It’s a Girl Thing – Germanic Heroines, Warriors, Seers, Witches and Goddesses *Part 2*

written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

This is the second part of the Germanic Women series. In the first part the role of the Sibyllen/Völvas, Matrons, Norns and Disir were covered.

arbo-walkure

Walküren (Valkyries)

The Walküren once were more than just „Wotan’s Wishmaidens“. The independent guardian spirits of the dead suddenly had a stern, “all-powerful” master in Wotan, and were not good for much else than to fulfill his personal demands and act on his whims.
The origins of the Walküren lie in the pre indo-Germanic mother/Goddess cult. Their name alone sparks terror, for Old Norse valkyrjar and Old English waelcyrge mean those who choose the corpses (from the battlefield) or literally “corpse-chooser”.
The only account regarding the original independent nature of the Walküren is found in the Njalssaga. It speaks of twelve females sitting at a weaving chair inside a mound. Their weaving wool is made of human intestines, the weights for looms are made up of male skulls. They are singing a song about harvesting the warriors on a battlefield.

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After finishing their grisly incantation the Walküren leave the mound, six of them ride towards the South and six towards the North. (Six to Muspilli and six to Nifl? Also, six is the number of rebirth or renewal by destruction; this is the Kenaz rune principle, the sixth rune of the Futhark dedicated to world-renewer Loki.)
It is insinuated that while they are sitting inside the mound weaving the warriors’ fates they are at the same time present on the battlefield itself.
Like the Nornen the Walküren alone decide what to weave, what warriors, both male and female, to choose and who to spare.
Neither prayer nor offering will change their decision; they are independent and do not answer to any God such as Wotan, let alone humans.

Walküren

As already mentioned their independence was taken from them later on; but even worse, in Medieval Skaldic Poetry the Walküren are described as lowering themselves enough to fall in love with mortals.
These beings obviously have nothing in common with the strong, independent female guardian spirits that once wove the fates of warriors; instead they let humans determine theirs (!) as the story of Brünhilde and Siegfried (Das Nibelungenlied) shows.

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This particular storyline of the Nibelungs is especially interesting as it points to the death of the Mother Goddess cult, which did not suit the rigid and patriarchal structures of Medieval, and most importantly increasingly Christian, society.
In the course of the story Brünhilde the Walküre is betrayed and dethroned by men. Still, as long as she is in possession of her magical belt, she remains independent to a degree.
Siegfried and Gunther trick her, forcing off her belt and Siegfried rapes her in front of her husband, Gunther. The matriarch is dead, figuratively speaking, and as she falls and the balance between male and female rule is destroyed, thus falls all of mankind: The saga of the Nibelungs ends with an inferno no one survives, a kind of Ragnarök on a smaller scale.

Die Walkurie! (The Valkyrie)

The same principle can be found in Véølundarkvipa. Here, as much as in several folk tales, the Walküren are depicted as swans. The swan, representing purity both spiritually as well as physically, was also associated with the soul and death in general.
In Véølundarkvipa the swan girls fly through the dark forest to “ørlog drýgja” – decide (clan/family) fate. They sit down at a lake, taking off their wings and feathers to “weave fine linen”, in other words they weave the fate(s) of the warriors on the battlefield.
Wölund and his brothers steal their feathers and force them to take them as husbands. 7 years go by in which the Walküren yearn to return to weaving the fates of the warriors. In the 8th year they plot their escape, in the 9th year (note the sacred number 9 in this context) they leave behind their captors and children to become what they once were. This, of course, is a bit of a happier ending, if only slightly.

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There is also an Anglo-Saxon blessing in which the Walküren are basically described as a witch army riding in the sky and casting their spears down into the warriors’s backs, claiming them thus. The (German) Saxons held a similar view of the Walküren and so even in today’s German we use the word Hexenschuß (“witch shot”) for lumbalgia.

It is the Idisen (Disir) that are specifically named in the first Merseburg Incantation, yet it is impossible not to think of the Walküren when reading the following:

“Eiris sazun idisi, sazun hera duoder,
suma hapt heptidun, suma heri leridun,
suma clubodun umbi cuoniouuidi:
insprinc haptbandun, inuar uigandun”

 Once Disir were sitting, sitting here and there.
Some were binding fetters, some were restraining the army.
Some were undoing the fetters, ????????
Free yourself from the fetters, escape the warriors!

Are the Walküren Hlokk (“restraint/chain”) and Herfjotr (“fetter”) described in this charm? It becomes clear that the idea of Idisen, Walküren, Nornen, Alrunen (witches), anthropomorphic Fylgjen, Hamingjen and others all seem to have influenced each other to some degree; it can be tricky to distinguish between them nowadays because contemporary Norse and Germanic Pagans mostly don’t make the same tribal distinctions between Gods, beings and practices anymore as was common in the old days. To shed some light on the Idisen/Walküren mystery though: In Germany the Norse Valkyries were adopted from the Norse and the Idisen turned into meek, benevolent female spirits, often ancestral spirits.

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Alrune, Heid, Haegse – The Witches

There is a common misconception amongst the majority of today’s witches that everything was peachy for witches in “ye olden days”. This is not completely the case with the Germanic peoples.

There were Healers and Herbalists, those we would call Naturopaths today. They applied their potions, crèmes and herbs while whispering charms or prayers.
Healing used to be a solely female occupation and was passed on from mother, aunt or grandmother to the younger female generation of one family; there are no accounts of male healers from those times at all. Under certain circumstances women could fight alongside the men on the battlefields, yet men were barred from entering the areas of “female mysteries” without exception.

magical-herbal

Countless accounts from Viking times mention that the Germanic healers that accompanied their army or troop set up their tents near the battlefield and treated both their own men as well as the hostile warriors.
They treated them no differently and if need arose, they buried them and spoke a blessing over their grave as well.
One example is the account of the healer Halldora:
“Halldora called her women to follow her into the battle between Glums against Thorarinn. – “We shall tend to the wounds of the men who are still filled with life, no matter which army they are from”.
The story mentions another interesting belief from those days; healers could not only heal but resurrect the dead as Helga did with Thorarinn.

Iduna3

What might the mighty Walküren have thought of this? Or did this happen in accordance with them?
Another thought comes to mind. – What of Iduna and her “magical” (healing) apples? Once the Asen Gods did not have them at their disposal they grew old and withered. Had Iduna not returned in time to rejuvenate them and they had died, would she have been able to resurrect them as well?
It is Eir that is the healer amongst the Asen, but not even she holds the power to resurrect the dead. This truly is a practice that reeks of witchcraft rather than (natural) healing.
Many unanswered questions remain when it comes to “loopholes” in the usually very structured Germanic belief system of old.

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The Völven (aka Sibyllen, Spákonur, Wicce – Wise Women/Seers), already mentioned in part 1, often traveled from Hof (farm) to Hof, offering their services and in return demanding food and shelter until they journeyed on.
Whether these women, who were often called to mediate between two opposing tribes or political factions within one tribe, possessed actual magical powers or were mainly mentalists with exceptional power of observations is a matter of interpretation I presume.
They did, however, consult the runes (as described in the accounts of the battle between Sueban king Ariovist against Cesar 58 BC for example) and worked with other oracles and incantations called vardlokkur (spirit-luring) in Old Norse.
The lines were blurred between Völven and Wîsiu Wîp, wise women, as they were called in German and Spákonur (seeing women) in Old Norse.

bded9915dd4405a531e923cecaf6e7eeDivination was regarded as a high magical art indeed, yet witchcraft was also often viewed as harmful and dangerous as it was a direct infringement onto the personal wyrd and orlog of a person. The further the North was christianized the more Christianity influenced the beliefs of those who remained Pagan.
Had they already been skeptical and partly fearful of certain types of witchcraft, they now fell prey to the mass-hysteria and bottomless fear of witches; they persecuted and banished those accused of practicing magic almost as much as the Christians did.
There were many different names for witches, specifying what kind of witchcraft they practiced. The more Christianity wreaked havoc the more negative connotations these originally rather neutral names received.

seidr 1To give a few examples:

The word Haegse originally meant fence-seer in Old High German. It was related to the Old High German word Hagazussa meaning fence-sitter and the Old Norse word Túnridur meaning fence-rider.
Both are pointing to the Shamanic practice of traveling between the worlds.
Later, however, the Haegsen and Hagazussen were suddenly described as being monstrous, evil magic-weavers living in the deep, dark forest and coming out at night to plague and harm common people.
The word fence-sitter or fence-rider was reinterpreted as meaning that the witches were breaking the “Hoffrieden” (literally: farm-peace) and destroying the sacred barriers (fences) of the community against unlucky and negative forces.

CaptureLikewise the terms Myrkridur (Old Norse: Darkrider), Kveldridur (Old Norse: Eveningriders), or Nahtvrouwen (Old High German: Nightwomen) were also reinterpreted to mean something solely negative and sinister, instead of describing the practice of diving into the “dark”, i.e. subconscious powers within via Shamanic or other magical journeys.

The Hamhleypa (Icelandic: Running into a different Shape = shapeshifter) were accused of transforming into an animal and bringing on hail, storms, being responsible for a bad harvest, the death of cattle or children. These misconceptions about witches lived far beyond the middle ages and frighteningly are embraced by a majority of the followers of the monotheistic religions to this day.

familiar_medThere is one famous incantation in the Hávamál (13th century) against the “evil witchcraft” of the Hamhleypa:

“One tenth I know, when Trollkonor (Magical Women)
Ride through the air in flight:
Make them change their route I can[.]
Homeward, robbed of their cover (their animal form or (dis)guise)
Homeward with a confused mind.”

The author of the Hávamál, the Icelander Snorri Sturlason, was a Christian who lived in a completely Christian society already, so his accounts of witches (and alleged incantations warding them off) better be taken with a grain of salt.

0362ba31c164f7c63bd5f558b6f333a8Similar to the Hamhleypa was the practice of Hamfór and Gandreiðr. As mentioned in part 1, a Gand or Gander was a kind of wand, but Gandr also meant spirit, ghost, other-worldly creature. A Gandreiðr was “spirit-riding”, basically a magical, Shamanic journey during which you could see your past, present or future in a different light. Likewise the Hamfór was a spiritual journey during which your soul left the body and traveled through different spheres to gather information.
The giantess Hyrrokin was described as riding on a wolf (gezäumt) with snakes when attending Balder’s funeral. Hyrrokin is sometimes equated with Angerboda. Did Angerboda-Hyrrokin attend Balder’s funeral during her Gandreid in order to see or secure his future after Ragnarök? If not by her consort Loki’s doing, Balder would not have been kept safe by Hel during the end battle so he could return to the New World afterwards.

p206Other names for witches were Alrunen (all-whisperers/rune-expert), Heid (clear, bright), Fordoeða (Murderer), Wicce (pronounced “witcheh”. Anglo-Saxon: knowledgable, wise, from which the modern term “Wicca” comes from), Anglo-Saxon Witega (knowing signs), Old High German Wizago (German: “Weissager”) and Old Norse Vitki all describe someone who is knowledgeable in the art of divination (usually conducted with runes).
The Old Norse word Galster is related to Old High German Kalstahari, a term for someone who knows how to sing the magical songs, the vardulokkur or galdralát as described above.
Although there are some historians and scholars who insist that all witchcraft was persecuted pre-Christian times, the different descriptions and attributes of the different terms for ‘witch’ indicate otherwise.
After all several Gods (Freija, Holle-Frigga, Iduna, etc.), Jöten and Thursen (Hyrrokin, Heid, Gullveig, Elli, Fenja and Menja, etc.) and wights practice magic and/or witchcraft without any negative connotation in lore. The Völva of the Völuspa, Heidi, is human even and both humanity as well as Gods were grateful for her messages.

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Bindrunes for galdraworkings

The Edda teaches that Wotan even crossed the social taboo of forcing himself into the sacred space of female mysteries such as healing, witchcraft and divination; he learned the “womanly” art of Seid, the art of divining with the help of the spirits (of the deceased), something that Völven traveling from Hof to Hof also often engaged in.
However, Seid (Old Norse: Seidhr) became popular enough for several males to become Seidmen. These men were often looked down upon, probably because this “womanly” practice was of female Wanen origin and it was mentioned that the war-happy Asen were helpless against the Seid magic of the Wanen deities.

tumblr_lu81k7dtRq1r1d1wro1_500Seid could also be used against people as described in the stories of the witch Busla who curses a king with galdr to do her bidding and in Laxdoelasaga it is the farmer Thorleikr who asks the witch Grima to help him curse his neighbor.
In both cases the witches cursed the men while they were asleep and helpless, something that influenced the medieval (Christianized) belief of “demonic” Alben riding people’s chests at night in order to cause bad dreams and bad luck.
Since the Germanic peoples were all highly virtuous and incredibly brave folks with a strong morale of right and wrong it comes as no surprise that such cowardly practices that avoided a fair and open fight were condemned and despised.
In fact, they were even punishable by fine or in the case of Ragnvold in the Förnmannasaga it was even punishable by death.
It’s also possible that Seid, “death magic”, was also feared more than other forms of divination, because of the old Germanic belief in aptrgangr, draugr, other kinds of revenants and ghostly beings out to harm humans.
Seid is often described as being accompanied by heavy storms, the Gerningaveðr (magical weather).
In later times people were of the opinion that only evil magic brought on such storms.

tattooYet…where was Thor when his domain was invaded like this? Is this just an indication that the Gods did not intervene unasked, much like nowadays when we pollute and destroy the earth given to us, or that while humans viewed such witchcraft and storms as evil the Gods did not? Who knows.
Fact is that even in today’s Germany we know the term Wetterhexe (weather witch) which is used either to describe meteorologists but also people very sensitive to the weather, and is not associated with anything harmful or negative (anymore).
Viking female warriorFemale Warriors

There were active and passive female warriors. The passive warriors accompanied their tribe’s army or troop and cheered them on from the sidelines of the battlefield.
Plutarch writes that during one particular battle the Teutonic warriors tried to retreat. Their women ran at them with axes and swords, fighting them – the traitors – as much as their enemies, the Romans. This appears to be a common phenomenon amongst the Germanic tribes as Tacitus in his “Germania” and Cesar in his “De Bello Gallico” confirm.
Furthermore, Tacitus writes that the women used psychological warfare against their own men by shouting at them to spare them and the children the humiliation of Roman captivity and all the gruesomeness it entailed.
If their men fought successfully the Germanic women would bear their breasts and shake them so as to keep up the motivation of the warriors.

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Active female warriors (“shieldmaidens”) often bore names ending with or including the syllables wig, hild, gund, gart, hadu, ger (spear), brünne, helm (helm) etc. They were found in all known Germanic and Scandinavian tribes. Were they raised to become warriors or did they choose their (warrior) names later on as they decided to join the army?
Even in the saga of Erik the Red we hear of brave Freydis, the pregnant wife of a warrior, who actively joins the battle, fighting with exposed breasts. Something that confused and frightens the enemies so much that they escape as quickly as possible.

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Two factors influenced the drastic change in Pagan Germanic societal structure in which women had had a relatively good standing: The diffusion of the Wotan cult and the increasing contact with the Christian Romans who did not grant any rights to women.
Before the Winniles had accepted the Wotan cult and renamed themselves Langobards their women had had the right to carry swords, axes and other weaponry and use it as well. If not for them, they would not have defeated the Vandals.
However, in 568, after they had settled in Northern Italy, they enacted laws that clearly stated that women were absolutely forbidden to carry or use weapons.
Either due to societal change or by (Christian) law and conversion, one after another all Germanic tribes began treating their women as second-class citizens without any rights, feelings nor wits. The beginning of the dark age.

Peter_Nicolai_Arbo-Hervors_død

Crystals, Gems & Stones: Copal

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by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

Also known as: younger amber, Cobal

Chemical formula: C10H16O + (H2S)

Corresponding astrolgical sign: Gemini

Geological information: Copal is a kind of un-polymerized tree resin from deciduous and conifer trees. Like in amber insects or parts of plants may be found encased in it.

Locations: New Zealand, South America and the isles of the South-West Pacific.

Golden CopalWhite

Mythology: Before divination the Copal is being smudged by Shamans across Middle- and South America. Copal has a sweet, flowery smell. Native American tribes use it as a cleansing stone in their rituals.

Physical appliance: Copal helps detoxify the liver and has an anti-convulsive effect on the stomach.

Mental appliance: Has a stimulating effect. Helps unlock creativity and spirituality/insight.

Effect on the Chakras: Corresponds with the 3rd Chakra. A person with a balanced Solar Plexus-Chakra appears self-contained and emotionally steady.

Cleanse: 1-2x a month. Best re-charged amidst a group of (cleansed) rock crystals.

Copal_with_insert_10-15g_1

The Green Pharmacy: Natural Remedies for the Common Cold

history-naturopathyby Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, Aug. 2014

If you are amongst those who do not want to support the pharmaceutical mafia and their puppets’ – “orthodox doctors” – and their twisted agenda, struggle with the countless side-effects of “conventional” medicine and would like to treat your common cold with natural remedies without side-effects or destroying your whole immune system in the process then these recipes might be interesting for you:

Horseradish Cough Syrup

horseradish

Ingredients

1 piece of horseradish root (approx. 20-30g)
150g of organic honey

Utensils

1 potato peeler
1 grater
1 dark bottle (250ml)
1 marmalade jar
1 tea sieve

Preparation

Peel horseradish root and roughly grate it. Pour honey and horseradish into an empty and cleaned marmalade jar and place it in a warm spot overnight.
Pour blend through a tea sieve into a dark bottle.

Application

3x a day 1 tea spoon full of horseradish cough syrup.

Attn!

Lasts up to 6 days! Because it is rather spicy I recommend not giving this cough syrup to children. If you are looking for a great childrens cough syrup try the elderberry-honey one.

This works great with onions too. Chop up two small white onions, add 3 teaspoons full of honey, cover with water, let sit in fridge for 1-2 hrs. Just beware that your breath will stink (so if you continue to go to work this might not be the best solution) and no, it does not taste well. However, I personally find the onion-honey cough syrup to be the most effective one.

Thyme Tea

thyme

Drink thyme tea 3 times a day. Either from pre-packaged teabags or best from fresh or dried thyme leaves. Add a spoonful of Propolis- or Gelee Royale-honey. This is going to work wonders on your lungs, no matter whether you only caught a cold or bronchitis.

Umckaloabo

Pelargonium reniforme/sidoides

If Umckaloabo (Pelargonium Sidoides native to South Africa) is available in your country, definitely go for it. It is a miracle solution that is both anti-bacterial as well as anti-viral. It works against sinusitis and tonsillitis, influenza, bronchitis and the common cold.

Sea Salt Nose Spray

Ingredients

4.5g sea salt
6 drops of Calendula mother tincture (“original tincture”)

Utensils

1 large glass, bowl or mug
1 spoon
1 small funnel
1 nose spray bottle (approx. 20ml)

Preparation

Dissolve sea salt in 500ml boiling water. You will need less than 500ml spray, but it is easier to measure the ingredients this way with a regular scale. Stir until all salt crystals have been dissolved.
Fill salt water and Calendula mother tincture into nose spray bottle.

Attn!

Lasts up to a week. Suitable for infants and children as well.

Eucalyptus Inhalation

eucalyptus

Warning: If you have asthma, COPD or any other kind of pulmonary disease talk to your naturopath or healing practitioner before inhaling!!! Some people with asthma respond very well to inhaling, but for others it might worsen the symptoms considerably. Don’t put yourself in danger by experimenting without consulting a trained healer first.

You can inhale with only Eucalyptus oil or mix a few other useful and powerful essential oils in:

Ingredients

2ml essential Eucalyptus oil
3ml essential Mountain Pine oil)
5ml essential Cajeput oil

Utensils

1 small measuring cup
1 small funnel
1 dark pipette bottle
1 inhaler or one large bowl or pot
1 large towel

Preparation

Fill all essential oils together into the pipette bottle, shake/mix well. To inhale add 6-8 drops (3-4 for children) to 1 liter of boiling water.
Inhale 3x a day for about 5-10 minutes.

Attn!

Take small breaks from inhaling and if you are letting your children inhale monitor them at all times. – The steam is incredibly hot and if you inhale too quickly and too deeply while the water is still boiling hot it might cause more harm than good.

All utensils should be made of stainless steel, glass (or wood). Try to avoid plastic, silicone and especially aluminum as much as possible. (Not to say at all costs.)

Apple Vinegar & Sage Gargling Solution

sage

Ingredients

100ml apple vinegar
300ml cooled off sage tea (from fresh or dried leaves if possible!)
10 drops of essential tea tree oil

Utensils

1 measuring cup and/or carafe

Preparation

Fill apple vinegar, sage tea and tea tree oil into the carafe and stir or shake well.

Application

Gargle hourly within the first three days, gargle 3x a day afterwards if you still have a mild throat ache.

Attn!

Lasts approx. 2 days.

Of course you can also gargle with a Propolis mother tincture solution. (I personally use the one without alcohol.) Or just plain old salt water.

Propolis Globules

propolis

Ask your homeopath or naturopath which strength globules (D6, 12, C200 etc…) you should take with your specific kind of infection. If I have a cold or bronchitis I personally start out with five D6 globules every hour on the first day. On the second day I will take five globules every two hours. From the third day on I will take 5 globules 3x a day half an hour before or after meals.

Vitamin C

bell pepper

I can only recommend you to stay away from synthetic ascorbic acid! Its structure is different from natural ascorbic acid and is not good for the human body.

Now, you will find Vitamin C in a plethora of fruit and vegetables. Most people go for citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and lemon immediately. However, bell pepper (yellow, then red and green) is much more potent and so are guavas, kale, kiwi, broccoli and berries. Also high in Vitamin C – but less so than citrus fruits – are tomatoes, peas and papaya.

If you are allergic to citrus fruits or lemon gives you stomach issues try squeezing the juice of a grapefruit, adding 250ml boiling water and 2 teaspoons full of honey.

Limb Pain Tea

This tea is great for the forebearers of a cold or flu – limb pains and muscle aches.

Ingredients

50g dried meadowsweet
50g dried elderberries
50g dried lime-blossoms

Utensils

1 small sieve
1 thermos
1 tea caddy

Preparations

Pour 300ml of boiling water over 1 teaspoon full of the herbal blend. Let steep for approx. 10 minutes. Add honey if you like. Drink at least 1l a day.

Onion or Lemon Compresses

onion lemon

I use onion compresses for the chest (and alternately for the feet, but that is mainly just for a general detox and not specifically for a cold). I also sleep with one or two freshly chopped onions next to my bed when I caught a cold or bronchitis.

Lemon compresses are for the throat. Only use fresh lemons, no limes. Wash the lemon(s) and cut into approx. 1.5-2cm thick slices. Place lemons onto a kitchen towel or scarf (maybe not exactly your favorite one; the acid from the lemon might have a bleaching effect when you wash the scarf later on). Press your hands onto the lemon compress before applying, so that the lemon juice will moisten the scarf/kitchen towel.
Take off compress after an hour. May only be used once!

Undoubtedly, there are plenty of other great remedies such as garlic soup (not for everyone, I know…) but these are the most potent ones that have proven to work well for generations of my family. So all there is left to say is: get better soon!

Crystals, Gems & Stones: Vesuvianite

Copyrighted and written by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, 2014

ImageImage

Zodiac: Capircorn, Sagittarius
Origin: Mount Vesuvius, Italy
Colors: green, brownish, yellowish, very rarely red or blue
Chakra: Heart, Third Eye (sometimes associated with Solar Plexus)
Physically: Strengthens the tooth enamel, bones and fingernails, restores body after an illness, helps banish depression,

Vesuvianite also goes by the name of Idocrase. It offers a soft vibration of loyalty and sense of community to all humans and is hence often described as the “Patriot Stone”. If you would like to facilitate cooperation between humans, especially in charity work, with humanitarian efforts but even if you are with the armed forces, this crystal is the one to use for clarity, insight and protection. It dispels negative thought patterns and helps detect and releases hidden fears and unhealthy attachments, prejudice and aggression. Vesuvianite is a provider of easy access to your higher self and true integrity.

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