Thursday, January 26, 2017

Selenite for pain?

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I've been on various forms of pain management since I was about fifteen years old. I had a pretty gnarly car accident, spent a couple of years doing physical therapy, and eventually needed knee surgery (and more physical therapy). With IIH, it's the second verse, same as the first -- not only does it cause headaches, but the pressure along your spine can do some really strange things to your nerves. I've had days where I have a neck or headache, sure, but I've also had days where colonies of fire ants were crawling under my skin.

You kind of learn to live with it and figure out what works.

My old neurologist prescribed amitriptyline, but it wasn't much help for the particular type of pain I experience. I've tried a ton of other things, too, both over-the-counter and not. Now, I'm gonna go all "THIS ONE WEIRD TRICK" on you in a moment, but hear me out...

Selenite? Surprisingly helpful for me.

I'm not going to lie, there is no empirical data justifying the use of selenite for pain. There is no scientific basis for it. I just know that using selenite is sometimes the only way I can get to sleep. Sometimes I rub it on my neck, sometimes I tuck it under my pillow, sometimes I lay it on my chest, sometimes I just hold it.

The funny thing is, ignoring the lack of scientific evidence for selenite pain relief aside, there's also no real metaphysical reason for it to help me like that. Out of all of the resources I've combed in curiosity, none of them mention using selenite for pain -- energy blockages, sure, but I know what's causing my pain and that's not it. This is part of why I think developing personal associations with stones is so important; you never know what you're going to discover for yourself. One stone may be able to do things for you that it doesn't for other people, and vice versa. It's an ever-evolving thing, and I've always found it super interesting.

I'm not suggesting that people throw away their medication and rush out to buy selenite wands and palm stones. I also don't want to imply that selenite will work for everyone's pain like some kind of rock evangelist. I am saying that I've got some in a little basket of self-care items I keep by my bed for rough days -- along with some chamomile tea, a wooden rolling massager, some massage oil, and some magnesium oil. It helps me get a better night's sleep and reduces my dependence on other forms of pain relief, so I'm all for it. There was a point in time where I'd've rubbed bees in my eyes if I thought it'd make me feel better, so using a six dollar stone seems pretty sweet by comparison.

If you're interested in trying selenite for pain, it's inexpensive and widely available. Here are a couple of specimens similar to ones I have, and a little explanation of how I use them:

Selenite Spiral Massage Wand

These wands are smoothly polished, so they're useful for massaging trigger points. The spiral texture also makes them helpful as rolling massagers -- you can use them like a rolling pin on arms, legs, shoulders, necks, etc., always moving towards the heart, in order to loosen up tight muscles while you benefit from selenite's properties. Source.

Selenite Palm Stone

These guys have a smooth, rounded shape that I like holding, placing under my neck, or laying on my stomach to soothe cramps. They're also useful as meditation or relaxation aids, though selenite's pretty soft and requires some careful handling if you choose to carry it with you. Source.

Selenite Stick

These guys are unpolished, natural selenite wands. Some people like using them kind of like aura lint rollers -- you sort of squeegee around yourself to clear away any negative energy that might be stuck to you. They're also useful for clearing away stagnant energy in corners, under furniture, and in other places that don't get a whole lot of natural flow. I like using these guys to grid a room or a house. Stick them in the corners with some kyanite and black tourmaline and you're golden. Source.

Selenite Sphere

This is a 2.5" selenite sphere, which is a good size for using as a massage ball. I like using them to release a trigger point that occasionally acts up under my left shoulder blade, and they feel good to just gently roll up and down the nape of your neck. They're also good meditation aids, since it's so easy to get lost in the shimmery play of light across their surface. Source.

Do you work with selenite? What do you use it for?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Opalite Properties and Man-Made Stones.

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Do man-made stones do it for you? How do you feel about goldstone or opalite properties?

I mean, don't get me wrong -- man-made stones can be very beautiful. I love opalite jewelry because I'm a gigantic sucker for anything with that kind of iridescence. I've even seen some knives flintknapped from large chunks of opalite, and they're unbelievably stunning. Kind of like what I imagine the Dune series' crysknives would look like.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="513"]Victorian-style opalite necklace. Seriously though, how pretty is this necklace? Source.[/caption]

I still get my knickers in a bit of a twist when I see it sold alongside actual mineral specimens, though. Even more so when it has metaphysical qualities ascribed to it with no attempt to disclose that it's actually a man-made material.

People have different feelings on the subject, I know. Some don't see a difference between a mineral made of silica formed in the earth's crust, and a different mineral made of silica formed in a factory. They feel the properties of opalite the way I might feel those of rainbow moonstone, or sodalite, or any of the other stones I work with.

According to various books and websites, opalite properties include meditation, love, faithfulness, and all-around healing, among others. I'm generally not much of a purist about such things in principle, but I have to admit -- as much as I love wearing it, I don't really get anything from using opalite.

The same holds true for things like goldstone (though blue goldstone is drop dead gorgeous) and aura quartz. Conventional new age wisdom holds that applying a thin coating of metal atoms to the outside of a quartz crystal enhances its properties, but I don't feel it. Aura quartz is often pretty, but I don't ever seem to pick up anything I couldn't get from a plain clear quartz point. Some specimens even make me a little sad, honestly, like I feel when I see dyed quartz. Or one of those dolled-up kids from Toddlers and Tiaras.

How do you feel about man-made gemstones? Do you use them in your practice? If not, why not? If so, do you experience the same kind of effects ascribed to them by crystal books?



Monday, January 23, 2017

Fire Burn, and Teapot Bubble.

One thing I dig about kitchen witchery, it's as quick and subtle as you like. I pretty much have carte blanche from my S.O. to do it as needed, but I still like not having to explain why the apartment's lit by candles, full of incense smoke, and covered in chalk marks.

The day started pretty well. My IIH pressure relented a little today, I managed to give the floor a sweep and the counters a wipe down, posted a blog entry, and wrote a fairly lengthy article about surgical treatment for sleep apnea. (Which was actually really interesting -- did you know that they can correct it by moving your jaw forward? I didn't! Apparently it increases the size of the airway and can fix obstructive sleep apnea for people who haven't had any luck with other treatments.) I gave all the plants that aren't currently dormant some water and a little conversation, and laid out some stones to charge in the (mostly cloud-covered) sun.

Not bad. It's more than I can usually do most days without being left completely exhausted and in pain, so I was feeling pretty good!

Unfortunately, things weren't as nice for my S.O. The recent changes in government have left him in a tenuous spot -- we're not sure if he'll be able to keep his job now. It's a pretty scary prospect, especially considering that I'm most likely going to lose my medical insurance and we were planning on putting me on his in the event that I do. To say that this is a stressful prospect is a bit of an understatement.

I've had the Five of Pentacles turn up a couple of times for me lately, too, so I'm not exactly feeling encouraged. It appears in times of loss, or, in this case, impending loss, but it carries a helpful message -- even in the face of adversity, it's important not to give up and lose sight of your ability to improve your situation. This is a lesson that's tough for me to remember sometimes, but I'm working on it.

I figured I'd take advantage of the burst of energy I had today and try to make things a little more pleasant for when he got home. I brewed up a cup of strong tea (one T of chamomile, one of rooibos, 1/8 t of turmeric, 1/8 t of cinnamon, and some vanilla soy milk), charged it with as much peacefulness and prosperity energy as I could, and set it by my S.O.'s computer to steep for him. Since I've got a memory like a sieve, I'd forgotten to set any chicken or salmon to thaw, so dinner was pasta, red sauce with lots of prosperity-drawing basil, salad, and steamed asparagus.

(As an aside, sauces are a pretty great way to add magick to your food. All of the elements are present when you cook, from the fire you heat it with, to the water you boil, to the earth in the herbs, to the air in the bubbles and steam. They generally need a lot of stirring, so load them up with the right herbs and stir clockwise to draw things to you or counter-clockwise to banish them.)

Fresh herbs on a table.

I even saved the romaine lettuce butts to see if I can get them to sprout again, and am drawing out some plans for a microgreens setup that'll fit in our closet. There's a lot of window space here, so it might be a good time to get back into sprouting jars. A couple of leaves of lettuce or some mustard sprouts aren't exactly homesteading, but it's something. The fewer groceries we have to buy, the better.

Do I think we'll be okay? Probably. I have my work cut out for me, though. Days where I'm this productive are relatively thin on the ground. Disability claims take forever to process, and rejections and lawsuits are pretty much par for the course. At this point, I'm still working on expanding the couple of things I can do to help keep things ticking along and my S.O. from stressing.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Haunted Maraca, Barely Used.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling down, I like to go on Etsy or eBay and look up the word "haunted." I don't ever buy anything (I've written about my feelings re: haunted objects before, and I have enough paranormal weirdness happen around me for free that I'd feel dumb as butts if I decided to pay for extra ghosts), I just like reading background stories for secondhand porcelain dolls and thrift-shop jewelry.

Take this little lady, for example:

Her name is Gabrielle but feel free to call her Gabby.
The name Gabrielle sounded much too grown up for her liking, although she secretly was beginning to like it.
Gabby was a funny, kindhearted young girl. She happened to be disabled to the extent that she needed full time care. She was very tiny for her age. Her aunt Mary was her caretaker. And she also ended Gabby's 12 years of life with a pillow over the helpless girl's face. Source.

Holy crap.

Every once in awhile, I find something that isn't a murdered child's soul trapped in a doll body, or an ancient incubus or particularly horny vampire ensnared in a ring.

Something like this.

This is an item that was unfortunately used in satanic rituals and as a result has a nasty entity attached to it.  I discovered during EVP sessions that it was saying things like, " I hate you" and something to the effect of "rip your face off"- these items are only for responsible collectors as anyone who does collect these items knows that it can have very serious/devastating effects on your own personality and/or health.  I advise collectors to not keep items in your living space. Source.

If I had money to spare and was of a mind to buy a haunted object, this would be it. I unironically think it is completely rad. I would give it its own room (ringed in salt, asafoetida, and cascarilla powder like some kind of demonic playpen) and a little pillow to sit on. There's something indescribably hilarious to me about a single haunted maraca. I couldn't tell you what it is, just know that I laughed like a hyena in a nitrous factory until I hurt myself.

Just picture the Satan party that must have happened for this artifact to happen. I've read some things, and I cannot for the life of me imagine a) what kind of Satanic ritual requires rumba music (isn't Satanism mostly associated with ominous chanting and rock 'n' roll?), or b) what kind of demon would chill out in the kind of instrument that a garage band lead singer's untalented significant other gets to play. Musically speaking, a maraca is what the tone-deaf kid gets in music class. It's a step below a triangle, even, because at least that has more than one part.
A possessed guitar, a drum, that I can see. A maraca, though?

Now, I'm really not trying to dog on maracas. I love rattles of any description (my dad used to make them when I was a kid, from rawhide, turtle shells, or steer horn). I've dried gourds and made my own. I use them in my practice, and maracas have a long and fascinating history of spiritual use. They are divination and healing objects for shamans, but those maracas are given specific markings and are in no way associated with Satanic rituals. Traditional maracas are some pretty amazing and powerful works of art.

I just really, really, really want to know the rest of the story. Does the entity have a name? What kind of rituals was the maraca used in? Was the entity summoned on purpose, or did they wander in accidentally? Do I have to shake the maraca to be threatened and insulted, or do its self-esteem-and-mental-health-ruining powers flow freely? Is there a matching maraca somewhere? I have so many questions.

A friend of mine pointed out that a maraca that says "I hate you" and "I want to rip your face off" when you shake it isn't really scary, mostly just rude. I agreed, figuring you could probably find a maraca that was used in church a whole bunch and was infested with angels and they'd cancel each other out. All, *rattlerattleYousuckrattlerattle*  *rattlerattleYourhairlooksamazingthoughrattlerattle*.

So, I'm not sure if this listing resulted from a Satanic jam session, a strange conflation of shamanism with satanism, or what. Either way, though, I pity the demon who gets themselves stuck in a single goddamned maraca.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dear Publisher: This is Why I Rejected Your Job.

I do a lot of my work through sites designed to hook up freelancers with people who need stuff written. Some of them only let you accept one job at a time, but allow you the freedom to work with different clients every day instead of getting locked into a contract. Others offer you the security of a contract, but may leave you stuck negotiating with someone you don't want to work with rather than being one-and-done.

Sometimes, I click on a job, read over the instructions, and click away faster than you can say, "Oh hell no." There are a number of reasons why this happens:

  • The instructions are hyper-specific. Everyone wants a project where they get paid to write freely about the topic presented to them, but that doesn't come along often. People generally want content that adheres to specific rules -- length, formatting, reading level, keyword density, and the like. There's nothing wrong with this, and it's even sometimes a fun challenge.
    That said, if the instructions are longer than the article you're asking me to write will be, I'm not going to accept. The amount of adjusting and double-checking I'll have to do to make sure I'm meeting all of the criteria (while still producing natural-sounding writing) will take extra time, and, since I'm not paid hourly, that directly cuts into what I'm earning.

  • The instructions don't make sense. Relatively few content publishers put up a single article at a time. Usually they need a whole mess of 'em, all unique, and that means putting up a new set of instructions for Every. Single. One. It is understandably tedious and confusing.
    Unfortunately, that means that a lot of instructions are copy-pasted disasters that reference things that aren't relevant to the project. The subject might be inconsistent with the required keywords, or the word count requested in the body of the instructions may not match the required word count entered into the job form. While these inconsistencies are usually minor and can be corrected with a quick email to the publisher, every hour I spend waiting for a reply is an hour nobody's making any money.

  • The instructions are condescending. There's no standard for becoming a freelance writer. Many of us aren't necessarily fluent in English, may not have stellar grammar, and may not have received an education beyond high school. Literally anyone can sign up to write things, and the market filters out the writers who don't deliver. That can take a little while to do, so some publishers may find themselves occasionally dealing with a less-than-amazing writer. I completely understand that this is frustrating. Really, I get it.
    Frustration is still no reason to include insulting language in a job's instructions. Rudeness is doubly unnecessary because the fact that there are instructions in the first place implies that the writer will be expected to fix their work until it's compliant with them. You don't get to rely on other people to provide labor, talk down to them, and expect them to want to work for you.

  • The math doesn't check out. "Keyword density" refers to the percentage of an article that's taken up by keywords, and it's a pretty big deal for a lot of jobs. Some people don't care about density, just so long as their keywords make it into the article. Others want a keyword used exactly once so they can attach a link to it. Still others want you to strike a balance between including plenty of  keywords and not sounding like an android trying to ask Google's search algorithm to prom. I gotta be honest, though... Sometimes the last part doesn't quite compute.
    I have had situations where I have been asked to write a 450 word article, handed a list of twelve keywords, and told to use them 2-3 times each while maintaining a keyword density of 2-3%.

  • The corrections are vague. I've had situations where I've submitted my writing, received some corrections, then canceled a job. I have no issue at all with rewording something, adjusting a keyword, or correcting grammar, but these have to be outlined in plain language.
    "I don't like how this sounds" is not actionable. If I receive vague style corrections, there's really not much I can do with them -- if someone doesn't like my writing style, we're probably both better served by them working with someone else. I'll cancel the job, it'll go back to the author's pool, and hopefully will be picked up by someone whose voice is a better fit for the project. It's nothing personal, but every minute I spend re-working an article based on guesswork and hoping for the best is a minute I'm losing money by not writing a new article.

  • It doesn't pay enough. Writers gotta eat. Sometimes, it just isn't cost-effective to take a job -- even if it seems easy.


So, there's a peek into the ever-exciting world of freelance content creation. As much as I might have griped about it here, I really do love it. It'll never make me rich, but it's one of the few things my disability allows me to do to stay alive and I really dig the opportunity to challenge myself and learn new things by researching and writing about topics I'm not familiar with. (Do you want to know how to properly winterize an attic? I can tell you. And I don't even have an attic.) Of course, like anything else, it has its warts.

Do you do any freelance writing? What frustrations have you encountered?

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Moon In Your Moon.

There're a lot of very poetic notions about menstruation and the lunar cycle.

Unfortunately, like a lot of people for whom endometrial tissue management is a regularly recurring problem, my cycle is not actually twenty eight days long. I felt kind of broken when I first realized this -- even my mother told me that "women have either a twenty one or twenty eight day cycle." (Haha, no. While twenty eight days is average, it is totally normal to have a cycle that is shorter or longer. Sometimes significantly so.)

So while I had the idea of tracking my cycle with the phases of the moon in the beginning ("Oh, it's waning. Better stock up on Advil.") this rapidly proved to be fruitless. That doesn't necessarily mean there's no information to be gained from it.

Every phase of the moon has its own attendant properties. The waxing moon increases, the waning moon decreases, the new moon is for beginning, and the full moon is fruition. Every ritual to honor one aspect must therefore, by necessity, honor the others -- every full moon ritual has its roots in the beginnings represented by the new moon. And, like the cycle represented by the Wheel of Fortune in tarot, it continues without end, bringing forth each season.

Moon and orange clouds.

I've noticed a correspondence between my biological cycle and where it falls in the lunar cycle. The full moon brings those times when I feel the most love and gratitude. The waning moon times have always been when I had something I needed to release from my life. The waxing moon times are times of promise and growth. The new moon times are times when it's time to get off my ass and start some things.

I'm usually not able to do much when I'm dealing with cramping, bleeding, and elevated intracranial pressure, so it forces me into a few days of rest and reflection. I'm not of a mind to regard menstruation as particularly sacred or perform menstrual magick, but it's a valuable time to get my head right and take a look at where I am in this cycle. It's certainly better than feeling somehow "out of step" with the universe for not feeling the same direct lunar connection that others seem to feel.

How do the cycles of the moon play through your life?