Friday, April 30, 2010

Beltane Ritual Suggestions

Wear bright colors or floral prints and fashion a wreath of fresh flowers and ivy to wear in your hair.

Use green and pink candles in ritual to celebrate all that is blooming and coming newly alive.

Cleanse yourself in an herbal bath with rose petals, frankincense, marigold, clover and pure almond oil. Place the flowers in a bundle of cheesecloth and hold it under the running tap, then add a few drops of the essential oil to your bathwater.

Instead of walking your circle with incense (or in addition to your incense), mark the boundary of your circle with freshly picked flower petals.

Honor the Goddess by honoring your female ancestors and loved ones. Place on your altar a small bowl of small clean pebbles (or rice if you haven't any stones) and a larger bowl of fresh, clean water. Drop one pebble at a time into the water as you say words of love or a brief prayer for each of the women you are honoring. You can end this rite by adding a bunch of vibrant blossoms to the surface of the water. When your ritual is complete, you can keep the bowl out to serve as a reminder of all those women you love and admire, but be sure to pour the water back into the earth and give thanks for the abundance you have in your life (use it to water the newly growing plants in your garden!).

Even if you haven't enough people to perform a maypole ritual, you can still honor the God and all his virility by tying ribbons and flowers around the trunk of a much-loved tree in your yard and spend some giving thanks for the blessings in your life.

Spend some time in advance of your ritual to think of all that you wish for in the coming season of abundance, or to give thanks for all that you already have (or both). On rectangles of colored paper with strings attached to one end, write what you wish to nurture and grow in your life during the coming year and tie them to the branches of a beloved tree. If you're lucky enough to live near a public wishing tree, bring them there to share in the collective positive and wish-fulfilling energy of so many others.

And if you do nothing else on Beltane, take a moment to smile and feel the pleasure in all of the new life birthing all around you. Rituals are lovely and fun to participate in, but nothing is as pure and heartfelt as simply feeling truly happy, and that's what Beltane is all about: joy.

Blessed Be.

This amazing photo of the May Queen at the Beltane Fire Festival (2009) is courtesy of Two Truths and the Beltane Fire Society.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Full Planter's Moon

Tomorrow's full moon is in Scorpio, bringing with it emotional jolts but also passionate desires. Scorpio is a very powerful and controlling sign, and coupled with Mercury currently in retrograde, be prepared for a pretty wild ride. This is a very high energy moon, so if you're working any spells that will require a serious power boost to launch them, tomorrow is the perfect time to do so. This is the perfect moon for reassessing your goals and ideals and working to overcome any obstacles that have kept you from realizing your dreams.

This moon is known as the Planter's Moon which is pretty self-explanatory, given that it's now the time of year when we plant our crops and flowers for the coming season. In this same vein, it is also called the Flower Moon, the Growing Moon and the Seed Moon. The Choctaw Indians called it the Wildcat Moon and the Dakota Sioux referred to the April moon as the Moon When Geese Return in Scattered Formation. It's neo-pagan name is the Awakening Moon.

Harness the power of tomorrow night's energy and work some amazing magick!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beltane Lore

Opposite Samhain on the Wheel of the Year, Beltane is the sabbat we celebrate to usher in the beginning of summer, the warmth of the sun and to bless both our crops and Mother Earth. And just as the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest at Samhain, the veil between our world and the world of the Fae is at its most thin at Beltane.

When one thinks of Beltane, the first thing that comes to mind is the Maypole. If you're lucky enough to participate in a Maypole ceremony you'll not only bring yourself an afternoon of joy, but a year of good luck as well. While the pole itself is an ancient ritual, the brightly colored ribbons and flowers tied around the pole are a slightly more recent addition, bringing a feminine aspect to the celebration of the God and his virility.

Lighting fires is a Beltane custom, as the original festival was in honor of Bel, a solar deity, and this practice was both a way to honor the return of the sun needed for a successful growing season and a means of purification as well. Make yourself even a small Beltane fire and either jump over it or pass yourself or any items you wish to cleanse through its smoke and you will ensure yourself a year of prosperity, purification and protection.

In an attempt to Christianize this sabbat, the early church renamed it Roodmas, or the Feast of the Cross which celebrated the finding of the cross by Saint Helena on which Jesus was crucified, and which was far more palatable to them than the obviously phallic connotations of the Pole.

On Beltane morning, get up early and wash your face in the cool May Day dew for youthful beauty and health. Then find yourself a small clear pool of fresh spring water, a clean puddle, a creek or even the edge of a lake and do a quiet divination within its mirrored surface. End the day by making love with your partner, preferably outdoors, as you ring in the season of Mother Earth's fertility.

Blessed be.

Photo courtesy of Zayabibu on flickr.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What is Magick?

To my mind, 'magic' is the hard-to-define quality of the things that stir up mystical feelings like amazement, curiosity, imagination, and above all wonder.

Magic is that which renders something beautiful in a spiritual sense. It is that which makes one feel as if the world is more than it is presently understood to be, and yet at the same time the world is working itself out in a good and beautiful way.

Magic underlies the relationship between us, and the greater immensities of birth and death. Thus the experience of being in the presence of something magical is an empowering, uplifting experience. Magic, understood this way, contributes meaning to life.

- Brendan Myers

Photo courtesy of Christopher_Hawkins on flickr.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A(nother) New Pendulum

Pendulum made of aventurine, yellow jasper, brecciated jasper, clear quartz, obsidian and amethyst with a round of red jasper capping the chain.

Pendulum made of bloodstone, with a round of bloodstone capping the chain as well.

I was so pleased with the bloodstone pendulum I bought last year that I went out and bought myself a second pendulum. And while I didn't exactly need another one as the first one's energy is wonderful and brings great clarity to my readings, when I saw this multi-stoned pendulum I just knew I had to have it. Its energy is quite potent and I was drawn to it instantly. Pendulum divination is really, at its most basic, physically quite a simple practice, but at the same time is also intriguingly subtle and complex.

Amethyst. Amethyst is a stone rich in ancient magickal history. This is a stone of peace and pure spirituality. It calms all turbulent emotions and fears, focuses meditative states, and helps the wearer attune themselves with their highest psychic vibrations. This is the ideal stone to wear during any divinatory work as it also enhances its wearer's mental accuity as well. It cures headaches, halts nightmares and puts an end to insomnia. Amethyst is the stone of wisdom.

Aventurine. This stone is used to increase perception, to stimulate creativity and to enhance intelligence. This is a wonderful stone to use in divination.

Bloodstone. Bloodstone has a magickal-use history of more than 3000 years. This stone brings courage to its wearer, calms fears and eliminates anger. It is used to increase the effectiveness of spells and brings concentrated power to magickal rites and rituals. Bloodstone is also a general health-giving talisman, but is especially used to halt bleeding and reduce fevers.

Clear Quartz. Crystal is a powerful stone used in various forms of divination from pendulums to scrying and as such is prized for its ability to amplify psychic and magickal energy. Each of the various colors of quartz crystal offer unique properties and uses, and clear quartz is no exception. Clear quartz, as a stone symbolizing the goddess, taps into the deepest part of the conscious mind, helps to open the subconscious mind, and brings to its wearer a very powerful psychic experience when divining. Quartz is also a stone that can be used to protect oneself during magickal ritual as well.

Jasper. Jasper is another stone with a rich and ancient magickal history. It was used by Native Americans in their rituals and ceremonies, and like them is still used today to connect with the earth's energies and to ground when working magick. Like quartz, the various colors of jasper offer their own unique properties including acting as a protective stone when working magick and aiding the wearer in heavy psychic and spiritual work.

Obsidian. This is another grounding stone used to center oneself when performing magick and is an exceptional stone to use when scrying as it is believed that the pure blackness of its surface allows easier access to one's subconscious mind. This is a stone of protection when opening oneself up psychically.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wishing Powder

Who doesn't want their wishes to come true? With this simple powder, you can empower your wishes or even your circle (or the altar within it) while working other spells and thus give them a powerful energy boost as well.

What you'll need:
two tablespoons sage (freshly dried is best)
one tablespoon white sandalwood
one or two vanilla beans

Grind each item individually and as finely as possible in a mortar as you concentrate on your wish or desire. Be sure to always grind in a deosil (clockwise) motion when grinding herbs for positive use. Combine all three ingredients while still focusing clearly on your wish. Mix them with your fingers, thus infusing the herbs with your body's own personal energy, and be sure to use your power hand while doing so. If you are working within a circle and wish to use this powder to empower your ritual, this powder can be sprinkled either around the perimeter of the circle while visualizing its power to focus and channel your spellwork, or it can be sprinkled amongst the items you are working with on your altar. If you are using this powder specifically to aid you in sending wish energy powerfully out into the universe, take it outdoors and with your back to the wind, hold the powder before you in your power hand. Visualize the power of your intentions and feel the earth's grounding energy beneath your feet. As you concentrate on your desire, open your palm and blow the wish powder into the wind and watch as the universe carries your wishes away on the particles of dust. Give thanks to the wind for its help in making your wish come true.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Medicine Bag

I've decided to make myself a medicine bag, not only to honor my Native American ancestors but to aid me in my on-going spiritual quest as well. Last year I wrote about a small glass talisman bottle I had purchased and the uncertain plans I had for carrying some spiritual items within it (see Talisman Bottle, September 25, 2009). What could be carried within it proved difficult given the bottle's very small size, but I have managed to put within it some special (albeit tiny) gemstones and some powerful dried herbs. And while I am extremely happy with my little bottle, I had numerous other items that I had considered wearing within it but couldn't due to its size, or lack thereof.

And that's when I got to thinking about creating a medicine bag. While it is usually a tribe's medicine man or shaman or who carries such a bag and I most certainly am neither, I will be carrying it for the same purpose as they would: to make contact with and feel the power of the natural spiritual forces that will aid me in reaching my own personal spiritual potential. The basic items within my bag are pure loose tobacco, dried corn, found feathers and unusual shells which represent the four elements: fire, earth, air and water. I'll also now be able to carry my watai (see Stone Spirits, November 27, 2009) in something meant for it rather than just in a pocket, and even some other very spiritually powerful items that are personal to me and me alone.

The beauty of having such a bag is that it not only allows me to carry a constant physical reminder of my journey here on Mother Earth as well as that of my forebears, but also provides me with a very tactile spiritual experience. The size of it, while small enough to appear to others as nothing more than a tiny woven shoulder bag, will allow me to add additional spontaneous items that might speak to me while I am out hiking in the woods or walking on an empty beach.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Spiritual Nature of Trees

"The groves were God's first temples."

- William Cullen Bryant, "A Forest Hymn"

"When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees, higher than the ordinary and shutting out the sky with their thickly intertwined branches, do not the stately shadows of the wood, the stillness of the place, and the awful gloom of this doomed cavern then strike you with the presence of a deity?"

- Seneca

Holy Vale, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly and Beech Roots, Avebury, Wiltshire both courtesy of Giles C. Watson on flickr.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Elemental Power

The witch's pyramid (also referred to as the Four Pillars) is represented by a four-sided pyramid that promotes those qualities and abilities a witch must nurture and become proficient with before she can create truly powerful magick.

To Keep Silent. This is represented by the element of earth and is the base of the pyramid. This is the energy that allows one to work with their hands, to feel the tactile sense of magick. It's a feminine energy, methodical and patient. This power comes from plants, flowers and crystals, those objects that are of the earth, quietly beautiful yet potent.

To Will. This is represented by the element of water. This power is associated with the moon, psychic abilities, one's subconscious, visions and clairvoyance. This energy denotes love, sensitive souls, empathy, and compassion for all living things. Artists tap into this energy regularly, as do healers and mystics. This power comes from oceans, lakes, rivers and the rain.

To Dare. This is represented by the element of fire. This is the power that enables one to transform themselves, to change one's life, to illuminate that which is not easily seen. This energy denotes compassion, courage, the divine spark of the God and Goddess that one feels in their soul. To feel this energy at work is to feel one's intelligence, one's power (without abusing it) and to feel the strength to lead when needed. This power comes from the deserts, rocks, candles and fires, the hearth, volcanoes and the sun.

To Know. This is represented by the element of air and is at the top of the witch's pyramid. This power embodies freedom, ideas and inspirations, new life and new beginnings, the divine spirit, and endless space. To feel this energy at work is to feel intelligent, creative and to have a sense of humor. Those who use this power will be great communicators, gentle of spirit and always rational. This power comes from the wind, the vast expanse of the great sky above, clouds, birds and mountaintops.

And like the deepest earth, when one travels towards the sky there is mostly silence. The pyramid begins and ends with silence, with first and foremost looking within and knowing oneself clearly. To fully hear the divine and to truly hear nature, one must first be silent so as to allow spirit and earth to be heard within one's soul.

Photo courtesy of Bart Bonamie on flickr.