airwolf

~*~ Elder Airwolf LoP Ministry Founder/Owner~*~

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Merry Meet Legionnaires~
I am sixth generation Native Blackfoot and Scottish Celt. My Grandmother was one of my mentors her being a shaman, and my other mentor was my Druid Celtic Aunt. I was raised pagan and my education started at the age
of seven and formally after my first moon lodge ritual at 12. I am also trained as a voodoo priestess
I have one son now coming into his native shaman training and 4 beautiful grandchildren.

Calling the Quarters

The elements are a major part of Wiccan/DRW ritual, bringing balance into the circle as well as their respective energies which aid us in our work, add purpose, and can change us if we allow them through the ritual process.  Deborah Lipp argues that a ritual cannot be considered Wiccan without the calling of the quarters and the casting of the circle.

The quarters themselves are more than directions; they are a collection of associations related to each cardinal direction.  It is said that the correspondences which most traditions use originated from the placement of the major Pagan cultures, particularly the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians.  If you look at the common correspondences, they fit to this idea (though I have never seen solid proof of this theory).  To the north there was a continent (earth), to the west an ocean (water), to the south a desert (fire), and that left east to be associated with air (I’ve also not seen a source that can explain that connection properly).  However, many practitioners work with other cultures whose geographic placement doesn’t match up to those directions which may cause a change in correspondences.  Others just may not see the connections and choose to work with other correspondences.  I, personally, work with a north=air, east=earth, west=water, and south=fire system.  So, it is important to know that the elemental correspondences are not set in stone, neither are the other correspondences related to the elements and quarters.  For example, some don’t see air as being related to the mind and inspiration or disagree with other common elemental ties.  Only through careful examination of each element will you be able to find the correspondences that work for you.

So, what is a “quarter” and how does it differ from an “element”?  A quarter is a cardinal direction (north, south, east, and west).  If you hear someone refer to the circle within the square, they are referring to the quarters making up the square which encompasses the circle.  Others simply believe the circle is divided like a pie into four pieces which are, obviously, the quarters.  Either way, they are much more than one spot on the perimeter of the circle.  They are large portions of the sacred space that contain the energy you call in them.  Thus one-fourth of your circle is water, one-fourth is fire, and so on.  This is also why the center of the circle (where all the quarters meet) is said to be ruled by spirit by those that believe spirit is the sum of all of the elements.

When calling the quarters, there are three (main) options of which being you could call.  There are the Guardians, the elementals, and the energies of each element.  Besides those, some practitioners call upon the archangels, the four winds, or something else themed to their specific ritual (for example, I once did a ritual inspired by Sandra Kynes’ Sea Magic that called upon various seas and oceans at the quarters of the circle and a ritual inspired by Taylor Ellwood’s Pop Culture Magic that called the four Hogwarts house founders to my circle Slytherin=water, Hufflepuff=earth, Gryffindor=fire, and Ravenclaw=air).  Before we can decide which to call, we must understand the differences among the various beings.

Let us begin with the Guardians, often referred to as “The Guardians of the Watchtowers”.  There is confusion when it comes to the Guardians in general but specifically when the term “Watchtower” is used.  What is a “Watchtower” anyway?  Arin Murphy-Hiscock offers an explanation in Solitary Wicca for Life:

A watchtower is derived from ceremonial traditional practice.  A watchtower indicates a watching presence that witnesses your ritual.  Each watchtower is associated with a cardinal direction but is not directly associated with the corresponding elemental energy.  For example, the watchtower of the north is not equivalent to the energy of the earth.

This definition doesn’t seem to deal specifically with the term “Watchtower” and more with what the Guardians are.  Therefore, I (and several others) generally leave out the Watchtower when discussing and working with the Guardians.  Arin Murphy-Hiscock goes on to explain the Guardians, however:

A guardian is exactly what the word suggests:  a protector.  A guardian is an intermediary between you and the outer world.  If you do call a guardian, its attention will be focused away from your ritual, not upon it.  A guardian cannot be a witness, nor can it bless or lend its energy to your work.

Let’s look more into what a Guardian is because Deborah Lipp offers a slightly different explanation in Elements of Ritual:

…the nature of the Guardians is elusive.  I have come to understand them as beings roughly equal to ourselves, as sophisticated and complex as humans, as spiritually evolved as we, and with a similar relationship to the gods—sharing in their essence but still distant from them in practical terms…The primary purpose of the Guardians is to serve the gods; they protect humans and guard us primarily as an adjunct to protecting and guarding rituals devoted to and sacred to the gods.

She goes on to say that the Guardians protect our circle with and from their element (i.e. the Guardian of the West would prevent flooding in your circle while the Guardian of the South would prevent fire from breaking out).  So, she seems to be on the side of the Guardians being tied to their elements, at least remotely, and being able to bring that energy into the circle with it.  I agree with Deborah Lipp in that the Guardians’ personalities are influenced by their elements, even if they are not made up of their elements like the elementals are.  Generally, the Guardians are considered “higher” beings compared to the elementals, and they have been compared to the archangels in their function (meaning they are Otherworldly beings that protect and support humans but have little to do with our daily lives outside of ritual).

Some witches feel that it is a bad idea to call anything you do not know fully to your circle.  Because the nature of the Guardians is fairly elusive, mainly due to the fact that they don’t usually interact with humans and act more in a protector capacity than the other beings with their attention focused outward, for the most part, many witches feel it’s not wise to call them to their circles.  Other, more traditional witches, always work with them, however, so it is certainly not uncommon to find a quarter calling with the Guardians or Guardians of the Watchtowers.

While Guardians are sentient beings akin to humans influenced by their element, elementals are beings made entirely of their particular element.  This is often difficult for us to understand because everything we interact with is made of a combination of elements.  Because they are solely one element, they have no spirit and, thus, are not sentient.  They are often considered “lesser beings” which doesn’t mean they are inferior, just that they are rather simplistic.  Due to this, it is often believed they must be commanded rather than invited because niceties can often confuse them; they can also be dangerous if allowed to remain after ritual or allowed to go about unchecked because they have no regard for humans or real understanding of their actions in the grand scheme of things (they work only to further their element).

I have yet to find an author who better describes the elementals than Deborah Lipp in Elements of Ritual:

Sylphs are Air.  They think and they float.  They are rarified and elusive.  They do not respond to feeling, and they do not feel.  They cannot be praised, fed, or excited. They are exclusively beings of wind, thought, and flight.  You cannot persuade a sylph to care about your ritual, because caring is emotion—Water.  Do not expect deep connections with sylphs, because depth is not the nature of Air.

Salamanders are Fire.  They burn and explode; they smolder and burst and consume.  They have no caution, not concern, no restraint; none of those are in the nature of Fire.  When calling Fire elementals you must always be careful and cautious, because salamanders are incapable of these qualities.

Undines are Water.  They feel and flow.  They fulfill themselves in desire, intuition, and love.  Do not expect them to be sensible, nor to hold still very long.  Sense is for Air, stillness for Earth, and undines have none of either.  You can’t reason with an undine, although you can attract her.

Gnomes are Earth.  Because we live on Earth, and we are solid, we can often relate to gnomes, but we can also be mistaken about their nature.  Remember that gnomes are slow, if they move at all, and immensely stubborn.  They cannot be persuaded or enticed, although they do respond to sensory stimulation and to respect.

Some practitioners do not believe in the elementals or the Guardians.  That may be the case for you.  You might wish to do some trancework to see if they appear to you or not and not just make a snap judgement about choosing to work with them or not.  The same goes for archangels, though many Pagans feel that Biblical creatures have no place in a Pagan ceremony; others, particularly those leaning toward ceremonial magic, would disagree.

By now, you probably have a general idea of what the elements are, their correspondences, and how to work with them.  If not, see “How to Become Proficient” below.  As I said above, it is possible to just call the energies of the elements to the quarters.  This is what I most often teach my students, but it is harder to find examples online because most examples contain calls to the elementals or Guardians.  The energies of the elements are generally called when a practitioner doesn’t want a certain being in their circle or when they do not believe that the aforementioned beings exist.  The energies of the elements balance your circle and lend energy to your working, but they do not have personalities nor do they lend protection the way Guardians do.  Some also believe they are not necessarily as dangerous to work with as elementals and Guardians, though they should be released adequately at the end of the working.  For more information on why, see our article onDismissal of the Quarters.

When we do it:

Most Wiccans/DRWs call the quarters after the circle is cast.  Deborah Lipp explains why in Elements of Ritual:

We’ve just finished creating a space between the worlds—about as middle of nowhere as you can get.  It floats freely in spaceless space and timeless time.  It isn’t anywhere, it’s just where we are.  In order to proceed, we need orientation; we need to have a firmer sense of location, and so we must have directions.  Theologically, this has a lot to do with Wiccans seeing ourselves in relation to nature, to Mother Earth; Her geography and Her poles.  We don’t just have a ritual, we have a ritual that is oriented around its place in nature.

However, other practitioners may call the quarters (particularly the elements) before casting the circle so the elements’ energies are present in the space beforehand to use in other steps of ritual (i.e. the purification and consecration of the elements, tools, self, etc.).

Some practitioners will even call the quarters just to create sacred space without the presence of a circle.  This may be because they are performing a working that will be aided by the energies of the beings they choose to call or it may simply be to add a natural feeling to their working.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this; a circle isn’t needed to call the quarters.  However, it should be noted that if you call the quarters without a circle that you need to be very precise about their presence, their purpose, and you must release them thoroughly when you have finished your work with them.

HowHow we do it:

There are various ways in which to call the quarters depending on your tradition, personal preference, which being you are calling, etc., but most of them require two steps:  1) Call a direction and its correspondence (element) and 2) Call a being.  In that calling, however, one should try to include praise and purpose as well as remember to be polite and specific.  After all, anyone is more likely to respond to an invitation if all of those are included.  For example, you might call “Aislynn” and anyone who goes by that name will respond, but if you call “Aislynn Brigid who has albinism and makes wonderful and insightful Youtube videos and is the most beautiful woman on earth,” you are more likely to get my attention over all the other Aislynns and, even, Aislynn Brigids out there.  If you also included what you wanted my attention for (perhaps to help you write a ritual or to explain a magical theory), I’d be even MORE likely to respond to your invitation.  The same can be said of the beings one calls at each quarter.

Specificity goes a step further with beings associated with the quarters, however, because each element has so many attributes tied to it.  For example, water may relate to emotions, fertility, compassion, tranquility, tenderness, forgiveness, modesty, fluidity, receptivity, influence, sensitivity, nurturance, hope, the unconscious mind, the sense of taste, etc.  It can also relate to its presence in nature in the oceans, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, rain, fog, clouds, etc.  So, when you call water to your circle, you could be working with any of those aspects, along with many others.  Specificity is key when you are writing your quarter calls, then.  The easiest example is fire; I could call the all-consuming heat and freedom of a wildfire, the slow smoldering of an ember, or the nurturance of a hearth fire.  All of those possibilities exist in fire, and it is up to you to determine which attributes of each element suit your ritual.

There needn’t only be four directions, though we have been speaking of “quarters” until this point.  Some practitioners choose to include five directions (east, west, north, south, and center) as we discussed briefly above.  This is appropriate if you work with a five element system (including spirit at the center) because it wouldn’t be fitting to only include four elements here if you believe in five.  Others include seven directions (east, west, north, south, center, up, and down) which is a system that originated in Native American spirituality.  As always, it is up to your personal preference and tradition to dictate which directions you call.

If you choose to call the elemental energies themselves instead of the Guardians or the elementals, you need to consider more thoroughly when would be appropriate to do so.  I discussed this briefly during the “When we do it” section above, but the energies of the elements are used before the quarters are typically called (after casting the circle).  They are often used in purification and consecration of the participants, tools, space, and/orelements.  In order for them to be used in this way, they would have to be present in the space.  So, if you are choosing to call them alone, you might wish to do this before you use them in the space and, possibly, have a small salute or greeting in the usual place of calling the quarters since they needn’t be called again if they are present already.  This could entail something as simple as “East, we call to you, direction of Air to witness this rite” so that the energies know that they are to remain for the entirety of the ritual rather than the earlier call which might have been more along the lines of “We call to you, O Powers of East and of Air to be present in our sacred space this night to aid us and lend your breezy powers of inspiration.”  Any other beings can be called after the circle is cast because they needn’t be present in the circle before that moment.

When writing your quarter calls, you must take continuity into account.  Many practitioners use a similar format for each quarter.  For example, they might use “I call to you O Powers of (cardinal direction) from your (element)-y realms.  Be present in my circle now, and bring your (insert attribute) energies so that I might (verb relating to attribute).  Welcome, (insert element).”  This format will remain the same with the message altering slightly for each element based on its attributes and what they do to the participants (i.e. Earth’s nurturance might help us grow, Water’s fluidity might help us adapt, etc.).  This also relates to the beings that are called; you should always keep it consistent.  Do not call the Guardian of the West, Sylphs in the East, the powers of Fire in the South, and Auriel in the North.  Those powers might not work well together, and it tends toward chaos in the circle which causes your work to lose focus.

There needn’t be an elaborate written invocation for each quarter.  Some practitioners, particularly newer practitioners, prefer to be silent to focus on the energies they are invoking and to focus on their visualization.  Others prefer to chant or dance instead of reading lengthy invocations.

Speaking of visualization, there are various techniques for visualizing the quarters.  Through your study of the elements (see “How to become proficient” below), you will discover which work best for you.  I’ve heard of people using the center pentagon of the invoking pentagrams to “see” the element.  This would involve a flame, rainstorm or ocean, rolling green hill or rock, and a tornado or gentle breeze.  Others who don’t use the pentagrams would see these things taking up the entire quarter of their space.  Some use a wave surging forward for water, a tree blooming for earth, a bonfire or candle for fire, and a breeze (somewhat akin to the colored leaf breeze in Disney’s Pocahontas) for air.  Air is often the hardest to visualize, according to my students, and whichever element is your weakest will, naturally, be the most difficult to call.

Anyone can call the quarters in group ritual.  Some groups prefer the High Priest and High Priestess to call the quarters, together or separately.  Others have one person call each quarter, two people call two quarters each, or have four different people call each quarter.  Still other groups will have four sets of working partners (typically male-female pairings) calling the quarters together so the gender energies are balanced.  When gender balance is taken into consideration, some groups will have only men call air and fire and only women call north and west because it is often believed that each element has a dominant gender energy.  This belief seems to suggest that men cannot possess the attributes of water and earth (meaning they cannot be grounded, emotional, nurturing, etc.) and women cannot possess the attributes of fire or air (meaning they cannot be logical, wise, courageous, etc.); as such, it is sometimes a hotly debated issue.  If you will notice, I didn’t discuss it above because it is up to each individual to see if the elements have gender energies.  Personally, I believe they are genderless.

If you have used invoking or banishing pentagrams previously (in the purification and/or consecration of the elements, for example), they will be used in the calling of the quarters.  You should use the same format as you did before.  If you used only the earth pentagram for your purification and/or consecration of the elements, use only the earth pentagram here.  If you used all four pentagrams, use all four pentagrams for their appropriate quarters.  The invoking and banishing pentagrams are traditional, but many solitaires and groups do not use them because of preference.  If you wish to learn more about them, I cannot recommend a better source than my friend Anni’s, known as MIRTHandREVERENCE on Youtube, video series:  Pentagrams (and you should watch her series on the Quartered Circle here: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.)

The actions one can do while calling the quarters are entirely up to the practitioner.  Some circles will have the entire group walk deosil until the quarter callers are at their respective quarter; others will just have the quarter callers circle deosil until they reach their quarter. Still others will have the callers begin the ritual in their quarter so they need only to turn around to call it.  The rest of the participants may do anything from turning to face the quarter, raise their hands or athames in salute, make an invoking pentagram, etc.  So, it is generally recommended, for those new to ritual or the style of a particular group that you look around to see what everyone else is doing at this particular point if you haven’t been briefed beforehand.  If you see movements that are unfamiliar to you, stand respectfully still.

If you choose to have quarter candles in your circle, they may be lit after each quarter is called or they may have been lit before the ritual started or when the circle was cast.  Some may choose to ring a bell before and/or after each quarter is called.  Both are appropriate.  Ringing before they are called gets the being’s attention or signals that something is about to happen while ringing after they are called signifies that something important has happened and welcomes the being into the circle.

Deborah Lipp, as well as many traditionalists, maintains that if you begin your quarter calling in the east, you must return to the east for the circle to be complete.  She says if you don’t, your circle will resemble a Pac-Man or a pizza with a piece eaten.  Others believe that by calling the quarters you are calling the square (for the circle within the square) and it is complete when you’ve called all the corners.  It is up to you and your feelings on this to determine what to do.  If you return to the quarter in which you began, you needn’t call it again, just a physical return to it will be sufficient to close the circle, though some groups include a small salute.

After spending the majority of my time emphasizing the importance of balance in Wiccan/DRW ritual, my next statement might seem odd.  However, it is perfectly okay to only call one element to your circle if you are doing a themed ritual.  For example, if I am doing a sea ritual (as I discussed above), I might only call water to my circle, or I might call the powers of the Pacific in the west, the powers of the Atlantic in the east, and so on depending on my geographic location.  While general ritual practice should be balanced, if you are working on one element alone, it is perfectly acceptable to focus entirely on it, so long as you adequately earth that energy and rebalance yourself afterwards (you wouldn’t want to suffer energetic imbalances after your water ritual like mood swings, apathy, instability, dependence, and/or delusions).

How to become proficient:

It is generally recommended to become proficient in calling the quarters that one learn as much as they can about each element.  Most solitaries take this to mean that they must enter a course of study that helps them to delve into the mysteries of each element, see its connections to them, and helps them find and rectify their own elemental imbalances.  After doing this myself over eight months or so, I would highly recommend it.  Not only will it teach you more about yourself, it will greatly increase the power of your quarter calls.

This course of study could entail spending a month or two (or more) on each element, being careful to guard against imbalances, in which you spend time in meditations focused on that particular element, do exercises pertaining to it and its correspondences, etc. We hope to have a more detailed idea of exercises for this here in the near future.

 

Casting the Circle

We have discussed various elements of ritual that are optional (i.e. merging, purification and/or consecration of the elements, etc.), but as Deborah Lipp insists in her book The Study of Witchcraft:  A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca, “the ritual structure of Wicca can vary enormously, but a cast circle with four quarters, representing or corresponding to the four elements, is the fundamental format of Wiccan ritual.”  The circle is considered one of the most important elements in Wiccan/DRW ritual.  Here, we’ll examine why.

Let us begin with the function of the circle.  It contains energy within it until we are ready to release it.  If you have ever raised energy outside a circle, you may have noticed it was more difficult to contain it before release, sense when you had raised sufficient energy, or that the energy you raised was less focused than the energy you had raised inside a circle. That is because the magical barrier of the circle aids us by closing in the space so that we can more easily feel the effects of our work.  It is much like trying to fill a space with water.  If you are outdoors without any barriers, you can pour as much water as you want, but you will never appear to make any progress because there’s no container to help you judge how much you have added.  If you then wanted to use the water you’d put into this space for something else, it would be nearly impossible to collect it all again because the water just escaped in every direction.  However, if you were to pour water into a pool, for example, it would have nowhere to go except into your set container.  You would easily be able to judge how full the pool was, and you would be able to collect the water again.  The pool is serving as your circle here.  It is the same with energy; if you cast a circle and raise a large amount of energy, you will be able to sense firsthand the containment of the energy when you leave the circle and detect a noticeable change in temperature and/or feeling.  While the circle isn’t necessary for all magical work, most practitioners that use the circle regularly will tell you of these benefits.

There is a secondary use of the circle that, in my opinion, is quite overly-stressed, and that use is protection.  I admit that I am in the minority with my view that protection isn’t as needed as some state it is.  Yes, there are beings out there that may do us harm in our magical workings.  This is largely due to the fact that they are curious and may accidentally do us harm.  I, personally, feel that the number of strictly malevolent presences is not nearly as large as some people state.  Deborah Lipp seems to be in agreement with her quote from Elements of Ritual:

[The] witch’s basic attitude toward the world is welcoming, the world is good and we don’t fear the things in it—including noncorporeal entities…The occult is dangerous in the way that driving a car is dangerous—you have to know what you’re doing, be respectful of the rules of the road, and wear your safety belt.  There simply aren’t hordes of evil demons waiting at the perimeters to gobble you up, although there are some things that aren’t pleasant, and some mistakes that have serious consequences.  The protective nature of a circle is important, but Wiccans don’t believe, the way the magicians in the past have believed, that it’s life-or-death.

Though I do not believe there are gangs of entities just waiting for you to perform a magical working so they might be attracted to your rise in energy to attack you, I cannot ignore the circle’s protective properties.  As I stated above, it does act as a barrier; therefore, it does keep things out.  What, exactly, that is can be determined by the person casting the circle (or writing the casting); see “How we do it” for more information.

The circle also serves another main purpose in ritual, and that is to unite the three main energies it encompasses.  The circle is not two-dimensional.  It does not simply contain you and your physical space, but it extends below the floor or ground and above your head into the sky.  It is a sphere that brings the earth, cosmic and divine, and your personal energies together to work in harmony toward your goal.

Like everything in ritual, the circle serves a further purpose of being a symbol of something.  The circle is the microcosm.  It is the representation of the universe while the entire ritual is a reenactment of the creation of the universe. In the ritual, we draw the circle which contains the four elements which make up all that is.  The circle itself is representative of the Goddess because of its spherical shape, reminding us of the womb from which we all came.  Therefore, we understand that the Goddess is the universe and the Goddess made the universe.

The many meanings behind the shape of the circle (or the sphere to be more accurate since the magic circle is three-dimensional will be discussed in “How we do it” below) cannot hope to all be included in this article.  However, I wanted to cover a few because the womb is just one meaning that may be found in the circle’s shape.

Think of the stars, moon, planets, etc.; all of them are spheres which shows us that the circle is a universal symbol.  It is an all-encompassing symbol that creates unity both by its shape and its ease of recognition.  It is never-ending, and, thus, represents any cycle including time, reincarnation, etc.  Obviously there are hundreds more meanings behind the shape of the circle.  Through contemplation, you will find those that mean the most to you in your practice.

Deborah Lipp goes on to say that Wiccans believe the circle was a gift from the Goddess.  She quotes The Legend of the Descent of the Goddess into the Underworld:

And our Goddess, ever inclineth to love, and mirth, and happiness; and guardeth and cherisheth her children in life, and in death she teacheth the way to her communion; and even in this world she teacheth them the mystery of the Magic Circle, which is placed between the world of men and of the gods.

This lays out a fundamental part of the circle.  It is between the worlds, a phrase commonly used in affirmations after the circle is cast.  That means when we erect the temple (cast the circle), we are no longer standing in our living room surrounded by candles talking to ourselves.  We are literally on another plane, a plane where time doesn’t exist.  What does that mean?  That means we have more freedom to work magic inside the circle because it is not ruled by the laws the govern our world.  We can work magic for the future, the past, or the present.  We can do work that our mundane world tells us is impossible or stupid.  We can commune with the Gods and the dead in ways we couldn’t normally because the circle exists outside of the laws of mortality.  Only the laws of nature exist here, only those laid down by the Gods.  The circle creates endless possibilities.

When we do it:

When does one cast a circle?  That is the million dollar question for many practitioners.  I cannot count the times I have been asked if a circle is necessary for any magical working.  My answer is the same every time; “Do you feel like you need a circle for this working?”  Only you can answer that question for each working.

Some practitioners will only cast a circle for more in-depth workings or when they feel the need to draw upon the energies of the sky and earth and/or elements in addition to their personal energies.  Some will only cast a circle for longer workings because it usually involves purifying the space and themselves before entering it.  Some will cast a circle before any kind of energy or spiritual work (i.e. meditation, astral projection, etc.).  Now that you know the uses of the circle and the mystical aspects of it, consider which of these things you might need.  For example, do you anticipate requiring protection during your working?  Will you be leaving your body vulnerable during your working (i.e. astral projection)?  If so, strongly consider casting a circle.  Do you have trouble sensing and amassing energy?  If so, consider casting a circle to help your energy raising go more smoothly.  Do you wish to draw upon the circle’s symbolism or mythology in your ritual?  Etc.  It should be noted that some practitioners will always cast a circle when inviting deity to be present because they want to invite them to the best space possible and a completed temple, to them, is the best they can possibly present.

Some practitioners will choose not to cast a circle but only to create a sacred space for some workings (note that the magic circle is not simply sacred space but a temporary temple erected for each ritual).  They will cleanse, purify, and/or consecrate it in addition to purifying, grounding, and/or centering themselves.  This creates a space that is conducive to ritual work, that is free of distractions present in the normal, perhaps, chaotic energies of that space, and is a shorter and more simplistic way of preparing for your spiritual and energetic work but doesn’t have the other benefits of the circle discussed above.  This process is easier, mainly because you are making the existing space holy rather than creating new holy space with a circle, and you needn’t dismantle it after use as long as energetic connections begun there are severed.  This is generally done for things like daily devotionals, meditation, offerings, etc.

In terms of when one casts the circle in the ritual process, it usually happens around the time of calling the quarters. Some groups will cast the circle before calling the quarters while others will reverse that process.  This is because of the differing views on what calling the quarters does.  If one believes the circle is the microcosmic universe, the universe must be created before the “stuff” that inhabits the universe can be brought it (therefore the circle would be cast before the quarters were called).  If one believes that the circle must be consecrated after it is cast, they might also call the quarters after the circle is cast.  If, however, one believes the quarters make up the four elements which then come together to form spirit (which can be symbolized by the circle or by the center position of the circle), they might call the quarters first and then cast the circle.  So, again, much depends on your personal interpretation and preferences.

How we do it:

Before we get into the discussion of how we cast a circle, I think it is important to cover how one refers to casting the circle.  You might have noticed by now that there are several terms used to describe this step including (but not limited to) casting the circle, opening the circle, and raising the circle.  Though these all mean essentially the same thing, they can cause confusion and be viewed as slightly different things.  For example, I just said that opening the circle can refer to the creation of the circle, but you’ll notice on this website we discuss the opening of the circle at the end of the ritual when the circle is dismantled.  If “opening” is used at the beginning of the ritual, it usually refers to the opening of the ritual itself, even though the circle is technically closed when it is cast around.  “Raising” refers to the temple, and you will see me use the term “erecting” in the same manner.  We are raising energy to be used to make the circle and raising the barrier that will serve as our temple.  “Casting” refers to manipulating the energy into the form of a circle, and it is used in much the same way as “casting a spell”, though some practitioners don’t view this manipulation of energy as an act of magic or witchcraft.  All that is important with your choice of terminology is that you are clear about which step to which you are referring and that you understand what you are talking about.

How is it that Wiccans/DRWs believe they can create this temple that is good enough to contain the Gods and represent the entire universe?  Most Wiccans believe that there is an inherent sacredness to all things because everything in the universe contains sacred energy.  This is similar to pantheism.  That belief, then, extends to us, and by the power of our own immanent divinity, we can set aside a temple with these unique attributes.  We have also learned that words and energy hold that sacred power of creation.  By stating that something is done, it is done.  It is imbued with that power of creation.  All of this combined means that each and every Wiccan has the power to create a temple, the sacred circle.

Let us begin by discussing the most commonly taught way to cast a circle—walking the barrier.  In just about every Wicca 101 book, you will find a passage that states that if you walk the perimeter of your sacred space, you will create a circle.  This is partially true, but it is also misleading.  These books take for granted that their readers will further delve into the study of the circle and learn about how one is actually cast.  Only through visualization and the channeling of energy can a circle come into being.  It is not enough to walk the perimeter with or without a magical tool to create the sacred circle, but it does begin to help your mind separate the spaces (what will be the sacred circle after your casting is complete and what will remain mundane space outside of that barrier) and remember where the barrier is if you choose not to use a tangible outline (i.e. laying out a circle of stones or shells, sprinkling herbs, placing candles in a circle, drawing the circle in chalk or salt, etc.)

To create a circle, you will need power to put into the creation of that energy form.  That power comes from the grounding process (for more information, see our article onGrounding) and (in smaller amounts) from your own personal energy.  Just as with anything in ritual, one’s personal energy cannot be used alone because you might deplete your own energy reserve, unbalancing yourself and causing dizziness, fainting, illness, or other unpleasant side effects.  Grounding aids in allowing you to have another source of power upon which to draw (you may also use the energies of the quarters if you have already called them to your space prior to casting your circle).

This energy is put to use by channeling it through the body and out through the conductor (whether that is your hand or a tool like the wand or athame).  It is then manipulated into the form of the circle and sent along the barrier of your temple, up over your head, and down below your feet.  This is a part of the ritual that requires a suspension of disbelief because you may be at the top of a high-rise apartment building, but you must know that your circle is connected to the energies of the earth.  Or you may be in the basement of your home, but you must know that your circle is connected to the energies of the sky, the divine, and the cosmos.

The visualization of that energy varies greatly from practitioner to practitioner.  Some will “see” the energy the same way with every ritual.  Some will vary that visualization based on the work to be completed (i.e. they might use a green circle for a prosperity ritual or white, red, and black for a ritual that focuses on the triple Goddess).  Some might see a web of light, others might see a wall of sparkles, etc.  Some see each layer as a full sphere issuing from their hand/tool while others cast the circle into a barrier line and extend it up and down into the sphere afterwards.  It should be noted that even in group ritual when one person is casting the circle alone, every participant should be visualizing the circle, and every time the participants look around after the circle is cast, they shouldn’t see the living room or field in which they once stood, they should see the circle.

Some practitioners will use a semipermeable circle to allow positive forces into their circle; this is a possibility because we can choose what energy can pass through the barrier we create.  This involves a lot of focus and training to be able to create the circle so that you are sure nothing unpleasant can get in.  Though I did stress that I don’t view the circle’s first function as being protection, it is somewhat important that we don’t allow just anything to pass through the circle when we are working magic.  Others opt for a more solid barrier to keep out every force they didn’t specifically ask to be present while still allowing for some flow of energy through the barrier so they can release the energy they have raised into the universe without breaking the circle.  This is largely personal preference, but you will need to sort of program your circle based on your needs in this area.  Be very specific in your intent and wording so that you aren’t surprised by guests mid-ritual.

I spoke of layers above.  What does that mean?  Another choice you have when considering the casting of the circle is how many times to perform the casting.  Traditionally, the circle is cast three times.  The Wiccan Rede even includes a line that reads, “For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.”  The number three is a very important number for most Wiccans/DRWs.  Not only does it represent the triple Goddess, it represents the feminine in general because of its connections to the triangle (and, thus, the womb).  There are also ties to the cycles of life (i.e. birth, death, rebirth; youth, maturity, age; or beginning, middle, and end).  It is said all things come in threes, and there are endless examples of this throughout mythology and other types of literature; just look at the Younger, Middle, and Higher Selves, the Upper, Middle, and Under Worlds, etc.

When the circle is cast three times, this could mean that one (or three) people literally walk the perimeter three times and send out energy into the creation of the barrier, another circle casting method is done three times, or three actions that all create the circle are done in sequence.  These sequential actions may include the sending of energy as discussed, the sprinkling of the circle, and the censing of the circle.  It should be noted that some traditions do not even view a circle as being cast until it has been sprinkled and censed.  Most Wiccans/DRWs agree as well that the circle must be defined (the perimeter walked) for it to be cast.  Deborah Lipp says in Elements of Ritual that sprinkling and censing a circle that has not been drawn is “like painting a house and hanging the curtains without putting up the walls!”

Sprinkling and censing the circle are acts of purification and consecration.  I cover them here because of their ties to casting the circle.  Some practitioners will not perform these steps here because they have previously purified and/or consecrated their ritual space and view it as redundant to do so again.  Others may have purified the space and view creating the circle and inviting the quarters and Deity to the circle to be consecrating the space.  Still others will have purified the space previously and will consecrate it after casting the circle  (there is an article on this step coming soon).  If sprinkling with salt water is done, it is always done before censing because it is the purifying half of this process.  It removes what is unwanted while the censing sweetens the space by bringing in what is desired for the ritual.  This is the logical order because we cannot purify and consecrate something that doesn’t exist, so we draw the circle first, purify it of what we do not want, and bring in what we do want.  Often, in this particular cast, the circle is drawn by one person and then two people follow afterward to sprinkle and cense at the same time, or it may be done with three separate passes.  This particular triple casting technique draws upon the symbolism of the two plus one.  It is the feminine (the salt water or water and earth) and the masculine (the incense or air and fire) plus the will of the witch/group doing the casting (spirit/divinity).

Though the triple cast is traditional, there are various other numbers that would be just as appropriate for ritual use in this manner.  Two, for example, could symbolize the polarity and duality that Wiccans/DRWs view as so important (the masculine and feminine, God and Goddess, Yin and Yang, dark and light, etc.) as well as the Dual God.  This isn’t as common because casting a circle is sometimes difficult to do properly and the triple cast ensures that it is fully created before the ritual begins by having two other chances to check and strengthen your casting (this is also the reason that the single cast isn’t very popular either), and the circle is largely thought to be a feminine symbol (hence the use of the full moon as a Goddess symbol and the heavy use of feminine symbolism above when we discussed why we use a circle) so the Dual God isn’t usually stressed when casting the circle.

Four is another very appropriate number in Wiccan/DRW ritual.  There are four elements, and this can be nicely referenced with a quadruple circle cast.  Four also provides a sturdy foundation upon which to build your rite; consider that tables and chairs generally have four legs upon which to stand.  If you are looking for a nod to the elements in your circle cast, you might consider the number five as well if you subscribe to the belief in the fifth element of spirit.  Five is also a good reference to the power of the God and Goddess together (the Dual God plus the Triple Goddess or 2+3=5).

This consideration of numbers can go on and on up to unreasonable numbers for casting a circle.  For example, 1080 is a number that is commonly referred to as the epitome of feminine.  Does that mean you should cast your circle 1080 times around?  No.  Practicality demands that if you are going to use 1080 to cast your circle you would add up the digits (1+0+8+0) and cast your circle nine times around (nine is also thought to be the epitome of the feminine because it is 3×3), which some practitioners would still view as excessive.  If you are doing a group ritual, consider the attention span of the other participants as well as the size of your space and take the possibility of dizziness into account.  Another number that might be used is the opposite of 1080; it is the epitome of the masculine—666.  Again, you cannot cast your circle 666 times around, so you could add the digits (6+6+6=18, 1+8) and again get nine.  (Note:  For anyone whose curiosity was piqued by those, that is why Satan is viewed to be “evil” in Christian mythology; he is alone, without the epitome of femininity.  He is unbalanced.  Jesus, whose name also adds up 666 is balanced out by the Holy Spirit whose name adds up 1080 and the Father who has no gender.  But I digress…)

When walking the perimeter of your sacred space, you may run into trouble, particularly if you are working in a small space like an apartment or a dorm room.  Does this mean that your circle can only be a foot or less in diameter because your furniture or walls don’t allow you to walk the perimeter?  Of course not!  You can always project your circle out.  To do this, you can stand in one place and send the energy that you would direct into the barrier of your circle along where you’d like barrier to be instead of standing on the barrier and sending it that way.  This is sometimes harder to visualize, but when you have no other choices, you work with what you can.  You can also use the projection technique when you reach a point in the perimeter of your circle that you cannot walk (i.e. if your dresser is blocking a corner of the room into which you’d like your circle to extend so it is big enough to allow you to work and is still circular).  The trick with sending out energy is to have a very clear visualization of where the energy is going so you don’t lose track of where your circle ends and so you don’t lose control of your casting.  This is especially important if you cannot see the point where your circle will end.  For example, if a wall is interfering with my sacred space being big enough for my circle, I might cast my circle outside the wall.  This is perfectly fine, and many people do it.  However, I need to be able to see where my circle is in my mind, much like I must be able to see where my circle is beneath the floor/ground where I’m standing.

Now that we know generally how the circle is created and how many times we might cast it, we need to discuss where to begin the casting.  This varies greatly from tradition to tradition and practitioner to practitioner.  Almost every Wicca 101 book you will read will tell you that you must begin your circle cast (and quarter calls) in the east.  This is generally because the east is thought of as the place of beginnings due to it being the direction from which the sun rises and its correspondences to air which is at the top of the Witches’ Pyramid, beginning the cycle of creation (thought/inspiration).  However, some witches will always begin in the north, the south, or the west for various reasons.  It should also be noted that some traditions or solitary practitioners will vary where they begin the casting of the circle and the calling of the quarters based on the time of year (i.e. start in the east in spring, south in the summer, west in the autumn, and north in the winter because those are the directions/elements that rule those times of year) or the goal of their ritual (i.e. start in the east for a ritual to find inspiration, west for an introspective ritual, south for a sexual ritual, north for a ritual to heal the earth, etc.) much like they will change the placement of their altar for these things.  This shows your focus on a particular element in your ritual without unbalancing the collective elemental energies.

Which direction is the circle cast?  Almost every Wicca 101 book will insist that you must cast your circles deosil (sunwise or clockwise) if you live in the northern hemisphere.  If not, they imply that the entire ritual is doomed and you are evil.  This is generally because deosil is used to draw things to you and widdershins (counter-clockwise) is used to repel them.  That’s why, generally, circles are cast going deosil; it draws the power to the ritual space.  Then, when we wish to uncast the circle, we go widdershins to rid the space of that energy.  However, those in the southern hemisphere often go in opposite directions.

It is also important to consider the point of your ritual.  Are you working with a darker deity?  Are you doing a banishing ritual?  Are you working on a dark moon or lunar eclipse?  These and several other reasons could lead you to choose to cast your circle widdershins and uncast it deosil.  It’s unusual, yes, but it is not unheard of.  If you choose to experiment with it, feel free if you are comfortable with that idea.  Whichever direction you decide to cast your circle, make sure your movements within it go in that direction to respect the flow of energy that you started at the time of casting; if you cast your circle deosil, widdershins movements disrupt that flow and can diminish your energy within the circle.

Another choice when casting the circle is whether or not to use tools.  We will be adding a section in which we discuss each ritual tool’s use in the future, but we already have an article on both sides of the issue of using ritual tools.  In terms of casting the circle, it is common to use either the wand or the athame.  Depending on which you choose, your circle may have a different feeling.  Many view the athame as being ruled by fire (though some still adhere to the belief that the athame is ruled by air and the wand by fire which was part of an effort by the Golden Dawn to leak false information about their oathbound information to the general public) and, thus, has a more commanding feel than the wand, which is ruled by air.  The wand is viewed to request the presence of whatever one is inviting.  That is why some practitioners use the athame to cast the circle and call the elemental energies, but will use the wand to call the Guardians or elementals and deity to the circle.  It is up to you, your interpretation of each tool, the reactions of your honored guests to each tool, and what makes you most comfortable.

If tools aren’t used, the dominant hand is usually put to the use of channeling the energy.  Personally, I prefer my students to begin by casting the circle without a tool so they do not become dependent on them and so they can sense the energy without it.  Tools are foci for our energy; they do not enhance the actual power of it nor are they necessary for ritual.  So, my advice to you is to try casting a circle several times without tools before you decide to try with tools; then make a decision as to which you prefer.

How big should your circle be?  Though some traditions have measurements for their rituals, I am of the opinion that your circle only needs to be big enough to suit your needs (though obviously you should go with your tradition’s specifications in your workings).  If you are doing a ritual alone, you do not need a circle fifty feet in diameter unless you are planning to do some wild and elaborate dancing to raise energy.  If you are a group of fifty, you cannot work in a ten foot circle.  Consider spacing before you start working with numerology to find a measurement which has a number relating to your goal.

Another decision that must be made when writing this step is whether there will be speaking or not.  Words can add power to what you are doing by their creative energy and powers of affirmation of your actions.  They can also personalize your circle casting or make it suitable to the purpose of your ritual.  However, some witches, particularly new practitioners, prefer to focus solely on the energetic work of these preliminary steps (i.e. calling the quarters, casting the circle, etc.) and find words distracting.  It does involve multitasking to be able to focus on the energy concerned, what you’re supposed to be saying, and any other additions to this or other steps.  It might also create a logistical problem if you have a script you’re reading from.  Do you have to put it down every time you need to use your hands?  If you’re planning to memorize the words you’re written, how do you think you’ll react if you should forget to say something?  Will it be distracting to either hold a script or try to remember the words the entire time?  What about lighting?  Will you be able to read your script in low lighting?  Weigh your options and make a decision based on what makes you comfortable.  You can also see our article onMemorization v. Reading From a Script for more information.

I mentioned programming the circle several paragraphs back in the discussion of using a semipermeable or solid circle.  What does that mean?  Every bit of energy we send out into the universe can be programmed.  It can be given purpose.  That is what makes magic, the manipulation of energy.  The circle is no different.  When you use energy to construct the barrier, you are already giving that energy purpose, but you can go a step further by tailoring it to your specifications for your circle.  That can be done by assigning it a color to suit your working (which we discussed above), by setting its limits (like allowing certain energies in and out), or in a wide variety of ways.  You can give it further intent by making the energy that makes up the circle conducive to your working (i.e. sending healing energy out to form the barrier for a healing ritual) as long as it still serves its main function of containing your energy and/or protecting you from outside influence.

We’ve discussed various ways that one might go about casting the circle, but there is one common variation that we should touch on.  That is casting the circle “hand-to-hand”.  This essentially means that energy is sent around the group of participants in a ritual so that the barrier is made by their bodies.  This involves every participant in the circle casting process, which is generally a good aim in every part of ritual to make sure it feels like a true group experience and to combat boredom.  However, if you are in a group whose experience ranges greatly or includes people who have never cast a circle before, this isn’t necessarily a great method to use because the circle might have holes where these people are standing.  Also, the barrier of the circle is the participants’ bodies.  What does that mean?  No one can move from their spot at all or they will break the circle.  I’m sure there are more pros and cons to this method, but you will have to examine them for yourself since they hinge mainly on personal preference.

Once your circle is cast, you or someone else in your ritual may need to exit the circle.  This should only be done in an emergency (i.e. fire, illness, etc.) and not just because something was forgotten because every time the circle is disrupted, the energy is allowed to dissipate, and, thus, the circle and ritual itself are weakened.  If we return to the pool metaphor, it is like someone diving into the pool after it has been filled to the appropriate point and then getting out.  It may seem small, but they are taking water with them.  It also might create waves that further empty the pool.  Cutting a door in a circle to leave is very similar, and it can cause a greater decrease in energy than that analogy shows, depending on how it is done.  We will return to why a door must be cut in the article on Opening the Circle nearer the end of our steps of ritual series, but suffice it to say that you should never just walk through the barrier of the circle (unless there is a major emergency, like a fire) because it’s much like building a room and exiting it without using a door.  It damages the room in the same way walking through the barrier of the circle damages the circle.

If somehow you break your circle by accidentally shifting so you were outside the circle or someone unaware you were doing a ritual walks through the barrier, repair the damage immediately with your athame so you can contain the energy leaking out in the same way you would reseal a door that you had cut (for more information on cutting a door, see ourOpening the Circle article).  If a child or pet crosses the barrier of your circle, it not as much of a problem.  Small children and animals are thought to be more spiritually in tune than the rest of us, always a little between the worlds.  It is something we lose as we grow up and society takes its toll on us.  So, they may pass freely across the barrier unless it distracts you from the performance of ritual.  Then, it should be avoided to maintain focus on your work.

For other looks at casting circles, see our sources below or this video series by an excellent Youtuber Anni (MIRTHandREVERENCE) linked here:  Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

At first, you may not be able to feel the presence of the circle, and that is perfectly normal.  It takes training and practice to be able to sense the barrier and to know that your circle is truly cast.  You may wish to have a more experienced witch present to sense any holes in your circle and to critique your casting, or you can go about it alone and train yourself to be able to sense those things over time.  Circles are often cast on faith alone at first; you must trust that circle is sufficiently cast because you focused and did everything you were supposed to do.  Over time, you will probably begin to feel the difference in energy within the circle from that outside the circle.

 

Purification of the Space

Given that I wrote all the articles uploaded to this site as inspiration struck me to research and compose them, I find myself working on purification of the space last.  I don’t tell you this to make you think that I devalue this step but to inform you that, by this point, I have already written several other articles about the processes of purification and consecration.  So, though you as the reader might just be beginning your journey through our selection of articles, I, the author, have gone through the entire journey already.  As such, I direct you to the articles on Purification of the Participants (for the reasoning behind purification in Wiccan/DRW practice), Purification and/or Consecration of the Tools, and Purification and/or Consecration of the Elements (for a further discussion of the differences between purification and consecration, how they are done, and the importance of each).  While many points within those articles are vital when discussing purification, they have already been covered (and possibly beaten to death) on this site and, I feel, don’t bear further mention for this reason.

This, then, begs the question, why did I write an article on purification of the ritual space if I have already covered the topic of purification so thoroughly elsewhere?  Purification of the space prompts a few unique discussions. For example, is it necessary?  Why is it done at all?  Must it be done with a unique consecration?

Why do we purify the space in which we cast our circle/perform our work?  The short answer is that any space, even those that are set aside only for ritual work can collect energy.  While most practitioners will say that a space that is used for mundane and magical purposes alike (a bedroom, backyard, or living room, for example) is more likely to amass energy that isn’t conducive to ritual work because of the high traffic and greater amount of non-magical work done there, a temple room (also sometimes termed a “witchy room”), should one be lucky enough to have such a space, can also collect energy.  This could be from past workings, from disuse, etc. that might not be wanted in the next ritual.  For example, I could do one working for something completely opposite to the working that might follow it.  I might, then, not want that energy to be present for the second working.  Thus purification might be necessary.

In Wicca/DRW we do not have permanent churches or temples; because of this, we must erect our own, temporary, temple each time we do ritual.  This is discussed more underCasting the Circle, but it is important to note here that because this space will be set aside as a temple to house the Gods and contain our magical and spiritual work, some practitioners believe it should be at its best.  Thus it should be free of disruptive energy in any form.  We discussed ridding the space of clutter and dirt in our discussion of cleansing under Mundane Preparations, but unwanted energy can still remain, even after a good cleansing because that part of this process is only physical.  Those that wish to present a space that, they view, as suitable for the Gods to be made sacred space will want to remove that energy to focus their ritual and their own energy as well as to act in courtesy toward the Gods.  For example, would you want to throw a party and welcome guests into a home that was saturated with angry energy after a huge fight with a roommate?  That is almost always something people feel, and it distracts them and makes them uncomfortable.  Now consider this on the scale of inviting the Gods into such a space.  By purifying the space, we are making it that much closer to being ready for ritual work.

As I said, some practitioners do not purify or cleanse their ritual space beforehand because they view everything as sacred and part of their spiritual experience.  So, for them, it wouldn’t be offensive to invite the Gods into a space full of any sort of energy, whether someone might label it “negative” or “positive” (which are objective evaluations anyway and some practitioners don’t even view energy as being able to be “negative” or “positive” much like a car isn’t “negative” or “positive” but it might be scary or uncomfortable for some people, can hurt or kill people, or it could help them).

Still others might believe that the space doesn’t need a cleansing or purification because when we cast the circle, we dedicate the space to a new purpose; we place it outside of time and space and, thus, outside of the effects of the energy collected where it once was.  They may also believe that the circle, instead of ridding the space of energy by transporting it outside of time and space, pushes the other energies of the space away as it forms the barrier to contain the space.  We will discuss under “How we do it” below how to determine if you should perform a purification of the space.

When we do it:

Purification of the space is a step that could fall directly after cleansing the space (though rarely before because it is generally believed one must rid physical clutter before energetic clutter because many view physical clutter to create energetic clutter, thus if the physical clutter remained, it would simply create more chaotic energy to be purified) or at any point before the circle is cast.  Some practitioners even put it into the casting of the circle as we discussed in our article on the subject and will discuss below under “How we do it”.

If a separate consecration of the space is done along with purification, this step must, naturally, come beforehand.  Given our knowledge of how cleansing, purification, and consecration work, this is obvious.  For more information, see our discussions onPurification of the Participants and/or Purification and/or Consecration of the Elementsor any of our other articles on purification or consecration.  However, it should be noted that not all practitioners perform a separate consecration of the space, believing the circle consecrates the space itself (an article on consecration of the space is forthcoming).

It is also something that is sometimes done before meditation to aid in concentration, daily devotionals, offerings, or any other spiritual or magical work that one deems doesn’t need a circle because it aids in creating sacred space in which to work.  For more information on when one may cast a circle, see our article on the topic.

How we do it:

The first thing most practitioners will do before purifying a space (or anything for that matter) is assess its energy.  This might be difficult for some newer practitioners not familiar with sensing energy (which is why we are working on a section of articles on working with energy, coming soon), so they are generally instructed to always purify a space/object because they cannot always tell when it needs it.  To assess a space’s energy, simply open yourself up to its energy.  Lower your shields, so to speak, and extend your senses.  It might help to close your eyes, walk around the space, or physically feel the space (the floor/ground, objects within it, the air, etc.) depending on how you interact with energy.  If you often feel energy with your hands, use them.  If you have to “see” it, go with that.  Through experimentation, you’ll build your relationship with energy and be able to figure out how you relate to energy.  If the energy of the space seems disturbed, cluttered, or otherwise needing a good purification, go ahead.  If you don’t really feel anything “negative” or at all, it is probably okay to skip this step (again if you aren’t versed in reading and working with energy, not feeling anything might only be a sign that you are unable to read the energy of the room and not that there is nothing there, so be sure what you’re feeling before you skip a purification of the space if it’s important to you).  If you read the energy of the space, it also helps you address the specific needs at that time.  For example, if I don’t read the space and do a general purification, I might not know to spend a bit of extra time and effort in the corner which has amassed more energy than the center of the room, for example.

Once we know that our attention is needed and where, we can move onto the actual act of purification.  Most practitioners prefer a physical act to purify a space (i.e. sprinkling, sweeping, smudging, parading the elements, etc.) because they wish to engage the entire body or because it appears to do more than the others because it is more involved, but there are nonphysical options including projecting purifying energy out into the space from yourself and/or using a purification crystal to either collect the energies of the space or to push the energies out of the space.  To find an appropriate crystal for this, begin your study of the types of crystals and work with them a bit to see which respond to you and the task you wish to give them.

The most common form that I’ve encountered is sweeping the space with a besom.  This can be done in a deosil (clockwise) or widdershins (counter-clockwise) movement, depending on the preference of the practitioner.  Most witches move widdershins because they are getting rid of the energy, banishing it from the space, which widdershins movements accomplish (in the northern hemisphere).  However, some witches move deosil either because they combine the acts of purification and consecration (the besom absorbs the energy it sweeps up and the deosil movement brings in favorable energy) or because they believe that the flow of energy inside the circle they will soon cast will always be deosil, and they should begin that flow now inside the sacred space they are preparing (or a combination of both beliefs).

Another popular form of purification is the sprinkling of salt or salt water.  We discuss salt/blessed water extensively under Purification and/or Consecration of the Tools, so I won’t go into it too much here.  Know, though, that sometimes this act of purification is incorporated into Casting the Circle (as we discuss in that article).  It will be the first (or second) pass around the circle so that it is purified as it is created.  Others will perform this sprinkling before the circle is cast instead.

Other forms of purification could be using a purifying incense (though incense is most often used for consecration, as many of these acts can be as well, which we cover inPurification of the Participants and Consecration of the Participants), smudging the space, parading the elements around the space to harness their purifying properties to align their space with them and the energies of ritual as well, etc.  When deciding which method to use, consider how proficient you are with channeling and projecting energy (if you answer is “not very”, you should probably choose something like sprinkling, incense, or parading the elements since those all have properties of purification on their own and are only enhanced by energetic control), how much clean-up you want if you’re indoors (salt will have to be swept and salt water may damage furniture or floors), and all other variables.

As we discussed above, some practitioners do not perform purification of the space.  When thinking about removing this step, consider if you need a psychological aid to trigger the ritual mindset as well as if you will need assistance focusing.  If there is extraneous energy floating around in your space, will you be able to focus on the task at hand?  Do you believe the circle will push all that aside or otherwise make it irrelevant?  What are your views of the divinity of all things?  Do you believe the Gods must be welcomed into a space that is pure?  Does the space in which you will perform ritual feel comfortable?

 

How to become proficient

There are a variety of terms used when referring to the putting of energy into a tool.  These include (but are not limited to) charging, consecrating, and blessing.  Deborah Lipp states that blessing and consecration are comparable in Elements of Ritual; “To bless is to make holy by religious rite, sanctify, and to invoke divine favor upon.”  Therefore, the divine is needed for both blessing and consecration; our word and action alone are not sufficient.  Charging is slightly different; Deborah Lipp goes further to explain that charging is “to impose a duty, responsibility, or obligation on…to energize”  So, through charging, we may bring energy (divine or personal) into an object, but it is specifically to give that object a purpose (which might also be called dedication).  We might charge a talisman, for example, to draw healing energy to us, or we might charge a knife with the purpose of acting as our athame, however we define its duties.  Through this dedicatory act, we not only tie the tool to us and to its new use, we set it in motion on its path, much like a Self-Dedication ceremony sets the practitioner on their new path.

As you may know, purification and consecration go hand-in-hand because purification is the removal of unwanted or unneeded energies while consecration is bringing desired energies into an object. They go hand-in-hand because nature abhors a vacuum; when we remove energy from an object, we must then put energy into it. So, naturally, if you perform a purification of a tool, you must perform a consecration, though you may perform a consecration of it without the purification. As we just discussed, the definition of consecration implies a blessing by a deity which sets the object apart. Only some practitioners subscribe to this definition, and that belief is discussed a bit more under “How we do it” for this step. Purification and consecration are lumped together for this step because they are often performed together. Usually the practitioner will purify a tool (or all their tools) and then consecrate them. Sometimes, though, they are separated for a variety or reasons (again, see the “When we do it” step for more information).

Not all practitioners perform this step in every (or any) ritual. It is similar in this way topurifying the elements. It is often believed that once it is done, it is not undone unless an exterior force is at play (someone touching it, mundane energy attaching to it if you leave it out, etc.). It is a matter of personal preference.

Many believe divine blessing (if the Divine is involved in the consecration of the tools) should be renewed in every ritual because some of the energy has dispersed during and since the last time the tool was used, the tool might have been affected by its environment as discussed above, or because that energy should be renewed as worship is renewed at each ritual. Again, this is largely a matter of definition, personal preference, feelings, and beliefs about this step.

Consecration can be akin to charging an object. We are essentially bringing the energy we want into it and saturating it so that we can later use the energy that has been stored within it. Our tools are no exception. We use them in ritual to purify, draw elemental energy to the circle, cast the circle, manipulate energy, and so on. For them to be effective in these tasks, they must contain energy within them. And, many believe, they do not possess that energy naturally; so it must be put in at some point in the ritual process.

When we purify a tool, we are essentially opening the energy channels by removing whatever might have been clogging them.  By then putting new energy into that tool, we are ensuring that the new energy is able to flow more easily and appropriately.  Therefore, some believe that using tools that haven’t been purified and consecrated might impede their work.  Others simply view it as disrespectful to bring anything that isn’t purified or consecrated into their circle, especially if it is being placed on the altar and/or being used for the manipulation of energy.

Some practitioners believe that once a tool is purified and consecrated (and thereby dedicated to its new purpose as a ritual tool), it should never be used in a mundane fashion.  Some take this so seriously that if a tool is used in a mundane fashion, they will have to do a lengthy purification and consecration ceremony or destroy the tool altogether.  Others, particularly those that see the magical in the mundane, will use their tools however they need them or will purposefully pick mundane tools to also use as ritual tools as a reminder that magic isn’t only found within a circle.

Some prefer to do a more permanent consecration that they may also refer to as a dedication which permanently seals energy into the tool, in their mind, and assigns it its new role; this is mainly for more permanent tools, like athames, wands, pentacles, etc. than consumables like candles, incense, etc. There are cases when consumables are dedicated as well, although they must be replaced when necessary (e.g. a specific candle dedicated to the God and/or Goddess).

For more info on why we purify and consecrate objects and how we do it, see our article onPurification and/or Consecration of the Elements.

When we do it: 

Usually, the purification and/or consecration of tools takes place either before the main part of the ritual begins or, in the case of a new tool, during the “Magical Work” step (this article is coming soon).  This will vary greatly depending on how the tools are purified and consecrated, if it’s done before every ritual, and the layout of the ritual itself.  They may also be done separately because of those variables.

How we do it:

A common method is to sprinkle the tool with blessed/salt water before censing it.  This is because the blessed/salt water is viewed as the purifying agent due to water and salt’s cleansing and eroding properties and due to the fact that incense is often viewed as a consecration agent because it brings sweetness and heat with it.  This is a purification and consecration process that is elementally balanced because all four are present equally (earth and water in the salt water and fire and air in the incense).

There many other ways and methods to perform purification of tools, such as elemental purification/consecration (passing the object through/near every element – always be careful not to destroy your tool or cause other problems, especially when using fire – read the “Warning” section towards the end of this essay for more information), using solar/lunar light, smudging it, using an herbal bath, using your own breath to channel cleansing energy into the tool, placing it in running water, burying it in soil or salt, and so forth.  Some of those (particularly using solar/lunar light, smudge, herbal baths, the elements, and/or your own breath) can be used to consecrate a tool as well; some other methods of consecration involve calling upon Deity to bless the tool alone or channeling divine energy into it yourself, allowing the four elements present in your body (your blood/saliva, breath, skin, and heat) to come in contact with the tool, channeling your own personal energy into the tool, passing the tool through your God and/or Goddess candles, etc.  Many of these methods work because magic is believed to be contagious.  So, if you have something that is consecrated already, allowing it to come in contact with something that is not consecrated passes on that consecration.

Some choose to touch the tool slightly after purifying and consecrating it or perform some other small act to reaffirm their connection to the tool. Others prefer to carry it with them for some time, in order for the tool to synchronize with their energies. It is also not unheard of, to store it away (e.g. in a box) with talismans or other magical objects to further build its energies.

When first consecrating and/or dedicating a tool, it is important to get to know its energy and listen to it so that you are sure that it is the tool for you.  If you feel any discomfort from or with it or if it doesn’t seem to be responding, always heed that feeling and do not force a connection when none is present.

When dealing with consumables or new spell items, it is usually considered very important to purify them, since we cannot be completely certain of the energies they might have picked up – moreso if the item was bought and not crafted personally or by a trusted person. Thus, in order to avoid bringing negative/tainted energy in, consumables are usually purified.  Also because you will only be working with them for a short time, they might not have time to grow accustomed to your energy like an athame (for example) would.  If they are not in tune with your energy, how can they work with and be receptive to that energy?

Some practitioners will only purify and consecrate their “main” tools (the athame, wand, pentacle, chalice/cauldron, and any other tools their tradition dictates).  Others will only re-purify and re-consecrate these “main” tools because they are the ones that most come into contact with their energy and are used the most as opposed to an altar cloth or offering bowl, perhaps.  The choice, as always, is up to you and what feels right.

The main question this article (and any source on purification and consecration) brings up in many newer practitioners is the need for these two steps to go hand-in-hand.  If purification cannot be done without consecration, does that mean if I re-purify a tool, I must re-consecrate it?  The answer is up to you.  It depends on your method of purification and if you were clear in your act of purification to only remove unwanted or unneeded energies and keep the energies you’ve built up in it or not.  To state that purification must be followed by consecration is a bit of an over-statement, I must admit, but it is one that is often necessary to demonstrate their interconnectedness and the problem with only purifying an object.

There are multiple dangers and potential hazards when purifying and consecrating your tools. You must be aware of your tools various weaknesses: for instance, consecrating most gemstones with sunlight will cause them to dim or lose their color altogether; some metals, paper and other materials can be harmed by salt; many tools could be destroyed if buried; others can catch fire even by close proximity to a flame (paper is a great example!).

You should always be VERY careful when handling your tools, candles, etc. That way you won’t only spare yourself a new purchase but also avoid health hazards.

How to become proficient:

As with most things, practice makes perfect! When starting out, try different methods and then settle with the one(s) you feel most comfortable using. As time passes, keep exercising those same methods with as little changes as possible, in order to fully familiarize yourself with them. When you feel you can perform them flawlessly and without hesitation (e.g. forget your words, mix things up, etc), you can rest assured: you are proficient in those methods!

 

Purification and Consecration of the Tools

Purification and Consecration of the Tools

I’ve found the coverage in this particular step of ritual in books to be severely lacking.  Whenever it is mentioned, I’m bombarded with questions about why it is done.

When someone speaks of purifying and/or consecrating the elements, they are, generally, referring to removing external forces from the elemental representations.  By now, you will be familiar with the idea of using representations of the elements on the altar to better attune ourselves and our rituals to their energies, have them present, and aid in the atmosphere of, and thus connection with, the ritual process.  These representations are often incense, feathers, oil diffusers, smudge sticks, etc. for air; a candle, lava rock, ash, etc. for fire; a dish of water, seashell, pearl, etc. for water; and crystals, sand, soil, rocks, flowers, leaves, etc. for earth.  Many of these representations are not directly from nature; man intervened in some way or another (at a water treatment plant, through pollution, making the candle, touching and/or selling the seashell, and so on and so forth).  It is also clear to us, since we know that the elements are the building blocks of the universe and of all creation, that there are no true, pure, forms of them on earth.  They are all intermingled.  Let’s look at sea salt as an example; it is the salt that many practitioners use to represent earth, but is it truly earth?  Does it not still have the energy of water?  And what about the soil some practitioners use as an earth representation?  Didn’t rain nourish the ground?  These are the influences and energies we seek to rid the elemental representations of before they can be proper representations of the elements; thus, including this step in ritual in no way indicates that one views the elements themselves as impure because the act of purification cannot rid an object of its innate properties and strives only to return said object to its original, untainted and unaltered state.  The practitioner only strives to create a representation of the element on their altar that is as pure as the elemental energy itself.

That said, not all practitioners perform this step in every ritual.  It is similar in this way to purifying one’s tools.  It is often believed that once it is done, it is not undone unless an exterior force is at play (someone touching it, mundane energy attaching to it if you leave it out, etc.).  However, others view it as a valuable reminder of the true essence of the pure elemental energy and perform it in every ritual.  It is a matter of personal preference.  Some practitioners do not perform this step at all because they are either not bothered by extraneous human energy on their elemental representations since they are mere representations of the elemental energies and, they believe, can never be as pure and perfect as the elements themselves or because they view consecrating the elemental representations as enough.

But we have only discussed purification.  As you may know, purification and consecration go hand-in-hand because purification is the removal of unwanted or unneeded energies while consecration is bringing desired energies into an object.  They go hand-in-hand because nature abhors a vacuum; when we remove energy from an object, we must then put energy into it.  So, naturally, if you perform a purification of the elements, you must perform a consecration, though you may perform a consecration of them without the purification.  The definition of consecration implies a blessing by a deity which sets the object apart.  Only some practitioners subscribe to this definition, and that belief is discussed a bit more under “How we do it” for this step.  Purification and consecration are lumped together for this step because they are often performed together.  Usually the practitioner will purify and consecrate air then fire and so on.  Sometimes, though, they are separated for a variety or reasons (again, see the “How we do it” step for more information).

The idea of ritual purity can be carried into this step of ritual, particularly if it is done before Deity is welcomed into the circle.  The elements are a major part of ritual, bringing balance into the circle as well as their respective energies which aid us in our work, add purpose, and can change us if we allow them to through the ritual process.  And they are good, but, some believe, they are not good enough to be in the presence of the Gods in the form of their representations on our altar without first being purified and/or consecrated.

Consecration is akin to charging an object.  We are essentially bringing the energy we want into it and saturating it so that we can later use the energy that has been stored within it.  The elements are no exception.  We use them in ritual to purify, draw elemental energy to the circle, perhaps to cast the circle, and so on.  For them to be effective in these tasks, they must contain energy within them.  And, many believe, they do not possess that energy naturally; so it must be put in at some point in the ritual process.

Sometimes consecration of the elements, like purification, isn’t performed at every ritual.  It was discussed why this is the case for some practitioners, but consecration is a bit different.  Many believe that divine blessing (if the Divine is being used for consecration of the elemental representations) should be renewed in every ritual because some of the energy has dispersed during and since the last time the representation was used and for a variety of other reasons.  Again, this is largely a matter of definition, personal preference, feelings, and beliefs about this step.  The last point I’d like to make about this view of purifying and/or consecrating the elements is that some practitioners and traditions do not purify and/or consecrate all the elements.  Sometimes certain elements are seen as more pure than others, thus explaining this choice.  In Wicca and DRW, though, where balance is emphasized in ritual as is repetition, this choice seems odd to many practitioners because we call four quarters and use four elements that are supposed to create balance together.  However, the view that one or more elements are more pure or superior bore mentioning as it is not uncommon.

As Deborah Lipp explains the purification and consecration of the elemental representations in Elements of Ritual in reference to the circle being a microcosm:

…the entire circle tells a story…These are the building blocks of the universe.  This is Air and Water and Fire and Earth.  From these, all creation proceeds, and without these, creation cannot be.  We say more than that, however, we do not merely bring the elements into the circle, we bless them, we consecrate them to a particular purpose, we make them perfect.  By doing this, we are starting from a pristine place; creation truly begins at the beginning.  Consecration is also that which makes a thing sacred and suitable for sacred work; the creation of the universe is truly sacred work.  We have removed from the elements anything acquired by them since creation, so that they are original; they are as they were at the moment of creation.

When we do it:

The “when” of this step varies from practitioner to practitioner and is largely dependent on how one views this step, the order of the other steps, and personal preference.  For example, if you are using the elemental representations on your altar to purify or consecrate your tools, space, or yourself, this particular step will have to go before any or all of those.

Many believe the elemental representations must be purified and/or consecrated before the elements may be called into the circle, believing the purified and/or consecrated energies of the representations will act like a magnet to the similar energies of the element associated with the representation.  If you believe this to be true, they must be purified or consecrated before the quarter is called.  Others believe that the elemental representation must be purified, but calling the quarter and having the elemental energy present in the space from that act will aid in consecration of the representation.  Still others will not do any act involving the manipulation of energy without a circle firmly in place and must place this step accordingly.  Yet another group who defines consecration as setting something apart through a blessing by or with the aid of a deity will only be able to consecrate the elemental representations after deity is invoked or evoked (unless they believe the immanent deity in themselves is enough to perform this act).  Of course there is always the option to purify and/or consecrate the elemental representations in another ritual entirely set aside for this purpose (and perhaps the purification and/or consecration of other tools) and skip it in any following rituals until the effects are seen/felt to wear off.  Many others think that the representations must be consecrated before the circle can be cast since they are used in the casting (if one is to cast the circle with the representations by going around with incense once for fire and air, salt water once for earth and water, and once with an athame).

How we do it:

One of the first decisions that should be made when determining how to perform this step of ritual is whether or not you are going to perform both parts.  Are you going to purify and consecrate the elemental representations or just consecrate them?  If you’re going to perform both parts, are you going to do it in one pass or are you going to purify each and then consecrate them?  Are you going to purify and/or consecrate them all as one or separately?  This is largely a matter of personal preference and if you are stressing them as building blocks or as one combined force that manifests in Spirit.

After you’ve decided how you’d like to do that (one-by-one, as a unit, etc.), you might need to determine the order in which you will interact with each element.  Most traditions start casting a circle in the east because of its ties with new beginnings (i.e. sunrise).  Because of this, if you are interested in continuing the repetition of ritual, you would most likely begin with the element of air (or whatever element you or your tradition associates with east).  Additionally, if you begin casting the circle in a different direction, you would most likely begin with the element associated with that direction.

However, some practitioners choose to alter the order of elements for this step and purify and/or consecrate them based on the order in which they are used in ritual rather than that in which they are called.  It has been discussed in other steps that when purifying something, we sprinkle before we cense (when choosing to work with those tools for the purification); this is because, as Deborah Lipp says in Elements of Ritual, the salt water “cleanses and purifies” while the incense “blesses and sweetens.  Just as you shower or bathe before you put on your deodorant and cologne, you must cleanse magically before you can add the perfume of incense.”  It is the same order of steps of the three-fold cleansing, purification, and consecration.  If you were working under this order, you would purify and/or consecrate water first, then earth, air, and fire.

The next decision when writing this part of ritual is whether or not to use other tools to purify and/or consecrate the elements.  Some people prefer to use the athame or wand for this step (the differences and associations of these tools will be discussed elsewhere on this website in the future) while others prefer to use their hands.  That is a matter of personal preference, but it must be taken into consideration during the writing because it affects the placement of this step.  If you using a tool to purify and/or consecrate the elements, this step must go after you have purified and/or consecrated the tool (if you plan to do that in the ritual) and vice versa.

The same can be said about calling Deity to be a part of the consecration or purification.  If you are asking for their assistance, do you think they need to be present in the circle first, or is your immanent deity sufficient for this?  If you think that Deity must have been called into the circle, naturally the step of purification and/or consecration of the elements will have to come after their in/evocation.

Another decision that must be made when writing this step is whether there will be speaking or not.  Some practitioners, particularly new practitioners, prefer to focus solely on the energetic work of these preliminary steps (i.e. calling the quarters, casting the circle, etc.) and find words distracting.  It does involve multitasking to be able to focus on the energy concerned, what you’re supposed to be saying, and any other additions to this or other steps.  It might also create a logistical problem if you have a script you’re reading from.  Do you have to put it down every time you need to use your hands?  If you’re planning to memorize the words you’ve written, how do you think you’ll react if you should forget to say something?  Will it be distracting to either hold a script or try to remember the words the entire time?  What about lighting?  Will you be able to read your script in low lighting?  Weigh your options and make a decision based on what makes you comfortable.

What else are you going to add to this step?  Remember that whatever you do for one element should be, at the very least, very similar to the other three.  Balance and repetition are key.  Are you going to sing a song for each, dance out the impurities, say a rhyme, chant, use the banishing and/or invoking pentagrams for each element (for more information on the banishing and invoking pentagrams, please see our article on Calling the Quarters), use gestures associated with each element/banishing/purification/consecration, etc.?  As always, the only limit to each step, each ritual, is your own imagination and the time which you devote to writing and performing it.

A final thing to consider when working on this step is what you let touch your altar.  This also applies to all your tools and supplies.  Is your altar cleansed, purified, and consecrated?  If so, do you mind objects that have not been through all three steps (or at least consecration) touch it (i.e. a corkscrew or lighter)?  If you answered “yes”, you might want to set up a little table or section of floor/ground for tools that haven’t yet been through all these steps in the beginning of the ritual.  As you purify and consecrate each object, it can then be moved to the altar.  A note:  make sure there’s room on your altar for these additions beforehand.

Sources:Pgs. 77-92 in Elements of Ritual by Deborah Lipp

How to become proficient:Pgs. 98-99 in Witch Crafting by Phyllis Curott

Examples: “Element of Air/Fire/Water/Earth, I/we cleanse and consecrate thee in the names of the God and Goddess/Divine/Lord and Lady/etc.  I/we bring their blessings upon you now. So mote it be.”

 

Writing a Samhain Ritual Guide

Samhain Ritual Guide

by ~*~ Elder Airwolf LoP Ministry Founder/Owner~*~

on 15 October 2014 at 23:55

Samhain Sabbat Solitary Ritual Guide

 

I wanted to share some of my ritual writing process.

I have a few rules when it comes to writing sabbat rituals. These are my rules and I don’t expect everyone else to follow them. Do I think they are effective? Of course I do, but not everyone’s mind works like mine does.

1. Rituals have to make sense theologically. I need my rituals to tie into the Wheel of the Year and to reflect where we are on our yearly journey. If I’m writing a Yule ritual it needs to be readily identifiable as a Yule ritual even if I never say the word “Yule.” Some sabbats are more challenging in that regard, luckily for me Samhain is easy. It has several characteristics that most of us recognize: the thinning of the veil between the worlds, the late harvest, and the spirits of the dead. A Samhain Ritual would have to be really out of left field for anyone to confuse it with an Imbolc Ritual.

The gods are present in all of my rituals, but different rituals call for different gods. I’m not going to have a young Horned God chase the virgin Maiden at Samhain. In my personal theology I would prefer to work with Ariadne and Dionysus on Samhain, but the group I’m doing this ritual for prohibits the use of specific gods, so I had to go with something else. Eventually I settled upon a Lord and Lady of Death and the Summerlands, and Goddess and God as bringers of the harvest and abundance. Both sets of deity tie back into where we are on the Wheel and how most of us how view Samhain.

I believe that rituals should always be “balanced.” In my personal practice we worship Lord and Lady equally, so I’m always trying to make sure that the words I write reflect that belief. My desire for balance extends to quarter calls as well, no one is allowed to call a dragon in the South while someone else calls a Watchtower in the North. I’m so nit-picky about this process that I often make sure that my quarter calls contain an equal number of lines for each element. I don’t want West/Water to feel slighted and end up with a violent thunderstorm that ruins the ritual.

2. Rituals should involve everyone in the circle The biggest challenge at any large public ritual is figuring out a way to get everyone involved. When people attend a ritual they usually want “something to do.” That something can be as simple as performing the Spiral Dance and raising some energy, or giving everyone a chance to light a candle. What I always do my best to avoid is “talking at” people. Ritual should be interactive, it’s not something to engage in passively, the ritual working should find a way to give everyone a chance to participate.

I tend to find this the most difficult part of writing a ritual. It’s easier at certain sabbats; set up a Maypole in the middle of your circle at Beltane and the issue is taken care of, things are a little tricker on Imbolc and Lughnassa*. Samhain is easier than most because it’s usually pretty easy to come up with something relating to reuniting with ancestors or the souls of lost loved ones.

At my Samhain Ritual we are creating an “Avenue of the Dead” with pictures of departed loved ones and deceased Pagan elders (to me “Pagan Elders” also means Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Kirk Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, MCA, and lots of others). I’ve got thirty minutes lined up for strolling the avenue, leaving offerings to lost dear ones, and receiving the blessing of the Dark Goddess. I don’t want to dictate people’s experiences, my goal is generally to set something up so people can have their own moments.

The veil between the worlds is thin . . . . . . .

In addition to The Avenue, there’s a lot of food involved in the ritual. Before coming to the edge of the Summerlands there’s the “Food of the Dead” to eat, pomegranate seeds in this case. On the way back we are offering warm apple cider and honey cakes. I like adding a bit of the physical to ritual experiences, and involving as many senses as possible. Due to the myth of Demeter and Persephone pomegranate seeds have had a long association with death and inspire people to reflect upon that myth. Warm cider is a comforting presence in the fall and a very grounding association. Even my food choices are dictated by my first rule from up above.

Keep Control of The Ritual. It’s easy to get burned when putting together a ritual, I try to avoid this by creating ritual with a minimum of moving parts. My preference is always to get as many people involved as possible calling quarters, casting the circle, etc etc., but the more people you rely upon the bigger the chance that one or some of them might let you down. One of my local High Priestesses recently put together a lovely Mabon ritual, and that ritual called for a lot of music. On the day of the ritual her three drummers were no shows, her Maiden couldn’t get a ride to the ritual, and she had laryngitis. It wasn’t quite an unmitigated disaster, but it wasn’t the ideal.

Anything I write for large public consumption can be fixed on the fly. If my quarter caller in the North doesn’t show up I can fill in. When it comes to music I prefer to use my boombox instead of live performers (though for Samhain I have several people singing for me, since one of them is my “Second Wife” I feel well covered), or at least have it available as a back-up plan. I will walk into that Samhain Ritual with an extra ten copies of the script too, just in case.


Kate Rusby-Canaan’s Land (I’m using this in my Samhain Ritual.)

If I’m putting together a ritual with a large bunch of people I do like to get their input. My ritual next month calls for two sets of Priests and Priestesses and since that “second set” has a very big role I asked them to write their own calls to the Goddess and God. The things they say have to be true to themselves, and with their voices, so delegating in this case makes perfect sense. However as the director of the rite I did rewrite bits and pieces to reflect a consistent theology. I do like control, but I also don’t believe in writing ritual in a box, things have to be run by other folks.

There is only person I fully trust when doing ritual, and that’s my wife. We’ve shared many of the same experiences over the years, and like any long-standing couple we can often read each other’s thoughts without trying. She knows just when to take over a ritual and just when to take a step back. Having a dedicated working partner for the last fifteen years has made ritual much easier. I know that I’m blessed and that my situation is not one that can be shared by everyone, but if you do have that one person you trust implicitly, be sure to use them in ritual. My wife is not just someone I trust, she’s my sounding board. While I like control of my rituals, getting an outside opinion is always a good idea, it’s sometimes easier for other people to see the parts that might not work. My wife helps with staging and is an amazing script doctor often pointing out inconsistencies with my ideas.

Speaking of the script, I like to control the words in my large rituals as much as possible without becoming a complete control freak. The words of in my rituals are designed to evoke certain emotions and to make certain statements about the gods and the season at hand. A good ritual is a lot like a good term paper. You present a thesis statement at the beginning and use the rest of your paper or ritual to back up that idea. I don’t want to get off on a tangent in the middle of the ritual, everything in the ritual was created to back up the original Statement of Intent. In this case my SoI is:

“We gather here tonight to celebrate the passing of the Old Year and to welcome in the new. We are here to celebrate Samhain, the final harvest, that time when the veil between the world’s is at its thinnest and those that have departed this world may return to it once more. We journey this sacred night to the edge of the Summerlands to honor our ancestors and our dearly departed dead. So mote it be.”

(For those of you asking to see the entire ritual, I plan to post it here later this month, but not for a few more weeks. I think ritual works best with some surprises, and I don’t want everyone going to the ritual to know what’s happening ahead of time.)

Good ritual is often about creating a mood. My mood for Samhain is “creepy.” We are using traditional sounding language all the way through, and keeping the lights dim. I don’t usually use words like “Ye” but slipping them into the ritual signifies that what we are doing is different from the everyday. I want the words we speak to signify a break with the mundane. I don’t want to sugarcoat the Lord and Lady here either. The Goddess appears as the Lady of Death, and my God is the Dread Lord of Shadows. I certainly don’t think ritual should be terrifying, but it’s hard to create an atmosphere that encourages reunion with the Dead if the Goddess is surrounded by fresh flowers and the lights are on. Certain experiences call for low-light and an honest accounting of the gods, even when that accounting is a side of them many of us don’t readily acknowledge.

One of the most difficult parts of the ritual writing process is simply finding the inspiration that allows you to come up with something different. Yes, there are numerous rituals online that you can pilfer and adapt, but the best bits often come from some spark inside of ourselves. My process often involves going through past rituals in my head and reviewing what did and didn’t work. Sometimes I’ll find an idea that I don’t think was fully developed previously and nurture it a bit. I do comb through books on occasion, but mostly to find the thing the author forgot to do. Rituals can be like puzzles sometimes, and when you notice that the corner piece has been left out you’ve often found a good “hook” for ritual.

When I run into a bump in the ritual writing process I find that it’s usually the simplest thing that gets me over the rough patch. A moment of grounding, a piece of ritual I’ve used in the past that I know is effective, and words that are familiar (even when I don’t use Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess I often find myself using phrases and ideas found within it) tend to get me back on track. When in doubt I try to make sure whatever I’m doing in ritual lines up with my original Statement of Intent and follows my big three rules outlined above. Writing Ritual is a process, and when it does all come together that process is truly magickal. I’ve always found these the two hardest sabbat rituals to write. The other six are a piece of cake, but I don’t do well with this pair.



Supplies
Black altar cloth
Scrying mirror or bowl of water
Four white pillar candles for the four quarters
One gold taper candle for the God
One silver taper candle for the Goddess
One black candle
Natural bowl (shell, horn, seed pod, etc)
Slice of bread
Apple cider
Any ritual tools you normally use
Most would usually wear black during this rite



Cleanse the space and cast the circle. 

Lighting their candles, call the elements: 

"I call upon the spirits of the North, that they join my Circle and bring word of the dead, and take my words to them! Welcome, spirits of Air! 

I call upon the spirits of the East, that they join my Circle and bring the comfort of the Earth, the flesh of the Mother, to which we all return. Welcome spirits of Earth! 

I call upon the spirits of the South, that they join my Circle, bringing purification, that my soul learns from the trials and joys of life. Welcome, spirits of Fire! 

I call upon the spirits of the West, that they join my Circle and bring peace, that I may take comfort in the Cycle. Welcome, spirits of Water!" 

Call down God and Goddess. 

Light the Goddess candle, saying: 

"Lady, may your love shine upon us in bounty and in loss." 

Light the God candle, saying: 

"Lord, though extinguished for a time, your light will return to us!" 

Extinguish the God candle, saying: 

"I mourn and celebrate the death of the God. For the Light is now short, yet our harvest is great, and the light will rekindle again, the Cycle begin anew in Nature. I take comfort also in knowing that no soul is lost or forsaken on the Wheel. Blessed be your rest, Lord." 

Sit in the circle with the bowl (or mirror) before you, the candle behind it, unlit. Have the slice of bread beside you to the left, and the drink to the right. 

Pick up the bread and tear off a small piece, dipping it into the drink. Say something like: 

"I offer this sustenance to those who have passed before me, this bread of the earth and air, and this drink of the water and fire. With the union of the two, they become whole and I offer it to my ancestors, to the Gods and Goddesses who would have it." 

Place the bread in the natural bowl, taking a moment to contemplate who has passed on that would come to take some of the food you have offered. Once done, pick up the black candle and light it, saying something like: 

"I light this candle as a lantern to guide those who have passed before me. I welcome them to this rite so long as they offer good will to it. Negativity will be turned away, positive energies will be welcomed. With this candle, I illuminate the circle as a beacon to those who have passed that I love and cherish." 

Set the candle down behind the bowl of water (or mirror). Stare into the water, preferably at an angle so you can see the flame of the candle dancing on the surface of the water. Let your mind go and concentrate on meeting up and connecting with those that have died before you that you wish to contact. Be they pets, persons, or Deities, concentrate on connecting to those that have gone on, and ask them for guidance, or ask them whatever you like. 

Take as long as you like on this part of the ritual, for it should not be rushed. 

When done, lift up the bread and take one more piece, dipping it into the drink. Say something like: 

"I offer more of the food that sustains me, soaking up some drink to quench the thirst of the thirsty. Thank you for coming to me, sharing in your wisdom, guidance, and company." 

Set this piece in the natural bowl with the other one. Share in with the meal by eating the bread and drinking the cider that you have beside you. 

When this is done, dismiss the deities and all others you have called and close the circle. Ground and center.

Samhain Incense #1

1 part Powdered Allspice
1 part Ground Black Pepper
2 parts Clove Powder
1 part Myrrh
12 parts lightly crushed Rose Petals

Samhain Incense #3

1 part Rowan Berries
1 part Blackthorn Wood
1/2 part Galangal Root
1/2 part Chervil
1/2 part Vervain
1/2 part Parsley

Samhain Incense #2

1 part Crushed Holly Leaf
1 part Crushed Oak Leaf
1 part Dragon's Blood Resin
1 part Cedar Berries
1 part crushed Rose Petals
2 parts crushed Mugwort Leaves
2 parts Frankincense Tears
4 parts Myrrh Resin
4 parts crushed Rosemary Leaves
4 parts Chrysanthemum Flower Petals
4 parts crushed Pine Needles

Samhain Oil

2 parts Pine Oil
1 part Frankincense Oil
1 part Patchouli oil
1 part Lavendar oil

Almost everyone knows that the colors black and orange are associated with Halloween, but these are also the colors of the celebration of Samhain.  Black is sometimes though to be a leftover from the misconceptions of witchcraft.  It is often regarded as an evil or scary color.  It is even used by some Pagans to describe magic done for harm—black magic.  Unfortunately, this is still widespread.  I say unfortunately because this system of colored magic has racial undertones and is misleading.  All magic may do some sort of harm, so no magic can ever be wholly “good’ or wholly “bad” (which again leads us to the idea that witches do not typically believe in absolutes like these).  Black has also been associated with witchcraft since the witch myth began.  Witches were depicted as wearing black attire, donning black pointed hats, cackling over bubbling black cauldrons, flying into a black night, having black stringy hair, etc.  It is no wonder it has been so strongly tied to witchcraft.  Black, however, also symbolizes death (which, if you haven’t realized it yet, tends to be a big theme around Samhain).  It also tends to absorb all energy and neutralize it (much like the color itself which is really a combination of every color).  Also, as we discussed in our Mabon article, Pagans don’t fear darkness but embrace it, work with it, and accept it for its important place in life.  We cannot have light without the dark, and we cannot live without either.

Orange’s prominence at Samhain reminds us of its roots as a harvest festival.  The color harkens back to the changing leaves and the gourds that symbolize the harvest (among other things).  It also reminds us of the fires of this Sabbat that urge the Sun to return while also celebrating its death.  Magically, orange is usually associated with courage, health, luck, concentration, psychism, and problem-solving.  “Together, black and orange create a powerful symbol that is rich in legend and lore, magic and mystery,” or so says Gerina Dunwich in A Witch’s Halloween.

Other Correspondences

Foods:  apples, squash, pork, gourds, corn, grain, pomegranates, meat, nuts, potatoes

Herbs:  sage, mugwort, allspice, catnip, valerian, frankincense, basil, yarrow, ylang-ylang, camphor, clove, copal, sandalwood, benzoin, wormwood, sweetgrass, myrrh, patchouli, bay, cinnamon, ginger, hemlock, mandrake, marigold, mums, mullein, nettle, rosemary, rue, sunflower, tarragon, ginseng

Animals:  bats, cats, owls, spiders, crows, stag, jackal, ram, raven, vulture

Other Symbols:  the moon, faeries, cauldron, besom, jack-o-lantern, skeletons, ghosts, leaves, nuts, sun wheels, vines, scare crows, corn dolls, pine cones, spirals, vines, tools of divination, scythe, sickle

Colors:  black, orange, red

Stones:  obsidian, onyx, carnelian, jasper, smoky quartz, jet, bloodstone, petrified wood, beryl, cat’s eye, coal, fossil

Element:  Water

Time of Day:  Midnight

~Elder Airwolf~

Samhain Ritual Guide

Samhain Sabbat Solitary Ritual Guide

 

I wanted to share some of my ritual writing process.

I have a few rules when it comes to writing sabbat rituals. These are my rules and I don’t expect everyone else to follow them. Do I think they are effective? Of course I do, but not everyone’s mind works like mine does.

1. Rituals have to make sense theologically. I need my rituals to tie into the Wheel of the Year and to reflect where we are on our yearly journey. If I’m writing a Yule ritual it needs to be readily identifiable as a Yule ritual even if I never say the word “Yule.” Some sabbats are more challenging in that regard, luckily for me Samhain is easy. It has several characteristics that most of us recognize: the thinning of the veil between the worlds, the late harvest, and the spirits of the dead. A Samhain Ritual would have to be really out of left field for anyone to confuse it with an Imbolc Ritual.

The gods are present in all of my rituals, but different rituals call for different gods. I’m not going to have a young Horned God chase the virgin Maiden at Samhain. In my personal theology I would prefer to work with Ariadne and Dionysus on Samhain, but the group I’m doing this ritual for prohibits the use of specific gods, so I had to go with something else. Eventually I settled upon a Lord and Lady of Death and the Summerlands, and Goddess and God as bringers of the harvest and abundance. Both sets of deity tie back into where we are on the Wheel and how most of us how view Samhain.

I believe that rituals should always be “balanced.” In my personal practice we worship Lord and Lady equally, so I’m always trying to make sure that the words I write reflect that belief. My desire for balance extends to quarter calls as well, no one is allowed to call a dragon in the South while someone else calls a Watchtower in the North. I’m so nit-picky about this process that I often make sure that my quarter calls contain an equal number of lines for each element. I don’t want West/Water to feel slighted and end up with a violent thunderstorm that ruins the ritual.

2. Rituals should involve everyone in the circle The biggest challenge at any large public ritual is figuring out a way to get everyone involved. When people attend a ritual they usually want “something to do.” That something can be as simple as performing the Spiral Dance and raising some energy, or giving everyone a chance to light a candle. What I always do my best to avoid is “talking at” people. Ritual should be interactive, it’s not something to engage in passively, the ritual working should find a way to give everyone a chance to participate.

I tend to find this the most difficult part of writing a ritual. It’s easier at certain sabbats; set up a Maypole in the middle of your circle at Beltane and the issue is taken care of, things are a little tricker on Imbolc and Lughnassa*. Samhain is easier than most because it’s usually pretty easy to come up with something relating to reuniting with ancestors or the souls of lost loved ones.

At my Samhain Ritual we are creating an “Avenue of the Dead” with pictures of departed loved ones and deceased Pagan elders (to me “Pagan Elders” also means Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Kirk Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, MCA, and lots of others). I’ve got thirty minutes lined up for strolling the avenue, leaving offerings to lost dear ones, and receiving the blessing of the Dark Goddess. I don’t want to dictate people’s experiences, my goal is generally to set something up so people can have their own moments.

The veil between the worlds is thin . . . . . . .

In addition to The Avenue, there’s a lot of food involved in the ritual. Before coming to the edge of the Summerlands there’s the “Food of the Dead” to eat, pomegranate seeds in this case. On the way back we are offering warm apple cider and honey cakes. I like adding a bit of the physical to ritual experiences, and involving as many senses as possible. Due to the myth of Demeter and Persephone pomegranate seeds have had a long association with death and inspire people to reflect upon that myth. Warm cider is a comforting presence in the fall and a very grounding association. Even my food choices are dictated by my first rule from up above.

Keep Control of The Ritual. It’s easy to get burned when putting together a ritual, I try to avoid this by creating ritual with a minimum of moving parts. My preference is always to get as many people involved as possible calling quarters, casting the circle, etc etc., but the more people you rely upon the bigger the chance that one or some of them might let you down. One of my local High Priestesses recently put together a lovely Mabon ritual, and that ritual called for a lot of music. On the day of the ritual her three drummers were no shows, her Maiden couldn’t get a ride to the ritual, and she had laryngitis. It wasn’t quite an unmitigated disaster, but it wasn’t the ideal.

Anything I write for large public consumption can be fixed on the fly. If my quarter caller in the North doesn’t show up I can fill in. When it comes to music I prefer to use my boombox instead of live performers (though for Samhain I have several people singing for me, since one of them is my “Second Wife” I feel well covered), or at least have it available as a back-up plan. I will walk into that Samhain Ritual with an extra ten copies of the script too, just in case.


Kate Rusby-Canaan’s Land (I’m using this in my Samhain Ritual.)

If I’m putting together a ritual with a large bunch of people I do like to get their input. My ritual next month calls for two sets of Priests and Priestesses and since that “second set” has a very big role I asked them to write their own calls to the Goddess and God. The things they say have to be true to themselves, and with their voices, so delegating in this case makes perfect sense. However as the director of the rite I did rewrite bits and pieces to reflect a consistent theology. I do like control, but I also don’t believe in writing ritual in a box, things have to be run by other folks.

There is only person I fully trust when doing ritual, and that’s my wife. We’ve shared many of the same experiences over the years, and like any long-standing couple we can often read each other’s thoughts without trying. She knows just when to take over a ritual and just when to take a step back. Having a dedicated working partner for the last fifteen years has made ritual much easier. I know that I’m blessed and that my situation is not one that can be shared by everyone, but if you do have that one person you trust implicitly, be sure to use them in ritual. My wife is not just someone I trust, she’s my sounding board. While I like control of my rituals, getting an outside opinion is always a good idea, it’s sometimes easier for other people to see the parts that might not work. My wife helps with staging and is an amazing script doctor often pointing out inconsistencies with my ideas.

Speaking of the script, I like to control the words in my large rituals as much as possible without becoming a complete control freak. The words of in my rituals are designed to evoke certain emotions and to make certain statements about the gods and the season at hand. A good ritual is a lot like a good term paper. You present a thesis statement at the beginning and use the rest of your paper or ritual to back up that idea. I don’t want to get off on a tangent in the middle of the ritual, everything in the ritual was created to back up the original Statement of Intent. In this case my SoI is:

“We gather here tonight to celebrate the passing of the Old Year and to welcome in the new. We are here to celebrate Samhain, the final harvest, that time when the veil between the world’s is at its thinnest and those that have departed this world may return to it once more. We journey this sacred night to the edge of the Summerlands to honor our ancestors and our dearly departed dead. So mote it be.”

(For those of you asking to see the entire ritual, I plan to post it here later this month, but not for a few more weeks. I think ritual works best with some surprises, and I don’t want everyone going to the ritual to know what’s happening ahead of time.)

Good ritual is often about creating a mood. My mood for Samhain is “creepy.” We are using traditional sounding language all the way through, and keeping the lights dim. I don’t usually use words like “Ye” but slipping them into the ritual signifies that what we are doing is different from the everyday. I want the words we speak to signify a break with the mundane. I don’t want to sugarcoat the Lord and Lady here either. The Goddess appears as the Lady of Death, and my God is the Dread Lord of Shadows. I certainly don’t think ritual should be terrifying, but it’s hard to create an atmosphere that encourages reunion with the Dead if the Goddess is surrounded by fresh flowers and the lights are on. Certain experiences call for low-light and an honest accounting of the gods, even when that accounting is a side of them many of us don’t readily acknowledge.

One of the most difficult parts of the ritual writing process is simply finding the inspiration that allows you to come up with something different. Yes, there are numerous rituals online that you can pilfer and adapt, but the best bits often come from some spark inside of ourselves. My process often involves going through past rituals in my head and reviewing what did and didn’t work. Sometimes I’ll find an idea that I don’t think was fully developed previously and nurture it a bit. I do comb through books on occasion, but mostly to find the thing the author forgot to do. Rituals can be like puzzles sometimes, and when you notice that the corner piece has been left out you’ve often found a good “hook” for ritual.

When I run into a bump in the ritual writing process I find that it’s usually the simplest thing that gets me over the rough patch. A moment of grounding, a piece of ritual I’ve used in the past that I know is effective, and words that are familiar (even when I don’t use Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess I often find myself using phrases and ideas found within it) tend to get me back on track. When in doubt I try to make sure whatever I’m doing in ritual lines up with my original Statement of Intent and follows my big three rules outlined above. Writing Ritual is a process, and when it does all come together that process is truly magickal. I’ve always found these the two hardest sabbat rituals to write. The other six are a piece of cake, but I don’t do well with this pair.



Supplies
Black altar cloth
Scrying mirror or bowl of water
Four white pillar candles for the four quarters
One gold taper candle for the God
One silver taper candle for the Goddess
One black candle
Natural bowl (shell, horn, seed pod, etc)
Slice of bread
Apple cider
Any ritual tools you normally use
Most would usually wear black during this rite



Cleanse the space and cast the circle. 

Lighting their candles, call the elements: 

"I call upon the spirits of the North, that they join my Circle and bring word of the dead, and take my words to them! Welcome, spirits of Air! 

I call upon the spirits of the East, that they join my Circle and bring the comfort of the Earth, the flesh of the Mother, to which we all return. Welcome spirits of Earth! 

I call upon the spirits of the South, that they join my Circle, bringing purification, that my soul learns from the trials and joys of life. Welcome, spirits of Fire! 

I call upon the spirits of the West, that they join my Circle and bring peace, that I may take comfort in the Cycle. Welcome, spirits of Water!" 

Call down God and Goddess. 

Light the Goddess candle, saying: 

"Lady, may your love shine upon us in bounty and in loss." 

Light the God candle, saying: 

"Lord, though extinguished for a time, your light will return to us!" 

Extinguish the God candle, saying: 

"I mourn and celebrate the death of the God. For the Light is now short, yet our harvest is great, and the light will rekindle again, the Cycle begin anew in Nature. I take comfort also in knowing that no soul is lost or forsaken on the Wheel. Blessed be your rest, Lord." 

Sit in the circle with the bowl (or mirror) before you, the candle behind it, unlit. Have the slice of bread beside you to the left, and the drink to the right. 

Pick up the bread and tear off a small piece, dipping it into the drink. Say something like: 

"I offer this sustenance to those who have passed before me, this bread of the earth and air, and this drink of the water and fire. With the union of the two, they become whole and I offer it to my ancestors, to the Gods and Goddesses who would have it." 

Place the bread in the natural bowl, taking a moment to contemplate who has passed on that would come to take some of the food you have offered. Once done, pick up the black candle and light it, saying something like: 

"I light this candle as a lantern to guide those who have passed before me. I welcome them to this rite so long as they offer good will to it. Negativity will be turned away, positive energies will be welcomed. With this candle, I illuminate the circle as a beacon to those who have passed that I love and cherish." 

Set the candle down behind the bowl of water (or mirror). Stare into the water, preferably at an angle so you can see the flame of the candle dancing on the surface of the water. Let your mind go and concentrate on meeting up and connecting with those that have died before you that you wish to contact. Be they pets, persons, or Deities, concentrate on connecting to those that have gone on, and ask them for guidance, or ask them whatever you like. 

Take as long as you like on this part of the ritual, for it should not be rushed. 

When done, lift up the bread and take one more piece, dipping it into the drink. Say something like: 

"I offer more of the food that sustains me, soaking up some drink to quench the thirst of the thirsty. Thank you for coming to me, sharing in your wisdom, guidance, and company." 

Set this piece in the natural bowl with the other one. Share in with the meal by eating the bread and drinking the cider that you have beside you. 

When this is done, dismiss the deities and all others you have called and close the circle. Ground and center.

Samhain Incense #1

1 part Powdered Allspice
1 part Ground Black Pepper
2 parts Clove Powder
1 part Myrrh
12 parts lightly crushed Rose Petals

Samhain Incense #3

1 part Rowan Berries
1 part Blackthorn Wood
1/2 part Galangal Root
1/2 part Chervil
1/2 part Vervain
1/2 part Parsley

Samhain Incense #2

1 part Crushed Holly Leaf
1 part Crushed Oak Leaf
1 part Dragon's Blood Resin
1 part Cedar Berries
1 part crushed Rose Petals
2 parts crushed Mugwort Leaves
2 parts Frankincense Tears
4 parts Myrrh Resin
4 parts crushed Rosemary Leaves
4 parts Chrysanthemum Flower Petals
4 parts crushed Pine Needles

Samhain Oil

2 parts Pine Oil
1 part Frankincense Oil
1 part Patchouli oil
1 part Lavendar oil

Almost everyone knows that the colors black and orange are associated with Halloween, but these are also the colors of the celebration of Samhain.  Black is sometimes though to be a leftover from the misconceptions of witchcraft.  It is often regarded as an evil or scary color.  It is even used by some Pagans to describe magic done for harm—black magic.  Unfortunately, this is still widespread.  I say unfortunately because this system of colored magic has racial undertones and is misleading.  All magic may do some sort of harm, so no magic can ever be wholly “good’ or wholly “bad” (which again leads us to the idea that witches do not typically believe in absolutes like these).  Black has also been associated with witchcraft since the witch myth began.  Witches were depicted as wearing black attire, donning black pointed hats, cackling over bubbling black cauldrons, flying into a black night, having black stringy hair, etc.  It is no wonder it has been so strongly tied to witchcraft.  Black, however, also symbolizes death (which, if you haven’t realized it yet, tends to be a big theme around Samhain).  It also tends to absorb all energy and neutralize it (much like the color itself which is really a combination of every color).  Also, as we discussed in our Mabon article, Pagans don’t fear darkness but embrace it, work with it, and accept it for its important place in life.  We cannot have light without the dark, and we cannot live without either.

Orange’s prominence at Samhain reminds us of its roots as a harvest festival.  The color harkens back to the changing leaves and the gourds that symbolize the harvest (among other things).  It also reminds us of the fires of this Sabbat that urge the Sun to return while also celebrating its death.  Magically, orange is usually associated with courage, health, luck, concentration, psychism, and problem-solving.  “Together, black and orange create a powerful symbol that is rich in legend and lore, magic and mystery,” or so says Gerina Dunwich in A Witch’s Halloween.

Other Correspondences

Foods:  apples, squash, pork, gourds, corn, grain, pomegranates, meat, nuts, potatoes

Herbs:  sage, mugwort, allspice, catnip, valerian, frankincense, basil, yarrow, ylang-ylang, camphor, clove, copal, sandalwood, benzoin, wormwood, sweetgrass, myrrh, patchouli, bay, cinnamon, ginger, hemlock, mandrake, marigold, mums, mullein, nettle, rosemary, rue, sunflower, tarragon, ginseng

Animals:  bats, cats, owls, spiders, crows, stag, jackal, ram, raven, vulture

Other Symbols:  the moon, faeries, cauldron, besom, jack-o-lantern, skeletons, ghosts, leaves, nuts, sun wheels, vines, scare crows, corn dolls, pine cones, spirals, vines, tools of divination, scythe, sickle

Colors:  black, orange, red

Stones:  obsidian, onyx, carnelian, jasper, smoky quartz, jet, bloodstone, petrified wood, beryl, cat’s eye, coal, fossil

Element:  Water

Time of Day:  Midnight

~Elder Airwolf~

A Familiar Story at Samhain

Blyssful Tiu's Day Pagans!

Well the crazies are coming out of the woodwork as you can see in the groups and in the outside cyber space world, maybe even your own life situations. There will be proclaimed saviors and nut cases trying to turn us pagans and say all kinds of weird stuff playing on what fears you have left from the world before you made a pagan choice. Remember this is their job and happens every year, so hold on to your besoms...it get better before it settles.
This time of year I have very prophetic dreams and many times astral travel in them. Molly is already spooked by the Banshee and last night I was in an astral travel dream state and must have gone too deep. Molly see's and often being my familiar is attached to my astral travels even if she didn't want to go. Anyway this realm I entered was scary for her cause I was searching on the other side the Banshee that has her all upset. She lay at my feet watching me closely and was trying real hard to pull me back. Sometimes she will lick me or smack me with her paw but this time I sensed she was afraid and kept hearing her moan and whine. According to Graywolf she kept it up for 20 mins until I came out of the trance astral travel. She looked at me to see if I brought anything back with me, sensed I did not because she stopped me before contact, but was real happy I returned to her safely.
Anyway the point of this, as I will be posting as a topic later, is how important our familiar is to us in the craft and aid us in many ways guiding us in-between realms in the wake or dream time especially right now when the veil is thinning. 
Molly is either in my head or I her's. We developed sharing this sixth sense together out of the need for Graywolf and his lack of communication skills with the animal kingdom. This really frustrates Molly and she will often be frustrated with him to the point of snapping her chops....she is a big dog and half Canadian White Wolf. I know she will not hurt him but she has given him a pinch with her teeth on his back or tummy as a warning....LOL. And yes Whitney she does watch me as I travel and dark casting rituals....she is my anchor to this realm if I go to far away she reminds me I am needed by her here in this realm.
Make sure you show your appreciation to them big time!

Copyright ©10142014

~Elder Airwolf~
 

Samhain Dreams and the Underworld

Blyssful Moon's Day Pagans!

Today's Article Features:

  • Lucid Samhain Nightmares
  • Herbal Pouch to Calm Nightmares
  • New Years Spell & Ritual

Through Samhain, the castrated remnants of the Celtic influence on Western culture play out through communal rituals: of giving gifts to strangers, protecting the house with carved gourds that resemble spirits, and dressing in costumes to disguise ourselves after nightfall as a wandering ghost.

But we are also culturally predisposed to dream darkly, or at least confrontationally, during this holiday.

The Celtic new year, known as Samhain. Early November is traditionally the final harvest in Europe, and also marks the calender as a “cross-quarter day,” in this case in between the fall equinox and the winter solstice.

So, we can say that Samhain is the marking of an important crossroads, into winter, into darker nights, and into days of eating a lot of boiled turnips and oatmeal.

In Celtic mythology, this dayworld shift is mirrored by another cross-roads, a time when the waking world and the Otherworld, the realm of the dead, intersect. Samhain was also known as Puca Night. An Irish folklorist from the 1870s suggested, “the dark and sullen Phooka is then particularly mischievous and many mortals are abducted to fairy land.” (from Wilson, p. 90). This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the successful voyager between realms was often given a gift, such as music, greater intelligence, or a new sense of life direction.

Dreams of the Underworld

Dreams played deeply into this time of year in traditional Celtic cultures, because it is often in dreams that the crack between worlds reveals itself. Ancestors, both benevolent and snarky, show up, and for those who are not afraid to listen, knowledge is loosened from unexpected sources.

In dreams, trips to the underworld have been recorded in many cultures beyond the Celtic framework, suggesting a neurotheological substrate to this mythology. But in the West, descent is not valued, and even vilified. To paraphrase wilderness guide Bill Plotkin, our culture celebrates going up (towards transcendence, and the white light of spirit) but hates going down (toward the earthly truths, and soul).

We already prime ourselves for confrontational dreams during Samhain, especially through the ritual of watching scary movies before bed.

So, if the dream arises, take the staircase down into the basement: who waits for you there?

 

Herb Pouch for Nightmares

Bay leaves - Removes negative energy, and protects. 
Celery - Increases Physical and Mental powers. 
Mustard Seed - Protection, Mental powers and Faith. 
Rose Petals - Love and luck. 
Rosemary - love, banishing and protection. 
Allspice - Protection. 
Chamomile - sleep, soothing and relaxation.
and i always add lavender to mine due to the calming scent:)

Put the herbs in the pouch concentrating on a peaceful nights sleep. Place under your pillow or under the pillow of the one the pouch is for.

 

New Year Spell

Here is a new New Year's Spell/Ritual which really is quite magical on many levels. Giving the base pattern for the New Year Spell plus various ideas how to personalise it, do it with or without ingredients, alone or in a coven etc.

The base pattern used in this New Year's Spell can be used for many other purposes of wish fulfilment (wishing spell), goal setting, reality creating, healing and other magical & pure energy magic appplications. Happy New Year to all!

New Year Spell/Ritual

Unlike the lame "new year's resolutions" the non-magical folk make, casting a New Year Spell is quite a different matter.

Magicians are much more conscious of what they want, and what they want is far more far reaching than just a big house, a wife and a big car. There are levels and layers to reality which, when aligned, make magical things happen, and that's the core of this New Year's Spell.

There is a base pattern with this New Year Spell which allows you to personalise this spell in many different ways and create your own custom New Years Ritual that way. I've given the base pattern followed by ideas for alternatives in each case.

The basic structure of this New Year's Spell is to use the 12 houses of the Zodiac like a clock face to place intentions for the 12 months of the coming year. 

For each clock position, we place a marker and evoke our intentions with a simple spell.

Each clock position corresponds to one of the houses of the Zodiac, starting with Aries at 1 o'clock and finishing with Pisces at 12 o'clock. 

When the whole clock/year/zodiac is complete, we bless the whole thing altogether and let it become a symbol sphere, which makes it more than the sum of its parts.

Here is the whole New Year Spell, step by step:

1. Preparing for the New Year's Spell

1 – Aries – Seeds, new beginnings, inspiration, new projects, birth.

2 – Taurus – Earthly success, material wealth, physical health.

3 – Gemini – Communication, messages, information.

4 – Cancer – Relationships with self, other people and higher forces.

5 – Leo – Art, romance, luck, free will, creativity, love.

6 – Virgo – Service, family, community, organisation.

7 – Libra – Harmony, balance, negotiations, resolutions.

8 – Scorpio – Magic, philosophy, sex, death, alchemy.

9 – Sagittarius – Spirituality, universal consciousness, law, science.

10 – Capricorn – Power, authority, fame, empire building.

11 – Aquarius – Renewal, evolution, transcending the old, transpersonal.

12 – Pisces – Soul, karmic matters, mysteries, far journeys.

Copy out the 12 houses of the zodiac below and consider what you want to have happen for the next year in that department.

For example, 1, Aries, is about new beginnings. What do you want to begin or start afresh? Make up your mind and write it down, for example, I want to start exercising regularly.

Put your desire into this form of spell:

Lord of the Stars
now hear my plea:
Bring (...) to me
in perfect love and harmony
this is my will, so shall it be.

In our example, we could choose to say:

Lord of the Stars
now hear my plea:
Bring wondrous exercise to me
in perfect love and harmony
this is my will, so shall it be.


Work your way through all the 12 houses/positions so you know what you are going to say; write it down if necessary.

*Personalisation Note For The New Year's Spell: You can choose to direct your spell to another entity than the Lord of the Stars. For example, you can evoke the Lady of the Stars, Jesus Christ, "my higher self" or any entity you personally feel will get the job done for you. 

2. Gathering The New Year's Spell/Ritual Ingredients For The New Years Spell

The base pattern for this spell is to light a white candle for each one of the 12 sub-spells/positions. This can be a candle or a tea light and when all are lit, you have a quite wonderful "circle of lights."

*Personalisation Notes For The New Year's Spell: For those who can't manage 12 candles for whatever reason, you can use other markers instead, for example 12 clear quartz crystals, or 12 pebbles at a pinch. The main thing is that something happens after you have spoken the spell. Either you light the candle and place it into the circle, or kiss the crystal/stone/marker and place it in the circle. That concludes the 12 individual sub-spells each time.

There is no need to cast a circle for this spell/ritual as the completed Circle of Lights is clearly its own circle and focuses the energy of the 12 spells by virtue of being an established circle; but if you want to cast one and invite the quarters, by all means, feel free to do so.

If you want, you can mark out the places on your New Year's Spell clock before you start with chalk/sand circles, or by placing pictures of the Zodiac signs down, or using a ritual cloth or painting with the Zodiac circle upon it. It's not necessary however as the Circle of Lights comes into being anyway when you light/place the markers.

3. Doing The New Year Spell/Ritual

Be clear in your mind what you are going to ask for on each one of the positions; have it written down if necessary.

Set a nice ambience (many practitioners prefer to take a ritual bath and get dressed in ceremonial clothes and jewellry before they start).

Have your candles ready to hand and the space to place them.

* Personalisation note: You can do this New Years Spell on a table top, or on the floor, and you can be inside the Circle of Lights, or outside of it and make it smaller.

Relax, loosen up any tense body parts, take three deep breaths and evoke:

On this night,
I bless the year to come
My will be heard,
My will be done.

Light the first candle, evoke the requisite spell for the 1 o'clock position and place the candle in the 1 o'clock position.

Take a deep breath in and out and clear your mind.

Pick up the next candle, light it from the 1st and evoke the spell for the 2 o'clock position.

Repeat until the whole Circle of Lights is established.

With both hands over the circle in a clockwise direction, evoke:

On this night
I bless the year to come
My will was heard,
and it is done.

Bow and either blow out the candles or if safe/possible, leave the candles to burn out through the rest of the night.


SFX December 2011

Additional notes on the New Year's Spell:

You can do this spell with a group, coven or family. Agreeing on mutual aims for everyone in the group so each of the 12 sub-spells is cohesive is a great part of setting up this spell. Members of the group can take turns lighten and evoking the sub-spells, and everyone says the start and finish evocation together, replacing I and my with We and our.

With this New Years Spell, which can be as stripped down and simplified as a single person doing this with pebbles on a table top, the preparation of knowing what you're asking for is all important. Really spend some time to figure out what you really, really want and need on each one of the positions.

You can cut out the whole Zodiac thing and do this spell/ritual by the months of the year instead. In the preparation phase, focus on each month and decide what you want to have happen in that month for the complete New Years Spell.

Another way of doing this spell is to use the 23 Genius Symbols instead of the 12; the blessing up front and at the end sets the intention and you can stream your wishes, using "Lord of Time," "Lord of Space," etc. in the sub-spells.

For a really spectacular group version of this New Years Spell you can use fireworks instead of candles. You can write the purpose of each one on the firework; one person after the other puts their unlit firework forward into the circle, ready to go, then steps back and waits until everyone has done the same. At the end, everyone steps forward together and lights theirs so they all go off together.

Don't Be Afraid but Embrace!

Be Blessed,

~Elder Airwolf~

Humbly serving my goddess Hecate )O(

 

Just another day in my neck of the woods~cackles!

 

In the spirit of the season has anyone else has been experiencing out of the ordinary occurrences. My puter has been doing weird things like switch to a different screen and took and hour to shut it down. Also, I have a Banchee on my property and she has made herself know about 6 weeks ago. She must be getting in the Samhain mood because she enjoys playing tricks on my dog and Graywolf. Anyway the other day Molly started barking at the woods more than normal and ran into the thick part of the woods....a few minutes later she came flying outta there like she had wings barking all to beat hel. Graywolf said to me did you see that.....I replied yep what was that thing...it was black and moved real fast and made a moaning screech, I replied yep and she moves past my windows at night. Anyway last night I always check everything outside before I close up for the night and everything was secure and locked down, weather was good, no more wind, and went to bed. Not sleeping well with allergies and congestion and the earache but around the witching hour I saw her cross in shadow past my bedroom window as I lay there watching the moon. I didn't hear a thing, no movement, no rain, no wind. Graywolf get home from work at 12:30 am from his shift and heard him get in and out of the car an extra time....thinking it was odd. When he can in he said to me,"why are you playing tricks and putting two pumpkin bags full of leaves in the middle of the drive staring at me so I would have to get out and move them", I said I didn't. This morning we take Molly for her morning walk and everything was in its place. An hour later the yard umbrella was knocked down and another pumpkin bag of leaves was moved into the center of the west lawn......spooky!

Be very afraid the Banchee will get you too!

~Elder Airwolf~

Slow-Cooked Sourdough Peasant Bread

 

Makes:
 
16 servings
Serving Size:
 
1 slice
Yields:
 
1 loaf (16 servings)
Prep:
 
25 mins
Stand:
 
2 hrs 30 mins
Slow Cook:
 
2 hrs 15 mins to 2 hrs 30 mins (high)

Slow-Cooked Sourdough Peasant Bread

Ingredients
1 1/4
cups warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
1
tablespoon active dry yeast
1
teaspoon sugar
1/2
cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
1/4
cup warm milk (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
2 1/2
teaspoons salt
3 3/4
cups all-purpose flour
1/4
cup whole wheat flour
 
Nonstick cooking spray
1
tablespoon yellow cornmeal

Directions

In an extra-large bowl stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar; let stand about 10 minutes or until mixture is foamy. Stir in yogurt, warm milk, and salt. In a medium bowl stir together all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour mixture to yeast mixture; stir just until combined. Reserve the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
Stir 1 1/4 cups of the remaining flour mixture into dough. Sprinkle a work surface with the remaining 1/4 cup flour mixture; turn dough out onto the floured surface. Gently knead for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or until flour is incorporated (dough will be sticky). Cover dough on work surface and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes more.
Lightly coat a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the cooker with parchment paper; coat paper with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal. Dust top of dough lightly with additional flour. Use a pastry scraper or wide spatula to loosen dough from surface. Place dough in the center of the prepared cooker, keeping dough in a round shape and gently handling dough so you don't disturb the air bubbles that have formed.
Cover and cook on high-heat setting for 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted near the center registers 200 degrees F, giving the crockery liner a half-turn after 1 1/2 hours of cooking, if possible. (Do not lift the lid.)
Preheat broiler. Remove bread from cooker; peel off parchment paper. Place bread on an ungreased baking sheet. Broil 4 to 6 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until bread is golden and surface is no longer moist. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely before slicing.

Nutrition Facts

 (Slow-Cooked Sourdough Peasant Bread)

Per serving: 
125 kcal cal., 
1 g fat
 
(0 g sat. fat, 
0 g polyunsaturated fat, 
0 g monounsatured fat), 
1 mg chol., 
372 mg sodium, 
25 g carb., 
1 g fiber, 
1 g sugar, 
4 g pro.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Mint-Chocolate Cookies

 

Makes: 36 servings Serving Size: 1 cookie Yields: about 36 cookies Prep: 20 mins Bake: 8 mins 350°F per batch

Mint-Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients
1 17 1/2 ounce package sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
4 ounces layered chocolate-mint candies (1 package), coarsely chopped, or 1 cup creme de menthe baking pieces
36 green candy coating disks or wafers
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl stir together cookie mix, butter, egg, and mint extract until a soft dough forms. Stir in chopped chocolate-mint candies.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set.
Place a coating disk on top of each cookie. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.
From the Test Kitchen

To Store:
Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
Look for green candy coating disks or wafers in the cake decorating section of hobby and craft stores, the most common brand being Wilton.
Nutrition Facts (Mint-Chocolate Cookies)
Per serving: 112 kcal cal., 6 g fat (4 g sat. fat, 0 g polyunsaturated fat, 1 g monounsatured fat), 12 mg chol., 64 mg sodium, 15 g carb., 0 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 1 g pro.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Crystal Grids

What is a crystal grid?

The use of crystal grids seems to be a fairly new practice from the lack of books out there on the subject. Hibiscus Moon’s so called book(side rant for another day-cough cough) and a couple free internet downloadble ones are about it. I can’t imagine that people haven’t been using them in some form or another for centuries though. When working with crystals laying out stones for a specific purpose in some organized fashion just makes sense. That is more or less what a crystal grid is. Elmarie Swartz says that is is a geometric pattern of stones to generate a specific energy field. Hibiscus Moon gives this very precise definition in her book on grids- “ A geometric pattern of energetically aligned stones charged by intention, set in a sacred space for the purpose of manifesting a particular objective.” To me they are simply a method of spell casting but then spell casting is simply manipulating energy to manifest your intention.

How do Crystal grids work?

Crystal grids use the vibratory frequencies of their constituent crystals to manifest their intention. Each stone has and produces energies. We have used this knowledge for centuries in crystal healing. By programing the crystals with our desires and placing them together they deliver a continuous pulse of that energy out into the universe. The energy of pure thought is magnetic in nature according to Elmarie Swartz. Through the laws of attraction this draws “like” energy to it and attracts the desired outcome. Grids work so much better to achieve this then we do because they are able to continuously retain and focus on that programed thought or goal. They anchor these thoughts and provide a gateway for that energy to flow. Sacred Geometry is often used by some to enhance the power of these grids. I’m not going to delve into that to much, so if the idea interests you you can look into it on your own.

 What can they be used for?

As I mentioned earlier they are a form of spell so anything you might want to make some magic to achieve can be done through the use of a crystal grid. Elmarie states “ They protect, Manifest, and support an intention or desired goal. They can be used for anything you wish to direct energy to- your imagination is the limit. Hibiscus Moon even talks about the crystal grids that have been established by the International Center For Reiki Training to promote world peace. Reiki and crystal grids make great natural partners by the way!

Common grids are for:

Healing
Prosperity and abundance
Stress relief
Study aid/Improving memory & better thinking
Love
Protection
Banishing negativity

                 Pretty much the same things one would cast a spell for : )

Also they can be used for:

Meditation and prayer
Enhancing sleep
Communication with higher realms
Balancing Chakras
Charging items from tailsmens to food and clothing- I found it very interesting that you could eat or wear charged items to add the energy of the grid to your own.

How to make a crystal grid ?

There is no right or wrong way to make one – They are as individualized as we are. Some folks do it super, simple, bare bones and others go all out and do an elaborate ritual with offerings to deity and spirit helpers. Some use Name papers or other representative items to help focus the intent. Often meditation is involved as it helps with focus and intent. I like to use mandalas and music when I set one but I don’t always use them. I just let the spirit of the moment lead me.Reading some examples of how others set theirs up is a great way to get ideas of what might work best for you. I’ve given some links below. Remember that as with casting a spell or doing Reiki you should always ask permission if you are doing it for another person.

Here’s Generally what you do:

 Decide on a purpose.
Choose and prepare a place for it.    Ideally it should be out of the way so it won’t get disturbed and disrupted. You may want to smudge the area you plan to put it in.
Select crystals to compliment your purpose. You will need a center crystal unless you are going to be placing something in the center of the grid to charge it and enough stones to create some type of pattern. They also should be cleansed of any unwanted energy or prior programming.
Charge and program the stones. This is done in the same manner as charging an amulet or talismen.
Lay the stones out in some type of pattern. Sacred Geometry can be used to contribute a specific energy through the pattern of the layout and add meaning to it.
Connect the stones. You can visualize this as a net that connects the stones or connect them by visualizing a white line of energy streaming from your wand or finger that connects them as you draw the lines. Some type of affirmation is handy while you do this. You may find that entering a light meditative state helps you visualize the connections better.
 Consider it done! This may be a prayer or affirmation you say or something as simple as “so mote it be”

 

Here is Doreen Virture, a notable pagan author’s method

Nine Steps To Building A Crystal Grid

excerpted from Crystal Therapy- SEE MORE @ http://www.inlightimes.com/archives/2005/01/doreen-virtue.htm

Adults and children need to get enough sleep to create the brain chemical serotonin. If enough serotonin isn’t produced the person wakes up feeling drowsy, hung-over, irritable, and hungry for refined carbohydrates (junk food). Low serotonin is also correlated with depression, PMS, and enuresis (bed-wetting). Some medical professionals are too quick to prescribe medications that boost serotonin, like Ritalin and Prozac. Fortunately, there are natural ways to increase serotonin. Studies show that just 20 minutes of cardio exercise immediately increases serotonin. Also, getting outside, especially in sunshine, increases serotonin. Meditation also boosts serotonin.A crystal expert and angel therapist named Judith Lukomski has co-written a book with me called, Crystal Therapy. One part of crystal therapy involves building grids to help with various areas of your life, such as health, relationships, and abundance. Below are the nine steps for creating a grid.

STEP 1: DETERMINE ITS INTENTION You can build a grid to help support any goal, intention, or desire, so your first step is deciding, “What is it for?” Since it will amplify your feelings, thoughts, and intentions, it’s crucial you have a very clear focus. If you have any fears, doubts, guilt, or other emotions that could potentially disrupt your desired outcome, just call upon Archangel Jophiel to help you attain a positive outlook.

STEP 2: DECIDE ON THE SIZE Selecting the appropriate size is up to you. A grid that’s small enough to set on a tray can be just as powerful as one that’s large enough to welcome a body in the center, since using the stones as a meditation focus point sufficiently expands their energy. However, there are times when the best choice is sitting inside a larger formation to feel its vibrations.

STEP 3: FIND A LOCATION Sometimes the locale for your grid will be obvious (such as the bedroom when you want to sleep better), but at other times, convenience is the deciding factor. For example, placing the pattern in your personal meditation space would help ensure that other people don’t move your crystals or disrupt you while you’re focusing on them. For more options, remember that you can also build outdoors, just as our ancestors did.

STEP 4: USE FENG SHUI As an optional enhancement to further clarify your pattern’s intention, use the “Feng Shui magic square” (nine defined areas), called the bagua map, to help choose a location. For example, if you want to improve your love life, create a grid in your bedroom’s relationship area and meditate there on a regular basis—the results can be exceptional!

STEP 5: CLEAR THE SPACE Once you determine the intent, size, and location of your project, purify and lift the energy in that spot. Any space-clearing method will work, such as burning sage, placing bowls of sea salt in the room, calling upon Archangel Michael, ringing a bell, and the like.

STEP 6: CREATE AMBIENCE Music, candles, and incense all add to the sense of tranquility and peace in the sacred space that you’ve decided to use.

STEP 7: PLACE THE CRYSTALS Following your own guidance, place the crystals around your chosen location. If you’re using quartz, face all the stones in the same direction to heighten their energy flow: The points go to the right to send energy outward, and go to the left to receive energy. Don’t worry—as long as you’re following your inner guidance, you can’t make a mistake in the building process.

STEP 8: MEDITATE & EMPOWER THE GRID Sit quietly, either next to the crystals or in the center of the pattern, and visualize lines of energy connecting each stone above and around you. You may see various lines, shapes, and colors; and hear celestial music or whirring sounds, which are all displays of the converging power.

STEP 9: LISTEN Focus on your breath in order to quiet your mind, and then pay attention to any ideas, visions, words, or feelings that come to you. Surrender any distracting thoughts or worries to the angels so that you can visualize your desire as already being complete, and feel gratitude that this is so. Thank the Universe for its ever-flowing abundance, asking the angels to help you be open and receive, and then complete the meditation by saying positive affirmations. Each time you build and use a crystal grid, you’ll develop a greater awareness of its energy and power—so relax into the process and have fun! 

How to choose stones for a crystal grid

There are no correct or incorrect stones to use for your grid. People often choose the crystals used in the grids intuitively. Some dowse with a pendulum to pick the stones they need. Grids are even made with clear quartz crystals alone. I guess that saves choosing which types of crystals to use but still a choice of which piece of quartz must be made. Often grids use a combination of quartz and other stones and crystals and some may not use clear quartz at all. Usually they use a quartz point in the center or some other type of point but I have seen many done with pyramids, spheres, eggs or other large stone in the middle. Rose Quartz would be ideal for love or Citrine for prosperity. Generator points ( Have 6 sides to the tip that all meet in the center) are very prized for use in grids. If the grid was made for the purpose of charging an item/items then one may not want to use a center stone at all.

If you don’t decide to choose your stones by intuition then you may choose to use the correspondences from one of the many books on crystals out there. I have listed some recommendations in the notes on the last page.

If you have worked with crystals maybe you found that certain stones don’t work for you like the books suggest or possibly they work well for you for things those books don’t mention at all. Each person’s relationship and response to different stones energies will vary since our energies differ as individuals. Even different stones possess slightly different energies from stones of the same type. That is why you may be drawn more to one particular stone over another.

Ever wonder where those books on stones got those attributes from? Sometimes the author has the ability to channel such information from years of experience working with crystals. Most often they use historic attributes for them that have been around for centuries- nobody is sure where those came from but they work. Possibly somewhere along the line someone also channeled this information, then it was passed down through the years because it was found to be true. It is possible that the doctrine of signatures was the basis for that information- Notice that green and gold stones are often used for prosperity and abundance? What colors do we relate to those things? Kind of makes sense doesn’t it ?

The uses of stones are often connected to their Chakra colors but not always. Here is a quick reference list for some grids that are common. For the most part I have listed the more readily available and most reasonably priced ones.

 

Prosperity: Aventurine, Jade, Tiger eye, Carnelian, Moss Agate, Green Calcite,

         Crysoprase, Malachite, Peridot

Healing: Malachite, Bloodstone,Amethyst, Garnet, Jade, Lapis, Peridot, Amber,

        Turquoise, Sodalite

Protection: Black Onyx, Black Tourmaline, Tiger eye, Turquoise, Citrine,

        Obsidian, Moonstone, Salt, Lapis, Lava rock, Amber, Jade, Garnet, Amber,

        Jet,  Carnelion, Apache Tear(a form of Obsidian), Smokey Quartz, Flint

Stress & Anxiety Relief: Lepidolite, Amethyst, Blue Lace Agate, Fuorite,

        Chrysocolla, Howlite, Peridot, Sodalite, Aquamarine, Amazonite,

        Moonstone, Selinite, Kunzite, Lapis (Also can use for happy home layout)

Peaceful Sleep: Lapis, Sodalite, Snowflake Obsidian(prevents nightmares),

         Amethyst, Jade, Lepidolite, Moonstoone, Amazonite, Sodalite, 

         Blue Lace Agate

Psychism & Spirituality:Amethyst, Fuorite, Amazonite, Moonstone, Lapis

Love: Rose Quartz, Jade, Pearl, Amethyst, Moonstone, Turquoise, Amber,

        Malachite, Rhodocrosite,

 

Layout Patterns :

You can place the stones directly on the surface where you plan to lay out the grid but some like to use a cloth under it or a paper marked with a diagram of the layout .If I am using a mandala I put them directly over the artwork.

Symbols that may be used are:

The Sephiroth or Tree of Life

Antakarana

Reiki symbols

The Infinity symbol

A simple circle, square or triangle

Triquetra or Triskele

Celtic Knots

An image of a Goddess

An emblem of your spiritual path Some find it helpful to place a piece of paper with the purpose and/or the person’s name for which a grid is for under the center stone of the grid or the cloth/paper.

 

 

 

The Flower of Life

The Flower Of Life is one of Hibiscus Moon’s favorites to tap into source energy through the use of Sacred Geometry. Works well for prosperity. Hibiscus recommends stars and squares as being great for protection and spirals for expansion. She believes that a spiral based on the golden ratio (which has to do with pie) is especially powerful. Circles and the infinite symbol can be used as layout basis for things you want a continuous never ending cycle of.

From:http://pjentoft.com/f-30-grids.html by Peggy Jentoft

Drop by there for the complete article! There is a lot more great information there.

The square or pyramid grid  

     A flat representation of a pyramid and uses five main stones one in each corner and one in the center It may be aligned with the four directions and linked on the outer wall with a crystal between each of the corner crystals You can also place either double terminated crystals or two single terminated crystals one pointing in and one pointing out between the center stone and the outer corner stones. Good for household harmony and  protection. This is a very stable grid and enhances programs or intentions that concern long term plans, healing, relationships, Earth healing and environmental work among other uses . The four sided crystal grid pattern creates a field of energy which projects a lovely field over a wide area Anything placed within this field will absorb and store or use this energy so you can make a large grid or put the grid on a box in which you keep things you want kept clear and charged. Six sided grid or Star of Solomon grid  This is among the most popular grids. A grid with a center stone and six outer crystals or stones in a circle around it can be used with or without linking crystals. The links from or to the center creates a Star of Solomon,  Star of David  pattern within the outer circle of stones. This is the form often used for Reiki grids and in world peace healing grids as well as for many other programs this is possibly the most common basic all purpose grid . It is used to create and hold programs ,affirmations, the thought forms for manifestation  procedures, to enhance communion with spiritual teachers, Divine will or love and for more mundane intentions as well . It is used for absent healing. It is another stable grid field and connects you to the natural forces of Earth and source . You can use all quartz or one quartz and another stone for the outer wheel you can use a different stone at each point in the outer circle if you wish to have each represent a different aspect or quality or person involved in the purpose of the grid .   Eight spoke grid these are just like the six sided grids except they have eight sides . These are among the first I used ,I was taught eight sided grids by a Buddhist monk who used them as healing grids , meditation grids and for  most other grid work.  These are also symbolic of the Seasonal Wheel of the year and might be used for grids related to  long term projects. Some people use 12 sided grids for purposes where either a year or where zodiac elements will be of significant help. Seven sided grids are also popular. These are often used for chakra grids and as part of  magical work.

 

This is by no means a comprehensive introduction to crystal grids. I hope it is not too confusing and contains enough to help you get started exploring grids. I tried to keep this as simple as I could. Everyone tends to learn how they best work for them by exploration and trial. Hopefully I have given you enough insight into the way I do it to help you along yet still let you find your own way. The amount of information out there about them is growing daily as more and more people become interested in them. Happy journeys!

Helpful Links and Places I Got Information From:

http://www.youtube.com/user/phanie12 – Videos on crystals and crystal grids. She is the author of the crystal grid book er pamphlet that is very overpriced for what you get.

http://www.crystalsandjewelry.com/metaphysicalproperties_g.html – One of my favorite sites for quick reference. Also has a lot of other information on crystals.

http://www.shimmerlings.com/gemstones.htm – Also a favorite site for crystal information

http://www.healing-journeys-energy.com/Crystals-for-Spiritual-Issues.html#axzz1aYv0YwfI  List of crystals for spiritual uses: Note: this same site has much other information on crystals like what stones to use to help with different ailments or healing and emotional issues as well as making crystal elixirs to crystal grids and more. I highly recommend a look see.

http://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/Tha-Amazing-Power-of-Crystal-Grids Free crystal grid book download by ELMARIE SWARTZ- also available on Scribd-http://www.scribd.com/doc/7778924/The-Amazing-Power-Of-Crystal-Grids- . I got a lot of information there

http://pjentoft.com/f-30-grids.html- has zip file of grids you can download and a great explanation page. I don’t know how good the grids are though because I have not downloaded them

http://crystal-cure.com/article-crystal-grids.html – how to make a crystal grid

http://www.neatstuff.net/avalon/texts/Reiki.html – using Reiki and crystal grids together

http://www.way-of-the-wild-rose.com/crystal_grids_94.html – using crystal grids for protection

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU_8WmK08FU – a video on making a crystal grid

http://www.thatcrystalsite.com/guide/properties-glossary.php – site I just found that has a very comprehensive list of stones

http://crystalseen.tripod.com/metaphysical_properties.htm – site that explains the differences between the different types of quartz points

http://harlcazz.bravepages.com/library/Witchcraft/Aspects%20of%20Witchcraft/STONES/Choosing%20your%20gems.htm– a whole list of various purposes and uses for stones

Books 

  LOVE IS IN THE EARTH: The Crystal & Mineral Encyclopedia by Melody- The ultimate book on stones. Many other books are written based on the information in this one. Sadly $100 so I don’t own it but I do own 
Love is in the Earth: A Kaleidoscope of Crystals – The Reference Book Describing the Metaphysical Properties of the Mineral Kingdom by her which is very thorough and in depth though it does not have pictures.
The Book of Stones by Robert Simmons and Naisha Ashian- Excellent, one of the best at a reasonable price
Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham
The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall- I don’t own this one but many use it as a prized reference
Healing Crystals and Gemstones: From Amethyst to Zircon by Flora Peschek-Bohmer, Gisela Schreiber and Sibylle Dausien – I really like this one.
TheCrystal Healer: Crystal Perscriptions That Will Change Your Life Forever  by Philip Permutt- I use this one a lot too.

http://bubblesandbroomsticks.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/crystalgrids/

Daily Forecast for October 11th, 2014

Blyssful Saturn's Day Stargazers~

Saturday 11th October 2014
Moon enters Gemini 5pm BST - 6pm Europe - 9:30pm India
12noon USA EST - [Sunday 3am Sydney, Australia]
Moon rises 7pm in your local time zone
Moon 5° Gemini squares Neptune [in retrograde] 5° Pisces

Disseminating (waning /135-90 degrees)
October 11, 2014 — This is a tremendous time of transmutation. All of the prior elements are coming together for a final burst of creative output. You have seen a clear view of your own needs and the posture of significant others. Now the accumulation of that input is leading to a deep, core change within you. In this phase, you will naturally be inclined to seek higher guidance so that you can emerge from this transformation successfully. The Disseminating Moon favors sharing what you have learned (and are learning) with others.

Moon enters Gemini
Immediate Reaction - Immediate Results - Shocks & Surprises!
The Aries Karmic Blood Full Moon has defined what happens next in your life - and during Moon in Gemini you're going to be all over the place - as the flood of communication, information, news, emails and phone calls - will let you know some of the results.

For "some" skeptical and cynical readers who refuse to believe that "Moon Astrology" actually determines your destiny - [even more than all the normal planets and your own birthchart] - then you've probably had your world shaken - and realized that Full Moon's are the now the most important facet of "Karmic & Spiritual Astrology" - especially as all the things YOU WANTED to happen aren't happening - whilst other things which you DID NOT WANT to happen are happening - all defined by the unusual feelings you're receiving and experiencing. The Full Moon has made you FEEL strongly and completely different to what you've been recently feeling - and that's because the Full Moon has woken-you-up in more ways than one.

And whether you like it or not - the Moon is creating real changes - and until the Moon makes it's journey from Aries => Taurus => Gemini => Cancer => Leo - by Moon conjunct Leo on Saturday 18th October 2014 - there are many more changes to come in everyone's lives. Indeed the Aries Karmic Blood Full Moon has defined SOMETHING BIG for EVERYONE.
With some of the most important facets are to FORCE people to let-go of the "past" - in order to move on with the "future" - and to do that - it's not easy - especially when people WANT what they WANT - and WANT to keep hold of things they want to keep hold of - but as humans people are stupid - because we don't see the big picture of life - and don't realize that we're having things changed for our own good.

Aries Horoscope (Mar 21 – Apr 19)
You are insistent to win the approval of others today by wearing them down with your charming and innovative style. Unfortunately, you are relentless in your approach and might not know when to call it quits. You can still carry on a passionate discussion within your own head. It's fantastic if you learn something about your feelings in the process. But if you're not ready for the reality of a relationship now, then it's wiser to simply be honest and move on.

Taurus Horoscope (Apr 20 – May 20)
It's as if you are swimming against a great tide and it's nearly impossible to think logically today when your key planet Venus opposes rebellious Uranus. Whether you give skydiving a whirl, try your hand at speed-dating or eat at a new restaurant, you might as well set aside your responsibilities now and do something that's out of the box. If expressing your desires doesn't hurt anyone else and could increase your happiness, then push past your comfort zone and follow your bliss.

Gemini Horoscope (May 21 – Jun 20)
You are waging an inner war between two extremes today. You long for more action, yet may already have so much going on that your excitement can turn to a palpable anxiety. Meanwhile, even a minor attempt to find some peace and quiet could work so well that you are left feeling isolated in your seclusion. However, there's no need to choose between these opposite worlds now. You Gemini are the champions of duality so hold these divergent perspectives until the tension begins to settle down.

Cancer Horoscope (Jun 21 – Jul 22)
You wish you could distance yourself from your intense feelings today. Although your immediate reaction to emotional stress is not your typical one, you feel more comfortable now if you step back from the drama of a relationship. You might prefer to lose yourself into the vastness of the virtual landscape where you can stay in touch with your changing moods while maintaining anonymity. However, if you start to obsess over your digital distractions, unplug from your electronics and connect with people in the real world instead.

Leo Horoscope (Jul 23 – Aug 22)
You may have unrealistic visions about your future yet still believe you can manifest them through sheer willpower. You might feel trapped by your previous commitments, and your impatience could fuel an impulsive reaction today. You crave a chance to make something exciting happen -- and you want it now. However, your heightened sense of urgency does not help your cause; you're more likely to reach your goals if you balance your anticipation with a dose of pragmatism and stop looking for trouble.

Virgo Horoscope (Aug 23 – Sep 22)
A friend or associate might turn your day inside out when he or she behaves in an erratic manner. But you may react too quickly and judge someone before you even stop and think about it. But playing the role of an authority figure isn't useful, for this could push away the very person you're trying to befriend. Paradoxically, encouraging someone else to dance to the sound of their own drum ultimately brings them closer to you.

Libra Horoscope (Sep 23 – Oct 22)
Your eagerness to experiment encourages you to test the waters now by interacting with someone who is completely different from anyone else in your life. Shocking Uranus electrifies your key planet Venus today, attracting unusual people, places and things like a magnet collects iron. It's not the time to listen to what everyone else is saying; just follow your heart wherever it leads and deal with the fallout of your actions as necessary.

Scorpio Horoscope (Oct 23 – Nov 21)
Someone who seems to be acting in a manipulative manner today could stir up feelings of apprehension. But you really don't want to get too close to others at this time. However, the strong attraction to a totally new experience stimulates your curiosity, making it difficult for you to turn away. Don't succumb to your fears by retreating; remaining in the zone of discomfort can lead to a powerful emotional breakthrough.

Sagittarius Horoscope (Nov 22 – Dec 21)
You might find yourself dreaming today about the greener grass on the other side of the hill even if you're in a mutually satisfying relationship. Given the opportunity, you most likely would choose excitement over security now. However, it may be best to leave some desires unexplored. Finding less disruptive ways to widen your current horizons is healthier than going to extremes in your quest for transient pleasure.

Capricorn Horoscope (Dec 22 – Jan 19)
You may have complicated issues at home to handle that end up getting in the way of more ambitious plans. Perhaps you thought that others would support your ideas, but something doesn't go as expected today. Nevertheless, don't worry too much about your previous strategy, for it can be changed in a moment's notice by someone's surprising reaction. Instead, willingly leap into the great unknown. Dancing with uncertainty now keeps you humble and on your toes.

Aquarius Horoscope (Jan 20 – Feb 18)
You can be quite cavalier in your thinking now that cerebral Mercury is backpedaling in your 9th House of Adventure. But it's a real challenge to follow through on your plans if you're not sure about your destination. People's attitudes are transforming, forcing you to alter your own course of action. The more accommodating you are today, the better you'll feel tomorrow when you reestablish your direction.

Pisces Horoscope (Feb 19 – Mar 20)
You might make a significant conceptual breakthrough today that turns your life around and inspires you to come up with a whole new strategy for your future. The idea of a sudden shift may be quite exhilarating now, but keep in mind that you cannot just forget about your previous responsibilities. Reconnecting with someone you trust is not about revisiting the past; it's about jointly envisioning your path ahead. Nevertheless, you still must balance your expectations with your recent commitments to get the most from the present moment.

~Elder Airwolf~