altar

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

December, 2018

Yule Ritual

 

Merry meet.

Below is a Yule ritual written for a group, which can easily be modified to be done as a solitary. Read through, making note of what to gather and how to set it up.

The altar can be a candle on the floor, or raised up in the center on a small table.

Traditional colors for altar cloths are gold, silver, red, green and white.

SET UP:

Set up your altar with seasonal botanicals, directional candles.

Designate a place for guests to put coats and, if desired, shoes

Arrange so that before people enter the ritual space they can place their cares and woes in a burden basket or other receptacle (a lidded casserole dish or cookie jar, a purse that snaps shut, a box) and then step forward and be cleansed with smoke. (A cauldron can be placed where guests can waft the smoke themselves, or a person can be designated to smudge others after being smudged themselves)

Find a seat and listen to soft music

High Priestess:

We gather tonight in perfect love and perfect trust to celebrate the winter solstice. On this longest night of the year, let us accept Yule’s gifts of quiet and dark. For a long moment, everything pauses. There is a stillness that settles over the land. A stillness for which there are no words. Darkness rules. Tonight we will sit in this darkness that precedes the light’s rebirth.

Take a moment to get here, to feel the surroundings and the welcome with which this place greets you.

I’m going to ring chimes three times. As we all align ourselves with its vibrations, we will meld as a group.

Ring three times, letting each ring fade to silence before doing the next. High Priestess says:

Be here now.

As we cast our circle, see it as an equator, then see the ring flip up and over to become a sphere, pushing the energy to the exterior of this building.

With thumbs facing left, begin by using your left hand to take the right hand of the person to your left and say:

Hand to hand, I cast this circle

Each person does the same. When the circle is complete, the High Priestess says:

See our arms making a circle. With each breath, strengthen the circle. Now, imagine it to be like an equator, and spin the circle up, over and down so that it creates a sphere. Now push that sphere out to encompass this room. Keep breathing, and enlarge the sphere so that it fills this whole unit and extend outside the walls, and into the basement below. Now, see the outer skin of this sphere become soft and foggy, smoky, like a mist rising from a lake in the early morning. When we leave, we will walk though that foggy edge as we reenter the mundane world.

Take another three breaths … and know we are between the worlds. May all we do tonight be for the highest good and greatest joy of all.

Sing “There Is No Time” by Kellianna” three times.

There is no time but now, there is no place but here,
In the sacred we do stand, in a circle hand in hand.

High Priestess:

Let us summon the spirits of the four quarters. We’ll start facing north because winter begins with the quarter of the wheel associated with earth.

Person calling North:

Mother Earth, barren trees now decorate the land that has sustained us. In this restful moment, let us find safety and stability. Hail and welcome.

Place greens such as mistletoe, holly and pine boughs on the altar, on the north side of the candle.

Person calling East:

Brother Air, I listen for the cold winds from your winter wings, but tonight all is still. In this quiet darkness, help us find inspiration. Hail and welcome.

Light incense, or place a feather, bells or other representation of East on the altar.

Person calling South:

Father Sun, source of fire, here in the night, awaiting your
return, we ask that the memory of your warmth temper our spirit. Hail and welcome.

Place pieces of lava or other symbol of fire such as chili peppers or coffee beans on the south side of the altar.

Person calling West:

Sister Water, your snow and ice have covered our world.
Beneath this blanket, let our emotions find healing and renewal. Hail and welcome.

Place a container of water from melted snow, a Yule rain or other source, or a representation of water on the west side of the altar.

Person calling center:

We stand in the center, spirit in body and know we are divine. Spirit is a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical, between body and soul. Guide us as we walk in both worlds. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of spirit, perhaps a crystal or a butterfly in the center.

Person calling the crones:

Queen of Winter Cailleach Bheur (kall yeck burr), Dark Mother Demeter (da meet her), Keeper of the Cauldron Cerridwen, Kali, Mother Holle (hell her), Nicneven (nick na vin), The Morrigan (more’ a gain) – we welcome you crones and ask you to help us transition as you transform to the maiden giving birth to the sun. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of crone – a bone, a cauldron, a crescent moon, owl, wolf, crow or raven. – in the center.

Person calling the sun:

Father Sun, Winter King, the Sage, Apollo, Ra, Horus, Ravi, Shamash – we welcome you to our circle. You are reborn tonight, bringing light, bringing life. You demonstrate the endless cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of the sun god – gold, a representation of the sun, a baby Oak King – in the center.

High Priestess, in her customary way, invites people to put their names in the circle. If desired, she allows people to put other names in the circle for blessings and energy.

There is a magic in all the seasons. Winter’s magic is the most concise, most dense. It is diamond magic, cold and brilliant, focused and precise.

Each season also has its own wisdom, but winter’s wisdom includes them all. Everything is clear. What is invisible in growing times becomes plain in the starkness of winter. From winter, you can remember spring, summer and fall by the patterns they’ve left behind.

There is not yet a call to begin again. Beginnings will come soon enough. This is the fallow time. This is the time of rest. The waiting brings both strength and vulnerability.

When winter comes, we withdraw into the deepest spaces of our inner selves. As the world sleeps, its energy, like yours, turns within. Your inner sight expands. There is much to see beyond appearances. It is bone time. Nothing is hidden. With your winter eyes, let yourself see everything.

This is a time of reflection, insight, visions and wisdom. In the velvet dark are the secrets we keep from ourselves … one of those secrets is who we really are. Find that you hidden in the darkness.

It may appear we are resting, but in winter we are creating a new universe within ourselves, examining and breaking old patterns, destroying what should not be revived, secretly feeding that which needs to thrive. With calm deliberateness, we know what to save and bring into the next season.

When we blow out these candles, feel yourself in this deep, dark space, the place from which all is born. Feel the warmth and safety of this womb on this cold night. This place of darkness is the source of life. Feel that energy waiting, still, quiet, for life to begin. That is the energy of the dark. This is the time of before.

That energy is within you. Sit with it. Be the dark from which all things will come. Be the dark that holds the coiled sleeping snake, the crocus bulb frozen in the ground. All life has moved to the center, hidden in the darkness. In this space, feel the energy of all that is yet to be.

Winter is not all about death, it’s also about reflection and insight, and reconnecting to the source deep within the dark. One day in the not too distant future, the dance will begin again. Let that knowledge be a comfort to you, but do not call for it. For now is not its time.

We need the dark to balance the light. Honor its presence.
Offer gratitude for the power it gives us to dream our deep sleep awake.

I will signal when there are 5 minutes left in the meditation

Extinguish candle

Start timer

Give 5-minute notice with rattle, bell or drum

High Priestess:

Welcome back. Take a moment to get here.

We’re going to pass the talking stick so that all who wish may share their thoughts or experiences in sacred space.

High Priestess:

Grounding eliminates the excess energy you may have accumulated during a ritual or other working. Take time now to breath three slow, deep breaths as you imagine the energy you do not need draining out of your body, out of your fingers and your feet. Offer it to the earth below.

Food also helps us ground.

Present cakes and ale, speaking only to say

May you never hunger / Nor you

May you never thirst / Nor you

 

High Priestess:

We are drawing to the end. As we prepare to release the elements, I will light this candle from the spirit candle. We will pass out candles and a drip guard. You’ll take them both home with you.

I thank each of you for bringing the gift of yourself to this circle, for adding your energy to the magic of tonight. Let us bring a piece of this quiet calm with us as we return to our mundane lives that we may walk in peace.

After we light the candles, we’ll sing “Silent Night, Solstice Night” twice. Then, I ask that you to gather your things, attend to your needs and leave … all in silence … as we return to the mundane world.

Releasing the Crones

Crones we thank you for showing us how to die and be reborn. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Releasing the Sun

Father Sun, on this deepest dark night, we welcome back your light. Blessed Be.

Releasing Water

Sister Water, thank you for your presence, love and healing. Blessed Be.

Releasing Fire

Father Sun, source of fire, thank you for your warmth and passion. Blessed Be.

Releasing Air

Brother Air, thank you for your presence and your inspiration.
Blessed Be.

Releasing Earth

Mother Earth, thank you for your presence as we leave grounded and renewed. Blessed Be.

High Priestess: Begin by lighting the candle of the person to your left, saying:

May you embrace the return of the light.

Sing “Silent Night, Solstice Night”

And merry part. And merry meet again.

NOTE: This ritual draws heavily on the poem “The Winter Woman” from “Seasons of the Witch: poetry & Songs to the Goddess” by Patricia Monaghan and Arctic Siren Singers

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Athames

August, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Athames

Athame rhymes with “a plane” not “ath harm eh”.

The black-handled knife, the witch’s blade, the athame: a ritual knife for casting and cutting energy and power. I’ve never been uncomfortable with knives (blame She-ra) from my pen-knife I got around 9 years old to the kitchen knives I used all the time from about 11 years of age, yet there is this anxiety about blades, more now than when I was younger most especially with some women.

Much in the same way I think everyone should know how to use a saw, axe, drill and spade (shovels are from moving stuff, spades are for digging) and knife, I believe all magickal practitioners need to learn how to use a magickal knife.

The athame is different from a boline (or white-handled knife) in that it doesn’t cut physical things. A good knife is worth its weight and mine is an old pairing or pruning knife. As an avid forager it’s a handy tool out and about and in circle.

My athame is not actually black-handled. It is hand turned pear wood, and has a hand forged blade. Where I keep my boline in my handbag or on a shelf my athame is covered and hidden. It doesn’t leave my home unless I’m doing ritual somewhere else.

To some it represents air, thought and focus, while for others it represents fire. Both have merit, a blade is after all usually formed of metal which is forged or at least heated to high temperatures, yet it is cool and sharp like a cold wind when formed. I’m in general not usually a fan of crystal knives. Mainly because they are not knife like enough. Made of soft, porous and delicate crystal I find it as useful and ridiculous as a glass hammer. There are exceptions, a friend has a family athame which is a jaw bone (I forget which animal) and a sharp slate blade. Flit, obsidian and other knapped or worked sharp stones are can be rather cool but require a LOT of skill to make and use.

This anxiety of using a knife, a cutting knife as a tool often steams from the same place as women whom are afraid of other “masculine” tools. Unless it is operated with your genitals it is just a tool. Female surgeons don’t shun scalpels as “too scary”. Cutting things away, letting them go, removing the unhealthy isn’t cruel it is necessary. When you are creating anything you must also be able to destroy or dissolve. A witch blade is also a lightning rod for power.

While a wand can and does bring that kind of power in circle it is more insulated, muted or defused. That is to say what it channels feels distinctively different than that of a metal blade. If the staff is warm and nurturing the blade crackles with potential.

I like to use my blade when casting and calling. It is empowering and when I salute after drawing my evocations it feels respectful and powerful. When used in the symbolic Great Rite it channels that powerful masculine presence into the cup or chalice. (You can’t do that with a selenite “blade”). When I release the circle I can cut away anything that shouldn’t be there. If I need to banish something I take my athame. Apparently there isn’t much scary than an irate ginger with a knife, even for dead and icky things. A witch’s blade is an extension of their power and connection to the Gods. To touch it of defile it is an act of spiritual desecration and great dishonour. This is why having a simple blade when you begin is not only acceptable but necessary. Better a cheap or simple athame that reflects where you are with your power and connection to the Gods than one that is fancy and unconnected. While precious it is a tool and we become better at handling tools with practice. Likewise you might want something small if you are in a smaller space on a regular basis or if that feel more comfortable in the hand. There is a tradition where you don’t haggling the price of an athame. I like this idea. You can buy vintage or exotic blades but some of these can have dark histories and I would never recommend military weapons, like WW2 daggers, however nice they look. These have most likely seen blood and even reproductions can have violent vibration. If you are going to buy second hand cleanse the fuck out of them (a full ritual is best) laying the blade within in a circle of salt and cleansing herbs and even clean with metal safe oils.

Another cool tradition I like about athames is naming them. It should represent itself (the essence of the thing) as well as what you hope it will become. Don’t use unknown languages to you, rather keep it crisp and simple. Fin, (some blades have fish scale patterns) Brink, Storm, Courage. Steel, Wolf’s Tooth, or whatever you and your Gods find appropriate. It is important to maintain your blade and its name secretly. Privately might be a better way of putting it. This is between you and the Divine.

An athame should never be used to draw blood and ones that have are considered “cursed” and most often destroyed rather than reused. (I worked in the largest pagan store in Manchester for a while and you would not believe the crazy shit I saw, including a husband who cut himself deliberately with his wife’s athame as she was leaving him).

My point about athames is this: since before we had fabric, we had blades. We are a tool making species. Drawing a shining blade from heating rocks was as magickal then as it is now. Knives first made from sharp stone, cooper, then bronze, then iron and then steel. Every adult used to own and carry their own knife. While they definitely have a “masculine” energy they are not evil, or inherently violent. They do require some skill and patience to use correctly. Athames are no different in this respect. They, like thoughts can be cutting or healing, kind or cruel. An athame can liberate and empower. It is a double edge one more witch’s should feel comfortable wielding.

Cords and censer, scourge and knife:

Power of the Witch’s blade;

Waken ye unto life,

Come ye as the charm is made!”

 

Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

July, 2018

As a child, I led such a weird childhood. I was known for seeing things that weren’t there and knowing things before they happened. I felt like a sin in my parent’s household as I was being raised in a Christian church. As I aged, I found solace in Wicca. Life and the things going on finally made sense.

When I was pregnant with my son (Little Bear), I made the decision to raise him in a Pagan household and support him, no matter what religion he decided on. Little Bear is now 4 years old and this has proven to be the best decision. He has shown signs of experiencing the same things that I went through as a child. Little Bear is a natural born healer, empath, and animal lover. He has to sleep with a light on because the dark brings weird things with it. While I cannot confirm it yet, it sounds like he is seeing people that have crossed over.

One of the major things that Little Bear and I have started doing is celebrating the Sabbats. Any reason to celebrate, right?

June 21st was Litha or the Summer Solstice. This is the longest day of the year and Little Bear and I took full advantage.

Every Sabbat, we discuss the Wheel of the Year. This helps remind us where we are on the Wheel and where we are headed. Because this follows the seasons, it is easy for Little Bear to understand. We discussed how Litha falls in the summer and some of our favorite summer activities. Little Bear loves grilling out, riding his bike and playing in the water.

The day started before sunrise. I poured out orange juice and we headed to the porch to watch the sun. It was a warm, quiet morning. I explained to Little Bear that we should be grateful for everything we have. I asked him what he was happy to have. “My bike, my mom, my bed, my dog” and the list went on and on. I smiled at his innocence and gave my own thanks internally. As the sun rose above the horizon, the world started coming alive. The birds started singing, the neighborhood stray cat came to visit, and we watched a herd of deer in the field across the street. We ended the morning with a barefoot walk around the property. We stopped at the outside altar and poured orange juice into the fairy dish as an offering. This is one of Little Bear’s favorite parts. We actually had to make a fairy altar closer to the house so he could easily access it without supervision.

After work, I had Little Bear help with dinner. We were preparing Grilled Chicken Salads. As we pulled the vegetables out, we talked about each one. Where they came from, how they grow, what the health benefits are, and what kind of super powers the vegetables might give us (This was Little Bears idea). I feel that knowing the health benefits of each vegetable will help Little Bear develop his Kitchen Witch side as he grows.

While making the salad, I noticed Little Bear had made a pile that contained a piece of each vegetable that went into the salad. It was his offering for the fairies.

We ended the night with a bonfire and watching the sunset. The longest day of the year had officially ended.

It may seem like I do a LOT of talking with Little Bear and I do. Little Bear is at the age where he is like a little sponge. He is asking tons of questions and curious about everything.

The next Sabbat is Lammas and I’m excited about it. This has always been a personal favorite because I love to bake bread. Lammas is the start of the harvest season. So breads, wheats, grains, grapes, apples, corn and wild berries are great foods. While I don’t have recipes pulled together yet, corn dollies and bonfires are part of the ritual for sure!

Some ideas to do with children are:

-Corn Dollies

-Magical Picnics (Make sure to leave an offering!)

-Collect berries for jams or jellies

-Time to harvest the garden

-Create a Witches Bottle (smaller children will need help with this since you will be working with sharp objects!)

-Time to redecorate the altar

-Visit an apple orchard (bring some home if the apples are ready!)

-Collect rain or storm water

-Bake bread, cakes, or muffins (cookies could be substituted so the little ones can decorate)

The biggest thing to remember, “It’s not about the action you are doing but the intent you are putting into it”.

What are some fun ways you are celebrating the Sabbats with your child/ren?

Blessed Be!

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

February, 2018

Self Dedication

 

Merry meet.

 

Many witches practice the Craft as a solitary, so they never get to be initiated into a tradition with a formal ceremony. That leaves the option of performing a rite of self-dedication. Some people choose to wait until they have studied the Craft for a year and a day before holding this rite. Others will choose to do a self-dedication on Imbolc, which is often the time of initiations and dedications in the pagan traditions. New moons are a time of new beginnings, making them another option.

 

(Phyllis Curott)

 

Wiccan High Priestess Phyllis Curott said in a video found on Howcast,

 

When a witch makes a promise, it must be kept. So a self-dedication ritual is a promise that you make to yourself. It’s a promise to go in pursuit of your purpose, the reason that you’re here. It’s a promise to go in pursuit of the sacred that lies within you and to seek it in the world around you.”

 

Committing to your path and the deities you choose to follow requires devotion, self-discipline, self-care and courage because, Currott explained,

 

you are pledging yourself to your future.”

 

Your commitment deserves thought and preparation. The most meaningful and powerful ritual will be one that you write yourself, so let this column be an inspiration and a guide as you find the words and actions that best express yourself.

 

Write out the ritual, assemble the necessary items and take a purification bath. If you can drip dry and proceed skyclad, so much the better. It could be done in front of your altar or outside in a favorite place of power.

 

 

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

 

In the ritual she presents in her book Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic,” Curott suggests remaining outside the ritual space while you prepare yourself. Write the parts of yourself you wish to release on slips of paper and burn them. Surrender, let go and banish them from your life. Meditate on your path – how and when it started, what it is now and where you want it to take you.

 

Then, holding your athame, Book of Shadows and chalice, step into the circle, stating your intent to dedicate your true and sacred self, in perfect love and trust, to your Wiccan path. Call upon the Divine energy and offer yourself to it. Surrender and let it flow through you. Feel yourself coming home to your authentic self, your sacred self and your destiny.

 

 

(Stoneware Ritual Pentacle Altar Chalice by artists Nels & Judy Olson-Linde of artifactorium)

 

 

Now is the time to recite the oath you prepared. Look for inspiration in Curott’s book. Anoint yourself with the moon water in your chalice, or with oil or other natural substance such as clay dust.

 

Proceed as you would to ground and open your circle.

 

Many self-dedication rituals exist online and in books. In an article on thoughtco.com, Patti Wigington presents a ritual where you sprinkle salt on the ground or floor before an altar, stand on it and light a white candle, feeling the flame’s warmth and thinking about the reasons for your dedication.

 

After asking the gods to bless you, you anoint your forehead with oil saying,

May my mind be blessed so that I can accept the wisdom of the gods.

Anoint your eyelids saying,

May my eyes be blessed, so I can see my way clearly upon this path.”

Moving down your body, you anoint the each part, speak the appropriate words:

May my nose be blessed, so I can breathe in the essence of all that is Divine. … May my lips be blessed, so I may always speak with honor and respect. … May my heart be blessed, so I may love and be loved. …May my hands be blessed, so that I may use them to heal and help others. … May my womb be blessed, so that I may honor the creation of life. (If you’re male, make the appropriate changes here.) … May my feet be blessed, so that I may walk side by side with the Divine.”

 

Next pledge yourself to specific deities or simply to the God and Goddess with the words,

Tonight, I pledge my dedication to the God and Goddess. I will walk with them beside me, and ask them to guide me on this journey. I pledge to honor them, and ask that they allow me to grow closer to them. As I will, so it shall be.”

 

The occasion can be used to take your magickal name.

 

At sacred-texts.com, Vitriol London posted such a ritual in a Book of Shadows section. After preparing for the dedication, calling on the wisdom of the God and Goddess, and the blessings of the elements, he suggests meditating or chanting to reach an altered state of consciousness and gather energy. Standing before the altar, anoint first with oil, with salt and water, and then with wine, saying,

 

I am reborn into my true and magickal self, and I take on the name of (Witch name). I ask for the blessings of the Goddess and God on my endeavors, and I vow (make your vows).”

 

(Aphrodite/Venus Rose Quartz Love Pendant by Sierrablaise of HighVibrationaLiving)

 

 

He has individuals present themselves to the quarters, dedicating to their solitary path, and then consecrating and anointing ritual jewelry you will then wear.

 

 

(Witches herb Altar Box/Beginners Altar by Shona Winter of TheherbalCabinet)

 

Tools that you will use in your magickal work can also be blessed before consecrating the wine and cake using an athame through which you channel energy. Eat and drink, ground, thank the entities and open the circle.

 

While this column discussed dedicating to your spiritual path and the Divine, it is possible to dedicate yourself to anything: learning a new skill, your career, achieving a goal. It can be for a year and a day, until it is achieved or for a lifetime.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

September, 2017

 

Mabon Blessings

 

 

(Mabon Table)

 

Merry meet.

 

As the second harvest, Mabon is the pagan’s version of Thanksgiving. It’s also the autumn equinox when day and night are equal before we begin slipping into the dark half of the year.

 

What follows is a collection of blessings and inspiration you might use as you celebrate the sabbath and welcome the dark half of the year.

 

Prayer to the Dark Mother”

by Patti Wigington on thoughtco.com

Day turns to night,
and life turns to death,
and the Dark Mother teaches us to dance.
HecateDemeter, Kali,
Nemesis, Morrighan, Tiamet,
bringers of destruction, you who embody the Crone,
I honor you as the earth goes dark,
and as the world slowly dies.”

 

A Prayer for Mabon”

by Jenny on owlsandindigo.com

Gods of Mabon

Spirits of Fall

come to my side

& gather ’round.

Bless this Harvest

& this Home.

Help us to find

Balance & Harmony

this Harvest Season

& let us give thanks

for our spiritual growth.

 

 

Simple Mabon Candle Spell of Thanks”

by Kris Braley, “Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery: Everyday Magic, Spells, and ”

I light this candle to honor the season and to give thanks for the abundance in my life. I strive to remember these blessings and give thanks for them throughout the entire year. I strive to remember to share these blessings with others not as fortunate as I am, even when I have little to share. I give thanks to the Lord and Lady for all my blessings the Mabon season, and give thanks for all those blessings that will come to me this glorious fall season. So mote it be!

 

 


(Mabon Altar)

 

The world is revolving into the year’s dark half.

Now, while it is still bright, we celebrate what summer’s warmth has brought us.

When our hearts teeter on a point between happiness and despair,

may we remember this moment,

and how it brought us harvest,

and how it comforted us,

and encouraged us to plant hope’s seed in the waiting earth,

Mother of All.” –“A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book” by Ceisiwr Serith

 

 

Now comes the time of reckoning, the season of limits.
There will never be more than there is now. Harvest is done, the cellars are full. Two seasons of growth have lead to this richness, this security, this abundance. Now is the time to celebrate the plenty that work and time have wrought. Now, the time to feast with friends, share the bounty, toast the work well done.” –from “Fall” by Patricia Monaghan

 

 

The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let go of dead things.” –Unknown

 

 

I offer to the gods of the dark season this fruit of the light.”
–“A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book” by Ceisiwr Serith

 

 

Now is the time of Mabon, marking summer’s end. On this day of balance, day and night treat each other as equals, and we give thanks to the Earth’s bounty, laid before us. We give thanks to the harvest, brought to our table, and for the bond of family and friends. By the grain, by the fruit, by the corn, by the root, and by the hands of all the Gods and Goddesses, may this meal be blessed.” –Winifred Tannetta for About.com

 

 

May your Mabon be blessed.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

***

 

About the Author:


Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

She who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

January, 2016

Isis

I have chosen Isis for this month’s column because I do believe it is time for us and Her to reclaim Her name from those who use it to bring terror, evil, murder and injustice into our world. She is a Goddess from the beginning and She is still worshipped today. Let Her name be heard and live beyond those who dishonor her.

There, in the beginning was Isis, Oldest of the Old, She

was the Goddess from whom all Becoming arose.

She was the Great Lady, Mistress of the Two Lands,

Mistress of Shelter, Mistress of Heaven, Mistress of

the House of Life. She was the Unique. In all Her

great and wonderful works, She was a wiser magician

and more excellent than any other.”

~ ~ R. E. Witt

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(Photo credit: nasrinsafai.com)

Our beloved Isis was the first daughter of Nut, the Sky Goddess and Geb, the Earth God. Her twin sister-Goddess was Nepthys.

Isis was kind to her people, spending time with them, teaching the women how to grind corn and make bread. She taught the people agriculture and reading.

One of the stories surrounding Her is the anger she felt at Ra’s uncaring and cruelty to the people. She fashioned a snake out of mud and Ra’s saliva, which she had stolen. When Ra was subsequently bitten by this snake, becoming very ill, he ironically called for Isis to cure him due to her powerful healing magic. She refused to do this unless he gave to Her his secret name of power. Continuing to feel ill, Ra agreed and whispered his secret name to Her, realizing that from that point on, Isis would then have power over him.

While Isis loved Her people, She most loved her beloved brother/ lover/consort/husband Osiris. Overcome with jealously, their brother Set, who wanted Isis for his own, killed Osiris. Isis went into mourning, deeply grieving for him. She set out to search for his body.

In her travels, She came upon the Phoenician Queen, Astarte, who did not recognize her and hired her as a nursemaid for her child. Isis attempted to gift this child with immortality, laying him within a fire. The Queen saw this and became angered, pulling the child from the fireplace. As she turned to face the nursemaid, She revealed Herself as Isis. In atonement for her anger against the Goddess, Astarte revealed that Osiris’s body was hidden in a nearby tamarisk tree.

As Isis is returning to Egypt, Set comes upon Her and steals the body of Osiris, dismembering it and hiding each part separately. Once again, Isis searches for Her beloved. She finds each piece but one. She fashions Osiris a new penis out of gold, anoints him with oils and brings him back from the land of the dead. He impregnates Her and their son, Horus, is born.

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(Photo Credit: ancienttreasures.com)

Isis was also known as Au Set, Auzit, Eset and Isis, the All Goddess.

These are but a few of her names. As Her own powers grew and as She took on the powers of lesser Goddesses, her names also grew.

Her name is similar to Ishtar, Astarte, Ashtoreth and it has been suggested that they have a common distant origin. She was associated with the Goddess Hathor, with whom she has sometimes been mistaken and had a close relationship with the Goddess Bast, who’s name is “Ba-Ast”, or “Soul of Isis”. There were always cats in the temples of Isis.

She was known as “Isis Myrionymos” or Goddess of Ten Thousand, which we know Her as still today.

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(Photo Credit: ahanaenterprises.com)

She is the Mother of the Sun, She is the Moon. She is the Goddess of the Earth and Stars; the Goddess of Healing and Magic, as we have seen from the two previous stories; She is the Goddess of Love and Motherhood. She is the Goddess of Medicine and Wisdom. She is the Giver of Life and Guide to the Underworld, protecting all with Her outstretched wings.

She was also known as the Goddess of the Sea, known as “Isis Euploia” or “Isis of Good Sailing”. One of Her festivals is the “Isidis Navigium”, held on March 5. There was joy, music and dancing as boats were dedicated to Her, as She held the power of the seas and the tides.

Other of Her festivals are the “Going Forth of Isis”, held on October 7, when Her image was decorated and proceeded to “visit” the temples of other deities.

June 14 is the “Night of the Tear Drop”, to commemorate and remember Her mourning of Osiris. It is said that when She wept, the Nile flooded.

Of course, one must not forget Her birthday celebrations on July 30.

Some of Isis’ many symbols are the full moon, the stars, Her diadem headdress (moon with horns), the ankh and the sistrum, used in Her many celebrations.

Of the many temples that were dedicated to Her, the one in Abydos was said to pre-date the pyramids. Of course, there were temples to Her in Alexandria, Petra, which was used for healing, Coptos and at least one in Roman London.

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(Photo credit: dreamstime.com)

Some of these temples have been removed from Egypt. The Temple of Tafla is now located at the Museum of Antiquities in Leiden in the Netherlands. The Temple of Debad is in Municipal Park in Madrid, Spain. The one closest to my heart, as I have been there several times, is the Temple of Dendur which now resides at the Metropolitan Museum of in New York City, New York, USA. Please see this month’s “Sacred Place/Sacred Space” column for more on the Dendur Temple.

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(Photo Credit: Susan Morgaine)

I wish you peace and the blessings of Isis.

**Personal Note: In my quest to reclaim Isis’ name, I currently have her on my Yule altar. After the new year, I will be putting together a ritual to continue this. If anyone is interested in joining me, please email me at ShaktiWarriorSpirit@gmail.com and I will be happy to send you the ritual when it is finished.**

Resources:

The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

The Mysteries of Isis by DeTraci Regula

Isis Magic by M. Isadora Forrest

SpellCrafting : Spells & Rituals

January, 2016

Reclaiming Isis

Merry meet!

isis

Isis has not been a goddess with whom I have worked. I hadnt felt particularly drawn to deities from the Egyptian pantheon, but hearing ISIS in the news has led me to think her name is being taken in vain. She is not the most frightening terrorist organization: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Isis is the Great Divine Mother of the Universe. She is the personification of femininity; she is the wife of a king and the mother of the god Horus. As such, she is the goddess of motherhood and children. She was the original madonna with child, later to become Mary and Jesus. Isis is also a patroness of fertility, nature and magic. She is portrayed as a friend of the oppressed and a protector of the dead. Isis brought back her husband-brother from the dead. It is said she listens to the prayers of everyone.

Worship of Egypts great mother goddess extended to all parts of the Roman Empire, spilling over into Greek civilization as well, so it is quite possible my ancestors in Sicily and Germany paid her homage.

It did not bother me that ISIS became the acronym for such things as the Institute for Science and International Security or the Intercampus Student Information System, but it does bother me that this religious extremist group was given the name.

The Associated Press uses ISIL and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in its news stories, and some have followed that usage, despite the fact it seems to legitimize the group with statehood. Some in governments are using Daesh as an acronym for the Arabic phrase al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham for the Islamic state. Depending on how it is conjugated, it can be seen as an insult to the death cult.

While efforts continue to persuade the media to stop calling terrorists by the name of the Goddess of Ten Thousand Names, the Mistress of All Magic, we might consider helping break the connection between a mother goddess whose history stretches back 4,500 years and a present-day violent hate group.

My idea is to make space for an altar to Isis and the divine feminine. Im starting mine with a tarot card of her image from the deck Daughters of the Moon. I intend to light the candle in front of it every time I am home and encounter her name being used to refer to the terrorist organization, and offer prayers to the great mother to she who brings together the power of both the sun and the moon for healing.

She is associated with all of the elements. Incense and oils including frankincense, cedar, sandalwood, cinnamon and sweet orange have been named as connected to her, as have roses, jasmine and lotus flowers. When choosing a candle, I have read that her preferred colors are cobalt blue and black, and to anoint them with myrrh or vervain or both. Other sources list additional colors of silver, gold, red and green.

Her sacred animals are the cow, snake, scorpion, hawk, swallow, dove and vulture. Gems include gold, silver, ivory, ebony, obsidian and lapis lazuli. Such offerings can be placed before her to honor her, and to recognize the high priestess that dwells within us as well. We can let Isisintuition and knowing become our own, merging inner wisdom with conscious awareness as we reclaim our voice and speak her praises.

Perhaps, if more people begin to honor her, we can restore sacredness to her name as well as to our lives.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

HedgeWitch Days!

October, 2015

SAMHAIN, PLEASE RSVP!

Hi my lovelies….well it’s finally here! The time between times, the entry to the darkest part of the year lays before us at the end of this calendar month. The shops are awash with all things Halloween, Ghosts and Ghoulies adorning every aisle of every supermarket and every shop window in the high street, happy sigh!!!

This is the time of the year where at last we can go a little bit crazy and shop till we drop, as for us it’s time to stock up on our everyday essentials lol! Not only are the shops full of Halloween goodies, the food aisles come alive with the seasonal food of comfort and celebration. Pumpkins and squashes, corn and root vegetables call to us to make warming stews and hearty soups as we ready ourselves for the winter, and celebrate our third and final harvest of the year.

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On the path we walk, everything is gearing up to the 31st of this month, the night when the veils are at their thinnest, and the ultimate witching hour. It’s so much fun planning Samhain or Halloween, with the feasting and games, and the trick or treating that seems to grow more popular here in the UK with each passing year. I love to bedeck my altar with fallen leaves, candles of light and dark and heavy incenses….but there is something I love even more than all of that, I love the feast of the ancestors!

On this most witchy of nights when that threadlike veil between our world and theirs is at its most translucent, communication with the other side is easier and our own insight is more in focus. Cooking, laying the table, dressing the Altar, a ritual bath, dressing up, feasting and celebration followed by divination and communication with the other world make up my perfect Halloween. Laying a space at the table for all those that have gone before us is mandatory for Samhain in this home, as is the welcoming of all Fae and keepers of the other worlds via offerings of food, crystals and flowers….BUT

It occurs to me that we are not very good in this realm of ours at social etiquette when it comes to the other worlds! Think of it this way, it’s like planning a party or a wedding, setting everything up with perfect attention to every detail. Preparing a feast, decorating the venue and fine tuning every aspect of this amazing celebration…and then once ready, sending out invitations to attend NOW, right NOW! No warning, no thought if they our guests might have other plans, just a shout to get here and celebrate with me immediately, how rude we are! If the other world is anything like this one, a sudden request to attend such a event would be met with at best a polite declining of the invitation, but more likely a sharp slam and lock of the door,

How dare someone drag me away from my evening in my PJs and my favourite TV show without so much as a warning, where are their manners?”

Ummmm, time to rethink this immediate request thing!

Those of you that have read ’Hedgewitch Book of Days’ will know how I do like to try and bring our wheel of the year celebrations into our 12 month calendar year, to make our spiritual path more integrated into our everyday life and modern world. So, as the month of October holds Samhain at its end, it makes sense to me to celebrate this season throughout the month, every day, not just one big bang of a party at the end….although that is certainly something to look forward to.

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All that being said, I think the focus of your Samhain ‘month’ can be your altar. It provides the perfect place for reflection, for spells and provides the base from which to send out your invitations to the otherworld. Any area can become your altar, I work from a couple at home. One is the top of the chest of drawers in the bedroom, the other is the hearth of the fireplace. Even though the fire in my house is electric it is still the heart of the home and for me is the focal point that works well for my magic. I also have a small altar set up in the kitchen which is mainly used when I am cooking and you wouldn’t really recognise it as one unless you were in the know. For my Samhain altar I will be using my hearth.

Altars should, I think, be living breathing things, constantly changing and evolving, moving fluidly with you and your magic. Its energy will increase with every word uttered by it, and every spell cast.

For Samhain, there is a wealth of things you can add to your altar to increase your focus and energy, you only have to look around you. Obviously it’s good to have the basics represented, the Goddess and the Horned God, the elements, the seasonal representations and most importantly at this time of celebration, the ancestors. Bring to your altar your photographs, mementos, books, letters, family tree and anything else that holds a family connection. It might be a piece of jewellery or a pot, anything with sentimental value that has a link to your past and those that have gone before. Remember too your beloved animal friends, photos, keepsakes or even just a drawing of an animal can help bring their energy to that spot. Included on your altar a candle for the ancestors, one big enough to be lit each day, even if only for a few moments.

Once you have set up your basic Samhain altar it is time both to build the energy, ready to work with on the 31st and to send out those all-important invitations to the otherworld.

Every day, spend some time at your Samhain altar. A few moments is all that’s needed if you’re pushed for time. Light your candles and incense and bring something new to place with your original altar set up. It could be a leaf, an acorn, a homemade cookie, a bead, anything you can think of really that represents this time of year and the energy build up you are trying to create.

Then every day at your altar send out your invitation for Samhain to the other realms, these are the words I use;

The energy builds as the veil grows thin,

The festival of Samhain will soon begin.

Ancestors and spirits I call on you

To join me with a heart that’s true.

I ask for your presence on Samhain night

When the veil draws away and opens my sight.

May my words fly to you, and may you see

That I ask this with love…So mote it be!

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Spend a few moments concentrating on your ancestors and their energy before giving thanks and extinguishing the candles. Do this each day on the run up to Samhain and your ancestors should be waiting to commune with you as the veil reaches its thinnest…after all it gives them plenty of time to prepare!

On Samhain night remember to use the energy you have built up around your altar to aid you in your call to the otherworld, any residual energy can be released with love and thanks to be used for good in this world and the next.

Have a magical Samhain guys and fun and safe Halloween!!

Thriftcrafting: Witching on a Budget

March, 2015

Flower Child

Merry Meet!

altar

Spring is synonymous with flowers. I always like to have them on my altar, especially when I do a ritual.

Those I associate with Ostara are snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and showy happy faced pansies. Because spring is associated with the direction of East, I am somewhat partial to the yellow forsythia because it just about sings, “Spring has sprung.”

Flowers and budgets can go together.

Look around outside for what nature might be gifting to you. Are there dandelions? Bloodroot? Violets? A pussy willow bush from which you can cut a few branches and force the blooms?

You might consider investing in bulbs that bloom annually. If you didn’t already plant some, you could purchase potted bulbs in bloom for your altar now, then plant them in a sunny location for picking next year.

When visiting my mother’s grave one year, we noticed pots of dead flowers thrown in a trash barrel. My dad rescued some and planted them. Some bloomed the following year. The fall mums everyone has on their steps can be planted in a garden and allowed to grow wild. They’ll come back every year. Without the proper sever pruning, they will grow bushy with small flowers.

I am grateful that the Trader Joe’s around the corner always has a selection of flowers for $3.99.

If you ask Source for flowers, be open to all ways they might come to you. I’ve been able to pick lilacs at a friend’s house and buy some for a couple of dollars from a homeowner having a tag sale. I have come across huge stands of daylilies in the back of an almost empty parking lot and violets growing along the edge of my condo complex. There’s also a crab apple tree that has the most wonderful blooms around Beltane.

Be sure to harvest responsibly. Don’t trespass on private property. Never take every flower off one plant and don’t pick a patch clean. Always ask permission of the plant and thank it. Consider leaving a small gift in exchange: a pretty pebble, water, a song, a handful of mulch, a pinch of tobacco, the removal of litter.

But don’t just think blooms. Eggshells stuffed with sprouts from the produce isle could decorate an Ostara altar.

Blooms, branches or greens all dress an altar as long as you find them pleasing. And afterwards, I would like to suggest you return them to nature if possible rather than throw them in the trash.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Spellcrafting: Spells and Rituals

September, 2014

‘The season of limits.’

 

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Merry Meet.
There is a poem that has been part of my Mabon ritual since I came across it about six years ago. It touched me deeply, and has come to be even more meaningful as I move into the autumn of my life. At 60, I am claiming the title of crone this Mabon, and I find that Patricia Monaghan’s words apply to the circle of my life as well to the wheel of the year.
I share them with you in the hopes you’ll find a phrase or more that speaks to you as the seasons change and you celebrate the coming of the dark at Mabon.
Merry part.
And merry meet again.

 

Fall
from Part Three: The Measure of Her Powers
of “Seasons of the Witch”
by Patricia Monaghan

Now comes the time of reckoning, the season of limits.
There will never be more than there is now. The harvest is done, the cellars are full. Two seasons of growth have lead to this richness, this security, this abundance. This is the time to celebrate the plenty that work and time have wrought. Now, the time to feast with friends, share the bounty, toast the work well done.
Now is the time, as well, of endings. For nothing more is growing. Nothing more will grow this year. There will never be more than there is now. The winds of autumn descend to tear seed from stalk, to scatter what has not been captured.
This is the time to decide what will die. Not all of last spring’s calves and lambs and ducklings can be fed through the winter. Some will die, and in dying provide food. It is a season of decisions. And of prophecies: for as other life dies, it foreshadows our own deaths. The taste of death is in the air in fall. On our tongues, too, the taste of death: of plants that give us their seeds, of animals that give us their flesh.
Such communion! As we pick the pumpkin from its frozen shriveled stalk, as we press the juice from apple’s flesh, as we tear out carrot life by its roots, we taste the deepest knowledge: that we need others to survive. That we breathe only because something has died. That we make our own flesh of the flesh of our world.
Never in the seasons of our life do we feel more responsible.
As she moves through autumn, a woman feels a passionate connection with all life. Yet, wise in the seasons of living, she can be unsentimental, even pitiless. She does not try to nurture everything and everyone, for she knows not all can – should – survive. She becomes selective. There is enough of everything – strength, love, passion, lust – everything but time.
Time, she knows, grows short. Nothing seems endless anymore. her life grows full of endings: parents and friends die, animals she has loved disappear in a gasp, dreams fade beyond reclaiming. She does not recognize, when the deaths start, that fall has begun. But later, she will remember: After that one, it was never the same. Never again can she hold a living body without knowing the fragility of it’s life, the closeness of its death.
She finds that she has limits. Her energy falters, her mind drifts, her patience snaps. She begins to husband herself, to save herself for what really matters. She has seen enough to guess the trajectory of most events, to hold herself back from repeating old mistakes. She knows now that some energy is wasted. So sometimes she seems parsimonious, unwilling to expend in waste. But other times she is generous. That old coat? Give it away. That pretty pin? Oh, do take it. The half-finished book? No, it’s yours. She does not need to cling to what she has outlasted. Things leave her: she does not need it all.
Fall consumes a woman many times before and after middle life, whenever the time demands that she becomes decisive. She empties her womb of a conception; she leaves a convent, a marriage, a career; she puts a loved old pet to sleep. She cleans a closet, she gives away old books, cuts off her hair. Autumn moods find her free and vibrant, impatient of delusions, ready to do whatever she needs to do.
For she knows what she needs, and she wants it fiercely. For every false dream that dies, a true one is remembered. She climbs mountains to stand in alpenglow, she gallops out on a magnificent horse, she paints her secrets and her nightmares. She bears a last and cherished child; she remembers passion with an old friend; she writes her own, her individual, story. She knows what memories she needs to store, to provide her winter years.
The autumn woman moves towards dreamtime. Though she knows her limits, she has also felt limitless. She has known the ineffable. She wakes at night from dreams of high windy places where small blue flowers bloom, and she knows in her bones that such places exist. Luminous beings appear in her dreams and pull her towards them. She recognizes the dust of infinity in a windstorm, the odor of timelessness in a fire.
There is a transcendent energy about her, but she remains rooted in life’s imminent realities. In her eyes you see the fire of primal knowledge: the knowledge of life and death. She knows that she will not escape this life alive. And so she embraces it, moment by moment by moment.

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