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year and a day

MagickalArts

January, 2019

The
Wiccan Path

Happy
New Year Everyone! This year, 2019 is a number “3” year (add
2+0+1+9=12/ 1+2 =3); a year of change and creation. Three is the
number of trinity’s harmony. From the relationship and
collaboration of two a third is created; the totality of its sum of
parts. This may take the form of fulfilling and creating what you
desire most, creating a new passion fueled by a latent wish, putting
into action what you’ve been yearning to do as you create the
product of those efforts.

In
keeping with this creative approach I am revisiting and sharing the
online course I wrote in 2014, to serve as the stimulus for those
interested in Wicca and earth-centered practices and creating a path
of their own. Please enjoy this excerpt and many blessings for a
fabulous New “creational” Year!!

Excerpted
from
“A Year and A Day on the Wiccan Path”…..

The
Wiccan Path is one of initiatory experience. Each step taken upon
this path leads towards greater understanding of your own Divine
nature, which in turn brings a greater understanding of the natural
world and the Divinity that exists around you. By definition,
initiation is an act that sets in motion some course of events. In
the case of a spiritual pursuit, initiation opens the seeker to
embracing their spiritual nature as a support and foundation to their
mundane nature. The spiritual path of a Wiccan (Witch) is one filled
with the beauty of the natural world and the mystery of the world
within each of us. The path leads to the subtle realms of the astral
– the far reaches of the cosmos – and the shadows that lay hidden
and buried within each of us. We practice the Craft of the Wise,
which in ancient times was the gifts of the healers and the seers
whose ability to see far and wide and enter so completely into
alliance with the physical natural world was depended upon to ensure
viable crops, healthy livestock, fertility and a sustainable life for
those in whom the wise lived. In ancient times the knowledge was
carefully passed in the style of oral tradition, the mysteries given
ear to ear hand to hand. Although many of those traditions, rituals
and wise ways are lost to the modern practitioner of Wicca, many of
the core principles remain, having evolved just as we as a people
have evolved, become modernized and have at our fingertips ways of
communicating large volumes of information. The information provided
in this course of study barely scratches the surface of what is a
uniquely complex and diverse spiritual path and that to a large
degree can only superficially claim its heritage in the ancient
practices of which we truly know so little. Wicca is rooted in the
experiential, and is a way of life that is not limited by lack of
sacred space, tools or financial resources. From the Wiccan
perspective, all of the natural world is sacred space and the
greatest tool of working is our physical nature holding the pure
essence of each individual’s Divine spirit that is priceless in

Ritual
and Celebration

Wiccans
use ancient and modern ceremonies, rituals and shamanic practices to
attune themselves to the natural rhythms of nature, the world, and
the universe as a way to commune with this divine force. In
particular, the lives and daily activities of the ancient peoples
were very much dependent upon and intertwined with the position of
the sun and the agricultural cycles that were dependent upon movement
throughout the year. The Witch’s Wheel of the Year is a reflection
of those needs. The calling forth of the Light of the newly birthed
Sun at the time of the Winter Solstice ensured that there would be a
new cycle of planting, sowing and reaping the much needed harvest for
continued life.

The
Sabbats (Solar Celebrations) of the Wiccan year are eight in number.
Four correspond to the astronomical transitions of the equinoxes and
the solstices. These are the Vernal (Ostara) and Autumnal Equinoxes
(Mabon) and the Winter (Yule) and Summer (Litha) Solstices. The other
Four, or cross quarter days are those that mark the time between the
equinoxes and solstices. These were the dates of celebration of the
progression through the changing of the seasons and the preparations
for the times of transit from one season to the next. These are
Samhain (the Witch’s New Year) – Imbolc (February 1) – Beltaine
(May 1st) and Lammas (August 1st).

There
are many overlays that are associated with these Sabbats, the most
prominent being the cycle of the God and Goddess as they move through
the stages of birth- fertility- harvest and death. In this way, the
physical world and the Divine world were mirror reflections and the
offering of devotion and celebration of one ensured the continuation
of the other.

Deity

The
God, Lugh and The Goddess, Brighid

Depending
upon one’s point of view, Wicca can be considered a monotheistic,
duotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic religion.


Wicca
is 
monotheistic (belief
in a single deity): Some Wiccans recognize a single supreme being,
sometimes called “The All” or “The One.” The Goddess and God
are viewed as the female and male aspects of this single deity.


Wicca is
 duotheistic (belief
in two deities; a.k.a. rarely as bitheistic): Wiccans often worship a
female Goddess and a male God, often called the Lady and Lord.


Wicca is 
polytheistic (belief
in many deities): Many Wiccans recognize the existence of many
ancient Gods and Goddesses, including but certainly not limited to:
Aphrodite, Artemis, Briget, Diana, Dionysius, Fergus, Hecate, Isis,
Pan, Thor, etc.


Wicca is 
henotheistic (belief
in a single main deity among many): Many Wiccans view the many
ancient deities as being aspects of the Lady and Lord, and view the
latter as the male and female aspects of “The One.”

(excerpted from: http://www.religioustolerance.org)

There
is no right or wrong to any of the beliefs above. The underlying
principle is that of polarity and the belief that there is both the
masculine and feminine Divine principle within all living beings.
This approach to deity supports the belief in the immanence of the
Divine. That the qualities of Deity exist within all of life, and
that through acknowledgement and embracing of this inherent
birthright, that Divinity may become transcendent in nature.

The
Natural World

WICCA
is considered a nature-based religion. The environment and those
things that comprise the manifest world including animals, plants,
minerals are considered sacred and part of the Divine web of
interconnectedness. Many Wiccans are involved in environmental
activities and feel it a natural part of their spiritual practice to
recycle and live lightly on Mother Earth. The use and knowledge of
herbs and their medicinal properties is often undertaken gladly as a
study of practice and it is not unusual to find many Wiccans
attracted to professions where healing modalities can be performed.
Animals are considered companions and treated with the same care,
love and respect

that
would be afforded another human. Human and animal rights,
environmental issues and preservation of our natural resources are
all a focus of those following a Wiccan Path of spirituality.

The
Cosmos

The
ancients were limited to what could be seen with the naked eye or
what mystical inferences could be gathered from what was overtly
presented and the myths that were created as result. Structures were
built in accord with the movement of the sun (Stonehenge and the
Great Pyramid) that aligned with specific seasonal events and
astrology had its beginnings in predicting certain outcomes and
points of focus based on what could be observed in the heavens.

The
scientific breakthroughs showing the similarities in or own physical
constitution and that of the geology of our planet, as well as the
stars and planets links us to our own stellar nature and the desire
for access to weaving that universal magick of that starseed into all
of our endeavors. According to scientist, Carl Sagan, the carbon,
nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all
other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars
over 4.5 billion years ago.

One
of the things that has not changed is that of the celebration and
worship of the Moon and her energies and attributions within a Wiccan
practice. The lunar tides are seen as the domain of the Goddess and
the feminine energies. The planets and the magick woven with their
energies extend the reach of practical magick into the realms of
space and time continuum. And, the increasing awareness of our place
within the vastness of the Cosmos provides a richly layered
perspective for those of the Craft.

***

About
the Author:

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

She
is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The
Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s
Written in the Stars

Astrology

The
Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry
of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The
Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening
the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A
Year With Gaia on Amazon

The
Eternal Cord

Temple
of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous
Devotions

The
Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A
Collection of Esoteric Writings

The
Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning
the Parts of SELF

The
Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings
on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping
with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights
of Devotion

A
Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings
for the Year

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

Follow
Robin
 on
Instagram & Facebook.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

February, 2018

Self Dedication

 

Merry meet.

 

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

 

(Phyllis Curott)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

you are pledging yourself to your future.”

 

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

 

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

 

 

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

Proceed as you would to ground and open your circle.

 

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

 

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

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

Anoint your eyelids saying,

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

The occasion can be used to take your magickal name.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

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

Moon Owl Observations

September, 2017

Handfasting

 

I recently got married, and while I was planning my wedding I decided to look into the tradition of Handfasting. I remember attending one a few years ago and thought it was beautiful. I had heard of them, but that was the first one I’d ever been to. I decided to look more into it to see if it was something my husband and I would want to incorporate into our day.

 

The first thing I wanted to find out was obviously the meaning behind it and the history. When the tradition was in its prime it was generally set for a year and a day. If the two people were still happy and wanting to be together after that, then the bond would stay in force. If, by that time the couple decided it wasn’t for them, they were free to walk away. It was also sometimes used to see if they would have a child in that time as well. It may seem kind of weird, but in a way it would save a lot of people from divorce. It was a binding of marriage before weddings became government or church functions, and the tradition involves the hands being bound together to signify the joining of their lives. It is the meaning behind “tying the knot”.

 

 

(This green Handfasting Cord is called Dragon Mother.  It can be purchased at Divinity Braid by ASV Weddings on Etsy.)

 

 

The two hold hands and a third person (preferably a priest or priestess) binds the hands together. Ribbon or small cord works best and the colours can be twisted together, or as most people prefer, the colours are separate and each one is woven individually through the hands. Most of the time around 3 or 6 colours are chosen. And I’m assuming most reading this know how much significance there is in colour, and on a day like your wedding, choosing the correct ones is something to think about. Below are the main colour choices of ribbon and what the meaning behind each one is:

 

Red: will, love, strength, fertility, courage, health, vigor and passion

Orange: Encouragement, adaptability, stimulation, attraction, plenty and kindness

Yellow: Attraction, charm, confidence, balance and harmony

Green: Fertility, luck, prosperity, nurturing, beauty, health and love

Blue: Safe journey, longevity and strength

Purple: Healing, health, strength, power and progress

Black: Strength, empowerment, wisdom, vision, success and pure love

White: Spirituality, truth, peace, serenity and devotion

Gray: Balance, neutrality, return to the universe without repercussion

Pink: Love, unity, honor, truth, romance and happiness

Brown: Healing, skills and talent, nurturing, home and hearth, the earth

Silver: Creativity, inspiration, vision and protection

Gold: Unity, longevity, prosperity and strength

 

 

(This Handfasting Cord is called PRIDE . It can be purchased at NamasteFreund on etsy. For more information read below*)

 

The actual meaning behind the word Handfasting comes, of course, from old Celtic traditions and wording. “Hand- festa” means “to strike a bargain by joining hands” which also refers to things like a basic handshake. It was popular years and years ago in Scotland and Ireland, and for a while it was viewed as almost an engagement, and for the most part once Christianity became more wide-spread, weddings became taken a lot more seriously, and due to the lack of clergy, most couples would hold a handfasting before the clergy would come around so they could be joined in union without needing to wait for someone to come around.

 

In today’s times some people still use a handfasting as a type of trial-marriage, or it can be incorporated into a full ceremony. Most of the time it is held before the legal paperwork. Other traditions that work well with a handfasting are a wine blessing and a unity light blessing with candles. Some aspects that may be a little bit different than a typical wedding would be that usually you want people to stand or sit in a circle around the couple, and there should be a blessing of the scared space beforehand, and a circle may be cast. Typically a mention of various gods and/or goddesses and also the various elements. Another tradition that may be incorporated is jumping over a broom and even a maypole dance. Because of some of the traditions talked about may not be accepted by family members or friends who are invited. Some people may also be confused so if you are going to have a handfasting or any other ceremony you may want to put something in with the invitation or program. I definitely suggest looking into finding a High Priestess or High Priest so it is done correctly, but you can even do some research and get a close friend or loved one to do it, especially if you live in a small community.

 

All- in- all it’s a pretty customizable and meaningful tradition. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of. There are a lot of options and traditions to look into when planning to get married.

 

*Rachel Young is the owner of NamasteFreund. She began making handfasting cords by making one for her own pagan ceremony. Five years later she continues to make a wide range of wedding cords, infusing them with her best wishes that a marriage can bring, & has shipped products to every continent. Her product line expanded to include besoms, wands, bookmarks, & more. She is also a licensed Wedding Officiant specializing in handfastings, inter-faith, & same-sex marriages. You can find her on NamasteFreund, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter.

 

Proving Grounds

March, 2012

How to Move from Everyday Into Magical Consciousness

This is lesson four of a twelve-lesson series comprising a year-and-a-day of magical instruction.

These lessons are not meant to make you a witch; the Goddess has probably already done that.  It’s meant only to give you a little information to be going on with.

Let’s suppose.

Let’s suppose that you have need of something.  You sit down in front of your altar, and begin to make magic.

But something’s wrong.  You know what to do, you know how to do it, but you can’t get into the head space that lets you wave a wand and point a finger at the incense without laughing at yourself.

You meditate a little bit.  Then suddenly, you feel your worldview shift.  Knowing that the time is now, you make your magic.

I am somewhat hampered in writing this lesson in that I know what it feels like to do this, and I know what it feels like when others do it, but describe the puppy?  Not a clue.

Fortunately, I can give you ways to get there.  Your part of the job will be to notice the change, and then find ways to duplicate it at will.

This skill is not difficult to learn, but to do so you must engage Younger Self.  Younger Self, like all young children, likes drama, nice smells, and cool stuff.

Set aside a half-hour.

If you have some frankincense and myrrh incense, lighting it is a good place to start.  Kyphi, Night Queen, and nag champa are also good meditation incenses.  Feel free to light a favorite if none of these appeal to you.

If you have ritual wear, don it if you wish; if you have other practices that make you “feel witchy,” perform them.

Turn off the phone, and the computer, and the cell phone.  Turn off any electric lights.  (You may wish to light a candle for illumination.)

If you have an altar, sit or kneel in front of it.  I don’t recommend lying down, unless you want to wake up stiff and cold three hours later.

If you have no altar, simply set the candle, if used, and the incense in front of you.  Get comfortable.

If you wish to, you may certainly erect a magic circle around yourself.

Think about the things in your life that you are grateful for.  If you can’t think of any … try harder.  Maybe you don’t work for an abusive boss any more. Maybe you do, but you have an interview next week, and landing that interview made you realize that, contrary to what your boss says, you are not a piece of [expletive deleted].  Maybe you found $20, or even $1, blowing down the sidewalk when you really needed it.  Maybe the sun warmed your face. Maybe your cat loves you.  There’s something.  Find it.

Then thank the Goddess for it (if your primary patron divinity is a God, please adjust throughout).  Sincerely, out loud if possible.  Thank Her for the gift of Life Itself, for the interview, for the dollar, for being who you are.  Thank Her until you run out of things to thank Her for; try for a minimum of nine.  If you’ve got fewer than nine things to be grateful for, repeat each one three or nine times. (Yes, you could end up thanking Her seventy-two times if you have eight kinds of gratitude and OCD.  Really: seventy-two repetitions of “thank you” ain’t gonna kill ya.)

The format’s simple: “Goddess, I thank You for _____________.”  Don’t string them together in a list; each item gets its own “Goddess, I thank You for.”  Remember Younger Self?  Younger Self likes this kind of rhythmic repetition.

At some point you will become aware that you are, in fact, a part of a whole.  The world will seem to thicken around you; you will become a nucleus in the world-cell.

This is the mental space from which magic is made, and expressing gratitude will almost always get you there.  The wise among us have a daily practice of gratitude.  I always begin any altar work by listing all of the things I can think of to be grateful for.

Whether they got there the first time or not, I recommend to my students that they make this a devotional practice every day for a month.  If, at the end of the month, you still don’t feel you’ve gotten there … keep trying.  All I can tell you is that those of my students who had the most difficulty in acquiring this skill got the best grasp of it, eventually.

How will you be able to tell that you’re successful?  For one thing, you will be aware of things others can’t possibly know.  You might know who’s calling before you pick up the phone.  You might be told, loudly and clearly, “Don’t park there!” and return to your car (after parking it somewhere else) an hour later to find the “Don’t park” space the landing zone for an airborne piano.  I was once told, “Don’t go to the store now” when a heavy snow, unusual for my area, had fallen.  Had I disregarded that warning and followed my usual schedule, I would have been in the store’s vestibule when it collapsed.

Do you need to be in front of your altar to make this transition?  You do not.  I would not recommend undertaking this practice while driving, or operating heavy machinery, though.  You may have suddenly “wakened” to realize that you’d driven several miles since the last time you were conscious; that’s okay – it’s a different “zone,” though. You would have snapped out of it if trouble arose. That zone leaves you aware of your environment, if subliminally; the Goddess-zone requires that you remove your attention from the mundane world.  This is not wise when the mundane world has asked you to drive.

You may well find that if you are the caregiver to small children, they will interrupt this process whenever they think it is going on.  That’s a sign that it’s working; think how dependent on the caregiver’s attention to the environment toddlers are.  Wait till the kids are napping or asleep for the night, or you can hand off responsibility, before making the attempt.

It is also not wise to do this in dangerous environments.  Prisons, Black Friday, emergency rooms, middle-school classrooms, a birthday party you must attend for a relative you dislike. You know.

If you have to get a creative project completed, being able to “go there” at will is a wonderful resource.  Slip in, Ask the Mother for help, and go back to what you were doing after thanking Her politely for whatever assistance She was willing to give you.  If you give Her energy, She will always give back to you much more than you Asked for.

Simple and silly as it seems, being grateful, and saying so, is the cornerstone to contacting the Divine at will.

And that is the cornerstone to making magic.

Next month, we’ll talk about purifying tools, self, and clothing.  Until then, blessed be.

Proving Grounds

February, 2012

Finding, Preparing, and Using Magical Tools and Supplies

This is Lesson Three of a year-and-a-day instruction program in becoming a witch.

Finding magical tools and supplies is much less onerous than it once was. The internet is lousy with sites that will eagerly supply herbs, stones, athames, chalices, jewelry and amulets of every description, powders, and potions to the neophyte. How to choose, how to choose?

One way to choose is swiftly. Buy an “altar kit,” which will usually include an athame, a ready-made wand, possibly a chalice, often an altar cloth, some herbs, and usually a candle and holder or two. Drop fifty bucks, often what a chalice or athame can cost to begin with, and off you go.

Another way is slowly. Wait until a particular athame or chalice speaks to you. It need not be labeled that, of course, and will often be cheaper if it is not. Determination and a willingness to haunt pawn and thrift stores can often provide these tools very cheaply. (My chalice happens to be a $2.99 20-oz. iced-tea glass I found at Tuesday Morning. I’ve simply never seen any other cup that reminds me so strongly of what Water is than that chunk of blue and green glass.)

Do be aware that not every “athame” described as such is, in fact, an athame. Technically, an athame has a double-edged blade. Like many (but not, alas, all) traditions, this one has a practical underpinning: a double-edged blade allows energy to flow more easily through it.

Many of us have two athames, or more properly an athame and a boline, usually one black- and one white-hilted. Which of these is kept sharp to use, and which kept only to cut energy, varies by tradition.

Chalices are ideally of silver, a metal associated with the Moon, traditionally the most watery of the planets. This is not to say that a cup of other material which calls you back to pick it up three or four times should not be your chalice, but you will sacrifice that easy association with the element, and the power which comes with it. If your chalice is silver, on the other hand, you will make an ongoing sacrifice of the time and effort needed to keep it polished. If you have sufficient skill to throw or build a ceramic chalice, or create one of wood, while it will lack the association with Water, it will gain a great deal of power through your creation of it, provided you are mindful of its function while you do so.

Most of us cannot craft our own athames or chalices. We can and should, however, craft a wand.

The default wood for witching is willow. However, if you are given wood by having it fall in front of you, by all means accept the gift of the tree. (Be sure to leave a gift in return: a coin, a hair. Also, thank the tree.)

Wand material is as big around as the tip of your little finger, the length of your forearm from funny bone to tip of longest finger, and straight throughout that length. Sycamore wood, for instance, is rarely straight enough to use for a wand.

Fashioning a wand from raw wood will require several months of drying, followed by hours of sanding with increasingly fine grits, as well as much effort put forth to remove knobs, burls, and branch ends. This work is best done by hand as the meditative state entered into will give your wand life. Also, the electricity used for running power tools is enough to overwhelm the personal energy that would otherwise accumulate within the wand.

Once it’s finished, you will have felt it come alive in your hand. Really. It’s an unmistakable experience, and you will know that you are in the presence of the Other. Wand-selves are not human-selves.

At that point you will also become aware whether it is appropriate to carve it with symbols or add decoration: crystals, feathers, windings of silk thread, silver charms. This is not solely your own decision to make, and you should reach agreement on what is to be done with the wand itself, unless you are bound by a tradition. (Wand-wood which consents to come into the possession of a tradition-follower also consents, in my experience, to the constraints of that tradition.)

There is no rule that says a wand has to be wood. My primary wand is a seven-inch quartz crystal which refused to let me leave the shop until I had parted with most of my then-week’s income for her (she has also insisted throughout our decade of working together on remaining skyclad: staying completely undecorated). My first wand is of wood, and I am experimenting with creating a copper wand for use in energy workings, that is, spells which will not have a direct physical manifestation. Although knowing me, I’ll get curious and try him for other things, too, if he consents.

A staff is a very large wand, usually the height of the bearer. Often a staff-bearer will use a branch of the staff as a wand, which is much handier in small spaces and far less likely to take out a fellow-worshiper’s front teeth when gestured with!

My wands are all completely different, energetically. The wood wand is shy, but still unalterably Other; the crystal is of course a her own being, with very strong opinions and a will to match. The copper is reticent, somewhat unwilling as yet to work with me, but I have just begun to craft him (his male-ness is the one fact I know of him). If that does not change, I shall make a Working to send him on to be with the person he needs.

Altar cloths are another tool of which many witches have multiples. They can vary by color, adding that hue’s power to a spell when chosen wisely. Those of Celtic persuasion may use green for all their work; white and black are also often chosen if a single cloth must suffice. My finding has been that either solid color or tie-dye works best. (Tie-dye, being essentially a random manifestation, seems to have some associations with the deep mind. Possibly that’s only true for those of us who lived the sixties, or wish we had.) There is nothing to say against using an ancestor-created cloth, either: great-grandma’s embroidered tablecloth, for instance.

Candleholders, cauldrons, and incense burners are elemental tools: Fire, Water, and Air respectively. A sword, the super-sized athame, is like it a Fire or Air tool, generally owned by a coven rather than the individual witch. (Some traditions view the wand as Fire and the blade as Air, some the reverse.) Many witches have a besom (broom) which they use to sweep energy clean, and a platen engraved with a pentacle for the Earth tool. Safety note: resin candleholders are flammable, and therefore a Bad Idea if your spell requires allowing a candle to burn down and out.

Anything can be made into a magical tool: mezzaluna, stand mixer, computer, pen, Tarot deck, meditation cushion, trowel, lock, set of scales. In general, you will find it more difficult to charge a plastic object than one which is made of wood, glass, plant fiber, stone, or metal. Plastic also does not hold a charge, although as this material becomes an increasingly familiar part of our lives, that may change. My money’s on the stuff becoming an artifact of Earth, eventually.

Ritual clothing is also a tool. Resist the urge you will inevitably feel toward long, flowing sleeves, as they have a magnetic attraction to candle flames and staining liquids. If they pursue you in your dreams, make gathers in the material, or alternatively sew ribbons to the sleeve to tie it close to the wrist. A robe can be consecrated just as other tools are. (And, erm, I’ve gone so far as to have magical underwear and socks.)

Magical tools are of necessity a possession of the Goddess (arguable exception: ritual wear), so they should be cleansed of prior associations, even those of manufacture unless you made the tool yourself, and dedicated to Her. The easiest way to do this is with incense, and salted water or motherwort tea.

A word of caution on the acquisition of used blades: a blade used to shed blood will prove extremely difficult to clean energetically. Think hard about using it at all, because blood, even very old blood, attracts many low-level entities who may not harm you (or at least I’ve never heard of that happening), but crowd around the space and time in which you are working, and may dissipate or use for their own ends the energy you generate.

Incenses bear the energy of three Elements: Earth, from which all incenses come whether they are of plant or animal material; Air, their method of dispersal, and Fire, which gives them life. Frankincense and myrrh, combined, make an excellent cleansing and dedication incense. If you wish to conduct those operations separately, either lavender incense or smudge sticks can perform the cleansing.

Mugwort tea is often used for dedication. Salted water (the salt drives out any energetic impurities) must be wiped from metals quickly, as it is likely to tarnish or pit them.

When to dedicate a tool? The day of the Full Moon is best, but the ceremony should be completed before the Moon begins to wane. Void-of-course Moon is not a good time for the work.

Once you have set a date, write your dedication. In my experience, rhyme and rhythm work very well to lube up the subconscious, and notify it that yes, Work is going to be done.

Sample:

“Mother Great, Mother Divine,

“Lend to me this tool of Thine.

“From this day, from this hour,

“I use this tool to wield Thy power.”

You can probably do better than that. But you get the drift.

Preparations: clean the area and the altar itself. Brew the tea if used. Set the tea or salt and water, the incense, incense burner, lighter or matches, lighting candle in holder if used, on the altar, and tool(s) to be consecrated nearby but not on the altar itself. (Have you thought about consecrating your altar table or surface? Wipe it down before you begin.) Fill your chalice if you will be using it; place the water in a bowl if not. If you are using salted water on a metal tool, you will need an absorbent cloth to wipe the tool clean.

Cast your circle, sweep it clean, call in the elements/quarters, call in the Goddess and God (in whichever order you feel appropriate).

Light the lighting candle if you use one. Fire the incense, and allow the smoke a couple of minutes to build.

Take up a pinch of salt, and cast it into the chalice or bowl, saying, “O thou creature of Earth, Thee I call upon to cast out any impurities from this water.” If you’re using tea, pour it into the chalice or bowl, and say, “O thou creature of Earth and Water, be thou cleansed of any impurities.”

Take up the incense stick or holder in your dominant hand, and the tool to be consecrated in your non-dominant hand. Wave the incense over and around the tool four times, chanting as you do so.

The first time, face East and chant, “O creature of Air, I ask of Thee to cleanse this tool, and consecrate it to magical use.”

The second time, face South and chant, “O creature of Fire, I ask of Thee to cleanse this tool, and consecrate it to magical use.”

The third time, face West and take up the salted water or mugwort tea and sprinkle the tool with it lightly, chanting, “O creature of Water, I ask of Thee to cleanse this tool, and consecrate it to magical use.” If you used salted water on a metal tool, wipe it clean immediately.

The fourth time, face North and chant, “O creature of Earth, I ask of Thee to cleanse this tool, and consecrate it to magical use.”

Place the tool on the altar, in its appropriate quarter according to your tradition’s elemental associations. Bow to the North, the Goddess’ direction, and say, “Great Goddess, to Thee and Thy purposes I dedicate this tool.”

Repeat as desired. End the ritual by taking down the circle and dismissing the Elements and deities.

Have you dedicated your very own self to the Goddess? If not, consider it. Consider it heavily before you do so, though, because if you carry through with it, you will become Her tool. This is not usually a very comfortable function, but believe me, it has its rewards.

Supplies are a bit different from tools, in that they do not require consecration. A “supply” is something that is not merely used but also used up: incense is a supply, the incense burner a tool. Herbs, essential oils, and candles are the commonest supplies. Ready-made oils, potions, and powders also qualify.

Upon purchase, take an herb, oil, potion, or powder into your non-dominant hand, and feel, and appreciate, its power. My very favorite incense in the entire world is nag champa, which feels quite different energetically from my second-favorite, dragon’s blood.

Once you’ve done that, put the supply into your dominant hand, and raise your non-dominant hand. Pull that power down into yourself, and push it out into your supply, “charging” it. Repeat before use.

You can do the same with essential oils. Candles are basically blank slates waiting to be programmed … although you can feel the energetic difference among soy, paraffin, and beeswax candles.

Wrapping a tool or supply in silk will insulate the charge. (I buy old stained silk shirts from thrifts for a dollar or two, and use the pockets for pouches and the sleeves to store wands, candles, and incense.)

Candles of disparate colors should not be stored in contact with one another, as the colors will leach. I use tissue paper a lot in crafting sigils, so that’s available in my home. I wrap figure and reversing candles with it. Other than those specialized types, my candles are all of five colors, and each has its own box inside a drawer.

(Five colors? Yep. Orange attracts, black banishes, shrinks, or negates, green asks for personal growth, gray disperses [not the same as banishing], and white purifies, heals, and increases. Those five functions cover every spell, or at least I’ve seen none yet which fall outside one of those categories. — If I were going to add a sixth color, it would be magenta, which speeds up the work of any spell.)

Once a tool or supply is consecrated, there are opposing opinions on whether it should be used in daily life. “A consecrated tool should be reserved only for spiritual functions!” snaps A, whereupon B puts fists to hips, scowls, and snarls, “A consecrated tool used for mundane purposes sanctifies all parts of life!” Which seems more logical to you? As with so much of life, there is no universally correct answer. Choose one, and live it.

Consecrated tools on my altar: shell-rattle, mini-cauldron, chalice, platen, pentacle, flint and steel, candleholder, essential-oil diffuser, incense holder, feather smudge fan, Book of Shadows, fountain pen and ink, Tarot deck, Goddess and God figurines, offering bowls, lighting candle, black- and white-hilted knives, two wands (the crystal stays at the top of my keyboard), and God and Goddess candles and holders (while supplies, the candles are also consecrated). Of these I created the God figure, the shell-rattle, the feather smudger, the platen, and the wands; I also modified the Goddess figurine.

There’s an ashpot too, for whatever a spell might generate in the way of physical waste. While necessary, it’s not consecrated.

Consecrated tools not on my altar: chef’s knife, breadmaking bowl, yoga props (mat, strap, blocks, practice journal, and meditation wrap), gardening tools.

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Overview: Creativity is a gift from the Goddess. If, while creating any of these tools, you have a Wild Idea, go for it.

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How to Create a Shell Rattle

Needed:

cowrie shell 3+” long

13 dried soy or other small beans or grains

scissors

length of leather or fabric fringe 2-3 times the length of the opening in the cowrie shell; instructions for using braided cord below

glue if necessary

Cut the fringe free of its header. Knot one end of each strand; pull as tight as possible. Cut the fringe to random lengths if you like.

Put the beans into the cowrie.

Thread the knotted end of a fringe into the cowrie through the large opening at one end. Gently tug on the fringe until the knot is seated at the far end of the opening. Repeat until the opening is filled very full indeed. When you cannot insert any more fringe, pull the last one you were able to get in toward the large opening, seating it as securely as possible.

Use glue to seal the opening if you lose any beans upon test-shaking.

It is possible to make a shell rattle of fabric fringe, although most such fringes will be subject to fraying and should not be cut free of their header. Should you prefer fabric to leather, cut carefully, and stabilize the ends of 2-3 cowrie-opening lengths of the fringe (whipstitch or melt. Don’t double). Apply glue to one side, and glue two lengths together. See if that fills the opening. If not, glue on a third length. Fill cowrie with beans. Apply glue to both sides of multi-ply fringe header, and insert into opening.

It is also possible to use a twisted-braid cord instead of fringe. Untwist the braid. Cut braid strands to length desired + 2″ (about 5 cm) – err on the side of “too long.” Do be aware, however, than if the fringe is very long, it will tangle incessantly. Knot one end of each strand, and proceed as for leather fringe. If you wish the fringe to lie straight, and not in the waves resulting from being braided, wet thoroughly after mounting to shell, comb strands straight, and allow to hang down until dry.

My cowrie, made using leather fringe, did not require glue. As I’ve only made one with leather, I can’t say whether this was luck or not; three fabric-fringe rattles did need it.

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How to Create a Feather Smudge Fan

Needed:

Feathers

Thin strong string

Wider material in color of choice, to wrap “handle” of fan

Scissors

Possibly glue

Find out where the crows hang out in your town. In spring and fall, you will have a plethora of shed feathers to choose among, but any time of year you’ll find some. If you don’t want to use crow feathers, which are universally black, you’ll have to choose feather colors, too.

Assemble 10-15 feathers.

Put feathers into one hand. Tap ends gently on a level surface, until they are aligned. Arrange into a “fan.”

Wrap feather quills (the “root end”) with thin strong string and knot securely. (I used 20-lb. nylon fishing line.)

Overwrap with wider material in Air color (yellow, pastels) or color to match the feathers. Tuck the end of the wrap material inside. Glue to secure, if needed.

Alternatively, you can purchase an inexpensive paper fan, and glue feathers to it. You won’t need wrap material, but you will need smaller feathers to cover the quills of the larger at the bottom of the fan. Once you’re finished, the fan will no longer shut.

My crow feathers are wrapped in black and did not require glue. I chose to use it on two smudge fans I made as gifts.

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How to Create a Paten (Altar Plate)

Needed:

Material

Design

Engraving tool

Patience, or bandages and 3AO (Triple Antibiotic Ointment)

Acquire a slab of metal, stone, glass, or other scribable material of the size and shape you wish. If you work in fired ceramics, you have absolutely got this one sacked; you’ll inscribe your paten when it’s either wet or at the leather stage, and after that you don’t need instructions from me!

Draw, print out, or copy design(s) to be inscribed.

Transfer the pattern onto the material using carbon paper; trace with thin-line permanent marker.

Using an engraving tool appropriate to the material of the slab, carve the pattern. Remember that using a lot of force to scribe a line only makes any error big, deep, and hard to get out. Be patient; go gently multiple times.

Keep in mind that bleeding all over the paten because you cut yourself while engraving it is not required. However, be prepared for that eventuality; stock up on bandages and 3AO before you start.

Polish if necessary.

If desired, apply clear protective coating.

My paten is round, of copper, engraved with a pentagram, and was a stern teacher of patience who gave me a scar to remember the lesson by.

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How to Make a God Figure

Acquire the action figure of your choice, and dress as desired, creating the clothes yourself. Make a wig of your own hair clippings if possible. Fingers from gloves make great medieval-or-earlier shoes if leather, and pants or hose if cloth.

TOS Spock is dressed as Otzi the Iceman on my altar, and Elderly Spock is dressed as Odin and keeping watch over my books. Karl Urban’s McCoy is Mercury-in-boots on top of my desktop computer. How did you guess that I’m a Star Trek geek? However, my athames are not bat’leths. One can go too far.

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How to Make or Modify a Goddess Figure

Acquire the Goddess figure of your choice. Thriftshop Barbies work well; their former owner imbued them with great girl-energy. Artist’s wooden figure models may also be used. Replace any jewelry She wears with the best you can make or afford, and use paint judiciously to make Her more awesome. Pearlized or silvery transparent wash always works. Consider diluting blush and lipstick color with the wash before applying Her makeup. You can also make a wig for Her of your own hair clippings, or other cordage if that is not feasible. If She is clothed, consider making replacement garments yourself of the best quality fabric you can find – you’ll need, at most, a yard of it.

Bast got a real lapis-lazuli earring and gold leaf on Her collar and base, as well as emerald-green eyes with ebony pupils, and all of Her except Her eyes was washed with pearl. Venus, my other Patron, wears heavyweight embroidered silk paisley sold as a placemat and bought for a buck at a yard sale. She got the pearly-makeup treatment, two coats of pearlization on top of it, and an embroidery-silk wig; She looks much more “Goddess” than “Barbie.”

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Next month: How to move your mind from everyday consciousness into magical consciousness. Blessed be!