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March 2024 Grey Matters

March 2024

Grey Matters

Table of Contents

1.) Update on GSW 'Realms' Project

2.) Graduation of Journeyman Lightstorm

3.) Website Patch Notes

4.) The Magick of Augury:

5.) Why Mummification?

6.) Medicinal Herbology of Lemon Myrtle

7.) GSW Healing Department Crossword


Update on GSW 'Realms' Project

By Headmaster Kingsley

Well met, Wizards one and All, I hope this message finds you all in good health and high spirits, flourishing in your studies and endeavors. Today, I write to you with news regarding our much-anticipated Realms Project, a venture that has sparked considerable excitement within our school and the broader community.

As many of you know, the Realms Project was conceived as an ambitious extension of our virtual campus in Second Life (VGSW), aimed at creating immersive educational environments. These realms, designed to transport students to various corners of the globe and eras throughout history, promised a dynamic new way to engage with our curriculum.

However, as with all great endeavors, the path to realization is often winding, requiring us to adapt and reassess our priorities in response to unforeseen challenges and opportunities. After much contemplation and consultation with my advisors, as well as a vote among our Apprentices, Magisters, Staff, and Faculty, it has become clear that our school is currently more interested in enhancements to our new site and the development of new classes for our online and physical spaces, than they are in seeing work on the VGSW. While I personally am quite keen on the Realms Project, and VGSW as a whole, it's a fool indeed who disregards the results of a vote he himself calls for...

That said, My decision here does not signify an abandonment of my vision for the Realms Project. Rather, it represents a recalibration of our approach to achieving this dream. In the spirit of wizardly ingenuity and adaptability, we are reimagining the project in a form that aligns with our current capabilities and the desires of our community.

To this end, we are exploring innovative ways to bring the essence of the Realms Project to life by collaborating with talented creators within the Second Life community. By identifying and partnering with existing virtual environments that align with our educational goals, we can offer our students the immersive experiences we envisioned, without the extensive time and resource investment originally anticipated.

This new strategy offers several benefits:

  • Efficiency and Focus: It allows us to direct our efforts toward immediate priorities, such as enhancing our website and curriculum, while still pursuing the long-term goal of immersive education.

  • Community Collaboration: By engaging with the Second Life community, we open doors to new partnerships and opportunities, showcasing the talents of creators and offering our students unique learning experiences.

  • Flexibility and Innovation: This approach reflects our commitment to adaptability and creativity, hallmarks of the wizardly way, ensuring that we continue to lead in esoteric education.

While the Realms Project as originally envisioned is taking on a new form, it promises to enrich our school in unexpected and exciting ways. I look forward to sharing more updates in the weeks to come as we finalize some of our first Partnerships.


Graduation of Journeyman Lightstorm the Black, Wizard in the Second Degree

By Headmaster Kingsley

The Grey School of Wizardry takes immense pride in announcing the graduation of Apprentice Lightstorm to the esteemed rank of Journeyman!

The ascension of Journeymanship is truly a testament to the relentless pursuit of knowledge and the honing of one’s craft. It reflects not only academic achievement but also personal growth and readiness to serve the greater community with wisdom and skill. The path to this accomplishment embodies the essence of the Wizard's quest — a continual transformation through learning and application.

Our latest Journeyman has exemplified the virtues and rigor that the Grey School holds dear. He has traversed our curriculum, embodying the core values of the Wizard's trade, and has proven His prowess through practical and theoretical excellence.

As Journeyman Lightstorm the Black, Wizard in the Second Degree, steps beyond the virtual halls of the Grey School, He carries forward a pool of light, ready to illuminate the shadows of the cave and to stand as a beacon of guidance in His communities.

The Grey School extends its heartfelt congratulations to our new Journeyman on this remarkable achievement. We also invite the entire community to join us in celebrating this milestone, which serves as an inspiration to all aspiring Wizards within our ranks. May this success be a harbinger of the great and impactful deeds yet to come.

In Wizardly Solidarity, and on behalf of The Faculty and Administration at the Grey School of Wizardry,

~Headmaster Nicholas Kingsley


Website Patch Notes

By Grey Matters Staff

You can access the latest patch notes and keep up-to-date with changes and improvements to the website at

Patch Notes - 2/26/24

  • Home Page: The promotional lightbox has been removed to streamline navigation and improve site accessibility.

  • Award Merits Page: Adjustments have been made for a more efficient and user-friendly process in awarding merits as well as a graphic and layout.


The Magick of Augury: Folk sayings, proverbs, and omens

By Apprentice Dega


As generations passed, people handed down time-honored wisdom throughout the ages, using various forms of augury. The course text defines augury as “Augury involves interpreting spontaneous occurrences and events in nature, such as the shapes of clouds or the flight of birds” (Katlyn, Mantic Arts, Divination and Augury: Lesson 3 - Augury: Reading Omens, 2004). While many early cultures were pre-literate, they used forms of folk sayings to help remember collective wisdom (Bergen & Newell, 1889); while acknowledging this method was not very scientific, as our ancestors had little access to tools, they used the power of observation, albeit in a crude scientific manner (Bergen & Newell, 1889). For Bergen and Newell, weather proverbs were the result of two methods: results of observation, and expression of superstition (Bergen & Newell, 1889). Lieutenant Dunwoody clarifies:

“…many of these sayings express, in a crude form, the meteorological conditions likely to follow, and have resulted from the close observation on the part of those whose interests compelled them to be on the alert, in the study of all signs which might enable them to determine approaching weather change” (Bergen & Newell, 1889, p. 204).

In a paper read before the Meteorological Society in 1882, R. Abercromby and W. Marriot report, “A good deal of weather wisdom of the above character has been thrown into proverbs, trite sayings, and popular verse; and we propose in the present paper to examine and explain some of these by the aid of the most recent discoveries of meteorological science” (Bergen & Newell, 1889, p. 204). As early as 1882, we see the attempt to convert such handed-down folk sayings into the realm of science.

This essay details various kinds of folk sayings from Ukrainian, American, and common-stock sayings from central and western Europe. In addition, as much is available, a small detail of information will be provided for the folk sayings to texture the context of the augury.

American Innovations

While many cultures have mechanisms such as folk sayings and other forms of augury, one general, General Hazen, in 1883 published out of the United States War Department, a guide which collected all the different categories of folk sayings for use of the American people, "popular weather proverbs and prognostics used throughout the country, and by all classes and races of people,” (Bergen & Newell, 1889, p. 203). As the work was completed in 1883, the guide contained no less than 24 different categories, as seen in the picture below:

The guide sought to capture folk saying wisdom brought over from English lore, which was common-stock lore from central and western Europe (Bergen & Newell, 1889). As one can see, the organizational aspect of the categorizations made things easier to find and understand. Modern Wizards may also find the above chart useful for helping to organize their own folklore sayings.

Concerning the weather, folks had the following saying to determine the future of the weather on February 2 on Candlemas Day, which is the day commemorating the Virgin Mary, from Massachusetts:

“If Candlemas day is fair and bright,

Winter will take another flight:

If Candlemas day bring storm and rain,

Winter is gone and will not come again,” (Bergen & Newell, 1889, p. 205).

If February 2 sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the modern Groundhog Day to determine whether or not more winter is to come! From New Hampshire, another saying:

“When the sun crosses the line, wherever the wind is for the next twenty-four hours, it will be most of the time for six months to come” (Bergen & Newell, 1889, p. 206).

Determining the forecast for rain we have a few more concerning Sundays and Mondays:

“If the first Sunday in the month is rainy, every Sunday but one of that month will be rainy; if it is pleasant, it governs the Sundays in the same manner” (Bergen & Newell, 1889, p. 206).

“The same thing is said of Monday, called ‘Washing-day.’ If it rains the first washing-day of the month it will rain in all” (Bergen & Newell, 1889, p. 206; Pasichniuk, 1999).

According to Begen and Newell, if the saying didn’t hold true, modifications were in order rather than dispensing with the folk saying, “This increasing complication is characteristic of the methods of the science of augury, which meets failure in prediction, not by abandonment of the principle, but by devising more intricate applications of the rule,” (Bergen & Newell, 1889, p. 208). More often than not, adherents to the folk sayings most likely kept them around because if it was good enough for their parents, it was good enough for them.

Ukrainian Analysis

In the Ukrainian mindset, a good start to study folk sayings is with the omens. “Omens are a specific genre of folklore. They preserve knowledge by codifying it in concrete and objective form. Omens are found in every known folklore tradition. In contemporary Ukrainian folklore scholarship, omens are considered a minor genre, often relegated to the field of paremiology (study of proverbs) and studied in isolation” (Pasichniuk, 1999, p. 10). But what constitutes the difference between an omen and a proverb? Pasichniuk describes the analysis and definition:

“Permiakov, one of the founders of cliche theory in contemporary folklore scholarship, believes that omens are mono-semantic; that they are an analytic form of the cliche and possess properties that characterize them alone. These properties include: 1) a single and unambiguous meaning which arises from the meanings of the constituent parts. 2) an absence of the use of imagery, metaphor, and other devices; all words are used in their primary meaning. 3) a requirement that all constituent parts of the omen be equally unambiguous. (5) If any of these traits is absent, then we no longer have an omen, but an homonymous proverb; that is, a proverb which has the same form as the omen, but has a broader, metaphorical meaning” (Pasichniuk, 1999, p. 10).

Let’s take a look at some samples of Ukrainian Proverbs (Pasichniuk, 1999):

“A heavy rain does not last long.

A nightingale sings as long as there is no barley.

As soon as the ears of barley appear, his voice disappears.”

“Lots of mosquitoes - lots of berries.

Lots of gnats - lots of mushrooms.

If it's a good year for bees, it will be a good one for sheep.”

Let’s take a look at some samples of Ukrainian Proverbs (Pasichniuk, 1999):

“If a seagull has landed on water, good weather is on the way.

If it rains in the morning, put on old clothes, and drive (your horses) out to the field,

If it rains at noon, hitch up (your horses) and go on home.”

In analysis of the above omen, Pasichniuk details, “Omens of this type are strikingly similar to proverbs in appearance and form. But if we keep in mind that the function of omens is to predict the future and that omens have only a single meaning, then the above texts are clearly omens” (Pasichniuk, 1999, p. 11). Let’s look at a few more concerning the holiday of Candlemas:

“When it is below freezing on Candlemas, then the bear destroys his lair.

When it is below freezing on Candlemas, the bear destroys his burrow,

but if there is a thaw, he repairs it” (Pasichniuk, 1999, p. 12).

“At Candlemas winter and summer meet.

If cold conquers warmth on Candlemas, to then the summer will be all the more.

If warmth conquers the cold, then it will be winter a while longer” (Pasichniuk, 1999, p. 12).

Here, the formula detailed by Pasichniuk provide context for the Wizard to separate what constitutes as an Omen and a Proverb in the folk sayings of the Ukrainian culture (Pasichniuk, 1999); there is ample evidence this can be used in other forms of folk sayings from around the globe (Katlyn, Mantic Arts, Divination and Augury: Lesson 3 - Augury: Reading Omens, 2004).

English Lore

The magpie has been considered an ill omen in many cultures, including Britain, since the early 16th century (Wikipedia, 2024). As a form of ornithomancy superstitions connected with magpies inspired the following rhyme (Wikipedia, 2024):

One for sorrow, two for joy,

Three for a girl, four for a boy,

Five for silver, six for gold,

Seven for a secret never to be told, eight for a wish,

Nine for a kiss, ten a surprise you should be careful not to miss,

Eleven for health, twelve for wealth,

Thirteen beware it's the devil himself, fourteen for love.

Fifteen for a dove, Sixteen for the chime of a bell.

Seventeen for the angel’s protection, eighteen to be safe from hell.

Nineteen to be safe from a crime, twenty to end this rhyme.

Here the idea is that the number of magpies will tell one whether good or bad luck coming their way (Wikipedia, 2024). There is an old English ritual that helps stave off bad luck:

“An English tradition holds that a single magpie be greeted with a salutation in order to ward off the bad luck it may bring. A greeting might be something like "Good morning, Mr. Magpie, how are Mrs. Magpie and all the other little magpies?", and a 19th century version recorded in Shropshire is to say ‘Devil, Devil, I defy thee! Magpie, magpie, I go by thee!’ and to spit on the ground three times” (Wikipedia, 2024).

While speaking to birds may seem silly, where did such a belief begin? According to one source, “Ornithomancy or augury, as it’s more commonly known, covered the domain of avian activity.

Primarily associated today with the Roman Empire, ancient augural forms concentrated on certain types of birds, using their appearance, flight, calls, and feeding to anticipate the likelihood of favorable or unfavorable occurrences” (A-Wing and A-Way, 2024). As the Romans conquered much territory, it would seem that other forms of augury were left behind, albeit in different forms. However, the source clarifies the practice predates Rome, “The use of birds for divining purposes however predates the rise of Rome. Thousands of years old, the practice appears to have developed earlier in Asia Minor (Turkey)” (A-Wing and A-Way, 2024).

According to a group of scholars from a seminar hosted by The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago argue the following for the origin of augury:

“The concept of sign, a portent observed in the physical world, which indicates future events was first developed in ancient Mesopotamia. The collections of omens, interpreting the signs either in heaven or on earth, were first written down during the Old Babylonian period. Those collections grew into compendia of ominous phenomena, where the segments of original observations were expanded into a very comprehensive omen series. These series had either a written form or circulated orally as traditional knowledge of the Mesopotamian diviners. This branch of Babylonian science extensively influenced the other parts of the world. There is evidence in Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, Sanskrit, Sogdian, and in other languages that knowledge of Mesopotamian omen compendia was widespread both in space and time in the ancient world. The wandering diviners, sometimes called the Chaldeans in the Mediterranean sources, were often responsible for the dissemination of the Mesopotamian wisdom in the late Antique world” (The University of Chicago, 2009).

The scholars at the University of Chicago relate how omens, and other forms of augury originated and spread throughout the world. Obviously, there was much cross-pollination so to speak of augury knowledge.


As various people adapted this wisdom into their culture, each created methods that worked best for their people. Comparing this process to today, there are myriad ways to memorize things for later use such as flashcards, picture aids, and so on; however, due to the ancients not having the same resources we have today (Bergen & Newell, 1889), they developed memorable and easily adaptable methods we Wizards still employ.

Works Cited

A-Wing and A-Way. (2024). The Ancient Art of Augury. Retrieved from A-Wing and A-Way:

Bergen, F. D., & Newell, W. W. (1889, July - September). Weather-Lore. The Journal of American Folklore, 2(6), 203-208. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from

Katlyn. (2004). Mantic Arts, Divination and Augury: Lesson 0 - Syllabus. Retrieved from The Grey School of Wizardry:

Katlyn. (2004). Mantic Arts, Divination and Augury: Lesson 1 - The Art and Influence of Divination in Human History and Decisions. Retrieved from The Grey School of Wizardry:

Katlyn. (2004). Mantic Arts, Divination and Augury: Lesson 2 - Delving into the Enigmatic World of Divination Systems. Retrieved from The Grey School of Wizardry:

Katlyn. (2004). Mantic Arts, Divination and Augury: Lesson 3 - Augury: Reading Omens. Retrieved from The Grey School of Wizardry:

Pasichniuk, I. (1999). Omens, Proverbs and Tales: Genre Fluidity in Folklore. SEEFA, 4(2), 10-14.

The University of Chicago. (2009, March 6-7). Science and Superstition: Interpretation and signs in the ancient world. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from University of Chicago:

Wikipedia. (2024). One for Sorrow (Nursury Rhyme). Retrieved from Wikipedia:


Why Mummification?

By Apprentice Abbie789

When I thought of a mummy, I imagined the Halloween costume with wrapped toilet paper to create a mummy. I was little then, and as I was exposed to different movies and TV about mummies, my conception of mummies changed. The toilet paper was improved with gauze-like wrappings. The mummies I saw didn't look like they were missing some parts, as most mummies do. The mummy's tomb looked more like a mausoleum than a sarcophagus. In the movies, the mummies exact revenge against those who disturb their tombs. They turn something as simple as hieroglyphics into ancient curses to be wary of. They enact mummies with superhuman powers. Lastly, they make the process and ingredients to create a mummy horrific and have a purpose to entertain the viewer.

(Badeley, Alice. MUMMY STORIES. MUMMY MOVIES 2017)

In ancient times, mummies were made by exposing the body to the sun, fire, or freezing temperatures. These extremes allowed the body to be naturally mummified. The bacteria for decay couldn't survive in these extremes, which allowed preservation of the body to happen. Some mummies, such as those in Guanajuato, Mexico, were accidentally made in these extremes. There, 100 mummies were buried in an above-ground crypt. Buddhist monks ate foods that promoted decay and drank poisonous sap. This prevented bugs from eating their bodies as they did not like the sap. In the Atacama Desert, the Chinchurro people mummified their dead quickly as the desert climate naturally mummified their dead.

In the areas where the climate was less extreme, mummification by natural means did not happen. These area's cultures often destroyed their dead instead of using mummification. This was so the count of the dead would not rise and create an atmosphere where sickness and disease would be prevalent. In Tibet, the bodies were left outside, cut into pieces, and left for the birds to devour. This was called a Sky Burial. Some Nordic cultures embraced the concept of water burial. They laid coffins atop cliffs toward the water. These coffins were set adrift on the water so that the water would bury them. In India, the bodies were sprinkled with water from the Ganges River and then cremated. In the Zoroastrian tradition, bodies were left for the vultures to devour atop a Tower of Silence. This was so the body would not taint the living. In South Korea, the deceased's ashes were placed into beads that the people used instead of an urn.

(Newcomb, Tim. Brittanica. History and Society. 7 Unique Burials Across the World.

The main difference between a culture that makes mummies to preserve their dead and those that destroy their dead is climate. Some climate conditions naturally mummify the dead, whereas others make it hard to mummify. In conditions where the deceased cannot be naturally mummified, the dead accumulate. Therefore, there needs to be other means to control the population of the deceased. This means the bodies must be destroyed rather than preserved.


Medicinal Herbology of Lemon Myrtle

By Apprentice Circe

While I am very familiar with this plant by name, I knew very little about it and have never worked with it. As it is one that I would very likely want to acquaint myself with, I chose Lemon Myrtle to explore here.

The highly aromatic lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) is native to the subtropical

rainforests of Queensland, Australia, extending up the coast from Brisbane to Mackay. Other

common names are lemon scented myrtle and lemon scented ironwood. The lemon myrtle

tree can grow to around 6m tall and like most other native species, is evergreen (Wiki -

Backhousia citriodora).

Lemon myrtle has been used for millennia by our First Nations people both for cooking and

healing. Our native plants used for culinary purposes are popularly known as “bush tucker”,

and many of these have medicinal properties as well.

The numerous health benefits include: stress and insomnia relief, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial benefits for respiratory and skin conditions, immune boosting, anti-oxidant and can be used as a preventative or treatment for insect bites (10 Remarkable Health Benefits of Lemon Myrtle).

Lemon myrtle leaves can be ingested (infused into beverages or used fresh or dried in

cooking), used topically or inhaled to obtain the specific health benefits sought. The essential

oil contains high levels of citral (with an antimicrobial effect) and terpenes (anti-

inflammatory effect), and the strong sweet lemon fragrance can help with improving mood

and promote relaxation (The science behind the healing properties of Lemon Myrtle Essential Oil).

Editor's note: Lemon Myrtle's undiluted essential oils are toxic to human cells and should be heavily diluted before being applied topically.

This plant is something of a newcomer to commercial production; while it was originally

identified and named back in the mid 1800s, oil was produced from wild harvested plants in

the early 1900s and commercial plantations started appearing in the late 1980s (The story of

Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora)). First Nations people had been using it as a remedy

for cuts and abrasions, and they soaked leaves and heated the water for inhalation to relieve

upper respiratory issues.

Scientific research has backed up the traditional knowledge about lemon myrtle, and has

revealed that the plants have “potential as natural antioxidants” and experiments “confirm the anti-inflammatory properties of lemon myrtle extract“ (Saifullah, McCullum and Van

Vuong). Saifulla et al (2023) also found that there may be anti-diabetic benefits but that

would need further research to explore further.

The incredible versatility of this herb rightly places it as the “Queen of the lemon herbs”

(Wiki - Backhousia citriodora).

Works Cited

10 Remarkable Health Benefits of Lemon Myrtle. n.d. 1 Feb 2024.


Saifullah, MD, Rebecca McCullum and Quan Van Vuong. “Phytochemicals and

Bioactivities of Australian Native Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) and Lemon-

Scented Tea Tree (Leptospermum petersonii): A Comprehensive Review.” Food

Reviews International 39.9 (2023): 6934-6954.

The science behind the healing properties of Lemon Myrtle Essential Oil. 20 Apr



The story of Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora). n.d. 1 Feb 2024.

Wiki - Backhousia citriodora. 6 Nov 2023. 1 Feb 2024.


GSW Healing Department Crossword

By Grey Matters Staff

Complete this month's crossword online at

Or download a PDF:

GSW Healing Department Crossword - Crossword Labs
Download PDF • 40KB


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