With the Christmas season coming up yet again, it seems to get harder every year to find gifts that are thoughtful and unique.
Women tend to get toiletries, perfumes, chocolates, candles and the odd tipple, but why not choose something more unusual this time? Something hand-crafted and fairly traded from India or made in the UK?
Forget mass-produced merchandise from China. Here you can find some lovely things that are produced in small quantities yet very affordable.
So, if you’re struggling to find that perfect present, one of our top 10 gifts for her will be perfect whatever the occasion:
Today’s guest post by Julie Rowlandsexplores the joy and therapeutic effect of writing a journal.
If you are new to journaling and need some cues on topics you can write about, here are Julie’s inspirational ideas:
One of the best ways I know to clear my head of the mental clutter that often accumulates there, is to write a journal.
I love writing, to me, there is something really special about writing in a beautiful journal or notebook with a special pen.
I have a stash of what I call my ‘special pens’, which I use regularly to write.
Actually, they really are nothing special except they are purple, and they write in purple ink. ( I am a purple girl from way back, long before it was fashionable to be a purple girl!)
All of my journals are written in purple ink, and for me that makes them unique and for me, more special.
What makes journal writing so special?
There are lots of reasons, here are six of my favourites.
It clears my head, I tend to write as I am thinking and some days that is very mixed up and other days very clear. Getting it out of my head and down on paper is a wonderful way to create space for more new ideas.
It is a wonderful record of my journey, my life. Reading some of my journals from years ago gives me a new perspective on where I have come from, what I have achieved, as well as the challenges I have faced and overcome.
It is a great reminder of particular incidents I may have forgotten, that seemed very important at the time. Often gives me a different perspective.
It is a wonderful sounding board to record my frustrations and anguishes, and guess what? Just writing them down helps clarify the real issues.
It is a fantastic tool for expressing Gratitude, even if it feels at times like there is little to be grateful for, just writing something down often gets me thinking of more that I can be truly grateful for.
It is a fantastic way of documenting my goals and dreams, and my written steps to achieve them.
Is there a special way to write in a journal? A formula?
Personally – I don’t think so, the important part is for you to create a habit around it, so you write regularly, and that you make it a special activity just for you.
To help with this I suggest you buy a special journal or notebook to start with, but in reality a plain notebook will be just fine.
I suggest you try challenging yourself with questions, to stimulate your thinking.
What have I learned here?
What could I have done differently or better
What did I do really well?
Ultimately it is your special book, and your special time, so Enjoy!
Hematite is the mineral form of iron oxide. It’s metallic dark grey in colour, magnetic and cool to the touch. The name ‘hematite’ derives from the Greek word meaning ‘blood’ as it can be red in its powdered form. Hematite jewellery was very popular in the Victorian era, when doctors believed it to improve blood disorders.
Hematite has been used for thousands of years; in ancient Egypt it was turned into magical amulets, and the Romans associated Hematite with Mars, their God of War. Roman soldiers are said to have used it during battle for protection. Coincidentally, this mineral stone has been found in large quantities on the planet Mars in 2001 by the NASA 2001 Odyssey spacecraft, which is still orbiting Mars today.
Hematite is said to be a good grounding stone, helping to improve resistance to life’s stresses. Its shiny metallic lustre may deflect negative energies. In crystal healing books, Hematite is recommended when facing confrontations as it is thought to boost confidence and stimulates concentration and focus.
In American folklore, hematite was used as a remedy for alcohol abuse. In fact, it is said to help to break the cycle of all kinds of addictions including smoking and over-eating.
If you have an allergy to metal, then you may well be able to wear hematite jewellery as it doesn’t contain any nickel, which is the main cause for adverse skin reactions.
Wear a hematite necklace to relieve tension in the neck, upper back and shoulders. A hematite bracelet is said to increase the wearer’s magnetism – so wear one, if you are looking for love!
Of course, the healing properties of crystals in general are not scientifically proven, but why not try it out? At least we can enjoy their beauty.
Skulls have always been one of the most powerful symbols in human history across the world and all civilisations throughout time. Skulls are symbols of death in many cultures but also signify knowledge and intellect. One of archaeology’s most fascinating mysteries is that of the 13 Crystal Skulls, which is believed to have originated in South America.
In recent times, the 13 Crystal Skulls have been connected to the Mayan calendar, which ends on 21/12/2012 after the 13th baktun (Mayan term for calendar cycle). Why the Mayan calendar ends on that particular day is another mystery, but most likely it is connected with an astronomical event in our galaxy, which may have a huge impact on mankind and our planet. It is speculated that if the 13 skulls are reunited by that date, they will save us from a terrible fate and even help us ascend to a new level of wisdom and understanding.
In Numerology, the number 13 is controversial; whereas some cultures consider it an unlucky number, in Judaism it is regarded as holy. In oriental cultures it is even connected with good luck and new activities ahead.Tarot trump no. 13 is Death, which relates to transformation rather than physical death, so perhaps we find some answers in the Tarot, why it is 13 skulls and not any other number. We can hope that the 21st December 2012 will herald a phase of transformation rather than death and destruction. There is also the theory that the 13 skulls represent 13 habitable planets (including Earth), which can be found in our and nearby solar systems.
There are more speculations about the origins of the 13 crystal skulls. Firstly, they may have been created by an advanced civilisation in the ancient past, such as Atlantis. Another theory as previously mentioned is that the Mayans created them in connection with their calendar, so when the skulls are found and reunited, mankind can be saved. Some people believe that they have been created by extraterrestrials. There is no conclusive evidence about the true origins of the 13 skulls.
There are some interesting facts:
Eight crystals skulls have so far been found. However, it is impossible to carbon-date quartz crystal, so experts cannot be sure, when they were made or if they are fakes.
The skulls are all life-size with incredible detail. Large pieces of quartz crystal to create life-size skulls are rare, which makes these pieces priceless.
In an experiment, people, who held their hands on one of the crystal skulls, experienced a rise in body temperature, which may suggest that energy is transmitting from the skull.
Quartz crystal is the same material used in the manufacture of silicone microchips, which are used to digitally store information. That’s why some people believe that the quartz crystals contain information and secrets about the universe.
Many people are intrigued and fascinated by the enigma of the 13 crystal skulls, so it is no wonder that even smaller crystal and gemstone skulls have become very popular collectors’ items. Apparently, when a piece of quartz crystal or other gemstone is carved into a skull, something strange happens; the energy of the skull is moving in frequency, which can affect the electromagnetic field around our body, i.e. the aura and make us more receptive.
People, who own and collect crystal skulls, are called “skull keepers” or “care givers”. They believe that a spirit dwells inside the skull, which needs nurturing and taken care of. In return, through meditation the spirit of the skull may reveal its name and even profound wisdom from the past or other worlds to its keeper.
Crystal carved into skulls is also said to have enhanced healing power.
Whatever the truth behind the legend of the 13 crystal skulls, perhaps one day its secret will be revealed, but until then let it feed your imagination.
Himalayan salt tea light holders improve air quality in our homes at low cost by turning positively ionized air into negatively ionized air.
But what exactly does this mean? An ion is an atom or group of atoms that carries a positive or a negative charge.
Computers, TVs, air conditioning, smoke etc. produce positive ionized air, whichhas a detrimental effect on our health.
A sign of positive ionized air is “stuffiness” and a tendency to suffer more often from colds and chronic respiratory ailments.
The gentle heat of a Himalayan salt tea light holder generates ions carrying a negative charge thus creating a climate we find in the mountains, around waterfalls, by the sea or after thunderstorms.
Breathing air saturated with negative ions has a highly beneficial effect on our health. The vibrations of all our body cells are harmonised and contribute to improving our body functions.
For decades the beneficial effect of negative ions in the treatment of many illnesses has been known, such as rheumatism, allergies, respiratory diseases, sleeplessness, migraine and high blood pressure.
Salt tea light holders can be an additional and natural treatment option for such disorders.
The colour of the Himalayan salt tea light holders reinforces the rejuvenating effect on our health as colours themselves have a healing influence.
Red stands for revitalization, orange for revival, yellow for positive thinking, white for the power of concentration, apricot to alleviate emotional disorders.
The salt crystal used in tea light holders come from salt mines where crystallised salt has been deposited more than 260 million years ago.
The tea light holders are produced in their country of origin, and each one is carefully shaped by hand from a single piece of salt crystal.
Himalayan salt tea light holders are best placed where a lot of electrical equipment is used, such as offices and living rooms, but they are also beneficial in bedrooms to aid sleep and relaxation.
Don’t keep salt lamps in bathrooms or outside as high moisture can damage the lamp due to the salt’s hygroscopic properties.
Should the tea light holder get wet, simply light a tea light in it immediately to dry it out naturally.
The warm glow of our salt tea light holders creates a cosy atmosphere and adds a healthy touch to your home.
Incense has been used for thousands of years and was common in many ancient cultures – usually as part of religious worship or as a luxury for the rich.
Today, incense is burned for a variety of reasons.
Individual fragrances can have a positive effect on your emotions:
Roses and Violets will make you feel happy.
Lotus and Vanilla are other joyful fragrances.
If you want to work or study, try Musk, which encourages activity.
Amber helps you to relax.
Sandalwood stimulates intuition and meditation.
Passion Flower is a fragrance that inspires creativity.
The best incense is made only from natural ingredients. That’s why we are now stocking The Mother’s Fragrances Incense.
This outstanding, fairly traded incense is hand-rolled and completely avoids dipping in chemicals.
How is Incense made?
A variety of scented flowers, herbs, leaves, essential oils, resins and wood powders or charcoal are blended with water to form a dough.
Every fragrance has its own mix of ingredients. A tree resin which has adhesive properties is added to the mixture as a binding agent.
The dough is rolled onto thin slivers of bamboo and allowed to dry in the shade.
The result is a light and clean burning incense, with just enough smoke to carry the fragrance, but not cloud the room.
The scents of flowers are generally subtle and delicate. Charcoal, which burns without a scent of its own is therefore used for the floral fragrances.
These sticks are black. The brown sticks contain a variety of wood powders and herbs and are used to create more woody fragrances like amber and sandalwood.
Fragrances are often associated with memories, emotions and feelings and can be used to bring these back to you.
Individual fragrances will affect different people in different ways.
It is exciting to experiment and find out which one is best for you to burn at different times of the day, which fragrance contributes to your health, learning abilities, your intuition and emotional development.
One of my favourite festivals of the year, Halloween marks the start of the party season in the run up to Christmas.
Today its main purpose is to entertain children and provide teens with the opportunity to irritate and annoy intimidated citizens in many places across the world ?
The origins of this festival are found in the ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating Samhain on the 1st November, which was the beginning of winter for our ancestors and also the start of the Celtic New Year.
As you can imagine, it was a dark, cold and gloomy time, the completion of the last harvest before everyone would huddle up in their huts and fight for survival during the harsh winter months ahead.
No wonder the Celts thought of death, ghosts and misery in general, so they believed that in the night from the 31st October to the 1st of November they could communicate with their departed relatives and friends.
To make this time of year even more atmospheric, the Celts would start their days at dusk, as darkness was seen to be a time for beginnings.
Death was regarded as important as life, reflecting the Celts’ embracing and understanding of the perpetuous cycle of life and death.
Samhain was truly the darkest time for our ancestors, and today this is reflected in the way the festival is celebrated as Halloween.
The custom of Trick or Treat came across to Britain from America, yet its origin is European, honouring the trickiness of the season and the human being.
We all have a dark side in our personalities, and Samhain is the time of hauntings, when the spirits of the dead seek the warmth of the fireplaces and candle lights.
The spirits of departed loved-ones were welcomed, but not all spirits were deemed to be friendly.
The pumpkin lantern with the scary face was introduced to frighten away the demons attempting to disrupt that night in a nasty sort of way.
Here’s some inspiration to get you into Halloween / Samhain mood:
Activities and Rituals
End of summer, honouring /communicating with the dead, scrying, divination, last harvest, meat harvest.
Symbols & Decorations
Apples, autumn flowers, acorns, bats, black cats, bones, skulls, corn stalks, coloured leaves, crows, cross, divination and the tools associated with it, ghosts, jack-o-lantern, nuts, oak leaves, ivy, pomegranates, pumpkins, scarecrows, scythes, waning moon.
Foods Apples, apple dishes, cider, meat (traditionally this is the meat harvest) especially pork, mulled cider with spices, nuts—representing resurrection and rebirth, pomegranates, potatoes, pumpkins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds.
Work Release of bad habits, banishing, faery magick, divination of any kind, candle magick, astral projection, past life work, dark moon mysteries, mirror spells (reflection), casting protection, inner work, clearing obstacles, inspiration, workings of transition or culmination, manifesting transformation, creative visualisation, contacting those who have departed this plane.
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Now that Autumn is upon us and the days are getting shorter, we can create a cosy atmosphere in our homes by burning candles, incense and fragrance oils.
Unlike essential oils, fragrance oils are highly diluted aroma oils, hence the lower price.
Some fragrance oils are also a mix of various essential oils to create a unique scent, such as our Gothic Dream and Night Magic.
Fragrance oils are very versatile; they are perfect for:
burning in oil burners
scenting new candles or refreshing faded ones (add a few drops of oil to the hot wax of the candle)
scenting and refreshing potpourri
soaking cotton balls to scent drawers
putting a few drops on a cotton ball and put inside the bag of your vacuum cleaner to diffuse the scent whilst hoovering
You can even use the clear coloured oils to nourish and scent wooden furniture.
It works really well on my battered pine table, but please try this out on a hidden area of your furniture first, if you are worried about staining.
How to burn fragrance and essential oils in your oil burner:
Fill the bowl of your oil burner with some water and add a few drops of oil. The more oil you add, the more intense the aroma in your room. Don’t burn the oil undiluted as the smell will be too strong.
Some fragrance and essential oils may cause skin irritation. Avoid contact with skin. Wash with soap and water after contact. Keep away from eyes and mouth. Rinse eyes profusely with water in case of accidental contact and seek immediate medical attention. If skin irritation occurs, wash with soap and water, pat dry. If irritation continues, or is severe, seek medical attention. Not for internal use.
Keep away from children and pets.
Avoid exposing people with lung conditions, such as asthma, to the vapour of fragrance oils.
Oil may stain materials and surfaces.
Never touch hot oil or their containers, they will burn.
Never add oil to hot containers as an explosion may occur.
Do not leave oil burning pots unattended. Never exceed the manufacturer recommendations for length of time to burn oil. For the best experience, simply burn for 15 minutes at the most, then allow to cool and then relight.
The harmful level of essential oils in sprays and in burning oils is not really known. When you are diffusing oils you should try not to use excessive amounts of fragrance/essential oil. In addition, you need to ensure good air circulation, so that the concentration of essential oil vapours is not built up.