magick

Supportive Practices of the Craft

March, 2017

Witchpower

 

 

 

In addition to the practices of witchcraft usually discussed, such as divination and herb lore, there are practices which support a witch’s overall efforts. The following seven sections describe practices I have found useful for tuning up my Craft practice and keeping it properly focused.

1: Cycles

Witches follow cycles in everything they do, out of respect for their overall balance of health. They don’t work all year, and then try to relax through a brief vacation; witches take little mini-vacations all the time. They sometimes appear to be laid back and lazy, but they respond well in a crisis, and they somehow get their tasks done.

A witch aims at discovering her own biorhythms, so as to work with, rather than against, her natural energy cycle. But in practice there are usually compromises to be made with work and other factors. Her actual daily schedule may be set somewhat askew to her biorhythms, but a witch will adapt to it and arrange for periods of rest between work to attend to quarters other than South / Will / Fire. There are knowledge and skills to acquire, and emotions and the circle and the practice of inner and/or outer stillness to attend to. And there is a little goofing off, daytime rest, which is essential; just watch the animals.

Starting with the Sun cycle and making allowances for work, etc., a witch reserves the earlier parts of the day for practical affairs. She will not work on taxes, for instance, into the evening hours, but will start earlier in the season and devote some weekend daytime hours to the chore. Evening is for going within, withdrawing to one’s own hearth and communing with ancestors and familiar spirits.

2: Directions

It isn’t on any list of witch tools, but a compass is important to the modern witch so she can orient her life and work to the four directions. Witchcraft is always done in a physical context. Pagans are highly aware of their immediate environment and traffic with spirits of the field, yard, stream, the most prominent local tree, as well as with household spirits. The key to contacting household spirits lies in feelings.

When you first move into a new house or apartment, it feels cold and uninviting, especially if it hasn’t been lived in for a while. Not much later, it fits you comfortably like a suit of old clothes; and if, in addition, it is alive with saged boundaries and household shrines, you feel liked by the house as well as liking it yourself. This is a boundary perception, which we are taught to ignore or treat as a subjective matter, but if instead we address the good feelings and express our appreciation for the atmosphere of our dwelling, we break that boundary and begin to recover ancient pagan perception.

In the same way, outdoor sprites can be contacted through greater sensitivity to one’s feelings without discounting them from habit.

Upon awakening in the morning, when a witch is ready to start the day, it is a good practice to take out the compass and address the four quarters. One begins in the North, opening oneself to calming energy. Then to the East, holding in mind briefly what needs to be known or learned today. Then to the South, deciding the first tasks. Then to the West, expanding awareness according to one’s ways. Then seal to the North, stilling the mind and body once again. The witch is now ready to face the day.

3: Expanding Awareness

One way of expanding awareness when silently addressing the West is to relax and wait for something in your peripheral awareness to stand out and beckon your attention. It might be the reflection of something in a window, or the shadow of a tree or the spaces in its foliage. Whatever it is, when it gets your attention, continue to view it peripherally. You are in touch with its mana, or magical energy, and can use it throughout the day when you call it to mind. The image in your memory should be peripheral, not central, i.e. the way it looked when it got your attention. This can also be done with things heard peripherally. These are some of my ways.

4: Conserving Magical Energy

There is a kind of energy or power that the modern world has forgotten, though the memory of it is preserved in folk tales and myths. Indigenous peoples are well aware of it and live their lives with reference to it. While the immediate environment abounds in it, and we take it in all the time, we do not notice it because we squander it in habitual ways, habits that have been with us from early childhood. The ancient Latins called it numen, and the Mongolians, hiimori. It is always personal, taking on the features of the person holding it.

It is only by conserving this energy that the witch becomes ready to do magic, both in the circle and life. We don’t realize that everything takes energy, even unconscious ignoring of things in our environment, such as shadows, eyeglass frames, or background sounds. When we expand our attention to include such things, we gain the energy that was used in keeping them in the background of our attention, the penumbra or half-shadow. This energy is always exponentially higher than the small amount required to expand the attention.

The energy takes four forms for witches, associated with the four ancient elements. The energy of Air makes us learn and understand new things that hadn’t occurred to us before. In everyday life, it also manifests in any new knowledge or understanding.

The energy of Fire boosts the will and lets us accomplish tasks in life that seemed too big to tackle. In order to bring changes into our physical lives, we have to both give up some things, at least temporarily, and adopt other things or actions that further the goal. In the Craft, habits or actions that squander magical energy have to be sacrificed, and then the freed energy finds new outlets on its own.

The energy of Water attracts us to the unknown, and gives us the daring to escape the current limitations of our lives. This is the energy of initiation, which expands and transforms our awareness and can give our lives a whole new basis.

The energy of Earth is cloaked in silence. Witches seek inner and outer stillness, quite as much as Zen monks or Hindu yogis do. This stillness is deep, and the deeper the witch descends into it, the more he or she is transformed and the greater the magical energy that results. It is pursued gradually and at first in little things, like learning to sit still and not scratch, or refraining from certain topics in conversation.

Not that the witch is inactive, quite the contrary; Earth, the North, is also the place of our physicality, and the witch exercises regularly, and takes care of business through Fire and the South. Stillness refers instead to the enormous amount of energy we waste in fidgeting and performing other small, unnecessary actions, both mental and physical: for instance, compulsively repeating past conversations in one’s mind or rehearsing conversations to come in some hypothetical future event (for all thoughts of the future are hypothetical) .

The witch sums up a past event and plans for the future, but these are finite acts that come to an end, instead of repeating over and over and wearing on the nerves. The energy to be had by restricting such habits cannot be anticipated in advance. Out of stillness comes new understanding, closing the circle of practice towards Air and the East.

Thus the witch pursues the four powers of the magus: to know, to will, to dare, to keep silence. But there is a fifth power that results from the balanced development of the four: to go. The witch is saving energy for his or her definitive journey, the flight to the True Sabbat, fellowship and celebration with the ancestors, spirits, and deities in the other world. Folklore depicts it as a joyous occasion, and colors it with the pleasures and longings of the time when the tales were spun. Some tried to cut corners and get there more quickly through the use of the witch’s flying ointment. The actual flight may or may not follow traditional lines.

One may not literally fly up the chimney and then meet the Wild Hunt in the sky and fly to a rath or burg and descend therein through a tunnel into the Otherworld. The journey may parallel many of these features, nonetheless; and there are preliminary journeys to be made that go partway there.

The flight to the True Sabbat is a milestone on the way to the witch’s ultimate journey to the Sun, when he or she acquires a body of light that can materialize at will, so that further incarnations here in middle Earth are no longer needed. This transformation seals the work of the Craft and completes the vows made at initiation; thenceforth one does other work, perhaps as a guardian elemental, paying back for the help received along the way on this side by paying forward.

5: The Familiar

Witches traditionally kept a cat, sometimes a horse, as a familiar. The witch’s astral journeys were made in company with the spirit of the familiar.

The best information I have found on this practice is in Timothy Knab’s A War of Witches, a factual account of an anthropologist’s investigation, some twenty plus years later, of a battle with brujos and brujas in the highlands of central Mexico. In the course of his investigation, he is inducted into Toltec brujeria by one of the survivors and makes a journey to Tlalocan, the Toltec Underworld.

Tlaloc, the Lord of the Underworld, keeps animal spirits called naguals in his corrals. He gives a nagual to each human at birth. The nagual could perhaps be thought of as the link, within each of us, to other animals, inherited though latent from the prehistoric past. But it is a real spirit and to be a brujo one must find one’s nagual. Afterwards, an experienced brujo, through many journeys to Tlalocan, may have acquired a number of naguals, keeping them in fetish objects like puma’s claws, or in a special gourd.

The human soul is called the tonal. It has two halves. One faces towards the Sun and stands guard over the body when the dark lower half, the shadow, goes on journeys down the world pillar to the underworlds. The shadow is so called, both because it lies below our daily awareness and faces towards the nether regions, and because it follows its nagual into the depths as the latter’s shadow.

If the nagual is a cat spirit, the shadow takes on the semblance of a cat spirit. This is done for protection from hungry denizens of the deep, who prize the heart blood of a tonal but will let a nagual go by.

The discipline Knab goes through in becoming a brujo is well worth the reading. But to return to our own practice, preparation for a liaison with a cat familiar’s spirit, besides the obvious step of getting a cat, would seem to involve re-molding one’s own psyche closer to that of a feline. We do this unconsciously when we sit in company with a cat and enjoy its utter relaxation. Cats are content to go from moment to moment doing whatever they are doing, even if it is only resting.

We, however, often have a habit of doubting whether we are making best use of our time, or regretting we are not elsewhere doing other things. Cats, apparently, have no such qualms. The daily practice of witchcraft in fact promotes a calm mind fully given to the moment. Apparently cultivation of inner stillness connects us with the animal, pre-rational mind, so that we can enjoy shuttling between two minds, as the occasion permits.

This is only an example of how the witch models him or herself on a cat familiar. Whether or not one goes on journeys with the cat, cultivating a close relationship with one will draw the witch closer to his or her own inner, pre-rational mind, through which he or she can call up power from the Deep in circle.

6: The Patron Deity

It isn’t incumbent upon pagans to have a special relationship with a single deity, but it can be a rewarding experience. The pagan will continue to honor the other deities and spirits, of course, and may enter into a similar relationship with another later on. Suppililiumas, the king of the Hittites, was singularly devoted to his goddess, and as we know, his subject Abraham devoted his wandering life to his family god, the later Yahweh.

All gods stand ready to teach by sharing their consciousness, and by helping the devotee to practice the disciplines that lead to that awareness. Pagans will generally choose a patron deity (male or female) on the basis of temperamental preferences, though they may be influenced by a dream or vision. The relationship can be devotional or more like a friendship. In the latter case the deity is like an older mentor or senior partner. In late heathen times, Thor was popular with people seeking this latter relation.

In the Craft, the Lord and the Lady serve as patrons. The Lord is the year-god, who has waxing and waning aspects, and these replace each other at the solstices. Because the outgoing aspect dies and is reborn six months later, the Lord (sometimes called the Lad) is more of a demigod, and is not quite up to the Lady’s level. Witches and warlocks alike tend to relate to the Lord as a tutor or preceptor, and to the Lady devotionally.

The continental Celtic god Cernunnos is associated by modern witches with the year-god. He is known only from artifacts and only by the description given him by Greek traders in antiquity on the Ister or Danube river – the horned or antlered one (we do not know his Celtic name). Cernunnos teaches witches the way to deal skillfully with both the outer and inner life.

The Oak King or waxing year aspect teaches, by example, how to deal with the outer world joyfully and fruitfully. The Holly King or waning aspect is the psycho pomp or soul-guide in Craft initiation, and also provides fellowship with ancestors at Samhain, October 31st.

On the Gundestrup cauldron, found in a peat bog in Denmark, Cernunnos is the central carved figure. He has two antlers, wears a torque or neck-ring signifying wealth, and holds another in his right hand, as bestower of wealth. His left hand grasps a ram-headed snake by the neck, an Underworld animal linked with healing and sacrifice.

It often happens that a pagan already pursues some discipline designed to conserve magical energy, and chooses an appropriate god or goddess, asking him or her to be the patron of that practice. If the god is willing, he or she will help, first of all, by reminding the devotee to practice whatever part of the askesis is appropriate for the present situation.

The devotee thanks his or her patron for these reminders, knowing from experience that practice would be slacker without them. As the partnership goes on, the world will start to take on the colors peculiar to that deity’s consciousness and personality, and will cause subtle changes in the personality of the devotee as well.

The patron deity also teaches in dreams and guides the devotee in waking life by means of signs and omens, often peculiar coincidences that seem mysteriously significant.

The Lady nurtures and feeds witches as well as all her children on the earth, and also teaches those who prefer to relate to a female divinity. The discipline taught by the Lady involves cleansing the emotions of their verbal accretions. The devotee learns to feel without thinking or analyzing or labeling the feeling. In this way, the witch or warlock draws closer to the animals, who have naked feelings unclothed in thoughts. The askesis of the Lady is especially suitable for couples.

7: Inventory

Supportive practices of witchcraft aim at optimizing the free flow of energy through the life of a witch.

A cluttered life is full of energy knots that trap old, stale energy called `miasma’ by the ancients. The first phase of a spell, purification, is designed to unravel one or more of these knots, so that an increase in the flow of magical energy renders the flow palpable. The energy must be felt to be directed, and as some of it is flowing all the time (however feebly) , the rate of flow must be increased for it to be felt. It can then be directed to a chosen purpose in the consecration phase, and, in the final phase, charged with all the force the witch can command through expanded awareness.

But if the witch’s life is full of energy knots, untying one or two of them by purification may not result in a very strong flow of energy. For a stronger flow, the witch must gradually remove clutter from his/her life so that energy knots are few and easily unraveled.

Clutter comes in many forms. There is mental and emotional clutter; the clutter of always being too busy because of over-commitment; the memory-clutter of too many unfinished projects; and the material clutter found in the home: over-stuffed closets, garages, basements, storage sheds, etc. This section is about material clutter.

By learning and applying the principles of feng shui, we can facilitate a free flow of the energy the Chinese call ch’i throughout the home; but before putting feng shui into practice, we must face and do something about the mountains of clutter tucked away in corners, closets, cupboards and other hiding places. We may think that if our accumulations are out of sight they will be out of mind as well, but the deeper, pre-rational mind we share with the animals keeps tabs on every least thimble.

When the writer Aldous Huxley’s house in California burned down, he remarked on how clean it felt to be free of so many possessions. This was a drastic example of what we can achieve in a smaller degree through the practice of inventory.

The deep mind keeps a file on every item we own, and these files must be closed and cleared away if the witch is to use the filing function for fulfilling oaths and following threads of self-discipline. Accordingly, at regular intervals a witch will go through some of his or her clutter, putting things together that belong together, and getting rid of items no longer needed. A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep what one can use (sentiment counts as a use) and put the rest where it is likely to do the most good. In this we see an illustration of the balance of the Craft, which aims at getting maximum enjoyment and effectiveness from possessions without getting bogged down in being possessed by them.

Putting things you don’t need where they will do the most good may mean giving things away; but be careful doing this, as you may lose friends if they feel you are dumping stuff on them. And above all, never tell anyone you are following the rule of inventory, as gifts should at least appear to be made from a feeling of friendship.

Closing accounts with past unfinished business, either by abandoning old projects or by completing them, leads to a greater integration with one’s past selves, and can clear a channel through memory, and far memory, for the witch to travel in the inner journey down to the Summerland.

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Footnotes:

1. For numen see Rose, H.J. in the bibliography.

2. For hiimori see Sangerel, both references, in the bibliography.

3. For the folklore of the Sabbat, see Jackson in the bibliography.

4. On the journey to the Sun, see Grimassi, p. 219, in the bibliography, also Nikhilananda, vol. II, p. 158.

5. See Knab in the bibliography.

6. See Gurney in the bibliography. More recently, a royal charter of King Suppliliumas has been found, authorizing a mercantile expedition to Byblos on the ancient Lebanese coast. Abraham may have been in it.

7. See Davidson (I) in the bibliography.

8. For the significance of Cernunnos in modern witchcraft, see Farrar in the bibliography.

9. See Davidson (II) in the bibliography.

 



Bibliography:

Davidson, H.R. (I) , Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, London, Penguin , 1990.

__________ (II) , Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse
University Press, 1988.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart, Eight Sabbats for Witches, Custer, WA, Phoenix Publishing, 1988.

Grimassi, Raven, Ways of the Strega, St. Paul, MN, Llwellyn Publications, 1995.

Gurney, O.R., The Hittites, London, Penguin , 1952.

Jackson, Nigel, Call of the Horned Piper,

Knab, Timothy J., A War of Witches, Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1995.

Nikhilananda, Swami, translator, The Upanishads, in 4 vols. New York, Ramakrishna-
Vivekananda Center, 1975. Prasna Upanishad is in Vol. 2.

Rose, H.J., Religion in Greece and Rome, New York, Harper Torchbooks, 1959.

Sarangerel (I) , Chosen by the Spirits, Rochester, VT, Destiny , 2001.

_______ (II) , Riding Windhorses, Rochester, VT, Destiny , 2000.

Notes from the Apothecary

March, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Narcissi

 

Apothecary1

 

Most of us will be familiar with narcissi in the form of the daffodil; spring’s signpost. Those yellow heads, nodding towards the returning sun, have provided seasonal inspiration for centuries. Wordsworth, in 1802, was moved to write:

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

Which perfectly describes (as does the rest of the poem) the way in which daffodils are able to blanket an otherwise green or brown area, almost as if they are colouring in the season.

Narcissi is the plural of narcissus, the Latin name for these golden trumpets. The name may come from a Greek term for being intoxicated (hence the term narcotic) or may be linked to the Greek hunter of the same name, who fell in love with his own reflection and gave us the term narcissism. Pliny the Elder believed it was the former, and it is possible the Narcissus of Greek legend was named for the flower, and not the other way around.

The Kitchen Garden

One of the problems with bulbs is that they all tend to look pretty similar, and it’s not unheard of for people to go out looking for wild garlic, and come back with some bulbs that may look similar, but which could be narcissi, bluebells or snowdrops. The danger here, as you will learn below, is that most bulbs are quite nasty to the mammalian system, and can even cause death, so please, please don’t eat them unless you are 100% sure, and definitely don’t ever eat daffodils.

In the kitchen, a bunch of daffodils on the counter or kitchen table will brighten up the room, and bring a sense of welcome and peace to the area. As they age, their odour becomes stronger, and speaks of warm, spring days and the promise of summer to come.

Yellow represents happiness, a carefree aspect and vitality, so golden daffodils will bring those feelings into your home. White or orange daffodils will bring peace and kindness, respectively.

The Apothecary

It’s pretty key to understand that narcissi and many other spring bulbs are actually quite poisonous. Having said that, it’s very interesting to note that this aspect was actually used as a medicinal property in times gone by, and they were classed as a ‘purgative’; a chemical which makes one empty the bowels rapidly. Basically, by giving someone a very, very upset stomach, you were hoping that they would pass whatever else it was that ailed them at the same time.

Culpeper also noted that they could cause vomiting, and that this could be effective in soothing ‘tertian ague’; a kind of malaria which he advised occurred more in springtime, coinciding with the arrival of the helpful flowers.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham, in his popular Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs (Llewellyn, 1985), tells us that the daffodil is a feminine plant, associated with the planet Venus and the element of water. Using this information, you could place the flowers or bulbs at the western point of your altar or sacred space, or you could incorporate them into astrological workings where Venus was prominent.

If one transmutes the planet Venus into the Goddess Venus, then we have a flower that is connected to love and fertility, which are both facets of this plant, again, according to Cunningham. One can expand further upon this and see an implied association with Aphrodite, which allows the encompassing of the Greek pantheon as well as the Roman. Daffodils could be used as altar decorations when worshipping either of these goddesses, or honouring their feast days. Venus was particularly honoured during April, and there should still be plenty of daffodils available during this time.

Adonia is a festival that celebrates Aphrodite and Adonis, and is celebrated on the first full moon after the Spring (Vernal) Equinox. In 2017 this will be April the 11th (in the Northern Hemisphere) as the Vernal Equinox falls around the 20th March, depending exactly where in the world you are. Daffodils would be ideal to add to the flowers for these festivals, although roses should also be present where possible.

Culpeper disagrees with Cunningham, and finds that yellow daffodils are ruled by Mars. This puts them firmly in the hot, fiery camp, and makes them useful for sanctifying the quarter of south, and honouring the sun. This makes sense, when you think of how firmly these flowers are part of our springtime; nodding the sun gently back into place after the cold, dark winter.

Personally, I like to place my daffodils at east on my altar, and in a central point in my kitchen. They speak to me of Brigid, in the same way that snowdrops do; new beginnings, hard work and courage. They speak of the rising sun, and the pale to golden yellow of spring mornings.

Home and Hearth

 

Apothecary2

 

As we move more firmly into spring, check out your local supermarket/grocery store for offers on bunches of daffodils. I don’t condone picking them from wild spaces, but they are widely cultivated and these flowers are ideal to take home to bring a bit of spring colour into your life.

If you grow them yourself, of course you can pick as many as you like, but I would recommend leaving some to flower and die in the spot they were planted, as they will please your local spirits and also the bees and other insects that are starting to return.

Have a look and see if you can find any of the more unusual plants. You can find two headed daffodils, white ones, orange ones, white petals with a golden trumpet and vice versa. If you are a practitioner of colour magic, you can utilise these different kinds of narcissi in many different ways due to the sheer diversity in shade.

I Never Knew…

Socrates called narcissi The Chaplet of the Infernal Gods due to the level of toxicity the plant produces.

Image credits: Narcissus calcicola, Olaf Leillinger, 2006, via Wikimedia and Narcissus tazetta var. chinensis, KENPEI, 2007, via Wikimedia.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. See is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Notes from the Apothecary

February, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Snowdrop

 

snowdrop

 

 

Imbolc is upon us, and I am now seeking snowdrops with every step. Snowdrops symbolise the first stirrings of spring very strongly to me, ever since I placed a closed flower on my altar and within minutes of my ritual it had fully opened; a tiny, star like wonder. Although they grow all over Britain and the US now, they weren’t classed as a ‘wild’ plant until the 18th century, as they were only introduced from Southern Europe in the 16th century. They have some delightful alternative names: February fair maids, Eve’s star, white bells, dew drops and even death’s flower, presumably a reference to the fact that snowdrops are poisonous. As well as causing physical harm when eaten, there are some superstitions that snowdrops are very unlucky, particularly if taken inside the house. There are some English anecdotes of people dying suddenly after someone brought snowdrops in to decorate the home, however I have never suffered any ill effects from using them on my Imbolc altar.

The Kitchen Garden

Snow drops are not edible at all, but they are extremely beautiful. If you decide to grow snowdrops, you can usually get the bulbs via mail order, or your local plant nursery. Please don’t dig up bulbs from the woods or from grass verges. The Latin name is galanthus, which you may need if ordering online. One fantastic thing about snowdrops is that they are perfectly happy in shade, so they can be used to fill a space in your garden where other plants would miss the sun. Plant your bulbs in the early fall, in loose soil and a bit of compost. Don’t leave your bulbs too long before planting or they can dry out. Mark the space where you plant them, as when the flowers die down, the ground may look bare again and you may accidentally dig them up!

 

 

snowdrop2

 

 

The Apothecary

A fifteenth century glossary classes the snowdrop as an emmenagogue, something which promotes menstruation. There are also hints that it may have been used as a digestive aid, however the effects of the toxin in the plant are actually harmful to the digestive tract.

John Gerard, the 16th and 17th century botanist, claimed that the snowdrop had no medicinal value, but Mrs Grieves disagreed, citing the above information which pre-dates Gerard’s findings.

Currently, there is some research being undertaken into the properties of galantamine and how it can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, and galantamine is found in snowdrops as well as some other spring bulbs.

The Witch’s Kitchen

The snowdrop is a clear indicator that spring is on the way, and as such, carries all the symbolism that this implies. You can use snowdrops to symbolise east, the sunrise, new beginnings, air, winters end, and as an offering to Brigid or Persephone. If using on altars, please keep out of the reach of children and animals as they are toxic.

As well as the physical associations with winter’s end, you can take a more metaphysical approach and use the snowdrop as a symbol of something coming to an end that you have been struggling with. Seeing snowdrops in a visualisation or meditation may mean that something in your life is about to change, or that a goal you thought was out of reach may be coming close; look out for opportunities and grasp them when they occur.

Snowdrops represent hope, light and determination. They are so small and delicate, yet they are the first living things to break through the hard, frozen ground. They are the epitome of hidden strength.

Home and Hearth

If you are troubled by the superstition that bringing snowdrops into the house is bad luck, try drawing or painting some to go in your sacred space instead. You don’t need to be Monet; a streak of green with pendulous white dripping from the tip will do. Experiment and find something that says ‘snowdrop’ to you, and makes you think of the little spears of hope reaching for the sun.

Use your image as a focus for meditation, visualise yourself walking among snowdrops, or finding a sudden patch of them whilst on a woodland ramble. Record how you feel, what else is around you; and sounds or smells that may pop up. Is there a familiar presence? Something you have felt when honouring a particular deity, or perhaps a sense of nostalgia that triggers a childhood memory?

Write down your findings, see how they fit in with your current life situation, and use this time to record your hopes for the coming year.

I Never Knew…

In Essex, as recently as the 1950s, snowdrops were known as Candlemas bells, further cementing the association with the start of February, and therefore with Imbolc.

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Mabh Savage is the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is also a freelance journalist, musician, poet and mother of one small boy and two small cats. Find out more at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com

The Blackbird

February, 2017

The Blackbird: Piper at the Gates of Dawn

 

blackbird

mage Credit: Manfred Schulenburg via Wikimedia Commons.

Lon Dubh in gaelic, the blackbird is one of the most liminal birds I have ever encountered. It sings at dawn and dusk, the miniature master of the times of transformation. I have always seen it as the guardian of boundaries; it sings only when things are about to change, to mark the edges of time and space. It was no surprise for me to discover, then, that the Celts associated the blackbird with death and rebirth. Rhiannon, a Celtic goddess or otherworldly being who features in the Welsh Mabinogi, is connected to three mystical birds, possibly blackbirds, who have the power over life and death. They could also sing people into a death like sleep (Birds: Myth, Lore and Legend; R. W Chadd, M. Taylor, Bloomsbury, 2016).

The blackbird pops up at various moments in Celtic or Celtic inspired literature, such as on the shoulder of the mysterious Derg Corra in Finn and the Man in the Tree (Revue Celtique, Tr. Kuno Meyer, 1904). Here the bird shares a nut with Derg Corra, then after Derg splits his apple with a stag waiting at the foot of the tree, they each drink from a white, bronze vessel filled with water, in which swims a trout. I adore this imagery, of this man who shares all that he has with a creature of the earth, a creature of the sea, and a creature of the sky. This feels very druidic to me, and while I wish we knew more about Derg Corra, I also love the mystery, and that the blackbird so often appears at those times of mystery; that which has no explanation, and brings wonder in to our lives.

In Greek mythology, the blackbird would die if it ate the luscious seeds of the pomegranate, a tale which seems to link the bird to Persephone, daughter of Zeus and bringer of spring. Persephone was lured into the underworld by eating the pomegranate, and thus had to live between two worlds; two states. The blackbird, similarly, is most active between two states; between light and darkness.

The piper at the gates of dawn is normally a reference to Pan, but I have transmuted it into my own private title for the blackbird. Especially in winter, I can be found nursing a hot mug of tea, on the doorstep of my home, listening to the blackbirds herald in the sunrise.

New beginnings

Dawn

Dusk

Transition periods between seasons e.g. late spring into early summer

Moments of mystery: a sudden burst of blackbird song may indicate you are in the presence of something magical, or that something significant is about to occur in your life.

Astral travel

Physical travel

Boundaries, both protective and between worlds.

Portents of death but also of birth, so careful with this one!

A blackbird feather is a lucky find indeed, and one placed on your altar at east will not only symbolise air and the spirits of the sky, but be a catalyst for any sacred mysteries you explore whilst using the altar in this state. You may also find that if you honour any Celtic deities, they may become more prominent or you may be more aware of them while the feather remains.

Blackbirds are quite prone to albinism, and I remember a school trio where the teacher pointed out a white blackbird that was hopping around the park. He said that the pale bird had been there every year he had been bringing students. I was fascinated, but it wasn’t until much later that I learnt that white variants of normally darker creatures are often messengers from the ‘other world’; either beyond the veil, where the dead reside, or from inside the hollow hills where the fairies dwell. Either way, seeing a blackbird with either partial or full white plumage means you are likely being watched by something not of our realm.

Seeing a blackbird in meditation may mean you are on the cusp of a great change in your life. It may also mean that something that has been static or stagnant in your life for a long time will start to resolve itself, or move forwards. This could be a stale relationship, a job you feel stuck in, or perhaps a period of depression. I suffer from quite low periods of depression, and the blackbirds’ song always reminds me that change is coming. It may not be tomorrow, or the day after, but at some point, I will open my eyes and the sun will have risen on my shadowy mind. After all, as the saying goes, it’s always darkest before dawn.

 

***

Mabh Savage is the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is currently writing a new book on the magic of birds, including the wonderful blackbird. Follow Mabh at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.co.uk.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

January, 2017

 

Calling Kali-Ma

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(Kali The Awakener from the Daughters of the Moon deck)

Merry meet.

We are coming into some dark times, and one of the most powerful and the most frightening of the dark goddesses is Kali-Ma. While she represents the Dark Mother, this article is focused on Her as the warrior. In the Hindu tradition, Kali is the Goddess of death, destruction and resurrection. She is fierce. She wears a belt of skulls, there is blood dripping from her mouth as she stands upon the body of her husband, holding up his severed head and, in another hand, the machete she used.

Kali was created to destroy the demons taking over the world and she was so good at, she couldn’t stop. Call it mania if you must. As the gods saw her destruction unfold, they realized she needed to be stopped and sent her spouse, knowing well that it was a suicide mission. When she killed him, she stopped her rage and was filled with remorse. Her red tongue is extended, which in India, is recognized as a symbol of humility.

Kali Ma works well as a reminder of the immense power we hold, and the need to remember to limit our rage to be appropriate and not too destructive.

Looking at current events, Kali has come to America.

As the destroyer of worlds, the oracle of sacred change, she has brought down our world with a shocking smack; all the illusions we had about the land of the free and the home of the brave were banished on election night.

We are not who we thought we were. Now we must get ready to stand in her fires of transmutation. We need them,” wrote spiritual storyteller Vera de Chalambert in an article appearing in Rebelle Society.

There is a great yearning for change and de Chalambert stressed that rather than move out of the dark into the more comfortable light, we need to provide a space for difficult feelings to come and rest. To grow spiritually, we must enter the deepest, darkest depths of despair without hope, without light, without knowing. It is there that the darkness will heal.

[T]he wound is the gift,” she said. No spoonful of sugar to help this medicine go down.

Kali demands everything and takes it. She is the Wrathful Goddess. She is the psychic force of menstruation – the cycle of destruction that comes before fertility. She teaches us that pain, sorrow, death, decay and destruction are not overcome by denying their existence or by trying to explain them away. These are part of life and we must accept them.

Working with her, we can “get our Kali on.” We can learn to be like her. Fierce. The protective mother. We will sit in the womb of the night, awaiting our rebirth. Her gift is freedom.

RITUAL:

This ritual was presented in “The Dark Goddess: Dancing with the Shadow” by Marcia Starck and Gynne Stern (The Crossing Press, 1993) and is reprinted here with permission.

While there are various ways to work with Kali, this ritual is being used to increase the warrior energy. It is good to do this ritual during the dark moon.

Women come dressed in saris or wearing other Indian clothes, accessories or ornamentation, including swords or other instruments appropriate to Kali-Ma. Red is a good color when working with warrior energy.

The altar should be decorated with skulls and bones, a brazier or incense burner with some joss sticks or other sweet incense, red and black candles, pictures of the Mother in both her benevolent and terrible aspects, and a small bowl with some menstrual blood.

Background music can be sitars or flutes. Women can also bring rattles and drums of any kind to use during the ritual.

The High Priestess or four different women invoke Kali through four Hindu goddesses.

In the East, call Ushas, Goddess of Dawn, to being this new cycle and help us see through illusions and seek the truth.

In the South, call Parvati to bring the fires of purification so we may be cleansed.

In the West, invoke Durga to teach us to look into the dark places in our being so that we may not be afraid.

In the North, call on Saraswati to bring us the wisdom of India, her music and dance, so we may be wise in traditions of the Goddess.

Lastly, call Kali-Ma, Dark Mother, Great Goddess, Createtress of All There Is, Slayer of Demons, Goddess of Destruction, Goddess of Just Revenge.

One at a time, each woman approaches the altar and takes an object such as a sword or skull that exemplifies her interpretation of the warrior energy. With this object, she speaks of her need for Kali’s energy, her work with bringing forth her aggressive side, and her desire to go forth into the world and slay whatever demons of injustice or oppression burden her. She then chants and dances her feelings while the women in the circle drum or play other instruments.

When everyone has had a turn, the High Priestess dances among the women, blessing them and putting a drop of menstrual blood on each of them to show that they have been purified through Kali’s energy. The women then sit in a circle and discuss ways of being in the world that will encourage their warrior side. In closing, chant and sing to Kali:

Kali Durga, Na Mo, Na Mo
Kali Durga, Na Mo, Na Mo
(repeat eight more times)

By this ritual, may you come to understand and use the energy of Kali-Ma. You may also choose to adapt it to suit your own personal practice.

Merry part, and merry meet again.

Book Review: Pagan Portals: Moon Magic by Rachel Patterson

December, 2016

Book Review: Pagan Portals: Moon Magic by Rachel Patterson

 

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Pagan Portals is, as the name suggests, a series of books (by various authors) with the aim of introducing various aspects of Paganism. Moon Magic seems a staple in this diet, as there are few branches of Paganism that don’t require at least some familiarity with the cycles of the moon. My initial concern is that this book may have little to offer the experienced practitioner. Just looking at the contents page dispels these fears instantly. Not only does Rachel (also known as Tansy Firedragon) cover what I would think of as ‘The Basic’ such as the phases of the moon, Esbats and some of the more well-known moon rituals, she also brings a fascinating amount of detail including working with cords, charms and supernatural creatures.
So rubbing my hands together gleefully at the prospect of learning something new about my favourite satellite, I dive right in. Rachel writes in a very accessible style that is very inclusive to readers of all aptitudes. Facts are listed in well written, easy to consume bites, and each section that stems after is broken down in such a way it could almost be used as a reference book. Each moon phase has its own correspondences and magic, so it’s easy enough to flick through to find what you need at a specific time. I would find the information on oils and crystals particularly useful.
The meditations included are beautiful; someone really needs to make a podcast of these though so they can be downloaded and played at whim!
We move from the phases of the moon into the seasonal moon and examine different ways of using a moon calendar including relating it to the controversial Celtic Tree calendar. I’m glad she includes this though; it shows that moon magic and timings are not just for Wicca, but for any path.
I am particularly pleased with the Planting with the Moon chapter; this is such a simple aspect of bio-dynamic agriculture but so many people forget the impact the Moon has on plants and the soil. I’ve often used lunar agrarian principles for my own garden and others’, but this chapter teaches me things I never knew and will definitely implement myself.
This book is very short and as such you really have no excuse to not read it. If you have even the slightest interest in Paganism, Magic, natural living or astrology, this book will be relevant to you. The moon affects all of us, after all! Rachel brings a wealth of information together in such a way that you can go back to this book time and again, without it ever feeling old. The style is simple and full of common sense, yet magical and wondrous at the same time. Quite an achievement.

Book Review: The Only Wiccan Spell Book You’ll Ever Need by Marian Singer & Trish MacGregor

December, 2016

Book Review:  The Only Wiccan Spell Book You’ll Ever Need by Marian Singer & Trish MacGregor

 

bookwiccan

First off, I found this book very informative and well written. I was quite impressed by the amount of information they fit in such a small book. I was pleasantly surprised. The book starts off with their explanation of what Wicca is. “Wicca is an ancient practice, a gentle, earth-oriented religion that seeks truth and understanding, and a way of life meant to affect inner change. Yes, it’s a framework for using magickal powers. It also involves worshipping ancient Pagan deities, and it recognizes the duality of the Divine as one force that incorporates male and female, both God and Goddess. It encourages respect for nature, stresses concern for the planet, and acknowledges that the life force should be reverences in all things, as well”. They then touch on a few good points including some “rules”, like not harming others. They explain that the book can be used as a guideline as well. Also in the introduction is what I think may be my favourite quote in the book. “The true magick of Wicca lies in developing your own inner potential and spirituality. Remember that deep inside yourself, you already have the power to tap into the energy of the universe and the natural world around you; you just need to recognize that potential and direct it”.

Part 1 is all about understanding Wicca, witchcraft and spells; with the first chapter of that getting into philosophy and ideology. It really gets into things like what a witch, Wicca, magick, etc really is. You learn a bit about some gods and goddesses and the Threefold law. A really nice feature that you start to see here is the “Wiccan Wonderings” They go throughout the book and answer random questions. It breaks up the chapters, as some are related to what the chapter is, and some are just random. They get into The Wiccan Creed in this chapter as well. Which goes through 6 points (preserving the environment, honoring yourself and others, etc.) This chapter ends with a Zen prayer that they tell you is the first spell you are going to cast. It is meant to increase a person’s energy and they ask you to write the name of the person who whom you’re saying the prayer for at the top. It’s a great way to end the chapter.

Chapter 2 gets into the belief, intent and the magickal world around us. With one of the first things stating that “belief is the core of any spell” They talk about how you need to find your own belief system, instead of what you learned from someone else. You need to develop your personal code and find an understanding of magick and spells. Of course, they talk about the moon cycles, which as we all know if vital when learning about spells and how you should cast certain spells depending on what phase the moon is at as “The moon, after all, is our closest celestial neighbor.”

Chapter 3 touches on creating a sacred space. The authors write about power spots, ambiance, casting a circle, building an altar, calling the quarters, and releasing the space. “The more you work magick in an area, the more saturated with energy it becomes. Similarly, the more you invoke the quarters in that space, the more protective energy lingers therein”.

The next chapter is all about tools and symbolism and in the opening paragraph the authors state “In magick, the witch is the enabler. A focused will is all that an effective witch needs for magick. Everything else just makes the job easier.” Then they get right into the tools of the trade, covering all sorts of items. A really nice addition to this chapter is them listing various oils and herbs, showing which ones to use depending on what you’re needing. Once they get into incense and candles they explain the importance of colours. “Science has proven that colors have a particular vibration, a tone that touches us in a particular way”. Then of course, they get into what colour means what. Lastly, the authors get into gemstones, crystals, metals, minerals, stones, shells and fossils, while listing the importance of each in this chapter.

Chapter 5 touches on spellcraft fundamentals, which gets into banishing, enchantment and healing. They talk about good luck knots, portable magick like charms, written spells, amulets, talismans and fetishes. Also in this chapter they get into adapting and creating spells from scratch and even give you 9 steps to help you create spells.

Moving onto the next chapter, it’s time to get into the types of magick. First off elemental, then kitchen witchery, which gives you the 3 ingredients for successful kitchen witchery (simplicity, creativity and personalization). A nice feature as well is there is a section on how to make your own candles. After kitchen, they get into Green witchcraft. “The heart and soul of green magick is an intimate connection and appreciation of nature”. I love how they have a part about sprouting spells, which encourages people to grow their own garden. Next, creature craft is brought up and you learn about familiars, spiritual signposts, power animals, totems, wild magick and incorporating animal elements into magick like antlers, eggshells, feathers, fur, nails, teeth and whiskers. Ending the types of magick you learn all about the elemental animals.

So that was part one. Part two is all about spell crafting, with the first chapter being on love spells. “…love spells aren’t meant to enchant of bewitch someone into falling in love with you. We all have free will and nothing can violate that will- not even magick or spells. The true purpose of a love spell is to enhance and empower your own energy so you attract the individual who is the best for you”. I really like how in this book they say things straight out and the talk about loving yourself and taking emotional inventory, figuring out power days and astrology. Then it gets into the 11 spells in this chapter.

Spells for health is next. In this chapter they get into the human energy field, which was very interesting to read. This is something that stood out to me and it made me feel like this is one thing I need to do to take of myself. “The energy centres are said to contain everything we have ever felt, thought and experienced. They are our body’s data banks in this life and are imprinted with our soul’s history throughout many lives. Illness manifests first in the body’s energy field, where it can be seen by the individual who can perceive the field.” This chapter contains numerous spells in regards to yours and others health. There are 7 spells in total.

Chapter 9 touches on a few similar subjects; those being luck. Prosperity and abundance. You need to think about what this means to you so there is an exercise in the start to help you figure that out. “True prosperity begins with feeling good about yourself…it is never an amount of money; it is a state of mind. Prosperity or lack of it is an outer expression of the ideas in your head”. I think that that quote is something you don’t always hear about in spell books. So I appreciated that they focused more on the mental side of it instead of money. This chapter contains 15 spells including one where you can create your own lucky charm.

Next you reach spells for lean times, which focuses on initiating cycles in your life and spells for fear. There are 7 spells in this chapter. The next chapter kind of ties in with spells for personal power, which again focuses on developing yourself. “To know yourself and to use what you learn requires an act of will. “After that they get into a section about The Power of Your Will that merges right into the spells. There are only 3 spells in this chapter as it really focuses on your field of energy, personal empowerment, the flow, and stretching your energy field.

Chapter 12 is next. Spells for creativity. I really enjoyed this section and they start right into seeing what your ultimate creative goals are by asking questions like “What do you consider the most creative part of your life and why”? “How can you apply your creative talents in another area of your life to get out of that rut?” And then they talk about breaking out of your rut. The authors write about dreams as well. This chapter has 6 spells.

Following creativity we move into business. “The quality of your personal professional life is intimately connected with your beliefs about prosperity and success. If you feel unworthy, this will be reflected in your pocketbook and in your work.” The beginning of this chapter starts with a list of questions you need to ask yourself before anything. It’s nice because they have questions for both self-employed people and those who work for someone else. There are 6 spells in this chapter, and there are several spots to read a little bit more about negativity, recognizing your genius, new ventures and goals.

Chapter 14 is all about spells for your home. Also a great chapter as it opens with thinking about your home’s unique personality, which some people may not think about. There are also 6 spells in this chapter with small breaks between them touching on several topics. The next chapter is all about travel, extending your energy field, dealing with people in front of you, calming a crying baby and creating space in your head. There aren’t a lot of spells in this chapter (3) but there is a lot of great material.

The last category of spells is all about kids and kids doing spells. I thought this was quite unique as there isn’t as much material out there for this topic. It’s great for those who have children and want to get them involved in magick. It’s pretty basic, but at the end the authors have a section with helping kids create their own spells.

All in all I would recommend this book. It’s well put together and is not only a book of spells, but has a lot of information for those new to magick and those who have been practising for years. The spells are generally pretty basic and the items needed are easy to find. I mean, it says the only spell book you’ll ever need, which I could see for some, but not myself. I enjoy having a wider variety and of course you can’t fit spells for everything in 209 pages. It’s a fantastic read though and for a great price and is a great asset to anyone’s collection.

Natomas Craft Notes

December, 2016

Flags, flax, fodder, Frig !

This old Devonshire witch greeting conveys best wishes for the four goods in life: (1) a house (flagstones), (2) clothes (linen was common), (3) enough food (for you as well as your livestock) and (4) a good sex life. No. (4) is taken from the name of Odin’s wife, the Goddess Frig. Frig was the Goddess of conjugal love, so you are not wishing promiscuity on someone. No true Pagan will use Her name in coarse expressions, by the way !

Light a Candle

Whenever a fundie or some other cowan (non-witch) vilifies my religion, I remind myself of the saying “better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” Then I do just that – I literally light a candle. It’s amazing how quickly candlelight calms my ruffled feathers ! Then I do something for the Craft.

Craft work comes in four flavors: (1) Work for oneself, (2) Work for others, (3) Work for the coven and (4) Work for the Craft. Here are some examples of the four lines of work:

(1) You have to work your personal Craft before you can do anything helpful along the other 3 lines. This can include study, ritual practice, handicrafts, growing herbs, taking a walk to study local flora and fauna, meditation, or doing inventory, for instance. Doing inventory means I go through my clutter and organize it, getting rid of what I don’t need and making use of what I keep. Getting rid of things can often mean giving them away, putting them where they will do the most good. Inventory is a good way to clean one’s life and make more room in it for the Craft.

(2) Work for others can mean working with a magical partner or with a relative newcomer in the Craft, helping him or her to find source materials, sharing techniques and so forth. As covens grow, it’s a good practice for intermediate witches to buddy-up with people just coming in, and it takes a lot of the burden off your overworked HPS. At the same time, I have profited greatly from partnerships with Craft sisters and brothers operating on a more or less equal level of familiarity. Partners can point out mistakes to each other and help to spur each other to more consistent efforts.

(3) When you have passed your first degree it is time to begin thinking about the state of the coven itself. Sian Airgeaid, for instance, is currently lamed by my own absence, due to the need to find work which took me to Sacramento. This places a high burden on the HPS and means that I can’t always attend ritual occasions. Initiates should be concerned about this and offer to help shoulder some of HPS’s organizational burdens. Work along this third line involves asking questions about where the coven is going, how much it should interact with other covens, how it can best attract and screen new members, how it can acquire more capacious facilities, and so forth.

(4) Work for the Craft as a whole is the proper concern of everyone, whether new or old in the Craft. One should never joke about one’s beliefs, especially to outsiders, but have respect for the Craft’s dignity. You must consider how ‘out’ you want to be. Are you wearing a pentacle (pentagram in a circle) on the outside to attract attention, for instance? If so, you may get more than you wanted, and much of it may be negative or at least uncomprehending. If you are an ‘out’ witch, how far are you prepared to go to answer the ignorant and bigoted about your religion? Don’t forget, also, that if you display the pentacle you become an example of the Craft, so you may have to think twice about flipping people off or otherwise losing your temper. On the positive side, work for the Craft can include getting on the internet and making contact with other witches and Pagans, developing liaisons with kindred spirits out there, as a way of building our much-needed Pagan community. Do consider getting access to the internet, as it is the best way to reach like-minded people while avoiding the sort of local visibility that can invite persecution. There are a lot of lonely solitaries out there waiting to hear from you !

Book Excerpt: Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft by Mabh Savage

December, 2016

Book Excerpt: Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft by Mabh Savage

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Stepping Stones
Celtic Triad: Three candles that illumine every darkness: truth, nature, knowledge.
In magic we look to the elements, the directions and spirits among many, many other things, as a way to quantify and understand the universal energies we are harnessing. In Wicca and other ritual based on a similar foundation, the cardinal points are the focus for an individual or coven to consecrate or cast a circle; North, East, South and West, and their associated elements, respectively Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The practitioner can then go deeper to the aspects of the world associated with each element; birds of the air, or the heat of the summer sun for example.
Let’s go deeper still to understand how the directions and elements represent different parts of human nature, or our own psyche. East is about new beginnings, birth, the start of something. The freshness of a morning breeze moves us towards thinking about the element of air. The carefree and uncontrollable nature of the wind; this translates in ourselves as mischief or playfulness, childishness or embracing our inner child and un-tempered emotions both light and dark. You’ll note that I am careful to point out that each of these aspects has a flip side. There is no good and evil in Celtic Witchcraft. Everything you do has consequences and you have to be prepared for that. It’s up to you to make sure your choices affect your life and the lives of those around you in the way you intend. Hopefully this is a positive one! If you have darker designs, just remember consequences have a way of biting you in the bum when you least expect it.
At some point I’ll provide the obligatory list of elemental correspondences and how you can use them, but it’s important to note that I don’t want you to feel bound by these. Celtic Witchcraft is very much about using your instincts. Rite and ritual, tools and trinkets; these things are not necessary for you, but also they should not be shunned. Choose your own way of working, and expect it to change often, perhaps even daily at first. You are not only a witch; you are a scientist, experimenting with yourself and the world, responsibly but with healthy curiosity and a sense of adventure.
By this point we have accepted that we are a part of a huge universe and a world which seems even huger because we are so close to it, even though in reality it is a tiny speck in the eye of creation. We use directions and symbolism to break this massive, incomprehensible world into smaller chunks that are easier to understand, and as we’ve discussed, we start to relate those pieces of the world to ourselves. How does this benefit us? Why do we need to do this? Ultimately, what’s in it for you?
Well, what do you want? Why are you here? What answer eludes you? What desire is just out of reach? The Celts were seekers not only of knowledge, but of wealth, power and beauty. I’ve found that there is no shame in admitting a desire for something worldly, just as there is certain glory in seeking something divine.
“This is the way of it then” said Lugh. “The three apples I asked of you are the three apples from the Garden in the East of the World, and no other apples will do but these, for they are the most beautiful and have the most virtue in them of the apples of the whole world. And it is what they are like, they are of the colour of burned gold, and they are the size of the head of a child one month old, and there is the taste of honey on them, and they do not leave the pain of wounds or the vexation of sickness on anyone that eats them, and they do not lessen by being eaten forever.” (Gods and Fighting Men: the Story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland; Gregory, Lady; John Murray, London, 1910.)
Lugh, speaking here, has just lost his father. Instead of simply killing the culprits, the infamous Sons of Tuireann, he devises a plan whereby the murderers are sent on a mission that will either kill them through its sheer danger and difficulty, or if they somehow succeed, many great and powerful artifacts, such as the apples described above, will be bestowed upon Lugh. Lugh may seem somewhat cold to us; using his father’s death as a vehicle to gain power. But look at it another way. He is distraught. His father, to whom he is very close, has been brutally taken from him. He can exact revenge, or he can use the situation positively. He masters his emotions and moves everyone down a path that ultimately can only end to his advantage.
This is basically how you have to think when you work with magic. You can’t do magic angry. You can’t do magic upset. Your intent has to be pure; not pure as in good or even altruistic! But pure as in unsullied, not tainted by other thoughts and wishes that are roiling around inside your skull. You must master yourself before you can master magic. And that is why, as in all great endeavors, we start small.
If you enjoyed this, Mabh’s book is available on Amazon and other books stores.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

December, 2016

Yule Spell

marciapentaclewreathornaments

Merry meet.

At Yule, the darkest night before the rebirth of the sun, it is said the Holly King dies and the Oak King is born. A simple spell that echoes that is to gather three dried holly leaves, and using a mortar and pestle, crush them into a powder. On a piece of paper approximately four inches square, write in red ink a single word representing something you wish to give birth to. Add the holly powder and fold, roll or twist the paper up around it. Light it from the flame of a red candle, or by another symbolic means and as it burns in a cauldron or other safe place, see and feel the wish fulfilled, and give thanks.

If you are burning a Yule log, you could add the bundle to the fire, or you could write your intention on a piece of a holly branch and add that to the fire instead.

Merry part, and merry meet again.

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