Signs From Those Beyond the Veil

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I’ve been neglectful. Since the viewing we attended in Pennsylvania, I’ve caught a bad case of bronchitis and our eldest dog, Taz, developed megaesophagus. So, I have not been writing much. In today’s post, I’m going to get a little personal. I’m going to explain what brought an abrupt end to the life of a very happy and healthy dog. Then I am going to explain how we communicate with those we lost and how we stay open to receiving messages from them after they’re gone.

Megaesophagus. If the cause of the enlarged esophagus is obstruction, sometimes removal of the obstruction can help the condition. If the cause isn’t obstruction, then the cause is of little importance; the prognosis is the same. X-rays indicated no obstruction.

When eating, your esophagus contracts and enlarges. Taz’s was stuck in enlarged mode. So, a lot of food and water was entering his lungs. He would regurgitate food and water immediately upon eating or drinking. He predictably developed pneumonia. The lack of eating created nausea. We fed Taz a diet the vet recommended. We made him eat standing straight up, as that could aid in food actually getting to his stomach and the vet gave him antibiotics to fight the pneumonia.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

We were told this is what will kill him. I took the news knowing my job was to keep this old boy as comfortable and full as possible. We were told that if he gets over the pneumonia and can keep some food down, he could live a few more months or longer. Looking at Taz’s pained face and tired eyes, I was wondering how much fight he truly had left in him.

Right after we were married,my husband and I had planned on trying to conceive with the hopes of a summer baby (my first year teaching). The very first pregnancy test I took was positive. We were very excited. The excitement only lasted a moment it seemed. I went to see the doctor because of a possible miscarriage. Seeing my empty uterus on the screen was the most devastating feeling of loss and hopelessness I had ever felt at that time in my life.

I’m the type of person who goes to work or keeps moving no matter what. Today, I’m up at 4 AM to start my day and the earliest I’m normally to bed is almost 11 at night. After confirming the miscarriage, I really didn’t want to do anything except sleep. My husband would often tell me he didn’t care what I felt like doing, but to just do it and not stay on the couch. It was difficult to really want to do anything.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

We found ourselves taking a trip to Georgia. My in-laws had property there and it was nice to get away from home as it had become a sad place for me. We went to an animal shelter and played with some weimaraner cross puppies. We left and I decided I really actually wanted a puppy. So we went back and learned that all the puppies were spoken for. We did find a weimaraner breeder later that day though. They had two males left. One was a chubby little thing who had little interest in me. The other was the runt of the entire litter that no one wanted. He was so tiny. All he wanted to do was be held by me. He would get very excited and chase his own tail like a nut. So, I named him Taz and brought him home.

I experienced another miscarriage, but the third pregnancy took. Taz was attached for both miscarriage and pregnancy. Zach was working night shifts at the hospital at the time. I’d often fall asleep on the couch with Taz. Zach would come home and Taz wouldn’t be able to see him. Taz would cause a lot of havoc barking and growling. As soon as Zach would speak, Taz would calm down recognizing his voice. Taz was very protective of me and up my ass to the point of really being annoying at times.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

He had the worst separation anxiety. Novi, our husky, joined us a couple of months later and that solved all issues with us leaving for work. After Fiona was born we moved out into the country onto our homestead. Taz took the change of scenery with grace. He brought me home baby softshell turtles two separate seasons. He accompanied me to the water to save them from the high husky prey drive.

Last summer, he brought me a baby mockingbird he stole from a nest. He never hurt the bird though. I love all living things and he did, too.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

Taz never got over the pneumonia. Even with the changed eating technique, he still couldn’t get food in his stomach. When the vet came to our farm to put him down, he had quit entirely on his own. He isolated himself from all of the dogs. He hid under the hydroponic deck and would only let Zach or myself handle him. I held him as he died. We were given his pawprint. Zach made him a coffin and we buried him on property.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

It’s never easy to lose an animal and I miss him very dearly. He was special to me and very responsive to the feelings of those around him. He never hurt anything in his entire life. And I still cannot believe that he’s gone.

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January and February have been months of great loss for my family and me. Right after we buried Taz, I made a small shrine with a candle. I lit the candle and whispered to the flame. I spoke to my Taz. I told him “Stay as long as you like and move on when you’re ready. I miss you so and wish I could see you again.” That night, I had a dream. I am in the school I work at. I am sad and need to have my mind preoccupied (I know when I’m dreaming). So I create a tall building on campus. I create this building a lot when I need to “get away.” I automatically transported to the top floor. It is everything I expected it to be. A normal sized ledge around nothing but a pool. But as always, it’s when I dive in that it becomes breathtaking.

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In the water I’m greeted by a whale. I grab his fin and he takes me on a tour. I’m greeted by rays and dolphins and other animals I can’t name. I resurface and just swim. I love swimming. None of this is unusual. I’ve crafted this world basically to be left alone. I miss those I lost. I eventually call it a day and leave the “pool.” I go back into the school.

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That’s when I lose control of the dream. Sometimes I’m teleported without my doing. I can tell when is happening because my world starts to fade. I fight it because I don’t feel like losing control tonight. I begin to feel dizzy as the walls of my school fade in and out. I claw at the wall, feeling like they won’t disappear if I’m touching them. My hands feel a nail in the wall. I think “that’s never been there before”and then whatever was trying to pull from this place stopped. I looked at the nail and pulled off a necklace that was hanging on it. It was cheap. String with long silver beads. The necklace had two charms. One was a cross. I’m not religious. But I love Granny and she was religious. Accepting of others though. We had just lost her before losing Taz. I knew this was a playful sign from her. But then there was an arrow pendant. This one confuses me but there is a huge pull.

There’s a woman I work with who suddenly appears. I greatly admire and appreciate this woman. But it isn’t really her. Her face keeps changing quickly changing back to who she was trying to look like (my colleague). She puts the necklace on me and touches the arrow. She tells me “The hunter never loses her hounds.” And I wake up.

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Dreams are a very common way to easily communicate with those who have passed. It’s also very common to receive signs or messages from the dead in dreams. Sometimes the dreams need interpreting. I’m very certain, for example, that the cross in my dream signifies Granny. I’m certain–though also baffled–that the arrow in my dream signifies Taz.

When you lose someone be aware of your waking surroundings as well. On the second night of Taz’s passing, I lit the candle and spoke to it again. Following my message,the television turned on by itself. When you notice these clues or messages don’t ignore them. I cried a little and said hello once the television turned on. It was a small acknowledgement, but an acknowledgement nonetheless. He gave me his all for almost ten years. The least I can do is acknowledge his presence when he chooses to let it be known.

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Notice nature–always. Our youngest pup and future livestock guardian, Apollo, quickly became very close to Taz upon his arrival home. The day after Taz died, Apollo was resting on his gravesite. The dogs didn’t watch us put Taz down and they didn’t know where we buried him. Apollo greeted my departure from the house in the same manner as Taz. He sped walk to my side and sat, waiting for my lead. I couldn’t help but cry. Apollo had never done that. Only Taz. Apollo walked the perimeter of the land with me (a little under three acres). He rolled in all of Taz’s favorite spots. He barked at any movement or sound out of the ordinary–and ceased at my signal. At the end of the morning routine, I sat down and he put his paw on my shoulder. This was Apollo. Not Taz. And I was a little less taken aback. Until he threw his upper body on my lap, rolled onto his back, and waited for me to scratch his belly. This was a Taz trait.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

That same day, my husband said Apollo had picked up a lot of Taz’s mannerisms. I noted that it’s almost like Taz told Apollo he was his replacement and told him what to do and where all the best rolling spots were outside.

It’s been a few weeks now. My television doesn’t turn on randomly anymore. I’ve not had any more dreams until last night, the night before posting this. I was outside at night in my dream, by the hydroponic deck. He emerged from under the deck, the moonlight reflecting off his silver coat. He was bony and light enough to carry in the house. I brought him to the lit fireplace in my house, by his shrine. He licked me. I smelled his rank breath and held him in my lap the whole night. Other than that, no other dreams. Apollo is very intelligent, but does have his own personality. However, he has never backed down from his new duties of being my new partner in crime. He still does his job in the same exact manner as Taz.

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Witchy Ways to Honor the Dead

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I believe that when one dies, they pass beyond the veil. They may come back in a different lifetime. They may stay beyond. They may be stuck, a spirit on earth. They may stay on earth because they’re nosy as hell, before moving on. This belief system doesn’t make it any easier on me when I lose a loved one. My husband’s grandmother died January 27, with the viewing on January 29.

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We traveled from the Sunshine State to Wintry Pennsylvania. Living on a homestead, I was up at 4 AM on Sunday, only going to bed at 11 PM on Monday. We drove straight to Pennsylvania Sunday night and arrived Monday morning. We were met with the warmth of family.

When a loved one is lost, it is difficult to both say goodbye and move forward. Moving forward, in my opinion, is a matter of mindset. Being aware that the loved one does not want you to be stuck in despair. Moving forward takes active willpower. No ritual in the world is going to help you move forward if you don’t truly want to move forward. There are several ways of saying goodbye and honoring a loved one though.

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Party Like It’s 1999.

We did this as a family. Granny wanted a party and she got one after the viewing. We enjoyed bar food (I. LOVE. CHICKEN. WINGS) and drinks. The waitstaff met our disgraceful dirty jokes with grace. There was laughter and love. And repeating of the word “fuck.” Granny would have been proud.

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Light a Candle

It sounds funny, but this is my favorite solo way of saying goodbye. When someone passes, especially when it’s their time (Granny told everyone it was going to happen mere hours before it did), I fell like simplicity is best. I’m a lot more extravagant during Samhain or when I’m calling upon help from my ancestors. Personally, I lit a white candle because Granny would not have wanted black. I set one of her rings by the candle. I mediated. I told her I loved her and let the flame die on its own.

Shrines

If you’re needing more than a candle to say goodbye, you could build a mini shrine. the shrine can include the candle of choice, as well as photographs, small possessions that belonged to the deceased, letters, incense, and food offerings (or drink). You can keep a shrine up for as long as you need. Many can keep up portions of a shrine, like pictures, for a few years.

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Visiting

You can visit the deceased’s site of rest. Granny was cremated, but her urn is buried with her husband. If you’re able to visit, this is the perfect time to speak to a dead loved one.

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Communicating

Even if you cannot visit a grave, you can still communicate with the dead, even if you fail they don’t respond. Some people call upon loved ones by scrying into a bowl of water, or a dark mirror. Others simply sit in a comfortable position and think about their loved one, or call upon them, before entering a meditative state.

These methods aside, just a quick thought in your day about your loved one is still acknowledging your love and appreciation of them. When you’re reminded of them throughout your day-to-day activities, just say hi and tell them you love them.

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Basic Digestive Bitters Recipe

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

This recipe is adapted from Rosemary Gladstar. It’s used when you’re experiencing constipation and you’re obviously looking for relief.

If you want to order herbs, I always recommend Mountain Rose Herbs. If that’s not possible, I also recommend using the links below.

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Ingredients

Directions

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  • Mix all of the ingredients together to create a herb blend.
  • Decoct 1 tablespoon of blend per cup of hot water for 30 minutes.
  • Strain and drink 3 cups per day as needed.

Out of everything in this recipe, yellow dock is probably the most potent. If you find the actions of this recipe working too well, consider using less yellow dock.

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Herbal Infusions and Decoctions

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Tea.

There is a difference between a medicinal tea and a beverage tea. When making a beverage tea, I’m looking at flavor. When making a medicinal tea I’m looking at how I can harness the healing powers of the plant I’m using to my benefit.

When I’m trying to make a medicinal tea for cold and flu season as a preventative or if someone suddenly gets a stomach bug I have a different process and sometimes different equipment I use to get the full benefits of the medicinal plant or food that I am using.

A medicinal tea can be flavorful at times, but taste is obviously not the driving factor. And sometimes what is created, even with added flavors, is downright awful.

When making a tea for medicinal purposes, I recommend making at least a quart at a time (unless more than one person in the household needs it). Making a cup at a time is a waste as this is not the fastest process. Most teas can be kept at room temperature for a day or two, but I do recommend refrigeration. Our house personally loves cold tea anyways (even some of the herbal blends), but it does last longer in the fridge. If the taste is off or you see bubbles forming at the top, toss it and make new tea if needed.

Medicinal teas actually have different terminology for the methods of making it. The method you use is dependent upon the parts of the plant you use. Let’s explore the art of infusions and decoctions. Both are simple, but more time-consuming than heating water and steeping herbs for five minutes.

When making an infusion, you are using the leaves and/or flowers of a plant. This is a gentler process than a decoction, which is important in not destroying the enzymes, vitamins, and essential oils of the plant.  Steeping a plant in boiling water (or heated but NOT boiling in some cases), is an infusion. Making a tea, or infusion, for beverage purposes is fairly quick, as most blends call for a five-minute steeping time. Making an infusion  for medicinal purposes is quite a bit longer. To make an infusion:

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Put 4-6 tablespoons of dried herb (6-8 tablespoons of chopped fresh herb) into a quart jar.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Pour boiling water over the herbs, filling the jar. Steep for 30-45 minutes, covered.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Strain.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

And drink.

Decoctions are what you make if you’re using the bark or root of a plant. For decoctions, you want to simmer roots or bark in already boiling water. Bark and roots take a little extra elbow grease to get the full benefits. To make a decoction:

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Put 4-6 tablespoons of dried root/bark (6-8 tablespoons of chopped fresh root/bark) in a small saucepan with 1 quart of cold water. Bring mixture to a simmer on low heat. Cover and let simmer for 25-45 minutes. For a stronger decoction, simmer for 20-30 minutes then put into a quart jar to infuse overnight.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Strain.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

And drink.

The process really is simple, but it does take time. Time is the biggest struggle because we’re all very busy. I try to take a proactive step because of this at certain times of the year, especially flu season.

Do you have any favorite blends you enjoy using?

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Grounding

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Grounding. This is something that is both very basic and very imperative. I was pretty young when I first learned about grounding, though it wasn’t called that when I was told about it. I was basically being told to calm the hell down and that I’ll feel better once I do. And you know what? She was right. I feel very deeply, and always have. I have this uncanny ability to be calm on my exterior though. Internally, I hate it when people cry and still cringe when strangers open up to me. I become very nervous easily and can feel painful scenarios–especially emotional ones–up and down my spine like nails on a chalkboard.

Hand me a chicken whose eye is infected with pus needing to be drained and I jump into action, focused on the task at hand. Lead me to the goat who needs help giving birth and I’m ready. Find me a goat who is depressed because her best friend just passed away and I’m internally falling apart.

We all gather up many different types of energy throughout the day. Sometimes we don’t even notice it. Even if you’re not doing any rituals, spells, or anything magical at all, you still gather energy, and some of it can be negative and draining.

Grounding is when you balance yourself out. It sounds simple, but it can be difficult in today’s society where we’re expected to always be on the go. It’s very difficult for many to shut out the outside world and focus on ourselves. That’s difficult even for people who don’t practice witchcraft.

I recommend learning to ground yourself before practicing any magic. You can still pick up energy from practicing the craft and not being able to ground can lead to feeling drained and unbalanced.

Some signs that your energy may be unbalanced include:

  • Forgetfulness (especially when this isn’t a normal trait for you)
  • Constant fatigue, though unable to sleep
  • Feeling generally… bleh
  • Lack of focus (again, especially when this isn’t a normal trait for you)
  • Irritability
  • Feeling out of touch with everything around you

There are so many ways to practice grounding. I’ll tell you my favorite form last.

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Walking

I also find running to help, too. Not everyone is a runner. I do sometimes have an excess of energy I need to expel. My homelife and worklife can both require quite a bit of physical energy from me. I also practice yoga. Even then, sometimes I want to go for a run rather than walk. Walking or running, being in nature while you do this is key. Even if being outside is not your favorite thing, I still recommend it. Especially during your favorite season. I love going outside all year long, with my favorite time being autumn. However, the need to hibernate hits m hard in the winter time and I avoid the cold at almost all costs. I am lucky in that I can go outside and hang out with my dogs, donkeys, or goats. This is very grounding for me as I have a strong connection to my animals. We have a very small wooded area in the back of our house that pulls me sometimes. Sometimes I let it pull me. I’ve encountered snakes, crows, lizards, frogs, and all sorts of birds. I even have a tiny stump for an altar where I leave offerings. I also wildcraft blackberries, pepperweed, and goldenrod in my tiny wooded area, depending on the season.

Find a place outside you enjoy. It could be a patio or porch. It could be a garden. If you don’t have a lot of outside personal space, set up bird feeders and bird baths with a sitting area (if your yard doesn’t have enough room for walking). If you’re out there enough, a little bit of nature will get used to your presence.

Still want to go for a walk? Find a local nature trail or park you can visit.

Visualization

Not my favorite way to ground, but this is important as a lot of rituals and spells call for you to do this anyways. One form of visualizing I like to do is when I take a shower or bath. I visualize the water washing any bad energy or blockages off me.

Crystals

You may find you like crystals, you might not. I greatly enjoy crystals, but I have a nasty habit of surrounding myself with crystals that heighten awareness. There are crystals out there for grounding, I just don’t have any. I really should though. Some great, common crystals for grounding are: hematitesmoky quartz, and black tourmaline.

Playing in the Dirt

I did this all the time when I was a child. This was my ultimate form of grounding as a young child who spent many moments outside observing nature in the backyard. The title says it all. Do something in the dirt. I used to love to dig my hands in the soil and feel it fall through the cracks of my fingers. I loved the smell and texture. The worms and creatures residing underground did not bother me, though I’m sure I bothered them. Now, as an adult, my form of play  is in planting and working in the garden or with our homestead crops. I won’t lie though. I still smell the dirt and let it fall through my fingers.

Rooting

This is my favorite form of grounding now and sort of stemmed off–for me at least–from playing in the dirt. I love going outside barefoot. Not around the donkeys. Their hooves hurt if they accidentally get you. Not around the chickens either. They try to peck the nail polish off toes. It’s both annoying and surprisingly excruciating. When you root yourself outside you start with all the energy built up internally, near the top of your head. You imagine all that energy moving downwards, collecting more energy in your body as it moves down. Ball all that energy up. Move that ball of energy down through your feet, into the earth. Find the earth’s energy. Gather that energy into a ball and evenly distribute it back into your body. This technique relies pretty heavily on visualization.

I have a confession to make. I don’t ground often. It was one of the first things I learned about witchcraft and I don’t do it often. I should do it more often. Below I am going to offer scenarios when grounding can be hindering and when grounding is necessary.
  • Spirits and Entities
    • I find that being too grounded can hinder connecting with an entity. Even though my last entity encounter from a ritual was uninvited and  knocked the ashtray off our fridge I still enjoyed our brief meeting and dismissal. My last entity I encountered while in astral travel was a real asshat though and gave me about a week of real eye opening nightmares. I know when I’m dreaming, so he lost the element of surprise there, but when I showed hesitation in working with his alarming mood swings he threatened my family. To cut off ties, I did a banishing and stayed grounding for a week to rid myself and my house from him.
  • Sweet Emotion
    • Most spells and rituals feed off your emotions. Many times, you have to feel quite strongly to help get your intentions across, though you still must do so carefully as emotions are messy little things. If you ground before a spell, it might not work. Ground after the spell, though the spell itself should feel realising after it’s done. But not before.
  • Astral Traveling
    • If you’re grounded, you’re probably not going to go anywhere. Which can actually be nice. Traveling can bring back little nasties sometimes, though you can meet some pretty cool entities along the way. Astral travel is not to be taken lightly.

I don’t find that grounding hinders day-to-day things like using your intuition. I find that grounding can help let go of some energy that is hindering me, but it doesn’t shield me from acquiring new energy, both good and harmful, even later that day. So, if you’re extremely emphatic, you may find yourself still attracting other people’s energy. You need some blocking and shielding techniques to reflect some of that negativity off during the day, which isn’t exactly the same as grounding.

So grounding is important, but when you do it is just as important.  If you’re working with any magic, you may find it to be hindering, but it is a great tool to use after you work with magic or if you’re feeling a little off balance. Thank you very much for reading. Leave comments if you’d like to share anything or ask questions.

Some books to look into:

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