The Conjure Woman

The Conjure Woman
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Friday, September 30, 2011

How to Read Omens


ACORN.—Falling from the oak tree on anyone, is a sign of good fortune to the person it strikes.

BAT.—To see one in day time means long journey.

BUTTERFLY.—In your room means great pleasure and success, but you must not catch it, or the luck will change.

CANDLE.—A spark on the wick of a candle means a letter for the one who first sees it. A big glow like a parcel means money coming to you.

CAT.—Black cat to come to your house means difficulties caused by treachery. Drive it away and avoid trouble.

CHAIN.—If your chain breaks while on you means disappointments or a broken engagement of marriage.

CLOTHES.—To put on clothes the wrong way out is a sign of good luck; but you must not alter them, or the luck will change.

CLOVER.—To find a four-leaf clover means luck to you, happiness and prosperity.

COW.—Coming in your yard or garden a very prosperous sign.

CRICKETS.—A lucky omen. It foretells money coming to you. They should not be disturbed.

DOG.—Coming to your house, means faithful friends and a favourable sign.

DEATH-WATCH.—A clicking in the wall by this little insect is regarded as evil, but it does not necessarily mean a death; possibly only some sickness.

EARS.—You are being talked about if your ear tingles. Some say, "right for spite, left for love." Others reverse this omen. If you think of the person, friend, or acquaintance who is likely to be talking of you, and mention the name aloud, the tingling will cease if you say the right one.

FLAG.—If it falls from the staff, while flying it means danger from wounds inflicted by an enemy.

FRUIT STONES OR PIPS.—Think of a wish first, and then count your stones or pips. If the number is even, the omen is good. If odd, the reverse is the case.

GRASSHOPPER in the house means some great friend or distinguished person will visit you.

HORSESHOE.—To find one means it will bring you luck.

KNIVES crossed are a bad omen. If a knife or fork or scissors falls to the ground and sticks in the floor you will have a visitor.

LADYBIRDS betoken visitors.

LOOKING GLASS.—To break means it will bring you ill luck.

MAGPIES.—One, bad luck; two, good luck; three, a wedding; four, a birth.

MARRIAGE.—A maid should not wear colours; a widow never white. Happy omens for brides are sunshine and a cat sneezing.
NEW MOON on a Monday signifies good luck and good weather. The new moon seen for the first time over the right shoulder offers the chance for a wish to come true.

NIGHTINGALE.—Lucky for lovers if heard before the cuckoo.

OWLS are evil omens. Continuous hooting of owls in your trees is said to be one of ill-health.

PIGS.—To meet a sow coming towards you is good; but if she turns away, the luck flies.

RABBITS.—A rabbit running across your path is said to be unlucky.

RAT.—A rat running in front of you means treacherous servants and losses through enemies.

RAVEN.—To see one, means death to the aged or trouble generally.

SALT spilled means a quarrel. This may be avoided by throwing a pinch over the left shoulder.

SCISSORS.—If they fall and stick in the floor it means quarrels, illness, separation of lovers.

SERPENT OR SNAKE.—If it crosses your path, means spiteful enemies, bad luck. Kill it and your luck will be reversed.

SHOES.—The right shoe is the best one to put on first.

SHOOTING STARS.—If you wish, while the star is still moving, your wish will come true.

SINGING before breakfast, you'll cry before night.

SPIDERS.—The little red spider is the money spider, and means good fortune coming to you. It must not be disturbed. Long-legged spiders are also forerunners of good fortune.

TOWEL.—To wipe your hands on a towel at the same time with another, means you are to quarrel with him or her in the near future.

WHEEL.—The wheel coming off any vehicle you are riding in means you are to inherit some fortune, a good omen.

WASHING HANDS.—If you wash your hands in the water just used by another, a quarrel may be expected, unless you first make the sign of the cross over the water.

From 'Fortune Telling With Tea Leaves' :

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Tell Fortunes With Tea Leaves

Tea Leaf reading is one of several ways to perform a type of divination called tasseography, tasseomancy or tassology, from French - tasse (cup) or Arabic tassa (cup) + Greek graph, (writing), logy (study of) or mancy (divination).  Tasseomancers can also read coffe grounds or wine sediment in the same way.  The method is found most often in the British Isles and the Middle East, where coffee and tea are central elements of socialization.

Though there is a veritable dictionary of symbols and their meanings, as can be found for dreams and these are certainly helpful, tea leaf reading is a primarily intuitive art. The querrant drinks a cup of tea with leaves loose in it, leaving a little bit of liquid in the bottom. He or she then swirls the cup around in their left hand, places a saucer on top of it, inverts it, then reads the patterns of the leaves on both cup and saucer.

They can form pictures, letters or both. The section near the handle represents the person asking the question and illustrates their general situation at present. The leaves then represent different events and/or influences, from the present (closest to the rim) to the future, (bottom of the cup). The further from the rim, the further the symbols are in the future. The leaves on the saucer represent the situation as a whole.

Tea and coffee leaf reading most likely evolved as the drinking of tea spread, beginning in the Middle East and the Orient, possibly as early as the third century A.D., when trade routes were formed to procure Arabian horses for the Han Dynasty.  Tea first appears in China in 350 B.C. It was so popular that by the Sung Dynasty, (960-1279 A.D.), tea was pressed into bricks and used as currancy. When tea was first introduced to Europe it was a rare and expensive luxury but by the mid 1700s it was popular throughout the British Isles. 

Books On-line about Tea Leaf reading:

Tea Cup Reading and Fortune Telling by Tea Leaves

Telling  Fortunes by Tea Leaves

A wonderful on-line dictionary of Victorian tea leaf symbols.

And an enchanting book about tea itself, from 1903, The Little Tea Book

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coyote and the Fire Spirits, Native American Legend

I've been working on a Fire Dept. website and, for the Kid's page have included a myths and legends section. Here's one of my favorite stories so far, Coyote and the Fire Spirits.

Long ago, when the world and human beings were new, there were times of great happiness. When spring danced across the forests and cool breezes nodded flowers heads and rippled streams, when summer embraced the earth as though the Sun were enfolding it in it's arms, when trees were ablaze with autumn fire and made a canopy of colors across the sky... But always the autumn leaves fell and the earth froze, as if in icy, immovable rage. Winter made people very sad and also very afraid, for in the winter many, many died of the cold and food was scarce. The oldest and newest humans sufferred the most but fear and sadness for them made the others suffer all the more also.

Coyote was one of the wisest animals and a sly trickster but also a friend of the people.  One morning in early spring, he heard the women of the village singing in voices so low and sad that he paused to listen. They were singing for the old and new ones who had died in the winter. Their deep moans were so filled with despair that it made the hair on Coyote's back freeze like upside down icicles. 

"The sun! The sun!" Coyote heard one of the women say. "If we just had a piece of it to carry with us through the winter it would end the great suffering of our people."

Coyote had an idea. He knew a place, far away on a mountan top, where three Fire Spirits lived. They tended a piece of the sun but guarded it with their very lives, because they did not want human beings to have it. They were afraid that, if they did, they'd be as strong as the Fire Spirits and that would place them at a decided disadvantadge.

They had eyes that burned black and red like hot coals and sharp talons like an eagle's for hands but Coyote wasn't afraid of them. In fact, he not only didn't like them but he longed for an excuse to play a trick on them for their selfishness. He set out that day to the mountain of the Fire Spirits to steal their secret and help the human beings.

The Fire Spirits thought he was just a regular old coyote sniffing through the woods, so he had little trouble getting close to them and their fire. He sat patiently and watched, to learn how to tend and keep it himself. 
He learned that they fed the fire wood and bits from trees like pine cones. He learned that when flames stretched out and threatened dry grass nearby they stomped it out, keeping the fire. He learned that at night the Fire Spirits took turns sitting beside the fire, guarding it and keeping it alive.  Coyote saw that it was not only because they didn't want someone to steal the fire that the Fire Spirits guarded it so closely but also because Fire was something that could not and should not be left alone.

Coyote also learned that there was one part of the day that the Fire Spirits were not completely consumed with tending their fire.  Early each morning, the Spirit on watch at night had a difficult time waking the Spirit who's turn it was next up. Sometimes, in his impatience to go to sleep, he left before the next Spirt took her place. 

After studying all of this, Coyote went down the mountain to the village. He told the people and the animals about the Fire Spirits and how they tended a piece of the Sun. All agreed that they wanted fire and that they would help Coyote get it for them.

Coyote again went to the mountain-top. Again the Fire Spirits feared a thief in their midst but found only a coyote. Thinking he was just an ordinary coyote, they ignored him and went about their business as usual.

Coyote waited through the day and through the night until the dawn. The night guard Fire Spirit tried, as usual in vain, to wake his sister up to watch the fire. When she was slow in coming out and he'd just walked away in frustration, Coyote lept forward, grabbed a flaming stick and took off down the mountain.

The Fire Spirits purused him, screeching and hissing as they flew. Their coal black eyes burned and gleamed fiendishly with red. Their sharp talons grabbed and snatched, hurling branches, small birds and whatever else they could fling at Coyote. He ran like the wind but they were fast as flame and caught up to him. One stretched out a formidable talon and, though she was only able to grab the tip of his tale, managed to hold it long enough that it turned the hairs white. That is why the tip of Coyote's tail is white to this day.

Badly hurt, Coyote flung the fire away from him. Squirrel caught it and put it on her back. She too was burned, so badly that her tail curled up, as it still does today. Squirrel threw the fire to Chipmunk. She froze in her tracks with fear and one of the Fire Spirits clawed her, leaving three stripes from his talon down her back, which are still there today. Chipmunk threw the fire to Frog, and one of the Spirits grabbed his tail, trying desperately to take back the fire. Frog lept away but left his tale in the hand of the Fire Spirit. And frogs have not had tails since.

Frog flung the fire into Wood and Wood would not let the fire go. Even the Fire Spirits couldn't get the fire from Wood. They promisted gifts, they sang, they danced, they struck Wood and hacked it with their knives. But Wood would not give up fire. Defeated, the Fire Spirits went back to their home on the mountain top. They never again left the fire unattended but it was too late, human beings already had their secret.

Coyote, because he was so clever, had been able to trick wood into telling him how to get the fire out of it.  He then showed the people how to rub two dry sticks together, and how to spin a sharpened stick in a hole made in another piece of wood. Doing this drew fire out of Wood in a way the Fire Spirits had not had the patience or presence of mind to accomplish.

So thanks to Coyote, Squirrel, Chipmunk and Frog, human beings were able to keep a piece of the sun to keep them warm in the winter. And we keep it still.