Magickal Goody of the Day
Homemade Paper for Your Grimoire
The basis of a handmade paper is pulp. You can make pulp from almost any kind of paper, but avoid using any paper with a glossy surface, such as pages out of magazines. These are treated with chemicals and unsuitable for the purpose of recycled papermaking. Remember, just because something is recycled, this in no way has any adverse affect on the quality.
– Paper, such as tissue, computer paper, writing or typing paper, paper bags
– A bucket
– Cold, clean water (add a few drops of Florida water or rose water)
– Two wooden frames; these can be picture frames, but the corners must be tight and secured
– A piece of mesh (net curtaining or window screen) to fit in frames; the finer the mesh, the smoother the paper
– Tablespoon or ladle
– Large plastic bowl (big enough to easily accommodate the frames)
– Liquid laundry starch
– Optional: dried or fresh flowers, leaves, or bits of lace; food coloring or dyes suitable for cotton fabrics; anything for added color that pleases you
– Palette knife or butter knife
– Absorbent cloths, such dish towels or Handi-Wipes (one for each page of paper you intend to make)
– Heavy book, chopping block, or brick
– Optional: A pentacle, an ankh, an eight-pointed star, or an amulet that you normally wear on your person, to be used as an embossing tool
1. Tear the paper into postage stamp-size pieces and soak the pieces overnight in a plastic bucket of cold, clean water. You can make this first step into a magical practice by adding a few drops of Florida water or rose water to the water in the bucket and by asking the Goddess to bless your work. As you tear the paper into bits, focus your energy into the paper and make your intentions known by reciting the following: “Goddess, bless this endeavor of art. By my hand, let the transformation begin so that your presence be known in the world for the benefit of all. So mote it be.”
2. Stretch the mesh over one of the frames and staple it so that it’s very taut. This covered frame will be used to pick up the pulp and keep it flat. If the mesh is loose, the paper will be saggy and difficult to remove from the frame. The empty frame will be held on top of the mesh frame and will give your paper a nice edge. Set the frames aside until step 6.
3. After your paper has soaked overnight, pour off the excess water and begin transferring the pulp into a blender, spoonful by spoonful.
4. Add water until the pitcher of the blender is no more than three-quarters full. Run the blender for about fifteen seconds, and then check the pulp to make sure it is broken down evenly. If necessary, stir the pulp and then run the blender for another five seconds.
5. Gently pour the pulp into the plastic bowl. At this point, you can add a spoonful of liquid laundry starch to the pulp. This will make your paper absorb the ink better, so there will be less of a tendency for the ink to bleed when you are writing.
6. Stir the pulp gently and wait for the movement of the water to cease. At the moment when the water is still— but the pulp has not yet settled— hold the frames securely in your hands with the empty frame on top and the mesh frame with the mesh facing up directly underneath it. Slide the frames under the water in a smooth motion, scooping up a layer of pulp. It may take some practice to get the pulp evenly distributed over the mesh frame.
7. Keeping the frames steady and flat, lift them out of the water and allow the water to drain away. A layer of pulp should cover the mesh screen. Remove the empty frame.
8. Consider pressing herbs and flowers into the wet surface. Thinking about using this paper for a protection spell? Why not use a sprig of rosemary along the edges? Perhaps you have a love spell in mind. Adorn some of your pages with red rose petals. You can set aside the pages decorated with flowers and herbs for specific use within your grimoire. Use whatever your mind is inspired to create. Do you feel a special connection to the goddess Ariadne? Include some silken threads. Enchanted by faerie glamour? Sprinkle some glitter across the paper. Make it your own.
9. Carefully remove the paper from the frame while it is still wet. A palette knife or butter knife will be a useful tool for loosening the edges, or if you wish you can use your athame, consecrating each page as you make it.
10. Once you have removed the paper, lay it carefully on one half of the absorbent cloth and, without folding your page, fold the other half of the cloth over the paper to absorb the excess water. Continue stacking individual pages in this fashion, making sure layers of cloth alternate with sheets of paper.
11. Put something waterproof (like plastic wrap) at the top of the stack of paper, then place a heavy book or chopping block on the top. This will weigh the paper down and keep it flat while drying.
12. You can add magical energy to your paper by embossing magical symbols in it. Embossed paper is made by pressing an object into the paper while the paper is still wet, then removing the object. If you want a well-defined motif, leave the embossing tool there as the paper is weighted and do not remove it until the paper is completely dry.
Feel free to experiment. The more energy you put into creating your book of shadows, the more you will enjoy using it.
—Judy Ann Olsen, A Witch’s Grimoire, Create Your Own Book of Shadows
Incense of the Day
CRYSTAL PURIFICATION INCENSE
2 Parts Frankincense
2 Parts Coral
1 Part Sandalwood
1 Part Rosemary
1 Pich finely powdered salt
a small purified Quartz crystal point
To Use: Pour a bit of incense (leaving the crystal in the jar) onto charcoal. Smoulder and pass the crystal to be purified through the smoke wafting away the stones impurities. Naturally, this incense can be used in connection with the others recommended purifying rituals, or in place of them.
Gemstone of the Day
Herb of the Day
St. Johns Wort
Deity of the Day
Branwen, Daughter of Llŷr is a major character in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, which is sometimes called the Mabinogi of Branwen after her. Branwen is a daughter of Llŷr and Penarddun. She is married to the King of Ireland, but the marriage does not bring peace.
The story opens with Branwen’s brother Bendigeidfran (Brân the Blessed), King of Britain, sitting on a rock by the sea at Harlech and seeing the vessels of Matholwch King of Ireland approaching. Matholwch has come to ask for the hand of Bendigeidfran’s sister Branwen in marriage. Bendigeidfran agrees to this, and a feast is held to celebrate the betrothal. While the feast is going on, Efnisien, a half-brother of Branwen and Bendigeidgfran, arrives and asks why there are celebrations. On being told, he is furious that his half sister has been given in marriage without his consent, and vents his spleen by mutilating Matholwch’s horses. Matholwch is deeply offended, but conciliated by Bendigeidfran who gives him a magical cauldron which can bring the dead to life; he does not know that when the dead are brought back, they will be mute.
When Matholwch returns to Ireland with his new bride, he consults with his nobles about the occurrences in the Isle of the Mighty. They are outraged and believe that Matholwch was not compensated enough for the mutilation of his horses. In order to redeem his honor, Matholwch banishes Branwen to work in the kitchens. Branwen is treated cruelly by her husband Matholwch as punishment for Efnisien’s mutilation of the horses, though not before she gives birth to an heir, Gwern. She tames a starling and sends it across the Irish Sea with a message to her brother and Bendigeidfran brings a force from Wales to Ireland to rescue her. Some swineherds see the giant Bendigeidfrân wading the sea and report this to Matholwch, who retreats beyond a river and destroys the bridges. However, Bendigeidfran lays himself down over the river to serve as a bridge for his men, uttering the gnomic words, “A fo ben, bid bont” (‘He would be a leader, let him be a bridge”). Matholwch, fearing war, tries to reconcile with Bendigeidfran by building a house big enough for him to fit into in order to do him honour. Matholwch agrees to give the kingdom to Gwern, his son by Branwen, to pacify Bendigeidfran. The Irish lords do not like the idea, and many hide themselves in flour bags tied to the pillars of the huge newly built house to attack the Welsh. Efnisien, checking out the house prior to the arrival of Bendigeidfran and his men, guesses what is happening and kills the hidden men by squeezing their heads. At the subsequent feast to celebrate Gwern’s investiture as King of Ireland, Efnisien in an unprovoked moment of rage throws his nephew Gwern into the fire.
War against Ireland
In the ensuing war, all the Irish are killed save for five pregnant women that lived in Wales who repopulate the island, while only seven of the Welsh survive to return home with Branwen, taking with them the severed head of Bendigeidfran. On landing in Wales at Aber Alaw in Anglesey Branwen dies of grief that so much destruction had been caused on her account, crying “Oi, a fab Duw! Gwae fi o’m genedigaeth. Da o ddwy ynys a ddiffeithwyd o’m hachos i” (‘Oh Son of God, woe to me that I was born! Two fair islands have been laid waste because of me!’). She was buried beside the river Alaw.
Bendigeidfran had commanded his men to cut off his head and to “bear it even unto the White Mount, in London, and bury it there, with the face towards France.” And so for seven years his men spent feasting in Harlech, accompanied by three singing birds and Bendigeidfran’s head. After the seven years they go to Gwales in Penfro, where they remain for fourscore (80) years. Eventually they go to London and bury the head of Bendigeidfran in the White Mount. Legend said that as long as the head was there, no invasion would come over the sea to Britain.
At Llanddeusant, Anglesey on the banks of the Alaw can be found the cairn called Bedd Branwen, her supposed grave. Now in ruins, it still has one standing stone. It was dug up in 1800, and again in the 1960s by Frances Lynch, who found several urns with human ashes. It is believed that if the story of Branwen is based on real events, these must have taken place during the Bedd Branwen Period of Bronze Age British history.
- Never summon Anything you can’t banish.
- Never put asafoetida on the rocks in the sweat lodge.
- Do not attempt to walk more than 10 paces while wearing all of your ritual jewelry, dream bags and crystals at the same time.
- When proposing to initiate someone, do not mention the Great Rite, leer, and say, “Hey, your trad or mine?”
- Never laugh at someone who is skyclad. They can see you, too.
- Never, *ever* set the Witch on fire.
- Looking at nifty pictures is not a valid path to mastering the ancient grimoires. Please read thoroughly and carefully from beginning to end so that your madness and gibberings will at least make some sense.
- A good grasp of ritual and ritual techniques are essential! In the event of a random impaling, or other accidental death amongst the participants, (see next rule) a quick thinker can improvise to ensure successful completion of the Rite. Make them another sacrifice, Demons really love those those.
- Watch where you wave the sharp pointy items.
- Avoid walking through disembodied spirits.
- Carry an all-purpose translator’s dictionary in case the ritual leader begins talking in some strange and unknown language.
- Avoid joining your life force to anything with glowing red eyes.
- If asked to sign a contract or pact and you are experiencing doubts or reservations, sign your neighbor’s name. Malevolent entities rarely ask for photo ID.
- Blood IS thicker than water. Soak ritual garments an extra 30-45 minutes.
- While drunken weaving may be mistaken for ecstatic dancing, slurring the names of Deities is generally considered bad form.
- If the ritual leader should ask for a volunteer, resist the urge to raise your hand! While it is true that volunteering will most likely gain you stature and prestige amongst the group, thereby allowing you to advance quickly through the ranks, it is equally likely to get you strapped to a table and eaten alive by a drooling demonic horde.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2016 January 3
Explanation: On some nights, the sky is the best show in town. On this night, the sky was not only the best show in town, but a composite image of the sky won an international competition for landscape astrophotography. The featured winning image was taken in 2011 over Jökulsárlón, the largest glacial lake in Iceland. The photographer combined six exposures to capture not only two green auroral rings, but their reflections off the serene lake. Visible in the distant background sky is the band of our Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy. A powerful coronal mass ejection from the Sun caused auroras to be seen as far south as Wisconsin, USA. Solar activity over the past week has resulted in auroras just over the past few days.
Quadrantids best before dawn January 4
The annual Quadrantid shower is nominally active during the first week of January, and is best seen from northerly latitudes. However, peak activity lasts less than a day. So you need to be on the night side of Earth when this shower exhibits its relatively short peak to witness the Quadrantids. In 2016, we don’t expect the waning crescent moon to seriously obtrude on this meteor shower. So if you’re game, try watching between midnight and dawn on January 4.
This meteor shower favors the Northern Hemisphere. That’s because its radiant point – the point in the sky from which the meteors appear to radiate – is far to the north on the sky’s dome.
The Quadrantid meteor shower is capable of matching the meteor rates of the better known August Perseid and December Geminid showers. It has been known to produce up to 50-100 or more meteors per hour in a dark sky.
So why isn’t the Quadrantid shower as celebrated as the Perseid and Geminid showers? It’s because the Quadrantid shower has a narrow peak that lasts for only a few hours. If you miss the peak – which is easy to do – you won’t see many meteors.
If you’re thinking of watching the Quadrantids, do it. Meteor shower peaks are rarely certain, and sometimes a gamble on a shower will reward you with a good show. Just be aware you might not see a whole lot of meteors! No matter where you are in the Northern Hemisphere, the best time to watch is between midnight and dawn, local time. Fortunately, the waning crescent moon shouldn’t intrude too greatly on the January 2016 Quadrantid meteor shower!
The Quadrantid shower is named after the defunct 19th century constellation Quadrans Muralis. If you trace the paths of the Quandrantids backward, they appear to radiate from a point where this constellation once reigned in the sky. If you wish, you can locate the Quadrantid radiant in reference to the Big Dipper and the bright star Arcturus.
But you don’t need to find the radiant to enjoy the Quadrantids. You need a dark, open sky, and you need to look in a general north-northeast direction for an hour or so before dawn. That’s the Quadrantid meteor shower – from late night January 3 to dawn January 4, 2016 – for the world’s northerly latitudes. Who knows? This shower can produce up to 50 or more meteors per hour, but its peak is rather short and sweet. Just before dawn on January 4, the waning crescent moon will be rather close to Mars, and you can use the moon and Mars to guide you to three more morning planets. Jupiter shines to the west of the moon and Mars, and the planets Venus and Saturn sit low in the southeast during the dark hour before dawn.
Bottom line: If you’re extremely lucky – and at the right northerly location on the globe – perhaps you’ll see some Quadrantid meteors in the predawn hours on January 4.