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Please Don’t Drink Raw Water

I’m all for sustainable development. Eco-friendly houses, recycling, and renewable energy are all great things to be looking into using. Given the current anti-plastic trend, it probably isn’t surprising that people are looking for an alternative to bottled drinking water. One that doesn’t waste the tons of plastic which are needlessly created and disposed of by the bottled water industry every year.

Raw water is not the answer.

Devotees of raw water claim that water taken directly from its natural source has a whole host of health benefits that bottled and tap water lack, thanks to the presence of mineral compounds and probiotics. These things may well be present in raw water. But so will harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, unfiltered, untreated and unsterilized water is currently being bottled and marketed in San Francisco for $36.99 for 2.5 gallons. So it is certainly the case that raw water won’t help to save money!

The Science

The claims made by the companies and people fooled by this particular trend point to the fact that raw water contains minerals and probiotics that are destroyed by sterilisation and filtration in other forms of water. This is ignoring a simple fact about drinking water. We don’t drink water for any sort of nutrient value. We drink water to remain hydrated. Minerals and probiotics should be taken in as part of a balanced diet plan, through food. Water is not meant for nutrition purposes, and the dangers inherent of raw water easily outstrip any potential benefits.

There are a whole range of pathogens that can be transmitted in water. Campylobactor from bird droppings, cryptosporidium from cattle, E.coli and giardiasis, to name just a few. Depending on where the raw water comes from, it could have also washed through rocks containing things like arsenic and radon. Admittedly, that isn’t common and it is very likely the sort of thing that a reputable company would check before selling a product, but it is still a possibility.

Worse yet, untreated water has historically been the cause of deadly outbreaks of cholera and dysentery, which means that if demand for raw water climbs high enough, we could be looking at returning to the sort of infectious cycle that killed hundreds of people before we understood the root causes of these diseases.

What About Tap Water?

Tap water has been my answer to the cost – both financially and environmentally – of bottled water almost since the bottled water craze began. I have to admit that I still fail to see the point in paying £3 for a bottle of water, when I can get easily twice as much water for £0.50 from the tap.

But according to the people selling raw water, I’m a fool. According to them, tap water has lead, chlorine, fluoride, and most of the time prescription drugs in it, because it is recycled water from other people’s drains.

As I grew up in a house with a passionate water engineer for a father, I am fully aware of where and how the water in my taps is sourced, treated, and transported to me. And I am absolutely fine with each step in that process, as it means that I am 100% certain that when I drink water from my tap, it will not be contaminated with some of the truly horrific water-borne parasites and diseases that untreated water can contain.

So, please, before you go and buy any raw water, consider simply using the water from your tap. I can guarantee that it will be cheaper, and it will probably also be a lot healthier.

The Magic of Snow

It snowed where I live yesterday. Not a great deal, and not heavily enough to actually lie on the ground, but I have always loved the snow. Most of all, I love looking up and seeing the dark grey flecks of the snowflakes cascading down from the paler grey clouds. It’s a sight which has always struck me as magical, and on the rare occasions when snow does actually lie where I live, I am energised by it. So I went looking for ways in which this energy can be used, because it seems far too good a thing to allow to go to waste.

Emotions

Snow is a very emotional aspect of the element of water. And, like anything at all to do with water, it has two opposing sides to it. This can make working with its energies somewhat challenging, as it is important to look at which energy the specific snowfall you are using holds. If the snow fell in a howling blizzard, then using it to help bind someone from doing harm would seem entirely appropriate. If, on the other hand, it is one of those quiet snowfalls which simply fall, blanketing the land with its soft covering, then using it for banishing negativity isn’t going to work as well, but a gentle prosperity spell to come to fruition when the snow melts might work perfectly.

These are not the only possibilities for harnessing the energy of a snowfall, of course, but I do not often use direct spells, and would recommend those who are interested in such things to seek out other sources for them. The magic that I use is far more intuitive, and as such much more difficult to put down on paper – or a computer screen.

Silent Song

The quality of snow that I miss more than any other is the stillness and silence that the world holds after a deep snowfall. It’s as if the world is holding its breath, and even birdsong sounds almost too loud – although I’ve yet to encounter a snowfall deep enough to prevent the blackbirds from loudly proclaiming their territories!

This silence helps to heal the soul, if you will allow it to sink into you. It is one of the great healers of nature, and all the more precious for being rare. Just be certain that you wrap up warm! Nature will heal you, if you let it, but if you are not careful it will kill just as easily.

The Goddess Brigid

Goddess of the Dawn

The Goddess Brigid is one of the foremost within Irish mythology, and she remains a vital and powerful force even today, thanks to the early Christian Church adopting her as one of their own in the guise of St Bridget. She has had many names over the years, including Brid, Bride, Bridhe (pronounced ‘breed’), Brigantia, Bridgid, Brighid, Brigit, and Bridget. Roughly translated, the name can mean ‘exalted one’, ‘lofty or elevated one’, or ‘she who is on high’. A fitting epithet for this important Goddess.

Lady of the Light

She holds the spark of inspiration and can be equated with the muse of creativity, although she is a good deal more than that. She is also a fertility goddess, a guardian force who protects livestock, women and the land itself.

While some see her as a warrior goddess, this is not the role she takes in my worship. She is certainly a protector – you never want to anger the goddesses who hold the power of the land, because the land can turn against you – but she is not moved by a love of the fires of battle. She will use them if she has to, but she is far more a shield against them than a sword to leap into them.

Within Brigid, the warmth of the sun, and the security of fire are combined. While her feast day is Imbolc, and so she is a very appropriate Goddess for this time of year, she can be invoked all year round. Anytime you feel the need for the protective, grounding force of the land, you can call on Brigid’s power to aid you.

Imbolc 2018

Celebrating Imbolc

I know I have written about Imbolc before, but it is the first of the festivals to appear in any year, and as such, it is an important point in the pagan calendar.

Imbolc is the Celtic festival which marks the beginning of the lambing season and the first stirrings of new life in the land. At this time of the year, all of nature is pregnant, and only just visible. The celebrations which surround Imbolc reflect this. It is not the flashy celebration of life which will come later, at Beltane. Instead, Imbolc celebrates the hope of new life and the welcome return of the light.

Imbolc is a time to let go of the past and look to the future. It is a reflective celebration, a turning inward to attempt to work out the thoughts and habits which no longer serve any practical purpose in your life. It is also a great time for spring-cleaning, although this is an aspect of the festival that I personally struggle with!

For those who want to identify the festivals with a specific deity, Imbolc is one of the great Fire Festivals held in honour of the Goddess Brigid (or Bride, Brigit, Brighit, and a host of other spellings). She was held in such esteem that the early Christians converted her into St Bridget rather than attempting to discredit the worship of her. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry, and smithcraft. She brings fertility to the land and its people, and as such is closely connected to both midwives and new-born babies. She is one of the Triple Goddess, appearing at Imbolc in the guise of the Maiden.

Imbolc Rituals

It is traditional to light every lamp in the house at sunset on Imbolc – even if only for a few moments. Alternatively, light candles in each room in honour of the rebirth of the Sun. If there is snow on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, while summoning thoughts of the feel of summer.

Celebrate by having a simple meal of meat and dairy products, remembering that this is only the start of the bounty that this year will bring.

Healing With Song

The use of song in healing has been used for a very long time, although it has been largely overlooked in recent times. There is evidence to suggest that certain Egyptian sites such as the open pyramid were in fact used as medical centres, where the priests would focus specific frequencies of sound on their patients, depending on what aid they required.

The scientific principle behind healing with song – or sound, if you prefer – is very simple. The cells of our bodies constantly receive information from their environment and change their behaviour according to that information. This process is what leads to our health, and is the reason you tend to feel better after spending time in natural surroundings, and also why eating high quality, unprocessed foods helps our health improve.

Sound goes deeper than this, however. It has an immediate effect on the mind, helping to produce deep emotions. Listening to music can activate our imagination in a wide range of ways, helping us to remember, to meditate, to relax, to become charged, and many more sensations.

This is at the core of healing with song. Not only does it help to produce harmonic frequencies which work directly with the cells of the body, but it also produces an emotional feedback loop. When used correctly, it is an extremely powerful tool for inner work and truly deep healing.

We know this instinctively. We can feel it when we listen to our favourite songs, or when we sit and listen to the rhythm of rain against a window. There is a peace to be found by listening to the sighing of the wind through the trees. Anyone who can experience these sensations knows that song has a subtle and profound effect on every part of our bodies and minds.

Tuning Your Body

Have you ever sat and listened to an orchestra before they begin to play? It is a ruckus. It sounds like a discordant mess as the musicians settle down and tune their instruments. And then there’s a momentary hush, and the music begins. The sound washes over you like a wave, bringing a sense of deep peace and excitement along with it.

The body works in much the same way. For most of us, we get stuck in that beginning, discordant mess for most of our lives. It makes it very easy for a single organ to go out of harmony with the rest of the body, making disease far more likely.

After all of this, it should not come as any great surprise to learn that certain frequencies of sound are very healing for the body. They resonate with the different organ systems, and thus transfer energy from the singer to the person being healed.

It is very rare to find people who truly know and understand these frequencies, but those who do are amongst the most powerful and effective healers in the world today – regardless of what sphere of healing they practice in.

Essential Crystals for Beginners

The world of using crystals to enhance your life is far too wide and varied for there to be a one size fits all guide to what will be right for you. However, there are some crystals that everyone should have on hand.

This is just a guide, however. With crystals, almost more than with any other form of energy work, your personal feelings should never be ignored. Try using the stones, and you will develop a far deeper understanding of how they should be used.

Clear Quartz

Clear quartz is going to be number one on any list of this type. It is easily one of the most powerful healing and amplifying crystals out there. It absorbs, stores, releases and regulates energy flow, and is excellent for unblocking energy. A must for anyone who wants to start healing with crystals, it is a great stone for anyone, whatever their intentions are.

Rose Quartz

Another very familiar stone, rose quartz is the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace. It is believed to help attract love, and is a powerful addition to any grid where emotional health needs to be enhanced.

Amethyst

Amethyst is a fairly easy stone to find, as it is one of the most commonly sold crystals out there. It is a very powerful and protective stone. Traditionally, it was used to prevent drunkenness, and it can protect against over-indulgence in any area of your life. It can also help to clear your mind, allow you to focus, and help you to make decisions.

Green Aventurine

Green Aventuine is one of the first stones I ever used, and it is still a personal favourite today. It is all about vitality. It helps to boost the vibration – and so the power – of anything it is put to work on. It is also a protective stone, particularly from situations and people who drain your energy.

Black Tourmaline

Black tourmaline is a protective stone. It helps to block harmful electromagnetic frequencies, including ill-will and negative energy from people around you. It works with the base (or root) chakra in order to ground these energies and keep them from manifesting within your aura.

Citrine

Citrine is often yellow in colour, but it ranges in hue from brown to smoky grey. This stone carries the energy of the sun within it, making it an amazing regeneration stone and a good one to add to grids to help clear the body and aura of negativity. It is also good for helping to activate and open the crown chakra.

Tiger’s Eye

This is an ideal crystal to use in grids to help to build confidence and self belief. It helps to connect us to the Earth, making it a very useful stone to include in any sort of grounding ritual or grids focusing on more practical matters.

Hematite

I like to think of hematite as the crystal equivalent of a bouncer. It helps to shield the person who carries it from psychic attacks and negative energies, while at the same time strengthening your aura.

Selenite

Selenite is a reasonably easy stone to find. It is a very good stone to use when working with the crown and brow chakra, and can help you to focus during meditation. It has been said that when two people each hold a piece of this stone can help enhance telepathic communication, although I have yet to test this personally.

 

You Are NOT Oxygen Deprived

This is a claim I have only recently begun to encounter, but it is a dangerous one – to your wallet, if nothing else. If you happen to be suffering from one of the wide range of conditions this ‘treatment’ claims to cure, the damage could be far worse.

The Half-Truth

The people offering this ‘cure’ all point to the work of a German scientist, Doctor Otto Warburg, who published a paper in the Journal of Cancer Research in 1925. This paper was called “The Metabolism of Carcinoma Cells”, and it basically outlines the fact that cancer prevents healthy cells from receiving enough oxygen. He went on to suggest that a possible treatment would be offering time in oxygen-enriched chambers may be an effective cure, but I have been unable to find any papers suggesting this was successfully tried.

The Lie

The sites which support these ‘treatments’ say that:

* Tap water is very low in oxygen because its journey through lead pipes and the addition of chlorine and other chemical contaminants prevent it from being aerated.
* Cooking or heating food reduces the oxygen content in vegetables and fruits, and also kills the enzyme content.
* Processed foods have little to zero oxygen content.
* Air conditioning in cars, homes and offices during the summer, and then heating in winter, depletes oxygen and circulates germs

While those claims may well be the truth, none of the food, drink, and supplements they offer will have any effect on your body’s oxygen levels – unless they are selling oxygen tanks and nebulizers, and even then you should discuss that sort of treatment seriously with your doctor before embarking on it. Pure oxygen is a dangerous chemical, and using it without professional guidance can have serious, damaging effects on the body.

The Truth

On some of these sites, things which will make you feel a great deal better are mentioned, usually as an afterthought to the shiny products. These include exercise, meditation, and a healthy, less-processed diet.

Needless to say, this advice will do you a great deal more good than taking any of their products. If you truly want to increase your body’s access to oxygen, I suggest you drink more, exercise regularly, and look at natural diet options. It will be cheaper and more effective for you.

The Festival of Springtime

Ostara is one of the many names for the celebration of the spring equinox. It is said to come from the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre, who was a goddess of spring and fertility. It is also close to the Christian celebration of Easter, and the Jewish festival of Passover.

It is not surprising that a celebration can be found at this time of year in almost every civilisation, fro ancient Persia and the Mayan civilizations to the more modern religion of Christianity. The turning of the Wheel of the Year is obvious, and the returning of life in the spring is too powerful a symbol not to be recognised.

Here are a few examples of how this exciting time of the year is celebrated around the world.

Marzanna – Poland

This is a celebration which dates back to around the middle of the 16th century. Dolls known as Marzanna are made of straw and decorated in order to symbolize the cold, dreary winter. They are then paraded through the street as crowds make their way to the nearest body of water. The decorated dolls are then thrown into the water in order to drown the wrath of the winter.

Baba Marta – Bulgaria

Baba Marta literally translates to ‘the grandmother of March’, and folklore says that Baba Marta is a cranky old lady who must be treated well and with kindness, or she will bring more cold, bleak winter days to torment the land.

In order to welcome the change of the season, people wear red and white bracelets which symbolise health and fertility. They hand out other red and white symbols to friends and family to wish them peace and happiness for the rest of the year.

Holi – India

The colourful festival of Holi takes place in late February or early March. The festival was originally a Hindu tradition, but it is now seen as more a cultural celebration than a religious one.

Holi ushers in the spring with bonfires and parties the night before the festival itself. The next day, people gather on the streets for a giant colour fight, with people through dyed powder onto each other. It offers a chance to let go of the cares and hardships of winter and to reconnect with other people.

Falles – Spain

The population of Valencia in Spain almost triples in size during the annual Falles festival in March. It is a week-long spectacle of fiery, satirical entertainment which starts with processions in order to honour Saint Joseph and ends with the mass burning of paper-mache figures filled with firecrackers.

It is not uncommon for those attending these celebrations to wear medieval clothing, and the entire week is accompanied by a huge street party.

9 Herbs to Help Relieve Stress

Stress seems to be the one constant in our lives today. It is all too easy to end up taking on more than we feel we can handle, whether out of a sense of duty or a dislike of saying no to those closest to us. This is particularly true in the holiday season – the pressures of trying to balance money, work and family can seem truly overwhelming.

Taking a few minutes to relax with a warm cup of herbal tea can help to take the edge off the ragged nerves of this time of year, and here’s a list of the top 10 to try.

Chamomile

Chamomile is probably the best-known herb in use today, precisely because it is a wonderful stress reliever and, unlike some of the herbs on this list, it tastes good in a tea. Adding a cup of chamomile tea to your nightly routine can help you to sleep better, which helps to control the production of the stress-hormone, cortisol.

Lavender

Like chamomile, the stress-relieving properties of lavender are well known, making it a popular scent to add to a wide range of products from sleep pillows to bath salts. It is particularly good at easing tension headaches and other aches and pains caused by stress-induced muscle clenching.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a calming herb which has been used to help to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety since the Middle Ages or longer. It is seldom used alone, but is often combined with chamomile and valerian for a wonderfully relaxing bedtime drink.

Passionflower

In spite of the name, it is the fruit of the plant which holds the benefits. It boosts production of a chemical called GABA which helps to lower anxious brain activity and soothe away worries caused by overthinking. Studies have shown these benefits to be short-term, however, so saving passionflower for when you really need it might be a better idea.

Ginseng

Both Chinese and Siberian ginseng help to boost our ability to cope with the stress of modern living. It delays and reduces the production of cortisol, helping to ease stress without the sedative effects of valerian, hops, and chamomile.

Holy Basil

This is a close cousin to the sweet basil commonly used in cooking, and is also known as Tulsi. It helps to regulate cortisol levels, along with helping to boost the immune system – an added benefit at this time of year, when colds and flu are more common. However, it is a herb to be cautious with while pregnant – seek advice in this case.

Green Tea

Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, so it should come as no great surprise that it has uses other than being a great tasting and refreshing drink. Studies have shown that people who drink five cups of green tea a day have significantly less trouble dealing with stressful situations than those who don’t.

Valerian

Valerian is often used to help to cure insomnia, since it causes drowsiness, but it is also a great herb to use to help to combat the effects of stress. It is a mild sedative, and as such can certainly help you to get a good night’s sleep, and that is a stress-reliever all on its own.

Hops

Yes, hops. They’re used in beer, but that is only the start of their uses. They don’t taste very good, though, so use very sparingly and add a sweeter tasting herb such as lavender if you intend to give hops a try. They do have a wonderfully relaxing effect – if you can stomach them.

Notes of the Song

The Song of Creation is an overwhelming, powerful thing. It is too great a thing for anyone’s mind to fully comprehend in its entirety. Those of us who have studied it very quickly realised that there are five different ways to look at the Song, and that most people fall into one of these five.

For those who are interested in learning more about the Song and how its power can influence your life for the better, here is a brief overview of these five groups and how they interact with the Song to best improve their own life.

Pro

The Pro are the most difficult group to define. They can take on aspects of each of the other groups, but what sets them apart is their ability to lead. They use the Song to help persuade those around them to follow where they go. This is a subtle thing, and few truly aware that they are doing it on a conscious level. They form the hearts of their communities quite naturally, although this causes issues for the untrained Pro, as they attempt to take on too much.

Rho

Rho use the Song to look at the patterns of history. They have greater memories of their past lives than most, and can draw on that knowledge to help them to know the best way forward into the future. Their knowledge of the repeated melodies of the Song on every level makes them skilled at precognition, although it takes a good deal of training for these warnings to be anything more than a momentary sinking feeling which comes far too late for anything to be changed.

Tal

Tal use the Song to help people. They are deeply empathic people, which makes them natural caregivers. Their use of the Song focuses on the people around them, and they use it to allow those closest to them to gain whatever they truly need. Unfortunately, an untrained Tal will either become worn out and exhausted from taking on the emotions of others, or else develop such a strong shield against them that they become skilled, uncaring manipulators.

Mai

Mai use the Song in physical ways. They are practical people, who focus on their personal physical skills more than on those around them or their environment. They are imposing people, and to those who do not know them, they can be intimidating presences. Mai usually use the Song to help focus their martial abilities. A good deal of martial arts training comes from the ideals of the Mai.

Kiyan

Kiyan use the Song to boost nature. They are happiest when surrounded by plants and animals, and make keen gardeners and animal trainers. They are good healers, and will focus their use of the song to keep everything and everyone around them as healthy as possible. The modern world is often difficult for Kiyan to deal with, as their empathy extends to the plants and animals around them – it is difficult for a Kiyan to walk past a recently felled tree without feeling overwhelming sorrow and pain.