One thing that is a special memory for many of the children of the Western cultures is that of writing a symbolic character of the Winter Solstice, usually a form of Saint Nicholas. For Pagan children who celebrate the Winter Solstice with the stories of the Oak and Holly Kings, this Tradition may, or may not, be included in their festivities. But for those who do want to give their families the experience of writing a letter to a personification of the winter spirit, the Solstice Dispatch Service is ready to serve.
People from around the world wrote letters to the Postal Elves. You could write both, or even the Yule Elves. The good folks behind the project took the time to actually put in the work to write those people back with physical letters. They even answered the ones that arrived after the Solstice.
This service is open to all ages: babies, kids, young adults, experienced adults, elders, etc. If you need to be reminded about the magic of this season, write to the Oak King and receive a letter back.
The Solstice Dispatch Service networks with many deities, so if you would rather address your mail to other figures who are more meaningful to you (last year, we received letters addressed to Odin!), feel free to do so. Our Postal Elves will ensure that your letters get to the right place.
Letters can be sent to:
c/o The Oak King
5890 Monkland, Suite 16-0612
Canada H4A 1E9
The service if free to all. Age is not a barrier, they answer every age. Just be sure to include your return address and the name of the person wanting the reply.
What a great thing to do for the Solstice. Also, what a wonderful way to get the children off the electronics and at the other end of a pen. Now, time to go get some stamps.
As a child, the winter season was one of excitement and delight, not for the religious connotation, but the giving aspect of this time of the year. While we did attend midnight mass, my Christian upbringing was never made the spotlight of my memories. My memories held dear the decorating, the gift giving, and spending time with family. Moving out on my own sparked the determination to continue the non-religious traditions of the season and, more-so, to ensure that I made new traditions of my chosen Pagan faith.
While my husband and I decorated our tiny Yule Tree and fabricated a topper with what supplies we could find, our solid Solstice traditions didn’t come into play until we had our daughter. Admittedly, we did not know exactly what traditions we wanted to keep, change, or make. We just knew that this time of year is ripe for giving and family. We needed to find traditions that would make us feel those and more.
When we finally got a normal sized tree, we began the continued tradition of filling the branches with all kinds of decorations. From the cinnamon stick hand-made stars to the Hallmark Tweety Bird ornaments, our initially bare tree became something to be proud of. Then we added a Yule Log into the mix. This Birch log, with ribbon and pine cone decorations, lit a candle each week leading up to the Winter solstice. With our stocking hung up, it was starting to feel like the childhood nostalgia of the season that I remembered. We couldn’t stop there. We had some of the traditional fare, but we needed something specific to Yule. Something magical.
Each year, we create a sun, reminding each other of the longest night and of the sun that will grow stronger and stronger. We started small, with a paper plate and some paint, then we moved to cutting paper, and even further with creating a sun with string lights. Moving through ornaments and cookies, each year we find a new way to illustrate the sun coming back into our lives.
Now all we needed was some excitement building. It’s easy to get excited for Christmas with how saturated stores and media are, but we wanted our daughter to have excitement around Yule. Since we only give a few gifts, our focus for Yule had always been celebrating the season. We created a new tradition of counting down to Yule.
We purchased rainbow baby socks in bulk and used puffy fabric paint to write out numbers 1-22. Then we hung them up and fill with candy, small toys, or seasonal lip gloss. Something small to open each day in December, that keeps the warm feeling of the season going throughout the cold month. After all the socks are turned over, on the evening before the Solstice, we set out treats for the Clauses and reindeer.
This is all the buildup and preparation for our Solstice celebration. When the day actually arrives, we were ready to party! We start the morning with a gift left from Mr. & Mrs. Clause.
It’s a well-known fact that the Clauses make a special trip for those who celebrate Yule.
After cleaning up the oats inevitably spilled by the reindeer, we continue with our day, waiting patiently for the evening Yule dinner. As early as our daughter can convince us, we open each other’s gifts thoughtfully chosen for everyone to enjoy. We eat our dinner with sparkling juice in special glass cups for the occasion and end the evening with a story on what will happen that long evening. One story we have read is “A Visit to Mother Winter” by Starhawk (you can find a copy for yourself here). Together, we enjoy the company of those closest to us and retire to bed filled with love and wonder what the next Winter Solstice will bring.
I feel lucky to have found traditions that work so well for my family, whether they are continued traditions of my youth or newly created traditions. As we have family that celebrates Christmas and Hannukah, we are able to experience the varied traditions of others. Sometimes creating traditions revolve around religion, the winter season in general, or just to stick by those you love. Either way, family traditions during this time of the year are special and individual to each family. As long as you feel that warmth of the hearth, you’ve found the perfect tradition for you and yours.
I refuse to allow myself to think that we have voted for the worst parts of humanity. I refuse to believe that Xenophobia, Homophobia, Islamophobia, Racism, and Anti-Femimism,are the things that won yesterday. I refuse to believe that I must now fear that my neighbors, friends, and allies and family members will be rounded up, snatched from their homes and livelihoods and sent to Conversion Therapy, “back” to Africa, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, India, etc. or killed. I refuse to believe that I or anyone in my community should be or must be afraid to wear headwraps,Pentacles, Afro-Centric attire, jilbabs, abayas, afros, braids, locs or anything else cultural or religious. I refuse to believe that people who I know and care for; wonderful, loving, kind, accepting and beautiful people who I interact with everyday, that I have prayed with, manifested with, casted with…, hell shared beers with would “not care” for my and all those I share intersectionality with to elect someone who could cost us health, safety, and autonomy. I refuse to ever again comfort my children and dry their tears because they fear their friends will have to leave school because their families are from afar.
No. I refuse to think or do any of this. Because I know better, I am better, and I know WE are better.
What I believe is that Fear has created a Servitor, and fear won, on both sides. From the Tweets, Facebook posts, News pundits, family fights, unfriendings, hate crimes, hashtags and conflicts that both fan and foe of President-Elect Trump are guilty of, if nothing else is clear, what is, is that we have been operating in fear and have manifested exactly what we have focused on.
Fear drives hate; hate is just fear unchecked. One side is fearful of nuclear war, marginalization, further loss of jobs and industries, and moral decay. The other is fearful of social justice setbacks, loss of economic safety nets, mobilization of the worst members of society, theocracy, and, well, conservatism. Mix all of this with the fact that a lot of people have a “my way is the right way” attitude( yes, even we Pagans) and you have a recipe for mayhem.
At any rate, what’s done is done. President-Elect Trump, while not having the majority of the popular vote, fairly won the needed number of Electoral votes. His party has the majority seating in both House and Senate. If his acceptance speech is any indication, the times of division, rancor and stalemate in Washington, D.C. are over and he seems set up to succeed. May Justice, Fairness, and Truth guide him as he leads this country.
Where our focus should lie now, is with being and molding the best humans that we can be. We can kill the Servitor that we have created by intentionally chosing to operate in an opposing energy. That energy, Friends, is Love.
I choose to believe that we can make this country great again by choosing to be great people. I choose to believe that we all want what is just and best for humanity. I choose to believe that everything will be well and will get better. I choose to believe that we all know and recognize the Divine/ Ultimate Potential in each other and ourselves, and will treat each other accordingly. I believe that we ALL abhor the evils of Racism, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Sexism, Homophobia, and the like. I also chose to believe that we as people will band together and fight these monsters wherever they may appear. I chose to believe that all that was wished to succeed is a change in politics as usual and to give an outsider a chance. I chose to believe that the hope for Change won over a promise of the same. I choose to believe that we all will protect them those whom injustice targets with all we have.
I choose to stop contributing to this Servitor by feeding it with hate, vengeance and division. I acknowledge that I have contributed to and been influenced by It. But I know I am better, and you are better. I know my coworkers are better,my neighbors are better. I know that by you and I treating ALL humans with Love,Kindness, Friendship, and Respect we can defeat the Hate that Hatred has produced. I believe that we can disagree and still be civil. I know we will not let our great society devolve into Nazi Germany or 1950’s America as so many fear. We are too great for that. And only by us remembering this, and committing to make our society better one interaction at a time, with all that we come across can we achieve the goals laid out in President-Elect Trump’s acceptance speech:
Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me…
I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country. I’ve said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign, but rather an incredible and great movement made up of millions of hard-working men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves and for their families. It’s a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.
I know we as people, as Humans can do this. only by suspending the fear mongering that has consumed the last 2 years and acting out of love towards all from love of ourselves can we defeat this evil that has infiltrated society. We know better, we are better, we can do better, and as Magickal Practitioners and Earth lovers we must do better. Espouse the Good, reprimand the evil, Love all and always love.
Our thoughts contain the power to alter the flow and intention of our energy. They also have the power to influence our environment, not just in our lives but in the lives of those around us. Consider how your work environment is influenced by what mood the boss is in. When you were growing up, the energetic environment of your home was influenced by the mood of your parents or caregiver. Have you noticed that when you are in a good mood things flow much more smoothly? That’s because when we are happy we set up a flow of energy that keeps the good things coming. You might even notice that your smiling demeanor causes other people to feel better and to smile too. A happy mentality brings us better health, can increase our prosperity and generally make the world seem like a better place.
On the flip side of that coin, have you noticed that when you are in a bad mood, the bad just keeps on coming? What would normally be a minor annoyances become amplified as your mood worsens and people begin to steer clear of you, not because you are upset but because of the malefic energy that is emanating from you. Nobody wants that energy toxifying their space so they stay away and tell everyone else at work, “Don’t go near so and so today. They’re in a really bad mood!” Now everyone is ostracizing you thanks to your bad mood and the bad energy that comes with it.
If your mentality can affect so many people, imagine what type of influence it can have on your magical works. One of the reasons that it is so powerful is because your thoughts don’t just stand on their power alone. There is an emotional and physical response to them that adds to the energy and triples the effect. For example, imagine that your car breaks down and you get an estimate that is far beyond your means of paying at the moment.
Thought – Oh no! How am I going to pay for this and how am I going to get back and forth to work while it’s broken?
Emotion – Fear and/or anxiety because you need your car to get around and have no other means of conveyance. Sadness because you don’t have the money to pay for it which can also bring on feelings of shame and failure
Physical response – elevated heart rate/blood pressure, muscle tension, adrenaline coursing through the body as your body goes into survival mode, etc.
All of these ingredients go into the making of your energetic output as the trifecta of thought, emotion and physical response combine to create the energy that surrounds you. This means that all day, you are making magic but perhaps not the kind that you intended. You may be thinking, “Well if I’m just feeling something it doesn’t mean I am casting an intention.” Unfortunately you are. When you are asking yourself questions like “How am I going to pay for my car repairs?”, the energetic translation is, “I don’t have the money to pay for my car repairs.” Taken alone, that statement carries very strong energies especially because it is the fact of the matter and therefore is a part of your true belief system. Add the adverse emotions and physical responses and now the energy that you are inadvertently casting is filled with the belief, “I don’t have the money to pay for my car repairs”. Your beliefs play a huge role in your life and wield a very strong influence in the outcome of your magical works because we have to truly believe that the positive changes we are going for will truly take place. Engaging in negative beliefs is a powerful form of magic and can wreak havoc in our lives.
Of course every metaphysician knows that when casting a spell, we must have the proper thoughts and intentions. We clear our minds, our spaces, cleanse our tools, power up and cast our emotion and intention filled requests to the Universe for fulfillment. We even manage to believe soon all will well and order restored to our lives. However, that 30 minute spell you just put all that work into may also be severely affected if afterwards you return to an adverse mental state. Let’s say you cast a spell to get the money to pay for your car repairs. While doing the spell you were able to get into the proper mind set, power yourself up and cast one of the best prosperity spells ever. You may have even patted yourself on the back afterwards and sat smiling while still enjoying feeling the awesome power of your works. But then the negative thoughts start to seep back in such as, “How am I going to get to get my child to daycare and me to work next week?” or “I was supposed to pick up my dry cleaning and get groceries. There’s hardly anything here for the kids to eat.” Now panic starts to set in as you mentally go over your options. With the thought and the panic comes the resulting physical response and now new and powerful energy filled with doubt and desperation are being cast. Also, you could have created the best prosperity candle in the universe but unless you put some protection around it, it is now sitting in the hard energy you are filling the environment with which may be whittling away at all the good energy you imbued in your candle.
This is why it is extremely important to keep constant tabs on your mental state and make the appropriate adjustments to help keep your thoughts properly directed and the energy you send out filled with your true intentions and not those dictated by a negative mentality. Studying and practicing techniques to help you to clear away adverse emotions can also help you to maintain a peaceful mentality. As metaphysicians we don’t just cast while doing intentional spell work. We cast constantly and the intentions we cast the most are the ones that will take root and flourish be it for the good or for the bad. It is up to us.
Psychic Empath Goddess Rhonda Harris-Choudhry has been utilizing her psychic gifts since she was a teenager. It is her Divine mission to empower people by teaching them about their innate spiritual and energetic gifts and how to use them effectively to improve their health, life and happiness. She also trains empaths, helping them to lead happier and healthier lives. Learn more at www.healinghennagoddess.com.
That is a verse of scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible. So imagine the lives of open Pagans in the deep South better known as The Bible Belt. As an Eclectic Witch living in Alabama I had to overcome many hurdles put in my path. I am not the only witch in the Bible Belt to face uncertainty because of the religion we choose.
“Some may ask what is the Bible Belt exactly The phrase “Bible Belt” is an informal term for a region in the southeastern and south central United States where socially conservative evangelical Protestantism plays a strong role in both the political spectrum and in society in general. The Bible Belt is in the southeastern quarter of the U.S. running from the New Mexico-Texas border up to Kansas and then northeastward to Missouri all the way to the east coast and includes Kentucky and Tennessee all the way to West Virginia and Virginia and all the way down to Florida.” – Jack Wells, “What is The Bible Belt?”
Predominately a conservative “God Fearing” region it is extremely difficult for Pagans to come out of the broom closet.In the Bible belt Pagans are considered evil because we worship “false Gods”. In the Christian faith there is only one true God. The Christians believe we worship demons.
“Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of The Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both The Lord’s table and the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:19-21 NIV” http://www.keyway.ca/htm2000/20000924.htm
When you are an open Pagan in the deep south this is the thought process you have to deal with.
I remember one day at work in the ER one of my doctors noticed my pentacle necklace. He immediately stopped and turned to me and asked if I knew what I was wearing. I laughed and told him of course. He immediately wanted to start preaching to me telling me I was going to hell. I was a demon worshipper. I went to the computer printed off some pages from a few of my favorite sites and gave them to him. I told him to educate himself a little then come back to me because I refused to fight with an unarmed person. He never approached the conversation again.
My ex-husband used my religion against me in a custody case for our children multiple times . At one time he actually got a judge to believe I was evil. I lost my kids for nearly 2 years. He later in life told the deacon of my boyfriend’s church I was a devil worshipper, etc. The good deacon didn’t let his shirt touch his back before he told Matthew’s mom. That destroyed any hope of a lasting relationship for us. I don’t understand why but southerners believe any type of Pagan religion is devil worship.
I have talked with some of the local pagans in my area about what if any problems they have had because of their faith.
Robert-Tony Papoi told me ” I have been open about my Spiritual Path, and except for a couple of people who I have met at my job – One when they meet me stated they went to mental health. I have NOT experienced any problem. I have been able to gain decent employment, even management positions dealing with millions of dollars of inventory flowing under my control daily. I honestly think the biggest problem is the mental fear of being bashed as if we are in middle school and Big Boob Betty will not go to the prom with us if we are different.”
He is one of the most fortunate ones I talked with of late.
Brian Meetzehad this to tell me. “my son and I have had a very strained relationship all his life (his mother and I divorced while he was still in the womb and I have played immortal hell trying to see and spend time with him as he grew up) in 2010 as he started his adult life and college for the ministries we had decided to try to start a relationship but it was very short-lived. I found out recently that the reason he backed off and broke all contact was because of my involvement with (at that time Satanism, a practice that didn’t even have anything to do with the “Christian Satan”) even as this discovery came to light he still is apprehensive about my pagan walk now but at least he wants to talk and gain a better understanding of what it is about. Not to convert or like that but to better understand. I’m very proud of his attaining his bachelor degree in the ministry and now starting classes on his masters.
The point of this bit of information is that I have lost my son not from our strained relationship but my spiritual belief. Although most will shun you, they will also eventually, come around seeking understanding as to whether or not this is wicked or evil or if it’s just another spiritual way of living that is innocent and good. I refuse to allow my spiritual belief and walk to be dictated by those who simply don’t understand and refuse to be , at very least, open-minded enough to respect and acceptable to my choice of belief just as I am of theirs.”
Lady Amethyst, who requested I use her Magickal name for the protection of her family, told me ” I have kept the bulk of mine private for my children’s sake, but the Goddess continued to push for this group and for the community we are now building …. I find myself trying to walk a fine line between staying in the broom closet and following my heart.” The group she is referring to is a Facebook group she is administrator of.
I have my own experiences and opinions as most people do. I have lost a lot of acquaintances who feared me and my faith. The battle we have is that the southern roots are so deeply in Baptist Christianity. Most of us were raised Southern Baptist………at least in Alabama. We either found that faith lacking or such as my case hypocritical. I believe that the Bible has been translated by man so many times that it has lost its true meaning.
Matthew 6:6-8 of the King James Bible says….
“6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
The verse above accuses Pagans of being vain and long winded………….LOL. Who has turned on late night television to see the preachers asking for money. According to their very own Bible they shouldn’t be doing this. Our religion was distorted and changed to their holidays. Our people were burned and tortured by their people. THEY CALL US EVIL?
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”
Knot magick is one of the basic tools in the practitioner’s cache of skills. Witch’s Ladders, cord spells, and knot craft are used to bless, curse, or tie up workings for controlled release. Its use in weather witchery and healing is also one of the arts that remain the go to part of training in the beginning worker’s journey to the Craft.
However, little time seems given to the teaching the time-honored skills used by the essential knot worker. It is common to see yarn purchased from the local fabric store. For my particularly powerful workings, I have found that returning to the techniques of the true Earth Witch satisfying. This means making my own cordage, ropes, and strings.
In Michigan we can thank the activism of the Monarch butterfly activists for vigorously sewing milkweed all over the state. It now grows in abundance. It is also one of the more common plants for simple cordage.
The material used for the cord may correspondent to the intention. As an example, Bindweed, though difficult to work with for beginners, is an excellent material to make for binding. It tends toward fragility when you work with it, so I would recommend a loose braiding, not a twist. Or, rose vines, beaten to pliability, for defense. Use gloves if not dethorned
However, a more unknown source of cordage would be that of blackberry. It grows wild all over and is easy to find if you know where to look. Be careful, though, because in Southeastern Michigan it seems good friends with Poison Ivy. In some of my classes for the Black Moon Grove, we spent a little time in my home garden looking at the brambles of my blackberry plants in preparation for harvest.
It can also be used for Traditional Craft to make the whisk. This has gone out of fashion in modern neo Pagan witchcraft for the most part publicly. You might find some traditional information about this at the new store, Artes and Craft. Paul Barbary is an excellent source of information.
Here is some brief information by an exceptionally credible source.
“The Witch’s Whisk is made of dried out blackberry stems and with the end bound to form a handle. Here in the south west when a witch decides to make magic she first selects a spot or place where she will work, be the chosen place inside or out. The next thing to be done is that of cleansing the chosen spot of all evil forces. This is where the bundle of blackberry twigs comes in. She sets a light to the twigs and with them smouldering, burning and making smoke, she dances and weaves her way in and around and around over and over again. So this is one might call it: ‘a witch’s devilscarer’.” – Cecil Williamson
This skill takes a little time to master, but it is certainly fun. But more importantly, it is a fundamental skill that I believe magick workers should at least try once. The energy and force of will, applied with focus, when creating the cords adds an extra layer of potency that cannot be matched by buying a pre-made material. Try it for yourself and give some feedback below in the comment section if you would like.
I have studied herbs, plants, spices, trees, etc. ever since I learned how to read. When I started my path in Witchcraft in 1984, I knew right from the start that herbs and such would be a big part of whatever path I was going to end up on. My grandmother was the first person from which I learned about different plants their many uses. As well as those called “weeds”.
Some were just recipes, and others were ways to heal the body. I read anything, and everything, I could find about natural healing and ways to use herbs in spells. I also read about other things such as incenses, oils, vinegars, cooking, etc. About 2 years ago I decided that I wanted a degree in herbalism. Much to my surprise, I found out that there is no such thing in the United States.
So what now? Well, some of the best and well-known herbalist are self-taught. Most of the pioneers in the field learned from people and the plants without a certificate.
Juliette Levy, Rosemary Gladstar, and Susan Weed to name just a few. Their certificate programs are very expensive. And frankly, the certificates you can earn really do not hold any credit or merit in the US.
As far as doctors’ concerns, they either are totally behind the idea of natural healing, or totally against it. Either way, I always say if this is a path you wish to follow there are many cautions along the way. You have really got to study and keep lots of notes.
If you are doing this to take natural remedies for yourself, please talk with your doctor, an established herbalist or even your pharmacist first. There are many herbs that can cause adverse reactions when you are taking medications. Prescribed medications and even over the counter things such as aspirin and even antacids can cause you serious reactions with certain herbs, plants and even foods.
If you want to become the local herbalist who helps out other people with your knowledge, then I must caution you even more. Telling others what herbs to use and how to use them is very tricky, as well as very risky. You need to know that persons entire medical background. You also need to know any allergies they may have, any medications they are currently taking, occasionally and also in the future.
Even using some of the safest herbs can pose a dangerous undertaking. It is quite possible to create more harm than good. If you have someone take a tea with chamomile in it to a person who is allergic to ragweed, this can actually cause anaphylactic shock. Also, people who take blood thinners such as Warfarin or Coumadin would need close monitoring while taking this with chamomile.
So if this is something that you feel you are ready to try I say go for it! Just remember that this is not just a simple
“I can just get 1 book and have all the info I need”
kind of path. You are going to want to read everything you can find. This includes books that have herbal information like properties and uses.
Books on aromatherapy, magical herbal uses, essential oils, home remedies and the list goes on and on. There are tons of websites where you can find information, as well as blogs, and even certificate programs if you really want to go that route.
This is a path that I have walked for the last 31 years. I can honestly say I learn something new every single day.
If you are a person who loves to learn and wants to be in touch with nature, this is an amazing path that any form of paganism or any other religion can follow. Learning about the many uses in nature also adds to the knowledge that we need to spend more time protecting her (nature) and all that she has to offer us.
So, the next time you are out on a hike or just taking a walk through a park, take the time to look around and get to know what plats, trees and animals are around you. Take a notebook with you and a camera. Write down the different things you see and take pictures.
If you are not sure what a plant or tree is look it up. Research it and find out the many different uses for it. This is the best place to start your walk down this path.
Learn what you have locally in your home town. Even if you live in the city, there are always parks or sanctuaries nearby. Check them out. You will be so glad you did.
Working tools are items that you want or need to practice your craft. In part 1, I gave you a list of some. Here are a few more. Remember that you may want all, some, none, or even more than what is listed. So this is just a guide to help you find what will work the best for you in working your particular craft.
There are many different colors and scents that you may need for whatever magical undertaking you have planned. With this in mind, it is very hard to have all of them on hand. There are some simple solutions to this. You can purchase a few, days in advance of using them, so you know what exactly you need.
Another is to purchase a few boxes of cheap crayons. Most crayons made today are non-toxic but, always check to make sure. Light the end of the crayon and drip some of the wax onto a heat-proof, fire-proof surface. Stand the crayon upright in the wax. Once the paper wrapping of the crayon is lit it acts like the wick on a candle. Regular size crayons will burn for about a half hour which is normally plenty of time for magical workings.
Candles can also be used on your altar to depict the Deities. A side note on this: white candles can be used for any spell and are usually cheaper than the colored ones. You can normally get them at dollar stores, and tea lights are great to use because you can let them burn completely out.
If you want to add color, fragrance, or herbs, you can place them on a sheet pan in a warm oven until the wax becomes liquid. Carefully remove them and add essential oil, herbs or shaved crayons for color. Let them cool and they will be ready to use.
These are sometimes used on altars for offerings to the Deity from which you are asking help. Some Pagans keep salt or water in them for use during rituals as well. These do not need to be extravagant bowls.
I personally have a couple of small glass dishes that I use in my kitchen. I pull them out when needed, and consecrate them before use. They serve me well.
I also have a curious cat at home, so having a bowl of water or salt on my altar at all times would not be practical. Anyone who has pets at home knows they can be curious and sometimes destructive at the very least. The one that I keep empty on my altar is a small one I picked up at a thrift store for a quarter.
GODDESS AND GOD IMAGES
Some traditions require you to have a Goddess or God image, or an image of a particular Deity, on your altar. Finding the perfect statue may become difficult. Here are some suggestions for what you can use to depict these images.
A statue resembling the Deity, a candle in a color to represent the Deity, water, a sea shell, plant, incense, or even a picture.
A statue, candle in a color to represent the Deity, a stone, plant, wand, athame, Sword, or even a picture.
The ones that I have pictured here are on my altar. The Goddess statue was purchased at a flea market really cheap because she had wings and they had broken off. I took her home and painted her myself. The God statue was purchased at a thrift store originally as a gag gift for my Aunt on her birthday. After she passed he became a permanent part of my Altar.
BOOK OF SHADOWS
This is a book that is used to store all of the information that you need for your tradition, whatever Path you follow. This does not need to be an expensive purchase. I have a 3 ring binder with regular college lined paper in it. I covered it with black velvet and used gold cloth paint to draw a pentacle on the front of it. I took some thin black lace strips and sewed them to the velvet to make a bookmark.
With all of the crafting materials out there today, like scrapbook pages and stickers etc., you can create your own Book of Shadows very reasonably. I love using the 3 ring binder because I am always adding to my book and it makes it so much easier to do so this way. You can also make a Book of Shadows on your computer but, I have found that it holds more power if you write it in your own hand. Plus, it is much easier to place my Book of Shadows on my altar when I am using it to reference during a ritual or spell they it is to try to place my computer there.
Some Paths and Traditions require an Altar Cloth of a certain color for particular Rites. These can easily be purchased at a dollar store, thrift store, or fabric store. In a pinch a towel could also be used. These do not need to be made of the finest silk. I suggest using a fabric that can be washed just in case something gets dropped or spilled on it.
Now onto the major tool. Your altaris the largest of all of your magical tools. It should be big enough to hold whatever items and tools that you will need to perform whatever magic you are performing. This does not mean that you have to have every tool on your altar all the time. This can be anything that you want it to be. You can use a small table, bookcase, end table, coffee table, shelf or whatever you feel works for you.
There are circumstances where you can’t have an altar. Whether it is not having a space for it, or not wishing to have it out where others can see it. Whatever the reason, you can create a portable Altar.
This can be in a basket, a duffel bag, a box or whatever else you can store it in. Put all of your altar materials in this, and when you need them they are ready to go. This way you can use a coffee table, an end table, a kitchen table, or whatever you wish to use.
When you are finished you can just pack everything up and put it away. This is also helpful if you are planning on doing some magical workings outside. You can take your items with you to the woods, park, beach, wherever you wish to be.
When you are outside there are many things that you can use as an altar, a tree stump, flat rock surface, picnic table, even a blanket on the ground. You can also use visualization for an altar. Have you ever been somewhere and wanted to perform a magical rite but, didn’t have any of your tools with you? Don’t let that stop you. You can use visualization to create a magical working Altar with all of your tools in your mind. As I said before your finger can work as your wand or athame. It is all about the intent.
Pictured here are the altar in my bookcase that I have in my office, and my Fae altar that is in my bedroom.
“They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.” Liber Legis 1:15
During 2013, my magnificent partner in crime, love and magick and I wrote and performed a series of twelve public rituals in a de-sanctified little gothic country church in the middle of nowhere near Kalamazoo, Michigan. Each ritual was loosely based on the prevailing zodiac sign and ruling god. We also performed some of them at other gatherings in the southwest Michigan area. These were the MoonFire Workings and this is their story.
The story begins long ago during the heyday of the east coast Wiccan movement. My lovely partner, Pat, started an originally eclectic coven that was first adopted by trainers from Athanor, a Celtic Shamanic Order and then began initiations through an Alexandrian HPS, from the “Du Bandia Grasail” (DBG) tradition, whose initiations came directly from Alex Sanders and is the first documented Alexandrian Coven in the USA. Ironically, both lines of trainers traced their origins back to this same origin. Pat later also joined “The Order of Ganymede ” (OG) an Alexandrian Chhonioi organization also originating from the same lineage. The order is very Hellenistic in nature harboring a deep appreciation of Ceremonial Magick with the Cabalistic teachings of Dion Fortune having a large influence. Pat has always had a deep regard for Crowley and Thelema, and as many know, ceremonial Magick and Thelema is a major component of the foundation of Gardner’s system of Wicca.
When I met Pat, I started spending substantial time in southwest Michigan where she lives and which is now both our home. She would take me to the various local gatherings. These were much simpler and rustic than the quality of ritual found on the east coast, and of course in ritual groups like the OTO. Therefore, Pat and I decided to write and perform a ritual for a local Yule gathering that would combine elements of both Ceremonial Magick and Traditional Wicca, to show what dramatic ritual could be when “rightly performed with joy and beauty”. We wrote a Yule 2012 ritual celebrating the sun moving into Capricorn, using a goodly quantity of Pan imagery and texts. The ritual included the Star Ruby, a traditional Wiccan circle opening, the Hymn to Pan, reading of Liber A’ash and more.
The yule ritual had quite the effect!! Some loved it, others sadly lacked knowledge of the correspondences used in the ritual and so it went over their heads, one or two were uncomfortable with the ceremonial content and were ignorant of the huge impact Crowley and his works had on Gerald Gardner and Wicca.
Goaded on by the positive feedback, and with a grim determination to vanquish ignorance, we started to plot other deeds….
We felt called to restart Pat’s old coven and combine Wicca and Thelema plus Traditional Witchcraft and other powerful currents. We had attended the Occult Conference in Glastonbury (UK) a few months before where members of the British OTO, Wiccans, Druids and Chaotes agreed that well-meaning but uneducated solitary practitioners were dumbing down the Western Esoteric Tradition, and that the various mystery paths should recognize and celebrate their common foundation and heritage, and work together to preserve the heritage instead of bickering at each other. This resonated strongly with us, Pat being a Wiccan with a strong appreciation of Thelema, and me being a Thelemite who had practiced Wicca before getting interested in Ceremonial Magick and Traditional Witchcraft.
As we were starting to discuss and plan, a friend of Pat’s who runs an earth based pagan church in a cool little gothic church in the middle of nowhere asked us for ideas on how to get more people to attend her church… So we decided to write a series of twelve zodiac rituals, using our Yule/Capricorn ritual as a model and start performing them publicly at her church to draw people in.
The first ritual, the Rite of Aquarius, was written and performed in January 2013 at Eclectic Path Earth Resources in Otsego, MI. It was followed by a Pisces Moon ritual that included a full-blown Wiccan drawing down of the moon and five-fold kiss plus the Lesser Banishing Ritual Of The Pentagram. A Mars/Aries ritual that included an Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram for Mars and used war like verses from Liber Legis chapter III followed. Then we created a Venus Ritual that included grimoire Magick from “The Consecrated book of Black Venus,” a mercury ritual that included Liber Israfel, and so on and more through the whole year. Writing, planning and performing an 18 to 20 page hour-long ritual a month was exhausting, but also is a very magical and fulfilling rite of manifestation and will. The Rites of Eleusis, Holy Books Of Thelema, Orphic Hymns, Liber Reguli, The Star Ruby and more were all proudly put on display for those who have never witnessed traditional group magick before
Attendance started modestly with about 8 people, and rose to a high of some 35. We invited some of the regulars to be side officers, some of these asked for more training and exposure. This led to us inviting the most keen to form the beginnings of the new MoonFire coven.
As detailed knowledge of the occult arts, correspondences, et al, was lacking in some, the original rituals were written to include a great deal of explanation as to why certain tools, candles, or weapons were in use. They were also designed to subtly expose people to Thelema and Alexandrian Wicca without being evangelical. The rituals were therefore educational and taught people the use of correspondences in ritual magick, and indeed what good and deep ritual magick should be like.
The MoonFire coven is now very active in SW Michigan. As well as private rituals, initiatory work, and our public zodiac rites, we have spread our wings and started performing rituals in Chicago for the OTO, also Pagan Pride days in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Blackberry Farm gatherings and more. We joined the Covenant Of The Goddess. Our public Esbat remains very popular and is now its own tradition – running consistently at New Moon in Kalamazoo every full moon weekend for over a year now. We still occasionally perform some of our original twelve zodiac rituals. Our members have added to our cannon – writing rituals that are now joyously performed yearly. Many of have had the guts (and our bottomless thanks) to step up and be side officers at public rituals. NOT BAD FOR A FIRST THREE YEARS!!!……
What do I see in my crystal ball for the next three years….. I see us opening a store and pagan church/temple serving Michiana… I see more public rituals at the new store and elsewhere. I see us playing a bigger role in local pagan life such as Convocation, Pagan Fest, Pagan Pride, Pagan charities, interfaith out-reach. I see us starting an OTO body to serve Michiana. I see some of our initiates achieve their 3rd degree and start hiving to form new covens to celebrate our lineage and tradition but also continue the spirit of innovation. I see new coveners joining to bring their own spark to replace those who hive. For those who have been with us since the early days – we love you and thank you for abiding with us… To those that are new…. hold onto your hats – we’re just getting started……
Every MoonFire ritual is closed with a standard exultation composed of selected verses from Liber Legis, be it our public monthly esbats, or our private rituals or anything we do, and so I close this essay with the same.
“Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us. This is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world. The word of sin is Restriction. There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse. Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam! Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will. Every man and every woman is a star. And Thou hast no right but to do what thou wilt.”