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Friday, September 30, 2011

Divination with Zener Cards

Zener Cards are cards used to conduct experiments for extra-sensory perception, most often clairvoyance. They were invented by parapsychologist J. B. Rhine as an easily statistically measurable, unambiguous way of testing for ESP according to scientific method. Rhine named them in honor of his colleague Karl Zener, a perceptual psychologist. Dr. Zener had selected the five designs that would appear on the cards. When Zener cards were first invented in the 1920s, they were shuffled by hand, but Rhine later switched to having a machine shuffle them.

There are 25 Zener cards in a pack, with 5 cards each of each design. The 5 designs on the fronts of the cards are a circle, a cross in the Greek cross form with each of the four lines being of equal length, a five-pointed star in outline form, a square, and a trio of vertical wavy lines (the "waves"). In order, the cards are: circle, plus, wavy lines, square, star - in the order of the number of lines used. (The star has five points)

When Zener cards were first used, they were made out of a fairly thin translucent white paper. Several subjects or groups of subjects scored very high in early years, but it was soon discovered that the subjects had often been able to see the symbols through the backs of the cards. They were then redesigned to make it impossible to see the designs through the backs under any conditions. A subsequent deck used a back with an illustration of a building on the Duke University campus - but that was a very bad choice, making the deck into a "one-way," which delighted the magicians, who promptly designed tricks that could be done with the Zener cards.

In the tests for clairvoyance, the person conducting a test picks up a card in a shuffled pack, looks at it to verify what symbol is on the card, and records the answer of the person being tested for ESP, who must correctly determine which of the five designs is on the card in question. The experimenter then continues until all the cards in the pack have been tested. A third person may be employed to oversee or videotape the experiment to make sure it is conducted fairly and that all cards are clearly unable to be seen by the subject by visual means. Physical separators may be used between the tester and the subject. Elaborate experiments with Zener cards, just as with other forms of testing for ESP, have been designed that use all ways of keeping the subject unable to see the cards or the face of the experimenter, finding ways for the actual cards and responses to be recorded while the two are in different rooms.

Being that there are five of each of the five symbols, the obvious score expected of someone guessing at chance would be 20% right. The more times a person is tested on a pack of 25 cards, the more statistically meaningful the score becomes. It's quite probable that a person would get 32% or only 12% right by chance on a single trial, but if the subject is not psychic the scores for several runs are expected to average out to 20% over time. A person with budding ESP, or a small but existent amount of ESP -- knowledge of the outside world through something that cannot be explained by the five senses -- would maintain an average of significantly higher than 20% over time. A score of 100% would indicate a world-class psychic -- a person who was perfectly clairvoyant -- or a flaw in the testing method. A long-term average of something significantly lower than what chance would indicate, for instance 8%, might be an indicator of negative ESP.

Zener cards may be used to measure the innate ESP of an individual, but they may also be used to indicate the average scores for groups of subjects being tested. Experiments that test hypotheses about whether ESP can be learned, its connections with hypnosis, its prevalence in different demographic groups, how nutrition affects psychic ability or other general trends may use a target group and a control group and compare the average scores for each group. In this case the degree of statistically significant difference between the averages for the target and control group as well as the general deviation from the 20% norm must be taken into account.

Although Zener cards are usually used to test for clairvoyance, they may also be used to test for telepathy. A subject will draw a card from the deck and will try to mentally project the image of whichever design is on that card onto the mind of another person. Here, the statistical tendency of the person who is supposed to report the telepathic signals to report a specific design must also be taken into account -- perhaps the person "listening" for the telepathic signals has a particular propensity to report squares, for example -- so therefore what percentage of the reported squares were actually cards with squares, what percentage of the reported crosses were actually cards with crosses, etc. must be calculated. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell famously used Zener cards in this fashion in an unofficial experiment during the Apollo 14 mission to the moon in 1971.

A significant departure from the normal use of Zener Cards can be seen in the motion picture The Gift (2000). Directed by Sam Raimi, and written by Billy Bob Thornton (whose mother was a psychic) and Tom Epperson. It is a supernatural thriller, with the main character Annie (Cate Blanchett) becoming involved in a murder mystery as a result of her witnessing the crime with her "second sight, in addition to which, she also gives readings using an old deck of Zener Cards.

When I decided to experiment with using Zener Cards for the purposes of divination, I ordered a deck from Azure Green ( In this deck, the wavy lines are replaced by a triangle and I was also surprised to discover that in addition to the five symbols mentioned above, there were five more cards which consist of a large colored dot. The colors are: Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Black.  Therefore my deck of Zener cards consists of 10 symbols of five cards each, totaling 50 cards.

 Divinatory Meanings of Zener Cards

The Shapes

  • Circle- The circle represents the Sun, ones self and ego, independence, attainment, fresh starts, karma, and protection. The number associated with the circle is One.

  • Cross- The cross represents the Moon, emotions, balance, magick, secrets, wisdom, decisions, the crossroads, choices. The number associated with the cross is Two.

  • Triangle- The triangle is represents Mercury, expression, communication, travel, healing, manifestation, and will power. The number associated with the triangle is three.

  • Square- The square represent Venus, affection, love, security, foundation, romance, art, beauty, and pleasure. The number assocatied with the square is four.

  • Star- The star represents Mars, aggression, responsibility, power, stability, protection, war, guidance and passion.  The number associated with the star is five.

The Colors

  • Red- Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, creativity, energy, hard work, the element of fire, lust, passion.

  • Green- Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, business, money matters, earth, motherhood, physical health.

  • Yellow- Gemini, Libra, Aquarius, obstacles, challenges, reason, air, yellow is the universal color associated with caution, yellow is also associated with cowardice.

  • Blue- Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, love, relationships, emotions, water, mental health.

  • Black- Enemies, protection, the void, the unknown. 

Carolina Dean 

Monday, September 26, 2011

MIPC: Method for Redress of Fitts

To determine if a Man's mortall Suffering be caused by bewitchment, catch his water in a witch-bottel and throw in some pins or nayles and boil it upon a very hott fire. Throw the bottel into the fyre whilst reciting the Lord's Prayer follo'd by this most effective Incantation:

Agla Pater Dominus Tetragrammaton Adonai:
Heavenly Father I beseech thee, bring the Evil doer unto me.

When his Water is well Boilt so shall the Sorcerer be drawn unto the fyre. And so with the pins and crafte may he be entreated to free his Victim from Diabolicall machinations. 

Fuel for Sure Withdrawal


  1. When the Sorcerer appeareth, hee may be implor'd to reverse the malefaction by diverse means. Ref. death-philters. 
  2. Simple reversal, whereby the bottel its contents be placed in a pot upon the fyre within not more than three feet of said Malefactor combined with stinging Nettle and ground roots of Mandrake altogether to bring his bewitchment back unto him, and 
  3. If lessen'd effect be desired withal do the same adding Goldenseal and mint whilst reciting the Most effective Incantation.

The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane 
Katherine Howe, ©2009
pages 301-308

Commentary: The use of personal concerns in the practice of magick is based on the theory of contagious magick which states that “things once in contact with one another continue to exert an influence on one another after they have been separated.”  The term includes anything that is associated with a person’s physical body either having once been a part of it or having intimate contact to the body, such as urine, hair, fecal matter, sweat, blood, semen, vaginal secretions, etc...

Personal Concerns represent a practitioner's connection to another individual and are used to cast spells for good or evil which are to have an affect on the person to whom they are linked. Generally speaking, the more intimate and personal a link is to the individual the more powerful it is regarded. The most powerful concerns originate inside the body and decrease in strength as you move away from the body. 
There are a number of ways in which personal concerns are used in magick, some of which include:
  1. Incorporated into a doll.
  2. Folded into a written-petition.
  3. Included in a mojo bag.
  4. Wound inside a jack ball.
  5. Incorporated into a charm or talisman.
  6. Included in a packet. 
  7. Hidden in food. 
  8. Sealed in a Honey Jar. 
It is known that during the time of the Salem Witch Trials (circa 1692) a person's urine was often employed to determine if they were bewitched, as well as to cure their illnesses. There are two main ways in which this was done. They are:
  1. To determine if a person was bewitched, his or her urine was baked into a cake with some wheat meal and then fed to a dog. If, after eating the cake, the dog acted as if it were bewitched suffering the same symptoms as the individual. In some instances, the cake was thrown into a fire in the belief that destroying the cake would destroy the bewitchment.
  2. The afflicted person's urine was boiled upon a fire along with some crooked pins and then thrown on a fire after a time. In 1654, a cunning woman named Anne Green who resided in Northeast England was said to cure headaches caused by bewitchment by boiling the person's urine on a fire along with some of their hair and then tossing it on a fire, destroying the fire. 

As you can see, the "Method for Redress of Fitts" as given above is based on sound principles of magic. However, there is no need to draw the person who bewitched the victim to oneself in order to entreat him or her to remove the spell as destroying the bewitched urine in fire after boiling it for some time was all that was required for relief.

Carolina Dean


Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

  • Author: Katherine Howe
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Voice (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401340903

The story begins as Harvard graduate, Connie Goodwin passes her oral exams and advances to the next step in the doctoral candidacy process. Before she gets a chance to decide upon a topic for her doctoral thesis, Connie is asked by her eccentric mother (Grace) to prepare her grandmother’s long abandoned home to be sold in order to pay off the back taxes on the property. Her mother’s request couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time for Connie as her advisor-cum-mentor, Manning Chilton, pressures her to find a new source-base for material on which to base her thesis rather than re-examining the same old tomes and references.

One dark night, while searching her grandmother’s house, Connie finds an old bible pressed inside of which is a key containing a rolled up slip of parchment on which is simply written the name Deliverance Dane. Curious at such a discovery, Connie begins researching the name learning that Deliverance Dane was a heretofore unknown woman accused and put to death for the crime of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials.

Connie’s research of historical records indicates that Deliverance owned a receipt-book (a book of things received, such as spells, rituals, herbal-cures, recipes etc..)  which she passed down to her daughter upon her death. Sharing this information with Manning Chilton, Connie recognizes the receipt-book as the new source base for her dissertation. Joining Connie on her quest is Sam Hartley, a handsome steeplejack; Liz, her roommate; and Arlo her pet dog.   As Connie traces the path of the receipt-book through time she comes to discover her family connection to this magical legacy and must put her faith in the wisdom of the past to defeat a powerful enemy in the present.

The central mystery really draws the reader in and the author does an excellent job of weaving back and forth between the present of 1991 and the Salem Witch Trials (c. 1692); however the observant reader will discern the identity of Connie’s enemy long before she ever does. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is really three stories that cross the boundaries of time and space intersecting at various points. On the one hand you have Connie’s story, set in 1991; and on the other there is the story of Deliverance Dane’s life and legacy set in and around the time of the Salem Witch Trials circa 1692. Finally, there is the path of the receipt-book that changes owners and forms through history.

The author does an excellent job of balancing magic and reality while still honoring the history of the Witch Trials at Salem. I really liked the flavor of magic as practiced by Deliverance Dane and enjoyed the fact that the author chose to use actual practices in the fictional world of Connie Goodwin such as the description of the Sieve and the Scissors for divination and the “Method for the Redress of Fitts” and would have loved it had she included more such examples. If you like magical-fiction with a touch of history, romance, and mystery…then this is the book for you. 

Carolina Dean 



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

True Blood Season 4: Marnie Stonebrook

Marnie Stonebrook
Well, it's that time of year again and another season of True Blood has come to an end. In previous seasons, we were introduced to Vampires, Fairies, Werewolves, Were-panthers, and Shifters to name a few. Although witches were technically introduced to the show in season 3 with the appearance of waitress Holly Cleary, this season witches were a large part of the major plot, the portrayal of which was met with some controversy from practicing Wiccans

The main antagonist of the season was Marnie Stonebrook, a witch and medium who owned an occult shop that also acted as a meeting place for her coven, of which Jesus Velasquez and Holly Cleary were members. When we first met Marnie, she was timid, fearful, and quite lonely. 

Distressed over the death of her "familiar", Marnie tricks her coven into attempting to resurrect her pet bird and is successful for a brief time which leads her to planning to resurrect a dead human being. However, Bill Compton (now the King of Louisiana,) is tipped off to the coven's activities by a spy he had planted among their number. Fearing the witch's power over the dead, Bill sends Sheriff Eric Northman to put an end to their plans by any means necessary.

When Marnie refuses to give in to Eric's demands, Eric attacks her and as her coven chants a spell of protection, resulting in Marnie becoming possessed by the spirit of a witch (necromancer) named Antonia who died some 400 years prior at the hands of vampires who feared her power. Antonia, working through Marnie, casts a spell on Eric which sends him away and also strips him of his memory. 

Having tasted a level of power she heretofore had not been capable of, Marnie attempts to draw the spirit of Antonia back into her through ritual blood-letting. Over the course of a few episodes Marnie learns more about Antonia's life through a series of visions which show how vampires disguised as Priest of the Catholic Church feared the power of witches and used their influence to start the Spanish Inquisition, resulting in Antonia being burned at the stake. As she burned, Antonia cast a spell which drew all vampires in a 20 mile radius into the sun to their deaths. 

Each time Marnie is in physical danger Antonia takes possession of Marnie and uses her magic to protect her, such as when she cursed Pam to rot. Only when Marnie is kidnapped and held prisoner by Bill Compton, does Antonia fully possess Marnie allowing her to escape. Marnie, as Antonia, then convenes her coven and attempts to perform the spell to make all vampires meet the "true-death" in the sun.

When her spell fails, Marnie meets with Bill to negotiate peace, however, this results in deaths on both sides and Eric coming under Marnie's complete control. After the death of one of their own, Marnie's coven begin to question her motivations and the wisdom of starting a war with the vampires. Marnie magickally holds her coven prisoner in the Moon Goddess Emporium as she  plans her next move. Marnie then plans on using Eric and other vampires under her control to kill Bill at a peace rally, which also fails when Sookie uses her fairy power to break Marnie's hold on Eric. 

At this point, Antonia begins to see that revenge will not bring her the peace that she seeks and attempts to leave Marnie, but Marnie convinces her to stay with her and forge ahead. Trapped inside the Moon Goddess Emporium, Marnie's coven begs her to let them go. Marnie revels how her power to communicate with the dead made her an outcast in society and we begin to see that her sense of loneliness and powerlessness is the driving force behind her desire to destroy the vampires. When Casey, one of the coven members, attempts to rush Marnie, she is killed when Marnie telekinetically impales her with an athame. At this point, Antonia sees that she has allowed Marnie to go too far and when she attempts to leave Marnie magically binds her spirit to her so that she can continue to draw from the well of Antonia's magic. 

Ultimately, Jesus is able to free Antonia from Marnie's body leaving Marnie powerless and unable to defend herself from the vampires. Marnie is killed by Bill Compton who shoots her in the head. After her death, Marnie possesses the body of Lafayette, another medium,  and kills Jesus taking his daemon to add its power to her own. In a climatic battle, Marnie is defeated when Sookie, Holly, and Tara tap into the magic of Samhain to summon the dead to protect them from Marnie. Marnie is forced out of Lafayette's body and convinced by Antonia and Gran to give up her thirst for vengeance and move on to peace in the afterlife.

According to comments left in various forums, many fans felt that making Marnie the driving force behind her own actions (as opposed to Antonia being in control) was not a popular decision. Many people felt that it was completely out of character for the story to go in that direction. However, I disagree. For me, Marnie was a totally relate-able character. 

Marnie admitted that people saw her as weak and it was important for her to be seen as strong, to not allow others to dominate, control, or abuse her. She sought out possession to gain a sense of empowerment and when she gained that power it corrupted her.  Marnie forged a spiritual bond with Antonia and in the process Antonia's enemies became her enemies. The vampires became all those who hated, ostracized, judged and abused her in her life; and she thought that by destroying the vampires it would somehow give her a sense of resolution. 

Many people, myself included, seek out witchcraft to gain more power in their lives. In the early days of my craft, I had to learn that magic does not equal instant gratification. Power, real power, comes to one slowly because you mature through the process so that you don't allow it to corrupt you. And no matter how much power you accumulate, some things are just out of your control. Sadly, Marnie learned this lesson too late. 

Carolina Dean

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pandora: The First Witch

Note: Here's a little story I wrote as part of my magickal series to explain where witches came from. It is not intended to be read as a matter of fact, but rather a legend in the universe of witches I created.

Long, long ago, the world belonged to demons and darkness crouched in every corner of the earth. Mankind in its infancy could scarcely inccrease his number in the face of such oppression.  Then one day, the light appeared and drove the darkness into the confines of a book. The light charged mankind with the book's safety, adjuring him to never open the book, lest evil be unleashed upon the world again. 

The light walked among men as Gods and a golden age followed.  The book was passed down from parent to child with instructions that it was never to be opened. Overtime, it was forgotten exactly why the book was to remain un-opened, but it became a matter of tradition to do so.  After passing through a succession of keepers, the book fell into the hands of a young woman named Pandora.  For the most part, Pandora took her duty seriously, but in a moment of weakness, she allowed her curiosity to overtake her and she opened the book!

Almost immediately, the world changed as the horror of Pandora's act set in.  The people cried out in pain and pleaded for the Gods to intervene.  However, they were powerless, since mankind opened the door for evil, he inherited the karmic debt for reconciling evil.  The Gods, feeling the world's pain, left this plane for a dimension, where they could observe man and intercede on his behalf albeit indirectly, but still be insulted from his pain. 

Before their departure, the Gods gave Pandora the gift of magick with which to oppose evil in all its shifting guises.  As Pandora mastered her powers and slayed demons, she wrote about her experiences in the book that once held evil, and which came to be called the Book of Shadows. Eventually, Pandora had children  to whom she taught her craft, and they taught their children, and they taught their children.  Today, all witches can trace their lineage back to Pandora, from whom they inherit their powers.  However, along with the gift of magick, comes the bane of opposing evil in all it's changing forms

Carolina Dean