Daily Archives: March 30, 2011

Ideas for the Witch’s Altar

Ideas for the Witch’s Altar
 
Dresser, nightstand, or bureau in your room.
A flat piece of stone that is portable.
A skateboard.
Empty closet.
Desk drawer (not recommended for burning candles).

Cinderblocks.

Steppingstone (can be purchased at a garden store, or you can make one yourself from material purchased at a craft store).
 
Bookshelf (not recommended for burning candles–even though you think the flame is far enough away from the next shelf, it will warp and eventually burn the shelf above.)
 
Top of a filing cabinet.
 
A large mirror.
 
A cookie sheet.
 
A serving tray.
 
A camping tripod, sold in most camping sections of large department stores. It should be noted that these can wobble.
 
An old steamer trunk or other trunk with shelves from an antique store or flea market. (Be careful of open candle flames and take appropriate precautious.)
 
A window sill (however, don’t put burning candles there).

In your imagination. Some people scoff at this, but there are people who are not permitted to have altars for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your parents or spouse are aftaid that you’re religiously going down the tubes and have put their foot down on the issue of an altar. College students, due tol iving conditions, may not be allowed to have an altar. Individuals in the military service at boot campe can’t have on either Maybe you are visiting Grandma for the summer and you know that she’ll find the idea an altar offensive. If your family goes on an exxtended vacation, where luggage is a factor. Mon and DAy might not be too happy if you bring a twenty-ton suitcase with all your altar stuff, even though they don’t mind your altar at home. Learning to build an altar in your imagination helps you to enhances your visualization sklls. You really never know when you might need those mental powers.
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The Witch’s Altar

The Witch’s Altar
 
Some scholars think that the first altars were actually tombs of the dead where offerings were made to a deified ancestor. Others believe that the idea of the altar came from the Pagan belief that the newly deceased were gathered on the borders of the sky, under the constellation call Ara, meaning “the altar.” Ara lies in the Milky Way, south of Scorpius, and is well to the south of the celestial equator. The ancient Greeks visualized it as the altar on which their Gods swore an oath of allegiance before challenging the Titans for control of the universe. The word “altar” comes from a Latin word that translates to “on high.” We could put a variety of meanings to this terminology–from a physically high place, to a seat in the stars, to the more esoteric meaning of consecrating a sacred area that sits between the worlds of human and deity, enabling the human to work with deity on the deity’s level from where the Witch physically stands. Ancient altars were often made of stone or, if constructed of wood, held some type of stone surface in the center. Many were carved or painted with symbols of animals and deities. It was during the various Inquisitions that the Witch altar took on a more lurid, negative role–an inappropriate and unaccurate representation of the Craft altar–that was reflected in many horror movies from the 1940s through the 70s, feeding the inaccurate, sensationalist information to the general public. During a few modern Craft ceremonies, a person’s body may become the altar for a few moments to meld them with the elemental and divine energies so that in the future they may work easily through space and time; however, sacrifices and rampant sexual excursions, as shown in the movies, are not part of Wiccan dogma.
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Magickal Things You Need to Know About Your Altar

Magickal Things You Need to Know About Your Altar
 
Your altar becomes a focus of positive power once activated—yours and that of Spirit.
The altar was originally designed to request the presence of deity.
Where you put your altar isn’t as important as how you use it.
The shape of your altar is a personal choice.
You can have more than one altar.
Having an altar for spiritual reflection, isn’t against any religious dogma.
Before use, your altar should be sprinkled with holy water and salt, infused with incense smoke, blessed with holy oil, and empowered in the name of Spirit.
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Ritual Clothing

Ritual Clothing
 
When I was a kid, folks wore their “Sunday best” to church. Ritual attire included nice shoes, a good dress (Or pants and shirts for the boys), a Sunday hat and Sunday gloves. The minister wore a robe (so you could tell him apart for the rest of the men). Dads wore suits. Moms were dressy. People had special clothing for baptisms and confirmation. This, for that era and in that religion was ritual dress.
 
In the Wiccan community today, there is no standard dress code, although different traditions may have guidelines. For example, black robes for initiations and elevations, and white robes for funerals. The idea of changing from street clothes to ritual garb is both psychological and practical; moving from daily life to the spiritual life through the act of altering one’s attire touches on the psyche and wearing clothing that is cleansed and consecrated (after your spiritual bath) ensure that you won’t carry any excess negativity into the circle. Where some groups require that you wear special cords and jewelry, other groups insist that all be equal within the circle environment and only the high priest/priestess may wear something different or unusual. There are groups where rank is not an issue and everyone wears what they like, or all wear the same color but in different styles, and therefore you really have no idea what rank anyone is. Then there are groups where individuals of different elevation wear matching colors indicative of their status. As robes are not always practical, there are also magickal people who may wear something different or special for ritual, but it doesn’t flap around and threaten to snare every candle flame in the room. Finally, there are those that don’t wear anything at all, called skyclad. Although prominent in Gardner’s time due to his influence, skyclad has falled out of favor in most Wiccan groups. Like other Wiccan magickal tools, robes, cords, vestments and jewelry should be cleansed frequently, then cleansed, consecrated, and blessed before use.
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Modern Tools for Ancient Arts

Modern Tools for Ancient Arts
 
Though the mortar and pestle were definitely useful to our forefamilies, most of us today just don’t have the time to sit around grinding herbs. Most of us don’t have time to wait several weeks for magickal herbs to dry or for ritual oils to fix. Even if we did, who wants to?
Today, we use many types of modern kitchen conveniences to ease our lives. The days of slaving over a hot stove are gone. Gone, too, are the incessant “When is dinner going to be ready?” questions and those “I’m starving” whines. We just yank something out of the freezer, pop it into the microwave, and in a matter of minutes–presto!–dinner is served. We make fancy salads in seconds with the help of the food processor. The blender is a multi-faceted kitchen wonder, and I know of no working person alive who can manage without a crockpot.
With the high availability of such wonders, we would never dream of going back to consistently cooking on a wood stove or, even worse, an open fire. To even suggest such a thing would be absurd. What’s more, we use these devices to best serve the needs of our most precious commodity–our families.
Why, then, don’t we use them to increase our magickal efficiency? It is probably because we get so caught up in the “ancient” part of the magickal arts, that it never crosses our minds. We continually seek out obscure objects to use as magickal tools because we think we are supposed to. The fact is that magickal implements don’t have to be ancient to be useful. They don’t have to look like the ritual tools of old. The only pre-requisite for magickal tools is that they work efficiently for the jobs we designate.

 

Today’s convenience items have the capacity to increase efficiency in the magickal household and cut preparation time in half. Using these time-savers will not decrease magickal power. Spending less time on a working does not mean putting less of yourself into it. Saving time does not mean cutting corners. Instead, it means increased productivity and more time for magickal work. If you are still concerned about using today’s technology for use in the magickal arts, here is some food for thought. The mortar and pestle was once a modern convenience, too.
 
When the Earth was young, grinding grain and herbs was a painstakingly slow process. The only way to accomplish such a feat was to rub the substance between two rocks and hope for the best. Much later, someone invented the mortar and pestle, a vast improvement over the earlier method. It allowed portability, grinding ease, and a greater amount of productivity. At the time, folks probably viewed the mortar and pestle as a modern convenience. Did our forefathers scoff at the new device? Did they refuse to use it because the ancient way was better? Did they think it would hamper their magick? No. Obviously, they acquired it and used it. If they hadn’t, we wouldn’t think of it today as one of our most valuable ritual tools.
 
If you decide to use modern appliances for magickal purposes, please remember that they then become magickal tools. In other words, using the same appliance for mixing love sachets and frozen margaritas isn’t a good idea (unless you are counting more on magick than drink ingredients to pack the intended wallop). Use appliances for magickal purposes only and consecrate them as such. If you don’t have extras and don’t want to give up your kitchen appliances, check at your local second-hand store or thrift shop. You can usually find appliances in good condition there for a very nominal charge.
 
“Everyday Magic”
Dorothy Morrison
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The Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

The Automatic Drip Coffee Maker
 
The coffee maker is an essential part of my existence for most of the same reasons it is to other folks. I, like a good portion of the population, am not a morning person. The fact is, I don’t like anybody until I’ve had several cups of coffee. Having to wait for it makes me an unbearable grump. Fortunately, my coffee maker does the trick in three minutes flat. Its speed give me time to get my wits together before my loved ones–all morning folks, including the dogs–leap from their beds.
While the device always provided me with an indispensable service, using it for something other than brewing coffee never occurred to me until I had to consecrate my athame. My roommate at the time was having guests over for dinner and refused to let me use the stove. It didn’t matter that I needed an herbal infusion for a consecration. I begged. I pleaded. He didn’t care. He just went on cooking. Then he gave me one of those looks and muttered something about “…..on pain of death…..”
At the time, I thought he was a real jerk. But his obstinacy, as aggravating as it was, brought with it the richest of blessings. It jolted me into a creative mode. I grabbed a coffee filter, threw it in the filter cup and tossed in the herbs. I added the water and flipped the switch. Then I chanted the incantation loudly enough to rouse the neighbors. The results was a perfectly balanced brew that simply tingled with magickal essence.

 

The coffee maker not only saves time, but brews flawless infusions, decoctions, and washes. Here are a few tips for using it in magickal efforts:
 
*Do not use the same coffee maker to brew both ingestible teas and poisonous liquids. If you plan to use the device for brewing washes that list ingredients unsuitable for human consumption, obtain one solely for that purpose.
 
*Between magickal brewings, clean the pot and filter cup with hot soapy water and bleach.
 
*When brewing decoctions, place the root or bark material in a coffee filter, then close the filter securely by tying it with a string or a rubber band. After the brew cycle, place the pouch in the brew pot and leave it on the warming plate for approximately thirty minutes.
 
The incident with my roommater forever changed my magickal life. Yes, I discovered that using the coffee maker for magick saves times and aggravation. But more important, I realized the meaning of magick in its truest form and its relationship to technology. Magick equals creativity. Creativity equals life. This means that life–how we live it and what we do with it–is the rawest form of magick. The technological resources created by humankind have a magick all their own, and incorporating them into personal magick brings an increase of power to every spell performed. Denying that source of magick is tantamount to refusing magickal assistance and a hindrance to all efforts of enchantment. It all boils down to one thing. If it works, use it to your best advantage and be glad for the help.
 
“Everyday Magic”
Dorothy Morrison
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Paper

Paper
Paper can be the Spell
Certain scripts are perceived as inherently powerful, for instance, Arabic, Chinese and Hebrew. If there was a pagan Greek belief that the world was created and activated via the sound of the vowels, in traditional Judaic teaching life is activated through the Hebrew letters. Ancient Egyptians utilized different scripts for different purposes, mystical and mundane. Northern European runes and Celtic Ogham script are specifically for magickal and spiritual use. Many contemporary Wiccans and ceremonial magickians use various magickal script.
Paper can create lasting amulets. The most readily accessible example is the Jewish mezuzah, attached to doorposts. The use of mezuzahs has been adopted by some Hoodoo practitioners. Similar written amulets exist in Chinese, Japanese, Ethopian, Muslim and Tibetan traditions.
Paper as we know it was invented in China in 105 ce, and China remains the primary home of paper magick. Paper charms are traditionally written in red cinnabar ink on yellow or red paper with a peach wood pen, in special magickal scripts known as “thunder writing” or “celestial calligraphy.” Charms are used in various ways: Pasted over the door or on the walls, worn in the hair or carried in a medicine bag.

Some paper spells are created in ordered to be destroyed via fire or water. Destroying the paper spell releases its energy into the atmosphere so that the spell can work as intended. Sometimes water and fire are combined: some Chinese charms are burned first, and then the ashes are mixed with tea or water and drunk. Rice paper is particularly effective for this as it dissolves easily in water.
 
*A written spell doesn’t necessarily require paper: an ancient custom was to inscribe a clay bowl or plate with spells and incantation. It is then shattered to release the energy into the atmosphere. (If you make your own pottery, the traditions can be combined; insert tiny pieces of paper directly into the pottery, inscribe further so the magick is contained inside and out, then shatter.)
 
*Not all paper spells require words. Spells can be cast with images. Chromolithographs incorporate the power and blessing of a Spirit. They may also substitute for a statue. If you don’t have no artistic ability, a collage of sacred and power images create an amulet.
 
*A traditional alternative is to write the name of the desired divinity in gold ink on red paper and post it on the wall.
 
Many spells suggest using “magickal inks” formulas. Although this is never required, it can empower a spell.

 

Pen and ink are only one form of magick writing. There are many traditions of drawing designs on the ground, particularly to invite, invoke and honor spirits. Materials used include flowers, flour, cornmeal and special rangoli powder.
 
*Angelic sigils are written on paper or engraved onto metal. Each angel has a specific sigil that can be used to summon them. The “veve” designs of Haitian Vodou have similar purposes. Each Iwa or spirit has a “veve” that expresses its essence and is thus worthy of meditation, but the “veve” may also be used to summon and honor the spirit. “V’eves” may be drawn on paper but are most frequently drawn on the ground. Candomble and Romany spirits also possess sigils as do others.
 
*Rangoli, the women’s spiritual art of India, utilizes rice flour with brightly colored flowers and spices to create patterns. As Earth’s tiny creatures eat the rice flour, they carry imbedded prayers and petitions to the Earth’s womb.
 
*In Brazil, pemba, a kind of chalk which may contain pulverized herbs, is used to create invocational markings on Earth. Originally an African practice, the finest pemba is still thought to come from Africa and may be imported and purchased at a great cost to a less-than-wealthy practitioner.
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Closing Prayer for 3/30: Seax-Wiccan Psalm

Seax-Wiccan Psalm

by Raymond Buckland
Ever as I pass through the ways do I feel
the presence of the Gods. I know that in
aught I do they are with me. They abide
in me and I in them, forever.
No evil shall be entertained, for purity is
the dweller within me and about me. For
good do I strive and for good do I Live.
Love unto all things. So be it, forever.
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