Sunday, October 26, 2008
Moonstone is considered a sacred link to the Moon in many cultures. In ancient India, people thought that the stone grew under the rays of the Moon and absorbed its mystical qualities, while a curious Sri Lankan belief recounted that every 37 years waves influenced by the Moon hurled opalescent moonstones onto the seashores.
Many qualities are attributed to this crystal in connection with the Moon. It is thought to protect those traveling by moonlight and is sometimes known as the Traveler's Stone. Moonstone was used in the Middle Ages to treat consumption (on a waxing moon), for divination (on a waning Moon), and to reconcile lovers (on a full Moon). The Romans also believed that the stone had the power to endow love, wealth and wisdom.
Moonstone in the Mouth
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that placing a moonstone in your mouth improved your memory. The stone was rinsed in water and placed on the tongue. You would then think about your affairs, while the stone fixed important issues in your mind and let more trivial problems slip away.
This is similar to the Indian belief that placing a moonstone in the mouth during a full Moon would enable lovers to divine their future together.
Another old legend says that if a person is unsure about a situation he should hold a moonstone in his mouth and concentrate on the matter. If attempted during a waning Moon, a solution will come to him.
The benefits of moonstone are many fold: use its powers to divine the future, strengthen you psychic abilities and relieve the discomfort of water retention.
Moonraking is an old technique used in magic to charge water for scrying or spells. Under a full Moon, a silver or crystal bowl is half filled with dew or spring water. A moonstone is then placed in the water.
Charge the Water
Using hand gestures, imagine you are "raking" the rays of the full Moon into the water in the bowl. Visualize silvery light filling and charging the water. The "moonwater" may then be used for scrying, cleansing your crystals or casting lunar spells.
Use moonstone to help develop your psychic abilities. During meditation or attempts at astral projection, place a moonstone over your third eye Chakra. This will enhance the energies of your mind and sharpen your focus. It is best to practice this exercise with the Moon's light shining on you.
Imagine the moonstone acts as a lens, focusing the Moon's rays into your mind to enhance your intuition and psychic abilities.
Moonstone is associated with the growth of plants through its connection with the Moon. It is a good stone to use to help your garden bloom.
* To boost plants and trees that refuse to grow, place a moonstone at teh base of the stem or hang it from the branches. The crystal will draw the energy of the Moon to encourage growth.
* You can also water plants with the 'moonraked' water to promote growth.
Easing Water Retention
With its lunar connections, moonstone is a good crystal to use for relieving the discomfort of water retention.
* Carry a moonstone in your hip pocket or attach it to a hip chain. This will allow the crystal's lunar influence to easily reach the stomach area and help encourage the body to release excessive water stored there.
* During the waning phase of the Moon, take a moonstone and place it on a windowsill. The Moon's rays will recharge the moonstone and attune its energies to the receding tides.
Monday, October 6, 2008
The Ivy Moon coincides with the end of the harvest season when successes and losses must be accounted for. In ancient times, intoxicating ale was brewed from ivy and was used to induce visions of the battlefield.
The plant teaches us that restrictions are necessary to help us hone our skills. During this month remember that your enemies are your teachers and that opposition is a blessing in disguise. Focus on magic that strengthens your resolve.
Prepare for the Future
Spells that boost your sense of responsibility will make you ready for what lies ahead. Be prepared to take the long-term view and accept and celebrate your life as it is right now. Trust that the Ivy Moon will prepare you to receive an answer to your prayers at exactly the right time.
The Ritual of the "Ivy Girl"
Ivy grows in a spiral formation reminding us that each cycle of the seasons brings us closer to the center, to the spirit. The last harvest sheaf to be cut in the village was once bound with ivy and called the "Ivy girl". This was given to the farmer whose harvest was last, as a reminder of his responsibility to the spirits of the land.
Ivy is ruled by the planet Saturn and is often linked with horned gods such as Pan and Dionysus, and as such, is a plant of protection, sexuality, property and faith. Ivy was also believed to protect from alcoholic intoxication. For this reason, intertwined vines of grape and ivy, representing balance, were depicted in ancient images of Dionysus.
Ivy Moon Magic
You can use the month of the Ivy Moon for spells and rituals for protection, or harness its energy to make charms that will strengthen resolve and help you face challenges.
House Protection Spell
Utilize the magic of Ivy to protect your home form negative influences.
You will need:
*A black candle
*Lots of ivy stems
1. Light the candle and say, "I call upon the spirits of this place, come in peace."
2. Make a circle of ivy stems on the floor and step into the center.
3. Turn to the east and recite, "Spirits of the Air, protect me."
4. To the south say, "Spirits of Fire, protect me."
5. To the west say, "Spirits of Water, protect me."
6. To the north say, "Spirits of the Earth, protect me."
7. Place the stems that formed your circle at the boundaries of your property.
Women's Ivy Charms
Ivy is a feminine plant and it is particularly lucky for women. Use the following ivy charms all year around to utilize ivy's powerful magical properties.
*Brides who carry or wear ivy will have a long committed and prosperous marriage. Sew an ivy leaf into a small pocket of white linen, and give this to a bride to slip into the hem of her wedding dress for luck.
*To guard against accidents while driving, carefully secure an ivy leaf on your car's dashboard.
*Grow ivy vines around the front door of your house to prevent negativity from entering your home.
Performing this ritual during the Ivy Moon will help you to learn from difficult circumstances and move on. To perform this ritual you will need:
*A piece of paper
*A white candle
*A fireproof dish
1. Write a list of the troubles that you are experiencing
2. Next to each one, write what you have gained from it, for example "It made me stronger".
3. Light the candle saying, "This flame represents my faith in the universe. I give thanks for the lessons I have learned."
4. Burn the paper and feel yourself grow stronger.
Ivy Spell Bags
Use the magic of Ivy to strengthen your willpower.
* Ivy leaves, ginger and echinacea (ek-in-AY-sha) placed in a yellow spell bag will guard against addictive behavior.
* Ivy leaves, chicory, sea salt and sage in a navy blue bag will guard against overspending.
* A charm of ivy leaves, hawthorn leaves, and red chili seeds placed in a white spell bag will help to keep you faithful to your lover.
* Placing ivy leaves, lily petals and lilac flowers in a blue spell bag will prevent you from returning to a destructive relationship.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
What is Mabon?
Mabon is a relatively recent term for the neo-pagan festival celebrated on the Autumn Equinox, generally around September 21. This is the second of the three harvest festivals; a cross-quarter day midway between Lughnasadh (Lammas) and Samhain (Halloween).
In many modern Wiccan traditions, this is considered to be a Lesser Sabbat, along with the Vernal Equinox and the solstices that were the only annual celebrations of the early Recreationist Druids.
This is the Pagan Thanksgiving: a time of reflection, sharing balance, and celebration of the bounty of life. While our modern lives may not revolve around an agricultural way of life, this is one of the eight times each year that we consciously attune ourselves to natural cycles.
Mabon is the time to meditate on the fruits of our own labors as well. What have you sown in this year? Are you reaping healthy and constructive fruits or are you paying the price for not nurturing your seeds, or for attempting to plant them in poor soil? This is the time to begin to consider what we want to change and the gardens we plan to sow in the coming year. This is a time of community and kinship with the land and all creatures. Many modern pagans will volunteer their time at soup kitchens or bless and donated wild animal food as part of their Mabon rites. It is also a time of community with all beings in all worlds. As such, we offer special honor to the dead and our spirit allies during this time.
Myths and Deities
Osiris has been associated with Dionysus (Roman) and Bacchus (Greek). He taught the Egyptian people agriculture and the making of beer and wine, among other things. He is the god of vegetation, who is killed and resurrected by the goddess, in this case his sister and daughter of the earth god, Isis.
Isis, the Great Mother and goddess of magic, beer, life, agriculture, and beauty, she has also been associated with Demeter, for reasons that are obvious after reading the story of Osiris. She has also been identified with Persephone (Greek) and Aphrodite (Roman)
Dumuzi was a vegetation god, ruling over fertility and the Underworld. He was called "the Shepard" and is the patron god of Shepherds and their flocks. Dumuzi is a gate-keeper at the doors of Heaven. His marriage as a human king to Inanna, Queen of Heaven, ensured the fertility of the lands and the people, an association we find in many other cultures. He was chosen to rule over the Underworld for half the year. His time below was during the hot, barren summer and he returned to the earth on the Autumnal Equinox which marked the Sumerian New Year.
Inanna is without question the most important of the Sumerian goddesses. She is the Queen Moon, Queen of the Universe, Mistress of Heaven and Earth. She personified the planet Venus. She presides over love, fertility, grain, the natural world, and war, among a wide variety of other things. Inanna's descent into the Underworld is known throughout literary, psychological, and neo-pagan circles across the world. It is said that the original Dance of the Seven Veils told the story of Inanna's descent, where an article of clothing or jewelry was removed at each of the seven gates, until she arrives completely naked. While Inanna was in the Underworld, all fertility and procreation ceased on Earth. When she returned to life and passed back out through the seven gates, her lover Dumuzi was sent to replace her for half a year to appease her sister Ereshkigal, Goddess of the Underworld. This is similar to the myths of Ishtar/Tammuz (Babylonian)
Freyja presides over love, marriage fertility, and childbirth. She offers protection in battle and peace. She also watches over the dead along with her brother, Freyr. Freyja has been associated with Ishtar and Inanna, not only due to her role as a goddess of both love and war, but because her greatest treasure, the necklace Brisingamen, has been linked to one of the famous pieces of jewelry Inanna had removed at the gates to the Underworld. Brisingamen brings protection and fertility to the world.
Freyr is known as the Harvest God, among his many titles. He rules over the rain and sunshine, which are vital to growth of the land. When Freyr rode his golden boar across the skies, the light penetrated the shade, increasing the bounty of the land. Freyr and Freyja are of the Vanir race of gods, peaceful keepers of gentle rains, mild winds, and fertility.
The most recognizable myth involved in this festival is that of the Mabon, the Child of Light and the son of the Modron, Great Mother. It is from this Welsh myth, found in the tale of Culhwch and Olwen, that the neo-pagan Mabon festival receives its name. Mabon son of Modron was stolen from his mother only three nights after his birth at the beginning of time. Her light disappears as she grieves for her lost child. The autumn equinox begins the seasons of cold and darkness in the northern hemisphere, paralleling the grief of the Modron.
Cernunnos is the god of fertility, animals, and the Underworld. he is our guardian in this world and the Otherworlds. He is the lover and often the son and protector of the Great Mother. In many myths, he is born at the winter solstice and dies at the summer solstice. Yet in many agricultural areas, he is one and the same as the spirit of vegetation that dies with the end of the harvest, often around the autumn equinox. In many neo-pagan artwork and experiences, he is another aspect of the Green Man and of Herne the Hunter.
Ceridwen the barley goddess, is the brewer of the cauldron of wisdom that enlightened Gwion Bach and turned him into the great bard, Taliesin. She is the Autumn Crone, the Nurse of Seeds, and the visionary sibyl. An older form of the Great Mother, Ceridwen is the dark Mother of the Mysteries as well.
Symbols of the Season
Each acorn holds within its small shell all the potential of the great oak tree. This is an ideal symbol of the cycles of life, the seasons, and immortality. The Oak King may be defeated by the Holly King in the winter to come, but he is reborn, replacing the Holly King in the coming spring.
The apple is one of the main symbols of this season and there is a rich folklore surrounding this simple fruit. The well-known story of Johnny Appleseed recounts how the real-life John Chapman planted a great number of seeds throughout Ohio and Indiana.
Like many historical people, early settlers used apples for food and drink, as well as for fun and medicine. Healing superstitions from England include this one from Devonshire: To cure warts, cut an apple in half, rub it on the warts, tie the apple back together and bury it.
Fun Apple Facts:
* Apples are members of the rose family
*Apples float because they are 25% air
*Placing an apple in a bag of potatoes will prevent the potato from sprouting
*Eating raw apples eliminates more than 95% of the bacteria that cause tooth decay
* If an apple contains an even number of seeds, marriage is not far off. If the apple contains an odd number of seeds, marriage is not in the foreseeable future.
* Rub an apple before eating to remove evil spirits that may be hiding inside.
The Corn Mother is a goddess of fertility throughout the world. Corn is associated with the planet Venus and has been called the Giver of Life and Sacred Mother. The first of the Egyptian corn harvest was given to a local deity known as Wapwait. It is used in blessing ceremonies and as an offering to the spirits.
* Pick an ear of corn at random. Count the kernels and divide by twelve to find out how long you'll live.
* An ear of corn in the cradle will protect a baby
* Cornstalks hung over the mirror will bring good luck to the household.
Cornbread is customary for this time of year and it is the perfect addition to a meal of stew. It is also traditional native bread and as such honors the original peoples of several lands. If you can get blue cornmeal, try that in place of the everyday cornmeal we find in all grocery stores. You might also try adding a teaspoon of cinnamon or sage for a distinctive autumn taste.
You will need:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbs baking powder
2 cups cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup general purpose flour
1/3 cup melted butter or bacon fat
Heat oven to 425 degrees
Mix all ingredients together, beat for 30 seconds.
Pour into a round 9-inch greased pan (1 1/2 inch deep). Cut a sun symbol into the center of the bread. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown, checking at 10 min to recut sun symbol if necessary.
While some may feel that magick should be avoided during the equinox times, most of us work toward balance, harmony, protection, and prosperity during these periods. The Autumn Equinox is the beginning of the dark half of the year, and as such, it is beneficial to begin turning within during our magick and meditations.
A Protection Bottle
Protection bottles are either kept in a windowsill or buried, either outside the front door or at the four directions around one's home. If you have a young child, a protection bottle in their window or kept under the bed may be just the thing to keep nightmares and bedtime fears at bay.
You will need:
--A clean, clear glass bottle with a cap
--herbs, such as angelica and rosemary
--other items that symbolize protection, such as salt, specific stones, broken glass, etc.
Fill the bottle part of the way with sand.
Add the protective herbs or items you have chosen and fill to the top with more sand before sealing the bottle with its cap.
As you add each of these items, visualize it keeping negativity away or destroying destructive and fearful energies. Once it is filled and capped, offer it to the Great Spirit, or God and Goddess. Ask that all the ingredients work together to keep you safe and sound. Thank them for their protection and place it in your windowsill or bury it. If you choose to bury it, carve a pentagram or spiral into the earth above it and ask that the Earth ground and purify all negativity drawn in by this bottle. Be sure to periodically offer water sacred herbs or cornmeal to the earth and the spirits of your land as thanks for their grounding and protection.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The Autumn Equinox, when night and day are of equal length, occurs during the month of the Vine Moon. It helps you realign your energy to prepare for the dark half of the year.
The month of the Vine Moon is a time to value input from others and any networks that are made may prove useful in the future.
Time to Consolidate
Focus on magic that resolves; cast a peace spell to end an argument or use prosperity magic to help you settle bills and pay off existing debts. Magic must be balanced with action now, so use nature's last burst of energy, visible in the vibrant fall colors, to inspire you to complete projects that you started earlier in the year.
Invest in your health during this month by eating foods packed with vitaminC to stave off colds as the weather declines, and boost your energy leveles with herbal drinks.
Fertility and Concentration
The vine is the only plant in the Celtic Tree Calendar not native to northern climes, although it features in much Bronze Age art. It was cultivated by migrants from southern Europe. The name vine comes from the word "viere," meaning "to twist." This refers to the Druidic concept of spiritual development.
Fruits of the Vine
In the colder north, the vine was substituted with blackberries. Both are used in wine, in money spells, and are linked to fairies.
Pictures of grapevines were painted onto garden walls in ancient rome to ensure the fertility of the household.
Eating grapes and blackberries is a magical remedy that aids memory and concentration.
Vine Moon Magic
Use magic during the month of the Vine Moon to restore peace to troubled relationships and to bring prosperity and fertility into your life.
Try the following charms, remedies and spells to stay in tune with the magical powers of the season.
*Catch a falling leaf and make a wish
*Place a grapeseed in a glass of red wine and drink on the night of the full moon to attract riches.
Equinox Peace Spell
Use this spell to bring peace to a troubled relationship or to help heal any dispute.
You will need:
*A white candle
*A white ribbon
*Pen and paper
1. Hold the candle and say, "I dedicate this candle to peace."
2. Write a list of the grievances that caused the conflict.
3. Light the candle and focus on sending love to the other party.
4. Burn the list in the flame saying, "For the sake of peace, I let it go."
5. Light the candle for a few moments each night and focus on peace.
6. Tie the ribbon to a bramble or vine. When the leaves have all fallen, peace will be restored.
Use this ancient spell to help you to be fruitful at this time of the year.
--Place a bunch of grapes in a bowl in your bedroom (or office, if its a project and NOT a baby you're delivering)
--Next, say: "Spirit of Vine, I open myself to your powers."
--Take some time to collect your thoughts and then make your wish.
--Finish the charm by eating a grap and saying: "So let it be."
Use this prosperity pie recipe to bring financial fortune into your life.
You will need:
1. Gather a basket of blackberries, leaving one of your hairs on the vine as an offering of thanks.
2. Wash the fruit in spring water, saying, "Water of life, take my strife."
3. Roll out the pastry and visualize the prosperous life you desire. Line the pie dish with a sheet of pastry
4. Put the fruit into the pie dish, add sugar and say: "Life grows sweet." Try to imagine all golden light entering the fruit mix.
5. Top the pie with more pastry and decorate with vine patterns, saying, "The spell is complete."
6. Bake in a moderate oven for 35 min. and share with friends.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Now we have decided to move our rituals to an open-air shelter house on a single lane driveway. This way we can avoid the cruisers gawking and straining to see “what’s going on in here”, and we won’t be interrupted by anyone seeking to mop floors at 8 pm like its an IHOP or something.
When we left that night, we drew pentagrams (using sticks and our feet) in the gravel parking lot where we had parked our cars. We worked on them so they would stand out and be noticed in the morning. I hope that DNR officer enjoyed it!
A time for learning
The Hazel Moon offers you an opportunity to connect with your inner reserves of wisdom and intuition. Study of all kinds is blessed during the Hazel Moon, so magic that uses ancient knowledge is most effective now.
This is also an excellent time to learn to read Tarot Cards or Runes because lunar energy will enhance your memory and psychic powers. Maintain an optimistic approach and follow your enthusiasm.
Protection and Renewal
Rods made from the wood of the hazel tree have traditionally been used for divining water and earth energies. The wood is pliant and supple and is immediately responsive to subtle change.
As well as being an excellent source of protein, hazelnuts have long been used as a magical fertility charm. Carry one with you if you wish to conceive or collect a small bag of nuts as a gift for a bride.
Hazelnuts are also a symbol of good luck; if you find two hazelnuts in the same shell,eat one and throw the other over your left shoulder to make your wish come true.
Hazel Moon Magic
You can used the qualities of hazel in a variety of ways in your magic working:
* Make an all-purpose magical wand from a straight twig of hazel wood the length of your forearm. Charge under the full Moon.
* Draw a circle around your bed with a hazel stick to keep nightmares away.
* Eat a feast of salmon and hazelnuts before an exam to heighten your powers of concentration and boost your memory.
* Make an equal armed cross of hazel wood tied with ribbon as a good luck charm.
Hazel Energy in Your Life
Bring the creativity and inspiration of the Hazel Moon into your life, both at work and at home:
1. Enroll in an evening class. Now is an auspicious time to learn a new skill--try painting, learning a language or dance.
2. Keep a journal. Just writing down your wishes and experiences will help you tune into your inner wisdom.
3. Go outside at night and look at the Moon. Staying connected to nature will bring powerful insights and help you remain grounded.
4. Feed your mind: buy a book of inspiring quotes and read one each day to stimulate your intellect and sharpen your thinking.
Practicing this meditation will help you to move through creative blocks, get inner guidance and develop intuition.
+ Approach a hazel tree from the north. When you are within the circumference of its branches, introduce yourself and ask permission to come closer.
+ If it feels right to proceed, circle the trunk clockwise.
+ Try to sense the spirit of the tree and open your heart.
+ Sit with your back against the trunk and breathe deeply. Empty your mind and try to attune to the tree's energy.
Make a Divining Rod
You can use the magical powers of the hazel tree to make your own divining rod:
*Cut a forked twig, less than a yard in length.
*Give thanks to the tree by pouring nourishing water onto its roots
*Pass your rod through incense smoke and state your intention to learn about the mysteries of nature.
*Hold a fork in each hand and pull them apart so that the twig is under constant pressure. As you walk over a water source or energy line, the rod will twitch in your hand.
*Use your divining rod to explore the energies of sacred sites, old buildings and even your own home.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
The eighth Celtic Moon month ushers in the shortening of the days. The power of the Sun is transferred to Earth, highlighting our practical needs and desires. The Celtic fire festival of Lammas begins the harvest on August 1, so the month of the Holly Moon is a time to give thanks for the good things in your life. Focus on your own "harvest' during the month of Holly---on what you wish to achieve and why.
Share your successes
Traditionally, the first grain harvested was baked into a loaf that represented the spirit of the crop, or "John Barleycorn" as it was called in England. This bread was shared in a ceremony to ensure the wealth of the community.
Use this month to celebrate your successes with family and friends and to consider sharing your good fortune with others.
Protection and Renewal
The holly is magically imbued with powers of protection. In England, it was believed to protect against witchcraft and to guard homes against being struck by lightning. Its evergreen leaves symbolize renewal and recovery during the dark half of the year and ward against envy and the misuse of power.
The planetary ruler of holly is Mars, which bestows upon the tree the ability to restore direction in your life, to rebalance and align energy, and to help you gain a sense of purpose.
In Pagan tradition, men carry sachets of holly leaves and berries, which will enhance their masculinity due to the tree's restorative and energizing powers.
Use the magical blessings of the Holly Moon to celebrate and share the good things in your life and to increase your future fortune and success.
Holly Harvest Loaf
During the Holly Moon month, invite the blessings of John Barleycorn into your home by baking your own magical harvest loaf. Simply follow the steps below:
1. Prepare some bread dough from flour, yeast, oil, honey, water and salt, and leave it to rise in a warm place for an hour.
2. Sprinkle seeds and nuts on top of the dough to symbolize each blessing in your life, such as a comfortable home or supportive family. Focus on these positive things as you knead the dough.
3. Shape the dough into a roundish loaf and place on a baking sheet.
4. Before baking it, place your hands on top of the dough and try to visualize golden light channeling into it.
5. Then say, "John Barleycorn, I give you thanks for all I have received, Blessed be."
6. When baked, bury the first slice of the loaf in the ground and whisper your wishes for the future.
7. Share the rest of the loaf with your friends and family and celebrate your abundance.
Holly Money Spell
On the full Moon hold up some paper money to the moonlight and recite the spell below.
Lady Bright, Lady Bright
Harvest abundant dreams tonight
Three times Three times Three times Three,
Prosperity return to me.
Give the money to charity (may I suggest your local no-kill animal shelter or the American Red Cross) and in return, the positive energy of the holly will provide you with the funds you need over the coming months.
Time to Re-Energize
The spirit of renewal in the month of the Holly Moon makes it an excellent time to re-energize your life.
*Tune into the energies of your environment by eating energy-rich seasonal foods, preferably foods that are produced locally.
*Use holly's influence to rise to physical challenges and overhaul your personal fitness by joining a gym or taking up martial arts.
Harvest of Friends
Celebrate the harvest of the season and of the things that enrich your life during the Holly Moon by inviting friends to dinner.
Meals to Share
Ask everybody to bring a dish that they have prepared, and cover the table with a gold cloth to signify the wealth in your life. For the centerpiece, place an arrangement of holly and wheat around a candle to represent the harvest spirit.
Once your guests have arrived, give thanks to Mother Earth for the food that she has provided:
"Let us eat that none shall no hunger. Let us drink that none shall know thirst." During the meal, discuss what it is that you wish to harvest in your life.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Every culture has, at some point in its history, marked the time of Midsummer and held it to be enchanted.
The Celts, the Norse, and the Slaves believed that there were three "spirit nights" in the year when magic abounded and the Otherworld was near. The first was Halloween, the second was May Eve, and the third was Midsummer Eve. On this night, of all nights, fairies are most active. As the solstice sun rises on its day of greatest power, it draws up with it the power of herbs, standing stones, and crystals. In the shimmering heat-haze on the horizon, its magical energies are almost visible.
The Cold, darks days of winter and blight are far way, and the time of light and warmth, summer and growth, is here. We naturally feel more joyful and want to spend more time in the open air. The crops are planted and growing nicely, and the young animals have been born.
Midsummer is a natural time of celebration.
Midsummer fires once blazed all across Europe and North Africa. As far east as Siberia, the Buryat tribe jumped over fires to purify and protect themselves. Such ritual fires had the power to protect the revelers from evil spirits, bad fairies, and wicked witches. They also warded off the powers of bane, blight, dark, death, and winter. At one time no self respecting village would be without its Midsummer fire, while in towns and cities the mayor and corporation actually paid for its construction, and the jollities accompanying it were often very elaborate.
The Midsummer fire had particular characteristics. It was constructed in a round shape on a sacred spot near a holy well, on a hilltop, or on a border of some kind. Such liminal sites were sacred to the Celts, who counted any boundary a magical place between places, giving entrance to and from the Otherworld. The fire was lit at sunset on Midsummer Eve, either with needfire kindled by the friction of two pieces of oak, or with a twig of gorse, itself a plant sacred to the sun.
In parts of England it was the convention on St. John's Eve to light large bonfires after sundown to ward off evil spirits. This was known as "setting the watch". A Tudor poem declared:
When midsummer comes, with havens and bromes they do bonefires make,
And swiftly, then, the nimble young men runne leaping over the same.
The women and maydens together do couple their handes.
With bagpipes sounde, they daunce a rounde; no malice among them stands.
Divination at Midsummer
Midsummer is a time for magic and divination, when the Sidhe and the spirits are abroad. Young girls would use the magic of the season to divine their future husbands. According to one charm, a girl should circle three times around the church as midnight strikes, saying:
Hemp seed I sow,
Hemp seed I hoe,
Hoping that my true love will come after me and mow.
Looking over her shoulder, she should see a vision of her lover following her with a scythe. Placing nodules from the root of mugwort under her pillow would enable her to dream of her lover instead. Other less pleasant secrets could also be learned: If you stand in the churchyard on this night, a vision of all those who will die this year will pass before your eyes.
The Midsummer Tree
You might think that the erection of the maypole is a tradition associated exclusively with May Day (Beltane), but you would be wrong. The raising of the Midsummer tree is an authentic Midsummer custom found in many areas, including Wales, England, and Sweden.
The custom was called "raising the birch" in south Wales, and "the summer branch" in the north, and the dancing around it "the dance of the birch". It was decorated with ribbons, flowers and even pictures. A weathercock with gilded feathers surmounted it. The cry of the cock at sunrise indicates the end of the darkness and the start of the day. Celtic festivals were held from dusk till cock crow of the next morning.
Sometimes one village would try to steal another village's pole, and it was considered very ill fated and a disgrace to one in this fashion. The bereft village was not allowed to raise another until they had succeeded in stealing one from elsewhere, and the poles were guarded all night by groups of youths and men.
An image many people associate with Midsummer is that of modern druids practicing their rites at Stonehenge. It is not known whether the ancient druids used this Neolithic temple of the sun, but its power remains intact today, even when surrounded by fences and tourists.
Stonehenge has been describes as an astronomical observatory. It is oriented to the sun at the Summer Solstice, which rises above the heel stone. Some say this should be "heal stone", as the circle was associated with healing at Midsummer.
The most propitious time in the year to make a magic wand is at Midsummer. The wand is the tool that joins the physical and spiritual realms and transmits energy from one to the other. The wand relates to the element of fire, creativity, life energy, and the spirit. It focuses and directs the magical will to make it manifest in the world. It is the magical tool connected with the season of summer, noonday, and the direction of the south.
You should cut your own wand from living wood. This is the subject of misunderstanding. Some say that the wood must be taken in such a way as to capture the dryad of the tree, but this is a kind of shorthand for something much more profound. Every plant has its own spirit, which embodies its character, its magical vibration, its lessons and its complex connection within the Web of Life.
You should go out before dawn on Midsummer Day and seek your chosen tree as the sun rises. the wood should be virgin--that is, one year's growth only--and the wand should be cut from the tree at a single stroke. It should measure from elbow to fingertip. If you wish, you can smooth and polish the wand with glasspaper, but do not varnish it.
Consecrating the Wand
The wand is consecrated with incense of bay, cedar, frankincense, hazel and pine, with the following words:
God and Goddess, deign to bless this wand, which I would consecrate and set aside.
Let it obtain the necessary virtues for acts of beauty and love in the names of the Lord and Lady.
God and Goddess, I call upon you to bless this instrument, which I have prepared in your honor.
Hold it high in the air and say:
Let blessing be.
Sweetheart's Blossom Spell
Take a lily bulb and plant it in a clean pot that has never been used before. While you plant it, repeat the name of the one you love, and then say:
As this root grows
And as this blossom blows,
May his (her) heart be
Turned unto me.
Midsummer Candle Spell
For a general well-being and prosperity spell, take a yellow or gold candle and anoint it with marigold oil, saying:
In honor of the Lord and Lady on this Eve of St. John, grant me fruitfulness and profit of my planting and my work. In the name of the Lady and her Lord. So mote it be.
Burning away Negativity
Throw into the fire all things that represent things that have negative associations for you. You might take the opportunity to give up smoking, for example, by throwing a pack of cigarettes into the flames. Old magical tools and books that are no longer needed or that are broken can be disposed of in the Midsummer fire.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Ostara: Customs Spells, and Rituals for the Rites of Spring
The Anglo-Saxons hailed Eostre as the Goddess of Spring, The Greening Earth, and Fertility. Her name means "moving with the waxing sun." Around the time of her festival, on the day when light and dark are equal, the local animals began giving birth or going into their sexually receptive cycles, named "estrus periods" after the goddess. From the fiercest to the most humble, the woodland animals--who also worshipped and loved Eostre--would play in the warmth of spring light and feast on the new vegetation Eostre provided.
One of Eostre's devotees was a small hare who wished very much to give a gift to his goddess, but he didn't know what he could possibly offer that would be of any value to her. Then one day while foraging, the hare came across a fresh egg, a very prized commodity indeed. The little hare wanted very badly to eat the egg, as it had been a long time since he'd feasted on anything finer than dry grasses. Before he could take a bite of his prized, he realized this egg might make the perfect gift for Eostre. But, he pondered, Eostre could have all the eggs she wanted, anytime she wanted them. She was a goddess, a creator, the embodiment of life itself. Giving her just any egg would never do. How, he wondered, could he make this egg a fit offering for his goddess?
The little hare took the egg home and pondered how to make it as beautiful and new as Eostre made the world each spring. He began to decorate the egg. He painted it in the hues of Eostre's spring woods and placed upon the shell symbols sacred to Eostre. When he felt he could not make the egg any more beautiful, he took it to Eostre and offered it to her.
Eostre was so pleased by the little hare's sacrifice of his egg to her, and by the manner in which he decorated it for her, that he wanted everyone--especially children, who are themselves symbols of new life--to enjoy these representations of her bounty. Since that Ostara day long ago, the descendants of that hare have taken up the task of delivering decorated eggs tot he world's children at spring. They are called Eostre's bunnies or, more commonly, the Easter Bunny.
Gently place one egg in a pan that is half-filled with boiling water. As you watch the egg boil in the steaming pot, concentrate on something you feel is gone from your life that you wish to have manifest back into it. Conceptualize this desire as living within the egg, a need that will be birthed into being with the egg's assistance. Visualize this miracle happening with as much clarity and detail as you are able. Do this for at least five minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and allow it to coo.
When the egg is able to be handled, take crayons or felt markers in any color or colors you feel best represents your desire and draw a symbol or some other representation of your wish on the egg.
Bury the egg near your front door, as deep as is reasonable. Each time you walk past the place where the egg is buried, be sure to remind yourself of its purpose by restating to yourself an affirmation of your desire.
In a short time the egg will break down, the shell cracking open and the yolk decomposing. This symbolic life, death and rebirth of your wishing egg is linked by magic to your life, and it will help your desire to be rebirthed soon.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
It has given us the modern celebration of Easter.
Spring Equinox traditionally falls on March 20-21, and is the exact midpoint between the winter and summer solstices. Starting at sundown on March 20, there are exactly 12 hours of night and 12 hours of daylight.
This is a time of huge energy. Nature is waking up after its long winter sleep and everywhere you look there is evidence of new life: trees are in bud, seeds are germinating and animals are preparing to bear their young.
Celebrating New Life
In Wiccan lore, the Oak King, the god of light, wins a victory over the Holly King, god of darkness. As light conquers dark, the great mother Goddess conceives a child. Nine months later, at Winter Solstice, the child will be born and the cycle begins again.
The Easter festival we think of as a Christian celebration is the church's appropriation of this traditional Pagan festival. The resurrection is a tale of new life, but where do the Easter eggs and rabbits feature in the Bible?
Even the name, Easter, has Pagan roots--Eoestre is the goddess of light, who brings the spring. The root of the work comes from "estrus"--the time in an animal's sexual cycle when it is fertile. Eoestre's festival was held on the Spring Equinox full Moon; thus Easter is on the first Sunday after the first full Moon following the Spring Equinox.
Fertility and Rebirth
The Spring Equinox is often represented by a Spring maiden carrying a basket of eggs, the symbol of rebirth. The maiden is accompanied by a hare or rabbit, representing abundant fertility, from which comes our modern symbol, the Easter Bunny.
There are many simple ways to celebrate the season of rebirth--from spring cleaning your body and your home to cooking up traditional Easter treats for family and friends.
1. Spring Clean Your Home
In springtime, gardeners clear away the debris of winter from the base of plants, allowing room for new growth. So we, too, can make space in our homes for fresh ideas and projects to emerge.
Renew your Home
As the growing light shows up the accumulated dirt of winter, remove it.
*Go into those hidden places, under the sofa and behind the refrigerator, letting in the light and leaving everything fresh and new.
*Clear out any clothes you no longer wear from your closets.
*Wear green to symbolize the shoots of spring;this will remind you of the new beginnings spring represents.
Make a celebratory meal to share with your friends--perhaps a picnic outdoors, or inside, if the weather is bad.
Dishes for Spring
Create the following dishes for a symbolic spring meal:
-> Nettle Tea--The first edible green leaves of spring, nettles are rich in minerals such as iron
-> Quiche, the eggs in which are reminiscent of new life.
-> Hot cross buns are reminiscent of the Sacred Marriage. The arms of the cross are of equal length, which in some cosmologies represents the union of male and female.
3. Make Your Own Easter Egg
Traditionally, eggs were painted bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, or colored scarlet to represent life blood.
As part of your ceremonies, you can paint an egg:
+ Decorate a hard-boiled egg with bright colors, symbols, or affirmations.
+ Write about a new project on the shell. If you are with friends, you can take turns to talk about what your eggs symbolize. Passing the eggs around the group will help to energize them and fill them with positive intent.
+ Absorb the energy you have invested in the egg by ceremonially shelling it and eating the contents.
+ Crush the painted eggshell and bury it--to sow you new hopes into the earth.
4. Spring Clean Your Body
After you have spring cleaned your home and it is clear of the previous season's old, stale energies, you can then cleanse yourself. Spring clean your body's systems by drinking a purifying tea of dandelion leaves and nettle tops.
Then make a spring altar, preferably in your garden to fully benefit from the new air of the season. On it, place spring flowers and fresh greens . Prepare an incense of purification herbs and spices, such as hyssop and juniper. As these offerings burn, meditate on the new projects you are ready to start--the seeds of new plans you wish to sow.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Sleep charms offer you magical protection through the night, warding off demons--psychological ones as much as any other kind-- and stimulating your mind to produce peaceful dreams. Even the act of making your own sleep charm can help you to feel relaxed.
An inability to sleep well is often caused by daytime worries and anxiety that we fail to shake off before bedtime By making a charm and reactivating it every night, we make a clean break between waking and sleeping hours--a psychological change that will help us to relax.
Natural Aids to Sleep
There are many natural aids to help us sleep. Soft colors, such as pale blues and lilacs, help to soothe our mind and spirit, as do gentle aromas, such as lavender. By including these in our sleep charms, we can help to soothe ourselves to sleep and awake in the morning feeling spiritually and physically refreshed.
Your Sleep Charm Equipment:
*Sprigs of rosemary, thyme and lavender
*A white feather
*A blue ribbon
*A white candle
*A blue pen
*A sheet of white paper
Blue, used for the ribbon and pen, is the color of a spring or summer sky. It is the gentle color of spiritual harmony and symbolizes peace.
White, used in the feather, the candle and the sheet of paper, is the color of purification and cleansing. This significance means it is a good color to include in many spells and rituals.
Rosemary, thyme and lavender can encourage restful sleep. Rosemary is thought to prevent nightmares, thyme can help to relieve disturbing dreams, and lavender can be used for protection.
Making your Sleep Charm
This step-by-step ritual of making a sleep charm can help, psychologically, to prepare you for sleep. Climb into bed ready for a tranquil slumber.
Light it while saying out loud, "I light this candle in honor of the spirit of peace."
Using the blue pen, write your wish on the paper--for instance, "I will fall asleep easily."
4. Parcel of Herbs
Place the herbs and the white feather on the paper and roll up these
ingredients so that they are contained inside the tube of paper.
5. Bind your Wish
Knot the ribbon three times around the roll while saying,
"By the power of three, so let it be.
Bring healing deep sleep here to me."
6. Seal you Wish
To secure your wish safely within the charm,
drip some candle wax over the ribbon knot to seal it.
Once you have done so, blow out the candle.
7. Place your Charm
Place the magic charm under your bed to encourage restful sleep.
8. Activate your Spell
Relight the cancle as you prepare for bed each night. This will help to charge the charm.
After a week or so, when the candle has expired, the charm will be fully activated and your sleep will be sound.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Imbolc brings the very first whisperings of spring. Early spring flowers peep up through the cold earth and the tiniest buds begin to form on the trees. Winter is by no means over--in fact the worst is often still to come--but there is a glimmer of hope. Candles are lit to represent the return of the Sun and the divine spark of creativity.
The Virgin Goddess
In the Celtic Triple Goddess tradition, the Crone of winter is reborn as the virgin at Imbolc. Known to the Celts as Brigid, she was a fire goddess and one of her main aspects was as a healer.
The Celtic image of a virgin was of inherent sexuality and fertility. As the thoughts and ideas incubated over winter emerge at this time., it is necessary to heal old, outmoded ways to allow new ideas to be born.
Imbolc in the Modern World
The Pagan fire festival of Imbolc is still present in the modern world. At the beginning of February, the returning light is celebrated by the Christian church as Candlemas. Traditionally, the candles are blessed and taken home to use in times of trouble. The festival also recognizes the Purification of the Virgin Mary, when she went to the temple for 40 days after giving birth to Jesus.
Old country lore claims that the weather at Candlemas forecasts the climate for the next six weeks; if the day is sunny the remainder of the winter will be stormy, but if it rains, the next six weeks will be mild. This aspect has been taken up in North America where the emergence, or not, of the hibernating groundhog is believed to be a spring weather predictor. This is known as Groundhog Day.
Celebrate the lengthening of days and the warming of the earth at Imbolc, with rituals of purification, fertility and renewal.
A Purifying Bath
The Romans named the month of February after a word signifying purification, as this was the time when ritual cleansing would prepare a person for a fresh start. So take a ritual bath at Imbolc in your own homemade "healing well".
**Collect some early spring flowers (in the U.K., snowdrops are often used) and then set the scene in your bathroom with lit candles around the bath tub to signify the burning away of old ideas as well as the coming of the light. Choose white candles for purity and green to recall and welcome the spring.
**Burn juniper oil and put a drop or two in the bathwater. This oil is chosen because it is a very powerful auric cleanser.
**Summon the goddess Brigid by scattering flower petals in the bath.
**Relax in the water, using an apple green soap.
Just as the seeds are germinating in the earth, Imbolc is a time when you should imagine your thoughts and ideas starting to warm up after leaving them to hibernate through the winter. Combine the correspondences of new life and light to perform this simple ritual for Imbolc.
1. Choose a quiet spot outdoors, in your garden or a local park, perhaps beneath your favorite type of tree or bush.
2. Plant a seed or bulb in the ground to make this place more special to you, choose the seed of your preferred plant or perhaps one associated with your Zodiac sign.
3. Now, light a small, white candle (to represent the Virgin Goddess's purity), sit and watch it burn down. As you do so, imagine that the seed you have planted represents the thoughts and ideas you have sown in hope for the year ahead.
A Brigid's Cross
At Imbolc, it was traditional to make a Brigid's Cross to welcome the goddess into the home. These were hung over doors or windows for the year, then burned and replaced at next Imbolc. You can make your own Brigid's Cross:
-> Bind two sticks of equal length to form a cross
-> Imagine your cross is made of four sticks and number them 1-4, from the top counting clockwise
-> Tie a silver ribbon around stick 1, close to the center of the cross, then take it to the right of stick 2 and wrap it around the back. From the left of stick 2, take the ribbon round to the right of stick 3 and wrap it around the back; take it from the left of stick 3 to the right of stick 4, and so on. Continue weaving in this way.
-> When it's complete, adorn your cross with other decorative items.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The first of the 13 months of the Celtic calendar is the month of the Birch Moon. It begins just after Yuletide and runs through most of January.
Starting just after the Winter Solstice---the shortest day of the year---the month of the Birch Moon marks the period of the year when the hours of daylight start to increase over the hours of darkness. Its associated color is flame red; from this comes the red candles that we burn at Yuletide.
New Year's Resolutions
The month of the Birch Moon falls into the "quiet time" during the bleakest period of winter. None of the eight major witchcraft festivals occur in this month. There is little to do but wait for warmer weather.
This month is therefore primarily a time of contemplation, of looking to the future and starting to make plans for the year ahead--hence the tradition of making New Year's resolutions.
The Lady of the Woods
The silvery bark that covers the trunk of the birch tree resembles the silver of the moonlight, wich it reflects at night giving it a magical look.
With its long, slender branches that stretch up to the sky, the birch symbolizes the female aspects of nature and isoften known as "the Lady of the Woods." Growing up to 100 feet high, it has also been thought of as a ladder that shamans can climb to reach the gods.
Cleanse your home during the month of the Birch Moon by lighting a red candle or by burning rose potpourri.
Birch Moon Magic
The month of the Birch Moon is the ideal time to weave magic focusing on new beginnings and purification, or to cast spells for support, shielding and cleansing.
Resolution Blessing Spell
The birch is the first tree to grow back after a forest has been cut down or razed, reinforcing its association with new beginnings. It is a tree of extreme hardiness, thriving in places where the oak cannot. When you make a New Year's resolution, increase your chances of sticking to your guns by performing this blessing spell.
You will need:
*Frankincense, rose and benzoin essential oil
1. Go for a walk in your local park and collect a birch twig no more than 12 inches long. As birch is a very common tree, you should be able to find one easily, even in urban areas and parks.
2. Mix a few drops of rose, frankincense and benzoin essential oil into the palm of your hand and rub the mixture into a red candle.
3. Light the candle, and stand in front of it for a few moments visualizing your resolution. If you are planning to learn to play guitar, for instance, visualize yourself happily strumming your favorite song. You may want to state your intent aloud, saying, "I will learn to play guitar."
4. Holding your birch twig at one end, pass it through the candle's flame. Then turn around, counterclockwise, holding the twig in front of you to draw a circle around youself.
5. Repeat the incantation, "I manifest new chances for good fortune, clarity and insight, I open myself to new experience and allow change to manifest in my life."
6. Now sit down for a few minutes and quietly contemplate your wish. When you have finished. Blow out the candle.
( To bind your spell, draw a magic circle around yourself with your birch wand.)
Purification and Cleansing
The silver color of the birch's bark is associated with purity and cleansing. Criminals and naughty schoolboys were often beaten with birch twigs- "birched"- in order to purify them and drive out any evil influences.
This is a good time to cleanse your mind of negative thoughts or attitudes , such as anger and jealousy, or addictive behavior, such as smoking. a full Moon that falls within the month of the Birch Moon is called the Cold Moon; you can strengthen your intent by performing the following ritual at this time.
A Simple Cold Moon Ritual:
* Light a white candle beside a small bowl of natural spring or rain water.
* Stand over the water and pray for the strength to let go of your vice.
* Write down you negative behavior nine times on a piece of paper.
* Fold up the paper, place it inside a freezer bag, and pour in some of the prayer water.
* Place the bag inside your freezer to "freeze" your bad habits--putting them behind you forever.
Birch throughout the Year
--Birch is used for purification, exorcism and protection. A red ribbon tied to a birch twig will help ward off the evil eye.
--Witches' brooms are made of birch twigs tied around an ash branch with strips of willow. The purifying birch sweeps away evil spirits, as well as dirt.
--At Beltane (May Day), birch twigs are used to light the fires that signal the beginning of the new season.