Guided Meditation: The Cauldron

cauldron-1

As Witches and magickal practitioners, most understand that the common tools used are just that, tools. They are props to help us focus and create a magickal environment that our subconscious uses to direct our energy and intent. Although, they do hold certain energies within themselves, they are not necessarily needed. The idea is that you have these tools within you. This guided meditation uses items that you create and visualize within your own mind. This was written for a meditation group that met in a place where any sort of fire could not be used. It provided the group a way to do a release ritual without the use of fire and tools. Through this guided meditation they would not only practice visualization, but also understand that one does not always need tools to perform magick.

The Cauldron Guided Meditation

Begin by lighting a candle and some incense. Turn off the lights. Close your eyes, make yourself comfortable and relax. Next begin to prepare for the meditation by breathing in deeply through your nose, filling your belly, hold for a count of three and exhale through your mouth. Do this three times, or until you feel relaxed, centered and open.

Feel the room around you, acknowledge the glow of the candle and scent of incense.
As you breath in, begin to visualize the smoke of the incense circling you, surrounding you.
It begins to create a bubble around you. This bubble will protect your body on your journey.

As you breathe, the smoke now begins to enter your body through your skin.
Where the smoke enters you begin to feel a tingling sensation, that starts to encompass your whole body.
In your mind, look down at your hands, you can see that your spirit self is starting to separate from your body. Allow your conscienceless to leave your physical body and go with your spirit self.
Visualize your spiritual body begin to stand up and walk toward your front door.
Reach for the door knob and open the door.
Upon opening the door you can see that the world outside has changed.
It is not what you normally would see.
Begin to walk through the threshold, taking notice of the new environment.
In the far distance you can see a large metal pot, that resembles a cauldron, sitting next to a tree stump.
There is no one around but you feel that you are being called to this place.
As you begin to walk and investigate further, take notice of any animals, plants or stones that you may come across, they may help you later to determine where you are.

As you approach the tree stump you can see that there is a piece of old parchment, a black feather quill and a few matches sitting on it.
You move closer to look into the cauldron, and see that it is filled with water and that is so dark that it looks endless. You can see your reflection in its mirrored surface.
In an instant your reflection begins to move, involuntary of yourself.
It begins to explain that you are to use the parchment and quill to write down all things that you wish to remove, overcome and let go of in your life.
As you turn back to the tree stump and reach for the paper and quill you already begin to feel lighter and freer than before. Begin writing down all that you wish……..

Once you reach the point that you cannot write down any more, your reflection continues
“ Now fold the paper three times and burn the parchment, allowing these things to burn away.”

You take up and light the matches, the smell of sulfur plums around your hand.
Lighting the folded paper and watching it burn, you can feel all that you wish to be removed is burning away with it. These things will no longer return with you to your physical body.
As the paper burns closer to your fingers, drop the last few remaining paper into the cauldron.
As the burning paper hits the waters surface the air around you begins to fill with a vapor mist that grows into a thick fog.

After a few seconds the fog lifts and you notice that you are back in the room with your physical self sitting in your protective bubble, walk over to your physical self and sit down into yourself, allowing your consciousness to return to your physical body.

Once you feel you are completely back, open your eyes.

Connecting with the Elements: Earth

Coming full circle and finishing up our “Connecting with the Elements” series!

As with the previous posts of fire and water, we will focus on not only the element itself, but its associated direction and an animal spirit associated with it, The Mighty Buffalo. For many of the indigenous plains tribes of America, the Buffalo was life. In many ways it meant stability for a time and an abundance of food and needed materials for the tribe. Buffalo is a lot like working with elephant and sometimes just as stubborn. Buffalo helps provide grounding after walking a path of emotion and the spirit spark of the other directions of water and fire.  He is of the land and yet is the land.

Buffalo powerfully sits in the North, he lives and moves through the dust and dirt. Lets now take a look at the element of earth.

Being able to connect with the earth is fairly easy compared to any other element because everything we do is on the earth. Physically speaking, the earth is what we live upon, we build our homes on and with the things we take and create from it. We plant seeds in the earth to grow food to sustain life. We depend on its stability for us to grow both physically and spiritually.  The element of earth and its energy of stability, logic, patience and how it connects to our own bodies and the way we live is a good start in working the element.

Other Ways to Connect:

Focus on the objects around you, your relationship with them, your attachment to them. Notice your relationship to all physical objects. What do you depend on and limit their use.

Explore your body’s senses and what triggers them.

Plant a flower(something that will return each year) with your energies visualize it mixing with the earth energies.

Devotionals

Create a devotional routine to a Deity you have a connection with or that has a connection with the element of earth, consider doing this with a Deity that has some form of linking the element in their mythos or to you personally. You do not have to make your devotional lengthy, just spend a few moments with your Deity, asking for blessings, advice, or just thanking them.

Divination

One divination method other than tarot that is closely related to the element of earth is runes. Usually constructed of wood or stone these divination tools are inscribed with symbols or letters of an alphabet. Take this a step further by creating your own “runes” for divination. Spend some time collecting and searching for rocks, sticks, or mold them out of clay. They do not need to be perfect or extravagant. They can be rather simple and crude. You may lay them out in a spread used for tarot or research the many ways they can be used. This is a great way to attune to the element in a hands-on-approach while learning a new method of divination. Once you are finished try them out by accessing the element of earth within yourself.

You can also incorporate the use of tarot in when working with the element of earth. Here are a few ways to use tarot and the element:

– Refresh your knowledge of all the pentacle cards of the deck.

– Pick a card that is associated with the element to mediate on each day.

– Use the spread below or create your own that focuses on the magickal correspondences of earth.

EARTH tarot spread

Place card 1 on top left. Place card 2 slightly right under card 1. Place card 3 right of card 1. Place card 4 next to card 3. Place card 5 next to card 2 and card 6 in the bottom center.

  1. Your lessons. What have you learned?
  2. Your rock. What are your securities?
  3. Your growth. How have you changed?
  4. Your focus. What you need to focus on?
  5. Your spirit. Where are you on your path?
  6. Your roots. What are your strengths?

Some other things you can do

Spend at least 30 minutes to 1 hour in meditation to connect to the energy of the element of earth. 

Research and learn about how other traditions and cultures view and use the element of earth. There are just as many concepts of the elements as there are the traditions that hold them. They can be found in the folklore, legends, and myths of almost every culture around the world. We can even see their influences in our own modern culture, especially in the entertainment and literary culture. Every tradition and culture use some “form” to represent the energy of the elements. These can be seen as dragons, angels, and the more physically related forms such as animals and trees. Focus on only the element of earth and its conceptual view in different traditions and culture.

Study the correspondences of herbs, oils, and crystals associated with the element of earth. Create your own incense or oil recipe. Various cultures have been making associations between the physical and the spirit for thousands of years. This maybe because of the belief that all things are connected. So, we must then conclude that some things work better together, in a similar manner, contain a similar energy thus we have what we call magickal correspondences. These correspondences can be used to connect and strengthen our own energy. Research and learn the attributes of our world that are connected to the element of earth and use them to create something magickal.

Create and perform a spell using the element of earth as its focus. The use of stones, crystals, and the planting of seeds are some common things that can be found in earth element magick. When creating your spell, think of an intent that will help balance “earth” in yourself.

Connecting with the Elements: Air

bird flying

“The east wind is my lodge, it is powerful;  The air is my medicine”-Siksikaitsitapi Song

Air is the manifestation of movement, freshness, and communication and of the intellect. Sound is another manifestation of this element. As an element, it is invisible, but its reality can be felt in the air that we breathe. When we invite the energy of air into our lives, we invite change and inspiration. A great way to connect with air  is to express the qualities and correspondences of the element through art. You do not need to be a best-selling author or be able to paint a masterpiece. It is about using the qualities of the element to help us understand its energy and it can be fun too.

If your looking for more of a relaxing way to connect with the element, there are many meditations out there you can follow. The use of air is extremely common in and is an important aspect of meditation, especially with its connection with incense and breath work. When we are balanced with air our minds are clear, precise, focused, and open to new ideas and perspectives.

anise aroma art bazaar

Speaking about incense, why do we burn incense? What are the reasons why certain herbs are used? Where does the concept of incense hail from? Who else has similar beliefs of its use? When and how do others use incense?  Try to answer these or something similar or create an incense with the herbal correspondences associated with the element of air.

Consider also researching and learning about how other traditions and cultures view and use the element of air. Many of the ancient cultures believed that the wind was influenced by the direction from which it originated from. If the wind blew from the south, it represented fire and was said to generate passion, warmth, or vitality. A wind moving from the west embodied the qualities of water; from the north, earth energies; from the east, it doubled the strength of the air element. Air can be found in almost every tradition and cultural spirituality. You may come to find that what you may have been taught about the elements and the directions they are associated with may not fit into your personal spirituality. Its all on the winds of change.

In contemporary Witchcraft, many Witches often do air element magick to inspire new ideas, improve communication or cooperation between people, or strengthen mental abilities. For instance, if you are taking an important test or taking on a creative project, consider performing an air spell. Air spells tend to take effect quickly, but the results are not usually as long lasting as those of earth spells. The wind direction can also be used in numerous types of air magick. For example, in banishing, always scatter magickal ingredients to the wind moving away from you to take away a problem. In the magickal sense, air holds the energy of the mind, of intellect, inspiration, and imagination. It is ideas, knowledge, dreams, and wishes. These are just some intentions that you might want to focus on while creating and performing spell to help you connect with the element.

Lastly, divination and air can be very rewarding and useful. Air can be used for a variety of divination methods. Whereas, some read clouds, trees, or sand by throwing it to the wind and seeing what patterns it forms. The element of air can also carry messages that can be heard in a multiple of ways. The Aborigines of Australia believe that the winds carry messages from the Divine. In the tarot, air is represented by swords and can reveal the messages from the mind. Use the spread below or choose your own method that uses air as the holder of information.

AIRtarot spread

Place card 1 on the far left and place card 2 under card 1. Then place card 3 on the top center. Place card 4 on the far bottom right and card 5 on top of card 4.

  1. Your thoughts. What do you think of yourself?
  2. Your wall. What blocks you?
  3. Your scale. What keeps you in balance?
  4. Your rope. What grounds you?
  5. Your creativity. What inspires you?

I “totem” so! – Respecting “Living Cultures”

totem_poles_stanley_park_vancouver_december_2010

Cultural appropriation has been a phrase that has been showing up in many areas of social media,‭ ‬especially within the Pagan and now even in the indigenous communities.‭ ‬Just recently there was an interesting conversation in a Facebook group that sparked the idea of this blog entry and we thought we would write about it.‭ ‬We want to express that this post is based on opinions of the information that was found viable on the topic and through the experience of one of our owners own connection to a “Living Culture” and by no means constitutes,‭ ‬as a factual study or anthropological theory.‭

With not mentioning names or personal situations,‭ ‬the above conversation focused on someone asking for help with interrupting a vision they had involving a‭ “‬totem‭”‬.‭ ‬Whereas another member of the group,‭ ‬respectfully but sternly pointed out the use of the word‭ “‬totem‭” ‬is disrespectful to the Native American tribes of the northwest as well as pointing out it’s over use in the Pagan and New-age communities.‭ Agreed! ‭ ‬Although,‭ ‬it is not so much in the actual word being used,‭ as it has become part of our social language, ‬but more so in its improper use and meaning.‭ ‬What made the conversation even more interesting was when an admin for the page joined in,‭ ‬assuming it was to keep the peace before it escalated into an unfruitful debate.‭ ‬The admin’s interjection of a reminder to respect one’s personal beliefs is what really raised an eyebrow.‭ ‬Whereas,‭ ‬what constitutes respect for one’s beliefs and how far does that carry over when it is appropriating a‭ “‬living culture‭” ? ‬and who has the right to correct it? To answer these questions, it is best to first look at what “cultural appropriation” really is,‭ ‬and what the general thoughts are at this time.‭

According to the Oxford Reference site,‭ ‬which‭ ‬states that cultural appropriation is “A term used to describe the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another.‬” It continues on,‭ ‬but let’s stop here for a moment.‭ ‬If we were to use this definition and apply it to our modern culture,‭ ‬we would all be guilty of‭ “‬cultural appropriation‭”‬.‭ ‬As a modern society we have adopted many cultural ideals and facets from almost every part of the world.‭ ‬This is what is known as cultural globalization or in this case cultural adoption.‭ ‬The fact is,‭ ‬that almost everything we do and say is a result of a mixing of cultures.‭ ‬From what we choose to wear in the morning to being polite when someone sneezes.‭ ‬They all have their cultural origins from somewhere in the world,‭ ‬yet we do these everyday things without a second thought of where they came from.‭ ‬In fact,‭ ‬much of our modern global culture can be attributed to the rise of intercontinental travel,‭ ‬whereas the world got smaller and we began to‭ “‬borrow‭” ‬from different cultures and incorporate them into our culture.‭ ‬This can be seen even more so since the creation of the‭ ‬Internet.‭ We could take this further and get into colonization but that could lead us down a rabbit hole that we choose not to go down.

On a smaller scale,‭ ‬a good example of cultural‭ “‬borrowing‭” ‬can be seen within the United States,‭ ‬where almost everything has been the result the world’s cultures living side by side.‭ ‬We can even go smaller on our scale and find these same patterns within America’s communities.‭ ‬This is just what happens when people come together‭; ‬over time they share and adopt the surrounding traditions,‭ ‬dialects,‭ ‬and even religious beliefs.‭

So,‭ ‬if it is something that has gone on for decades,‭ ‬why is it now a problem‭? ‬Well,‭ ‬that brings us back to Oxford’s explanation of cultural appropriation.‭ ‬It continues on,‭ ‬stating that‭ “It is in general used to describe Western appropriations of non‐Western or non‐white forms, and carries connotations of exploitation and dominance.” ‬Here is where it gets fuzzy for many people,‭ ‬and rightfully so.‭ Mainly because ‬how does one know where cultural integration‭ (‬borrowing‭) ends and cultural exploitation‭ (‬stealing‭) begins,‭ ‬truth is no one knows for sure.‭ ‬Which is why this topic has become so controversial in recent years.‭

elvis_presley_first_national_television_appearance_1956

A perfect example of the fine lines between the‭ “‬borrowing‭” ‬from or the‭ “‬stealing‭” ‬from a minority culture can be found right on our radios.‭ ‬Today,‭ ‬we can turn on the radio and hear thousands of different genres of music,‭ ‬all of which has progressed from the rock-n-roll and rhythm and blues of the‭ ‬1940‭‘‬s and‭ ‬50‭‘‬s.‭ ‬During this time,‭ ‬African American musicians weren’t widely accepted in American society despite the interest in their musical styling.‭ ‬So to make the music more marketable to white audiences,‭ ‬the record companies would use white musicians to replicate the music and style of the African American community culture with no mention of its origins.‭ ‬Sadly,‭ ‬many of the African American musicians who paved the way for rock-n-roll never saw any compensation for their contribution to the music.‭ ‬Even to this day there is still a debate between music historians as to where it all originated from and if it was integrated‭ (‬borrowed‭) ‬or appropriated‭ (‬stolen‭) and in some cases with good reason, some of the white artists grew up within the African American culture via their neighborhoods.

Okay,‭ ‬so you are probably saying to‭ ‬yourself that was then,‭ ‬we have come so far as a society that things like that don’t happen in that way anymore.‭ ‬Thankfully,‭ ‬now we have laws protecting intellectual rights for all,‭ ‬at least in cases of musical creations.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬it still can be found in other places,‭ ‬especially in our present day pop culture.‭ ‬Again,‭ ‬we can turn to our musical influences to find the topic of cultural appropriation still being an issue,‭ ‬where over the last few years,‭ ‬music artists and celebrities such as‭ ‬Madonna,‭ ‬Justin Beiber, and even Gorden Ramsey have all been accused of cultural appropriation. Which begs the question where does the line get drawn in artistic expression? Sadly, These controversies and concerns are not just found in the music industry and pop culture,‭ ‬but in neo-religious circles of our culture as well.‭ ‬At most,‭ ‬many see it as a form of racism,‭ ‬rather than a matter of respect for a living culture.‭ ‬Depending on the circumstances,‭ ‬it can be a matter of both or just one,‭ ‬which is why there are so many different perspectives on the topic.‭

Now that we have looked into what cultural appropriation is or might be,‭ ‬at least generally speaking.‭ ‬Is it possible that we can answer our preceding questions of‭ “‬what constitutes respect for one’s beliefs and how far does that carry over when it is appropriating a living culture‭” and to whom has the right to correct it? Especially,‭ ‬as in the context of the Facebook conversation.‭

Nope,‭ ‬not yet,‭ ‬there is still one more important part of the conversation that should be addressed.‭ ‬The concept of‭ ‬Pagan and the New-age ideals of respecting one’s spiritual beliefs and choices.‭ ‬This is an agreeable model of having respect for one’s personal beliefs and path.‭ ‬One should be able to have the right to have their own personal experiences, to do as they please,‭ ‬worship whom they please,‭ ‬in any way they please in their own PERSONAL spiritual beliefs.‭ ‬In a way that is what separates us from the dogma of many of conventional religions.‭ ‬However! you have to ask yourself a few questions,‭ ‬is it “‬stealing‭” ‬from a living culture? Are you stating that it is your own practice and do you have the rights to certain practices? This is where it can become disrespectful and may even cross the lines into cultural appropriation.‭ ‬It is rather interesting that one of the biggest things Pagans (a word that comes out of Christian culture) complain about‭; ‬is how Christianity stole from the Pagans,‭ ‬yet,‭ ‬they are guilty of the same exact thing.‭ Whereas, many of the modern pagan practices used today actually have more of a Christian foundation then what is assumed as “the old way”. ‬Many of us‭ “‬Steal‭” ‬from the indigenous and esoteric cultures of the world and make them our own.‭ ‬This is not to say that it is done with a purposeful intent,‭ ‬most often it is done out of ignorance and improper education.‭ ‬You might have noticed that throughout this entry the term‭ “‬living culture‭” has been used ‬in regards to appropriating cultural aspects.‭ ‬There is a reason for this,‭ ‬one cannot‭ “‬steal‭” ‬from what is not truly known.‭ ‬In other words,‭ ‬or rather a better explanation of this is that many of today’s Pagan religions and practices are based on what we know or think we know about ancient cultures.‭ ‬They are a mismatched,‭ ‬botched up,‭ ‬combination of cultural traditions that are in general not practiced anymore or are based on a modern interpretation of them through the founders of modern Witchcraft, such as Gerald Gardner. Even the Re-constructionist religions are only based on theory and limited historical texts.‭ ‬So there can be no cultural appropriation ‬when that original culture no longer exists as it was.‭ ‬It is when we start to incorporate specific teachings and practices of the‭ “‬living cultures‭” ‬that we begin to cross the lines of what we call today as cultural appropriation.‭ ‬We can see this especially in the use of the many indigenous practices within the New-age communities and even in many of the Pagan communities.‭ ‬Where you may find pseudo sweat lodges and ayahuasca ceremonies being offered by non-tribal peoples.‭ ‬This can be considered cultural appropriation‭, however even here there are fine lines. ‬To some these are sacred ceremonies of specific tribal traditions that are often misused,‭ ‬misrepresented,‭ ‬and‭ “‬stolen‭” ‬from their respected‭ “‬living cultures‭”‬, while others see them for all to use to spiritually better humanity.‭ However, it all depends on its origins and the teachings. ‬That is not to say that one cannot have a meaningful spiritual experience in taking part in such activities,‭ ‬it is just that you may be supporting the theft of a sacred ceremony in the process.‭ ‬Many people also view such things as drumming,‭ ‬smudging,‭ ‬and the practice of using sacred fires as cultural appropriation.‭ ‬Although,‭ ‬some of these practices can incorporate the‭ “‬stealing‭” ‬of a particular ceremony the actual practice is more of‭ “‬borrowing‭”‬ as they can also be found in non-living cultures as well.‭ ‬‬In the case of our Facebook conversation,‭ ‬we see the use of the word‭ “‬totem‭”‬,‭ ‬The word‭ “‬totem‭” ‬was and is still used by the Pacific Northwest first nations tribes of America (a living culture). This word along with many others (nameste, shaman etc) are often used inappropriately from it’s original intent or cultural meaning.

The word itself derives from Ojibwe‭ (‬Chippewa‭) ‬word odoodem,‭ ‬which roughly translates to‭ “‬his kinship group‭”‬.‭ ‬Totems are representations of spirit beings or a symbol of a particular group of people,‭ ‬such as a family,‭ ‬clan,‭ ‬lineage,‭ ‬or tribe.‭ ‬They are also considered sacred objects.‭

The term‭ “‬totem‭” ‬has been‭ “‬stolen‭” ‬by many of the New-age and Pagan communities who have either no involvement in it’s tribal practices or uses it’s meaning improperly as a term for their personal spirit or guide.‭ ‬Partly this is due to it being often used in scholarly circles as an umbrella term just as the word shaman is used for anything related to an indigenous practice.‭ ‬The word totem has been commonly used inappropriately to describe the belief in guardian spirits and deities of the indigenous peoples of America,‭ ‬Africa,‭ ‬Asia,‭ ‬Australia,‭ ‬and even Europe.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬these cultures have their own words for guardian spirits in their own languages,‭ ‬and do not call these spirits,‭ “‬totems‭”‬.‭

Because the word is both misused and continues to be a part of a‭ “‬living culture‭” ‬it can be considered cultural appropriation.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬the associated practice of using guardian spirits or certain tribal meanings is not.‭

alexispowwow

Another tribal phrase that is often used in the New-age and Pagan communities (although, its become less favorable over the years) is Aho‭! ‬Again,‭ ‬here we see another tribal word misused from a‭ “‬living culture‭”‬.‭ Unfortunately, it is unclear whether or not it has been‭ “‬borrowed‭” ‬or‭ “‬stolen‭” mainly due to the open use of it within the powwow circuits and the open teachings of many Lokata members or if it is a throwback of the 70’s new age movement. ‬The word itself originates from the language of the Lakota people where it means‭ “‬hello‭”‬.‭ ‬It can also be found in the Kiowa and Cherokee tribes,‭ ‬but‭ ‬its use is entirely different.‭ ‬The use of this term has been adopted and wrongly used by many within the New-age and Pagan communities,‭ ‬where it is often used to indicate agreement.‭ ‬

So how far does respecting one’s spiritual beliefs go when there is an apparent appropriation of a living culture and who has the right to challenge that.‭ ‬Honestly,‭ the only people who have a right to challenge that is someone who is of currently or from that living culture itself. Even there it can become tricky because there is disagreement within those cultures as well, especially between the elders and younger generations. Which is why it is best to leave the issue to only those are currently involved in the said culture that may be being appropriated within their own community or better yet, follow the “two wrongs don’t make a right”, and just let it be. If your voice is louder than the voices of a living culture you are just as much as the problem as the appropriator and sometimes just being an ally just means you are a supporter and not a warrior.

Connecting with the Elements: Water

photo of person s feet during daytime

In our last post we connected with fire the animal spirit of wolf, in this post we will employ the energy of Bear for the element of water. Bear can have many personalities. Bear can be the two-sided mamma Bear who is loving and nurturing, and yet be the fierce protector. Bear is also the guardian and doorkeeper of the underworld or the land of our ancestors. When working the Wheel, Bear takes over your journey after Wolf/Coyote has led you down your path. He takes you the land of the dead where you find your true self. Bear introduces you to your ancestors and puts you in dangerous situations that rip you apart from the inside out.

Bear resides in the West, he lives at the base of the mountains, where lies certain death (hence his association with the dead).  But lets talk a little about the element of Water.

The element of Water is most often connected with our emotions. Water is life’s necessity without it nothing can live. It is a component in the cells of all living beings; it is our very essence. It is the one common denominator that connects all as one. Water is constantly flowing and changing, which is why it’s associated with our emotions. Both cannot remain in one state for long and are always in constant motion. Our emotions are what define and shape who we are as living beings and as Individuals. In this post we have replaced the word Water with LOVE to help you subconsciously connect with the element. When we focus on increasing the LOVE element in our lives, we begin the process of cleansing and healing our spirit. The element helps us purify and cleanse our spirit of harmful emotions that could be holding us back. Once these emotions are removed or at least acknowledged, we can begin the healing process while working within this element. This is a time to focus on working out those unresolved issues that so many of us hold on to.

Mindful Bathing

When doing mindful bathing, we recommend not using candles, incense, or salts. This will keep your focus on just one element. Prepare by drawing a warm bath. Before stepping in, request the element to physically, mentally and emotionally cleanse, heal and purify you. As you step in, envision the healing LOVE enveloping your body and spirit. Once you are settled and comfortable, breathe slowly and deeply.  Allow the LOVE to help you relax. Imagine becoming one with the LOVE. When you are finished remember to that the element of LOVE.

Devotionals

When creating a devotional routine to a Deity in connection with the element of LOVE and that has some form of linking the element in their mythos or to you personally. You do not have to make it lengthy, just spend a few moments with your deity, asking for blessings, advice, or just thanking them.

Ritual

With the full moon right around the corner you might want to do a full moon cleansing ritual utilizing the cleansing and healing magickal properties of water by washing away the harmful energies that may lay dormant in our mind, words, and heart.

Divination

Many divination practices work well went working with LOVE. From scrying to dreams, this element has a profound effect on our ability to use our intuition. As with any types of magickal practices it is recommended to keep a journal, so why not keep a journal of your dreams. You find that your dreams will be heightened as you work through the element. Although, dreams are most often associated with the element of fire. It is the actual dream and the messages contained within them that can be attributed to the element of LOVE and not the actual act of dreaming.

You can also incorporate the use of tarot in when working with the element of LOVE. Here are a few ways to use tarot:

– Refresh your knowledge of all the cup cards of the deck.

– Pick a card that is associated with the element to mediate on each day.

– Use a spread that focuses on the magickal correspondences of LOVE.

Tarot Spread for the Element of LOVE

Place card 1 on the far left, then place card 2 and card 3 diagonally going down. Then place card 4 and 5 diagonally going up. Place card 6 between card 1 and 5 and above 3.

  1. Your tide. What state are your emotions?
  2. Your dam. What blocks you?
  3. Your depth. Where does my compassion lay?
  4. Your swell. What enlightens you?
  5. Your crest. What is your breaking point?
  6. Your ship. What will make you successful?

Some other things you can do

– Write a Letter to someone who you have something to say too.

– Clean your house, car or office

Research and learn about how other traditions and cultures view and use the element of LOVE. If we look at the history of our ancestors, there is a direct correlation between LOVE and spirituality. For some Love is the creative life force. Hindu traditions consider LOVE to be a purifier, life giver, and the destroyer of evil. In the more recent western cultures, the Christian church places significant importance on LOVE as well, in their practices of baptism. Research your own tradition and ancestral practices and their uses and beliefs associated with LOVE.

Attune yourself to the element of LOVE by evaluating your relationships (parents, children, companions, friends). Science states that our bodies are comprised of approximately 60% of LOVE. Metaphysically, then we can only assume that LOVE and its energy can affect us on a spiritual level and vice versa. According to the Japanese author and researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto, he claimed that our thoughts and emotions could influence water’s molecular structure. He analyzed frozen water crystals that were exposed to thoughts and feelings of positive emotions and found them to have beautiful geometric designs and water influenced by negative thoughts and emotions appeared to create jagged and ugly looking shapes. Although, Emoto’s work is widely regarded as pseudoscience and has yet to be proven scientifically, there may still be something in his findings, spiritually. If our thoughts can affect the molecular structure of LOVE, then what effect might our thoughts have on our bodies and our emotions? Because our emotions also affect our relationships these two are both closely related to the energy of LOVE. Evaluate your relationships and the emotions they cause. In doing so, you open yourself up to a better understanding of the energy of LOVE.

– Study the correspondences of herbs, oils, and crystals associated with the element of LOVE. Create your own incense or oil recipe. The belief that unconnected things share a metaphysical connection is not an uncommon belief in many cultures and religions. Correspondences are not limited to just Witchcraft, Pagan, and other magickal traditions. Correspondences can also be found in Chinese and East Indian traditional medicine manuals and in many of the worlds religious teachings. This may be the reason that there are so many connections and yet so many differences among the teachings of Witchcraft. Today, many practitioners create their own correspondences based on their own experiences and personal beliefs. However, the one core concept they all share is that everything in nature has a special meaning and can be used in the magickal world. Use these special meanings to create your own LOVE oil or incense based on what you researched.

– Create and perform a spell using the element of LOVE as its focus. LOVE and its magick are often used for healing and purification. For centuries, believers have journeyed to sacred springs and source of LOVE, and more recently people visit spas and hot springs in the hope of relaxation and of being healed. The practice of ritual bathing to wash away unwanted energies and to shift their consciousness can be seen in Witchcraft and many other religions as well. However, these are not the only purposes. LOVE has many uses in magick. Create a spell using LOVE as its main focus or tool.

Connecting with the Elements: FIRE

The direction of South in many traditions, both cultural and modern corresponds to the element of Fire. The element of fire can bring us both creativity and destruction. It is the only element that forms by consuming another element. Fire, unlike the other elements, does not exist in a natural state and is born of change. The element of fire is the strongest of the four and therefor it is the easiest to connect with. When we focus on increasing the fire element in our lives, we increase our creativity, joy, energy, inspiration, and love. The direction also deals with our spiritual selves and the paths we choose to follow. It is the direction and element that can be used to clear our spiritual selves, remove spiritual blockages and transform. It helps us work on our shadow, doubts, and harmful patterns.

Meditation

For this meditation the direction of south is used in association with the spirit of the wolf

Spirit of the Wolf Guided Meditation

Begin by lighting a candle and some incense. Turn off the lights. Close your eyes, make yourself comfortable and relax. Next begin to prepare for the meditation by breathing in deeply through your nose, filling your belly, hold for a count of three and exhale through your mouth. Do this three times, or until you feel relaxed, centered and open.

Feel the room around you, acknowledge the glow of the candle and scent of incense.
As you breath in, begin to visualize the smoke of the incense circling you, surrounding you.
It begins to create a bubble around you. This bubble will protect your body on your journey.

You find yourself sitting in the dark, outside on a hill.
You can feel the cool grass beneath you, but, the air is warm around you.
Crickets quietly chirp in the distance.
Although, you are sitting in the dark, you are not afraid….
Appearing before you is the spirit of the wolf.
He sits harmlessly before you.
Looking closer you can see that he is in spirit form rather than solid, yet his soft fur sways in the warm breeze.
He will be your guide on this journey and will take you through the phases of the moon.
Begin your journey by feeling and reaching out to wolf’s energy.
Allow it to mix with your own, you will become one with wolf.

Now, as wolf, looking up to the black sky, you notice a tiny sliver of light begin to appear, it is the new moon.
Feel and see yourself going toward the moon.
At the same time the moon also comes to you.
You and the moon meet and join together.. You are the new moon….
Take some time and feel the energy of the new moon.
It is of new beginnings and birth.
Allow yourself to succumb to its energy and let the moon show you what you need to learn at this time…….

After a moment, wolf calls you back and to let go of the new moon’s energy.
As you pull away, you begin to see the sliver of the moon begin to grow into a waxing crescent moon.
Its energies of growth and love begin to surround you.
Allow the knowledge of where you are headed to enter you, let the moon show you what steps you need to take to grow at this time.

Again, the wolf calls you back after a few moments, the images begin to fade and you are now overcome by the bright light of the full moon… The energies and power are almost too overwhelming.
It is time to open yourself up to them and be the full moon.
These powerful energies feel as though they are recharging you, like a battery.
You can feel your own magickal energies reach the highest they have ever been.
You are now glowing with pure positive energy.
The energy pours out of you in all directions and reflects off the clouds above and touches the trees and plants below.
As above, so below you are the full moon…

Just as you feel you are able to expand your energies around the world, the light fades into a waxing crescent moon.
It begins to draw back some of the energies you have just absorbed.
Along with some the full moon energies, the waning moon extracts all the negative thoughts you hide within yourself.
It takes your fears.
Your self-created obstacles.
You can see all this pouring out of you in a long dark plume of black smoke…..

You are now floating in darkness, no sound…Total emptiness.
You are not afraid. You know you are protected by the spirit of the wolf.
This is the time to confront all the negatives that had poured out of you.
Face them, learn from them… This is the dark of the moon……….

After a moment, all the images begin to fade as you hear the cry of the wolf.
You have now returned to the hilltop, looking up, you can see all the moon phases in the sky.
Bid farewell to them, individually and thank them for their wisdom.

Eventually, the darken sky becomes day and before is the wolf.
Thank and honor his spirit.
You may also wish to take a moment to accept any wisdom he gives you.
Say your farewells… Take 3 breaths, and open your eyes….

Devotionals

When creating a devotional routine to a Deity in connection with the element of fire, try to do this with a Deity that has some form of linking to fire in their mythos or to you personally. You do not have to make it lengthy, just spend a few moments with your deity, asking for blessings, advice, or just thanking them. Offer incense and say a few words.

Ritual

With the Summer Solstice right around the corner This may be a perfect time to start working with the element of fire. What a better way to connect with the element than honoring a big ball of fire. Even if there was no major magickal calendar event to happen, set out to also do a ritual during every aspect of the moon. THE MOON!! You may be asking yourself what does the moon have to do with fire. For one, in many cultures, some form of fire has always present or is a focus during any Full Moon ceremony or spiritual event. Even if we think of how the moon is lit in the night sky, we can attribute that to fire, well to that big ball of it in the sky at least. Thinking in the terms of the suns light reflections we can mirror this in our rituals by working on our own spiritual reflected self by using the phases of the moon.

Some other things you can do

Research and learn about how other traditions and cultures view and use the element of fire. Fire has and probably always will be an important part of human culture. From the Greek myth of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods to the burning bush in the Christian Bible, fire has always been a part of our spirituality and religion. Fire plays an important role in Witchcraft as well. It is one of the building blocks of the universe, a foundation of our magick circle, and a tool in purification rites.

Attune yourself to the element of fire by making a list of 5 things that get you all fired up, either angry or inspired and take a constructive action to change or invoke these things.

Understanding what attributes of fire, we possess or lack help us maintain a spiritual balance within ourselves and the world around us. When our fire energy is in balance, we are often more joyful and playful, communicate better, and have a true enthusiasm for life. Some symptoms when we lack or are out of balance are depression, insomnia, loss of spark, and a need for control. Know that there are specific compensations for a weak or lacking element that can sometimes also create balance.

-Study the correspondences of herbs, oils, and crystals associated with the element of fire. Create your own incense or oil recipe. Not all Witches use element correspondences however, those who do know there is a great deal of variation between traditions. In most cases, in Witchcraft the elements are involved in one way or another and each offer something unique and special.

– Get a chakra balancing through reiki work or some other practice that you feel comfortable with.

There are so many things you can also do each day to help you connect with the direction, the spirits, and the element. Something as simple as lighting a candle while you are home to setting some time as side to do some shadow work. I will be posting one outline a month if you choose to follow or just dabble in connecting to each element. Balance is key to a healthy spiritual life.

A Creative Ritual for Abundance Using Tarot

Many of the common tools used in Modern witchcraft and neo-paganism can also be found as symbols within most tarot decks and can be employed as an alternative. Since it’s not so much about the tool as it is about the symbolism that triggers our minds when in a ritual state.

All that is truly needed for this ritual is a tarot deck that has traditional type images of the suits of pentacle, cup, wand, and sword, however, any other items such as candles, incense, stones, etc. can be added.

Preparation: Locate and pull out these cards in order, placing the cards in this order from top to bottom.

Ace of Swords (will be used as an athame)

Ace of Pentacles (North, Earth, Abundance)

The Sun (East, Beginnings, Joy)

Ace of wands (South, Fire, Energy)

Death (West, Change, emotion)

The Emperor (Male, God, Leader)

The Empress (Female, Goddess, Mother)

The World (The All, the Collective)

Ace of Cups (Bounty, Abundance)

Tarot Ritual of Abundance

Starting in the north where abundance is an attribute. With cards in hand turn over the first card (Ace of Swords), slowly walk clockwise around your space visualizing protective and loving energy creating a circle and then expanding into a sphere around your space.

As you walk say or something similar:

“I cast this circle with love and protection,

As it grows so does the Earth,

Together as one in joy and abundance.”

When you return to the North place the card on the altar,

Saying: “So mote it be”.

Starting again in the North, Place the Ace of Pentacles down on the ground or on the altar in its direction saying or something similar:

“I call upon the spirit of the North and of Earth,

I welcome you to this circle.

You bring me the bounty and stability in my

Ever-changing world.”

Moving to the East, place The Sun card and say or something Similar:

“I call upon the spirit of the East and of Air,

And welcome you to this circle.

You bring me victory and new beginnings in my

Ever-changing world.”

Continuing to the South, placing the Ace of Wands saying or something similar:

“I call upon the spirit of the South and of Fire,

I welcome you to this circle.

You bring me the spark and motivation in my

Ever-changing world.”

Lastly, place the Death card in the West saying or something Similar:

“I call upon the spirit of the West and of Water,

And welcome you to this circle.

You provide change and empathy in my

Ever-changing world.”

Returning back to the North, Place The Emperor card on the right side of the altar saying or something similar:

“I call to the Father God, leader of the ever-changing world, who without will see no abundance.”

Next place The Empress card on the left side saying or something similar:

“I call to the Goddess, Mother of all, who without will not grow.”

Place The World card in the top center saying or something similar:

“Hail and Welcome to All that is represented here and in my ever-changing world”

Once you feel comfortable and connected, place the Ace of Cups in the center of the altar with a focus of abundance in your life and say or something similar:

“In this ever-changing world I live, I am connected to its ebb and flow, it’s ups and downs. Its shortcomings and richness’s. Today I am in need of abundance, so that tomorrow I may give in return. As the Earth replenishes its lows, let my cup spill over so that I may do the same.”

“As above, so below let abundance flow. So, Mote it Be!”

At this time, you may want to add any aspect of ritual that your tradition calls for.

When you are ready, Thank the God and Goddess and return the cards to the deck in reverse. Staring in the west, moving counter clockwise, say or something similar:

“Farewell spirit of the West

I thank you for your presence

May you continue to nourish my heart”

Return the Death card to the deck. Move on to the South saying or something similar:

“Farewell to the spirit of the South and of Fire,

I thank you for providing the passion for my spirit to move forward”

Return the Ace of Wands to the deck, continue to the East and say or something similar:

“Farewell spirit of the East

I thank you for your attendance and

Bringing me victory to start anew.”

Return The Sun card and move on to the North,

“Farewell spirit of the North

I thank you for your presence

May you always provide me with abundance.”

Take up the Ace of Swords, walking counter-clockwise and release the circle saying or something Similar:

“I release this circle of joy and abundance,

Out into the universe,

In celebration of the ever-changing world.

So, Mote it be!”

Return the card to the Deck and Ground.

Familiars vs. Magickal Pets

Most people in the community tend to use the word “familiar” for any household animal and pet. This is not to say that some of these animals couldn’t be considered a familiar. It seems that the whole idea has gotten misrepresented and/or misinformed over the years. There is so many meanings to the use of the title of “familiar” that it was hard to track down information. Especially in terms of what has become accepted and adapted within the pagan and Witch community verses the traditional ideas on the subject. There is so much information that relates to the christian theories of the middle ages and the days of the Witch trials. Whereas, “familiars” were “demons” or “Evil” spirits said to be given to Witches by the devil. These spirits took on various animal shapes (in some cases they were described just as non-human forms) that could be sent out to do a Witch’s bidding both magickally and mundanely.

The History in Witchcraft

Familiars, from the Latin “familiaris”, meaning a household servant, were mentioned even in the Bible, depending on which version you read. Remembering that most of the bible known today was rewritten out of its original meaning and /or to end certain practices of its time. In the book of Leviticus (20:27) there are references to the familiar and guardian spirits associated with various spiritual and magickal practitioners: “A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them”. We could get into where this came from and why, but that is a discussion that could not be covered in a post. Either way this statement has had a large impact on Witchcraft hysteria.

witches27familiars1579

During the Witch hysteria of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the fascination with a Witch and familiars was mostly found in England and Scotland. Being mentioned in several trial records, especially those related to “The Witch-Finder General” Matthew Hopkins. The Witchcraft Act of 1604 made it a felony to “consult, convene with, entertain, employ, feed, or reward any evil and wicked spirit to or for any intent or purpose.” The Malleus Maleficarum, the main Witch inquisitor’s handbook of the time offered no instructions concerning familiars in the interrogation and trial of Witches. The book does acknowledge that an animal familiar “always works with the Witch in everything.” In the confession of Elizabeth Demdike during the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 , it was said that her familiar’s name was Tibb. Tibb was a spirit who could take the shape of almost any animal he pleased, and in one piece of her confession he had taken the shape of a black cat. This familiar spirit wanted to aid Elizabeth in the cursing of three local individuals, but when she opposed, he knocked her into a ditch.

In the Salem Trials in 1692, accused John Bradsheet was charged for “inciting a dog to afflict.” The dog was tried and hanged as a Witch. Although there were not as many mentions of familiars in the American Witch trails we can see that over the centuries familiars have taken many forms depending on what was seen as “evil” at the time. These were the cat, mouse/rat, ferret, hare, bat, snake, frog/toad, dog or bird. As time went on and we stepped into the more modern views of the familiar we find that the well-known “King of the Witches”, Alexander Sanders, was reported to boast of the creation of a “spiritual baby”, who became one of his familiars.

Modern Views

In contemporary witchcraft, wicca, and other pagan traditions the “familiar” is viewed in an altogether different light. Whereas, a familiar can be any animal with which the individual feels an affinity toward. While these animals are no longer considered demons or even spirits anymore, they are treated in the same respect. Sadly, the consensus seems to also show they have even lost being a partner in one’s practice of magick. Many have adapted the term to mean an actual, living animal companion that they consider a “familiar”. Professing they have an emotional and psychic bond with a particular cat, dog, or whatever pet that have taken into their home. This is all well and good but denotes the traditional concept of the familiar and its potential and might be better suited to be called magickal or spiritual pets.

Another common thought along the “familiar” thread is that they are connected to the indigenous practice of animal spirits, known to many modern practitioners as the cringe-worthy use of the term Totem. Although, there are similarities in these concepts, they are completely different. The concept behind “Totem” animals is that they are an animal spirit that has chosen to guard a specific tribe or family and “usually” do not do any type of spiritual bidding for any particular human. Then there is the idea of animal spirit guides that have been chosen or given through ceremony. They can also come to you in a dream or in real life with a message or to teach you a valuable lesson. Shamans and medicine men of various tribal traditions have long honored the spirits of animals for their wisdom and assistance in spiritual and magickal workings and the mundane as well. Whereas with the Witch’s familiar, the animal is just the vessel for a spirit and will stay with the Witch for a certain time in order to help him or her magickally, to do his/her bidding, and then they may or may not leave. They can also be called upon or summoned into a Witch’s life as a “helper” for various things and workings.

Finding and Working with Familiars

One of the “better” books on the subject is Raven Grimassi’s “The Witch’s Familiar”. Where he discusses the history and methods on obtaining and working with familiars in a more traditional fashion. Although a modern approach, he utilizes the concepts of meditation, journeying, and ritual to achieve this goal. He explores the ideas of three different types of familiars: physical, astral, and spiritual in a way that no matter what your take is on the subject, he covers it in a modern practical way.

Whether or not you follow the ways Grimassi points out or your own, the bottom line is that familiars are magick users’ helpers who exist in both the spirit and the mundane. Depending on the Witch’s work, familiars can serve as gatekeeper, messenger and guide. There are many ways for a familiar and a Witch to work together. A Witch may send a familiar to complete a task or serve as guard during magickal work to protect and alert to the presence of spirits that may be harmful. The ways of employment are almost endless. Note that there can be a “price” in this, which is why there is a huge difference between a pet and familiar.

Also know that not everyone has, needs, or even wants a familiar. If you have an animal companion that you consider a “familiar” but doesn’t fit the traditional ideas of the familiar consider working on strengthening your psychic connection and making it a magickal pet. If an animal has appeared in your life unexpectedly, such as a stray cat that sticks around, it may have been drawn to you psychically and not a familiar. As with anything always be sure to rule out mundane reasons the animal has arrived. Do you leave food for them to eat? Is it that time of year? Remembering that many animals tend to scavenge during the spring and fall.

If you are still interested in the traditional concept of a familiar, the best way to is through summoning one into your life. Also note that this is completely different from summoning and binding spirits for workings that can be found in many other traditions. Familiars are about connecting with animals that are used and employed as vessels by spirits that are connected to you by other means. Those means are only privy between Witch and familiar.

A Witch at Home: Outdoor Altars and Shrines

We thought this would be a perfect time of the year to write a post about outside altars and shrines.

Before we discuss a few ways to set up outdoor sacred spaces, lets take a look at the basics of what they are.

There is a slight deference in what an altar is and what a shrine is. A shrine is a sacred place, which can be dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, or similar figure of respect, where they are venerated or worshiped. Shrines often contain statues, relics, or other special objects associated with whom the shrine is for. Shrines are found in many of the world’s religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Pagan traditions. They can be found in almost every setting, such as churches, temples, cemeteries, or in and outside of the home. It is a sacred place that is dedicated to its resident. Prayers, blessings, and respect are the main focus for shrines, no other work is usually done at a shrine. If offerings are made or any other type of spiritual work is done, then it would be considered an altar.

An altar is any structure upon which offerings are made, ceremonies are held and is usually consecrated for spiritual purposes. Just like shrines they can contain statues, relics, or anything related to its specific workings.

Building a Permanent Outdoor Altar/Shrine

When first building your outside altar or shrine, be sure to ask its resident(s) where they would like to be placed. Begin by quieting your mind, relax open yourself up to the specific energies or call out to whom you are trying to connect with. Next turn slowly, notice if there is one particular direction that pulls or speaks to you. Walk in this direction, slow and deliberate. Pay close attention to shifts in energies and whether you are drawn one way or another.  Look and listen for signs or messages. Always ask for a confirmation.

Remember when constructing an outdoor altar or shrine keep in mind that the conditions around the area that has been chosen. Your altar’s area may become wet, flood, or have strong cross winds. If possible take consideration to these conditions. You also want to be able to safely access the altar, if the location is not safe, ask the resident for another location because it is unsafe or un accessible.

If you’re lucky to live in a wooded area and want to make a stone altar, but there are no rocks in to be found you will have to carry your rocks. As with any altar, you will want to try to use objects that are native to the area. You also want to make sure that your materials won’t harm the wild and plant life around. If you also plan to leave offerings, be mindful not to leave something that could be harmful.

Once the area is set, it should be dedicated in however your tradition calls for or how and what you feel is necessary.

How to Write Your Own Guided Meditation

Color Book Adult Business Colourful Blur

Writing guided meditations is not as hard as you might think, in fact, if you have been self-meditating you have already been creating your own meditations. All you need to do is put them down on paper.

Writing Your Own Guided Meditation

Before you begin have a clear intent or goal for your guided meditation. Get into the right frame of mind, I like to take a few moments to focus and relax as if I am actually going to meditate. This makes it much easier for you to visualize what you are writing about. You may want to plan out your script, starting with a bullet point list of events you wish to describe in the meditation. Another method is to get into a state of deep relaxation, and then allow the entire meditation script to flow. Personally, I allow my guided meditation scripts to gradually form in my mind as I write. Allowing my mind to create what is happening, like watching a movie unfold and then putting it down on paper. Everyone is different, so the approach you take is entirely up to you. You may want to add music or environmental sounds to your meditation. Music can make or break a guided meditation it not only adds beauty but it also helps to relax and depth to the overall mood of the journey. As you write your meditation, you may want to add in symbolic images. In a deeper state, symbolic guided imagery can be very powerful. Consider the specific purpose of your guided meditation, and then introduce symbols that represent that purpose and give deeper meaning to the journey. Be wary of sentence length. Allowing a moment for visualizations to occur. Then move on to the next sentence.

General Structure of a Guided Meditation

  1. Getting comfortable

Give the listener a little time to prepare for the meditation and to get comfortable.

  1. Start with a general relaxation

Spend five to ten minutes relaxing the body and the mind with visualizations and/or breathing exercises. You may want to use a countdown technique during or just after relaxation.

  1. Begin the Journey

Start by describing the environment that you will experience. Include all five senses by describing what can be seen, smelled or heard and touched. The more one can connect their senses to the environment, the more deeply they will become immersed. Be careful not to let the description drag on. Don’t spend too much time describing specifics; your imagination will automatically fill in any blanks.

  1. The Return

During the meditation you will become very relaxed and will have entered into a deep state of relaxation. Coming back to normal waking consciousness should be done gently and gradually. One common way is to guide listeners back to the starting point of the meditation. Once you have returned to the starting point, slowly bring your awareness back into the world around them. Becoming aware of their physical body and of their surroundings.