The Signs of the Zodiac

by Cass and Janie Jackson

The astrological signs that begin with Aries and continue through Pisces are known collectively as the signs of the zodiac. These names are derived from groups of stars that we know as constellations. Most of these constellations were thought to represent animals—though you need a vivid imagination to see them in the night sky—hence the names: Aries, the ram, Taurus, the bull, Cancer, the crab, and so on. The Greeks called these constellations zodiakos kyklos—“circles of animals”—which translated into the English word “zodiac.” The table on page 5 lists all the zodiacal signs in order, and their corresponding animal or symbol.

Imagine standing on top of the world, able to see the sky all round you. The zodiac would form a belt around you, with the constellations in the order in which they are normally encountered—Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and so on around to Pisces, which completes the circle.

The ancients realized that the Sun, as it traversed the sky, passed through every zodiac sign each year, before starting its round again. Records were made of the dates on which the Sun passed from one constellation to the next. Although they vary by a few days each year, the dates for each sign are typically as shown in the table on page 5 (included below).

Astrology Chart from p. 5 of "Astrology, Plain & Simple"
Astrology Chart from p. 5 of “Astrology, Plain & Simple

This divided the year up very nicely into twelve almost equal sections. The astrological year always starts with Aries, which begins around March 21, the spring equinox—a time when the days and nights are of equal length. This was also the start of the ancient Roman calendar, and while other calendars have come and gone, this one has stuck fast, as far as astrology is concerned.

Imagine that you are again standing on top of the earth, with the zodiac slowly moving around you. You are standing at the center of a disc, of which the zodiac forms the border. Dotted about on this disc are the planets that also appear to be revolving round the earth.

From our point of view on earth, the Sun appears to pass through each zodiac sign during the course of the year. This orbit is so regular that anyone can find their Sun sign by looking at their horoscope in the newspaper, or at the dates listed in the table on page 5. Although this works well for most people, the Sun doesn’t change sign at exactly the same time or even on the same day of each year. This means that those who were born on the cusp (that is to say, on the border) of two Sun signs might not be sure which sign is truly theirs

Astrologers also use the Moon and the planets of the solar system in their studies. A Moon sign will show your inner, emotional nature. (You will be able to find the position of your Moon on the day of your birth in chapter 6.) The planets represent the cosmic energies that influence your basic character. Depending on the time you were born, the planets occupy different zodiac signs in your astrological chart and thus affect your personality. We will go into more detail about the planets in chapter 4.

The rising sign (also known as the ascendant), is the sign of the zodiac that was rising above the horizon at your time of birth. It is another very important factor since it says something about how other people perceive you. The rising sign is connected to the time of day you were born. All twelve zodiac signs will rise during the course of 24 hours. Unfortunately, they are not broken into nice, neat 2-hour blocks of time. Don’t worry: this book will help you find your rising sign in chapter 5!

At some point you will probably want a professional astrological chart made that lists every feature with absolute accuracy. Check out websites such as http://www.sashafenton.com or www.astro.com  to find out how you can obtain a free horoscope and how to buy extremely inexpensive astrology software. In addition, you may want to visit your local astrologer. He or she will be able to point out more complex features in your chart, as well as help you understand what is going on in your life at a particular time.

Excerpted from Astrology, Plain and Simple by Cass and Janie Jackson

9781571747471


Cass and Janie Jackson first met through a writers’ correspondence course. Their similar interests acted like a magnet and they immediately became inseparable. They have taught live classes using their own inimitable tandem teaching style, as well as teaching correspondence courses. Between them, they have written over a dozen books on various aspects of alternative medicine, but their personal interest has always been in astrology. They’ve contributed to many magazines over the years and Janie has written a couple of novels. They are both now officially retired, but like all true writers, they never stop writing

Your Totem Animal

by Celia M. Gunn

When some people get to a certain level of spiritual evolution, they reach out and try to make contact with a totem animal. The way to do this varies according to different traditions and beliefs. For instance, some sources claim that the zodiac is the basis for totem animal teachings. In addition, there are different opinions about when we gain or obtain our totem animals, and whether we have only one animal throughout our lives or different animals at different times, perhaps obtaining a new totem animal on a temporary basis during a difficult transition in our lives. Still others believe that we always have a number of totem animals to call upon. As you become more accustomed to the concept and you access your totem animal and begin to familiarize yourself with it through practice and experience, you may find any of these ideas to be true. Don’t feel that you have to live up to what anyone else says, because it is important for you to believe in the concepts that feel right to you and that work for you.

If you are just starting out on this path, it is preferable, I feel, to begin by making contact with only one totem animal; once you have established that relationship, you can branch out if you wish and see what other totem animals want to be part of your life. Whichever way you choose, once you begin this journey, it will become obvious in some way when an animal or bird is trying to catch your attention or show itself in a special way. Keep in mind that all natural things communicate with us.

Think about the way your cat might stare at you so that you know it needs food, or even how your houseplant lets you know that it needs water.

The first thing to be aware of is that you don’t simply choose your totem animal; it’s more accurate to say that you choose each other. It is also important to keep in mind that spiritual guides work in their own way and ti me, not according to any human agenda. Essentially, the first lesson is that openness, willingness, and patience are all you need to connect with your totem animal.

As you attempt to make contact, you should not necessarily accept the first creature that presents itself, especially if it doesn’t feel quite right. It is also essential that you recognize that you may have a hidden, inner desire to connect with a creature that is glamorous or powerful. Because many of us have lost our natural link to nature, the process might be compromised by this kind of wish. Remember that this connection is not about the power or the intelligence of the animal but about what the animal represents, and what is known as the archetypal power behind it that manifests through it, and how that power resonates with you personally.

Every animal has a unique essence and specialty, and it’s important to remember that all forms of life have value and can teach us something. From a spiritual perspective, no animal is more powerful than another. The eagle symbolizes being close to the Creator because it soars high in the heavens and sees everything, while in the European tradition, the tiny wren is known as “King of the Birds,” and legend says that it was the wren that brought fire to humankind.

from p. 18 of Totem Animals, Plain & Simple
from p. 18 of Totem Animals, Plain & Simple

Your relationship with your totem animal is unique and highly personal. Once your totem animal appears in your life, you make a. conscious choice to accept or reject it. Be aware that you are actually making a “soul agreement,” so your fi nest relationship with a totem animal will be with the one that you feel is “right.” Whether you want to share the knowledge of your totem animal with anyone else is entirely up to you. For some, it is a private relationship that is to be treated with the greatest respect and not lightly shared, lest its power become diminished or compromised.

The information about your totem animal may come to you because you have called out for it, as I did, or because you have set your intention and are quiet and receptive. It may appear in a totally unexpected way, although there are four recognized spiritual pathways to come to this kind of perception:

  • If you have strong powers of visualization, you may use clairvoyance, or “clear seeing.” Clairvoyance might actually allow you to see the creature, usually with your eyes closed but sometimes with your eyes open.
  • Clairaudience, or “clear hearing,” may enable you to hear the voice of your totem animal speaking inside your head, yet seeming to come from the outside. Be aware of a critical inner voice that may sound like a parent or teacher. Only accept the voice if what it says is helpful.
  • A gut feeling and sense of your totem animal is known as clairsentience. It might come as a physical sensation or an emotional feeling, or a combination of the two, and it may be associated with an aroma or a scent.
  • Finally, you may find your totem animal through insight or inspiration and just know that it is the one. This experience is known as claircognizance.

You may already be aware of where your greatest strength in these areas of acute perception lies, but if you are not, just spend a moment imagining your favorite place for a vacation. Is your immediate impression something you saw, a sound you heard, a smell you recall, or a thought about a place? Your need to find your primary spiritual pathway, although it is wise not to think you are limited to any one of them. To help you open up to your full potential, your totem animal may choose to appear through any of the others.

Excerpted from Totem Animals, Plain & Simple by Celia M. Gunn

9781571747488


Celia Gunn lived in British Columbia for 18 years studying Native American lore. She now lives in England.

Mudras and Healing Emotional Problems

by Gertrud Hirschi

One important reason why I started with yoga was an experience I had as a young person taking asthma medication. As a result of tak­ing medication, I could no longer grasp correlations, and my mem­ory was impaired; I was apathetic and immensely indifferent. I thought I might be “sick in the head” and might stay that way. Since then, I have been interested in brain research and everything that keeps people mentally fit. Mudras do true wonders in this field. For a number of years now, hand exer­cises have been successfully used on children in special education classes.

Run your thumb along your fingertips in a gentle and conscious way. This feels wonderful! It’s refreshing for your brain. The brain should be trained like a muscle every day. It has been proved that even after a few days of rest in bed (after an operation, for example), the activity of the brain is reduced. It has also been demonstrated that the brain can regenerate very quickly through the appropriate training. Practicing mudras can be called pure brain training. There is a positive influence on the brain waves, par­ticularly when the fingertips touch each other. When we visualize inner images at the same time, this requires a great deal of ability from the brain and promotes the power of the imagination. This power is one of the pre­conditions for mental alertness and clear thinking.

The accompanying affirmations promote a clear manner of expres­sion, which is also a mental power. When a mudra is done with full concentration, and a state of serenity is maintained, cerebral activity is calmed and regenerated. In addition, many mudras synchronize the right and left hemisphere of the brain. This promotes memory, the general abil­ity to recollect, and, miraculously, creativity as well.

I will risk claiming that a trained brain remains fit up into a ripe old age. The great yogis have also demonstrated this to us with their mental alertness as seniors. I can also observe—and my surrounding world has confirmed this—that my own ability to recollect, my memory, clear think­ing, and concentration have never been so pronounced as today. Colleagues who are as old as I am complain about the opposite. And I am no more tal­ented than they are! The only difference is that I constantly train my brain.

Always see the good in your fellow human beings, put the negative aspects of the past behind you, live completely in the present, and make the best you possibly can of it. Expect the best from the future and remain in constant contact with cosmic consciousness—then nothing will stand in the way of a meaningful and happy life.

I can hardly describe the blessings that this kind of constructive thinking has brought me. Incidentally, this attitude in life is also the best for my health.

Mudras have a wondrous effect on the emotional area of our lives, which includes the soul, our feelings, and our moods. It is no coincidence that people make fists when they are vehemently agitated, or that hands become limp and their movements flighty during depressions. If we want to change oppressive moods, we can do so by changing our breathing rhythm accordingly. The way we breathe can stimulate us, calm us, inflame us, or cool us down.

Mood fluctuations, which many people suffer from today, can often be largely eliminated within a few days by using mudras. However, I recommend that you practice the respective mudra and meditation three times a day for at least 10 minutes (or twice for 20 minutes) while lying down or sitting.

Moods and physical complaints are similar. In order to cure them, we must look for and remedy the cause, which almost always lies within. We should never blame our surrounding world for our moods. Parents, chil­dren, partners, colleagues at work—they are only reflections of our inner life. Even if we initially can’t change our environment, we can work on our inner attitude toward the surrounding world, changing it in small steps.

Perhaps your response to this is, “But I worry.” Does it help you in any way to worry? Does worry improve your circumstances? I know how difficult it is to let go of worry. Conversations to clear up the situation and/or a prayer have always helped me the most in dealing with them. The divine powers have always helped me up to now—without exception. Each of you will be helped, if you only permit it. When you let go of a worry, you no longer have to think about it.

Chronic bad moods of any type (aggression, depression, dissatisfac­tion, fear, etc.) can also be caused by weakened or even sick organs, diges­tive problems, blood pressure, pain, or other physical reasons. As you prac­tice the mudras used for physical healing, these moods may be remedied to a large extent. Meditation, visualization, and affirmation all have a positive effect on the mental-emotional area. If you are attentive to this, you can watch how the positive changes of your mood tread softly as they slip into your life. You will be more content, serene, courageous, and cheerful. Just wait—this is what will happen!

Excerpted from Mudras by Gertrud Hirschi

9781578631391


Gertrud Hirschi has teaches yoga in accordance with the latest medical findings at her own yoga school in Zurich. She holds seminars in Switzerland, Germany, and Greece, and she is the author of Basic Yoga for Everybody (Weiser Books).

The Nine Bodies: A Religious Theory

by Eleanor Harris

Egyptians believed that humans and other living crea­tures consisted of nine “bodies.” These nine bodies define why the Egyptians believed that it was possible to invoke a creature’s life force into a statue, and thereby gain the creature’s power. They believed in ghosts and apparitions, which were made possible by the existence of the “ka” body; and the “khu” body, discussed below.

Through different bodies, the Egyptians communicated with the dead, projected out-of-body, assumed other creatures’ power, and enjoyed other abilities that you can share today.

The nine bodies are defined and discussed below.

By learning the principles of each, you will understand their uses in magic that are described in later chapters.



KhatKhat
, the natural body: which is translated as something which is able to decay. It is the physi­cal body. The word also applies to the mummified body in a tomb. Funeral ceremonies on the day of burial have the power to transform the khat into the spiritual body, the “sāḥu.”The physical body was given to the Earth upon death but the soul resided in heaven. This proves Egyptians believed in an afterlife, eternal life, and resurrection.


SahuSāḥu, the spiritual body: describes a physical body that has obtained a degree of knowledge, power, and glory. It evolves thereby into the sāḥu, which is everlasting and incorruptible. The sāḥu has the ability to become related to the soul and to com­municate with it. When the physical body changes into the sāḥu body, it ascends into the heavens to dwell with the gods and the righteous.


AbȦb, the heart body: the heart. Considered the core power of life, it houses the abstract per­sonality, or the characteristic attributes of the person. It is the instrument of good and evil thoughts. This body can move freely by separating itself from, or uniting with, the physical body at will. It also enjoys life with the gods in heaven.5



Ka
, the double body:
literally describes a “double” of image and genius. Considered a copy of the physical body, (compare to contemporary “astral body”), the ka was offered meat, wine, and other  delicacies at funeral ceremonies to sustain it after physical death. The ka Kadwelt within the deceased’s statue, just as the ka of a deity dwells within its statue. Someone who wished to communicate with the deceased read a message, left a written message on papyrus in the tomb, or tied a statue of the deceased in the tomb. Since the ka lived therein, it could, of course, observe and understand.6 There was a priesthood in Egypt, termed Priests of Ka, who performed services, worshiped, and left offerings for the ka in a special chamber within the tomb, called the “ka chapel.” After physical death, the ka required offerings of food and drink. If food and drink were scarce, the ka was given offerings painted upon the walls of the tomb. Magical intent transformed the pictures into suit­able nourishment.


BaBa, the soul body: means something roughly equivalent to “sublime,” or “noble.” The ba dwells in the ka. It continues to pos­sess both substance and form after death. It is depicted in hieroglyphs as a human-headed hawk and its nature is ethereal. The ba can revisit the body in the tomb, re-animate it, and converse with it. It can take any shape desired and passes into heaven to dwell eter­nally with other perfect souls. Like the ka, the ba needs  food and drink to sustain itself. It also partook of funeral offerings.


KhabitKhaibit, the shadow body: is the shadow of the human that connects with the ka and ba as they ingest funeral offerings and visit the tomb at will. The khaibit is associated to the soul, because it is believed to always be near it. The Egyptians considered it part of the human economy. It has an independent existence and is able to separate from the body to move as it pleases.



Khu
, the spirit body:
means translucent or shining and indicates the intangible casing of the body. It can be compared to the aura. The khu represents the Khuintelligence, but in many hieroglyphic texts, it is spoken of as what we understand to be the spirit, which is why experts term it “the spirit body.” The khus of the gods reside in heaven. Human khus, during funeral ceremonies, are surrounded by the khus of the gods and assisted to heaven. The khu is imperishable. A special magical formula prepared by the ancient priests enabled the khu of the deceased to pass from the tomb and into the realm of the gods.

The collected bodies of a man or woman, once in heaven, were attributed to Ausar. Like Ausar, the deceased had walked among the living ones and then, at death, resur­rected to become a son/daughter of the Creator. The Egyp­tians believed in deification of the spiritual body.



Sekhem
, the form body:
represents the form of power of a man or woman. The word has been associated with the soul and the khu. At death, the sekhem is called Sekhemto come among the khus in heaven. The Egyptian Sun god, Ra, was often referred to
as “sekhem ur,” which means Great Sekhem or Great Power. In many contemporary Egyptian practices, the sekhem is considered very much a part of human life. It represents the power of the individual that can be built up and directed in magic.



Ren
, the name body
: though rarely men­tioned in books, describes the name by which the deceased was called in heaven. Egyptians believed that great power resided in words and names. They believed the gods knew the name of the deceased. The name of a person, deity, or creature was considered sacred and never-changing. HuRenmans and other creatures thus consisted of a physical body, a spiritual body, a heart, a double, a soul, a shadow, an intelligence/intangible ethereal casing, a form, and a name. All of these bodies were bound together, and the welfare of one concerned the welfare of all. In contemporary circles, it is debated whether the ab, ka, or khaibit equates to the astral body. The Egyptians practiced shape-shifting, which is similar to astral projec­tion. In certain texts, the ka is mentioned. In others, a par­ticular body is not named. In chapter 4, you will learn how to shape-shift using the ka/double body.

Excerpted by Ancient Egyptian Magic by Eleanor Harris

9781578635917


Eleanor Harris has studied and practiced Egyptian divination and magic for more than 20 years. She inherited interest in Egyptian religion and magic from her father. Eleanor has been active in a contemporary Egyptian “House of Life,” which is dedicated to teaching and practicing traditional Egyptian magic. She earned her title Qematet en Tehuti, “Priestess of Thoth,” by authoring literary works, lecturing, and providing workshops for interested students. Her other books are The Crafting and Use of Ritual Tools and Pet Loss: A Spiritual Guide, both published by Llewellyn

Notes:

5 E. A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Book of the Dead, p. lxi, lxii.

6 Leemans, Monuments Egyptiens, Partie II, pp. 11, 183, 184 referred to in Egyptian Magic, p. 219. 

 

Spell to Increase Physical Energy

From Goddess Spells for Busy Girls by Jen McConnel

9781578635481

Spell to Increase Physical Energy

Sometimes, we all feel a little run-down.

Ask Sekhmet to recharge you whenever your battery is drained.

You will need:

  • A small stone (tiger’s-eye, red agate, or amber)
  • A piece of tinfoil
  1. Take the stone and set it on the tinfoil. Leave this somewhere in direct sunlight to charge. Make sure you don’t forget about the spell: you want solar energy for this, not lunar, so you need to complete the spell within one day.
  2. Before the sun sets, take the stone and cup it between your hands as if you are clapping. Imagine that you are holding a tiny sun. Lift the stone to your lips and blow on it gently, infusing it with your energy. Say, “Sekhmet, Eye of Ra, as you wear the energy of the sun upon your brow, let me too carry the sun with me. This stone is my sun.” Repeat this invocation three more times.
  3. Touch the stone to your forehead, just above your eyebrows. Say, “My solar crown is my radiance. I am radiant. I am energy. I am fire.”
  4. Cup the stone again between your hands, holding it in front of your heart center. Bow to Sekhmet, and thank her for her help. Carry the stone with you whenever you need an energy boost. Make sure you don’t bring it into the bedroom with you at night so you can sleep soundly!

 

“The State is Out of Date” Excerpts on Reality Sandwich

Gregory Sams, author of The State is Out of Date, has been featured in a four-part series on Reality Sandwich with excerpts from his book. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look, we’ve included each of the links below, as well as a short snippet of the final excerpt that was just posted this week.

Enjoy, and make sure to take a look around Reality Sandwich’s site as well!

Excerpt from Part 4: The Drugs Problem

“The Drug War is fueled by the fact that at this historic moment . . . our politicians are suffering from enemy deprivation. Faced with the real problems of urban decay, slipping global competitiveness, and a deterio­rating educational system, the government has decided instead to turn its energies toward the sixty million Americans who use illegal psychoactive drugs. – Timothy Leary, advocate of psychedelics, 1920–1996

The primary problem with drugs is that they are illegal and/or state-controlled. This counter-evolutionary state control of substances that we ingest for other than nutritional purposes is the root cause of virtually all the problems that people are concerned about in connection with drugs, drug abuse, and drug-related crime. Sure, all drugs have potential problems if abused. But we are human beings and we are able to make judgments about these things, and treat them with respect and caution—just as we must when we drive vehicles, have sex, or buy food from street vendors. Cannabis, magic mushrooms, peyote, opium, coca leaf extracts, and alcohol were all legal at the end of the nineteenth century, when only alcohol was regarded as a major social problem. A century later, we find that alcohol is the only consciousness-altering drug that remains legal, and it remains a major social problem.”

<Read more>

 

The first three excerpts:

Part 1: Playing God

Part 2: Birthright Denied

Part 3: Meat of the Issue