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SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

January 1st, 2018

La Befana

 

(LA BEFANA. Magic stocking from BEFANA. By incantevolemerletto shop.)

 

Merry meet.

While my mother’s parents were from Sicily, it was not until recently I learned of La Befana, Italy’s oldest and most celebrated legend – about a witch.

In Italian folklore, she is an old woman with warts on her crooked nose, wearing a skirt and a black shawl, who flies around on her broom, delivering candy to well-behaved children. In Russia she is known as Baboushka.

Children await Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve, but the red-suited man is new compared to the story of the old woman who was too busy cleaning to join the Wise Men on their journey. According to the legend, they stopped by her cottage to ask directions and invited her to come along, but she refused. She also refused to join a shepherd who asked her to join him, as some tell the story.

Later that night she saw a great light in the sky. Regretting her decision, she sets out to give the Christ Child gifts that had, according to some, belonged to her child who had died. She never finds the Baby Jesus and instead, leaves her gifts for children she encountered along the way. Since the 13th century, children have left their shoes out or hung up their socks Epiphany Eve, January 5, for the Befana to fill with sweets and gifts. Bad children were given lumps of coal.

Often she is shown covered in soot because, like Santa Claus, she delivers presents by sliding down the chimney. Her name means “gift-bringer” and according to a post by DreamDiscoverItalia.com in 2015, many believe she also sweeps the floor before she leaves, sweeping away the old to make way for the new.

La Befana is a Christian legend that began in Northern Italy and became a big part of the Italian celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, which commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the Wise Men arrive in Bethlehem and deliver their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Other versions of the legend have La Befana carrying a sack of bread, giving a piece to every child she saw in the hopes one would be the Christ Child. She never does find him and is still wandering around Italy on her broomstick.

Her arrival is celebrated with such traditional Italian foods such as panettone, fried doughnuts with dried fruit, and fritters with raisins. When children leave a snack for the witch, it’s something soft because she has few teeth.

While La Bafana is viewed most commonly as a village crone, she has also been called a sprite or fairy. Instead of a broomstick, sometimes she is said to ride a goat or a donkey. Rarely does she wear a pointed hat; a headscarf is more traditional.

According to an article written by Martha Bakerhian for tripsavy.com, “This folktale may actually date back to the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia, a one- or two-week festival starting just before the winter solstice. At the end of Saturnalia, Romans would go to the Temple of Juno on the Capitoline Hill to have their fortunes read by an old crone. This story evolved into the tale of La Befana.”

Heather Greene explains in an article for “The Wild Hunt” in January 2016, “As with many regional traditions, La Befana’s modern construction and appearance were developed over an expansive amount of time and stem from a diverse number of cultural elements. Her story has been adapted over and over to fit into a variety of different social or religious structures.

 

(La Befana the Witch Sculpture by Dellamorteco, Dellamorte & Co. Etsy Shop)

 

Similar to modern community traditions in the northern Italian towns, Circolo dei Trivi burns an effigy, a representation of Giobiana, within their ritual space. They collect the ashes and tell the story of nature’s death and rebirth, through the death of Giobiana and the birth of Belisama. In that process, they also thank nature, represented as La Befana, for bringing the final gifts from the previous year. Grazie, La Befana.”

Urbania, thought to be her official home, draws tens of thousands of people for a five-day festival that includes the arrival of La Befana to her cottage, which the townspeople built in her honor. There is music, dancing, parades, fireworks and letters from children asking for gifts. In Venice, men dressed as La Befana race boats on the Grand Canal, per DreamDiscoverItalia. In Rome and elsewhere, women dress like La Befana.

 

A Spell of Prosperity to Accomplish your Goals 

(Submitted by Gayle Nogas)

What you’ll need:

A red candle placed on a table or altar

Three figs or three dates 

A small cup of honey

A broom 

With this simple spell you can ask The Befana not only to bring your home prosperity, but also to send you powerful energy regarding your success and the goals you will work with next year.

In the evening, put the three figs or dates in the small cup of honey (this is a traditional offering for The Befana) and put them on the table or the altar next to the red candle. These offerings will show that you honor her powers.

Light the red candle. Pull up a chair and sit in it calmly for two minutes watching the candle and bringing your mind to the tranquility of the energy that is surrounding you. The red candle is a symbol of your own power to accomplish your goals and also calls the power of The Befana. Now repeat the following out loud or in your head three times:

“Come Befana, come to me.

Come from the mountains to make me free.

Come with your gifts of wisdom and power,

To make this a prosperous year for me.”

Once you have repeated this spell three times, take the broom and start sweeping the room in the direction of the clock’s hands, always sweeping towards the central part to concentrate there the powers and the charitable energy of The Befana in one place.

Leave the broom and dust all night long. Finally blow the candle and thank The Befana for her help by saying:

“Thank you, Befana, for giving me the gifts of your wisdom and prosperity.”

The next day, pick up the broom, clean up the dust and debris, and focus on a hugely prosperous year.

 

This year, in honor of my ancestors, I plan to recognize the Witch of Christmas for making winter a witchy season. Perhaps I’ll dress like her, or leave my shoes and a soft cookie outside my door. If you celebrate her, please leave me a comment describing how on the Pagan Pages Emag Facebook page.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

**

About the Author:

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

Spell

 

To Follow or Not to Follow, That is the Question

Merry meet.

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,–

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”

So said the 2nd Witch in Macbeth (IV, i, 14-15), as she and two other ugly witches stir the bubbling contents of their cauldron. It’s one of the most familiar spell castings associated with witchcraft.

In Shakespeare’s time, people believed in witches and their powers to do evil.

Every culture has magick in its history. Some oral traditions and written documentation have survived, which has led some groups to choose to follow old spells to the letter. The more eclectic the witch, the more likely he or she adapts and improvises.

You can easily find spells that call for seemingly ridiculous or difficult workings. There’s one to get rid of your daughter’s boyfriend by hard boiling an egg laid by a black hen in urine (yours, his or hers), peeling it and feeding half to a dog and half to a cat while saying a specific sentence about how the couple shall become enemies just as the animals are natural enemies.

There must be something magical about black hens, because if you want a long life, you’re supposed to eat the first egg laid by one.

One love spell calls for cooking a chicken heart, drying it, grinding it into a powder, adding powdered coriander seeds to it and then putting small amounts into your beloved’s food to inspire passion. Another directs you to fill a shot glass with your sweat and perhaps a drop of menstrual blood, then place it atop a copper sheet and hide it somewhere the one you want to love you will walk past.

To get someone to return to you, a spell calls for wrapping three fresh eggs and a teaspoon of salt in an article of clothing belonging to that person and burying it where a footpath branches out into a fork, forming a Y shape. Saying the absent person’s name three times, you then state your wishes only once, quietly to yourself, cover the hole and leave without looking back.

A love spell calls for stealing three hairs from a woman, one at a time … on three separate occasions … while she’s sleeping … and, for maximum effect, the hair should be taken from near the nape of the neck. The strands are then to be braided and pushed into a crack of a tree.

Iron boxes, a mandrake root exposed to moonlight, fenugreek seeds and a divining rod cut from mistletoe growing on hazel or thorn trees are all parts of money spells.

Some profess that these methods have stood the test of time. Other witches believe not all that that is necessary, and might even say that magick is stronger with it’s organic and personally meaningful.

Whether you choose to follow complicated, traditional spells to the letter or you are willing to improvise and keep it simple, it’s still magick you are working. Done with intention, respect and personal power, either should be effective.

If you don’t agree, let’s have a discussion below.

Merry part, and merry meet again.

How To Use Persuasion Spells In Witchcraft

Much of what spellcasters do is to fortify and focus on what they want to occur. Part of that mindset is to convince others to make their wishes come true. A spell such as invisibility will convince others they can’t see you. Invisibility is a great way to finish a project at work, school or home. If you’re not bothered, you can complete a task.

Another example is with a spell for luck. Once you’ve established a desire to bring luck to you, this manifests in your persona. You glow with anticipation of good luck and others around you feel that energy. A good spellcaster will not only gain clarity of their will to conjure what they want, they convince others to help them.

Here are a few spells to help a spellcaster gain the support of the people around them. At work, school, on the street, at a party and anywhere where people are present. Use a subtle voice, a gentle touch and sway your friends, family and co-workers to see things your way.

Witches Hand Shake

During a handshake, extend your right index finger and lightly touch the inside wrist of the person on the pulse point . Touching the pulse will open the person to your suggestion. Plant a seed by wishing silently or aloud what you want.

Examples:      “So nice to meet you, I would like to see you again.”

“I hope you’ll consider me, I would like this job.”

“I’m so happy to have run into you, call me soon.”

Good Luck Spell

Luck is a wisp of energy, an intangible aura that loosely adheres to your body, then disappears. To capture and hold luck, you must focus on your demeanor and gain support from others. Speak openly about how lucky you feel to friends and family. Believe that luck will come your way, then say these words while facing a mirror.

Goddess Fortuna I humbly request a bit of luck.

From your fair providence I do thee pluck.

Make others see your shining fortune on me.
In your name, I ask this of thee. So mote it be!

To enhance this spell and persuade others to acknowledge your good fortune, fill a green witch’s bag. Use a bit of tin foil rolled up into small balls, and a tiger’s eye stone. Now add real cotton, rose hips, nutmeg, orange peel, heather and Irish moss. Carry this bag on your person and place under your pillow at night.

Invisibility Spell

When you need to be less noticeable, use this spell to get some time alone. Anytime you need this kind of freedom, close your eyes and envision a white light surrounding your body. This white light will make you safe and blurred to the outside world. People will need to look hard if they need to see you. The lines between your desk and chair at work will be fuzzy to onlookers as the light shields you from everyone. Stay focused on the project you’re working on and don’t make eye contact with others. Move slowly, no erratic moves and the spell will last for a long time.

Persuasion Spell

Persuasion spells work well and for anyone, even teens. To soften even the coldest of hearts, cast this spell for a grumpy teacher, boss, parent, lover or friend.

You’ll need:

Red and blue pen

Parchment paper

Green, fresh fallen leaves

Write the name of person you desire to soften their mood toward you in blue ink. Now create a pentagram over their name. Flip the parchment over and write words to express what you hope from the person with red ink.

LOVE, HOPE, COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS, KINDNESS, MERCY, BELIEF, INDULGENCE and PATIENCE. Now place hearts around each word. Place a handful of leaves over the hearts and fold the parchment 3 times to trap the leaves inside. Put the folded paper over your heart and say:

May (name of the person) soften with all their heart

I (your name) am in need of a new start

With this fair gift from the Lord and Lady

I ask that your mood soften toward me.

Wear the parchment near your heart all day, then place under your pillow at night and repeat the spell.

Yule rituals and traditions

 

I love Yule, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Winter person and it is the beginning of that season or maybe it’s because it coincides with seeing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of children.  And I love the pagan traditions that this time of year brings.

I start looking for the “perfect” Yule log weeks ahead of time, and then I take to the woods near my home to retrieve holly, acorns, pine cones anything that I think would add to the beauty of my seasonal “masterpiece”.  It is a truly joyful experience because I never know what wonders I might encounter while I’m looking for my “treasures”.

Finally it’s time to put it all together, and you would think I was creating something that is supposed to last forever instead of being burned in a ceremony.  To me though, the care, thought, beauty and time I put into my Yule log is what makes it special.  All the love and joy I put into that log is spread through the universe on the smoke when it burns.  Sometimes I incorporate Magick in with it by writing a spell, rolling it up like a scroll, and tying it to the log with gold ribbon. I always salvage a piece of my log from the ashes and use it to light the log for the next year.

Another Yule tradition is the burning of a Bayberry candle.  I’m sure there are multiple stories regarding the start of the bayberry candle tradition but the most prevalent one seems to go back to the time of the early settlers.  Candles were an essential part of life and they were usually made from tallow.  The problem with that however was that they produced a lot of smoke, had an unpleasant odor, and would turn rancid which really made them unbearable.  In the quest for something better the settlers turned to bayberry, which was abundant.  They soon discovered that if you removed all the leaves and stems, and boiled just the bayberries it produced a waxy residue which could then be collected, saved and made into candles which burned longer, cleaner and had a pleasant smell.  The down side to this was that it took a lot of bayberries to produce these much loved candles, so it became a tradition to use them only for special occasions like Christmas, or Yule.  It is not known how the poem, and the tradition of burning bayberry candles for prosperity and good luck on Yule began but it has been a common ritual for many years.  There are 2 versions of the poem or incantation, if you receive the candle as a gift :  This bayberry candle comes from a friend, so on Christmas Eve (Yule) burn it down to the end, for a bayberry candle burned to the socket, will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.  In my family we always used, Bayberry candle when burned to the socket, will bring luck to the home, and gold to the pocket.  The bayberry candle has been a tradition of mine for as long as I can remember, and it was just recently that I learned the history of it.  Worth mentioning here, bayberry candles are a little hard to find in stores, however they are widely available on line.  In a pinch you can dress a candle with bayberry oil.

And the last Yule tradition I want to share with you is a calendar burning ritual.  Do not use a wall calendar because the chemicals they use on the paper produce a heavy, foul smelling black smoke, which would undoubtedly be dangerous to inhale.  I use either the small calendar you can find in a phone book or a checkbook register.  Cut out the entire year that’s coming to an end.  Once you have gotten a suitable calendar to use place it in your cauldron, or right in the coals from your Yule log and say these words:  Burn, burn, you day book burn, Let last years troubles not return, I then will cast your ashes to the element of air, replacing all that’s stale and old, with whats new, and fresh, and fair.  I ask the sacred wind to blow in increased prosperity, and to achieve positive change, with thanks so mote it be.  I don’t know where this ritual came from or who wrote it, but it has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember.  You can also do this calendar ritual at midnight on New Years Eve, or anytime New Years day.

So however you and yours celebrate Yule it is my wish that you have a joyous a blessed one!

 

Own it

egg

Merry meet!

January 20th’s new moon in Aquarius is all about change. Radical change. To manifest that change, there can be no doubt, no second-guessing, no half-hearted attempts. Harness the power of this new moon and claim your new life. You are deserving. Step out of the prison of unhealthy relationships, behaviors and attitudes. Let go of your insecurities, pain, sadness and anger. Let your spirit soar to places you never dared to go.

I have come to understand that the best way to move from where I am to where I want to be is not to desire it, but to own it. When we come from a state of scarcity or lack (“I want more money.” “I want a better car.”) we actually create more of the state that we don’t want. We continue to want it because we don’t get it – literally and figuratively. Remember, what you pay attention to grows.

So don’t just expect the magic to happen, know that it already has. Own it. Feel what it feels like to be living the dream, to have the desire fulfilled. Align yourself with it. Put it on. Dance with it.

I recently did a ritual to manifest a particular state of being. Because the egg is a seed, I used a marble one to represent my wish, writing my desire on it. Then, feeling the weight of it in my hand, I could honestly say that I had it. Holding the egg, I’d let the feelings of relaxation, joy, comfort and gratitude wash over me as I gave life to my dreams.

Ride the wave of new moon energy. Change your own life. The ripples it makes will help change the world.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Knot Magick

spell

Merry meet.

A simple yet powerful way to cast a spell is by putting knots in a cord. It could be for protection, healing, invoking energies or giving yourself confidence. Sailors once had witches put wind into knots, so if they found themselves in a calm, they could untie one of the knots to get wind to fill their sails.

Before beginning, fix your desire firmly in your mind as you feel what its like to have what it is you are asking for.

A round silk cord or other natural fiber is generally preferred, but anything from a shoelace to yarn to ribbon can be used. You might also pick a color to correspond with the spell.

Say, “By the knot of one, the spell’s begun,” as you tie a knot on the far left of the string.

Say, “By the knot of two, my words come true,” as you tie a knot in the far right end of the string.

Say, “By the knot of three, it comes to me,” as you tie a knot in the middle of the string.

Say, “By knot of four, “I’ve opened the door,” as you tie a knot between the left end and the middle knot.

Say, “By knot of five, the spell’s alive,” as you tie a knot half way between the center knot and the one on the far right end of the string.

Say, “By knot of six, this spell I fix,” and tie a knot in between the two on the left end of the string.

Say, “By knot of seven, there is no question,” while tying a knot between the two knots on the right side of the string.

Say, “By knot of eight, it’s now my fate,” and tie a knot to the left of center and the knot to the left of that.

Lastly, say, “By knot of nine, this thing is mine,” and tie the last knot between the center knot and the one to the right of that.

End it with, “So mote it be,” or some similar seal.

To add more power in each knot, after saying the words and while imagining the feel of having the desired outcome, blow your will into the cord as you tighten it.

The knotted cord is then worn or carried with intent, not as a casual accessory. When the spell is over, I recommend burying or burning the cord.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

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