Monday, January 28, 2013

Esbats: the power of the Moon


"Cold Moon" by Mandykaye

A gathering or ritual by pagans, witches, and/or wiccans to celebrate the moon.

 I have always found the moon magickal and enchanting! As a child, I would wish upon the stars and dance under the moon until my mother would call me in. There are many ways to celebrate the moon in its many phases. I am a solitary pagan/witch, so I usually do a modest and quiet ceremony when I am able.
  You can use the moon for divination, cleansing, dream magick and goddess magick. These are just a few examples. I usually stick with the colors white and silver. The stones/crystals associated with the moon are quartz, moonstone, pearl, sapphire and selenite. The different phases of the moon dictate what spell work is favorable. Monday is ruled by the moon as well.
  The waxing moon is the best time to perform magick regarding fertility, love, protection, and prosperity. (This is the time from the new moon to the full moon). The waning moon (full moon to new moon) is best for banishing spells such as breaking bad habits, releasing negative energy, or breaking curses or hexes. The new moon (invisible moon) is a good time for cleansing and reflection. And the full moon is for any moon magick! There are rituals in which you can invoke the power of the goddess that is represented by the moon.
  While most Esbats are celebrated on the full moon, the type of magick you want to perform may best be done on a different night. I personally use the power of the full moon for cleansing my crystals. Others use the power of the full moon to make a type of "holy water". 
  Here is a link to charts with the phases of the moon  by NASA.
  Whatever your path may be, there is no doubt the beauty of the moon is powerful! However you celebrate this power, be sure it is from your heart and soul. Magick is personal so if you find a spell you like, change it to suit you. As long as your intent is pure, it will be so. You can find many good spells and rituals from books such as Wicca:A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. For groups, Wicca For Life  by Raymond Buckland, is a good choice for detailed rituals. There are also some rituals for Esbats in Green Witchcraft by Ann Moura. For more of a cottage witch approach, Ellen Dugan has some good books.

Goddess Moon by mave
Field of pure moonlight
Blessed by silver light
Trees and plants of green
glow with spirits might
Nature’s creatures raise their
voices in song
To their mistress high in the sky
Goddess Moon riding through the night
Bless us with your cleansing light
Let not fail our spirits
Guide us through rough times
Teach us your lessons
Goddess moon give us strength
Goddess moon give us wisdom
Blessed Be!

Monday, January 21, 2013


Déesse means Goddess, in French. It's the name I use when I think of what's holy and whole in this world.

The Goddess is in everything. She's everything.
 She is the light in the sky, and the blackness surrunding them as well.

She breathes with the trees, and walk every steps we take.
With us.
Within us.

She is the connexion with everything that is.
Every spiders I avoid to crash with my feet.
Every golden leaf I humbly appreciate.
Every nut that could have become a tree, 
but instead feeds me, and my growing belly.

The lightest laugh and the most painful tear.
That urge to live, 
Every second.

That spinning, overwelming sensation
When you close your eyes
And feel.

Feel that everything you do has an impact on another living
That every choice you make
Leads you to your next choice.

That certainty that you'll end up right where you were meant to.
And realize
That the path is not yet at its end.

The Goddess is in every crossroads.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Coin magic

Coins are among the oldest manufactured artifacts of human civilization, and they have possessed magical properties from the earliest times. Ancient coins were often stamped with images of deities to invoke the power of their protection, or with magical mottoes or charms that would empower or protect anyone who possessed or handled the coin. As late as the mid-20th century, before the introduction of decimal currency in Britain, the florin coin was still marked with a cross, and many people made sure to always keep a florin in their coin purse “to keep the Devil out.”

“Lucky pennies” are still common charms and souvenirs (a friend brought me this one in a tiny ‘witch bottle’ from a visit to Salem many years ago) kept for luck, prosperity and gambling success. Some coin amulets are special “lucky coin” medallions, but usually an ordinary coin is used, either worn as a pendant or bracelet, or put in a “mojo bag” with other magical ingredients. Besides being used for luck, coins can also be used for personal magical protection against malign witchcraft or the Evil Eye. Silver coins are especially used for this purpose; when a silver coin charm turns black, it is supposed to have successfully turned away something sent to harm you.

Although any coin can be used as an amulet or charm, the variety of images stamped on them means that some are believed to possess more magical power than others, and some are especially suited for particular uses. In the US, two coins traditionally used for gambling luck and protection were the Indian Head penny and the Silver Mercury dime. The dime (shown above) was doubly effective because it was solid silver - a protective metal - and because it showed a figure of Mercury, the Roman god of the crossroads, gambling and communication. (Actually the coin was meant to depict “winged Liberty”, but nobody has ever seen it as that.) Additionally, coins with significant dates - leap years, your own birth year, etc - are especially potent.

These two coins, of course, haven’t been minted for almost a century (though they’re easily available from coin dealers for only a few dollars each) but there are lots of modern coins whose images make them very suitable for magic use. The US has two one-dollar coins still in circulation, both depicting strong women whose image would be useful to invoke in magic charms or spells: Susan B. Anthony for political action, protection of civil rights or perhaps sobriety (she was a leader of the temperance movement) and Sacagawea for travel, finding your way, or even clarity of understanding (although she's known as Lewis and Clark's guide, she mostly acted as a translator). As well, the dollar shows Sacagawea holding her newborn son, giving it a correspondence to motherhood, family and childbirth. In Canada, the mint has just issued two quarters commemorating the War of 1812 that will be very good for protective magic; one shows General Isaac Brock and the other the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who together defended Canada from the invading US forces. The red enameled maple leaf on some of the quarters could make them even stronger magically, as red is a colour traditionally used for magic charms.

So what can you do with these coins, magically speaking? Well, the simplest and most traditional thing is simply to keep them on your person, either made into a piece of jewelry or just kept in a pocket or purse. A coin can become a protective amulet simply by your recognizing it as such, but most people will want to do some ritual to “magic it.” This can be as simple or elaborate as you prefer, but will usually include cleansing to remove any existing energies from the coin, consecrating or blessing it, such as with holy water, incense, condition oil or moonlight, and charging it with your intent. The longer you wear the coin or keep it on your person the more it will become part of your magical personality and respond to your needs.

But coins are also often incorporated into mojo bags, talismans or other magical artifacts. In traditional American witchcraft, silver Mercury dimes were often included in witch bottles, mojo hands or other protective creations, along with herbs, roots, stones, spell papers, animal parts or other ingredients. If the charm being made is very small, sometimes only a sliver or a few filings from the coin are included, but it is still enough. Usually the coin is just sewn into a packet with the other materials, but for protective amulets I like to keep the coin visible, as on this little house protection charm I made. Because coins are shiny and round, they have long been used to deflect the Evil Eye and other malign influences, so by featuring the coin on the outside, you get extra magical value from it. Coins can be drilled and sewn on like sequins, but one excellent way to attach a coin to a fabric pouch is to sew it on like a shisha mirror. Here is a simple tutorial on this, from Joyful Abode. I’ve used a tiny Swiss coin with an image of an armed woman carrying a shield, and filled the packet with three protective herbs: basil, rosemary and elderberries.  This would be a good charm to hang over your door, with the coin facing out to anyone approaching your home. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

B is for Books

I have always found books to be magical. Well before I began my path as a pagan I was an avid reader, and found the escape and wonder that books can provide. Through books I could travel to magical lands, find answers to questions, and learn what kind of person I wanted to be.

So, when I was 16 and I began looking into wicca/witchcraft the first place I turned was books. I bought my very first books from the walden books in my local mall. The books were the witches almanac and True Magick by Amber K. The almanac went over my head in many ways. The correspondences meant nothing to me. True Magick, was a more interesting story. I read the book clear through multiple times, and truly related to many things about the religion she described, but she talked also about having to have specific tools, and only wearing natural fabrics, and not eating meat, and suddenly I wasn't at all sure about this new religion. Let me say clearly that True Magick is not a bad book, but it was not the book I needed as a seeker.
I never gave up on this new religion, but I became a dabbler for several years until I signed up for a class called Wicca 101 at a local metaphysical bookshop in my hometown. I remember that first day, feeling like an impostor, and being so nervous that everyone would be able to tell how green I was. But instead I found a group of great people, and a teacher named Heather, who explained everything, and made the religion more real, and the things more unnecessary. Over the course of the class, which was once a week for a month, she walked us through making holy water, finding a magical name, basic spell work, and it all culminated with a beltane ritual that included a may pole dance. It was amazing. I knew I had found my place.

Heather had book suggestions, and for a brand new witch she advised To Ride a Silver Broomstick by Silver RavenWolf. This book, and it's two accompanying books, To Stir A Magick Cauldron and To Light a Sacred Flame, would become my lifeline for years. They would also lead me to find Scott Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, and many other famous authors.

Having been a practicing witch now for 13 years (wow, that's a shocking number to me) I now have a list of favorite books and authors for different subjects and studies. Here is a list of some of my favorites. If you have something to add or have any thoughts, please comment on the post and let me know. Otherwise here is the list.

Animal Magic and Totems: Animal Speak by Ted Andrews
Herbs: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
           Garden Witch's Herbal by Ellen Dugan
Stones: Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham
Books for Beginners: see above, plus
            Witch by Fiona Horne
            The Witch's Guide to Life by Kala Trobe
Spells: Everyday Magic: Spells and Rituals for Modern Living by Dorothy Morrison
Sabbats: Season's of Witchery by Ellen Dugan
              Lewellyn Holiday Series by various authors

I could keep going on and on and on, but I am going to cut myself off here. I will also add that I love pretty much anything written by Ellen Dugan and Scott Cunningham, but there are also many other amazing authors out there. I find the best thing to do is go to your library or local bookstore and get reading to find the authors who speak to you the most.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

One Pagan's Altar

Brightest Blessings to you all as we begin the New Year! I am hoping to start off this year diving back into the things I love most, and I am beginning with my faith. As this last year was coming to a close, I was feeling very down and drained, like something was missing. I realized that the last time I has seriously sat down and worked out a spell, grounded myself, or even lit a candle for some quiet meditation was right before my youngest daughter was born back in the summer! I just happened to look up a few nights ago as I was letting the dog out and noticed that the moon was reaching full and got right to work. I found some jars for making my version of holy water, some uncharged candles, and a few other items I wanted to charge in the light of the full moon. I dug out some of my favorite go to books for Pagancrafting and found some recipes I had bookmarked for later use. As I sat outside in the chilly light of the magnificent full moon I felt renewed. A huge weight seemed to be lifted off of me and I said a silent thank you to Mother Moon for reminding me of what is important. So here I am now, kicking off what I am hoping is the beginning of a complete Pagan Wheel of the Year and Alphabet.

The Altar

A pagan altar can sometimes bring images of disturbing sacrifices, smoky candles, and an odd array of cliché paraphernalia. A simple definition is an altar is a work space and a sacred place to both worship and create things we hold dear. 

 This is an example of the diagram I used when I first started practicing, a very good start for any beginner. I still use a lot of these basic elements when I have my traditional altar set up.

My personal altar is mainly used for the later, a place for me to pay tribute and worship at. It is also a calming place where I sometimes write spells or work on my book of shadows. I love to change the altar's appearance for the season or the upcoming Sabbat. Making it a place of beauty that I think anyone would want to be around. Over the years my altar has moved and changed, much like myself. It started out as a low to the ground, large table where I placed everything I had on or near that I felt “showed” that I was a witch. As I grew older (and wiser I feel) my altar has gotten smaller and more intimate. I place things that I feel strongly about and use often on it. Since I am not completely “out of the broom closet” so to speak, most visitors didn't even know what it was! This past year I got a surprise blessing of a 4th daughter, while my then youngest was still small. I had to put my precious altar away almost completely so things couldn't get misplaced, or damaged by tiny hands learning to crawl, walk, and grab everything. I felt saddened by this and once again my altar has morphed into something that better fits my needs at this point in my journey through life.