Thursday, April 30, 2009

How to Harness Your Inner Power

Following the path of Wicca means learning how to listen to a well-spring of inner knowledge and discovering how to use it in spell and ritual.

Within all of us is a deep reservoir of untapped potential filled with knowledge about the physical and spiritual worlds. Part of Wicca is about getting in touch with that "inner knowing"--learning how to read the signals, which may be competing with all manner of noise to be heard. Some people such as clairvoyants naturally hear these signals very clearly, but you may have to work at it.

Coincidence or Telepathy?

You may have experienced telepathy without even being aware of it--it's what happens when you think of a friend and suddenly they call you. You may even have experienced clairvoyance--how many times have you said, "I knew that would happen?" There are tools to help develop these divining gifts, such as a pendulum or dowsing rods, as well as wands that help direct the energies of your inner power.

Listen to the Voice Within

When you tap into your inner power you are also exercising your intuition and when you use your intuition you are really entering into the universal psyche--bypassing your own personal views and touching upon the universal truth. This is because your intuition is largely based upon what you "feel" about something, and as well as drawing upon the wisdom that has been taught to you by life experience, intuitive feelings are guided by that deep, hidden inner voice.

Quiet the Noise

Your brain is constantly making a racket and throwing up all manner of things to distract you from your inner truth--doubts and fears as well as logic and reasoning are all blocks to hearing your intuition and to harnessing the power within. Meditation is the art of learning to bypass this noise, so that the quiet voice of truth can be heard.

Using the Power Within

You can learn to access your inner power by employing techniques such as dreamwork, meditation, dowsing and working with magic wands.

A Dream Diary

The unconscious has many messages for you, but it speaks through symbols and dreams rather than directly.

Coded Messages

Unless you are already finely tuned to listening to your inner voice, many of the signals that are trying so hard to be heard can only bypass the everyday clatter by working at night. Unconscious messages appear in you dreams in the form of coded symbols. You can become more open to the messages from the unconscious by recording your dreams and by familiarizing yourself with the workings of your mind. Keep a notebook and pencil by your bed, and upon waking write down your dreams. Over time you will uncover more and more and open an easier dialogue between the unconscious and conscious mind.

Meditative Herbs

During a meditation session, use incense that helps to develop clairvoyance by clearing away mental debris. Frankincense, sandalwood and star anise are all good fragrances.

State of Peace

To enter a serene state, sit cross-legged and close your eyes. Focus your breath into your belly and concentrate on breathing. As thoughts arise, try not to pay attention to them, but let them float by. With practice you may notice that the scent of the herbs helps you to "drift away." Notice that this is happening and just gently come back to your breathing. Do this for 20 minutes and then notice how your inner voice is free to speak.

Practice Dowsing

A good time to try your first go at dowsing is when you are felling centered after a meditation session. With dowsing, the mind can be tempted to exercise logic and impose its will, but when you are feeling very still you are more likely to allow the intuitive mind to be heard. Before you start dowsing, establish the signals your dowsing tool provides for answering "yes" or "no".

Find the Answer

Holding a pendulum gently, establish what is "yes" and "no" answers are by asking, "Is my name _____?" The way it swings will be the "Yes". Check its "No" answer too, and you will then be ready to start dowsing. See if you can find a lost object in the house by asking simple "Yes" or "No" questions to the pendulum. It may be helpful to use a piece of paper with the words "yes" and "no" written on opposite sides, and then hang the pendulum over the paper with your receptive hand. (Right hand--projective, Left hand--receptive).

Working with Wands

Once you have opened up the pathway to your inner powers and can recognize when they are working, you are ready to practice directing these energies at will. This will take much time and effort, and you may initially find that directing your energies to charge objects for spells and rituals is quite draining.

Direct the Power

You should use a crystal-tipped wand for this exercise. (I will post more about making your own wand in the next post). Choose an object in a room and draw a circle clockwise around it with the tip of your wand. Point the wand at the object and concentrate on a musical note in your mind.

Direct the note from your head down your shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand and continue it along the length of the wand and into the object. Practice this daily until you hear the musical note whenever you enter the room with that object.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Setting Up Your Sacred Altar

Creating a magical altar is an essential part of being a Wiccan. It provides you with a special place in which to practice magic.

All religions use altars, and the items that are placed there, such as cups, plates and candles, are imbued with a holy significance. The altar is a place "set aside" from daily life and is used as a focus for the meeting of spiritual and material worlds.

The Role of an Altar

Altars are used for different means. You may have a permanent altar set up in your house. You could also create a permanent altar outside in your yard, with statues of deities surrounded by beautiful flowers near a small pool. Or you may choose to construct a temporary altar for a specific magical purpose--perhaps for a seasonal spell or a ritual with friends.

Altars in Ancient Times

In ancient times, the hearth was the first altar. It was the "lifeblood" of the home, a place where the family would gather as the fire provided light and heat. Even today, people still keep their family photographs and other mementos on the mantlepiece above the fireplace--unknowingly maintaining this tradition.

Pagan Shrines

In Ancient Rome, people maintained shrines in their homes dedicated to the household deity. They worshiped there at ever lunar quarter and decorated it according to the phases of the Moon and seasons.

The Wiccan Altar

In the same way, Wiccans maintain altars and keep their magical tools there. The flames of the hearth are recalled in the lighting of the ceremonial candles.

Setting Up Your Altar

There are many ways of setting up an altar, for which the sequence below serves as a guideline. The most important ingredient for any altar is magical intent.

You will need:

*Colored cloth--The color of the cloth may be appropriate to the purpose of your spell, such as pink for a love spell, although white is a good choice for most magic.

*Candles--The four elements should be marked out in the four directions: North/Earth (Green candle), East/Air (Yellow candle), South/Fire (Red candle), West/Water (Blue candle). This is a typical Wiccan set-up, other colors or correspondences could be used depending on traditions followed or the particular hemisphere you reside in.

*Pentacle--I used a flat disc of wood and burned my own pentacle into it with a woodburner knife, I have also used a smooth, dark, flat stone that fit the palm of my hand and marked a pentagram on it with silver marker. You can also purchase brass altar pentacles online or in metaphysical shops.

*Salt (represents Earth)--I use Sea Salt, which is readily available in the spices/baking aisle at most grocery stores.

*Feather (represents Air)--I have also used a pumice stone in place of this, since it is full of air. A censor (a type of incense burner that hangs from chains) is also proper to represent Air.

*Wand (for Fire)--I have used an athame (ath-a-may), which is a dark handled, double-edged (dull) blade, used for directing energy when casting a circle. I also have a wand that I made myself from a fallen branch of an oak tree.

*Bowl of Water--should be self explanatory. I tend to use lunar water, which is simply water I have left out in the full moon light for a few hours and then store in a special container for ritual use.

*An incense block, as an altar offering, and an item to hold the incense, such as a shell, or a censor.

The items you choose for your altar should only be used for magical work.

1. First purify yourself by having a bath. This will help make the break from everyday activity to magical work. Focus while bathing on the purpose for which you are setting up the altar.

2. Decide if the altar is to be placed centrally so that everyone can see it, or if it is to be at one end of a room or garden so that the energy is more focused. Choose whether the altar will be raised on a table or on the floor (closer to earth energies), then locate the four cardinal directions: North, East, South, and West.

3. Lay the cloth on the altar and mark out the four directions with the green, yellow, red, and blue candles. Place the salt, feather, wand and bowl of water next to the appropriately colored candle.

4. Place the pentacle in the center with a candle in the appropriate color for your spell, such as blue for a protection spell. Place the incense block in a shell between the center and the south. Light it so that it just smolders.

5. Dip the wand in the water and the salt, and walk around the altar, pointing the wand at the ground to make a magic circle for your spell. Imagine a shield of light from the ground creating a bubble around you and your altar.

6. You're now ready to start your magic work. When you have finished, "close down" your altar by reversing all five steps. Take away all your tools, to clean and store them away for next time.

The Magic of Wiccan Rituals

Wicca is a modern term that is often used in place of "Witchcraft" to get away from the negative images associated with that word. It is helpful to think of Witchcraft as the spell crafting part within a Wiccan Tradition, and also to remember that all Wiccans are Witches, but not all Witches are Wiccans. Wicca is more of the religious observance side, and Witchcraft alone is more about creating spells and working through issues in life using specific tools, herbs, candles, and other items to help focus an individual's will. Nearly all Wiccans will use perform some sort of spell work within their ritual space, and those who are not particularly religious will focus more on just the spell work without creating ritual space.

Performing your Rituals

Thanksgiving, Christmas, weddings and birthdays allow communities and families to celebrated things they see as important: religious or historical events or just time spent together. Like these, Wiccan rituals can be observed by a community, a small group or just one person.

Wiccan rituals help us to harness and direct the power of nature and our own energy. They are simple to practice and many can be performed without any special equipment.

Rites of Affirmation

Formalizing practice into rituals can help to act as a "checklist," making sure that all the necessary steps are followed in the correct order and that nothing is forgotten. It also allows the people involved time to stop back and think about what they're doing, giving them a chance to change their minds!

Rituals can be an important tool for making formal statements to others that cannot be misunderstood.

Modern-Day Rituals

Rituals that are practiced today to affirm or acknowledge something of importance include weddings, which formalize the relationship between a couple, or graduations, which mark the passing of exams.

Following step-by-step identity or community rituals helps you to focus your energy and tune into people who are following the same path, as well as connecting with those who have gone before you.

Choosing your Rituals

The kind of ritual you perform depends on whether you are hoping to honor the cycle of the seasons, marking your passage through life or forging your identity.

Community Rituals

Honoring nature is at the heart of Wiccan tradition. In ancient times, the entire community would gather together to celebrate eight festivals in the "Wheel of the Year." These rituals, known as Sabbats, fall as seasons change and at the midpoint of each season.

By observing these festivals we can tune into the rhythms and cycles of nature.

The Eight Sabbats

*Samhain (Pronounced SOW-in) Oct 31
*Yule (Winter Solstice) Dec 21-22
*Imbolc (Groundhog Day) Feb 1
*Eostara (Spring Equinox) Mar 21-22
*Beltaine (May Day) May 1
*Litha (Midsummer or Summer Solstice) June 21-22
*Lammas (Last Harvest) Aug 1st
*Mabon (Autumn Equinox) Sept 21-22

Personal Rituals

Personal rituals focus your energy, helping you on the path of witchcraft. Rituals of this kind can include:

**Choosing a Witch name: People often choose a "witch name" to give power to their witch identity.

**Setting up an Altar: This is a space in your home where you can practice rituals and spell casting.

**Ritual Tools: Many witches use ritual tools during spell casting. Making your own tools rather than buying them can imbue them with your personal energies.

Working with Ritual

Following the path of witchcraft, or Wicca as it is often known, helps many people to develop personal and spiritual qualities.

A Difficult Road

Ritual can be especially difficult when you are just starting out on your path. When you are spell casting, for example, you will have to think things through carefully--considering all possible consequences. You will have to learn to distinguish between helping people and interfering with their free will.

Remember that performing witchcraft rituals is a way of practicing magic. This focuses the mind, which is a vital skill to hone when working magic.

Don't Rely on Wishes

Wishing for something will not make it happen unless you've done everything you can to help it along. Just as someone who wishes to be a violinist must study and practice hard, so witches have to study and practice. The more you practice the more you avow your intent--your belief in your work.

Rites of Passage

Rites of passage are celebrations of ourselves. Just as we honor and celebrate the Earth's seasonal Wheel of the Year, so too can we celebrate the important landmarks in our lives. The most important ones are as follows:

*Menarche (first menstruation)
*Handfasting (marriage)
*Menopause (last menstruation)
*Requiem (death)

Social Rituals

Observing these rituals affirms our part in a community, announcing our arrival to the world, allowing our Friends to celebrate with us along the journey, and giving our loved ones a chance to say goodbye when we move on.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Magic of Rose Quartz

With its serene and delicate beauty, rose quartz is a crystal that always draws admiration, but its subtle beauty hides powerful healing qualities.

Beads made of rose quartz dating back to 7000 BC in ancient Mesopotamia show how long people have used the beauty of this crystal in jewelry. Rose quartz was also popular in the ancient world for making seals used to mark ownership of items--indicating how it was valued.

The ancient Egyptians used rose quartz in funerary masks, and both the Egyptians and Romans added powdered rose quartz to cosmetics to prevent wrinkles and encourage a good complexion.

The Stone of Love

The color of rose quartz is the same shade as the pink aura given off by the heart Chakra, and it is sometimes called the "love stone". The crystal is associated with unconditional love, beauty, serenity and tranquility. Of all crystals, rose quartz is the one that is most appropriate to give to your loved one on Valentine's Day.

Choosing Quality Crystals

Rose quartz varies in color from very pink to almost white and, as a rule, beads of one type of crystal should always show irregularity. If you buy rose quartz jewelry, be sure to check the color--a set of beads all the same shade have probably been dyed to give uniformity.

Powerful Healer

If you are very lucky, you may come across "star rose quartz". This formation of rose quartz contains needles of rutile (a crystal that may be found by itself or in rutile quartz, of as needle-shaped pieces in star rose quartz) When cut, star rose quartz shows a white star effect in natural light that is both beautiful and powerful, strengthening the crystal's healing effects.

Using Rose Quartz

Rose quartz has gentle yet powerful healing properties that you can use to heal heartbreak, banish nightmares and achieve your goals.

Aid Sweet Dreams

Rose quartz can help to ensure your sleep is deep and restful. Place a piece under your pillow to receive its beneficial effects during the night.

*Rose quartz can help you to overcome insomnia by ensuring that you relax deeply into sleep.

*If you suffer from bad dreams and wake anxious, place a rose quartz crystal under your pillow to deflect the negative emotions that cause nightmares.

*Utilize rose quartz's healing properties at night to help you release emotional pain from you past through your dreams.

*Cleanse your rose quartz regularly if you use it for healing. This will remove the negative energy it has absorbed. Clean it once a week by holding it under fresh, running water, then leave it to dry in the sun.

Boost Confidence

As befits a stone associated with unconditional love, rose quartz is good to use for boosting low self-esteem or self-confidence.

*Carry a piece of rose quartz in your pocket or wear some in jewelry for a heart-warming effect.

*For an extra power boost to your ego, affirm the crystal's positive energy as you pick it up each morning by stating: "I am strong and confident and as worthy as any person. I will perform my work well and not be influenced by negativity from any of the people around me."

Heal a Broken Heart

As the "stone of love", rose quartz can work to release the pain of a broken heart and bring new love and friendship into your life.

*In a time of emotional trauma, such as after a breakup with a friend or partner, wear or carry rose quartz (or both), or keep it in the rooms in your house.

*By keeping the love energy of rose quartz around you at all times, you can begin the process of emotional healing while letting friends support you.

*Remember to share the positive energies radiated by this stone by lending a piece of rose quartz to a friend when they are in need of comfort.

Strengthen Resolve

In crystal healing, rose quartz in also believed to be a purifying stone. For this reason, it is a good crystal to carry around if you are thinking of detoxing and toning up for the summer months.

*The presence of rose quartz in your home can help strengthen your willpower, which will help you stick to your new routine.

*Rose quartz has a positive, balancing effect on the emotions. It will stop you from feeling guilty, an emotion that can prevent you from sticking to your guns.

*It encourages relaxation and is well-known for its calming effect. Its reassuring energy will help to take the edge off your feelings of stress about achieving your goals.

*Keep chunks of unpolished rose quartz in the kitchen and dining room to benefit from its cleansing energy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Using the Bible to Rebuke Witches

I received an anonymous comment to my blog recently, quotes from Deuteronomy in the Bible that are supposed to make me rethink my spiritual path.

And if I now turn to MY favorite spiritual guide book and quote from it passages to make the Christian Warrior rethink HIS path, would that make any difference to him?

I am no more scared or concerned about quotes and sayings from old dead men as he would be of my crystals and black robes. He can wail and carry on all he wants to about the Wrath of God upon those who practice divination and witchcraft, and we will still be here, unharmed, quietly passing the time. The only way "God" is going to visit any kind of wrath on me, is through some right wing religious zealot who is "inspired" (read: psychotic) enough to deal with me in the way that the Bible teaches all Good Christians to do.

To all you Bible Thumpers out there: Take a look at Leviticus sometime, and tell me which one of those laws you follow.

On Punishing "Immorality":

Leviticus 20:9
If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:10
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife--with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death.

On Slavery & Subjugation of Women

Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.

Leviticus 20:18
"If a man lies with a woman during her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has discovered her flow, and she has uncovered the flow of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from her people."

How to groom yourself:

Leviticus 19:27

"Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard."

What kind of clothes do YOU wear?

" not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear material woven of two kinds of material." (Leviticus 19:19)

On what you Can and Can NOT eat:

"...and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you." (Leviticus 11:7)

"But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you." (Leviticus 11:10)

"They (shellfish) shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination." (Leviticus 11:11)

"Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales; that shall be an abomination to you." (Leviticus 11:12)

So, go on picking and choosing what you will and will not obey from your God, who will curse you, smite you, send you to the depths of hell for not following these SIMPLE rules to live by.

I have a couple toads to boil in my cauldron....