Circle Casting Dragon Style

Circle Casting Dragon Style

The circle is cast with the Blade, the Cup and the Censor. The
Priest starts with the Blade in the north and draws the boundary of the circle.
As he does he recites “I tread this Path for the Elements, that which comprises
all that we see.”

The HPS takes to sprinkling the boundaries with the Cup filled with salted
water. She recites “I tread this Path for Self, a reflection of the Divine.”

The HP then takes the censor and carries the smoke to the boundaries of the
circle in a deosil direction. He recites “I tread this Path for Spirit,
that which unites all things.”

The HP or HPS then state the charge of our Circle. It is as follows.

“Our Circle is a place where hearts and minds can meet and share in the
wonder and empowerment of a living and loving Goddess. We are a coven of
friends, but above all things we are Family. Our Love and our Magick binds
us together and our Circle keeps us and nurtures us. We are blessed. Blessed
Be!”

The Dragon Guardians are then invoked.

EAST
Mighty Dragon, Guardian of the realms of the East. Your tongue is a sharp
sword, cutting with the knowledge of the arcane. Your spirit flows as graceful
as a swift in flight. Purify us with truth. Blessed Be.

SOUTH
Mighty Dragon, Guardian of the realms of the South, your breath is aflame with
the fires of inspiration and passion. Your spirit is searing and fervent.
Purify us with Love. Blessed Be.

WEST
Mighty Dragon, Guardian of the realms of the West, your coils are the cleansing
healing waves that nurture the soul. Your spirit lunges, leaps and splashes
like a Talbot at play. Purify us with pulsing tides. Blessed Be.

NORTH
Mighty Dragon, Guardian of the realms of the North, your talons run like roots
into the earth, giving you infinite strength. Your spirit is substantial, hard
and pure like a clear crystal. Purify us with persistent wisdom. Blessed Be.

Each of these Dragons has a secret name that they are also invoked with. A
suggestion is that anyone using these invocations meditate to find an
appropriate name for each Guardian and use it along with or instead of the words
“Mighty Dragon”.

I find that the Circle charge sets the mood for the Circle and I change it to
suit the situation.

The Laws (In Regards To Covens)

The Laws

YOUR HIGH PRIESTESS

In the Magic Circle, the words, commands and wishes of the High Priestess are Law. She is the earthly representative of our gracious Goddess. She is to be obeyed and respected in all things. She is our Lady and, above all others, a Queen in the highest sense of the word. All female coveners will curtsy and say “Blessed Be” when they come before Her, and all male coveners will bend their knee and kiss Her on the right cheek and say “Blessed Be”.

YOUR HIGH PRIEST

In the Magic Circle, the High Priest is the earthly representative of the Great God. He commands the respect due a Magus, Lord Counselor and father.

THE LAWS

THE LAWS WERE MADE FOR THE WITCHES TO ADVISE THEM IN THEIR TROUBLES. DO NOT CHANGE THEM LIGHTLY.

  1. The Witches should worship the Gods as is their due, and obey their will. For the worship of the Gods is good for the Witches even as the worship of the Witches is good for the Gods: For the Gods love all their Witches.
  2. As a man loves a woman more by learning more of her wants and desires, so should the Witches love the Gods by the learning (mastering) of them.
  3. It is necessary that the Magic Circle, which is the Temple of the Gods in these times, be cast and purified such that it may be a fitting place for the Gods; and the Witches should be properly prepared and purified to enter into the presence of the Gods.
  4. With love and worship in their hearts the Witches shall raise power from their bodies (and the elements around them), and they shall offer this power to the Gods so that the Gods may help their Witches.
  5. The High Priestess shall rule her coven as the representative of the Goddess, and the High Priest shall support her as the representative of the God. The High Priestess will choose any member of the coven to be her High Priest, if he has sufficient standing in the coven. As the God Himself kissed our Lady’s feet, gave Her the five-fold salute, and offered Her His power because of Her youth and beauty, Her sweetness and kindness, Her wisdom and justice, Her humility, gentleness and generosity, and shared His power with Her, so therefore the High Priestess should always be aware that all power comes from Him; it is only lent, to be used wisely and justly.
  6. The greatest virtue of a High Priestess shall be recognition that youth is necessary to the representative of the Goddess. She will, therefore, gracefully retire in favor of a younger covener should the coven so decide in council. The true High Priestess should realize that gracefully surrendering the pride of place is one of the greatest virtues, and that thereby she will return to that pride of place in another life with even greater power and beauty.
  7. In the Old Days, when there were many Witches, we were free and worshipped freely in the greatest temples; but in these times, we must celebrate our sacred mysteries in secret. Therefore, none but the Witches are to see our mysteries; no coven shall know the location of any other coven or who its members are, except the High Priest, the High Priestess and the Messenger; and that there shall be no communication among the covens, except by the Messenger of the Gods or the Summoner. Only if it is safe may the covens meet in some safe place for the Great Festivals; and while there, none shall give their true names or any information about their coven or its members. This law is made for this reason: No-one can tell our enemies what they do not themselves know.
  8. It is ordained that no-one shall tell any person not in the Craft who other Witches are, or give them names or addresses, or in any way tell anything that can betray a Witch to their face. Nor may anyone tell where the covendom or covenstead is, where any meetings are held or any other information about the coven unless directed to do so by the coven in council.
  9. If anyone breaks these laws, even under torture, may the Curse of the God and the Goddess be upon them, so that they may not be reborn upon the Earth (but shall live forever in the Hell of the Christians).
  10. Let each High Priest and High Priestess govern their coven with justice and love, with the help and advice of the other and of the elders of the coven, always heeding the advice of the Messenger of the Gods if he should arrive. They will heed all the suggestions of their coveners and strive to settle any differences among them.
  11. It is recognized that there will always be people who will try to make everybody agree with their ideas: these people are not necessarily bad — they often have good ideas and these ideas should be discussed in council. But if they will not come to agree with their other coveners or if they say “I will not work with this High Priestess”, then the elders will have them leave. It should be suggested that they might join another coven, or if they are of sufficient standing, they may be encouraged to found their own coven. For it is better this way, to avoid strife among the family of Witches.
  12. When using geographic boundaries, whenever anyone of Third Degree lives more than a league from the covenstead (or are about to), any of these may found a new coven; indeed, any Witch living within the covenstead who wishes to form a new coven will inform the elders of this intention and immediately move to a new dwelling beyond the boundaries of known covensteads. Members of any coven may choose to join the new coven when it is formed, but they must totally avoid their old coven if they choose this course. The elders of the old and new covens should meet in peace and love to determine the boundaries of the covens. Any Witch living outside of any two covens may choose to join either coven, but never both. All may meet for the Great Festivals if the elders agree, so long as they meet in peace and love. Let the elders confer as to the use of this law when it is not directly applicable. Always be aware that the splitting of a coven breeds bad feelings (energy vortices?); this law was made chiefly for this reason. And may happier times come!
  13. If you would keep a Book (whether it is called a Black Book, Book of Shadows, Book of Light, or whatever), write it in your own hand. Let your brothers and sisters in the Craft copy as they will from your book in their hand, but never let your Book out of your hands and never keep the writing of another. Every Witch should keep and guard their own writings, that none may be discovered through their Book being found in another’s possession.
  14. Destroy your Book whenever danger threatens, and commit as many as possible of these Laws to memory. Destroy the writings of a deceased Witch if they did not have time to do so themselves. If any of their writings are found, it is clear proof against both the writer and the holder, for our enemies firmly believe that “one may not be a Witch alone”: their family and all who are known to be friends may be suspected as Witches. Be responsible with your writings and you will protect all who love you.
  15. If your Book is found on you, it is clear proof against you along unless you tell our enemies what you know. You may be taken and tortured, but keep all thoughts of the Craft from your mind. If the torture is too much to bear, tell them, “I cannot bear this torture. I will confess. What do you want me to say?” If they try to make you talk about the Craft, do not; but if they try to make you speak of absurd things, such as flying through the air, consorting with the Christian devil, sacrificing children or eating men’s flesh, say, “I held an evil dream; I was beside myself; I was crazed,” or words to that effect, to obtain relief from the torture. Not all magistrates are bad — if there is any semblance of an excuse, they may show mercy. If you have confessed to anything, deny it afterwards: say that you babbled under torture, or that you don’t remember what you said. If you are condemned, do not be afraid, for the Craft is powerful and your escape will be aided if you stand fast. If you go steadfast to the flames, be certain that drugs will reach you and you will feel nothing of the pain. You will only go to death and what lies beyond — the ecstasy of the God and the Goddess. If you betray anything, however, there is no hope for you in this life or that which is to come.
  16. To avoid being discovered, choose your working tools to be ordinary items which you would have around the house. Make your Pentacles out of wax so that you can break and melt them at once. Do not keep a sword unless its presence would alarm no-one. Have no signs or names visible on anything. Write the signs in ink or water immediately before consecrating the tool and wash them off immediately after. Do not engrave anything, for this will only help you be discovered. Keep your athame and kerfan (working knife) among your kitchen knives, and let the colors of the hilts determine the one from the other and from the other knives. Always remember that we are the Hidden Children of the Goddess. Never do anything to disgrace the Craft or Her — never boast, never threaten, and never say that you wish ill of anyone.
  17. It is not forbidden to say, “There is Witchcraft in the land”, for the Christians say so themselves and have made it heresy not to believe so; but always say, “I know nothing of it here, though it may be elsewhere.” If any person speaks about the Craft outside of the Circle, say, “Don’t speak of such things — it frightens me. It is bad luck to talk about such things.” Say this for this reason: the Christians have their spies everywhere. These spies have been known to talk as if they were drawn to the Craft and as if they would want to come to our meetings, and they say such things as, “My fathers and forefathers worshipped the Old Ones, and my mother; I would like to worship in this way myself.” To all of these, tell them that you do not know what they are talking about, and that you wish they would stop. But to others, say, “It’s silly to talk about Witches flying around in the air; they would have to be lighter than feathers or thistle-down. Besides, everyone knows that Witches are all bleary-eyed old hags; what fun could they possibly have at their meetings, and why should I want to participate? And besides, you know we were taught in school that there are no such things as Witches.” Always make fun of the subject, that we may worship in peace when the persecution ends: let us all work for that happy time. May the blessing of the God and the Goddess be upon all who keep this law.
  18. If any in the Craft holds any property, let all Witches guard it and keep it clear and good for the use of the Craft. It is the further responsibility of all Witches to guard Craft funds wisely.
  19. If any Witch offers a well-made item, it is proper to pay them for it according to the value of the work; this is not taking money for the Craft, but payment for honest work — even the Christians believe that “the labourer is worth his hire”. Still, if any Witch works willingly for the good of the Craft and will not accept payment, this shall be to their greater honor.
  20. It is known that a coven may be bound together by sexual ties, and that this is often not desirable. When it is found that this is not desirable, the coven should be made up of loving couples, and there may also be single coveners. In such cases, it is required that the search for new love be undertaken outside the coven except when two single coveners find love with each other; otherwise, it will often cause division in the coven. For while all acts of love and pleasure are indeed the rituals of our beloved Goddess, She is not inclined to favor acts which divide Her covens and scatter Her Witches unnecessarily.
  21. If there should arise quarrels or disputes among the Witches, the High Priestess or High Priest shall immediately convene the elders and inquire into the problem. The elders shall hear each side separately, and then both together. Their decision should be just, not siding with one side until the matter is determined, recognizing that there are people who cannot work under others, and others who cannot make wise decisions. To those who must always be in charge, the possible solutions for them are to void the coven altogether, find another coven for them, or for them to found a new coven (taking with them all who will go). To those who cannot rule wisely, the solution is that those who cannot bear the rule will leave the coven. No one can truly worship the Gods when personal conflicts among the coveners are not resolved; all who cause strife in the coven must be told, “Go away from us, for the Craft must ever survive.”
  22. In the Old Days, we could use the Art against anyone who treated the Witches badly; but in these times, we must not do so. Our enemies have invented a burning pit of everlasting fire into which their God throws everyone who does not worship Him, except for those few who buy their penance from His priests (for their God always seems to be in need of money). Even as our Gods need our aid to make fertility for people and crops, so it is that the God of the Christians is always needing men to find and destroy us. Their priests tell them that any man who is helped by us will be damned to their Hell forever, to the point that men are mad with the terror of it. But the priests also make them believe that they may escape this Hell if they give up Witches to be tortured, so that these men are always thinking, “If I catch only one Witch, I will escape the fiery pit.” For this reason we have our hiding places, and when no Witches are found, the searchers will say, “There aren’t any Witches, or at least not in this area.” But as soon as one of our oppressors dies or even catches a cold, the cry will go up that it is “Witches’ work”, and the hunt will be on again. And while they may kill ten Christians for every Witch, they will not care, for they are countless millions while we are few indeed.
  23. THEREFORE, IT IS ORDAINED that none shall use the Art in any way to harm anyone or even wish them ill. However much they may injure us, HARM NONE, and may the Christians forget that we exist.
  24. These laws are ordained to help us in our difficulties. No person, no matter how large the injury or injustice they incur, may use the Art in any way to do evil or harm anyone. But they may use the Art, after great consultation with the elders and fellow coveners, to keep the Christians and their tools from harming anyone — but only to constrain them. To this end, some day men will say “That man says he is a mighty persecutor of Witches, but all we ever see him torture are old women — we cannot see that they have hurt anyone, and if they are all such powerful Witches, why has he not been harmed?” They will see him as the evil person he is, regardless of his professed beliefs. We know that too many people have died because someone had a grudge against them, or were persecuted because another wanted their wealth or because they were too poor to bribe the witch-hunters. And many have died only for being old women — so many that most men now seem to believe that only old women are Witches. This is to our advantage, for it turns many suspicious eyes away from us; but we mourn deeply for the old women. Still, in England and Scotland, it has been hundreds of years since a Witch “died the death”; be vigilant, for the misuse of our power might begin the persecutions again. Never break this law, no matter how much you are tempted. Never consent to the breaking of this law: even a High Priestess who merely consents to the breaking of this law must be deposed immediately, for it is the blood of all the Witches that she endangers. DO ONLY GOOD, and then only when it is safe to do anything at all.
  25. Never accept money for the use of the Art, for money always smudges the receiver. Christians take money for the use of their arts, and they sell pot-metal charms, pardons and potions to men so that they may escape from their sins. Do not act like these; as long as you refuse to take money, you will be free from the temptation to use the Art for evil causes. All may use the Art for their own advantage or for the advantage of the Craft, but you must always be certain that no-one will be harmed by its use. Let the coven debate the use of the Art at length, and only when all are satisfied that none will be harmed by its use will the use be allowed. Remember that if you cannot achieve your means in one fashion, your aim may still be reached through another — always harming none.
  26. If anyone in the Craft needs a house or land and there is no one willing to sell to them, you may use the Art to incline an owner’s mind to be willing to sell, provided that the spell does not harm the owner or the property and that the full value is paid without haggling. Never bargain or cheapen anything while living by the Art.
  27. The most important of laws: Do nothing that will endanger anyone in the Craft or which will bring them into conflict with the law of the land or any of our persecutors. In this regard, it is NEVER permissible, in any dispute involving the Craft, to invoke any laws other than those of the Craft, nor may any tribunals be held other than one consisting of the High Priestess, the High Priest, and the elders.
  28. The coven is to keep two books on herbalism. One of these will list the names and uses of all herbs which are cures for ills or are otherwise good for humans, and all may have access to this book to learn these things. But keep a separate book with the names of all poisonous herbs and those used in dark spells, letting only the elders and other trusted Witches know of these secrets or even of this book’s existence.
  29. Remember that the Art is the secret of the Gods and may only be used in earnest — never for show, or pride, or personal glory. The Christians may taunt you saying, “You have no power: Perform some magic for us, and then we may believe.” Do not listen to them, for the Art is holy and is to be used only in need.
  30. It has always been the way of men and women that they should seek after love, and while no one should be reproved for this, it may be to the disadvantage of the Craft sometimes. It has happened too many times that a High Priestess has found a new love and run off with him, giving no word to the coven of this. A High Priestess may resign in full coven at any time, and this resignation is valid; but if she has not resigned, the coven shall wait for her to return for a year and a day (for she may return sooner, having left for love). If she has a deputy, that deputy is to act as Priestess for as long as the High Priestess is away. If she returns within this time, all will be as if she had never left; but if she does not return within this time, a new High Priestess shall be elected in full coven. Unless there is a good reason to the contrary, the deputy, having done the work, should reap the reward and be chosen as the new High Priestess. But if another is chosen, the deputy shall be the maiden and deputy of the new High Priestess.
  31. The High Priest serves at the pleasure of the High Priestess. If the High Priestess is gone for more than a year and a day, he shall continue in his office while the deputy serves in her place. However, once a new High Priestess has been chosen, the new High Priestess will appoint her own High Priest (and it may be the current High Priest or not). Neither the prior High Priest nor his friends may be angry if a new High Priest is chosen, for pride must always give way to harmony in the coven.
  32. The Art is sacred: it is the Art of the working of energies, and it must always be taught inside of the Magic Circle. It has been found that teaching the Art frequently leads to a sexual attraction between the teacher and student — and that this often improves the result. If for any reason this is not desirable, it should be avoided at the beginning by both persons firmly – and verbally – resolving that their relations will be limited to that of brother and sister, or parent and child. It is for the reason that shared love often increases the result of working magic that teaching should always be done from man-to-woman and from woman-to-man. When a coven is made up of members of all one sex, the masculine-to-feminine energy exchange should be adhered to whenever possible. Teaching people about the Craft, however, may be done whenever and wherever it is safe, so long as the teacher is knowledgeable, the student is willing, and the information taught is available publicly or is not a secret of the Art. No-one may charge for teaching, unless it is to cover such expenses as the cost of the room, books or other printed materials, refreshments, and so forth.
  33. Order and discipline must be kept within the coven: the High Priestess or the High Priest should and may punish all faults. To this end, all in the Craft should receive their correction willingly. With the culprit kneeling, all in the Circle should be told of the offense, and the sentence will be pronounced. Punishment might include the scourge or the recasting of the Circle, followed by something silly such as several kisses. The culprit must acknowledge the justice of the punishment by kissing the scourge upon receiving sentence, and afterward by thanking everyone for their loving correction.

SO MOTE IT BE!

Source: “J. Random Folksinger”

Raising, Directing and Releasing Energy in Ritual and Spell Work

Raising, Directing and Releasing Energy in Ritual and Spell Work

Author: Seleya
One of the most important aspects of both ritual and spell work is the raising, directing and releasing of energy. While most understand the concepts, the reality is something altogether different. Since no two people are the same, and no two people resonate with the same methods of raising, directing and releasing energy, it is important to understand the nature of these three functions of energy usage.

While it’s simple to say: “…here is where we raise the energy, direct it and than release it…” it’s quite another thing to actually accomplish those three little things. Some say dance, sing, chant, drum, etc., but what are we actually doing while we dance, sing, chant, drum, etc.? Does the dancing, singing, chanting, drumming themselves matter? The answer is no! What matters is the energy raised when these actions are performed by the person or people involved.

So how do we raise, direct and release energy? By using any method we are comfortable with that will help us to focus our minds, focus our intent, focus the energy in us, around us in our immediate environment, in the Earth, the Sun and the Universe; to bring the energy to us, and into our circles, to accomplish the desired purpose.

Many people are in such a hurry, they omit the “grounding” part, that should always be at the very beginning or any work, be it ritual, ceremony or spell. First, this helps to connect us to the energy in ourselves, our environment and the Earth, Sun and Universe, than that connection “grounds” us, by helping us to shift our attention, our focus and our consciousness to an altered state (i.e.: from the mundane to the sacred or higher consciousness) . It is from this “altered” state that we raise, direct, and release energy, by setting aside all thoughts and focus on our daily lives and moving into an altered state.

Without the shift in consciousness, it’s just dancing, singing, chanting, or drumming… all mundane experiences, in and of themselves. The “magic” starts with the mind shifting to an altered state, where it can focus on actually raising, directing and releasing energy.

By “raising” energy, we are increasing the level of energy within not only ourselves but within the circle we have cast. As the energy begins to increase, we focus and concentrate it or condense it, until it is nearly palpable. It doesn’t matter what “method” we use to raise the energy, only that that form resonates with our psychic, our bodies, or emotions and our spirits. We have to reach out to the energy we are attempting to raise, with our hearts, minds, souls and spirits; we have to become one with it. Once that connection has been established, we can than move on to “directing”.

The directing of energy is the beginning of actually “using” the energy raised. It’s the part where we take the focused and condensed energy, and “point” it at and “direct” it into the work at hand; be it ritual, healing or spell. The raised energy must be sent into that which we desire to become reality. Without this step the energy will simply dissipate, and eventually drain into the Earth; any residual, left over energy will make us feel edgy, nervous, agitated or nauseous.

The most important part is the “releasing” part. We have to release the raised energy into the working; we can’t “hold” onto it, or the working will fail for a lack of energy. However, this last step is the most difficult to accomplish. Because we have connected with the energy we have raised, in the process of raising it; it is natural to “hang on” and stay connected to it. In order to “release” it we must sever that connection and re-shift our consciousness back into a mundane state. We have to move our consciousness away from the “work” and focus on something mundane, like the “cakes and ale”.

Now comes the hardest part of all. Just saying, “I am releasing the energy”, during the ritual or spell, is not enough. We have to actually and COMPLETELY release all the energy, all focus, thought and worry or anticipation about the “working”. If we hang onto to any part of it, we are maintaining our connection to the energy, and will drain it away from our work. We cannot think about, worry about or “wonder” when the ”work” will come to fruition. We have to “know” that by fully releasing all energy, all thought, all connection to the work, it has already become reality, even if we have not yet experienced it.

There is no magic wand like in the Harry Potter novels; the “work” or “magic” has to be allowed to function along natural lines in accordance with the Universal Laws of physics. We will not wake up in the morning miraculously thin, rich, etc. Everything in its due course. If the energy has been properly raised, directed and released, then the work is already done. It has already come about, whether we can see it at the moment or not. It’s out there, and on its way to us in what ever form we need or that the Gods determine.

The more we want something, need something; the more difficult it will be to do the last part – the releasing. In the mid 80’s, I attended several “spoon bending” workshops conducted by a physicist named Jack Hoak. He and a Metallurgist friend were working for the Pentagon at the time, conducting experiments on using the mind to bend metal (with a war application, of course) . In the workshops we learned to bend silver spoons, forks and knives with the power of our minds. And yes, it does work!

The children did if first and the rest followed quickly. The trick? Release.

It was during these workshops that I really learned to understand the concept of “release”. It was easy to concentrate on the spoon bending, but quite another thing to remove all focus from the spoon so it could actually “bend”. My first spoon bent, when the person next to me squealed with delight as their spoon bent, the moment my attention was completely drawn away from my own spoon, it bent. I had released the energy I was mentally focusing and directing at the spoon “to bend”, and then it did.

While it seemed to work best when there are many people present (easily raising the energy?) , it has yet to work for me when I am alone. Partly because of my own belief that it will only work with others present, and partly because there is nothing to distract me into releasing my energy. Practice – I need more practice.

It all takes practice. Be patient, it’s helpful to start out with the little things and work up to the bigger things. We must believe to see, not the other way around.

As with everything – practice, practice, practice.

The Wisdom of the Witch

 The Wisdom of the Witch

 

From “Griefdancer”, a poetic book on spiritual growth by Florence Mattersdorfer

Seeing
What no one wants to hear,

Hearing that which is
Unseen,

Alive within the eye of
Any storm,

The living earth is the hearth
That is home.

Lighting a spell of thanks and in doing so
Releasing all worry,

The gods know as does she
That all is as it should be.

And, touching the earth with loving hands
Then crossing the stream with bare, cold feet,

She walks her sacred circle to honor all
And marks her altar with book and stone.

All hopes are cast with wand of birch
Into nature’s realm, her spiritual church.

And though possessing no material wealth
Wealth abounds around her and the wisdom
Of this witch.

 

Submitted by Florence Mattersdorfer

Using Smudge

  • Personal spiritual cleansing and empowerment are often art of a smudging ritual. Anticlockwise spirals up and down the body with the smoking smudge stick are used to remove negativity, followed by clockwise smoke spirals to restore energy and bring power. Two people can do this, each with their own smudge stick, by standing and facing each other and moving in rhythm as though dancing. The crown is sealed with a clockwise circle and the feet likewise, followed by a final clockwise crown circle.
  • Mark boundaries around your home against bad neighbors or potential intruders by creating a psychic defense wall with alternate anticlockwise and clockwise spirals of smoke. Chant as you smudge:

May goodness and those with good intent enter her and only peace remain.

  • Purify a home or individual rooms of negativity, whether from a hostile visitor, quarrels or an unfriendly ghost, by using anticlockwise spirals.
  • Purify and empower artifacts, such as items you have bought, been given or inherited, especially jewellery, to make it your own. Pass objects or crystals through the smoke nine times anticlockwise to purify them; followed by nine circle clockwise. The words you speak and the fragrance you use will direct the purpose and attract the appropriate energies.
  • Cleanse and empower magickal tools and your indoor and outdoor altar.
  • Open the four main directions in a ritual. With practice you can make an invoking earth pentagram with the smoke from a small smudge stick.
  • Unite the six directions: East, North, South and West (the order o honoring the universe in smudge rituals), then Earth (downwards) and Sky (upwards).
  • Use for planetary healing or peace rituals.
  • Heal people, animals and places where there has been a human or naturally created disaster. Direct the smoke towards an absent person or animal, or a place or swirl it in huge spirals in all the directions. Chant the purpose continuously until you reach a powerful speed and intensity of words and movement with the smoke. then lower your voice and smudge more slowly until you end with a gentle final thrust and a whispered:

May ___________ be healed.

  • Smudge round the outline of a drawn plan of your workplace, anticlockwise and then clockwise, to bring positivity to the office. (Smudging the office itself might set off smoke alarms.)
  • In wish magick, use  chant to call what it is you desire while writing the wish in the air with a smudge stick. End with three deliberate spirals of smoke directed directly upwards (with hand or fan).
  • Induce a state of meditation or, before divination, use  fragrances like juniper, mugwort, pine, sage, yarrow or sweetgrass to amplify psychic powers.
  • Cleanse and heal the human aura, the rainbow-colored energy field that extends an outstretched arm span all round us in an ellipse. Move anticlockwise to remove impurities and clear blockages in the energy flow and clockwise to fill the aura with light and energy.
  • Create a sacred circle or strengthen one already made with salt and water and/or a candle flame. Casting a smoke circle around you gives protection during magickal work or divination and concentrates power.
  • Use smudge in personal dedication ceremonies when you declare intentions and transform the energies around you to galvanize the transformation.
  • Connect with benign guardian spirits, wise ancestors and angels.
  • Smudge can act as the East/Air element instead of incense in outdoor rituals and on your outdoor altar.

Elements Of Life

Elements Of Life

 

The Elements Of Life

In the Goddess tradition, as in many other earth-based traditions, the elements that sustain life are sacred. The four elements of life – air, fire, water, and earth form a circle, with the fifthe element, spirit, as its center. Each of the first four elements of life represents one of the four directions. For us, air is the east, fire is the south, water is the west, and earth is the north. In your circles, you must work with the correspondences that feel right to you. The elements teach us about ourselves. Air, fire, water and earth represent our minds, our energy, our emotions, and our bodies. When we face a problem or a challenge, we can ask ourselves whether we’ve looked at it from the point of view of each element. What do we think? What energies do we notice? What feelings do we have? How are our bodies affected? What does our inner spirit tell us? The circle of the elements of life helps us to remember to consider the whole, not merely one part, of any question or decision.

When these four elements of life are present and in harmony, the fifthe element, spirit, or center, is created. Spirit is what we call conscience, character, intuition, or the small voice inside. In Goddess tradition, this is the place where aquired knowledge and our innate wisdom meet and are touched by the Goddess to form an inner spirit, a sense of direction that steers us away from harm and toward our life’s purpose.

In the task of raising children in Goddess tradition, we find that just as the four eleemnts earth, air, fire, and water connect to make the sacred circle, these elements, when translated into human attributes, make the child a whole vibrant person. Our goal, as people who are rooted in the world view of the Goddess traditions, is to rais echildren who are empowered. Empowerment is that combination of self confidence, independent thought, intuition, and egagement with the world that enables us to live by our princicples and stand up for what we believe in. By creating an environment that empowers our children and ourselves, we strive to create a culture based on concern and compassion, rather than apathy and indifference.

In the following sections we discuss each of the five elements and their primary associated qualities as they relate to child rearing and self-development. We focus on realistic goals and common sense strategies that we can all draw from, regardless of our personal preferences on a number of issues.

Fire

All life on earth depends on the energy of the sun. Plants use that energy directly to live and grow. Animals must eat plants or other animals. But directly or indirectly, we are all sustained by the sun.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is brightest and hottest when it shines at high noon from the south. Therefore south is the direction we associate with fire.

Fire is also the element that warms our houses and cooks out food. the hearth fire is sacred in every earth-based tradtion, for fire is the living heart of the home. Before, television, people would gather before a fire to tell tales and sing songs during the long nights of winter, We still love to sing around a campfire or chant over a ritual fire in the center of our circles.

Fire is also dangerous. Like all thing of power, fire demands respect. A curtain wafting across a candle can burn down a home. The summers are dry where we live, and a careless match or stray spark can ignite a wildfire that may burn thousands of acres and hundreds of homes. Learning to knowfire means learning how to use fire safely and how to put a fire out. Fire reminds us that we are all responsible for each other’s safety.

Fire is the symbol of human energy as well as the sun’s energy. Health, strength, enthusiasm, and passion are qualities of fire. When we direct our energies, when we focus on a goal, we use our will, one of the powers we find in this eleement. Fire is connected to all forms of magic that direct energy, especially healing and protection.

The time of day connected to fire is, of course, high noon, just as the season is high summer. The colors of fire are red, orange, and bright golden yellow. The lion, because of its bright golden color and wild, dangerous power is often seen as a symbol of fire. So is the dragon, with its fiery breath. Legends tell us that salamanders could live in fire – but don’t test the myth with any of the ones you may find!

Brigit, of course, is the Goddess of the sacred flame of poetry, healing and the forge. Pele is the Hawaiian Goddess of the volcano. Hestia is the Greek Goddess of the hearth. Lugh is the Celtic sun God. Wayland Smith is the ancient God of the forge. Set is the anceint Egyptian God of the hot desert sun. There are many more Gods and Goddesses of fire. On our altars, a candle flame brings the presence of fire to our rituals. The tool of fire in our tradition is the wand, which is used to direct energy, and wands are oftenmade of wood, which burns. You can make a wand of your own by cutting (with adult help if working with a wee one) a small branch from you favorite tree. Be sure to ask the tree’s permission, and leave an offering.

Water

Life began in water, in the currents of the primeval ocean, and living things need water to survive. Our bodies are mostly water, and our blood is similar to seawater in its chemistry. Water carries nutrients to all the cells of our bodies and cleanses our wastes. Clean, sweet water is sacred to all people who honor life.

Water moves in a great cycle around the globe. Rain falls on the earth, bringing life to plants, soaking the soil or collecting in streams and rivers that flow to the sea. The great tides and currents of the ocean sustain sea life from the tiny plankton tot he great whales, influencing the weather, wearing away the shore. Water evaporates from the surface of the waves, forming clouds that bring the rain, and so the cycle begins again.

The summers are very dry where I live, so the first rains of winter are especially sacred. Suddenly new life appears. Seeds sprout, and grasses begin to grow. Our winters are often very wet, and rain comes down for days and days. Dry streams spring to life and rivers widen their flow. In flood years, we see the imense power of water to break through obstacles and carry away anything that blocks its flow. In drought years, water becomes extremely precious to us, and we learn to guard every drop carefully.

Water also represents our feelings and emotions. After all, our feelings flow and change like wtaer. We can bathe eah other in love and appreciation, but we can also rage and storm like the ocean waves crashing against the shore. When we honor all our feelings, the ones we think of as positive and those we think of as negative, we can choose how to act so that our emotions feed life. When we know our anger, we can choose to act peacefully. When we admit our fear, we can choose to act with courage.

For us, water is in the west, the direction of the ocean and the rain. Its time of day os the gray twilight, and its season is autumn, when the rains return. The colors of water are blue, blue- green, and gray. All water animals ~ all fish and sea creatures, including dolphins, whales, and the wise salmon ~ are symbols of water.

Tiamat, the ancient Babylonian sea seropent goddess, was mother of all the Gods. Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of love, is also Goddess of the sea. Brigit carries the power of the holy well along with the sacred flame. Oshun is the Yoruba Goddess of the river and of love, art, and culture. Yemaya is the Mother Goddess of the ocean. Ba’al is the Canaanite God of storms and the returning rains of winter. Tlaloc is the Toltec God of rain. Mananan mac Lir is the Welsh God of the sea, while Poseidon is the Greek ocean God, whose horses are the wild waves.

On the altar, the symbol of water and traditional tool is the cup or chalice. Seashells, water-smoothed stones, and images of water creatures can also be used.

Spirit

We have gone around the wheel of the elements and visited all four directions. Now we come to the center, the place of that mysterious fifth element we call “spirit,” although we could just as well call it “mystery.” The center is the place of change and transformation, and this element is not so much of a physical presence but the sense of connection that puts us in touch with the great powers of life and death. Spirit might also be called “relationship,” as the center is the place where we connect with the Goddess and God, with our traditions, and with prayer, blessing, meditations, and personal practice. Another name for this section might be “core values,” for here we contemplate ethics, right and wrong, and our responsibility to be healers, peacemakers, and protectors of the earth and her peoples.

Spirit is timeless. It corresponds to the whole cycle of the day and night, the whole wheel of the year, and the realm beyond time. Its color is clear ~ or the rainbow, which contains all colors. All the Goddesses and Gods can be considered as aspects of the center.

The traditional tool of the center is the cauldron, the magic soup pot that combines the earth/metal of the container, the fire below and the air to feed it, and the water within to bring about transformation. The drum, which holds the heartbeat of a circle and keeps a large group unified, is also a tool of center. Many symbols can be used on the alter to represent spirit. One of our favorites is a mirror, for our connection to the sacred must be found inside each one of us.

Earth

The Earth ~ Rocks, minerals, and the living soil beneath our feet. Plants draw energy from the sun, but they are nourished by the earth. Seeds are planted beneath the ground to begin their lives. The dead bodies of animals and plants are taken back to the soil to feed new life.

We think of earth as a solid thing, but soil is amazingly complex. A square foot of good garden soil is like an underground city full of space, caverns, crystalline arches, and mineral bridges, all teeming with life. Soil contains air, so that life within can breathe, and carries water to sustain billions of soil creatures and feed the roots of plants. When we truly understand the marvelous world below us, we can protect the soil from erosion by wind and water, and learn to help build new, rich soil where plants can grow. Gardening, tending trees and plants, and caring for animals are all ways to honor and protect the sacred earth.

The earth is the element that stands for our bodies. Our physical bodies are sacred, and we must take care of ourselves as we take care of the earth. All the food we eat, all the things we make and do and use, are part of this element. Because good soil is often dark, the color of the earth is black and its time is midnight. The green of living plants and growing things is also a good earth color. Its direction is north, the one quarter of the sky where in the Northern Hemisphere the sun never travels, and its season is winter, the time of darkness when seeds sleep beneath the ground. Plants, trees, and all land animals, especially big ones such as bulls and bears, are symbols of earth.

Gaia (GUY-yuh) is the ancient Greek Goddess whose name means “earth.” Demeter was the Goddess of grain and agriculture. Eriu was the Irish Goddess who gave her name to the land itself. In many Native American stories, Corn Mother is the sacred being whose body feeds the people. Cernunnos is the Celtic Horned God, the God of animals. The Green Man in all his aspects is the God of plants and trees. Ogun is the Yoruba Lord of the forest. Robin Hood is an old English forest God. There are many, many more Goddesses and Gods of earth, of particular plants and animals, and of sacred places.

Symbols of earth for the altar can be stones, crystals, rocks, or living plants. Leaves, grain, fruits, flowers, and vegetables can also be used. The traditional tool of earth is the pentacle, a five- pointed star in a circle, often inscribed on a plate or made of metal. Its five points stand for the four elements, plus the fifth, spirit. They also stand for the five senses, for our five fingers and toes, and for the human body with legs apart and arms uplifted to invoke the Goddess. The circle around it stands for the wheel of life. For us, the pentacle is a symbol of wholeness and balance, and of the ancient mysteries of our tradition.

Air

Every Moment of our lives, we must breathe in order to survive. Air carries sounds and scents, and its clarity allows light to pass through so that we can see. Air is invisible, except when other things move in response to its motion, when the wind makes branches dance and leaves fly, or bends the grasses down as it passes.

We share breath with all life. Like other re-blooded creatures, we breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide,which is used by plants and trees to transform the pure energy of the sun into food for all living things. Plants and trees give off oxygen, which we breathe in, and so a balance is sustained. We honor air as the breath of the Goddess and the gift of our most ancient fellow living creatures.

In our tradition, we associate air with the east, the direction of dawn or sunrise. Because air is invisible, we identify it with the parts of ourselves that are important but cannot be seen: our mind, our vision, our thoughts, and our dreams. Air represents knowledge and understanding, which we gain by looking closely at what is around us. Air is connected with springtime, the dawn of the year. The animals of air are, of course, birds and all flying insects,such as dragonflies and butterflies. Air’s colors are pale pinks, yellows, and whites.

Some of the Goddesses of air are Iris, the Greek Goddess of sunrise and the rainbow, and Oya, Yoruba Goddess of the whirlwind and sudden changes. Boreas is the Greek God of the wind; Hermes is the power of thought and communication. Elegba, th Yoruba trickster, translates human language into that of the Orishas, the great powers of the universe. All could be invoked for the gifts connected with air.

Symbols of air to place on your altar might be feathers, incense or other good-smelling things, fans, pinwheels, or kites. In our tradition the tool of air is the athame, the Witch’s knife. It stands for thepower of the mind to seperate things, to say: “I am me and you are you and we are not the same.” Clearly, a knife is an inappropriate tool for young children. Substitutes might be a pair of scissors or a pen (the pen is mightier than the sword).

 

Authors Details: The Elements Of Life by Starhawk

How to Perform Ritual

How to Perform Ritual

by Jonathan Bergeon

article

Ritual has existed in our culture for thousands of years. Evidence of ritual can be found in our everyday activities, and our not-so-everyday activities as well. But what is ritual?

Ritual is a sequence of events aimed at reaching a certain goal. To go a little further, one could add that it is a sequence of events aimed at reaching a certain goal a certain way. The act of ritual is a highly personalized venture. Not everybody does the same things the same that another does them. Because of this, there exist many methods by which one may reach the same objective. Despite the fact that there are certain requirements, both technical and personal, one must meet before one can hope to achieve one’s magical objectives, the differences in magical style continue to grow, as does the number of people who practice.

In regard to the technical requirements, it can be said that there truly exists only one – that being the assertion of will towards a defined goal. It can also be said that it is not necessary to do anything other than assert one’s will toward a goal for one to be successful, either in magic or whatever one chooses to do.

But for those of us who are not wholly privy to that notion, there exists ritual, and though there is truth in that statement it should be realized that other factors do apply.

One of these factors is the removal of self-doubt. Doubt undermines spells by negating them with contrary energies. If one doubts that one has effectively performed a spell correctly, then those feelings of doubt will be sent out along with the positive energies, countering them. Then, it becomes a case of the best energy winning. Thus comes the value of thinking no more of a magical act once it has been committed. One way that doubt may be quelled is through performing ritual.

Through the aid of ritual, one can erase doubt by taking certain steps to ensure one’s success. These steps serve to put it in the mind of the operator that he or she has done everything in his or her power, magically speaking, to see that the objective will be reached. This point is where such steps such as banishment, purification, consecration, sacrifice, and so on come in. All of these steps exist to ensure the success of the ritual as a whole, as should all the steps employed by the operator.

The steps employed in ritual magic vary from person to person and system to system, and not all are used all of the time. For example, not everybody consecrates the tools used in magic every time they use them. Also, not everybody calls upon outside influences and energies to aid in their workings.

It is my desire to provide you with a basic framework by which you may design your own rituals. A point to remember is that it is more difficult to contemplate ritual than it is to simply go out and do it. In ritual, if what you’re doing seems like what you should be doing, then it probably is. The following is the basic framework that I have promised:

  1. Banishment
  2. Cleansing and purification
  3. Consecration
  4. Setting the circle
  5. Invocation of the self
  6. Evocation
  7. Sacrifice
  8. General working
  9. License of departure
  10. Banishment
  11. Reclaiming of the self

Banishment is a very important process in ritual as it serves to neutralize all of the standing and active energies in the work area. These energies may either be leftovers from a previous working or simply brought about by daily living. Whatever the case, they need to be rendered inert if they are not to interfere with the energies put forth by the operator.

If they do happen to interfere with energies of the operator, then the desired outcome of the ritual could be compromised. Whether this occurs, of course, depends on the intensity of the two energies, the potential and the resident — the potential being the operator’s immediate expenditure, and the resident being the energy present before the ritual was commenced.

This interaction could be looked at like the act of drawing. If you draw a picture over preexisting artwork, the previous work shall undermine, quite literally, the present endeavor. If, however, you somehow remove said working before beginning anew, then the result will be markedly different. The other way is to simply cover up the previous work tit for tat.

The acts of cleansing and purification can be either one and the same or completely different. It really all depends on how you view it and how you do it. For me, cleansing is more of an outwardly physical thing, whereas purification is more of a spiritual matter. The cleansing is done to remove physical impurities, hence the word clean. In contrast, the purification is done to purify the energies neutralized during the banishment. In effect, purification is another form of banishment. But, besides this, it is middle ground between the banishment stage and the consecration stage, completing one while beginning the other. Just as the cleansing portion of this stage cleanses the thing undergoing the process physically, the purification cleanses it metaphorically and in doing so prepares it to become a sacred thing.

The processes of cleansing and purification are sometimes overlooked by certain magicians, who would endeavor to eliminate the middle-man. While this may be entirely acceptable in some cases, it should not always be considered to be so, as cleansing and purification can add to the overall success of the ritual through the fortification of the banishment and the consecration.

Consecration is equally important as banishment, for it gives the energy that was made neutral during the banishment a direction. This direction is the goal of the ritual at hand. This direction is created by dedicating an item or items to be used in the ritual.

That which is consecrated need not be only an item but can also be a person or place. In fact, all things involved in a ritual should be consecrated. This includes all tools, the operator and any assistants involved, and the work space. By taking care to do so, you have essentially realigned all possible influences to meet the intended goal of the ritual.

To simply sum up the first three steps of a ritual, you first neutralize the resident energies, then filter out the impurities, and realign those same energies to fit the needs of the task at hand.

The fourth stage of ritual, at least as I see it, is the setting of the magic circle. Circle-setting entails the defining of boundaries. These boundaries are designed to keep the useful energies in and the unuseful energies out. Within this circle, the energies to be sent out to work the will of the operator are built up. The circle should not be so big that the operator cannot easily manipulate the energies within it, nor so small that he or she lights himself or herself on fire on one of the candles. Remember, fire has the ability to incite certain emotions that may not be conducive to the success of the ritual as a whole, especially when the operator has burst into flames.

The circle is the place where the operator is the prime creative influence. It is his or her little universe inside of a larger universe. One could say that in this space he or she is God; essentially this assertion is true, but the terminology is stretching truth. As the creative force in this little universe, it is basically up to the operator what is and what isn’t.

But how what is affects the grand scheme of things, that is the question. The artist can paint what is to him or her a masterpiece, but what is crap is crap. Conditions will always place a damper on the efforts of the magician if he or she endeavors to work against them. That’s why, when letting somebody have it magically, it’s best to amplify an already existing condition. But that is another subject altogether.

In the next step, the invocation of the self, I am referring to the magical or sacred self — that little part of you that you pull out of the closet when you wish to do something extraordinary. When I think of the invocation of the self, I think of the Havamal, where Odin sacrifices himself to himself. That is essentially what must be achieved, the metaphorical death of the mundane self for the birth of the magical self to occur. I’m tempted to call it the higher self, but some of the selves out there can be pretty low even in their more profound states.

The magical self has its roots in the elementary; in other words, it is generated through the conscious or unconscious will of an entity purposely or accidentally, embodied or no. The magical self, being as it is an energy to be tapped, is invoked. The invocation of the self can be bypassed or substituted with shape-shifting, providing of course you don’t end up like me and become contrary to your own goals when you shape-shift.

The next stage of ritual, should you choose this route, is evocation. Evocation is the calling forth of a certain energy or entity. This energy or entity called upon should be able to assist you in your working. A spirit of a malignant nature is not a good candidate to assist you in a love spell, at least not a nice love spell.

You should also consider that it is quite possible that the disposition of a conjured spirit may be equal to that of a total stranger off of the street. In essence, the position of the operator is that of the lowly beggar petitioning for help in his or her workings. This attitude is a far cry from the operators of the Middle Ages, whose workings resemble the more aggressive approach of, “Give me you spare change or burn in Hell in the name of my loving god.” (Well, everyone needs a hobby.) The main thing that I want to say is to look upon yourself and your situation as another might see it before you conjure and to determine then whether or not it would be worth it to petition for outside assistance. But if you do get ready to do so…

Sacrifice, ahh, that’s the stuff. I could write a book on this, but I won’t. I shall, however, grace you with the two types of sacrifice that exist as I see them. The first is personal, and the second impersonal. The latter is the sacrifice of something separate from the operator, such as somebody else’s property or a life force other than the person doing the sacrifice. As this is not a method I subscribe to, I shall discuss instead sacrifice on the personal level.

First, what is sacrifice? The dictionary defines it as the destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else, or suffering the loss of something, and as a verb to give up, to renounce, to injure, or to destroy, especially for an ideal, belief, or end.

But what is the value behind sacrifice? When you go out to dinner, you get what you pay for; the same holds true for magic. When you enlist the assistance of an outside influence, it is best to give and not just take, take, take. Call me shallow, but I have always held sacrifice as a medium of exchange. Here, on the material plane, that which is given up is money. Money has little value to those who have no use for legal tender, so what instead shall we give? The answer is life force.

Now, before you go slashing your wrists, I would like to present an alternative. The life force given up can be dispensed without the shedding of blood, which in this day and age can be a dangerous thing. Instead, one may give up one’s own energies. Some people feel that we have only a limited supply of energy that is irreplaceable, but if that were so there would be a lot more dead or out-of-work magicians. The trick is to find a receptacle such as an apple and charge it with your own energy. That receptacle is then offered up to the power in question and your energy becomes theirs to benefit from.

In the case of the apple being the receptacle, an operation of this sort would go like this:

  1. Obtain the apple
  2. Obtain the knife
  3. Carve the symbol of the power to which the sacrifice is being made
  4. Commit the statement of dedication
  5. Charge the apple with your own energies
  6. Contemplate the action
  7. Give thanks, make toasts, and so on

Sacrifice is an important subject and a facet of magic that may very well predate all other forms, and it definitely deserves some looking into in regards to its process, as well as the reasons it is performed.

I would like to close this section with the note that I do not condone the killing of animals for the purposes of magic.

The next stage is that of the general working. At this point, the operator does what he or she has gone there to do — that is, unless you’ve already done that during the evocation or sacrifice. The general working is basically the spell that is performed, designed to carry out the will of the caster.

The license of departure is a polite way of saying go home. This process lets a conjured entity know that the ritual is over, and that the entity can please go now so that you can shut everything down. It is in a sense a lesser, more polite form of banishment.

I might compare this to when you are entertaining guests at your home. Time passes, as it always does, and you find that you desire to bring the evening to an end. Banishing your company would be bad manners — for that matter, it might appear downright rude. Instead, you pleasantly insist that you are done now. The license of departure should contain a hint or two of congeniality, along with the usual sternness required to maintain control of the situation. I have found the popular line “Go now unto your places and be you ready to come when you are called” to be effective, although I usually like to throw a thanks in there somewhere. It should also be noted that this line can throw people off when used in a social environment.

The last banishment is done after the license of departure to make sure that everything is back to a preconjuration state. One needs to take care not to undo all that one has done. Therefore, this banishment is a selective one, directed at removing foreign energies rather than neutralizing the resident and potential energies sent forth by the operator during the general working. For the last banishment to be more than selective would be counterproductive.

The banishment of an entity can be a tricky thing, and sometimes it needs to be done more than once. Attention needs to paid to the atmosphere of the work area when a banishment is performed. If you still feel the presence of the entity in question, then you must banish again and if necessary again and again until you get it right. There are plenty of spells out there designed to do the trick, if you find that you are having difficulty. Another thing to watch out for is when you feel nothing at all. Like people, spirits cannot always be trusted.

The final stage, the reclaiming of the self, is the point at which one winds down the ritual, takes off the mask and the robe and what not, and returns to an everyday state. Energy that was put out to construct the circle and other such things is reabsorbed by the operator. Candles are extinguished, and the oil used in their anointing is cleaned off.

The reclaiming of the self is a time when the operator goes back to being Bob, the normal average everyday self. It can be a relaxing period of final contemplation and recording of results, or it can be just a clean-up time. That really depends on the person. But after this, one should think no more on what was done, save for the process by which it was done and how it in the future can be done more effectively.

It would be premature to bring this article to a close without mentioning tables of correspondence, which no one who practices magic should be without. (Unless you feel you have risen above these, in which case you don’t need to be reading this anyway.) For those of us still living on the material plane, a table of correspondence can prove at times invaluable. Such a table provides one with a great deal of basic knowledge and lore, which one can use in the creation of spells and rituals.

Some of the things that can be found in tables such as these are the best days and hours, weeks and months to perform a ritual or magical act. They can also shed light on the proper colors, herbs, and stones that may be employed, as well as certain spirits that can be evoked or invoked to assist in your operations. There are many books out on the market today on the subject of magic and occultism that may provide you with charts of this nature. Also, one can trudge through the mythologies and folklore of the world finding bits and pieces of usable information.

It is important to cross-reference the information that is presented to you in books, as it can vary greatly from author to author. All of the fun of compiling a table of correspondence should not be left up to the experts, as they may leave you with too much irrelevant information. The tables you construct are a testimony to your personal style.

I would like to say that it is important to have fun with the rituals you create, but that really isn’t the case. What is important is that you find a ritual style that works well for you. Fun is optional.

Circle Casting

Circle Casting

Why do we cast a circle? We cast a circle for protection from what may be attracted to what we are doing. There are times when spirits that do not wish us to succeed will be drawn by the power that we raise during a circle. Sometimes it is beneficial to cast a circle to lay down a boundary between the ill will that pagans sometimes encounter as they walk on their path. The circle itself is a reminder that we are now in a different time and space, and that this space is special.

The circle is a container as well. It is used to hold the energy that is raised until it is time to release it to whatever end we are working towards. If it was not there, the energy that we raised would have to be directed into a container rather than letting it swirl around in the one that has already been created. It is far easier to tell if there has been enough energy raised when you are moving directly through it than it is to tell if there is enough in the container.

Finally, the circle exists as a link to the people that have cast circles and gathered together in the past, and a link to those that will cast them in the future. It is a continuation of a chain that has evolved over thousands of years, passing information on and down throughout the ages. While there are very few religions that can trace their roots back into antiquity, it is undeniable that there are traces of those religions left, and that there are rites and ideas that have been passed down from one person to another throughout those long years. The circle is our way of trying to connect to those times gone by and it is our legacy to our children and their children for years to come.

Whether your circle has a physical boundary, a boundary of thought, or whether it is simply a grove of trees that is circular, the ideas are still there. The circle is a construct of the mind, an idea that passes between groups. It is the idea of a scares space and sacred time.

Why do we do ritual? Ritual is a way of trying to connect to something that is greater than the self. It is a link to other people and other beings; a link to times past and future. When people come together to celebrate their idea of the sacred, it is a sharing of something that is intangible and profound. It is a way to experience the divine that surrounds us in nature and is a part of ourselves that is not always understood. Ritual is a time for joy to be expressed in the celebration of the seasons and a time for sorry to be shared in the cycles of life that take our friends and loved ones from us and a time for everything in between.

It seems almost innate for people to come together to share this idea of the sacred. While the idea of what sacred is varies from people to people, there are very few cultures that do not espouse some version of the ideas of the sacred being a time set apart from secular life. Many cultures choose to make the goals of the two similar, thus ensuring that both are successful. Religion, it would seem, is something that is almost an inborn need of humans, a way of processing the things that we do not understand and of being able to celebrate them.

Why do we place the elements of ritual in a particular order? The simple answer is that it makes it easy for more than one person to follow what is happening when there is a common order to what is being done. The not so simple answer is that there is a logical progression from start to end to rituals that allow people to perform their rites in the simplest and easiest manner possible, allowing more people to participate.

Paganism is a group of religions that tends to frown on a centralized religious structure, and so it is important that more people be able to perform these rituals. Simplicity and structure gives the ability of those who do not wish to spend years mastering the smallest component of a ritual to participate as well. Common sense also plays a part in the order of a ritual. For most people, it makes sense to cast a circle and cut it off from the world outside before inviting the gods and elements as it is somewhat rude to make them stand around and wait, or call them and then cut them off from the ritual as you cast your circle. Some, however, find that it makes more sense to cleanse and purify the area, bring everyone in, and then cast the circle and invite the gods. Still others call the gods first and then cast the circle. As with anything, each person must decide what works best for them and why.

Where do we place things in a ritual? When thinking about where to place an event in a ritual, it is necessary to examine that event to find out what the results might be, or the reason that it is being done. If you are going to Draw Down the Moon (Call a Goddess into a person), then you need to consider just how tiring this is going to be for that person. Will they want to run and jump around to raise energy after? Is the Goddess likely to want that sort of thing?

If a person were going to do a drawing down for a God and Goddess, doing that before the Great Rite would make sense as it is a rite that takes the opposites of male and female and uses that polarity to make the rite that much stronger. Ritual creation takes the ability to think about the small details such as this and form them into a larger, successful whole.

How do we know when it is right to do something and when it is not? Start to decide this by thinking of the outcome of the ritual. What is the purpose that you are getting together for? If you are doing a healing, it would be good to invite gods that have that particular aspect. If you are doing a binding or a deconsecration, choose gods that deal with endings. If you are celebrating Beltaine, a fertility holiday, don’t invoke a Crone goddess who is past her fertile years.

The yardstick that any witch must use in creating a ritual is “Does it make sense to do it this way?” If it does not make sense, then find a different way of doing the event that does. There is no limit to what can be done with ritual. There is no right or wrong way to do a ritual. If it does not make sense to call the quarters, then don’t. Because something has always been done need not mean that it should always be done. Similarly, don’t throw out tradition unless it makes sense to do so.

Copyright © 2000, Jet Blackthorn

Lady A’s Spell of the Day for 8/24 – A Simple Warding

A WARDING

Ingredients:

None

The following is an easy warding ritual for your home or just one room.

You must admit that there are those who would use magic in unwise ways.

A simple way I’ve found of dealing with such attempts is to ward a room you work in, or your home.
It is similar to casting a circle except that it is as permanent as you want it to be.
Be sure that you won’t be disturbed while casting the ward or you will have to start over.
Nothing is required to do this but you may use any props necessary to make you more comfortable.

After ensuring you won’t be disturbed, ground and center (use any form you wish, this is a very adaptable ritual). Cast your circle, using the walls as the four Quarters (again use whatever method you are most comfortable with). After the circle is cast you will do something similar to circle casting.
Invoke the Quarters again this time asking for protection of the area being warded against all negative influences from being able to ever enter the area involved.
As you invoke each Quarter visualize a wall of energy completely covering the wall involved sealed by a floor to ceiling pentacle. On the wall/s with a door visualize a smaller version of the energy wall and pentacle so that entering and leaving will not affect the integrity of the working.

After each wall, the floor, and the ceiling are sealed be sure to cleanse the area to ensure that no negativity was trapped inside the room (any method is acceptable).
When done thank the Quarters for their help and dismiss them.

Responsible Witch


Author: Donna Caldwell aka Scarlette Winter Rose

What is a witch? Is it, as by common definition, a sorceress, a person bent on evil doings, who casts spells and worships the devil? Is it someone to fear and therefore ostracize, imprison and execute? My answer to these questions is both yes, and no.

Why am I qualified to answer these questions? Because I am a witch, and have been all of my life.

So let’s get those questions answered.

First, a witch is many things. She, or he, as men are witches too, may or may not be a sorceress. Some witches practice no spell craft, but choose only to focus on the worship of nature, and the Goddess and God, providers of all that we are blessed with on this earth.

There are those like myself, who practice sorcery, or magick. And you will find that among witches, those terms, along with numerous others, intertwine for many, while some insist that the term sorcery only applies to black magic. I do not agree, because to me there is no “black” or “white” magick. There is only magick, and it is the intent of the practitioner that determines the direction of the energy used.

When one decides to follow the path of the witch, they are making a commitment that holds many responsibilities, and will find that there is much to learn before any actual casting of spells should be approached.

To quote High Priestess Ly de Angeles, from her book “Witchcraft Theory and Practice”, “Once initiation has occurred, there is no turning back…you will quest all of your life; it is not a thing to do thoughtlessly.”

This is, in part, because our spiritual path, unlike others, states that we are immediately responsible for all of our actions and the results that follow. We cannot lay blame elsewhere for our harmful deeds, whether toward ourselves or to others.

Witches do not believe in the devil, so the idea of our worshipping one is meaningless. If we have acted in a baneful manner, we will not be judged after our body dies, before a single god, but will reap the sowing of our intent while in the present life, and sometimes beyond it, in accordance to the laws of the universe.

This is known among witches as the Threefold Law. It states that any one baneful act by a witch shall be returned upon them three times.

Some, myself included, do not hold strictly to the Threefold Law, but believe that negative use of witchcraft returns upon those liable however many times the universe deems necessary, in order to teach that which must be taught to the practitioner. Think of the old saying “What goes around comes around.”

So witches do have rules? Hell yes!

We abide by that which is known as the Wiccan Rede, a hefty list of guidelines. The most basic and important of these is “And it harm none, do what thou wilt.” Now, just what does that mean?

It means a lot.

We must take care with everything and everyone on this earth, be it the people, the animals, nature, and the planet itself. All is a gift from the Goddess. We must not lie, steal, cheat, or raise war, either with nations, or other people who would condemn us for our beliefs because they differ from their own.

We must work magick responsibly. This means we must prepare for ritual with great thought and patience, being precise, and making sure our efforts do not impose upon another’s will, as that would be baneful.

We must not use mind-altering drugs of any kind before or during ritual. To do so would be against the Rede, as we could bring harm to others and ourselves due to our lack of clear focus.

There are strict rules for summoning energies or “watchtowers”, as we in the Craft refer to them. They are called upon to join and assist in ritual, and must be dismissed at the ritual’s end, in a certain way. Failing to do this can, and most often does, result in negative occurrences long after the ritual is over and those in the circle have gone merrily on their way.

Being in a drugged state would leave those practicing within the ritual circle completely vulnerable to the energies and spirits that have been summoned. To perform spell work correctly, successfully and safely, one must have complete control over their faculties.

Now, how about our reputation?

It has taken hundreds of years for witches to partially recover from the labels placed upon us, and whether we like it or not, our chosen path is one which is looked at by others who still hold to the opinion that we are not following a true spiritual path, but one of pure evil. We must show them differently.

We must act responsibly, respectfully, and never fall into the trap of believing that we are “right” and others “wrong” in their differing beliefs.

We must not boast of powers, or play upon another’s fear of us, thus falling prey to the ego and thereby promoting our own demise, either through personal fault, or by those who would seek to destroy us.

As for that last question, I think I’ll let you, the reader, decide. You have heard from me, a practicing witch, concerning some or our basic beliefs and ways in which we live our lives.

So, what do you think? Should I be feared? Ostracized and imprisoned? Executed?

Some would still answer, “Yes.” My neighbor is one. She has stated on more than one occasion that anyone who practices witchcraft, or her idea of witchcraft, should, in fact, be burned at the stake, twenty – first century or not. With the giant wooden cross she has erected in her front yard, I guess she is preparing for her own ritual….

There will probably always be those who will hate us, out of ignorance and fear. Or perhaps just because we have the courage some of them lack, to follow our own path rather than go along with what is most acceptable in society for the sake of fitting in.

As for myself, I shall continue on the journey my Goddess has provided me, and I shall remain a responsible witch.