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Witchcrafting: Crafts for Witches

January 1st, 2015

Candle Crafting

 

 

candles

 

 

Merry meet!

Candles are a symbol of Imbolc, which is also known as Candlemas. With some advance planning, you could make your own this year.

The easiest way is to buy beeswax sheets and roll of square-braid wick. (The larger the finished candle will be, the larger size wick you’ll want.)

You simply cut the sheet as wide as you want the height of the candle to be. A straight edge and a craft knife work well, but other items in your kitchen will also suffice. Cut the wick about an inch longer than the wax.

With a blow dryer, warm up one end of the sheet. Place the wick close to the edge and carefully fold the end of the wax over it and press it down. Warm the whole sheet, which will make it easier to roll the candle. (Candles can be made without the blow dryer as long as you are not working in cold conditions.) Carefully roll up the candle as tightly as possible, checking to make sure the edges are straight. Gently press the end of the sheet into the candle to seal it. Clip the wick to about 1/4 inch before lighting.

Concentrate on your intent while making your candles, perhaps chanting or first casting a circle. Dried herbs or scented oils can be sprinkled onto the wax before rolling.

With no previous experience, my first time I made several sets of votive-sized candles in the four directional colors that have served me well. I find it meaningful when the candles on my altar are ones that I’ve made.

Other candles that might interest you can be made by melting wax and pouring it into a mold or container. Pre-made candles can be customized by dipping them in wax to which oils, colors, herbs and crystals have been added.

A word of caution: wax is extremely flammable.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Concepts of Deity

As mentioned last month, divinity can often be a touchy subject.  Ask ten different people what their definition of the divine is and you are likely to get ten different answers.  Is there a God?  Is there a Goddess?  If so what are they like?  Every soul will ask these questions in their lifetime and either accept established doctrine or come to their own conclusions.  Spiritual growth is our quest for understanding of that which is greater than ourselves. And while we may arrive at ideas which are universal, the journey is, by necessity, personal.

Wicca is not a religion that promotes dogma or rigid notions on what deity is or is not.  Instead it offers a general framework of thought that most Wiccans share, but which is by no means written in stone.  Like any pagan path, the Craft embraces diversity.  The most fundamental concept is that of immanence.  In contrast to the monotheistic faiths, Wiccans do not consider their gods or goddesses to be “out there” somewhere.  Rather they are here, in the most immediate sense, and in all things including ourselves.  Transcendent deity is the common idea of a powerful figure in the clouds far removed and above humankind.  Immanent deity is also powerful, but it is not separate.  This is difficult to truly grasp because it is beyond the intellect alone.  One analogy is just as all cells of your body are part of you, we are all part of the divine.  Or to state it another way, we each have an inner God, Goddess, or Higher Self within us upon which we can call because we are part of the whole.  Deity is part of nature, or rather is nature, and as natural beings we are constantly in communion with it if we accept that it is so.

The next basic concept of Wiccan deity is that it is dual: there is a God and a Goddess.  There is wide variation and emphasis within the traditions here, but the basic model is that of complementary forces whose combination produces life as we know it.  Remembering that these are immanent forces, the God and Goddess are not a superhuman man and woman.  We may personify them as such in order to relate to them, but when we speak of Wiccan deities they are first and foremost the most primal of forces in nature.  Their interaction is necessary for life, time, and growth.  Without the light of the sun or the rain from the sky (the God) the seeds of the earth (the Goddess) would lie dormant and sterile.  Though we say God and Goddess there is no gender bias between them.  It would be just as accurate to envision deity as twins of the same sex, as many cultures have done, and arrive at the same ideas.  The important point is that they are dual in order to express their interaction.

Beyond the two teachings of immanence and duality there may be little in common for divinities between individuals in the Craft.  Everyone will attune to these greater forces in their own way and this is as it should be.  Many if not most Wiccans find that they connect with the pantheons of a particular culture.  The God and Goddess are seen as universal deities that can be personified and related to more easily as a particular god or goddess from ancient myth.   For instance, groups with a British Traditional focus may invoke the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.  Classical pantheons may choose Diana and Pan, or Demeter and Dionysus.  The list is endless.  It can also vary with the intent of a particular ritual or magical working.  Perhaps I may call on the Goddess as Brigid at the Imbolc sabbat, but as Venus if I am in need of a love spell.  All of these gods and goddesses are faces of the larger deity they personify and none are incorrect.  Meditation upon the greater forces of God and Goddess is the surest way to find your own connection and know what works for you.

Besides calling on specific deities it is also popular in Wicca to represent the deities according to the archetypes of the Horned God and Triple Goddess.  Both of these motifs were common in ancient mythologies as expressions of fertility and immortality, survival and continuation of life being vital preoccupations.  The Horned God rules the wild forests and the animals therein.  He is the king of all noble beasts who is born at midwinter of the Goddess, grows to maturity to become her partner/consort, and gives his life in the autumn so that life may continue.  His cycle follows the solar cycles and the harvest, and he is reborn each year as the child conceived by his union with the Goddess.  The Triple Goddess reflects the threefold face of maiden-mother-crone, also reflected in the lunar cycles/phases.  The Goddess does not die each year as does the God, but instead shows these aspects in turn as part of the yearly cycle.  She is the maiden in spring, the mother after her union with the God going into the summer, and the crone in the waning months of autumn.   As he is reborn she is also renewed and they are young together once again in the new year.  These patterns are mythological expressions of the cycles of nature that we experience, and their popularity in Wicca is understandable given that they aid us in our attunement with them.

Knowledge of the divine is a goal of any religion.  Wicca may acknowledge deity as an immanent duality, but that cannot answer the question of what the experience of divinity is.  If my deity is immanent, is it a force outside of me or just a higher part of me?  Does calling on the divine entail reaching outside to the universe or within myself?  Are their gods/goddesses/angels/fairies/etc in the world or are they my projections?  I make no claim to have any answers to these questions as I am still seeking answers myself.  And I have a feeling that the answers I arrive at can be different from yours, and we can both be right.  To a certain extent it doesn’t really matter.  Whether the forces we work with in Wicca are inside us or out in the world, we have the ability to harness them for ours and other’s betterment.  In that sense the God and Goddess are most definitely “real” because we can see their effects every day.  I like to think of them as forces I may never comprehend, but that I can work with when in need and learn from at all times.  My Goddess is not above me in judgment, but I sit at her feet in deference as a student to a wise teacher who would seek to learn great wisdom.  May she grant me the understanding that I may prove a worthy pupil.

Journal for the Month of April:

I am gearing up for Beltane at the end this month, and the flowers are finally starting to bloom!  This is truly a beautiful time of the year (excepting my allergies), and I am really aiming to stop and smell the roses so to speak.  Even in hard times there is so much beauty in nature that we can enjoy for free.  Sometimes I find it even more important to see these things when things are tough, because it helps me to remember that there is a greater world out there and maybe my problems aren’t as long-lasting as they feel at the moment.

Anyways, I should have more to report next month, I have a vacation coming up in which I plan to cram as much reading and meditation as possible.  I think I’ll throw a little bit of gardening in there too; my herb stocks are quite low!  Here’s wishing a merry Beltane to all!

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

Wands

One of the most rewarding things you can do is
make your own magickal tools which you use.
Your own personal energy begins to be imbued with your
own personal energy as soon as you start making it.
And making a wand is a pretty simple thing to do if you
are handy with glue and have a bit of imagination.

Choose a length of wood (remember to ask the tree if you
want to cut a branch… and listen for the answer!)
The traditional length for a wand it the length from your
elbow to the tip of your middle finger, but you can make it
any size that feels comfortable.
During this stage remember how you will be using it and
choose a size that won’t be cumbersome.
Different trees have different magickal correspondences,
so you might like to look these up and choose an appropriate
wood. As always though go with your personal feelings.
Some examples are apple for love magick, elder for fairie
magick, oak for nature magick or willow for general magick.

You will probably want a crystal point for the tip, which you
can buy fairly cheaply from your local metaphysical shop.
These also have correspondences, so either look these up and
choose an appropriate one, or select one that you are drawn to.
To fix your crystal to the wand gouge a bit of wood out of the
tip of the wand to help hold the crystal. Glue with high temp
hot glue gun or a strong hold glue then let set.

Now use glue on bottom sides of crystal and top inch or
so of wood. Wrap a little bit of the crystal and a section
of the wood with leather strips, cord or embroidery thread
in a color that goes with the purpose of the wand. This helps
to secure the crystal. Now wrap the base end of the wand by
gluing wood and wrapping with leather or yarn to make a hand hold.
Use the same color as on top and cover about 4 inches.
(You might like to practice wraping the leather or yarn
around the wood before you glue it.)

You may decorate the shaft of the wand with symbols that
relate to the purpose of the wand, such as runes and other
symbols that have meaning for you. You can use a knife,
water proof marker, paint, woodburning tool, etc. You could
decorate the end of the top yarn with gemstone beads,
metalbeads, wood beads and tip it with feathers if you like.
Use your imagination when it comes to your decorations.
After all it is your wand.

Cleanse and consecrate as with any tool.

Candles in the Dark of Winter

A moment of breathing in and calming our energies.

The light of a candle flame attracts focus to it. It draws us inward as a fire draws us close on a cold night. Lighting a candle is a simple ritual and one that can be done anywhere.

The Celtic calendar is followed in our house and February is the time we honor Bridget.  The making and blessing of candles marks this time in  Celtic pagan homes as well as Catholic homes.  Candlemas is the christian name for this month’s holy day.  Friends and neighbors are lovely to invite for a morning of candle making.  A shared activity that weaves the old and the new paths together.

In the past I have rolled beeswax candles with the kids and decorated store bought candles with glitter, beeswax cutouts and pressed flowers. We also use votive candles and little potpourri pots. These are stable candles and are free of drips or mess. There are all sorts of holders available for votive candles. I have even used various sized bell jars with unscented kitty litter in the bottom to nestle the candle. It sounds goofy, but in a kitchen it is fun!

Now that the “kids” are in their late teens and twenties, I annoint several candles with oil and place as many candles as I can around the house.

Here are some ideas.

Kitchen

On a windowsill to focus and get centered

Vanilla scent

Bathtime

For winding down and preparing for sleep

Lavender scent

Dinner

Focus for mealtime blessing

Seasonal color

Unscented or vanilla

Storytime

To shift energy

Favorite color of the child

Sick room

To lift spirits and settle tummies

Green color

Peppermint scent

Office or desk space

To settle down to the task at hand

Favorite scent and color

Twig God(dess)

Merry Meet.

This month I hope to inspire you to craft a Goddess to adorn your space or be used in ritual.

TwigGoddess1TwigBeltane Photo by Lynn Woike

There are beautiful statues to be found of Brigid, Gaia, Hecate,  Frigga, Cerridwen, and many others. Gods, too. When I first started on my path, I was not familiar with many at all, and found myself working more with a “generic” Goddess that I came to think of as the Great Mother of All. Rather than calling on a named Goddess, I worked from my intent and would call upon whomever had the qualities I was incorporating into my work to join me.

As my first Ostara approached, I found myself wanting a symbol of spring. A friend had just attended a spirit doll workshop and the one she made was built around a small branch. That give me the idea to make a twig Goddess to help celebrate the sabbat. Not necessarily Ostara, the maiden with the hare, but the Goddess of Spring, of the early flowers bringing color after a black-and-white winter. The wind a breath of fresh air. Mine was to be the Goddess of new beginnings, of possibilities, of exuberance after hibernation.

Twiggoddess2TwigSpring   Photo by Lynn Woike

I searched for two twigs I could put together to form a body, and wrapped the section where they joined with fibers, building it up a bit to give the torso a bit of shape. Rummaging around, I came up with lots of ribbons, odd beads and scraps of yarn. A broken pin was perfect for a face. As much as I wanted to keep everything as natural as possible, hot glue was a necessity to attach the yarn hair to the back of the neck and the pin on the front.

The energy that went into Her can still be felt 11 years later, as each Ostara she stands on my altar. Several years ago, I attached the ends of a wide purple ribbon to her hands on which I could write an intention. I never did choose the words, so it just acts as another adornment as she dances in the season.

As my first experience with Beltane approached, the world was being painted with a hundred shades of green, and I decided to make a twig Goddess to represent the essence of that green. I had yet to work with Tara or Artemis, and instead was envisioning Green Man’s mate. I again searched for sticks that could form arms, legs and a torso. I invested in some polymer clay and a mold to make a face. Leaves from ready-to-be-tossed silk flowers and a scrap of fabric came together – again with a bit of hot glue. She was the confident maiden stepping into Her own, into fertility and abundance.

Twiggoddess3TwigSummer  Photo by Lynn Woike

That was when I made a commitment to create one for each of the eight sabbats. With every turn of the wheel, I studied its meaning. Crafting a twig Goddess became part of my solitary rituals.

I gathered up items I found myself attracted to. For Litha, it was yellow. Because for 30 years I had been on vacation by water the beginning of August, when I came to celebrate Lughnasadh, I was drawn to shells, sand and seaweed. The Goddess I made incorporated those elements with driftwood replacing twigs.

TwiggLugTwigLughnasadh Photo by Lynn Woike

There are no rules when it comes to making twig Goddesses – and no reason why you can’t also make twig Gods – but I can offer a few tips.

Trust your intuition to guide you to twigs that will become the body. Generally, something in the shape of a “Y” works best, but experiment, turning them this way and that, because it was usually the unexpected arrangement that worked best for me.

When you have your twigs, consider leaving a gift in gratitude: tobacco, seeds, an apple, a strand of hair, a song or a blessing.

Don’t trim the twigs until you’re sure how you’ll use them. Don’t worry about being perfect, it will be beautiful when it’s done.

TwigAutTwigAutumn Photo by Lynn Woike

Join the two pieces together with tape, air-drying clay, twine, wire or hot glue.

To add depth to the torso, use batting, cotton balls, more clay or strips of cloth, gluing as needed.

Be sure to have a neck to which you can attach some sort of head. Some options might be a round mirror, button, broach, stone or flower.

Embellishments can be anything that catches your fancy. Play.

You might want to consecrate your God or Goddess.

The ones I made have become an integral part of my practice. One is always on my altar, radiating the vibrations of the season as well as the energy, intentions and blessings accumulated over years of use in sacred space.

Pictures of few of them are included to give you some ideas.

Diana1Nature’sChildDistinctlyDiana Photo courtesy of DistinctlyDiana

For more inspiration, check out the twig dolls made “Distinctly Different” by Distinctly Diana and available for sale on Etsy. With her permission, I’m sharing pictures of two: Nature’s Child and Winter Solstice.

Diana2WinterSolsticeDistinctlyDiana Photo courtesy of DistinctlyDiana

I hope if you are moved to craft a twig creation, you’ll share a picture.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Getting Answers 

pendulumn

 

 

Merry Meet.
This time of year, when the veil between the worlds is thin, divination is a common practice. One of the easiest ways to find answers is with a pendulum.
Traditionally, pendulums are used to respond to questions with a yes or no answer. Until you are completely comfortable with a pendulum, I learned to begin by asking it, “Show me yes.” The swing it gives – typically forward and back – is what your yes will look like. You can do the same for no – which traditionally is a swing from side to side.
A friend of mine said her pendulum swings widdershins for no and deosil for yes, and was told that is quite common.
If the answer is something other than yes or no, a pendulum might just hang straight, wiggle a little, or swing in a circle. Mine began doing that one day, and I came to understand it as meaning that the answer is not known or the situation is unclear.
Sometimes it’s the question that is not phrased correctly, but other times, it can be that my energy is getting in the way – something that happens if I am not still and calm when asking the question.
Take today, for instance. My anxiety was mounting as I frantically looked for my keys. With my pendulum held above the trunk of the car, I asked the question, “Are my keys in the trunk?” The answer came back as a circle. The same response came when I held it in the commercial trash container where the occupants of two buildings dispose of their garbage.
I put away the pendulum.
Had I been able to work further, I could have used it to provide more information. The photo is of an answer board. The surface was made by sanding off an old painting of a cabin in the woods. The spider is one of my totems, so I am drawn to the image of a web and used that to pull together the possible answers. I used a little bottle glue with a fine point to draw on the web that I then sprinkled with glow-in-the-dark glitter. The glue, even with its fine tip, produced a line I thought was much too thick, so you may want to find another way.
Glitter paint, also in a small plastic bottle with a thin tip, was used to print the letters.
My design offers a variety of answers in addition to yes, no and maybe: wait, cast a spell, not clear and something I have come to understand as I am not meant to know the information. This works if the pendulum adjusts its swing to start in the center and move toward the answer.
I have seen other pendulum charts that have “yes” at the top and bottom, “no” on the right and left, “maybe” in the upper right and lower left, and “don’t know” on the upper left and lower right. That way, the pendulum will point to the same answer and at either end of its swing.
IF you make your own, you can include other possibilities for answers such as ask again and not enough information. No formal board or chart is needed; words can be written on a piece of paper. Letters and numbers can be added, such as around the edge of a plate. A pendulum can also be used to select a movie, choose between two entrees, indicate an energy flow, tell if someone is lying and find lost objects. (For the record, my keys are still missing.)
When it comes to a pendulum, almost anything can work. When I don’t have access to my pointed moonstone one, I will slip off my long necklace with several pendents on it and use that. I have also used a shorter necklace by holding one end and letting the pendent resting against the clasp act as the bobber. You can experiment with a key on a ribbon, a button on a string or a  variety of other objects to find what works best and what will do in a pinch.
I hope you’ll share your pendulum stories below.

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