Pagan Articles

The Pagan Way

As I am sure you are all aware, the earth is in desperate need of a little TLC. We as a species, have improved greatly in recent years but again, as I am sure you will also agree, we still have a very long way to go. Over the coming weeks I will explore different and helpful way that you can embrace the pagan way. That is, ways that you can lessen your carbon footprint and truly embrace what it means to be an enviro – conscious pagan… watch this space…

Samhain – Season of Surrender

For pagans, Samhain is the beginning of the year. For most of us, ‘beginning’ means birth, new growth, seeds unfurling and pushing up through the frozen ground… but seasoned pagans are savvier about the reality of a ‘beginning’. They understand that seeds begin life underground, in darkness, quiet and stillness.

Samhain, the last harvest festival of the year, is more often associated with death than with birth and rebirth. It’s a time to honour those who are no longer with us. Pagans often devoteSamhain to honouring the ancestors. It is when the veil between worlds is thinnest – a time to expect strange and spooky occurrences. So how can it be the beginning of thepagan year?

In human terms, Samhain’s new beginning could be equated to conception. Nine months of growth must take place in the womb before birth occurs. In the darkness of our mothers, wetransform from a tiny seed, just as a seed in mother earth’s belly transforms underground before sending forth shoots.Throughout winter, while the trees are bare and the earth appears cold and barren, metamorphoses are taking place beneath the surface. This energy affects us, too. Witches and pagans, in particular, seek to align themselves with the underlying energy of the seasons. It makes sense to work with the wheel of the year, not against it.

Before we can be reborn, we need to release all that is no longer working. Looking back at the year you’ve just experienced, you may feel it has been a time of frantic activity– as you pushed to better yourself, progress spiritually, learn and grow. Now is the time to turn inward, and decide which aspects of your life should be sacrificed.

If the Autumn Equinox is a time to take stock of what has come to fruition throughout the year, Samhain is the time to let go of whatever hasn’t worked.

As we honour our ancestors and the difficult times they lived through, laying the foundations of our current existence, we should also honour the hardships, mistakes, failures and lessons we have endured on a personal level. Paganspirituality upholds that we lead many lives, each experience refining our soul until we regain divinity. This means that there can be no such thing as failure – because each mistake is a lesson learned for the purpose of gaining wisdom and ultimately, achieving perfection.

Unfortunately, it can be a painful process.

Samhain is the death of the year, and by Yule, the year is reborn. So take this time to release past wounds and disappointments, so that by Yule, you’ll be ready to define new dreams, new areas for growth and new ambitions.Samhain is a season of rest and solitude, when we turn inward, allow the past to be past and, having released the old, look forward to welcoming the new.

My advice? Perform this simple ritual to help you release the old and welcome the new.

Write down everything you wish to surrender on a piece of paper (or several) and throw this, with intention, into the biggest bonfire you can find! Luckily, ’tis the season for bonfires, and you don’t need to do this on the 31st (Samhain is often said to fall on the 31st October/1st November). If youaren’t able to build your own fire, Guy Fawkes celebrations will provide the perfect opportunity to throw your cares into the flames, and watch them shrivel to insignificant ash.

Once this has been done, you can look forward to moving on with renewed vigour.

This November, the new moon falls on Sunday the 3rd, so this is the perfect time to define your dreams for the coming year, as you will be working with an increasing energy as the moon waxes towards fullness on the 17th November. Create a ‘Be, Have, Do’ list – writing down everything you wish for yourself (no matter how big or small) on a large piece of paper that you can display somewhere prominent. This will help you focus your intentions for a more positive, productive future.

Why not continue to cast away regrets on the full moon and define your hopes for the future on the new moon, throughout the rest of the year until Samhain 2014? You may be surprised by your positive progress if you do.

Samhain blessings!

 

Attuning to Bast – Egyptian Goddess of Magic, Pleasure and Love

Attuning to a goddess of good times and excess, not to mention sensuality, pleasure, sex and drugs, has to be a good thing – right?

 

“Let My worship be within the heart that rejoices,
for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals…”

 

These words are taken from the Charge of the Goddess, and sum up a very important aspect of pagan spirituality. Other spiritual paths advocate moderation and even abstinence, butwitches, pagans and nature worshippers of all creeds seek joy in all that they do. They choose temperance over abstinence, balancing work with play in an attempt to gain wisdom. If all acts of love and pleasure are to be our rituals, we could scarcely do better than honouring Bast – a goddess mainly associated with indulgent, intoxicating pleasures such as music, alcohol and fragrant perfumes.

Among the goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Bast is second in popularity only to Isis, the Egyptian patroness of nature andmagic.

Bast may be goddess of love, music and pleasure, but she is also a wild woman who, like a cat, can be merciless. To theEqyptians, Bast was patroness of the sun. Later, the Greeks gave her rulership of the moon. This association with both day and night reflects the duality of her nature.

It is thought that we should pronounce her name as ‘Bast’ and not ‘Bastet’. The Egyptian language evolved so that in later years, ‘t’ was often silent. Scribes added the additional ‘t’ to her name to emphasise that it should be pronounced ‘Bast’ and not ‘Bas’.

Cats are sacred to Bast, and she is often depicted in cat form,or as a woman with the head of a cat. She is also the goddessof women, magic and secrets.

Felines were undeniably sacred to the Ancient Egyptians, who revered not only domestic cats, but also big cats such as lions.The lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, for example, rules over the fate of humanity. It is thought that cats were so important to the Egyptians because they controlled the spread of disease by killing vermin, and harming a cat was considered a greattransgression.

Invoke Bast when your own cats need protection. She can also be a called upon when we need protection ourselves. Cats areinstinctively motherly animals, so when you feel in need of some maternal protection, approach Bast.

To gain her favour, be good to Bast’s sacred animals.

Bast also loves music, dance, and physical pleasures, so enjoymake your acts of love and pleasure her rituals; play music, burn incense and fragrant oils, sing and be merry in her name.Bast can be called on to aid prosperity and well-being in spellwork, and small statues of Bast are available to buy for youraltar. Anoint such statues with essential oils, or use a candlefor the same purpose.

Bast enjoys highly perfumed incense, so choose magical ingredients such as sandalwood, rose petals, cinnamon andpatchouli for hand-blended incense or oil blends burned as offerings to Bast. You could also grow some catnip in your garden. Cats adore catnip and will be attracted to its lemon scented-leaves. Catnip mixes well with rose, sandalwood andmyrrh.

Many pagans are on a path of spiritual growth and understanding, and achieving balance is key to this aspect of self-development. Cats take full advantage of their time to recuperate and be pampered. They are naturally self-centred creatures, unlike humans, who are often overworked and overcome with worry. It’s our right to enjoy safety, rest and pleasure, too. Cats balance plenty of sleep and play with a killer instinct and honed senses. We would do well to emulate them more often, and we can attune with them through connecting with their cat-headed patroness, Bast.

10 Signs You’re a Closet Pagan

Ever wondered if you could be a pagan? What is a pagan anyway? See how many of these statements sound like you; they could be proof that you need to come out of the closet.

1. You are awed by nature

If you’re amazed by the power of nature – the sea, storms, volcanoes, waterfalls, the sun and moon and stars… chances are you’re a pagan. When the rest of the world is watching their feet, are you looking at the stars? If you’re as awed by the rainforests as you are enchanted by a sparkling, dewy cobweb, it may be time to accept that you’re a pagan.

2.  Science doesn’t have all the answers

Sure, we can explain most miracles away these days. Does science really make sense to you though? What about how babies are made, how plants grow, how the sun comes up everyday, how mirrors work, how computers work, how rainbows work, and so on, ad infinitum? And fax machines are just plain witchcraft.

3. You talk to yourself or the world around you

As a child I used to make friends with trees and build tiny boats for fairies out of leaves. I was always talking to myself and the living things around me. I used to talk to God, and then when I discovered the gods, I spoke to them instead. Pagan from birth.

4. You care about the bad stuff on the news

There are two types of people in this world: the kind that watch the news and think “Well, I can’t do anything about that,” and the kind that watch the news (occasionally because it’s too traumatic) and wonder “What can I do about that?” I don’t know many pagans who fall into the former camp. Start wondering about changing the world for the better too long, and you’ll become a witch, not a pagan!

5. You wish magic was real (and secretly think it probably is)

Reason 4 leads me onto this next part. Your favourite books are Harry Potter, Northern Lights and the rest of the His Dark Materials trilogy, and The Lord of the Rings. Fave films include The Witches of Eastwick, Practical Magic, Hocus Pocus, and The Craft. Give in! You’re definitely a closet pagan, and your inner witch, Wiccan or shaman is desperate to be free.

6. At some time in your life, you’ve said: “I’m not really into religion, I just believe in the Earth/Gaia.”

This is a dead giveaway, and it’s amazing how often I’ve heard the most unlikely candidates come up with the name ‘Gaia’. If you think religion is more trouble than it’s worth, and long to do your own thing, it’s probably because you’re a closet pagan. Pagans don’t have to be religious, you see, but they require an open mind. Also, if you’ve ever been caught saying “I believe in humans,” you could be pagan. Religious pagans personify nature into gods, goddesses and archetypes, and see parallels between the human existence and the forces of nature.

7. Folklore fascinates you

For many people, folklore is a path into natural spirituality and magical practice. Superstitious habits such as touching wood for luck or keeping a lucky horseshoe are just more evidence of your pagan tendencies.

8. You feel the pull of the ancestors

For UK pagans, the sacred sites dotted all over our fair isles can exert a pull which is too strong to ignore. What did the ancients know that we do not? How did they build Stonehenge? What would they think of modern technology? Who did they entomb in their marvellous structures, and why? Wondering about the ancestors shows that you are connected to them – which is a pretty pagan trait, I’m afraid.

9. You often wonder: “Is this all there is?”

Are we the only ‘intelligent’ life forms in the vastness of space?

According to NASA:

‘…Our star and its planets are just one small part of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is a huge city of stars, so big that even at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to travel across it…

There are billions of galaxies, the most distant of which are so far away that the light arriving from them on Earth today set out from the galaxies billions of years ago. So we see them not as they are today, but as they looked long before there was any life on Earth…

No one knows if the universe is infinitely large, or even if ours is the only universe that exists. And other parts of the universe, very far away, might be quite different from the universe closer to home.’

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/5-8/features/F_How_Big_is_Our_Universe.html

That knowledge makes it feel as though anything is possible, and that’s before we consider alternate realities and dimensions, and all that has yet to be discovered on this planet. It makes a money spell seem easy and mundane. Gods and goddesses? Sure, why not. Fairies and witches? Quite possibly. I’m afraid this kind of thinking is pagan territory.

10. You question everything, and disagree with me on at least one point in this article

Pagans are free spirits, and they rarely accept things at face value. They struggle to follow rules and respect authority. They question everything that they’re told. In the garden of Eden, they would definitely have eaten the apple. Pagans rarely agree with each other on all the various aspects of their beliefs and practices. So, even if you answered ‘no’ or ‘not really’ to some of the things above, you still could be a closet pagan. Time to break out the cloak and pentagram, and answer your calling – don’t stay in the closet!

 

These are some answers my friends gave to the question ‘When/how did you know you were a pagan?’

 

“I had a Moment while walking up May Hill in Gloucestershire. I felt the strength and glory of all things and from that moment, everything was alive.” – Shoshana Horobin

 

“I read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Firebrand, and felt instantly connected to Apollo and Artemis and the ancient gods of Greece. Paganism resonated with everything I already felt about the power of nature.” – Anon

 

“I realised I was a pagan at the same time I realised that everything we need is available to us, here, on the planet. We have a symbiotic relationship with nature; we give and take, it gives and takes. I also believe in Fate – a meant-to-be-ness of our existence.” – Jim Common

Paganism and The Devil

I’m getting sick of articles claiming that Paganism is based on Satanism, or that the two are the same thing, so I thought I’d dig out and dust off an old article on Lucifer, a very interesting character indeed. Many are aware of the similarities between the pre-Christian horned Gods of Europe and the modern image of the Devil. Horned, with cloven hooves, he resembles Pan, Greek God of pleasure, fertility, and the pastoral. Interesting that this imagery has long been associated with the Devil, considering that the Bible refers to Satan as a serpent or dragon, but never a horned, goat-legged god. This is partly what irritates witches and pagans so much. Because of this, most pagans claim that they ‘don’t believe in the Devil’, but I think we can learn something from the dark deities, demons and archetypes found the all over the world, particularly rulers and messengers of the underworld.

When I first wrote about Lucifer, I found it a difficult and time-consuming article. It seemed to take weeks, despite not turning out as I’d planned. The longer it took, the more frustrated and self-doubting I became, and the more I wondered about my abilities as a writer. Then, I remembered a snippet of something I had read online about Lucifer: that he is the doubt in the mind, the force that makes us question ourselves, question God, and consequently the force that compels us to search for the truth in everything.

No wonder he was reaching out to me at that time in my life – when I was marching firmly down the wrong path, intent on ignoring what I knew, deep down, to be right. My subconscious was probably screaming at me to slam on the brakes, had I listened for even a second. Despite the emotional car crash that followed, I learned a great deal, and without those experiences, I would not be in the positive position that I’m in today.

This is the aim of spirituality, surely – to know and trust oneself.

Does this mean that Lucifer is a force for good – a catalyst for an ultimately positive process? Perhaps not. There’s a chance that Lucifer is just trying to lead me to hell, as Christians believe. Ironically, he is also known as the Father of Lies.

So who is Lucifer? Was he always the seed of doubt planted in the mind? Is he a Promethean character, challenging us to take a bite from the forbidden fruit of knowledge, and uncover the truth within ourselves, and the world

Lucifer was the Latin name for Eosphoros, a Greek god assigned to the planet Venus as it rose and was visible in the morning sky. Hesperus was his brother, and represented the same star as it rose in the evening. Because of its cosmic position, Venus is not visible in the sky at night, and during morning and evening, it is the brightest thing in the sky but for the sun and moon. The ancient Greeks distinguished between the two appearances of Venus each day, believing the planet to be two separate celestial bodies, and assigning deities accordingly. His name is derived from lucis (light) and ferre (to bring). So how did this minor deity become synonymous with the Devil?

Simple: a mistranslation, or rather, a literal translation. In the Vulgate, the revised Latin version of the Bible from 382 A.D., several characters were branded ‘lucifer,’ and the initial was generally not capitalised. This is because it was being used as a description, not a name. In the Old Testament, ‘lucifer’ is thought to refer to a Babylonian king whose pride in attempting to ‘exalt [his] throne above the stars of God’ was punished. It replaces ‘Helel Ben-Shachar’ – Hebrew for ‘morning star, son of  dawn.’ In the King James version of the Bible, ‘lucifer’ became ‘Lucifer,’ and his reputation as a prideful being in opposition to God has been cemented ever since.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

–        Isaiah 14:12 (King James Bible)

In other versions of the Bible, this passage often contains the translation ‘Day Star’ (also possibly a Canaanite celestial deity), in the place of ‘Lucifer.’

Writer and Angel researcher Gustav Davidson reminds us that:

‘…the authors of the books of the Old Testament knew nothing of fallen or evil angels, and did not mention them, although, at times, as in Job 4:18, the Lord “put no trust” in his angels and “charged them with folly,” which would indicate that angels were not all that they should be.’

–        Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels, Including Fallen Angels.

It seems that Satan and Lucifer are not the same entity, or even allies. Or at least, they weren’t, in the beginning.

Looking back, I can see that my interest in Lucifer at that time in my life was very telling. I was lying to myself and being foolish. Pride was at the root of most of it. In the Tarot, the 15th card in the deck is the Devil. This card is all about the shackles we place on ourselves and must escape – addiction, negative situations and damaging relationships.

According to the Order of Phosphorus, Luciferianism is a philosophy centred on individuality and self-enlightenment. Many Luciferians view the Adversary as a symbol or subconscious force of self enlightenment and motivation. The Church of Satan regards the Four Crown Princes of Hell – Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan and Belial – as separate entities, existing at each point of the four-armed cross. Unsurprisingly, Lucifer is seen as presiding over the East, the direction of the sunrise, enlightenment, communication, and the intellect. If only I’d understood then the message he was trying to get to me.

Christian bloggers be warned: pagans do not worship the Devil, and were getting tired of hearing it. This could be dangerous for you, as we’re clearly in league with the Devil.

Another irony is that Eosphorus has definitely benefited from the fear surrounding him. Belief empowers both God and Satan, good and evil. Thanks to Christianity, Satan and Lucifer now have their own followers, Churches, religious doctrines, and religious texts.

How you choose to view Lucifer defines how he may or may not affect you, so be careful how you perceive him lest the lies, or the truth, take root in your mind.

Make Your Home Magical with the Four Elements

Make Your Home Magical with the Four Elements

 

I often talk about the home as the sanctuary in which we can disappear from the mundane world and reconnect with what’s really important. Your sacred space, however large or small it is, even if it’s just a room or an altar, needs to be balanced in order for you to achieve the most from it. It should be geared up to attract abundance and dispel negativity, encourage and motivate you and allow you to rest. The best way to do this is to use the magical power of the four elements.

 

In witchcraft, North, East, South and West are associated with the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The attributes ruled by each quarter differ depending on culture and location; In fact, the Chinese recognise five elements including wood and metal, and think of the wheel of the year as having five stages. For the purposes of this article, however, I will focus on the associations usually acknowledged in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

The number four represents the passing of time, the seasons turning, and balance. In numerology, it denotes structure and stability – perfect for our purposes!

 

The four directions can also be split into two: male and female, yin and yang, dark and light. Typically, the North and West relate to the Goddess, or female, or yin aspect of life. The South and East relate to the male, or God, or yang.

 

Reorganise your home according to the four quarters using this guide:

 

North

This direction governs Earth, death, change, foundation, structure, form, midnight, and Winter. It is ruled by the Goddess.

 

Winter is the Earth’s time to rest. During this time we reflect, take stock, and plan ahead. The North facing parts of your space are ideal for rest, contemplating change, and anything relating to the foundations of your life; after all, the earthly element provides the building blocks of life. Eating at a dining table situated in the North of your home, for example, would help you connect with the foods that nourish you. Represent Earth on your altar with a bowl of sea salt or a vase of fresh flowers. The colour black also represents the energies of the North, as do greens and browns.

 

South

This direction governs Fire, action, will, passion, destruction, purification, evolution, life force, power, desire, growth, noon, and Summer. It is ruled by the God.

 

Fire is a creative, as well as purifying force. It is also the element in charge of physical pursuits, from beautifying oneself with clothes and make-up, to dance and other exercise. Lots of activity should take place in the South, so keep your yoga matt there, or your art supplies. Candles and candle magic represent Fire on your altar, as does an athame or ritual knife. Red, yellow and gold represent the energies of the South.

 

East

This direction governs Air, life, logic, intellect, new beginnings, change, sound, sunrise, and Spring. Ruled by the God.

 

The sun rises in the East, and dawn is a time of new beginnings. Associated with the element of Air, East is the best direction to dedicate to intellectual pursuits, learning and communication. I wouldn’t recommend having your writing desk or study anywhere else! Evoke Air on your altar using incense, a wand, or feathers. White, pale yellow and blue represent the energies of the East.

 

West

This direction governs Water, fertility, love, magic, healing, cleansing, emotions, twilight, and Autumn. It is ruled by the Goddess.

 

At twilight, the air takes on a transient feel. Shadows gather at the edges of our vision, and the veil between worlds thins. This is a time of emotions and the subconscious. Thus, it is suited to matters of divination, relationships, family, and the home. The West is ideal for your bed, especially if your magical practice requires you to pay particular attention to your dreams. Represent Water on your altar using a cauldron, chalice, goblet, a bowl of water or seashells. Indigo, dark blue and muted tones enhance the energies of the East.

 

These are just a few examples of how to organise your home with magical intent, but I hope they are enough to spark your imagination. A reshuffle can work wonders for the flow of energy in your personal space. Make your home magical, and you can replenish your energies whenever you need it, no matter what awaits you outside your own four walls.

 

Happy re-jigging!

Heka – 5 Ways to Use Magic to Level the Playing Field

Heka – 5 Ways to Use Magic to Level the Playing Field

 

“According to an Egyptian legend, having contemplated creation, the Creator foresaw that all would not be good and felt pangs of remorse. He therefore imbued Earth with heka as a gift to people, so that they might use it to ward off the harsh blows of fate. Magic is the system that attempts to harness this energy.”

– Judika Illes, The Element Encyclopedia of 1000 Spells. London: Harper Collins, 2004.

 

In her Introduction to The Element Encyclopedia of 1000 Spells, Judika Illes argues that magic has been used and can be used to ease and avoid suffering and tap into the promise and power that the Earth holds in store. Magic has been used for centuries to avoid or cushion the harsh blows of fate.

 

So, how to tap into this power and use it in the course of daily life? Follow these 5 magical tips and you’ll be well on your way to putting heka to its intended purpose.

 

  1. Accessing Magic

Magic is all around us in the natural world. Spiritual philosophies across the globe view all natural things as living things – plants and rocks included. You will no doubt know of a few places where magical power is particularly strong. They will be places you’re drawn to, places you love, and places that seem to replenish you each time you visit. The beach I mentioned in my last article is one of mine. Visit the beautiful spots in nature that you love as often as you can to top up your own levels of heka. Get stuck in – climb to the top of the hill for the best view, paddle in the sea or dip your feet in a stream you love, no matter how cold it is!

 

  1. Maintaining Personal Power

Being part of nature daily should keep your magical energy levels topped up. As well as visiting your favourite magical places whenever you can, try to walk barefoot every now and then, even if it’s just in a garden. This will help ground any stressful energy you may have picked up over the course of a few days in the mundane world. Take crystals into your workplace, and keep them replenished too by taking them home once a week to soak up some sun or moonlight.

 

  1. Using Magic

Magic spells can take any form you like. You simply do not have to do anything that feels wrong or doesn’t resonate with you. In essence, I would advise setting your intention, gathering your ingredients, deciding when and where to perform your spell and what elements it will have, and getting on with it! In the words of Judika Illes:

 

“Magic spells come in virtually unlimited form, some dramatic, some shocking, and some perhaps surprisingly mundane. Definitions of exactly what constitutes a magic spell depend a lot upon one’s personal history and experience, the stories you were or weren’t told as a child, and cultural expectations. What separates a magic spell from just any random series of actions is you, your intent, goals and desires.

 

“A magic spell is a conscious formalized attempt to manipulate magic power and energy (heka) in order to achieve your own personal goal.”

– Judika Illes, The Element Encyclopedia of 1000 Spells. London: Harper Collins, 2004.

 

  1. Attracting Luck

There are countless age-old charms which you can make or buy to deflect negative attention away from you or your home – witch bottles are a prime example in this country and the Witchcraft Museum at Boscastle has a few very old ones on display. I reckon that attracting luck is more important than deflecting bad luck, so I would recommend turning your horse shoe so that it resembles a ‘U’ – this attracts good things to you. Think of it as a horn of plenty that needs filling! Use natural things in your home to attract luck, prosperity and health – whatever makes sense to you. Here’s my guide to nature’s good luck charms:

 

  • Birch wood – new beginnings (birch is great for brooms/besoms)
  • Cinnamon – money and male potency
  • Oak leaves – strength and vitality
  • Rose quartz – love and friendship
  • Rowan berries – protection
  • Shells – abundance
  • Stone – strong foundations

 

  1. Dealing with Negativity

Even the most powerful witches occasionally get a kick up the bum from life. Dealing with life’s harsh blows can be easier with magic on your side, but as I’ve said before, magic should never be used instead of a mundane, practical solution. If in doubt, speak to your chosen deities when faced with a really tough situation, particularly if it involves other people who are having a rough time. Weighing in with a spell when a situation is complex and involves different parties can often lead to more problems, as you won’t know the full story and therefore the ramifications of your actions. My number one way to deal with negativity is to strengthen yourself from within by fortifying and protecting your home or even your bedroom with boundary magic. Your home is your castle, and your retreat. Simply hanging the right herbs above your front door can aid protection – rosemary is traditional, but I like nettle and bramble as well, as nettle is ruled by warlike Mars and bramble is one of the most indestructible native plants in Britain. In all magic to do with dispelling negativity, keep your intention positive – focus on and incant in positive terms – what you want, not what you don’t want – and you should be fine.

 

Today, we are lucky enough to be able to access magical systems and philosophies from all parts of the globe, using different techniques and ingredients. Spiritual ideas are also becoming more mainstream, so there’s never been a better time to use magic everyday, if need be, to level the playing field and ease the bumps in life’s road.

Supercharge Your Spells with Sea Magic

Supercharge Your Spells with Sea Magic

 

“Magic is the art of working with the forces of Nature to bring about necessary changes. That is magic, pure and simple. The forces of Nature… are expressed in the Earth, Air, Fire and Water…”

– Scott Cunningham, Earth Power. USA: Llewellyn Publications, 2003.

 

There’s a myth that Eskimos have 30 words for snow, which would be pretty impressive, if it were true. But the Greeks had 50 goddesses of the sea that represented everything from foam to sand to very salty sea water, and presided over various seafaring skills. The Nereids were sea nymphs, sometimes portrayed as beautiful maidens, and sometimes half maidens, half fish – mermaids, in other words. And well might the sailors and fishermen of ancient times have needed this dedicated crack team on their side. Without some of our modern technologies, the sea would have been ridiculously dangerous and would have seemed unfathomable – if you’ll pardon the pun. This should put it into perspective: most of what we know about the Greeks’ trading habits has been discovered through analysing their shipwrecks.

 

These days, we’ve managed to make seafaring a bit safer, although the sea is still dangerous. The real difference between us and the ancients is that we have glimpsed its depths, something our ancestors could not have done. Having explored just 5% of the ocean, we have still seen a lot more of the deep sea than the ancient Greeks. Although the sea was a big part of life for many ancient peoples, providing food, transport, and opportunities for trading, it was also a great mystery.

 

“The ocean is the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface, driving weather, regulating temperature, and ultimately supporting all living organisms. Throughout history, the ocean has been a vital source of sustenance, transport, commerce, growth, and inspiration.”

–        National Ocean Service (USA) – www.oceanservice.noaa.gov

 

Did you know that we have no way of telling how old a lobster is? In theory, they could live forever unless killed – we just don’t know if they die of natural causes. And each time they shed their shells, they gain 50% in body size. They live on the ocean floor, so we don’t know if there are massive ones skittering about in the depths. No wonder the Greeks needed a Nereid of sea monsters – Keto.

 

I’m very excited because I’m going on holiday this week, to stay at one of my favourite beaches in Britain. As a water sign, I draw energy from water, so this trip will be a massive recharge. I always think a lot about Nereids and mermaids when I go. Something about the view of the vast bay makes me imagine mermaids swimming in it. Magic always seems close at hand there. When I was about 11, I spent hours on the beach one day merrily ‘connecting’ with Poseidon, and at the end of the day, found a shell with green, blue and purple mother of pearl inside it. I took it home of course, knowing that this was my shell, and it was a gift. Isn’t it great being young and not second-guessing your intuition?

 

Connect with the Nereids to understand the sea’s bounty, power, and for protection when you or others are at sea. Thetis is their leader, so if in doubt, petition her. She was the mother of Achilles, and it was she who dipped him in the river Styx in order to make him immortal, holding him, of course, by his heel, which was later his undoing.

 

To bring the power of the Nereids into your home, make a necklace from fifty shells with holes already worn into them by the sea – one to represent each goddess. The act of collecting all these shells will help you connect with the natural energies of the sea and the shore. Or, make a trident from driftwood or something representative, such as wire. You could hang shells and blue ribbons on your trident and use it to adorn your altar, or direct power in magical ritual. Tridents or three-pronged spears were both fishing tools and weapons, so they embody the dual aspects of the sea – it helps us survive by providing food, but is also dangerous. The sea gives; the sea takes away. We must learn to protect ourselves in order to survive, and sometimes this means giving a good fight. Having 50 goddesses on your side would tend to add an advantage, though! Use your trident in protection spells or to attract abundance.

 

The sheer power of the sea can be called on in magical workings. Just tap into it with your imagination before commencing a ritual to energise you. Picture the amazing force in every wave, in every swirling undercurrent right down to the ocean floor. This can charge whatever you do with extra magical power.

 

Happy shell-hunting!

 

Boundary Magic

 

Boundary Magic – The Essential Arte for Modern Pagans

 

Establishing and upholding boundaries is one of the most important things you will ever learn.

 

If you’re a pagan, chances are you care about people, animals and the planet a little more than most. The Christina Odones of this world might think that we witches and pagans have little attachment to morality, but I know better. I also know that for most of us, while full-scale magical warfare is unlikely, being taken for a mug of is a daily danger because of our compassionate natures. Boundary magic, then, is much less about magical protection and more about fortification – developing strength from within – and maintaining it.

 

Have you ever been to someone’s house – maybe a friend, acquaintance or a holistic practitioner with a therapy room tucked away at the back – and found that as soon as you’ve crossed the threshold, a powerful feeling of calm washes over you? I have a friend who practises Theta healing, and when I first visited her North London home, I knew she was a healer, and would be successful in that field no matter what modality she chose to use. Entering her little flat, with its white walls and white painted floorboards, was like stepping into another realm. The tranquillity was palpable force.

 

This is what comes to mind when I think of boundary magic. I don’t like to call it protective magic, because that suggests that we have to wait until we’re being attacked before we usemagic to establish a sense of safety and peace.

 

There are many forms of boundary magic that we can apply to a physical place, as well as those that can be applied to ourselves. Still, I believe our home is our castle, and it’s where healing truly begins. Whether you live in a witchescottage in the woods, a bedsit or a shared house, creating a sanctuary is simple and beneficial. If only your bedroom is your own, don’t worry. The smaller the space, the easier and more effective cleansing, protecting and charming it will be.

 

So what do I mean by cleansing, protecting and charming?

 

Cleansing

Most people are familiar with the need to cleanse a space, either for ritual purposes or in order to dedicate a space to a particular purpose. I would recommend regular cleansing as a way to keep your whole home and all your possessions clear of psychic garbage. This should begin, in good old-fashioned style, with a de-clutter. Clutter is the enemy of free-flowing energy in the home, which is why the Chinese practice ofFeng Shui advocates a more minimalist approach, with clean lines and no dingy corners full of junk. It is also thought that de-cluttering encourages prosperity, as banishing the old attracts the new.  

 

Cleansing Top Tips:

1.

Smudging – this old favourite does not rely on you burning sage and owning an abalone shell. In fact, you don’t even need incense. I’m not sure if you can call it smudging, but banging a saucepan with a wooden spoon is a great way to clear the air. Sound is energy, so use your voice or loud noises to cleanse your space. Whether you use smoke or sound, make sure you get into all the corners and dark places.

2.

Asperging – I’m not sure if this is a word. An asperger, however, is a sprig of something herby and cleansing that you can dip in salt water and the use to sprinkle itthroughout your home or over your body. I had never heard of them until I read The Element Encyclopedia of 1000 Spells by Judika Illes (Published by Harper Collins, 2008). I like to use a sprig of fresh rosemary and lavender bound together with ribbon.

3.

Herbal Housework  Combine essential oils with natural cleaning products such as Ecover or homemade concoctions, or use one of my favourite floor cleansing tricks – mix 10 drops of a cleansing oil such as lavender, as well as sea salt and dried herbs, in a big bowl full of bicarbonate of soda. Sprinkle liberally over your carpets, leave for as long as you can to absorb nasties, and vacuum up. Your home will smell fabulous, and so will your vacuum cleaner, for a very long time. (Please be sensible, however, about what you expect your vacuum to suck up!)

 

Protecting

This is the stage at which you cement your intention. Decidewho and what you want out of your personal space, and what your boundaries should be. Begin creating barriers for negativity so that only good things can flow into your home.

 

Protecting Top Tips:

1.

Thresholds – Once your space is as clean as a whistle, it’s time to create protective boundaries at your windows and doors. You can use visualisation for this, or wash them down with salt water or a protective wash.Hoodoo’s repertoire for home protection magic is extensive, and you can buy a protective wash or make your own using appropriate magical herbs and ingredients. Sprinkling brick dust across doorways is aHoodoo trick for keeping your enemies from crossing thethreshold. If you can’t find brick dust (making it is a nightmare) sprinkle salt and pepper in a circle outside your home.

2.

Floorwashes – Another great Hoodoo mainstay is amagical floorwash. You can use these for either of these three stages of boundary magic (cleansing, protecting or charming) – depending on the recipe you useI thoroughly recommend creating your own wash usingmagical oils, and plenty of good old salt.

3.

Talismans – Hang rosemary above your front door to repel thieves. Draw pentagrams or other protective symbols on your walls before you paint a room. Placeblack tourmaline strategically about your space to protect you from psychic vampires. Create a pentagram charm using dried herbs bound together with twine – rowan wood is particularly protective.  

 

Charming

It’s not all about keeping bad things out, you know. Placing certain objects around your home or sacred space is sure to attract good things into your life. Here are my top tips for creating a charmed life.

 

Charming Top Tips:

1.

The Four Quarters – Use the power of the four directions, and the associations we place on them, to optimise the energies in your home. Generally, Britishwitches associate North with Earth, winter, death & regeneration, the Goddess, the colour black, anddispelling negativity. The East is the quarter for Air,rebirth, change, intellectual pursuits, the colour yellow, spring and the God. In the South we have Fire, Summer, high activity, physical pursuits, the colour red, and the God. The West is the dominion of Water, the time of day is twilight and the season Autumn, so it represents all the in-between things – dreams, visions, and intuition, and is ruled by the Goddess. I recommend changing your room layouts to follow these associations – for example, your exercise mat definitely needs to be kept in the South, andyour desk should face East.

2.

Magical Charms – A crystal or a mini herb broom placed in the strategic quarter of the room becomes amagical charm. You might consider making a money bottle and placing it in the South. Simply fill a glass bottle or jar with eight ingredients for prosperity – cinnamon sticks, silver coins, mint and basil leaves, corn kernels (you can buy these for making popcorn), salt, sugar and patchouli oil. If you can’t find any of these ingredients, substitute for whole cloves. Put the lid on, and give everything a shake. Then place in the South, somewhere where you can see your money bottle every day.

3.

Natural Magic – There must be a herbcrystal, mineral, metal, incense or oil for every imaginable desire or ailment. Use them! Liberal lashings of basil in your cooking will aid prosperity, clear quartz points orpyramids will encourage clarity and vitalityamethyst is beneficial for psychic work. Colours will also enhance or attract the energies in your space if you use them wisely.Be careful to use strong colour sparingly, though. Too much Yang (reds and oranges) energy could create conflict – too much Yin (blues and lilacs) could lead to apathy.

 

Once you’ve established your boundaries, make sure you uphold them! It’s very important not to let your evil ex or draining friend into your sanctuary whenever they want. I read an article recently in which the author described people as falling into two camps – drains and radiators. If you surround yourself with drains, how can you ever radiate enough warmth, charm and vibrancy to help the people who really need you? This latter group includes you too, by the way. Time to develop the timeless arte of saying ‘no’, and I’m afraid magic can’t help with you with that.

What Harry Potter Can Teach Us About ‘Real’ Witchcraft

“Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
Dumbledore beamed at him…“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

– JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

One could be forgiven for wondering if JK Rowling, the famously private and introverted creator of the Harry Potter series, is really a pagan or a witch. She, of course, refuses to comment. The hysteria that she caused with stories of a magical school teaching young witches and wizards was just plain entertaining. Now, type ‘Is JK Rowling a Witch?’ into a search engine and you’ll soon be buried in religious websites claiming that paganism, Satanism, and even Illuminati symbolism is hidden within the texts. The books have even been described as ‘instructional manuals of witchcraft’. After all, Circe and Hermes are demons, right? Please.

Hysteria and scaremongering aside, I think it’s clear that JK knew what she was creating as she wrote, weaving a tale that became steadily darker and more realistic as it went on. Many are keen to be disparaging about magical wands, Diagon Alley and Owl post, but few ever delve into the symbolism of the stone cauldron in which Voldemort is reborn, or the status given in the novels to the magical properties of blood. What’s more, I’m convinced that JK Rowling knows about not only witchcraft, but has experienced life in the pagan community. Anyone who’s lived in Glastonbury has come across a character like Trelawny. And who hasn’t met someone self-styling themselves as a velvet-clad wizard, all the time trying to recreate Dumbledore’s twinkly-eyed, yet oddly piercing gaze?

Not all pagans actually like the Harry Potter books, despite fundamentalist religious claims that they are helping us convert the young and innocent to our ways!

When it comes to Harry Potter, there are two camps amongst modern pagans: those who feel that it’s a flashy take on serious occultism that could lead newcomers down the wrong path, and those who, well, quite like it, actually. I am a huge fan, and something of a Harry Potter nerd, having read and re-read the books as they were released, then listened to the full set of audiobooks for not one, but 5 rounds to date. The more I delve into the story, the more aware I am of JK Rowling’s clear knowledge of magic – not the kind that goes ‘zap’ or ‘bang’ – but real magic, its power to influence, to create and destroy: its consequences.

How else could she have fooled me into thinking that mallowsweet, the herb Firenze the centaur burns alongside sage to aid divination, is a real magical plant?

What struck me recently, when I was rediscovering Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is how much of a cock up magical characters in the novels could make of their lives, simply because they had access to magic.

Rookie Magical Mistake Number 1 – Using Magic When It’s Not Necessary

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

–        Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Why, oh why, when the barrier at Platform 9¾ is blocked to them, do Ron and Harry fly Mr Weasley’s Ford Anglia to school, instead of waiting for Ron’s parents to return and collect them, or sending a message to Hogwarts via Harry’s owl? Because they had a magical alternative, of course, which seemed easier and a bit more sexy. Plus, it was a clever part of the plot that allowed Ron and Harry to be rescued from the giant spiders later on. But I digress. Turning to magic when there are more mundane options available is bad news. I often hear people say that we are ‘energetic beings’ or ‘beings of light’. That’s all well and good, but we’re actually beings of flesh – matter, and the things our energetic, light-filled brains come up with tend to become manifest on the physical plane, like us. Getting magic involved in a mundane problem can supercharge all the factors involved without actually addressing the underlying cause of the issue. Dion Fortune recommends proper diagnosis of the problem before magical involvement, in Practical Occultism in Daily Life (and she actually did study and teach at a magical school, so she should know). Be honest with yourself before you do anything, particularly when it comes to your Achilles heal, whatever it may be – money and relationships are often the biggies – and engage in magic only when you’re sure what’s going on and what your part in it is.

Rookie Magical Mistake Number 2 – Ignoring Your Instincts

“And what would you say to Harry if you knew he was listening, Romulus?”

“I’d tell him we’re all with him in spirit. And I’d tell him to follow his instincts, which are good and nearly always right.”

–        Lee Jordan and Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Ignoring your instincts is easily done, as we’re still not often encouraged to ‘trust our gut’ (according to Western belief, only gritty cops embarking on a personal vendetta are really allowed to do it). The great thing about Harry is that he’s virtually guileless, slightly obsessive, quick to temper, and he struggles to hide his emotions. In short, he’s a teenager. Being a bit more ‘in touch with his feelings’ is a valuable asset later on. He’s not always right straight away, but he gets there in the end. He knows what feels right, and what feels wrong, no matter what anyone tells him. I hope young people see him as a role model, because this is an important life skill, not just something to be borne in mind when mixing with other witches and pagans. It can be easy to have our heads turned by seemingly more knowledgeable witches, shamans, priests and priestesses (you say athame, they say atha-may’…) but witchcraft is like anything – of it feels wrong, don’t do it. In magic, it’s even more important to be focused and positive than in daily life. If you have no flair for ceremonial magic, don’t do it, unless you have a burning desire to learn. If you hate cauldrons and wands and besoms then don’t bother with them – but don’t become close-minded, either. Attitudes change over time.

Rookie Magical Mistake Number 3 – Taking Up the Dark Arts

“It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

–        Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Most of us think we practise ‘good magic’ or ‘white magic’, but is that really the case? Just because we’re not murdering the innocent or creating horcruxes, it doesn’t mean we’re acting for the good when casting spells, or even when we’re not. Getting our thoughts in order is the first step. Poor Harry was hopeless at Occlumency, the art of protecting one’s mind from being broken into by dark wizards, but he developed the discipline to perform the difficult Patronus charm whenever he needed to – sometimes under extreme pressure. The Patronus requires one to conjure a happy thought and hold that feeling in the mind while casting the spell. Most ‘real magic’ is about achieving a focused mind. There was a time when I thought that I needed magic to protect myself and my loved ones from others. There was a whole lot of Rookie Magical Mistake Number 1 going on. Binding, banishing, and protective magic was flying around all over the place. What I should have been doing was focusing on personal power and The Daily Magic of Peace. It was a time when I believed that the Rule of Three was something invented by older witches to keep inexperienced under control. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever thought that morality is magic’s little bit on the side – something to be called upon on a whim. It doesn’t matter if believing in Karma, and the consequences of magic, particularly when it forces others to do our bidding, seems naïve. It isn’t naïve. Anyone who gives out rubbish will attract rubbish in return, it’s as simple as that. Voldemort found that one out, eventually. Try it for a week, or even a day! You’ll see what I mean.

So there you have it – whether you love him or hate him, Harry Potter will influence the way magical and non-magical folk see witchcraft from now on. The word ‘muggle’ has even entered popular pagan vocabulary. Luckily, JK Rowling has such a great understanding of how morality can be applied to magic, as well as the power of love and the transience of death… that if anyone did use the Harry Potter series as a magical manual, they wouldn’t go far wrong.

The Daily Magic of Peace

How to Improve Magical Potency in Your Daily Life

I can remember meeting many people of the course my life who possessed a certain something – a glamour, an extra element of self-assuredness or a feeling of power and control. Many of them were witches, even if they didn’t class themselves as such. I was greatly influenced by these people to look into witchcraft, because they seemed in control of their lives, and contented. I didn’t realise then that contentment does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with control. In fact, the most powerful people can maintain contentment and peace even in the face of great turbulence.

I envy them sometimes, particularly when I find myself disgruntled for several days at a time, or more. It’s a rare occurrence these days, but still something that I feel shouldn’t happen, because I live a charmed life. I never want for anything for very long. I never go hungry. I never go a day without being told that I’m loved. This is the way it should be, for everyone. Still, negativity and frustration can creep in, even when we are blessed.

Sometimes I know in my bones that the world is infinite, possibilities endless, and that everything crackles with the magic of creation. At others, when the mundane world has bogged me down so badly that I can’t see the wood for the trees, I find myself slipping back into old habits – complaining, becoming tactless or even aggressive, overeating, and focusing on the negative are my particular failings.

I’m sure many of us get so bogged down in our jobs, families, friends, and problems, that magic sometimes seems very thin on the ground. It can be difficult to muster the energy for magical workings, and even harder to see magic in the mundane. People affect places, and before you know it, the atmosphere itself becomes negative.

So what’s the solution?

The famously pragmatic occultist, Dion Fortune, said:

“…while we need to recognize the very potent effect that a mental atmosphere can have upon us, let us remember that atmospheres are things which are made by human minds, and that we need not, and should not, yield ourselves inert and unresisting to their influence, but can do something towards the making of atmospheres on our own account.”

– Dion Fortune, Practical Occultism in Daily Life, The Aquarian Press, Northamptonshire © 1985. (First published: 1935.)

 

This is the kind of magic I aspire to practise every day – the magic that starts within, and eventually floods our environment with a powerful positive force, affecting loved ones, and even strangers, for the better.

Nowadays, resistant magic is rife, and harmonising is rarely considered. By resistant magic I mean protection spells, binding spells, banishing, and anything else that attempts to force people or situations to do our bidding. How many of us have been tempted to cast boundaries around our loved ones when others are attacking them? But the focus should always be on building strength from within, not raising strong walls without – unless they’re in immediate danger.

Serge Kahili King, PH.D., in his book Urban Shaman: a Handbook for Personal and Planetary Transformation Based on the Hawaiian Way of the Adventurer, advocates a magical path that creates harmony, not resistance, because resistance is a major cause of stress, which in turn affects or minds, spirits and bodies.

Here’s an example. If you ran a 3 hour workshop which needed to begin promptly at 9am every Saturday, so that you could get home in time for a family lunch, but some of your attendees were persistently late every single session, would you constantly try to enforce your ideas of promptness onto them? Perhaps a simple solution would be to run the course from 8.30am to midday, to allow for late arrivals, (and squeeze time for an extra cup of tea). Alternatively, you could run your courses on Sunday, instead. This is the kind of attitude needed to follow the way of the adventurer. This example might not feel very magical, but some of would think it was magic if they could cut down the stress in their lives and make positive progress.

Obstacles to Peace include work, relationships, and stress-creating situations, but in reality, the only obstacle to happiness oneself. It’s not situations or people that cause frustration, it’s simply the reaction we choose to go with. Still, it’s not always easy to remain zen-like in tough times. Rather than trying to force myself to feel peaceful when under pressure (resistance), I prefer to work with my strengths and forgive my weaknesses as much as I can (harmony).

Attaining Peace is not instantaneous, but once a more balanced approach is achieved, it is possible to exert more control over situations likely to create stress and resistance. As Dion says:

“…the control of environment must begin with self-control, and until we cease to be influenced by surrounding conditions we cannot hope to exercise any mental influence over them. Paradoxically, it is only when our environment ceases to matter to us that we have the power to change it by mental means.”

– Dion Fortune, Practical Occultism in Daily Life, The Aquarian Press, Northamptonshire © 1985. (First published: 1935.)

 

Here are my top 5 tips for creating Peace and removing Resistance:

 

  1. Keep a Journal – Keeping track of situations that really get your goat will not only relieve some tension, it will also reveal patterns in terms of how moonphases, your energy levels, diet, sleeping habits, and commitments affect your stress levels. It’s not a bad idea to incorporate this information into your book of shadows if you prefer. You could even note the astrological changes at play in your life if you’re a star-gazer.
  2. Time-Manage Effectively – Your journal will become a handy tool to help you reorder your life so that you get more out of your time. This isn’t about doing more work! It’s about prioritising, and changing your schedule to match your energy levels, booking in some time for rest, and of course, magical progression. Remember, make progress during your peak times so you can rest when you’re at a low ebb.
  3. Worship – A change is as good as a rest, so if your altar has been collecting dust for a while, re-dress it with fresh flowers, colourful altar cloths, and seasonal things such as leaves or seeds. Light candles and incense, and drink in the beauty you have created. It might only take 10 minutes to complete, but Peace will soon begin to steal over you.
  4. Take the Magic with You – Talismans and Charms were invented for this purpose! Fill a pouch with Peace-inducing herbs and crystals and wear it around your neck, under your clothes if you like, or practise a little crystal magic or aromatherapy at work – a quick sniff of an uplifting essential oil can be just the boost you need during a stressful day. I vary my crystals at work depending on whether I want focus, positivity, friendship, or success.
  5. Visualise Positive Outcomes Every Day – Never underestimate the power of positive visualisation. I’ve even heard it called ‘Cosmic Ordering’ – very New Age! Set yourself a checklist for how you want each day to turn out, whether the night before or in the morning, always focusing on what you want and not what you don’t want. If I’m doing something particularly dull, I can even practise visualisation at my desk at work. Few things put me in a better mood than imagining all my dreams coming true. Give it a try!

 

Happy Peace-hunting!

Tree Power – the Magic of Trees

Trees are the creators and maintainers of our reality.

–          Simon & Sue Lilly, Tree: Essence, Spirit, and Teacher. Capall Bann Publishing, 1999.

I was lying in a park one summer, looking up through the branches of trees at the sky, and it occurred to me how much the branches resembled the formation of nerves in the human brain. It seemed to me that the trees were providing a connection for communication between earth and sky. Since then, I have been more and more interested in the magical properties of trees.

Britain, like most of Europe, was once covered in thick forest. Now that most of our woods have been cleared, the presence of trees in the British psyche may have diminished, but it is not entirely gone. The role of the tree in mythology, religion and history is undeniable, and in this country, we seem to have a special bond with trees, no doubt due in part to the respect our ancestors paid them. Sacred groves, nature Gods and Green Men abound, and it’s not only pagans who enjoy their presence.

What becomes apparent when looking into the role of trees within religion and mythology is that they have long been considered capable of creating, sustaining and structuring life.

Trees witnessed our very beginning. In Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge shape the fate of mankind. The Nordic Gods created the first man, Ask, from an ash tree, and the first woman, Embla, from an elm. Yggdrasil, the Nordic World Tree (also an ash), sustains the three planes of heaven, earth and underworld, and at one of its three roots we find Mimir, the spring of wisdom. There are world trees present throughout a variety of cultures, and, much like a regular tree, they sustain many beings at their branches, trunk, and roots.

Deep down, no matter how far modernity takes us from nature, we understand that we have a sacred connection with trees. Tolkien understood it when he wrote about Lothlorien and the woodland elves. Sully came to understand it the longer he spent in Pandora with the Na’vi, the race who worshipped Eywa at the sacred tree in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Using tree power in your magical practice could not be simpler. The stories of the ancients provide the clues you need. Fruit, for example, is often representative of bounty, fertility, love, and creation. Many fruits have entered myth – Persephone’s pomegranates which bound her to Hades and the underworld, Hinduism’s sacred fig, and Idhunn’s golden apples of immortality – food of the Gods. The apple in particular is relative to Western magic, associated as it is with Eden, Avalon, and the golden apples of the Hesperides. Simply cut an apple in half widthways and you’ll be left with two perfect pentagrams – I often adorn my altar with apple halves, particularly when working on prosperity spells.

Trees have long been associated with knowledge, wisdom, and things unseen or unknown. The mighty oak is one of the most revered in Celtic mythology, because its roots, which reach deep into the ground, are equal to its branches, which brush the sky – thus is links the heavens, the Earth (symbolised by the trunk) and the underworld. It was also considered to provide doors, or portals, to other realms, and was sacred to some of the most powerful ancient Gods, such as Norse Thor, Greek Zeus, and Irish Bile. To connect with the potency of the masculine divine, make a wand from a tree that has been struck by lightning – preferably oak. You can also dress your magical space with dried oak leaves or acorns.

Scented woods have been deemed sacred and used in temples throughout the ages. Cedarwood and sandalwood boxes can be used to dress your altar and store your most valuable magical ingredients or items that hold a special significance for you.

In love magic, why not use a piece of ash and a piece of elm to symbolise the coming together of masculine and feminine energies? Careful though, this sort of spell, which utilises age-old magical associations, is sure to be powerful!

 

The Symbolism of Trees

The Runic and Ogham alphabets (the former is based on elements of nature and includes several trees such as Birch and Thorn; the latter is based entirely on trees and their meanings) can be used to represent your magical intent in spells, charms, talismans and amulets. Supercharge your rune or ogham stave on your pentacle, wear bindrune jewellery, or mark magical tools with symbols from these alphabets. I have even been known to temporarily tattoo myself with runic symbols in henna, when I felt the need to draw certain powers to me.

If in doubt about how to use the power of trees in your spellwork, refer to this simple list of basic correspondences:

Apple – Love

Ash – Man

Birch – Beginnings

Bramble – Perseverance

Cinnamon – Fire

Elder – Fairies

Elm – Woman

Hazel – Divination

Holly – Eternity

Oak – Strength

Rowan – Protection

Willow – Water

Yew – Death

Remember, the simplest magic can be the most powerful. Meditating under the expanse of a favourite tree can bring clarity and strength. Planting and nurturing trees is rewarding and beneficial to the environment – even if you only have room for a few pots. Write your wishes on a piece of paper and bury it at the tree’s roots. As your tree flourishes, so too will your dreams. Perhaps your tree will one day grow tall enough to brush the sky with its branches, carrying your message to the heavens.

See How Easily You Can Find All the Witchcraft Supplies You Need for Less than £100

Objects of Power

Many magical practitioners will tell you that you don’t need any magical tools whatsoever. After all, did our ancestors have fancy athames, pentagram strewn altar cloths and more crystals than you can shake a stick at? Probably not. But our forbears did place rather a lot of emphasis on powerful objects – magical swords, mythic cauldrons, magic rings, and holy receptacles such as the grail. Many varied ritual objects have been unearthed in the temples of old: masks, axes, figurines, and votive offerings such as swords and spearheads are but a few.

Myths tell of objects which are themselves imbued with magic, not merely tools used to channel its power in the desired way. This is a bit different from most modern ideas about witchcraft, but such magic may not be beyond even beginners. Serge Kahili King, PH.D., has this to say in his book Urban Shaman: a Handbook for Personal and Planetary Transformation Based on the Hawaiian Way of the Adventurer:

‘Everyone has the same power… And everything has the same power. The wind, trees, flowers, stars, mountains, seas, rain, clouds, and all the rest of the elements and objects of the natural Universe have the same power to create their own experience.’ (Published by Simon & Schuster, New York © 1990).

King believes that seemingly inanimate objects such as computers and cars and rivers have a life force and even a consciousness of sorts, and that they are linked with us, just as humans are linked across the globe. Cauldrons, wands, swords, pentacles, and all the magical paraphernalia in our repertoire can definitely take on powers (and sometimes, a distinct personality) of their own, even if you believe that power to be nothing more than associations placed on them by yourself. King also disregards the idea of cleansing ritual tools, for if everything is connected at all times, how can anything be clean or dirty? However, many practitioners favour regular cleansing as a way of setting their magical tools aside from everyday utensils. Again, if this distinction is only going on within our own heads, does it matter? It still contributes to the overall power of the item.

The symbolic power of magical tools is undeniable – swords, chalices, wands, bells and so on prompt the unconscious (which understands only pictures, not words) to work in the desired way, adding focus to a spell that might be left entirely to the logical brain if it were based on words alone.

So, if tools unite focus and intent (or thoughts and feelings) they must be pretty important, at least until we develop our own magical mojo beyond the need for them.

But then, there seems to be so much stuff to get. Is all of it necessary? And how can it possibly be affordable?

Of course, you don’t need to get everything your favourite books or website suggests, just go with what feels right. Here’s my guide to making it affordable.

 

How Can I Buy All the Witchcraft Supplies I Need?

Some of you may be thinking: ‘All the ritual gear I need for under £100? Yeah right.’ Others may think £100 is a bit steep. Either way, I reckon the frugal witch can kit him or herself out with tools and basic ingredients for that amount or less.

There’s a simple way to acquire your magical supplies without overspending: honour the elements. Purchase, make, or find a magical tool or ingredient that represents each of the four quarters, and do the same with your ingredients – oils, incense, crystals and so on.

Elemental Guide to Magical Tools

Some pagan writers will tell you that making your own tools is the best way to make effective use of them in witchcraft – after all, through the process of making them, you are imbuing them with your own energies and, indeed, just more energy in general. Is there a comparison between a factory made object and a lovingly crafted, handmade piece, with hours of love poured into it? Perhaps not, but ultimately, it’s up to you what adorns your altar or comes with you to a windswept hilltop on the full moon. Sometimes, the most beautiful magical tools are to be procured from someone who really knows their craft, and there’s no shame in not having time to make everything. The final part of your magical repertoire should include as many natural, free things as you can find – shells, feathers, stones, fresh flowers (as long as they’re not rare, protected species), dried leaves and plants work wonderfully.

Remember, there are magical tools you can buy, magical tools you can make, and magical tools you can find for free. Here’s my guide to a brilliant basic list from which to build your magical supply store:

 

Honouring Earth

Magical Tool: Herb Knife

Crystal: Tourmaline

Incense: Sage

Oil: Lavender

Natural Item: A stone, rock salt, leaves, herbs, flowers, corn, seeds and fruit.

 

Honouring Air

Magical Tool: Censer or Incense Holder

Crystal: Clear Quartz

Incense: Acacia (Gum Arabic)

Oil: Almond

Natural Item: A feather, airborne seeds such as sycamore.

(Note: You can kill any bugs on your feather by sealing it in a freezer bag and popping it into the freezer for 2 weeks).

 

Honouring Fire

Magical Tool: Wand

Crystal: Pyrite

Incense: Dragon’s Blood

Oil: Ginger

Natural Item: Candle (OK, it’s not entirely free, but you can find inexpensive, natural beeswax candles online or at local farms – and support bees at the same time.)

 

Honouring Water

Magical Tool: Bowl

Crystal: Moonstone

Incense: Rose

Oil: Lemon

Natural Item: Apples, shells, pebbles from the beach, driftwood, etc.

Not only are these tools and ingredients representative of the four elements and their respective associations – they’re also jolly useful, all-round performers for your magical tool box. Everything on this list has multiple uses – Almond is a brilliant carrier oil, so you can blend it with the other oils in the kit, and gum arabic forms a brilliant base for granular incense. The ingredients in this kit would aid rituals for love, money, cleansing, banishing, health and luck. And at between £2-£5 per ingredient, you could pay as little as £10 per element, leaving up to £60 for your wand, bowl, incense holder, and your functional knife for chopping herbs – for which a regular kitchen chopping knife would do. Not bad going for a fully functioning spell kit.

 

Happy spellcrafting!

How to Get What You Want When You Want It: Magical Manifestation

Getting what you want, when you want it: is it really possible to use magic to solve problems?

 

I think it is. I believe that a little careful application of will and focus can override a whole host of internal blockages to bring our desires into being – often with almost instant effect.

 

If you’re familiar with the mythic tales of the Mabinogion, you’ll remember that Rhiannon appeared to Pwyll on her shining white horse as he sat on top of an enchanted mound near Arberth. Beautiful Rhiannon presented a very tantalising prospect indeed for the prince, dressed as she was in golden silk brocade. Yet no matter how hard he drove his horses towards her, she always outstripped him, even though her own horse travelled at no more than a gentle trot. At last Pwyll decided to simply ask her to slow down and wait for him, and herein lies the biggest clue to manifesting what you want using magic: using the power of words.

 

‘I will, gladly,’ says Rhiannon, ‘and it would have been better for your horse had you asked me long since.”

 

Their tale brings to mind a very common situation – when that which we really want seems to elude us most – no matter how hard we try to grasp it. Pwyll must have kicked himself when he realised that, not only was Rhiannon very willing to stop and wait for him – she was actually there to seek him out. In fact, Rhiannon wanted to marry him.

 

With their tale in mind, here are my top tips for manifesting what you really want using magic:

 

Step 1: Stop trying so hard

 

The tale of Pwyll and Rhiannon demonstrates that the things we want are already trying to get to us. Ever wondered how nice it would be to have new car, or get a kitten, or move house, only to see adverts for these things everywhere you go? Even when you don’t really, really want something, it finds its way to you. The possibility of it enters your life. That’s why the right people and situations seem to arrive at the right time. But, focus on the negatives, the blockages, and the struggles to overcome before you can get where you’re going, and you’ll increase them. My advice? Let go of these fears and hang ups, and try to go with the flow.

 

Step 2: Focus on the Positives

 

Some shamans teach that by thinking about how much we want something, we are focusing on a lack of this thing, and strengthening the belief that we don’t have it, or can’t have it. If you believe in a Law of Attraction, you’ll know that this is very bad mojo indeed. As a way of counteracting this, they advocate questioning yourself  in a way that prompts the subconscious into giving positive answers to the most pressing of concerns. For example:

 

“How come I will find it so easy to find my perfect house?”

“How come I’m going to get that job I applied for?”

“How come I’m so successful in my new job?”

 

Give it a try; you may be surprised by how well this works. I was!

 

Step 3: Remember Rhiannon

 

Queenly Rhiannon generally displays supreme judgement and poise in the tales of the Mabinogion, and her wisdom is just as keen here. While Pwyll wonders at her ‘obstinacy’ in always keeping ahead of him and his men, Rhiannon is simply waiting for a polite greeting. Her cool head makes her the opposite of hasty Pwyll, and this reminds me of how desire can sometimes overshadow common sense – because we want most what we can’t have. Ask yourself some sensible, down-to-earth questions, (when you’re in a sensible, down-to-earth mood):

 

“Is what I want possible?”

 

“Is it really right for me now?”

 

“What steps do I need to put in place to achieve it?”

 

“What sort of magical nudge would help most?”

 

Then you can set about composing the best possible spell to help achieve your dream.

 

Step 4: Engage Magical Intent

 

Once you’ve decided to get magic well and truly involved, it’s time to set your goals. The subconscious can’t tell the difference between real life and the imagination – so picturing your desires in as much realistic, accurate detail as possible is paramount. Identifying what you want or need is an important process in manifesting you dreams. Say it out loud, and remember to phrase it around what you do want, not what don’t want, for example: “I want lovely neighbours when I move house” is far superior to “I don’t want horrible neighbours when I move house.” Be realistic and focused – vagueness does not benefit the subconscious or your spellwork.

 

5. Use Words to Create a Magical Result

Words have a power all of their own. Pwyll demonstrates it, and Western magic, which often emphasises the power of verbal commands over gesture and symbolism (although these are rarely overlooked, and symbolism in particular counts for a great deal), has done the same for hundreds of years. Spells, chants, cantrips, affirmations and prayers make use of this power. Asking for help is also incredibly important. Whether you need to reach a deity, spirit, faery, ancestor, pixie or angel, be sure to let them know exactly what you want, and when you need it by. We all respond better when we have a clear deadline, right?

 

In summary, I believe that things we want are already on track for finding us. Just as Pwyll sought Rhiannon, she too was seeking Pwyll. The right jobs, houses, relationships and opportunities are constantly aligning themselves with our intent.

 

So muster your best language, pause to address the world, and call your dreams into being.

Wisdom and Power: The Magic of Eve and the Serpent

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

It’s easy to discount Eve, especially when comparing her with the powerful goddesses many pagans are familiar with. Is she really any match for the vengeful, seductive, or warlike deities we call on today? Can she have any bearing on magic, when we could simply call on one of the great sorceresses – Ceridwen, Hecate or Circe? After all, she was made from Adam’s rib – she’s a by-product, not an original; and her disobedience renders her creative powers as a woman a curse – pain and suffering in childbirth for her and all her daughters throughout time.

Eve’s treatment in the Bible has promoted two main ideas on the nature of Woman:

  1. Something intrinsically weak in the female make-up determines the feminine status of subservience.
  2. Women are calculating and artful, particularly when tempting men with their flesh.

Thanks to Eve, women are simultaneously branded victim and villain: sexual slave and temptress.

Despite this, I believe Eve has something to teach pagans about the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, thinking for ourselves, using initiative, and accepting the consequences of our actions. I don’t see her as a rebel, but a subverter – she refused to take things at face value, preferring to discover the truth for herself.

Eve is often portrayed as a deceiver, but how could she be, when she had no knowledge of good and evil prior to eating from the tree? She is artless and honest with the serpent:

‘…We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’(3:2, 3:3).

The serpent promises her knowledge of good and evil which will make her godlike, but Eve translates this into the acquisition of wisdom, as opposed to power, seeing it as ‘a tree to be desired to make one wise’. Eve applies rational thought to God’s warning about the tree – if it is ‘pleasant to the eyes’ and ‘good for food’, why then should its fruit kill her?

In this respect, Eve is the forerunner of modern magical practitioners, many of whom prize wisdom above power.

In her punishment, Eve is like Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and presented it to humankind, and got the better of the gods several times. He, too, was punished eternally. The role of the serpent in delivering the gift/curse of knowledge to mortals is also fitting – serpents are traditionally associated with prophecy and knowledge, particularly of the earth and earthbound things – and are the sacred animals of many prominent deities, such as Apollo, Brigid and Cernunnos.

Call on Eve when you need the courage to blaze your own trail, and remember to use serpent imagery in your working or ritual. She is the ‘mother of all living’, and the first to experience the toil and suffering bound up in human existence. In matters of perseverance, individuality, or where wisdom is needed, seek Eve’s guidance in meditation or divination. Incorporate the fire element as well as earth into your spell, as fire represents knowledge, and earth, humankind (Prometheus created mankind from clay, and Odin created the first man and woman from an ash and an elm tree). You could use readily available witchcraft supplies such as clay or pottery bowls, candles and ritual incense (which is burned) as part of your magical working.

We are bound to the earth, but ignited by the light of knowledge and the desire to understand our universe and the nature of the immortal. Eve’s story provides a wealth of imagery with which to influence your magical practice, and pursue wisdom and power.

Moon Phases for your Magical Workings

THE WAXING MOON

Corresponds to the season of spring, birth, the colors green and red, the physical, the earth, growth and sensuality.

It is the correct lunar phase to perform all types of magic for healing, attracting good luck and increasing things such as money, love, etc.

THE FULL MOON

Corresponds to the season of summer, maturity, creation, the colors silver and white, the emotional and psychic.

Magical powers are said to be at their greatest when the light of the Full Moon illuminates the night. Spell work involving fertility, divination and problem-solving magic are often performed during this lunar phase. The full moon is given different names, depending on when it appears. For example, the “Harvest moon” is the full moon that appears nearest to the Autumnal Equinox, occurring in late September or early

THE WANING MOON

Corresponds to the seasons of autumn , the colors gray and black, the spiritual, the underworld, death and transformation. It is the time for spell work that involves banishing, binding and eliminating things such as negativity, bad habits, disease, and obstacles.

 

THE NEW  MOON

Corresponds to the season of Winter, the colors Black. Use the energy of the new moon for new ventures and new beginnings. Also use the new moon for love spells, job hunting, and healing.

Planetary Days for Ritual and Magic

SUNDAY

Sun and solar deities.

It is associated with magic dealing with:

authority, divine power, friendships, healing, learning, reason and world leaders.

MONDAY

 Moon and lunar deities.

 It is associated with magic dealing with:

 cooking, dreams, family, the home, intuition, medicine, spiritual growth and the ocean.

TUESDAY

Mars and gods of War.

 It is associated with magic dealing with:

 athletics, competitions, conflicts, courage, hunting, legality, logic, physical strength, politics, vitality and war.

WEDNESDAY

Mercury and the god Woden.

It is associated with magic dealing with:

communication, divination, education, mystical insight, resourcefulness and self-improvement.

THURSDAY

Jupiter and the god Thor.

It is associated with magic dealing with:

dedication, endurance, faithfulness, legal matters, loyalty, luck and money matters.

FRIDAY

Venus and the goddess’s of Love.

It is associated with magic dealing with: art, fertility, love, music and pleasure.

SATURDAY

Saturn and the God

It is associated with magic dealing with:

banishing, change, death, motivation, reincarnation, understanding and wills.

Colour Correspondances for ritual or Magic

White –  This color represents all that is pure
Black – Protection – Binding – Repelling negativity – Shape shifting
Silver  – Astral energy – Female Energy – Telepathy – Clairvoyance – Dreams –
Brown – Special favours – To Influence friendships
Orange – General success – Property deals – Legal matters – Justice – Selling
Copper – Professional growth – Business fertility – Career maneuvers – Material passion – Money Goals
Gold – Promote winning – Power of the male – Happiness
Yellow – The sun – Memory – Logical imagination – To accelerate learning – To break mental blocks
Green – Physical healing – Monetary success – Mother earth – Tree and plant magic – Growth – Personal goal
Blue – Wisdom – Protection – Calm – Good fortune – Opening blocked –communication – Spiritual inspiration
Red – Passion – Strength – Fast Action – Lust – Driving Force – Survival – Blood of the moon
Purple –  Third eye – Psychic ability – Hidden Knowledge – To influence people in high places – Spiritual power
Pink – Affection – Romance – Love – Caring – Nurturing – Planetary good will

The Secret Circle

The Secret Circle is already a phenomenon in the states and is set to take the UK by storm.  Like all supernatural dramas it attracts teenagers. A new series on TV always has a lot of media publicity and there was certainly a gap in the market for a thrilling tale about a circle six teenagers are born into; a book of shadows each of them finds reveals their true identity as powerful witches. Only nine episodes have been aired as yet in the UK, and already the series has touched upon topics involving demons, dark magick, witch hunters, spells, curses and sigils. Obviously the main characters are hormone fuelled teenagers, whose lives consist of dramas surrounding sex and difficult relationships; death and destruction; secrets and lies. It echoes influences from and including Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, supernatural, Harry Potter, LOTR and The craft, which is actually mentioned by one of the characters: Faye Chamberlain, whose personality is similar to that of Nancy. Whether it was the direction or the books it was based on, the main influences were of course history itself.
Although The Secret Circle is fiction, the writers have used factual and historical references. They use symbols taken from The Key of Solomon, use by the correct hour and moon phase, utter spells in Latin and explain that quartz crystals magnify power. Over the episodes the characters speak of experimenting with herbs, energy work and using tools like wands. One of the characters: Dawn Chamberlain, makes reference to the circle reading “Aleister Crowley’s 777” and “Holdons spellcraft”, as they are apparently “the basics” for the foundations of magick, along with their personal book of shadows, handed down to them through the generations, a legacy which go back to 1696. The writers focus on psychological play, flouting the boundaries of real magick, manipulating its workings for dramatization, and use dark magick like demonic possession for a horror element with graphic visualization. There is no sympathetic or lesser magick shown being performed, and simple chants used have an immediate effect. Any experienced Pagan and witch will know that a majority of the time, the spell spoken will not have an instant or physical reaction in the way it is portrayed on the TV; a potion drunk or a poultice used for medicinal reasons having a quick affect on the body is more believable. But waiting for a spell to work for days or weeks does not make good television.
The characters are able to affect the elements for good or bad by their will, they use spells, potions sigils, chants and crystals to heal, hurt and control; doors are opened and curtains closed with a telekinetic type power.  This yet again demonstrates intent is what makes for a charmed life or a cursed one. Its magick seen through a child’s eyes: a demand and then a reaction or change. However some see potential for these and similar acts to be realised; these sorts of things are possible, but perhaps on a smaller scale and in a different context. The changes a true spell works to effect are manifested in a more complex way, conversely to the way depicted. Whatever someone thinks about supernatural television dramas, it begs the question: Aren’t some young people watching these programmes and becoming confused by the deceptive content, and the distorted views on witchcraft? The characters in The Secret Circle do although appear to suffer the consequences of their actions when using magick without respect, experience and good judgement. It is sad to say that many Pagans who have not been taught well also fall into the trap of experimentation, without the possession of such qualities.
The latest threat the circle has to face is an ancient religious society of witch hunters. They have come to expose and kill the teens in the circle. Witch hunters once ruled over witches and Pagans; the King James Bible included the famous translation “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”. This bible and another book called the “Malleus Maleficarum” or “Hammer of the Witches” was supposedly used by the inquisitors to detect and condemn witches. It may be interesting for the Pagan community to see what light witchcraft is shown in as it often sparks controversy, and incites unfair rumours among people whom do not desire the Pagan culture and witchcraft. The similarities between The Secret Circle, New Age Paganism, or traditional witchcraft may at first appear as there are many, but are really few and far between. The series does however high light some interesting questions, some which are lines from the programme itself, some which are often discussed within real Pagan circles, and others which may be relevant questions to ask in reaction to the programme, such as: Does fate exist and if so, can it be changed? What good is magick if you can’t save the ones you love? Do witch hunters still exist? Is there a place for witchcraft in today’s society?  
Magick circles are designed to protect witches although according to one episode a circle of sulphur and iron will prevent a witch from using her/his powers. There are real accounts of torturing Pagans and supposed witches with burning iron and sulphur. In the episode titled “Masked” Jake Armstrong says that “all you need is mandrake root and some blood, and a personal item which has absorbed some of the witch’s energy.”Apparently this goes in a witch’s bottle, which is spelled and a match dropped in; this then kills the witch. This idea was based on a real devise, many are found in archaeological digs or when houses are demolished, although its function and the evidence of it working are debatable. On another episode a character, an elder: Jane Blake tells the teens the only ways to kill a demon is to either burn it or drown it. A bit of research will show that people believe there are many ways to kill a demon.
The mechanics of the universe are not easily discussed, and the study of dark magick and demonology may be perceived as a dangerous subject by most. There are flickers of true magick hidden behind the drama and exaggerated powers. Some characters present negative attitudes towards dark magick, and statements that great power attracts darkness are repeated. As the series carry’s on it will be interesting to see if this divide between dark and light will become more pronounced. The teens will undoubtedly carry on running from danger, and Cassie Blake the main female and main protagonist will surely be kidnapped again. Apart from them being witches they are all confused, angry and damaged adolescents.  Hopefully the real adolescents and future Pagans who watch the series will want to understand witchcraft better, and know to not follow in the footsteps of Cassie, Adam, Faye, Diana, Melissa, and Jake.

 

Do’s and Don’ts when joining a Witches Coven

What to ALWAYS and NEVER do once in a Pagan witches coven
ALWAYS
• Always remember that even if you are an experienced witch do not presume that you cannot learn from the lesser experienced of the group.
• Always do your best to keep learning and progressing outside of coven time.
• Always respect the coven tools and book of shadows by taking care of them properly.
• Always know that if you have a problem with someone in the group you can go to the coven leaders for help. Although it is important to have the skills to settle differences yourself. If it is over something ethical or a main principal of Paganism, coven leaders may take action.
• Always try to be enthusiastic and willing to join in the celebrations.
• Always wash and wear clean clothes before conducting rituals; this is in accordance with traditional ceremonial magick, and for the sake of the other members.
• Always take your work seriously within and outside of the coven; although it is important to have a sense of humour.
• Always be respectful towards other coven members, especially coven elders and leaders for the experience and knowledge they posses.
• Always be aware when the time calls for sombreness, quiet contemplation or seriousness. Some ceremonies, initiations and dedications require this from you.
• Always remember you must walk before you can run; thirst for knowledge is great, but be patient and trust your guides. Even if progress seems slow.
• Always give in coven fees and homework on time.
• Always ask your high priest or priestess for permission to leave a magick circle if you need to, try to exit a magick circle at East, and cut a door with your athame.
• Always keep your own tools clean and your book of shadows organized.
• Always respect the esteemed gifts, powerful knowledge and ancient secrets your high priest and high priestess have bestowed upon you; by not passing them on to people outside the coven without permission.
• Always remember when you take an oath to dedicate your time and energy to a coven; it should be your priority to keep your oath.
• Always know that you can leave at any point and be welcomed back with open arms.
• Always know that your coven members are your friends and will help you out in your personal life, but coven sessions should predominately be about your witchcraft education.
• Always be clear about what the coven leaders expect from you; and make it clear to them what you expect in turn.
• Always remember that everyone is equal in the coven and that everyone one is learning no matter their degree. Everyone is there to serve each other.
• Always remember that you are in the coven to learn, practice and share experiences.
• Always be mindful of keeping to topic when at coven meetings, and not continually straying away from the reason you are there.
• Always remember you are lucky to of found your coven, each person is there because of a common goal. There is strength in numbers and many minds equal more power. No coven is perfect and you should make the most of your time there.
NEVER
• Never touch or pick up another persons magickal tool, such as an athame, wand or crystal without their permission.
• Never be late to a coven meeting. Too little punctuality may cause you to lose your place within the coven. You must be responsible for yourself.
• Never be afraid to speak up if you have something to say. Even if it challenges the belief system of another member. We are all entitled to our opinion.
• Never be afraid to change your mind about your beliefs. It is the human right of choice which defines our being.
• Never disclose any information which another in the group does not wish anyone else to know, such as their witch name and other details. It is a tradition of secrecy which prevails over the coven for safety, but also common decent thought for others.
• Never make someone in the group feel belittled or unappreciated.
• Never speak over someone else in the group; even if it the debate is becoming heated.
• Never point a wand or athame at someone in the group whilst holding it.
• Never practice magick from books or read text which has been banned by the coven leaders, as discussed and agreed by all coven members.
• Never sign any documents which you haven’t fully read.
• Never feel pressured to do something you don’t feel comfortable with, or pressure and bully anyone else into something they don’t want to do.
• Never engage in paranoid talk, gossip and rumour spreading. It is possible for people to become detached from reality when indulging in such topics as we practice. As it is for any person of such persuasion in matters of religion and sect.
• Never be afraid to ask questions. Good leaders will encourage this.
• Never collude with members from other covens, or pass on information without the express knowledge of your leaders and permission of your own coven.
• Never be drawn into talks devised by unscrupulous coven members set to divide the group.  These types of people can go undetected for a time and their intent breaks up covens, and damages the Pagan community.
• Never should any member of the coven, including your high priest and priestess, intimidate you, put you down or shout at you.
• Never underestimate your other coven mates – each person’s strength is different. 
• Never stray from the righteous path within Paganism, and be sure to exercise your fidelity to Paganism and loyalty to the coven.
• Never break coven etiquette or coven rules. Each individual coven has its own set you must adhere to once you have joined. Breaking them may result in being asked to leave. If you disagree with any rules, you must say so before joining.
 
Beth Champion

The Pentacle as a Pagan Symbol

The pentacle is a five point form which is shown in a variety of different ways. Agrippa says its use was to “fore-know all future things, & command whole nature, have power over devils, and Angels, and do miracles.”Pentacles are meant to preserve us from evil, assist us in our magickal workings, drive away evil spirits, or constrain and eradicate them, allure good spirits and compel them to take our command. It is often hung around the neck giving the practitioner authority, although in some magickal systems the pentacle is kept hidden under a cloth, then unleashed and used as a magickal weapon. Pentagrams can be used combined with other symbols to create sigils, seals, amulets and talismans. The Pagan practitioner can use an athame to sign a pentacle in the air to either invoke or banish energies in respect to elemental associations. It is frequently placed over doors, windows and fire places to ward. On a witches alter the pentacle serves to bring spirit to Earth. On a Wiccan alter it also represents the three aspects of the Goddess and the two aspects of the God.
Pentacles are often made from silver, brass, wood or slate, but in more dangerous times it would have been made from wax or dough. It is usually placed at the centre of the Pagan alter and resonates universal energy associated with Akasha, corresponding with the fifth element of spirit. The pentacle corresponds with the Earth element, and is Aleister Crowley’s belief that because Earth contains all elements, the pentacle must represent earth.  Another argument is that the alter on which the pentacle sits is placed at magnetic North, which is associated with earth as an element because of the axial rotation, which is responsible for the seasons. However some Pagans wish to associate the pentacle solely with spirit, and the cauldron containing salt with earth. The coins in the tarot are often depicted as pentacles (some people credit Elphas Levi with this). They also correspond to the earth element and represent divinity manifesting in matter.
New Paganism defines the pentacle as being encircled, whilst the pentagram is not. The circle represents the God and Goddess, unity and wholeness. Within Paganism the five points represent the four directions the fifth being spirit. The qualities and properties of the elements are also represented; as are the seasons plus terror time (unnamed and unnumbered days between the years), and the quarters of the moon plus the new moon. This is said to of been a Pythagorean idea and one perpetuate by Agrippa. To Pagans and people of other faiths the wearing of a pentacle signals the ruling of the higher consciousness of the mind over the body and physical matter. The pentacle represents man within the microcosm, within a greater macrocosmic universe. It bears resemblance to a man with his arms and legs outstretched; the images Robert Fludd and Leonardo da Vinci show this geometric relationship between man and the universe, and the five-fold division of the body. To the Chinese it represents material aspects and their generative and destructive phases. They are: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. To the Babylonians it depicted angles and direction. The five points of pentacles are attributed with Jung’s four fundamental psychological functions: feeling, thinking, intuition, sensation, but also the transcendent self. It could also be a marker for the stages of a person’s life: child, youth, maturity, old age and death. Fivefold symbolism is everywhere; there are five senses and five vowels.
At some point within the medieval era, the pentagram or endless knot as it was known, symbolized summer with one point up and winter with one point down. The symbol has been used by knights to represent the five virtues of generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety. In Egypt it was the symbol of the “underground womb” and it thought to be linked with the concept of the pyramid form. In India, the pentagram represents the elements of the five lower chakras of kundalini yoga. In the act of the Wiccan kiss the feet, knees, womb, heart and lips are places on the body attributed to points of the pentacle. The pentagram represents the five visible planets and the moon at the centre point. According to Pythagoras each point represents fire, water, air, earth, and psyche; energy, fluid, breath, matter, and mind; liquid, gas, solid, plasma and aethyr, or spirit. In the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition the pentagram represents the five upper sephiroth on The Tree of Life, which represent the forces of justice mercy, wisdom, understanding and transcendent splendor. It was once associated with the five wounds of Christ and worn as an amulet by early Christians. Other Christians associated it with the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Until the Christian inquisition, it was a symbol of truth, as it was to the Hebrews who knew it as the Pentateuch.
Pythagoras was a Greek mathematician and philosopher; he considered the pentagram an emblem of mathematic perfection because of its geometry. In Ancient Greece it was known as “The Pentalpha”, being composed of five interlaced A’s or Alphas. Pythagoreans held the pentacle sacred to the Greek Goddess Hygeia, the goddess of health. Agrippa writes that in Greek her name is an anagram for the elements, which together comprised all matter. The pentacle is also associated with the Greek Goddess Kore, sometimes known as the vegetation Goddess Persephone. She is also connected with the Roman Ceres, possibly an early form of the Goddess Demeter representing the virgin, or they are two faces of the same Goddess. Kore’s (which means maiden or young girl) symbol was the apple; used today in Pagan rites it is cut crossways to reveal the seeds at the core, which make up the five pointed star. Pythagoras was said not to eat them because of this pentemychos “five recesses” or “five chambers inside. The apple is also a sacred fruit because it is a symbol of health; which relates back to Hygeia. Although most Pagans will know that the pomegranate is the associated fruit of Persephone, the word comes from the Latin “apple” and “seeded”. In religious stories the apple is considered a forbidden fruit because of the hidden knowledge which was forbidden to human kind.
Pythagorean followers established a brotherhood, they followed the philosophical, religious and political teachings of Pythagoras; they followed this system in search of a purer way of living. But enemies attacked their assembly and they were forced underground. The pentacle was worn by the Pythagoreans so that they could recognise each other; just as it is worn by Pagans today for the same reason. Many schools of thought are descendants of Pythagorean systems. This can be seen in the architectural work of the ancient stone masons, and the beliefs of the Freemasons today. This sacred geometry was built into cathedrals and other religious and revered structures. The ancient Pythagorean pentagram was drawn with two points up. However in the 19th century an influential writer called Elphis Levi, elaborating on earlier claims, called the reversed pentagram evil, and said it would attract sinister forces because it demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit. The Pagans plight today to be accepted in society as a founding religion, bearer of divine wisdom and arcane knowledge, is continually brought down by the media. Negative connotations are reinforced by satanic cults and other who use the pentacle two points up as their emblem. They are not Pagans, yet they are all tarred with the same brush. In some magickal systems, such as the Gardnerian, the pentacle two points up is given to a second degree initiate. However many have since substituted this with a triangle, is this because of the stigma?
It is said that during the inquisitions Christians accused the Knights Templar of worshiping Baphomet; an image linked to the pentacle, but some disagree and dismiss it as a fanciful notion. Most Pagans are acquainted with the famous depiction of Baphomet by Elphas Levi. This image supposedly became a Sigel of the Masons; though it was anti – masons and Christians wishing to demonise it which tied Baphomet to the fraternity.  Some say that Baphomet is an imagined Pagan deity, with links to the Ancient Egyptian ram God. In Medieval times other horned Gods such as Pan were equated with the Christian devil, and the use of the pentagram became evil. The inverted pentagram is considered a sign of black magick, and even some modern day Pagans see it as such. The pentacle is many things to many people; it is utilized by different belief systems and is arguably the most powerful symbol of protection a Pagan can have. Many times it has been bought because it looks “cool”, and is worn simply as an ornament. Sold everywhere from Pagan and New Age shops to market stalls, it is a common symbol everyone knows. It would be hopeful to presume it is known for the right reasons, rather than being condemned by the uneducated.
Beth Champion

The empowerment of objects

Objects of power have been used in many ancient Pagan cultures and are still used within religious and ceremonial practices today, for instance: the pentacle, Thor’s hammer or the cross. Also images of power are regularly used and evoke feelings of love, protection or fear, such as: Cernunnos, the Virgin Mary, or the Devil (in a Christian’s case).  People have kept objects such as, charms for good luck, amulets to gain something and talismans to ward something for millennia. These objects are not merely representations of the powers they believe in, but they are physical tools which they keep on their person because they hold divine power which will help them in some way. Everyone has an object which is their prize possession, a special thing or image which has the power to comfort them or protect them.  It has this power because they believe it does, and this is where the manifestation of an objects empowerment begins. Many people who are not sensitive, spiritual or involved with the New Age movement will not appreciate the thinking that an object has its own spirit – They see the material as dead matter. Within the animistic tradition however, all objects are seen as alive and having a spirit.  Once an idea is born, the thought seed has already been planted within the cosmic energy and the intention is realised.
All things have energy and a potential. When choosing an object to empower, you should think of its intended use and the purpose of its creation. It should conjure potent emotions within you and have strong connections and associations with its corresponding use – think of its symbolism.  Many shamanic fetishes are formed in this way, they serve as a connection or link between nature and spirit and its custodian.  Once an object has been found or created, it is not yet empowered; it must be awakened and activated. Although some objects transformation from a state of sleep to an awakened and empowered one can simply come from it being used repeatedly over a long period of time, despite its symbology or correspondence being weak, and it not becoming cognized in a ceremonial way.  One metaphorical description is that: a musical instrument is not activated until a person uses their energy to help create the sound. However we must not forget that, of course; it is possible to be given an empowered object when journeying. This object does not have a physical body but is just as powerful all the same. It is also possible to find an object when journeying which one may wish to empower. Wherever you seek out your object, a relationship must be established with it; it must speak to you and you must be prepared to commune with it regularly. The moment one strikes a relationship with the object is the beginning of its consecration. (A Pagan or witch may empower any ceremonial object using the steps described in this writing).
Your own belief imbues an object with energy, however an object/s particularly of a natural or untainted substance will resonate a certain energy anyway. Putting more than one substance together will change the frequency it resonates as a whole.  Once an object has been chosen the next step is to perform an activation ceremony. This is sometimes done by a chant or prayer being said over it and asking the Gods to bless it. Whilst your energy flows into it, your mind is firmly focused on thinking of its intended purpose and its reason of existence. This is sometimes seen as drawing the spirit into the object, the material substance acting as a body for the newly formed spirit to possess. This “new spirit” must be fed with your own energy so that it can stay alive and empowered. It is important to interact with it or use it regularly as this will reaffirm its purpose – You and this material body are its anchor to this plane. It exists in a space between this world and the astral, or within the essence of nature; depending on your belief system and why it was created. After time you will become aware of its voice and intelligence. It has become a scared object and a doorway or tool to reach the spirit worlds. Pagans and witches will know that there are some objects which can make you feel ill and must be avoided. The care of your own empowered object must be of priority as it is such a part of you and a sacred tool.
Good luck with finding your object and empowering it – try looking in some Pagan shops, new age shops, on the beach, in the forest, or wherever you are drawn to.  
Beth Champion

Defining New Age art

Within the New Age and Pagan communities spiritual or psychic art seems to be prevalent on websites, in magazines, and at shows which surround the culture. Psychic art and spiritual art appear to be quite different things after some detailed look into its creation, and this becomes obvious by their differing visual presentations. Psychic art seems to take many different forms, a few being: spirit guide portraits, interpretations of auric energy, drawings of future events, drawings of spirit, drawings of mythological beings, worshipped figures, and other worlds. This type of art work is done through different methods; some use their “spirit guides” to overshadow them and produce the art work; this may be considered mediumistic automatism. Psychic art is often of realistic style of a specific person, creature, place or energy; although it can seem haphazard because it is an interpretation of said subjects. Whereas spiritual art can be of a subject matter not confined to any boundaries. As such this type of art work emerges in more of a surrealistic or abstract nature. It is affected by higher consciousness energy rather than a direct communication or overshadowing. Psychic and spiritual art differs to any other because it not composed by study, and it is not a skill which is learnt. Much supposed psychic art is an artwork which hasn’t been channelled; it is only a creative piece of New Age themed work. True psychic art can be verified by the person it was drawn for because of its content and its personal meaning; it will not have been influenced by the artist’s eye and is not a copy. It should be done by someone with renowned sixth sense ability – Don’t be taken in by an artist who is one of con. Much of this supposed psychic or spiritual art can all look quite the same, full of seraphic and Olympian entities, or supernatural beings like fairies, elves, unicorns, dragons and mermaids, or be of another New Age and Pagan connotation.
It’s easy to create your own spiritual artworks; there are many techniques to use to help connect to the collective consciousness or supreme energy. It is important to focus on a link to the divine and then channel that energy through the mind, which is then carried to the hands (the conduit) and onto the canvas. Spiritual art does not have to be of a religious icon or angelic figure; it has to come from the source of all things and is a reflection of that power. It should emanate an essence and tender a higher vibration. The first step to creating a true piece of work is to stimulate your mind and the senses with music – particularly that of Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, chants, ancient compositions, or the sounds of nature; because this is inspiring and exciting yet relaxes the body. Hold crystals and repeat positive affirmations to access the correct path; a deep and positive attitude is key. Some people prefer to meditate before creating a piece of work. Once the third eye is open then visions can ensue and psychic abilities can take over. This work is produced by a different and more specific source (like a spirit person, guide, or other divine being). However if this doesn’t happen it is still possible to continue channelling the tapped energy of the eternal and transcendental. It is the energy which we are all made from, what the natural world is comprised of; ethereal, invisible, untouchable and hallowed life essence. If you’re Pagan it may be a good idea to ask a deity associated with art to help you feel a connection with celestial energy. Some paintings are done for specific reasons and these should be stated and kept in mind as the painting is being done.
Some would say psychic and spiritual art is one and the same because it all comes from the same place and others would disagree and categorize it. It is important to note that you do not have to be an artist to try this. However there are many visionary artists who were accomplished artists before they started to paint the visions they were seemingly bestowed with; look at the works by William Blake. Visionary art is also considered by some people to be another different f type of art separate to that of psychic and spiritual. Whatever you’re thinking on this matter; the energy must be allowed to flow through the body, and the objective mind must be still and none inhibiting. Your safety should also be considered because some acknowledge this activity as a form of mediumship, which is true when being overshadowed by a spirit. It may be prudent to protect one’s self with white light beforehand. Pens, pencils, paints, pastels, graphite and charcoal, along with a canvas or sketch book should be available to take up when the moment strikes. Don’t think about what you’re doing or plan ahead, let the tool in your hand mark the paper and let the energy guide your hand. It is even possible to close your eyes if you wish and see what you have achieved later. Just remember one rule: let the piece take its course without too much interference from the analytical mind. Who knows…? You may be the next New Age visionary… or accredited psychic artist! 
Beth Champion
 

Grow your own First aid kit

All witches will have a herb garden, or at the very least a few containers in the kitchen, or window boxes. Herbs grow quickly, almost anywhere, and in difficult conditions, when other plants may perish. Although there are some more delicate herbs which will need more shelter, drainage, sun or attention than others. Most Pagans or New Agers will use herbs everyday when cooking, in potions, dry in charm bags or other spells. Aside from this have you thought of growing your own first aid kit? Many will have but weren’t sure what plants to select. Starting from the top, you will need something for; headaches, colds, toothache, coughs, burns, stings, rashes, bites, cuts and grazes, other wounds,  sprains, stomach ache, menstrual pain, stress and insomnia. This is obviously a short list of possible problems which can occur from time to time. If these problems became worsened or affected one on a daily basis one would usually see a health professional. However as long as one is on no medication which has contraindications to the herb one wished to use, or was only taking their own herbal remedy when absolutely necessary, there is no reason why one should not create their own herbal first aid kit.  Apart from this, a garden full of herbs is rather beautiful, and it’s joyful to know all their qualities and properties and how to make use of them. A patch test should always be conducted and quantities should always be properly measured and prepared (too much of a good thing is a bad thing) and nothing should be taken or topically used when pregnant.

It’s relatively easy to find out how to make a preparation from the herbs selected to grow in your garden or container. All the list of ingredients, tools, and directions can be found in good books or on the internet, but be careful if you are getting the information for the internet. Many witches and Pagans will know that much information on herbs and their uses can be taken from Culpeper’s Complete Herbal; although this does not give specific directions as to their preparations.  When creating your own balm, salve, ointment, tincture or infusion/tea; why not try to make a all natural moisturizer, blemish cream or toner.  Don’t be put off by the effort because it’s worth it in the end and it’s simpler than you might think.  It’s easy to buy an herbal tea to drink but it’s so rewarding to create your own.  Any Wise Woman and Cunning Man will know how powerful herbs are. They should be treated with respect and revered for their medicinal and magical properties. The modern Pagan or New Ager will be sad that some of this knowledge was lost or overlooked with the advance of manmade medicines. The use of herbal medicine and its roots within history and in different cultures must be acknowledged, and the discoveries revered. Natural remedies are ever growing in popularity now that people are aware of the effectiveness of the medicinal values, whilst still being kind to the body; also the culture and principals of the New Age movement are actively involved within this topic. There are many large companies and smaller independent stores which sell herbal remedies, however it is often the case that one does not know if it has been organically farmed, and  the plant will most certainly not of been asked before being picked.  Many Pagans and New Agers will shop in these places regularly; however it is still important to find out how they have been produced and where they are produced.

Herbs which ease the pain of headaches are: Feverfew and Lemon balm. The Feverfew has beautiful daisy-like flowers; however its bitter scent drives away bees.  Lemon Balm attracts bees and lifts ones spirits. Herbs which help fight a cold: Echinacea and Thyme seem to be the most widely recommended. Echinacea will help prevent a cold by boosting the immune system and Thyme is antiseptic and antimicrobial.  Herbs to help burns: Comfrey and Aloe Vera. Comfrey is meant to be good when applied topically for many skin complaints and is commonly known as “knit bone”.  Aloe Vera has too many uses to list! It’s an interesting looking plant to have too. Herbs to help stings and bites: Calendula. Herbs for rashes: Chickweed and Lavender (although Lavender lots of uses, some being listed above). Herbs good for stomach ache: Peppermint and Camomile. Herbs good for menstrual pain and PMS: Raspberry leaf and Evening Primrose.  This list is of course not exhausted but these plants would make very useful additions to a home grown first aid kit, are well known and easily found at the nearest nursery.  Another good reason to grow your own first aid kit is to help you understand that science and nature and spirituality should be as one. Modern day chemists don’t work in this way and the chemicals we put into our body are dead and the energies of the active ingredients fight with our bodies rather than work with it.  When we take in a chemical from a plant we are taking in a part of that plants spirit, its qualities combine with our own and enhance our own. Besides anything else, this humble plant has been nourished by The Great Mother and its alchemical changes sparked by The Father, these its parents, who gift it to humanity so we can heal ourselves.

Always remember when harvesting to ask the plant first and then thank it. This makes the plants spirit aware of what you are about to do.  Other plants to consider having in your garden for their usefulness are: The Olive Tree, Flax, Fennel, Coltsfoot, Garlic, Lemon tree, basil,  Clove, Dill, Onion, Parsley, Willow, Hawthorn, Sage, Angelica, Borage, Dandelion, Coriander. All these herbs were worth a mention, although almost everything in the garden can be used for the good of something.

Disclaimer: Never should you stop taking prescribed medication unless advised to do so by a certified GP. Always seek a doctor’s professional advice before beginning to take any herbal remedies. No responsibility is taken if you should decide to use this information unwisely. These statements have not been evaluated by a governmental agency.  The information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

copyright – Magic Spirit

Earth is our own body

When you need someone because you are panicked, scared, anxious, depressed and alone and there’s no one there, know that you can be there for yourself. There are several ways in which you can help yourself to heal yourself. Be your own friend, be your own mother, love and nurture yourself. In today’s society we are taught that to love one’s self is to be arrogant, selfish and cock sure. This is simply not true, you must put yourself first, be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself, give yourself praise, give yourself the advice you would give others, and forgive yourself. A well balanced body means a balanced mind; so take time to eat nutritious foods, get eight hours sleep, stretch your muscles, take regular walks in a park, avoid stress and confrontation, drink lots of water, treat yourself from time to time and occasionally discipline yourself – Stop believing that the world is out to get you and accept the love that people show you. Listen to your dreams; your subconscious mind is trying to work out your problems. The brain is like a computer; it sometimes makes faulty connections and needs direction. To heal yourself, you must change your behaviour and recondition yourself. Repetition is the only way. Affirmations and chants, meditations and a well rested body are key.

You can heal yourself through release. Cry, open your heart to others and share your story. Speaking the words instead of holding them back could unblock the passage, un-do the knot and free your voice. Don’t forget to breath; many of us have bad breathing hygiene, you must learn to breathe again. Stress makes us catch our breath in our throats, our chest tightens and the breath quickens. We access our sympathetic nervous system and fight or flight instincts kick in. Work with your breath, know that you are in no immediate danger, feel your body grow as the air expands your lungs and then push your abdomen in and up as you exhale.  You are surrounded by this unseen gas which oxygenates your blood; let it enter your body freely, without restriction. Watch your breath and direct this energized blood to the area of disease or unbalance. Rest your right hand on this area and feel the heat of the healing energy. Your heart will slow and become stronger over time with the breath controlled. Heal yourself with the breath, work with Prana and Chi.

There are many people who grow up without a mother or without the mother they needed. These people have to learn to be independent and take care of themselves. The situation is not fair, but it’s possible to be a wonderful presence for yourself – your own guardian angel. Trust yourself and aspire to be like no one else, and only work towards being your own ideals. Sometimes we all need to talk to the child within ourselves and treat it with compassion and respect. Always remember you are worthy of your own love and that of others. The more you heal yourself, the more capable you become at helping others. At no point must you let another person’s negativity into your body and mind; it will decay your soul and rip apart your own good work. Put your barriers up; like a shield it will protect you and deflect the insecurity and condition which they throw at you – right back at them. Self healing is a concept not unfamiliar to Pagan’s and those who follow the New Age movement. Mother yourself but also know that The Great Mother herself is always there for you, under your feet. Selene: the moon shall always be watching over you when you sleep. Ra: the sun is always shining on you and keeping you warm. It doesn’t matter how alone you feel or where you are in the world, this will always be true.

Mother Earth and humanity are meant to serve each other. We and She are one. If we can heal ourselves; we can heal the Earth. We separate ourselves from Her and “the wild” when we really need to be close to Her, communicate with Her and honour the collective subconscious.  On a spiritual dimension the Earth is a Goddess. Many Pagans choose to call Her Gaia, yet in the bubble of reality which we create for ourselves She is only a planet (one which we are destroying.)  The people of the New Age movement are trying to assist with Her healing. But we must spread the word! Heal yourselves to heal the world – awaken from the dormancy of death.  There are many energy and light workers who believe that by harnessing the collective energy of the human mind, and directing the same intention and will towards the Earth could heal Her.  There is much talk of Geopathic stress and the release of this. Some feel this may be possible by using acupuncture on the Earth along the meridians. This medicine may work in the same way and have the same effect as it does on human beings. This theory illustrates our planet being a macrocosm of our body which is the microcosm to that.

Mindfullness – A Pagans way to stresless thinking

A way of living which has been brought from Buddhism and westernised, is the practice of mindfulness. It is a mindset which has been incorporated with other techniques that the New Age culture has. It can be used in conjunction with meditation, Yoga and Tai Chi. It’s said to be beneficial to people who suffer with depression, anxiety, hyper activity, self esteem issues, stress related illnesses, pain and even dietary issues can be addressed using mindful eating. When “life happens”- this new way of thought processing can bring satisfaction through acceptance, a new way of dealing with problems and a new way of seeing the world around you. This new enlightened state comes from the abandonment of your perception of reality and the illusions which are created by it. It is about establishing awareness of bodily functions but also of mental processes and taking control of reactions to these. It is important to recognise one’s abilities and the boundaries of those said mental and physical capacities, because life is easier when you know these – A developed intuition helps a person to feel subtle changes in the body.
In the modern day world delusions are created by outside influences such by the media such as certain iconology. It is not for anyone to tell you how to behave or dictate to you how to live. Many people in the Pagan community look to the past, such as the Renaissance, to find a more harmonistic way of living. Just as many people within the New Age culture seek a way to shut out this noisy urban environment. To create a state of pure mindfulness these influences which have a hold on the brain must be stripped down and anything that is un-useful cut away. Anything which triggers negative thoughts will create an emotion and then a reaction to that which may be physical or verbal. These responses are normal and natural but can spiral out of control. This reaction is controlled by the primitive part of the brain and can be counter acted by the use of mindfulness and the distraction of breath. By staying in a present state, using concentration and focus we can watch the breath, shutting all else out. The aim of the exercise is not to control the breath or judge it but to calmly observe it. This technique takes much practice to stop the mind from wondering.
This state of being helps people to cope with daily life but also traumatic experiences, and it is said to help faster recovery from such events. It is more than living moment by moment and it is not simply something to be practiced once in a while but it is a way of life. To be mindful is to poses an understanding of events which occur, and as soon as they arrive are processed immediately in a non-judgemental way leading to clarity. In this way thoughts are not left to grow in size and emotions are not left to stagnate. It is important to be able to identify with thoughts rather than react negatively or push them away.  Grant yourself the freedom and right of control of your reactions. The New Age culture is not all hippy-dippy, it takes much of the good from the religions, beliefs and scientific fact which it is built on. Logical reasoning and rational thinking are properties which are a part of mindfulness and help to keep us grounded and in touch with reality, thus we are in touch with nature and the world around us, which is a goal that is sort after within the Pagan Religion.
Mindfulness is a state of awareness; the reason for every conscious and committed action is brought by a sensation or impulse. Some impulses should be restricted, just as something which causes unwanted sensations should be removed and other left “to be”. As soon as mindfulness is practiced self destructive tendencies are broken, concentration and memory improve and life is slowed down. It would be good to start with listening to your body, good thought processing and management of emotions. To be mindful is to be in touch with your core being and to learn to let go of that which is a burden like an old memory, full of trapped emotions like hurt or anger which are no use to you. To learn from the experience is good but to keep reliving it is bad. Release of emotional hang ups are important so that the brain does not have a build up of problems to solve. Detaching yourself and viewing things objectively is difficult but can help when approaching subjects connected with upsetting memories which need to be released. It can help to put things in perspective and permits exploration of self compassion rather than indulgent self pity.
Children are very good at being aware and observant and live very much in the present, and although their minds are always calculating they’re not reaching into the future. Acceptance of the present state can be very difficult, and this is why practicing retention of focus on an object is important, because this ensures that when life is stressful or when physical pain is felt; all can be shut out, in effect helping to eliminate the present mental or physical hurt.  One key feature in the practice is to notice one object and focusing on describing its shape, texture, size, colour and experiencing the sensations it gives you, whilst not letting the mind wonder. There are several techniques which could help one to practice mindfulness, helping to create a loving, trusting relationship with yourself but also to feel stillness whenever you need it, and one usually only found when meditating, at the top of a mountain, within a stone circle, with only the wind and the hills for company. To feel in control when placed in any situation thrown at you makes you a very powerful being and is the start to finding inner peace.  
Mindfulness fits in well with the Pagan religion and it is something which could be practiced with a meditation circle. It could help with boosting your personal energy and thus your magical output would be greater. The concentration level developed would help to better funnel energy needed for any magic workings needing focus. The time devoted to the calming of the mind would be beneficial to the openness needed to converse with spirit guides or conduct Mediumship. Living in the present would help to increase your empathy towards others when healing or counselling, without taking on others negative emotions. Mindfulness is more about acceptance than control, evaluation than judgement and observation rather than analytical thinking. The higher self is activated by the body and mind being connected – communicating with each other. When this is being achieved, the lower self or ego no longer has to be satisfied by menial tasks, which were once thought mandatory. The New Age way of life already comprises many of the features of mindfulness, and the two are easily combined to greater improvement of quality of life.

The Triple Goddess in today’s world

The Maiden, Mother and Crone mirror the generational differences within most people’s families and maybe their group of friends or coven. This Pagan triad each posses very different knowledge and working with either one of these powerful figures could help you to better understand the relationships you have with the people around you. Working with them whilst with your sister, mother, grandmother or equivalent could help to mend the relationships you have with these people, and bring you closer together.  As a woman, this pre Christian trinity (arguably a triplet Goddess) are important because they’re cycle of appearance describes the three main phases in a woman’s life, although this can be translated to certain times of anyone’s life (woman or man); when you are care free as a child (Maiden), when you take care of someone (Mother) and when you become old or go through a life experience and gain wisdom (Crone). Through this; we can explore the symbolism between perceptions of The Maiden, Mother and Crone of the New Age culture, and the modern woman.

In modern day Wicca and in a lot of religious pantheon’s and paths within Paganism The Maiden is described as a virginal, pubescent girl who is innocent and wholesome. She is also described as an enchantress who flaunts her beauty and youthful, developing body, though pure of heart. She is a muse and poetry in motion for The God and men on Earth. She is associated with the waxing moon (sometimes the new moon), the element air, new beginnings, learning, spring time, and blossoms. Her symmetry calls to the younger generation of our families. Young women may be innocent, naive, sometimes uncaring and unthinking; they do not yet understand how the world works and live in ignorant bliss. Their beauty might get them into trouble; they do not understand that actions have consequences. They can be flirtatious, selfish, erratic, fickle, hedonistic, moody and dramatic, insecure, pensive and confused, yet full of hope and playful fun.  There are brighter qualities to the face of The Maiden and ones which mirror within the girls whom can relate to her; She can be seen as independent and strong, wild, brave, perceptive, sentimental, loving, sensitive, questioning, genuine, righteous and just. She is motivating because Her energy exudes excitement, her eyes clear of worry. Society may take these young girls for granted and shun them and their lack of experience. However lack of conditioning leads them to be able to call upon an intuitive sort of wisdom, and an ability to tell the truth, bluntly and honestly. Both human and The Maiden are creative, dynamic and free of responsibility.  

The Mother is a woman who is loving and devout to her husband and child. She appears as a radiant being, bosom overflowing, with a full pregnant belly; or as a naked full-figured beauty. She is peaceful, soothing, nurturing, supportive, encouraging, gentle, protective and passionate. Yet She is vulnerable in Her pregnant state and knows that life is fleeting and precious.  She’s instinctive and the bonds She has with her child are unparalleled.  She is a manifestation of the peak of guiltless sexual pleasure and the bringer of divine ecstasy. She is conscious of her sexual power and knows how to manipulate the minds of men.  Cleansing and healing; She comforts her children like only a mother can. This love transcends all and is an untapped power at the centre of our being. The cup of plenty overflows with Her love and cascades down on to us and the Earth is filled with fruitful bounty. Within Paganism, Wicca and magick She is associated with the full moon, the element water, blood, fertility, creation, abundance, growth femininity and beauty. She can appear strong though underneath the exterior lays a fragility. Both The Mother and human keep the hearth of the home warm whilst closely watching their children. The Mother can be seen as a warrior; focused, knows what she wants, balanced and fast, patient, accepting, serious, strong, guiding, hard working and a good leader. She has a darker side to her when she can be possessive, provoking, jealous, emotional, and eruptive.  The Great Mother is a mirror image of the mother who brings us up.
The crone is the most misunderstood character in Pagan mythology and indeed Wicca, Neo-Paganism and the New Age culture may describe. She is often perceived as old, dark, cruel, and dangerous; and what the definition of the word is: hag. She is associated with the waning moon, the hardships of winter, death or changes, the element of Earth, chaos, spell weaving, midwives, cutting the strings, rebirth. She is The Queen of the Night, Guardian of The Underworld, protectress, shepardess and keeper of the old ways. The human as a crone has the ability to draw knowledge from the many years of the past, but also has many years worth of experiences to come – No longer tied down by children or distracted by the mundane things in life, this is a time of contemplation, sophistication and refinement. The grandmother stereotype is one which many feel offended by: white haired, forgetful, tired; these people do not want to feel old, even if they don’t mind laughter lines and grey hair, but they want to be respected for what they have achieved in their life, and not judged by their conformation. Others may even be perceived as formidable, dried up, old tyrants, who gossip and don’t ever seem to of known love. Though old age presents many problems, it presents opportunities too. It’s important to become conscious of looking after yourself in the present to benefit in the future by feeding the mind, body and soul with good things. Bad backs, creaky joints and a slowing down of the body can affect self esteem; nature makes you want to fight it, though you need to rest. The Crone is still a symbol of femininity and sexuality, though many younger do not wish to take this view because the aged body reminds them of their own mortality. To be a crone means that you have gained much knowledge and you have had many life experiences.  You are not an invisible energy within society but a powerful force whose valuable wisdom is wanted and needed. The process can bring peace and clarity or can fill you with bitterness and discord for the sacrifices made and opportunities missed. Accepting The Croning time can empower you and bring contentment, helping you find the child within, stoking the fire in the belly, renewing the spirit.

All the qualities considered in the descriptions above can be challenged because circumstances can change these three phases in life to cause them to overlap, and personality, where your born and what people surround you all play a part in a person’s development – Just like a single Goddess can take on all three aspects at once. Some males may be able to relate to some of the three phases because The God goes through similar transitions: The God as a young buck, The God as a father and The God as a Sage. We should be forgiving and understanding of the trinity’s darker traits and revel in the new knowledge and outlook on life each turning of the wheel brings.

Joining a Witches Coven

The pro’s, con’s and possible dangers of joining a coven and other organizations set up by witches for prospective Pagan or New Age members can be difficult to evaluate when you have no idea what to expect; even if you do, there is no guarantee that it will be like what someone told you it would be. There are questions you need to ask yourself before entering a world structured by others whom give you rules to follow and whom will direct you. However you must never surrender your will or feel indoctrinated. You must be able to leave whenever you want if need be and be welcomed back with open arms.
If you decide that you have found a coven of witches that you have a connection with, you must not be late for meetings and always turn up for festivals and other dates discussed; unless there is a very good reason – certain etiquette and rules should be remembered. Time and commitment are important factors to take in to account when considering joining a coven. Joining a coven should be like joining a team because you will be weaving magick together and working together on projects. There will be revelry and fun but also serious and sombre times enjoyed together through celebration and work. Although coven structure greatly varies depending on what pantheon, if any, they follow.

You should expect to find like-minded people and enjoy a family energy. There should be a High Priest and Priestess (or the equivalent) who will gently guide you every step of the way down your own magickal path. There will be a constant progress of work developing that is written in the form of your own personal book of shadows and coven book of shadows. You should be constantly learning new things and remembering things you have already learnt when using your knowledge practically and putting your skills to the test. Some covens teach by the degree system, particularly in traditional Wicca, although other eclectic pagan covens may follow their own system. Following this system the covener is awarded one of three degrees over three to several years.

There will also usually be an initiation which will vary, when and how they are conducted depending on the coven. There may be other initiations at different levels, they should all involve a reading or rite and certainly nothing you would not already be aware of or unhappy with. Now a new initiate, your coven leaders will expect you to practice and study the craft and meditate much. You should always feel valued as a coven member and get a fulfilled feeling from helping other members by sharing your knowledge or experiences. You must feel that you are spiritually advancing by always honouring the God and the Goddess. You may be asked to invest in robes, books and tools – these can be purchased at your favourite online Pagan shop or your nearest New Age market stall.

All covens, circles and organizations are uniquely different and will possess positive and negative traits. The bottom line is: trust your instincts. Don’t ever sign a contract which you haven’t fully read, hand over any money (unless everyone gives a regular donation, agreed by all members), meet them for the first time at their house, smoke, drink or eat anything handed to you without knowing what’s in it (although paranoia should not be incited), think that you or the group are under attack from “enemies”, feel pressured to perform rites skyclad, or pressured into sexual favours. Although this is uncommon, it has been known for New Agers and naive Pagans to wonder blindly into the hands of a wicked group of people.

A good and balanced group of people to be in a coven with will consist of males and female who are knowledgeable, grounded, humorous, friendly, warm, spiritually aware, open and honest.  Good teachers will have been pagans for some time and be experienced in the art of witchcraft. They will be upfront and tell you what the coven expects of its members and ask what you wish to gain from entering. Lastly, a coven should help to shape you but never seek to bend you to their way of thinking if you do not agree or wish to participate in something (it’s ok to disagree with them from time to time), there’s a lot of semantics after all.

Walking the greener pagan path

Many people are tuning back towards paganism for answers to questions about the future. Paganism is a religion that helped people make sense of the world those many thousands of years ago, and it is still helping people today.  To be pagan it is to understand how our planet functions, to live in harmony with the earth and not destroy it – A Pagan must be an eco warrior!  It is your duty to learn ways in which you can work with the earth using the resources the Great Mother and Father have provided, without leaving a mark that is a forever and permanent stain.  

There are numerous ways in which you can do this: recycle and use recycled products, use household cleaning products which contain no harmful substances (make your own using, white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice), buy hybrid solar lamps/torches, solar chargers, invest in a energy calculator to find out electricity usage for each appliance, hang clothes to dry outside instead of using a tumble dryer, don’t forget to switch the lights off when you leave a room, get a warm drink and a blanket when your cold instead of turning the thermostat up, check out green buying guides before spending your cash on your next laptop, refrigerator or TV.

There are truly many ways in which you can help the cause, especially if you think outside the box. Next time it comes around to buying new flooring; think about buying all natural carpet or cork. In the garden you can help by using a compost bin, rain water collector, planting your own herbs, vegetables, fruit trees and don’t forget to companion plant and never use harmful pesticides. Cover the vegetables with pots or netting to keep the birds off them, in the winter cover them with fleece. You could try smearing Vaseline around the tops of the container planted greens, or even welcome some lovely hens or ducks in to the fray to keep the slugs away. When it’s time to pick your herbs don’t forget to use the Bolline (white handled knife) if they’re to be used in any magical workings. For new comers – you can pick one of these up at your favourite online Pagan or New Age shop.

Don’t forget about the birds and the bees; its relatively easy to make your garden appeal to wild birds, simply put out some bird seed, meal worms, fat-balls, peanuts, and make fresh water and nest boxes available. Especially consider the poor little Sparrow whose feed can be tailored towards his needs. Try growing honey suckle and other climbing plants as these attract insects. Bees are attracted by the colour blue; it would be wise to think about planting things which flower throughout the spring and summer months (including the June gap), and as far into autumn as possible so that they have pollen rich flowers to visit throughout.  Borage, mint, Lavender and Vipers Bugloss, and plants with deep or bell-shaped flowers are all especially good for bees.

If you had a bit more money to spend you could adapt your house to become eco friendly.
There are many gadgets and ever developing technology to help cut down bills, but more importantly to help us become a more self sufficient people. We are becoming more independent and free from government rule. It is important to celebrate science working with nature; everyone must see how Paganism has moved with the ages and changed very little. Its teachings will always be current and relevant as long as the Earth lives.

Through Pagan Eyes

Paganism is a nature worshiping religion – someone who is Pagan, or who is involved in the new age movement will have an automatic appreciation of it. Others, who have interests in the natural world, will also be able to appreciate these surroundings.  However not everyone, including pagans, will engage with nature as often as they could. Many people appreciate it from a far. Rarely do people use their sense of touch. Many studies have been done to help prove that rubbing a stone, or other natural objects, a few times everyday can decrease stress levels and increase focus and efficiency.  Put simply: a sensory neuron is triggered by the stimulus; the message is then processed by the brain, which then tells the body how to respond.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a witch or pagan can help people to better engage with their natural environment. When walking in a wooded area it would be a good idea to take the time to feel (in the literal sense) the world around you. Close your eyes and touch the gnarled, ridged surface of a tree, or feel the rugged formations of any rocks you come across. Aim to feel the texture of something like the woody prongs of a pine cone or the silky softness of a feather. Even sat in your own garden you can feel the spiky shoots of cut grass or springy sponge-like moss. Becoming more tactile with the natural objects which Mother Earth grows upon her body, can only lead to good things. Don’t be afraid to touch!

Whilst you are out and about being all touchy feely with a tree or doing your daily job (if you work out doors) begin to collect a few things to place in jars or to decorate your alter. You might find: snail shells, feathers, leafs, bark, stones, twigs, wool, flowers to dry (ask the plant first), seeds or pods, horse hair, muscle shells, sea shells and many other things besides. If you’re lucky you may come across other things such as horn and bone. Everything you pick up will have a symbolic meaning attached to it and a possible use within your magical workings or pagan rituals.  Each season will deposit different things upon the land which are waiting for you to find.

Walking bare foot in the garden or wood may not be something you do every day but try to do it as often as you can. Remember last time you visited a beach and feeling the pebbles: hot, warmed by the sun and under your feet, or the squishy wet sand between your toes.  Remember the sensation of your foot being tickled whilst being run over grass in a park, garden or field. The earth is soothing and cleansing, healing and strengthening. It is a grounding experience to walk barefooted over the earth’s soil, and some studies show that it can have certain health benefits. As you walk barefoot visualise the earth’s energy coming up through your feet in to your body. Get muddy, get messy and don’t worry about how you look. Get tactile and engage with the Great Mother.

Blessed Be

Magic Spirit

 

copyright – Magic Spirit 2011 – Do not copy  – Protected By Copyscape