Posted tagged ‘astrology’

Podcast 66 – Sacred Artistry with Bri Saussy

July 31, 2014

Summary:
In tonight’s episode (slightly belated, my apologies), we have an excellent discussion of Sacred Artistry and Enchanted Worldviews with the wonderful Bri Saussy. I bookend the interview with a pair of readings on the topic as well. Thanks for your patience, and I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did!

Play: 
Download: New World Witchery – Episode 66
Play: 

-Sources-

  1. Of course, you should check out Bri’s excellent site, Milagro Roots.
  2. While you’re there, consider signing up for one of her courses, such as Star Magic or Diagnostic Tarot.
  3. Bri recommends Terri Windling’s Myth and Moor blog during the interview.
  4. I read from (and highly recommend) Draja Mickaharic’s  Spiritual Cleansing and Suzi Gablik’s Living the Magical Life.

Keep watching for information on the next Pagan Podkin Supermoot, hosted by Fire Lyte in Chicago (in conjunction with the Pagan Pride Day up there).

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page!

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promos:
1)      Betwixt and Between

Podcast 60 – Aesthetics & Mechanics

February 26, 2014

Summary:
Tonight we’re responding to a pair of conversations from other shows on witchy aesthetics and the mechanics of magic. First, we’ll look at some ideas about fashion and self-image brought up by Scarlet’s Lakefront Pagan Voice show, then touch on the functional structures of folk magic with reference to a recent Inciting a Brewhaha episode.

Play:
Download: New World Witchery – Episode 60

 -Sources-

  1. The two podcasts we use as our springboards for this show are Scarlet’s Lakefront Pagan Voice Episode 73 – A Witch in the Wardrobe and Inciting a Brewhaha Episode 31 – Superheroes and Modern Magic.
  2. Cory mentions the recent Star Magic course he took with the lovely Bri Saussy as part of his “What’s in Your Cauldron?” He also mentions the New Orleans Wish Dog he’s using as part of a sweetening work.
  3. We are highly encouraging listeners to go check out Heather Dale’s Celtic Avalon campaign and help her to bring her music to the world!
  4. We also announced the winner of our Three Questions contest.

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page!

 Promos & Music

Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.

Promos:

  1. Inciting a Brewhaha
  2. Lakefront Pagan Voice
  3. Kindle Witch Podcast

Incidental music was “Lady Gaga/Myrtle Snow Mix,” found here, and “Hawthorn Tree,” by Heather Dale.

Blog Post 184 – Comets

December 4, 2013

The Comet of 1680, by Lieve Verschuier (via Wikimedia Commons)

“Like a comet burn’d
That fires the length Ophiuchus huge
In the Arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war” (Milton, Paradise Lost)

With the ISON comet drawing eyes to the night sky, I started thinking a lot about the superstitions and magical beliefs surrounding the appearance of comets in the sky. Comets have long inspired people in strange, occasionally beautiful, and sometimes disturbing ways. Mark Twain’s life was framed by the appearance of Haley’s Comet, a point the author himself noted. The Heaven’s Gate cult engaged in a group suicide surrounding the arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet.

Increase Mather, famed early American religious writer, dedicated an entire work to explaining the spiritual importance of comets in his Kometographia of 1683. He was responding to the presence of the Great Comet of 1680, which had captured the attention of most of the Western world, and felt that many people would be afraid at this sign and misunderstand it as a phenomenon which directly influenced the course of events on earth, rather than a sign from God of some important event to come (see more here). Generally speaking, comets have historically been associated with strife and woe to come. My Opie/Tatem Dictionary of Superstitions gives a laundry list of examples of ill-omen presaged by what the Venerable Bede called “long-haired stars”:

  • A comet as portending a change in governance (Tacitus, Annals)
  • Famine or pestilence or war or “fearful storms” (Byrhtferth, Manual)
  • A comet [the Great Comet of 1680] appeared two days before the Duke of Monmouth died, and all over Europe before the death of Charles II (J. Case, Angelical Guide)
  • An appearance before the plague struck London (Defoe, Journal of a Plague Year)
  • A wry observation that those who laugh at comets as tokens of disaster will studiously insist on “times and situations proper for intellectual performances” (Johnson, The Idler)

In the New World, comets seem to have retained much of their wicked reputation. In some cases the danger foretold by the comet is vague and ill-defined: “When a comet appears there will be trouble” (Roberts, “Louisiana Superstitions”). In other places, the significance of the hairy star was more direct and its consequences very  clearly understood: “A comet is a sign of war” (Thomas, Kentucky Superstitions).  Why should these astronomical phenomena, which had been showing up in night skies for ages, have such a bad rap? Considering even Classical authors like Tacitus cite the comet as woeful, the impulse must run deep. The unique cosmological view of Calvinism, though, which influenced much of Atlantic American colonization, both denigrated occult practices like witchcraft and supported an enchanted view of a univers under Divine direction:

“The Calvinism of the colonial awakenings also paralleled important occult ideas. The fatalism inherent in Calvinism’s concept of predestination found an occult equivalent in the idea fundamental to astrology that motions of star and planets revealed a future that individuals could not control. Calvinist evangelists and occult practitioners also explained catastrophes in similar ways. Believers in occult ideas thought the coming of comets and eclipses had inescapable and usually disastrous consequences; not even kings and queens escaped their verdicts. No one escaped judgment by the Calvinist God either. Sometimes He damned seemingly model Christians simply to demonstrate His sovereign” (Butler, “Magic, Astrology, & the Early American Religious Heritage”).

The shared cosmology of the colonists saw the universe as inhabited by spiritual consciousness, and an intelligence that wished to convey its meaning to human beings for one reason or another. Signs, omens, and portents were one such method. Comets, with their placement among the stars, their strange and ill-understood movement, and temporary nature made perfect fodder for prognosticators of all stripes—religious, occult, and both (they did exist, even during the Colonial period).

Lest we make the mistake of thinking that the observation of comets was the purview of only a few dusty old white occultists or a lot of fiery former Englishmen with strong religious convictions, I’d also like to point out that the cosmology which imbued comets with significance stretched across a broad swath of New World denizens, including Native Americans, Spanish and French colonists, and of course, the imported Black slaves.

“English Protestants often read unusual events as evidence of the divine presence in everyday life, acknowledging the activity of a creator deity who operated through omens and portents within the natural order, or signs and wonders in the heavens, philosophy known as Providentialism. “Comets, hailstorms, monster births and apparitions” and other disruptions of the ordinary were demonstrations that foretold God’s will or signaled His displeasure withhumankind. Africans’ understandings of the universe were also inspired by visible manifestations of spiritual forces within nature. They too viewed thunder, lightning, and other elements as heralds of sacred hierophanies,the awesome presence of numerous divine beings.” (Chireau, Black Magic).

The Providentialism Chireau notes fits the cosmology of the English and other European settlers, but it is clearly not unique to them. A world with Divine presence not only innate to its component parts, but in which those component parts act as mediums for communicating with humans, is also very much an African perspective. And while it is tempting to think that such beliefs can be relegated to history’s dustbin, we should also remember that in our time comets stir up a lot of strange excitement. Religious scholar Camile Paglia notes, for example:

“The Children of God, founded in 1968 as Teens for Christ by “Moses” David Berg in Huntington Beach, California, were negligible in number but came to public attention when they loudly prophesied that the us would be destroyed by Comet Kohoutek in January 1974. The group continues under the name “The Family” and is regularly excoriated by conserva tive Christian watchdog groups for its practice of free love (called “Flirty Fishing”) as well as its heretical beliefs that Jesus was sexually active and that God is a woman. (Paglia, “Cults and Cosmic Consciousness”)

Paglia also references the Hale-Bopp comet mentioned earlier, and Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate cult. I have, so far, not heard of any particularly distressing phenomena surrounding ISON’s appearance, but if nuclear war breaks out, I may have to blame that particular “long-haired star.”

If you have comet lore you’d like to share, please do so in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading!

-Cory

Podcast 25 – Divination and Destiny

March 4, 2011

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 25-

Summary
In this episode, we look at different divination systems from the New World.  We have a conversation about Destiny, and Laine talks about spinning wheels as magical tools. Cory discusses bibliomancy at the end of the show.

Play:

Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 25

-Sources-
New World Witchery Guide to Cartomancy
It’s All in the Cards by Chita St. Lawrence
A great collection of links on the History of Tarot at Aeclectic.net
We mentioned the “Portable Fortitude” Mojo cards which Laine bought for Cory (also on Etsy)
Cory mentioned the I Ching
Laine mentioned the fortune-telling poem, “One for Sorrow
You can read about the history of the Ouija board and the Magic 8-ball at Wikipedia
We highly recommend Juniper’s divination system at Walking the Hedge
Laine got a bit of her lore from the “Start Spinning” video with Maggie Casey
Arrow has a great series of posts on magical keys and bibliomancy at her Wandering Arrow blog

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – Inciting a Riot
Promo 2 – Lakefront Pagan Voice

Blog Post 58 – Appalachian Mountain Magic, Part I

May 12, 2010

Today, I thought I’d start to tackle in brief a subject which deserves its own book.  Or several books.  Perhaps even a library.  I’d like to do an overview of the loose collection of occult, healing, and divinatory practices practiced by the mountain folk found in the Appalachian range.  This is not going to be a comprehensive post, just a general snapshot of the different components of mountain magic, so if I don’t cover something in detail I will likely be coming back to it again eventually.  First, though, let’s start with a little bit about where this system comes from.

History
When European settlers moved into these mountains, they found that the lore and landscape they suddenly occupied was not entirely different than what they’d left behind in Europe.  Many of the Native American tribes like the Cherokee and Shawnee already associated these ancient mountains with magic and otherworldly power.  There were even beings which very much resembled fairies living in those ridges and valleys, as illustrated in the Cherokee tale of the “Forever Boy”:

“As he looked behind him, there they were, all the Little People. And they were smiling at him and laughing and running to hug him. And they said, ‘Forever Boy you do not have to grow up. You can stay with us forever. You can come and be one of us and you will never have to grow up… Forever Boy thought about it for a long time. But that is what he decided he needed to do, and he went with the Little People” (Native American Lore Index – Legends of the Cherokee).

The presence of fairies in the mountains would have been familiar to groups like the Germans and the Scots-Irish, the latter of whom had their own tradition of “fairy doctoring” which would eventually shape a portion of Appalachian magical practice.

Germans also brought in astrology, particularly astrology associated with things like planting, healing, and weather.  Despite a strongly Christian background (and strongly Protestant and Calvinist at that), most settlers accepted a certain amount of magical living in the mountains.  As George Milnes says in his Signs, Cures, & Witchery:

“Among the early German settlers in West Virginia, religion was thoroughly mixed with not only astrology but also esoteric curing practices tied to cosmic activity.  Folk curing bridged a gap between the religious and the secular mind-set.  And forms of white magic were not disdained; in fact, they were practiced by the early German clergy” (SC&W, p. 31).

The Scots and Scots-Irish who settled in the mountains were often displaced due to land struggles back home.  After long struggles with England for an independence which clearly would never be theirs, clan leaders traveled across the Atlantic and began building new territories.  The mountains running between Georgia and West Virginia were a perfect fit for them, according to Edain McCoy:

“The Scots found the southern Appalachians very remote, like their Highland home, a place where they could resume their former lifestyle and live by their ancient values without interference from the sassenach, or outsiders.  So isolated were they that many of the late medieval speech patterns and terms remained intact in the region until well into [the 20th] century” (In a Graveyard at Midnight, p. 6).

Once these various elements were situated in the mountains together, they began to merge and blend, mixing Native and European sources to create something else.  The introduction of hoodoo elements eventually changed the mixture again, though much later, and there are still old-timers in the hills practicing many of these techniques even now, though it is unlikely the entire system will remain intact for more than a generation or two as many mountain folk are being forced by poverty or circumstance to give up their highland homes.  Still, for the moment, there are lots of people trying to get Appalachian folkways recorded and preserved before they perish from the earth (this blog being one very infinitesimal drop in the bucket as far as that goes).   So for that, at least, we can be thankful.

Okay, I’ll stop here for today.  Tomorrow, I’ll be picking up with a little bit on each of the current components of Appalachian magical practice.  Until then…

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Podcast 5 – Signs and Omens

March 9, 2010

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 5-

Summary
Today we have some listener feedback, as well as some exciting news.  Then, we discuss signs and omens.

Play:

Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 05

-Sources-

Books
Some of the books referenced in today’s show:
Buying the Windby Richard M. Dorson
Signs, Cures, and Witchery – by Gerald C. Milnes
Ozark Magic and Folklore – by Vance Randolph

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1-The Standing Stone and Garden Gate Podshow
Promo 2- Media Astra ac Terra
Promo 3- A Pagan in the Threshold
Promo 4 – Inciting a Riot Podcast

P.S.  This is just a quick apology for the lateness of this episode, as well as occasional shifts in sound quality.  We have been having trouble with our podcast recording software, and had to re-record parts of our show via Skype.  We should have this issue resolved by our next episode, so thanks for bearing with us.

Blog Post 20 – Planting by the Signs, Practicum

February 25, 2010

Thank you for your patience, dear readers.  Today, we have a practical walkthrough for planting by the signs.

The crops: Potatoes, tomatoes, and beans
Starting date: 1 March 2010
Planting zone: 6

I include the planting zone because this version of planting by the signs will depend a little on frost-free dates.  Whatever the last frost free date is for your zone, you’ll want to use that as your guideline.  Everything I am about to explain is based on my area’s frost-free date around the 1st of April.

And we’re off!

Date(s): March 18-19, 23-24
Action(s): Plant sprouting seeds (tomatoes and beans) indoors in greenhouse, or sunny window pots.
Why: Taurus, Cancer, and Pisces are three of the best signs for planting, particularly above-ground crops.  While March 13-14th does have the moon entering Pisces, it’s also the tail end of a waning moon, which can inhibit growth.  Instead, the waxing first quarter on the 18-19th when the moon enters Taurus ensures sprouting in a fruitful, moist sign with a healthy increasing moon to encourage growth.  The 23-24th would also be reasonable for a later start to planting, when the moon is in Cancer and a waxing 3rd quarter.

Date(s): March 20-21, 27-28
Action(s): Cultivate, till, clear weeds.
Why?: The barren signs—Aries, Gemini, Leo, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Aquarius—are best for cultivating the soil, as planting during these times leads to less fruitful yields or no growth at all.  Because I will likely be sprouting seeds on the 18-19th, I like to prep the soil soon afterwards. True, the moon is waxing and almost full, so it might be better to wait until a dark moon/new moon to do so, but that would lead to a later planting, which I don’t want.   Cultivating the soil is less affected by the moon than planting is, so it’s less of a worry to me what phase the moon is in.

Date(s): April 5-6, 10-11
Action(s): Plant potatoes.
Why?:  The best sign for planting potatoes is Capricorn, a dry, productive Earth sign.  The moon enters Capricorn on the 5-6th, so that is a good time to plant them, but it is also worth paying attention to the moon phase here.  It’s only in its 3rd quarter, which isn’t the best for potatoes.  The “old” moon, or fourth quarter right before the new moon, is a great time for planting root crops (and also for gathering them, but we’ll get to that).  On the 10-11th, the moon is “old” and the sign is Pisces, which is good for planting in general, and especially for root growth.  Yes, I know I said a waning moon in Pisces was not great for growth just a bit ago, but that was for my sprouting crops.  My root crops should do just fine.

Date(s): April 15-16, 20-21, 28
Action(s): Transplant sprouts (if big enough) into garden bed.  Make sure you are past your frost-free date for this, and if your sprouts aren’t big enough, wait a few weeks before transplanting.  Check root growth before planting, too.  Beans will likely be ready by now, but tomatoes may have to wait a while.
Why?: The best signs for planting and transplanting are Taurus, Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio.  Pisces, as we noted with potatoes, is in a waning moon however, so I ruled those dates out for planting.  Taurus is a great sign for planting and comes right as the moon begins waxing on the 15-16th, so that’s a great time to plant.  The 20-21st is ruled by Cancer, and is another good planting time with a waxing moon.  The 28th is a full moon in Scorpio, and probably the best day for transplanting tomatoes (sturdy vines like Scorpio for some reason).

Date(s): May 13-14, 17-18, 26-27
Action(s): Transplant sprouts if they weren’t big enough in April.
Why?: This is the same progression of signs (Taurus, Cancer, Scorpio) from April, with the same waxing-to-full moon phase pattern.

From here, it could get a bit tangled if I tried to keep explaining individual plantings the way I have been, because germination times are going to vary.  Most plants will be fruiting between 60-90 days, but that’s still a big window, and you will likely continue to have growth after the initial fruiting (if you live in a zone with 200+ growing days like me, you hopefully will get at least two good harvests).   So what I’m going to do next is describe a specific activity (such as pruning, harvesting fruit, harvesting roots, etc.) and give you a date along with the sign.  If you want a good description of each of the signs individually and why I’ve selected the dates I have, a concise description of moon signs and their properties can be found here.  I put information on New and Full Moons where I can, but you may need to look up at the sky a few times before making decisions about harvesting.

Weeding (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Aquarius)
June – 2-3 (Aquarius), 6-7 (Aries), 11-12 (Gemini), 15-17 (Leo), 28-29 (Aquarius)
July – 3-4 (Aries), 8-9 (Gemini), 12-13 (Leo), 25-27 (Aquarius)
August – 1 (Aries), 4-5 (Gemini), 8-9 (Leo), 21-23 (Aquarius), 27-28 (Aries)
September – 1-2(Gemini), 5-6 (Leo), 18-9 (Aquarius), 23-24 (Aries), 28-29 (Gemini)

Fertilizing (Capricorn)
June – 25-27 (Full Moon on 26th)
July – 23-24
August – 19-20

Harvesting Fruit (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Aquarius) (Full-to-Waning Moons are best for harvesting)
June – 2-3 (Aquarius), 6-7 (Aries), 11-12 (Gemini), 15-17 (Leo), 28-29 (Aquarius)
July – 3-4 (Aries), 8-9 (Gemini), 12-13 (Leo), 25-27 (Aquarius, Full Moon on 25th)
August – 1 (Aries), 4-5 (Gemini), 8-9 (Leo), 21-23 (Aquarius), 27-28 (Aries)
September – 1-2(Gemini), 5-6 (Leo), 18-9 (Aquarius), 23-24 (Aries, Full Moon on 24th), 28-29 (Gemini)

Harvesting Roots/Tubers (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Aquarius) (Waning-to-New Moons are best for harvesting)
June – 2-3 (Aquarius), 6-7 (Aries), 11-12 (Gemini), 15-17 (Leo), 28-29 (Aquarius)
July – 3-4 (Aries), 8-9 (Gemini), 12-13 (Leo), 25-27 (Aquarius)
August – 1 (Aries), 4-5 (Gemini), 8-9 (Leo, New Moon on 9th), 21-23 (Aquarius), 27-28 (Aries)
September – 1-2(Gemini), 5-6 (Leo), 18-19 (Aquarius), 23-24 (Aries), 28-29 (Gemini)

There are all sorts of other aspects of this that I could go into, such as when to can, when to plant herbs, etc.  If there’s enough interest in this topic, I might do more on it, but for now, this should give you a fairly solid overview of the process as it would happen this year.

The signs don’t just affect planting and harvesting, by the way.  Seasonal hunting, fishing, and building projects can be coordinated astrologically, and there are lots of healing techniques and beliefs associated with specific signs.  Maybe someday I’ll get around to writing about those, but for now I hope you’ve enjoyed this little discourse on planting by the signs.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 19 – More on Folk Astrology and Gardening

February 24, 2010

I know I’ve promised a walkthrough of a sign-based planting, and that is still coming, but I thought that today it might be good to provide a couple of quotes and citations regarding just who practices this astrological agriculture.

These practices tended to be broadly found, and not relegated to just one or two American magical systems.  There are slight variances between regions, but that could also have less to do with the magical system in place and much more to do with local climate, latitude, and longitude in relation to the stars.

In the southern hills of Appalachia, one Mary “Granny” Cabe is noted to have been quite skilled with astrology and planting.  Foxfire interviewers tell how she “[p]atiently, with the use of several calendars…explained its [planting by the signs] basic principles and gave us several of the rules” (Foxfire p. 221).  She did more than describe the general system, however.  She also explained how specific plants fared in relation to astrological changes:

“’Take taters.  On th’ dark of th’ moon or th’ old of th’ moon—that’s th’ last quarter,’ she explained, ‘they make less vine; and on th’ light of th’ moon they makes more vine and less tater…Don’t plant in th’ flowers [the sign of Virgo, often seen as a virgin bearing flowers].  A plant blooms itself to death and th’ blooms falls off” (p. 221)

There were also many people in the Appalachians who didn’t believe in this method of planting.  The interviewers record that these were mostly “educated people…[with] college degrees, and held positions of great respect in the community” (p. 225).  One informant makes the excellent point that “if someone’s going to be careful enough to plant by the signs and watch and harvest the crop that carefully, then the chances are he will have a good crop, regardless” (p.225).  Still, the stories persist and the practice of planting by the signs continues in the mountains and hills around that area even now.  The Appalachian heritage blog The Blind Pig and the Acorn records its author’s attempt at sign-planting and several of his commenters speak of doing so, too.

Gerald Milnes, in his Signs, Cures, and Witchery, also discusses planting by the signs in the northern parts of Appalachia and Pennsylvania-Dutch territory:

“Astrologic traditions still exist as more than just quaint curiosities among Appalachian people.  It is noted that these practices declined within English society and in New England before the Revolution.  New England’s almanac makers were under withering attack, religious condemnation, and mockery by the mid-seventeenth century, but over three centuries later continued folk practice based on this cosmology is still easy to ascertain” (Milnes, Signs, Cures, & Witchery, p.32).

Milnes makes the case that much of this preservation of astrological folk culture had to do with the availability of almanacs (he also points out one I completely forgot to mention yesterday, but which is supposed to be excellent for New England climes:  Gruber’s).  Many of these almanacs are the same ones which helped preserve the Pow-wow magic I’ve spoken about in previous posts.

Lest you think the phenomenon of sign-planting is relegated to the Appalachian Mountains, here are a few quotes from Pennsylvania-Dutch planting lore:

“Plant peas and potatoes in the increase of the moon”
“If trees are to sprout again they should be felled at the increase of the moon”
“When sowing radish seed say: as long as my arm and as big as my ass”
-(Dorson, Buying the Wind, pp.124-125)

Okay, so that last one wasn’t really about planting by the signs, but it’s fun anyway.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 18 – Planting by the Signs, an Introduction

February 23, 2010

What makes the cornfields glad; beneath what star it befits to upturn the ground…and clasp the vine to her elm; the tending of oxen and the charge of the keeper of a flock; and all the skill of thrifty bees; of this will I begin to sing.

-Virgil, Georgics, Book I

Spring is just around the corner, and so my mind naturally turns to gardening.  I love the process of gardening—planting, harvesting, & canning and freezing everything from my vegetable and fruit garden; seeing my herbs grow from seed and sprout into gorgeous greenery; and seeing and smelling flowers as they bloom through the warm days and nights of the year.

There’s a long-standing relationship between magic and gardening.  One need only look to texts like Culpepper’s Herbal or the Anglo-Saxon poem of the nine sacred herbs to see that.  I think it’s something about the alchemy of turning seeds and dirt into food and flowers that seems like the simplest and purest kind of magic.

At any rate, I’m waxing poetic here, and I’m sure you’re wondering just what I’m getting at.  Well, today (and this week) I’m going to be exploring the phenomenon of “planting by the signs.”  This astro-agricultural practice is not unique to the New World, true.  Even the great Roman poet, Virgil, devoted an entire text to it, the Georgics, quoted at the beginning of this post.  But it was a tremendously important way of life for people from the Appalachians to the Mississippi, and really throughout most of North America.

The basic process of this practice involves calculating planetary hours and moon phases, and then using those as guidelines regarding which plants to put in the ground and at what time and day.  Each day of the month is ruled by a specific zodiac sign, and falls within a waxing, waning, new, full, or old moon.  Some signs are considered “fruitful” and others “barren.”  There’s an excellent overview of these characteristics and their daily correspondences at http://www.thealmanack.com/moonsign.htm.   The first book in the Foxfire series has a great article on this topic, as well as a great chart for understanding planting signs.

Some of the rules governing sign-based planting are as follows:

  • Planting is best done in the fruitful signs of Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, or Cancer
  • Plow, till, and cultivate in Aries
  • Never plant anything in one of the barren signs.  They are good only for trimming, deadening, and destroying.
  • Gather root crops in the last quarter of the moon
  • Harvest most crops when the moon is growing old.
  • Dig root crops for seed in the third quarter of the moon

(Examples taken from Foxfire 1)

There are other astrological correspondences as well, governing things like weaning children, hatching eggs, slaughtering livestock, etc.  But for the time being, I’m just going to focus on the vegetative side of this phenomenon.

The one tool (other than a plow, shovel, etc.) that a witch planting by the signs would need is a good almanac.  The one linked above (and also here) is a good one, though many prefer to get an almanac they can hold in their hands.  Some of the recommended almanacs are:
Grier’s Almanac – Continuously published since 1807, this one is very useful for Southerners.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac – A little harder to read and stuffed with ads, but it has some good info and it’s easy to find.
The Waterman & Hill-Traveler’s Companion, a Natural Almanac – Anything with a title this long is going to be full of interesting tidbits.  Sadly, it seems to have ceased production in 2007 due to the death of its founder, but it’s possible it may yet come back someday.

Another great resource for this is your local co-op.  A lot of times they will have local almanacs, or at least fliers and leaflets about regional planting practices, often related to sign-based planting.  Check out  your area feed store or co-op for more information.

If you want to refine your planting even further, you can determine the correct hour for planting by determining the ruling sign of that part of the day or night.  I’m borrowing from my friend Oraia here and recommending the Renaissance Astrology Page for determining that information.

I’ll try to put together a nice, detailed walkthrough example of this type of planting for later in the week, but for now this should give you a good starting point.  If you have any stories of planting by the signs, I’d love to hear them!

Be well, and thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 12 – Podcast Recommendations

February 10, 2010

Hi everyone,

This is a just a little post to recommend a couple of new(ish) podcasts out there in the magical podosphere.  I have a fairly long commute to and from my day job, plus I spend a lot of time searching for new blogs and podcasts that I think have good magical information in them.  Sometimes I get lucky and find great sites/shows like these:

1)       Media Astra ac Terra – This podcast is hosted by Oraia the Sphinx, and it is designed as a three-part-show.  The first part focuses on astrology and astronomy (the “Astra” part), the second is all about gemology and mineralogy (the “Terra” part), and the third is a “main topic,” usually related to something magical.

Now, normally, I’m not big on astrology or gemology.  I think astrology has some interesting points (and we’ll get into that whenever we get around to the lore surrounding “planting by the signs”), but I definitely don’t make a major point of studying it.  And I’ve never had a strong connection to gem-or-crystal magic, though I believe Laine has some proficiency in that area.  Yet Oraia’s fantastic show is presented so well that I find myself learning about both in spite of myself.  And her third section has yet to disappoint me.  Her evaluation of magic and its place in the world is incredibly well thought out, and often presented with painstaking research to back it up.  Even though I sometimes interpret things differently than she does or don’t come to the same conclusions, I still am riveted by her show.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

2)       Standing Stone and Garden Gate – This incredibly informative podcast is hosted by Dr. Brendan Myers and his partner, Juniper (a frequent commenter here at New World Witchery).   The show is divided into several parts:  an introduction featuring an incense and beverage of the week; a Bardic Arts section with poetry or music; a Standing Stone section in which Dr. Myers discusses philosophy from a Pagan perspective; a Rants, Raves, and Reviews section in which the two charming hosts give their opinions on books, culture, events, etc.; the Garden Gate section in which Juniper discusses practical aspects of witchcraft and hedgewitchery; and an Ask Dr. Expert segment in which a question or topic is discussed at length, usually citing sources or with a guest lecturer.

The show is definitely a long one (with that much material, it has to be—and after our recent hour-plus podcasts I certainly can’t throw stones), but it’s always interesting, and the hosts keep the pace up throughout the entire podcast.  My favorite segments tend to be the Garden Gate and Rants/Raves sections, but I find that I listen with great attention to the other sections, too.  I even find myself talking back to the iPod sometimes, because so much of the show feels like a conversation with wise, jovial teachers.

In the interest of fair disclosure, I should probably mention that Laine and I have been interviewed for an upcoming episode of this show, and that Juniper and Dr. Myers will be guest on one of our future episodes as well.  They are great to talk to and we were honored to be invited on their show (though I’m fairly sure I rambled a good bit more than I do when I have a script and notes in front of me).  It was a fantastic conversation, so be on the lookout for it sometime soon.

Well, that’s about all for today.  Kveldrida, I promise I’ll be listening to your podcast soon, too, so don’t feel left out since I didn’t mention you today!

Thanks for reading!

-Cory


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