An example of a Samhain Ancestors altar.
Endings and Beginnings
The thrid and final harvest festival, also know as “The Witches’ New Year” celebrates both the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. On this day, the veil between the world is at its thinnest, and so we use this time to speak to those who have come before us: our ancestors, our beloved dead, all who are no longer with us. Some celebrate with a Dumb Supper, a traditional meal eaten in complete silence, with plates set out for those we have lost. Others set up a special altar with candles honoring the dead, often decorated with pictures or tokens to represent esch individual. Some use this night for divination, which is enhanced as the veil is thin.
This is bittersweet holiday when we say good bye to those we’ve lost in the year gone past as well as mourn whatever goals we didn’t achieve. But it is also a celebration of the coming year, full of hope and anticipation. We wipe the slate clean, dancing around a bonfire in celebration of the Goddess in her Crone persona; full of wisdom and ready to sustain us as we move into the darkness of winter. She teaches us that the dark is nothing to fear, only a quite place where we can rest until we are ready to begin again.
Copyright Deborah Blake Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2015 Page 113
Dowsing Tools You Can Make & Use
MAKING A WALKING STICK, STAFF OR STANG
It is no coincidence that wizards and shamans everywhere are depicted with a staff, though its purpose is very rarely understood – it is not a fancy walking stick or an accessory to make the magician look more imposing. The staff is a portable world tree or cosmic mundi, which connects the magician to the three realms of the heavens, middle earth and the underworld.
The stang is a forked staff that represents the Horned God when placed in the circle. Cut the wood in winter when the sap is down. Remove any side twigs and branches. Leave the bark or remove as desired, burn on patterns with a soldering iron or a heated knitting needle. Allow the stick to dry out for several months before varnishing, if wished.
Use twigs from the birch cut in the spring for the broom part, an ash pole for the shaft. The shaft should be smoothed and sanded. Carve a point in one end and bore a hole a couple of inches from this point. Insert a wooden peg into this. Gather the birch twigs around this and tie on the binding above and below the peg so that it is held on safely. Cut willow for tying when the tree is in leaf. Split these and put in hot water for 20 minutes to make them pliable.
Cottages up and down the country were once lit with home-made rush lights, rather than candles or lamps. They are easily made from rushes with white spongy centres such as Juncus effuses. Soak them in water for six or seven hours and leave to dry outdoors in the sun. Peel the skin on one side, leaving it on the other. Heat wax in a dipping container and dip the rushes one at a time, allowing the wax to set in between each dipping. Aim to dip them four or five times in all. Clip the rushlight to the side of a bottle or candlestick using a bulldog clip.
Many of the folk names for mullein, such as Hag Taper and Candlewick Plant, are a reference to the fact that it was used as a wick before the introduction of cotton. Dried pieces of the stalk were dipped into suet, tallow or pitch and used as candles. In Britain in the Middle Ages the stalks were dipped in suet to burn at funerals.
Hearth Witch (The Eight Paths of Magic)
The cunning man was consulted in order to find lost objects, and often used dowsing to achieve this. Dowsing is the intuitive use of pendulums or rods to locate things and energies or answer questions. It is an art almost anyone can master. Cunning men often used pendulums, either directly dowsing over a specified location for a dropped ring for example, or over a map. Dowsing may also be used to identify power spots, earth energies and ley lines, either in situ or on a map. It may be used to pick out a useful crystal or other object from a collection and so on and so on.
Dowsing is usually done with a pendulum, a forked stick or L rods. The forked hazel stick is most often used to locate water, the forks held in the hands. The tip of the stick will go down when the dowser locates his objective.L rods consist of two bent pieces of metal held in the hands which swing together when the objective is encountered. They are used to locate water, minerals, ley lines, earth energies and illness in the body. They can easily be made by cutting a section from a metal coat hanger about 9 inches long, plus one of the bends and four or five inches after the bend. You will need two of these. Hold the shorter pieces loosely in the hands pointing in front of you, parallel. Try walking over a spot where you have placed a bowl of water. The two rods should cross over each other of their own accord, then move back out as you clear it.
Pendulums are valuable divinatory tools and a pendulum is nothing more than a balanced weight on the end of a thread or fine chain. It does not need to be crystal, gold plated or expensive. One of the most successful dowsers I know uses a button. A wedding ring or sewing needle attached to a length of sewing thread has been used for centuries to try to determine the sex of a newborn baby – rotating for a girl and swinging to and fro for a boy. The method was used commercially in the nineteenth century, with a small device containing a miniature pendulum, for sexing chickens whilst still in the egg.
To use a pendulum you must determine your own responses. For some a ‘yes’ response will be a clockwise swing, for others the pendulum will go back and forth. Ask it some questions you know the answers to and determine the result.
Pendulums are extremely easy to make. Take a length of wire. Starting at the top and leaving an inch spare, wrap the wire around your chosen weight lengthways and bring it back up to the top. Twist the two ends and bring the longer end down around the weight again at 90 degrees from the first. Bring it to the top once more, twist again with the other end and fashion the remaining wire into a ring by wrapping it twice around a small knitting needle and cut of any excess. Thread the cord or chain through this ring and you have a pendulum.
Hearth Witch (The Eight Paths of Magic)
(This is just one type of Holly bush. There are a few different varieties.)
The holly was a deeply masculine symbol to the Celts, one that represented the God and his polarity with the Goddess. Its magical and ritual uses are numerous, and so are its gifts.
Often we don’t know what it is we really need. We’re usually pretty sure we know what we want, but when we get it we end up reminded of the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.”
During the Holly Moon, approach the as the embodiment of your father God, and ask if you may take a sprig of the plant. Place it under your pillow for the next seven night. As you ready yourself to fall asleep, pray to the God for enlightenment. Look to your dreams for answers. During the day be aware of things you haven’t noticed before or opportunities that present themselves unexpectedly.
Copyright Edian McCoy Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2004 Page 83
Over a century ago, the musical play H.M.S. Pinafore debuted on the London stage. On of the songs from the score insisted that “Things are seldom what they seem.” These words personify the hawthorn–a tree that in folklore, is much more than what it seems. Even in modern Ireland you’d be hard pressed to find someone willing to move or harm one for fear of upsetting the capricious fairy sprites who call it home.
When you need to know what is what, call upon the spirit of the hawthorn to assist you:
Fairies of the hawthorn I ask,
A favor and simple task;
Show me what is false and true,
And I will give a gift to you.
When you’ve received a vision of your answer, tie a pretty ribbon on the bush or plant a coin near its base in thanks.
Copyright Edian McCOy Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2004 Page 67
Posted in Book of Spells, Coven Life, Divination, Divination Spells
Tagged Celtic, Divination, Fairies, hawthorn tree, Ireland, Pagan, Wicca, Witchcraft
The water-loving willow tree is sacred to the goddesses of the night and is ruled by the Moon. We can use its power to enhance our native psychic abilities.
Find a willow and sit at its base. Meditate on opening your psychic centers. Ask the tree whether it’s willing to help you. If it is, stand and press your forehead against its bark while concentrating on an issue or unanswered question you have on your mind.
Allow yourself to fall into a deep a meditative state as you safely can, and open yourself to the power of the willow. You will get answered. You should also ask the tree to show you what you need, not just what you want.
Thw willow governs creativity, and it can help you finish that sonata you’ve been composing, overcome writer’s block, give you fresh ideas for a painting or sculpture, or show you a new way to move as you dance.
Copyright Edian McCoy Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2004
Dice in the Moon Divination
You will need a large white piece of paper, a writing pen, and three dice.
On the piece of paper draw a circle, representing the moon. Lay the paper down on a flat surface, and before rolling the dice, determine what question you want to ask. Ask your favorite moon goddess such as Akupera (Hindu) or Diana (Roman) to bless the dice, then cast the dice into the circle and count up their total. Any dice falling outside the circle of moon must be recast. The following list gives each number’s divination meaning.
3 Good luck and good fortune
4 Disillusionment and disappointment
5 Someone will bring you happiness
6 Family and home issues
7 Beware of scandal and lies
8 Money matters and finances
9 Love is coming to you
10 Spiritual gains
11 Illness or injury
12 Secrecy and possible betrayal
13 Success will be yours
14 Helpful friends
15 Be cautious
16 Time for taking a journey
17 You will meet strangers with good advice
18 You will attain your goals
Wiccan Spell A Night: Spells, Charms, And Potions For The Whole Year