Tools of the Craft : The Besom

Brooms are everywhere this time of the year. Black ones. Orange ones. Black and orange. Brooms with lightening bolts on the handle. You name it and you can likely find it on a besom. Other than the pointy hat, few other things identify witches as well, witches other than this universal accessory. Brooms have played an integral part in modern witchcraft and occult history. In fact, it would be hard to locate a circle anywhere this time of the year where a broom wasn’t somewhere to be found. It’s not just for sweeping the front porch anymore, at least not these.
As I said, brooms come in all sizes, shapes, textures, and patterns. Traditionally brooms were created from an ash or hazel (depending upon which was readily available in the area), sometimes willow, and birch branches or an herb called…you guessed it!….broom. Broom in it’s natural habitat of England, Scotland, parts of Asia, and warmer climates of Europe, has many uses, making brooms is just one. This bitter tasting herb grows as a shrub and can be used as both a toxin and a medicine. As an herbal treatment for bladder and kidney problems, and as a diuretic broom is used in conjunction with other herbs usually as an infusion over the course of a week or two until it is ready to be mixed into a potion. Unlike most herbs, this one is better taken with alcohol as it is very bitter and has an unpleasant scent after it dries and is boiled down.
The herb itself is very tall almost three feet high, woody with long tangling twig like stems, and grows in unlikely places. The rougher the terrain the happier this particular herb is. In fact, it will grow on rocky mountains in poor soil with little rainfall. This made it ideal for using as a tool or utensil for cleaning as well as magick.
Constructing brooms (besom) is pretty simple really. All that is needed is a long stave of either hazel, ash, or willow, willow twine, and long twiggy broom. The broom is connected to the stave with the willow twine and voila a besom is born! Of course the use of said besom isn’t always so simple.
Besoms were used, and still are, to clean the space for circle, to sweep away stagnant energy, as a protective barrier, to welcome guests, as a marital fertility aid (jumping the broom), and in some cases as a form of circle casting itself. Besoms placed near doorways welcome guests and ward away negative spirits. Sweeping the doorway, porch, and front of the home prevented energy from gathering and remaining there to cause problems later. In some cultures, sweeping of one’s feet meant the person in question would either get pregnant, go to jail, or get married. In other cultures it’s a way of removing the last bits of energy after shaking it loose with the besom.

Other lore regarding the besom include never sweeping with a broom while a deceased family member is in the home. A broom that suddenly falls from a door way announces company on the way. Brooms placed over the door protects against fairies and imps. Never bring old brooms into a new home and never burn a broom. Both are very bad luck.

 

The Welsh gypsy practice of jumping the broom is said to bring the newly wedded couple good fortune and many children. In parts of Africa sweeping over a man’s feet is said to bring on impotence. Of course, one can’t mention brooms without the practice of riding one.

 

The Dark Ages brought mountains of superstition regarding witches and devils. One is said to be the consort of the other and riding a broom was a reward for carrying out the devil’s work on Earth. I strongly suspect that should a Witch be able to actually get a broom to sweep his or her floor on its own, much less fly, there would be mass conversions. Certainly modern television witches have no problem twinkling their noses to a spotless home. However, Dark Age witches probably used a salve called flying ointment which was used to dress the broom for ritual use. This ointment consisted of a fatty base in which essential oils and herbs were mixed and then used to dress the broom from tip of the stave to the joining of the herb. Herbs such as wolfsbane, hemlock, henbane, and Nightshade were used and still are as a basis for charging these brooms. Charging is the practice of imparting energy onto an object so it become personal and receptive to the individual’s will. The first mention of flying ointments in conjunction with brooms and their use could be as early as the mid 1400’s.
The besom itself is a work of symbolism. It represents the union of the God and Goddess, a holy marriage, that revitalizes the Earth. Brooms may be created on May Day (Beltane, Belteanne, Beltaine, Cetsamhain), but not purchased on this day. To do so is said to sweep away friends and family and prevent visitors from returning.
Today modern witches still use the besom as an altar adornment, to sweep away negative or stale energy, and to recharge the energy in a space. They are used to cast circle, to mark the barriers of a circle, cleanse and consecrate the circle, and to prepare for smudging. Non-witches also use the broom to scent their homes, adorn their doors, and decorate their homes. It’s unlikely any of us witchy folk will be saving gas and riding our brooms any time soon, but the tradition and lore still live on.

Book Review – The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells by Shawn Robbins and Charity Bedell

 

 

Available at Amazon.com

The Good Witch’s Guide is truly what it sets out to be: an excellent reference guide for skilled practitioners, novices or those just beginning to take interest in the magickal arts. The book is well-organized, insightful and provides explanatory summaries within each section that provides clarification of purpose.

The Good Witch’s Guide is broken into three parts, the first of which is Ye Olde Witch’s Wisdom, Rituals and Formula’s. This part of the book gives a brief history of the folklore, aromatherapy, and use of crystals and gemstones. I like that this part of the book explained the “doctrine of signature” which is thematic in traditional folklore. I found the essential oil list comprehensive; the chapter provides a list of common ailments, points of improvement and essential oils that are recommended to provide relief. The essential oil section is also divided into healing and magickal and provides several recipes for each. Required items that many of these recipes call for are easy to locate.

The chapter, Crystal Power, provides information on charms, elixirs, and explains chakra balancing in a concise manner. The chapter also provides a list of crystals and gemstones and their applications as well as recipes for healing and magickal applications. The list provides a great number of commonly utilized crystals and gems.

The second part of the book, Spirit Spells and Spirituality, outlines the importance of well-being and visualization. I absolutely love the spells for well-being and self-love. The focus segues into spells that can be utilized to heal others such as the Healing Poppet Spell. The section then transitions to cleansing, protection and magical spells. Chapter 5 covers candles, their colors and uses.

Chapter 6 has spells for health and also some for removing fears and phobias. The section is rounded out with a section that defines types of spirituality and philosophies. I like that it gives a brief summary of those listed without a bias toward one or another. “A Good Witch’s Guide” encourages and promotes self healing in daily life and encouraging use of healing of others and then extend it outwards to include wildlife and the environment. It contains a gentle reminder to be kind, be mindful and act with love.

The third part of the book, DIY Brews and Potions, continues to remind the reader to look in your kitchen and your yard for sources for herbs and plants. As well as defining animism, this section contains a terminology of infusions, decoctions and tinctures. A list of common herbs and uses for them includes information on possible prescription drug interactions, information that is vital to all practitioners. As a kitchen witch, I really appreciated Chapter 8, Kitchen Witchware: Cooking up Magick. There are several recipes that are definitely going to be incorporated into my repertoire!

The A to Z of Health Remedies is a nice addition to the appendix. I enjoyed seeing remedies from other practitioners. The Good Witch’s Guide also provides a great resource list for supplies and also a recommended reading and reference material list.

I enjoyed The Good Witch’s Guide. It is a good read. The book provides a summary explanation, directions for self use, healing, magick and then encourages focus outward to use the knowledge to benefit others and the environment around us. Throughout the book there is significant emphasis on cleansing the items you work with of residual energy as well as a focus on energy, mood and intent. These things are very important to keep in mind whether you are creating an essential oil for a ritual bath or baking a loaf of bread for a family dinner.

I appreciated the liked that the format of the book was user-friendly. Each of the three sections is broken down into healing and magickal applications and each of these sections lists herbs, spices, plants, supplies uses in either application. I also liked that the authors encourage the practice of “look in your spice cabinet” and also to look for plants, herbs in your environment.

I recommend The Good Witch’s Guide: A Modern-Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and Spells to anyone who is interested in learning or continuing to seek knowledge with healing lore or has an interest in the arts. Rating: 5 stars

 

Lenore Sagaskie is a writer and artist living in self-imposed exile in Michigan.

You can follow Lenore on Facebook and on Twitter @Lenorewrites

A Free Form Sort of Way

I started teaching and facilitating workshops in 2013. Of course I didn’t know where to begin in the big ocean of all that my life had taught me and continues to teach me. All I knew, was I need to share what I’ve learned. It took me a few teaching experiences to know really where I needed t0 start. For I came to understand that there were some needed tools that could help with the life changing things I have to share. It was also in some ways that I knew that these tools were the things that really helped with my healing and transformations that have been going on for the last 11 years. I had at first called my class that had these tools Unscript It! and Unscript Yourself!. Yes I did have a rough time knowing how to name my classes. Then when the decision to do my tools class I settled on A Free Form Sort of Way! In fact I will be teaching this class at this year’s ConVocation. But now I know you are curious as to what this is all about.

My first painting I did using ArtRage app January 2017

A Sunlit Evening by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

It is all about active, expressive meditation styles that are free-form in nature. These meditation styles teach us to make use of our voice and bodies in a free-form sort of way. Another way of seeing free form use of voice and bodies is things like ecstatic dancing and singing or sacred dance and singing.  I also share how we can use creative arts in free-form sort of ways, so that we can freely express ourselves. It may seem odd to hear that free-form dance or singing and art can do so much to help us. For I know that most of what we have available, while very helpful and such, they require that we do things a certain way. In fact much of our lives are set up to follow certain ways to seeing things, doing things and so much more. I know I myself was struggling still to find my path and find myself within all the should do this and that this way and believe this and that. I had been doing meditation, chanting, prayer and ritual and so much more. Yet I was still somehow stuck in certain patterns and was feeling guilty when I couldn’t do ritual in the suggested ways. Often I found myself doing spontaneous things that really helped shift things for me and empower me. Yet I felt guilty for these spontaneous things I was doing during ritual and such.

That all started to change though when somehow Gabrielle Roth’s work showed up in my life!

Gabrielle’s books Maps To Ecstasy & Sweat Your Prayers, became a part of my life about 11 years ago.

A Book By Gabrielle Roth

 

Another great book by Gabrielle Roth

With these books I started another part of my healing journey. There has been other peoples work that has added to her work and my understanding of free-form expression of our voices and bodies. Two such people are Bradford Keeney PhD his book: The Bushman Way of Tracking God and a local person in the Detroit Metro area Michael Patrick through his: Dance Meditation Technique.

A book by Bradford Keeney

These three people in different ways guide us in the benefits of free form body movement and expression of our voice. In different ways they show us how this path to meditation can help us get to know ourselves and how our mind and bodies respond to things in our lives. In different ways they show us how movement and use of voice help us to heal the disconnect we have between body, mind, feeling and emotions. They also show us how we can use these styles to make our connection with the divine in a more authentic way. These meditations styles also help us to in a conscious and active way to navigate our tougher challenges that are a part of our healing journeys. And as we are getting to know how our bodies and mind interact and react to things around us, we find means to move through stressful and tough things, because we are aware of things and we also are aware of how we can diffuse things. Why this works is because we are learning to face things and to express those things and this is a part of what can help us heal. For we are listening and paying attention to ourselves and we are giving voice, expression to things. Often just that act of acknowledging something , we start a process of diffusing things and calming things down.

The other thing that started to happen with my practice of free form expression of voice and body, was my spiritual practice deepened. I in more consistent ways experienced  connection with the whole of life and it’s energies. I found myself wanting to commune with the wind, trees and animals, to where I’d dance with the trees and sing with the birds and insects. I often find myself being a bit more playful and filled with joy from the simplest of happenings and things. There is a certain freedom I gained in expressing myself through body and voice. I could feel the energies building easier and better for me when I do ritual or pray and chant freely and well, as raw as possible. Now mind you I still have the times I follow prescribed procedures when doing ritual, meditating and such. Yet so much for me has come from adding free form expression of my voice and body, as a part of regular practice also.

Another thing I’ve experienced with my free form meditation practice is that I can separate and know what emotions, energies and such belong to me and set myself free of others emotions and such. This is an important thing if you are an empath, energy worker, counselor or healer. It is also a helpful thing if you are Autistic. But even if you don’t identify with any of those things, it is good to be able to know what is your emotions and energies, what belongs to you versus what may belong to another person. Reason is we all take information in of varying types and in a variety of ways. We can get lost in all that information that we take in and it can leave us wondering why we are feeling a certain way, when it feels like we shouldn’t have a reason to feel say angry or depressed. So being able to move other peoples energies and emotions out of our system can be a big help in taking some of the edge off of being overwhelmed or buried under so much. Chances are if we feel this way we’ve been taking on to much of other people’s things. So it’s good to have means to let that excess energies and emotions out in a safe way.

This is just some of how free form expression of our bodies and voices can help us.

Now I want to share a few routines that can help:

First pick a favorite album or play list; Then ask yourself and your body ” How am I feeling? How is my body feeling?”;With the music playing start moving your body in how ever way it is feeling!

examples; can be you are feeling sluggish. So you droop down, move slow. Another is you are stressed filled with tension, go ahead and tighten as much of your body as possible. You are feeling happy, do a happy dance then”

The point is move your body according to how it is feeling! As the music plays work through the way your are feeling. Let yourself feel and express what you and your body are feeling as much as you feel comfortable with.

” It is alright if you can only do this for say 5 minutes or a couple of songs” even that short bit of time can do wonders in diffusing the tough stuff and giving you more energy with the upbeat stuff! As you do this practice at least once or twice a week you will get better at helping your body and mind navigate how you are feeling both emotionally and physically.

You can also use this method to do energy work and to set intentions and work with affirmations! You also can spend time with The Divine and express your love and gratitude!

So allow yourself to work with and express your body and emotions through free form movement and see how it can help you.

Next is your voice!

This is a bit trickier if you don’t have any just instrumental type music you like. Yet your usual music can be alright for this also.

As for body movement, you now pick a playlist or album that you have found yourself humming or singing along with. Now you ask” What needs to be expressed?” and you express it through singing, humming or even just making sounds. We don’t always need words! The objective is to put as much feeling as you can into your voice as possible. It’s alright if words fail you! Just use your voice!

Once again it is alright if you can only do this for 5 minutes or a couple songs! All that matters is you consciously express what you are feeling through the music and your voice!

Again this can be used for a multitude of reasons!

Then comes the part that you combine your voice and body movement! And yes things can really take off when you combine the two! This is what you are working toward!

This is just a snap shot into how you can use free form expressions of your body and voice. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover these things for yourself!

I had mentioned free form expression through creative art styles in the earlier part of this article.

So let me share this particular style of free form expression with you.

I love art and I always hoped I could be an artist, even if it was just for myself. Yet sadly I didn’t have acceptable natural talent or ability when it came to art classes and such. I couldn’t draw like my sister could. Yet I did love to create cards for holidays and birthdays. Yet it never was something I thought I could do. So I never pursued anything with art.

Then I became a mother and one of my tough choices I made was to home school our child. It took me a few years to put together something that worked for myself and our child and fulfilled the state requirements also. It was during those early years that the Waldorf Education style arrived in my life. Fortunately I was able to find home school resources for this path of education. It helped us out a lot. It was also where I found that art was one of their core aspects. For the children are encouraged to do their own lesson books, in which they were encouraged to illustrate their lessons and write about their lessons in their own words. Working with our child through this style, opened some doorways for me to see what artistic things I could do.

A Zentangle

The Many Paths To Learning To Love by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

That was when some drawing styles came into my life. The first was: Touch Drawing, created by Deborah Koff-Chapin. Then came: Zentangle: created by Rick Roberts & Maria Thomas. Also two other books caught and grabbed my attention and those are: The Art of Silliness by Carla Sonheim and the other: Doodling with Jim Henson.

So what all did these styles teach me and still are teaching me? Well they first gave me the means that did not require me to know how to do this shape or this form and making sure that I got them proportioned right and the lines are right and well you know get it right! So they freed me up by giving some guidelines, yet gave me plenty of room to just draw! Some interesting things started to come to my notice. I’m a very creative person and learning this about myself seemed to free me up to take that creativity and use it to change my past history’s stories and programming. I also had some repeated “Aha!” moments as I saw that even though I couldn’t keep forms, shapes, lines and proportions right, I still got to see neat things come forth. It showed me that my life choices that I had made that weren’t right or healthy or did more harm than good, could be things that were still a part of who I was, yet could be turned around to help in my growth and understanding of things. That mistakes and such aren’t necessarily the terrible monsters we can make them out to be. That mistakes really are lessons. We weren’t meant to be perfect and have all the answers. Life is about exploring, learning, growing and healing. That the messiness of life can still be useful and it’s okay that we don’t get it right all the time. Learning this started helping me to feel alright around other people and helped me to not be so scared that I’m going to mess things up. Sure I do bumble and fumble, but guess what we all have our awkward moments with each other. I started to understand that we all are students in this thing called life.

A Zentangle Session

A Turtle That Showed Up by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

I could share so much more! But that is for a book project that needs to start happening! What I hope you take away from all this, is learning to know ourselves and love ourselves is the biggest job we have. I found that making free form expression a part of my routines has done so much to help me learn about myself and love myself. It has taught me and continues to teach me things about life and how to navigate it. It has helped me in being able to better to know what is my stuff and what belongs to other. It helps me by giving me an outlet to express and release things that have overloaded me. It has taught me that there can be good lessons in my mistakes and it has giving me so much in healing my connections with the layers of myself and also the greater wholeness of life and my fellow human brother and sisters. And it keeps giving so much more!

So please accept this invitation to explore these teachers I’ve shared with you and give these meditation styles a try and see what they do for you!!!

Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

 

 

 

 

Ritual Baths- Above and Beyond Cleansing

In Wicca and other forms of religious witchcraft it is common to take a ritual bath before you enter the ritual space.  This is to cleanse you and prepare you to interact with the God and Goddess.  This practice varies from a light sponge bath wiping down the body to coven members sharing a tub with individuals taking a quick dip in and out, to simple washing of the face, hands, and feet with a basin of ritual water.  No matter the style of ritual cleansing all of the above examples are types of ritual baths.

Magically baths can be used for so much more.  You can use them to cleanse and remove things from your life.  You can use them to prepare for sacred spaces and rituals.  Baths are very powerful in that tool and have been used that way for a very long time.  However there is much more than can be done with a magical bath.  Magical baths can be used to open roads, bring money, bring love, heal, and protect.  Soaking in a bath of herbs is one powerful way to get magical energy to surround your entire body mind and spirit.

The first thing you need to know is that you do not need bath tubs to work with magical baths.  Not at all.  You just need to have a basin to stand in and a bowl of water with the herbs. You can use a sponge bath or simply pour the water and herb mixture over your body from head to toe.  The important thing is that you physically touch the herbal mixture in some way.  If you have a shower stall you can work ritual baths.  You can do a sponge bath from head to toe or you could tie the herbs in a bit of cheesecloth and hang that over the shower head so that the charged water comes through and touches your skin.  You have options.

Now that we have that cleared up its time to talk about the different ways you can use baths.  Full immersion baths or the shower method are excellent for cleansing and removal.  So let’s start with a good cleansing bath.  A ritual bath needs just the herbs and the water to contain them.  You can use soap and water in a cleansing bath if you would like, but just having the herbs is fine.

Cleansing Ritual Bath

Materials:

5 Bay Leafs
1 Tbs Rosemary
1 Tbs Hyssop
1 Tbs Rue
5 White Sage Leaves
2 Bowls
1 cup
(Optional: Soap and or normal bathing supplies)

Ritual:

Take the herbs and mix them in a bowl.  As you mix them pray over the herbs.  Ask that their spirits and the spirits of your ancestors cleanse and clean you of any negativity.   See them radiating power.  Know that their energy together will bless you and remove everything that does not serve your highest need.  Add enough water to fill the bowl with the herbs about half way

Pour the bath water or fill the tub.  If you are standing in your shower either tie the bundle up in cheese cloth or have the basins of water ready.  Add the herbs to the water.  Stir the water clockwise visualizing them full of a white cleansing light.

Now begin to pour the water over your body starting from your head to your toe using the cup.  Always go from top to bottom when doing a cleansing or removal.  Never cross back up or you could cross yourself up (hex yourself and loose the cleansing work you are currently doing).  As you pour the water over your body a chant like “water wash away, water cleanse today” is important.  It continues to charge the water and the herbs while reminding your spirit and mind about the work going on.

As you soak in the bath  (or pour the herbal bath over your body) you should be sensing and feeling anything that doesn’t serve your highest good being forced into the water.   When you feel as if all of the stuff has been removed from your body stand up.  Pour the other bowl of water over your body to rinse off any residual energy from the water.  This will leave you feeling light and clean.

The water in your mind should have a gray or black appearance to it when you pull the drain.    That darkness is the negativity you are cleansing from your body.  Watch it go down the drain and feel yourself lighter and freer.  Towel dry off again from head to toe to seal in the cleansing you have just performed.  Once dry go about your day as planned.

That cleansing bath was one example.  Before you can do any work to bring good into your life you need to remove obstacles from your life.  That is what cleansing work is for.  Cleansing work opens the way for you to succeed in other areas of life.  A common area people are looking for help in is love.  A love bath is something that could benefit someone looking for love.

 

Love me sweet Bath

Materials:
Rose Petals
1 Tbs Honey
1 Tbs Lavender3 Tbs Sugar
2 Bowls
1 Cup

Ritual:
In the first bowl mix the rose petals, honey, lavender, and sugar.  As you mix the herbs pray over them and see them filled with a red light of love.  Feel and know that you are a person worthy of love and are open to love.  Remember to pray to the herbs for assistance in love.  Be sure to be specific about the type of person you want and the type of relationship that you want.

Once you are sure that the mixture is charged add the water to the bowl and begin to fill the tub. Fill the bowl with water about 3/4 of the way.  Once the tub has started to fill to a nice level (for me about 1/4 of the way is enough to start soaking but use your judgement) step into the tub and rub yourself down from head to toe with the hot water.  As you run the hot water over yourself see yourself in love and being loved by another person.  Visualize that person holding you and caressing you lovingly.

Now start to pour the love bath mixture over your body beginning with your head ending with your feet.  Use the cup to gently buy accurately pour the water over your body.  As you wash yourself with the bath chant something along the lines of “Love be new, love that’s true”.  See yourself in a lasting relationship.  Feel yourself full of love and all the happiness associated with it.

Once you have completely soaked in or covered your body with the love bath mixture take the other bowl of water and slowly rinse off.  If you are in a tub now is the time to pull the drain.  See the water returning to the earth sending your desire for love into the center of the earth.  See your love energy and the water bath combining as they flow down the drain into the earth.

Any water and herbs that remain in the bath mixture pour outside your front porch and if possible at a cross roads.  This will send your desire for a relationship out to the entire universe.

As you can see cleansing is one example of baths and love work is another.  There are many more ways to work with ritual baths out there.  Simply use your imagination and get to work.  If you don’t feel like making your own baths there are some excellent sources of precharged ritual baths out there.  We recommend Mystic Echoes

Mystic Echoes: Mystic Echoes Ritual Baths

 

 

Kindness, Compassion and Love: A Quiet Yet Potent Personal Revolution

I know you would never think of kindness and compassion and self-love, as something to be a revolutionary act. Yet a few months ago while 2016 was slowly coming to a close, I posted on Facebook this little blip on my approach to activism:

My activism is a quiet yet potent one. I treat all people with respect and consideration. I’m open to another person’s point of view even when they differ from mine.

For I do not have all the answers. I am willing to do my best to want to understand someone, than to judge and condemn. I’m not perfect in this. Yet I know I do the best I can and fortunately that this is what I am able to do most of the time.

Well this little blip on Facebook got a conversation going between myself and Melissa Welsh:

She shared how being kind is a huge deal. That also kindness shouldn’t be a big deal, yet sadly in the world today during these times it is a very big deal.

She sadly had a very good point as to why kindness seems a rare thing in the world today. We are encouraged on so many fronts to be afraid of this and of that, of this group of people and that group. We are encouraged to judge and condemn one another. We are told how to be, what to do, what to say, what to wear and so much more, so we can be acceptable, to be loved. Then we are faced with the fact most of us feel that others can’t relate or understand us, our lives , our challenges.

In fact most of us feel like we are the only ones facing challenges. Too many of us also feel like life hates us, life is too hard, that life is out to get us and that all that people know how to do is use us.  We live in constant stress and overload. So it isn’t a surprise that most people are in what I’ve come to understand as Survival Mode.

In this mode, that way too many of us live, kindness and human decency can go out the door. We often operate from a very enclosed space that is filled with our stress and worries, it is the only thing we see most days and we lose touch with one another and even ourselves. We lose touch with the rest of life. The part of life that is beautiful, friendly, amazing and surprising. The part of life that makes us smile and laugh and get a glimpse of joy.

As this conversation moved along and another in person conversation in December that I had with  Kenya Coviak  it got to the important part of what this article is about:

Kindness, Compassion & Love starts with us, with each individual, with each person that looks in a mirror!

The three of us, in these different conversations got to the core of why kindness is a big deal. Most of us struggle with loving and accepting ourselves. We struggle with being gentle, kind and understanding with ourselves.

We keep being stuck on the hamster wheel of thinking love, kindness and compassion comes from outside ourselves.

That if only we have this or that, wear this or that and so forth and all of this just so we can be loved, accepted and feel good about ourselves. It’s an even tougher thing for those of us that in one way or another ended up being different.We have mental and emotional things that make us different. Our skin color, our body shape, hair, eyes that makes us different. We have temperaments, personalities and intelligences that make us different. We hold different beliefs and opinions of our families, religions and so many other ways that make us different. Sadly we are not encouraged to celebrate and honor these differences.

So how do we get to that place of being able to love and be kind and compassionate toward ourselves?

There are many ways to getting to that place of love. So let me guide you through some of this. First order of business:

Look in a mirror at least 3 times a day, then as loudly or as quietly for you may have folks in the house or place of work, yet say: I love You!

I know that may seem too simplistic and silly too, yet I tell you it starts the process, it gets the ball rolling. I start you to with a mirror because that sort of puts you outside of you. Let’s face it we can say we love our kids our, partner, friends and many others. Yet we struggle with saying that and feeling that for ourselves. So a mirror is a good place to start. And because there is great power in words and voice it is important that you speak the words I love you!. So yes shout those three words or whisper those three words at least 3 times a day.

Then I have another step I share with you, it is something I do for myself I sing this, chant it or just speak it at least 2 times in a day. Here it is:

I love myself!

I love my life!

All the way through

the deepest depths

the highest heights.

All the way around

and all within

I love myself!

I love my life!

Another thing I chant, sing or speak and I suggest you do this one also 2 times a day is this one:

Oh dear love!

With these eyes let me see

the love that is shining down.

With these feet let me feel:

the love that is rising up.

With these ears let me hear

the love that is all around.

And with this heart and mind

know the love that is within,

everything, everyone and everywhere!

This is just your start! I start you out this way for you start to love yourself, your life and realize that love is there within you and is all around! This gives you a good foundation and also the energies needed to start the next part. Which is deprogramming yourself, disconnecting yourself from all that stuff that tells you, that you are not lovable or that you can’t love yourself or that you can’t know love till this or that happens or this or that you have to have in order to love yourself and your life.

I want to share with you a teacher that writes some wonderful books on how to free ourselves from our programming and how to live a life in which we love ourselves and our lives and can live it with joy. The first book I read of this teacher’s works was suggested to me during a growth and healing spurt that being challenging. I was at ConVocation during that time and some things were being stirred up when somebody recommended Miguel Ruiz’s book: “The Four Agreements“. I didn’t know what to expect. The book isn’t a thick one and it was the first I had heard of this person. Yet I am so glad I bought the book.  Let me share a bit of those agreements:

The Four Agreements: By Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be Impeccable with your World:

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.

As you can see just by this introduction, that these agreements are about learning to be kind, compassionate and loving toward ourselves. These agreements help us to not use our words against ourselves or others. That it is alright to communicate yourself clearly about how you feel, what you want and to not be afraid to ask questions. These agreements teach us so much more. And Don Miguel Ruiz’s approach is gentle. It at times felt like I was sitting in front of a loving Great Grandparent that is sharing what life has taught them. I also highly recommend don Miguel Ruiz’s other books for further reading.

Other authors I recommend is Nirmala and Gina Lake. Both of these authors have much to share on how to love yourself and getting free of the programming that keeps you trapped in the loop of not loving yourself.  A couple of both of these authors are:

Nirmala

Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self

Living From the Heart

Gina Lake

Getting Free: How to Move Beyond Conditioning and Be Happy

Trusting Life: Overcoming Fear and Beliefs That Blocks Peace and Happiness

There are many other authors and teachers I could share. But I know what I am sharing is a lot in this writing. But each of the mentioned authors can be great guides helping you to deprogram yourself. Will help you learn how to love yourself even when things are challenging and you make mistakes. They will give you a great foundation that will make the next recommendation a bit less challenging with time.

Unplug yourself and start limiting your media interactions.I would suggest start by limiting the amount of news and commercials you watch or listen to. I know I know, I can hear it the What! and such. And I want you to know I’m not suggesting that all media is bad or that all news sources are bad for us. But it does help to unplug ourselves some from certain parts of the media. For let’s face it, most news is all about all the hurtful ways we harm each other, or compete against each other.You are lucky if the news on TV can even share one positive event that happened, save this team or that team won, or hey tomorrow is going to be a sunny day. News on TV can really can get us spooked and stressed.

So yes unplug from the news some. Then commercials sit there and tells us what will make us cool, interesting and such. Commercials will tell us this or that can fix us.  Yes I know when you are watching a show you want to stay on top of things with that show. Yet it is a good thing to watch a lot less commercials. The other area in our lives with media is, social media.

I love social media. It lets me stay in touch with people I meet at festivals and ConVocation and also with some of my family. Yet I know that with social media comes all that sharing of information. Some of it is great and fantastic. But some of it will stress us out and put us in a place of fear. With most social media engines working on watching your likes and loves or even what you hate. They go by what we are responding to!!!So you see on a day you get on and most of what you are seeing is this and that going wrong somewhere or somehow.Don’t click on every single one of them and don’t click the emotes showing how you felt about said thing.

Limit your responses for what lifts you up or what encourages to love yourself or what might help in a difficult yet positive way to see something different about yourself or your life. I know this is a radical idea.

Yet I tell you as a highly sensitive empath  and highly functional Autistic person, cutting out some of that media does a world of good to ease some stress in our lives. Helps us not feel so overwhelmed. We start feeling less fearful. We also start being able to really get to know ourselves and what we really want, because we aren’t getting hammered as much by others telling us what’s good or not good for us through the media. So just do your best to limit some of your media time and what you take in as you look and read.

I know this has been an extensive sharing of things. Yet I know that it is a needed thing for each of us to learn to be loving, compassionate and kind people toward ourselves. We need to learn that we, us, each individual can heal and change things for the better toward ourselves and our lives.

It all starts with You and Me doing our individual best to be kind, compassionate and loving toward ourselves and our lives!!!

Be Blessed Dear Ones and Love Yourselves and One Another!!!

Aurora Shirina Lee

 

Knot Magick

A few years back, a member of the circle I was then a part of brought a photocopy of some info on knot magic to our ritual, and we read it, and tried it out.

It was an interesting experience, one that I want to share with you.

A yellow patterned background with a black cord on top with four knots
Knot magic at work. Photo: Janet Callahan

It turns out the copies I was given years ago are a chapter from DJ Conway’s book, Wicca: The Complete Craft.  I don’t own a copy, but Google Books has it in their library.  The internet is an amazing thing….

Knot magic has been used for hundreds (probably thousands) of years. Many of the various Goddesses of Fate are weavers, who tie  and loosen knots all the time. And there are lots of stories of sailors buying knotted cords from witches and wizards, in order to make the wind blow if their ships were stalled.

Looking back to that bit about the ships tells us something important about knot magic: more than anything, it’s something of a battery, storing energy up for when we need it. And frequently, the energy stored is something natural – wind, the full moon, the dark moon….

An organized witch might, then, prep many different cords with knots, each cord representing a specific type of energy they might need later.

Another obvious use of knot magic is to bind.  That is, after all, the definition – to tie something securely.  Equally, the untying of knots can be used to symbolize the dissolving of a problem.

Even our weddings, both Pagan and more mainstream use knot magic and knot imagery – to get married is to “tie the knot” in the mainstream world, and our handfastings typically involve an actual cord being tied around the hands of those being joined.

a person in a gray suit and a person in a wedding dress, with a third person tying their hands
Image via flickr user ms2588a, under creative commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

 

So, how would one use knot magic to store and use energy?  The example given in the pages I have give some good examples, and this is basically what we did that night so long ago.

For the full moon, pick a silver or dark purple cord. While the instruction say to use a 2-3 foot cord, I’d suggest 39 inches – 13 x 3 – for best effect. You want cord that is not too slippery (satin cord, for example, does not hold knots well), and not too stiff (we used 1/8″ gross-grain ribbon, which was pretty hard to tie because it was stiff).

On the full moon, cast your circle and perform any other ritual things your tradition recommends before your working.

Use a full moon incense, and cleanse the cord in the incense smoke. Stand somewhere in the moonlight, making sure the moonlight has touched all of the cord.

Now, you will tie nine knots, from one end of the cord to the other, while reciting this chant (or something like it):

Knot of one, this spell’s begun.
Knot of two, the power is true.
Knot of three, my will shall be.
Knot of four, I gather more.
Knot of five, moon power is alive.
Knot of six, the power I fix.
Knot of seven, moon magic leaven.
Knot of eight, this spell is fate.
Knot of nine, the threes are trine.
I gather moonbeams in this cord, according to my magic words.
Moon power is stored here on this night for magic good and strength so bright.
(chant from Wicca: The Complete Craft)

Then finish out your ritual and close your circle.

When you later wish to use that stored energy (for example, you need to do a spell that normally requires a full moon, but the moon is now just a tiny sliver), take your cord and your full moon incense, set up your ritual as you normally would, and during your working, you untie the knots from one end to the other, visualizing the full moon energy flowing into your hands, using the following chant:

I open the door to the power beyond,
The moon gate that has an Otherworld key.
Unending power flows into my hands.
This is my will and so shall it be.
(chant from Wicca: The Complete Craft)

Then do the rest of your working as if there is a full moon, and then close out your ritual as you typically would.

References:

Wicca: The Complete Craft, by DJ Conway, published by Crossing Press, September 9, 2001

http://realpagan.net/forum/topics/cord-or-knot-magic

http://www.magicalrecipesonline.com/2012/10/knot-magic-tie-knot-bind-magical-power.html

Cord Magic Basics

https://bytheknotofnine.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/historical-spells-cords-knots-and-magic/

Knot Magic

Knot Spells

 

 

2016 Lansing Pagan Pride Day Spiritual Transformations

The folks at Lansing Pagan Pride Day sent us a great press release about their event on August 27, 2016. We are going to present it here so we can spread the word. Thank you, Tanya the PR Queen, for getting it to our writers so quickly. This is their event as a local chapter of the Pagan Pride Project.

 

The Pagan Pride Project
The Pagan Pride Project

It is with great pleasure that the Mid-Michigan Pagan Council is announcing the 2016 Lansing Pagan Pride Day Event.  The event will be filled with vendors, classes, rituals, music, kid’s activities, swag and a food tent.  The event will be held at the Valhalla Park in Holt, MI from 10am to 6pm. Free to attend which also includes classes and rituals!

Each year the Mid-Michigan Pagan Council adopts a theme that guides the climate of the event.  This year the theme is Spiritual Transformation. This theme was inspired by the Elder Futhark rune Eihwaz. Eihwaz, pounced “Yew-was”, dates back to proto Norse.  The meaning translates to “the axis or process of spiritual becoming.”   This rune indicates change, transformation, confrontation of fears and assertive powers.

As part of this theme a public ritual will be performed by the Mystics of Rhea Lur coven.  Mystics of Rhea Lur is based in Corunna – Owosso area.  They are an eclectic based coven that has been practicing for approximately ten years. The coven is non-high priest/ priestess basis and is led by two elders – Helen Griffus and Cathy McQuillin. This will be their first public ritual. This is a participatory ritual and is open to anyone.

Education will be offered through several classes throughout the day.  These classes are open to anyone seeking information, change or out of sheer curiosity.  The classes will be taught by highly-regarded Michigan pagan community members such as: Helen Griffus from the Mystics of Rhea Lur coven, Stan Nunn and Geralyn Mystic from Pagan Pathway(s) Temple in Detroit, Melissa Hill from Cedarsong Grove and LeAnn Crouch a local solitary practitioner.  These experienced teachers will provide the skills, tools and advices to achieve higher spiritual functioning.

Offering many wonderfully hand-crafted products and other goods to help create the Spiritual Transformation in your life, is our local vendors. The Lansing Pagan Pride Day open-air market vendors will offer a variety of goods that range from baked goods, oils, jewelry, altar supplies, books, divination tools to natural health and beauty products, home décor and clothing. Just some of our vendors are:

  • GothicMoms DarkCharms
  •  Cedarsong Grove
  • Living Roots Creations
  • Moonlight Magic & More
  • Tarot by Roz
  • Archaic Circle
  • The Enchanted Oak
  • Body Hart and Soul
  • Momento Mori
  • Mother Moon
  • Brady Street Bakery and Confectionery
  • Copper Bear Creations
  • Alex and Jayde Kids
  • Children’s Activities Tent.

No event would be complete without food!  Spending the entire day at this fun-filled community event will surely work up an appetite. Stop by the food court for a bit to eat.  Reasonable prices with a wide range of foods to choose from that is friendly to most diets – including homemade five-star vegan veggie burgers!

While you’re there don’t forget to pick up some swag to let everyone know that you participated in the 2016 Lansing Pagan Pride Day!  Show off your pagan pride by purchasing your very own official 2016 LPPD Spiritual Transformation tee-shirt! Shirts are available for pre-order – see the website listed for details.

And finally – stop by and say “hi” to the proud sponsors of the 2016 Lansing Pagan Pride Day: Dark Candles •. Universal Society of Ancient Ministries • Pagans In Need-Lansing.  Their generous donations helped to make this event possible.

The Mid-Michigan Pagan Council is committed to the strength and growth of our Pagan community. We value all pagans, from the individual to the family, the solitaire to the coven, and the merchant to the store owner. The Mid-Michigan Pagan Council is without tradition, as we celebrate spiritual freedom, fellowship, and personal beliefs. We support an individual’s right to believe and practice what is true and right for them. We will strive to build a strong pagan community in the Mid-Michigan area that is supportive, and a topic of pride for all persons involved.

Having attended this event once, I can honestly say that I had a really good time and highly recommend it. They have been around for a few years now, and the staff are committed and have a lot of heart. The park is spacious and there if plenty of time for learning, contemplation, and family fun.

For more information about the Lansing Pagan Pride Day, you  can contact Carrie Zay or Nichole Ellwagner at 517.402.1026 or 517.331.0771 or email info@lansingppd.org.

 

Foreshadow


Foreshadow
She heard a cry in the night
It shook her from her sleep
She sat up in the full moon bright
Her sorrow stuck her deep
She listened to the Owls screech
The howling Wolf in the wood
She knew she wouldn’t fall asleep
She shouldn’t if she could
Goddess Nature was calling
Soon Her tears poured as hard as rain
She could feel her heart falling
Lightening ignited the pain
She stood and cried in the storm
Let the water heal where she felt torn
Nature mirroring how she felt
her sadness soon began to melt
She got it out
that broken heart
Through the storm
a brand new start
She crawled back into bed
With only darkness to see
A smile spread across her lips
She whispered “Blessed Be”

by Jill Marie

Starting a Daily Practice

There is one question that many new Pagans ask and that is how do I incorporate my path into my daily life?  In what ways can I make my practice be a real part of my everyday life?  There are many books out there on holiday rituals, formal offerings and worship styles but there is not always information on what a daily practice could involve and how to go about starting a daily practice yet many of those same books tell the readers the importance of a daily practice.

Its easy to see why new pagans and even those who have done the basics and want to go deeper into their path and practice can get overwhelmed when they are trying to find a way to go deeper.  Daily practice is one of the ways that a person can develop their spiritual and religious practice deeper.  These daily practices help you align yourself with the Gods and spirits.    They give you a tool to bring all aspects of your religion and spiritual practices into your life.  Finally they can provide structure which allows deeper development with spirits.

Daily practice doesn’t have to be formal.  It can be as simple as prayers said a few times a day or it could be simply working on altar maintenance.  Daily practice should not take up an extended amount of time in your day.  It should just be a small part of what you do in your daily life.  Setting aside 15 minutes or so for prayers, meditations, etc is all that daily practice really needs to be.

Daily practice does not have to involve magical work but it can.   One aspect of working magic on a daily basis is that you begin to see the reason why so many folk magic traditions are very practical.  You begin to notice that everything you have in your home readilly available can be used in some way shape and form of spells and charms.   Anything from how you shower and prepare for the day to how you eat and cook your food can be things that are part of your daily practice.

Your daily practice is essentially one of the cores of your practice.  It is how you establish a daily routine for working with and honoring your Gods and spirits.  This practice develops your relationships with the forces you are attuned and allied with.  The more time you spend with them the better you get to know them and the better they get to know you.  This is how partnerships in religion and spirituality really begin to form.

Prayers and altar maintenance are the most common forms of daily practice.  Your prayers are prayers of thanks, devotion, honor, praise etc.    By saying these prayers at altars you maintain to Gods and spirits you develop power at the altars.    For some Gods and spirits out there you can find formal and traditional prayers to various Gods and spirits.  Two good books on prayer for Pagans are The Wiccan Way by Rae Beth and A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith.  Both books are excellent starting point on the use of prayer and give you ideas on how you can write your own prayers. 

One of the ways prayer work and altar maintenance are connected is through praying at your altars or shrines.  The altar builds energy and emotion.   The altar and shrine become the “home” or place in your home where they can reside and place their essences.  It is your place to honor and work with them.  It becomes a symbol of your relationship and connection with them. It becomes not just your way of communicating with the Gods and spirits but also a powerful tool for any and all work that you do with them.   Prayer work is one way you maintain an altar.  Other things that altar maintenance can include are offerings, candle burning, cleaning the altar, and feeding the spirits that live there (through offerings, and prayer work).

There are many other things that can be part of a daily practice.  Meditation is a common practice.  Many people begin meditation through lighting candles, burning incense, and or setting light music.  Meditation is a tool for communicating with different spiritual forces as well as a tool for developing a sense of self and a connection to all aspects of yourself.

Cooking your food, how you shower, and even the way you clean your house can all be aspects of a daily practice.  These are all aspects of your daily life.  If you perform them with an awareness of spiritual forces (in cooking thanking the spirits of the animals,plants etc in the meal, in cleaning visualizing negativity etc being cleaned away) they can become essential parts of your spiritual practice.  The key is the mindset in which you perform those tasks.

Now that there are some ideas of what a daily practice can include and why we should maintain them its time to talk about putting them into practice.  At first you might be temped to add several things into your routine.  If you try to add to many things at once you will get overwhelmed and you may want to give it up all together.  This is why its best to pick one or maybe two things to start with.  If you already have altars adding prayers and regular offerings of water at the altars may be a great way to start.  If you don’t have any altars starting with prayers in your bedroom as you get ready in the morning or before bed at night are also an option.

Once you get into the habit of your simple daily routine you can start to add in other things.  The best thing is to simply start with something and then go from there.  Once you have a starting place you can figure out where to go.  Keep it simple and keep it consistent.  You will soon find that you have found a new sense of depth in your practice and you may start to notice stronger connections and clearer communication with the Gods and spirits you work with.