Let’s Talk Witch – Personalized Magick and Ritualistic Witches

Let’s Talk Witch – Personalized Magick and Ritualistic Witches

One commonality that Witches and Wiccans share is that both approach magick in personal ways–ways that can be incredibly complex and very simple. Kitchen Wiccans and Hedge Witches, for example, rely heavily on pragmatic, uncomplicated magick, much of which originates in folklore and superstition. Hedge Witches traditionally do not belong to a coven. Solitary practitioners depend on self-study, insight, creativity and intuition as their main guideposts. Hedge Witches may be self-dedicated, but they are rarely publicly initiated. Similar to village shamans and cunning folks, they provide spells and potions for daily needs.

Some Witches practice magick with more ritualistic overtones, drawing inspiration from the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism and magick) and other mystical and spiritual movements. Ritualistic Witches, for instance, approach every aspect of a spell as if it were part of a huge puzzle: Each piece needs to be in the right place for everything to work as it should. For example, the astrological phase of the moon should be suited to the task, and every part of the working should be carefully constructed to build energy toward a desired goal. Workings such as these have been used for a long time and are honored as part of the tradition from which the Witch originates. That is not to say that a ritualistic school has no room for variety or improvisation. It’s just that the improvisation usually happens with a set framework.

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Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism?

Wicca, Witchcraft or Paganism?

What’s the Difference, Anyway?

By , About.com

If you’re reading this page, chances are you’re either a Wiccan or Pagan, or you’re someone who’s interested in learning more about the modern Pagan movement. You may be a parent who’s curious about what your child is reading, or you might be someone who is unsatisfied with the spiritual path you’re on right now. Perhaps you’re seeking something more than what you’ve had in the past. You might be someone who’s practiced Wicca or Paganism for years, and who just wants to learn more.

For many people, the embracing of an earth-based spirituality is a feeling of “coming home”. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally fit in. For others, it’s a journey TO something new, rather than running away from something else.

Paganism is an Umbrella Term

Please bear in mind that there are dozens of different traditions that fall under the umbrella title of “Paganism”. While one group may have a certain practice, not everyone will follow the same criteria. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgement that not all practices are identical.

Not All Pagans are Wiccans

There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider themselves something else entirely.

Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, let’s clear up one thing right off the bat: not all Pagans are Wiccans. The term “Pagan” (derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to “hick from the sticks”) was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions. Thus, “Pagan” came to mean people who didn’t worship the god of Abraham.

In the 1950s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca.

Therefore, “Pagan” is an umbrella term that includes many different spiritual belief systems – Wicca is just one of many.

Think of it this way:

Christian >  Lutheran or Methodist or Jehovah’s Witness

Pagan >  Wiccan or Asatru or Dianic or Eclectic Witchcraft

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, not all people who practice witchcraft are Wiccans, or even Pagans. There are a few witches who embrace the Christian god as well as a Wiccan goddess – the Christian Witch movement is alive and well! There are also people out there who practice Jewish mysticism, or “Jewitchery”, and atheist witches who practice magic but do not follow a deity.

What About Magic?

There are a number of people who consider themselves Witches, but who are not necessarily Wiccan or even Pagan. Typically, these are people who use the term “eclectic Witch” to apply to themselves. In many cases, Witchcraft is seen as a skill set in addition to or instead of a religious. A Witch may practice magic in a manner completely separate from their spirituality; in other words, one does not have to interact with the Divine to be a Witch.

Arithmancy

Arithmancy


Divination by numbers (sometimes wrongly called Arithmomancy). The ancient Greeks examined the number and the values of letters in each name of two combatants. They predicted the combatant having the name of the greater value would be victorious. It was by using this science that some diviners foretold that Achilles would defeat Hector.

The Chaldeans also practiced arithmancy. They divided their alphabet into three parts, each part composed of seven letters which they attributed to the seven planets. Through this arithmetic method they made predictions based on the planets.

The Platonists and Pythagoreans were also strongly attracted to this form of divination which is similar to certain aspects of the Jewish Kabbalah.

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for September 11 is 48: The Well

48: The Well

Hexagram 48

General Meaning:  Throughout various cultures and political systems of the world, the well has served as a universal symbol for that which sustains life and provides a constant, inexhaustible source of life-giving nourishment for mankind.

Like the well, human nature is the same around the world. The passage of time does not change its essential dimensions, nor take anything away. Still, just as a well can be deepened to produce clearer, cleaner water, so can we enrich our lives by delving deeply within — into our natural selves, or souls.

Beware of shallow thinking. Like a little learning, it can be dangerous. The image of the well suggests that along with depth comes clarity. Be patient, and penetrate both your problems and your own nature to the core. If you do not lower your bucket to the depths, you’re very likely to come up empty. When greater depth is desired, a lessening of speed is often required.

 

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for September 9 is 46: Pushing Upward

46: Pushing Upward

Hexagram 46

General Meaning: The forces of growth in springtime demonstrate advancement, as new life pushes upward through the earth’s crust, and the sap is rising. The emphasis is on upward motion, from obscurity to influence, with growth fostered by adaptability and the absence of opposition. Constant, flexible growth is the key attribute of a plant pushing upwards. This reading suggests a period of new promotion and prosperity in your life.

A wise person, in harmony with fate, is sensitive but determined. Make a sincere effort to apply resolute effort. Break through inertia, and good fortune will follow. By remaining flexible and tolerant, you will be able to retain the kind of conscious innocence that fuels growth and advancement. Will power and self-control are necessary to manage this growth skillfully, but the natural enthusiasm of the life force is behind everything.

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for August 23 is 12: Standstill

12: Standstill

Hexagram 12

General Meaning:  A state of standstill is a state of decline. Confusion and disorder prevail. Inferior elements are on the rise, while the powers of clarity and creativity are waning. In such times, the wise take shelter in their own integrity and quietly remain faithful to their highest selves. Retreat from public activities and common exchanges until the time once again favors assertive action.

During periods of stagnation, inferior elements can rise to power. When the inmates are overrunning the asylum, summon up your fortitude, hide your worth and withdraw. Concentrate on your personal affairs with a quiet dignity, even if that means giving up short-term rewards.

Desiring to change a situation too quickly often creates extra conflict. By accepting hardship, while striving to maintain integrity, you are preparing for future growth. A seed of prosperity is often hidden inside the husk of misfortune.

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for August 17 is 23: Splitting Apart

23: Splitting Apart

Hexagram 23

General Meaning:  All is not what it seems. Sometimes, reality is like a hall of mirrors. Intrigues multiply like summer flies, and there are signs of discontent all around. This is a time of illusion and disillusion, disintegration, distrust and deception.

When you find yourself trapped in a hall of mirrors, sometimes it is necessary to retrace your steps. Return to the familiar; take solace in what is firm and secure. There is no blame in holding back on progress now; indeed, it is your responsibility to keep your strength intact for the period of resurrection, which follows disintegration as surely as dawn follows the night.

Discretion is the better part of valor. Good timing is especially important. Learn to focus on the essence of the problem and choose the proper moments for action, thereby avoiding futile effort. Be particularly attentive at such a time as this for changes that signal it’s time to retreat.

In the realm of personal relations, disillusionment is generally painful and confusing. When in the midst of such a phase, it is wise to avoid undertaking any bold new moves, and it is especially important not to jump to conclusions.

 

Today’s I Ching Hexagram for August 15 is 1: Creative Power

1: Creative Power

Hexagram 1

General Meaning: The atmosphere is ripe with imagination, inspiration and energy, symbolized by the flying dragon. The dragon is an ancient symbol of an electrically charged, dynamic, arousing force that bodes well for creative initiatives. If your goals are in alignment with the greater good, your actions will meet with success, but this can only happen if you apply yang energy in a positive way. This hexagram, which consists of all yang lines, indicates a good time to take a leadership role, because Creative Power is with you now. But be forewarned: success turns to failure if you let strength turn to arrogance.

Believe in your vision and persevere; everything around you will flourish. Call upon Creative Power and let it work through you. Stay focused on your goals. Do not let yourself be distracted, or you may lose the power available to you now. And remember that when taking action, successful results require good timing.

Making Your Own Wand

Making Your Own Wand

One neat way to make a wand that is very popular is to get a piece of copper tubing and a crystal that fits in the end of it or even one for
both ends of it. Then you can decorate the tube in various ways.
SOME people solder small chips of gemstones on it, while others wrap
it in black leather (crazy glue keeps this on the pipe!) and then
braid various colors of embroidery thread about this or attach
feathers to it or whatever. You can fill the tubes with herbs sacred
to your purpose/goal in life too.

Some folks have more than one of these wands for various purposes in
their lives.

You can solder the crystal/s in the end/s or you can fashion prongs
out of the end of the tubing and stick it in in much the same way a
jeweler sets a diamond in a ring. Again, if you do this, you may find
a touch of crazy glue keeps it in better.

Of course a wand doesn’t have to be this complicated. Another nice
wand is the ceremonial Magick – type “lotus wand” that some witches
have adopted as their own. Take a branch from a tree that is fairly
straight and the right length for a wand. Preferably this should be
one you find, but it can also be taken from a living tree if you
psychically “ask the tree’s permission” – if you get a strong feeling
this is wrong and that you shouldn’t cut that tree, don’t do it. THIS
SHOULD BE DONE ON THE WAXING MOON. All ritual tools you make should be made and/or consecrated ONLY on the Waxing moon. The waxing moon is the time from one day after the new moon up to and including the
night of the full – moon.

Either way, leave an offering of thanks afterwards. If you are into
the Native American traditions, an ounce or so of tobacco (PURE – the
kind used in the sacred pipe) or cornmeal is appropriate. If you are
in Wicca / NeoPaganims, a libation of apple juice is most fitting – as
is some home-baked cakes (unfrosted plain cupcakes, some corn muffins,
oatmeals or cornmeal cookies or cornbread, a loaf of home-made or
all-natural whole wheat bread, etc – NATURAL stuff, please NO TWINKIES
AND JUNKFOOD) or even a few small charged crystals can be implanted in
the ground for the trees growth. In Santeria it was traditional when
taking anything from nature to leave a specific number of copper
coins, perhaps with specific foods, depending upon the Deities/Orishas
or other entities being invoked according to a very strict tradition
of what Beings ruled what places. (for example, 5 is the number of a
river or fresh water, 7 is the number for the ocean, 4 or 6 for a
mountain, 2 for the forest, etc.)

Then you strip the bark, sand it down, mark it in 7 segments and paint
them each in these colors of the rainbow from top to bottom. Red,
Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

Some celtic traditions put a steel rod through the middle of any
wooden wand – a tricky business, but effective to make it a channel of
the energy. To do this you MUST be sure your branch is of a certain
thickness or it will split as you try to do this. This channels the
energy in a simillar way to the copper tubing in the crystal wand.
They also wrap a coil of thick steel wire around it’s handle, like a
snake, for 4-5 times which makes a grip and is also said to contribute
to the energy flow.

Another way to paint a wooden wand is half black and half white or
half gold and half silver, to express the balance of the polarities.
If you are into Kabbalah, some folks also use Red and Blue as these
are the colors usually associated with Chesed and Geburah in magick
which are the central spheres on the masculine and feminine pillars of
the tree of life, respectively.

And some people leave the wooden rod plain, allowing the natural
beauty of the wood to come through.

ALSO, some people make their wands out of a wooden dowel rod bought at
a local lumber supply house.

I do, however, suggest that if at all possible, you still go into
nature and make a small offering to mother earth for the materials
used. Even a purchased dowel or a crystal bought from a rock shop or
a copper tubes are all gifts from Mother Earth and Father Sky and it
is important to show our gratitude for what they have given us.

Ultimately, you should make the wand be what you FEEL. A simple stick
wrapped with embroidery thread that has some feathers tied to the ends
of the thread works well for one friend of mine in MASS.

Altar Pentacle

The Pentacle is a Magickal tool that some folks do not use. Their reasoning is
sound since it is obviously an adaptation from ceremonial Magick, as is the
athame. These people use only the wand and the chalice in their work. But I
like the use of the pentacle and athame because Wicca has always been quite ecclectic and drawn from several Pantheons and systems. So it doesn’t make any
sense to me to say we can draw on all systems EXCEPT the Kabbalah as used in
Ceremonial Magick. Also I like the way using all 4 of these main tools that
most traditions and practitioners share brings correspondences to the 4 suits of
Tarot cards and to the 4 elements.

The Pentacle is a flat disk, traditionally inscribed on copper and coated with a
clear finish of some type to prevent corrosion after it has been inscribed with
the continuos 5-pointed star or pentegram. This is not an open pentacle like
many witches wear. It is ENGRAVED on the disk. The reason being you put SALT
on this disk in circle and if it was open all the salt would be on the altar, on
the floor, everywhere but where you need it.

I have also, recently, seen some pentacles inscribed on slices of agate put out
by cauldron Crafts in Maryland that are JUST GORGEOUS. Since the pentacle is
feminine and relates to earth either the copper or the stone is appropriate.
However brass I find less so as it is usually considered a solar metal and
masculine. That is why I also prefer to avoid brass chalices. Copper chalices
are avoided because they give off a metallic residue that is poisonous into the
liquid, if they corrode – and alcohol in wine or ale and acid in wine or juice
WILL do this. But copper is perfect for the pentacle.

What you engrave on your pentacle is entirely up to you. The NeoGardnerian and
NeoAlexandrians (as well as the originals of these traditions) have very
specific symbols that they always use. Other traditions sometimes have specific
symbols they require as well. But others just use a plain pentacle, or tht
pentacle with runic symbols of their choosing or whatever has meaning to them.
I have seen beautiful pentacles – in fact our distributor of jewelry carries
them – that are pentegrams surrounded by inscribings of Celtic knotwork.

I have also seen some gorgeous stained glass altar pentacles – my favorite of
these was one where the points where the colors of the elements. The 4 lower
points were the Red, Yellow, BLue and Green my tradition ascribes to the
elements and the top one was silver for Spirit/Divinity. The center and
background were a lovely violet color. Obviously SOMEONE put a lot of work into
it.

One note – a specific coating I have found to work well on copper pentacles so
that the salt doesn’t destroy them is CLEAR NAIL POLISH. This has to
periodically be reapplied however.

The Daily Motivator for January 15th – The miracle that is today

The miracle that is today

Open your eyes, open your heart, and see the miracle that is today. Feel how good and powerful it feels to be alive.

You don’t have to wait for some distant, imagined time before you can relish the sweet, profound experience of being fully alive. Because right now, today, in this place, in this situation, the miracle of your life is here for you to live.

No day is really ordinary, because each day comes with its own bundle of unique treasures. No moment is useless or pointless, because every moment is filled with priceless possibilities.

Remind yourself how truly fortunate you are to be you. Look beyond all the distractions of superficial things that come and go, and feel the awesome power of life that exists within you.

Imagine the most amazing, fulfilling thing you can imagine. And realize that you have the ability to make it real, through the power of your life.

Today there is more hope, and there are more possibilities for fulfillment, than ever before. Because today you are here to bring the best of life to life.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

The Emerald Path to Ceremonial Operation

The Emerald Path to Ceremonial Operation

by Frasier L.

article

“True without falsehood, certain and most true. That which is above is as that which is below….” These words taken from an ancient Hermetic tablet embody the theoretical and practical idea of ceremonial operation, and the effective action/reaction created through magick. For this verse, as simple as it is, once grasped and understood, identifies the relationship between the macrocosm and the microcosm, man and the universe, one with all. By nature it is lawfully true that as it is in the heavens, so it is on the Earth. For the heavens contain stars and planetary systems but are quite simply just as the Earth – that is, matter gathered, integrated, and governed by the electro-light energy.

So, all things are materialized and solidified through the All Power (life energy), and the sun being a concentrated center of the All Power (life energy) radiates light (life energy). From that energy (light), there is reaction and influence on matter, and so there is life. And like the sun that begat them, all things integrated repeat the cycle of essence. Simple things reflect this; for example, the landscape you perceive is integrated matter reflecting light from it. So does the life force generate all things, and matter absorbs light and generates heat.

True to form, all living things operate through and display the life energy. Just as the celestial bodies and orbs of the heavens, all living things shine, radiate, display magnetism, and change state: from liquid to solid, from stable to volatile. In man, these energy displays are identified as mood, emotion, and personality. In man, the All Power also takes on new identification, through consciousness. This is the self, the spirit, the soul, conscious energy. Regardless of how one would describe his or her realization of being, this is the universal energy that embodies and empowers all things. The sun, the stars, the planets, and man: This energy never ceases to exist and is not bound to time.

It is then the task of the aspirant to know and understand the principles of operation of matter and energy, the interplay of which the aspirant is a part. To know this absolutely enables one to exercise or manipulate the energy and matter in one’s field of influence. And as all things are from one, it follows each influences the other. Those who aspire will know this.

Ceremonial magick, whether it be operations of theory or practice, is not bound to or composed of any one religion. The process of unfoldment of the self through exercise of unconscious energies manifests a deeper respect for all religions, for they are all exercises of the Oriflammi. This is exactly why many a great master, from Abra-Melin to Eliphas Levi-Zahed, warns against the change or surrendering of one’s religion. Even the Master Therion addressed the need for synthesis of all religion and science in magickal operation. For spiritual strength, usually achieved through exercise of religious experience, is the anchor of the self, needed when the consciousness begins to run and return through the aethyrs of the psyche’s experience of operation. This truth might explain why in some circles, persons at a total loss of equilibrium of the self (that is, fallen into madness) are said to be “losing their religion.”

In an attempt to further understanding, allow me to give an example: One would not surrender a leg to lighten the load in a foot race. Well, the same consideration is applied in approaching ceremonial magick. All experience that has caused or created action or reaction, within or without, internally or externally for you is vital energy necessary in your sphere of influence. If something makes or helps you shine, don’t let it go. Reinitiate your ideas and understanding to encompass the energy of the experience, for this energy is important to you in magickal operation.

And thou shalt separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross…. There will come a point for all true aspirants when — armed with the truths aforementioned — they will embark on a learning path. Magickal operation involves more than rituals and ceremony. An operation merely brings one to a point of focus and concentration so as to raise or banish certain energies to be integrated or disintegrated from one’s field of influence, or to apply or extract energy to influence matter within that field.

So, to raise the level of focus, to expand one’s influence, entails broadening one’s understanding of the powers that be. Now, to exercise understanding one must first gain knowledge, through exposure to wisdom.

Enter the Kabbalah, a system that has been the foundation of magickal interpretation and operation for centuries. The Kabbalah system centers around the “Tree of Life,” otherwise known as the Ten Sephiroth. All pure thought and idea of the Self can be sorted and classified in the ten spheres of wisdom and influence. Now I know, a zealous aspirant might wonder what all this has to do with magick. In working with the Sephiroth, through the study, interpretation, and meditational exercises of the Kabbalistic texts, the Sepher Yetsira and the Zohar, one will build a solid foundation of knowledge. To even consider the idea of mastering the “Pillar System” of the Kabbalah would be a life’s work, and the rewards tenfold.

Another important magickal tool is the Tarot. Locked within this 78-card pack are esoteric and exoteric principles, all captured in images. Through the exercise of the pack on a regular basis, the imagery of the cards causes a reaction of the subtle energies of the unconscious self (that is, the mind).

The pack is also divided into five sets or suits. These suits correspond to the alchemical elements, and to the states of matter. Wands represent fire or volatility. Cups represent water or fluidity. Swords represent air or stability. Pentacles represent earth or solidity. The “trumps,” or major arcana, represent the spirit, and the course of will.

Every suit has cards numbered 1 through 10 as well as four “court cards,” or face cards. Numbers relate to time, whereas the alchemical elements relate to the cycles of the physical being. The working concept is this, it is physical law that matter acts or reacts in time. So numbers are used to reference points of observation or mark a moment of incidence in time. The suits and their number sets correspond to elemental states of the physical self. Court cards, depending on position, identify persons involved in the moment. They also can represent a coming or going of a new energy cycle (or situation). The keys of the major arcana, or “trumps,” represent the state of mind, conscious state, or condition of the spiritual self.

So, through exercising the Tarot regularly, your energy passes into and influences it. It can be used to identify conditions or events pre-term. Or — exercised with the pure knowledge of an open mind — it can help identify negativity and ill effect of your own self. With this knowing, one can set the will to right.

At this point, there might be those who are thinking, there’s got to be more than this. Why is there no information or procedures of certain rites or ceremonies here? Allow me to state the reason. Certain operations of order or circle are kept secret by bond of silence. Do understand, this is done not to impose control, but as an operation of concentration and restriction. For, you see, all manifestation and experience is attained by concentration and restriction of the will (that is, life energy) on matter. This is the art of making. So do understand, one is not at liberty to include such information in this writ. If you truly seek, you will find the guidance to your goal, absolutely.

Do know this, magick is a practice of life, performed daily — it is not just the occasional ceremonial procession. It truly works when you take all that you have attained and introduce and exercise it in all aspects of your living experience.

Keep in mind, you are a reflection of and influenced by your environment and surroundings. If magick is what you wish to attain, surround yourself with items, art, clothing, anything that activates your “magickal” self. Knowledge is power. So make yourself knowledgeable of ideas of magickal content. There are many paths.

In order to gain the most from the operations or exercises requires commitment to study and understanding of the exoteric and esoteric principles of one’s path work. Also of the utmost importance is a disciplined practice and exercise of these principles and the understanding gained. This exercise will build focus and concentration, for once again, magick is the art of making, and it is only what you make of it.

Keep in mind, just as exercise builds, strengthens, and solidifies the physical body, with knowledge and exercise one can also build, strengthen, and solidify the ability to influence and manipulate the energies that are always and eternally present.

In closing, I say to you, “Let the will be done, and shine on!”