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Tonight, sunset will be an hour sooner. It always takes some adjusting when the clocks go back.

The Sun, now transiting Scorpio, is bringing up lessons to do with letting go, releasing, decay, transforming, digging deep, sexuality, trust, and surrendering. Of all the zodiac signs, Scorpio is the one I have most respect for even though novice (and probably many experienced) astrologers are rather terrified of the sign.

Scorpio has grit. It’s the only sign to be represented by three totems. While Libra is all about charm and diplomacy, Scorpio says ‘to hell with the niceties, I want the truth!’ It’s the detective of the zodiac, and will leave no stone unturned.

A scorpion can go for three days without breathing. It can survive being frozen, and is the only creature to survive radiation. Respect.

In the northern hemisphere, we’ll be wearing much warmer clothes and shoes, and putting on the heating sooner in the day. As I type, my woodstove is on. Its crackle reminds me that there is life in the room. Fire is a transformative force which, when we look at in mythology, gives us the story of the phoenix: the mythical creature rising from the ashes.

We’ve passed the equinox (balance) and are being drawn down into the dark. What do we hope to find here? Not much if it’s not a conscious journey, but oh how rich the rewards are when we excavate the psyche to see what we have learnt over the past few seasons.

While we often talk about spring cleaning our homes, for me it is Autumn which sees the deep desire to pull everything apart and clean. This is the perfect season for decluttering, deep cleaning, and shipping off unnecessary things to charity shops for recycling.

As we watch the beautiful aubergine, mustard, claret and golden leaves flutter to the ground, Nature reminds us that nothing in life is permanent. The leaf knows when it is time to move on. And so should we.
I don’t carve angry or scary faces into pumpkins. Instead, I create a “lantern of love” as an invitation across the veil to the other world. This is a time to acknowledge our ancestors and ancestresses, and to honour that at this time of the year, according to tradition, the veil between their world and ours is thin, and contact is easier with our deceased loved ones. From our family room window, at Samhain, our pumpkin will shine light through those love-heart shapes ~ inviting passers-by to re-envision the season.

Can you feel Autumn wrapping herself around you as she carries you towards Winter? Has she shown you yet that the place of deepest nurturing is in the silence? Like a fallow field, gestation and soul growth occur in the dark. In spiritual circles, we are often applauded for our journey towards enlightenment, but ‘endarkenment’ is just as valid.

Autumn teaches that letting go is also a form of generosity.
Leaves fall, branches are bare. Trees are silhouetted against the Sun setting on the horizon. Nothing stays the same. Autumn teaches us, with her incredible beauty, that you can’t hang on to something that doesn’t belong to you.

What have you outgrown? That is what Autumn wants to know. She is leading the way, and showing you through her graceful dance, that letting go leads to another type of beauty. This is imperative to spiritual transformation.

Change is in the air. I can smell it on the wood smoke, geese on high, early sunsets framing the old sandstone church. Even the rain feels different. Consciously, I choose to let go of anything that doesn’t serve me.
Our ancestresses understood the real significance of Autumn: Nature teaches us that seeds must ‘die’ before they can grow. This is symbolic of our spiritual potential. Alchemists would see this as the divine fire, and destroying the ego.

Most ancient myths symbolise the descent into the underworld prior to the spiritual ascent. As we move towards the cave of Winter, we can go down deeper, deeper, deeper into the underworld. It is only our reluctance to do so that makes life difficult.

The death which Autumn teaches us about is much like the movements of a woman’s body in labour ~ it is preparing us for a new beginning: a birth.
What can you let go of? Relationships, job, clothes, bad habits, fears, worn-out excuses, procrastination? We all know, in our hearts, what doesn’t serve us.

Consciously Celebrating Halloween

At this time of the year, shops are filled with fake spider webs, witches’ costumes, cauldrons, rubber frogs and an assortment of ghoulish items from jelly eyeballs to skeletons, and the ever-essential candy. For many children, Halloween is associated with knocking on the doors of strangers and receiving sugary sweets. This ancient festival has become a time to ignite people’s fears about the Underworld.

Halloween, however, was traditionally a festival which honoured the wise grandmother, otherwise known as The Crone. The Goddess is honoured by her three aspects: maiden, mother, grandmother. At Samhain (Halloween) it is the Grandmother (Crone) who takes centre stage as she demands that we use this time of year to look back over the year and go inwards to learn what will make us a better person in the coming year. It is a time of reflection, transformation and renewal. As befits the season of Autumn, it is a time to let go and release anything that does not serve us.
What was beautiful and symbolic of the great feminine, such as the Crone’s cauldron representing the womb of the Great Goddess, has been bastardised into witches on broomsticks casting evil spells. In Britain, the tradition of children trick or treating originated with asking for donations to help the poor. In Celtic tradition, Hallow’s Eve (renamed as Halloween by the Christian Church) is the time which signifies the end of Summer (Samhain; pronounced sow en). For Celts, this is the beginning of the New Year. The Saxons called it Winter’s Eve.

Our ancestors were honoured at this time of year, and it was believed by many cultures that the ‘veil’ between this world and the next was thinnest and therefore an ideal time for communication between the living and the dead.

How can we teach our children to celebrate this tradition in a way which is symbolically rich and meaningful beyond the commercialisation of modern-day Halloween?

There are many ways, such as making a special meal and serving a plate for the unseen guests. It could be gathering unneeded items from the home, such as outgrown clothes, food staples, toys, and giving them to charity (the cycle of Scorpio is a perfect time for letting go).
Making a small altar with photos of your ancestors, and lighting a candle, allow yourself to create a focal piece in your home. I taught my children, when they were young, the origins of the carved pumpkin: Irish immigrants used turnips, and introduced this idea in the USA in the 18th century.

The law of attraction is very clear: we become what we focus on. Do we teach our children about fear and negative energies, or do we demonstrate love, and that death is a doorway to another world and that there is nothing to be frightened of?

We can educate our children (and friends) about the history of Halloween, and how it began more than 2000 years ago as a way of honouring the Crone as well as the end of the harvest season. Her archetype, after all, is that of: you shall reap what you sow. She asks us, our wise grandmother, to take responsibility for our actions.

A Samhain Altar

There are countless ways to bring Samhain to life in your home, but beginning with a simple altar is a great way to start. Use colours and symbols of the harvest season, such as orange and black. Those of us who celebrate earth-based spirituality, use black because it represents the cape of the Wise Crone, and the waning Moon. It is symbolic of the dark Earth―the underworld, a type of womb―in which seeds will gestate during the long dark Winter.

We make full use of harvest foods, such as apples, acorns, rosehips, pumpkins and corn, pomegranates and marigolds. On our altar you will find beeswax candles, a cauldron, and Autumn leaves. Our mugs are filled with apple cider or warm honey mead.

On your altar, you can add photos or heirlooms of your ancestors, and invite them to meet you at the veil. Of course, in some homes the ancestor altar is on display all year round.

Sharing the Feast

When creating your Samhain feast, include a place for your ancestresses. Just a spoon of food and a mouthful of beverage will suffice. It’s symbolic.
Some families leave a bowl of porridge by the hearth, or a candle in the window, while others place an empty chair by the woodstove. These acts are said to guide hungry ghosts to comfort, and that humans will be blessed by their interactions with these wandering spirits.

This is the perfect opportunity to teach your children about their family tree and ancestral history. If you have letters, photos or books from your ancestors, share them and talk about what they mean to your family. If you don’t have any items, you can write the names of ancestors on paper to place on your altar.

To contact your ancestresses and ancestors, close your eyes and be mindful of your breathing. Use this time to ask yourself: who am I?
We are a collection of cells passed down from many, many people in the family line. We have their strengths, their weakness, and we house their failures and their dreams. The Festival of the Wise Grandmother is a time to honour the past and the present.

I am the daughter of Angelikah and Albertus, and granddaughter of Minna-Marie and Liselotte. I come from a long line of people who lived in the cold of Northern Europe: Vikings, shipbuilders, seafarers, mothers, craftsmen and musicians. I come from men and women, some whose names I do not know, but I do know they were: strong, pioneering, loving, creative, and held family as sacred.

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Keep speaking aloud, telling your family story. If there are stories you know, verbalise them. You can ask the ancient ones to guide you on your life’s journey, and to protect you and your loved ones.

If you feel you’re carrying family wounds, ask to be freed from them.

 

If you wish to be instrumental in healing wounded archetypes in your lineage, then ask how you can experience and release these stories so that you and descendants may find and write their own script.

Not everyone in our lineage is someone we wish to be connected to, but with love and forgiveness we can move forward, and in doing so, we free the energy of that person, too.

Use this time to think about your life, and what transformations you’ve undergone. You might choose to meditate, use runes or practise divination with tarot cards. Perhaps you’ll write down your dreams, or take a solitary walk in the woods and listen to the night owl beneath the moonlight.

A phoenix ceremony goes hand in hand with any celebration of Samhain. Review, release and let go. That is the message from the Wise Grandmother. If you have a patio or garden where you can create an open fire (even in a cauldron or small contained pit), use this to write down old habits or negative things from your life to release.
Be clear: Samhain and Halloween are not meant to be negative, fear-inducing or about black magic, but quite the opposite. Perhaps those who were instrumental in changing its pure meaning were afraid of empowerment and the strength of women.

Do feel free to share your positive Samhain and Halloween experiences. Perhaps you could invite friends to take a mindful walk in woodlands near your home. You could make a journey stick, collecting seasonal items from nature, to share the story of where you’ve been.

Costumes are a popular part of the modern-day Halloween. According to Samhain tradition, to wear a costume or mask during this time would help to distract wandering spirits from calling you to the Otherworld before your allotted time. Tradition also suggests that it was a way of conferring the strength of the creature you were imitating. It was common, too, to make noise using hands or drums to interrupt daily noise. This created a portal to the Otherworld which enabled spirits to make contact and whisper messages to the living.

As a family, you could visit the local cemetery (even if you have no loved ones there), and leave an offering, such as water, herbs, flowers, seeds, bulbs or gemstones.

With your family, you can offer a prayer of gratitude:
Thank you dear Earth for all that you have given us so bountifully this season.

We open our arms to the Sacred Darkness.

Take your spicy mead or cider, and make libations to Mother Earth, as symbolic of the Wise Grandmother.

“We have gathered the harvest, and Winter is coming. We give thanks.”
If you have a Goddess symbol of the Wise Grandmother, place it on your altar. You might like to make ink art or create dreamcatchers as part of your Halloween celebrations.

At the heart of any ritual and celebration which honours the Earth, is the use of fire as a symbol. Samhain and Halloween are no different. Fire reminds us that we’re in need of light and warmth. It invites introspection as we draw nearer to the flame.

Celebrating Samhain with Mother Nature

Make a Samhain wreath using grain stalks, nuts, apples, leaves, conkers and rosehips, and place it on your front door.

Ensure your garden is tidy before All Hallow’s Eve so that it may rest peacefully for the Winter.

Honour the darkness by lighting candles or celebrating with a bonfire. The light of fire is enhanced by the sheer darkness of night. The light reminds us that there is life in the Underworld.

Press flowers in old books.

Plant bulbs. As you bury them in the dark, moist and fertile womb of Mother Earth, offer a prayer to the Goddess of the Underground. Write your wishes on paper, and bury them with the bulbs.

Harvest your produce, and store well.

If you are celebrating Samhain with friends, hold hands and stand in a circle around your bonfire. Invite the ancestresses to be with you. Feel the power as each of you verbalise your connections to the Otherworld.
Wear black during Samhain to celebrate the season and all it represents.
Make spirals from seeds and nuts.

Sit outside at twilight and listen for the voices of your ancestresses in the wind.

Take a solitary walk at night time to feel the sense of the season.

Practise ecological awareness, and give back to the Earth rather than using products made from crude oils or ancient sunlight.

Walk the Labyrinth

The ancient Celtic shamans would walk the medicine wheel, otherwise known as a labyrinth. If you are lucky enough to live near a labyrinth, use this to enhance your Samhain ceremony. A labyrinth offers healing and psychological courage and strength.

A finger labyrinth can give you a way to put your question or intention to the Universe. Begin with a focus, then using your finger, make your way around the labyrinth. When you make the outward journey, do so in trust that your answer will be revealed to you.

If the finger labyrinth doesn’t appeal to you, you can make one outdoors with stones, candles or sandbags.

Veronika comes from a long line of white witches: the ones they were never able to burn! www.veronikarobinson.com

Day in and day out, the vast majority of people in our culture are participating in what is known as ‘the rat race’. Essentially, it equates to living a life of enormous stress in the process of trying to get to some mythical place. I mean, has anyone actually ever won this race, and if they did, what was the prize?

This full Moon in Taurus (Tuesday, October 27th at 12.05 UK time) highlights the need to remember the simple pleasures of life. After all, the quality of life is to be found here not in the ‘big events’.

Pleasure is what nurtures our senses. What makes our eyes swoon? Or our taste buds go ‘yum’? What appeals to you when breathe in deeply? How do you like to be touched? What sounds nourish you?

This journey through life is based on individual days. If we’re racing through them trying to keep up with the Jones family next door (who the hell were they anyway?), incurring unmanageable debts, feeling frazzled with the children, and taking on too many commitments because of our inability to say ‘no’ to others instead of saying ‘yes’ to ourselves, then we’re highly likely to miss the details.

It is in the small moments that the exquisite beauty of this glorious life can be found. You can not experience it in any way that is deeply fulfilling if you’re speeding through life. Slow down. Learn from the bull archetype of Taurus: walk through the wildflower meadow, and breathe.

Ours is a culture which doesn’t value silence, stillness, slowness or quality pleasure. Hell, we even have speed dating!

In all this hustle and bustle, there’s very little we need do to connect with the food we eat: ready-made meals to go. Heck, you can even buy mashed potato (gag). What has become of us that we don’t take the time and pleasure to make meals from scratch? Seriously, how hard is it to peel a potato or chop some vegetables? (Injuries withstanding)

The simple pleasures of life are all around us. They haven’t disappeared, but we’ll miss them if we don’t pay attention.

All around me is a world filled with wonder. The huge holly tree outside my writing room is rich with red berries. They’ll adorn our festive celebration this Winter Solstice.

The oak tree in the centre of my village is wearing a crown of mustard-coloured leaves. Nearby is a purple beech. Together, the colours are magnificent.

Geese fly in a v formation across an apricot-hued sky.

The cat purrs contentedly in my lap.

Woodsmoke tells me Autumn is here.

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My garden offers up Autumn raspberries and plump blueberries. It’s almost November, and I’m blessed with sunflowers in my front garden. Each morning, I start my day by burning incense in the lounge room. It’s a little thing, but it nourishes me deeply to have my home smell of this delightful scent.

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Throughout the day, my husband stops to hug me, kiss me or simply to look in my eyes so he can tell me he loves me. It is a love I can believe in. Pleasure.

I pick up a novel, snuggle on the sofa by the woodstove, and read. Pleasure.

A friend phones to chat. Locked away in our little psychic sound chamber, we laugh. Pleasure.

Hot steaming peppermint tea soothes my senses. Pleasure.

 

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I rip fresh basil leaves to go in the tomato salad. Pleasure.

Lying in bed watching the starlight and waxing Moon, and feeling my connection, my rightful place in this incredible Universe, is bliss. Pleasure.

Having a friendship circle of people who are kind, honest, loyal and wise. Pleasure.

Hearing my daughters laugh. Witnessing them creating their lives. Pleasure.

 

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My mother’s lyrical voice on the answering machine. Pleasure.

Listening to my intuition. Pleasure.

Creating a pot of delicious soup. Pleasure.

Walking barefoot upon the grass. Pleasure.

I water my houseplants, grateful for their beauty and ability to remove toxins from the air. Pleasure.

Essential oil of eucalyptus swirls up in the steamy water as I mop the kitchen floor. Pleasure.

Conditioning my hair with rosemary. Pleasure.

I light a beeswax candle, and surrender to the mesmerising light. Pleasure.

Noticing the peace lily, my friend Clare gave me, come into bloom. Pleasure.

Moving barrows of firewood and knowing we’re going to be warm. Pleasure.

Slow down. This is where life is.

Celebrate the Full Moon in Taurus by honouring all the ways in which you can bring pleasure into your life. Soak in a hot bubble bath. Buy yourself some flowers. Go for a walk in the woods. Bake a cake! Nibble on that dark chocolate. You deserve it.

Full Moons bring light to the dark: they provide revelations.

The Sun is now in Scorpio, shining its light on that zodiac sign’s themes: debt, death, sex, endings, transformation, loans, taxes and so on. It is the area of life where we have to ‘share’ with another if we expect to be truly intimate.

The Moon in Taurus is all about pleasure, wealth, riches, resources, damn good food (be careful not to overeat on comfort foods), massages, and anything else that nourishes the physical body. Taurus rules the throat, so if you have thyroid issues use this full Moon to seek guidance on how to heal this. For example, have a daily intake of kelp.

Draw down the Moon, and send your blessings and wishes out to the Universe.

 

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You can ground yourself with the energy of this full Moon by acknowledging the Sun and the Moon, and their messages. This is what it means to live in balance. This Moon will make you aware of what it is you VALUE.

You can also use this energy to find a way to take ‘what you love’ and earn an income from it.

Use this energy to re-evaluate the areas of your life to do with the themes of Scorpio and Taurus: debt, credit, wealth, poverty, struggle, pleasure, passions, fears, joys, intimacy, traumas, beauty, values, self worth.

Embrace all aspects of your life, and you’ll find yourself empowered.

Authenticity comes from honesty within and without. This can be achieved by being conscious of your thoughts and actions. To understand what might be locked in your subconscious vault, look at what patterns keep appearing in your life. The full Moon is a great time to shed light on this. Find a balance between the deep emotional world of Scorpio and the physical world of Taurus. Manifest what you want by improving your self worth.

Full Moon Blessings!
http://veronikarobinson.com/astrologer/

 

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Autumnal sunshine tempts me into the garden, my bare feet soaking in the long, dewy grass. Blueberries, purple and plump, hang in cascades from the crimson-leaved branches, urging me to pluck them. I have watched them grow all Summer, and now they’re ready to harvest. And me? Have I grown all Summer? Is there anything to harvest? Plenty, it would seem. Inner work isn’t often obvious to the untrained eye.

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The afternoon grows lazy, wood smoke hangs in the air, and geese give a cursory nod as they head south. Against the apricot-hued skyline, apples cling to the trees. Don’t they know? This is the season for letting go.

The tenth month has rolled in like the thick fog girdled around my cosy cottage. “Gather in,” October whispers to me.

 

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By the hearth, I snuggle beneath a woolly blanket, sipping spicy Chai tea. Day’s end brings me here. The woodstove, containing an orchestra of spit, crackle, hiss and sizzle, is an inviting touchstone as the nights draw in.

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Little altars around our home become a focus for this colourful season: maple leaves, burgundy rosehips, marmalade-coloured pumpkins, hand-carved wooden bowls of lush blueberries, and shiny conkers.

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With wind in our hair, and a chill against our skin, October shows us that the Libran scales of justice stand firm. Truth will win. But before the month is over, Scorpio, zodiac sign of decay, letting go, and transformation will bring new lessons.

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It is interesting to me that this season of letting go is generally the most colourful one. Could it be, like human life, that it is at ‘harvest time’ that we become our most colourful, vibrant and dynamic?

Scorpio is the zodiac sign associated with death, letting go and release.

 

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It’s been interesting for me to see this play out so literally in my life. The girl cat was put down two weeks ago, and today our old car, which has served us well for six years, was sent to the scrap yard. Release. Let go. Goodbye.

 

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It has been a time of decluttering and clearing out. The difference I felt when I walked into my writing room this morning at 6am (after yesterday’s major clean out) was huge. It felt like “I” had been cleansed, not just the room. That’s the power our living space has over us. It becomes a mirror of our internal world. How often do you apologise for your living space when a friend turns up unexpectedly? Do you bless your home or make excuses for it?

It’s funny how ‘stuff’ just creeps up around you and quickly becomes part of the furniture. With the best will in the world, it’s easy for a chair or table to become a dumping ground bills, gym bag, letters and so on.

I always know when I’m a few hours from my period arriving: I can’t tolerate any mess of any description. Even the possessions I love could, at those times, be easily thrown out. My body has a complete need (a desperation, even) to purge everything and anything. My body is expecting the environment to mirror the monthly detox and cleanse.

By nature, I’m instinctively drawn to a Shaker-style simplicity. Quiet, simple, clean, peaceful. This is what my soul craves. This isn’t something easily attained when living in a family situation!

 

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View from my writing room

All around me, the trees are letting go of their leaves. There is no waste, though. They will eventually rot down and become part of Mother Earth. I love the way she recycles everything. Though not a lover of the cold (or being cold), I do adore and celebrate the beauty and majesty of Winter, in particular the bare trees. I love how everything is stripped back to basics.

If you’ve not yet read issue 5 of my online magazine, Starflower Living, I write about grief as a time to withdraw from daily life. Clare Cooper writes about learning to let go. Samantha Parker explores the meaning of soul mates. And, with Halloween tomorrow, you might be interested in the origins of this tradition. It began as a celebration or festival of the wise grandmother. And there’s also a piece on the power of the burning bowl ceremony.
Just a reminder, too: Issue one of Starflower Living is available for free. Visit www.starflowerpress.com

 

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How do we know when it is time to let go? I believe it is when something or someone or a situation no longer feels right or good to us. Letting go is like exhaling. Sometimes we need to take in a rather large amount of air first.

 

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The decision to have our girl cat put down did not come quickly or easily. It was a painful time, but her needs were more important than ours. Like cleaning a room, the change in this home after she’d gone was huge. It wasn’t just because we missed her, but the energy her illness brought to this home was felt throughout. I hadn’t realised just how much until she was no longer here.

Energy is everywhere and in everything. This is why it is so important that we consciously purge negativity from our life on a regular basis. If it isn’t something that comes easily to you, then do use this time of year to release and let go.

 

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At my desk

New Year’s Day is often seen as a time to make resolutions and goals, and yet, this time of year (to my mind) is pretty perfect. The veil between this world and the next is considered to be thin during Samhain/Halloween. It is a time to connect with our ancestresses. As we head into the darkest part of the year (here in the Northern Hemisphere), we can plant seeds of intention into the dark earth, trusting that they will germinate. First, though, we purge. We let go of all we don’t want from our lives, and then fill the vacuum with ‘good’ ideas, intentions, habits, people.

Right, I’m off to completely declutter the kitchen cupboards. And bake some pumpkin brownies!

 

The was the first Autumn leaf of the year to catch my eye

The was the first Autumn leaf of the year to catch my eye

Riding the storm

Riding the storm

I’m about to start putting together issue 5 of Starflower Living (a monthly online magazine).

The themes for this issue run alongside those of the New Moon in Scorpio: soul mates, sexuality, transformation, empowerment, letting go, old baggage, psychology, secrets, depth of character, compulsions, deep emotional connections, ancestors, debt, inheritance, jealousy, abandonment.

Health issues: sexual organs, organs of elimination, menstrual cycle, sexual infections.

The due date for articles, artwork, adverts and photos is tomorrow, October 4th. Please email your submission to me at: office (at) starflowerpress (dot) com or veronikarobinson (at) hotmail (dot) com

Before submitting, please be familiar with our publication.
http://www.starflowerpress.com/living/index.shtml

Love, Veronika xxx

If ever there was a zodiac sign to represent personal growth, it’s Scorpio. I am now taking submissions (writing and art/photography) for issue 5 of Starflower Living magazine.

Issue 5 themes for the New Moon in Scorpio (due date, October 4th): soul mates, sexuality, transformation, empowerment, letting go, grief, old baggage, psychology, secrets, depth of character, compulsions, deep emotional connections, ancestors, debt, inheritance, jealousy, abandonment. Health: sexual organs, organs of elimination, menstrual cycle, sexual infections. email: office at starflowerpress dot com