Imbolc is a holiday of contrasts. At the midway point of winter, it marks the bitter middle of the cold season but also the breaking point for the season. There is light at the end of the cold, dark tunnel. Hibernating deep in the warm nest of the home, one can begin to plan for muddy spring. Shoveling snow in the bitter wind, one can still curse the current season.
The new year of the Greek pantheon starts in July, and working through the Greco-Roman deities, Imbolc was always a strange holiday for me. Let’s face it: the Greek winter is very different than that of England and upper Europe. It’s downright balmy! Similar, I imagine, to a southern winter [i.e., in America] minus all that pesky humidity. Yes, in the south we still have humidity even in the winter. It’s like old fish or our least favorite houseguest, humidity. It never goes away. As a child growing up in Wisconsin, I got to experience the endless cold and darkness of the northern regions, and I did not like it. I am very familiar with winter and the bleakness it brings. It can make a person downright squirrelly - the winter weirds are not imaginary! It is a time of seemingly endless darkness, bitter cold, and just the physical wearing down that marks the need for us to acknowledges the importance of Imbolc. It is the halfway point of endless winter. Persephone is at her peak of underworld power. Seeds and life deep within the earth are thinking of waking to the spring. The days are getting noticeably longer. The worst days of winter lay before us. Those ruthless winter storms of 17 inches of snow after you have seen that first patch of muddy earth after months of nothing but white and darkness.
There is the subtle hint that speaks to hope in the air.
It is days spent dreaming of gardens as your fingers trace the pages of seed catalogs. I have so many garden plans this time of year it would take lifetimes to plant them all. Oh, the dreams of spring! This is the promise of Imbolc. It is new births, baby lambs, and a softness in the air that promise winter really will end.
One of my favorite Imbolc rituals was one I put together for our group a few years ago; it was the last group ritual I got to do with our group in the home of Spiral Tree before Coyvere and I had to move. And it was so bitter-sweet, again the promise of Imbolc – new life, new starts, new chances, new adventures. Unfortunately, that ritual was lost in the move so I cannot share it with you exactly.
The ritual was dedicated to Bridget with our inspiration coming from Clootie trees. I am so thankful to the lovely Marigold for introducing Clootie trees to me. You would think that someone with ties to Danu would have heard of them before, but no; it was a new mystery for me to discover while doing my research for this ritual. Clootie means cloth in Scottish and it is the tradition for good health and long life to tie a ribbon on a Clootie tree. The tree is usually a hawthorn and always next to a sacred well. The ribbon would be dipped in the healing waters of the well. The part of your body that was afflicted or that you wished healed would be washed with the ribbon and then the ribbon tied to the tree. People will also leave gifts of coins, food or other trinkets at these trees. There is a similar tradition – the tying of ribbons to trees - that can be found in Tibetan areas of the world. Though, in keeping with Tibetan philosophies, you tie the ribbon to the tree for someone else and the winds carry your message to the gods. Both are for healing – the self, someone else or the world. Goodness knows we need healing these days.
I had to go and check and, yep, my Clootie ribbon is still hanging on the tree I tied it to in our yard. It hasn’t been carried off by the wind or rain just yet. It is looking a bit weathered and worn but is hanging on strong.
So why this ritual? Well, to be honest, it has nothing to do with milk. Yes, I understand Imbolc means first milk or new milk. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have any sheep wandering around in my house or yard, so Imbolc being about milk has always been a stretch for me. Imbolc being about hope, health, about family, community, the light at the end of the tunnel, and the promise of spring: that, to me, feels more like a holiday that I can celebrate.
The Winter Solstice: Blessed Womb of Darkness by Coyvere
As we approach the longest night of the year, it is a wonderful time to consider and revere the primordial goddess Nyx – The Goddess Night. Those of a superstitious Abrahamic bent generally attribute all sorts of nastiness to this great mother goddess. After all, night is a time of darkness, an absence of light. If there is a darkness, evil must lurk there. Why? Because a lot of zealots lack imagination. Good things dwell in the light, thus bad things must dwell in darkness. Black and white. Easy, yes?
And yet darkness is where our dreams live. It is where we sleep safe in our homes. It is where we rest and heal. And the first darkness that we knew – our personal primordial darkness – was in the womb. It is the darkness of the womb by which the ancient Greeks knew Nyx. She was the darkness that existed before the light, the great mother from whose womb sprang all that exists. She is the night sky that holds all of the stars within her, giving birth to suns and planets. She is the mother of our own world, the goddess Earth. Gaia.
Winter solstice, the longest night of the year, is a fine time to spend a little time with our own darkness. Many of us, especially in this age when we are bombarded with fearful images and ideas, are not very comfortable in the darkness, alone with our own thoughts. When we close our eyes and let our minds wander, we are filled with anxieties and doubts. The seeds we have planted in the darkness (or allowed to be planted in our subconscious) start to spark into existence in the realm of night which contains all possibilities. Money. Jobs. Terrorists. War. Pollution. Poison. Health. Family. Although all of these anxieties dwell in our own darkness, however, it is important to remember one basic fact:
The Mother who bore us wishes the best for us in all things. We dwell in her love.
Nyx and Gaia did not spawn humanity into a loveless universe pitted against us. Those who embrace the pitiless nature of the universe are their own worst enemies. They seek comfort from their pain by embracing pain, never realizing that they torture themselves with their own unnecessary beliefs. All of us do this, to some extent, but solstice is the time to recognize that this is a false world view. It is self-deceptive to believe that pain is our lot or that we must dwell in fear.
When we choose to embrace the comfort of the night, we open ourselves up to a greater vision. When we embrace our dreams, we become greater. When we use the power of the night to build a brighter future through our dreams, we manifest the power of the great mother to make her creation better. We better ourselves; we better our world; we better our universe.
So let us move toward this: a letting go of fear and an embrace of love. I offer a prayer for meditation and sleep on the night of the solstice:
Great Goddess Nyx, Mother Night from whom All is born, Your child calls to you. In the infinite energy of your womb, energy invisible and un-manifest, let me carry forth and bear your bright dreams. Banish the fear and anxiety of unworthy futures. Hold me in your warm and loving darkness Mother Night.
Thoughts on Intergenerational Paganism by Coyvere
Through the internet, we have - at our fingertips, if we have the wit and skill to conduct a proper search - practically all of the information produced by modern man. We could, if we so desired, improve ourselves, develop new skills and absorb the wisdom of the ages. But mostly, we share funny memes and pictures of cats. It is not because anyone thinks cats are more important than the wisdom of ages, and usually not because we believe that cats actually own the wisdom of the ages, although they might. It is because, most often, knowledge alone has little meaning without emotional context.
Most chemists do not love chemistry because they picked up a book on it, read a few pages and thought “Wow! This incomprehensible stuff is awesome!” They love it because, at some point, they found a teacher who had a passion for chemistry and shared their vision of its importance and impact with them. I have a child with such a passion. I have another who found a teacher of psychology that now follows that passion in her career. I have a third who has not yet found her spark but continues to, with great irritation and impatience, search for it.
I was always a bit disappointed that none of them felt the fire for magic and paganism that I felt when I was younger. I could never get enough knowledge. I always wanted the fire to burn brighter and hotter. I never minded being consumed by it, because I always came out of the other side of such a fire transformed. I discover, though, in talking to my children as adults, that they never needed that flame. Growing up with it, then never felt the need to go deeper.
I was shocked and gratified as time passed to find that each of them warded their homes. They each applied the skills and principles of magic and spiritualism to their lives and careers. They chose mates who walked a spiritual and magical path. They all knew what they needed to know and looked further on their own. I was mystified.
When I asked why they were never interested in learning from me when they were young and where they sharpened those skills, the answer made me laugh. “We watched you teach that a thousand times. Why would we need to learn it again?”
I felt like such an idiot. A happy one. They did not share my passion because they grew up with it. It was normal for them. What I yearned for and worked to so hard find was their natural habitat. And they taught me a lot once my eyes were opened.
I now enjoy cats and funny memes. I apply my magical knowledge and spiritual skills in my workplace to help the people around me rather than trying to inflict knowledge on them. I try to guide my employees through the emotional roadblocks that limit them. I use ritual facilitation skills in meetings and seminars. I help people to find their own spark instead of demanding that they share mine – just like my kids taught me. They gave me emotional context for my knowledge. They showed me how to apply my spirituality to the real world instead of hiding it in a closed world of lodges and covens. They are great teachers – they just had a dense student to work with. No wonder they rolled their eyes so often…
As with any magical item, the importance rests not in cost or composition, but in whether or not it suits your own particular energy. I've known folks who fell in love with a crystal and silver chain at a shop. I know others who've looked around until they found a particular color or weight or shape. I use an old piece of yarn that someone cast aside after using it to practice their braiding and a piece of gravel my son once gave me when he was a toddler. Although highly personal in nature, this is still a decision about which you can ask help from your spirit guides - especially those who've helped you with divination before.
To begin, you want to establish your pendulum's reaction to questions with definite, known answers. Traditionally, you swing the pendulum from the chain or string - let it swing freely (make sure your muscles are held loosely). As it swings, ask it some questions to which you already know the answer. "Is my name [your name]?" or "Is my favorite color [your favorite color]?" are the sorts of things you'll ask to try to gauge a yes response. The pendulum might swing back and forth or around in a circle or in a half-arc. Notice what it does for yes. Once you have it giving you a consistent response for yes, try a no-response. Ask it questions with are definitely, unequivocally false - things like "Is my body 1,000 years old?" or "Do I have sixty fingers?" You should get a no response that is repeated for any answer to which the answer is false.
Now that you have a yes-response and a no-response codified, you ask your pendulum questions. It should tell you whether or not something is true. You can also give it other diametrically opposed responses in lieu of "yes" and "no". Although I've never done it, I've known several people to have some success using a pendulum to divine the sex of a baby while it's still in utero. Although this can be done by asking, for instance, "Is it a boy?" and waiting for a yes or no response, it can also be done by assigning the pendulum a male-movement and a female-movement. You could also assign the pendulum two people, two job opportunities, two spirit guides instead of "yes" and "no" (either by swapping them in for the normal "yes" and "no" responses or by determining a separate movement for each). You can even assign the pendulum more than two values at a time. Just keep in mind that there aren't a whole lot of movements the pendulum will commonly make.
Pendulums can also be used in a manner similar to that of the planchettes that are used with ouija boards. You can make a piece of paper with numbers and/or letter and/or supplementary symbols on it (just make sure they're all the same size). Allow the pendulum to dangle freely and ask it something or think about a certain situation. The pendulum should move from symbol to symbol until it has spelled out a significant answer.
Possible Shortcomings of the Traditional Preparation and Usage of the Pendulum
My biggest objection to the traditional usage of the pendulum is that we don't (and probably don't want to) live in a universe where things are so well-defined that they readily yield yes/no-type answers. I'm a relativist, but I should think even a good number of absolutists would still find that most questions have more than two answers.
My biggest problem in actually using the pendulum is that I don't believe I have sufficient control of my muscles - indeed, I'm not sure anyone does. I've read evidence that whether we feel positively or negatively about an outcome can affect the electrical impulses running through our muscles in ways that are subconscious and minute, but which can radically alter results; after all, the most minute change can affect the outcome of a pendulum's answer when the range of motion is so small. Even if our muscles don't betray how we feel, it seems to me entirely possible that our state of mind can bias the movements of the pendulum on a psychological level.
However, this latter difficulty might actually be an advantage to non-theist users of the pendulum. For non-theists, the answers aren't coming from an outside source and, therefore, cannot be biased by interference from a person's physical incarnation. Therefore, as a non-theist will only be exploring their own minds and looking for answers in their subconscious thoughts, the bias of muscle tension may tell them things about themselves they didn't know or had repressed.
Suggested Modifications to the Preparation and Usage of the Pendulum
I discovered the solution to the latter problem (regarding minute changes in muscle tension) by chance, as it happened. I was dissatisfied with my pendulum. I wasn't comfortable with the answers it was giving me, and I was having trouble getting it to answer consistently even for things that seemed obvious. I knew some of this was my attitude about the relative nature of existence, but I still thought the pendulum might be useful in certain contexts. I was on the verge of tossing it into the small pile I'd made of objects that wanted to leave my care; I said, mostly to myself, "Are you even useful for divination?" And the stone pulsed - it pulsed, "Yes. A strong yes." I was stunned. Here was a way to sense energy directly from the stone without the whole dangling business needing to be involved.
At this point, I really never use the pendulum by itself. I tend to consult it sometimes when I'm divining with the runes, the tarot, or through some other method. And even then, I don't get a simple yes/no dichotomy. My pendulum has a range of yes and no pulses that includes things like "strong no," " weak no," "intermediate yes," "overwhelmingly strong yes," "neutral"; I've even gotten fairly bizarre answers like, "yes, yes, no, yes," "not no," and "yes, if / no, but". This multiplicity of answers is probably an outgrowth of my relativism, however, and a simpler set of answers (only two, in fact) are fine for many people.
I've also found that some of the most useful pendulum inquiries (at least, when the pendulum exhibits yes/no responses or some range thereof) often take the form of a number of smaller questions as an issue is divided into small fragments that yield (in many cases) yes/no-type answers. "Where is my ring?" may not get you a useful answer (although, for some, it does). Here, a progression of questions should probably be tried ("Is my ring in the house?", "Is it in the front of the house?", "Is it in the bedroom?", "Is it under something?" "Is it under the night table?") if the initial questions fails to yield a coherent response.
(By the way, I've never used the pendulum as a planchette. When I want to use words for divination, I generally employ bibliomancy or a little astral poetry.)
Still, I'm not entirely satisfied with my pendulum except in an ancillary capacity to other systems. Although I encourage anyone to try using a pendulum, regardless of experience or spirituality, I suggest that you learn some other system of divination first.
This is a variation on a project I did in my elementary school art class. It can be used to make decorative items that are also useful for storing herbs and oils. I find these bottles and jars to be very useful because clear glass allows too much light to get in, which causes many herbs to lose their efficacy more quickly.
To create a stained glass bottle:
Supplies: Bottles and jars – Any color of glass can be used. However, any color but clear will change howthe “stained glass” colors look on the bottle. Tissue paper – Any colors or patterns you want to use. Again, remember that these colors may show up differently if you are using anything but clear bottles. School glue (white) Water Some kind of clear coating, such as shellac or pottery glaze Paintbrush Thin tipped permanent black pen or marker Scissors
Start by deciding what design you want for your bottle. Are you making this as a gift for someone? If you plan to display this in your house, what design will go with the area where it will be displayed? You may want to start with a more basic version when you are doing this for the first time, then work up to more complicated designs later.
Once you have a basic theme in mind, you will need to figure out the details of the design and gather your supplies.
Bottle or jar: What kind of bottle or jar do you want to start with to build your design? There are several options available. You can use an empty jelly or pickle jar, a wine bottle, a soda bottle, or some other jar or bottle that you would like to recycle. You can buy a jar or bottle online or at a store; this would give you more variety as far as size and shape. If you happen to be awesome enough to be a glass-blower, you can even make your own bottle.
Tissue Paper: Once you know your theme, you will need to choose your tissue paper. You’ll need to decide on what colors and designs you want on the paper. Keep in mind where the finished product might be displayed so you can be sure the colors won’t clash with the décor. Also remember that a bottle or jar that is not clear will change the way the colors appear when the project is done.
Beginning to build: Once you have your supplies, you are ready to begin crafting. Be sure the bottle or jar has been thoroughly cleaned with soap and water and that all labels have been removed. You will then need to cut your tissue paper into small pieces. You can cut pieces of equal size and shape, or you can cut a random variety of shapes and sizes.
If you are making a more complicated picture or design on the glass, you will want to be sure to sketch a plan of your design and measure carefully to get the correct shapes and sizes. You may even want to lightly sketch your design onto the glass to ensure proper placement of tissue paper.
Attaching the “stained glass”: First you will need to mix some of the school glue with water. You don’t want it to be too thick, so I suggest using a mixture that is about half glue and half water. Using the paintbrush, spread the mixture onto a small section of the glass. Immediately start placing pieces of tissue paper onto the glue mixture that is on the glass. You will want to be sure that the edges of the tissue paper pieces overlap slightly to prevent “cracks” in the design. Also be sure to smooth out any wrinkles in the paper, unless you are purposefully going for a textured, wrinkled look. Repeat the process of “painting” the glass with the glue mixture and attaching the tissue paper until the entire bottle or jar is covered. If you will be putting a lid on the finished product, be sure that you don’t get any glue on the neck where the lid screws on. Let the glue dry completely.
Coating the tissue paper: Once the tissue paper and glue are dry, you will need to add a clear coat. Using a paintbrush, cover the tissue paper with a thin layer of shellac or pottery glaze. Just as with the glue, be sure you don’t get any of the clear coat on the neck where the lid screws on if you will be using a lid. Let the clear coat dry completely.
Finishing the project: Once the clear coat is dry, use the pen or marker to trace a thin line around each piece of tissue paper. This is what gives the “stained glass” look to the finished bottle or jar. You can now use this to store herbs and oils, or for many other purposes.
Decorative Wooden Spoons
This is also a variation on a project I did in elementary school. Besides being decorative, the final product can be helpful to balancing and changing the energy in your house. It can also be used similarly to potpourri to add pleasant odors to the room.
To create a decorative wooden spoon:
Supplies: Wooden spoon Glue – Wood glue or school glue Decorations for the bowl of the spoon – This can include many things: cinnamon sticks, dried beans, dried herbs, dried flower petals, potpourri, seeds, stones, rice, and many other items. Netting – This will be wrapped around the bowl of the spoon. Ribbon – This will be used to tie the netting and to hang the spoon. Scissors Drill – This is used to drill a small hole in the handle of the spoon of it doesn’t already have one.
Start by deciding what the purpose will be for your spoon. Is it merely decorative, or do you want to influence the energy in the room? Do you want it to give off a particular smell? Once you have decided this, you will need to figure out the details of the design and gather your supplies.
Wooden spoon: What kind of spoon do you want to use? Although most wooden spoons are fairly similar, you can get different kinds of wood and slightly different shapes and sizes. Consider the goal; if you are going to hang the spoon in an office area of your house, you might use Ash as it promotes brain power, communication, and intelligence. You can find wooden spoons at many stores; however, the selection may be limited so you might want to order online instead. You also have the option of carving your own spoon or having someone carve it for you if you have a certain piece of wood you’d like to use.
Decorations: This is where you can get really creative. Remember to keep your goal in mind. If you want to create something that will smell good, you can use a stick of cinnamon. If you are attempting to reduce the stress level in the house you might use dried butter beans. Rice is good for promoting prosperity and protection. Choose your decorations, keeping in mind that whatever you choose will need to fit in the bowl of the spoon. You will also need to decide on a color of netting and ribbon, choosing a color that enhances your final goal of decoration and/or magical energy.
Beginning to build: Once you have your supplies, you are ready to begin. The spoon will need to have a hole drilled at the end of the handle if it doesn’t already have one. Trace the bowl of the spoon onto a piece of paper, then arrange your decorations on the paper to figure out how everything will fit together on the spoon.
Attaching the decorations: Start by applying glue to each object, then placing it on the bowl of the spoon. If you are using a larger spoon you might even have room to arrange things in a particular shape or to represent the four quarters. Apply enough glue to make sure everything will stay attached to the spoon. Allow the glue to dry completely.
Once the glue is dry, cut a piece of netting so that it can be wrapped around the bowl of the spoon. While you wouldn’t have to use netting, it does help to hold everything together if, at some point, any of your decorations start to loosen from the glue and fall off. The bottom of the netting will be gathered and tied just below the bowl, so you can choose how far down the handle you want the netting to hang. However, when finished, the spoon will be hanging by the end of the handle, so you don’t want to leave the netting too long or it will just flop down over the bowl of the spoon. Use the ribbon to tie the netting; you can tie a bow or a knot. You may even want to use a particular type of knot with special significance to you.
Finishing the project: Once the decorations are attached and all the glue is dried, you will tie a loop of ribbon through the hole in the handle of the spoon. Use this ribbon to hang your spoon wherever you want to display it.
The holiday wreath idea started in my family when we were trying to find decorations to put outside our house. It’s very easy to find secular or Christian decorations for many holidays, but it’s much more difficult to find decorations for Pagan holidays. The great thing about making your own wreath is that you can design it to go with whatever holidays you celebrate.
To create a holiday wreath:
Supplies: Wreath – You can purchase a wreath or make your own. If you are purchasing a wreath you can order one online, buy one at an arts and crafts store, or find one at a variety of stores during the winter season. Decorations – You can use items found around the house, items found in nature, or items purchased specifically for the wreath. Hot glue gun and/or wire – These are used to attach the decorations to the wreath. Nail or hook to hang the wreath Scissors and/or wire cutters
Start by deciding what kind of wreath you want to make. Is it going to reflect some aspect of the holiday? Would you like it to represent characteristics of your family members? Do you want it to be based on chakras or elements? Is there a particular color scheme you want? Also think about where the wreath will hang and how visible you want it to be.
Once you have a basic theme in mind, you will need to figure out the details of the design and gather your supplies.
Wreath: What kind of basic wreath do you want to start with to build your design? There are several options available. Wreaths can be bought online, at arts and crafts stores, and during the winter season at a variety of stores. You can choose from dried grapevine wreaths, leafy wreaths, and evergreen wreaths. If you are extremely crafty you can even weave together your own wreath from artificial or real vines. Also consider whether you plan to display the wreath inside or outside, and if you want to be able to use the wreath year after year.
Decorations: Once you know your theme, you will need to collect your decorations. You may have some craft supplies around your house that can be used. If you are going for a more natural wreath you can collect leaves, rocks, etc. from outside. However, if you want a more specific theme and color scheme, you may need to order supplies online or go to an arts and crafts store. If your wreath will be hanging outside, be sure to choose decorations that will survive the weather in your area.
Beginning to build: Once you have your supplies, you are ready to begin crafting the wreath. If you have purchased a wreath that already has decorations on it (I did this one year because the wreath I found at the dollar store with decorations on it was cheaper than the other ones I found), you will need to use scissors and/or wire cutters to remove the decorations. You can save these decorations to use later for other projects.
Attaching the decorations: When deciding on how to attach the decorations, you will want to consider their size, weight, and shape. Some things may be easy to attach using wire, and this gives you the option of more easily removing the decorations later if you want to change up the design of your wreath. However, some things can’t be attached well with wire, so a hot glue gun may be your best option. Lay your wreath out on your work area, then place the decorations around it to approximate where they will be placed on the finished product. At this point you can glue or wire the decorations to your wreath, keeping in mind any theme you have chosen. For example, if you are using decorations to represent the four quarters you will want to be sure to have the decorations for each element in the correct position in relation to the other elements.
Finishing the project: If you used any glue on the wreath, be sure to let it dry completely. Once you are sure the decorations are secure, you are ready to hang your wreath. If you are hanging it outside, make sure it won’t be blown off its hook or nail on windy days. When you are done displaying the wreath, you can store it to be used again next year.
As with any magical project, it is helpful to keep your intentions in mind when making these crafts. Send some energy into the project, cast a spell, and/or ask your spirit guides to help you to infuse the object with whatever energy you feel it needs to achieve its purpose. Of course, also remember to have fun being crafty!
From the Kitchen Witch's Pantry: Poison Ivy and Rose Wards by Bahuvrihi
I’m diverting this month from my usual food, kitchen witch, cooking magic to share with you another passion of mine and that is herbal magic. I would like to show you a way to use herbs to help create wards around your yard. You can use any herb for wards; today I’ll be sharing with you how I use poison ivy and rose to create wards around my yard.
Poison Ivy - Toxicodendron radicans
“Leaves of three, let it be.”
“Berries white, run in fright.”
“Hairy vine, no friend of mine”
Poison ivy is probably among the top five most disliked… oh, I’ll say it, hated herbs or plants in North America. I understand this dislike. My mate, Coyvere, for years had a very strong allergic reaction to poison ivy. It is the sap of the plant, urushiol (pronounced oo-ROO-shee-ohl), that causes the allergic reaction. For poor Coyvere, if one of our pets brushed up against some in the yard, he would break out. Looking at the vine wrong he would break out. Being downwind of the plant he would break out. I, on the other hand, (knock on wood) have never had a reaction (to date). I grew up drinking goats’ milk from goats that loved to eat poison ivy; it was my mother’s and grandfather’s belief that if you drank goats’ milk from goats who ate poison ivy you would develop an immunity. My brother, bless his heart, never got this immunity. So, sadly, their theory is inconclusive. I still take great care when working with or around poison ivy. She deserves our respect.
Poison ivy is a wonderful plant if you study its uses and adaptability. Come on, we have to give this plant huge credit. People spray, burn, pull, salt or goat it - just about anything to try to get it out of their yards. Yet poison ivy still comes back more often than not with a vengeance. She is tenacious. The mother plant which is the main part can send her roots out 20 feet, though I have heard that a large mother plant can send her roots up to a mile or more away. This mother can send her little sprigs and branches far and wide; this is part of what makes eradicating poison ivy from your yard almost impossible. Humans are the only animals that react to poison ivy. Most other animals find her a tasty treat, enjoying her leaves or berries as a food source.
Next time you are out in your yard and you find some poison ivy dancing its way up towards the sun, pause and reach out for it energetically. Be prepared to meet an angry, fierce plant. Poison ivy doesn’t trust most humans. You are reaching for the high intelligence of the plant. All plants of the same species share intelligence. Perhaps you have read of “The Rose Queen or The Oak King”. These are examples of Fae-like spirits. It is when you touch upon this master intelligence of a species that the plants can share their secrets with you.
Poison ivy, when you first touch it, will be angry and, at times, almost feel as if she is slightly insane. So do be cautious. Once you have learned to identify that energy you will find the warrior that is poison ivy, the guardian and protector that she truly can be. You use this energy to weave the first level of your wards around your yard. For me this energy is red, green and gold representing fire, solar protection and a strong “do not touch” energy or resonance.
While this makes a wonderful passive ward all on its own, it is highly enhanced when mixed with other plant energies - such as rose’s.
“The rose's rarest essence lives in the thorns.” Rumi
“That which God said to the rose, And caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty, He said to my heart, And made it a hundred times more beautiful.” Rumi
The symbol of love and beauty for many, roses - as members of the briar family - are cultivated weeds. I’ve never been a huge fan, swooning for their beauty, though I do love a good rose hip for tea. I find that they are best used, if not for wards, then as an early warning system against powdery mildew in a vineyard. There are hundreds of varieties of roses: bush, climbing, old fashioned, hybrid, multi-petal and single - roses with hips and roses without hips. Humans have done a fine job of cultivating this weed into the prize winning flower of gardens.
Anyone who gardens knows how difficult a plant a rose can be to grow. They only like a specific type of soil, they are particular about their watering, they dislike humidity and they succumb easily to mites and diseases. Nonetheless they are the central figures in many poems, love stories, artwork, spells, perfumes and even food - all this attention dedicated to the symbolism of love and attraction roses bring.
Roses are part of a group of plants classified as briars (aka thicket briars - also spelled briers), a common name for a number of unrelated thorny plants that form thickets. There is even a briar rose plant - Rosa rubiginosa, a wild rose common in England that is used in thickets and hedging. Hedging and hedge-rows were used all over England and part of Europe as fencing and to mark boundaries around fields or roads. These wild roses, and their hips, were one of the primary sources of Vitamin C for England during WWII and the years following.
Roses and other briar plants such as blackberries, raspberries, nettles - and their thorns - make an excellent physical ward. Go ahead and try to walk though some briars; I’m pretty sure you will just try this once. Unless you are a coyote and, well, a coyote can just never resist a good briar patch. Roses, with their intoxicating beauty that will pull you in, are very much like the illusions you find when working with the High Fae. It is this beauty, this charm, that at first draws you in, but it is their thorns that can fuck you up if you are not careful. This is why some of the true magic of a rose exists in the thorns. It is the thorns that will teach you to understand the beautiful, charismatic danger of roses.
Roses are the moon: they are seductive, secretive, and alluring; most of us do not mind or even notice until it’s too late that we have shed a drop or two of blood to hold and admire a rose. We accept this as part of the dues to enjoy their beauty. It is this “enter at your own risk” that makes roses such wonderful guardian or protective warding plants for your yard.
The next time you have the chance to find a happy rosebush, again reach out for that higher energy within the plant. Know that you will first have to work though those illusory levels of sweet seduction and love to get to the true central being. There deep within the plant we can find its higher intelligence that has secrets to share.
From the Kitchen Witch's Pantry: Sugar and Spring by Bahuvrihi
Ah, Spring, when new life, growth, warmth, green things, and summer fill the minds of those of us in the northern hemisphere. Growing up in the north, in Wisconsin, spring usually didn’t make its appearance until mid-May. This time of year the people of my youth were still out ice fishing on the hard, frozen lakes, and seed catalogs held the only whispered promise of sunshine to come. Moving farther south, I fell in love with the Ozarks and that amazing event of the calendar matching the weather outside. You could plant seeds in Spring! Outside in the ground - not in pots in the greenhouse where they would spend months before being exposed to sunshine and air.
As many pagans celebrate this seasonal change, their focus on new life, growing, and the start of new projects, a strong part of me mourns for Persephone returning as Kore to be with her mother Demeter and leaving her Hades behind. I’ve never been one to associate with the Victorian version of Persephone-the-victim. I prefer the versions where Persephone embraces full knowledge of her own power descending into the underworld as Queen. Persephone’s job is to help nurture the seeds of our souls until our next Spring in our next lifetime. She is the one who can help show us how we can balance within us the light and the dark. Always remember balance: action/reaction, light/darkness, sun/moon, masculine/feminine, yin/yang… in all things in life there is balance. As our very planet finds balance at the equinox, so can we.
So, as you find yourself rushing headlong into spring, pause for a moment and find some time to bring balance to yourself. Try a tree pose (Vriksasana) if yoga turns you on. Enjoy a rainy day, as well as the warm sunshine of Spring. Bathe in the moonlight and stand strong in a March wind. Dance! Yet be aware to set time aside to honor the night and the darkness.
As I wax poetic (at least in my own mind) about spring, my kitchen thoughts remind me of Hot Cross Buns. Sweet fruit-filled bites of dough that share a mythical bond with both pagan and Christian roots. They can be found in kitchens and bakeries in the spring through Easter. The cross or hashmarks on the top of the bread represent the four seasons, the waxing and waning of the moon, the seasons of our life, etc. Traditional hot cross buns are a spiced bread dough with fruit. Not to be one who is bound by traditions, I am sharing with you a recipe for Spanish Sugar Bread. This bread could only be made better by the addition of dried fruit and, if you must, a white frosting cross upon the top.
To get started:
Dough: 1¼ cup milk ½ cup white sugar 3 teaspoons dry yeast 6 tablespoons butter, melted 1½ teaspoons salt 2 large eggs 4½ cups all-purpose flour (more if dough is very sticky) 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 cup dried mixed fruit (your choice) [Optional: grated orange peel, chunks of dark chocolate, nuts]
Filling: 2 sticks softened butter 1 cup white sugar
Topping: 1 cup bread crumbs ¼ cup turbinado sugar (also called sugar in the raw)
Warm your milk in the microwave or on the stove top and pour the hot milk into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar to the milk, mixing until the sugar is dissolved; let sit for about 1 minute.
Add the yeast to the milk-sugar mixture, then mix until dissolved. Let the yeast stand for about 10 minutes to proof (the mixture should become very foamy).
Let the melted butter cool down a bit, then mix it with the salt, eggs, and vanilla. Pour the butter mixture into the mixing bowl with the yeast mixture. Beat until combined.
Set two cups of flour into a small bowl and to that add your salt and cinnamon. Blend well, then start to add flour, a half cup at a time until you've used four cups of flour – start with your two cups with the salt and cinnamon first, then go to your plain flour.
If using a kitchen aid or stand mixer change the paddle to the dough hook, then add the last half cup of flour incorporating dried fruit, nuts or your other optional goodies at this stage. Knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. If mixing by hand, continue to add flour (and your other optional goodies) until dough is no longer sticky and kneed for 7 to 10 minutes by hand.
Place dough in a well-buttered or oiled bowl, cover the mixing bowl, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes to an hour).
After the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down, then place it onto a clean countertop. Knead gently for 1 minute. Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into an oval.
Prepare the filling by mixing the softened butter and sugar together until creamy.
Evenly spread about a tablespoon of the butter and sugar mixture over each piece of flattened dough (you will have some of the mixture left over; save this for use later).
Roll the dough, jellyroll-style. Place onto a baking sheet about one inch apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; place the pan in a warm place to rise for about 20 minutes.
While the rolls are rising, mix the breadcrumbs and turbinado sugar together.
After the rolls have risen, gently spread some of the remaining butter-sugar mixture on top of the rolls. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the buttered rolls.
Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden brown.
Do know that, with all this butter, there is a chance of oven spillover and a chance of a very smoky kitchen.
This list includes a selection of books with pagan elements and themes. I've tried to represent a variety for teens at different reading levels. A few books have been noted “for older teens” based on subject matter.
I welcome any suggestions you may have for future lists.
Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, editors: Mythic Fiction series: The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest The Faery Reel: Tales From the Twilight Realm The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People Retold Fairy Tales series: A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold Troll's Eye View and Other Villainous Tales Snow White, Blood Red series: Snow White, Blood Red Black Thorn, White Rose Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears Black Swan, White Raven Silver Birch, Blood Moon Black Heart, Ivory Bones
Kathleen M Massie-Ferch, Martin H Greenberg, & Richard Gilliam, editors: Ancient Enchantresses
Kate Bernheimer, editor: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me
Jennifer Roberson, editor: Out of Avalon: An Anthology of Old Magic and New Myths Return to Avalon
Susan Shwartz & Martin H Greenberg, editors: Sisters in Fantasy Sisters in Fantasy 2
Richard Adams: Shardik The Unbroken Web: Stories and Fables Watership Down Tales From Watership Down
Lloyd Alexander: The Prydain Chronicles Time Cat The Wizard in the Tree
David Almond: Skellig
K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr: The Blackwell Pages
J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan
Peter S. Beagle: A Fine and Private Place The Folk of the Air The Last Unicorn Tamsin
Nancy Bond: A String in the Harp
Steven Brust: The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars
Michael Buckley: The Sisters Grimm series
Suzy McKee Charnas: The Kingdom of Kevin Malone
Susan Cooper: The Boggart The Dark is Rising series Seaward
Cressida Cowell: How to Train Your Dragon series
Michael Crichton: Eaters of the Dead
Kara Dalkey: The Nightingale
Pamela Dean: Tam Lin
Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black: The Spiderwick Chronicles
Chris d'Lacey: The Last Dragon Chronicles
Charles de Lint: Jack the Giant Killer (Jack of Kinrowan part 1) Drink Down the Moon (Jack of Kinrowan part 2)
Lois Duncan: The Third Eye
Walter Farley: The Black Stallion Legend
Kate Forsyth: The Chain of Charms series The Witches of Eileanan series Rhiannon's Ride series (sequel to Witches of Eileanan)
Gregory Frost: Fitcher's Brides
Brian Froud: Goblins of the Labyrinth Good Faeries/Bad Faeries Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book The Runes of Elfland
Brian Froud with Alan Lee: Faeries
Cornelia Funke: Dragonrider Inkheart trilogy
Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: Good Omens
Paul Gallico: The Man Who Was Magic
Jean George: Julie series Mountain series
Richard Grant: Rumors of Spring
Shannon Hale: The Books of Bayern series
Erin Hunter: Seekers series Survivors series Warriors series
Washington Irving: Rip Van Winkle
Gary Kilworth: The Foxes of Firstdark
Tanith Lee: Red as Blood White as Snow [for older teens]
Ursula K. LeGuin: The Earthsea series
C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia Till We Have Faces – a retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche
Gregory Maguire: The Dream Stealer
Juliet Marillier: Heart's Blood Saga of the Light Isles [for older teens]
Anne McCaffrey: A Diversity of Dragons Power Lines trilogy
Robin McKinley: Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast Deerskin [for older teens] The Door in the Hedge The Hero and the Crown The Blue Sword (prequel to The Hero and the Crown) Rose Daughter Spindle's End
Lisa McMann: The Unwanteds series
Shirley Rousseau Murphy: The Catswold Portal The Dragonbards trilogy
Garth Nix: Sabriel
Meredith Ann Pierce: The Darkangel trilogy The Firebringer trilogy The Woman Who Loved Reindeer
Elizabeth Marie Pope: The Perilous Gard
Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials series
Rick Riordan: The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series The Heroes of Olympus series The Kane Chronicles
Jennifer Roberson: Lady of the Forest
J.K. Rowling: The Harry Potter series
Zilpha Keatley Snyder The Changeling The Green Sky Trilogy
Rosemary Sutliff: Song for a Dark Queen
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit The Lord of the Rings The Silmarillion
T.H. White: The Once and Future King
Tad Williams: Tailchaser's Song The War of the Flowers
Cliodna was the beautiful daughter of the chief engineer in the lands of the sea god Manannan mac Lir - sometimes called King Lear by his people. For many years, she refused the love of the young men of the kingdom, though she was a comely maiden and could have taken any one of her choosing to wed. But she refused them - that is, until a young man named Ciabhan appeared. A man from a distant kingdom. She fell in love instantly. The next day, after a night of passion, they left the kingdom of Cliodna's father and set sail for Ciabhan's home.
It was while they were rowing close to the shore, far to the south of Cliodna's home, that Ciabhan insisted they stop. He wanted to catch a deer for their supper. Cliodna agreed and said she would like to walk about a bit in order to stretch her legs. But Ciabhan refused, telling her he would moor the boat to the rocks and swim toward the shore.
“But,” Cliodna said, “how will you bring the deer back to the boat?”
"Oh, have no fears, my love, for I am a strong swimmer.” And, with these words, he dove out of the boat and headed for the shore.
Now, there was a sea turtle who lived in that little bay sheltered by hills. She was quite ancient. She was considered beautiful by all the fairy creatures in that part of the world. Creatures of land and sea both. And she was renowned for her wisdom. But, when she beheld Cliodna, she knew she had finally found a creature fairer than herself, for Cliodna had hair like the waves and eyes like the deepest pools.
Cliodna waited for hours in the boat. She began to worry more and more as night approached. But there was no sign of her beloved. The sun set, and still no sign of him. Cliodna was so worried. What if he had been eaten by a bear? Or had been trapped by hunters? Or had he been seduced by the fairies that were said to haunt the woods at night? She was about to take the oars in hand and head toward the shore when she heard a few notes of music.
The music swelled and expanded. And, though it remained quiet, yet it somehow filled the entire bay. Cliodna saw how the trees swayed to its rhythm and the wind was afraid to gust, except during the softest passages.
The song made Cliodna weary, so that her eyes sagged. The boat began to sway, but, as it rocked to the rhythm of the unseen song, she was barely conscious of it. It was like her nanny, years ago, soothing her to sleep.
The music was so strong that Cliodna hardly noticed when a wave pushed its way over the edge of the boat and wet her dress, white as sea foam. Another came, then another, but it was only like a warm bath in the sea.
The next wave wet her hair. She was alarmed, but her anxiety was distant. Now she wished for more waves. And the sea obliged her, sending another and yet another to cover her.
As if she were drifting far away from herself, she heard her own little cough in her own voice. How many times had the courtiers said how fair and fine was that voice?
The ancient turtle looked up at the boat. And felt smug. Felt satisfied, for the music of the waves was coming to kill the beautiful woman. She would die, and the turtle would be the fairest creature in the sea once more. And the turtle would forget that she, herself, was beginning to look at Cliodna with longing. For she didn't want to think of love.
The next wave wet Cliodna from her toes to the crown of her head. It left water running from her mouth and nose. Left her coughing, but the music was too much for her to bother with such trivialities. What were life and breath to her? She was alone on the sea. Alone with the music of the depths.
Her sense of alarm flared as the next wave washed over her, for it pulled her out of the boat and into the water. And now she beheld the sea turtle and thought it beautiful and wondered if it were making the music. And the sea turtle, in turn, beheld Cliodna against the backdrop of the waves and was even more stunned by her beauty than when she'd seen it through the tricky surface of the waters.
Then the ninth wave flowed over Cliodna's head. And this time she did not choke or cough or spit water. For she was dead, and the dead do not breathe.
And now the sea turtle did finally love Cliodna. Even if she were fairer than it was. And her tears made the sea swell for her folly in letting the young lady die. So she reached out her flipper, and Cliodna took it in her hand, and they swam farther into the bay.
And, because the sea turtle loved her, all the creatures of the sea worked their magic to transform Cliodna. She changed from being a shade, a specter of the dead maiden she had been, to being a fairy - a selkie who sported in the waves and ran over the grass of the fair hills that sheltered the bay. And she loved the sea turtle, and none other, for all the rest of her days. And they were many days, for she still lives as one of the fairy women of the hills in that distant part of the world.
Butter an 8 inch square pan and set aside. Combine the sugar, buttermilk, baking soda, and corn syrup in a large pan. Cook over medium heat to a soft ball stage (235 degrees), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add butter. Cool to lukewarm (110 degrees) then add vanilla and beat until creamy. Pour into the buttered pan. Cool and cut into squares.
Bird Nest Cookies
Ingredients: 2 bags of chocolate chips (10 ounces) 2 bags of butterscotch chips (10 ounces) 5 ounces of chow mein noodles Melt chips in a double boiler. Add noodles and mix well. Spoon on buttered cookie sheet and let set 5 – 6 hours.
Cream together the butter, vanilla, salt, and peanut butter. Stir in 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Form the mixture by hand into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in the remaining cup of powdered sugar. Place the balls in a single layer on a cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm.
In the top half of a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and shortening just until the chips are melted. Remove from heat but leave over hot water. Insert a toothpick into the chilled balls and dip into the melted chocolate until coated. Place on waxed paper until hardened.
Yule Log Cake
Filling ingredients: 6 ounces of cream cheese ½ cup softened butter 2 teaspoons vanilla 4 ½ to 4 ¾ cups sifted powdered sugar cinnamon
Cake ingredients: ½ cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 4 egg yolks ½ teaspoon vanilla 1/3 cup sugar 4 egg whites ½ cup sugar sifted powdered sugar
In a bowl beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well.
Gradually beat in enough remaining powdered sugar to make frosting of spreading consistency. Add cinnamon to taste.
Store in refrigerator until cake is done baking.
Combine flour and baking powder; set aside. In a mixing bowl beat egg yolks and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar, beating on high speed until sugar is nearly dissolved. Thoroughly wash beaters. In another bowl beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add the ½ cup sugar, beating till stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Sprinkle flour mixture over egg mixture; fold in gently just til combined.
Spread batter evenly into a greased and floured 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly-roll pan. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or till cake springs back when lightly touched near center.
Immediately loosen edges of cake from pan and turn cake out onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll up towel and cake, jelly roll style, starting from one of the cake's short sides. Cool on a rack. Remove filling from refrigerator.
Once cake is cool, unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cake with filling to within 1 inch of edges. Roll up cake. Sprinkle the outside of the cake with cinnamon. Optional: Frost the outside of the roll with chocolate frosting. Use a fork or toothpick to draw bark lines in the chocolate.
Ingredients: 2/3 cup sugar 2/3 cup shortening 2 eggs 1 package yeast 1 ½ cups warm water 1 cup mashed potatoes 2 teaspoons salt 6 ½ cups flour
In a small bowl mix yeast in ½ cup of water. In a large bowl mix shortening, sugar, salt, potatoes, and eggs. Add the dissolved yeast to the potato mixture. Add the remaining water and flour. Knead well; let rise once until double in size. Punch down and refrigerate until ready to use. Shape into rolls; let rise 4 – 5 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.
I sometimes hear people remark that the Wiccan or Pagan Rede (which is generally expressed as “As it harms none, do what you will” or “An it harm none, do as ye list” or with similar verbiage in its shorter form or fulfillment) is really just the pagan equivalent of the Christian Golden Rule (generally expressed with verbiage similar to “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”). I disagree, however.
The Rede evokes values that are far less restrictive than those supported by the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule assumes an absolutist philosophy, an essential sameness, that the Rede does not. The Golden Rule assumes that everyone should get the same treatment (that which is desired by the agent of action for her- or himself). The Rule doesn’t accept that we might have different wishes for how we are treated than others have for themselves - that we might want to be treated with more honesty than others, or with a different intellectual standard, or with a different philosophical understanding. The Rule supports an attempt at a highly, perhaps a completely, standardized civilization.
Furthermore, the Golden Rule provides a catalyst for poisonous behavior. This is because many people in our society harm themselves, and, if the Rule is to be followed, must therefore wish that harm for others. Many people eat poorly, think of themselves unkindly, demonstrate a lack of control, and participate in other habits that they - we should hope - do not wish to be transferred to others (but which - in many cases - they do, in fact, share by means of example).
The Rede prescribes a much freer life - one in which we are able to participate in any behavior with only the caveat that it not create harm. No matter what our lifestyle or preferences, to follow the Rede is to aim for a common goal of peace without the need of essential sameness.
Nevertheless, the Rede falls short of its own advice. This is because it’s not possible to follow the warning it offers; it is, in essence, impossible to live without causing harm. In order to survive, we must utilize resources. We must eat, and this involves - at a minimum - diminishing the plant life of the Earth. We also use valuable air, water, and other resources. There are almost no choices in our lives that involve harming absolutely nothing and no one. The best we can hope is to make up for the ecological footprints that our lives inevitably leave. So, at best, we must stretch the Rede to include comparative situations of conditional harm and weigh these according to other moral models.
I feel we must conclude that the Wiccan or Pagan Rede and the Christian Golden Rule present incompatible philosophies. And, while the Rede is superior to the Rule in terms of establishing a life of freedom, it does not fully apprehend what should be done with that great freedom. The Rede offers the more open-minded, liminal philosophy, but - by itself - it remains incomplete. We need something more than either - or even both - of these rules to manifest an all-encompassing, or even a reasonably thorough, personal code of ethics.
For this blog post, I undertook something I've never tried before. I decided to present most of my content in photographs. Yes, I do have very poor eyesight; in fact, I apologize in advance for my lack of technical ability. I wanted, however, to present the city in which I live (i.e., Springfield, Missouri) as I try to see it. To do this, two things were paramount. I desired to look past the traffic and the pollution and the mostly idiotic humans - to show the natural world beyond not as something we exploit every day, but as a great gift that sustains us. I also wanted to show the city as I might see it during a typical "morning" (which, for me, generally begins around 4-5pm). My wife was kind enough to drive me around town as the sun was setting (I am unable to drive) so that I could take some photographs of my Springfield as it grew gradually darker. After visiting a favorite bookstore, we drove to Sequiota Park, Maple Park Cemetery, Nathanael Greene Park (where the majority of these photos were taken), and finally back home - to the dark, enigmatic verdancy of our own yard. I hope you enjoy some of the beautiful sights we encountered on our journey around town as much as we did.
A ward is a form of protection for a home, piece of ground, living area, car, book, or other cherished possession. Wards can be thought-forms, or they can be made of material artifacts, such as string, wax, beads, or whatever else suits your purpose. They also have to be renewed from time to time, because, like everything else, they lose power or simply wear out.
* Define the goal – Why do you want to create this Ward? Are you worried about someone burglarizing your home or breaking into your car? Do you want to banish the negative energies and the people who bring them in? Define it and keep it in your mind.
* If you're making a physical ward, craft it with concentrated intention. I find it helpful to chant a spell as I craft, but it works just as well if you say or think the qualities of the ward while making it.
* Empower the ward by raising energy - Follow your favorite technique to create an energy ball in your hands, and program it to perform the specific task which you defined in step one. Now, position your hands over the ward, and begin to will the energy into it. Pick up the ward and handle it, firmly imbuing it with the energy and intention.
* Position and enchant the ward - Now that the ward is created and programmed, you have to hang it somewhere. Find the best place, and hang it there. For books, you can draw a small symbol somewhere in the book and empower it.
This is the method I used to create the Animal Protection Ward:
* I gathered all my crafting materials together and raised a magickal circle (actually a sphere) around my crafting area by invoking the four elements.
* As I crafted the ward, I murmured, “protection, safety, healing, security.” It turned into a gentle, monotonous, soothing chant which kept my mind focused. If you can keep your mind focused without chanting, that's fine, too.
* When the ward was finished, I grounded, centered and created an energy ball between my hands, continuing the chant. When the power was built up strongly, I put the energy into the ward.
* With the ward finished, I released the circle and went outside to hang it at the boundary of my property line.
* I chose to hang it on the low limb of an oak, because oak is a protective tree. Then I grounded and centered and chanted this spell several times, building power. This was not a quiet soothing chant, but rather a very emotional one. As the power built, I became more emotional, and by the last time through, I was shouting the spell and stamping my feet for rhythm. I felt the power “whoosh” out of me and into the ward.
Here is the spell I wrote and used:
I set thee here, thou silent ward With these dangles on this cord
That thou protect this boundary line And all things on this land of mine
If any creature here should run Fleeing from the hunter's gun
Here they all are safe and free And healed, if any wound there be
I call divine protection here For every turkey and the deer
And humans all who come in peace From them the bane I do release
To safely come and freely go This is my will, now be it so
With good for all and harm to none This is my will, so be it done.
As you can see, the spell declares everything I expect the ward to do, and is closed down by the disclaimer “With good for all, [etc.]” Another handy line for this purpose is one by Sybil Leek; “In no way shall this spell reverse, or bring upon me any curse.”
Renewing the Ward
Periodically, the ward will need to be renewed with fresh energy or it will wear out and lose its power. I take it down, and, if the materials are worn or faded, I'll rework it, replacing the worn parts, or creating a new one altogether. Reconsecrate and re-empower it, then put it back where it was, or in a new location if you wish.
How often should you re-empower the ward? It depends; the one I made to protect the land during deer season was under heavy assault by hunters walking around wanting to kill things. I renewed it every week during deer season and every month after that. If you're protecting your home, or possessions, it will depend on what kind of neighborhood you live in. Obviously, a more dangerous area requires stern wards which are renewed often. Let yourself be guided by how they psychically feel to you. If you feel they need to be re-empowered, by all means do so.
As a Pagan, I have to say… Scientists can be quite silly.
All those secret labs and moon bases and ray guns and alien autopsies… I don’t believe in all that stuff. Those scientists really need to stop trying to quantify the unquantifiable and reduce the irreducible and ground themselves in the reality of mythology and emotion.
All this math and science mumbo jumbo has yet to create an equation that describes love or distill into some test tube the essence of the pain of a mother who has lost a child. Oh sure, we can talk about neurotransmitters and the physiological reactions that they cause, but those of us who live in reality understand that our bodies react to the emotions we feel. Saying that chemicals make you fall in love is sort of like saying that plant growth makes the sun shine.
These science folks need to understand the logic of causation. Take off the lab coats and get a little sunshine, people!
Scientists try to use something called ‘scientific observation’ to try to figure out how emotion and spirit work. Divorcing themselves from emotion and ignoring the spiritual, they study a bunch of physical stuff and then announce proudly to all that they have found no emotion or spirituality. It’s kind of like blindfolding yourself before looking through a telescope and then proudly announcing that there are no stars!
Let’s look at this blindness that people have a little more closely. Scientists use some symbolic stuff called math to describe things. A physicist friend once showed me a bunch of these mathematical equations and proudly claimed that they described the gravitational threshold of a black hole! I was looking right at them and I could obviously see that they were just a bunch of numbers and squiggles and stuff, but I didn’t say anything because I did not want to hurt his feelings. Scientists really like this pseudo-symbolic stuff. They truly believe in it.
On the other hand, when I tell a story or share a myth, scientists seem unwilling to understand that myth is a real symbolic system that describes real stuff right here on earth! Instead of describing made up things like particles and chemical reactions, mythology describes human concepts and emotions and social patterns. It is a living system that teaches us about the archetypes of humanity and human society.
Let’s look at Aphrodite. Can’t go wrong looking at Aphrodite, right?
Hera, reconciled with her son Hephaestus, arranged for him to marry the goddess of love. Zeus, Aphrodite's adoptive father, agreed. Unsurprisingly, the marriage of the enchantingly beautiful, sensual, and insatiable Aphrodite and the powerful, but gruff, ugly, and lame Hephaestus was not a happy one. Aphrodite could not confine her love to just one other. The goddess did not remain faithful to Hephaestus—not by a long shot. She had countless affairs with both gods and mortals.
The most long-standing and significant of all of Aphrodite's lovers was Ares. But one night, the lovers tarried too long together. As Helios hitched up his golden chariot of the sun, he saw the lovers in Ares' palace in Thrace.
When Helios told Hephaestus what he had seen, the smith god forged an unbreakable and invisibly fine bronze net and secretly attached it to the posts and sides of his bed. Then he bid Aphrodite adieu, saying he was going to relax on Lemnos for a while.
As soon as he had gone, Aphrodite sent for Ares. When the morning came, Hephaestus walked in—“Hi, honey, I'm home!”—and found the two ensnared in the net. The cuckolded god quickly gathered all the other gods at his bedside to witness the shame of the naked, helpless couple and to heap ridicule upon them.Now what do scientists see here? Do they see that this is a modern story about women’s rights, trophy wives and patriarchal repression? No. Do they see the warning story of common sense being overwhelmed by desire? No. Do they understand the transcendental message that pursuit of external beauty blinds one to the inherent beauty in one’s own works? No. They say Pffft! Gods don’t exist!
So scientists will never use their imagination to visualize an embodiment of Aphrodite to explore the lessons and concepts of a goddess of love and desire. They will never pray to her and so gain a spiritual and emotional understanding of these concepts that transcends the intellectual. By dismissing the goddess and her story they will not see that it illustrates the theory of selfish genes, describes the mating habits of mammals, and delineates the dynamics of primate bonding. Men of science and law will not see that it warns of the inherent error of a legal system that defies biological imperatives and demonstrates that contracts imposed in an atmosphere of inequality cannot be honored.
Everyone has a bit of Aphrodite in them. We all want someone to look at us with desire. Pagans and cosmetics marketers understand this. Everyone has a bit of Hephaestus in them. We all have seen something beautiful that we want and have been inflamed with desire. Pagans and alcohol manufacturers understand this.
Those who do not study myth, you know, are doomed to repeat it.