Kathleen Borealis

Helping humankind live with the earth not against it

The Island of a God is Awake.

Vulcano is Awake. Does that name sound vaguely familiar? Vulcano, an island and volcano in Italy is where we get the name “volcano”. It is also the traditional home of the God Hephaestus in the Greek pantheon and Vulcan in the Roman pantheon. 

In volcanology we often name phenomena and processes after a “type volcano”. Hawaii has given its name to a whole style of eruption along with the name of several flow types and other phenomena. Vulcanian eruptions are named for the style of eruption common at Vulcano, just as Stromboli is the type location for Strombolian eruptions. Plinian eruptions are named for Pliny the Elder a famous intelectual from Rome whose death in the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius outside of Pompeii was importazlied by his nephew Pliny the Younger. Pliny the Elder is in fact a common source for information on the use and thinking of crystals in the Roman world. 

But back to Vulcano. (Volcano specific information provided by the GVP see Resources at the end of the post 1.)

Vulcano is an island and volcano and one of Italy’s Aeolian islands north of the east coast of Sicily. It is in between Mt Etna on Sicily and Stromboli, another island just to its north. 

Vulcano island circled in red. Map modified from (2).

The island itself is made up of several overlapping volcanic features including the two main eruption centers Caldera del Piano (to the SE) and the current center of activity Caldera della Fossa (NW). The island is 136,000 years old and the volcanism has migrated north over time. Vulcanello is a low lava platform that wasn’t connected to the main island until around 1550 CE and was therefore a separate island in the Classical Era. 

Map of the island and volcano of Vulcano including the local infrastructure. Note La Fossa the main crater in the upper central part of the island and Vulcanello in the north. (3). 

The last known eruption of Vulcano was in the late 1890s and took place at the La Fossa cone. There are numerous historical eruptions known from the historical record as well as from the rock record previous to that eruption. Since then the only activity recorded in the GVP was in the 1980s and 90s and consists of small earthquake swarms on the island and changes in the intensity, temperature, and composition of the gasses escaping via the fumaroles on the island. 

Historic photo of eruption from La Fossa in 1888 (1).

Current activity and unrest on the island began in July 2021. 

Let’s take a moment to define that term “unrest”. It basically means a deviation from background levels of activity. Some volcanoes always have some earthquakes and degassing, and others don’t. What is considered unrest at a volcano is specific to that volcano. It basically just means the volcano is doing something different than its normal. So any change in any number of monitored types of activity is considered unrest. Unrest CAN lead to an eruption but it doesn’t always. The activity in the 80s and 90s was unrest but then nothing happened. So we will have to wait and see what this episode of unrest brings. 

Since July 2021 the monitoring agency has noted an increase in the temperature of the gasses escaping the volcano at the crater as well as a change in the composition of the gasses. This particular change in gas composition is one that is often linked to the presence of magma in the system. The temperature has increased to 340°C (644°F) and the area where gasses are escaping has increased. In September there was an increase in very small earthquakes (ones that can’t be felt) at the summit as well. Due to all of this the authorities responsible for the volcano closed the summit area on 14 October and there have been some evacuations and reports of animals dying from gases that had made their way into one of the villages on the island. 

Image from newsicilia

In an article posted on November 20, 2021 the level of toxic gasses was at an unprecedented level and the civil defense raised the alert level from yellow to orange. There was also talk about evacuating a further 250 inhabitants. The situation has started to rapidly evolve. (4) In a quote from the regional president Musumeci in the article on VolcanoDiscovery (5) he said that “the continued increase in toxic gas emissions recorded by the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in recent days requires the adoption of urgent precautions in order to protect public and private safety, close monitoring of the volcanic phenomena, access restrictions to endangered areas, and the possible evacuation of the population from their homes.” He added that “the government is close to the community and committed to working with the mayor and all other national structures in dealing with the emergency”.

Timeline of gas measurements at the volcano. You can see a sharp uptick in the amount of CO2 starting in July 2021 (5).

This island is more than the home to the volcano that gave volcanoes their name. It is also traditionally the home of a God. Italian volcanos I find fascinating because they are seen as the “home of” someone rather than an entity on their own (common in more animistic mythos). Italy has a “big four” of volcanoes: Stromboli, Etna, Vesuvius, and Vulcan. Of these, Vulcan is the only one with no eruption in the 20th century onward. Stromboli and Etna are constantly vying for attention and Vesuvius last erupted during WWII. However, it is still Vulcano that is the home to Hephaestus/Vulcan. I thought it would therefore be interesting to take a look at some of the mythology surrounding this island. 

Hephaestus is the Olympian god of fire, smiths, craftsmen, metalworking, stonemasonry and sculpture with Vulcan often cited as his Roman counterpart. To me it makes sense that a God of smithing would be associated with volcanoes but I also wanted to talk to some actual blacksmiths about this as well. (6)

According to the theoi.com (6) article on Hephaestus his association with volcanoes comes later in history as the Greeks tended to associate volcanic activity with the Gigante-sons of Gaia instead. It was through his association with the Roman volcano-god Adranus-Volcanus that we get the association with the island of Vulcano. In fact he was originally associated with the Greek island of Lemnos. Later he was associated with the neighboring volcano of Etna on the island of Sicily where his workshop was believed to be located. Etna is also thought to be the prison of Typhoeus (and the activity is thought to be related to the great monster moving and trying to escape). The Vulcano association seems to have happened in the late Roman era when the Romans were culturally integrating the Greek mythic history with attributes of local Gods like Vulcan being associated with Hephastus whose stories would have been told by the Greek settlers on Sicily. So if we were to separate out the two Vulcan has his forge at Vulcano, and Hephaestus seems to have moved around and could be at either volcano (Etna or Vulcao). 

However, that is the common association today and is in fact pretty widely known among volcanologists as well. The current myth-understanding is that Vulcano is the forge for Hephaestus/Vulcan. 


I spoke with Traci (MythicalMagpie) who is a practitioner who works with Hephaestus in her practice. She was drawn to working with him as a creator, not especially as a smith (although she is interested in trying it). “There was something about […] that he was imperfect. And in his imperfection, he had the strength where he could entrap even the mighty Gods themselves. “ We also spoke about the current activity at the volcano and she said that it got her thinking about what that could have meant to our predecessors. Then we got distracted by this idea of “what is he making”? We looked at the temperature of the gasses coming off the volcano and started looking up melting temperatures of metals. 

I also reached out to several smiths. I personally didn’t know any and was interested to hear what they thought. 

In chatting with Chris H. of the youtube channel Blood Sweat and Steel we discovered an interesting similarity between volcanoes and forges. I often use the phrase “volcanoes have a personality” to describe how we generally know how volcanoes work but each one really is its own individual. He said forges are similar in that each one has its own personality you have to learn when you start working with it. We ended up speaking about a thead similar to what Traci said drew her to work with Hapheastus. When we were talking about raw materials he said “You’d be amazed at how boring [looking] very valuable things come from.” He also pointed out that while we may have this image in our head of what a forge looks like, those tend to be the older forges and modern forges look “Very disappointing” if that is what you are assuming. I guess that can go hand in hand with volcanoes too. You may picture a nice conical mountain but very rarely are they that perfect, and some are so low angle they just look like lumps or a hill.  

I also spoke with Kedrik, who specifically is a goldsmith (winterwolfritualis). He had a traditional master apprentice path into smithing and was also a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). He described being in the forge as “Hot, dirty, and gritty. The smithy is a place where earth and fire meet. We organize it and structure it so we can navigate but it is truly a place where a person can plant their feet in the earth and their hands in the flames of creation. There’s a real sense of power but also purpose. And in front of that forge you feel the flame that fuels the relationship.” Which to me sounds a lot like working on volcanoes. When I am working near the summit of a volcano usually there is little to no vegetation and in the tropics that means it is hot and sweaty work. Usually there is still ash on the ground that can easily get kicked up, also making it gritty work. He also sees the symmetry between volcanoes and forge as a place of creation stating “ […] I can see that as the volcano is the vent of the heat that allows life and creation on this planet, and after reading some of Bruce Damer’s work suggesting life came from volcanic vents and hot springs, I can appreciate the parallel of each as a cradle of creation.”

So as this volcano is waking up it may continue towards an eruption or it may just be some heat moving through the system. Hephaestus/Vulcan might just be firing up his forge and getting ready to make something in the crucible of heat that is his forge in a volcano. 

I wanted to end with a thought about the importance of place. I asked Traci if it mattered that while the idea that Hepheastus makes his forge at Vulcano is a more modern idea. She said it didn’t bother her that much which volcano it was. “I think there is a part of me that thinks that, […] his home Forge is sacred. This is where a guy goes to find safety, to find purpose, to do the thing that they were created to do. And, and to me, that’s sacred. […] For you know, ancient Greeks it just must have been so incredibly humbling [to see an eruption]. And so the fact that it may or may not have been him himself versus his home, it would still be just as inspiring and humbling to be present.” 

I will be keeping an eye on this volcano and updating as more information is available. If you want to keep an eye on the volcano there are two webcams 

Visual light camera. You can check the live image here
Thermal Camera. You can check the live image here

Thank you to everyone I spoke to for this little project. I wish I could put everything we talked about in here but this is just a blog post. Thank you also to Cory of New World Witchery for peer reviewing the mythology for me and translation help from an amazing Italian volcanologist and friend. 


Guests

Traci – Practicing pagan who works with Hephaestus
Twitter: MythicalMagpie
Instagram: mythicalmagpie
Tiktok: @mythicalmagpie
Website
Patreon: mythicalmagpie
Etsy: MythicalMagpie

Chris H. – Polytheist, animist, Celtic Pagan Witch, Devote of Brigid and the Morrigan, and a novice occultist Blacksmith
Youtube: Blood, Sweat and Steel.
Instagram: byhammerandbyanvil

Kedrik – goldsmith, guide, mentor, coach, consultant, and facilitator for personal development practices, esoteric exploration and study, and the creation of totemic relics and jewelry
Store: winter wolf ritualis
Custom work
Wielders Way project
Instagram: cedricwinterwolf , winterwolfritualis
Twitter: metaphystwolf , thewieldersway

Resources

Volcano Information – Global Volcanism Program
Volcano Information from local agency – Here and Here
Mythology Information – Theoi.com

Citations

  1. Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Vulcano (Italy). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 October-19 October 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey. https://volcano.si.edu/volcano.cfm?vn=211050
  2. Aeolian Islands, worldatlas.com https://www.worldatlas.com/islands/aeolian-islands.html
  3. Bonadonna C, Frischknecht C, Menoni S, Romerio F, Gregg C E, Rosi M, Biass S, Asgary A, Pistolesi M, Guobadia D, Gattuso A, Ricciardi A and Cristiani C 2021 Integrating hazard, exposure, vulnerability and resilience for risk and emergency management in a volcanic context: the ADVISE model Journal of Applied Volcanology 10 7 https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1186/s13617-021-00108-5
  4. Vulcano, ora è stato di emergenza per gas tossici. “La situazione è inedita”, cresce l’allerta sull’isola, newsicillia.it https://newsicilia.it/messina/cronaca/vulcano-ora-e-stato-di-emergenza-per-gas-tossici-la-situazione-e-inedita-cresce-lallerta-sullisola/729395
  5. VolcanoDiscovery Updates https://www.volcanodiscovery.com/vulcano/news/148026/Vulcano-volcano-Eolian-Islands-Italy-alert-level-raised-as-gas-concentrations-in-port-reach-critical.html
  6. Theoi.com https://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Hephaistos.html#Index
    https://www.theoi.com/Olympios/HephaistosGod.html#Volcano

Trying to find the Quartz

Why am I trying to find my quartz?

I shared this on a Discord server I am on and wanted to share with you. Pebbles like the ones on the left have a distinctive white line running through them. These veins are formed when cracks on the host rock are filled with fluids that deposit minerals into these cracks. This deposition over time builds up into the veins we see now.

See these cracks once they become veins have been strengthened. Sometimes they are more resistant to weather than the rest of the rock entirely and when you run your fingers over them you can feel that they are raised. The host rock breaks on different weaknesses and is rolled and tumbled by water into what we see.

What was once a weakness, a crack, has become a strength. It is the deposition of the quartz that turns that crack into a strong vein.

I have been feeling riddled with cracks lately. Honestly, I am trying my best to just get to the end of 2021. I know to survive long term I need to find a way to turn some of these cracks into veins and not breaking points. So I am trying to find that thing that will help me out of this hole I am in. I am trying to find the quartz I can fill the cracks with.

We can find profound messages from even the most humble pebble we find on the beach, or even in the gravel used in landscaping. We just have to think about its past. You don’t need fancy crystals to solve your problems. In fact they won’t. You solve your problems and you can use the most basic simple tools around you, or the most elaborate and expensive. It is up to you. I for one will simply keep a pebble with a quartz vein in my pocket as daily inspiration.

Borealis Meditation S04E18 – The End of Season 4

Sorry to say it but I really need a break. This is the end of season 4. I will be back with another season when I can but right now I just need to step back and take some time for myself.

I will still be around on socials so make sure to follow me on
Instagram: Katborealis
Twitter: Katborealis

And send me an email or a DM anywhere for access to the Discord server

If you would like to help cover the hosting costs for the podcast and website I also have a Ko-fi set up!

Be safe and I’ll talk to you soon!

Borealis Meditation – S04E17 Working with Crystals with Nicholas Pearson

Listen to the podcast here:

Join me as I chat with Nicholas Pearson about working with crystals, trends in the crystal industry, why quartz pebbles are the best, and talking about licking rocks. We get into if you need to cleanse and charge your crystals and a whole bunch more! Curious enough yet? Good. This was a lot of fun!

Catch up with Nicholas Pearson all over the web!
Instagram HERE
Twitter HERE
facebook HERE
Tiktok HERE
Website HERE

Books! Author Page
Crystal Basics (from the publisher)

Follow me on the web
Instagram HERE
Twitter HERE
Ko-fi HERE

A little Update March 2021

Hello My Wonderful Reader and Listeners,

I wanted to give you a bit of an update. I have had a bit of a good run getting podcast episodes out. But if you have followed me for a while you know this is a bit unusual. Because of COVID in 2020 my normal work travel stopped allowing me to get more content out. I have been working on a series on crystals and so far we have talked about the difference between crystals, minerals, and rocks, how to identify minerals, and how they get color. We have also talked about the ethics involved in buying crystals.

At this point I would like to focus my time on getting some resources together for crystals including researching some purchasing options. I have also done several podcast appearances which can be found under the podcast tab on my page. I have also been doing some peer review work for a few authors and I am super excited about some of the new books coming out.

The current plan is to try and get a few short posts/infographics done for the crystal ethics section since that is something I get asked a lot. I am an auditory learner so that is why I gravitated towards podcasting but I know not everyone is. I wanted to make sure the information is available for everyone.

We will be finishing out the crystals series with an episode on safety and care, and finally using crystals. For that we are going to talk about some theories and what that implies in terms of good places to source your materials in an ethical way. Then I want to talk about rocks!

I am also working to try and add more climate focused work into my social media feeds. If you have known me for a while you may know that I have trouble with this topic (and have been known to have to leave talks at conferences because I couldn’t hold back tears). But I know it is also important as an outreach person to engage in this topic.

This is a one woman shop so if anyone has experience with infographic design and would like to help out I would greatly appreciate it! Please shoot me an email borealis (dot) meditation (at) gmail (dot) com.

2021 Should be a year with a lot of change for me. No matter what I will be leaving SE Asia this year. Fingers and toes crossed it will be to New Zealand since I have already accepted a PhD position but with COVID everything has been unknown. I usually take some time when I move to get settled before starting the podcasting back up so I would like to get as much done as possible before then.

If you would like to support the hosting of the podcast I made a ko-fi you can contribute to as well.

Thank you all so much for your wonderful support over the years! This podcast has truly been my heartfelt thanks to the community for being my secret weapon helping me through my career and you mean the world to me.

Much love,

Kat

3-11 the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami – 10 years later

10 years ago a M9 rocked Japan. At that point I felt like the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami was going to my “big one”. I remember going to a meeting at school where everyone brought all the data they had run. I remember being in awe of how many buildings were able to stand up to the shaking of the earthquake. I remember my Mom calling to tell me to not be excited.

But also I remember talking about it on episode 11. I find it hard to listen to myself from that long ago so instead I wanted to tell you what I have learned in the 10 years since this event. (My archive can be found here)

We CAN build for large earthquakes. This was my biggest lesson. After Haiti in 2010 which was a M7 it was a big lesson for me. The different between a M7 and M9 is 100 times larger and 1000 times stronger. After Tohoku my advisor said something that stuck with me “earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings kill people” and we saw this play out again in L’Aquila.

Early Warning systems and community education is important. Japan has invested in its early warning system. It has phone alerts, sirens and the most amazing geophysical network of sensors. That combined with the education of the population lead to video after video of people safely evacuating by going up in buildings or on hills. The US STILL doesn’t have even close to what Japan has.

Some misinformation just sticks around. This fucking map is the god damn tsunami model and not a fucking “radiation from Fukushima” map. I will slap you if you. Period. Your seafood in the eastern Pacific is FINE.

This is a model of tsunami wave height in the Pacific produced for the 3-11 Tohoku 2011 earthquake. THIS IS NOT A MAP OF “RADIATION” if you share this map as “radiation” you are dead to me. I am so sick of seeing it!

The videos continue to fascinate me. Last year my husband and I discovered a trove of videos of the tsunami and couldn’t stop watching them. We “know” what tsunami waves look like and how they work but watching them in action was something else entirely.

Information travels faster than waves of any kind. The information wave about the earthquake and tsunami traveled faster than any of the physical waves. Enough so that several colleagues were able to set up extra sensors in order to capture it around the globe.

Know your hazards! If you live on the coast and you feel strong shaking that lasts for more than a few seconds evacuate up hill. Be safe.

Here are some of the videos (to the best of my memory these don’t contain the images of any victims however they may be upsetting to watch):

This video shows the progression as the wave comes inland from something “I could totally walk through” to buildings being ripped up. Tsunami waves are not regular waves. Evacuate.
This video shows how the walls being designed for a smaller event were so close and yet so far from being able to hold the water back.
This video shows just how long the intense shaking is for these “Great” earthquakes. Incredible footage

Borealis Meditation – S04E16 – Being an Ethical Crystal Consumer

Listen to the Episode here: 


This is part 2 of a two part episode on being a responsible crystal consumer. See part 1 here: Crystal Ethics – Extraction In this episode we talk about the supply chain post extraction.
To review these are my crystals series episodes: 

Two articles Mentioned:

Guests appearing in this episode
Yinan Wang, mineral seller
Find him on Twitter (where you can contact him for mineral requests) 
Patreon – Where he has a mineral of the month club (US only)
He has two Books: 50 State Gems and minerals and 50 state fossils
Shop his Etsy and Ebay

Nicholas Pearson is an author and teaches workshops on crystal healing. 
Find him on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram
Make sure to check out his Website where you can find all of his books

Fire Lyte is a fellow pagan podcaster 
Show: Inciting a Riot 
Upcoming book “The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft: Seeking an Intentional Magical Path”  is available for preorder now 
You can also follow him on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram
Also support his work on Patreon

Phoenix LeFae is the owner of Milk and Honey in Sebastopol CA 
Shop Website
Find her online on Twitter, and support on Patreon
New book with Gwion Raven Life Ritualized, a witches guide to honoring life’s important moments

Althaea Sebastiani is a witch, author, community leader, and independent prospector
Find out more information on her Website including her wonderful classes
Support her on Patreon
I highly recommend her books By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn: The theory and Practice of Effective Home Warding and Paganism for Beginners the complete guide to Nature Based spirituality for every new seeker
Follow online on Twitter and Instagram

Robyn Valentine is an author, online shop owner, and podcaster
Shop website
Per order her new Book: Magikal Tarot: spreads spellwork and rituals for creating your life
Listen to the Podcast
Follow on Twitter and Instagram

Devin Hunter is an author, podcaster, and works for the shop The Mystic Dream.
Shop website personal website shop
Personal Website
Books
Listen to his Podcast
Follow on Twitter and Instagram

Borealis Meditation – S04E15 Crystal Ethics – Extraction

Listen to the Episode here: 

This is part 1 of a two part series on being a responsible crystal consumer. In this episode we talk about the extraction side of the supply chain. 
To review these are my crystals series episodes: 

Music played with Permission:
S.J. Tucker – Wild Times can be purchased through Bandcamp
Keep up to date with S.J. Tucker’s online website & twitter
Next Online show March 19 Tickets available soon through “online concert thing

Guests appearing in this episode
Yinan Wang, mineral seller
Find him on Twitter (where you can contact him for mineral requests) 
Patreon – Where he has a mineral of the month club (US only)
He has two Books: 50 State Gems and minerals and 50 state fossils
Shop his Etsy and Ebay 

Nicholas Pearson is an author and teaches workshops on crystal healing. 
Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
Make sure to check out his Website where you can find all of his books

Fire Lyte is a fellow pagan podcaster 
Show: Inciting a Riot 
Upcoming book “The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft: Seeking an Intentional Magical Path”  is available for preorder now 
You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
Also support his work on Patreon 

Phoenix LeFae is the owner of Milk and Honey in Sebastopol CA 
Shop Website 
Find her online on Twitter, and support on Patreon 
New book with Gwion Raven Life Ritualized, a witches guide to honoring life’s important moments

Althaea Sebastiani is a witch, author, community leader, and independent prospector
Find out more information on her Website including her wonderful classes
Support her on Patreon
I highly recommend her books By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn: The theory and Practice of Effective Home Warding and Paganism for Beginners the complete guide to Nature Based spirituality for every new seeker 
Follow online on Twitter and Instagram

Robyn Valentine is an author, online shop owner, and podcaster
Shop website 
Per order her new Book: Magikal Tarot: spreads spellwork and rituals for creating your life
Listen to the Podcast 
Follow on Twitter and Instagram

#WitchesWearMasks

If you don’t already know I am currently located in SE Asia. Singapore to be exact. Have you seen our COVID numbers? They are pretty damn good. However, we are still wearing masks. My COVID reality is vastly different from the majority of pagan twitter/instagram. Here we are all wearing masks all the time. We have limited social gathering sizes even though we have zero community transmission most days. A lot of the reality of COVID life here is something that would not fly in the US for example. Sometimes honestly I have serious cognitive dissonance with the lack of freedoms I have here. However, I can see how it has worked in controlling an outbreak like COVID-19.

But about that #hashtag. I have been seeing more and more friends and online acquaintances sick and with friends and loved ones who are sick. This has been heartbreaking to watch. I have also watched in horror as the anti-mask/anti-science movement has grown. I started using this hashtag in December to try and spread a positive example. Even if everyone around you is being an IDIOT you are not alone in wearing a mask. Seeing everyone masked up has been so uplifting.

We have several different “myths” around the term “witches” in the west. One of them is that of the village healer or wise woman. So in channeling that, yes witches are those who care for their community so of course witches wear masks. The mask protects the wearing but actually it is more designed to protect everyone around you.

Wear a mask.
Protect yourself.
Protect others.
Show support to healthcare workers
Show our vulnerable community members you will protect them
Show our mourning and grieving community members you take it seriously

It is something so simple and really not that much of a hardship. Just wear a mask every single time you leave the house.

Also show your fabulous style with those amazing masks. Keep sharing them and keep tagging them and I will keep sharing them so we can show we have eachothers backs. This pandemic didn’t have to get so out of control but it did.

Take it seriously.
#WitchesWearMasks twitter/instagram

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