Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review Time! Handcrafted Cedar Wiccan Altar by DragonOak!


The Place Where Magic Happens!

Throughout history altars have played an important role within religion and spirituality. Altars have been used to strengthen spiritual devotion and to act as a central point for religious practices. In most ancient religions altars were the place where ceremonies and religious rites took place. In modern times altars can still be found in many religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Neo-Paganism. The use of altars within such a diversity of religious backgrounds stands as a testament to the amazing spiritual benefits people of all faiths have experienced through the use of altars. Even though each religion has their own way of setting up and utilizing altars, all agree that having a personal altar for prayer and devotional practices can be a moving spiritual experience. An altar is a place where you focus on the Divine and the power of the Divine working in your life. For many it is a place to relax and contemplate the mysteries of life. For others it is a place to simply let go and unwind. In honor of this beautiful tradition and Wiccan Awareness Month, I have decided to share my knowledge of how altars are used within Wicca.

DragonOak's Hand-Crafted Wiccan Altar:
Amazing Craftsmanship!
For Wiccans an altar is a sacred place for prayer, mediation, and ritual work. A Wiccan altar is a place set-aside for only these purposes – it is a place where one focuses on the Divine and changing one's life for the better. For this reason altars are blessed and consecrated with the highest good of all in mind. Altars are often central to both spirituality and personal expression as well. You can often tell much about a person by the type of altar they choose and by the items they choose to keep on their altar. Choosing and setting up an altar is a profound spiritual experience. But the truly profound experiences come from using the altar to aid your spirituality and your relationship with the Divine. At DragonOak.com they understand this principle and the impact having a personal altar can have in one's life. For this reason I choose to request this beautiful handcrafted altar for review. Unlike many altars you will find elsewhere all of DragonOak's products are crafted from solid wood and made with love and care.

About The Wood:
Only all natural woods are used in the creation of DragonOak altars. The use of all natural woods adds great spiritual meaning to each altar. The altar featured in this review is created from solid cedar – a beautiful wood with great spiritual meaning. The English word “cedar” comes from the Hebrew "qatar" which means, “to smudge”. Smudging is a time-honored practice of ritual cleansing through the use of herbal smoke and prayer. The Hebrew meaning indicates that cedar wood may have been used in ancient purification and cleansing rituals. The idea of cedar wood as sacred can be found throughout history. Ancient Sumeria revered the cedar tree over 7,000 years ago, calling it the World Tree, the abode of Ea, their chief deity. The Christian Bible also has numerous references to the cedar tree, including its use in the Ark of the Covenant. Cedar wood is symbolic of healing, purification and spiritual protection. It is thought that spiritual properties of cedar help to promote peaceful thoughts and aid in interpreting messages from the inner self. Due to the use of all natural materials each altar created by DragonOak is a unique work of art.

About The Designs:
Stunning Artistic Details!
The beautiful designs on this altar were created by hand using a technique called Pyrography. Pyrography is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as wood burning. As someone who enjoys wood burning as a hobby, I have to say that I honestly don't know how DragonOak created such prefect lines. The detail of the pyrography is very impressive. It is dark and neat with well defined lines. Simply Beautiful! The designs burned into this altar are sacred Wiccan symbols and statements of faith. Let's take a look at the meaning behind each of these beautiful designs.

Maiden, Mother & Crone:
Gorgeous Symbolism!
Along the top of the altar is written "Maiden Mother & Crone: The Power of Three Within Thee". This statement is a celebration of the power and wisdom of the Divine Feminine. It is also a celebration of the Divine working in us and through us. In Wicca the Divine Feminine is viewed as having three sacred aspects of young woman, mother, and grandmother. Similar to the Christian Trinity, the three faces of the Divine Feminine are considered to be one Divine being.

The Triple Moon:
Breathtaking!
Towards the front of the altar is a large Triple Moon symbol. This symbol represents the three aspects of the Goddess that of the Maid, Mother and Crone. In Wicca the moon is viewed as a sacred symbol of the Divine Feminine. Each phase of the moon has its own meaning and symbolism. The waxing moon is symbolic of the Maid and is a good time for setting goals or beginning new projects. The full moon is symbolic of the Mother and is the prefect time for healing, giving thanks and creating change in your life. The waning moon is symbolic of the Crone (or Grandmother) and is traditionally time for banishing negativity. Each aspect is sacred and helpful in your daily life.

Earth, Air, Fire, Water:
Simply Elegant!
In front of the altar is written "Blessed Be - Earth Air Fire Water - Blessed Be". Blessed Be is a traditional Wiccan greeting and blessing. It is also used many times in the Christian Bible making Blessed Be a good blessing for people of all faiths. The four elements of earth, air, fire and water are called upon in Wiccan rituals. Each element is symbolic of an aspect that we all seek to find in ourselves: Earth – Strength/Fortitude, Air – Intelligence/Wisdom, Fire – Passion/Courage, Water – Emotion/Creativity.

The Pentagram:
A Fabulous Interfaith Symbol!
A pentagram is burned around each candle holder. Due to the misunderstandings most people have in regard to this symbol I have decided to share a sermon I wrote about it below.

"The pentagram (or pentacle as it is known when not written or drawn) is one of the most persistent symbols in human history. It is one of oldest symbols dating back to the time of Uruk of 3500 BC in Ur of the Chaldees in Ancient Mesopotamia. The pentagram is found in many ancient cultures including India, China, Greece, Egypt, Babylon and the Mayans of Central America. Each culture has its own symbolism attached to the five points of the pentagram.

    Wicca Symbolism: The Elements
  • In Wicca, the five points represent the five elements and their metaphysical aspects. The element of earth represents physical endurance and stability and is the symbol of the lower left point. The lower right point is symbolic of fire, which represents courage. The element of water represents intuition and emotion and is the meaning of the upper right point. The upper left point symbolizes air and represents intelligence. The fifth point is symbolic of the element of spirit, and represents the divine. The meaning is basically similar to the old saying "mind over matter," which means the ability of one's spirit to control the lower aspects of our being.
    Wicca Symbolism: Other
  • As the primary symbol used by Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans, the pentagram also represents aspects of their faith. To some, the pentagram represents the spiritual aspects of life and seeking secret knowledge. To others the five points symbolize the four directions of north, south, east and west with the fifth point representing sanctity of spirit. When within a circle, the star symbolizes wholeness, unity and divine knowledge.
    Jewish Symbolism
  • In antiquity the Hebrews viewed the pentagram as a symbol of divine truth. The five points were ascribed to the five books of the Pentateuch and to truth found in Hebrew scriptures of the Torah. In the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition, the points represent the archetypal forces of justice, mercy, wisdom, understanding and transcendent splendor.
    Christian Symbolism

  • In antiquity Christians viewed the pentagram as a lesser-used symbol of their faith. The five points of the pentagram represent the five wounds of Christ. Early Christians also attributed the pentagram as a symbol of the Trinity with the two other points representing the two natures of Christ. It also symbolizes truth, the work of the Creator, the five joys of the Virgin Mary, the Alpha and the Omega and the five virtues of generosity, fellowship, purity, courtesy and mercy. To knights it represented the five knightly virtues of generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety."
Embedded Candle Holders:
This altar features two brass candleholders that are embedded into the wood. The candleholders provide a wonderful way to burn your candles safely without having to worry about knocking your candles over during ritual. The holders are designed for standard 6" household candles that can be found in most supermarkets or candle shops. Sadly due to my allergies, I was unable to find any taper candles that were soy-free, dye-free and unscented.

Portability:
With the needs of the solitary practitioner in mind, this altar is designed to be portable so that you can calibrate ritual anywhere! The surface of this altar measures 18" by 9 1/2" by 13" tall making it easy to travel with and easy to store.

About DragonOak:
DragonOak was born R.S. Elvey, June 22, 1964 in Flagstaff AZ. He was inspired by his grandfather who was fully self sufficient although totally blind. Encouraged by his mother in all craft endeavors and rewarded with praise by his grandmother for diligence and hard work. DragonOak received his BA in secondary education at SMSU in 1991

DragonOak began to apple his artistic abilities in the medium of woodwork and pyrography, the art of wood burning, in 2003 when a local metaphysical shop requested his help in building boxes with mystical themes. Prior to this the woodwork had been a hobby. Today DragonOak creates a variety of wood products in his home wood shop in Southwest Missouri, and sells both wholesale and retail for a worldwide audience. DragonOak desires that his crafting be both artistic and functional. To that end he has created trinket boxes, ouija type spirit boards and other pagan cabinetry.

In 2009, he received entry into the Historisches Museum Der Pfalz Speyer in Germany and is listed in their catalog HEXEN Mythos and Wirklichkeit, 2009 Ed Minerva Hermann Farnung GmbH, Munchen. DragonOak's entire collection can be seen at his website www.dragonoak.com. DragonOak also takes commission work for custom items, as this gives him more creative satisfaction than merely repeating the same designs.

The Benefits of Having a Personal Altar:
Maintaining a personal altar is a rewarding experience. Having a place devoted to the Divine helps you to strengthen your relationship through having a constant reminder of your spiritual life. Expressing your spirituality through prayer, meditation and devotional practices has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Many people add a fun element to their spirituality by decorating their altar for each holiday or season. Personally I have found this to be a fun and relaxing practice that helps to keep me grounded. It’s also so much fun to create a theme altar using holiday decorations! You don't have to be Wiccan to enjoy the benefits of keeping an altar. Any one of any faith can enjoy this beautiful spiritual practice. DragonOak offers custom altars to fit your spiritual needs regardless of your religious preference.

The Altar Experience:
There are many ways to use your altar for spiritual growth, fulfillment and for honoring the Divine. Below are a few simply ways you can use an altar to enhance your spiritual life. These ideas are designed for people of all faith, so please feel free to add to this list or change it to fit your beliefs.  

Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays:
Decorating your altar for each season or holiday is not only a great way of being mindful of the world around you - its really fun too! This idea is very similar to how people leave their Christmas trees up year round to decorate for each holiday. Only this idea is far more spiritual as it incorporates prayer. For Example: The photo above is my altar decorated for September 22nd - the Fall Equinox/Mabon. It is a long-standing tradition to count your blessing and give thanks on this day. So instead of simply decorating my altar with fall theme items, I thought of all the blessings I have in my life as I was decorating it. After I finished I gave thanks to the Divine. Now when I look at my altar I do not simply see the decorations, I see all that I have to be thankful for. Each season and most holidays have aspects that can be worked into a spiritual expression of gratitude.

Prayer:
Candles: A Wonderful Symbol of Prayer and Divine Presence!   
Having a place to sit and focus during prayer is a very helpful practice. Not only will your altar remind you to pray more often, it can help you focus during prayer. Think of your altar as your spiritual Facebook wall - anything you put on it is an expression of your prayers. For example: It is a common practice in many religions to light a candle to symbolize one's prayer request. This helps your mind to focus on your intent, making it easier for you to concentrate on the Divine. Another common practice is the burning incense to symbolically carry one's prayer to the Divine. Using herbal incense such as white sage can also spirituality purify your sacred space and bring feelings of relaxation. In Wicca it is a common practice to light two candles to symbolically represent the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine (Please note: This is not symbolic of different two deities. It is symbolic of the Creator as having a Feminine and Masculine side - similar to how all physical beings were created as male and female.) This idea can be applied to any religion. For Example: If you are a Christian you could use three candles to symbolize the Christian Trinity or two candles to symbolize the two natures of Christ – that of humanity and Divinity.

Focusing on Gratitude:
A good way to use your altar to help you focus on being grateful is to write down all of the your blessings on slips of paper. Place the slips in the center of your altar and read them once a week (or more if you feel really down). As you practice this you will find that you feel more thankful for the blessings you experience. This practice helps you to stop focusing the negative aspects of life. Another idea is to place an object that symbolizes your blessings. For Example: After 5 years of searching for allergy-free chocolate bars I finally discovered chocolate I would safely eat. I placed the unopened chocolate bar on my altar and gave thanks to the Divine. It doesn’t matter if your blessing is small or great, all that matters is that it is something you are grateful for.

Setting Goals:
Let's face it sticking to our goals can be hard. Personally I find it much easier to complete my goal if I place a representation of the goal on my altar and pray about it. This not only reminds you to work on your goal every time you look at your altar, it reminds you to pray about it as well. For Example: If you are studying hard for a big test you might want to place something that symbolizes learning on your altar. It doesn’t matter what object you choose for this as long as you know what it is meant to represent.

My Personal Opinion:
Personally I find this altar to be of superb quality and craftsmanship. Not only is it beautiful it is very sturdy and durable as well. This altar should last for generations due to the quality of the materials from which the altar is made. The portability of the altar makes it perfect for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, but it is always excellent for someone who does not have a lot of space to store things. It can easily be stored without taking up very much room. Personally I couldn’t imagine storing it because of how beautiful it is, but I can see where some might need to. The built in candleholders are an awesome feature. If I had owned an altar like this one as a teenager, it would have prevented more than a few fires. Sadly I was not able to find any hypoallergenic taper candles. This system will work wonderfully for preventing accidents due to the depth of the candle holders. Another aspect that I truly love about this altar is that DragonOak is very mindful of nature and very respectful about gathering his supplies. If you would like to learn more about this process check out http://www.dragonoak.com/Creating-Magickal-Ritual-Tools.html. Over all this is an amazing altar that anyone of any faith could use to aid his or her spiritual practice. I highly recommend DragonOak for any spiritual tools you may need.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blogtour! Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire


 Last month I was given an opportunity to be part of the Escaping the Cauldron blog tour on Oct 1st. Since I was curious about the book I agreed to post my review of it today. Before we continue lets take a look at the description of this book from the author's website "An eight-year journey through the occult and into freedom. Escaping the Cauldron exposes the subtle occult influences that affect 21st century Christians. Part Bible study, part memoir, this book takes the reader deep inside Kristine's eight year journey as a witch, medium, and ghost hunter and reveals how God delivered her out of the occult altogether and mercifully restored her faith and life in Christ." As you can see the book sounds interesting. Due to the nature of the subject I felt it was important to share this book with my friends in the Christian Witch/Wiccan community - after all this is the target audience for Escaping the Cauldron.

How Real Christian Witches Have Responded: 
Unlike many reviewers I have chosen to hear and share feedback from the Christian Witch/Wiccan community. I felt that this is important since this is the target audience for the book. Below are the thoughts of three Christian Witches after reading Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire. This is their personal opinions- unedited.

Below is a detailed statement from David Dellman who has held credentials with the Assemblies of God Church and currently holds an Masters of Divinity from their seminary. Below are his thoughts.

"The publisher of Kristine McGuire’s new book “Escaping the Cauldron” has offered Ms. McGuire’s manuscript to some professing Christian Witches for review.

I was able to get a look at her book thanks to one of these Christian Witches. I only recently left the conservative evangelical church even though I have been a practicing witch for some time. I “got saved” and “filled with the Holy Spirit” in 1974. I went to seminary in the early 1980s and served in various youth pastorates and adult Christian educational positions since my graduation from seminary. I share this history so that you will know that I am not gullible, naive, biblically illiterate, or given to youthful flights of fantasy.

Ms. McGuire feels that she has been saved from a great error and is relieved to be back in the safety of the one true fold. If she is happy I am glad for her but in the years I spent as an evangelical I was always uncomfortable with the elitism, the condescension, the judgmental opinions, and the condemnation of whole people groups and populations that is characteristic of conservative fundamentalist positions. Just as Ms. McGuire feels the hand of grace in her life “escaping” from the deadly clutches of witchcraft, I feel the hand of grace in my life “escaping” the death grip of Christian fundamentalism. Like all forms of fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism is divisive and bigoted.

I realize the word “bigot” is loaded with negative connotation and I don’t mean to use the word to insult or hurt but I do believe that ideological bigotry is one of the institutional sins of the religious right and I do believe that this “I know better now” attitude is reflected in Mrs. McGuire’s work.

The fact is we live in a diverse world, with a diversity of opinion especially in esoteric or religious matters. Mrs. McGuire in chapter after chapter tried to explain what Christian witches believe and practice. I must tell you it would require volumes to document the diversity of opinion in the Christian witch community. There is no one uniform belief or practice.

I am a Christian witch. Jesus Christ is my Lord; His blood covers my sins as it does Mrs. McGuire’s. I am also a Universalist, and I can defend all of my positions and practices’ using the very same Bible that Mrs. McGuire has used to condemn them but I would prefer to avoid a debate about this passage or that because the Bible has been used to defend the position that the world is flat, that human slavery is a God appointed right. The Bible was used for generations to deny equal rights and equal access to women, and it was used to justify the murder of thousands of accused witches many of whom were burned alive while Christians watched. So, the fact is, the Bible can be used to support or condemn almost anything.

I believe Mrs. McGuire’s instance that the Christian witch is sitting right next to you in the pew is almost certain to begin a “witch hunt” that will “out” witches who do not wish to be out of the broom closet. I think that is sad. It is sad because it is difficult, not to be a Christian in a culture in which 70% are confessing Christians, but to take any position on any issue other than the orthodox position.

It is extremely difficult to stand up for what you believe in when it means you will be forced from the church home you might have known all of your life. Mrs. McGuire’s book will no doubt create the paranoia that will result in many otherwise content Christian witches losing their church homes.

Mrs. McGuire said that, “The American religious climate is in upheaval with many young adults leaving the Christian faith.” I believe she is correct but I believe the “upheaval” is because the evangelical fundamentalist church has lost touch with its mission. It has become a “cauldron” of bigotry rather than a beacon of love.

In the same paragraph Mrs. McGuire said, “Perhaps even worse are those who call themselves Christian while abandoning foundational beliefs about Jesus Christ and replacing them with a more socially palatable solution.” Of course these “heretics” are “even worse” than those turning from the faith. What is “worse” about them is that they are leading others “astray,” but in their minds they are not leading anyone “astray.” They are instead leading them to a healthier and more Biblically sound interpretation of the scriptures than what conservative Christianity is offering.

Mrs. McGuire said that, “Popular voices question what was once recited as creed.” I believe she is referring to works like Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell, Raising Hell: Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire by Julie Ferwerda, and The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Religious Fundamentalism to the True Love of God and Self by Carlton Pearson. These books and others like them are leading the church to much needed and long overdue reform, they are leading us away from the kind of bondage that Mrs. McGuire would like us to embrace anew.

In quotations at the beginning of the book, Tracey Bateman said that Mrs. McGuire, “encourages the church to love and not condemn those trapped in Satan’s snare.” Yet a few short pages later Mrs. McGuire says, “One thing stands out to me when I read these scriptures. These activities (or the people choosing to do them) are condemned.” It is this kind of schizophrenic, conditional love that drives me crazy. Love with strings and conditions is not love at all; it is a deal, a bargain, and that is not what the gospel of Jesus Christ presents. God’s love is a gift, freely given, freely received.

Mrs. McGuire believes that the Bible condemns not only the practices of the Christian witch but the person of the Christian witch. In fact, the Bible also condemns gossip, lust, and enough other practices to include everyone who will ever read Mrs. McGuire’s book or any other book. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God but God’s love covers our sin, that is the good news of the gospel.

Mrs. McGuire also quotes a passage of scripture that warns that in the “last days” Christians will be “seduced by deceiving spirits.” Bishop Carlton has a different opinion of this passage. He believes that “the most pronounced antichrist spirit is religion itself – even Christianity…” He said that to, “insist that the world is not already redeemed to God by Christ is to suggest that Christ failed in His task,” and this is the spirit of antichrist and this is the “deceiving spirit” that the passage Mrs. McGuire quotes actually applies to.

Mrs. McGuire is entitled to her opinion and I found her life journey fascinating reading but I found her comments about Christian witches specifically and the occult in general based more on misinformed standard Christian fare than actual practice or genuine understanding. I think Wicca's Charm is a superior book from the conservative Christian point of view. It presents the positives of Wicca as well as the negatives, and it is at home with the audience that Mrs. McGuire is trying to reach; terrified, paranoid believers.

I am simply no longer in the business of condemnation. I believe that God loves every human being of every race, national origin, and creed. I believe that God has already accomplished eternal “salvation” for every human soul. This belief frees me to love without restraint or condition even those who condemn me, even those like Mrs. McGuire. To that end, Mrs. McGuire, thank you so much for sharing your book with me. I wish you much love and success in your journey." ~ David Dellman
Below are the thoughts of Rev. Diana an Interfaith Minister and High Priestess with Coven of Christ Ministries. 

"Please remember these are just my opinions and not to be taken as doctrine of any kind. I think this woman is frightened and confused and is clutching at anything she can find to justify her current belief system. She is trying to fit in where society will accept her and her marriage. I am concerned about her vision of Artemis being mad that she had chosen Jesus over Her. All of the Gods and Goddesses in Wicca are aspects of the One. Anyone really studying the religion knows this. I hope she is happy with where she is on her path now. But it saddens me that she is afraid of what she knows and has experienced. Try not to be angry with her. Her references are close minded and she obviously does not really know what or who a Christian Witch really is. Many don't. I wish her well." ~ Rev. Diana
Below is a statement from Rev. TigressPhoenix another Interfaith Minister and High Priestess with Coven of Christ Ministries. 
"Sadly Escaping the Cauldron is one of the few books that I have ever found personally insulting. In all honestly I feel that this book will push Christo-Pagans, Christian Wiccans and Christian Witches away from the church and possibly away from Jesus Christ. Instead of speaking in an understanding manor the author chooses to use misguided information about this group of individuals. At times the author seems very negative towards her target audience which is very disheartening. For someone who has spent 8 years as a Christian Wiccan, the author lacks basic information regarding what Wiccans truly believe. The part of this book that really struck home for me was the author's vision of Artemis being mad that she chosen Jesus over Her. In Wicca all of the imaginary of the Gods and Goddesses are believed to be aspects of the One God. We are monotheistic and believe in only one Divine Being. For example I worship Jesus Christ, but at times Christ comes to me in the form of Artemis or the Greenman. The Creator can take on what ever form that is needed to connect with an individual. So to say that "Artemis is mad at me because I choose Jesus" is a total oxymoron. Its simply not possible because they are the same person... I have studied different religions all of my life. Wicca has been one of the most interesting religions I have researched, leading me to read many books on the subject. As an interfaith minister and high priestess who has been studying Wicca for twelve years and practicing Wicca for eleven years, I find the author's statements harsh and at times insensitive towards their target audience. I have found many errors in what the author believes Wicca is, which is surprising considering the time she spent as a Christian Wiccan.  I feel that the author has turned away from a golden opportunity to awaken to the truth. I truly feel sorry for her that she has chosen to be lead by what others tell her. Instead of what her heart tells her. She will be in my thoughts and prayers. Blessed Be ~ Rev. TigressPhoenix

Below is a statement from ordained minister Toni Nell.
 
 "Although I have not been able to read the entire book, I have read enough to get a pretty good feel of “Escape from the Cauldron.”

Although I do not agree with Ms. McGuire’s opinions or viewpoints, that are not entirely a surprise as they are coming from a woman who has wandered between the world of Christianity and Wicca for many years. Ms. McGuire is obviously a woman who has been battling with inner demons her entire life; struggling to find peace with the Craft she loved and the teachings of her Christian upbringing.

Rather than being a story of a woman’s return to Christianity after straying, this book was written more in a bible study and discussion format to help the Christian church to identify the Craft and why it is against God’s design. Although I do not agree with Ms. McGuire, I do respect her opinions. However, I found a few of her comments a bit disheartening and some of her “in depth” focus on the Craft or Christianity tends to be lacking any real focus.
For example, Ms. McGuire talks of legalism with distain throughout the entire book, YET it appears that she has returned to a legalistic point of view i.e. her quote of “anything other than submitting to the total will of God is witchcraft.”

Although Ms. McGuire has a fairly good knowledge of Christianity, Witchcraft and the blending of the two, she lacks insight into both. Witchcraft does not provide an alternative to God, it provides and alternative way to worship. Wicca/Witchcraft does not have us to find all answers solely within ourselves. It asks us to take personal responsibility for our actions and realize that we are co-creatures of our world. The bible, which she so lovingly quotes, tells us that we are of free will – meaning we have a choice in how our lives play out and that we are responsible for those choices.

I am in favor of any book that opens up conversation even if it is from a viewpoint different from my own. However, I find it very disheartening that Ms. McGuire does not spend much time focusing on what is wrong with the current state of the church today….why people are feeling the need to look for something more. In my humble opinion it is the lack of experience which she repeatedly states we should not base our spiritual beliefs on. This to me is ironic as it was an experience is what lead her to Christ in the first place. The modern church is designed to invoke an experience to bring the sinner to Christ. If that were not the case, a simple reading of a few passages would be sufficient.

Ms. McGuire is entitled to her beliefs, but the book in general lacks fluidity and does not allow for open dialog among all readers. It only allows for dialog among those who share her limited view." ~ Toni
Author Bio: 
Kristine McGuire spent eight years blending Christianity with the occult. She has been a Solitary Eclectic Christian Witch, a clairsentient medium, and a lead investigating member of a paranormal enthusiast group. Learn more about her at www.kristinemcguire.com

Personal Opinion: 
Due to the reactions of those who have been Eclectic Christian Witches for more than a decade, and due to my own personal knowledge of the subject, I have to say that I am rather shocked by the contents of this book. In my own personal opinion- the author seems to have never studied Wicca. I love that the author has a deep love for Christ and seeks to share the peace she has found with others (I love and respect her for that because that is a beautiful thing in and of its self *HUGS*). But she has missed the fact that "Christian Witches" are still "Christians".  Maybe not in the sense she feels is Christian, but in their own words they love Christ and follow him. Many Christian Witches are even teachers within traditional Christian churches due to how much they have studied the Bible to form their own unique belief system. I understand her compassion and love for those that she feels are lost souls. But there is a right way and a wrong way of sharing one's testimony. Saying that your target audience is going to hell and that the greek goddess Artemis is a demon is the WRONG way to share one's testimony.  Imagine how any traditional Christian would feel if someone said "Your going to hell and Jesus is a demon"? Would you want to listen to that person or read their testimony? Odds are you would only see that the name of Jesus had been insulted. The same goes for talking with Christian Witches because they believe that Artemis (or any God or Goddess) is an aspect of One Divine Being (they are monotheistic). For them Jesus Christ and Artemis are aspects of God, to insult one is to insult the other in their belief system. Imagine how insulting such statements must be for them. It doesn't mater if you disagree or agree with their beliefs. If you want someone to listen to your testimony, you must respect their religion regardless of what you think of it. Yes this is something that is at times is difficult, but the love of Christ requires us to "be all things to all people". In the book of Acts Paul approached a statue labeled "To The Unknown God". He shared the Gospel with them by using that statue as an example. This can be found in Acts 17:22-23  "Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you." ~ New King James Version. Paul is the perfect example of the right way. 
If you would like to learn more about Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire check out http://www.escapingthecauldron.com
 
Please Note: I highly recommend that you do your own research the author's own biases have out weighed any other information in this book.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wiccan Awareness Month: Update

Due to having health problems during the month of September, I will be extending ReviewTime's Wiccan Awareness Month into October. I am currently working on two reviews that will be posted tomorrow. Stay tuned for farther details! ~Blessings

Friday, September 7, 2012

Review Time! Cavallini Roma Lussa Journals Black 6 x 8, 416 Softbound Leather Cavallini & Co


The Cavallini Roma Lussa 6 x 8 inch journal is simply amazing! Each aspect of this journal is made by hand in Florance, Italy. The paper is high quality, the leather cover is soft and supple, and the feel of the journal in your hands makes it a pleasure to use. Before I get to my review of this journal, I would like to note that I purchased this journal from Amazon. This is not a review sample.

About The Paper: 

 
Unlike most journals you will find on the market, this journal contains 416 acid-free pages of thick high quality paper. The paper of this journal is thick enough for me to use a fountain pen with out any problems. For this test I used my Lamy extra fine tip fountain pen. I experienced no problems with bleed through at all which I personally find impressive. On the back of the page is some slight ghosting, but not enough to be a problem -this can be seen in the photo below.

 Finding a journal that a fountain pen can be used on is hard work so I am very please with this journal. Please note: I do not know if all fountain pens will work on this type of paper, but the Lamy Safari Fountain Pen works very nicely.

The photo above shows the beautiful marble painting that decorates the edges of this journal. Personally I love the marble design and the beautiful pattern. This pattern was created by hand which makes each journal an unique work of art!


Above is another photo of the beautiful marble design from a different angle. Gorgeous!


Another unique feature of this journal is its sewn binding, which is very similar to the book bindings found in high quality Bibles. Sewn book bindings last much longer than glued bindings. With a sewn binding you never have to worry about the pages falling out of the book.

About The Cover:

 The cover of this edition is crafted from genuine leather. The leather is supple and flexible making this journal a pleasure to use. The grain of the leather is well defined and simple beautiful. A leather strap wraps around the journal to help keep it closed - a very old world touch which I personally love. Due to the quality of this journal, you can be sure that it will last for years to come.

About The Company:
Since 1989, Cavallini Co. has been creating gift and stationery products with a commitment to quality and uniqueness. Twenty-three years later, Cavallini remains an old-fashioned company dedicated to excellence, design and integrity. Cavallini believes that when you focus on doing things right, everything else falls into place. They find their inspiration in everything from a hand-colored 18th century engraving, a Parisian city guide from 1921, to a print found in a vintage French encyclopedia. Drawing from rich pieces of ephemera in the Cavallini archives, they strive to retain the integrity and authenticity of the images integrated into their  products.

My Personal Opinion: 

Personally this is the best journal I have ever owned.  For the past few months I have been looking for a good journal for writing down my own personal prayers, poems and spiritual experiences. Its always good to keep a record of your prayer life so that you can look back on your experiences later on. This journal is just perfect for my needs. With this journal I can rest assured that my thoughts and personal prayers will last for generations. As someone who enjoys writing I find this aspect to be wonderful. I also love the old world charm of this journal. The old world look is simply breath taking. If you have a passion for writing this is the perfect journal. I highly recommend Cavallini Roma Lussa Journals.




In Honor of Wiccan Awareness Month: 
Similar to keeping a prayer journal, Wiccans and many Pagans keep a type of spiritual journal called a Book of Shadows (BOS for short). Many people choose to use the longer name Book of Shadows and Light for their BOS, while others use the term Book of Light. Which ever name one chooses is a personal preference and the book still serves the same purposes regardless of its name. Unlike in the movies a Book of Shadows is not a standardized spell book. In fact it is usually created by the individual for personal or family usage. Unlike the prayer journals used by people of many different faiths, a Book of Shadows is created to cover a variety of topics. So whats in a BOS? Anything that is of spiritual importance to the owner - including: statements of faith, information regarding the individual's spiritual life, the individual's research into their faith and beliefs, spiritual events from the person's life, religious rituals, prayers, spells (prayers with props), and any other information regarding one's spiritual practice. Anything that one feels should be recorded for future reference is often included in their Book of Shadows. As with a prayer journal many use their BOS to follow their connection with the Creator and to keep track of their spiritual experiences. It is always good to see the progress one makes with their connection to the Divine and many use their Book of Shadows for this purpose. 

Below is a video by Flora Peterson about her Book of Shadows. Mrs. Peterson is highly regarded within the Pagan community. She is an Eclectic Spiritualist who offers Eclectic Spiritual Earth Based Programs for spiritual education and empowerment. For more information about Mrs. Peterson check out her website at http://www.mflorapeterson.com/

The Least You Need to Know
Wiccans and Pagans both use a Book of Shadows to record their spiritual business. This is not simply a place where they keep spells, chants, and rituals. A Book of Shadows is used to write down one's personal musings, the results of one's prayer life, and whatever else someone feels should be included in their Book of Shadows for later reference. 





Monday, September 3, 2012

Wiccan Awareness Month!

In honor of Pagan Pride Month I will be reviewing Wiccan related books and products. You maybe wondering if I have lost my mind? No... *Test Firing Neutrons* Its still here and in good working order! You may be thinking "Why on Earth then would Dina care about Wiccan Awareness Month?"  My reason is this, I have grown tried of all the misconceptions people have about Wicca and Paganism in general. There are so many horrible misconceptions people hold in regards to Pagans... Most people mistake Neo-Paganism (A.k.a Modern Paganism such as Wicca) for Ancient Paganism. The two are very different! For example: a Wiccan would never think of sacrificing a human being or any creature. For them all life is a sacred gift that should never be wasted and is meant to be respected. Another example is the way Wiccans feel about harming none, which for some means being a vegetarian or a vegan. There are many more differences between Neo-Pagans and ancient Pagans, far to many differences to discussed here. Personally I think it is time to clear up these misconceptions and actually look into what Modern Paganism is about rather than passing judgment without research. As an interfaith minister/high priestess with Coven of Christ ministries I feel that I should help other understand this. I have studied Christianity my whole life and Wicca since I was 15 years old. Wicca is the most common form of Neo-Paganism and the one which I have the most experience with. For this reason, in the month of September I will be reviewing Wiccan products and books. It is my hope that the reviews I write will be eye opening for others and help them see that Wiccans are good people. They deserve respect just like anyone else and each of us should try to understand them before passing judgment without knowledge.

Blessed Be )O(
~Lady Dina

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review Time!: Goddess Prayer Beads by Magick Alive Prayer Beads

As many of you know, I passionately collect prayer beads from around the world. It amazes me how even though people are of different religions they all seek a closer relationship with the Divine through prayer and meditation. A few weeks ago I found this set online at Magick Alive Prayer Beads. I have never seen a set of Goddess prayer beads with this layout before it is very unique. But what truly makes this set unique is not the layout of the beads. No what makes this set of prayer beads unlike any other is the combination of symbolism and the care that the artist put into making this set of prayer beads.

Symbolic Meaning:
Each aspect of Magick Alive Prayer Beads features symbols which hold different meanings to a variety of cultures. Mrs. Price -the master mind behind Magick Alive Prayer Beads- created this design to be used by anyone who has a connection to the Divine Feminine. As such this set of prayer beads holds both Wiccan and Christian symbolism.


Meaning of the Goddess Pendent:
The spiral Goddess pendent attached to this set of prayer beads holds many meanings to different people. Some people feel that the spiral represents spiritual power and renewal. While others believe that it symbolizes the rebirth of all man kind through reincarnation. Still others feel that it is a symbol of feminine power ~ the power of creating new life from within. All seem to agree that the Goddess aspect of the pendent is symbolic of the Divine Feminine/the Holy Spirit.


Meaning of the Triquetra:
The Triquetra is an ancient symbol that has been used in Wicca and Christianity for many years. The Triquetra's name comes from the Latin tri- "three" and quetrus "cornered". In Wicca this symbol is most commonly used to symbolize the three aspects of the Goddess that of Maiden, Mother and Crone. These three aspects are also symbolic of the life cycles of all women. In Christianity this symbol represents the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Triquetra is also said to represent family; Father, Mother and Child; and the interconnected parts of our existence (Mind, Body, and Soul).


Meaning of the Spiral:
Spirals have been used throughout human history and can even be found in ancient prehistoric cave paintings. This symbol is thought to represent renewal, rebirth and spiritual power. To some this symbol also means eternal life.

Metaphysical Properties of Watermelon Tourmaline:

Watermelon Tourmaline is thought to work with the heart chakra, cleansing and removing emotional blockages. Is also thought to aid in removing emotional insecurities. It can help to inspire both creativity and practicality, and is thought to help connect the Heart Chakra to both physical and spiritual vibrations. Watermelon Tourmaline is said to calm overactive emotions. All of the tourmalines are used for their strong healing energies. The watermelon variety is used by crystal healers to encourage a calm, centered state of mind. Watermelon Tourmaline can help to lessen depression and mend emotional wounds by allowing one to see the meaning for certain events in life. Meditation with Watermelon Tourmaline can aid in the release of unhealthy patterns of behavior and making room for new ways of thinking that lead to a more complete life. Watermelon Tourmaline is great for meditation, energy-work, and crystal grid-work, and make a great addition to one's medicine bag. In general, Tourmaline can become electrically charged as a result of heat or pressure, which is a testament to the ability of these crystal's to impact one's energy field. Many flat irons are made with black tourmaline due to this unique property. All colors of Toumaline are very grounding and helpful in releasing stress and tension. Tourmaline is thought to balance yin and yang energies, as well as the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Metaphysical:
Primary Chakra: ALL with attention to the Heart Chakra
Astrological sign(s): Gemini, Virgo

Geological:
Stone Type/Family: Watermelon Tourmaline belongs to a group called Elbaite, which is a member of the Tourmaline family. Elbaite, is by far the most colorful group, including Indicolite (blue to blue/green), Verdelite (green), Rubellite (pink) and Watermelon (pink with green rind and sometimes green with pink rind).
Crystal System: Trigonal
Chemical Composition: Na(Li,Al)3Al6Si6O18(BO3)3 (OH)4, Sodium Lithium Aluminum Boro-Silicate Hydroxide
Hardness: 7-7.5

Physical:
Color: Pink to strawberry centers with a green rind or on rare occasions, a green center with a pink rind
Location: Argentina, Afghanistan, Brazil, Pakistan, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, USA
Rarity: Relatively Common
Fun Fact: Ancient legend says that tourmaline is found in all colors because it traveled along a rainbow and gathered all the rainbow's colors. Why ancient people would think this: no gem family is more diverse than tourmaline. Tourmaline is an amazing gemstone that comes in any color you can imagine.

Artist Bio:
Mrs. Price tying ribbons on a tree for Beltane.
Based in Johns Creek, Georgia, Tanila Price enjoys creating one-of-a-kind prayer beads to aid any spiritual practice. As a retired nurse of age 62, Mrs. Price puts the love and compassion she learned from years of taking care of others into her work. Upon retirement she soon found that her next calling in life was creating prayer beads. Although her love for prayer beads has been a life long affair, she felt especially drawn to creating her own for personal use and for others. Mrs. Price's own words states “I have always loved prayer beads of any kind. I like the way they feel sliding through my fingers as I meditate and pray. I always have a strand with me. I even sleep with a strand.”. The Divine Feminine has a special place in Mrs. Price's heart. For this reason most of her designs reflect her passion and love for the Goddess and the Wiccan path. She is glad to make custom prayers beads for any path or religion. Mrs. Price states that she uses only genuine semiprecious gemstones and high quality findings to ensure that her prayers beads last for years to come. Mrs. Price does not simply make prayer beads, she truly makes them with love and care. She states “I fill each strand with as much power, energy and prayers as possible with the hopes that they will bring comfort and joy to those who purchase them. Each set of prayer beads is blessed with prayer, light and love”.

My Personal Opinion:
Personally I love the symbolism and beauty of this design. I really love that this type of prayer beads encourages you to create your own prayers, which is a refreshing practice. What is most interesting about this design is that that Christians and Wiccans alike can use this set of prayer beads to aid their spirituality. I find this set of prayer bead's focus on the Feminine aspect of the Divine is both empowering and refreshing. The Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways. I also love how Mrs. Price prays as she creates her prayer beads that is such a beautiful devotion. Most people over look that you can create change in someone's life through prayer, but Mrs. Price understands this and puts it in action. Personally I find this to be very moving and beautiful. 

If you are looking for one of a kind prayer beads I recommend checking out Mrs. Price's website at http://www.facebook.com/magickaliveofcrowsnestcoven she operates her shop through Facebook. If you have a custom request just send her a message.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review Time! Custom Mala Shop's Exclusive Howlite and Lapis Lazuli Pocket Mala

Simply Breathtaking
As many of you know, I have a deep passion for collecting prayer beads. I have prayer beads from a variety of cultures and religions within my connection: including Buddhist malas, Christianity rosaries, and Pagan prayer beads. Yet this is the first pocket mala to ever grace my collection. Pocket malas are smaller versions of the standard 108 count malas used for meditation and devotional practices. The standard number of 108 counter beads is divided by 4 giving us 27 counters beads - allowing you to take your mala with you anywhere! This pocket mala was lovely hand-crafted by Jason Walz of Custom Mala Shop and features many aspect that are exclusive - If you truly want a one-of-a-kind mala Custom Mala shop is the place to go.

Custom Mala Shop's Exclusive Features:

Bead Re-drilling:
Each of the beads are individually re-drilled using a specialized process of submerging the bead in water as it is drilled. The craftsmanship of the drill work is exquisite and smooth, which helps the cord to last longer and protects it from becoming damaged through use.

Three Cord Design:
Unlike most malas I have purchased, this mala is designed to withstand the riggers of daily meditative use. It features three strands of 1.5mm cord, which is much thicker and stronger than standard .8mm cord making this mala far more durable. Each of the beads of this mala were re-drilled so that they could be stung onto the three cords. When comparing the cords of this mala to the cords of malas in my collection, I quickly found that there is no comparison - this mala feels far more durable than any of the others. This mala features three cords in pink, light blue, and light purple.

Adjustable Knot Design:
This mala features a very unique knotting design that allows you to adjust the space between the beads. Personally I love this feature because it allows me to choose how much spacing between the beads I would like. To the best of my knowledge this is an exclusive design only found at Custom Mala Shop.


High Quality Beads:
The quality of the Howlite and Lapis Lazuli beads is very impressive. They have such a wonderful lustrous and glow about them. These beads are not only beautiful they are a pleasure to hold.
Below are the measurements of the beads
  • 25 x 10mm White Howlite main beads
  • 2 x 8mm Deep Blue Lapis main beads
  • 2 x 12mm Deep Blue Lapis marker beads
  • 1 x 12mm Deep Blue Lapis guru bead
3-D Sterling Silver Pendent:
Attached to this mala is a gorgeous sterling silver seated Buddha pendant. Unlike most pendents you will find attached to malas else where this pendent is 3-dimensional with beautiful craftsmanship.

Whats makes Custom Mala Shop truly unique is that you can custom design your own mala anyway you want. Each mala at Custom Mala Shop is made to order and can be custom designed. If you are looking for something that isn't listed on the main website contact the artist with your special requests. If you can dream it, he can make it! Including malas made from such exotic materials as wooly mammoth ivory - a form of fossil ivory that is over 10,000 years old!

Artist Bio:
"My name is Jason Walz and I am the proprietor of the Custom Mala Shop. I consider myself a non-denominational Dharma Practitioner who follows no single teacher or lineage. I originally became interested in Dharma Practice through the Martial Arts and Taoism. While practicing martial arts I became much more interested in the "why" of the arts rather than the physical process (although really they are one and the same). So, I first started to investigate Taoism. That in turn led me to investigate Buddhism and the Buddha's teachings. The Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path resonated with me immediately. I had always been interested in religion in general (I have a BA in anthropology) but the Buddha's teachings seemed to transcend the rote scholarly approach to religion. They offered to me a way to approach life that simply "made sense".

Now, several years later, I no longer practice the martial arts but I focus a great deal of my time not only contemplating the Buddha's teachings but also hopefully living them partially through my effort of practicing Right Livelihood. Right Livelihood is of course the 5th step in the Eight Fold Path. It is through Right Livelihood that one attempts to earn a living while not harming others; while not acting selfishly; while contributing to the lessening of the suffering of others. I hope that the Malas I make help to accomplish this. Making Malas also allows me to express myself artistically. Although really it is the customer who comes up with the majority of the creativity involved I do get to play at "artist" as I put together the customer's creation. I get great satisfaction and peace from doing something as simple as watching a diamond tipped drill bit slowly sink into a lapis bead. I find it relaxing to sit and drop bead after bead onto a strand of cord and listen to the "clack-clack-clack".

A little more biographically speaking I am a single dad of two stunningly wonderful kids. I also have two Rhodesian Ridgebacks that help me make Malas by sleeping on the sofa all day (or under my feet!). I live in sunny Mesa Arizona and ride my mountain bike on the local trails daily. I recently (as of June 2011) left my regular 9-5 job in favor of making Malas full-time. The Custom Mala Shop is now my main source of income although I am still doing as little database management on a consulting basis." ~ Jason Walz

About Malas:

History

  • Buddhist prayer beads, traditionally called malas, first developed as a religious tool on the Indian continent. "The use of beads in prayer appears to have originated with Hindu religious practices in India, possibly around the 8th century," writes the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Missouri. Since the 8th century the practice of using a mala during meditating as been seen in Buddhism, Hindus and among those from any walk of life who enjoy meditation.

Identification

  • Standard Buddhists mala normally consist of 108 beads, but the number may vary in different sects of Buddhism. Each bead is a symbol of impurities and flaws that an individual must overcome.
    108 beads is said to represent the following formula:
    6 x 3 x 2 x3 = 108
    6 senses of a human being: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought
    3 times: past, present, future
    2 conditions of heart, mind or intention: pure or impure
    3 disturbing emotional states or "kleshia": like, dislike, indifference

Significance in Buddhism

  • The Buddha himself is believed to have instructed his followers to utilize the use of malas. There is a Sutra (Buddhist Text) in which a King asks to the Buddha for a simple practice to help ease his suffering from various difficulties. Buddha responded by telling him to string 108 seeds and recite the three part refuge prayer upon them.

Origin

  • The word mala, also referred to as japa mala, is derived from the Indian Sanskrit phrase for garland. The English word rosary, the western term for prayer beads, owes it's etymology to Roman miscommunication. "When Roman explorers came into India and encountered the mala, they heard japa mala, and japa for the Romans meant 'rose,'' according to ReligionFacts.com. The word "rosary" eventually evolved from that translation as Romans carried the prayer bead concept back to the western world.
About Gemstone Properties:
When purchasing a mala for meditation it is always a good idea to look into the spiritual symbolism and metaphysical properties of the materials from which the mala is made. This mala holds many symbolic aspects that make it unique.

Howlite Beads:
Meditating with Howlite is thought to help reduce anxiety, tension and stress. Howlite is believed to hold many other metaphysical properties such as: helping to facilitate awareness, encouraging emotional expression and assisting in the elimination of pain, stress and rage. Howlite is believed to be a stone of attunement, helping one to access her higher spiritual consciousness. For this reason Howlite is thought to strengthen positive character traits, removing selfishness, rude behavior, and greed. It is also thought to help with connecting to the Divine and to slowly remove the veils that block truth.

Geological:
Stone Type/Family: Member of the Silicates and Carbonates Class
Crystal System: Monoclinic
Chemical Composition: Ca2B5SiO9(OH)5 Calcium Boro-silicate Hydroxide
Hardness: 2.5-3.5

Metaphysical:
Primary Chakra: ALL
Astrological sign(s): Gemini, Virgo

Fun Fact: Howlite is named after Henry How of Nova Scotia when he first described it in 1868.

Lapis Lazuli Beads:
Meditating with Lapis Lazuli is thought to bring inner peace, assist with openness, strengthen inner power, help one to express love, expand intuitive skills, and bring purification. In ancient times Lapis Lazuli was thought to strengthen the mind and body, allowing one's inner power to manifest. It was also thought to purify one's thoughts and bring inner peace. Symbolically Lapis Lazuli represents the power of the spoken word and is thought to help foster verbal expression, and clear problems caused by fear of speaking in public. Lapis Lazuli is said to encourage clear, truthful expression when sharing information with others. The ancient Egyptians used Lapis Lazuli as a symbol of Truth. Practitioners of crystal healing say that Lapis Lazuli is a good stone to expand intuitive skills while remaining objective and open to reasoned analysis. It is also thought that this gemstone shields against negative emotions.

Geological:
Stone Type/Family: A member of the Feldspathoid Family, Silicates Class. Lapis Lazuli, or Lapis for short, is mostly Lazurite with inclusions of Pyrite, Calcite and other minerals.
Crystal System: Isometric
Chemical Composition: (Na,Ca)8(Al,Si)12O24S2FeS CaCO3Al2O3, Sodium Calcium aluminumosilicate
Hardness: 5.5-6.5

Metaphysical:
Primary Chakra:  Throat, Third Eye, Crown
Astrological sign(s): Sagittarius

Fun Fact: Lapis Lazuli is said to have been in existence since the birth of time, and was used by ancient Hebrews on ceremonial robes. Lapis Lazuli is one of the original stones in the breastplate of the High Priest.

Sterling Silver Medallion:
Silver is a metal associated with intuition, love, inner peace and protection. Symbolically silver relates to the moon and is often associated with the yin or feminine energies. For this reason it is thought to help over come aggressiveness by bringing peace into one's awareness. It is also said that silver acts as a "mirror to the soul", allowing one to see deep within the herself with absolutely no judgment.

Geological:
Stone Type/Family: A member of the Gold Group, Elements Class
Crystal System: Isometric
Chemical Composition: Ag, Elemental silver
Hardness: 2.5-3

Metaphysical:
Primary Chakra: ALL
Astrological sign(s): Cancer, Aquarius
Vibration: Number 4

Fun Fact: Silver is used in jewelry, tableware, coins, scientific equipment and in photographic processes.

Color Symbolizism - Light Pink Cord:
Pink is the color of universal love. It is a quiet soothing color that is thought to provide feelings of caring, tenderness, self-worth and love, acceptance.

Color Symbolizism - Light Blue Cord:
Blue is the color of harmony. It is the most smoothing color and is thought to have a calming affect. Symbolically light blue is the color of inspiration, sincerity, peace, and spirituality.

Color Symbolizism - Light Purple Cord:
Purple is the color of good judgment. It is thought to encourage peace of mind and aid mediation. Symbolically it is the color of spiritual fulfillment, magic, mystery and royalty.

The Benefits of Meditation:
Science has proven that practicing meditation on a regular bases has many health benefits. Studies show that with as little 10 to 15 minutes of daily meditation we can improve our physical and emotional health, while at the same time strengthening our minds. Considering the benefits, devoting a few minutes of your day to meditation is time well spent. Below are the benefits.

  1. Stabilizes the autonomous nervous system.
  2. Increases concentration, self-esteem, spontaneity, creativity, and depth of awareness. Studies also show that mediators have warmer interpersonal relationships, less anxiety, increased self-esteem and self-confidence, increased problem-solving ability and greater creativity.
  3. Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
  4. It reduces the heart beat
  5. Lowers high blood pressure- There is strong evidence that meditation helps lower blood pressure in people who are normal or moderately hypertensive. This finding has been replicated by more than nineteen studies, some of which have shown systolic reductions among their subjects of 25 mmHg or more. A few people with acute hypertension have also experienced lower blood pressure in experiments of this kind. Several studies, however, have shown that relief from high blood pressure diminishes or disappears entirely if meditation is discontinued(not practiced on a regular bases)."
  6. EMG activity increases
  7. Stomach function and bowel function improve
  8. The endocrine function is heightened- It has been recently demonstrated that meditation reduces sympathetic adrenergic receptor sensitivity, producing a decreased response to stressful situations.
  9. Body posture is improved
  10. Stamina increases
  11. Improved energy level and vitality
  12. Production of serotenine increases- Serotonin influences mood and behavior in many ways. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to a variety of disorders. For example, conditions associated with low serotonin levels include: depression, obesity, insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
  13. Intake of oxygen gets stronger
  14. Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
  15.  Decreases muscle tension (any pain due to tension) and headaches.
  16. Increases exercise tolerance in heart patients.
  17. Leads to a deeper level of relaxation.
  18. Helps those who suffer from insomnia:: When trained in meditation, 75% of suffers experienced improvement.19. Helps to improve chronic diseases like allergies , asthma etc.
  19. Helps those who suffer from Chronic Pain
  20. Helps in post-operative healing.
  21. Enhances the immune system.
  22. Improved Awareness and Concentration.
  23. Slows the aging process
  24. Helpful for treating Habits and AddictionsReferences
http://www.womenfitness.net/yoga_meditation.htm
http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/



My Personal Opinion:
For the reasons that I have listed above this mala is the pride of my collection. Its beauty, compact size, and exquisite craftsmanship set this mala apart from the others within my collection. This mala is a pleasure to use! If you are looking for a mala that will last a life time I highly recommend Custom Mala Shop - you will not be disappointed!

Check out Custom Mala Shop at http://www.custommalashop.com/