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.

Crystal Grid Basics

Crystal grids are all the rage in the metaphysical and natural sciences world. Scientists are beginning to explore these simple crystal patterns as a means of healing and exploring the Earth’s natural energy grids. Crystal grids are part applied science and part intuition. They work with the Law of Attraction and the natural ley lines in the Earth.

Ley lines are bands of geomagnetic energy that stretch across the globe usually beginning and ending in a mountain or hill source. Where you find ley lines you will usually also find a location of water. The Earth is naturally embraced within a magnetic field. This magnetic field can be used as a guideline for planting strong crops, finding healthy water,

Archeoastronomy, and geosciences. The ancient civilizations of the Mayans, Incans, Aborigines, Celts, Sumerian, Babylonian, and Chinese, knew of these ancient lines of energy and used them to construct sacred spaces, to conduct rites of worship, for healing, and energy work.

The Law of Attraction states simply that your thoughts translate as energy. That energy is released through intentions. Speaking or sending positive thoughts yields positive results. Speaking or sending negative thoughts yields positive results. This is a mixture of perception and belief. If you believe your life is negative it is. By keeping your thoughts positive you emit positive energy, as your thoughts and perceptions are nothing more than energy. The energy is reflected in the vibration of the energy field around your body. In terms of science, the Laws of Thermodynamics may be applied, which states simply that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it may change form and it may be transferred from one thing to another. In this respect the energy you create with the Law of Attraction (using thoughts and perception as forms of energy) may be transferred to the crystals using the First Law of Thermodynamics. When you charge your stones this is what you are using.

By using natural laws of energy and using sacred geometry, you can create a simple, beautiful, and powerful crystal grid to attract abundance, healing, love, and tranquility into your life.

Sacred geometry applies within the shapes used for constructing pieces of spiritual art, buildings, shrines, temples, churches, and so forth. This is a very ancient form of mystical science which gives the vibration of a form a number, the number of which is applied to a specific spiritual attribute. Ideally the form should connect and be made of equal parts of the same number. Using crystals with a specific vibration is also important as this determines the frequency that your grid will emit. With the aforementioned science in mind, use this as a determining factor for your crystals:

* All things are energy in one form or another. The crystal you are holding is created from the same exact energy that also created you. All energy is derived from a central source, however or whatever you determine that source to be. Therefore you and the crystal already have an energetic connection.

* The same energy that connected you and the rock is also the same energy that connected other people, things, and creatures in the world. You are already a part of their lives by collective consciousness, and also a part of the stone. Creating and sending energy through an extensive length is space is positive through this collective connection.

* Crystals have their own energy. The numerical values of their name is not their frequency. Their vibrational frequency (harmonics) is measured by the density of the crystal which is reflected within the color, structure, and weight of the stone. Note the weight difference and intensity of color in a piece of tumbled clear quartz, rose quartz, fancy jasper, and hematite. Structural differences may add to the energetic qualities of the crystal and function, but doesn’t really affect the actual harmonics of the crystal that much.

You can use pre-set crystal grid kits or you can create them yourself. You may also use as a center stone a crystal generator, points, balls, pyramids, or merkaba. These are all used to collect, cleanse, and magnify the energy used with the grid. Use what you are drawn to, what you like, and what connects with your purpose. Excellent general use stones include clear quartz, selenite, jaspers, amethyst, aegerine, agates, moonstone, and river stone.

Book Review: The Good Witch’s Guide : A Modern Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and spells

Written by: Shawn Robbins and Charity Bedell, pub 2017 Sterling Publishing Co. 305pp

The Good Witch’s Guide is not your average, everyday introductory or advanced peep into the Craft. To be honest, owning quite a few of these guides, myself, I was used to the standard Wiccan/Witchcraft encyclopedia reference materials. Most of them, I find, are stuffy, and to be clear, I’m not a huge fan. When I cracked open this book, I was expecting this to be just another reference guide, however; I found myself pleasantly surprised. This book is a real page turner.

The Good Witch’s guide is full of wonderful spells, incantations.

There is a guide to crafting your own personal Magick and yes, stones, essential oils, colors and herbs.

It has everything from Witchy Wisdom, rituals and formulas, spirituality, folklore, health and health remedies.

Of course, there are sections dedicated to candle Magick, brewing your own potions, tinctures and salves.

This book is jam packed with all kinds of recipes for Sabbats and special occasions.

Want to know how other Witches are casting their own versions of these spells? There’s even a section dedicated to that!

There are tons of traditional spells that are tried and true and all of the “how-to’s” that go along with them.

In this authors humble opinion, this may very well become the definitive guide for all who take the time to read it. The Good Witch’s Guide is a pleasure to read for the Beginner in the Craft all the way to your most Adept Student. It can be used strictly as a reference manual or can be read cover to cover without the monotony of other reference guides.

On a more personal note, this is one book is one that I will cherish and read again and again!

Laurie Bates
Falcon Lunafyre

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Witchs-Guide-Modern-Day-Ingredients/dp/1454919523/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495484984&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Good+Witch%27s+Guide

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

 

 

 

 

Conjure for the Holidays

Ah the holidays.  Its a time for joy and love.  Its a time that is meant to be full of happiness and good will towards others.  This time of year is as full of goodwill and love towards your fellow man as it is jealousy and fear.  From neighbors who are jealous of you to those troubling family issues that seem to come up around the holidays energy of jealousy and anger spread as rapidly as love and joy. A lot of the jealousy issues raised during this time are unconscious so it is important to keep up your protections.

In addition to what ever protections you typically have around your home this time of year you can add extra protections through your holiday decorations.  That’s right your wreaths, the bells, and the crystal balls on your holiday tree can be protections.  These protections are excellent in that they can be hidden in plain sight which makes them even more effective.  So lets take a look at a few of these decorations.

Lets start with the wreath.  Wreaths are in a circle which is unbroken.    Most wreaths are made out of evergreens.  Most evergreen trees have symbolism of prosperity and wealth or succsess.  So the wreath itself represents unbroken prosperity and succsess.  Many wreaths have tinsel or glittering ribbon as decorations.  Those glimmering ribbons distract any ill intent or spirit that is sent your way.  Add a pair of nails in a cross buried in the center of the wreath and you have excellent protection.

Christmas and Yule trees are very popular.  Tinsel is a common decoration like with wreaths the tinsel distracts the ill intent of any spirits that could be sent your way.  Many craft stores sell clear glass balls that can be decorated with symbols of protection (depending on your path which symbols are important to you) and filled with herbs protection, luck, prosperity, etc.  Adding bells to your tree will invite positive spirits and blessings and warn you if there are negative spirits or energy it will banish them from the area.

Finally cinnamon brooms can be hung to invite prosperity and succsess.  If you add red ribbons it will bring protection your way as well.  Hang it over your door or the door to your business or office to bring succsess and prosperity through the new year. Adding bells or chimes will add additional protection and blessings.

I hope that you will take this article and use it to spark some Yule or Christmas holiday traditions.  Let the decoration for the holiday and the setting of the decorations with the protections and blessings become a ritual in and out of itself.  By letting your family join in the setting of the decorations everyone adds their energy, their desires, and their will to the home.  The decorations and the magic within them will truly reflect the whole home.  Brining the whole family together is really what the holidays are all about.

May you have a blessed Holiday!

Happy Yule

Merry Christmas

~Loona Wynd~

Altering the view on Altars

Altering the views on Altars

The most basic ritual tool in any religious or spiritual practice is your altar. It is where any work with the Gods or spirits will be done.  It is your spiritual home.  Your altar is your connection to the Gods and spirits of your path.  They can be complex or they can be simple.  You can have them up permanently or you can use them only when you need them.  You can have them outside or inside or you can make one on the fly at locations for specific rituals.  There are as many ways and styles of altars as there are people who build them.

The purpose of the altar is to be tool in your spiritual, magical, and or religious work.  An altar is simply a working surface.  It is the place where you hold rituals and place offerings for the spirits or Gods that you work with.  If you do spell work it is the surface on which all your tools and ingredients for your spell.

Many people believe that you need to follow strict requirements for altar set ups like being in the north, what tools you must have on them, and positioning of those tools and items.  The fact is that unless you belong to a specific path like Traditional Wicca which has specific altar requirements no one can tell you how to build your altar and what you can and can’t have on them.    It is your altar, your sacred place to connect with the Gods and spirits that you work with.

There are many different types of altars and many different ways to work with them.  The type of altar that you build will depend on your path and the Gods and spirits that you work with.  Each altar has its own uses and practices.  Some are more devotional and some are more for active working.  There is no right or wrong way to work with your altar surface.

The most common altars in magical and spiritual work are working altars:

dad-healing-poppet
Healing spell working altar

The above photo shows a working altar near the end of the working.  At the start this altar would have had the needles, herbs, and the fabric outline of the Poppet.  Working altars are just that- a space for performing magical and spiritual works.  They contain all the materials that you need for any spell or working.  They can be used for one time or be used continuously it depends on the working involved.

Other working altars would be spell type specific altars like a money altar.  These altars are altars designed for specific type of spell working.  On a money altar you would perform any spells and workings dealing specifically with money (new job, raise, getting debts, sales etc) basically anything related to finances.  Another working altar could be a healing altar where only workings based on healing would occur.

Aside from working altars devotional altars are fairly common;

Saint Michael Devotional altar
Saint Michael Devotional altar

A devotional altar is an altar that is dedicated to a specific spirit or God.  Only items related to that particular God, Spirit, or being are placed on that surface.  They commonly involve statues or images of the being, candles, incenses holders, and bowls or glasses for offerings.  Devotional altars are places where you can honor a specific spirit through prayers and offerings.  You can ask them for help, thank them for being in your life, or just honor them.  These altars are typically only used for prayer work and offerings.  However if a spell or working calls upon them you may include the completed poppet,charm,etc on their altar to add their energy to the spell.

One of the most common types of devotional altars is that of an ancestor altar:

An ancestor altar
An ancestor altar

Ancestor altars are common place in many different pagan religions and traditions.  An ancestor altar is used to honor and venerate our beloved dead.  Ancestor altars are a place for us to remember and honor those who have come before us.  Most often they include pictures, a candles, and an offering bowl or plate.

Many people have permanent altars in their home.  In some witchcraft traditions the altar may look something like this:

Neo-pagan witchcraft altar
Neo-pagan witchcraft altar

On that altar they have all the tools they need for any sabbat or esbat as well as any impromptu ritual they may feel like performing.  Permanent altars like the one above often provide a sense of security and satisfaction.  To many it is a physical symbol and reminder of the path they have chosen to take in this life.

Its common to find that people practice or have influences from multiple pagan paths.  Often they will  have separate permanent altars for the different paths that they practice.  For example someone may have a religious witchcraft altar set up for Sabbat work and practices while they may also have an Asatru or Kemetic altar set up.  They work in and honor both sets of beliefs and Gods but keep the altars separate as they are separate paths and are kept separate out of respect.

There are many other forms of altars from outdoor altars to travel altars and even pocket altars.  Altars are very powerful and very personal tools.  Let the spirits you work with guide you on building your altars.  You will know what is right for you and you alone.

 

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

 

 

How to build a strong Brand for Events

Establishing a strong brand for your event helps you differentiate your event and build loyalty with attendees. While branding encompasses everything from your logo to the way you write your social media posts , your on-site experience is critical to building a memorable brand.

After all, having a captive live audience gives you the rare opportunity to fully immerse people in your brand. But how do you create a brand experience that goes beyond slapping your logo all over walls of your venue?

1. First impressions are everything.

From the moment a guest arrives at your event, they should have a sense of your brand. Consider key moments of entry where the most people will interact with your brand: the front door, the entryway of your venue, or even your registration table. These areas are worth investing in because they’ll get the most eyes.

Especially if you’re working with a limited budget, prioritize your high-impact points of entry — and don’t worry about placing costly signage at every turn.

2. Quality over quantity.

Don’t just throw your logo everywhere. Sure, you want your logo prominently placed throughout your venue, but think about the big picture. It’s about creating a clean, consistent look throughout your venue. You want to come off as polished — not pushy. Think about subtle ways to weave in your brand look and feel at key touchpoints like:

  • Building exterior or front gate signage
  • Registration or check-in area
  • Directional  signage within the venue

3. Creativity counts.

Beyond traditional signage like banners, think about how can you surprise and delight your guests with your brand experience. Instead of traditional foam core signs placed on easels, why not create floor decals? In place of printed posters, how about on screen motion graphics that catch your attendee’s eye?

Here are a few other ideas to get you started:

  • Coffee sleeves: Include your event tagline!
  • Projected lights: Project your logo or brand color(s)
  • Window or column clings: Put them in unexpected places
  • Swag guns: Shoot swag from a “swag gun” onstage to engage the crowd
  • Photo booth: Create a fun branded backdrop or frame to give attendees a photo op (An added bonus? You’ll improve your chances of attendees sharing your event

4. Engage your audiences before and after the event

why not create an application for your event- Eventbrite and Doubledutch are just two services that offer low cost  social app for your event branded with your own logo.

  • Event lasts longer and people have the ability to connect with friends long after the event
  • being able to network, network, network
  • better audience to advertise next years event
  • Sponsor have better presence, and intern stronger buying power!

 

Courtesy of Doubledutch.me

 

Bryan Peters ,  Meetings Expert  Consultant with American Express Meetings and Events, Questions/ comments? Bryan.peters@aexp.com  or call me at 330-274-7353

MEETINGS EXPERT Consultant, a freelance independent contractor, duly appointed by and working in association with American Express Meetings & Events.  “American Express Meetings & Events” is a service provided by American Express Global Business Travel (“GBT”). 

A knotty bit of business – a little note on magickal cordage

Public Domain

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.

Public Domain
Pink Bindweed – Pseudopanax

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.

 

Wild Blackberry vine - FASTILY
Wild Blackberry vine – FASTILY

 “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.

The Frugal Witch and her Working Tools Part 2

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.

CANDLES

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.

©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016

DEVOTIONAL BOWLS

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.

©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016

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.

Goddess:

A statue resembling the Deity, a candle in a color to represent the Deity, water, a sea shell, plant, incense, or even a picture.

God:

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.

©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016

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.

©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016

ALTAR CLOTH

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.

©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016

THE ALTAR

Now onto the major tool. Your altar is 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.

©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016
©Ravenwings 2016