Recipe by Scott Cunningham
2 parts Frankincense 1 part Benzoin 1 part Dragon’s Blood 1/2 part Nutmeg 1/2 part Violet flowers (or a few drops Violet oil) 1/2 part Orange peel 1/2 part Rose petals
Burn during Wiccan rituals on Ostara (the Spring Equinox, which varies from March 20th to the 24th each year), or to welcome the spring and refresh your life.
(The above recipe for “Ostara Incense” is directly quoted from Scott Cunningham’s book: “The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews”, page 83, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.)
Researched and Compiled by StormWing
Ostara (pronounced “O-STAR-ah”) is one of the Lesser Wiccan Sabbats and is celebrated on the Spring Equinox, most often March 21st, but varies somewhat from the 20th to the 23rd. The variance, as with all Solar festivals, is due to the differences between the actual astronomical event and our calendar, so be sure to check the calendar each year.
Other names this Sabbat is also called by are the Vernal Equinox or the Spring Equinox, Oestara, Eostre’s Day, Rite of Eostre, Equinozio della Primavera (Aridian Strega), Alban Eiber (Caledonii Tradition or the Druids), Bacchanalia, Festival of the Trees, and Lady Day. Christians celebrate their holiday – Easter – near this same time and it is based on basically the same principles as ours in the Old Religion. Easter is actually determined in a very Pagan manner… it is always the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox.
This Sabbat is a time to celebrate the arrival of Spring, when light and darkness are in balance but the light is growing stronger. The forces of masculine energy and feminine energy are also in balance and this day marks paves the way for the coming lushness of Summer. Ostara is a time for the celebration of fertility and balance, a time when all elements within and without us are brought into harmony. A time of new life and rebirth, as well as the end of Winter.
Symbols used to represent Ostara include the egg (for fertility and reproduction) and the hare (for rebirth and resurrection), the New Moon, butterflies and cocoons. Symbolically, many Pagans choose to represent Ostara by the planting of seeds, potted plants, ringing bells, lighting new fires at sunrise, either in the fireplace (if the weather us still cold enough), in the the cauldron, or light a balefire (if outdoors). I always give myself a gift of a newly potted plant or take a seed and plant it within my cast Circle. Ritually, a fire may be lit in the cauldron during (not before) the rite itself. You may want to decorate your altar with a colorful bouquet of Spring wildflowers. Other traditional activities include working on magickal gardens and practicing all forms of herbal work — magickal, artistic, medicinal, culinary, and cosmetic.
Here is a traditional Vernal Equinox pastime according to Scott Cunningham: go to a field and randomly collect wildflowers. Thank the flowers for their sacrifice before picking them and it is also best to leave an offering to the plant and/or the Earth for taking the flowers, such as some milk and honey, a small crystal or even a coin. Or, buy some from a florist, taking one or two of those that appeal to you. Then bring them home and divine their magickal meanings by the use of books, your own intuition, a pendulum or by other means. The flowers you’ve chosen reveal your inner thoughts and emotions. A particular suggestion from Scott Cunningham that I really enjoy each year is to do the following… at this time in the turn of the Wheel of the Year, when all things are green and renewed life is all around us, it is a very good idea to plan a walk (or a ride) through gardens, a park, woodlands, forest and other green places. This is not simply for exercise, and you should be on no other mission. It isn’t even just an appreciation of Nature. You should make your walk celebratory, a ritual for Nature itself. Other Pagan activities may include the planting of your herb and/or vegetable garden.
Another very popular Ostara activity is decorating and coloring or dying hard-boiled eggs – or other eggs such as wooden or paper mache (I call them “Ostara Eggs”), and drawing Pagan and magickal symbols on the colored eggs. You could then choose to either keep the eggs, bury them in the Earth or cast them into a fire as offerings to the Goddess – the choice is yours. If I use hard- boiled eggs, I usually bury them in the Earth when the ritual is over, but – alternately – here is my personal choice… I usually make my eggs from the paper mache ones (the cost factor comes in to play here, they are a LOT cheaper than the wooden ones, but the wooden ones are much smoother). I buy them at the local craft store (such as Hobby Lobby). These eggs can be reused next year and you can even add new ones to the old, if you like. The first thing I do is paint them each a different color – whatever shade strikes me – whether it be dull, bright, pastel, or primary. Then I use gold and silver paint pens to draw Pagan designs and magicakl symbols all over them. You may opt to use other color combinations. It is entirely up to your personal choice. I have one egg that is totally covered with interconnected triangles (Triple Goddess), a couple with pentagrams and God and Goddess symbols, some with words written in Theban script, etc. Just let your imagination take you there – it’s a lot of fun!
Appropriate Deities for Ostara include all Youthful and Virile Gods and Goddesses, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, Love Goddesses, Moon Gods and Goddesses, and all Fertility Deities. Some Ostara Deities to mention by name here include Persephone, Blodeuwedd, Eostre, Aphrodite, Athena, Cybele, Gaia, Hera, Isis, Ishtar, Minerva, Venus, Robin of the Woods, the Green Man, Cernunnos, Lord of the Greenwood, The Dagda, Attis, The Great Horned God, Mithras, Odin, Thoth, Osiris, and Pan.
Key actions to keep in mind during this time in the Wheel of the Year include openings and new beginnings. Spellwork for improving communication and group interaction are recommended, as well as fertility and abundance. Ostara is a good time to start putting those plans and preparations you made at Imbolc into action. Start working towards physically manifesting your plans now. The most common colors associated with Ostara are lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink. However, also appropriate colors include grass green, all pastels, Robin’s egg blue, violet, and white. Stones to use during the Ostara celebration include aquamarine, rose quartz, and moonstone. Animals associated with Ostara are rabbits and snakes. Mythical beasts associated with Ostara include unicorns, merpeople, and pegasus. Plants and herbs associated with Ostara are crocus flowers, daffodils, jasmine, Irish moss, snowdrops, and ginger. For Ostara incense, you could make a blend from any of the following scents or simply choose one… jasmine, frankincense, myrrh, dragon’s blood, cinnamon, nutmeg, aloes wood, benzoin, musk, African violet, sage, strawberry, lotus, violet flowers, orange peel, or rose petals.
Foods in tune with this day (linking your meals with the seasons is a fine way of attuning with Nature) include eggs, egg salad, hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, first fruits of the season, fish, cakes, biscuits, cheeses, honey and ham. You may also include foods made of seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, as well as pine nuts. Sprouts are equally appropriate, as are leafy, green vegetables. From Scott Cunningham: flower dishes such as stuffed nasturtiums or carnation cupcakes also find their place here. (Find a book of flower cooking or simply make spice cupcakes. Ice with pink frosting and place a fresh carnation petal on each cupcake. Stuff nasturtium blossoms with a mixture made of cream cheese, chopped nuts, chives and watercress.) Appropriate Ostara meat dishes should contain fish or ham.
May the Lord and Lady bless you all with fertility, abundance, success, and all things new!
Researched and Compiled by StormWing
Journey To Witchcraft
Author: The Wild Sorceress
Hello from an Australian Eclectic Witch. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. I’ve been thinking about writing an essay for some time but as all procrastinators will tell you, it’s always the thinking, never the doing.
I have always been interested in witchcraft. I think the awareness and the interest started when I was 13, (inspired from seeing The Craft. Yes, I know what you’re thinking and you’re probably right. But we all find our path in different ways).
I went to see the movie with three friends and at the end of the movie, like all teenage girls who are not considered ‘popular’ we thought “Wow this is for us”. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble the teenage way. And like all teenagers, my three friends lost interest fairly soon after.
The interest always stuck with me in various ways over the next few years but being in high school one has enough stress and doesn’t always find the time to delve into the spiritual.
So as the story goes, years later I was cleaning out my room and came across a book my parents had bought for me when I was 13 called The Nice Girl’s Book of Naughty Spells. (Yes you read correctly, my parents bought it for me).
I also came across articles I had ripped out of magazines and a booklet I had sent off for from the Church Of Wicca in Perth, WA. It grabbed me, and then it lost me. I began working and again, it took a back seat. I think at that stage in my life, it wasn’t time for me to walk the path. (Procrastination again).
I was about 22 when the interest became more of a spiritual need, a path I felt I needed to walk. I bought books to read. My first 2 were Witch A Personal Journey and A Magickal Year by Fiona Horne, followed soon by Book Of Shadows by Phyllis Currot and then finally Wicca by Scott Cunningham. It really hit me: this is what I wanted, and I felt it was right for me.
Luckily I didn’t have any religious conflicts. For all intents and purposes my mother was a single mother and she felt, not being religious herself, that she did not want to baptize her children (I have an older brother). She felt that we should feel free to pick our own path when we were old enough to understand what religion was. Suffice to say, Christianity was not for me.
I’ve always been an independent free thinker and the rules and rigmarole of organized religion was not for me.
The way I got here was interesting. As a general rule when I was younger, nature and its elements were actually very boring to me. I knew there were trees and flowers and things of that nature but it didn’t really impact me in any fashion. I used to hate helping my mother garden. Also, every time I tried to grow something it would die. The natural world, seemingly, was not my friend.
As I began to study witchcraft the natural held more interest and I felt better and more alive when I would go outside. We have this massive Oak tree in our yard and it is magnificent and really old. Now when I stand with it and look at it or touch the leaves, I feel an affinity I never thought I would. I feel a spiritual recognition, a connection with its beauty and its sense of history. I grow herbs under it and they flourish nourished by its shade. Being a fire sign, Oak is also one of my Celtic trees.
I feel my personal power growing. I have always had a strong sense of intuition and occasionally have psychic flashes that more often than not just leave me with a head spinning sense of déjà vu.
I am now able to grow herbs. I’m currently growing about 8 different kinds from seed and they are going really strong now. To me, this is a sign that the Goddess is helping me walk this path.
The one thing that originally boggled my mind was the amount of ‘things’ needed in witchcraft. There are athames and wands, chalices, censers, candles, herbs etc and I thought that my new path — although giving me great spiritual fulfillment — was going to drain my finances. But I have found that these items have come to me when I have needed them, not before. I think that instead of rushing out and buying everything all at once that if you wait, the Goddess will deliver. If not, I have 2 great recommendations for you.
EBay is a great place to get different ritual items. I got my first lot of herbs, most of my books, runes and two lovely wooden pentagram boxes from EBay.
Another is an Australian website called Uncle Festers. They have a club called the Cauldron Club and each month for 13 months they send you a package, slowly building up all your ritual supplies. Since being with them I haven’t really bought anything. I wait; it comes. I love it; it’s like my birthday every month.
My mother and stepfather have always been incredibly supportive of my choice (as has my brother and friends). I never had to worry about their disapproval. It breaks my heart when I read articles on here about new witches who fear rejection and anger from their parents if they share with them the news of walking the path of the Goddess. It’s sad that people are not flexible minded enough to realize that what may be good for them religion-wise is not always good for someone else.
My advice is to stay strong and be true to who you are because ultimately in this world, the only person who you have to please is yourself.
Wow, do I go on. So this is the story of a 24-year-old Eclectic Witch from Australia who wanted to write an article for Witchvox.
This list will include the following: What planet and element works best with the herb, the magickal use and the general use of the herbs. Of course, there are multiple uses for all of the herbs, to list them all would be impossible.
The Herbal Code
In old magickal recipes and spells, strange ingredients are often called for that cannot always be taken literally. In one ancient Greco-Egyptian spell, the recipe called for “the navel of a male crocodile”, which really meant pond weed; “the heart of a baboon” meant oil of lily. The “sacrifice” in folklore was usually an egg buried in the ground.
Here’s what those unusual nouns really meant!
Adder’s tongue; Plantain
Bat’s Wing: Holly Leaf
Bat’s wool: Moss
Blood: Elder sap
Bloody fingers: Foxglove
Bodily Fluids: Houseleek
Brains: Congealed gum from a cherry tree
Bull’s blood: Horehound
Corpse candles: Mullein
Crocodile dung: Black earth
Dead Man: Ash or Mandrake root carved in a crude human shape or poppet
Dragon’s scales: Bistort Leaves
Ear of an ass: Comfrey
Ear of a goat: St. John’s Wort
Hair: Maidenhair fern
Hand: The expanded frond from a male fern used to make the true hand of glory, which is nothing more than a candle made of wax mixed with fern
Lion’s tooth: Dandelion
Skin of a man: Fern
Snake’s blood: Hematite stone
Tongue of dog: Hound’s tongue
Tooth or Teeth: Pinecones
Unicorn horn: True unicorn root
Worms: Gnarled, thin roots of a local tree
Information from The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation Solitary Witch by Silver RavenWolf
Herb HarvestThrough you
Oh Mother Goddess,
All abundance is known; Your love cheers the heart
And sustains the soul.
Misty summer mornings are ideal times for harvesting herbs. To enhance the magical power of your herbs, it is best to make every step in the gathering of herbs a magical one. Rise early and rinse your hands in cool water. Wearing clean colothing, or nude if location permits, go out into the garden. Bring with you a small basket, a clean cloth, and a cutting tool. The tool you use to harvest herbs should be one specially designed for this purpose, and duly consecrated. Any sharp blade will do, but a lovely way of honoring the Moon Goddess who presides over the growth of green things is to use a small sickle-shaped knife. The shining surface of the blade and its shape both connect it to the power of the moon tides.
Consecrating Herb Tools
Any consecration rite for objects can be used to bless your cutting tool. A simple rite is to wash the tool in fresh water, ideally rain water or water from a stream. As you rinse the implement, visualize all past influences and impurities leaving it. If you prefer, do this rite at night where you can catch the moonbeams in the shining surface of the blade.
Say these words or similar:
Mighty Goddess of all that grows
Bless this blade as moonlight glows
With this blade of shining power
Let me cut both herb and flower
So mote it be.
Take your newly consecrated blade and wipe it dry with a clean, white cloth. Place it in your basket, along with the cloth.
Approach the herb you have decided to harvest. Praise its beauty and abundance. Explain that in exchange for the careful care you have given to it, you will now, with its permission, take a small portion of it in return. The following is a harvesting prayer based on one favored by Scott Cunningham, and should be said while touching the herb to be harvested with the point of the harvesting knife.
You have grown by favor of the Sun, the Moon, and the dew. I make this request, herb, I ask you to be of benefit to me and my art, for your virtues are unfailing. You are the dew of all the gods and goddesses, the eye of the Sun, the light of the Moon, the beauty and glory of the sky, the mystery of the earth. I purify you so that whatever is wrought by me with you may, in all its powers, have a good and speedy effect with good success. Be purified by my prayer and be powerful.
Cut some of the herb. Shake off any excess dew. Set the sprigs carefully on the cloth or into the basket. To retain maximum magical power, the herbs should not touch the ground. Do not harvest from plants that are not fully grown, and never take more than about a quarter of the plant. If you are harvesting roots or bulbs, always leave enough to ensure next year’s growth. After collecting the plant, you may want to leave an offering, particularly if you are gathering wild plants that you did not tend while they were growing. A silver coin, small crystal, bit of bread, or a few grains of a fertilizing compound are all appropriate offerings to the spirit of the plant.
Dry your herbs by tying them in bunches and hanging them up in a warm, dry area that is free of sunlight and dust. If you are harvesting the herbs for seed, tie brown paper bags loosely around each bunch of hanging herbs. The bag will catch the seeds, which fall away from the foliage as it dries. When the herbs are dry. Gently shake them before removing the bag to loosen any additional seeds.
If you need to hasten the drying process, place the herbs on a cookie sheet in a low-heat oven, checking them frequently to be sure that they do not turn brown. Store in clean, dry, airtight jars, preferably of amber or cobalt blue glass. Keep jars out of direct sunlight.
Some Magical Uses of Herbs
Love: Cardamom, chickweed, cinnamon, clove, lavendar, lemon balm, rose, rosemary, tansy, vanilla, violet, yarrow.
Good Luck: Allspice, heather, nutmeg.
Healing: Angelica, bufdock, cinnamon, eucalyptus, hyssop, lemon balm, peppermint.
Prosperity: Basil, benzoil, bergamot, cinnamon, cinquefoil, lemon balm, mint.
Protection: Alyssum, angelica, basil, bay, garlic, mullein, rue, sunflower, white sage.
Psychic Skills: Angelica, anise, bay, borage, cinnamon, fennel, mugwort.
Purification: Anise, bay, chamomile, clove, copal, fennel, lavender, white sage.
Walking in the woods, striding through deserts, climbing mountains or strolling along beaches are refreshing activities in and of themselves. When combined with a quest for magickal herbs they can be exciting adventures.
There are some basic ideas to follow here:
*Collect only what you need. Do you really need five paper sacks full of mugwort?
*Attune with the plant before collecting from it. You may do this by placing your hands around it and feeling its energies, chanting a simple rhyme or a few words that describe why you’re taking part of its energy(leaves and flowers), and/or by placing an object of worth in the soil at the base of the plant. If you have nothing else with you, put a coin or dollar bill beneath the plant before havesting. This represents your willingness to give of yourself in exchange for the plant’s sacrifice.
*Never collect more than 25 percent of the plant’s growth. If you’re collecting roots you must, of course, take the whole plant, so be sure to leave other nearby plants of the same type untouched.
*Don’t collect after rain or heavy dew. At least, not until the Sun has dried the plants. Otherwise they might mold while drying.
*Choose your collection site carefully. Never collect plants near highways, roads, stagnant or polluted waters, near factories or military installations.
To dry herbs you’ve harvested, strip off the leaves of flowers and lay on ceramic, wooden or steel racks in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight. Or place them in baskets and shake the herbs daily until dry. Store in airtight, labelled jars.
“The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews”
Many of the ingredients used in herb magick come from far-flung parts of the globe. While I’d love to grow a sandalwood tree on my front porch, it’s just not possible.
So many herbs have to be purchased. This doesn’t lessen them in any way; in fact, the herb trade ensures that plant materials which would otherwise be unavailable can be obtained and used in magick.
Use mail-order herb and essential oil suppliers, you will be able to buy magickal herbs from around the world while sipping herb teas in your living room.
Then again, most larger cities and towns have at least one herb shop or health food store which stock herbs.Check your phone book.
Take care when buying essential oils. If the salesperson say, “Yes, it’s real jasmine oil!” and it carries a $3.00 price tag, it’s real synthetic jasmine oil. Even those oils labelled “essential” are usually the products of the laboratory rather than of the fields.
One good yardstick is price. Most true essential oils sell for between $10 and $40 per 1/3 or 1/2 ounce. Some, such as camomile, yarrow, cardamom, neroli, jasmine and rose can be far costlier. Buy carefully!
Synthetics have long been used in magickal herbalism, but I urge you to use only true essential oils.
Regarding herbs: Many stores can’t be relied upon to lay in fresh stock at regular intervals, so the rosemary you buy may be several years old. In general, choose dried herbs with bright colors, with few stem pieces and with fresh smells.
Avoid all herbs that are mostly stem, that have varying discoloration, are insect-damaged or moldy. Also avoid any with little scent if the herb is usually heavily fragranced.
Buying by mail complicates this process–its tough to determine whether the frankincense you’ve ordered is top quality. Simply avoid ordering more herbs from suppliers who send you lesser quality herbs.
And remember–suppliers are at the mercy of the growers. Obtaining a year-round supply of first-grade herbs is often difficult. So use what you can find and hunt for better supplies in the future.
The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews
Author: Tytus Lionheart
It is more likely that the title should read “Discovering Myself in Wicca”, because since my first steps on the path of the wise that is what I have been challenged with, discovering who I am and what is my purpose in this life. Wicca has changed my perspective on life and living in so many beautiful ways it is hard to think I can even begin to place them here in this article. I will do my best as my words and my ability in writing can allow. Wicca is more than magic, more than philosophy, more than a religion. It is a lifestyle and a commitment to self-betterment through harmony with nature and the divine. It is a blend of all spiritual pursuits both ancient and modern. I will begin to explain my life before Wicca, then my life as I dedicated myself to learning and studying Wicca.
In my early years before Wicca was a part of my life, I was a bit of an outcast even among friends. I always felt there was something missing from myself that I was being called to something greater than what was in my life at the time. I was struggling with roles presented by society and the supposed morals of the Christian religion I thought were missing within me. Even as a young boy in elementary school I was a recluse, preferring the company of few friends and more often than not I was alone at recess in a field of grass playing with my imagination. I can remember befriending abstract companions such as the wind, which I imagined to be a female entity I so cleverly named “Windy.” I would imagine with my brother and friends that we were warriors of great magical prowess, having the power to manipulate energy to my will. Back then I was sure it was all pretend, but now I know these qualities and aspects are what lead me to Wicca.
In high school I shook off my reclusiveness as I embraced my inner self and accepted my homosexuality. Doing so challenged the societal roles and Christian morals that had limited my perspective of life. I began exploring different paths of living; different roles that I never knew existed. I explored other religions and spiritual concepts. After my sophomore year I learned about Wicca. At first I thought it was all smoke and mirrors until I came across some books and authors that would shape my understanding of not only Wicca, but also myself and my role in life.
“Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner” by Scott Cunningham and “Sons of the Goddess” by Christopher Penzack were the first true teachings of Wicca that I had at the time. Both showed me basic principles of Wicca and magick, which fully absorbed me and my need for spiritual growth. After some time studying each book, I performed a self-dedication ritual, my first act of magick. I dedicated myself to the teachings of Wicca, to the study and application of magick, to discovering the Goddess and the God within me.
From then on I was studying magick and Wicca every day, reading lots of books on both subjects and on other traditions of the occult including Ceremonial magick, Chaos magick, reconstructive pagan religions and the different paths of Wicca. I became a solitary eclectic Wiccan, creating my own Book of Shadows and putting in it all the material I would use in creating my own personal Wiccan tradition. I would practice magick, exercise my psychic abilities with meditations, ritual and daily prayer. All I read were books on Wicca, the Occult and magick. I kept to the path by making Wicca apart of my every day; I prayed every day, studied ritual and practiced spell craft whenever the need arose.
Wicca had become a part of my life. I learned a lot about myself as a person, as a magician I learned my strengths and weaknesses; I built my power of Will to change the world within me and without. I became happier, clearer in thinking, more broad in my perspective of life and living. Family and friends noticed a change in me… more vigor for life, more understanding of myself and the world around me. I was finally coming into my own, discovering myself. I learned that I’m more powerful than I had believed for many years. Things were and have been conforming to my Will, in positive constructive ways.
After about two years of study (overkill I know) I fully embraced Wicca as my way of life and performed a self-initiation. I honored Lord Hermes as my patron, the god of magick, healing, communication, and merchants. I feel such a strong connection to Him; I performed a ritual of dedication to His teachings not only in ancient Greece and Rome, but His Egyptian counterpart, Thoth, and the legendary Hermes Trismegistus. Hermes to this day is my patron God. I grew also to adore the stories of the goddesses Diana, Aradia, and Hecate. I felt connected to the Great Horned One as well, an archetype and spirit of masculinity and male mystery. From these Gods and Goddesses I gained strength and wisdom. I feel their energy when I pray to them, when I call them in ritual… and in my everyday life, I have felt their presence. I have had many answered prayers and blessings from the Goddess and the God and the forms they assume.
It was to the full moon, Diana that I prayed and asked to find true love, to meet my soul mate. I asked Her to send me an angel, and shortly after I met my fiancé, it was love at first sight. I have been truly blessed by the divine powers of the universe and for that I am thankful, for I have felt the Love of the Lord and Lady and it is beautiful.
After about 5 years of personal, solitary study I felt there was a need to expand on the spiritual foundation I had built for myself. I began researching traditions of Wicca, seeking training into priesthood. I wanted a tradition where I can keep to my eclectic nature yet have a strong base to grow from. Many paths caught my interest including Faery Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca, and some other neo-pagan traditions, but it was when I came across the Correllian Natavist Tradition that I found the path that resonated with the Wiccan philosophy and theology I already subscribed to in my personal tradition as a solitary.
I am now currently studying the First Degree courses of the Correllian tradition, to become a Reverend of Wicca. I hope to take my training in the tradition all the way to my third degree and from there I want to open a Temple for the tradition here in California. I hope to join the Order of Herbal Studies, the Order of Reiki and the Order of Spiritual Advisors that are set up within the Correllian Tradition. I hope to one day meet and possibly work with Rev. Don Lewis of the High-Correllians, and many other legends of the Natavist Tradition and of the Wiccan community as a whole. I have found a purpose within my religion and I am working towards my initiation. From here I will continue to grow and study, to apply my spirituality into my every day and to be able to help others find their way in the Craft as well.
My discovery of Wicca has been a life changing experience and to this day I am inspired by my religion and its endless source of power, love and harmony. Wicca has changed me in many positive and progressive ways, making my life happier, my lifestyle more meaningful. I am thankful for all Wicca has taught me and for all the blessings the Lord and Lady have bestowed upon me and mine. It is because of Wicca that I have gained so much strength, wisdom and joy.
My journey into Wicca continues to evolve and move forward each day, I have found my calling in this life and hopefully more lives to come will be benefitted from the teachings I have received in this life. May all that read this article come to understand that Wicca is a religion of personal power and a lifestyle of love in all its beautiful, glorious forms. I am a Wiccan, and I am blessed.
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Dragon’s Blood
1/2 part Red Sandalwood
1 part Cinnamon
a few drops Red Wine
To this mixture add a pinch of the first flower (dry it first) that is available in your area at the time of Imbolc (February 1st). Burn during Wiccan ceremonies on Imbolc, or simply to attune with the symbolic rebirth of the Sun — the fading of winter and the promise of Spring.
(The above recipe for Imbolc Incense is directly quoted from Scott Cunningham’s book: The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews, page 72, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.)
Thirteen Books Every Wiccan Should Read
By Patti Wigington, About.com
Now that you’ve decided you want to learn about contemporary Wicca or another modern Pagan path, what should you read? After all, there are literally thousands of books on the subject — some good, others not so much. This list features the thirteen books that every Pagan should have on their shelves. A few are historical, a few more focus on modern Wiccan practice, but they’re all worth reading more than once. Bear in mind that while some books may purport to be about Wicca, they are often focused on NeoWicca, and do not contain the oathbound material found in traditional Wiccan practice.
If you want to learn about birds, you get a field guide about birds. If you want to learn about mushrooms, you get a field guide to mushrooms. Drawing Down the Moon is a field guide to Pagans. Rather than offering up a book of spells and recipes, Margot Adler presents an academic work that evaluates modern Pagan religions – including Wicca – and the people who practice them. The work is based on a survey the author took over two decades ago, but the information within is still a worthy read. Drawing Down the Moon makes no apologies for the fact that not all Wiccans are full of white light and fluff, but instead tells it like it is. Adler’s style is entertaining and informative, and it’s a bit like reading a really well-done thesis paper.
Raymond Buckland is one of Wicca’s most prolific writers, and his work Complete Book of Witchcraft continues to remain popular two decades after it was first published – and for good reason. Although this book represents a more eclectic flavor of Wicca rather than a particular tradition, it’s presented in a workbook-like format that allows new seekers to work through the exercises at their own pace, learning as they go. For more seasoned readers, there’s a lot of useful information as far as rituals, tools, and magic itself. This book is a classic, and well worth picking up.
The late Scott Cunningham wrote a number of books before his untimely death, but Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner remains one of the best known and most useful. Although the tradition of witchcraft in this book is more Cunningham’s eclectic path than any other tradition, it’s full of information on how to get started in your practice of Wicca and magic. He goes into depth about tools, how and why they are used, ethics, and the concept of god and goddess. If you’re interested in learning and practicing as an individual, and not necessarily jumping into a coven right off the bat, this book is a valuable resource.
Phyllis Curott is one of those people who makes me glad to be Pagan — because she’s really normal. An attorney who has spent her life working on First Amendment issues, Curott has managed to put together a really useful book. Witch Crafting is not a collection of spells, rituals or prayers. It’s a hard and fast look at magical ethics, the polarity of male and female in the divine, finding the god and goddess in your everyday life, and the pros and cons of coven life vs. solitary paths. Curott also offers up a very interesting take on the Rule of Three. Whether you’re a new student of Wicca, or a veteran, Witch Crafting is worth reading more than once.
Dana D. Eilers spent many years facilitating an event called Conversations With Pagans, and from that she wrote a book entitled The Practical Pagan. She then drew on her experience as an attorney to write Pagans and the Law: Understand Your Rights. This book goes into depth about precedents in religious discrimination lawsuits, how to protect yourself if you may be a victim of workplace harassment, and how to document everything if your spirituality is leading someone to treat you unfairly. Eilers is an outspoken woman who has a lot of great advice worth listening to.
[p]The first section of this book is Eight Sabbats for Witches. It goes into depth on Sabbat rites, and the meanings behind the holidays are expanded on. While the ceremonies in The Witches’ Bible are the Farrars’ own, there’s a heavy influence of the Gardnerian tradition, as well as Celtic folklore and some other European history. The second half of the book is in fact another book, The Witches Way, which looks at the beliefs, ethics, and practice of modern witchcraft. Despite the fact that the authors are a bit conservative by today’s standards, this book is an excellent look at the transitioning concept of what exactly it is that makes someone a witch.
Gerald Gardner is the founder of modern Wicca as we know it, and of course of the Gardnerian tradition. His book Witchcraft Today is a worthy read, however, for seekers on any Pagan path. He discusses paganism in Europe, as well as the so-called “witch cult”, and goes on to demonstrate how many of history’s notable names are connected, one way or another, to what we know today as witchcraft. Although some of the statements in Witchcraft Today should be taken with a grain of salt — after all, Gardner was a folklorist and that shines through in his writing — it’s still one of the foundations that contemporary Wicca is based on. For its historical value, few things beat this book.
Triumph of the Moon is a book about Pagans by a non-Pagan, and Hutton, a highly respected professor, does an excellent job. This book looks at the emergence of contemporary Pagan religions, and how they not only evolved from the Pagan societies of the past, but also owe heavily to 19th-century poets and scholars. In fact, Hutton points out that a good deal of what we consider “ancient” Pagan practice can be attributed to the novelists and romantics of the late Edwardian and early Victorian era. Despite his status as a scholar, Hutton’s breezy wit makes this a refreshing read, and you’ll learn far more than you ever expected to about today’s Pagan religions.
Dorothy Morrison is one of those writers who doesn’t hold back, and while her book The Craft is aimed at beginners, she manages to create a work that can be useful for anyone. Morrison includes exercises and rituals which are not only practical, but teaching tools as well. Despite its focus on the lighter side of witchcraft, it’s a good starting point for anyone trying to learn about Wicca, and how to create your own rituals and workings. Morrison also has written a number of other books, including a companion work to this one.
Historian Jeffrey Russell presents an analysis of witchcraft in an historical context, from the early days of Medieval Europe, through the witch craze of the Renaissance, and up into modern times. Russell doesn’t bother trying to fluff up the history to make it more palatable to today’s Wiccans, and takes a look at three different kinds of witchcraft — sorcery, diabolical witchcraft, and modern witchcraft. A noted religious historian, Russell manages to make an entertaining yet informative read, as well as accepting that witchcraft in and of itself can in fact be a religion.
“The complete book of incense, Oils, and Brews.”
by: Scott Cunningham
3 parts rose petals
2 parts yarrow
1 part cinnomom
3 parts rose petals
1 part cinnamon
1 part nutmeg
1 part bay
1 part mugwort
Assemble your herbs, grind them manually, and put about a handful into a pot; Strain. Drink a cup before seeking your encounter and return what you do not use to the Earth
Samhain, the Time of the Ancestors
Author: Sta Muertero Steven
Although I honor and serve my ancestors year-round, All Hallows is the time when I go all out for them and prepare a large feast. However, I find little information in many of the marketed texts of Wicca and modern Paganism that deals with ancestor veneration, a practice that is a major characteristic of the vast majority of the world’s basic religions. I’d like to share my views on this and offer what I’ve found to be effective in establishing solid lines of communication with my ancestors, essentially a novena to bring them into my daily life to provide me with love, guidance, wisdom, and protection as I go about my way in this sometimes uncertain world.
In Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Scott Cunningham writes, “Many Wiccans do attempt to communicate with their deceased ancestors and friends at [Samhain], but it seems to me that if we accept the doctrine of reincarnation, this is a rather strange practice. Perhaps the personalities that we knew still exist, but if the soul is currently incarnate in another body, communication would be difficult, to say the least. Thus, it seems best to remember them with peace and love-but not to call them up” (p. 143).
Thus begins many beginning Wiccans’ view of the spirits of our ancestors, including my own in the beginning. No offense to the spirit of Scott, but I now beg to differ. Through my personal journey in ecletic Wicca, then traditional Haitian Vodou, and now Wica and Traditional Witchcraft, I have come to view the above as a rather naive and simplistic view of the soul and reincarnation. I feel the above concept of the ancestors comes mainly from a combination of a misinterpreted and simplified view of the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation and the typical Western concept of a single-component soul.
A previous co-worker of mine who is from India and a practicing Hindu both believes in reincarnation and honors the spirits of his ancestors. I’ve not asked him to explain how these seemingly contradictory beliefs are reconciled, however, I have to wonder if the explanation is in any way similar to the concepts found in Haitian Vodou, where there are many components to the soul, one of which reincarnates at some future time, one which joins the spirits of the ancestors in the waters below, while the others perform other functions and journey to different destinations. All of these components are important, and one should not be thought of as the “real” soul above the others.
In any case, I believe that one can adhere to a doctrine of reincarnation and honor the spirits of one’s ancestors, even bringing them into their daily lives for guidance and protection, without having the beliefs contradict one another in any way. This has been uncommon in my knowledge of the majority of eclectic Wicca and the modern Pagan religions, however, it seems this may be changing as more individuals and groups (re-) discover ancestor veneration. I feel this view can easily be adopted by the rest of them, giving a more solid foundation in the traditional practices found in almost all basic religions throughout the world. The eagerness with which many of the ancestors of those of European origin seem to flock to the service provided when a descendant begins the service of the Lwa Ginea, in other words, practicing Haitian Vodou, or another Afro-Caribbean tradition, is evidence enough for me that our pre-Christian ancestors possessed a tradition of honoring the ancestors that is long overdue in being re-established in some form by their descendants.
The following is a ceremony I have found effective based on my training in Haitian Vodou. I hope that by sharing this information, the long-forgotten ancestors of those who perform this ceremony will be brought back to this realm to bestow their wisdom and blessings upon their descendants to help guide them toward a more fulfilling life in every way.
The Ancestor Novena
This ritual, although seemingly simple, has enormous effect on a person in that if that person has never successfully established contact with one’s ancestors, this will allow for the ancestors to come fully into one’s life. The ancestors are how every person alive exists. We stand on their shoulders; we have their blood in our veins. Their spirits surround us through the tie of that same blood. For these reasons alone, we should honor them and invite them to be active in our daily lives. But also, they possess knowledge of ourselves and of the world and can provide protection that we would not have otherwise.
In the beginning, one should only establish contact with direct blood relatives, meaning parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. In an ideal ancestor-venerating society, all other relatives, such as aunts and uncles, would be taken care of by their descendants. However, in this country (the U.S.) and in the majority of the Western world, as you may know, this is not the case. In some cases, passed extended family members may have had a greater effect on the person than parents, and so on, and those spirits may wish to be honored in the person’s line of ancestors, as well. That is fine, however, they should be invited after the direct blood relatives. Those extended family members and even the spirits of those not related to you by blood can be included in your service to your ancestors after this novena has been successfully completed simply by calling their names and asking them to join your ancestors during one of your regular services.
This ritual is effective even if one’s parents are unknown, because we all have never met the vast majority of our ancestors (three, four, five, six, seven, and so on, generations back). This ritual is also effective, and even essential, for a person who had a negative or abusive relationship with one’s parents or grandparents. Whatever that person or those people were like during life, they are now beyond the veil and have learned many things. That’s not to say that they’re more spiritually evolved by virtue of being dead, but that they can now see a larger picture and can be spiritually elevated if they so choose and if you help them to be. They are also now surrounded by the spirits of their parents and families and are possibly being guided by them, helping them understand where they may have gone wrong in life. This is essential for those people’s spiritual evolution because the unresolved issues with their ancestors tie them to the past, preventing them from moving forward. We are never completely free of the past; we are always connected to everything and every time–we are one.
Items to obtain for the novena
- One or two white 7-day candles (large, tall candles encased in glass), or a set of white tapers.
- Cascarilla (dried and ground egg white in the form of a compacted powder), or white chalk.
- A clear glass of water.
- Perfume or incense of a soft, light nature (with an incense holder).
- A corner of your home or small space that’s not in your bedroom which can be used (at least temporarily if you can’t dedicate permanent space) to house your ancestors.
Items to have for the ninth day
- A white plate.
- White flowers.
- Food that they may have enjoyed in life, cooked by you, with no salt added (if the ingredients inherently contain sodium, don’t worry about, but do not ADD salt).
- Clean the space you have chosen for your ancestors. If you plan to have an altar table, that’s fine, but during the novena, place everything directly onto the floor. If you have pets, partition this area off somehow so they will not have access to it, at least during the novena.
- Take the cascarilla, rub your finger into it, (or use the chalk) and begin to draw an arc on the floor from one wall to the one perpendicular to it. Make it a solid arc; this will take more work if you have carpet. If for some reason, you can’t use a corner but a section of wall instead, make this a half-circle, starting from one side of the area, moving around it, and closing it in on the other. The purpose is to spiritually close off this section.
- Using the cascarilla (or chalk), make nine short dashes along the arc or half-circle. It should look like railroad markings on a map.
- Place one 7-day white candle inside the marked-off area, along with the clear glass filled with water. Also, place the bottle of perfume or the light, clean scented incense inside the area.
- Choose a certain time of the day that you are sure you can be free to talk with your ancestors at the same time for nine consecutive days, beginning on a Monday.
- When the time comes, settle yourself in front of the area, light the candle, and open the bottle of perfume or light the incense. Prepare yourself for spiritual communication and open yourself to the spiritual world, whether that is with the Our Father and three Hail Mary’s, or meditation, or a prayer to the God/dess, the Cabbalistic Cross, or whatever. Do this at the beginning of each session.
- Also at each session and after the opening part just mentioned, state your full name along with any other name by which you are known, and call to your ancestors both known and unknown. Ex: “I, Paul Michael Smith, Grey Wolf, call to all my ancestors, those I know and those I currently do not…”
- After you’ve gotten their attention, thank them for giving you life, for without them you wouldn’t be here.
- Next, talk with your ancestors the way you would family members at a family reunion, catching those up who have missed the latest bit of your life, and introducing yourself to those you don’t yet know, which of course will be the majority of them. Tell them what you’re doing (the novena) and why you feel it’s important to you. Chances are, they already know, but it’s necessary for you to speak this aloud to them; it gives purpose and power to your physical actions. Ask them to come into your life and help you do what you need to do.
- When you have said all you wish to say, thank them again. Tell them you will be back again at the same time and place to talk with them more the following day.
- Extinguish the candle, or allow it to burn the remainder of the day/night until you go to sleep, or allow the candle to burn continuously throughout the novena, which will require at least two 7-day candles. (All depending on how nervous you are about fire hazards. I allowed mine to burn continuously and asked my ancestors to guard the candle to make sure it didn’t tip over or catch anything on fire-nothing bad happened.)
On the Ninth Day
- Do your prayers as usual, talk with your ancestors, and then explain that this is the last day of the novena, and that from now on you will come to them once a week to light their candle, supply fresh water, and serve them food if they tell you they need it.
- At this time you can place the altar in the area, if you plan to have an altar. Then place all their items on the altar (this is “lifting them up”), give them the flowers you’ve gathered or bought, give them the food you’ve prepared, and thank them again for being an active part of your daily life.
After the Novena
Choose one day of the week (usually this will be Monday) that you can go to your ancestors, light their candle, give them fresh water, give them food if you feel they need it and whatever type they ask for (again with no salt added), give them flowers, alcohol, cigarettes, whatever they enjoyed in life, and talk with them. Place pictures of them and items they owned on the altar; truly make it yours.
While chatting with them share with them your good news and bad news. When you feel you need help in life’s difficult journey, ask them for support and guidance.
Once you have established a good relationship with your ancestors, let this relationship evolve as they dictate. In other words, this is only the beginning.
A Quick Solitary Quarter Call
(when you’re in a hurry! lol)
I welcome the East–bring your winds here,
Blow away doubt, confusion, and fear!
I welcome the South–let your fire glow,
Let desire and passion of life through me flow!
I welcome the West–let your healing rain,
Wash away negative feelings and pain!
I welcome the North–bring stability,
Strength and balance here to me!
The Quarters are called and the circle’s cast,
To raise the power and send it fast,
And when my sacred work is done,
Bless the magick that I’ve begun!
Author: Morgana Shades
The first thing I have to say is that I am not a traditional ‘pagan’ as the term is used today. I celebrate the Sabbaths and Esbats along with the moon cycles, yet I cast no spells. I respect nature and do not wish to interfere with it, or the gods. I believe in the gods more than most things and my faith in them has helped me through hard times. I have cried into the bosom of the Shining One and been comforted more times than I can count.
Yet, in my journey, I have often wondered as to whether I am a true “neo-pagan” because I do not attempt magick. So many people ask me if I cast spells once they find out my beliefs, and are immensely disappointed when I say no. I own books of spells, such as Scott Cunningham’s Book of Shadows, yet I do not use them. I have not even put a protection spell on my house and family… I suppose I believe the love we have is strong enough to protect us.
Recently I realized that I do have my own form of magic: cooking. I am by no means a wonderful chef, however I am known to wake up in the morning and make scones or pancakes for breakfast. It is nothing much, but it is healing. I put on music- usually Irish pub songs or show tunes- and bake to my heart’s desire. While I bake, I feel the energy sparking around me and going into whatever I make. If I am sad or upset, I feel better as whatever I make progresses (especially if I can knead it etc.) . If I am in a good mood, the room nearly sizzles with good energy. No matter what my mood is whoever, the energy and magick that comes from the simple task of binding ingredients together into something nourishing is always good. I mean no ill will and my creations have never harmed anyone.
When we think about magick today, we tend to associate it with great works… the occult if you will. Even household protection spells have to be done with exact precision: walking around the circle umpteen times during the moon’s waning period. Although there is meaning to the time of the day and moon cycle, and I do not deny this for I base many of my grounding and remembering rituals around the moon’s cycles, simple acts can have great power in them: A kind word can make somebody’s day; the smell of baking bread can sooth the aching heart; a cup of chamomile tea can help the aching head; the sound of someone you love laughing and singing or a hike in the woods can make the soul rise and fly. We do not need to follow the phases of the moon to do these things or perform rites at certain times… the magick is within us and all around us.
Many though tend to forget it, as the lure of the occult draws them into what is almost an organized religion with specific rituals for specific times. Yet, as followers of the Earth, we should not be limited; we should use the resources around us to their full potential. We can still have our rituals to celebrate the moon and the changing seasons, but we need to remember that our ancestors would have performed simple everyday tasks with what they had at hand, which may not have included a cauldron or athame. They remembered the greatest magick of all- life and the forces that drive it- and used that, rather than a silly spell book.
To me, that is the greatest magick of all: those simple everyday tasks that we transform with our energy and good feelings. It is not using athames, crystals, and cauldrons to perform great feats, but rather living and cherishing life and taking those little moments which the gods give us all the time and using the magick within us to transform them into something special: when you’re checking out your groceries and smile at the tired cashier; when you hug the ones you love; when you control your temper; when you make a home cooked meal; when you recycle rather than throw away that slip of paper; when you walk down the road to the shop to pick up milk rather than take your car; when you stop and smell a rose; when you smile at a stranger; when you sit beside that person in the cafeteria who is alone and looks upset. That is the true magick: the true spirit of the pagan- to take the everyday and make it something wonderful. Yes, we all need our rituals- it’s part of being human- but we need to remember the everyday magick around us.
Of all the everyday magick, love is the strongest. To me, I don’t need to place protection spells around my house to protect my family because love does that already. I feel the energy around my home, protecting us. The only jewelry I wear, I consider charms because they were gifts given to me by those who love me and I feel that I can do anything knowing the love is there. The charms are just there to remind me of it. This magick won’t solve everything and won’t keep the inevitable from happening, but it is strong enough to keep us going every day. And, to be honest, my dog coming up and curling up to me when I’m sad does me more good than any spell ever would.
In the end, we only need the gifts given to us by the gods to make the world a better place. We just need to remember that, and not get caught up in our rituals. By remembering who we are and using the energy all around us, we can tap into deeper forms of energy that take us beyond this world (through mediation etc.) But we need to get back to our roots first and use the magick around us.
MAGICK & WICCA
The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland
Magick is love. All magick should be performed out of love. The moment anger or hatred tinges your magick you have crossed the border into a dangerous world, one that will ultimately consume you.
– Scott Cunningham
Magick itself is neutral, a tool: like a hammer, it can be used to smash or to
build. Intent is what colors it. White magick is a term to describe that which
is positive, constructive or helpful; black magick that which is negative,
destructive or harmful. If you have a business and you work spells to make it
prosper, that’s white magick. Doing spells to destroy your competition would be
black magick. These are not racial terms: good and evil, dark and light, are
other words which can be used to express this same concept.
Why black and white, not some other colors? To answer this you have to go back
into prehistory and imagine how terrifying the night was for humans before we
learned to use fire. The black of night was full of unseen threats, a dangerous
time you might not survive. The white light of day brought illumination and
safety, welcome relief.
White magick is the right-hand path, black magick the left-hand one. The
symbolism of right and left is also very ancient: the right hand was used for
eating, the left hand for bathroom functions. Imagine life without toilet paper
and you’ll understand why it’s customary to shake right hands. This has nothing
to do with being right- or left- handed, but it does explain why left handed
people were often forced in the past to learn to write with their right hands.
There are several theories of gray magick, but I think gray magick is what
Hindus call maya – illusion.
One theory holds that since good and evil both exist, some people need to do
black magick in order to balance the white magick. I don’t buy that for a
minute. Do murderers balance nice people, or child abusers balance loving
parents? If they create balance, does this excuse their crimes? Try telling that
one to a judge! “Well your honor, I only stole that car to create balance in the
universe.” There is another polarity theory, where if you do two hexes and two
healings they balance one another or cancel each other out. There is some logic
to this one but its still just a self-serving excuse, a way to delude yourself
you are a white witch when you practice black magick. Some traditions hold that
which you cast on yourself as white magick, that which you cast on others gray
magick. The wordsmith in me quibbles with this one on semantic grounds. I think a spell that harms yourself or anyone else is black magick; one that helps or heals anyone, including yourself, is white magick. Being of service to people in
need or distress is one of the things witches do best, so I see nothing “wrong”
in casting spells that help others – with their permission, of course.
Some witches argue there are evils too great, situations too grave for white
magick to deal with; that the end justifies the means, makes black magick
necessary for the greater good. That is the best argument of the lot, but I have
never encountered a situation I couldn’t handle with white magick. Binding,
banishing and transformation are the powerful tools of a white witch. The term
green witchcraft is sometimes used to describe Celtic magick, fairy magick,
earth magick or any combination of those.
Seekers and novices sometimes ask me how they can avoid being seduced by the
dark side of magick, avoid the temptation to hex or harm others. The answer is
to have an ethical framework in which you practice magick. Seduction by the dark side is not a concern for Wiccans. We have our Goddess and our Law to guide us:
an it harm none, do as ye will.
Every Wiccan is a witch, and every one of us voluntarily agrees to do no harm.
We walk in the Light and serve the Goddess. Magick is just one part of our
There are excellent moral and ethical arguments against practicing black magick,
but if you don’t buy those here is a practical one:
what goes around comes around
Everything we put forth is eventually returned to us. Wicca recognizes the Law
of Three, believes this return is triple. Black magick might provide instant
gratification, but it ultimately does more harm to you than to anyone else. Many
white witches learned this lesson the hard way.