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Does Crystal Therapy Really Work?

When anyone first encounters the notion that crystals have healing abilities, it is perfectly natural to be very sceptical. This is particularly true for those of us who have been raised in modern, Western societies. It can be a real challenge to really understand the way crystal energy works, but it can actually be summed up fairly easily.

Crystals are amplifiers of thoughts and intentions. It has been proved that the intention of a watcher can affect the movement of particles on the sub-atomic level – although no one has quite worked out why this is the case just yet. Crystals boost the focus of your attentions, and so help you to gain the outcome you are focusing on.

Our minds are the single most powerful tool we have. Whatever you choose to put your energy into will flourish and grow. The flow of energy follows the intention behind your thoughts. So whenever you have a positive thought, the energy will follow and help boost the positive things in your life. Likewise, the same is true for negative thoughts.

Crystals can help by amplifying the intentions. These intentions are reflected in the human energy field, also known as the aura. The energy of the aura is impacted by the unique energy of the crystals involved, a fact which has been verified by kirlian photography.

Thankfully, you do not have to hold your crystals all of the time in order to benefit from their effects. You can ‘program’ them once, and then let them work. To do this, select a crystal you want to work with, and hold it while focusing on what you want. This could be a goal, a challenge you need to overcome, or something that you want to attract into your life. Hold the intention firmly in your mind and feel it throughout your heart and aura. Remember, the more energy you put into the intention, the more effective it will be.

Once you have programmed your crystal with your intentions, you can move on to working with it in other ways. You can carry it with you to feel the effects throughout the day. You can use it to make gem water or an elixir. You can place several crystals around your space to energise the area around you. You can set up a crystal grid to reinforce the focus of your intention even further.

If you are still having a hard time with this, understand that crystals are not one of those things you need to believe in for them to work. Even those who aren’t aware of the healing capabilities of crystals can – and do – benefit from their energy.

So try it for yourself. It is well worth it.

A Glance at Dreams

The world of dreams is a truly remarkable one. The fact that two people from different parts of the world, with completely different cultural backgrounds and from vastly different experience levels can share the same dream is a fascinating puzzle. As humans, we share common concerns, hopes, anxieties, fears and conflicts, and these are frequently reflected in our dreams.

A Brief History

Recordings of dream interpretations date back to between 3000 and 4000 BC, where the people of Mesopotamia used clay tablets to record what they had dreamed. Our real knowledge of how the ancient societies felt and acted towards their dreams dates to Egyptian, Greek and Roman societies, largely thanks to the greater degree of written records from this time.

In Egypt, people with particularly vivid and significant dreams were thought of as sblessed by the gods, and the ability to interpreted the meanings behind the dreams was a sign of divine favour.

Aristotle believed that dreams were a result of physiological functions, and so could diagnose illnesses and predict the onset of diseases.

Throughout the Greek and Roman world, dreams were believed to be direct messages either from the gods or from the dead. This belief was so strong that dream interpreters were often a part of a military leader’s retinue in order to help with strategy planning.

Outside of the Western world, the Chinese believed that the soul left the body every night to go and visit another world. Because of this separation, they felt that being suddenly awakened may result in the soul being unable to return to the body.

One thing is certain – dreams hold our attention in a way few other aspects of psychology ever have held the ability to.

Common Themes

Certain dream themes are so common that highlighting them is an essential function of any article of this type. Dreaming that we are falling, that we are naked in public, or that we have lost are teeth are common dreams, and have been experienced by many people at one point or another.

Chase Dreams

Being chased in your dream is one of several common dream themes stemming from feelings of anxiety in your waking life. In such dreams, you could be running from an attacker, an animal, a monster, or some unknown terror.

Fight or flight is an instinctive response to a physical threat in the environment. Thus, it is entirely natural to run, hide, or try to outwit whatever is hunting you.

Cheating Dreams

Being cheated on in a dream can often feel so real that you actually go and accuse your significant other of it. These dreams are unsettling and disturbing, and frequently leave you questioning the strength of your relationship.

Thankfully, dreams about infidelity are rarely due to your partner actually cheating on you, but more about your own feelings of insecurity. Analysing the rest of the dream can help to pinpoint exactly what is happening.

Death Dreams

Dreaming of death – whether your own or that of a loved one – can be very jarring and incredibly scary. There is no need to be alarmed or panic about these dreams, however. And no, contrary to popular belief, you do not actually die if you don’t wake up before you die in a dream.

Dreaming of death does often point to a sense of deep change in your life. If everything is uncertain, these dreams are much more likely. But no matter how frightening they are, they are seldom a true premonition of death itself.

Falling Dreams

The sensation of falling in a dream is a very common one. So common, in fact, that the meaning of it largely depends on other factors within the dream itself, and on what is going on in your waking life.

Flying Dreams

Flying dreams are almost always lucid in nature – that is, dreams in which you know you are dreaming and are able to take active control of events. Most find the ability to fly in their dreams as a joyful, liberating experience.

Naked Dreams

Dreaming that you are completely naked – particularly in a situation which would otherwise be incredibly mundane – is very common. While it is undoubtedly alarming to the reamer, it is also one which other people tend to find more amusing than anything else.

Teeth Dreams

Dreams of your teeth crumbling or falling out are surprisingly common, and incredibly disturbing when they happen. They are also a category of dream which tends to haunt you, leading to the images persisting long after you wake up. Like almost all forms of dream, looking at other factors tends to give a more accurate form of interpretation, but these dreams often stem from insecurities around how others view us.

Conclusion

Remember that your dreams – however common the theme of them might be – are unique to you. They stem from your personal background, your emotions, and your experience. Therefore, no simple article like this can offer a full interpretation.

An Overview of Astrology

Astrology has been a subject which has attracted both interest and scorn over the years. While many of us read the printed horoscopes in newspapers and magazines, that is the tip of a very large and truly ancient iceberg.

The History of Astrology

There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that humanity has been fascinated by the stars since our earliest beginnings. Anyone who has been to an area free of modern light pollution at night will understand the awe-inspiring nature of this fascination. There are written records that show people were using the positions of the stars to determine the patterns of things on Earth during the time of the Sumerians (about 2000 BC).

Today, millions of people use astrology around the world, and there are thousands of resources that a budding astrologer can use to help them on their journey – including this one! Astrology is a tool that you can use very effectively to expand your understanding of yourself, and of the world that we all share.

Contrary to the opinions of some, astrology is not a belief system, nor a religion. It is not associated with any sort of therapy. It is instead a highly specialized language. It takes time and dedication to learn, in the same way that learning any foreign language will take time and dedication to learn.

What Astrology is Not

One thing that it is very important to understand before you begin your study of astrology is that it is not a way of foretelling the future. I know that this will probably come as a disappointment, but it is probably the single most important thing for any astrologer to understand – no matter how much popular culture might say otherwise.

Your astrological chart may well indicate that you are experiencing a positive time to increase your resources, or that you need to take extra care in high risk situations, but the exact circumstances and outcome are not determined by your chart. You can certainly use astrology to help you to make the best choice out of those in front of you, but you have to make the decisions yourself. If you choose to stay in bed all day, no amount of good luck appearing in your chart is going to land you your dream job!

One other habit of people who are influenced more by the popular culture idea of astrology than any actual study of the craft is to blame the planets for your life situation. It does make a really convenient scapegoat, but it is a very lazy way of looking at life.

What Astrology Is

Astrology helps you to become better acquainted with yourself, and more importantly, your inner nature. It can help you to reach a profound understanding of your needs, hopes and desires, which in turn can help you to lead a more satisfying life. In many ways, learning about your personal astrological chart is a self-confirming experience. It adds to your sense of self confidence, and so can positively influence your success in life.

In addition to exploring your potential, strengths, and liabilities, you can use astrological information to help you to determine the best times to act. Astrology offers exceptional insights into timing. Techniques have been developed which can indicate specific areas of opportunity or crisis, and which can illuminate avenues of better choices. You can also use astrological information to help you determine the best time to begin or end different ventures, and whether or not you should expand or stay closely focused.

Conclusion

There are many branches of astrology which reach into all levels of life experience, and there are professional astrologers working in all of these fields. Astrologers are frequently also counsellors who focus on personal growth, relationships, crisis intervention, or any of a number of other areas.

I hope this has given you a clearer understanding of what astrology is and is not, and that you are now eager to begin your own exploration of this truly ancient art.

Top Ten Healthy Herbs and How to Use Them

Herbs are very good for us. Not only do they add various flavours to our food without piling on the calories, they have wonderful health benefits that many people are only just beginning to truly appreciate. A basic knowledge of how food can help to keep you healthy while eating brilliantly is key to the foundation of a truly healthy life. To help you decide which of the bewildering array of herbs to pick, here’s a list of ten you shouldn’t be without.

Rosemary

Rosemary has been shown to can boost memory and concentration. It also helps with muscle and joint pain when applied topically. It tastes great when added to hearty food like meat and potatoes.

Parsley

Parsley is usually only seen as a garnish, and as such most people don’t eat it. This is a shame, since it is rich in vitamin A and C, and is also high in antioxidants. It has been proved to help reduce high blood pressure. It works well with chicken dishes.

Ginger

Ginger is a good anti-inflammatory, and has been used topically to help to ease arthritis for centuries. When taken internally, it helps to ease gastrointestinal problems, from IBS to diarrhoea and nausea. Best of all, there are wonderful tasting desserts which call for ginger, making it a welcome – and tasty – addition to your kitchen.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is another anti-inflammatory, but it also has antibiotic properties. Like ginger, it is great for preventing and treating issues like diarrhoea and indigestion. It can also help to control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. It also doesn’t have to be kept just for desserts. Using it as part of a glaze for roasts and vegetables can add a wonderful touch of heat.

Garlic

Most people seem to know that garlic is good for them. It helps to ease the symptoms of colds and flu, it helps relieve hypertension, and is a great boost to the immune system. It tastes great in stews and soups of all kinds, and is commonly found in Mediterranean cooking.

Nettles

Yes, stinging nettles. Not a plant many think of as a herb, but a great addition to any kitchen. It helps to reduce inflammation, particularly that associated with arthritis. It is also great for controlling dandruff and improving the overall health of your hair. It can be infused into a refreshing tea, along with being used in soups, pesto and polenta recipes.

Chives

Chives are rich in vitamins A and C, and has been shown to reduce the risk for gastric cancer. While sprinkling chopped chives over salads and pasta is a great finishing touch, cooking with them is just as good, particularly when adding them to potato recipes.

Coriander

Coriander has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, along with helping to reduce cholesterol levels. Add it to roasted vegetables or nourishing stews, or look at Indian and Thai meals.

Bay Leaves

Bay really comes into its own in the winter months. It contains an oil called cineole, which helps to ease the discomfort of blocked sinuses. It also boosts the immune system, and can help to prevent heart disease. They add a mild spice to stews, soups and sauces of all kinds, but should not be eaten whole, so remove them before serving.

Dandelion

Another unusual herb, dandelions are often overlooked as a food herb. They are a natural mild diuretic, which make them useful for treating high blood pressure and liver and kidney issues. It makes a great tasting addition to salads, a wonderful infused vinegar, and a lovely after-meal tea.

There are thousands of other herbs that can be used. They are easily available and make for a great way to help to boost your health while tasting great.

Talking Tarot

 

Tarot is one of the world’s most well known and popular divination systems. There are many theories about how and where it began, but it has certainly been around for the last few hundred years at least.

A tarot deck is composed of a total of 78 cards, which are then divided into two distinct sections – the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, and then 56 cards of the Minor Arcana, which is further divided into four suits. The suits of the Minor Arcana are very similar to the suits in a normal deck of playing cards. As a general rule, the Major Arcana reflects major turning points in our lives – our commitments, triumphs and tragedies, while the cards of the Minor Arcana deal with the more day-to-day aspects of life. When used together, they offer a guide to the potential incidents and issues that we have to handle.

Beginning to Read the Tarot

Tarot is a very user-friendly form of divination, which is perhaps the source of its constant popularity over time. This is due to the highly visual prompts each of the cards provide. By learning to interpret the Tarot, you are continuing the age-old practice of communicating through pictures and symbols.

When you feel ready to offer a reading to someone else, it is important to consider the environment you are using. While it is perfectly possible to give readings in a noisy bar (I have done this, so I know!), it is far better to have a space set aside, or at least quiet. Too much background noise can disrupt your concentration, not to mention the interruptions you are bound to get from people who are either highly skeptical or else simply curious of your readings.

At the beginning of a reading, the other person (also known as the ‘querent’) should shuffle the cards while focusing on the subject or issue they want the reading to illuminate for them. Once they feel they have done this for long enough, they should hand you the deck.

A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Before your querent arrives, gently clear and focus your mind. Try to let go of your own personal issues. This gets easier with practice, although it can help to focus on a single image for a few minutes.
  2. Clear the deck of previous influences by making sure that all of the cards are upright. I find tapping each edge of the cards three times helps to clear them very effectively, but use whatever method works for you. Some readers pass the cards through sage smoke or incense. Experiment, and find a method of cleaning the deck that works well for you, and don’t be afraid to change this method as you grow into your abilities as a reader.
  3. Next, shuffle the cards yourself. Make sure that you keep your mind clear while doing this.
  4. Hand the deck to your querent. Ask them to concentrate as clearly as possible on the issues that they are currently concerned about, and ask them to shuffle the deck.
  5. Choose whichever spread you feel most comfortable with – future posts in this series will go deeper into the various possible spreads and how to interpret them.
  6. Read the cards. This does not have to make sense to you. You will find that readings which confuse you make perfect sense to your querents. Remember, you know nothing of the situation which has brought your querent to you, and try to avoid making assumptions about their life which could taint your reading.
  7. Finish by giving a summary of the reading and asking the querent if they understand what the reading has revealed.

Finishing a Reading

When you finish a reading, you should always ask the querent if they understand and accept the information you have given them. It is with this final step that you will be able to monitor your skill as a reader, and it is also a great way to boost your confidence.

Don’t be discouraged if your querent doesn’t understand anything the cards have said, particularly when you are still learning. Mistakes do happen, and they are always a learning experience.

Celebrating Imbolc

Imbolc is one of the lesser-known festivals in the Celtic pagan calendar. It marks the point in the year where the first signs of spring begin to emerge, and the world turns back from the dark quiet of winter to the warmth and life of spring. It is a time for bringing new ideas and projects into the light, and for moving to actively grow projects which have been building over the winter months.

Spring Cleaning

Imbolc is the perfect time for that cleaning that you have been putting off. Get rid of anything that is cluttering up your home, and scrub all the surfaces down thoroughly. If you can bear the drop in temperature, open all of the windows and let some refreshing clean air flow through your home. Making the cleaning part of the celebrations is one of the easiest ways to encourage the whole family to join in – just remember to donate things that can still be used to appropriate charities instead of simply throwing them away.

Light’s Return

While Yule is a celebration of the rebirth of the sun, Imbolc is when its return first truly begins to be noticeable as it grows in strength. Candles are a practical response to this, as it is frequently too impractical to celebrate with a bonfire, whether due to weather or regulations. Have your feast lit by the warm glow of candles, and prepare for the blessings to come in the year ahead.

Feasting and Food

No true celebration is really complete without a meal to go with it. At Imbolc, it is important to concentrate on foods which honour the hearth and home – breads, grains and root vegetables are all appropriate, as are dairy products. After all, this is the festival designed to celebrate the beginning of lactation in both cows and sheep.

Brigid

Brigid (also spelt Brighid, and Bridget) is one of the daughters of the Dagda, and part of the Tuatha de Dannan. She is the patron of poets, bards, healers and magicians, and is particularly connected with prophecy and divination. She is a fire goddess, and deeply tied to the light of the sun. This means that any form of ritual healing or divination by candlelight is highly appropriate as part of any Imbolc celebration.