Monthly Archives: January 2012

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?

About these ads
Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond the Ethics of the Wiccan Rede

Beyond the Ethics of the Wiccan Rede

Author: Bill BluWolf

The Rede is known to many of Wiccan practitioners as the ethical underpinnings to be followed. While different versions exist, a common form is “An it harm none, do what ye will.” Most of the attribution for the Rede goes to Doreen Valiente, Alexander Crowley, Gardner and according to some, King Pausol. Regardless of the source, we are told we are free to do what we want as long as no harm results. It is important to note that the Rede includes admonishment against doing harm to oneself.

Another important consideration for ethics is the Rule of Three (Three-fold Law or Law of Return) . It states that whatever one puts out, it will return threefold. This is an attempt to warn the practitioner to do good works because it will come back to them three-fold. As an ethical consideration, it is not much different than the Christian’s “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) . These ethical sayings also ring with the idea of Karma; (to use the Christian saying) what you sow, so shall you reap.

Notice that the ethics so far are prohibitive. They tell us what NOT to do. I get a chuckle from Google’s company motto that echoes what we’ve seen: “Don’t be evil.”

For Wiccans, there is a few last important ethical guides, one is well known to many especially Gardnerians: The Charge of the Goddess. A Charge of the God exists, as well as countless variations of both. Wiccan Laws exist as well, in Gardnerian and Alexanrian forms. I’ll spare you the gory details about the in-fighting regarding the Laws. Needless to say, many disagreed with them.

While the Rede and the Three-fold Law are largely prohibitive, they do so by also telling us we are urged to do positive works. I personally like the Charge from an ethical standpoint because it tells what we should do. In this way it is proscriptive and not prohibitive.

Paraphrasing the Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente tells us we should:

Listen to the words of the Great Mother.
Be naked in your rites.
Meet once a month under a full moon.
Sing, feast, dance, make music and make love.
Have beauty, strength, power, compassion, honor, humility, mirth and reverence within you.

Many have taken her words and adapted them to make them suitable for different audiences and to fit other purposes.

My chief complaint with all of these ethical viewpoints is that they are largely useless in practical secular daily life. It is what we call applied ethics. For example, I am driving down the road and a deer jumps in front of my car. I have seconds to decide; do I hit the deer or do I drive into a ditch or hit a tree? Ethically, I don’t want to kill a defenseless animal. Nor do I want to harm my car, a tree or myself.

As an improvement, there is an international program (which Boy Scouts of America and Cub Scouts use) have a saying; “Leave no trace.” It is used when outdoors and the intent is to leave the place how it was found.

Leave no trace could cover a multitude of other situations, such as greenhouse gases, carbon footprints, new roads and development in protected ecosystems to ocean ecology. It also tells us what to do. Lets think of a short list.

1.Recycle. Our world’s resources are not infinite. We should be doing good management of what resources we do have and not waste them. We should re-plant the trees that we do take for our future generations.

2.Leave what you find. While walking in the woods, we don’t take things like rocks or animals. What is with our preoccupation at collecting massive amounts of material things? Like leaving only footprints, we should only collect what we need.

3.Be considerate of others. Not only this applies to local wildlife, it applies to other people.

4.Clean up after yourself. In the physical sense, it means trash management. In the spiritual sense, it means know your craft and behave responsibly. In the mental sense, it means don’t dump on others, and have a healthy outlook and healthy relationships.

What other things could you add to the list?

Leave no trace is attractive as an ethical proposition because it tells us what to do and what not to do at the same time.

As Pagans, we should look for a more responsible ethical framework. We were here before the other world religions. Shouldn’t we lead the way in ethics?

There are other ethical sayings we could use. “Be my best” comes to mind. The big flaw I see is that my best becomes a crutch when people do bad things. For example, “Well I was just doing my best.” might be a common excuse when a pedophile molests a child. If honestly applied, I do think it works, but maybe we can do better.

The one I like best is “Leave the world a better place than you found it.” It is all encompassing. It is a positive way to say that we should strive to do good works. It covers things from acid rain to gun laws to abortion. It is very simple. A kindergartner should understand this concept.

In applied ethics, it becomes fairly easy to do the right thing. In the example of the deer jumping in front of the car, we can rationalize some choices. The car may hit the deer. The car can end up in the ditch. But it is the more general context that makes it an improvement. Why did the deer do that? Are the local deer crossing roads due to over-crowding? Perhaps we should install fences and control where the deer cross the road. Maybe we should allocate more forestland for deer populations.

“Leave the world a better place” allows us to explore options, and become better stewards of our environment. It creates possibilities that did not previously exist and makes us better humans.


Footnotes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiccan_Rede

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiccan_morality

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Three_ (Wiccan)

http://doreenvaliente.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_be_evil

http://www.reclaiming.org/about/witchfaq/charge.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leave_No_Trace

Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Magick Work?

Does Magick Work?

Author: Silverwolf

Does magick work?

In this essay I will take a look at magick, and examine how and if it “works”. I am using the spelling “magick” as originally created by Aleister Crowley and will base much of my working definition on his original description.

Magick is at the heart of many Pagan practices, and is also a key difference between most Pagan practices and non-Pagan practices. Some may argue that prayer is treated much like magick in some religions, but there are some fundamental differences that I will investigate later. Given the importance of magick, proving that magick either does or does not “work” is a very relevant task.

I am using “works” here in quotes, because I believe that the term itself is somewhat ambiguous. There are two main components to magick “working”: how, and what. The “how” is the basis of what makes magick work. What mechanism causes it to be considered a success? The “what” is the end result.

Ignoring the question of how it works, do you achieve the end results that you desire? If it works by some mechanism differently than what you believe, but still achieves the desired results, is that still “working”? I propose here that it is the end results that are important, not so much the actual mechanism. In other words, if it works for you…then it works for you.

The premise I will start with, and attempt to prove, is that yes, magick does in fact work. That is, it does achieve results. Perhaps not the exact results that are always desired, but most explanations of magick include a belief that magick does not always work all of the time in exactly the way the practitioner wants. In this respect it is very much like prayer, and I am reminded of the old saying, ”God always answers your prayers – but sometimes the answer is no.”

There are three main explanations of how and why magick works that I will examine. The first is that it works through access to the divine. We get a God or Goddess to do our bidding and use our will to control their actions, giving us access to powers greater than that which we ourselves possess… The second option I will explore is that magick works because of basic scientific principles as of yet not fully understood.

To quote Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In this second category I include most of what we think of as supernatural forces today but may well have scientific explanations for tomorrow.

The third option that I will explore is that of the benefits of belief by the individual, and the ability to change yourself and your surroundings based on belief. There are countless examples of people in crisis or those who have advanced training (martial artists, yogis, etc.) and are able to perform feats of control over their bodies that seem impossible. It is exactly in this way that by believing something hard enough, we are able to rise above the limits of our normal lives. In this way, a belief in magick does, in fact, allow us to tap energy that we otherwise cannot utilize and therefore effect a change.

In short, magic does work and it works by one of three methods: divine intervention, supernatural/science, or psychology.

What is magick?

In this essay I am specifically referring to magick, with a “k”. Traditional views of magic involve the action of supernatural beings or deities, the use of specific spells or actions, and particular ceremonies. This is really not so different than the traditional church approach to prayer. So why is magick so different?

Magick, with the “k”, is a term originally created by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) . This was the early 20th century and stage magic abounded as a form of entertainment and mystery. At the same time, interest in the occult was blooming and a number of high-profile occult organizations, such as the Order of the Golden Dawn, flourished. This was a time of Harry Houdini (1874-1926) and Aleister wanted a way to differentiate occult magic from stage magic. To this end, he created the term “Magick” with an extra “k” on the end.

In his book Magick in Theory and Practice, he introduces the term “Magick”. Crowley begins the introduction to his book with quotes from a number of sources including Pythagoras, The Golden Bough by J.D. Frazer, St. Paul, etc. so we see that he drew from many classical sources when creating his work.

Magick, as defined by Crowley, is “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” What is particularly interesting is that the definition does not say anything about divine forces, spiritual intervention, or occult phenomenon. All it really describes is a cause and effect relationship, initiated by the practitioner.

Magick can be applied to anything, from mere mundane activities to chemical reactions, an example that Crowley himself uses. He tells us that “Any required change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of force in the proper manner through which the proper medium to the proper object.”

Crowley further states quite simply “every intentional act is a magickal act.” This means that anything that we do as a result of our will is an act of magick. Traditional views of magic (k) had assumed a supernatural element. Crowley, however, defines it as any act that we will to happen. In this regard, magick is an act of will that could be carried out by our own physical actions, by our instructions or commands, or even the use of supernatural forces. The involvement of supernatural forces, however, is far from a requirement.

The beauty of Crowley’s magick is that it covers a whole spectrum of forces at our disposal. We use our will directly to make changes in ourselves. We use our will and employ the tools of science to make changes. We use our will and employ the tools of witchcraft to make changes.

To improve our health, we might use our will to exercise more. To travel from Boston to New York we might use our will and the tool of the car that we drive. Magick builds on the use of our will to influence common events in our mundane life, but then adds in the use of our will to control supernatural forces as well.

Others since Crowley have largely followed his lead on what constitutes magick. In his bookThe Mystic Foundation, Christopher Penzcak calls magic (he does not use the extra k) a process of creation. He believes that words have creative power and energy, and are important to the use of magic. Magic is about harnessing and directing energy. Christopher then explains that energy can come from words, thoughts, and actions.

In addition to internal sources, he believes that herbs, metals, stones, symbols and colors are also forms of energy. Magic rituals harness this energy along with the magician’s will to create change. He explains that magic is a science, but it is also an art and a skill. He also proposed that what we call magic today may simply be what is called science tomorrow and refers to Arthur C. Clark’s famous quote about how any sufficiently advanced science will appear to be magic.

Like Crowley, Penczak also believes that magic is part of everything we do and says that we are all doing magic all the time. The difference as he sees it is that a magician is consciously aware of it and uses it as part of his or her personal and spiritual path. He points out that different people call magic by different names: many Pagans use the spelling with a k to differentiate it, but magic is also the same as medicine to a shaman, or prayer to a catholic. Ultimately, Penczak sums it up by saying, “Magic is any change that conforms to a person’s will.” While the words are slightly different, this is exactly what Crowley said as well.

InNatural Magic, Doreen Valiente describes magic (also without the k) as being centered internally. Symbols, tools, etc. are all useful to strike a mood but are merely external aids and the real magic is inside the human mind. She says that, “The only way you can really change your life is by changing yourself.” She, too, then goes on to describe how it is the power of will that causes change – regardless of what paths or energies are used to implement the will.

Many other notable authors from the pagan community have given their own particular spin and explanation on magick, but they all pretty much come down to the same description: Magic is the application of will to effect change. How this change comes about may be simple physical action on the part of the practitioner, or it may involve the use of forces or energies not scientifically understood or explained. It is all about wanting something to happen, and making it happen. In short, being empowered and being in control of your life.

Magick: invoking the divine

Of the three ways of looking at magick, the idea of invoking and controlling the divine is by far the fuzziest. Are there Gods and Goddesses? Are there other supernatural forces? Do we really think that we have the ability to actually control any of these forces? Or at least to request their assistance and have them pay any attention to us?

This is a far deeper discussion than fits within the scope of this essay, for our purposes here we will simply assume that yes, there are supernatural forces of some kind and we can access them for our own objectives. The exact nature of such forces is not important here, but rather the question of exactly how we can access them and direct them.

Accessing a God is quite a common endeavor in human history, but it has often been in the form of prayer. The key difference between prayer and magick is that prayer is a request to the deity to perform some action, whereas magick is a command to the deity to perform a service. In the former view we are subject to the whims of the divine and exist to serve at their pleasure. In the later, we are equal to any Gods in importance, if not in power, and they are available for us to command if we can figure out how. This may sound egotistical, but consider the vast forces of nature that we have learned to harness such as atomic energy. Is it really such a stretch from controlling nuclear reactions to controlling a God?

With prayer, we are supposed to exhibit good behavior (and belief) according to that particular mythology and as a reward we may ask the divine for favors. Of course, as discussed earlier, the answer can often be, “no.” Bargaining with the divine is also popular in prayer trading a promise for future good behavior or some special action in exchange for a prayer being answered.

With magick, we use our will to impose a task on a specific deity. Most pagans and practitioners of magick support a pantheists or polytheistic view and will usually pick a specific God or Goddess that is particularly appropriate for the task. We might call to Thor to be successful in battle, or Aphrodite for help with love for example. Frequently we will employ some sort of ceremony designed to attract and then compel the deity to perform our will.

Magick involving deities is often referred to as “Ceremonial Magick” and is not something that is universally encouraged. Raymond Buckland describes ceremonial magick as dangerous and totally unnecessary. He does support asking the Gods to aid you with power, however, in the “drawing down” of the God or Goddess and bringing a surge of their power into you during a magickal working.

Is it possible to direct the actions of the divine? Or even to ask them for power to aid you in your working? Certainly it is hard to top the power of a God and so if this method works, then it can be very effective. It is extremely difficult to actually prove or disprove that it is possible in invoke deities. There are also difficulties in assuming that this works for everyone or even for anyone. How, exactly, do you control a God?

What happens when someone else directs his or her God to do the opposite of what you are directing your God to do (for example, two people who both want to win the same lottery) ? Will the Gods only obey someone who has enough self-mastery to not want power and riches? There are many reasons why it might be possible for us to command the Gods but still not be able to access this path reliably.

Magick: a force of nature

We have seen examples in popular culture such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings where magick is a force of nature that can be controlled by people with special talents. In these three examples, the person controlling the magic has to be born into it although their powers can usually only be fully realized after training. In this worldview, magic can also be used to create magical objects that have their own power. Here the power does not come from any actual deity, but rather is a force of nature that some people have the ability to tap into.

Accessing this force is usually accomplished through the use of incantations, or tools such as wands that allow the user to focus their own magical abilities and powers. While there is certainly an element of willpower involved in using magic in this way, the right words, tools, or actions are crucial in making the magick work as well.

In The Golden Bough, James Frazer describes a classic view of the use of sympathetic magick, where we can control some target object through the manipulation of a second object. The two objects are linked, or have a sympathetic bond, and that is why action to one also impacts the other one. He then goes on to describe two basic types of this magic: contagious and imitative (or homeopathic) .

Imitative magick relies on the use of something that is similar to the object we desire to control, and assumes that by controlling the one object we can impact the target object. A traditional voodoo doll is a good example of this. The doll is created in a fashion to represent the target subject. By sticking pins into the doll, the theory is that we can cause pain of illness in the target subject.

Contagious magick, on the other hand, relies on the use of objects that have been in contact with the target object. Because they were once in contact with each other, there is a bond between them even when they are separated. Here, too, actions on the sympathetic object can be done to control the target object.

At the other end of the spectrum we can view these forces as scientific, rather than magickal. There is actually a very thin line between the two, and much of what is solid scientific fact today was considered magick quite recently. As noted in section 1, advanced technology is indistinguishable from magick. There is no science today to explain magick, obviously, or it would no longer be viewed as magick but rather as scientific fact. There, are, however, both technologies and scientific theories that point to the possibility of magick or bear a hint of action similar to what we think of as magick.

Let us consider how our will can affect the world around us without normal physical interaction. The brain creates electrical impulses during normal operation. It has not been shown that these weak impulses are capable of acting in any way on the surrounding environment, but they are there nonetheless, and are being broadcast to the world around us.

We cannot show that these affect anything, but we can prove that at least they are receiving the signals. It proves that there is at least a vehicle for our brain to communicate in a non-physical way with the world around us.

Quantum physics has been over-blown badly and many false conclusions drawn by people who understand only a little bit of what they have read about quantum theory. However, there are phenomenons in quantum physics that seem similar to some of our concepts of magick.

Entanglement, for example, tells us that two particles that are once entangled with each other will thereafter continue to reflect each other’s state even after they are separated by a great distance. While this does not prove any actual magick, it does show us how two objects, once connected, can continue to share a bond even after their separation. This is the same basic concept as contagious magick and shows that at least the idea of two objects sharing a remote bond is now in the realm of scientific theory.

Einstein once even went so far as to call this “spooky action at a distance”. Unlike brain wave activity, which is a measurable fact, it is important to remember that quantum entanglement is still part of a theory and while it is actually measurable as well, why it works is still being debated.

These are merely two examples where science has shown us mechanisms that demonstrate similar concepts to those proposed by classical magick theory. This is a huge step towards providing a scientific explanation for magick itself, or at least for making the more scientific among us to pause and consider before simply dismissing magick off-hand.

So if we believe some forces of nature support that magick, whether or not they are supernatural or scientific but unknown is a meaningless distinction. Clearly there are still many things that are unknown, and clearly there are things that are today labeled “magick” that may well be science tomorrow. This is a topic that has occupied entire books and this is, at best, an introduction.

One point that should be made, however, is how magick can exist when magick doesn’t work. Harry Potter can reliably and repeatedly make something happen once he has learned a spell. Witches in the real world often come up with mixed results at best. There are many ways to explain this and it does not in any way eliminate the possibility that magick exists.

Why can’t I win the lottery through magick, for example? Well, if we think of magick as our tapping into basic natural forces, do we not suppose that everyone else who bought a lottery ticket is doing the same thing, to greater or lesser degrees?

In this way, we are all countering each other’s magick. Unless we can assume that our magick is so much more powerful than everyone else’s combined, which seems unlikely in practice (Charmed or Bewitched notwithstanding) , we cannot force that outcome. It would be like a rowboat trying to steer an ocean liner. There is much more to be said on this topic, but the point of this example was merely to show that magick could, in fact, work quite well and still not work for us in any given situation.

Magick: tapping into psychology

The third explanation that we will look at is the value of magick through psychological results. This is different than the general understanding of magick as involving something supernatural, but is a legitimate explanation. What we are trying to examine here is whether the belief in and performance of “magick” creates results. If we go back to our definition of magick as being the application of will to effect change then we can argue for a wide variety of actions as technically being magick. In order to make magick really interesting, however, we should assume that in order to really be magick, the end result needs to be something that would not otherwise have happened without the use of magick.

With this requirement I mind, we can fairly easily look at magick as enabling us to control at least our own mind and body, and to a degree that we do not normally have. This could be anything from stopping smoking or losing weight to success in love or our career. If we are looking at psychological reasons for magick working, we can rule out looking at things that we are not actively involved in. If magick works because of psychological reasons, we can control ourselves to a heightened degree directly but that also will have an impact on our immediate environment.

In the case of stopping smoking or losing weight it is “just as simple” as getting the will power to stop smoking, or to eat less and/or exercise more. As anyone knows who has tried to do this, this can be easy to say and very difficult to actually do. We need to overcome actual addictions as well as deeply ingrained personal behavior. Using magick to achieve these ends is not unlike using self-hypnosis. The power to make the change is entirely in our control, we “just” need the will power to make it happen.

Impacting our environment can also largely be a matter of effecting change in ourselves. If we can make ourselves more productive at work, we will probably be more successful. If we can change our own behavior to be more attractive to a partner, we can improve our love life. These are cases where we can essentially change the behavior of others by changing our own behavior and therefore changing our relationship with them. As we change, and our relationship changes, their behavior towards us will then change as well in response. Here, too, we need to make the change in ourselves first, and these changes may be very difficult because again they may run contrary to a lifetime of habits or personality.

The power of positive thinking is not just a sound-bite, but it is a well-documented and studied fact. People who are optimistic are able to achieve more than people who are pessimistic. While this sounds like common sense, studies have shown that people who believe they will succeed are not just “more motivated”, but are able to actually tap into more physical and mental energy than others who believe they will fail. If you think you will succeed, you will actually be able to work harder.

Beyond the basics step of merely going faster, further, longer, or harder, there are many documented stories of the ability of people to tap into inner strength that is not considered normal. There are many stories of people who have prayed or willed diseases into remission, who have tapped into super-human strength to save a loved one, or even just to walk on hot coals without suffering burns. These actions are the result of achieving a level of control over the human body that we do not normally have. Here, too, the key is to convince ourselves that it can be done.

Self-hypnosis provides a framework for making changes like this, and the techniques are actually very similar to what we do in ritual when casting a spell. Key to the effectiveness of self-hypnosis is our own belief that what we wish to achieve is possible. If we do not really believe it can be done on a sub-conscious level, we can never convince ourselves to make the change. While it is probably mandatory to believe in order to direct the actions of a God, or to marshal supernatural forces to our will, it is absolutely crucial to believe in order to create change within ourselves.

While this explanation of magick involves the mundane instead of the supernatural, nevertheless it is also a path to extraordinary results that have been absolutely proven. If you convince yourself of results, you can change your behavior and even tap into extraordinary, but not supernatural, abilities. This limits the potential reach of the results of magick, but it also gives an absolute, proven path to results.

Magick in this case provides the enabling action to reach these goals. In order to convince ourselves that we have made the change, something has to happen to act as the agent of change. We do not simply wake up one day and say, “today I will stop smoking.” That is rarely, if ever, effective because we know that we are no different than we were yesterday when we were still addicted to smoking.

There needs to be some event that we can use to convince ourselves that this change really will happen. Magick, and a magick ritual in particular, provide us with the event that will allow us to convince ourselves that change has occurred. Because we believe that the magick is going to work, it does in fact work.

While it is actually our own mind that is making the change, we are unable to do it without the event that convinces us. I believe in magick, therefore the magick is going to work. I have now convinced myself (especially on a sub-conscious level) of the success of my effort, and therefore I am able to achieve the desired results that I could not have achieved before. It is not the magick itself that makes the change in this case, but rather our belief in the magick that makes it work.

Magick vs. prayer

In section 3 we briefly touched on the differences between magick and prayer. The main difference, as we mentioned, is that prayer is based on asking God for a favor, whereas magick is based on you using your will to make things happen. Even in the case where you are working with a deity, you are telling that deity to do something for you, not asking.

Beyond the differences in approach, and the differences in execution, this also reflects a core difference between paganism and mainstream religions: where control of your life ultimately lies. Paganism places your life in your own hands – you are responsible for what happens to you and for making life what you want. Mainstream religion places ultimate responsibility in their God’s hands. You can only control your life to a certain point, and beyond that it is “God’s will.”

Of course, there is a down side to having this control as well. You, and only you, are responsible for your life. You can’t shrug it off and blame your problems on God. Yes, the world may have plans for you, and you may have a path that takes you in a certain direction, but you can also take control of your own destiny through an act of will. This is the use of magick – to provide control of your life and your destiny.

Things may happen to you that you don’t like, but at no point do you have to sit back and accept that. While giving you control, however, it also takes away the comfort of being able to blame your problems on “God’s will.” Stuff happens, some of it bad stuff, but not because it is part of “God’s plan”.

Having said that, prayer can still be effective. If you believe hard enough that God is going to answer your prayers, you can approach the same mindset of confidence that is used to drive magickal workings. Certainly if you believe that your prayers will be effective, you can at least convince yourself and therefore gain the benefit of positive thinking. Whether or not that person’s God does really exist, prayer, too, can end up having a positive impact.

Magic for everyone

Ultimately, the question of why magic works is an academic exercise and really not relevant. The important thing is to decide that yes, in fact, magick does work. Exactly why it works is not important. The key elements are that magick does work and that it is a product of our own willpower. This is what and how, and to use it that is really all we need to know. Few people understand exactly how a cell phone works, but they are able to use it quite effectively nevertheless.

It is important to understand how to use magick, obviously, in order to get results. It starts with a will to cause an effect. Whether it’s our brains or cosmic forces or Gods that make it work after that is not important. What is important is that we can make it work.

Wayne Dyer wrote an excellent pop self-help book about using magick titled Real Magic. My description of his book is in no way meant to be derogatory. “Pop” as in “popular” or “popular culture” is actually an asset. If you want to study the history and details of magick as a scholar then by all means, head for the more serious and scholarly authors.

If you simply want to use magick to change your life, then read Wayne Dyer (or others like him) who reduces the practice to simple, will-based techniques. If you believe you can change your life, then yes you really can change your life. But it has to start with will. This is the essence of self-help. Only you can perform magick for yourself. It is driven by your strength of will, no one else’s.

Wayne Dyer’s approach strips away the trappings of mystical magick, and obviously avoids the Crowley spelling, and places the techniques of magic in common life. His approach is based in large part upon meditation and visualization: both very sound and proven techniques, and ones that are important fundamentals for any magickal practice. This simple form may not be for everyone, and part of your own ability to tap into your own magick may well require the trappings of ceremony and ritual in order to help focus and control your will. What works for you…works for you. How to best focus your will is going to vary from person to person and is something you will need to work out for yourself.

Caveats

There are a few caveats that bear discussing when it comes to magick. While it is true that Magick requires faith and belief to work, this is a double-edged sword. If you believe that you can achieve something through magick, then you are certainly more likely to achieve the end result because of your belief. It is also, however, true that if you believe you cannot achieve something because of magick then you are certainly going to be far less likely to achieve it. This could be because you believe someone else’s magick is blocking you, it could be because you do not believe that the magick is going to work for you for whatever reason, or it could be because you believe that magick cannot help you achieve your objectives. Belief in failure is just as damaging as belief in success is rewarding.

Belief must also be reasonable, and you must make sure you do in fact use the right tools. If you work magick to get a job but do not actually apply for the job, think of how much more effort the magick needs in order to make it happen. Always use every tool at your disposal when working magick. There is a lot of truth I the old saying “God helps those who help themselves.” If you are not willing to put in the effort required, why should the magick do it for you? Don’t pick ridiculous goals for your magick either, or goals where you know you are going to be pushing up against many other people’s magick. Winning the lottery is a good example of this – everyone who buys a ticket is pushing against the outcome – some are more powerful than others, but your own magick would have to be incredibly powerful to overcome all of those counteracting forces.

Finally, there are things that magick should not do. It is not a favor to prolong the life of a terminally ill person who is suffering. That is selfish, not helpful. Magick should not be used to bring about results for the wrong reasons, and should not be used on people who do not want its help. What you want may not be what others want, and it may not even be good for them. You cannot decide whether your unwanted actions will end up for good or bad, and you are robbing someone else of their free will. Magick should only be used for people or on people who want the help and agree to it. Otherwise, leave them to their own path.

Conclusion

I started out by making the claim that magick does work – for everyone. An explanation of exactly how magick works depends on whom you talk to, with a number of different beliefs and explanations. The main explanations given by practitioners typically involve either the harnessing the power of a sentient God to do your will, or the access to supernatural powers. Essentially the same as supernatural forces are scientific forces that we do not yet fully understand. Ultimately, however, the mere fact that the practitioner believes in magick makes certain that, at least to some degree, the magick will unquestionably work. Because belief in success does, in fact, increase the chances of success by drawing more effort and energy out of the believer.

Magickal workings are an attempt to influence events and make changes in the world according to your will. These results are in relation to you and your place in the world, so making a change in yourself (by increasing your energy) will obviously have a change in your environment as perceived by yourself.

Ultimately, how magick works becomes less important than the fact that magick does work. The only requirement, however, is that you must believe in magick for it to work effectively. That’s the key, and the only thing that is needed to unlock the power of your will. Just like when Peter Pan tells us that Tinker Bell will die if we say we don’t believe. But if we believe, then Tink will live.

Without belief, Magick dies, but with belief, a whole world of possibilities is open to us. To use another children’s story as an analogy, “The Little Engine that could” makes it up the mountain only because he believes that he can. Children know these things, and these stories resonate with them. Sadly, as we grow older we are taught to learn boundaries and restrictions and once we find out that magick is not real and not possible, then, in fact it does become unreal and impossible.



Footnotes:
References:

Crowley, Aleister. Magick: in Theory and Practice. Castle Books, 1970 (originally published 1929) .
Penzcak, Christopher. The Mystic Foundation. Llewellyn, 2006
Valiente, Doreen. Natural Magic. Phoenix Publishing, 1975
Buckland, Raymond. The Complete Book of Witchcraft. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2007.
Frazer, Sir James. The Golden Bough. Macmillan, 1922.
Aczel, Amir. Entanglement. Plume, 2003.
Keith, William. The Science of the Craft. Citadel, 2005.
Vaughan, Susan C. Half Empty, Half Full: Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism. Harvest Books, 2001.
Hogan, Kevin, and LaBay, Mary Lee. Through The Open Door: Secrets of Self Hypnosis. Pelican Books, 2000.
Dyer, Wayne. Real Magic. Harper Collins, 1992.

Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing is Believing… Or Is It?

Seeing is Believing… Or Is It?

Author: Mirage

We have all heard the age-old phrase “Seeing is believing” or ” I will only believe it when I see it.” For some situations in life, I have to agree — when dealing with the material world around us. I find it especially true when dealing with people. You can only be burned so many times and then you just end up losing your faith in human nature. I’m sure that I am not the only one here who has felt that way at one time or another- and for good reasons as well.

It saddens me, however, when people use this phase when referring to the existence of the Divine (God, Goddess, any divine entity) . I have heard so many Atheists, Agnostics, and even people who claim to have faith, make comments about the divine that basically translate as, ” I will believe it when I see it.” I have also heard people crack jokes about how silly it is for an adult to have an “imaginary friend” that they continually talk to but never get a response in return.

I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs/opinions but I really think that we should all take a look at the other side of the fence before making any rash decisions. So, despite all of the multi-faceted views on religion and/or spirituality, I have a proposal to make. I think that if people gave the divine a chance, no matter how skeptical or bent on logic they claim to be, they would discover that seeing isn’t believing, but believing is seeing. However, this “sight” is more of an emotional awareness that allows us to “see” and experience the divine. First I think we should explore the problem before we discuss a solution…

People have asked me why I believe what I believe. Why do I believe in the Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses? Simply because I have ‘seen them’ by emotionally experiencing them or by feeling them? No, they did not manifest out of thin air and demand my undivided attention. Nor did they shout my name from the sky and underworld to prove to me that they really do exist.

I do not doubt that this could really occur, in one sense or another, but I have not experienced it for myself, therefore it is not the reason I have faith. So many people seem to have this expectation when it comes to deities. What seems more ridiculous to you- only believing in something if it makes itself physically apparent or having faith in something you haven’t physically seen but have emotionally experienced?

I think that knowing and experiencing the divine requires more of an effort on our part. If I was a divine entity, I wouldn’t just pop out at random times to offer people bits of wisdom and enlightenment. I would make them work for it! I’m pretty sure that all of the Gods and Goddesses, no matter what pantheon or time period they are from, would expect the same.

What concerns me is when people are new to Paganism, or any religion/spirituality for that matter, and expect to hit it off right away with every God or Goddess they choose to call upon. Some people are lucky, and a certain deity may favor them, so they get instant “results”. The deity tends to the individual and encourages him/her to form a relationship by allowing him/her to “see” the divine presence. Other times, the deity will choose to ignore the individual altogether or make the person work for results (most likely a fulfilling relationship with said deity) – the latter probably being more common.

This is why I think people have little or no faith. They just don’t want to put forth an effort to get to know a deity that they want to relate to. I have found that quite a few Pagans/ Wiccans at one point or another (myself included) tend to EXPECT Gods and Goddesses to grant desires with little effort on their part.

Yes, we can “promise” a deities that we will pay them homage in a certain manner or offer them incense, oils, foods, etc. so our wish will be granted, but to me that seems superficial and empty (again, I have done it myself, so I am by no means pointing my finger at others.) I think that we can almost relate divine relationships to relationships that we have with other people- especially significant others.

Sure, we can shower them with gifts and grant them “favors”, but there is so much more to a relationship besides that. We should learn about their personality (likes, dislikes, quirks, etc.) and how to work with them instead of against them. We should do this when relating to the divine as well and maybe we would get better results, thus strengthening our faith as we go.

I think that we have issues describing our spiritual experiences as well, so sometimes we put it on the back burner and brush it off as a coincidence or fate. My theory is that we are so used to describing material items, we are programmed to think that if we cannot describe the way something looks, sounds, smells, feels, etc. then it is illusive or does not exist at all.

For example, if I was asked to describe a rose, I would say that it is red, smells sweet, has sharp thorns, and so on. Needless to say, not too many people would describe the flower much differently.

However, if I was asked to describe the Goddess Isis, that might be a bit more difficult.

Since I have never physically seen Her, I couldn’t accurately describe Her physical attributes (hair color, skin color, clothing, eye color, etc.) unless I was basing it off of an artist’s depiction of Her. On the other hand, if I described my spiritual “sight” of Her, I would say that She is a being of light that brings me a very warm and peaceful feeling, almost as if She was my own mother.

Skeptical people might raise a brow to this description, but again, it all boils down to having faith, putting forth effort, and opening our minds to things we may not think to be possible.

So, if there is that one special deity in your life that you are not to sure about because he/she seems a tad bit illusive or you don’t know how to approach them, I say go for it! It won’t be as easy as looking at a person across the room from you and acknowledging him/her, but it will be well worth it in the end.

I suggest researching the deities that you are drawn to before you form a relationship with them. What are their attributes? What do they like/dislike? Do they have any aspects that you would like to relate to as well?

The research is the easy part. Now open your heart and your mind to them and allow their presence in your rituals or daily life…I’m sure that when the time is right, you will gain sight of them through your emotions and intuition.

Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coven Governance: Which Style is Right for You?

Coven Governance: Which Style is Right for You?

Author: Bronwen Forbes

If you’re looking to join a coven, you should not only do your homework to decide what tradition is right for you (eclectic, Dianic, traditional Wicca, etc.) , you should also think about what style of coven leadership you’re most comfortable with at this point on your spiritual path. Different groups are run in different ways, and knowing your own personal preferences will go a long way toward making the coven a good fit for you. Here are some of the most common styles of coven governance:

Hierarchy. In a coven run as a hierarchy, there is a High Priestess and/or High Priest, and they are in charge. They will make most or all of the decisions for the coven including: membership (whether or not a person can become a member *and* whether or not a member is asked to leave) , ritual style, class topics (if it’s a teaching coven) , and whether or not a student or member is ready for initiation and/or elevation.

Pros: a hierarchical coven tends to get the most done of any style coven. Students are trained, sabbat and esbat rituals happen when they’re supposed to, and everyone knows what is happening and when, and what needs to be done to grow and advance.

Cons: some (in no way do I mean all) High Priests and High Priestesses who run a hierarchy have a hard time giving their students and other coveners any responsibility or authority at all. They can truly become tyrants.

Democracy. There may be a High Priest and/or High Priest in a democratic coven, but the coveners have more say in the day-to-day, season-to-season workings of the group. Potential members may be voted in; the decision whether or not to volunteer to run opening ritual at this year’s Pagan Pride Day may also be put to a vote. Coven leaders may even be voted to office on a rotating basis, or the High Priest and High Priestess may have a “weightier” vote than everyone else.

Pros: students and coveners feel like they have a say in how the group is run and what route their spiritual activities will take.

Cons: just because a majority votes in favor of something does not mean it is the best choice. A potential member could be completely unsuitable for coven life but is friends with more than half the group. Once the unsuitable potential member is voted in, he or she wreaks havoc with the group but – because of the majority vote of his or her friends – can’t be voted out.

Consensus: Many groups choose consensus as the way to make decisions. An issue or agenda item (new members, how to celebrate the next holiday, whether or not to offer a Pagan 101 class, etc.) is brought up, the group as a whole discusses it and comes to a decision or plan of action that everyone in the group is comfortable with.

Pros: Everyone in the coven is happy about how the coven is run. In a small group (up to eight people) , consensus works very well.

Cons: coming to complete agreement about a decision can take *forever*, even with eight or fewer people. In fact, so much group time and energy can be used up on making decisions that nothing else ever gets done – including implementing those decisions.

Also, consensus can be co-opted into “minority rules.” By the rules of consensus, if even one member is against something (“No, I don’t want to allow Sybil into the group”) , then that something cannot happen (Sybil is not allowed to join the coven) .

Anarchy. As a rule, anarchy-run groups don’t last very long because no one is responsible for running circles, organizing the schedule, welcoming new members, etc. Very little if any teaching or training is done, unless it is one-on-one on an as-needed or personally-requested basis. Rituals are usually never conducted the same way twice, so no comfortable, familiar ritual pattern is ever established. Pros: If you are looking for a coven or group that you can drop into and drop out of any time you need to with no sense of ongoing obligation due to work or family constraints, an anarchic coven is probably best for your. Cons: not much ever gets done. If something is actually accomplished, it’s usually by accident.

In general, very few covens only use one governing style. For example, my husband and I ran a training coven for several years. As High Priest and High Priestess, we had complete authority over who was initiated/elevated and when (not the actual date, but determining when a student was ready) . We also planned the classes, and determined class content, class order, and homework.

Group membership was decided by consensus – one “no” and the potential member did not get invited to join. Only my husband and I could ask a member to leave, but we certainly accepted input from the other members before making a decision. Class and rituals were scheduled by consensus. If one person couldn’t make it at a certain date and time due to school or work considerations, we’d find a time when everyone could make it (schedules were usually determined three months in advance, so there was rarely a problem that couldn’t be gotten around) .

Whether or not to lead an open sabbat for the local Pagan community was democratically decided – we voted, all members having equal say. Extracurricular activities happened mostly on an anarchic model: “Hey, we’re going on a Pagan shopping spree to the nearest large city on Saturday. Want to come?” or “Selene just got dumped by her boyfriend and is on my couch crying. I’m ordering pizza. Come hold her hand with me?”

If you’re thinking about starting a coven, you need to determine what style you’re most comfortable with. If you’re not suited for sole “I’m in charge” responsibility, consider a democratic or consensus group. If you have a vision of how to teach students and form your own way of celebrating the Gods in ritual, go for the hierarchical coven.

Whether your joining a coven or starting your own, make darn sure you’re comfortable with how it’s run before committing yourself as a member or leader.

Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking on the Name of a Goddess

Taking on the Name of a Goddess

Author: Morrigan) 0 (

Taking on a Goddess name… I am sure are many opinions on this. This is mine.

First, ‘take on’ is not the best choice of words. Maybe receive would be better. It is not something one should just do. “To take” sounds a bit disrespectful.

Also do you know what it means to bear the name of your Goddess? This comes with great responsibility, as you not just represent Her, you are Her. To have or carry a Goddess name, one carries all the energy of that name. If it is a dark Goddess, be aware that if you have not fully dealt with your shadow, and the negativity in yourself, it will only magnify it. This happens until you deal with it and have it under control.

Usually in Wiccan traditions you do not get the honor of bearing a Goddess name until you are High Priest or Priestess. To get to third degree takes sometimes years, certainly more than just your year- and- a- day.

When I received this name, Morrighan, it happened as She consumed my life, and heart, so much so others could tell. A good friend and a HPS said on several times she wrote me wanting to write Morrighan.

I asked the Morrighan; I meditated, and waited. I felt a release Nov16th this past year under the dark moon. This happened during the witching hour. I waited a year, and had dreams. Crow and Raven were visiting me more. I have also been tested, and challenged…both before and right after. So you see this is not something I decided I just wanted to do overnight.

A magickal name is very powerful to have, and should mean something to you. It is an honor and very humbling to be called Morrighan.

I also highly suggest if one is just beginning in their path, not to do take on a Goddess name till you have gotten to know your path, yourself, and the Goddess in Her many aspects, and names. Know Her energy, and personality.

Magickal names…Why choose a magickal name? Taking on a name implies a change of life. Many magickal and shamanic cultures are known for taking on new names when a person reaches a stage of growth, such as at manhood rituals and marriages, and spiritual awakenings.

Historically, in the Craft, names were taken for purposes of secrecy and safety…Protection really. If someone didn’t know who you were, they couldn’t turn you over to the persecutors. So witches named themselves, “Wolf”, “Moon” or “Alder”” and refrained from telling their true names to their coven members.

Today we take on magickal names for less dire reasons. The main purpose in magickal naming is so that we can “feel magickal.” Just as putting on your ritual robes prepares you mentally and puts you in a ritual headspace, so too, does hearing your magickal name in Circle. Our magickal names remind us of our connection to the Goddess/ Gods and the Earth, and allow us to separate our mundane selves so that we can focus as we work our magick

A quote from Lady Hecate, from Her cauldron http://www.hecatescauldron.org. It is also copyright protected. This is only a portion from what she wrote on the topic Magickal Names:

“Choosing a Goddess name is something to take very seriously. You do not change Goddess names like the clothing you wear each day. They do not take lightly of being discarded so easily. Also, whatever name you select should match your experiences in life. Age is also an important factor when considering a name. You would not call yourself Aradia if you were young, just starting out in the Craft, or both. Also something to take into consideration is if you can live up to Her name?

“Another thing to really take into consideration is not to dishonor Her name in any way. You can dishonor her name by unfair actions that you take. You dishonor Her name if you select a Crone, who represents wisdom and knows when to talk and not to talk, and your never seem to know when to talk and when not to. You can dishonor Her name in the negative actions you take in your mundane life, because being a pagan and Witch you walk the magickal life whether you are in the mundane world or not.

“In choosing a Goddess name and her attributes you slowly become like Her. You start picking up Her attributes. However, if you are not walking a balanced life, unfortunately, you will tend to pick up on Her darker side, as each Goddess has a light and dark side to Her. So be ware of that.”

If you are wondering about how to discover or find a magickal name — or if you feel after years, you have outgrown your name — I have something here that may help and aid you.

These are just suggestions if you are looking for a magickal name:
http://www.ehow.com/how_2056613_select-wiccan-name.html

Choose the Perfect Name:

Step 1: Do not share your magickal name with outsiders. A magickal name should be reserved for rituals and as a way of identifying yourself to other Witches, or Wiccans in your coven. Some Witches/ Wiccans do not share their names at all, reserving them for direct communication with the deities.

Step 2: Research different names and their meanings. You can use baby books to learn what names mean.

Step 3: Select a name that represents a characteristic you have or are aiming for. This can be done directly or in a more subtle way. If you’re aiming for strength, for example, you can choose the name “Iron Maiden” or select the Gaelic name “Bry, ” which means noble and strong.

Step 4: Pay attention to signs. Witches believe you can sometimes receive your name through dreams, visions or special occurrences. By being open to the possibility, it is more likely that you won’t miss the sign when it comes.

Step 5: Ask for help in selecting a name. If you belong to a coven, the high Priestess may help you in choosing your magickal name by guiding you through a ritual. Do you have a totem? What are you drawn to?

Step 6: Take care in choosing the name of a Goddess. If you decide to choose the name of a Goddess, do so in hopes of becoming a reflection of her. Keep in mind, however, that you may inherit both the good and the bad side of the goddess’ personality.

Some other things to think on: Do not rush. Take your time. It will come when it is supposed to.

Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Months

“January cold and desolate;
February dripping wet;
March wind ranges;
April changes;
Birds sing in tune
To flowers of May,
And sunny June
Brings longest day;
In scorched July
The storm-clouds fly,
Lightning-torn;
August bears corn,
September fruit;
In rough October
Earth must disrobe her;
Stars fall and shoot
In keen November;
And night is long
And cold is strong
In bleak December.”
- Christina Giorgina Rossetti, The Months

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crone’s Corner – Imbolc Ideas Having to do with Fire

 

Crone’s Corner – Imbolc Ideas Having to do with Fire

by Starhawk, Anne Hill, and Diane Baker

Brigit Fire
Whether we circle around a hearth, outdoor bonfire, or kindle a blaze
in a cast-iron cauldron, in the season of Brigit we welcome the
return of light. Here are some suggestions for a safe and cheerful
blaze.

Cauldron Fire
You will need:
a cast-iron pot of any size
a lid that fits snugly, for putting out the fire
bricks, hotplate or other heat-resistant material to set the cauldron
on.
Epsom salts
rubbing alcohol
To keep the blaze going for 45 minutes in a five quart cauldron, you
need 1/2 gallon of Epsom salts and approximately 4 to 6 pints of
rubbing alcohol
Any cast-iron pot can be made into a cauldron with a fire of Epsom
salts and rubbing alcohol. This is a very safe blaze. Once the
cauldron is secured on a heat-proof surface, pour the Epsom salts in
until the bottom is covered, approximately 1 inch deep. Pour rubbing
alcohol over the salts until the alcohol is about an inch higher than
the salts. Hold a lighted match just above the alcohol. The liquid
will light and produce a strong orange flame. The flame burns cool,
unlike a wood fire, and it is difficult to burn things
in. When the flame gets low, cover to snuff out completely. Add more
rubbing alcohol to the cauldron and relight carefully. The warmer the
rubbing alcohol, the more quickly it ignites. This fire recipe leaves
a significant amount of sediment in the bottom of the cauldron. For
this reason, it is best to dedicate a pot strictly for cauldron use.

Kindling a Fire
This holiday is a good time to teach your older children how to set a
fire and kindle a blaze. Most children are eager to help lay a fire,
but may be too scared to light one. Using long matches often eases
their fear, and with supervision they can become quite proficient at
lighting fires. Children are great at gathering wood. A note of
caution about burning found wood, however: Make sure you inspect the
wood. Scrap plywood gives off toxic fumes, as does wood that has been
painted or coated with urethane. Make sure the wood you are burning
has not been coated with creosote. Creosote is a dark, often tarry
preservative and is commonly found on wood washed up on the beach.
Its fumes are toxic, and when burned, the treated wood creates a
smoky, stinky blaze. Creosote is easy to identify by its smell, which
resembles that of turpentine or paint thinner.

Egg Carton Fire Starters
You will need:
paraffin wax or beeswax (old candle stubs work great for this)
the bottom halves of cardboard egg cartons
sawdust, pine needles, scraps of cotton material, dry pinecones, or
shredded paper
scissors
a pot
Reuse all those old candle ends in this practical, convenient fire
project. Stuff each cardboard egg holder with sawdust or other
flammable material. Melt the wax in a pot, over low to medium heat.
When the wax is melted, carefully pour the wax into each depression
in the egg cartons. Make sure the wax does not overflow. Let cool.
After the wax has cooled down, use scissors to cut the fire starters
apart from each other, leaving the hardened wax inside its cardboard
shell. To use, set one or two fire starters in your fireplace,
surround with kindling and larger wood, and light. The fire starters
will keep burning long enough to light even the most stubborn logs.

Fire Safety
Never leave candles lit and a blazing fire unattended. It is a good
idea to have a pail of water or a fire extinguisher close at hand
when having a fire. If you often light fires at your home, try
growing an aloe vera plant, or keep some of the pure gel on hand in
the fridge, to use as first aid for burns. Fires at the beach are
popular in all seasons, and eliminate some of the risks of fires in
the woods or in the meadow. Few people are aware of how to extinguish
a beach fire safely, however. Covering up a beach fire with sand
actually insulates the coals, keeping them burning through the night.
Those hidden coals will still be red-hot in the morning waiting for
an unsuspecting person to step on them. Always douse a beach fire with
water – seawater works as well as fresh water – until there are no
more live coals. Wait for the steam to clear; then using a stick,
turn over all the coals to make sure no smoldering coals remain.

Candle Hat
One holiday tradition in Scandinavian countries is for the girls to
wear garlands in their hair that hold a circle of lit candles and
bless the light’s return. We’ve adapted this candle custom to honor
the returning light for Brigit. These paper hats are a simple and
safe variation. Draw an inner circle on a 9-inch paper plate, about
an inch from the rim. Next draw very light lines dividing the circle
into quarters. Draw four rectangular candle shapes, keeping the
dividing lines as guides for the candles’ centers. The rectangles
will meet in the center of the plate in a small square. Cut out the
candle shapes, preserving their connection to the ring at the rim.
This connection serves as the base of the candle. Bend candles
from their base to stand upright. Decorate candles with markers,
crayons and glitter. use the discarded plate material to cut flame
shapes. Color them bright flame colors, then glue or staple them to
the top of the candles.

Brigit Candles
You will need:
1 recipe salt dough clay
a bowl of water
8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper, one for each candle
wax paper, cut into 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheets, one for each candle tape
1 T vegetable oil
toothpicks
small bowl
candle making supplies
Honor Brigit with new special candles. These candles use molds made
from coiled salt dough ropes so that each completely unique candle
bears the spiral imprint of the coil.

Taper Candles
Make ropes by rolling salt dough clay between your hands. Each rope
should be two or three feet long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. If
younger children can’t manage such lengths, have them make smaller
segments that can be joined later with a little pressure and water.
Dip your fingers into the bowl of water occasionally if the dough
tends to crack. Roll the paper into a 1 inch wide cylinder and tape
it shut. Around this cylinder, tape a piece of wax paper. Coat the
wax paper with a thin layer of oil. Lightly moisten a salt dough rope
with water. Lay the paper cylinder on its side at one end of the
rope. Roll it along the dough, wrapping the rope up the cylinder
until it is six inches tall. Be sure the edges of the coiled rope
always touch. To provide extra support, at intervals stick several
toothpicks vertically through the coils. Make a bottom for the mold by
shaping another piece of salt dough into a 3/4 inch thick circle
that’s larger than the coiled tower in diameter. Moisten the bottom’s
surface, then carefully lift the coiled tower onto the bottom piece
and press gently to make a seal. Pull the paper cylinder out. This
slides out easily, leaving the wax paper. Remove it by gently tugging
on the wax paper with one hand while you support the clay coils with
the others. Inspect each part of the mold, looking for tiny cracks
where melted wax could leak. Press these shut. If the coils start to
sag, quickly fashion a paper cylinder around the outside of the coils
and tape it closed. Trim it to the same height as the clay, so it
won’t get in the way when you are pouring wax. Set the mold in
an empty bowl, in case wax leaks through. You are ready to pour.
Pouring the wax is thrilling. Go very slowly up each level to make
sure no wax is leaking through. If a leak appears, carefully pinch it
shut and pour again. Insert the wick. The wax will harden within an
hour, long before the clay dries. To unmold, just unwind the clay. If
some sticks, soak the candle in cool water and then gently rinse off
the clay. The candles have a wonderfully craggy spiral looping from
bottom to top, and burn with a lovely strong flame.

Beehive Candles
You can also make beehive candles with great success by coiling ropes
of salt dough in a small, deep bowl. A rice bowl is the perfect size.
It’s easier to start with making a spiral, about 3 inches across,
outside of the bowl, then transferring this into the bottom of the
bowl. Next coil the rope inside the bowl until you reach the top. The
candle is burned with the dome side up, so the wick has to be
extended through the wax at the bottom of the bowl. When the wax is
firm enough to insert the wick, use a slightly larger straw than
usual, and push it firmly through the candle, into the dough beneath,
straight to the bottom of the bowl. The candle unmolds easily: Lift
candle and mold from the bowl and uncoil the mold.

Brigit Candleholder
To echo the Goddess’s symbol of the serpent, make this candleholder,
which resembles a coiled snake. Follow directions for making a mold
for taper candles, with the following differences:
1. Size your holder by wrapping a paper cylinder around whatever
candle you intend to use. Remove candle before proceeding further.
2. Dough ropes should be about 1/2 inch wide and a foot long. If
candleholder is taller than 4 inches, use toothpicks for extra
support.
3. Make the bottom by coiling a rope into a small circle. 4. After
the paper cylinder has been removed, use your candle to gently test
of the open end of the candleholder is large enough to accommodate
the candle. If it’s too small, delicately press the opening wider. If
it’s too large, fill in with bits of salt dough.
5 Bake the holder as directed. Turn after the first hour to be sure
it does not stick to the pan.
6 Cool completely after baking. Then paint with snaky patterns,
finishing with eyes on the end of the top coil.

 

(from “Circle Round” By Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill

 

Courtesy of Witches Moon

 

Categories: Daily Posts, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,543 other followers