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Keeping It Simple; Early practices that give magick good roots.

Magick is a wondrous thing! We live and breathe magick every single day -in all that people do, feel, think and say.  I’ve written a little about connecting to the magick in the mundane in my article: “With the Flick of my Finger.”  The difference is that a witch knows it, she/he  feels the rise and fall of it in her bones and takes action accordingly.  I look for exercises, meditations and activities that are focused on concentration, imagination, feeling, and movement and mindfulness.  I see these practices as beyond religious.  Yes, a religious label might be attached or incorporated but the exercises themselves can be practiced without religious connotation.  Practices which integrate with daily life are very helpful in helping me to develop the integrity of the magick that I practice. That being said, for example, you might use art to practice magic, perhaps you are a cook -this too can become a magick act; possibilities are -quite limitless.

Beginning the study of magick can be quite overwhelming.  The mind starts to buzz with all the different kinds of magic:  candle, knot, sigil etc.  Then we get into designations like Folk magic, ceremonial (High) magick, religious and not religious…..some with traditional connections some more eclectic…some more appropriated than others….Oh, so quickly it fills the brain!   So where is it most important to begin?  Since much of magick deals in our ability to imagine, feel and connect, the most important place to begin is with the mind.  What does that mean?  I always like to begin simply.  For example, you might choose set goals:  I will watch my thoughts today and then write about all of the things that I noticed.  I like to combine these works with an element approach. Below, I’ve listed helpful exercises and in parenthesis, I’ve noted which element I associate with that particular work. Ideally, it is better to work these in a lunar cycle (doing each for one whole month.)  You might further ritualize these exercises by choosing to observe at a particular time but too much structure tends to impede me -personally speaking of course. The intention is to simply be “aware.”

Try these things:

  1.  Watch your thoughts for a few days (sometimes a month is a lot to commit to starting out!)  and record what kinds of imaginings, inner speak etc. that you notice.  It is important not to judge them, just write them down.  (Air)
  2. Set your intention to observe your own emotions for a week. (Water)  Be aware of their rise and fall, how it feels to engage with others and the flow of your daily feelings.  Be aware of what uplifted you and what felt draining. Again, try not to polarize the feelings as good/bad etc.  Just observe and record them.
  3.  Here the focus in on the action, movement, what you are doing.  As you are focusing on your actions, it is likely that awareness of thought and feeling will come in.  Acknowledge it when it does and return your focus to the action itself.  I found this one very challenging!  (Fire)
  4. Choose to be aware of your body; the way it feels, where it aches, what makes your body feel good.  When you eat, take your time.  You might simply choose to mindfully eat a meal for a whole week.  Think about where the food came from, how it came to sit before you, what work went into it and what it means for the food to nourish your body. (Earth)

So why awareness and observation?  What is the point?  In observing ourselves, we become aware of our desires, strengths, weaknesses, creative spark, -what direction we really want to move in.  As the season turns to Yule (in the northern hemisphere), the time to go within, these exercises can be quite helpful in helping us emerge into the “new light” of the coming year.  For those in the southern hemisphere, you might consider these exercises a focus of reconnecting to your inner power and improving your connection to self for a slightly altered purpose:  What have a learned about myself that enables me to help others in my community?  In that case, you might instead use the exercises slightly different and be aware of how those energies relate and flow to those around you.

Regular practices with exercises that utilize being mindful and that work your imagination, focus, -even curiosity will help you to recognize your own power, develop it, to know which thing to learn next.  Each person will be proficient in a different area -or perhaps several, go with those revealed talents whatever they might be!

Creating A Magic Home (Cleared and Shielded)

Home is the place we laugh, love, gather, a place of security and an essential sanctuary -or it should be.  A wise witch maintains his/her home and space.  Our environment impacts us -that much is sure.  I giggled the first time I saw Howl’s moving castle.  Granny Sophie told a curious patron that she was the scariest witch -the kind that cleans.

Cleaning is an act of magic and it is a good place to start. Before you begin, consider what you have in your home and how it is arranged.  Does it make you feel good?  Does it remind you of old memories you’d rather forget? Get rid of what you do not need and tidy up as much as possible.     A home should first be properly cleared.  The clearing should be expanded to the property if possible.  If you do not own your home this may not be applicable.  After the home and property are cleared, a blessing is done.  Following the blessing are seals and barrier work. It is important to note that these spells build over time; also consider carefully what you are keeping in and out of your space.

The checklist is complete, the house is cleaned and the old rubbish is out.  Now it is time for a good clearing!   What do I mean by that?  Clearing is essentially resetting the energy in your space -it neutralizes the field so to speak.   At least, that is the way that I think about it. Clearing the home can be done in a multitude of ways (keep that in mind as I describe my own method.)  Clearing should be extended to the property but if you do not own your property (or require a certain level of discretion this may not be possible.) The good news?  There are ways around it!

After the clearing, it is important to apply seals and erect barriers. It is important to note that these spells are built and maintained over time.  Also, consider carefully what you are keeping in and out of your space.  That will be addressed a little later.  What follows is my personal house clearing.

  • Herbs:  Rosemary and white sage bundle (these herbs are high vibration and excellent for clearing work.)  If you do not have them; mugwort, basil, frankincense also work well.  If you are very sensitive to smoke I discourage burning them.
  • A white pillar candle that has been anointed with olive oil and blessed for the working.
  • Blessed  water (sea salt, rosemary, basil, and elderberry) I brew this up ahead of time and let it cool (infusion).
  • Tokens for the front and back doors, and the four corners of the property.  (The tokens I typically use are dimes, iron bits, wood with rune work…)  These items are later used to seal the house and property and in my personal opinion, this is a very important step.
  • Bell

I set my items up in the central part of the home. I ring the bell three times and light the candle. I say a personal prayer to begin the house blessing.  I open the doors and windows if possible (at least one should be open) and I prefer this to be the back door.  I light the herbal bundle and I begin chanting:  Cleaned, Clear, Cleansed away. Here harm  cannot stay, out the door away from me, away from home and family -Cleared are the windows, closets, and doors, cleared are the ceilings the walls and the floors.  Clean and clear is this space, my home is a blessing, a sacred space.”  This chant is repeated as you walk the home from the front to the back, top to bottom and back to the central space of the home.  After the entire home is cleared I perform a blessing.  The blessing begins with water and earth and is completed with air and fire.  I ask for the blessing of guardians, guides, and other energies. Blessings are very personal for me, I encourage everyone to write their own but if you have trouble with words, consider these:  I complete the work by sealing my doors and windows with the infusion.  I use an equaled armed cross on every door (internal and external; locks included) and windows of the home.

“May this home be blessed with the sacred gifts of the Fire; may it warm the hearth and hearts of those who live here and serve us.  Let this home be blessed with the prosperity and abundance of the earth -may our bellies be full and our life and works prosperous. When we most need stillness let it be found within this sanctuary.  By water, this home is blessed,  by the gifts of love, joy and connection.  By the air this home is blessed, here is clear communication, inspiration, and beginnings that help us thrive.”

I complete the work by sealing my doors and windows with the infusion.  I use an equaled armed cross on every door (internal and external; locks included) and windows of the home. Finally, I bury the tokens at the four corners of my property while envisioning a barrier akin to the image of the magic circle (or sphere).  Extra tokens are placed inside the home such as above the doors or hidden in the walls, vents etc. Make sure the clearing has been performed prior to placing these or you might inadvertently trap energies that you do not desire in your space.

It takes energy -hence the work.  However, it is important to care for your space, it is the epitome of the labor of love.  You can build on the protections and blessings as the moon waxes.  If you do not own your property, you can erect the barrier on the walls inside of an apartment to keep energies from above or beside you from leaking through.  A protective stone planted inside of a pot with a plant (such as cactus plants, or holly for example) will aid in shielding your space.  If it suddenly starts to die even though you are taking care of it correctly, consider another clearing.

Bobcat’s Message

If you discover that your call is to the animal world you may find this article helpful -though, it does indicate that personal work and devotion is required. The call may come in the form of personal experiences (and attraction)  with animals or very vivid repeated animal visitation in your dreams. What do we do with these dreams and experiences? What do they mean and how can we begin to open to the understanding that calls us?

My first experiences with the animal folk began as a child. They came to me in person and in dreams. At the time, I was unaware of the gift they were offering me. As a child often is, I was careless. I tangled the beautiful web of spider into a jar and held her prisoner. Then spider came to me with hissing, raised legs and in crawling numbers too numerous to count. I’d wiggle myself awake trying to shake them off. In time, I grew a healthy respect. Animals were my death teachers -showing me that decay was a part of life not separate from it.  Vulture brought those lessons.   They attacked me in a dream but then later asked me why I was so upset, they explained “We are picking out the dead parts of you that are not helping you anymore.”

The world of dream and waking cross when we discover that the animal is visiting our front door. In 2014, I went for a walk in the woods. I’d been having ominous dreams about a man in black with a fox mask following my daughter and I. In the dream there were many eyes in the forest watching me. The next day, as I wrote the dream, I felt inclined to visit the forest. I had a talk with a friend and he took to onto the land. There were many signs of animals: Stags marked the trees with their horns, coyotes bleached a tree by peeing on it over and over, and the bear had knocked over several logs as if to say: I am here. William had spent many years on the land, I was grateful to learn these things and he was a good teacher -whether it was his intention or not.

I didn’t encounter any animals that day -only signs…which was part of the message. In the quiet of the night, the bobcat came to see me. In the dream, he came to sit at the edge of the property. As usual, I was concerned for my safety but bobcat did not show any threat. Eye contact with bobcat suddenly revealed a need for me to separate, to be alone and “unseen” for a while in order to cultivate understanding. I considered dreaming as I recorded it. Hearing the last of my coffee strain, I poured a cup and headed to a chair right outside the camper door. The cool moist leaves greeted the soles of my feet and I felt the inclination to look up. There, right before my eyes was the gray, full coat bobcat. Her eyes held me directly and time held still. Immediately, I had the understanding that it was time for me to prepare to move, the feeling was this (It is time to be solitary for a while, sit with it.) Bobcat broke the gaze and disappeared into the misty morning.

The past few years have given me the keys to tap into the dreams and messages of the animal folk. Despite Bobcat bringing me to being a solitary practitioner (a path I didn’t initially feel was for me,) these last few years have helped me to grow immensely. To understand the messages that you may be receiving it is important to make space for yourself (even if it is only fifteen minutes in the bathroom with a lit candle and a locked door.) In addition, get outside and into nature more often. Remove yourself from harmful, negative environments, practice meditation, still the chattering mind, be open and receptive. Observe the behavior of the animal and research how this creature thrives. Ask questions for revelation and contemplate how this energy may be relevant to your life.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the animal?
What kind of environment does this animal thrive in?
Who/What are the natural enemies and threats to this animal?
What have we symbolically attributed to this creature?
What do I need to take from this experience?

The pathway to understanding can take a lot of patience. No matter how many animal Oracle books you may read, it won’t take the place of needing to make space for these sacred experiences. The space you make (it honors your connection) for stillness and meditation, for that walk or hike, to simply be open and receptive -that will be of greater service than you might imagine. May your journey be one of revelation, safety, and success!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Spell Crafting and Casting

Casting a spell is about focus, intent, and energy. While there is nothing wrong with borrowing a good spell, the ones that pack a punch are those that are written by the caster.  This article helps you to prepare to write your own spells and then afterward document them (at least I would.)  As it is helpful later to see what worked for you best and what didn’t.

Spells do not have to be complicated but, it is helpful to understand the energy in your body when it comes to casting.  Imagine a water hose with a lot of holes poked into the sides.  If the water is draining out all over the place it is difficult for the water to develop pressure.  This is the way I think of how energy is directed; it needs focus.  Some things you may research in addition to planning your spells are the following.  I’ll be writing future articles in these topics as well.

  1.  Experiencing personal energy (this is your energy)
  2. Developing awareness of your flow. (there is a projective and a receptive flow)
  3. Connecting with other energy sources. (elemental energy, divine energy etc.)
  4. Drawing up and projecting energy (channeling the energy into your body, raising it and projecting it while focusing on the goal of the working)

Writing and Designing Spells

Spells do not have to rhyme though I do enjoy the way that they flow when they happen to.  It also has helped me to memorize them over time.  Spells do not have to be overly complex and require mysterious ingredients.  What you use in a spell is relevant because symbols have real power in the mind and because natural items such as shells and herbs carry energies of their own. When you become adept at the energy work aspect of spells, you’ll discover that you won’t need items at all.  However, I enjoy working with “things,” the colors, symbols, and tools appeal to my inner child.  You should know your intention prior to casting a spell.  If you are unsure of your motivations and the purpose of the spell a lot of energy will be misdirected.  It is important to set clear goals but not to over limit yourself.  For example, if I desire to own a vehicle for my transportation needs but limit it to a Corvette only, it may take much more time to manifest (setting up your own blocks in this case.)  Visualize the end result and don’t worry about all the details.  This was my challenge when I first started to practice magic.  I found myself bantering over the tiniest details and attempting to imagine how each thing would unfold.  Over analysis can be the death of a good working.

Consider what kind of magic will use.  There are various kinds of magic and though we will not be discussing them here, some of them include knot (cord), candle, petition (paper), elemental, herbal magic, art as magic, and combination magic (using multiple techniques such as stuffing a candle with charged herbs. Ask yourself questions (Will this spell take more than one day?  Will I need a place to keep spell remnants?   Decide upon the timing of your spell.  While not everyone plans their spells per the phases of the moon, I’ve found it very helpful. Is it necessary -no.  But, I’ll add that attuning my own work to natural forces has been personally enlightening.

Spell Casting

As you gather the items for your working, keep in mind what each item is for.  When I first began, it helped to tell the item as I picked it up what their purpose would be in the work.  I’ve referred to this before as “gathering with intent.” After all your items are gathered and your space is prepared, take a few deep breaths.  You might have a special ritual prepared around beginning a spell (such as lighting a candle, clearing the energetic space with a broom or sage, tossing salt or casting circle.)  This will differ from practitioner to practitioner.  It is important to note that over time, you will develop your own special rituals around your work.  Though being spontaneous has its high points, I’ve found great power in the personal rituals that have unfolded with time and remained relatively constant.  Now, there are multiple methods to magic, you may read about some of these in the Green Witch series by Ann Moura.  She discusses various methods:  sympathetic, directive, transference, and comparative.  I primarily use directive as a method which requires that personal energy is raised during the spell casting process.  For the spell, you are “raising” the energy both from your body and the energy that you draw in from around you.  To raise the energy, first, hold the goal in mind, then use one of the many various techniques to raise energy (drumming, dancing, chanting, humming, progressive tensing of the muscles in the body…)  At the end of your spell casting, remember to ground out any excess energy that you did not use.  This is important if you do not ground, it is likely that you will experience symptoms that are much like withdrawing from caffeine (tiredness, headaches, feeling the need to take a nap…just “zapped.”)

For the last fourteen years, I’ve documented my work as a practitioner.  I wish there were words that explained how useful documenting spell work, results, meditations, and experiences has been in my personal growth (especially in retrospect.)  Whether you are a planner or your spells just pop in your head spontaneously, try to jot them down and record the results.  Be excited to try new things prior to judging them.  Most importantly, let your personal experience dictate your work.

 

Negative Entities (How to begin to heal and be rid of them)

Occasionally, something serious pops up -the kind of things that give you chills.   Sometimes, it begins with a crawling sensation up your spine, the feeling that you are being watched or objects going missing and turning up in very, very strange places. It may accompany physical and mental illness too such as anxiety and depression which need support and guidance.  It can leave you feeling vulnerable, alone and energetically depleted. 

If you happen to be very sensitive, dealing with the “yuckies” (negative spirits especially) can be exceptionally difficult.  However, necessary.  It isn’t a quick fix; it is a life-style change.  It is important to address the need to love yourself, to set boundaries both physically and spiritually, to clear out forces in your  life that have ultimately brought you to harm.  Your personal spiritual practice can be an important support in your life.  As a practitioner of the Craft, as a witch (Wiccan or otherwise).  Really, this is a real call for addressing serious change in life -and these changes are often life altering.  You can’t ignore it (although you can try), staying frozen in fear will only allow more fearful experiences in and screaming and yelling for it all to go away just feeds the force. 

In 2007 I was dealing with similar forces in my own life.  I was absolutely terrified.  My dreams provided me with the solution though I was unsure how to approach it at the time.  I stood at the bank of a river.  I saw something coming at me and just knew it was going to get me.  The surface of the river was broken and a turtle of massive size eyed me.  It is going to eat me, I thought! She didn’t eat me.  She eyed me, I felt calm.  Suddenly, she looked behind me at a large cliff.  She pulled deep into her shell only moments before the ground shook.  I panicked and attempted to dodge the falling stones that threatened to crush me flat. I witnessed the stones bouncing off her shell and falling harmlessly into the water below.  After the danger passed, she emerged from her shell and again made eye contact.  An understanding unfolded in that moment.  It is ok to protect yourself, to go within and to be firm about your boundaries. 

Some of the things that you might do are listed below.  Stick to it, smile, focus on your joy and let the magic of love unfold.

Ø Clear your home with a strong incense:  Rosemary, sage, frankincense work great. 

Ø Play uplifting music. 

Ø When you visualize, or feel intrusive thoughts that you feel might be coming from elsewhere, visualize a huge red or black X over the top and use a power word: “no” “delete” “enough.”  “not happening.”  Of course, if you have aligned yourself with any force or power that you feel can help you, feel free to use a familiar name (such as the name of a deity.)

Ø Focus on your healing.  Every time you catch your thoughts wondering to negative, fearful things, acknowledge the thought, focus on your breathing the best that you can and bring your attention to your personal healing.  Approaching it this way helps to keep your energy levels a little higher. 

Remember, when dealing with negative energies/entities, the idea is the break you down, make you susceptible and vulnerable.  If you are experiencing paranormal activity in conjunction with the feelings, it is important to be active and vigilant.  Don’t feel afraid to ask for help or advice from those of like mind.  If you have family or loved ones you are close to and that support you, stick close to them as it will help to protect you.  Our supportive connections are often why there is an attempt to make us feel alone and isolated.  There are no quick fixes for situations like this and healing takes time -sometimes a lot of it.  Be committed to yourself and to what you need in your life.  Be patient and kind with yourself on your journey and remember that really, no one is truly ever alone. You might not care for all the guidance given but you might get some information that you needed.