Monday, November 30, 2009

Yule Stones

And while I'm on the subject of stones... here are a few stones that are perfect for empowering your spells and magick throughout the coming weeks leading up to Yule.

Ruby. The ruby is a powerful stone that will bring protection against all negativity and disease to the one who holds it. Wear it during ritual to increase the energy you raise in circle. Alternately, place it on the altar with a bright red candle to lend you physical strength and energy.

Garnet. Another protective stone, garnet strengthens the aura and shields the wearer from negative energies. Held or placed on your altar, you can use this stone to draw extra energy to yourself during ritual. Garnet regulates the heart and blood.

Green Tourmaline. This stone draws success and money to the one who possesses it. Wear it in spellwork or ritual to enhance your creativity.

Jade. This ancient powerful stone can be worn or carried to receive wisdom through your third eye chakra, as well as to aid in healing the body from physical ills. Place it on your altar to be used in defensive magick work, or to increase your mental energy during ritual wear it while burning purple candles.

Jet. Another protective stone, jet also strengthens psychic awareness, making it an ideal stone to wear while in circle. Place it on your altar with white candles during protective rituals. Jet is one of the most powerful and prized of all the magickal stones. For centuries it was believed that if worn regularly it would absorb some of the wearer's soul. If you wear jet, be sure to protect it carefully.

Photo of raw green tourmaline courtesy of schwigorphoto on flickr.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stone Spirits

I love stones and rocks of all kinds, from the mundane little bits of granite to the fanciest of crystals, but I have to say that I prefer the very humble rocks I step on each time I go for a walk in nature. Native Americans believe that there are stone spirits or rock people, the oldest beings in the world, that live within all rock on earth. The Lakota call them Inyan and they're the children of Mother Earth. They are wise, they heal, and they are the ones who infuse rocks and crystals with power. The spirits' knowledge and wisdom is endless.

When you are next out walking in nature, keep one eye on the rocks and pebbles you step upon. See if you're drawn to one in particular. If a stone is really calling to you, that is your watai, your power stone. Just as we have animals that help us, whose properties and powers we can harness, we also have a stone that when carried with us will also help us when needed. Watai and the ancient spirit within it is our link between the two worlds of the seen and unseen.

Sometimes the stone can be flashy and fancy, but it can also be as common as a chunk of agate. You'll know that it is meant for you when its spirit, the Inyan, calls to you insistently. Carry it with you. Touch it, use it in ritual. And when it no longer feels like it is "yours" bring it back into the wild and leave it there once more. Then spend some time searching for your next watai. Your needs will always be met with the right stone.

Photo courtesy of

Friday, November 20, 2009

Potions and Philtres

As much as I love the romantic idea of them, I'm just not a witch who makes a lot of potions or brews. I'm not a particularly adventurous eater and so it's only natural that I'd be hesitant to drink something full of consumable herbs and oils, even if I made it myself and knew full well every last ingredient in it and that it was perfectly safe. As a result, I tend to not make them at all, even ones that would never be consumed by anyone. I am, however, rather enamored of the idea of philtres, which are just a little bit different than your run-of-the-mill potion.

A philtre is basically an unbrewed potion and who can complain about that? After all, it's a bit less work in the spell-making department, eh? They can be used as talismans or in protective charms although a philtre's original purpose was always as a very potent, infallible love potion (the name comes from the Greek word philos meaning beloved or loving) and meant to be drunk only by the object of your affection. It has through the ages transformed into something much broader in terms of use.

There are countless recipes out there for philtres for all occasions and needs, and of course you can always whip up your own tailor-made recipe too, but the one below (courtesy of Laurie Cabot) intrigues me to no end. She says she has used this protective philtre for years and no harm has ever come to her family while it has been in use, and well, let's be honest, how can anything that contains wolf's hair not be fascinating?

Protection Philtre

6 parts sandalwood powder
1 part wolf's hair
2 parts cinquefoil leaves
4 parts powdered myrrh
5 drops patchouli oil
3 drops frankincense oil

Mix the dry ingredients together and bind them with the oils. Place in a small black muslin bag. Hang it on or above the front door (well out of the reach of children and pets!).

Note: In a pinch clover can be substituted for the cinquefoil leaves as both are protective herbs, though cinquefoil is a bit more powerful and has additional useful properties. As to the wolf's hair, there aren't a lot of places where you'll find this, but it can be purchased through Hex which is an edgy witch's shop in Salem. You can visit them at and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the hair goes to a wolf refuge, so you'll also be saving lives in addition to protecting your loved ones and home. Or, if you're the sort of person who likes to make things considerably more difficult for yourself and potentially appear utterly mad in the eyes of strangers, you could always ask a zookeeper for a small clump of wolf's hair. Keep in mind, however, that the hair used in this philtre must be from a live animal that is shedding naturally (no cutting allowed!) so this venture would require some delicate timing, provided you aren't escorted from the premises immediately to begin with. Personally, I'd go with the Salem shop myself.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Moon Magic

Monday was the new moon for November and I decided to use its power to aid me in overcoming some personal hurdles as well as starting some healthy new beginnings, all of which the new moon is perfect for.

I decided to use herbs that would strengthen my convictions and give my wishes a little kick in the pants, and being the moon of the Maiden Goddess, I bundled those herbs in a small white cloth, the color of the Maiden, tied with a healing fat blue string. I used a simple ceremony with my circle pretty much stripped down to its barest and I summoned the Goddess Diana to aid me in my work by the power of the new moon. I used the power of the four elements and seven carefully chosen herbs in my magickal sachet. And I've kept this little bundle of herbs with me each day and on my night table by night and so far it's working quite nicely.

It's a beautiful thing when it all comes together: the power of the moon, the elements, the deity called upon, and even the more mundane aspects of spellwork. It's enervating and exciting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Art Book of Shadows

My Book(s) of Shadows are nothing special. Really. I have a growing collection of notebooks and journals that I've filled through the years with notes, information, spells I've copied and altered, spells I've created myself, lists of essential items and other pertinent data. They run the gamut from ones that I've bought on sale at office supply stores to nice leather ones that cost a bit more. I do have a small, very interesting-looking little blank book from Tibet that Griffin found for me that I use to write down my rituals for various sabbats, observance days and those special occasions when a circle is needed for more timely energy work. It's small enough to not be cumbersome in ritual and it is a very sweet little book, but like my myriad notebooks, I've always treated it like something utilitarian and nothing more.

So last week I had another one of my 'Eureka!' moments. These are always especially startling to me as I am always stunned that whatever it is that has suddenly dawned on me never occurred to me previously as it is now so obvious. I am an artist. It's what I do. So why has it never occurred to me until now to create a Book of Shadows that is also a work of art? When I have the time, in and around my serious work, I create art journals and I frequently use old books that I modify for this purpose. I usually have a few waiting patiently for their turn and when the idea to create an Art Book Of Shadows hit me, I knew exactly which book to use: a very large-sized hard cover book about angels full of amazing papers, funky little mylar envelopes and other visually unusual tidbits that I had bought at a used book sale at my local library. It's the perfect blank canvas on which to begin. I'm going to put all my own original spells in it as well as record all the mundane directions for all of my various rituals.

I had just begun to glue up and gesso the pages when I was quite suddenly offered a show from a completely unexpected direction (and when it was suggested that I have my opening on the Solstice next June, I knew it was kismet). Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining at all. I'll quite happily put my Book of Shadows on hold while I spend the next seven months working on this upcoming exhibit. As it hadn't occurred to me before now to create this book, then it can certainly wait another few months before I begin it. Besides, sometimes the best ideas are the ones that are brewed slowly over a nice long period of time and not rushed into. And that's okay. Everything in its own time.

Photo courtesy of Rowan Tree Design on flickr.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trees 101: The Hawthorn

The hawthorn is a very powerful tree, spiritually, medicinally and magickally. Its use in remedies dates back to the ancient Greeks, and its use as a good luck charm and symbol of hope and happiness dates back to this same period. In England it was used to make garlands for Beltane and collecting dew from the leaves and branches of this tree is said to ensure lasting youth and beauty to those on which it is sprinkled.

Hawthorns are frequently found near holy wells and on ground considered to be sacred and as a result are frequently seen with offerings left at the base of their trunks and decorations hung amongst the branches. The hawthorn is known as the wishing tree and there are many famous ones throughout the world that to this day have wishes, requests and prayers hung on them or coins driven into their trunks.

Along with oak and ash, hawthorn is the third tree of the powerful triad of trees inhabited and enchanted by faeries. Hawthorns represent the three realms: the underworld, the middleworld and the upperworld, as well as being symbolic of the three stages of the witch: the maiden, the mother and the crone. The hawthorn is one of the nine sacred woods of the sabbat fire as it represents purity.

The hawthorn is associated with the planet Mars, vibrates to a masculine energy, and is ruled by the elements of air and fire. Wear hawthorn for luck and happiness on your wedding day or use it to cleanse an area before ritual. It can used for spells that open the doorway between the mundane world and the faery realm, to attract love, in protection spells, to attract love and to commune with the spirits of those who have passed before us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wise Words

Witches do concern themselves with ecology. They have never forgotten this basic fact: the World is not our enemy. Neither is it inert, dumb matter. The Earth and all living things share the same life force. They are composed of patterns of intelligence, of knowledge, and of divinity. All life is a web. We are woven into it as sisters and brothers of all. Witches need to be grounded in both worlds and awake to their responsibilities for both worlds. It is only by being responsible human beings that we can be responsible Witches, and only responsible Witches will survive. We respect nature but do not worship it. Witches do not worship anything but the creator or The All, yet we see The All in everything and respect it all.

-Laurie Cabot

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pendulum Divination

This past week I tried my hand (no pun intended!) at a new form of divination, for me at least: using a pendulum. I had never given it much thought until someone this week mentioned that they swear by it and I should give it a try. Given that I have a fairly well developed sense of intuition and am always open to a new way to use my abilities, I thought, "What the heck, why not?"

Knowing absolutely nothing about it, I tried my local library for a how-to book on it, but with no luck. I then went online and found a great book, but in the meantime took a quickie self-taught crash course online for the basics. As I had no actual pendulum, I got out a cherished ring that belonged to my father and a strand of rather thin yarn. And as usual for me, I got started in the wee hours of the morning (my favorite time of day), so there wasn't a whole lot of time to spend working on it. Besides, I fully expected to quickly be less than impressed, or for nothing at all to happen, and then I'd head off to bed. Boy was I surprised!

I sat there for a few minutes concentrating on making my makeshift pendulum swing vertically but nothing seemed to be happening. I carefully watched my hand to be sure it wasn't moving in the least (being an artist, one thing I do have is a very steady hand) and also made sure to not get too discouraged and to stay focused. And then it happened. Slowly at first and then faster and faster: the pendulum moved just as I had wanted it to. Likewise for a horizontal direction and then a small tight clockwise circle. It took me some time to get it going in each direction, but get it going I did, which blew me away! The three fingers I was using to hold the yarn were also humming with energy inside them and swirling about them on the outside. I wished that someone, anyone was awake to share it with, but only my dogs were up with me and they weren't in the least impressed.

So I guess I now need to find myself a pendulum, one that calls to me while all the others just lie there lifelessly before me. I need to spend more time with it and learn how to really use it. I find the thrill of a new form of divination very exciting and I can't wait to jump into it with my heart and soul.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Talk Group

A gathering place for empaths, sensitives, psychics, healers, intuitives and all others who are walking the humble spiritual path of a gentle soul in this life. No one person has all the answers, but hopefully together we can open our hearts, broaden our knowledge bases and expand our hearts a bit as we learn from one another.

This is a brand spanking new group and we're looking for anyone who fits the above criteria, seeks to enlighten themselves, wants to learn the mundane and the magickal from others and likes to talk! All faiths, belief systems and lifestyles are welcome with open arms.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Full Beaver Moon

Today is the Full Beaver Moon, so named because this was the moon that the Native Americans in the northern part of the country used to tell them when it was time to place the last beaver traps before the swamps froze for the winter. Another traditional Native American name for this moon is the Full Frost Moon, obviously named for the thin coating of frost seen on most mornings at this time of year. More specifically from a tribal perspective, the Choctaw referred to this moon as the Sassafras Moon, the Cherokee called it the Trading Moon and the Dakota Sioux called this (and this is by far the most descriptive name) the Moon When Horns are Broken Off. The English Medieval and Celtic names for this moon are the Snow Moon and Dark Moon, respectively. The Chinese referred to it as the White Moon. And lastly the neo-pagans call this the Tree Moon.

Personally, I think it should be called the Moon With More Names Than Any Other Moon of the Year.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Day of the Dead

Here are some images of my ancestor altar for this year's Samhain celebration and for the Day of the Dead. I try always to use things that are very person-specific on it, objects that belonged to a loved one who has passed or items which speak very strongly to me of that person's character. I like to use loads of photographs too, sometimes using multiple different images of the same person, especially when it's someone who is still incredibly important to me, despite they're no longer being on this earthly plane. I also tend to use things in threes: candles, apples, pumpkins et al, as to me this represents the three stages of the life cycle: birth, death and rebirth.

This year's altar had big paper flowers to represent the powerful marigolds that are no longer available here in New England at this time of year, nine tarot cards chosen for this day and year, strands of orange fairy lights (I never did find a way to use those purple ones that were giving me fits a few weeks back), three candles in basic black as well as three of my favorite tri-color ones in black, orange and white, seven skulls (another magickal number) to represent the souls of all my loved ones and ancestors past, and three green apples for health, three pumpkins and small bundle of three strawberry corn cobs to represent the harvest of Samhain. My altar also had on it my beloved crow (he's fake but incredibly well done) who is always in the center of this particular altar to represent this sabbat's magick and mystery as well as to stand as a messenger from the realm of the spirits. And in honor of my full-blooded Native American ancestors I always have a small cup of ground cornmeal and a small cup of pure, organic loose tobacco. Those are then scattered on the earth afterwards as an offering to Grandmother Moon and Grandfather Sun.

As exciting as this sabbat is, there is also a certain sadness that lingers after it's all over for this year. There comes on the heels of the wonderful witch's celebration a feeling of sorrow, of wishing for loved ones passed, of the darkness that falls a bit earlier and earlier each night, of the death of the God and the harvest. It isn't particularly unpleasant, but it isn't exactly happy either, sort of like a restless feeling in one's soul. But this cycle of sorrow too will pass as we roll along towards the upcoming sabbats of the year, and this melancholy will be replaced with joy. Everything in balance and everything just as it should be.

Blessed be to all of you out there and the loved ones you are honoring this day.