purposes for hundreds, if not thousands of years. That alone shapes the plant. Humans have a relationship with nature rather than an inert dominion over it. Even if you come up with your own meanings, you’re still dialoging with the plant, and that will super-charge your magick exponentially. At least, compared to how it is when you simply memorize from a list.

I’m not saying your spells won’t work if you learn from the conventional lists in books, but I do firmly believe they won’t be as life-enriching as they could be. Controversial, I know, but I believe it’s true. Why? Well, I’ve been getting some memories floating through my head lately. In the old days when I studied herbs, I never moved past the aforementioned “Peppermint is good for communication! Rose petals for love!” lists of correspondences, so I was essentially flying blind. The spells were functional, but I got nowhere near the results that I’m getting now. There were some incidents of excellent success, but in those cases, I’d, without exception, worked out why the herbs were suited to the purpose at hand on my own.

I was going to have actual citations in this post, since I recently learned that it’s (kind of) possible to have footnotes in a Tumblr post. I decided, though, that it would be more productive to spend some time here listing useful sources. Here are a few. Most of them are biased towards the Western Mystery Tradition and Western astrology in general, because that’s my chosen focus. This may or may not suit you, but there are comparable sources I’ve seen (though not fully read) for other traditions. I’m just mentioning these to get people who are interested in the WMT started. I realize there’s not nearly enough books listed here, but, well, these are the only ones I’ve found thus far that really chew into the herbs and the forces they channel. There are probably others (not to mention websites), but I’ve yet to encounter them, so this is all I can mention. If anyone out there in Tumblr-land knows of any others, or useful websites, please send me information about them!

The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook, by Karen Harrison is by far the most accessible and enjoyable book on this subject. Each chapter begins with the classic list of correspondences, then goes into detail about the why of it all. And it’s topped off with a small recipe for a simple (in varying forms) for each planet! As is the case with most of these books, it focuses only on the traditional planets, so someone wanting to work with the outer planets will have to look elsewhere. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that understanding the inner planets is crucial and should be undertaken before approaching Neptune and company. My only major qualm with it is that a lot of the correspondences are justified solely by the physical effect the herb has upon the body. While these are mostly in line with other methods of figuring them out, it’s not the whole picture.

A more meaty, but less easily interpreted book is the Weiser Concise Guide to Herbal Magick, by Judith Hawkins-Tillirson. Essentially, the author of this book draws from Crowley almost exclusively, so if you’re squicked by him, you’ll want to give it a pass. Much of the correspondences come directly from 777 and are lucidly described as relating to various paths on the Tree of Life. It’s an education in herbs, yes, but it’s also sort of a sneaky introduction to Kabbalah that can be absorbed organically. Some folks might consider the source suspect, given that some people hate Weiser (because reasons), but you have to realize that this lady cites complete sources for almost everything she writes, to the point where much of the book is explication at heart. Very dispassionate. One downside to using Crowley almost exclusively, though, is that there’s only a few plants discussed for each celestial force, and thus it’s kind of limiting. This can be remedied by consulting other sources, of course, so I still recommend checking this out just for how thorough it is.

I recommend Mixing Essential Oils for Magic, by Sandra Kynes for anyone who is even vaguely interested in compounding oil or alcohol-based potions using essential oils. Rather than being mostly about different correspondences, this book focuses almost exclusively on how to achieve a balance that excites the senses. This is extremely useful, because if you can’t stand the smell of a potion, it loses some of its efficacy, in my opinion, because this sort of cuts into the bond you have with the plants. That’s really why I recommend this book, because it doesn’t go into much detail about the reasons behind the associations, but it’s still quite a gem.

There’s also Real Alchemy, by Robert Allen Bartlett. I’ll be honest - I’m not quite finished reading this book, but I’ve absolutely got to mention it! It’s amazing and mind-blowing. I had grown frustrated and a bit stagnant just mixing herbs based on planetary associations, but this book brought me out of that. It doesn’t just talk about the plants and why they have certain associations. It goes into detail about centuries-old techniques for harnessing their power. The only caveat I have about it at this point is that he says some pretty cringe-worthy things in an attempt to justify using modern methods. For example, he spends three or so paragraphs trying to convince the reader that it’s okay to use Everclear rather than distilling your own alcohol. Kind of a waste of time, in my opinion. The book’s quite useful, though, giving practical advice. One note, though: it requires a pretty complex setup to perform some of the operations in the book. He tries to simplify it, but a lot of it can’t be simplified.

Anyways, thanks for your time, and I hope this didn’t anger (to many) people. We all take a small risk whenever we throw our opinion out there onto the web, but the key is to be able to accept the consequences. I think the way to achieve that is through knowing yourself and your views intimately, and being willing to allow others to test and examine them.