In this episode I answer questions from both the reddit /r/SASSWitches and from submitted from listeners. The episode starts with a bit of an overview of working in academic research to give a bit more context to why my job is. I hope you enjoy and I am always open to answer any questions.
My husband also sent me this comic called “How people in science see each other” I have excerpted it here but it links to the full version.
The book I recommended for getting into witchcraft is Paganism for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Nature-Based Spirituality for Every New Seeker by Althaea Sebastiani. I highly recommend this book and this author for everyone especially those new to this path.
The other book I mentioned was Venus and Aphrodite by Bettany Hughes which I listened to on Audible.
Music in this episode is used by permission of the artists
This episode I did a bit of research and used a bunch of different sources and switched them together. I have listed them as “more reading” If you have personal experience in working with ley lines or have experienced them. Please contact me!
I also received several definitions from listeners and I am listing the full replies that I used here.
Reddit user /u/Ladyofworries What I know about them is that there are different lines with different types of energies and on points they cross those energies combine and bring a certain mood to that spot. The believe in my family is that my grandma kind of gave up on life because her favorite spot to sit (she sat there nearly 24/7) was a combination of a very soothing line (which was great for her anxiety disorder) and a complainant, sleepy or lazy line which ended up with her having no real fight or motivation to stay alive when she got sick. I am never sure how much of it I believe but all i do know it that that spot does feel like falling asleep on a warm summer day. (She had someone with a dowsing rod check her home once and he told her the energy of her spot)
Reddit user /u/danglydolphinvagina Leylines are part of a broader pseudoscientific framework that believes that there is some type of energy that spans the globe, and that somehow this energy is structured in lines of power. It’s usually coupled with other beliefs like the idea that monuments and other significant structures have been purposefully built so as to align with this energetic network.
I think it’s a compelling mythopoetic idea to imagine that there is more to the world around us than we can see, and that even at our most industrious we are still beholden to its natural patterns and cycles. Leylines can be a helpful metaphor for thinking about this.
1846 idea that ancient sites were constructed in an alignment was proposed by Reverend Edward Duke
1909 Wihelm Teudt in Germany with the idea called Heilige Linien (holy lines)
1922 Alfred Watkins
1950’s Aime Michel French UFO sightings as linear features
The 7th lunar month (beginning on the New Moon) in Asia is known as “Hungry Ghost Month”. During this time it is believed that the gates of Hell are open and spirits and ghosts roam the human world for the duration of the month.
There are a number of different traditional practices during this time as well as some superstitions surrounding different actions.
This year Hungry Ghost month runs from August 19th through September 16th. The gates are believed to be open from the 1st through 30th day of the month with offerings made on the first, second, fifteenth, and last day of the month. It is common on the first day to offer a meal usually with fruits and deserts to show respect and as an exchange for the ghosts not bringing you any trouble, along with the burning of incense, paper money, and candles. During non-COVID years there are usually lots of cultural activities like community Chinese Opera performances known as getai’ performances.
In addition to all the activities normally carried out there are a number of things to be avoided.
Don’t wear closes with your name
Don’t pat other people on the shoulder
Don’t go out at night (Children and Senior Citizens especially)
Don’t stab your chopsticks into a bowl of rice (the ghosts will think it is an offering and may try to possess the person eating the rice).
Don’t open your umbrella inside the house (if you used the umbrella at night shots might have taken shelter and if you open it at home the spirits will enter your home).
Don’t leave your front door open at night (this invites negative energy in)
Don’t kill rare insects in your home (moths, grasshoppers and butterflies might be your ancestors paying a visit)
Don’t pee on trees (it offends the spirits in the area)
Don’t swim at night (ghosts of drowning victims might try to pull you down)
Leave the front row open at cultural events (it is reserved for the spirits)
Don’t kick the offerings left for the ghosts
Don’t play games that involve summoning spirits they are more powerful during 7th month
If someone calls your name from behind at night don’t turn around.
Do not gossip about ghosts they may try to put you in your place
Don’t get married or move house during 7th month (the spirits might try to join in when they aren’t welcome.
What are these offerings? The main type of offering is “joss paper” which is paper money as offerings. There is a belief that in order to send gifts to ancestors they must be burned so along with paper, things like paper houses, cars, watches etc. are burned as well.
This massive amount of burning paper also results in a lowering of air quality during this time.
This year of course the usual cultural festivals like traditional Chinese opera are not happening. As another sign of the times a shop in Hong Kong was seen to be selling joss paper masks to send to those in the afterlife. (source)
Here are some of the definitions we discussed and links to the quotes I used for each section.
Element: Elements are atoms, the smallest piece that we can split matter into (except for subatomic particles and other things that we’ll leave to the physicists). Different elements have different properties. Take two different elements: iron and helium. Iron is very different than helium. You wouldn’t fill a balloon with iron any more than you would try to build a bridge out of helium. (ASU)
A solid can be made of a single element, and as we will see that is not a mineral. The elements that are known are all listed in the Periodic table. They have different properties and are defined based on the number of protons and electrons. Periodic Table
Mineral: Minerals are materials that meet five requirements. They are: 1. naturally occurring, 2. inorganic, 3. solids, 4. with a definite chemical composition, and, 5. an ordered internal structure (geology.com)
or from mindat.org an “informal but practical definition” A mineral is a chemical element or compound that: 1. has a more-or-less constant composition. 2. is usually a solid with an ordered three dimensional array of ions and molecules in its crystal structure. 3. is formed by natural geologic processes and without human or other biologic intervention. 4. is not a mixture of two or more blended substances. (mindat.org)
The ordered internal structure is also called the “Crystal Structure”
“Crystal structure is a continuous ordered arrangement of one or more elements. This is simply a fancy way of saying that minerals are composed of elements that are stacked in an orderly and neat fashion. You can think of elements as different sized marbles (except, in this case, the marbles are all very, very tiny!). Based on the relative sizes of the marbles, they can be stacked in different ways […].
A good example of a simple mineral is table salt (Yes, salt is a mineral.). The proper mineral name for table salt is halite, and a geologist will often identify it by tasting it. Salt is composed of two elements; Sodium (Na) and Chlorine (Cl). Sodium and chlorine are strongly attracted to each other and stack together into a cubic crystal structure (see figure). Individual salt (halite) crystals have a cubic shape to them, which is mimicking the way that the individual elements are stacking together. Even though the elements are much too small to be able to see with your eyes (or even most microscopes), you can tell how they are stacking together by looking at the shape of the salt crystals.” (ASU)
“Most importantly, [a mineral is something that] has been exhaustively studied and characterized by mineralogists, declared unique in its composition and structure, and the original specimen(s) that was studied deposited for preservation in a professionally curated museum.”(mindat.org)
Mineraloid: “A mineraloid meets almost all of the criteria of a mineral except the organized structure. Some can also lack the definite chemical composition. Minerals as we talked about are “crystalline” meaning they have an organized structure. Because mineraloids are “amorphis” they do not have an order structure. I think this is better explained with examples. Opal, obsidian, pele’s hair, and tektites are all mineraloids. Now the last few are types of natural glasses where because of the heat and the quick cooling no crystals are able to form.”(Geology.com)
There is some controversy if organic materials can also be included. Remember that part of the definition of a mineral was that it was non-organic. This means some people include things like amber and jet as a mineraloid and others don’t. Jet is a type of coal which is made from plant material like leaves and amber is from plant resin. Also there are materials that are made in the deep ocean from the “ooze” made up of tiny organisms like diatoms and radiolarians shells called diatomite and radiolarite. For our sake I think we should also consider these mineraloids since they also lack an organized structure.
So in that case a mineraloid is a solid, naturally occurring material without a defined interior structure and may or may not have a defined chemical composition, generally inorganic but some organic materials can also be included.
Anthropogenic substances: “Anthropogenic substances are those produced by humans. They are not minerals. Crystals grown in a laboratory (or someone’s basement) or in laboratory or industrial furnace or retort are not minerals. Any crystals that are found on or in any man-made object are not a mineral.”(mindat.org)
Rocks: “A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks are usually grouped into three main groups: igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks and sedimentary rocks.”(wikipedia)
“A rock is not a mineral, nor is a mineral a rock. However, the components of a rock are minerals. Most types of rock have multiple minerals, a few have only one. Single mineral rocks are termed monomineralic rock.”(mindat)
Igneous Rocks: An igneous rock starts out purely as a melt. Everything is liquid and all the elements are there swimming around. Then it starts to nucleate minerals, some start growing before others and use up all the elements they want. It can either cool slowly and all the crystals will grow into an interlocking solid material like a granite, or can be brought to the surface and erupt and cool quicker with some small crystals and the melt freezing not having totally formed crystals. Obsidian is the extreme of this where basically no crystals have had time to form and the melt is just frozen. Of course it is a little more complicated but we can go into that another time.
Sedimentary Rocks: Sedimentary rocks are formed when the rocks at the surface break down either physically by breaking apart into smaller pieces or chemically. These small bits can be redeposited and smoshed and get cemented together and this forms our sedimentary rocks. Generally speaking when a rock physically breaks apart you can end up with either pieces with several minerals, or a single crystal and anywhere in between.
Metamorphic Rocks: Metamorphic rocks can be formed from either sedimentary or igneous rocks. These are rocks where the original rock is subjected to higher levels of pressure and temperature and the minerals can start to change into other minerals. This can happen to a small or large degree and rocks can also start to flow and make cool patterns. Then this smooshed and heated rock is brought back to the surface for us to marvel at. The minerals in the original rock can change their composition and/or structure at these different conditions so one rock can be turned into multiple different types depending on how much pressure and temperature it experienced. Some minerals are only formed through this process.
“A crystal is a regular polyhedral form, bounded by planes, which is assumed by a chemical element or compound, under the action of its intermolecular forces, which passing, under suitable conditions, from the state of a liquid or gas to that of a solid. A crystal is characterized first by its definite internal molecular structure and second, by its external form.” (mindat)
From merriam-webster: 1. a clear, transparent mineral or glass resembling ice. 2. the transparent form of crystallized quartz.
“A crystal consists of matter that is formed from an ordered arrangement of atoms, molecules, or ions. The lattice that forms extends out in three dimensions. Because there are repeated units, crystals have recognizable structures. Large crystals display flat regions (faces) and well-defined angles. Crystals with obvious flat faces are called euhedral crystals, while those lacking defined faces are called anhedral crystals. Crystals consisting of ordered arrays of atoms that aren’t always periodic are called quasicrystals. The word “crystal” comes from the Ancient Greek word krustallos, which means both “rock crystal” and “ice.” The scientific study of crystals is called crystallography. “(thought co)
“difference between gem and crystal is that gem is a precious stone, usually of substantial monetary value or prized for its beauty or shine while crystal is (countable) a solid composed of an array of atoms or molecules possessing long-range order and arranged in a pattern which is periodic in three dimensions.” (WikiDiff)
“A gemstone is a crystalline mineral that can be cut and polished to make jewelry and other ornaments. The ancient Greeks made a distinction between precious and semiprecious gems, which is still used. Precious stones were hard, rare, and valuable. The only “precious” gemstones are diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald. All other quality stones are called “semiprecious,” even though they may not be any less valuable or beautiful.” (ThoughtCo)
I will be making a formatted reference post shortly as a quick guide. Let me know if you have any questions!
I have been listening to Dan Carlin for YEARS like… more than I want to say because it makes me feel old. He is super into the human experience in the past. His recent book has an excellent chapter on pandemics and his has an old episode on the topic as well.
Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer
I don’t know what to say other than I LOVE her!
I don’t know what to say about this book other than I just love love love this book! My copy has so many underlines. This is where I got the accelerating climactic chaos! Much better than Climate Change.
This is a quick mini-episode going over something basic we all KNOW is good to practice but tend to forget about.
We talk about deep breathing and different ways to try and master this breathing technique. One place you can look for tips is from singing exercises.
One of the easy ways to feel if you are “doing it right” when it comes to breathing deep and into your lower lungs is to stand with one hand on your belly and the other on your lower back and try to feel the breath in you lower back. Breath into you lower back and focus on moving that hand.
Another tip is to feel like there is a rubber band around your waste or a tube and inflate and expand it when you breath in.
Remember to breath in for shorter than you breath out. So if you breath in for a count of 3 breath out for a count of 4.
If you have any questions you can always find me on twitter
I had an “ah-ha!” moment on this common question recently and decided it deserved a short episode. So here is a discussion on earthquakes and triggering of earthquakes.
If you don’t want to listen and just want the answers to these questions:
Can a large earthquake trigger other earthquakes? YES! these are called aftershocks and their patterns are well studied and pretty well understood. Also with the largest of earthquakes, their big seismic waves traveling around the earth can trigger micro-quakes as they pass.
Are earthquakes increase? NO! After a large earthquake there is a bias towards reporting on more of the earthquakes that occur. So you are seeing an increase in reporting of earthquakes not the global rate of earthquakes increasing.
Animals!? There are 4 types of seismic waves and its possible they are recognizing the “p” and “s” waves that you may not feel. Also my cats always slept through them in Hawaii! Horrible earthquake early warning system!
One of the things I have always been a little uncomfortable with is the exchange of money for my work. Not that I am against the exchange of money for my work, but what to charge. I don’t want to undervalue practitioners who do it for a living, but I also don’t want to charge too much. See I have a full time job, and I am big on gifting. When I make things I like to share, and I have never been able to find the Goldilocks price range.
But I also find making small batches isn’t as easy as a medium size batch of spray, soap… etc. So how to price what I have been making recently? Some are my own recipes and some are based on recipes I found in New Orleans, and if I charge too little it devalues it, but if I charge too much that feels like taking advantage.
So I was stuck until the other day I had an idea. What if I convert the prices on the notebook from the Pharmacy Museum into modern day prices! I wonder what that would be.
My thinking is this: the formulations are in a notebook from a early half of the last century. They are written in pharmacist shorthand. Documentary evidence exists that hoodoo formulations were sold by white male pharmacists, who may or may not have worked with hoodoo practitioners. But this is the actual physical ingredients with a price so it is possible that the pharmacist was just mixing them and selling them on his own. So if you consider the price of the item to be physical object + intangible value added we can think of these prices as the physical object +/- intangible. So, this was considered a fair price at the time so let’s see how this all works out with the numbers! Math time!
The price listed range from $0.1/oz to $ 0.25/oz
Now the actual date of the artifact but the displays on the ground floor of the museum that opened in 1950 are referred to as “mid 19th century” but there is also a sign in that section that mentioned someone who was convicted for selling hoodoo wares in the 1930’s. Googling around it and looking at old pharmacist notebook pictures the sheets look on the early side and not 1930’s maybe closer to 1900. (finding the actual date range will require more research) So we have a range from 1850 – 1930 a pretty wide range, so I went wit 1910.
What cost $1 in 1913 (earliest year in the inflation calculator) would cost $25.90 (I like rounding so lets make it $26) in 2019 so $0.10 becomes $2.60 per oz. and $0.25 becomes $6.50 per oz
Everything is in metric where I am now so lets round to 30mL per oz (glass bottles are sold as 30mL or 1 ounce)
so the price per mL would be $0.09 per mL – $0.21 so lets be nice and change it to $0.10 /mL and $0.20/mL
Now we have the price in adjusted for inflation as $0.10 /mL – $0.20/mL Doesn’t that work out nice?
This is based on the prices being from ~1913 (but we don’t know if they are earlier or late). Also we don’t know if the original prices I found were sold with or without the “intangible value added” so 3 to 6 dollars for a 30 mL bottle of my sprays would be the range.
Essential oils here are on the expensive side here and mine come with the intangible value added part, so I think I am comfortable with the $6 price. But is this reasonable?
Lucky Mojo sells Fast Luck oil for $7.50 USD and my Lucky Mojo bottles look like they are 1/2 ounce. This sounds like around the same range as what I got other oils in New Orleans when I was there for, so for someone who uses a different cheaper base (sprays not oils) I think I am in the right range.
If I add on a $1.5 bottle charge then I also get $7.50 USD or ~ $10 SGD.
I hope that was an interesting discussion for you. It’s a little bit into my brain and how I use tools from my research work in science in my practice. I also think this type of research/thought experiment can help decisions like “how much should I charge for this” be based in historical precedent.
We should never devalue our work, even if money makes you uncomfortable. But we also shouldn’t take financial advantage of customers by over charging. I think that having a range like $3-6 in mind allows for a range of different price teirs from gifts (close friends and family) to a lower price (friends and lower income) and average customers, that doesn’t devalue the effort I put in. Also I think it shows that the current range of prices out there from whole sellers like Lucky Mojo who know what they are doing, and small individuals like Candle Smoke Chapel (they are awesome check them out), are actually very reasonable based on historic price data we have.
So if you are in Singapore right now you will soon be able to get my sprays for $10 in the bottle or 0.30 SGD/mL with your own bottle. I am also a big fan of making things yourself so when I have a formulation I am happy with feel free to ask.
Also remember the difference is in the “intangible value added” of each maker and how much that is worth to you should be considered when you are assessing the reasonableness of a price.
New episode! Hanging out with Sarah Rose a friend of mine from the Pacific Northwest. We chat about making soaps, sprays, oils, and wild crafting.
Sarah Rose makes sustainable wild-harvested herbal medicine and body care products in the Pacific Northwest. You can find her at farmers markets and also online at her website and follow her on instagram