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Amethyst: A Stone for September

amethyst-natural-crystal-point-8cm_3

Natural amethyst point

After giving some thought to what stone or crystal would be an appropriate energetic tool for the month of September, I kept coming back to amethyst. The traditional birthstone of the month of February, amethyst is usually more strongly associated with the springtime and energetic rebirth, however, I am currently appreciating its qualities for the transition into the dark half of the year. As the Autumnal Equinox approaches, the northern hemisphere shifts from the warm and bright days of summer, to the growing dark and cooler temperatures of winter. We move through a delicate celestial dance that unfolds between the two solstices—the zenith and nadir of the solar year. As such, I have always perceived the equinoxes as gateways—sacred instances of perfect balance in the spring and autumn—that usher us from one kingdom to the other—from Light to Dark. The equinoxes are especially auspicious moments on the Wheel of the Year because they represent the magickal in-between moments that cannot be quantified as absolutes. The equinoxes are the energetic equivalents of dawn and dusk—ephemeral moments that are no longer summer or winter, or day or night. These equinoctial tides are perfect moments to embrace change and shifts as we flow through the cyclical nature of the cosmos. The cardinal direction of the Autumn Equinox is West. Here along the Pacific coast the West has a special energetic quality considering it is the direction of the oceanic horizon over which the sun sets to begin its Underworld journey until rising again at dawn in the East. Thus, the Equinox, the West, and the ocean all carry the energy of Decay and Death—or Transformation and Transmutation—in order to aid us in the journey from one state of being to the next, in accordance with the seasonal forces.

As much as I like to embrace free agency in my spirituality, I also recognize that sometimes this notion of surrendering to the Universal Flow can be daunting and intimidating, if not terrifying. So this year, during the autumnal shift, I am enlisting the wisdom of a crystal guide—Amethyst—the Violet Flame and Sacred Gatekeeper. Moving through the threshold of the Autumnal Equinox—passing the horizon line—we approach the kingdom of death—the Other/Underworld—as we gaze into the violet dusk and deep indigo spirit sky—the realm so strongly linked with amethyst and its ethereal quality. This time of year, as the nights get longer and cooler, with stars bright and clear arching their way across the sky, we can prepare relationships with the spirit realms and the entities that inhabit these unknowable regions. The fey creatures that come to play in the darkening year, however, have a greater tendency for mischief and nefarious aims than the faeries awoken at the Vernal Equinox. The spiritual purity—so-to-speak—of amethyst helps keep us on the straight-and-narrow. As we immerse ourselves into the enfolding darkness, it can be inviting to completely surrender to this energy, especially following the open fullness of summer. For the past several years I have had to consciously guard myself up psychologically during the shift from summer’s end to the onset of autumn. Summer is a period of such unadulterated communion with the natural world—the sun, the sky, grass, earth, and water—that in the wake of this openness and the decline of summer’s buoyancy, I often require moments of spiritual grounding and guarding because this season of energetic openness often leaves me in a permeable state. The denouement of summer can allow a pale violet melancholy to filter my reality and leave me susceptible to the playful machinations of the Sidhe—the hidden, underground realms of the Faery Folk—the kingdom of the Unseelie Court as it is known in Celtic folklore. These creatures work to draw you off the garden path into unknown regions. This isn’t a problem, provided we have taken measures to acquaint ourselves with our Shadow.

I largely use crystals as aids in my own self-transformative psychodrama, as the seasonal energy of the equinoxes are certainly among the most potent times for transformation. By enacting rituals—spontaneous, intuitive, or dogmatized—we can manifest change in many ways in our lives—investigating regions of our psyches that have gone unexplored, delving into squandered interests, developing and expressing ourselves in new creative ways. That’s when a more subtle second sight can be developed—the link established between Matter and Spirit. The idea of transition and permeability is integral during this time and I feel amethyst assists in allowing us to transition realms or planes of consciousness—we’re able to soar with Zephyr at sunset into the violet skies which deepen into the numinous black sky of Nuit.

Faceted pale violet Brazilian amethyst

Faceted pale violet Brazilian amethyst

The word amethyst itself is from the Greek améthustos and means “not drunk”. Among the Greeks, it was believed the crystal prevented intoxication by wine. As such, it’s energetic signature is one of mental clarity, precise psychic vision, attunement with Primal Source, stillness, and tranquility. It primarily occurs within geodes—gas bubbles in ancient lava—as crystalline masses or clusters. These hidden, internal crystal cavities reflect the hidden kingdoms of the Sidhe is Celtic folklore mentioned above. Very deep purple amethyst hails from Uruguay and India, while paler violet varieties come from regions of Brazil. Amethyst represents higher consciousness and integration of psychic awareness. The clean, clear vibratory frequency of amethyst awakens and stirs the Pineal Gland and its subtle visions and mysteries. Since within Earth-based spiritual systems the progress to the end of October represents the approach to the season of decay and death—always with the promise of rebirth at the winter solstice. In Ayurvedic tradition, the fall season is energetically that of Vata dosha—the Wind/Air Element. It represents the swift vastness of the mind and imagination. The intellect is quick and spacious, just as the expanding reaches of space. In October, the night air is dangerous, it grows hands and teeth, nimble feet for trickery. The spirit world shadows our own. Amethyst allows us to work with the mystic veil and begin a relationship with what lays beyond.

Dark Uruguayan amethyst cluster

Dark Uruguayan amethyst cluster

I would recommend getting two pieces of amethyst—one the lighter, more ethereal Brazilian variety—the other, the dark, rich purple Uruguayan amethyst. Begin the month working with the lighter amethyst, get to know what opening new realms of your mind is like, opening doors, getting glimpses of new rooms of the psyche. Sit with the amethyst in the light of the moon and allow its light to fill your field. The darker purple variety represents the depth of the journeying possible through its crystalline portals. As Samhain approaches, darker realms of the psyche can be visited with the help of goblin and gremlin companions. Like the goblins of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”, selling and boasting overripe fruit and berries of every kind, they attempt to fool and meddle with humans in many ways. You can enlist the peculiar aid of such an entity to explore an unhealed trauma or issue from the past which you have repressed. When working in tandem with crystals and elemental beings, always request that the forces at work are for the highest possible good.

Vera Cruz amethyst cluster

Vera Cruz amethyst cluster

There is so much to discuss on the subject of this lovely violet variety of quartz. In terms of amethyst, many shades and formations come from regions throughout the world. Some varieties deserve particular note for the purposes of working closely with intentions of spiritual attunement or exploration. Vera Cruz amethyst, unlike the massive structure of amethyst’s usual crystalline beds, forms individual elongated crystals of magnificent clarity, lustre, and subtle violet hue. The gentility of the spiritual energy emanating from Vera Cruz amethyst is excellent for harmonizing energetic imbalances and rifts. It can aid in diffusing densities in the auric field and mend spaces where the boundaries are thin or being compromised. For me, the lavender tones of the Vera Cruz crystals encourage and coax the divine within us but in a playful and blissful way. If we open ourselves to receive this truly unique energy, it holds the key for potential transformation by acquainting us with and developing bonds with the Inner Indigo Child—the Faeries, the Fey. While many crystal healers associate amethyst with the Third Eye, the highly spiritual energy of Vera Cruz amethyst I feel is more appropriately aligned with Sahasrara—the Crown Chakra and Thousand-Petal Lotus. Vera Cruz aids spiritual ascension, allowing us to perceive and witness those things which no longer serve our evolution to fall away with grace. Meaning “True Cross” in Spanish, Vera Cruz amethyst brings our awareness to where our personal energetic fields—or auras—merge with the One. A cluster of this particular variety of Mexican amethyst can be used above the crown of the head to open our connection with Universal Source and bring harmony and wisdom into our lives. The lovely long crystals will diffuse its energy in all directions and, in this way, can be used to clear and amplify the energy of a room.

Brandberg with phantom inclusions

Brandberg with phantom inclusions

Another specific variety of amethyst carrying a unique energetic signature is the Brandberg variety from Namibia. This amethyst variety is named after the Brandberg mountain range. The word itself is Afrikaans and means “Fire Mountain”. While I feel the energy of Vera Cruz crystals is more diffuse and are useful for mending the aura from within, my sense of Brandberg crystals, with their small size and dense, directed energy, are evolved to project extremely focused energy, particularly in the context of bodywork and crystal healing. Brandbergs are small, concentrated crystals or points that carry an energetic link to the deep primordial energy of the Earth, while still maintaining the etheric link characteristic of amethyst as a mediator to the spirit realm. What makes Brandbergs so special is their subtle combination of elements—they are a blend of amethyst, clear quartz, and smokey quartz, often containing interesting attributes such as mineral inclusions, phantoms, and enhydro bubbles. These special crystals are a useful tool for activating one’s Pineal Gland—Ajna Chakra. By gently spiralling a Brandberg above someone’s Third Eye you will quickly activate the channel and this very ancient and powerful part of our being will begin to awaken and lend itself to our vision. This is what I call Igniting the Violet Flame. In much the same notion as the primal divine spark—the Burning Bush—this small, condensed spiritual flame will burn steady once properly ignited and attended. Beyond working with the Third Eye alone and developing psychic sight, Brandbergs also aid in aligning our consciousness with the Cosmic Oneness we emerged from before our current three-dimensional incarnations.

There are also several spiritual and mythological figures who I feel can be incorporated into a practice with amethyst, and emphasize its wisdom and mission. Saint Peter is one of these figures. As a the holder of the keys to a life beyond the mortal coil, Saint Peter is the Gatekeeper—assisting passage from one kingdom—or density of existence—to the next. The Gates of Sight, the eyelids themselves regulate interior and exterior vision—the All-One—the All-Seeing Eye—the Monad. Another figure from a different spiritual tradition sharing much of the same hagiography is Papa Legba—a loa spirit of Haitian Vodou. Papa Legba is the Guardian of the Crossroads and is often syncretized with Saint Peter in their roles as spiritual gatekeepers who moderate our passage from various realms of consciousness and spiritual journeying. Papa Legba’s vévé, or sigil, features the solar glyph—the equal-armed cross—the symbol of the astrological and astronomical year. The four arms represent the solstices and equinoxes, as well as the four directions—the Watchtowers and Elementals. The vertical arms represent the solstices as the zenith and nadir of the kingdoms, and the horizontal arms hold the space of transition, the space of balance and equilibrium. They are the horizon line over which the sun rises into the bright sky—the kingdom of life—and beneath which the sun sets into the realm of darkness—the kingdom of death. The ancients considered the horizon an emblem of transition between birth, life, and death following the daily movement of the sun. Where the sun disappeared after descending from the sky was uncertain, it seemed to travel down beneath the earth, under the realm of the living, to emerge again by morning having traveled a full circuit. The solar glyph is also reflected in the depiction of Saint Peter who carries the crossed keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. These potent spiritual symbols form the same equal-armed cross as Papa Legba’s vévé.

Moving toward the Equinox, employ the wisdom and ministry of amethyst—as well as the equinoctial glyph—to remain mindful of our connection not only with each other, but with the Cosmos as a Whole. Meditating on our communion with the divine can become a crucial step toward self-transformation and embracing change. When we realize nothing happens outside of the Universal Wisdom, we can better move through our lives in a state of grace and reverence. The Autumnal season is appropriate in so many ways to turn inward and honour the cycles of our lives as reflected in the Macrocosm, and amethyst is a perfect spiritual tool to begin this work.

Papa Legba's vévé, or magickal sigil

Papa Legba’s vévé, or magickal sigil

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Crossing the River, Embracing Darkness

Today I walked to work amid a very heavy Pacific Northwest rainfall. As my feet reached over the currents of water gushing along the curb I was thinking about the river Lethe, one of the rivers bordering the Greek underworld, the river of forgetfulness, over which one must cross to pass to the other side. The other side of what you might ask?

Submersion in Lethe - Gustave Doré

Submersion in Lethe – Gustave Doré

This time of year offers us a unique opportunity. For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, this is the season, following the autumnal equinox, that the solar year begins to die. The sun rises and sets lower along the horizon each day and darkness infiltrates our lives. Today in particular we experience a solar eclipse as the sun passes into the Eighth House—Scorpio. Always coinciding with a new moon, a solar eclipse further enforces the energy of the underworld journey I was contemplating as I waded over puddles on a gloomy, grey morning. The new moon marks a monthly dark night of the soul, when the moon, having waned from full, seemingly disappears into the dawn. With no nocturnal light, the new moon offers us the darkest night, a night of deep reflection into the psyche. Today the new moon passes before the great solar disc to eclipse from sight even our great star itself. Ancient cultures the world over perceived eclipses as rare events when the sun was eaten by the dark shadow of the moon. This story of consumption speaks deeply to our mythological selves, our primal selves, through the story of Jonah swallowed at sea by the great whale, or even the nocturnal journey of the sun itself passing through the body of Nuit—the Egyptian goddess of the starry night sky. Furthermore, this image of Death prevailing is embodied in the cosmic energy of Scorpio itself. In the vernacular of Tarot, Scorpio is Trump XIII—the Death card—harvesting bodies like wheat from the field. This, of course, is symbolic death, metaphoric death, all that which must be sacrificed in order to make room for new growth. Just as the sun is now daily waning, it will be reborn at the winter solstice as the child of light, a fragile promise. Death and sacrifice must not be construed as ending or demise. Rather, the spiritual death for which Scorpio is a harbinger, marks the ending of all that which no longer serves. We can seize this energy in our lives by going within to recognize our Shadow, the aspect of ourselves that has long remained hidden for the fear of the power it may release if acknowledged. Addiction, pain, grief, anger, jealousy, etc. are all shadow energies better shed than secretly closeted. We cannot deny their presence, and function, in the human psyche, indeed becoming acquainted with and engaging these energies is often the best way to harness them as teachers during our brief incarnations on earth, the three-dimensional kingdom—Malkuth.

This season is also particularly auspicious as the holiday we popularly know as Halloween approaches. The night of October 31 is the traditional Celtic festival of Samhain, one of four great fire festivals marked by the ancient European tribes. The spooks and tricks of our contemporary, mainstream practices are a reflection of the original significance of the pagan festivities to mark the deepening darkness of the solar year, the death of the agricultural season. This night is an opening of the veil, so to speak, between the realms of the seen and unseen, the physical and the astral, life and death. On this night we can reach between dimensions. It is during this period of darkness, enforced strongly by the eclipse, that we are given a window of opportunity to align with the celestial hierarchy to work to actively affect change in our lives. Darkness is not the maligned cloak of night our medieval ancestors have taught us to fear through distorted fairytales, nor is it the hellish pit where dwells greed, avarice, lust, anger, etc. It is only by feeding darkness these personal demons do we allow them to thrive and fashion around us an imposing cell. Rather, darkness is the great regenerating void into which all things must flow in due course, to there decompose and be reformed into new structure and so drive the cyclical wheel ever onward, fuelling the evolution of Yeats’ great widening gyre: the spiral of our galaxy, the helix of our DNA.

Mark this season with small personal rituals and affirmative actions to align your conscious will with the great universal energies already at work, the energies we are all an innate part of, but often are cultured into switching off our perceptions of. By participating in this energetic co-creation we imbue meaning and subtlety into our daily activities. Go into nature to meditate, consider the fallen leaves as organic matter in the act of transformation, feeding the insects and fungi. Develop a healthy relationship with death as transformation so it no longer holds sway as the final plunge before eventual uncertainty. Use this time to transform energies in your life that are no longer fuelling your growth, which have survived perhaps unacknowledged for far too long. By sweeping away these influences we create space for newness to emerge. Be intuitive and creative with these rituals and ceremonies, paint a symbol on a rock representing that which no longer serves your evolution—be it a habit, a worry, an unhealthy relationship, an argument—and cast it into the sea on the ebbing tide to be washed away by the tenderly transformative energy of water. Write or draw your intention for release on paper—a simple phrase, a poem, a monologue—and offer it to the radically transformative energy of fire. Burnt offerings invoke the mythic power of the phoenix, reborn through fire and ash, rising on wings to the sky. These are acts of sacrifice, not a sacrifice in the crass sense of slaughter, but in the true sense of the word. From the Latinate roots sacer and facio, the word means to make holy, to transform something from the mundane into something special, to endow it with sacred meaning.

Fire-on-the-BeachIf nothing else, use the darkness as a mirror to reveal the husk that can be shed. Wade across the river Lethe. Allow the slough to fall from your being and emerge on the other side refined and focused for what is to come. This morning I was acutely aware of the aspects of myself left behind to be carried away by the dark water gushing along the curb beneath the low-hanging grey clouds. I watched as it flowed, mingled with sticks and leaves, into a small whirlpool as it found the nearest sewer drain.

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