One of Coven Life’s Elders thought, and I agree, that we should post a survey to help us help you to teach your children about The Craft. If you do not want to put your answers in a comment below please email them to email@example.com, please include your child’s age so we can post information by age groups. This whole idea of helping you to help your children learn is in the planning stages any ideas and/or suggestions to make it how you think will help our descendants to learn are very welcomed.
Bast (or Bastet, or Pasht) was the Egyptian goddess who appeared in cat form, The Egyptians highly revered cats; the word for cat, mau, also denotes light and was cognate with the word for mother. The cat is a lunar animal and also a solar animal representing the power of the sun as reflected in nature. Since the cat is an earth animal, BAst is also an earth mother goddess, a giver of life and abundance. In touch with her wild, instinctual nature, she is also a protector of women during childbirth. Like a cat, she is fiercely independent and belongs to no one but herself. Bast is one of the more joyful goddesses; her elaborate festivals in the town of Babustis were renowned for their joyful dancing. Embodying a cat’s gentler aspects, Bast is a personification of life and fruitfulness. The quintessential life-affirming mother, she reminds us to be playful and relaxed like a cat and to find occasions to celebrate life.
This comes from the book Witchcraft an Alternative Path by Ann Moura copyright 2003, pages 114-116.
The Psychology of Magic
“Because time is fluid in Witchcraft, seen as a spiral that may be accessed at any point, it is not difficult to work magic with the future results in mind. The subconscious mind is accessed for magical work, and it is also the place where all of the activities of daily life first take place. Because of how the neural transmitters function, and the distance run by nerve impulses, all things known by the conscious mind actually take place earlier and are only remembered consciously. In other words, there is a time lag between an event and a person’s cognitive awareness of that event. This is why a person may not realize the bath water is too hot until after being in it a few moments — it just takes a while to register on the conscious mind. Meanwhile, the subconscious mind is already aware of the temperature. Witches practice opening the communication channel with the subconscious mind, so that in the tub example, a Witch would be aware before stepping into the tub that it is too hot. Most people simply go through life without noticing discrepancy of time, except when something called deja vu (“already seen”) occurs, and then they wonder why a place or event seems so familiar or has happened before. This is a clue that time does indeed spiral and you dip into it at will.
Since in deja vu experience you seem to know in advance what will happen, if only a short time, you can alter the event. What may be somewhat amusing is the reaction of other people involved in the event. Since they are not connectively using the subconscious mind and not aware as quickly as yourself, you may find they want to react to something that has not happened, giving them a puzzled pause. As an example, I once averted a disastrous dinner argument by keeping silent during the experience when I knew that I was “supposed” to make an innocent remark, which led to a fight the first time around. When the time came for my remark, I did not make it and the conversation at the table stopped cold, everyone turning to look at me! But I had changed history and the table chat resumed without the argument.
When you start altering the future, you may have multiple deja vus of the same event or experience. The meaning of this is that you ran the course of the event, did not like things turned out, changed it, ran the course again, and still did not like the results, so you are giving it another try or realigning the events prior to the deja vu to make the results more satisfactory. Another aspect, which you will begin to recognize with experience, is that there is a variation in the deja vu from what you knew it once was. That means your prior change has worked, and you are given a second chance with the new arrangement. This facet of time manipulation is characteristic of the Witch’s development of subconscious awareness. Witches are people who have refined their ability to process precognitive stimuli and hold on to it so they are able to then alter events before these even register on the conscious minds of other people.
The fluidity of time makes it possible for you to manipulate it so that you can stretch it out, making certain you are never late to any destination. the raising of energy you are working magic, the conscious mind is silenced or relaxed so the subconscious mind may come forward as the active principle. Doing drumming, breath work, chanting, and dancing during the raising of energy when in the Circle is a way to move yourself into an altered state. Drugs and alcohol are not good for this since these inhibit your awareness. When working magic, the subconscious mind creates the reality, which will then be perceived by the conscious mind.
To be a Witch, you have to be ready to live in multiple layers of reality with multiple worlds (Physical, astral, psychic, spiritual, etc.) since these are what you access when practicing your Craft. These worlds exist and are approached with mediation, astral projection, out of body experience, visits to Otherworld or Underworld, pathworking and spell casting. IN the ritual of casting the Circle, you create a space not only to hold the energy you raise, but one that is apart from the rest of the physical world. When you draw the cosmic lemiscate () over the altar, and say that you are standing between worlds, you say you are “in a place that is not a place, and in a time that is not a time” as a reminder for the subconscious mind to be open. You stand at the nexus of other worlds, where the magic you conduct may travel to affect your physical world.
Let’s Talk Witch – How to Cleanse Your Living Space
Clear away any clutter that’s collected on floors or surfaces. Recycle those stacks of newspapers, throw away those old bills, and send out that dirty laundry.
Using an old cloth or your broom, dust the corners of your ceilings for cobwebs. Dust the tops of your curtains and windowsills as well.
Starting at the doorway of your house, sweep the floors in a generally clockwise direction. Sweeping is an excellent example of practical magic, cleansing on both a physical and spiritual level.
Be sure to take the dustcan with you as you sweep. As my mother used to say “bring the garbage to the dustpile, not the dustpile to the garbage.”
Once you’ve finished sweeping, fill the bucket about halfway with hot water and floor cleaner. I recommend Murphy’s wood oil soap, or a pine-scented cleaner.
Add a few drops of the pine oil and eucalyptus oil to the bucket of water. Crumble up a leaf or two of sage and add that as well. Drop the pennies in.
Say a little prayer over the water to the God of your own understanding. Ask that your house be blessed, peaceful, and harmonious.
Starting again at the door of your house, mop the floors in a generally clockwise direction. Envision the charmed water clearing away old, muddy energy and leaving your house sparkling and new.
When you discard the old mop water, be sure to save the pennies from the bottom of the bucket. Wash them under warm tap water and say a blessing over them.
Now, place the pennies in the outer four corners of your house, beginning in the north and moving clockwise. Ask the spirits of the four directions to make your home safe, secure, and prosperous.
Using the lemon-scented polish, lovingly polish any wooden furniture in your house. Once again, envision old vibrations being cleared away.
Light your sage or sweetgrass and smudge the outer corners of each room, moving once again in a clockwise direction.
If this feels comfortable, use either your athame or the index finger of the hand you write with to sketch a pentacle in the air over each door and window of your house, envisioning the opening sealed against unwanted energies.
Pagans believe that moving clockwise (“deosil”) invokes and that moving counterclockwise (“widdershins”) banishes.
If you have wall-to-wall carpeting or are very allergic to dust, you can perform this ritual with a vaccuum cleaner instead of a broom. Simply sprinkle a small amount of the charmed water (minus floor cleaner!) on the carpet.
You may wish to chant softly to yourself while cleaning. Any simple, rhyming chant will do. Here’s one example: “Gunk away, good stuff stay.”
When I smudge, I like to chant the names of the Goddess to myself: “Isis Astarte Diana, Hecate Demeter Kali, Innaana.”
Feel free to experiment with what you place in your mop water. I also like to use rose oil (love) and patchouly oil (prosperity).
Symbols Of Magick
Although you can carry out rituals using absolutely anything, you may like to create a special set of
symbols for a variety of rituals. These you can keep in a separate box within your main store of magick
artefacts so they do not get scattered or broken.
You may include a thimble to symbolise domestic affairs, a tiny padlock for security at home, a
wooden toy boat for travel, a silver locket for fidelity, a key charm for a house, tiny painted wooden
eggs for fertility in any venture – just to suggest a few. You can also use small fabric dolls to represent
people, for example in a love spell.
Tarot cards also provide excellent symbols for magick: the Emperor for power, the Empress for
fertility, the Ten of Pentacles for prosperity, the Lovers for romance, the World or the Eight of Wands
for travel, Temperance for harmony, Justice for matters of law, etc. Even if you do not use Tarot cards
for divination, a brilliantly illustrated pack, such as the Rider Waite or the Morgan Greer, will by their
pictures suggest all kinds of images for your work. My book Tarot Talks to the Woman Within
(Quantum, 2000) contains many examples of Tarot spells and in spite of its title, the book is very male-
friendly. The Tarot is also very portable.
You may also find a supply of white clay useful for creating impromptu symbols and if the clay is soft
you can empower it with written words or symbols. I am not suggesting you create waxen images of
the kind you see in B-movies, and I certainly don’t want you to collect nail clippings or hair in an
attempt to harm anyone in any way; this is merely a representation of a person or desired object. It may
be possible to find a natural source of clay.
A beach near my home provides me with an abundant supply. You can also buy the natural, untreated
potters’ material. After using the clay in a ritual, you can return it to the soil. Clay is especially good in
binding spells or banishing spells when the actions to be bound or the destructive habit are to be reabsorbed by the Earth. It is also excellent in group rituals as a number of people can mould into it their collective energies.
The Substances Of Magick
The substances of magick for formal rituals are the same as those used in informal magick. I have
already described their magical associations in informal spells and in ritual magick the correspondences in colour and fragrance are exactly the same. Each is set in its own quarter of the circle and used to charge the focus of the ritual with power. They can also be used for empowering and cleansing your ritual tools.
If you make your own candles or incense for your rituals, you can endow energies by chanting the
purpose for which they are being made. Some practitioners prepare their ritual substances the day or
the evening before the ceremony, at the right planetary or angelic hour for its purpose. But you do not
need to do this – the days of apprentices and long hours devoted to a single ritual are gone and even the
most complex ceremony need take no more than an hour, many much less.
Salt rituals are among the oldest forms of magick and salt can form the focus of magick for health and
prosperity ceremonies as well as for psychic protection. The kind used is most usually sea salt and
represents the Earth element. It should be kept covered and separate from domestic salt and it must be
empowered before use.
The salt should be placed on the altar to the left of your Earth ritual tools, in a small ceramic dish with
a silver spoon. Use new salt for each ritual and tip any remaining into flowing water, watching it
carrying away your wishes to fruition.
A very simple crescent moon ritual for attracting money involves piling magically charged salt in a
central cone, surrounding this with coins and filling them all with power. Then take the empowered
coins and leave them in an open jar in the moonlight until the full moon. On the day after the full
moon, spend them on giving happiness to others.
After the ritual, dissolve the salt in sacred water and tip it into a flowing source of water to get the
money energies moving.
In a formal ritual for the same purpose, focus the energies by casting a formal circle, inviting the
guardians of the elements (see page 200) to lend their power to the endeavour. Pass the elemental
tools, incense, candles and water over the salt and money, thus concentrating the energies. Dissolve
and tip the salt away in a tub of water that has been swirled nine times to get the power flowing as the
climax of the ritual. The difference is one of degree of intensity.
Incense is placed in the East of the altar to the left of the ritual tools.
Incense is, as well as an elemental substance, an easy but powerful way of marking the boundaries
between the everyday world and the magick. Frankincense, myrrh or sandalwood is sometimes burned
on the altar before a ceremony to purify the area, especially if the room is used for other purposes, and
to raise the vibrations from the mundane to the more spiritual. If you are using the granular kind you
burn on charcoal, you will need a censer, but a bowl containing sand will serve for incense sticks or
As the incense is burned, so the energies are released.
All rituals and spells use a number of candles but they are particularly significant in formal magick. I
will repeat very briefly the basic information you need for a formal ritual, but you might like to read
through again Chapter 5, as candles are such an important part of magic.
You will need one or two altar candles in white, cream or natural beeswax. From the altar candle(s),
you will light all the other candles used in your rituals. If you have only one, it will stand in the centre.
If two, they are usually placed symmetrically to the right and left of the altar, the god candle on the left
and the goddess candle on the right.
You will also need four elemental candles, to represent Fire, Air, Water and Earth, in appropriate
colours, though if you are carrying out a ceremony in which the power of one element predominates,
you could use four candles of this same element. If you are working entirely on the altar, these can be
small candles, placed in a line nearer to the perimeter. More usually, however, the candles mark the
outer perimeter of the circle at the four compass points. You can, place these on small tables or plinths,
or have floor-standing candle-holders.
Green is for Earth, midnight, winter and the North. Place the candle at the 12 o’clock position on a
clock, aligned with magnetic North (use a compass if necessary).
Yellow is for Air, dawn, spring and the East. Place the candle at the three o’clock position.
Red, orange or gold is for Fire, noon, summer and the South. Place the candle in the six o’clock
Blue is for Water, dusk, autumn and the West. Place the candle in the nine o’clock position.
Light elemental candles after the altar candles if they are within the circle, but before any wish or
astrological candles, and begin in the North. If you wish, you can light each candle as its Guardian of
the Quarter is invoked (see page 200) and thus called in the ascending flame.
You may also use a candle to represent the petitioner in the ritual. This may be yourself or the person
for whom you are performing a ritual. The candle should be in the appropriate zodiacal colour
according to the petitioner’s birth date and one the colour of the need.
In love rituals, light two candles, one for each lover, and place them slightly in front of the altar
candle(s): the male lover’s candle should be placed next to the goddess candle and the female’s by the
god candle, if applicable.
If you have a central cauldron, you can stand any candles of need or petitioners’ candles in it.
Usually candles are so powerful that they are already full of magical energies, However, in more
formal and elaborate magical ceremonies, you may wish to inscribe or anoint those candles
representing a need or person with either olive oil or a ready-prepared, fragrant, anointing.
Carving your wishes and intentions into a candle endows the candle with your special energies and as
you etch each letter or symbol, these energies become concentrated.
If you anoint a candle, you should engrave it afterwards, although you may feel that inscribing it is
sufficient. Engraving candles is not difficult, but you must use a very light touch and choose good quality candles. Beeswax is not so easy to inscribe, but because it is very malleable, you can push tiny
symbols, such as coins, etc., into the wax or you can buy sheets of beeswax and even if you do not
fashion your own candles, you can add tiny beeswax symbols. You can also buy beeswax candles – and
some ordinary ones – in different shapes, for example entwined lovers for a love ritual, or a beehive for
Anointing Candles With Oil
You can anoint, or dress, candles with scented oil or use candles that have fragrance already added.
When you anoint candles with oils, they become more flammable, so you need to be extra cautious
about sparks. For safety, stand your candlesticks on a fireproof tray.
Generally, the anointing is performed in silence. You can use virgin olive oil for dressing candles for
any need. Some people add a pinch of salt for purification and life-giving properties.
Before beginning, pour a small quantity of the oil into a clear glass or ceramic dish and gently swirl it
nine times deosil with a ceramic or glass spoon, visualising light pouring into it and endowing it with
healing and magical energies. You need use only a small quantity as the anointing action is symbolic.
Rub the oil into the candle in an upward motion, starting in the middle of your candle. Use a
previously unlit candle as this will not have absorbed any energies apart from those with which you
endow it. Rub in only one direction, concentrating on the purpose of your ritual. See the qualities of
your oil and your need entering the candle.
Then, starting in the middle again, rub the candle downwards, again concentrating on your goal. A few
practitioners will rub from base to top for attracting magick and from top to bottom for banishing
magick; it is also usual to use a white candle for attracting energies and a black for banishing.
By physically touching the candle with the oil, it is said that you are charging the candle with your
personal vibrations so that when it is lit, it becomes an extension of your mental power and life energy.
If the candle represents another person and they are present, ask them to anoint their own candle.
If you light a candle for a formal ritual on successive days, you should re-anoint the candle each time,
visualising the partial completion of the goal.
Water represents its own element and stands in the West in a dish to the left of the chalice. See page
163 for instructions on how to make and empower sacred water. You can also use water to which rose
petals have been added or you can float lavender or rose essential oil on top (this water should not be
—Practical Guide to Witchcraft and Magic Spells By Cassandra Eason
The Tools Of Ritual Magick
Formal ritual magick requires its own special tools. These may be real or symbolic.
The list I give here is intended only as a guide: some of these may not be relevant to your own way of working. I have listed the areas of the circle in which each tool is traditionally placed. There are many sources of magical tools and, as I mentioned in the section on spells, you may already have a number in your home. You do not need to spend a great deal of money unless you wish, but I would suggest that you take time in finding the right items. Even if you work in a group, you may like to build up a set for your own personal work.
Some people prefer to make their own magical tools and this certainly does endow them with energies. I have suggested books that tell you how to make your own candles for special ceremonies and even your own knife. Woodcarvers are an excellent source for small staves suitable as wands and will often make items to order. In time, you will build up a collection of items and by personalising and charging them, you make them not only powerful, but also your own.
Keep your magical tools in a special place, separate from your everyday household items, wrapped in a natural fabric. You can buy excellent hessian bags and may wish to keep fragile or items that will scratch in separate ones. You can also use silk. Secure your bags with three protective knots.
You may have heard various warnings about needing to destroy charged tools on the demise of the owner, and the dire consequences of their being touched by any outsider. This is real late-night-cinema stuff. But common sense dictates that you should not leave knives, sharp wands, etc. where children might harm themselves and on the whole it is better to keep magical items away from the curious and the sceptical.
There is really no reason why you should not use your kitchen knife for cutting vegetables and then, after a quick purification in water or incense, chop herbs in an impromptu spell, or open your circle with it. But on the whole it is better to keep a separate knife for your special ceremonies.
I believe that even formal tools are like electrical devices that are lying unplugged and unused: they contain the potential to help or harm only if misused. What is more, without your personal vibes, which act as your password, the power cannot flow; you have not created an independent life form.
The following tools are commonly used in formal magick.
An athame is, quite simply, a ceremonial knife. It is one of the ritual tools that entered the tradition through the influence of magicians and witches who set out the wisdom, mainly at the beginning of the twentieth century and in the upsurge of covens during the 1950s. Gerald Gardener, one of the founding fathers of Wicca, considered ritual knives and swords of prime importance in modern formal witchcraft.
You can obtain an athame from a specialist magical shop, but as I said before, any knife – even a letter opener – will do, although it should preferably have a silver-coloured blade. Athames are traditionally double-edged and black-handled, but a single-edged blade is better if you are new to magick, to avoid unintentional cuts.
There is a vast array of scouting and craft knives available, with black wooden handles on which you can engrave magical symbols such as your zodiacal and planetary glyphs with a pyrographic set obtained from an art shop. You can also paint moons, stars, spirals, suns, or crosses with silver paint. I use a curved-bladed knife with a silver engraved scabbard, which I bought from a souvenir shop in Spain.
The athame is set in the East of the altar and represents the element of Air. Like the sword, it is traditionally used for drawing magical circles on the ground and directing magical Air energies into a symbol. When you are casting a circle, you can point your athame diagonally towards the ground, so that you do not need to stoop to draw (which is not very elegant and bad for the back). With practice, the movement becomes as graceful as with a sword.
The athame can also be used as a conductor of energy, especially in solitary rituals, being held above the head with both hands to draw down light and energy into the body. This uses the same principle as that of arching your arms over your head to create a light body as described on page 124. One method of releasing the power is then to bring the athame down with a swift, cutting movement, horizontally at waist level, then thrust it away from the body and upwards once more to release this power. If others are present, direct the athame towards the centre of the circle. After the ritual you can drain excess energies by pointing the athame to the ground.
An athame may be used to invoke the elemental Guardian Spirits by drawing a pentagram in the air and for closing down the elemental energies after the ritual. With its cutting steel of Mars, it is effective in power, matters of the mind, change, action, justice, banishing magick, protection and for cutting through inertia and stagnation. The athame is sometimes also associated with the Fire element.
If you don’t like the idea of a full-sized athame, there are some lovely paper knives in the shape of swords or with animal or birds’ heads.
Some covens give each of their members a tiny athame, to be used for drawing down energies during ceremonies. The main athame is used by the person leading the ritual who may draw the circle, open all four quarters and close them after the ritual.
An athame with a white handle is used for cutting wands, harvesting herbs for magick or healing, carving the traditional Samhain jack-o’-lantern, and etching runes and other magical or astrological symbols on candles and talismans. Some practitioners believe that you should never use metal for cutting herbs but instead pull them up, shred them and pound them in a mortar and pestle, kept for the purpose. Pearl-handled athames are considered to be especially magical.
Like the athame, the sword stands in the East of the circle as a tool of the Air element. Swords are the suit symbol of Air in the Tarot and are also one of the Christian as well as the Celtic Grail treasures.
Each of the Tarot suits and the main elemental ritual items in magick, represented by these four suits, is associated with one of the treasures of the Celts. The treasures belonged to the Celtic Father God, Dagda, and are said to be guarded in the Otherworld by Merlin. There were 13 treasures in total, but four have come into pre-eminence in magick and Tarot reading.
These four main sacred artefacts – swords, pentacles, wands and cups, or chalices – have parallels in Christianity and were associated with the legendary quest of the knights of King Arthur, who attempted to find them. The Grail Cup was the most famous of these. The Christian sword of King David, identified in legend with Arthur’s sword Excalibur, appears in Celtic tradition as the sword of Nuada whose hand was cut off in battle.
With a new hand fashioned from silver, he went on to lead his people to victory. According to one account, the Christian treasures were brought in AD 64 to Glastonbury in England by Joseph of Arimathea, the rich merchant who caught Christ’s blood in the chalice as He was on the cross and took care of His burial after the crucifixion.
Some present-day, peace-loving witches, myself included, do not really like the concept of using swords, even though they are pretty spectacular for drawing out a circle on a forest floor, and swords are rarely used in home ritual magick. If you do want to use one, however, you can obtain reproduction ceremonial swords.
The sword is the male symbol to the female symbol of the cauldron, and plunging the swords into the waters of the cauldron can be used in love rituals and for the union of male and female, god and goddess energies as the culmination of any rite. However, the chalice and the athame, or wand, tend to be used for the same purpose, unless it is a very grand ceremony.
The bell stands in the North of the circle and is an Earth symbol. It is an optional tool and can be made from either crystal or protective brass. Best for magick is the kind that you strike.
The bell is traditionally rung nine times at the beginning and close of each ritual; the person ringing the bell should stand in the South of the circle, facing North. (Nine is the magical number of completion and perfection.) It is also rung to invoke the protection of angels or the power of a deity and in ceremonies to welcome departed members to the circle. You can also sound the bell in each of the four elemental quadrants, before creating the invoking pentagram, to request the presence of each elemental guardian. It can also be sounded as you pass your chosen symbol around each quadrant of the circle. However, you should not use the bell to excess – it is better under-utilised.
The broom, or besom, was originally – and still is – a domestic artefact. It represents magically the union of male and female in the handle and the bristles and so is a tool of balance. Brooms have several uses in magick. A broom is sometimes rested horizontal to the altar to add protection, and couples jump over one in their handfasting ceremony. Most important, you should use your broom to cleanse the ritual area before every ritual.
Brooms are easily obtainable from any garden centre (you want one in the traditional ‘witches’ broomstick’ shape, not an ordinary brush). Brooms made with an ash handle and birch twigs bound with willow are traditionally recognised as being especially potent, being endowed with protective and healing energies. Some practitioners carve or paint a crescent moon at the top of the handle, others decorate theirs with their personal ruling planetary and birth sign glyphs entwined.
When cleansing the area for rituals, you might like to scatter dried lavender or pot pourri and sweep it in circles widdershins, saying:
Out with sorrow, out with pain,
Joyous things alone remain.
You can also sweep areas of your home such as uncarpeted floors, patio paths and yards to cleanse the home of negativity. Remember to sweep out of the front door, away from the house and eventually into the gutter, or if in you live in a flat, you can collect the lavender and dust in a pan and send it down the waste disposal unit.
You may also wish to cleanse the area further by sprinkling salt and pepper dissolved in water after sweeping. If you are working on carpet, you can use a very soft broom (some modern witches even hoover in circles widdershins and sprinkle the area with water in which a few drops of a cleansing flower essence, such as Glastonbury Thorn, has been added).
The broom is an Earth artefact.
The cauldron is the one ritual tool that is positively charged by being the centre of domestic life and can replace the altar as a focus for less formal magick spells. If you can obtain a flameproof cauldron with a tripod, you can, on special occasions such as Hallowe’en, light a fire out of doors and heat up a brew of herbs and spices in the cauldron. When not in use, you can keep your cauldron filled with flowers or pot pourri.
If your circle is large enough, you can place your cauldron in the centre. Then, if you are working in a group, form your circle of power around it, so that the altar is within the outer consecrated circle and you make a human inner circle with the cauldron as the hub. If you are working alone, you can have your altar in the centre with the cauldron in front of it. Alternatively, you can have a small pot or cauldron in the centre of the altar.
Experiment with the different positions both for group and solitary work and walk or dance your way around to work out the logistics. Some practitioners do not use a cauldron at all.
In your rituals, you can light a candle in front of the cauldron, fill it with sand in which to stand candles, or surround it with a circle of red candles to represent Fire. Wishes written on paper can be burned in the candles. Water darkened with mugwort may be placed in the cauldron, especially on seasonal festivals such as Hallowe’en and May Eve, and white candle wax dripped on the surface to create divinatory images that offer insights into potential paths.
You can cast flower petals into the cauldron water to get energies flowing. For banishing, add dead leaves and tip the cauldron water into a flowing source of water. You can also burn incense in the cauldron if this is the focus of a ritual.
The cauldron is a tool of Spirit or Akasha, the fifth element.
The chalice, or ritual cup, used for rituals is traditionally made of silver, but you can also use crystal, glass, stainless steel or pewter. The chalice represents the Water element and is placed in the West of the altar. Like the sword, it is a sacred Grail treasure and is a source of spiritual inspiration.
The Grail cup is most usually represented as the chalice that Christ used at the Last Supper, in which His blood was collected after the crucifixion. As such, it signifies not only a source of healing and spiritual sustenance, but also offers direct access to the godhead through the sacred blood it once contained. Tradition says that the original Grail cup was incorporated by Roman craftsmen into a gold and jewelled chalice called the Marian Chalice after Mary Magdalene. In Celtic tradition, it became the Cauldron of Dagda.
In rituals, the chalice can be filled with pure or scented water with rose petals floating on top. I have also mentioned its ritual use with the athame in male/female sacred rites, as the symbolic union of god and goddess that has in many modern covens replaced an actual sexual union (that now tends to occur in privacy between established couples only).
The chalice is also central to the sacred rite of cakes and ale that occurs at the end of formal ceremonies – the pagan and much older equivalent of the Christian holy communion. The offering of the body of the Corn God is made in the honey cakes on the pentacle, or sacred dish, and the beer or wine in the chalice is fermented from the sacrificed barley wine. In primaeval times, actual blood was used to symbolise the sacrifice of the Sacred King at Lughnassadh, the festival of the first corn harvest. The rite goes back thousands of years.
The cakes and ale are consumed by the people acting as High Priestess and Priest in a dual energy rite or by those initiated in those roles. Crumbs and wine are first offered to the Earth Mother or poured into a libation dish (a small dish for offerings). Then the priestess offers the priest a tiny cake and then takes one herself and he offers her the wine before drinking himself. The dual roles work just as well in a single-sex coven. The cakes and ale are then passed round the circle and each person partakes of the body and blood of the Earth, offering a few words of thanks for blessings received.
In some groups each person has an individual chalice set before them, but everyone still drinks one after the other, offering thanks, unless there is a communal chant of blessing before drinking.
The chalice can be filled with wine or fruit juice or water, depending on the needs and preferences of the group.
The cakes and ale ceremony and the male/female chalice rite can both be easily incorporated into a solitary ritual.
The pentacle is a symbol of the Earth and is familiar to users of Tarot packs. It is placed in the North of the altar.
It consists of a flat, round dish or disc, engraved with a pentagram within a circle. The pentacle has been a magical sign for thousands of years. The five-pointed star of the pentagram within it is a sacred symbol of Isis and the single top point is considered by many to represent the Triple Goddess.
You can place crystals or a symbol of the focus of the ritual or charged herbs on the pentacle to endow it with Earth energies. It can then be passed through the other elements or empowered by passing over the pentacle incense for Air, a candle for Fire and burning oils or water itself for the Water element.
The pentacle can be moved to the centre of the altar once the symbol on it has been fully charged. It is very easy to make a pentacle of clay, wood, wax or metal, and on it mark a pentagram with the single point extending upwards. This is what you might call the all-purpose pentagram – drawn this way it always has a positive influence.
You might also like to make a larger pentacle for holding the tiny cakes for the cakes and ale ceremony. You can find special recipes for these cakes in books but any tiny honey cakes will serve well.
The wand is a symbol of Fire and should be placed in the South of the altar.
The wand is sometimes represented by a spear. Both the wand and spear, like the athame and sword, are male symbols. The spear, another Fire symbol, is not used in magick, except occasionally in the form of a sharpened stick in sacred sex rites, when it is plunged into the cauldron or the chalice as a symbol of the sacred union of Earth and Sky, Water and Fire.
The wand is traditionally a thin piece of wood about 50 centimetres (21 inches) long, preferably cut from a living tree (some conservationists disagree unless the tree is being pruned). After a strong wind or in a forest where trees are being constantly felled, it is often possible to find a suitable branch from which the wand can be cut. It should be narrowed to a point at one end and rubbed smooth.
You can make a series of wands from different woods for your ceremonies.
Ash is a magical wood, associated with healing and positive energies.
Elder wands are symbols of faerie magick and so are good for any visualisation work.
Hazel comes from the tree of wisdom and justice and is linked with the magick of the Sun. The wand should be cut from a tree that has not yet borne fruit.
Rowan is a protective wood and so is good for defensive and banishing magick.
Willow is the tree of intuition and is said to be endowed with the blessing of the Moon.
You can also use a long, clear quartz crystal, pointed at one end and rounded at the other, as a wand. In its crystalline form, especially, the wand is used for directing healing energies from the circle to wherever they are needed.
The wand is used for directing energies and for making circles of power in the air – hence the image of the faerie godmother waving her wand – deosil for energies to attract energies and widdershins for banishing. It can be used to draw pentagrams in the air at the four quarters and it can also be used for drawing an invisible circle when you are working on carpet or another fabric that cannot be physically marked.
In some traditions, the wand is a tool of Air and so this and the athame, or the sword, are fairly interchangeable. However, the wand seems more effective for casting and uncasting circles, invoking quarters and closing power. It is also particularly good for directing energies in rites of love, healing, fertility, prosperity and abundance.
— Practical Guide to Witchcraft and Magic Spells By Cassandra Eason
Ritual magick is no different from any other activity that you may carry out in a systematic way. Yes, it is true, it is more formal than folk magick: you are using special tools and following a series of preordained steps based on traditional practice. But this does not mean that it has to be so complicated as to be beyond the capabilities of any normal person. You do not need special powers; and the preparation is just the same as you would do if you were redecorating a room, servicing your car or preparing your annual accounts.
When you decide to do any of these tasks, you set out the necessary equipment in advance, so you are not constantly dashing off to find what you need. You check that it is all in working order and you probably consult a reliable reference book, computer software or calculator to clarify the necessary stages and finer points of the method. And that is exactly what preparing for ritual magick is like.
First, you need to collect any relevant information; for example, you must find out which tools, herbs, candle colours, etc. you may require. Then you must check that your magical tools are charged with power. You must check whether the hour and the day are well chosen to benefit from the energies and are most aligned to the focus. If you are working with a group, you must decide in advance who is to carry the salt and other elemental substances round the circle, who will perform particular parts of the ritual, such as welcoming the Spirit Guardians.
This preparation is important, although, as I have previously said, many of the words and actions in the best rituals remain spontaneous within the basic framework. You do not even need to belong to a coven to create beautiful rituals. Indeed, practising alone, you will find that as you increase in confidence, the natural rhythm of the ritual cycle will amplify your own innate powers and you will feel angelic or devic forces joining with you as you walk around the circle and hear their voices mingling with your chants.
You should not allow yourself to be overawed, as I have been in the past and still occasionally am, by books and practitioners who vaunt their knowledge of obscure magical phrases, measure their circles down to the last millimetre and insist that only their form of working is authentic.
What matters is the actual connection you make in your ritual with the storehouse of natural and higher energies – and that can be done with a kitchen candle if the need is great and the intention pure. Ultimately, the power is within you, and as you become skilled with magick, you may find that the external form becomes less important.
However, formal magick does have its place, for a special need or for raising spiritual awareness, or for focusing magical energies through the accumulated power of tools charged and regularly used for positive purpose. Some people believe also that in ritual you tap into the energies of all those before you who have created circles of power and protection, and within them have raised and called upon the elemental qualities to bring desires and needs from the thought to the material plane.
—Practical Guide to Witchcraft and Magic Spells By Cassandra Eason
Let’s Talk Witch – What is your Witch Potential?
Reincarnation is a basic tenet of Witchcraft. Those of us fortunate enough to belong to the Craft believe that successive lives are enjoyed under the same zodiac sign. But unlike other ideologies Witchcraft imposes no demands for increasing excellence – only that each life be lived to its fullest capabilities.
Most of us, despite centuries of indoctrination by the mechanized society, still have ties to the earth…some innate Witchcraft potential that can be developed.
Read the following questions and see how you react to them:
1. Have you always been intrigued by the occult?
2. Do you prefer night to day?
3. Does a storm stir in you an inexplicable sense of excitement?
4. Are you a sensualist?
5. Have you always felt different from most of those around you, set apart?
6. Do you instinctively respond to animals?
7. Are you comfortable alone?
8. Are you relatively indifferent to material possessions?
9. Have you had fleeting glimpses of former lives?
Should you find you can answer most of these questions in the affirmative your with potential is probably high and should be encouraged.
There is no church to join, no tribute to pay and no hierarchy to employ.You, and you alone, must concentrate on the development of your own other-consciousness. Go to nature and observe. Attune your inner-mechanism to the quiet pace of the seasons and the procession of the constellations across the sky. Go alone, or with that person closest to you. Watch the moon rise, walk in the forests. Feel the earth, drink the water, breathe the air…then light the sacred candles and begin the life you were meant to live.
(* The Witches’ Almanac Spring 1995 – Spring 1996 pg. 94 ** Originally
appeared in the first public edition of The Witches’ Almanac, 1971)
Insofar as The Craft Of The Wise is the most ancient and most honourable creed of humankind, it behoves all who would be witches to act in ways that give respect to the Old Gods and Goddesses, to their brothers and sisters of The Craft, and to themselves
Chivalry is a high code of honour, which is of most ancient Pagan origin and must be lived by all who follow the Old Ways.
Know well that thoughts and intent put forth will wax strong on many planes of existence and return, bringing into creation that which has been sent forth. For this reason the adept must exercise discipline over his or her thoughts. Remember, ” as you sow, so shall you harvest”
It is only by preparing our minds to be as Gods that we may one day unite with the Godhead.
“This above all … to thine own self be true…”
A witch’s word must have the validity of a signed and witnessed document. It is only by developing such mental discipline that great power may be controlled and directed
It is well to refrain from speaking ill of others for not all truths of the matter may be known
Pass not unverified words about another. For the most part hearsay is a thing of falsehoods
Be honest with others. Have them know that honesty is likewise expected of them
The fury of the moment plays havoc with the truth. Strive always to keep your head
Harm not another. Think always of the consequences of your actions
Dignity, a gracious manner, and a good humour are much to be admired
As a witch you wield much power. Therefore exercise much discretion in its use
Courage and honour endure forever.
Offer friendship only to those worthy of it. To associate with younger souls will only pull you down
Those who follow the mysteries must be above reproach in the eyes of the world
Keep pride in thyself. Seek perfection in body and in mind
(Adapted from Rites From The Crystal Well)
What Happens After Death?
Only the body dies. The soul lives on. Some Wiccans say that it journeys to a realm variously known as the Land of the Faerie, the Shining Land, and the Land of the Young.* This realm is neither in heaven nor the underworld. It simply is-a non-physical physical reality much less dense than ours. Some Wiccan traditions describe it as a land of eternal summer, with grassy fields and sweet flowing rivers, perhaps the Earth before the advent of humans. Others see it vaguely as a realm without forms, where energy swirls coexist with the greatest energies-the Goddess and God in their celestial identities.
The soul is said to review the past life, perhaps through some mysterious way with the deities. This isn’t a judgment, a weighing of one’s soul, but an incarnational review. Lessons learned or ignored are brought to light.
After the proper time, when the conditions on Earth are correct, the soul is reincarnated and life begins again.
The final question-what happens after the last incarnation? Wiccan teachings have always been vague on this. Basically, the Wiccans cans say that after rising upon the spiral of life and death and rebirth, those souls who have attained perfection break away from the cycle forever and dwell with the Goddess and God. Nothing is ever lost. The energies resident in our souls return to the divine source from which they originally emanated.
Because of their acceptance of reincarnation, the Wicca don’t fear death as a final plunge into oblivion, the days of life on Earth forever behind them. It is seen as the door to birth. Thus our very lives are symbolically linked with the endless cycles of the seasons which shape our planet.
Don’t try to force yourself to believe in reincarnation. Knowledge is far superior to belief, for belief is the way of the uninformed. It isn’t wise to accept a doctrine as important as reincarnation without a great deal of study to see if it speaks to you.
Also, though there may be strong connections with loved ones, be wary of the idea of soul mates, i.e. people you’ve loved in other lives and are destined to love again. Though your feelings and beliefs may be sincere, they aren’t always based on fact. In the course of your life you might meet five or six other people with whom you feel the same tie, despite your current involvement. Can they all be soul mates?
One of the difficulties of this concept is that if we’re all inextricably tricably tied up with other persons’ souls, if we continue to incarnate with them, we’re learning absolutely nothing. Therefore, announcing that you’ve found your soul mate is rather akin to stating that you’re not progressing on the incarnational spiral.
One day you may know, not believe, that reincarnation is as real as a plant that buds, flowers, drops its seed, withers and creates a new plant in its image. Reincarnation was probably first intuited by earlier peoples watching nature.
Until you’ve decided for yourself, you may wish to reflect upon and consider the doctrine of reincarnation.
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner