Daily Archives: July 25, 2011

The Pagan Newbie

The Pagan Newbie

Author: Crick

We often hear of someone who considers themselves a ‘newbie’ on the path of the mystical arts, or of others referring to someone as a ‘newbie’. But is either of these descriptions really accurate?

The concepts of paganism and the parameters that define such concepts have always been since the first human took breath and more likely even before the advent of humans. There are some who will say that paganism and thus by association the mystical arts, died out and is just now being re-discovered. But is this really an accurate observation? Or is it really our perception and thus sense of awareness that is new?

How many times as a child did you have an “imaginary friend”? Was this friend really imaginary or was it just that the mind of that child had not yet been brainwashed to deny such a sense of awareness? Was the perception of that child such that they could see/sense otherworldly beings? How many times as a child has one seen faeries?

And yet as adults such sightings have become a desire that is in many cases difficult to achieve.

Why?

Did the faeries cease to appear? Were they, as some would have us think, simply figments of our imagination? Or are such invectives towards the imagination really just subtle denials of that which really does exist but which certain folks feel more comfortable denying the existence of?

Within paganism, imagination, which is visualization by another name, is a necessary tenet or tool of paganism and by association, the mystical arts. And who but a child has such a powerful and unfettered tool as that of imagination/visualization?

And so instead of viewing paganism/mystical arts as some re-discovered form of belief, perhaps it’s simply that our realization and thus acceptance of what has always been is really what is now coming into play. And if this is the case, is anyone really a newbie to paganism/mystical arts?

Could it be that those who now choose paganism/mystical arts are basically just shedding the denial that has been implanted from an early age? When we walk through the woods and a deer silently walks by without one noticing it, is the deer non-existent or is it just our sense of awareness that is the reality here?

When we go fishing we cannot see the fish beneath the surface of the water but we cast our lines in anyway. Do the fish hidden in the depths not exist because we cannot espy them, or do we cast our lines into the murky waters because we know that there is something there even if we cannot physically see it?

Or do we decide that what one cannot see, one cannot acknowledge and thus we move on without bothering to cast our lines in at all.

Paganism/mystical arts are akin to this analogy in many ways. Every person on earth is involved in paganism/mystical arts their entire lives and has always been. For it is such tenets of reality that have immersed us from the very beginning of time as we know it. It is our sense of awareness of this reality that determines whether we once again step onto the path of paganism/mystical arts.

Saint Augustine once said; “Unless you believe, you will not understand”. And so though there are some who will deny the existence of paganism/mystical arts this does not preclude a reality that is ever present and ever evolving. It simply highlights a sense of denial of a profound awareness. And as this denial is pierced and recognition of reality and the higher truths that accompany it are brought into the scope of one’s awareness, that person re-emerges onto the pagan path that in all reality they were always on.

And so in essence, no one is a “newbie” as such in regards to paganism/mystical paths. And so such descriptions as “newbie” should be seen not as an introduction by one to paganism/mystical arts, or as it is in some cases as a diatribe used to elevate one’s own sense of personal status, but rather as a re-awakening of one’s awareness of such a reality.

In my own “personal opinion” such a term as “newbie” should be a cause of celebration much like the birth of a newborn child. For when one opens their awareness beyond the layers of denial that have accumulated over the course of one’s life, that person has emerged from the depths of denial and is once again swimming freely in the waters of self discovery and personal growth.

Is this not a cause for great celebration and adulation by those who willingly walk the pagan/spiritual path?

If we are determined to utilize the word “newbie”, then perhaps we should consider changing the implications of such a word from the current understanding. For in essence, we are all “newbie’s” as we seek to walk the mystical path. For each time we encounter a mystery of life and arrive at an answer that works for our individual lives, we open the door to yet another mystery or experience. Is this not the essence of what it means to be a pagan?

It is this constant seeking that for me at least, defines the difference between being a subservient member of a religion and being a seeker on a spiritual path. The latter has set parameters of which subscribers are expected to follow blindly without question. And of which one is discouraged from questioning even when such questions beg an answer.

As a seeker on the mystical path, one has un-fettered liberties to form and then to seek the answers to the questions of spirituality that we all face, whether as a member of a religion or as a seeker on the spiritual path.

And so if I have to take on the label of “newbie” in order to experience such freedom of the heart, mind and soul, then I personally will wear such a label with humble pride. For as a newbie, I look forward to the rest of my life as being involved in a state of discovery and learning.

If being a newbie equates to being a pagan, I have found my calling, have you?

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Don’t Fear The Dark: A Discussion On Cursing

Don’t Fear The Dark: A Discussion On Cursing

Author: Ravenix

I can imagine that the title of this article has already raised a few Wiccan eyebrows, so before I launch into the discussion proper, let me say this to them: Don’t worry. I’m not flaming you. I’m not going to ridicule your beliefs, and to do so would be hypocritical, as I myself devoted several years of my life to Wicca. It’s a good, sound, well-structured system, with a wonderful sense of community and empowerment.

So don’t panic.

If you want to follow the Wiccan Rede, great! It’s an admirable ethic. But it’s not for me anymore. Yes, I have cursed, yes, I do curse, yes, I will probably curse again. But don’t run away just yet; hear me out, and bear what I’m saying in mind.

In Neopaganism, there has been something of a shying away from the ‘dark side’ of spirituality; there is a great emphasis on being ‘nice’, on focusing only on the ‘good’ and ‘light’ side of things. Yet in comparison, our ancestors before us cursed each other like there was no tomorrow. To this day, archaeological digs uncover smashed clay portraits, bottles of punctured animal organs and other such wonderfully wicked hexes (just type ‘curse’ into the Boscastle Museum Of Witchcraft’s database search and you’ll soon see what I mean) . If you mention these items to a Neopagan, they’ll be likely to change the subject sharpish, or blame it on the witch hunters of old.

Everywhere you look, the Law of Threefold Return is drilled into you, as well as other such warnings and cautions about the ‘dangers’ of cursing. Terms such as ‘white’ and ‘black’ magick don’t exactly help. But is cursing as horrid and malicious an act as it is made out to be? Do we have to sacrifice this art completely to be spiritually ‘good’?

As a Wiccan, I always found that the Wiccan Rede was a hard act to follow; the Rede stated that, as a Wiccan, I could not harm anyone, in any circumstance, ever. The questions that came to me were these; what if they harmed me first? Doesn’t that entitle me to some kind of counter? Moreover, what if they deserved it? Then again, who’s to decide?

If we look at Western Heathenism as a whole, there is very little evidence that an idea like the Law of Threefold Return existed before the 1950’s, and it is in fact derived from Eastern spiritualism. Traditional Cornish Witchcraft, perhaps the only Traditional form that has truly thrived in the British Isles, makes great use of cursing.

Have any of these witches, or any of our ancestors, been made to pay for their actions?

Historically, only by the witch hunters. There are no reports that I know of relating to Traditional Witches being punished by the Gods for cursing in itself. Of course that’s not to say that cursing doesn’t require a certain degree of caution- indeed all spellcraft does.

My partner, for example, performed a curse on a group of people that had refused to act when his friend was date-raped at her own birthday party; he consequently suffered from minor blackouts for months afterwards. This, you might say, is proof enough of celestial punishment. However I propose a slightly different view.

Keep in mind that anger and hatred are incredibly violent emotions; they could be argued to be more ‘powerful’ than happiness and calm due to their speed, severity, and unpredictability. Compare how exhausted you are after laughing for five minutes, and after shouting and screaming in rage for the same amount of time. You would probably agree that the latter leaves you feeling much more empty and drained. Also think of the amount of times you’ve flown off the handle for trivial things. This is what makes cursing so risky: the power behind these negative emotions, and their tendency to amplify far beyond what is fitting to their cause.

Basically, if you wish death on someone for stealing your car, the Gods probably will turn around and admonish you for being harsh. On the other hand, if someone hurts your family and you want payback, the anger and hate you unleash in that spell will burst out of you far more readily than a healing spell. In all cursing, then, moderation of your emotions and a good deal of consideration beforehand are key; I believe that my partner’s blackouts occurred because he either wore himself out completely from the spell’s severity, or the Gods deemed him too severe and made him pay accordingly- but they weren’t admonishing him for cursing in itself.

In particular, the idea of your family being hurt is one that does not sit well with the Rede. What if someone did willingly hurt your family? Would you sit and wait for the Gods to avenge you?

This view is one that I imagine the Gods find slightly arrogant; they’re not there to hold your hand, and they don’t heal your friends for you- you have to do most of that yourself, even if you do ask for help, so why isn’t cursing the same?

Or, would you turn the other cheek, letting the instigator get away with their cruelty?

Now I’ve never been the most forgiving person, and I don’t see why I can’t give back what I get from people who wish to hurt me and mine. The trick is to cast a curse that is equivalent to the harm done; something that is very hard to do when the human condition makes us bloodthirsty for revenge of the worst kind.

I would definitely say that cursing is harder than well-wishing, as it requires more control; it also requires you to make contact with a part of yourself that you may not like. This I think is why many Wiccans and Neopagans turn away from it, to the point of fearing it; they refuse to accept the ugly side of their nature, as do most people. This is understandable, but it’s also an imbalanced way of life to me; it’s a sad truth that the world is both beautiful and terrible, and I believe that true balance comes if your spirituality reflects that.

Curses are nothing to fear (unless you’re on the receiving end of course!) , and they can be quite trivial; I performed a curse on a flea infestation in my house a few months ago, with the help of Tiw, and I haven’t had trouble since.

All in all, pins in poppets and mutilated animal organs are extreme examples of what is, really, just another form of spellcraft; if you look past the hype and fight your fear, you’ll find that curses aren’t as terrible as they’re made out to be. Remember that the more severe curses are a last resort; like everything else, you must think twice and use caution.

And like all spells, curses are just a means to an end, usually getting rid of something undesirable when there’s no other way of doing so.

Of course I can’t convince you to agree, and if you’re still dead against cursing, so be it; you’re welcome to your views. But at least consider what I’ve said, and try not to be afraid of something that is, at its heart, an integral part of the Traditional Craft.



Footnotes:
http://www.museumofwitchcraft.com

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Understanding Magickal Royalty: Witch Queen / Witch King

Understanding Magickal Royalty: Witch Queen / Witch King

Author: Lady Abigail

Recently during one of my classes on the history within our magickal traditions, a question came up about levels and degrees of hierarchy found in Witchcraft and Wicca. Within these, is there a title or position wherein someone is called Witch Queen or Witch King.

First of all: YES!

This is a real term, older than recorded time. It does not matter what the word is you use King, Queen, Sovereign, Master, Elder Lord or Lady; these are each equal titles given to someone that is held in a place of greatest honor within the traditions of magick, spell crafting and the old ways and traditions. It is not a self-professed degree. You have to have worked for years with many other teachers and traditions of understanding. The Wise Ones and the Elders must first teach you. Then you become a teacher in your own right to achieve these levels.

If you work as a solitary this will not be an issue. But if you are in a group that works within a degree system you may decide you want to move forward within this group as an Elder, teacher or someday leader yourself. Not all traditions follow a degree system. It depends on the specific tradition you follow and what requirements there are within that group.

A Witch Queen is a High Priestess (of third degree depending on traditions) within a coven that has had a certain number of hives that have formed independent covens under which the Queen oversees. The hiving can be either from growth or from desire.
The title “Witch Queen” is not a rank. It is given in honor and with respect to those of aged wisdom. We give this title to those of great knowledge that work to share our beliefs within the light and truth.

The title shows dedication, wisdom and heart of commitment. A pledge is then given freely and witnessed by Elders, Priest and Priestesses as well as other Witch Queens and Kings. This can be difficult when these traditions are so personal and held in great secretary within all traditions.

To receive the title Witch Queen, you must be a High Priestess (HPS) of the third degree or higher. Depending on the tradition, the second level may be required (5 to 13 years training) . From there, you must have taught and trained several students who have reached the level of High Priest or High Priestess of the third degree (10 to 20 years +) and have subsequently hived themselves unto their own independent covens, clans or groves. During all this work, study, time, teaching and subsequent hiving and growth, you must be maintaining your own personal working coven without question or falter, maintaining all the wisdom in its continued teaching and training therein.

In other words, you must have at least five working covens that have hived from your group. These Covens must be in good standing as working covens holding to their teachings and traditions. Yet you must continue to be a strong leader within your personal Coven. As Priest or Priestess within your group you must be teaching, training, and upholding the daily responsibilities. In addition to these duties you must be ready, willing and able to deal with any circumstances that may arise within those Covens that have hived from you and look to you for guidance.

To receive the Title of “Witch Queen” can take anywhere from 13 years to a lifetime. Please note: That 13 years to achieve the honor of Witch Queen is very rare even if you are truly doing all that must be done.

How it works:

Once you have studied and trained within a Coven to receive the title of High Priestess of the third degree (this takes 5 years or longer) , you must ask your Coven HPS permission to hive. If it is agreed, you begin to work towards this goal. As an Elder and HPS within your Mother Coven, you will train with your Coven High Priestess for a year and a day. You will begin to find and teach students that will be a part of your group when you hive off from your Mother Coven or Hive.

(To hive, it is best to have at least four students who have reached the level of first degree under your instruction. Those whom have trained with you within the Mother Coven as you prepare to separate into an independent group.)

Once your Coven is formed and independently working from the Mother Coven, the work truly begins. You must labor to keep your group active and growing. In this, you may have members that desire to learn and grow and become leaders. So you will teach and work with them unto this goal, while also teaching and working with new members and the community. No Coven can be made up of only leaders; there must be students and seekers to make it whole.

Once you have established your own working Coven independent unto itself you are ready to begin. You must teach and train five members of your Coven unto the level of third degree High Priestess or Priest; that have started working with their own groups independent of the Mother Coven. This will not and cannot happen all at once. While teaching these members, and during the hivings, you must still maintain your personal working Coven outside these members and all the time maintaining your group while teaching and working within the community.

Once you have at least five members that have hived to create their own active, working covens, (which have not withdrawn themselves from your coven in any way that would cause turmoil or malice to enter) then and only then, you may request that your Mother Coven’s High Priestess recognize you as a “Witch Queen” within your own right. This is how the cycle continues and we grow as a community.

The title “Witch Queen” is given to honor those who have dedicated their lives to the continued understanding of who we are within the community as a whole and unto those seeking understanding of our beliefs.

“Witch Queen” is not an entitlement one can give oneself. It comes from hard work and knowing that this life is a gift that must now and always be shared.
To be a “Witch Queen” shows that you will continually work, teach and train others; working as a teacher, advisor, elder and/or councilor.

“Witch King”: So do we have Witch Kings? I am not sure why we don’t hear as much about the male side of this coin. Those who have reached the honor of being a Witch Queen are rare. I have to imagine that Witch Kings are just as rare.
I can tell you the terms I have heard. I believe them to be equal; both Witch King and Witch Queen are terms we give to those we know of knowledge, wisdom and honor.

Witch King is the best known of the titles. But I have also heard the term Master Witch. Both being rare and seldom used. I think the Master Witch today sounds too much like a video or computer game. (This may be why we don’t hear it used.)

Because we don’t hear a lot about a Witch Kings is not to say they are not around. Like myself it is the honor we hold not the scepter. We don’t wear signs that state, “I am King or I am Queen.” We are generally known in our circles and by those we love and trust. Occasionally we share the information with others to teach, and to explain why we should all keep striving to be more.

The title “Witch King” is given to honor those who have dedicated their lives to the continued understanding of who we are within the community as a whole and unto those seeking understanding of our beliefs.

“Witch King” is not an entitlement one can give oneself. It comes from hard work and knowing that this life is a gift that must now, and always, be shared.

To be a “Witch King” shows that you will continually work, teach and train others, be this as an advisor, elder and/or councilor in and outside the traditional Coven workings.

* NOTE: I understand from history the mundane world decided to believe that male was stronger than female, somehow better. Like in history; first we had the Goddess. She was strong, full of love and life. She was the giver of life and the cycle of creation found in Life and Death. Later we find balance in both the God and the Goddess as they worked together in balance. Then man decided this was not to be. Man was the master and in this he tried to destroy the Goddess saying we needed only one God. To seek the female energy would be a sin and bring death to those who worshiped Her.

During these changes in history, society began to believe that man should rule over woman in all things. Therein, a King should rule or stand over a Queen. She became somehow less than he. We in the Pagan world understand this will just not work. We have both Priestesses and our Priest. We may stand together or alone, but we stand as equals in the balance of female and male. Those who study history along with the old ways understand this to be true.

I think this may be why we have so few that stand proudly in these old traditions of pride within our beliefs. It is not that we do not find honor in the titles of who we are, Witch Queen or/and Witch King. We are somehow put off by the way others see them. Yet if we don’t teach those walking the path anew, who will teach those how come later.

I have pride in who I am, what I have accomplished and those I teach. I know in my heart that they shall carry forward into the next generations the truth with wisdom and honor.

Blessed Shall They Be.

Lady Abigail
High Priestess Ravensgrove Coven
Greenfield, IN
Copyright © 01252010

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Where Faeries Tread

Where Faeries Tread

Author: Priest Christopher Aldridge

I think it’s a shame that we live in a society that makes fun of adults who believe in Faeries or who tell of an encounter they have had with them. I am a Wizard, A Hellenist and a practitioner of Witchcraft, and most who know me know that I believe in Faeries and other magickal creatures very strongly.

Now I won’t try to force my beliefs on others, but I do wish people would stop trying to label believers like me as “delusional.” If I don’t try to force my beliefs on you, don’t try to force yours on me, or anyone else for that matter. To assume that someone is “stupid, ” “crazy, ” or “delusional, ” because they don’t believe the same as you, is arrogant. It’s all right to have debates, but don’t be disrespectful.

I think that people who do not believe in Faeries have this fallacy that because they have not experienced proof, that no one else could possibly have, and therefore Faeries cannot exist. They compare their experiences to that of all people. But the fact of the matter is that there are countless sightings by adults from all over the world who have had encounters with Faeries and little folk.

The people I have talked to who have encountered Faeries are, like myself, perfectly sane. One such website where you will find many Faerie sightings is: http://www.fairygardens.com/sightings/adult4.html

However, I cannot really blame the average individual for thinking that belief in Faeries is silly or insane for someone who is an adult. After all, our society has conditioned people to certain beliefs. As humans, we tend to establish our own laws in regards to what is possible and impossible. We do this while not realizing that we did not create this universe, nor do we control it, we are but a part of it. We should not be so quick to assume that we know what is possible and impossible when we are but a link in this chain of life.

I am 25 years old, and unfortunately, some people have made fun of me for believing in Faeries, and I’m sure they even believe that I am insane or delusional. I do know other Pagans and Witches who don’t think I’m crazy for believing though, and some people have even commended me for having the courage to basically broadcast my beliefs in the Fae. The bottom line is that I am not ashamed of my beliefs. Of course, Faeries are but one part of my belief system, but I hold that belief strongly.

Many people don’t believe in Faeries because they have never seen or encountered them, which I can understand, because some people are just the type who only believes what they see. So why would people who believe in the Fae be labeled as insane or delusional for believing in something they have seen? I think that we have certainly discovered that just because you can’t see something, does not mean it’s not there. But many people have seen Faeries. There are several books published on Faeries, including how to communicate and work with them.

Throughout history, many cultures have believed in and even feared Faeries. They took the belief in the Fae and the honor and appeasement of the little folk very seriously.
You will find that there are different beliefs held by different individuals as to who or what Faeries actually are. If you’re like me, you believe that Faeries are literal beings, real magickal creatures that are either individuals on their own, or are reincarnations of the dead. I believe that they can travel to our realm and interact with humans if they choose. And I believe they have great magickal powers and abilities.

While some believe that they live on the Astral Plane, I do not believe that that is the only realm they inhabit. To me, Faeries can be guardians of certain places and things in nature and friends to humans who respect them.

Every spring and summer, I keep a Faerie garden outside my home to welcome good Faeries and their good energies into my life. Even when the garden dies in the winter, I do not remove it. Now of course I do not and would never place the Faeries on the same level or above the Gods and Goddesses, but I do believe in respecting the Fae. But I do not worship them. You can show respect without worshipping.

I also hold the belief that the Fae are but not limited to reincarnations of the dead. I think that humans can reincarnate to the Faery Realm. I believe that Faeries can also be the creations of the Gods and Goddesses as well. I also happen to hold the belief that Faeries can also be nature spirits, as in spirits of nature herself. Such as woodland Faeries, water Faeries, air Faeries, etc.

I am very careful to not offend the Faeries. I have read about times when people have paid dearly for greatly offending or angering a Faery. Now there are many types of Faeries, and probably depending on who you talk you, some would advise you to not contact certain Faeries due to their nature towards humans, that’s why when I call on them I make sure to call on the good Faeries who have only good intentions.

And then I think some people, unlike me, believe that Faeries are archetypal, symbolizations and personifications of natural things and magickal and unknown things or places in nature. Some may even believe that the names of some Faeries are the keys to unlocking universal energies, such as Faery energy. And that may very well be so.

Keep in mind that there are different kinds of Faeries. Faeries are not only little people with wings that we commonly conjure up when we think of the Fae. But there are, in fact, many types of Faeries. Some are friendly to humans; some are absolutely not. I would say that I think one of my favorite types of Faeries are the Gnomes.

Gnomes are dwarfs and Faeries. They tend to live deep within forests. Legend has it that they live under old oak trees, and are known to be helpful to humans and animals. They are also guardians of the gardens. They can also protect you and are intelligent beings. The common depiction of the Gnome that is short little people with pointy hats, many believe that that depiction is actually correct.

To me, the Gnomes are very charming and lovable. I know people who have seen Faeries and some tell spectacular tales as to their encounters, and sightings continue to come in from all over the world. I would say that one of the most spectacular stories of a Faerie encounter has come from Herbie Brennan, who is a very successful author from Ireland. His video where he tells about his experiences can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EclmR01xSds

I also constructed a Faery Garden Blog a long time ago to post Faery encounters from people I know or anyone who is willing to send one in to me. There are not many there, but the ones that are will be charming and interesting to you, I think. http://www.chrisfaerygarden.blogspot.com

Will we as the human race not even consider the possibility that Faeries exist? Is it so insane to believe in something that so many people have seen? At the least, we should stop ridiculing people who do believe in the Fae. We should always keep an open mind. And if you believe, don’t be afraid to express it.

Hail the Olympians!
And may everyone be blessed!

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It’s All In The Wrist – Some Wand Basics

It’s All In The Wrist – Some Wand Basics

Author: Bronwen Forbes

After the athame, the most popular – and misunderstood – ritual tool is the wand. Aside from the “is the wand a tool of the East or a tool of the South?” debate I covered in my Witchvox article on athame basics, there seem to still be quite a few unanswered questions about the wand and its use including: Is it better to make or buy a wand? How long should my wand be? What should I make my wand out of? When should I use the wand in ritual, as opposed to using the athame? How do I charge my wand and make it ready to use?

Is it better to make or buy a wand? In general, it is always better to make a ritual tool than buy it. Obviously, unless you have a forge and the training to make your own blade from scratch, it’s better to buy an athame rather than make it. Plus, wands made by other people can be *expensive.*

I remember a few years back with wands made of wood that had a natural spiral twist to it from growing with a wild grape vine wrapped around it were being sold for about $60. If the seller added a shell or crystal at the tip, the naturally spiral wands were closer to $70. I remember talking to a friend who was Pagan and also participated in “Host Your Own Murder Mystery” events. She had just returned from a murder mystery convention and was telling me about the weird stuff that the attendees bought to make their weekend events more realistic (fake blood and cap guns were only the tip of the iceberg) – and how much they paid for it.

I said, “Yes, but Pagans have been known to pay $70 for a stick!” She laughed, but she also had to agree with me.

How long should my wand be? Traditionally, your wand should be exactly the length from the inside of your elbow to the tip of your middle finger. No more, no less, and *never* “trim” your already-made wand to fit in the fancy storage box your sweetie gave you for Yule (seriously, I know someone this happened to) . However, it’s been my experience that if two people are working partners and only one of them has a wand, the other can generally use the wand even if it’s traditionally the “wrong” length.

What should I make my wand out of? Wands can be pretty easy to make. All you need is a short, cured wooden branch, or, if you want to go fancy, find your own “stick” that has wild grapevine growing around it. Take home, strip the bark off, and polish.

I had a student once who wanted more than anything to be a music conductor. Her wand was, in fact, a conductor’s baton. I thought it was perfect for her. I’ve also known people who have used bones from their totem animals (deer bones work very well, if you can get them) rather than wood. They seemed to work well, too.

My husband has a lovely wand he “recycled” from a red maple tree that needed to be cut down in his mother’s front yard a few years ago. To give him an even closer connection with his wand, he and his father were the ones that planted the tree in the first place. If I ever have a wand, it will probably be made of oak, holly or apple – my favorite trees. A quick note to the Harry Potter fans: no, it will not have a phoenix feather in the middle of it!

You can decorate your wand with shells, crystals, feathers, paint, carve runes into it – whatever makes it more “yours.” However, I would reference the excellent article Lupa posted here on Witchvox about the legal use of animal parts for ritual items before adding feathers or bits of fur to the end, or even making the wand out of bone as mentioned above. The last thing you want is to take your wand to a public space to use for a community ritual and have it confiscated by the police or park rangers because you’ve put a feather on it that, legally, you’re not allowed to have.

When should I use the wand in ritual, as opposed to using the athame? You can, generally, use the wand for anything you’d use the athame for –casting the circle, saluting the quarters, etc. If you believe the wand is the tool of the East, use it any time you need extra “air” energy – when you’re doing a ritual to help you study more effectively for an exam, for instance, or when beginning a new job.

If you believe the wand is the tool of the South, use it any time you need extra “fire” energy – if you’ve been feeling physically run down lately, or you’ve got some old life baggage you want to burn away. If your wand is made of wood, I’d definitely refrain from placing it in a combustible situation – using it to consecrate a burning candle, or poking your incense charcoal to get the burnt ash off the surface and expose the glowing coal within, for instance. Use your athame or boline for those – and save yourself the pain and embarrassment of setting your wand on fire!

How do I charge my wand and make it ready to use? I keep my wand tucked away with the rest of my altar tools (I have a small child and many pets. Ritual tools are safely stored in a special cabinet) . To charge it, I waited for a particularly windy day (yes, I am definitely of the belief that wands are the tool of East/Air) and took my wand outside for a few hours so it could absorb the wind. I also did this as close to sunrise as possible to add the dawn/new beginnings energy to the tool. I still do this periodically if I haven’t used it in ritual for a while – just in case.

Whether your wand is something you make yourself or a gift from a dear friend, cherish it and use it well!

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Simple House Cleansing and Warding

Simple House Cleansing and Warding

Author: Rev. Jennifer “Jay” Bull

Since home is where the heart is it behooves us to make sure that our homes are cleansed and blessed on a regular basis. Why? Because all of us have the capacity for healthy energy and unhealthy energy. A bad day can be brought home with us and muck up the energy of our home.

Have you ever been having a really great day and then someone came in who was angry or in a temper? The energy of the home takes a nosedive more often than not. Even after the bad mood has passed this unhealthy energy sticks around, just as the positive energy sticks around. Therefore it is a good idea to make sure that the house is cleansed and blessed frequently. There are many ways to accomplish this, but as with most spells, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

The first step is to actually physically clean your house. This is something that many of us put off (I know I do!) but really helps quite a bit. By physically cleaning your house you are doing a great deal to make the energy in the home much healthier and brighter. Also, the feeling of accomplishment after cleaning the home is a great way to raise energy for a house cleansing and blessing. If you are going to take the time to magically cleanse and bless your home, you should also take the time to physically cleanse your home as well. The magical and the physical work best together.

Floor Washes – A lot can be said about a good floor wash. Washing your floor clears up negativity and often has the house smelling great. The extra-added bonus is that in order to wash your floor, you have to pick up the clutter that accumulates. Clutter is a magnet for unhealthy energy. Floor washes can be made to bring in luck, love, money, health, happiness, protection, cleansing or anything else your heart desires. You can make your own floor wash by adding essential oils or herbs to your regular floor cleanser. If adding essential oils, you might want to try out what different oils smell like when combined together and with your cleanser before washing your whole house in a particular scent. Essential oils are easy to use because you only need to add a few drops of each oil to your bucket.

If adding herbs, I generally choose multiples of three, 3, 6 or 9 being the most common, but any number would work. I will boil the herbs to make a tea and then strain out the herbs using a coffee filter or strainer. I will add a portion of the tea mixture to the bucket I am using on the floors and then a portion for a spray bottle. Then I will mop the floors, or scrub them, depending on my mood.

In hoodoo, you scrub the floors on your hands and knees, which I will do sometimes, but due to a twitchy back and angry knees, I generally prefer to mop. After mopping I will then using the spray bottle to mist over the areas, such as carpets or rugs or furniture that I could not clean with a mop.

Many shops, such as Lucky Mojo or in my area, The Country Goddess, have floor washes in stock that you can purchase and use. Lucky Mojo’s Chinese wash smells great and is good for clearing your house of negativity.

I am fairly haphazard about what herbs I use, and end up relying on what I have on hand. I will occasionally seek out specific herbs for specific purposes, but usually rely on the herbs I use in cooking. I recommend getting a good book on herbs and their correspondences, such as Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magickal Herbs. That way you can choose from a long list of herbs based from what you have at hand.

For a Loving Home – Wash and Spray

Boil a large pot of water. You can use tap water or you can use rainwater if you prefer. [Soapbox moment: Since we try to practice stewardship to the earth, you may want to avoid using multiple small bottles of spring water as the plastic from these small bottles really does harm the planet. If you feel you must use spring water for this and do not have access to a spring, try to buy a large jug of water so that you have plenty of water and not plenty of plastic bottles. However, since you are boiling the water into a tea, tap water usually works just fine.]

You will want to charge the herbs with your intention. A good way to do this is hold the herbs in your hands and flow energy, in this case loving energy, into each herb. Visualize your hands with a bright light filling and flowing through them and powering the herbs. Flow energy into the spice/herb until it feels ready to you.

If you forgot this step, you can also flow energy into the entire mixture by placing your hands over the pot (not while it is boiling!) and flowing energy into the entire mixture.

Mix in a tablespoon each of cinnamon, basil, and lavender (any combination of herbs for love and harmony will work well, I like basil and lavender for the additional good luck properties and cinnamon for the smell) and let steep in water for at around 5-10 minutes to make a tea.

Drain water through a sieve or coffee filter to remove herbs.
Add tea to a spray bottle and/or the bucket you are using to clean the floors.

The above recipe can be used for anything you would like to bless your house with as long your intention and the herbs correspond. My favorites for this are protection, luck, peace and harmony. Sometimes I want to infuse my house with motivation, and then I generally use bay leaves with essential oils for lemon, orange or grapefruit. The citrus really makes me want to move. It is important to experiment and find what works best for you.

I have a friend who will boil herbs in a pot throughout the day because the steam infuses the house with the smell and properties of the herbs. It is wonderful to come home to a fantastic smelling house. I will say that this approach would work for me really well in the winter when it is dry, but in the summer my house is very humid, so I try not to add to the humidity. However, you can use this method for a quick house cleansing when you are busy doing other things. Sometimes our time is short, so shortcuts help.

Incense/Smudging – Burning incense or smudging with sage is a classic way to cleanse a home. Just burning incense in your house can really help lift spirits and bless and cleanse.

The most common house cleansing is to get a wrap of dried sage and then to go through the house clearing the energy with the sage. The best approach is to start at your front door, and walk the perimeter of your house clearing the energy with the sage bundle and flow energy through your hands. The sage clears away negativity and the energy you flow – both through your free hand and the sage bundle – helps replace negative energy with your energy. Some people like to chant as they do this to help with focus. Such as “I bless you and clear you, I bless you and clear you…” If you are following the sage up with holy water, you can say “I bless and clear this space with fire and air” or “Air and fire cleanses and blesses…” Really whatever you like as the point is to clear negativity and maintain focus. If you are really in the zone, you can even chant yourself into a trance state!

Holy Water – There are many different takes on holy water, but what I like is the simple water with sea salt. Mix together until salt has dissolved completely in the water. As with the herbs, a little goes a long way so a tablespoon should be plenty. Charge the water with cleansing properties by holding your hands over the water and flowing energy into the water. You may even ask the Goddess to help you charge the water, if that feels comfortable to you. I used to leave the water in a chalice and kind of sprinkle the water throughout my home, but have found that this leaves salt-water droplets everywhere. Instead, I now use a spray bottle that will mist the solution through the home. It works better for me, but as with all things, find what works best for you.

If you were doing a thorough house cleansing, I would use sage as well as holy water. As you walk through the house, starting and finishing at the front door, use the sage to clear away unpleasant energy. I use my arms and hands as a kind of energetic broom to sweep away the negative energy as I go. Then when I finish at the front door, I open the door and push the unpleasant energy outside. I’m lucky enough to have two big trees in front of my house and I usually take this energy and give it to the ground in front of the trees. Energy that I find unpleasant becomes neutralized in the ground and helps the trees. Then go through the house with holy water doing the same as I did with the sage, including shooing the unpleasant energy out the front door and grounding it in the earth.

After you have finished cleansing your house with Air and Fire (the sage or incense) and Earth and Water (the salt and water) , you can then place protective wards or shields around your home. There are many, many ways to accomplish this, from the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to simply visualizing your home as surrounded in a dome of protective light. I prefer to place specific wards around my home, while my husband uses a protective energy dome around the home.

Thread Bottle – I forgot where I first read about a thread bottle, but I do know that spell this was found in a book somewhere. The idea is a bottle full of odds and ends of thread that tangle up anyone who tries to do you harm. My husband loves this particular spell as he hates to throw anything away. Because we add to it any time we sew or knit or just have an odd piece of string or thread or yarn from somewhere, which means that something that might have been thrown out is used to help keep our home safe.

You can use any kind of glass bottle you like. We first had a very pretty bottle I purchased from Hobby Lobby for this purpose, but when this bottle broke, my husband just switched to using an empty bottle of vodka we were getting ready to recycle. He was pleased as punch to be able to reuse the vodka bottle for something and we just transferred the thread bits from one container to another. Part of the great thing about this spell is that everyone in the house can contribute their energy to it, as they add bits of loose thread to the bottle.

Witch’s Ball – This is a very simple little ward you can place around your house. Most of the ones I have seen are terribly expensive, hand-blown glass affairs that I could never afford. Therefore, I never really thought much about getting one. I am also rough on delicate objects, so a pretty glass thing seemed like asking for trouble. My then High Priestess, who is terribly crafty in all of the ways that I am not, said that you could use Christmas tree ornaments. The local hobby shop sells, year round, clear glass bulb ornaments, usually for under $5 for a set of them.

You can then place herbs inside of the ornaments and hang them around your house. Our hobby shop sells them in a variety of sizes from small to extremely large. Our crafty HP said that you could also paint them different colors to correspond to the elements, or use food coloring and Elmer’s glue to make the bulbs different colors. I tried the food coloring with Elmer’s glue, but I apparently go crazy with food coloring and used too much so it didn’t turn out well. It was interesting in a Look at That Gloppy Mess That Won’t Dry kind of way, but not very useful. I think a lighter touch is needed if you go the Elmer’s glue route.

I placed protective herbs inside my ornaments and then put them up in the four quarters. One of the nice things about these types of wards is that they are an excellent indicator of when someone is wishing you ill. When your wards explode inexplicably, that is a major indicator of bad news! We had one just destruct without anyone being near it, and from there we went on to discover that someone was not too pleased with us. When that happens, you just replace the ward and move on, while maybe doubling up on the protection detail.

Witch’s Bottle – I’ve never made one of these myself, but hear that they are really affective. Basically, you take a bottle, like a mason jar, and you place sharp pointy things inside it. If they are rusty and twisted, then that is good too. I’ve heard very specific instructions for this and very loose instructions for this. Basically, you want nails, razor blades, staples, tacks, screws and other implements of that nature in the bottle. In addition, you then add your own urine to the bottle. You bury this bottle on your property and it protects you from any harm thrown your way. Some say you should include a parchment paper with your name on it, or that you should smear it with menstrual blood or semen, but I’m not too big on the use of bodily fluids. The version I’ve heard most is rusty, sharp things, urine, then bury it. Some people say bury it on a full moon, others say the dark of the moon. As with all things, do what seems right to you.

Wards – Wards can be placed over doors and windows. A ward is very simple and consists of nothing more than your energy. Using an athame, wand, or your finger, draw banishing pentacle over the door or window. Visualize protective, blue white light drawing the banishing pentagram and sealing your door or window. Do this to all of the openings in your house. Some people take protection oil and physically draw the circle on the door or window, which is a way to do it that works well, but for me, I just don’t like having oil on my windows so I visualize instead. Do what works best for you.

Braids – One of the earliest spells of blessing I performed was one for a good marriage. I took three different colored ribbons, choosing the colors to correspond with what I wanted to bless my marriage with. Then I knotted the three ribbons together on one end and braided them together while chanting and flowing energy into the spell. The chant I used was merely what each color represented, “Peace, love, happiness”. Once the ribbons were braided together, I then knotted the other end of the ribbons and tied the two ends together forming a circle. As ribbons braided together are relatively thin, you could double up the magic on your home by hanging up a witch ball with the braided ribbon. Protection and blessing working together.

Another use for these braided ribbons is to place them over the tops of the windows and doorways in your home. If I am doing that with the braids, I will often chant more specifically, such as “Let only friends pass through this door” or “Goddess bless and protect all who enter” or something of that nature. After the braid is completed, it can be added to the top of the window or doorway.

Problem Areas

A lot of the above information focuses on doorways and windows mainly because those are the entryways into our home. When cleansing an area or protecting an area, you want to pay special attention to those areas where energy can come in and set up camp. By warding the doorways and windows, you are keeping unwanted energy out.

Another problem area is the corner. When going through my house to cleanse, the ceiling corners often have the biggest buildup of energy. It is a good practice to clear the energy out when you can, as you don’t want it hanging around.

Clutter is an area where energy can collect. Clutter is something that seems to follow me around, but when I do a cleansing, if I can’t clean/organize/remove the clutter, I will make sure to spend extra time cleansing it and clearing it of unpleasant energy.

There are many different ways to cleanse, bless, and protect your home. The above is just a list of simple but effective things you can do to start out. I recommend to anyone practicing magic cleansing and blessing your home much as you would your ritual tools. One of the most effective protections out there is the goddesses and gods, so don’t forget to ask them for their blessings and protection of your home. These cleansings and blessings should be done on a regular basis, at least once a month if not once a week, and ALWAYS before you move into a new place. Magical hygiene is like regular hygiene – the more often you do it, the cleaner and clearer you are.

As a side note, you should cleanse and bless any area you are working magic in, praying in or doing a ritual in before each magical act but especially before ritual.

Cheers!


Footnotes:
http://communingwithgoddess.wordpress.com/
http://www.luckymojo.com/
http://www.thecountrygoddess.com/
http://wp.me/pw9sp-38

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Your Daily Influences for July 25th

Your Daily Influences
July 25, 2011

Tarot Influence

Rune Influence


Charm Influence
Page of Cups Reversed
Obstacles and bad news. A lack of creativity. Deception.
Mannaz
Mannaz reversed may indicate you are in a period of depression. Be careful when making serious decisions at this time. Trust only those whom time has proven trustworthy.
Libra the Balance
This aspect of your life will be strongly influenced by a person who is diplomaitic, urbane, romantic, charming, easygoing, sociable, idealistic and peaceable. This person is someone you know socially.
Your Daily Influences represent events and challenges the current day will present for you. They may represent opportunities you should be ready to seize. Or they may forewarn you of problems you may be able to avoid or lessen. Generally it is best to use them as tips to help you manage your day and nothing more.
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Today’s Chakra Levels for July 25th

The Chakras represent the seven primary energy hubs in the body. Life force energy is constantly flowing in and out of these centers. Just as the cosmos is constantly changing, so too are the levels of energy absorbed and radiated by our Chakra centers. The graph below is a representation of the quantities of Chakra energies available today.

Sahasrara:
   
79%
 
   
28%
Vishuddha:
   
47%
Anahata:
   
41%
Manipura:
   
84%
Svadhisthana:
   
69%
Muladhara:
   
100%

Legend:
Sahasrara – The Crown Chakra represents energies associated with cosmic consciousness, spirituality, knowledge, wisdom and inner peace.
Ajna – The Third Eye Chakra represents energies focused on both physical and spiritual vision. Psychic powers resonate from the Ajna Chakra, as well as your image of the Cosmos as a whole (the big picture) and the many nuances that make your journey unique.
Vishuddha – Throat Chakra is the energy center associated with communication and creativity. Your energy to express yourself verbally and creatively are derived from the Vishuddha Chakra.
Anahata – The Heart Chakra’s energy is concentrated on issues concerning your emotions. This energy fuels your power to love, feel compassion and maintain balance between disparate aspects of your being.
Manipura – The Power Chakra provides the energy that fuels our strength of will, individuality and sense of self-worth.
Svadhisthana – The Spleen or Sacral Chakra supplies the energy we use emotionally and sexually. This is the energy used to connect to others.
Muladhara – The Root or Base Chakra furnishes the energy used to create and maintain our foundation. This is the energy that keeps us on firm ground and provides us with the basic skills to uphold a place in the world.

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