Friday, March 30, 2012

What is garb?

Technically speaking, garb is just clothing, a uniform, fabric, or any other apparel used to cover the body.  However, Wiccan author Deborah Blake uses the term to describe special witchy clothing worn during ritual.  This can be anything from a hooded robe to a particular dress to even a vampire cape, if that's your thing.  She uses the word "garb" to apply to anything that you don't wear for mundane purposes, even if it is just regular clothing.  The idea is that changing into something special puts you in the right mindset for ritual, and further separates you from the everyday.

Given that I'm the kind of witch that actually cuts things with my athame, it's probably comes as no surprise that I don't usually bother with garb.  I like the idea of it, but then every time I buy something to wear that I think I'm going to save strictly for ritual, I end up wearing it one or two times just because I like it and it's something new, and then the whole point seems moot.

One way that I've gotten around this is with jewelry.  It's easy and inexpensive for me to put together a magical necklace with a moon, pentacle, or goddess charm and a chain or a string of beads.  Then, when I make a new one, I can retire the old necklace to my jewelry box to be worn whenever I like.  I also find that magical jewelry like this travels well and is quick and easy to throw on, which is great if you like to do a lot of spontaneous ritual like I do.  Also, garb in the form of jewelry is really your only option if you practice skyclad!

What are your feelings on garb?  Do you think it is strictly necessary?  Do you only wear it for certain occasions?  Does it have to be a robe or specific costume, or can it be street wear?  What color/texture/fabric is it?  Are there things you feel you are not supposed to wear?  Is this mandated by your tradition, or personal beliefs?  Any comments you want to leave on the subject of garb (or lack thereof) will be appreciated, as I think it's a fascinating topic since what we wear is so intimately tied to who we are as individuals.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cheapo Tarot

Can you believe that I found this at the local Dollar Tree today?  You may have read about the awesome triple spiral suncatcher I found at Dollar Tree about two months ago, but this takes the cake.  Of course it HAD to come home with me.

This tarot set was manufactured by Greenbrier International, Inc. which makes a lot of the merchandise sold by Dollar Tree, including the suncatcher.  I wasn't able to find a lot of info on the company, and I googled all different forms of "Greenbrier International Inc." with "sweatshop" and "environment" and "responsibility" but didn't come up with anything concrete (because you know from my previous posts that I really try to buy green when I can...)

One of the stranger things about this tarot set is that it is basically being marketed as a toy.  I found it with all the other toys and card games, like Old Maid and Go Fish, and it's marked "age 6+."  Upon opening the deck, I also discovered that beyond a few phrases on some (not all) of the cards, there are no instructions on the card meanings, and that to play the "game" means to do a tarot layout, which they vaguely describe in the pamphlet included.

Now, the bad news.
For starters, there is no information whatsoever (even on the cards themselves) for the pip cards.  Just a picture of the suit and the number.  Which would be fine if you already know the meanings of each card.  You could even just look them up online or grab a book about tarot.
For some weird reason, they only included cards 1 - 7 in each suit.  And, there is an ace card for each suit, which makes the 1 cards redundant, except that the ace cards are fully illustrated and have descriptions.  The same is true with all the court cards (King, Queen, Knight, Page) for each suit.

The good news is that all of the cards of the Major Arcana are represented, and all have illustrations and descriptions (albeit peculiar ones.)  Also, the artwork is pretty cool.  So the upside is that, for just a buck, you can at least do a quickie reading using only the Major Arcana cards.  I can also see about a million tarot - inspired craft projects coming out of this, too.  So all in all, I'm still really happy with this purchase.

* There is another interesting post on this deck and further ideas how to read it here:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Number Four... a VERY important number.

Back when I first got into numerology in late 8th grade, I didn't like the number four.  One of the books that I most remember on the subject said that four was the worst number for you if you had a birth number of nine, which I do.  From that day on for quite some time, my young and impressionable mind believed it.  I avoided the number, took it as a bad omen if it came up, and even figured that I would have a bad day on the 4th, 13th, 22nd, and 31st (because these all add up to four.)  Well, I don't have to tell you what the power of belief can do!  Let's just say my fear of the number four was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

After I got into Wicca, I came to the realization that numbers, just like any kind of magic or energy, have no inherently positive or negative power on their own, just what you use them for.  I also learned that just because you may wish to work with one or two numbers more frequently than others, you shouldn't completely ignore any number!  So once my bad associations with the number four were altered, I began to see what an amazing number it really was.  Besides having many interesting mathematical distinctions, the number four is also common in science and the natural world and can be found almost everywhere.  It is a very balanced, earthy number, and yet it has a plethora of mystical and spiritual applications as well.   Here are 30 reasons why I have learned that the number four is a hell of a lot more important than I previously thought.  Enjoy!

1.  4 is the smallest number that is not a prime number (it is divisible by 2 as well as by 1 and itself)
2.  4 is a square number, because 2 x 2 = 4 (or, 2 "squared" is 4)
3.  A plane, although technically infinite, is usually thought of as having 4 sides (quadrilaterals, like squares and rectangles).
4.  A circle divided into 4 will make 4 right angles.
5.  Expanding on #3 and #4 above, the number 4 is the base number for plane mathematics (like in geometry - remember drawing all those graphs, with the 4 quadrants?)
6.  A tetrahedron ("tetra," meaning 4) which is a solid 4 - sided object (like a pyramid with only three sides and a triangular bottom - commonly seen in 4 - sided dice) is a common shape in organic chemistry.  Water molecules have a tetrahedral shape.
7.  4 ancient elements (Western):  earth, air, fire, water.
8.  4 cardinal directions:  north, east, south, west.
9.  4 seasons:  winter, spring, summer, fall.
10.  4 phases of the moon:  new, waxing, full, waning.
11.  4 Pillars of Magic (the Witch's Pyramid):  To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silent.
12.  4 suits in Tarot:  pentacles (discs or coins), swords (knives, daggers, blades), wands (staffs, staves, spears, rods), and cups (chalices, bowls, cauldrons.)  Note that these are also the 4 main altar tools of Wicca, Witchcraft, and Ceremonial Magic.  Besides corresponding with the 4 elements, each suit also represents one of the 4 feudal classes in the Middle Ages:  pentacles = merchants, swords = nobility, wands = peasants, cups = clergy.
13.  4 suits of modern playing cards (derived from the tarot):  hearts (cups), diamonds (pentacles), clubs (wands), spades (swords).
14.  In Buddhism, there are the 4 Noble Truths:  1. Life is full of suffering.  2.  Attachments (craving or need for objects, people, ideas, etc.) cause suffering.  3.  End the cycle of attachment, and your suffering will end.  4.  Walk the middle path between too much indulgence and too much austerity to better the self (in other words, practice moderation) and to be at balance, which will bring peace and end your suffering.  (This is all a little bit over - simplified, but you get the picture.)
15.  To further explain #14, you should feel 4 things if you are practicing correctly:  happiness, compassion, love, and joyous effort.
16.  Christianity and Hinduism both have 4 cardinal virtues.  In Christianity, they are prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.  Hinduism lists non-violence, truth, purity, and self-control.
17.  According to the Hebrew Bible, the tetragrammaton (or "4 letters") is the sacred name of God, YHWH, and occurs in the text over 6,000 times.
18.  Christianity, Judaism, and Islam recognize 4 archangels (the names vary by religion.)
19.  The Bible has 4 Gospels:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
20.  In ancient medicine, there were believed to be 4 humors (bodily fluids: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm) that interacting with each other and occurring in different amounts in the body caused the 4 temperaments.  These were:  sanguine (sociable, hedonistic), choleric (dynamic, a leader, independent), melancholic (moody, introverted), and phlegmatic (relaxed and easy going.)
21.  There are 4 basic building blocks in both DNA and RNA.
22.  Most animals have 4 legs or appendages, and all winged insects (except flies) have 4 wings.
23.  4 Human blood groups:  A, B, O, AB.
24.  4 basic states of matter:  solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.
25.  Where the lines of latitude and longitude intersect, they divide the Earth into 4 sections.
26.  The equal - armed 4 pointed cross started out as a symbol of the sun, and came to include higher powers (gods, kings, the life force, etc.)  It later became identified with the earth and evolved into the compass symbol we know today.
27.  4 is present everywhere in building because of its stability and strength.  Thus structures have 4 sides, rooms have 4 walls, furniture has 4 legs, vehicles have 4 wheels, etc.
28.  Classical music has 4 beats per measure.
29.  4 rules (basic functions) in math:  addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.
And finally:
30.  Carbon (which is the basis for all life on Earth, among other things) is "tetravalent" (remember that "tetra" = 4) which means that as a single atom, it has 4 electrons available to combine chemically with other atoms.  This is true of every carbon atom in every composition! Think of the infinite combinations constructed this way, including each and every one of us!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Once again, nature is awesome.

But of course we Pagans already knew that.
I love how the article says, "In the future, our trash compactors may simply be giant fields of voracious fungi."  Let's hope so!