Archive for the ‘Protection and Shielding’ Category
Black Bags and Wrapping Paper: Magickally Warding off Evil One Tinsel Bow and Strip of Scotch Tape at a Time
I’ve been unpacking my suitcases the last few days and am bemused by how many plastic shopping bags I acquired over the past three months of excavation out in the deserts of the Middle East. And while the plastic bags from the cities of Jordan do often follow the same Safeway, Target, boutique store X model; the bags from the smaller stores, and especially the stores out in the boondocks middle of nowhere (like where the dig I work with is based): are all black. No logo, no design, no nothing. Just black. Initially I had thought this was a question of economy. That some black bag producing mini-wonder had cornered the Middle Eastern bag market. But actually, it turns out, it is mostly a question of superstition and folk magick.
The black bags of Jordan are not simply bags. They are a practical device which also wards off evil spirits and bad intentions. They are modern pieces of protection magick practiced by a living culture.
Local superstition holds that if someone were to see what you had purchased (i.e. if you were just carrying it around or used a more see-through type of bag), their envious Evil Eye could curse your purchase. And so when you went to drink your soda or use your shampoo, the bad luck cast upon the item would transfer onto you for having utilized it. The black bag keeps your purchases secret, safe from the nefarious Evil Eye which so haunts the Eastern Mediterranean imagination and customs.
It’s bad enough when You use the cursed object, but its deemed particularly bad form in Jordanian culture to pass on any jinxed purchases. And thus, when you present a gift to your friends, neighbors, or in the case of this past season: your local awesome Department of Antiquities representative; you promptly hand over your gift still in its black bag, and just after you enter their home but before you are introduced to the rest of the household in the ubiquitous social room of their house. The black bag keeps the evil energy of onlookers at bay while outside, but once inside, a quick opening of the present at the doorway is still necessary, lest other guests watch you unwrap the gift and curse it in the tiny window remaining before ownership is firmly transferred.
The formality of the black bag social customs initially struck me as quite a deliciously bizarre facet of modern Jordanian culture. But then it occurred to me that really, western culture is no different. We just wrap our presents in much more expense, even more highly stylized formats. Birthdays and the long list of fabulous winter holidays up for celebration (we do them all in my family) are not complete without some well-wrapped presents. And while much of the importance of the wrapping is placed on the idea of keeping the gift a surprise, realistically: the tradition of and psychology behind wrapping gifts is literally all wrapped up (pardon the pun) in that same idea of controlling the kinds of thought focused onto the gift. Once its unwrapped, the gift is open to all kinds of judgment: from the recipient and from those at the unwrapping. Let’s face it, it’s hard not to immediately judge a gift once given: Was it the right gift for that person? Did the recipient give an equally appropriate gift back to the giver or did they spend more or less money on their gift? Isn’t that just like what so and so got for such and such? All of these swarms of thoughts are out there, presumably affecting the now naked gift. It makes sense to keep it under wraps for as long as possible, just to keep all the potentially negative energies at bay.
It is almost conceivable that the brightly colored, intricate wrapping paper which is used for gifts in the western world adds some good energy to the gift. In such situations where ‘it’s the thought that counts,’ surely a thought that comes with spangly, glittering wrapping paper and bows counts a bit more. Be it stupidly expensive designer wrapping paper or cleverly done up comic books (hipster style!): that bit of extra energy that goes into a lovely wrapping job, that extra dollop of creative good will may well be a form of psychological magick in and of itself. Not only does it feel good to give beautifully looking gifts, it feels good to get them. If the energy of the gift can be altered by the wrapping, it makes sense that the joy of a well-wrapped, well intentioned gift would invoke good energy just as much as it protects against the envious Evil Eye.
So ladies and gentleman, bust out your mini-baubles, your ribbon fringers, your fancy labels, and colored tape. And send out positive energy as you wrap your presents this holiday season. It adds a little bit more magick to every gift you give!
P.S. It’s good to be back in the states (and with working internet!) More blogs on the past few months of archaeology and anthropology-tastic travel, as well as a slew of holiday topics and History of Witches in the Western World promos coming soon! So watch this space! xxx
Often used for protection against the “evil eye”, evil spells, sickness and even in ancient times against witches, a witch ball can be not only a useful tool but a beautiful addition to a garden or home!
There are many legends surrounding the Witch’s Ball but most agree that the vibrant colors which swirl together almost magickally in the glass attract harmful energies into it, protecting the home or person who has placed it from that harm.
Witch Balls have been very popular since around the 18th century. First in England, then following into the “new world” and New England, but their actual origin is generally considered to be older. For what may be well over 3 centuries, hollow glass spheres have been hung in windows to ward off bad luck, witch’s spells and evil spirits. Hanging these decorative glass balls in the window or on the porch is said to tantalize and mesmerize mischievous spirits which may threaten tranquility and peace within a home. When the spirit touches the sphere it is absorbed and trapped in the web-like strands of the glass inside the ball.
Witch Balls can range in size from 2 inches to up to 7 inches in diameter. Crystal gazers sometimes claimed they used balls in which the spirits of dead souls had been banished. Which then, the seer was thought to be dealing with spirits.
Over time, as if often the case, the philosophy of what a Witch Ball is and should be has changed and number artists over the years have altered the Witch Ball to include vibrant colors, strands inside, twisting patterns and shape. These new patterns and colors are beautiful to behold, graceful in a garden and can be used to protect the inhabitants of a garden and even draw in Faerie influence with the bright and delightful colors.
In my own home, I have several Witch Balls which serve as reinforcements of peace and tranquility in my home. Downstairs on the patio I have a beautiful orb of violet and grass green with one of beautiful shades of Cobalt and Sky blues in a leafy holder on my desk upstairs.
Over the years my collection has grown through gifts and my own purchases to include a lovely orange and yellow globe much like the one pictured above (which is on my wishlist as I love the ‘tree’ design on the inside) to having just ordered one for Samhain in the most lovely shades of Black and Orange to decorate outside with!
Poised between spring and summer, Beltane is the Celtic quarter-marker festival of budding fertility. As the sun waxes brighter in the northern hemisphere, it is a festival marked by flames and bonfires in earthly reflection of the heightening solar powers. The fires are and were also intended to purify the world for the upcoming bounty of spring fruits and autumnal harvests.
Standing as it does on the cusp of warmer weather and as the herald of the vivid growth and coloring of late spring and summer, Beltane was a festival of the in-between. In the ancient mythology of the Celtic Isles, particularly Ireland, it represented a changing of regimes and hunting grounds among the Tuatha de Dannan, the Fianna, and the more human aspects of the ancient population. Famously, the Sons of MÍl (the mythical Milesians) first landed on the southwest coast of Ireland on Beltane in an attempt to upset the balance of power and claim the islands for themselves. As they first stepped foot on the beaches and upon feeling the power emanating from the earth on the sacred isles, connecting them to the sacred day, the sun, and the cycle of life and death; their poet Armhairghin composed a song-chant in honor of the occasion. He sang:
“I am an estuary into the sea.
I am a wave of the ocean.
I am the sound of the sea.
I am a powerful ox.
I am a hawk on a cliff.
I am a dewdrop on the sun.
I am a plant of beauty.
I am a boar of valour.
I am a salmon in a pool.
I am a lake in a plain.
I am the strength of art…”
The sacred place on the sacred day of Beltane inspired an ancient invocation of one-ness between man and the universe: a positive invocation that inspires boundless definitions beyond the borders of human conception and perception. For, like its parallel fall festival of Samhain, it is a time when the boundaries between the worlds is dim. And like Samhain, it was a time when fierce protections were set in place to ensure that the roaming faeries and ancient gods of Dark Age and early Medieval Ireland did not interfere with mortal affairs or kidnap mortals into the Otherworlds beyond the mortal veil. Of particular concern were the Aos SÍ (the people of the Mounds), better known as the Tuatha Dé Danann or the Sidhe: the common name in Irish Gaeilge for the Mounds themselves. These faerie mounds which still dot the landscape of the Celtic isles are in reality Neolithic burial sites. But prior to the archaeological excavations conducted over the past several centuries (and really, still), these mounds were superstitious spots on the map. They were sites associated with the unknown depths of antiquity that had come before and when the early religions of the pagan past were translated into Christian terms as fairy tales and mythic saints, the ancient mounds retained their mysterious symbolism.
Legends held that the mounds variously housed the denizens of faerie or acted as party portals between the mortal realm and the Otherworlds ~ which in Celtic mythology are a complex and intriquing web of inter-dimensional theories modern physics are currently exploring. On certain special days, (Beltane among them) the locks between the layers of reality were undone, and the Aos SÍ were able to travel into the mortal realm via the Faerie Mounds and other portals within the landscape despite their contract with the Milesians that they must remain in the Otherworlds. Often their travels involved wild rides through the countryside or midnight dances near the mounds or in the surrounding forest. Hapless mortals lured into their revelry would often disappear, never to be seen again or returning suddenly years later, thinking only a few days had passed. Such was the case of the literarily infamous Tam Lin from last year’s Sacred Mists Beltane Blog who disappeared with the Sidhe and returned centuries later.
In order to avoid being caught up by the Aos SÍ, various rituals were enacted for protection and to simultaneously draw the good blessings of the faerie folk upon their households. The bonfires, ripe with fertile and purifying symbolism, also serve as faux-faerie fires. In this sense, the bonfires act as a sort of apotropaic magick whereby the humans mimic the revelry of the fey thereby keeping other bands of Tuatha Dé Danann from wandering their way by convincing them that there were already faeries in residence. Less flammable offerings of foods were also often left outside of the house or certain plants or flowers hung over the doorways and windows to keep the sidhe out, while still currying their good favor as they passed by on Beltane, Samhain and other days of the in-between. Milk, honey, cakes, and bouquets of fresh and dried herbs were, in particular, favorite offerings to the faerie folk.
Though Beltane is an ancient festival of hope and confidence, it is still widely celebrated in the modern world as one of the highlights of the Wiccan and Druidic calendar. And the belief in faeries and in other magickal denizens of the house and countryside remains strong the world over. So be sure to celebrate this festival of light, growth, and impending summer. It is a marker of good things to come!
Check out Sacred Mist’s Free Beltane Spells and Recipes : especially the Fried Honeycakes ~ just be sure you make enough for you and the Aos SÍ!
[Pictured at the top is Edward Hugh's Midsummer's Eve].
Reflect: to consider, to look back
Reflection: mirror, a result (ie: “this is a reflection of her work as a…”)
Reflecting: to turn or look back, remembering, impacting
Next I considered the words and then began to shape them into power words that hold meaning for me magickally and could aid me in impacting the world around me through my intention.
In my mind the word “reflect” in magickal terms is one of mirroring.
From that perspective, “reflect” also brings up the word “deflect” in my mind. When we deflect, we are placing a guard up that deflects all manner of responsibility, fault, or blame away from us. This can be both self-defeating as well as harmful to those around us. It could also be considered a powerful tool for protective shielding, however for me I find it a less empowered way for me to control exactly what I want and what I don’t want to come inside.