Archive for the ‘Wicca Traditions’ Category
A little note about this ritual for July:
The 4 winds were given magical names by the ancient Greeks – Boreas, Eureus, Notus and Zephyrus – it is these forces together with those of the elemental spirits of air, water, fire and earth that are called upon in the spell to carry your wish or workings to the four points of the universe.
For this solitary ritual we will be working with the Four Winds and our own life connections. If your life has been anything at all like what I have seen in my own lately you may feel the need for balance, for cutting ties to events or even people to continue your spirit growth. Normally you would do this type of working on a New Moon for banishment; however, with the current moon in Capricorn we are being gifted clarity, which has been absent in recent weeks. The light of the Full Moon is excellent for clearly delineating the depths of our obsession or desires which we need to separate ourselves from AND fill the space with that which we desire.
Items for this ritual:
-White Candle (this can be a votive or Ritual/Spell candle but of a size that can safely burn out)
-Incense of choice for cleansing/purification. I will be using Amber & Sandalwood sticks
-White Ribbon (length is not super important but if possible at least 9 inches in length)
-Colored ribbon to represent that which you will be cutting ties to (length does not matter here at all and if you only have white you can color the ribbon with markers or write on the ribbon that which you wish to clear).
Walking or pointing deosil-
I conjure you, O Circle of Power, you are a boundary of Sacred Mists between the world of men and the realms of the Mighty Ones; a meeting place of love, joy and truth; a shield against all wickedness and evil; a rampart and protection that shall preserve and contain the power that we raise within.
Move to the East.
Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtower of the East and the Element of Air, blowing forth thought and communication on your gentle breeze we call to thee, please join us this night! Hail and Welcome!
Move on to the South:
Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtower of the South and the Element of fire, dancing on the flames of passion, vigor and transformation we call to thee, please join us this night. Hail and Welcome!
Moving to the West:
Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtower of the West and the Element of Water, riding on the waves of emotion and fresh ideas we call to thee, please join us this night. Hail and Welcome!
Moving to the North:
Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtower of the North and the Element of Earth, dancing under the protective embrace bringing knowledge and growth we call to thee, please join us this night. Hail and Welcome!
Returning to Center:
Hail to thee Bright Lady and Goddess, in your name we have gathered beneath the Silvery light of the Full Moon in your honor and seek your blessings, we ask that you join us in the Sacred Circle of Power. Hail and Welcome!
Hail to thee Warm Lord and God, in your name we have gathered beneath the Silvery light of the Full Moon in her honor and seek your blessings, we ask that you join us in the Sacred Circle of Power. Hail and Welcome!
Having chosen the appropriate ribbon color for banishment or cutting of the cord for an obstacle and the growth that you wish to bring, hold both white and colored ribbons in your hands and visualize the outcome of your banishment and the filling of this space with growth in fine detail.
Tie your ribbons together with 3 knots near the top, you will want to have enough ribbon that it can “blow in the breeze”. Hold the ribbons in your hand near your mouth and breathe upon it trying to force the magick and desire through your breath into the very structure of the ribbons.
When you are satisfied, turn to the North and say:
“King Boreas of the North Wind,
by the powers of earth,
I call you to carry my working to the Northern quarter,
and by the powers of the gnomes,
I ask that you bring me balance and growth.”
Blow onto the ribbons wrapped in your palm so they might unravel and wave in the ‘wind’ in the direction of North. (gather them back up in your palm)
Turn to the East and say:
“King Eureus of the East Wind,
by the powers of air,
I call you to carry my working to the Eastern quarter,
and by the powers of the sylphs,
I ask that you bring me a light heart and freedom.”
Blow again onto the ribbons wrapped in your palm so they might unravel and wave in the ‘wind’ in the direction of East. (gather them back up in your palm)
Turn to the South and say:
“King Notus of the South Wind,
by the powers of fire,
I call you to carry my working to the Southern quarter,
and by the powers of the salamanders,
I ask that you bring me passion and joy.”
Blow again onto the ribbons wrapped in your palm so they might unravel and wave in the ‘wind’ in the direction of South. (gather them back up in your palm)
Turn to the West and say:
“King Zephyrus of the West Wind,
by the powers of water,
I call you to carry my working to the Western quarter,
and by the powers of the undines,
I ask that you bring me balance of emotion and movement.”
Blow again onto the ribbons wrapped in your palm so they might unravel and wave in the ‘wind’ in the direction of Center.
Turn to Center/Altar and say:
Great Lady of the Bright Moon, High Lord of the Warm Sun we call to life a balance of spirit, a removal of obstacles and a growth so that we might continue on our journey. We have called forth the winds to bring our magick to the four corners of the world. Your blessings received with joy and thanks. Blessed Be.
With the ribbons in hand and your scissors or other cutting utensil nearby Say:
“We sever the ties which restrict us
We sever the chains which bind us”
**Just below the final knot on your ribbons cut away the colored ribbon from the knot and place it aside, after the ritual is complete you will bury this ribbon piece or throw it away so that it is no longer near you. The place of burial should not be on your property or near your home/sacred space**
Continue the working by saying:
“We bring forth balance and freedom
We bring forth passion and joy
Moving forward in life our obstacles removed
Moving forward in life our attractions given the breath of life.
Our will is done, So Mote It Be!”
Moving to the North:
Guardians to the Element of Earth, We thank thee for thy presence and aid. As the seed grows within so shall it without. Go if you must, harm none, but know you are welcome to stay. Hail and Farewell.
Moving to the West:
Guardians to the Element of Water, We thank thee for thy presence and aid. With pure love within so shall it be without. Go if you must, harm none, but know you are welcome to stay. Hail and Farewell.
Moving to the South:
Guardians to the Element of Fire, we thank thee for thy presence and aid. With burning light within so shall it be seen without. Go if you must, harm none, but know you are welcome to stay. Hail and Farewell.
Moving to the East:
Guardians to the Element of Air, we thank thee for thy presence and aid. With the air of change blowing within so shall it be without. Go if you must, harm none, but know you are welcome to stay. Hail and Farewell.
Returning to Center:
Great Father, Lord of the fertility and what will be, we thank you for your blessing and love this night. You have sown the seed and it shall grow. Hail and Farewell.
Great Mother, Lady of all that is and will be, we thank you for your blessing and love this night. You have nurtured the seed and it shall prosper. Hail and Farewell.
As I bring my hands together, the Mists lower and dissipate. This circle is open to all those who may enter with love in their hearts always and never broken for we are friends, brothers and sisters in the olde ways. Merry we Meet and Merry We Part to Meet Merry again another day.
In 1692, the sleepy town of Salem Massachusetts was swept with fear as the most infamous witch trials of colonial America rocked burgeoning province. While not impervious to the witch trials which had been sweeping Europe over the course of the preceding centuries, America had managed to avoid the wild, superstitious fear until the 1640s. Several trials occurred in the 1640s, but only in 1647 did New England have its first execution of a witch. A smattering of accusations and trials occurred over the next several decades, but the peak of the witch-hunt in the early Americas ultimately took place in Salem and its nearby villages.
The most well-documented of the early American cases, the trials of Salem spiraled from cases of childish magick to a socio-political nightmare that took the lives of a significant number of the female population of the township and its surrounding areas. The witch trials encompassed both purported actual witches, like the confessed enchantress Tituba, to the young girls whose immature attempts at divination were tied together with later seizures, speculatively from the eating of or exposure to psychotropic grain or other natural products. As the American lowlight of the Burning Times, the Salem Witch Trials represent an important, although tragic key point in the the anthropology of magick.
As I happened to be in Massachusetts this past weekend for an archaeology and heritage conference, I was able to make a pilgrimage to the pleasant New England town of Salem. Be it out of respect for the witches and innocents persecuted by the infamous trial or a morbid curiosity about gothic matters, Salem has become a tourist Mecca. And while many things in Salem have an element of kitsch about them, there is still much respect for the town’s solemn role in the history of witchcraft, both with regards to honoring the dark events that brought it notoriety and valuing the role it has for the modern Wiccan, Witch, and Neo-pagan communities because of its occult connotations.
My tour through Salem started off with a green bang. As we drove into Salem proper, my co-tourist and I discovered that Salem Commons was featuring an ecological rally for a green Salem (good cause!). We began our official tour with a brief visit to the National Park Service’s Visitors center for Salem, mostly to collect the relevant maps and brochures that were necessary to navigate the town. A meandering stroll around town led us past such amusing things as a local Pirate museum and some of the Witch museums of wax figures, none of which took our fancy enough to actually go in. Though these museums probably certainly have their charm, I was more keen to skip such secondary and third resources and go straight to the primary. And thus my principal goal for my Saturday afternoon in Salem was visiting the actual historical points of interest.
This kicked off with a visit the Burying Point, the oldest graveyard in Salem. Somberly perched on high ground in the city center, the Burying Point contains several of the dignitaries associated with the witch trials, many relatives of famous colonial personages, and my particular favorite concept (from my warped archaeological perspective) an exciting array of tombstone iconography representative of the seriation of styles prominent during the late 17th and early 18th centuries (super dorky reference, but I am quite a fan: Remember Me as you Pass By, Chapter 4 of James Deetz’ seminal book on historical archaeology and the cultural implications of gravestone iconography In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life). I had been planning on taking some pastel rubbings of some of the iconography, but sadly, very prominent signs forbade against this artistic endeavor. I did , however, manage a respectful rubbing of Emily Dickinson’s grave marker (“Called Back”) earlier in my trip.
The Burying Point is also the home of the Witch Trials Memorial, an artistic series of granite benches and inscribed paving stones which memorialize “the events of 1692 … as a yardstick to measure the depth of civility and due process in our society” (per the Salem City website).
Following a quick trip to A&J King’s fabulous bakery (walnut cinnamon buns to die for!) and brief tours past some of the more architecturally exciting bits of downtown Salem, we headed for the most pop culturally iconic monument in the town: the Bewitched Statue. As pictured at the start of this article, the statue is a bronze casting of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stevens astride her broomstick and against a crescent moon. Placed in Salem by TVLand, it is a fitting memorial to one of television’s greatest and most respectful representations of witchcraft in the modern world, as well as a testament to the role Salem holds as a place of magic, forever associated with the witches (and falsely accused magicians) of the New World. As a bright spot in the history of witchcraft, the show Bewitched, and its commemoration in Salem, provides a perfect counterpoint to the dark history Salem is typically associated with.
More meanders through town ensued, including trips into several of the touristy cum magickal shops, which although great, could not compare to the Sacred Mists Shoppe (if you haven’t been to the bricks and mortar version of Shoppe in Napa, it is well worth a trip of its own! Go!). And finally, after some fabulous frozen custard, my co-tourist and I headed over to the Maritime Museum and House of Seven Gables. Though the pirates obviously held strong appeal, it was the House of Seven Gables I was more excited to see. For one reason or another, it seems most American high school curriculums include Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, but I believe his House of Seven Gables to be the far superior and more engaging text. The story of a lingering superstition, the politics of the witch trials, and a cursed set of families, the dynastic saga peaks at the invasion of a distant cousin who manic-pixie-dream-girls the lineages out of their various plights. Hawthorne’s cousin’s house that inspired the tale still perches along the waterfront in Salem. The house is a stunning piece of period architecture which serves as a historical testament both to the book, and the family’s own actual connections to the Salem witch trials that inspired the initial cursed events of the classic tale.
Though Salem’s place in the history of witchcraft is a dark legacy, the town of Salem remains an important focal point for magick. The idea of ‘The Witch’ has come a long long way from the hysterical fear it once elicited. Modern role models for the wiccan and neo-pagan communities like Bewitched or even Harry Potterhave done much to move away from the evil stereotypes once associated with being a witch. But in order to appreciate how far society has come out of the broom closet, we must fully understand how deep the fear of the ‘other’ represented by magick has come. We must memorialize the dark times in order to fully appreciate the light.
Over the past week, millions of Potter fans bravely bid farewell to the final film of one of the most-record breaking franchises ever created. The new greatest story ever told, the legend of Harry Potter touched the world: defying age-barriers, nationalities, and religious conventions (Beach & Wilner 2002; Black 2003; Radigan 2001). It encouraged generations of children believed lost to the digital age to pick up books and read again. It encouraged them to use their imagination and believe in something more than the mundane. And most importantly in the context of this discussion, it challenged the world’s preconception of magick and magickal societies: evoking an unprecedented era of awareness and tolerance for occult paths.
You may not have even realized that such a quiet revolution occurred, or even how extremely significant it is from an anthropological perspective. Yes, the past century has been a springboard for magickal faiths to take root, but never have magickal communities been as mainstream as they are at the moment. Numerous other supernatural pop culture venues from the classics like So I Married a Witch, Bewitched, and Bell Book and Candle to the more recent Charmed, laid significant groundwork for magickal tolerance. But it was Harry Potter who dashed boldly down the path they had laid out, entertainingly making the masses positively aware of the magickal cultures which have hitherto fore had to lurk in the shadows of typical every day society.
Centuries ago, the word ‘witch’ was a condemnation. Twenty years ago, claiming the title ‘witch’ would still have the neighbors worried. But in the present day, the word ‘witch’ conjures up a multitude of more pleasant images and associations to the everyday laymen than ever before. And much of this shift is due to the ever-present popularity and acceptance of Harry Potter. Magickal terminology, once only known to those few in the world population engaged in occult studies is now commonplace. Again, courtesy in large part to Harry Potter ~whose familiar use of words like ‘charm,’ ‘divination,’ and ‘griffin’ (to name just a few) has increased the vocabulary of millions. Children grow up appreciating the idea of magick and the possibility of sorcery, rather than fearing it. They come to learn of the balance between light and dark not from dogmatic condemnations of the church, but from the saga of Harry. Children no longer dress as the witch- hag as a scary Halloween costume. Instead they dress as witch scholars: as students of the magickal school Hogwarts ~hoping to be trained in the magickal arts. Indeed, Harry Potter has encouraged not just positive awareness of the occult, but positive awareness of learning in general (Beaton 2006).
No, admittedly Harry Potter has not accurately explored the magickal world of real-life Witches, Wiccans, Druids, or Neo-Pagans and their brethren. But the mythical magickal world it did explore provided a safe fantasy backdrop for mankind to begin to understand the purpose and functions of magick. Or at least to start believing in it, outside of the realm of superstition which has plagued the occult arts for millennia. Indeed those instances of right-wing disapproval from Christian conservatives and Muslim states ultimately only validated the idea of a belief in magick. For it was the type of sorcery practiced in the pages of Harry Potter, not the existence of magick itself which was at the heart of the majority of these debates (DeMitchell & Carney 2005; Hill 1999; Hill 2001; Kruk 2005). Harry Potter ushered in a new, more open age of man and womankind. One where the mysterious ‘other’ which magick has long represented is not feared and hidden away or dismissed as unbelievable, but is instead something in the public eye and which is accepted by all but the remaining, and ever decreasing number of conservative groups who ignorantly equate magickal practice with devil-worship.
The shifting morals and scientific explorations of our time allow for tolerant investigation into questions of the mind, physics, and the natural world which have long been relegated to the realm of myth and defined as magick. Science, by any other name, is magick that has been more thoroughly explored than ever before (indeed, this was a much emphasized facet of the other magickal blockbuster of this summer: Paramount’s Thor). As we learned last week in Witches of Antiquity: The Magick of Alchemy ~ the initial Scientific Revolution was the result of magickal investigation and the two are intrinsically tied together. The only thing that has changed is the understanding of the terminology: which skeptically divided science from magick as it attempted to commonsensically divorce science from religion.
The word ‘witch,’ too, has come a long way and meant many things throughout its usage. But with the worldwide familiarity of Harry Potter and the general acceptance for the witchcraft practiced therein, ‘Witch’ is no longer a word associated with fear and loathing. Now is a remarkable time to claim the title of witch, for it is the first in which it is culturally accepted and encouraged. And while some may worry that such openness may be dangerous to their craft, consider this: Harry Potter stringently emphasizes the idea of a magickal education before one can practice magick. It urges against the uninitiated blundering in or anyone ever taking up the Dark Arts. J.K. Rowling subtly points out that knowledge is power ~ Hermione (pictured at left) is proof positive of this ~ and is necessary before one delves deeper into magickal endeavors. And so while perhaps mainstream magick may mean that there are many more practitioners, they have already been cautioned via Harry Potter against ignorant use of magick; of following the darker paths; and they have been instructed to learn as much as they can. And really, are these not among some of the best tips which can be given to beginner witches?
Do you feel that Harry Potter positively or negatively impacted the real magickal community?
Are you a Potter fan? How do you feel about the new, latest and last movie in the saga?
Beach, S.A. and Willner, E.H., 2002. The Power of Harry Potter: the Impact of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Books on Young Readers. World Literature Today. 76(1), 102-106.
Beaton, T., 2006. Taking Time: Harry Potter as a Context for Interdisciplinary Studies. The English Journal 95(3), 100-103.
Black, S., 2003. Harry Potter: A Prescription for just about Anyone. Journal of Adult and Adolescent Literacy 46(7), 540-544.
Carney, J.J. and DeMitchell, T.A. 2005. Harry Potter and the Public Library. Phi Delta Kappan 87(2).
Hill, R., 2001. Potter’s Darker Side. Fortnight. 401, 22-23.
Hill, N., 1999. Harry Potter and Other Evils, or How to Read from the Right. The Personalist Forum 15(2), 413-423.
Kruk, R., 2005. Harry Potter in the Gulf: Contemporary Islam and the Occult. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 32(1), 47-73.
Radigan, W.M., 2001. Connecting the Generations: Memory, Magic, and Harry Potter. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 44(8).
In one of those rare confluences of the natural world, the cusp between December 20th, 2010 and December 21st, 2010 will hold special magickal significance.
Tomorrow, as many of you may well know, is the Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day of the year and its longest night. Traditionally it is a time of celebration, of rebirth; as winter fully begins within the grand circle of life, we honor the transition between the seasons. From time immemorial, man and womankind has commemorated both the astronomical event it represents and the symbolism inherent of the occasion. Life and Death, Spring and Winter: the turning of the clock and the changing of the season are inevitabilities we have charted and attempted to understand. We have built stone clocks and viewing points to witness the transition. Neolithic monuments like Newgrange, Ireland and the infamous Stonehenge; as well as modern viewing points like the Sunstones atop the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley display the actual moment of the Solstice as the sun reaches its lowest yearly high in the sky. The parties and festivals to celebrate the Solstice have traditionally lasted much longer than that single moment in time: anywhere from a night of partying to several weeks of merriment. Often several festivals would take place at the same time. In ancient Rome, the Saturnalia, the Festival of Invictus Sol (itself an accumulation of several festivals to many sun deities), and the more ancient Brumalia were celebrated all together. Today the Germanic Yule and the Celtic Midwinter Grianstadh an Gheimhridh still compete alongside the more mainstream Christmas and Hannukah, when really, they too are celebrating that same winter solstice in disguise. At the time of the world’s greatest darkness, we are all working together to celebrate the light.
Let’s take a look at today’s tarot card-The Tower. I am using the Rider-Waite/Smith deck today. There is a tower that is being struck by lightning from above. Flames are shooting out from the top of the tower as well as coming out from it’s windows. There are two people falling down from the tower with a look of fright on their faces. At the very top of this card, there is a crown that looks as if the lightning bolt knocked it off the tower and is in the process of falling down.
How does this card apply to me today? What can I learn from it’s messages?
I look at the bolt of lightning, and I think “ego”. Sometimes ones ego needs to be knocked down a notch or two. Lets look at the fire that is so prevalent in this card. Fire is about transformation and cleansing. When a forest burns down, the growth is cleared away for new growth! What needs to cleared out of your life? What changes do you need to make now, not later?
Maybe your in a relationship that really needs to end now. Is it really fulfilling to you? Do you find that you or your partner tend to be volatile? Do you tend to argue all the time?
Today’s Tarot card-The Wheel of Fortune
Look at the imagery of this card. I am using the Rider-Waite deck today, so I see an orange wheel with Hebrew and English letters on it. The word “Taro” is spelled out. There are four “beings” surrounding the wheel at each of the four directions. An angel, a dragon, a bull with wings, and a lion with wings. Note that all four images here, all have wings. There is also an image of a devil, a sphinx and a snake hugging this wheel. Take notice of the fact that all four of the “guardians” are taking notes.
The main thing that comes to mind here, with The Wheel of Fortune, is CHANGE! This can be a good thing or bad. What I mean here is this: If things are great for you now, make sure that that you prepare for anything possible. Don’t get too comfortable because you should be prepared for any issue that may come around. Change is inevitable. Life is cyclical and is always changing. If things are a bit rough for you now, know that things will get better for you! If you have a problem with change, then this card’s lessons may be hard for you to swallow, but will happen non the less. Remember, what goes around, comes around. If you are prepared, then you should be able to meet all of life’s changes and challenges. Read the rest of this entry »