Below is a worksheet I frequently use for private students. This is a wonderful start to a Book of Shadows. The blanks, of course, are meant to be filled in by hand. Could you go down the list and just Google the answers? Sure.
Did your spiritual adviser/teacher have you fill out such things? What benefit could you see from doing worksheets like this?
Sample Calling: I stand and I face the _________ (direction) and call the element of _______. Bring with you __________________, ____________________ and ________________ to the edge of this circle for protection and purification. Welcome, _________.
Sample Dismissal: I return to face the _________ (direction) and dismiss the element of _____. Return now to your realm and come again when I call.
Role (what does it bring or contribute?):
Logically/Mundanely – what is this element to you?
Is it important in your mundane (physical) life? How?
Spiritually/Metaphysically – what is this element to you?
Why do we call this element?
Is it important in your magical/spiritual life? How?
List 3 things you hope to learn from this element.
List 3 things you don’t understand about this element.
After working with this element – list 5 things/lessons you learned from this element that made an impact on you.
Please use this page for any difficulties/discoveries you made during your Air quest. Any other notes/thoughts/experiences or anything noteworthy to YOU can be written here for discussion at another time.
Every week I tend to meet up with a small group of Pagans. These Pagans range in age, gender, career, experience, and paths within Paganism.
Tonight we we discussing the different Pagan holidays. I found it particularly interesting to ask each person:
What do you do to celebrate this holiday?
What do you associate with this holiday?
If you don’t celebrate this holiday why not?
As we (the whole group) went holiday by holiday I found it interesting that a large majority of people (myself included at times) celebrated a few “main” holidays.
Those holidays were:
I started to draw some interesting lines between things. All of these holidays fall in/around/near a Christian holiday OR a commercial holiday.
Beltane. Memorial Day. May Day (in some places)
Samhain. Halloween (widely accepted holiday even with Christians)
I asked the question:
Do you think perhaps we celebrate (we meaning the individuals in the group) simply because of familiarity with the Christian counter-part holiday?
Do you think we concentrate on these holidays because of the commercial appeal and overall ‘acceptance’ during this holiday?
Another point was raised that there are basically 4 celestial holidays. These holidays are based on a solstice or equinox. The other holidays are harvest holidays. These are based on harvest times of different crops.
One group member brought up the point that since we are no longer farmers/gatherers we don’t have the same connection with the land as we once did. Now that we’ve got supermarkets and can get any variety of fruit and vegetables all year round we have little working knowledge of harvest type holidays.
Is this a good or a bad thing? To bring proper balance should we observe each holiday’s counterpart?
These are all just thoughts/ideas I’m sharing. Feel free to chime in!
The answers were really interesting. I’ve been Pagan for the better part of 15 years. Perhaps even a few more, but I only consider myself a 15 year practitioner because I was still really super clueless during those first few years. During all my time as a Pagan I have also chosen some holidays which are ‘high’ holidays and some which aren’t.
After hearing everyone else’s feedback I then started to analyze my own observance of the holidays.
Did I not celebrate the others simply because of no personal connection – or – was I not celebrating simply because it was too much work?
I now bring the question here, to those who read this.
Are there holidays you don’t celebrate? Do you abstain simply because you don’t feel a connection to that holiday or is there another reason?
Eating something is very much part of my practice. Maybe I just haven’t mastered harnessing the universal powers yet – but after serious spell work or even a ritual I am wiped. I’m exhausted! Eating something has always been part of my magickal practice.
Lack of eating (fasting) has also been part of my practice. Let me tell you – as a fat girl – it is NOT easy to fast.
When to Feast:
As a yummy ‘thank you’ to your guides
When to Fast:
Asking the universe for a favor (gotta give something to get something)
Asking for anything that would be considered ‘above and beyond’
I eat something every day in my little sacred space. I offer the first bit of food to my Goddess, Hecate. When she has her offering and her candle is lit – then I eat.
Maybe this sounds crazy – but sometimes I even talk to her. Sometimes I talk out loud as if she were physically with me. There are times I communicate with her psychically. I would say most of my communication with her is ‘silent’. I anoint her feet with oil only used for her. I change her stones around (she has different stones at her feet at different times). I sprinkle some Hecate Water (rain water that has been charged under a dark moon) on her head.
I feast to say ‘thanks’ and I fast to say ‘please’.
All workings leave me tired. Many friends have told me that I should be tapping into the universe to channel my energy – but that doesn’t make sense to me. The energy of the universe is not my energy. I should use my energy and my intent in my workings to give it power. That’s my philosophy anyway.
Food as part of a ritual is really quite central to my practice. I always offer food to guests, too. I like to think that the positive energy of food radiates. If you eat something good or you eat something which replenishes you – then you will feel more positive and energized. I love to have a big glass of ice water and a big glass of ice cold wine during and after all my workings and rituals along with a fruit of some kind.
I have had lots of friend ask me:
How did you find your path?
Honestly? I just tried a bunch of stuff until something just felt right.
As a pre teen in the mid 90s I started out reading books about Wicca. I still own some of those books. There were things that resonated with me, but there were things which didn’t also.
A couple years later I looked into some Germanic and Heathen paths. Some of it sounded super cool. I was really interested in Norse mythology. However, it didn’t stick. The way things ‘went down’ just didn’t jive with me. No embodiment of the Lord and Lady spoke to me.
In the early 2000s I was introduced to a woman who simply called herself a wisewomyn. Sometimes she’d refer to herself as a hedgewitch. Now – this woman knew her shit. She knew every possible thing there was to know about herbs and dirt. How did she learn it? This is what she told me:
Well I looked up all the shit that was poisonous. I stayed away from everything toxic. Everything else I ate, drank, or used until I could determine its use. Then I wrote it down.
I said to her: They make books for that.
You think I’m going to let someone else tell me what works and what don’t?
To this DAY that is my advice to everyone. Don’t let someone tell you what works and what don’t. Try it. If it works or if it feels right – adopt it and shape it into something that is yours.
I understand that sometimes we have to be exposed to something new in order to try it to begin with – but don’t be afraid to try it. No one person is exactly right.
Here’s an idea:
Try casting your circle differently.
Typically it is: East-Air … South-Fire …. West-Water … North-Earth
Try it this way: East-Earth … South-Fire … West-Water .. North-Air
Why North as air?
Because the cold is blown in from the North every winter 🙂
Does anyone else do it this way? I’m sure someone does. I think each person needs to decide what element goes with what direction and what it means to them. I think each person should decide what everything means to them!
Is there something that you know you do differently? For example: I read tarot cards. However, I have never read a ‘how to’ book. I know that each card is supposed to have a meaning but I can’t for the LIFE of me tell you what each card means. Instead – I rely on my intuition and the order of the cards as they are pulled along with the pictures on the cards to tell me a story that I then relay to the person getting the reading 🙂
Does anyone else do this? Or do you do something similar? What things work for you that you don’t think would work for anyone else?
Here is a quick run down of astrological information for this week.
New Moon – Thursday December 13 (The new moon is in Sagittarius)
Sun is in Sagittarius until Dec 21. The sun being in Sag is really interesting because its a time of disconnection from intimate connections and instead shifting to find connections with something bigger than yourself. Get to the point? When the Sun is in Sagittarius usually people are feeling particularly connected to the divine. If they aren’t – they are seeking that connection.
Mercury is also in Sagittarius (until Dec 31) this means its a time of easy persuasion Folks are interested in justice and fairness more than digging too deeply into things.
Void Course of the Moon:
Thursday, December 13th, from 3:42 AM EST, with the Moon’s last aspect before changing signs (a conjunction to the Sun), until the Moon enters Capricorn at 4:43 PM EST.
And again on Saturday, December 15th, from 4:15 PM EST, with the Moon’s last aspect before changing signs (a sextile to Venus), until the Moon enters Aquarius at 4:53 PM EST.
In recent months I have been watching YouTube videos made by witches/Pagans/root workers and everything in between. I can’t help but notice the staggering abundance of content related to protection rituals, protection spells and protection talismans. Protection. Everywhere.
Am I the only magick worker who does not feel the need to cast a protection spell every week? Am I the only witch who doesn’t sage my entire aura and house every month?
What are these witches protecting themselves from?
I look at protection magick the same way I view law enforcement. I am totally not paranoid of a police car. I know people who will chomp at the bit if and when a policeman pulls in behind them in traffic even if they aren’t doing anything wrong! They will still obsess over until the squad car is no longer following them. I assume this is the same kind of person who would do all these protection rituals.
Personally I do not feel the need to protect myself from much. I have been known to do ‘dark’ magick. Why? Because I feel that as a human all emotions are valid. I carefully consider all sides of the coin before doing ANY magick. If I’ve stewed on it for a day or two and I still want to cast something bordering on vengeful – I will do it. Why? Because in my mind it is better to release the urge rather than lie to myself and pretend I’m totally cool. Goddess knows I wouldn’t be true to myself or Spirit.
Perhaps I should explain a bit. I have never done anything mean. I have never casted a spell to cause harm. The times I have done something which would be considered “dark” … well .. I’ll tell the story.
Gather round! 🙂
I have had some bad relationships.
Fresh out of highschool I met a guy who was impossibly good looking. He lived about 10 miles away and went to a different school. I was so astounded he was at all interested in me. Not that I have ever been repulsive – but I didn’t consider myself in the same league with him.
The night we met in a random parking lot hanging out as 18 year olds in a town of about 7 thousand people we were just inseparable. I was infatuated with his good looks. He was attracted by my sense of humor, honesty, and my insight.
Quite a few months passed. At first I hadn’t noticed that he no longer had a job and had spent his every waking moment near me. When he woke up, he would call me. When he had dressed and showered – my parents’ doorbell would be ringing. We’d just graduated highschool so it was common for young people to still live with their family. When I had to go to my job as a clerk at a liquor store – he would show up about an hour into my shift.
At first I loved all this attention. It simply amazed me that anyone would find such joy in me that they would want to always be near me! I was so smitten with how ‘into’ me he was that I hadn’t noticed any warning signs.
Slowly my friends stopped calling. Bit by bit I stopped participating in anything that didn’t involve this new boyfriend.
When the isolation had begun I assumed I was doing it to myself. Oh, I am working a lot of hours so I don’t have time for many social things. Oh I’m just tired from working a night shift in a liquor store and going to college during the day. The only reason I don’t hang out with an of my friends anymore is because we are all too busy for each other.
It wasn’t me.
It was him.
He was isolating me to control me. I hadn’t noticed but I was no longer listening to songs I liked. I was only listening to what he liked. I wasn’t wearing my usual clothes. I was wearing things he would ‘casually’ point out and say “Oh Jen you’d look really good in that!” I wasn’t reading books I enjoyed – I was finding books on topics HE was fluent in so we could have conversation about what HE wanted to talk about.
All this is abuse.
It didn’t hit me until a long-time friend came into the store I worked at and said, out loud “Everyone is worried for you. You aren’t yourself. You’ve changed in a bad way since New Boyfriend came on the scene. Is he hurting you?” Since New Boyfriend was always near me – he flew into a rage.
I had never seen him get so completely angry. I had never seen him even frustrated! This incident did frighten me, but I excused it. Well afterall if someone had said derogatory things about me I’d likely be upset, too!
The isolation grew worse.
It got physical one night that I suggested we go to one of my friends’ houses.
Why on Earth would I want to hang out with these friends? These friends had totally abandoned me! They haven’t called me in months! They don’t care about me. No one probably does. I heard all the terrible things they said about New Boyfriend and he has done nothing but love me since the moment he met me. They have to be completely awful people to be so jealous of me being loved.
They’re good people – I said. They’ve been busy, I explained. Of course they still care about me I’ve just been spending so much time with You (New Boyfriend) that I haven’t made time for them.
This is not his fault. I have done something to drive the others away.
What have I done? I go to work. I go to school. I spend time with you. I’ve done nothing.
He can’t believe how insulting I am! I completely do not appreciate anything he has done for me. I am probably acting like this because I am fucking someone else.
There was no one else. I promise. He can ask anyone.
That wasn’t even the last time he hit me. This was just the first time. I was so busy trying to defend myself against his WORDS that the fact he was now physically abusing me didn’t even bother me!
The second time was worse. It was the last time.
When I decided to break ties I told my parents what had happened. They were very saddened that I had not come to them sooner. They could see he was suffocating me with his physical presence but they chalked it up to puppy love because in their eyes – everyone would fall for me ‘like that’ because I am wonderful.
This was the first time I had done a protection spell.
I did not wish him harm.
I simply casted a spell to ask spirit to guide him to do good deeds. I asked my guides to protect me while I broke it off with him. I was afraid.
I made a spell bottle with items to both send back his negativity, but also to ‘heal’ and soften him. BUT. But – in this bottle I included items which would inflict him with equal negativity and nasty stuff if he messed with me.
Here are the ingredients I used:
- A small glass jar (it was a peanut butter jar) -This symbolised that I wanted his rage and anger contained in close quarters.
- Nails ————-nails are used to construct things – but can also be used as weapons
- Broken Glass ———symbolised how even when something is perceived broken can still serve a purpose
- Bullet ——-deadly when the VESSEL is aimed correctly
- 1 small mirror (unbroken) ————–to reflect his ugly negativity back to him
- My Menstrual Blood ————Ties the bottle to me further. It is mixed with all the ingredients. The bottle and its contents are ‘exposed’ to the most primal parts of me.
- Obsidian ————-I feel this stone harnesses all the energy of the volcano it came from — meaning my spell will have continued energy for years and years
- Quartz ———–the man was so awful – I wanted to be sure that any negativity which lingered could be cleared by this quartz.
I don’t remember the words I said. I know I asked that this bottle protect me for all my Earthly days from this man. I asked that this bottle also help him see his errors and resonate with his spirit to turn his strength and virility into something positive. If he must fight – let him be a professional boxer. If he must hit someone – let it be for good purpose. If he must be a psycho – let him help the FBI solve murder cases committed by abusive husbands/boyfriends/fathers.
Since then I have not done a true protection spell. I have done clearings where I have neutralised energies …. like when I move into a different house. However, I do not feel there is anything which I should be protected from.
Do these YouTube witches have so many enemies that they honestly need all this protection? Or … are they being paranoid about seeing a police car (a perceived threat) in their rear-view mirror?
Do you do protection spells often?
Let’s discuss it in the comments!
I really procrastinated on this post! Woosh!
Samhain. Its a Sabbat. Another main spoke on the wheel o’ the year!
What is Samhain?
Well, different people will tell you different things. Like all things in this blog I will only tell you what I think. You are totally welcome to disagree! Its totally cool if you think I’m full of shit! You can absorb this information/energy or you can leave it for someone else. That’s how things work 🙂
From all sensible research I have done (meaning physical reading and researching based on recorded history) there is absolutely no mention of a holiday like Samhain or Halloween anywhere until the 19th Century.
The ancient Celts of Ireland/Scotland/France/England did celebrate their New Year on November 1. This would make October 31 New Year’s Eve.
As we know Romans conquered like .. everything. So when Rome took over the Celtic lands (which lasted like half a century) some Roman celebrations were thrown into the mix. One of these holidays was similar to the modern Memorial Day. Simply a day to remember those that have died.
In like the seventh or eighth century a Pope (I don’t remember which one. I want to say it was Gregory) made November 1 a holiday. It was called (in archaic English) All Hallow’s. Today its called All Saints Day.
So the night before All Hallow’s? All Hallow’s Eve, of course. This was then called Samhain then Halloween.
I think it is a huge mix of many cultures.
How do I celebrate Samhain?
Well while I do it quite simply.
I place a candle on my altar for each beloved dead. This year there are 6 candles.
- My Paternal Grandmother
- My Paternal Grandfather
- A childhood friend
- Maternal Uncle
- Husband’s Grandmother
- Husband’s Aunt
I anoint each candle and either whisper their name to the candle – or the person’s title. This candle is then lit in their memory while I think of them.
I feel this kind of quiet time is important to continue the healing process. Not only that but with our everyday busy lives often we don’t have time to stop and think about things that really mean a lot to us.
Rarely do we share our history/herstory with one another. We don’t tell one another stories like we once did.
I make offerings to my Patron Goddess. This is the time of year I either dedicate or rededicate myself to a Patron God or Goddess. This year I will be once again rededicating myself to Hecate.
When my Beloved Dead candles have extinguished themselves I tell each person for whom a candle was lit that I love them. I tell them I miss them. I tell them that they are welcome in my home for the evening if they want to be there. I will leave sort of like a group offering (a glass of wine, a chunk of freshly made bread) and thank them for being part of my life.
The next morning – the offerings made to my Beloved Dead are placed outside. I then tell anyone who I feel is still present that they are free to return to their side of the veil.
I do not smudge. I do not do any protection stuff. Why? Because I have only invited the people I have named. I didn’t invite ALL spirits to my home or sacred space. I do not need protection from any of my Beloved Dead. I do, however, treat them with the same respect as a spirit as I did when they were living.
Not everyone feels the need to choose a patron God or Goddess. Some, though, feel called to do this. A lot of what I will say in this post will probably not apply to anyone. That’s okay. I feel its never a bad thing to hear information. You don’t have to agree, disagree, adopt or transmute any of it.
In my opinion all religions have ‘characters’ which are all basically the same thing. They all share similar paths but the names have been changed. I choose, to mix and match depending on who identifies with me.
But Jen if they are all the same person why does it matter which ‘name’ you choose to call them?
Well let’s say you have a favorite book. A few years later that book becomes a film. Its named the exact same thing. The characters have the same names, but something is off. Its because the person the producer/directer has chosen to play those characters aren’t how you had pictured these people in your mind’s eye.
That’s how choosing a patron God/Goddess is to me.
Why choose a patron God or Goddess?
I think it gives you focus. It gives you a reason to focus on different aspects that you’d normally not pay attention to.
I devote myself to a different God or Goddess for a minimum of one year. There have been years I have chosen to rededicate myself to the same God or Goddess because I don’t feel my work is done. Its a way of improving aspects of yourself. I try to adapt their vibrations and energies to my life.
When I was young I pictured my Goddess as a ‘spider hag’. It was an old lady who could take the form of a spider. She was venomous but wouldn’t attack unless provoked (like most wild things.)
Later in life I learned about the Greek Pantheon and happened to put the name Hecate to my goddess. Do I worship the ex-Titan Hecate? Not really. At least I don’t think so – but there are some similarities. I happen to think if the energies of the deity I work with didn’t like me calling her Hecate I would have been corrected by now. Perhaps this Goddess doesn’t have a known name and has just allowed me to call her Hecate because that is simply what is comfortable with me.
Choosing a patron God or Goddess can give you some strength and solace. Its also a good opportunity to expose yourself to different paths that you may not be familiar with. I hope to one day feel comfortable with Oshun and ask her to lend her aspects to my life but the time has not come yet.
Some Goddesses and Gods are more picky than others. You can’t just say in your head “Yep I am now a devotee of Isis” and that be it. That is not it.
You should be able to answer:
- Why are you a devotee of this God/Goddess?
- What characteristics of them do you hope to adapt?
- What kind of daily offerings would they like?
- Am I prepared to pray to and give offerings to this God/Goddess every day?
- Am I willing to accept aspects which I may not think I need?
- How long will I devote myself?
These may seem like stupid questions but there are people who say they are a devotee of a God/Goddess yet have never had a line of communication. Gods and Goddesses will come in your meditations, dreams, while you’re typing a blog. They will present themselves in different ways and its up to you to recognize it.
There are signs. You’ll know them when you see them. Once you have inner confirmation, allow yourself some time to debate. If that God/Goddess is willing to work with you, they want you to be sure its what you want, too!
Who do you work with regularly and why? How did you know they were right for you?
Every summer I return to my home state. Often there are at least two holidays I ‘miss’. I do not have and likely will never have a travel altar.
The first few times I felt really lost during Litha and Lammas. I had become so accustomed to celebrating a certain way that I didn’t now how to celebrate without all my ‘pretties’.
Its taken a few years, but I have finally learned that I don’t need any of my regular tools to celebrate. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of using tools its hard to imagine holding ritual without them. Trust me, though, it isn’t as hard as you think. You probably already do many of these things without really realising it!
This is what I do:
Spend most of the day outside. I greet the sun when I wake up. I thank God for helping all the crops grow. I admire all the flowers, wildlife, and spontaneous storms as they roll through. At night when the fireflies start to twinkle, the moon rises, and the bullfrogs start to croak I am still. I thank Goddess for shining through the darkness (if there is a dark moon – I empathise with her need to rest) and giving the nocturnal wildlife the light they need to see.
Typically I use this holiday as an excuse to gather wild flowers. I thank God and Goddess for the flowers.
Thanks. That’s all. I thank God and Goddess for all the fruits, vegetables, and grains I will eat to sustain myself through the dark months. I thank the God for his strength during summer, and give a heartfelt inner speech about what kind of success or prosperity I’ve had during the year to that point. I praise Goddess for all her motherly work. I spend these few days making ‘fall’ food such as pumpkin soup, bread/rolls, squash etc.
I use this holiday as a time to feast.
I don’t cast a circle in the normal sense. I find a way to just be still and be alone with the feeling you only get when you have a personal connection to the divine. It isn’t quite meditating, yet it isn’t a fully awake state. Its like a light daydream. Right before I feel myself hitting this state I take notes of the smells, temperature, animals (if outside) and my feelings. Offerings made during the time I have no altar are always simple. Sometimes its just the heel of a loaf of bread. Maybe its leftover lettuce or spinach from the big bowl of salad I made.
No one realises I’m having a little mini ritual. I don’t say anything out loud. Everything is kept very personal and silent. I make no hand gestures (this doesn’t mean I couldn’t – I just choose not to.)
Celebrating holidays without tools helped me appreciate what my tools really mean to me – and what they bring to my spells and rituals. While I am on vacation I don’t do any spell work. I use this time, instead, as a study time. I will spend this time learning new techniques and information which will guide me once I return home. I also use this time to catch up on reading. Since purchasing an e-reader I have been simply devouring books. Sometimes book stores with a variety of Pagan books is hard to find!
Before I leave my house – I cleanse my sacred space. I make sure my libation bowl is full. My libation bowl is a small crystal bowl which I fill with gathered rain water, a crystal of some kind, salt from my altar, and some ritual water (I make it myself but I think the popular name for it is Florida Water). I cast a circle and converse with God and Goddess to tell them that I will be away. I ask that they take no offence if the libation bowl dries (sometimes I am gone for 8 weeks or more). I burn some incense, light a candle, and ask that they see over my travels. I leave an offering of some kind (flowers, bread, salt, ashes from my incense) outside.
When I return – I start with lighting my working candle while I physically clean the entire room top to bottom while playing clearing music. Sometimes I find a good radio station on iTunes, at times I pop in a generic ‘nature sounds’ CD, and there are times I even sing. My intense physical cleaning includes all altar tools. I recharge everything for two days(technically one FULL day): a day in the sun — a night under the moon. Depending on the weather the items may be charged through the window in the light of Goddess. The moon doesn’t necessarily have to be full, but I normally prefer it that way. However, if I know I will be doing any workings or ritual soon after arriving home I will not wait for the full moon. Even when we cannot see Goddess she is always there. This allows me time to recuperate from traveling while everything cleanses and charges.
The time I spend with all my stuff when I return helps to strengthen the bond I have with those items. They are mine. They belong to me. Like any healthy and strong relationship, my passion is rekindled for these things when I have been away for any extended period of time. These things are not just things. They are my things. They are the physical representatives of other things. They each mean something to me.