Axis Mundi
The beginning of a circle is also its end. Not I, but the world says it: all is one. And yet everything comes in season.
- Heraklietos of Ephesos

From the Editor...

The Web of Life

The Spectre of death has cast a dark shadow over my life for the past month. I have now attended three funerals, the last being my father-in-law's last Wednesday. With the Winter Solstice near upon us it will be a time of sadness and reflection.

I can't help but think how strange it is that these synchronicities of death and life weave a powerful connecting thread that links us to each other and life's eventful circumstances. At SOL's recent full moon circle we invited Arachne and the Sisters of Fate into our ritual and we focused on being the proactive weavers of our own lives. We even had a spider officiating which served as a reminder that it is our choices that construct our lives and that we should be mindful of the decisions we are making as they not only affect ourselves but the people around us.

The web of life represents our future and destiny and we have the means to weave and join together our ever-changing realities, and we can consciously bring them into harmony or dissonance, according to our free choice and will. Perhaps this should encourage us to create and make something beautiful of our own extraordinary substance and essence, as the spider does in spinning his unique web.

In a spiritual context, the thread also represents the silver cord that attaches to our soul and provides us with the link to our higher knowledge. You many not realize that we are the channels for the expression of our higher soul or self, and with this divine guidance we can construct a magnificent web according to our own thoughts and ideals and then merge them with those of our higher purpose for the good of all.

"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." ~ Ted Perry, 1971

Janine Donnellan

SOL's Full Moon Circle ~ May 28, 2010

by Janine Donnellan

Arachne Altar ~ Click image to see ritual & more photos

When planning the full moon circles for SOL, the Gods are generally happy to allow me to go with the flow but sometimes when there is some information they particularly want to impart they will make their thoughts known, often through a series of well planned synchronized situations.

The idea for our full moon circle started with a conversation on spiders and on researching the internet I came across information about a hypothetical thirteenth zodiac sign based on a book published in 1977 by James Vogh titled Arachne Rising. Evidently the 13th sign of 'Arachne' the Spider covered a span from the end of Taurus to the beginning of Gemini which seemed to fit in with the period of this Sagittarius full moon. The astrological aspects of the asteroids Arachne and Tisiphone were also uniting in a conjunction from the 28th of May which further emphasized this strange synchronicity. So on the actual night of the full moon we tapped into the higher realms and connected to the Ancient Greek Spider Goddess Arachne.

With all these synchronicities happening, it was no surprise that the Full Moon in Sagittarius came with a powerful force. Centered on the concept of seeking our "Truth", this fire element was indeed a great stimulus for the night's activity which assisted in activating the energy for new beginnings.

With the hall draped in spider webs and plastic spiders the ritual commenced by everyone walking the circle anti clockwise singing "We all come from the Goddess", the circle was cast and the quarters opened and protected by Athena and the Three Fates (Moirae); Clotho, the spinner, who spins the thread of life represented Air; Lachesis, the measurer, who chooses one's lot in life and measures off how long it is to be, represented Water; Atropos, who at death cuts the tread of life with her shears, represented Earth and Athena stood guard over the fiery cauldron and represented Fire. At that point we realized that a very large and real huntsman spider was also officiating at this ritual and camped itself in the western quarter above our altar, not moving for the whole of the proceedings.

Once Arachne was welcomed into our circle we connected to her through meditation and were given a single strand of spider silk. The thread represented our journey in this life, our life's tapestry. During the meditation we were given the opportunity to review our web, and to decide what goals one would like to achieve. We used our thread to add additional lines to our web with the intent that these lines would ultimately be our actions both magickal and mundane which would help us recognize our web as a manifestation of what we desired to be in our life.

Once the meditation was over the Three Fates moved into the centre of the circle and started to weave a Web of Fate. This was a simple web, which represented our connection to each other, the Earth and the Universe. Each thread went from one person across the circle to the opposite person, and then there was a connecting thread that was weaved in and out around the circumference of the circle. While the web was being constructed we all chanted...

"Spiels of Thread, Threads of Spells
All Weaved into the Wondrous Web
All a Part of the Flow and Ebb"

Once the web had been created, the web was imbued with our intent for Mother Earth. After the intent had been stated, Atropos with her shears cut the web. The strands that lay on the floor were gathered by the Sisters of the Fates and placed in the fiery cauldron. People holding the remaining thread then decided on what they wanted to bring into their life and then threw the thread in the cauldron. As the web was burning we raised power by singing "Earth My Body". Our intent was then sent up into the Universe to come back as a reality.

We then thanked Arachne, Athena & the Three Sisters of Fate for their guidance, the circle was closed, the residual energy was then grounded back into the earth and forwarded to individuals for healing.

More information regarding this circle and past circles can be found in our Book Of Shadows. Our next Full Moon Circle will be held near Engadine on Friday, June 25th. Please contact us for further details if you would like to attend.


by Janine Donnellan

In ancient Greek mythology Arachne was a young woman from Lydia, who was gifted in the art of weaving. Her tapestries were so beautiful that observers often commented that she must have been trained by the very patron Goddess of weaving, Athena. Arachne stated that she was repulsed at being placed in an inferior position to the Goddess and proclaimed that Athena herself could not weave better than her. Athena came to Arachne disguised as an old woman and warned her to be careful not to offend the Gods, lest she incur their wrath. But Arachne wasn't going to heed her advice and so she welcomed a contest with Athena, and, if she lost, would suffer whatever punishment the Goddess deemed necessary.

The goddess accepted the challenge and revealed her true form. Arachne, created a tapestry showcasing scenes of Zeus' various infidelities. So exquisite was the mortal's work even Athena herself was forced to admit that Arachne's work was flawless. However, Arachne, like many other foolish mortals, had dared to question the supremacy of the Gods. She had, in her arrogance been blind to the consequences of her actions, a lesson to all who provoke the Gods. Angered at Arachne's presumptuousness of her choice of subjects, Athena tore the tapestry to pieces and destroyed the loom. Then she touched Arachne's forehead, making sure that she felt full guilt for her actions. Arachne was ashamed, but the guilt was far too deep for her poor, mortal mind; depressed, she hung herself.

Athena took pity on Arachne. She most likely did not expect that Arachne would commit suicide. She brought her back to life, but not as a human. By sprinkling her with the juices of aconite, Athena transformed the woman into a spider, her and her descendants to forever hang from threads and to be great weavers.

Arachne the Spider Goddess has now become the totemic form of the Fate-spinner. The spider's web was likened to the Wheel of Fate and the spider to the Goddess as an immortal spinner, sitting at the centre of the Wheel of the Universe.


The Three Fates - Moirae

by Janine Donnellan

Lachesis (Jenwytch), Clotho (Maria) & Atropos (Amethyst)

The Arachne full moon circle was the first time that I had connected to the Sisters of Fate and since the ritual I have experienced a couple of strange encounters with them. The first was in a dream two nights after circle. In the dream I was having a conversation with Lachesis, the measurer, about my own death. The conversation was more philosophically about death than anything particular about my eventual demise. During the dream I was aware of a procession of coffins moving up a staircase unassisted; it reminded me of a scene out of Fantasia. As the coffins were moving up the stairs, my husband stood beside one of them. Immediately I woke up and as my husband's stepfather was ill, I thought that the dream was a warning regarding his immanent death.

Over the next couple of days, I had a sense of the sisters around me. Sometimes I would see a flash of darkness or psychically sense a presence near me. The energy was quite alien to me but did not feel malevolent at all. In fact, the energy felt quite neutral. As Fate would have it my husband was advised of his stepfather's passing last Thursday and we attended his funeral on the following Wednesday.

The Three Fates are a cross-cultural archetype representing three goddesses of fate or destiny. The name 'Moirae' means 'part' and in fact, the triple form of the Fates mimics the triple moon phases and the three phases of life - maiden, mother and crone. Moira is known to the Romans as Fortuna, to the Scandinavians as Norns, to the Anglo-Saxons as Wyrd, and to the Celts as Morrigan. During the middle ages, the Fates became known as the Parcae. The materialisation of a Fate goddess in multiple forms also appears in ancient Egypt papyri in which the birth of a child is greeted by the appearance of the Seven (or in some writings Nine) Hathors. The three witches encountered by Macbeth are loosely based on the Moirae.

The Three Moirae ~ A Golden Thread, by John Melhuish Strudwick

In Greek mythology, the Fates (Moirae) were the daughters of Zeus, the Lord of the gods, and Themis, the goddess of justice. The three Fates were Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. Clotho, the spinner, was the youngest of the three Fates; she spun the thread of destiny with a distaff, determining the time of birth of an individual; Lachesis measured the thread length to determine the length of life; finally, cruel Atropos cut the thread of life, determining the time of death. As the spinner of Fate, Moira spins out the days of our lives as yarn and weaves it into a tapestry. The length of the yarn - hence your life span - is decided solely by the Goddess of Fate. All the Gods are subject to the impulses of the Fates as are mortal man. Because of this, even though the other Gods are almighty, and supposedly immortal, they have reason to fear Moirae. Moira's function is to see that the natural order of things is respected. Moirae are often accompanied by the Keres (Dogs of Hades), who are three beings with sharp teeth and who are robed in red. In ancient times, the Fates were honored by sacrifices of honey and flowers.

Depending of the life situation the Fates can also be referred to as the Three Graces and the Three Furies. When the women presided over the blessing of the child at birth and who acted as midwives they served the Fates, when they performed the traditional dances and songs for blessing weddings and acted as bridesmaids they served the Graces and when they fulfilled the role of professional mourners and psychopomp they served the Furies.

Legend has it that even after mortal man stopped believing in the Fates, the Fates appeared on earth several times revealing futures that could be prevented. Although ageless, they generally appear as elderly crones to the mortals they encountered. They appeared to warn an unknown king during the Dark Ages of prophecies concerning his daughter in a story later passed down as the tale of "Sleepy Beauty", and in the 11th Century, they appeared to Scottish Prince MacBeth against picking up a sword against his uncle. Toward the end of World War Two, the Fates appeared to an American who had turned traitor to the United States during World War Two. They tried to convince him that he could not escape justice, but he scoffed at them and fled to Japan. He died in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 as the U.S. Air Force dropped the bomb that devastated the city.

During times when we need to know where our destiny lies we may summon the Fates with caution. When we summon the Fates from their residence in the otherworld, there is an etiquette of interaction that must be adhered to; one must create a sacred space and draw them into the conscious mind, illuminated by goodwill, respect and understanding. The energy brought forth when working with the Fates is different from other deity. The bringers of Natural Law create a circle of raw energy older than the Gods themselves and this should be kept in mind when casting a circle with their help.

Painting: The three Moirae , part of A Golden Thread, John Strudwick , 1885.

My Ten Year Spider Initiation Journey

by Gabriel

It was an unusually quiet, sticky night and the heat was unbearable. I hadn't been getting much sleep for weeks; ever since I'd moved into one of two double storey apartments in a converted warehouse in Erskineville. I loved the place. The corrugated roof and all the mosquitoes didn't matter. "Who cares," I said to myself as I laid there, "I've got a new pad, a new relationship, it's New Years Eve next week and 'I'm gonna party like it's 1999' cos it's the end of the century, work's great, really, it couldn't be better"...

Sometime later that night I am aware of my body, it is so relaxed. I am being caressed by clouds of deep indigo blue, pink and deep red. Their coloured energy is gently coursing through my body, revitalizing me and I feel it as loving tenderness that tingles as it moves through me. Silvery strands of energy are holding me in a sea of twinkling stars. I feel at home here in the presence of what seems to be a Divine intelligence that patiently attends to its creation. There are more stars now and they are shooting out Golden strands. With laser like precision the golden strands are propping my body in perfect stillness far out in Space.

I can feel the energy of the millions of stars of the massive Milky Way Galaxy. I could stay here forever. It's hot here too and, "Wait a minute, what's that?" Suddenly I feel something clinging to my chest hairs and without thinking I grab what feels like a crumpled tissue and I flick it off me.

'Tap', it goes in the distance. The vastness of the coloured clouds and golden strands relax their grip and I slowly sink back into my body. "What was that on my chest?" I asked myself. It hit the mirrored wardrobe too. A few moments pass and I sense that the pitch black and hot stillness is saying something to me but I can't make it out. Oh for goodness sake I'm awake again! I sit up, my eyes dreading the shock of turning on the light.

Light on. Adrenaline injects into my bloodstream and before I can even acknowledge what I am staring at I jump back and scream.

A cold shudder went through me, and I shook like a dog. There is a huntsman spider the size of bread plate curling and stretching its legs in an attempt to get away and save itself. Unable to move more than three or four times before it finally shrinks into a tight ball, two sparkles hold a stare and I know I am the last thing the Huntsman sees before it dies.

I was fully awake now. Unnerved but exhausted I eventually fell asleep and it wasn't until the following afternoon at the gym that I felt a burning itch and noticed a blistering rash had formed on my right pectoral muscle. The rash came and went on and off for 5 years.

A few weeks later I was sprawled across the couch on an overcast, humid late January afternoon watching a movie. I had been out dancing all night and couldn't sleep. I could feel tiny legs crawling all over me but I thought it was my imagination playing tricks on me. Eventually I got up to go to the toilet and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked into my eyes then noticed something just under my eyes and cheeks.

In a second, shock and terror took hold of me and I felt as though I briefly left my body. Paralysed I barely managed to say a muffled, "Help!". I don't know how much time passed before I started screaming a more appropriate "HEEEEELP!", wildly tearing off my clothes and waving my arms around as though fending off an army of flying monsters. I was covered with hundreds of baby huntsman spiders. That was it - it was War!

Eighteen months later I had been bitten one more time and experienced in total 63 scary Huntsman Spider situations. I employed all kinds of tortures for them as I felt they were torturing me. I killed them with mad passion and with each spider my fear grew. I moved out of there and lived in two more houses and was bitten three more times by different spiders before I moved out of the area.

In the years that followed I lost myself in the pit of my partner's depression. The emotional backlash of years of verbal abuse and living for others seemed to strip me of any sense of my Inner Self. I developed an insatiable appetite for sensuality and chased all the dollar could buy. Eventually, after years of dysfunctional co-habitation I separated, sold our assets and moved out. I found a home just 5 houses up from the shore of Monterey Beach and just a few blocks away from Dad.

During the eight months that followed I embarked on a new relationship with myself. At times being alone was almost unbearable. I felt isolated and totally devastated by the apocalyptic changes to my life. Absolutely everything was different. 2007 also marked the beginning of dramatic corporate cutbacks and I lost a substantial amount of monthly income before the recession hit hard. I was tired and felt too demoralized to rebuild anything at this stage, so I started spending a lot of time lying on my bed in silence observing my thoughts and listening to the world around me.

Slowly as the days and months passed I became aware of my subtle energy body. I began to have vivid dreams and wake up tingling with vitality. Years had passed since I had felt the elemental forces of nature speak to me. I could hear the whispers in the wind and the mineral kingdom beat its hypnotic drum as I walked around my garden and work alike. Thunderstorms became a sensory delight for my starving soul and I often ran around laughing in the rain with my dog Rex as he ran with his tongue hanging out barking at the thunder. I noticed bees and dragonflies and birds and butterflies everywhere I went. I marvelled at the night sky as the Stars called to me and I would often have difficulty getting into my car at 4am because of them. Wow - I was alive again. I could feel gravity calling me and pulling me into another dimension but I wasn't there yet.

Since moving in I had immediately set up an altar in the hallway of my home and it was the first thing you saw as you walked in the door. It kept many folk away and invited a host of new ones.

One Monday morning I woke up feeling nauseous and disorientated. I noticed two bite marks on my left bicep and another just below my right eye. I thought it must have been a mozzie and left it at that. By that afternoon I had a fever, I was dizzy and the nausea was overwhelming. The bites had started to ache and I realized that I had been bitten by a red-back spider. They were everywhere in my garden, some the size of 50cent coins. I developed a fever that lasted for two weeks and the bites on my arms took about a month to heal. My legs ached and at times I felt as though I couldn't walk.

Winter came and went and I slowly got better. On December 20th, 2008 I moved to Brighton Le-sands. Then, last July after cleaning the house one Sunday afternoon I put on my shoes and was bitten again. This time it was on my left foot and my little toe wore the venom. "Dammit!" I knew what lay ahead and dreaded it.

A month later the same symptoms of pain in my legs and groin, chronic fatigue and nausea really took their toll. I couldn't believe how sick I felt. One Monday morning I came home early and went straight to bed. As I lay with my legs stretched out and my arms to my side I felt very, very cold. I didn't want to move. I focused on my breath and noticed it was slow and deep. A little while later I became aware of my luminous body and with that thought the sensation of warm fluid began to make its way my through my feet. As it travelled up my body I could feel it encircling my legs, then my spine, my organs, my heart and as it hit the back of my neck I saw a blinding flash of white light and I started moving up towards the ceiling. I looked around the room and everything glowed as if lit from within. I noticed that I was calm, I looked down at my body then faced the ceiling and up I went. As I passed the roof I looked around and noticed that it was a beautiful sunny day. It must have been around 10am.

I noticed some birds flying below, a woman walking down the street with a child, a neighbour hosing down the cement. To my left was the city skyline and it looked grey and I felt emotionally disconnected from it. A gentle whisper in my heart called me, I looked up and in a second I am in space looking at the earth. In an instant I had travelled hundreds of miles and was being carried by an invisible current of energy from my solar plexus and heart centre towards the Sun. I seemed to be standing in space and travelling at a slower speed now. I stepped forward and to my left was the planet Venus. It looked as small as a soccer ball. Finally I am a step away from the Sun. I noticed that my body is almost as big as the sun. I can feel it vibrating from its centre in all directions and as the pressure builds up inside the sun it fills me with light. From here I can only perceive from my heart and I know what the planets are feeling.

I am overwhelmed by an emotion I am not familiar with and the only way I can describe it is like orgasmic adoration for my children. My entire being is shooting out involuntary and uncontrollable waves of golden love. Conversations between the sun and the planets happen so fast that it feels as though they occur simultaneously and I can't take it all in. I can sense the connection between the celestial bodies and their distance from each other doesn't seem as vast. They communicate like a group of people sitting around chatting. I know there is love between them. I can see the Suns rays penetrate each body, creating magnetic fluctuations in the various atmospheres giving each its own unique level of consciousness. I look at the earth and I have never seen her look as beautiful as she does from here. She glows and extends arms of multicoloured light towards her brothers and sisters in space. I sense a kind of sadness as she yearns to communicate with us on a more conscious level just as the sun is blissfully connected to her. They are all concerned for their sister especially Venus, Mars and Jupiter.

I sense the enormous power of her heart and it draws me back down into her core and in a flash I am in the centre of the Galaxy. I sense the unity among all celestial bodies in creation and I understand our place in the cosmos. I don't remember how long I am there.

My eyes are still open when I drift back into my body. I can feel the connection with the sun and the core of our Earth and for a few hours afterwards I download great knowledge but I cannot move to write it all down.

Words cannot describe what I experienced but I know that I am blessed in every way.

My physical body is now warm and the primal heat carries me through another 6 months of pain. A few weeks before the end of the year (2009) I am visited by a new guide who wears a white robe and has a tiny ponytail in the centre back of his head. On the morning of December 31st he mentions that I should call Janine from Spheres of Light. By mid afternoon he is clearly nagging that I should call and without warning I let out a scream of frustration - YEEEES!

Looking back on the past ten years I can see how I was being prepared for the final journey back home, into myself and the universe. Over the course of my life I had become complacent of the true meaning of what it is to be living on this planet. I hadn't really understood that everyone I met was part of a very complex web that throbbed with life and that I was a very important part of its ebbs and flows. I had forgotten that magic is the very source and intent behind all of creation including myself and that I am responsible for what and to whom I apply my essence in the future, lest I unintentionally call on Spider again to wake me up.

Without sounding like a New Age cliché I sense Arachne has been teaching me the true nature of the elemental forces and the four directions and how they relate to creating my reality as an individual and the responsibility I have to my brothers and sisters. Arachne has also taught me about the importance of silence and stillness as I cannot feel the world around me with all of my senses clearly if I don't stop and listen. I've noticed that in order to unlock the door to creativity, compassion, deep knowledge, psychic development, communication with other realms and dimensions I must let inner stillness hold me first and in this way of non judgement, non reaction I am able to recognize that moment of clarity between worlds which ensures entry otherwise not accessible by mere desire alone.

Images from:
Huntsman -
Red-back -

Spider Meanings - Esoteric and Psychological

by Gabriel
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web. Pablo Picasso
Positive Associations
  • creativity
  • observer
  • acute awareness
  • patience
  • resourceful
  • Master Craftsperson
  • protector
  • Female
  • Cyclical
  • Rebirth
  • Progression
Shadow Associations
  • Deceiver or weaver of deceit
  • Cunning
  • Death
  • Fate
  • Gossip
  • Stagnation
  • Trapped
Spider is associated with the Numbers
  • 8 legs
  • 7 parts of their legs
  • 3 claws at the tips of their legs (orb spiders)
  • 2 parts of their bodies

Balance between Past and Future - Spider reminds us that we are the keepers and writers of our destiny, weaving it like a web by our thoughts and feelings. To be mindful of our behaviour and actions, that we may not be enslaved by them.

Balance between Physical and Spiritual.

Conscious Integration of the Male and Female principle.

In Native American Lore Spider is personified as The Grandmother and considered the creator and guardian of alphabets, language and writing. Spider awakens creative sensibilities. As a totem Spider will inspire you to write.

In India the Spider is associated with Maya ( Ma=not and Ya=that) and the illusory nature of Maya is the limited, purely physical and mental reality in which our everyday consciousness has become entangled. Maya is held to be an illusion, a veiling of the true, unitary Self - the Cosmic Spirit also known as Brahman. Karma are seen as part of the binding forces of Maya and may be be perceived as the phenomenal Universe of Perceived Duality. [Wikipedia]

In the Mandukya Upanishad it is written, "As a spider throws out and retracts its web, as herbs spring up in the ground... so is the Universe derived from the un-decaying one". [I.1.7] Brahma, as "the germ of unknown Darkness," is the material from which all evolves and develops "as the web from the spider, as foam from the water," etc. This is only graphic and true, if Brahma the "Creator" is, as a term, derived from the root brim, to increase or expand. Brahma "expands" and becomes the Universe woven out of his own substance. [SD1,83]

In Central America, to The Maya the Spider is associated with the elements Air and Water (as she may live in a bubble underwater). Translators note The Spider as an allegoric concept (as it was used in the Bible, Vedas, Egyptian papyri, hieroglyphs) that can be read in different ways literally and symbolically - The "Spider" (Galactic Centre) spins the "Web" (Zodiacs) over the "Water" (in the Eternal Time-Space), through which it, who sits in the centre of the web, (Demiurge, from the Galactic Centre) rules over its "world" (Galaxy) by sending the threads of his web (by exerting its Karmic Correction as Rays) or moving through the funnel web (coinciding axes of Tropical Zodiac and Solar Zodiac) and, at the successive moulting (at Grand Celestial Conjunction), changes the appearance (transforms the worlds). Even in a direct association the body of the "Spider" and its position on the web represent the galactic nucleus and the Galactic Centre (with a kind of "black hole" in the middle), and its legs - the spiral arms; thus - the structure of the Galaxy, whereas all over the world the element "Water" is associated with the Milky Way ("the great river in the sky") and thus represents the infinitude of stars. [Sergey Smelyakov, Jan Wicherink -]

"Spider's Soul: Aracne", by Cris Ortega ~

Spider Facts

by Gabriel (sourced from Wikipedia)
  • Spiders (order Araneae) are air-breathing chelicerate arthropods that have eight legs, and chelicerae modified into fangs that inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all other groups of organisms. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every habitat with the exception of air and sea colonization. As of 2008, approximately 40,000 spider species, and 109 families have been recorded by taxonomists.
  • There are 3 groups. The oldest Mesothelae and most recent Mygalomorphae and Araneomorphae.
  • A vegetarian species living in the amazon was described in 2008, but all other known species are predators.
  • Spiders have no extensor muscles in their limbs and instead extend them by hydraulic pressure.
  • Spiders use a wide range of strategies to capture prey: trapping it in sticky webs, lassoing it with sticky bolas, mimicking the prey to avoid detection, or running it down. Most detect prey mainly by sensing vibrations, but the active hunters have acute vision, and hunters of the genus Portia show signs of intelligence in their choice of tactics and ability to develop new ones.
  • Spiders' guts are too narrow to take solids, and they liquidize their food by flooding it with digestive enzymes and grinding it with the bases of their pedipalps, as they do not have true jaws.
  • Male spiders identify themselves by a variety of complex courtship rituals to avoid being eaten by the females. Males of most species survive a few matings, limited mainly by their short life spans.
  • Females weave silk egg-cases, each of which may contain hundreds of eggs. Females of many species care for their young, for example by carrying them around or by sharing food with them.
  • Social behavior ranges from precarious toleration, as in the aggressive widow spiders, to co-operative hunting and food-sharing. Although most spiders live for at most two years, tarantulas and other mygalomorph spiders can live up to 25 years in captivity.
  • Most spiders have four pairs of eyes on the top-front area of the cephalothorax, arranged in patterns that vary from one family to another.
  • The pair at the front are of the type called pigment-cup ocelli ("little eyes"), which in most arthropods are only capable of detecting the direction from which light is coming, using the shadow cast by the walls of the cup. However the main eyes at the front of spiders' heads are pigment-cup ocelli that are capable of forming images.
  • Jumping spiders' visual acuity exceeds by a factor of ten that of dragonflies, which have by far the best vision among insects; in fact the human eye is only about five times sharper than a jumping spider's.

Yule, 21st June

by Rayvensclaw

Although not one of the greater Sabbats, it is important as it marks the end of the ritual year. Yule occurs around 21st june in the southern hemisphere and around 21st December in the northern hemisphere. It is a time of darkness and a return to the light. A still and quiet time of the year, a time to reflect and gather strength for what's ahead. Also a time to think what you have done and where you can improve.

Yule Lore

Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider.

Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. (It was used as protection from lightening and the devil) In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder's land, or given as a gift... it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after, (Interestingly: the 12 days of Christmas) it was then ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. A herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice. This tradition has mostly died out along with the great hearths, replaced by stoves and microwaves. (Cakes are today's substitute. With ale of course)

Symbolism: Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Symbols: Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, Christmas cactus.

Herbs: Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense, holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Food: Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail or lamb's wool made up of hot ale, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, eggs and roasted apples.

Incense: Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.

Colors: Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Crystals: Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

Activities of Yule: Caroling, wassailing the trees, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe.

Spellworkings of Yule: Peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.

Deities of Yule: Goddesses-Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother. Gods-Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon.


Also known as the golden bough, held sacred by the Celts and the Norse. Once called Allheal, used in folk medicine and even the North American Indians used it to treat toothache, measles and dog bite. (Hopefully not all at the same time) In Scandinavia if enemies met beneath it in the forest, they would lay their arms down and maintain a truce until the next day. (If the forest was full of mistletoe it could be a very long battle.)

A Story of Mistletoe: The Norse god Balder was the best loved of all the gods. His mother was Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that sprang from the four elements--fire, water, air, and earth--that they would not harm her beloved Balder.

Leave it to Loki, a sly, spirit, to find the loophole. The loophole was mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood. To make the prank even nastier, he took the arrow to Hoder, Balder's brother, who was blind. Guiding Holder's hand, Loki directed the arrow at Balder's heart, and he fell dead.

Frigga's tears became the mistletoe's white berries. In this version of the story it has a happy ending, Balder is restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant--making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it.

Witchcraft & Wicca, Issue 17. By Rhys Chisnall
Akasha & the Celtic Connection

Herbs ~ Holly

by Amethyst

I am the Holly King, the dying Sun and King of the Old Year
Like the Phoenix who rises anew from its ashes
I too shall return, born anew
As the Child, the New Sun and King
I hold in my arms
He is my son and my heir
He is my Self
Having learned the wisdoms of the South
I now return to the North
To bring you warmth and light
And the promise of Spring
I am the Holly King.

Botanical: Ilex aquifolium
Planetary associations: Mars, Saturn
Element: Air
Gender: Masculine
Magickal classifications: Countermagick Herbe, Funereal Herbe, Herbe of Protection, Magickal Herbe, Religious Herbe
Part Used: leaves, berries & bark
Synonyms: Aquifolius/Aquifolium, Bat's Wings, Christ's Thorn, Holy Tree, Holm Chaste, Hulm, Hulver Bush, Tinne, Paraguay Tea, Yerba Mate


Holly has become bound to the observance of Yule, Christmas and holidays associated with the Winter Solstice. In A Modern Herbal, Grieve says that this custom dates to the Druids, "who decorated their huts with evergreens during winter as an abode for the sylvan spirits." We know that holly was given as a desired gift during the Roman festival of Saturnalia.

The Druids decorated their huts with holly during the time of Saturnalia. One suggestion for its name comes from "Ilex" which is Latin for "evergreen", and "aquifolium" meaning Latin for "pointed leaves". Many a Holly tree was spared the woodman's axe in days gone by because of a superstition that it was unlucky to cut one down. This belief probably arose because of the tree's evergreen leaves and long lasting berries, leaving people to associate Holly with eternity and the power to ward off evil and destruction. English Holly can attain a height of fifty feet. In Ireland the Holly was called the "gentle tree" and a favourite tree of the Fae. As pretty as it is to behold a word of caution, Holly leaves have sharp points that can pierce the flesh quite easily, so take care in handling it.

Holly is a very important herbe in the folklore of the magickal British Isles. In the Irish tree alphabet, the holly is T or Tinne, the eighth tree. Grieve describes it as the "most important" of those evergreen plants brought into holiday celebrations and folklore. In contemporary customs, holly which has been used to decorate the temple at Yule is kept sacred until the fires are lit at Candlemas and then it is burned in the cauldron. Many traditions work with a Holly King, a variation of the Green Man or male fertility figure. The Holly King (if he can endure wearing the sharp points of the leaves) is crowned with these hard, green leaves.

The Farrars in Eight Sabbats for Witches, provide us with exceptional information:

An extraordinary persistent version of the Holly King/Oak King theme at the Winter Solstice is the ritual hunting and killing of the wren - a folklore tradition found as far apart in time and space as ancient Greece and Rome and today's British Isles. The wren, "little king" of the Waning Year, is killed by his Waxing Year counterpart, the robin redbreast, who finds him hiding in an ivy bush (or sometimes in Ireland in a holly bush, as befits the Holly King). The robin's tree is the birch, which follows the Winter Solstice in the Celtic tree calendar. In the acted-out ritual, men hunted and killed the wren with birchrods.

In pagan folklore the Holly tree is also associated with the spirit of vegetation and the waning forces of nature, to which he is personified as a mythical figure the Holly King. The Holly King rules nature during its decline from the mid-summer solstice (Litha - Dec 21st southern hemisphere, Jun 21st northern hemisphere) through to the mid-winter solstice (Yule - June 21st southern hemisphere, Dec 21st northern hemisphere). At each of the solstice Sabbats, the Holly King and his brother the Oak King engage in ritual combat for the attentions of the Goddess, from whence the victor presides over nature through the following half of the year.

In his personification as the Holly King, he is often depicted as an old man dressed in winter clothing wearing a wreath of Holly on his head and walking with the aid of a staff made from a Holly branch. This is symbolic of the fertile interaction of the Goddess and God during natures decline and the darkest time of the year. At Yule after his battle with the Oak King, the new light of the sun-God re-emerges to encourage fresh growth during the coming new year. After the advent of Christianity, and during their Christmas and New Year celebrations, a man would be dressed up and covered in Holly branches and leaves, while a woman was likewise dressed in Ivy (the female counterpart of Holly) and together paraded through the streets leading the old year into the new.

An old legend declares that the Holly first sprang up under the footsteps of Christ, when He trod the earth, and its thorny leaves and scarlet berries, like drops of blood, have been thought symbolical of the Saviour's sufferings, for which reason the tree is called 'Christ's Thorn' in the languages of the northern countries of Europe. It is, perhaps, in connexion with these legends that the tree was called the Holy Tree, as it is generally named by older writers. Turner, for instance, refers to it by this name in his Herbal published in 1568.


Holly is an ideal herbe to fashion into a wreath with which to celebrate the welcome of a new member into the community. Despite the wonderful illustrations which romanticize the wearing of holly, it is not well-suited for human flesh. The thorns of the leaves are extremely sharp whether the leaves are fresh or withered. Holly can be included in decorative fashion, carefully added to other herbes for a wreath or even placed into vases which are set about the temple. Some have carefully taken holly leaves and used them to decorate a ritual robe and many have adopted holly as a design.

Some old stories tell us that when winter came the old druids advised the people to take Holly into their homes to shelter the elves and fairies who could join mortals at this time without causing them harm, but these stories also tell of a warning, to make sure and remove the Holly entirely before the eve of Imbolc, for to leave just one leaf in the house would cause misfortune.

Holly has been regarded as a powerful protective wood, good against evil spirits, poisons, angry elementals, and lightning. It is also associated with dream magick and fertility, and is well-suited for any magick dealing with the overthrow of old authorities, success in business or endeavour, or spells seeking progress to a new stage of development. Holly wood is very fine-grained, hard, and smooth, and almost ivory in colour if it is not stained. It is a truly exquisite wood for wands. It is also well-suited for the handle of a ritual knife, as it contains magick which can both attract and repel; it is powerful when defence is needed and its strength can protect the Circle and cherish the gentleness within.

Grown around the home it protects from mischievous sorcerers. Throw at wild animals to cause them to quietly lie down and leave you alone. Sprinkle newborn babies with "holly water" (water in which holly has been soaked, especially if left under a full moon overnight) to keep them happy and safe. Planted near a house, holly repels negative spells sent against you. A bag of leaves and berries carried by a man increases his ability to attract women.

Those who move into the mysteries of the crone might press a leaf and add it to their Book of Shadows.

Bach Flower Remedies

15 HOLLY (Ilex aquifolium)
- Hatred, jealousy, suspicion -
The cure for thoughts of envy, jealousy, hatred, intense anger, revenge and suspicion. Often these people have known little love and therefore they have closed their heart for the outside world. They suffer inside.

A compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Beyerl 1998
Holly Lord by RavenWillowHawk
Description of the Bach Remedies by Anja Heij at

Australian Winter Flower
~ Boronia (Boronia ledifolia)

by Janine Donnellan

As Yule approaches, our thoughts are focused on death and rebirth. Yule is a festive celebration of light, the sun, and nature, and the decorations on your altar should reflect that happiness with rich colours and beautiful flowers.

The deep rose-pink flowers of Boronia ledifolia would make a wonderful bright decoration for your Yule Altar. The Boronia plant is an Australian native heath plant; it has 4 spreading petals and 8 stamens which are usually formed singly from the leaf axils. The bright green leaves are strongly aromatic when crushed adding another dimension to your Yuletide ambience.

Boronia ledifolia is the earliest boronia to flower, starting from June in the Sydney sandstone region.

Boronia Flower Essence

Positive Outcome:

  • Clarity
  • Serenity
  • Creative visualisation

Negative Condition:

  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Pining
  • Broken hearted

Yule is a time of reflection and is an opportunity to bring balance into your life, especially if you have been stuck in some restrictive behaviour cycle. Boronia Essence can be a useful part of any program for breaking habits, sadness, obsessive tendencies or insomnia. Taken as a single flower essence, Boronia helps to bring a sense of mental calm into your life and assists people suffering from repetitive and circular thought patterns.

Boronia is helpful for those sleepless nights when you cannot eliminate those repetitive thoughts from the mind. It will allow you to gain more clarity to resolve the situation. This essence may be useful for people who have become obsessive or compulsive about particular things or activities in their lives.

The Boronia essence has also been known to heal the lesions of the herpes virus by applying Boronia essence to them, either undiluted or diluted in a small amount of water. The herpes virus has a tendency to be repetitive, returning when certain circumstances arise, such as low immune system levels; physical or emotional lows, or excessive stress.


I release all obsessive thoughts and practices
My thoughts are calm and peaceful now


Cosmic Events and Other Astrological Stuff
~ Chiron

by Jenni Muscat

Welcome to this new column, for which my writings are based on Astrological topics. For this month, I would like to write about the planet Chiron. I use the term planet loosely, as there has been some difficulty in regards to what this celestial body actually is. Lying between Saturn and Uranus, Chiron first came to notice in 1977 by astronomers when it suddenly appeared in our solar system, and there is speculation that it can disappear the same way. Having said that, I would like to simplify matters and call it a planet that is noteworthy - while it is still within our immediate realm.

Chiron and Achilles in a fresco from Herculaneum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples)

In Greek mythology Chiron was the bastard son of Chronos and Philyra, with whom he carried out an illicit affair while they both shape-shifted into horses. When Chiron was born, Philyra rejected her child outright and committed suicide. The reason was because Chiron was born with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse. Abandoned from that point onwards, Chiron fended for himself as an outsider. From this early experience Chiron learned the art of healing, which raises an interesting point as to why a lot of astrologers work with this planet in various ways, including delineating a natal chart and observing mundane events for the long term.

Chiron takes about four years to travel through each zodiac sign so we're looking at a period of 48 - 50 years before its planetary return in any one sign. The amount of time varies as we must include periods of retrograde - along with the size of the zodiacal constellation through which it passes.

Enough of that, though. Let's get to the nuts and bolts of why Chiron can be seen to be important. Chiron was wounded by rejection from his mother, and through his metaphysical training over the course of his life he was able to assist others who have been through a similar experience, along with his ability to heal.

Chiron currently sits at 0 degrees in the sign of Pisces, the spiritual thinkers who hide their emotions in the deepest waters. It's an interesting placement at this time, because if there have been long-term memories of trauma which are otherwise submerged, Chiron will move his way in, as a way of lifting up these memories from the deep, in an effort for the person concerned to address them.

I'll give you an example of how this can play out. My natal Saturn is 1 degree of Pisces and transiting Chiron is pretty much exact, give or take a few minutes. The alignment of these two planets coincide with the reconnecting of high school friends and reawakening of childhood trauma that I experienced. It's been more than 30 years since I left school and I left in a very unhappy phase of my life, due to some full-on bullying that was ceaseless.

I was, in time, able to continue with my life and learned many valuable lessons along the way. I had not kept up very much contact with people I knew from school because I had left that part of my life behind me. I had carved out a relatively happy and stable existence when fate has dealt a rather big hand for me to deal with - a hand connected to my past.

Now, with the alignment I currently have, Chiron is giving Saturn a nudge. Saturn is stolid, dependable, and quite ambitious, not allowing emotions to get in the way. Now is no longer the time for me to keep a stiff upper lip and pretend that this didn't ever occur. I have an opportunity to address this situation for what it really is - to learn from these experiences, to heal, and to finally move forward to the next phase of my life.

This opportunity has brought up an array of emotions. I have been angry that people can behave in such a diabolical fashion towards another human, and that I allowed such things to happen. I have been very emotional because the submerged trauma has returned in painful ways. I didn't understand why I was given such a task to learn from. After experiencing these feelings, the truth has slowly begun to dawn on me.

People from all walks of life experience various degrees of bullying and other traumatic experiences. We need these experiences as a way of coping with what life throws at us, as a means to survive. If we had it great all the time, there would be no real appreciation for what that would feel like. Bullies tend to get bullied themselves and a lot of the time they do it as a means of acceptance among their peers. During childhood and teenage years, that would be particularly prevalent, due to peer pressure. Some of them, unfortunately, take it to extremes.

In my current existence with these reconnections from school, there is every possibility of meeting with people I didn't always like, especially those from whom I've had the hardest time. From an adult perspective, however, there is every chance of those feelings changing. I've come to realise that I haven't been the only victim - it just felt like I was as a kid when this was all happening.

This is Chiron's purpose astrologically, in that we have the opportunity to not only heal ourselves, we can assist others who are experiencing similar issues in their lives. Everyone's experiences at this time will greatly differ, depending on how it transits in individual charts. For those of you who don't fully understand the fundamentals of astrology, that's okay. Intuition will guide you. Another purpose of Chiron's is to remember that nothing is ever really forgotten. Fate - or Wyrd as I call it - has a way of presenting these forks in the road for us. The direction we choose is ultimately our own.

Until next month, happy explorations!

Jenni lives south of Sydney with her three children and menagerie of pets. Her passion for Astrology has been utilised at great length for the last ten years. Along with self-learning, she has studied at the Sirius School of Astrology under the guidance of Ed Tamplin and Sherrynne Dalby. Jenni's other interests include Reiki, Feng Shui & intuitive alignment of the land and home, Heathenism, Shamanism, Crystals, Metaphysical Healing, Paranormal investigations (conducted through the SOuL Searchers team of Spheres Of Light) Tarot and Angel readings, along with gardening, walking, family & friends. Jenni has various creative endeavours including making candles, soaps and runes for sale, along with selling crystals and other trinkets.

Jenni can be contacted for consultations and merchandise on...
Mobile: 0438 741 964
(See links above for paranormal investigations)
Images from:
Chiron & Achilles -
Chiron erupting -

Crystals ~ Black Obsidian

by Maria

Colour: Black, Brown/Black

Obsidian is a lightweight, shiny black gemstone created when a volcanic flow is cooled very quickly, into what Geologists call volcanic glass.

Black Obsidian is sometimes referred to as Apache Tear Obsidian when in tear drop form.

Obsidian, in general, is said to get its name from the Roman Obsius.

Appearance: Volcanic, Amorphous, siliceous glassy rock. Transparent to opaque.

Crystal System: Amorphous Lacking an inner structure, amorphous crystals allow energy to pass through freely and act rapidly, and may be a catalyst for growth.

Properties: Black Obsidian is a very powerful and creative stone, it grounds and centres spiritual energy in the physical plane. Obsidian connects the mind and emotions. Self-control is increased by the use of this stone.

Obsidian reminds us that birth and death are simultaneously and constantly present one with the other, always as one. This is a stone that has always been associated with guardian spirits that watch over us, and is connected to protection on all levels.

In the Middle Ages it was thought to drive out demons. Hence it is often used as a grounding stone for astral projection and psychics, in general, as it provide protection from negative or impish spirits. Sometimes referred to as the Wizard's Stone as it opens the gates to the netherworld, yet, provides protection from misuse.

Obsidian is simply a stone to be worked with consciously and with respect. It is a stone without boundaries or limitations. Nothing can be hidden. Obsidian is considered one of the most important spiritual teachers and is referred to as the "stone of truth."

Our true selves are reflected back to us via its shinny surface so one must be prepared to face both positive and negative sides of reality as it emerges. It also brings with it a unique opportunity to clarify causes of physical illness or emotional upset. It impels us to grow while still lending support .

If you feel your growth has stagnated and need a jolt to get yourself moving again there is no better stone.

Aventurine, rose quartz, and chrysocolla will soften the impact. As members of the quartz family the first two stones help to dissolve what obsidian surfaces; while chrysocolla is a warm and nurturing stone which makes the truth easier to hear. Snowflake obsidian also offers a softened version of this stone. When using for emotional healing, it is often best used along with clear quartz.

Healers may use Black Obsidian to help those unable or unwilling to let go of the past.

Obsidian is used in scrying for divination purposes and often found in mirrors and crystal balls. It focuses ones inner vision, and gives blunt answers on the course of action to take. The blackness of the stone will allow easier access to the subconscious. Said to be a vision stone for use in vision quests and prophetic dreaming.

Carrying or wearing Black Obsidian assists in dispersing negativity around the physical, mental, emotional, and spirit bodies. Place Black Obsidian in a home, office, or sacred space to remove any unwanted energies and keep the area free of negativity. It will vibrate calmness and security, and stabilize the energies of all persons within its reach.

When you feel flighty or cannot get your physical life in order, hold one in your hands or place your bare feet on two small, polished pieces.

On a Physical Level:

  • A traveller's stone, especially by night.
  • Especially helpful in times of grief, depression.
  • Believed to reduce the pain of arthritis, to help joint problems and to ease cramps.
  • Obsidian aids the digestion and detoxifies, dissolving blockages, including harden arteries.
  • Warms the extremities.
  • Accelerate the physical healing of wounds.
  • Helps to reduce food cravings.
  • Its healing properties also include aiding vision, arthritis. Black obsidian will help with pets that overreact to noise and traffic.
  • Black obsidian is a natural pain reliever. It is also very good at dealing with phobias.
  • It will protect against negativity and hostility.
  • Sometimes mentioned as being a remedy for snake poison.

Deities: It is sacred crystal of Sekhmet, the Egyptian lion-headed fire and solar goddess.

HEKATE (or Hecate) was the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy.

Saturn - He was an ancient Roman god of fertility, especially of agriculture. Saturn was worshiped in a winter festival called the Saturnalia and his name was/is used for the day of the week, Saturday.

Eriskegal - Sacred Goddess of the Underworld (Mesopotamian mythology)

Jana - Roman Goddess of Secret and Hidden Things

Goddess Pele is a Hawaiian Volcano and Fire Goddess. Known as She Who Shapes the Sacred Land, Pele is the Volcano, the expression and embodiment of Divine Creative Power. She is the Flame of Passion and the Fire of Purpose, She is the Energy of Dynamic Action and She is the Glowing Essence of Eternal and Profound Love.

Magical Use: Black gemstones symbolize self control and resilience. They are extremely protective and are thought to entrap negative energies and neutralize them. Black is the absence of light, and therefore, can be used to create invisibility.

Use for Black Madonna, Isis and Horus rituals.

Use in shamanic ceremonies to remove physical disorder, Black Obsidian also has the gift of prophesy.

Black obsidian should be used for psychic self defence. Obsidian absorbs and destroys negative energy such as anger, criticism, and fear, and may be used in protection or centering rituals.

For a protective ritual, surround a white candle with four obsidian arrowheads that each point to one of the directions. This will set up aggressive energies that will guard the place where it was set up.

Use seven opaque obsidian arrows pointed outwards and recite what you need to return to or come into your life, then turn them inwards to allow it to flow in; good for employment spells and also to drive away those who would wish you harm.

Use Apache tears in smudging rituals and to carry with you on spiritual journeys to ancient sites, etc. apache tears is an amulet against sorrow, especially if you have experienced at lot.

Black Obsidian spheres are wonderful scrying tools. Used for accessing the subconscious. Using Black Obsidian can bring great foresight.

To gaze with Black Obsidian, choose a quiet environment with soft lighting, get into a relaxed state, and gently gaze at the stone. Remain open to any images or insights that come into your mind. If its energy and intenseness makes one uncomfortable, hold clear quartz in one hand while scrying should help balance the power.

Black symbolizes death in some cultures. Native Americans thought black was good because it was the colour of soil, which gives life.

Saturday's colour is black.

Chakra: Black Obsidian is a grounding stone that provides an instant connection from the Root Chakra deep into the core of the Earth.

Often the 6th, Third Eye or Brow Chakra is activated while using it. It breaks through mental barriers and dissolves mental conditioning.

Use with caution, as it will bring up, expose and help you to deal with your challenges and the past life lessons you need to learn so as to move on in this life.

Element: Earth and fire.

Planet: Pluto and Saturn.

Zodiac: Scorpio, Sagittarius

Numerical Vibration: 3, 7

Feng Shui: Obsidian is used in the area of North for personal journeys and in the Center area for grounding and protection.

Complete Book of Natural Magick, Cassandra Eason
A Year and a Day in Magick, Cassandra Eason
Illustrated Guide to Crystals, Judy Hall
Gemstones of the World, Walter Schumann
Pele - Myth Encyclopedia - mythology, god, names, ancient, world, life, fire

Back to Axis Mundi home page

Issue 28 - WINTER, JUNE 2010
ISSN 1839-4396

Spheres Of Light
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Date: Saturday June 26, 2010 at 8:30pm

PAN Inc. full moon ritual. PAN runs a public full moon ritual each month at Rotaract Hill, Seven Hills. Anyone is welcome to attend - the purpose of the ritual is to provide members of the pagan community an opportunity to celebrate the full moon together & network with friends, it is also a public ritual where those new to paganism can attend to learn more and meet like-minded others, and the rituals also help inform the general public about what pagans do and dispel misguided myths about paganism and witchcraft.

The circle is held on the top of Rotaract Hill on Terminus Road Seven Hills NSW, just next to the train station. Getting there is easy. If you take the train, the hill is less than five minutes walk (and easily visible from the station). If you drive, there is plenty of parking available both at the base of the hill and across Terminus Road. Full Moon info and contact details here.

PAN NSW Witches Ball
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PAN NSW Witches Ball 2010
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The Yule log brings light into the home or the Yule festivities during this cold time of the year. The Yule log illuminates our life and it brings heat and warmth to our body and soul. It brings out the story teller in us, the songster, the creative knitter, and the embroiderer, it brings imagination, hopes and dreams, and above all it helps us to remember our love for each other and life.

The Yule log must traditionally be the root of a hardwood tree, and in Australia mallee roots are ideal for this purpose, as are Tasmanian oaks and all types of Eucalyptus. The Yule log is burned down until nothing but a small piece remains, which is saved and kept to be used as a lighter for the following year's Yule fire. A Yule tree is placed within the traditional Wiccan home, with a pentagram (five pointed star) at the top, symbolizing the five elements.

At Midwinter, homes are decorated with evergreen, non-deciduous trees, and gifts are given to all family members and all who pass the threshold. It is traditional to give to charities at this time, and to care, even more than usual, for the sick and poverty-stricken members of the community. Midwinter is also a special time to care for animals. As an antithesis to the traditional (but necessary) slaughter that used to occur at this time of year, modern Australian Witches may choose to donate time and / or money to animal charities such as the RSPCA. By doing so, we honour and acknowledge the importance of all Her creatures in this world.

Midwinter is a traditional time of feasting, and the seasonal colours are green and red.


How to make a Gluten-free Yule Log Cake

The Bûche de Noël, or Yule Log cake is a tradition rooted in 19th century France. The cake symbolizes the Yule Log, which burned warm and bright in homes during holiday seasons long ago.

To make your own whimsical, gluten free Bûche de Noël cake, begin by making this fragrant, orange peel-scented chocolate sponge cake recipe.

This recipe is filled with a luscious coffee-flavored butter cream and frosted with rich, silky chocolate mocha buttercream. These buttercream recipes, unlike traditional cooked custard buttercreams- are fast and easy to make- and still very silky and rich.

Traditionally, the Bûche de Noël cake is dusted with powdered sugar and decorated with charming meringue mushrooms. Or fresh bay leaves and cranberries can be used to adorn the Bûche de Noël with natural holiday color.

This gluten-free chocolate sponge cake recipe makes a versatile, light and airy cake. Use this delicious, fast and easy gluten-free sponge cake recipe to make ice cream roll cakes, holiday gluten-free Bûche de Noël- the lovely Yule Log Cake or as a base for gluten-free Baked Alaska.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar (superfine cane sugar recommended)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup potato starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons grated orange peel, optional
Extra powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 180 deg.C

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper with butter.

1. Separate egg yolks from whites. Place egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Set egg whites aside.
2. Beat egg yolks on HIGH using an electric hand or stand mixer. Add sugar and vanilla and continue to beat on HIGH until mixture is creamy.
3. Combine cocoa, potato starch, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Stir with a large whisk to thoroughly mix OR sift ingredients.
4. Gently fold dry ingredients into egg-sugar mixture. Fold in grated orange peel until combined.
5. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat on HIGH until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
6. Use a large spatula to gently fold the egg white mixture into the cake batter. Fold until ingredients are blended.
7. Use a spatula to scrape cake batter into prepared baking sheet.
8. Bake in preheated for about 7 minutes or until the cake begins to pull away from the edges of the pan.
9. Cool cake on a wire rack.
10. When the cake is completely cool, carefully invert it- with the parchment paper still on the bottom, onto a large sheet of waxed paper, lightly dusted with powdered sugar.
11. Slowly peel the parchment paper from the cooled cake.
12. The cake is ready to fill with buttercream or softened ice cream. Roll the filled jelly roll style or use the flat sponge cake to make glorious gluten free Baked Alaska.

Mocha Buttercream Filling for Gluten Free Bûche de Noël

You will need one recipe for Mocha Buttercream Filling and one recipe for Chocolate Mocha Buttercream Frosting. Both are easy, no-cook, silky buttercreams.

Make Mocha Buttercream Filling:

450 grams of powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick butter) softened to room temperature
4 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals

Place the powdered sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve instant coffee crystals in brewed coffee. Add coffee to the sugar-butter mixture and beat until the filling is smooth and creamy. If the filling is too stiff, slowly drizzle in additional brewed coffee, just until the filling is a spreadable consistency.

Make Chocolate Mocha Buttercream Frosting

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons instant coffee crystals
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
3 tablespoons certified organic Agave nectar OR light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Place coffee crytals in a small bowl and use the back of a spoon to smash them into a fine powder. Add the powdered instant coffee to the cocoa and whisk to blend. Place the powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cocoa-coffee mixture and whisk to thoroughly blend the dry ingredients together. Add softened butter, Agave nectar or corn syrup, vanilla and heavy cream. Beat until frosting is smooth and creamy. If frosting is too stiff, slowly drizzle in more heavy cream, just until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.

Spread the mocha buttercream filling on the chocolate sponge cake using a large spatula.

Roll from the wide edge of the cake for a longer cake with a smaller diameter. If you prefer, roll from the small edge of the cake for a shorter, thicker cake.

Roll the cake gently while pulling the parchment or waxed paper from the cake at the same time. If the cake cracks while you are rolling it- don't worry- the frosting will cover any cracks. You're just minutes away from a beautiful gluten free Bûche de Noël!

Use a sharp, serated knife to cut a 2 to 3-inch section from each end of cake. Cut one end of the cake at a 45 degree angle for a "wood chopped" look. Set the 2 cut pieces aside. You will use them in the next step to make "chopped branches" before you frost the cake.

Use a spatula to scrape the chocolate mocha frosting into a one quart plastic bag. This is your homemade pastry piping bag. Press the frosting down into the bag while twisting the bag. This forces the frosting down into the bag. Nip about 1/4 inch from the corner of the bag. You are ready to frost the cake.

Why not just spread the frosting on the cake with a knife or spatula? When you pipe the frosting on instead of spreading it, you prevent pulling on the surface of the cake and getting chunks of cake in your frosting. Piping the frosting on the cake is really much faster and easier than spreading frosting.

Retrieve the 2 small cut pieces of cake. Pipe a small amount of frosting on the cut edges and place on the cake to look like cut branches.

Press down on the bag while piping frosting back and forth the length of the cake. Small gaps betweem strips of piped frosting are fine. In the next step you will smooth out the frosting. Pipe in a circular pattern on the ends of the small "cut branch" pieces and the ends of the cake. This gives the pieces the look of "rings"- like a real wood log has!

Use a knife to lightly smooth frosting, leaving ridges that look like wood bark.

Traditionally, Bûche de Noël is decorated with Meringue Mushrooms- beautiful little delicacies made from meringue and sprinkled with cocoa. Or use inedible bay leaves and cranberries for a colorful, natural holiday look.

Place 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar in a fine mesh strainer and lightly dust the cake, including the ends. This gives the cake a lovely, snow-dusted look.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yield: 8 generous servings
Photos by Teri Lee Gruss, 2008


Wassail is a hot, spiced punch often associated with Yule. Particularly popular in Germanic countries, the term itself is a contraction of the Middle English phrase wæs hæil, meaning "be healthy".

While the beverage typically served as "wassail" at modern holiday feasts most closely resembles mulled cider, historical wassail drinks were completely different, more likely to be mulled beer or mead. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl, heated, and topped with slices of toast as sops. Hence the first stanza of the traditional carol, the Gloucestershire Wassail dating back to the Middle Ages:

Wassail! Wassail! All over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee.

Wassail Recipe
1 quart apple juice
1 quart apple cider
8 oranges
4 lemons
1 TB Honey
16 cinnamon sticks (10 for garnish)
10 whole cloves
10 whole allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon mace

In a large pot, combine apple juice and cider. Wash and slice the oranges and lemons and add them to the pot. Create a spice pouch by wrapping 6 cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, and mace in a piece of cheesecloth or muslin and add that to the pot as well. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Ladle into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick.


Yule Incense

2 tsp frankincense resin
1/2 tsp myrrh resin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
Dried, ground rind of an unwaxed orange, a hearty pinch. Use the zest of the rind and then leave it to dry in a warm dry place for a day or two.

Mix ingredients in a pestle and mortar. Limit the cloves if you have respiratory irritation, asthma problems, as they can be a bit smoky. If you want the incense to have an outdoor aroma, add a drop or two of pine essential oil. If you want a sweeter smell, add a drop or two of orange essential oil, leave for a couple of hours to let the scent permeate the rest of the ingredients.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt dough is one of the easiest things in the world to make, and you can create just about anything from it. Use it with cookie cutters to make your own Sabbat ornaments.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

4 Cups flour
1 Cup salt
1 1/2 Cups hot water
1 tsp vegetable oil

Combine the salt and flour, then add the water until the dough becomes elastic. Add the oil at this time and knead the dough (if it's too sticky, add more flour). Once it's a good consistency, make your decorations with cookie cutters. Bake ornaments at 100 deg.C until hard (about 20 - 30 minutes). Once they've cooled, paint them with designs and symbols, and seal with clear varnish.

If you're planning to hang them, poke a hole through the ornament BEFORE baking them. Then after you've varnished them, run a ribbon or thread through the hole.

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