Insecure Writers Support Group, paranormal romance, symbolism, the writer's journey

#IWSG Post: Making Magic on the Page

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Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeI love being a fantasy writer. No matter how many stories I write, there’s always new terrain to explore. As a practicing Pagan, I also have the opportunity to weave threads of real magic into worlds of the fantastic.

One of the ways I do this is by incorporating the magic and symbolism of gemstones and plants into my stories. In Spellfire’s Kiss, for example, my characters cast a spell that uses five gemstones, four associated with each of the four elements (earth, water, fire, and air) and a fifth to symbolize spirit. In my Cabot Sisters series, the characters have a chalcedony pendant that symbolizes the water magic that runs in their family. In The Faerie Key, Lily uses black tourmaline, a crystal that’s said to have powerful protective qualities, in casting a protection spell.

Plants, including herbs and trees, also have elemental associations and magical or healing properties. Sage is dried and bundled and used for cleansing people’s auras and living spaces and for smudging magical tools such as athames and wands. Lavender has calming properties, and it’s an herb that I reference frequently in my stories. Willow trees are associated with poetry, oaks with royalty, and an ash tree is said to be Yggdrasil, the tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse mythology.

When it comes to magic, the possibilities are endless, and that’s why I know I’ll never get bored writing fantasy. There are always ways to incorporate the magic of the natural world into a fantasy story. By far the most interesting research I get to do for my stories involves magical symbolism. I research goddesses and gods, types of faeries and other magical creatures, symbolism of plants and stones, and so much more.

Being a fantasy writer allows me to draw from nature, my greatest inspiration, and to incorporate my Pagan faith into my work. A raven, messenger of Odin or the Morrighan. The songs of birds heralding the arrival of spring. The legend of a redcap or kelpie. The power of the goddess Brigid. Or simply the verdant green of summer leaves. This is the magic of my path—and the magic that can make a fantasy story shine.

Learn more about the Insecure Writers Support Group, visit fellow bloggers, or sign up here.

What about you? What’s the most interesting thing you get to research for your work?

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magic, spirituality, symbolism

Exploring the Elements, part 4: Air and Balancing the 4 Elements

This is the fourth and final post in my series on the four elements. Previous posts covered earth, water, and fire.

Photo by Rebecca Barray in WANA Commons

A single kingfisher’s feather floats to the ground. A hawk circles, its sharp eye searching the ground below for prey. The smoke of incense dances toward the sky. A foggy morning gives way to a summer day, complete with a clear, blue sky stretching on toward the heavens. Each day is framed by the splendors of sunrises and sunsets.

The element of air is linked to communication, intellection, new beginnings, and creativity. Air signs are often “ideas people,” fascinated by the future or possibilities. People who are strongly connected to the air element are often creative, practicing some form of art, whether their medium is cooking, writing, painting, or a musical instrument. Because air is associated with sound, communication is also a key component of this element. But because air is ever-shifting and constantly changing, it can also be associated with a lack of being grounded (“pie in the sky” thinking), daydreaming, or flightiness. Someone with too much of the air element in their life can seem disconnected from reality, full of ideas but lacking a practical plan to complete them.

What do you picture when you think of air? I imagine curtains wafting in a fresh spring breeze, clothing drying on the line, a bird soaring to impossible heights, and humans’ fascination with flight. Finding a bird’s feather, whether belonging to a turkey or a blue jay, can set our imagination going. In fact, I often use feathers to represent the air element when I do magic work.

Air brings in freshness to complement earth’s stability. It fuels fire’s passions. It rounds out water’s undercurrents of emotion with the ability to communicate and express those emotions. If you need “a breath of fresh air” in your life–whether it’s a relationship, a project, or your day-to-day comings and goings–consider bringing in air symbols to your surroundings. This can be a piece of jewelry (an air gemstone or a pendant featuring a bird, feather, or wings), a wall painted an air color, or an object associated with this element. Whether we need inspiration or are seeking to articulate an idea or vision, air allows us to accept change more readily and express ourselves more easily.

Balancing the 4 elements to bring harmony into our lives

Most importantly, the four elements are all about balance. When our lives have too much earth, stagnation takes root. We resist the change that is as natural to our lives as the cycle of seasons. Too much fire leads to aggression. Too much water makes us overly sensitive or emotional. Too much air brings us too many ideas and not enough follow-through–we’re all thought, but no action. Every room should have some representation of each element. If one element is lacking, imbalance and disharmony often follow. That’s why, on every magical altar, each element is represented and honored.

For example, as a Sagittarius, I have the passion of a fire sign. Because there’s a lot of air influence in this sign, I’m also very creative and intellectual. But sometimes I need more water to temper my pursuit of my goals with a sense of harmony and emotional balance; water can “cool off” the sense of urgency or impatience with which fire signs often grapple. The earth element is essential because it allows me to ground my air-and-fire-inspired goals with a practical plan and to nurture this body that I often take for granted.

What, if any, elements are lacking in your life? Which element do you need to draw in more?

Associations with the air element:

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Cardinal direction: East
Season: Spring
Zodiac signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Colors: sky blue, violet, yellow
Gemstones: lapis lazuli, sapphire, topaz
Herbs and spices: lavender, marjoram, mint, parsley, sage
Plants: clover, elder, maple, pine
Fantasy creatures: angels, fairies, sylphs
Altar items: feathers, incense, wand

For more great information about the four elements, check out these wonderful sources:

“Celtic Magic” by D.J. Conway. Llewellyn Publications.
“Herb Magic for Beginners” by Ellen Dugan. Llewellyn Publications.
“Feng Shui Home” by Gill Hale, Stella Martin, and Josephine De Winter. Barnes & Noble Books.
“True Magick,” Amber K, Llewellyn Publications.

magic, spirituality, symbolism

Exploring the Elements, part 3: Fire

This post is the third in a series about the four elements. Previous posts explored the symbolism behind the elements of earth and water.

Photo by Lisa L. Wiedmeier at WANA Commons.

Perhaps no element is as contradictory as fire. It provides the warmth necessary to heat our homes and prepare our food, yet it is capable of tremendous destruction. It is associated with both passion and rage, with the ability to create and destroy. Smoke can be blinding and suffocating, but the torch’s light can be illuminating and comforting. Fire is also the only element that cannot exist on its own: It needs fuel and air.

Much of the language associated with creativity calls to mind the fire element: the spark of creativity or kindling an idea. In the forge, we can create weapons and tools. Where water is associated with emotion and love, fire is associated with passion and romance. Where earth is associated with stubbornness and stagnation, fire is associated with anger and action. Most fire signs are intense. Whether outwardly aggressive or inwardly focused, most fire signs know what they want and pursue their passions with intensity. They can have tempers, though their flares of anger can also be short-lived. Fire is also associated with courage and strength–a willingness to fight for what is right. When harnessed properly, the energy of fire can inspire us to creative acts or empower us to stand up for ourselves.

Like water, fire is an active element. While too much fire in your life can result in anger, rebelliousness, intensity, or aggression, too little fire can result in weakness, submissiveness, or inactivity. Call on fire whenever you want to spark creativity in your work, stir up passion for your goals, or fire up your love life.

Associations with the fire element:

Photo by karylmc in WANA Commons.

Cardinal direction: South
Season: Summer
Zodiac signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Colors: copper, gold, orange, red
Gemstones: amber, fire opal, garnet, hematite
Herbs and spices: allspice, basil, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, witch hazel
Plants: ash tree, calendula, chili peppers, hawthorn, holly, oak
Fantasy creatures: dragons, phoenix, salamanders
Altar items: athame, candles

For more great information about the four elements, check out these wonderful sources:
“Celtic Magic” by D.J. Conway. Llewellyn Publications.
“Herb Magic for Beginners” by Ellen Dugan. Llewellyn Publications.
“Feng Shui Home” by Gill Hale, Stella Martin, and Josephine De Winter. Barnes & Noble Books.

magic, spirituality, symbolism

Exploring the Elements, part 2: Water

In the first post of this series, we discussed the nurturing qualities of the earth element. In today’s post, we’re talking about water.

Water, governed by the moon and the goddess Venus, is generally associated with emotions, love, and spirituality. People who are water signs can be moody and emotional, but also sensitive, generous, and compassionate. In dreams, bodies of water are said to symbolize the unconscious mind, and the state of the water represents the dreamer’s psyche. Cloudy or muddy water represents a lack of understanding of unconscious desires and urges or being overwhelmed by negative emotions, whereas clear waters reflect that the dreamer is in touch with his/her innermost desires or fears and is in a receptive state of mind.

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Water can be a clear, still pond or a wild, raging river. It is a dynamic element, in contrast to earth, which can leave a sense of being “rooted in place.” Just as earth provides a nurturing sense of stability, water is also healing, but in this case, in the sense of cleansing. Water can soothe wounds, washing away negative energy. In nature, storms can be intense and powerful, but also cleanse the atmosphere (take a moment to imagine the cool, refreshing scent of a forest after an intense rainstorm).

Water energy is necessary in every home. It provides a feeling of love and connection and helps to add a sense of movement in places where there can be stagnation. Water represents purification and receptive, feminine energy. Consider adding a mirror (a water symbol) to a corner or an object made of glass (another water symbol) to spaces that could use more water energy. Beautiful symbols of water energy abound. Consider using a glass dolphin statue as a paperweight or adding a bowl of seashells to balance out a room.

Do you ever feel like you need more of the water element in your daily routine? If so, how do you welcome water energy into your life?

Associations with the water element:

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Cardinal direction: West
Season: Autumn
Zodiac signs: Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio
Colors: aqua, blue, silver, white
Gemstones: aquamarine, moonstone, pearls
Herbs and spices: chamomile, feverfew, thyme, vanilla, yarrow
Plants: birch, elder, lotus flowers/water lilies, seaweed, roses, rushes, violets, willow
Fantasy creatures: nymphs, mermaids, undines
Altar items: chalice, bowl, or cauldron filled with water; glass objects; mirror; seashells

For more great information about the four elements, check out these wonderful sources:

“Celtic Magic” by D.J. Conway. Llewellyn Publications.
“Herb Magic for Beginners” by Ellen Dugan. Llewellyn Publications.
“Feng Shui Home” by Gill Hale, Stella Martin, and Josephine De Winter. Barnes & Noble Books.
“True Magick” by Amber K. Llewellyn Publications.