magickal

3 Pagans and a Cat Monthly Feature

December, 2018

 

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast

Three Paths, One Journey, No Cat

In this highly informative & entertaining podcast, three family members embroiled in wildly divergent traditions gather in one room to discuss, debate, and flat-out argue about their magical, mythical, and mundane lives, all for our education and pleasure.

 

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Each Month… we will share the previous month’s episodes with you from their site to help keep you up-to-date with their impressive podcast. While there, don’t forget to listen to this month’s as well, we wouldn’t want you to miss a thing!

 

November 2018 Podcasts

Episode 24: Embracing Dissonance: Car, Gwyn, and Ode discuss the damage they’re still trying to cast off from Christianity, some basic criteria for exploring your pagan options, and how to do the research that brings it all together.

 

 

This Month’s Podcast Share from their Backlog

Episode 5: Building Your Book – Overview: Car, Gwyn, and Ode launch the Building Your Book series by talking about some historical grimoires, discussing their own magical books, and covering the general principles and contents of a Book of Shadows.

 

Where Else to Find 3 Pagans and a Cat…

Their Website: http://www.3pagansandacat.com

Their Twitter: https://twitter.com/3_Pagans

Their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/3PaaC

Their YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ0GJacu9SUzuumXJNNUZwQ

Their G+: https://plus.google.com/u/2/collection/oCWVXE

 

Remember …

You can always support your favorite podcasts with a donation. Every bit helps to keep them going.

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About the Author:

Jennifer Wright is a witch on a path of change that is always winding. She founded PaganPagesOrg in the hopes of giving those a platform to share and learn without judgment. There are too many important things to her and not enough room to mention them. You are one of them.

Book Review – Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft by Rose Orriculum

November, 2018

Book Review

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft

by Rose Orriculum

 

 

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft is a great book written by Rose Orriculum. It is tagged as a beginner’s guide to witchcraft, however, after reading it, I feel that anyone could enjoy the contents of this book regardless of where they are on their magical path.

The book begins with a chapter on the “basics”. This tends to be the run of the mill basics but Rose is honest and open. She makes it a point to let you know that witchcraft is not a certain way. She makes it feel open and inviting. This would be a great read for someone who is on the fence about joining the magical community.

One of my favorite chapters is Potions. This chapter is about infusing your hot chocolate, coffee, & teas. Rose makes magic so simple that you can incorporate potions into your daily life.

The book goes into detail regarding the seasons and how you can celebrate them. One of my personal favorites from her collection is how you can use a snowman as a poppet. What a grand idea. Especially since it would allow families to do the act together.

At the back Of Witchcraft and Whimsy, Rose has included many of her own spells, glamours, bindings and curses.

Rose Orriculum has such a way with words and spells. I enjoy her work and cannot wait to see what else she comes up with. To learn more about her, check out my interview with her in this issue!

 

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft on Amazon

Book Review: Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice by Candice Covington

July, 2018

Book Review

Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice:

Working with the Chakras, Divine Archetypes, and the Five Great Elements

by Candice Covington

This book has a decidedly Eastern, rather than Western Hermetic approach to the use of Essential Oils, herbs and the elemental correspondences. In fact, the page opposite the title page is a full color and beautifully rendered graphic of the shapes and colors of the Five Tattwas, the Eastern cousins of the traditional alchemical elements that are used in most pagan magical practice.

The Forward sets the tone for Candice’s work and is written by Sheila Patel, M.D. and medical Director of the (Deepak) Chopra Center. Despite what appears to be not very well aligned with traditional pagan practice, this book is a definite keeper for anyone wishing to broaden their knowledge of adding the layers of subtle anatomy, Divine archetypes and vibration in the form of numerology and color consideration in selecting essential oils for mundane and magickal pursuits.

The book is neatly separated into major chunks of information with Part One taking the reader through the basics of Theory and education about the Tattvic elements, Divine Archetypes, Chakras and concluding with a chapter on manifestation and consciousness. This lays a very well-thought out foundation before discussion of what essential oils are and how they may be used comes into play. This approach also affirms the interwoven energies of these areas of consideration and their usefulness in fine-tuning what and how you will use the oils.

Part Two gives a complete picture of how essential oils may be integrated as part of daily practice as well as an alphabetical listing of some more commonly used oils, their properties and a host of correspondence categories aligning with the information provided in Part 1.

I especially liked Part Three and the way in which the author engaged the reader in exercises and quizzes, all weaving back to reinforcing self-study and self-reflection as paramount deciders in the work you choose for your essential oils. Healing is prominently highlighted and deepening your own experiences with meditation as you allow the energy to flow in accord with what your intention is in choosing an essential oil for this journey.

All in all, I would say this is definitely worth a look regardless of your spiritual path or preferences. Having different tools in your kit ensures that you are adequately prepared and informed for any task.

Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice: Working with the Chakras, Divine Archetypes, and the Five Great Elements

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About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Notes from the Apothecary

March, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Dill

Feathery and fragrant, the herb dill is so much more than just a flavouring for fish dishes or pickles. This magical herb has been used for centuries as a medicine, and as a potent tool for magical practitioners. From a muscle toner for Greek athletes, to a medicine for treating boils, this versatile herb is truly fascinating.

The Kitchen Garden

You can find dill growing wild, so if you manage to harvest a few seeds, or purchase some from your local supplier, you could cultivate a little patch of dill yourself. It likes loose soil with good drainage, and you can plant the seeds directly where you want the herb to grow, ideally in a sunny spot. It’s an annual or biennial, which means that at most each plant lasts two years, or two growing seasons. However, it self-seeds, which means that you should get plenty of fresh seedlings the following spring.

The delightful, tiny yellow flowers are a real draw for bees, butterflies and other essential pollinators, so planting dill will definitely increase the number of visitors to your garden. Conversely, dill helps repel aphids and other pests, making it a great companion plant to cabbages, lettuce and many other food crops.

If you don’t have a garden, or quite frankly, the time and energy to grow herbs, dill is widely available at grocery stores as well as herbal retailers.

For culinary purposes, it’s normally the leaves that we’re talking about. Small amounts of leaves can be cut from each plant, so that you don’t kill the plant by harvesting. If you have more leaves than you need to use immediately, put some in a sandwich bag and pop them in the freezer. Don’t forget to label them!

Dill leaves can be added to salads, cheese (such as cottage cheese), soups and other foods as a garnish and to add flavour. Leaves or seeds can be added to a bottle of vinegar to create a unique, flavoured condiment.

The seeds are also used, primarily for flavouring the liquid that pickles are soaked in. Hence the term ‘dill pickles’.

These are but a very few of the culinary uses of dill. It is used all over the world in dishes from curry to crayfish. Because of this, it is relatively cheap, and very easy to get hold of.

The Apothecary

Charlemagne had dill tea made available for his guests who dined with him, to aid their digestion and prevent hiccups. It has been used as a ‘gripe water’ for infants, helping relieve colic and gas, but obviously don’t feed herbal remedies to children without consulting a pediatrician first.

It is normally the seed of dill that is used medicinally, as it has high amounts of the oil anethol, or anethole, also found in anise and caraway. Mrs Grieves recommended it as a stimulant and for easing stomach issues, flatulence and simply as an aromatic.

Modern research has found that the active oil has antimicrobial properties, which are effective against some bacteria, fungi and yeast. It’s even been found to be effective against salmonella in some instances.

It can also be used as an insecticide, which probably explains why it’s effective at repelling certain unwanted critters in our gardens.

Wash your hands after handling dill and don’t use the oil in massage. It causes photosensitivity so can lead to burning. Don’t take if pregnant or breastfeeding, as it can affect the uterus.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Mrs Grieve notes that during the Middle Ages, dill was used by magicians in spells and in charms against witchcraft. If this is true, we can surmise that there is a protective aspect to dill, particularly against supernatural or magical attack. Dill can be used in a poppet to provide protection to the person you are visualising. You could carry a sprig to ward off negative intentions towards yourself, or sprinkle some seeds around yourself and visualise a wall of light rising up from the seeds, protecting you from all harm.

In the bible, the Scribes and Pharisees are berated for paying a ‘tithe’, or tax of rich goods, but neglecting their morals and ethics. One of the items in the tithe is dill, along with mint and cumin, so we can assume that dill was very valuable. This can be translated magically into using the herb for money spells, perhaps a little in your purse to protect your existing funds, or used in a little pouch with other herbs to draw wealth towards you.

Both Culpeper and Cunningham assert that the plant is ruled by the planet Mercury, which one can also extend to include the god the planet is named for. This reaffirms the wealth and money connection, as the Roman god Mercury is strongly connected to financial gain, especially commerce and trading. He is also associated with eloquence, so dill could be used to help you find the words you need in a tricky situation. Linking the two, a charm made with dill is ideal for a sales person, as it will boost the holder’s communication skills and promote wealth coming to them.

Cunningham also states that placing dill in the cradle protects a child, which most likely links back to the herb having been used in children’s medicine for centuries. A sachet under the mattress where the child cannot reach it, or even under the bed or cot itself would be best for safety.

Home and Hearth

Sprinkle dried or fresh dill leaves or seeds around the boundary of your home to keep out unwanted visitors or negative energy. Walk widdershins (anti-clockwise) whist doing this if you feel there is an existing energy you need to banish. Walk deosil (clockwise) if you are wanting to boost the current mood or atmosphere in your home. You can boost the power of this simple spell by adding elemental energies, if appropriate to your path and beliefs. Sprinkle water, salt for earth, carry a candle for fire and walk the boundary again holding a lit incense stick to represent air. Don’t try and carry them all at once! Juggling candles and incense might seem impressive but actually it just leads to burnt fingers and clothing. If you are not mobile, hold the dill or have it near you, and visualise your energy surrounding your home or sacred space.

Once a year (I would do this at Imbolc as I have the idea of early spring cleaning firmly ingrained in my psyche) sweep the boundary and refresh your protective ward.

I Never Knew…

There is a superstition that burning dill leaves will cause thunderstorms to clear up.

Image Credits: Anethum graveolens by Forest and Kim Starr via Wikimedia Commons, copyright 2007; Dill seeds by o Alanenpää via Wikimedia Commons, copyright 2008.

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

For Amazon Information Click Images

Notes from the Apothecary

September, 2016

Notes from the Apothecary: Maple

Maple

 

How beautiful the maple tree is. Also known as acers (from the Latin for sharp, due to the points on the leaves), maples range from small shrubs to 45-metre-high trees, are spread all over the world and although can be evergreen, are normally renowned for their spectacular colour show in the fall. The picture to the left is a collection of autumn leaves my boy and I collected a couple of years ago. As you can see, the maple leaves (from Norway maples) are very prominent in the display.

Well known as the symbol of Canada, and also the state tree of Vermont and Wisconsin, the maple is surely familiar to all, if only for the archetypal ‘hand’ shape of the leaf.

The Kitchen Garden

In the restaurant of trees, maple is the dessert menu, for sure. The sap is used to make a wonderful, ridiculously sweet and tasty syrup, which graces pancakes the world over. It takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of maple syrup! The syrup is also made into sugar and candy.

Native Americans produces maple syrup and maple sugar well before Europeans arrived on the scene. The process was quite ritualised, with the first full moon of spring being named the Sugar Mon, and being a time for dancing and celebration.

The Apothecary

The Native Americans didn’t just use the maple for its sweet sap. They also used the bark to make a wash for sore eyes.

The maple leaf is also said to have a sedative effect, and to make a useful tonic for anxiety or depression. It is also used for treating ailments of the liver and spleen. There is no scientific evidence to back this up, unfortunately.

Other Uses

The inner bark can be boiled to produce dyes. The red maple produces a purple colour, which with sulphates added can be made into black ink.

The timber is widely used, but one of the most fascinating uses is for musical instrument. Maple is known as a tone wood, which means it carries soundwaves well; it has a useful harmonic resonance. Fender guitars have often been made with maple necks.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Maple syrup may be used as a substitute for honey in offerings and other magic.

The maple leaf is often used as an emblem in military regalia, and the wood has historically been used for rifle stocks. This gives the tree a militant aspect, useful in magic where you have to resolve a conflict, or brace yourself for a confrontation. The maple represents strength, especially in the face of adversity.

Think of the way the flowers and then the seeds get into everything! They represent tenacity and opportunity.

The wood is strong and useful for wands and staffs.

The leaves transform from verdant green to glowing gold and red throughout the year. They are perfectly symbolic of the wheel of the year and the transforming seasons, and make an awesome altar decoration.

The maple tree is seen as feminine, and associated with the moon. Therefore, any moon magic may be enhanced with the use of maple leaves, seed or wood; even a piece of bark. Leave a maple wand in the light of the full moon to ‘charge’ it with lunar energy, in the same way you would a crystal.

Home and Hearth

Maple2

 

One of our favourite things to do is to make roses out of maple leaves. Find out how HERE.

When picking maple leaves, the leaf should be attached to a stem which should easily come away from the main branch. These stems make it easy to string the leaves up to make a late summer or autumn garland, or even a crown or wreath.

I Never Knew…

The first literary mention of the maple is in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, where it is written as ‘mapul’.

Notes from the Apothecary

April, 2015

Notes from the Apothecary: Aloe Vera

aloe

 

 

I’ve already written about horsetail, sometimes called ‘England’s Aloe Vera’, due to its incredible healing properties. This month I want to look at the real Aloe Vera, or similar species that many of you will have growing in pots on your window sill.

Aloes are succulents. This means they have fat, fleshy leaves designed to store large amounts of fluid in arid environments. It is the large amount of water stored within the cells of the leaves that gives us the sticky gel that is used for so many healing and beauty processes.

The photos in the article are of my own plants; amazingly, they all stem from (pardon the pun) one tiny, baby plant I was given by an old friend many years ago. Aloes quite happily reproduce by splitting and ‘having babies’; tiny offshoots that become new plants in their own right. From one, miniscule plant in a 3 inch pot, I now have 3 large plants that are each a foot in height and width, and about 8 smaller ones. Not including ones that have been given away as gifts! So realistically, my descendants may have Aloe plants that all have their roots right here, right now with me. A truly immortal plant.

The Kitchen Garden

I have two, beautiful aloe plants on the tiny kitchen windowsill in my house. They are quite happy with the small amount of light they get through the small pane, and they are right next to the sink so I never forget to water them once the soil dries out. Why do I keep them where I cook? Because I am clumsy, and I frequently burn myself while performing my culinary experiments. Having the Aloe to hand is like having access to your own little burns unit! I break a tip off a leaf, revealing the squidgy, unctuous substance inside. The leaf is gently squeezed to encourage the liquid to come out. This is then spread on the affected area. The gel is remarkably soothing. Even in summer it possesses a cooling quality that takes the sting of the burn away instantly.

But normally, when I’m in the Kitchen Garden, I’m talking about food. And Aloe is not so great in that area. You can drink a juice made from the gel and many companies (I won’t name and shame) have made grandiose claims about the health benefits including that it helps with weight loss, immune function and the all-encompassing ‘detox’. There is, however, no scientific evidence to back these claims up. Also, the juice/gel may be toxic if eaten in very high quantities, although this has only been confirmed in rats, not humans.

Toxicity and health claims aside, it really doesn’t taste very nice (yep, I tried it!) so for me, the best use for it in the kitchen is to soothe my sore fingers when I singe them.

As a medicine…

As well as being a great topical remedy for burns, Aloe gives the same soothing benefits for sunburn, dry skin and even grazes or friction burns. It has been used in this way for over 5000 years, by numerous cultures and civilizations including the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, the Chinese, Native Americans and the Ancient Greeks. The Knights of the Templar used it in a drink called ‘Elixir of Jerusalem’ which they believed increased their longevity and general wellbeing.

Although there is no hard evidence to prove Aloe has these effects on humans, in tests on animals it has been found that Aloe does have regenerative properties, helping heal skin problems in rabbits and eye defects in pigs. It was also found to produce a resistance to strychnine poisoning in white mice. Of course, this proves little for the benefits of Aloe on human physiology, but as anecdotal evidence, 5000 years of use says a great deal. Aloe has been used to slow the growth of cancerous cells and has even been considered as part of a course of treatments for AIDs patients.

The main benefit of Aloe that has been scientifically proven is in the treatment of gastric ulcers and ulcerative colitis. In tests, those who drank aloe vera gel in water twice a day for four weeks had a clinical response including remission of the condition. I know many people who swear by aloe juice for calming the stomach, especially in cases of IBS. Again, the evidence for this is anecdotal so please use your own judgement and consult a doctor before using Aloe for medical purposes.

Science tells us…

As well as the other numerous medical uses we have touched upon (and there are loads more!) a recent clinical study suggests that Aloe Vera may hold some hope for those suffering with diabetes. In preliminary reports it was found that ingestion of the plant may be effective in reducing blood glucose levels.

Aloe has also been used as a treatment in radiation burns since the 1930s, including use on the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the Witch’s Kitchen…

Cunningham tells us that having an Aloe in the house helps prevent household accidents. Thinking about how often I cut or burn myself in the kitchen, I can’t vouch for this, only that it certainly helps to have the plant around when you do have an accident! Cunningham also tells us that in various cultures the plant is said to dispel or drive away evil, and to bring good luck and protection upon the household.

Aloe is associated with water; no surprise considering the way the leaves store the element in huge quantities. Despite the piercing, almost phallic nature of the leaves, the plant is considered to have a feminine aspect, and the planetary correspondence is the Moon. You can use this knowledge to apply the plant in your own magical workings. If you are doing a series of meditations based on the phases of the moon, perhaps move an Aloe plant into your sacred space, to aid your focus on the lunar cycle. An Aloe at the western corner of your altar may emphasise the element of water there.

If you are allowed, place an aloe plant on your desk at work (or where you work at home). The plant will not only cheer the working area immeasurably but will bring good luck and fortune in your work.

Ancient Egyptians used the plant in place of papyrus sometimes to make scrolls. Combine this knowledge with the other properties and use a mark or word carved into a leaf to emphasise your spell or working. Bury or burn the leaf, or offer it to your preferred deity.

Aloe is also associated with death and funerals (courtesy, again, of the Ancient Egyptians) so an Aloe plant is an appropriate gift for someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one.

For you to try at home

A spell to heal another: Preferably at the full moon, or when the moon is visible, snap one of the leaves of your plant so you have a good size piece of Aloe. Sit outside and hold the leaf. Feel the smooth, outer skin, which holds the plant together. Feel the spikes, which protect it from harm. Feel the stickiness of the bitter gel that heals so many things. Concentrate on the healing power of the plant, and think of the one you wish to be healed. Touch the sticky gel at the broken end of your leaf. Make sure some of the gel transfers onto the first two fingers of your dominant hand. Touch those two fingers to your heart; think of the love you have for this person/animal. Touch your lips (external only!); think of the breath that flows through these lips, keeping you alive and well, connecting you to the world and therefore to the universe and all its energies. Concentrate on your breathing for a moment. Finally, touch the two, gel marked fingers to your forehead, concentrating on sending the healing energy of the Aloe and your love and breath to the one who needs it. Rest, and meditate on your intent. Keep the piece of Aloe on your altar or in a sacred place until a full cycle of the moon has passed, then bury it, if possible in the soil of the original plant.

Finally, one thing you didn’t know about Aloe Vera…

In Jamaica, the plant is known as ‘single bible’ and is revered as a healer because of its ability to heal itself. It is often the first port of call for a child with intestinal worms. This may be because it can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. As such, don’t take if pregnant or breast feeding! Until next time.

 

aloe2

Prunings from the Hedge

March, 2013

Conserving Magical Energy

 

We all contain magical energy, and this energy is unique to each of us.  But due to conditions of modern life, all of our magical energy is deployed in habits, habits of perception, of feeling, of thinking and doing.  Very little is left over every day for exploring our magical heritage.  This is why most spell books on the market are not much help in casting spells.  They take a cookbook approach which assumes that people as they are have sufficient magical energy available to make them work.  They don’t.

In order to access our own magical energy, we must begin by saving little amounts of energy which we otherwise fritter away each day in wasteful habits.  This is the starting-point of the Inner Craft.  It is a very small door, like the door Alice went through into Wonderland – she had to take a magic cordial first to make herself little. It begins, in other words, with small efforts.

Conserving magical energy requires patience.  It takes a while to save up sufficient energy to make a difference.  However, we are so used to our typical energy states, which run in cycles, that we recognize a difference in them almost immediately after starting efforts at conservation.  We may suddenly worry that we don’t seem to be worrying so much anymore.  This sounds silly, but we are so used to our own ups and downs that it takes all of a witch’s Power to Dare to venture into this unknown territory.

Here is a general map of our familiar territory, which we will be leaving behind:

1 – Cycles of worry and anxiety.

2 – Cycles of small nervous movements.

3 – Cycles of inner talk.

4 – Cycles of negativity.

5 – Mental and material clutter.

6 – Patterns of perception.

These are the main areas of our life which commandeer and squander our available magical energy.  The simplest one to start with is the second, small nervous movements.  When the witch sits, he or she is still.  This is the power of the North, the Power to Keep Silent, as expressed by the body.  Regular exercise is necessary in order to remain still in a vibrant, poised manner.  The witch notes the situations under which he or she tends to begin scratching, or tapping the foot, or whichever motion is involved.  If this occurs while sitting in a chair, the witch gets up immediately at the first sign of it, and does something else.  It is no good waiting until the train of habit runs you over; as soon as you see it approaching, you must get off the track.  This requires the cultivation of vigilance.

The first item on the list above may seem necessary to running our practical lives and avoiding financial or some other form of ruin.  If I don’t worry, how will I pay my bills on time?  The answer is to sit down daily, preferably in the morning, and make a list of daily obligations.  Plan on paper, or on the computer, and spend some time every day reviewing your plans.  If you have a long-standing problem, such as finding adequate employment, do something every day towards solving it.  Then, when you feel you have done enough for that day, close your planning book.  If there are tasks to perform, do them.  But by evening you should feel free to relax your practical self and see to other dimensions of your existence.

Eliminating clutter in your life, item number five, supports practical planning.  Go through your closets and shelves and dresser drawers, and examine all your papers and other stored items.  You may find something useful to your current needs.  Use what you find, or give or throw it away, or sell it.  The mind keeps track of everything buried deep in closets, even if you have forgotten some of those things consciously.  Dealing with them, finding a use for them, not only opens up new opportunities in your life, it unties little energy knots that you may have carried around for years.

Clutter also occupies time.  We typically over-commit ourselves to meetings, projects, visits, and other entanglements which fill up our already busy schedules.  It isn’t necessary to be busy all the time in order to live a full life.  On the contrary, the more we do or promise to do, the less freedom we possess to explore new paths.  The multi-millionaire J.P. Morgan complained that he always felt hemmed in by his busy commitments.  Practice saying things like “I’ll have to think about it” instead of immediately saying yes.

Inner talk, item number three, generally takes either of two forms.  I call these the rehash and the rehearsal.  The rehash involves repeating mentally conversations held recently, perhaps modifying the responses one made in order to appear cleverer or more compassionate to oneself.  We wish we had said something more, so we say it in our minds afterwards.  A certain amount of review of our behavior after the fact is a healthy habit, but a little goes a long way.  Obsessively revolving past conversations, or imaginary extensions of them, consumes an enormous amount of energy and increases our feeling of dependence on how others see us.

In the other direction we have the rehearsal.  We think about an upcoming event, an encounter with someone perhaps, and we begin talking to that person in our minds.  This can be more or less hypothetical, as of course all thoughts about the future are hypothetical to some degree.  Here again, there is a fruitful use of this habit, as when we are planning what we will say in a job interview.  But too much last minute ‘cramming’ is usually counter-productive.  Plan what you will do and say, then lay it aside and direct your attention to other things.

When a witch feels caught up in the rehash or rehearsal, he or she identifies it first, thinking “that is the rehash” or “that is the rehearsal,” and then turns the attention to the surroundings, or some other present reality, such as a book.  Here as elsewhere, it is a matter of knowing when to stop.

The fourth item, cycles of negativity, must be approached in a two-step process.  If we have habits of making sarcastic jokes, we may justify this by seeing ourselves as witty persons.  Encouraged by the laughter of others (which may have only been polite), we may feel that we have a reputation to uphold as comedians or critics.  Or perhaps we dislike political correctness and see ourselves as rebels when we make remarks some find offensive.  Or we may see ourselves as heroic figures motivated by righteous outrage to tilt at windmills.

The first stage of saving magical energy by not squandering it in expressions of negative emotion is to discover what self-image, or images, we are using to justify such expression.  If your expression takes place in a social setting, you should consider the possibility that less grumbling or joking from you will be a relief to your usual audience.  If you express negativity in private, perhaps cursing other drivers or your computer, see yourself doing it and how absurd it would look to someone else.

Once you have deflated the justification for your negativity, it will be easier to work on deflecting the expression itself.  Here again, think of the approaching train: you must see it chuffing along towards you from a distance and jump off the tracks well in time before it sweeps you up.  In other words, you must become familiar with your cycles of energy wastage so you will know when to break them.  Habit cycles are like chains, and every chain has a weakest link.  Finding the weak link is the key to breaking the chain.

In doing all these things, the witch should avoid the feeling that the Inner Craft is a goody-goody ethical pursuit.  It is nothing of the kind.  We want access to free energy, and in order to get it, we must become misers of energy.  We must bear in mind that all our energy is already deployed, and our only hope of breaking free from our energy strait-jackets is by saving little bits of it, one bit at a time.

Once we have become vigilant with these five items it will be time to turn our attention to the subtlest and, potentially, the most powerful form of conservation, changing patterns of perception.  We perceive all the time, and our way of looking at and listening to the world is a habit of such long standing that changing it is a most subtle affair.  It is necessary to have the other five areas well in hand before attempting this last, sixth one.  If we go for the sixth item prematurely, we shall achieve some novel effects, but before long we will drop it as an interesting exercise which goes nowhere.

The Inner Craft distinguishes between directing the attention to where the eyes are pointing, which it calls looking, and spreading the attention from that, extending it to perceptions lying to the side of where our eyes are pointing, or above or below where they are pointing.  The eyes do not move to these things, just the attention.

In the same way, changing perceptual patterns involves extending the attention to background sounds as well as to sounds we are currently focused on.  We generally listen to background sounds sporadically and then shut them out if they are annoying or fail to interest us, as with muzack in a store or elevator.  The witch takes in all available sounds continuously, for this saves the energy habitually employed in blocking them out.  It takes much more energy to ignore peripheral sights and sounds than to include them in attention.  This is the secret of this form of magical energy conservation.

Attending to things to the side is called gazing in the Inner Craft.  We can gaze to the side of an object, such as a television screen, or we can switch our eyes to the side of the screen and gaze back at it.  If you practice switching back and forth from one form of gazing to the other, you will feel a sensation starting in the back of your head at some point.  Something will open up back there.  Don’t try to make this happen, or you will become involved in imagination.  Just be aware when it does happen on its own.

When you close your eyes to go to sleep at night, you will see little lights and patterns produced by the gentle pressure of your eyelids on the retinas.  These are called phosphenes.  Generally we ignore them and just go to sleep.  This is probably for the best, for if you follow them with the attention, you may or may not drop off.  But it isn’t necessary to keep your eyes open all day until it is time to go to sleep.  If you observe animals, they spend a good deal of time with their eyes closed.  This is especially true of cats, at least as far as my observation goes (I am a cat person).  You should rest your eyes two or three times during the day, and as you are not doing so to take a nap (though you may fall asleep anyway), you can observe your phosphenes.  This is called “reading the book of the eyelids” in the Inner Craft.

You may find, while your eyes are closed, that your hearing becomes more acute.  You can play with this sensation by opening and shutting your eyes at intervals.  Do this while sitting or lying at home, or while a passenger in a car or train, looking out the window.  Don’t try it while walking or driving!

Exercises of these sorts increase our use of the ears and relax somewhat our over-reliance on the eyes.  In particular, extending one’s visual attention to the side (or above or below) of where the eyes are pointing tends to relax the muscles at the outer sides of the eyes.  These are typically tensed because we are using our eyes to track on objects, as though they were searchlights.  Pueblo Indian chief Ochwiay Biano (Mountain Lake) once remarked to the psychologist C.G. Jung that “The white man’s eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something…they are always uneasy and restless …We think they are mad.” [1] From being searchlights, the eyes can become passive windows, taking in the whole visual field as it is presented.

When the muscles at the outer sides of the eyes relax, the witch will feel a peculiar energy entering there, an energy carrying feelings and what might be called ‘wordless knowledge.’

Another way of taking in the whole visual field at once is to keep our headlessness in view. [2] Did you know you were headless?  You knew this when you were a small child, before you were told that ‘the baby in the mirror’ was you, yourself.  At that point, we began to ignore the little we could see of our heads without using a mirror or other reflecting surface: perhaps a blob for the nose, eyelashes in bright sunlight, or a cowlick hanging down in front.  If we keep those sensations in view, we will stay in contact with the whole visual field.  Losing those sensations, we tend to alternate between thinking and looking.  We feel that we are shut up in our heads, looking from moment to moment out of two portholes at the world around us.  If we keep our headlessness in view, we shall think and see at the same time, as Janus the threshold guardian does at the Pagan’s front door, looking out and in at once with his two faces. We shall live on the outside of our bodies.

There is much more to this part of the Inner Craft dealing with perceptual patterns, such as noticing shadows.  Cars at midday roll along over their shadow carpets without casting them back from the wheels.  When we walk home in moonlight, the moon keeps pace with us.  When we cross our eyes looking at two candles placed side by side at eye level, a third candle appears between them, combining their colors and features.  These are only a few out of many perceptual patterns which help to release our magical energy; but it is unnecessary to mention all of them, since practicing a few of the basic ones already mentioned will inevitably lead to all the rest.

If you take the six items above in the recommended sequence, you will be able to integrate the Inner Craft in your daily lives, and in the Circle you will hum with magical energy.

 

 Bibliography

 

 

HARDING, D. E., On Having No Head; Zen and the Re-discovery of

the Obvious.  London and New York, Arkana, 1986.

 

JUNG, Carl, Memories. Dreams, Reflections, New York, Vintage ,

1965.

 

 

 



[1] Jung, C.G., Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 248.

[2] See On Having No Head, by D.E. Harding.