Category Archives: magic
The power behind Magic
Many times we have discussed magic and spell craft on this blog. There are many different theories about how magic really works and why magic is effective. There are battles on philosophy on if magic is something that is only in the mind or if it exists outside of the mind and the body. I will leave the decision on what magic is and how it really works up to you as a reader and spiritual seeker.
Today we are going to examine and discuss magic from its most basic theory and concept. If you understand the concept of working with your intentions and projecting your intentions to the universe you can start to and understand the very basics of magic and manifesting your needs and desires. So today we are talking about the most basic form of energy work and magic-the work of our intentions and emotions.
So lets get started then. I know every one wants to focus and learn magic at some point in their lives. Who hasn’t wanted to be able to say a few words or do some actions to be able to create change. The practice of magic does this exact thing. Working magic can be a way to manifest your dreams and desires in this world and reality. Magic is one of the tools that we humans have to create needed changes in our lives.
Magic then is the process of directing and manipulating energetic forces towards a desires outcome. So when you work magic you are directing many different types of energetic forces (Energy basics) out to the universe. By programing them with an idea and concept you give the energetic force a job to do. This job is determined by how your program that energy.
So what is it that programs our energetic forces and magic? In the end what programs magic is your intent. Your intent is the desire behind the spell or ritual. To put it most simply your intent and desire is what you want to happen in the end. Your intent when it comes to magic is what you want to happen in your life. Its that simple. Your intent is your desire.
When you cast a spell you are working towards something that you want on an emotional level. Your intent is fueled by your emotions and desires. This is why in magic its always best to work towards something that you actually need rather than something that you just want or would like to have. The things that you actually need will have a stronger emotional tie to them, which means the intent behind the spells will be much stronger.
So how do we know what our intent really is? When a person performs a ritual or a spell for an item they need a clearly defined goal. Common goals worked on in magic are employment and money, health and healing, love and companionship. These are three of the most common types of spells and rituals you will find. With in each of these sections there are many different ways that a specific intent could be found.
Lets work with the example of health and healing. Many people wish that they could have a healthier life. Many people struggle with different health issues from high blood pressure and cholesterol to anxiety and depressive disorders the health issues that humans struggle with come in many different shapes and forms. So it makes sense that the type of healing rituals and health needs that an individual has is going to be very different from any other individual. This is why it is important to have a specific desire and goal in mind.
So if your goal is for healing and health its important to look at your life. Look at your personal health and your personal needs. If you are dealing with issues of high blood pressure you might want to consider doing a spell to release some and relieve some of the stresses that you have in your life. High stress and blood pressure have been linked. So if you work on spells to decrease your stress you will be working on your health. If your health issues are more related to depression and loneliness a spell to increase happiness or friendship in your life would be effective.
So lets focus on depression as the issue that you want to work on with magic. There are many different ways that you can go about this. Because even mental health issues like depression is very unique you need to think about exactly what will help you at this specific time. For example you could work on a spell or ritual to release past hurts and pain, or you could do a spell to increase the amount of joy you have in your life. Both of these goals are ways that you can work on and obtain the goal of minimizing your depression. You need to choose the one that best suits your needs and what you are really wanting to do.
In the end the goal that you choose is the actual intent of your spell. The goal is what you want to make happen. This is why having a clear intent is important. This intent provides the guide for the energetic forces to manifest in your life. The more thought you put into your goal the more emotional power builds up in your intent. The more time you spend working on the spell and the ritual the more force gets built up. This force can be focused just by working on your intent and focusing on your intent.
With out an intent spells dont work. The energy can be sent out into the world, but there will be no directi0n. You may achieve a goal or a desire, but in the end the energy that has been sent out will have no specific outcome that its trying to make happen. If you have a vague idea like simply better health, that goal will manifest but there is no idea exactly how it will show up. Your health could improve in one area but start to loose in another area. This is why having specific intents and goals is essential in working magic.
Now you dont need to do a full ritual to do magic and to work your intent. Working Positive Affirmations on a daily basis is another way that you can work your intent and make magic happen. By stating in a positive way that you already have what it is you want (positive affirmation) the universe knows your desires and intents and can manifest it through your voice and your thoughts. By working on your thoughts and focusing your thoughts on having your goal, you are working your intention and you are able to work magic.
The important thing to take out of this is that having a clear intention and goal makes for effective magic. This is why its always best to work on that which you need. Desire fuels emotional states and emotional states can fuel intention. By working with your emotions and your thoughts you can and will create powerful changes in your life. By understanding the power of your intention you can work magic.
Once again we have a weekly post for the Pagan blog project. This weeks topic is all about spiritual development and practices. Its about why they call it working magic and working rituals and not just reading the material. Today we are going to talk about Effort and why Effort is so important.
Effort in spiritual studies
This is a lesson I have learned myself. Spiritual development and the development of spiritual and magical skills are like every other skill set and practices. You need to actually work at them and practice them to develop them. You can read the theories and some of the exercises and gain a type of knowledge. When you actually want to make the changes you need to do the actual exercises and work in order to have the experiences.
I’m saying that you need to put effort into the work. You can’t just do a meditation once and get everything you need out of it. You cant just do a practical exercise a handful of times and expect to get anywhere spiritually. In order to really have mystery experiences with spirits and to really develop skills in meditation and mental focus you need to put in effort.
The more effort you put into your spiritual development the stronger your outcomes will be. The more time you put into development of your skills the sooner you will be able to see results. There is a lot of work in spiritual development. In many places you will have to face your darkest sides and deepest fears. This is hard work. This is why it is important to put your all into it.
Often there are meditations to meet Gods and Goddesses. The more often you do those meditations the more you will learn from them. The deeper your relationships will grow. These are part of how mysteries are experienced and spiritual truths are found. If you only do the meditations a handful of times your relationships will not be as deep as they could be.
Putting effort into your practice and into your studies is going to pay off in the long run. The better you are at learning to enter a meditative state eventually you will be able to achieve the state any where and at any time by using physical triggers. You will also be able to manifest thought changes instantly and be able to know how to train yourself to shift one emotional state into another through working vibrations and other techniques.
Asking and Answering Questions
Why we ask questions of ourselves
The process of seeking spirituality is a difficult one. There are a lot of questions that come up as you being to question your path and your beliefs. Many people when they leave their previous belief systems don’t really understand what they are looking for. They may feel something missing but be unsure of what it is exactly they need. During this period its good to read anything you get your hands on. You should read basically any material regarding religions and spirituality you are drawn to. There may be something in those sources that fits what you are looking for, or it could provide you with more confusion.
When you begin seeking a path there is often more information out there than you can handle at once. There are so many texts and websites all offering different insights on how to start and where to begin the practice. They all offer different insight into the lore and the belief systems of various religions and paths. Its too much to take in and can cause confusion and ultimately frustration. Don’t worry. There is something you can do to fight this problem.
So before you throw out all your books on the different topics out of frustration, before you find yourself hopelessly lost in the sea of information you should ask yourself some questions. Wait? Ask myself questions? You got it. Ask yourself-your higher self (spirit guide, soul, how ever you want to see the part of you that is connected to the divine and exists in the spirit worlds) to answer some questions. Your spirit will answer. Even if the answer is not exactly specific pr uncertain you will at least have a place to start.
OK so I get asking questions now. So what are these questions? These questions are questions that will help you find the path you are looking for. They will shed light on what you personally believe. You may think you know what you believe but have you ever really asked yourself what you believe? Many haven’t considered their position on many beliefs out there that you might not find in traditional religions or spiritual paths.
Asking the questions
So here are the questions. There is one big overall question with some smaller questions for each section. This is to make you really think about all aspects of the questions. They may seem simple but these are deep questions that you need to think about. As you write down these questions create a journal and write your answers down. You may want to focus on one question or question set at a time.
1: What is your belief in deity?
Do you believe in multiple Gods or just one God? Do you think that one God can manifest in different forms? Do you believe that the multiple Gods are all different individuals? Do you believe that the divine exists in everything and everything is part of the divine?
2: What do you believe in regards to spirits?
Do you believe that all things contain spirit (animals, plants, rocks, trees, rivers, oceans, mountains, etc)? Do you believe in different types of spirits (Dragons, Fairies, Elves, Dryads, Nymphs, etc)? Do you believe in angels and or demons? What are the relationships these spirits have with humans? With the divine? Do you believe in spirit guides?
3: What is your belief in the soul?
Do you believe in a soul? Do you believe in an eternal soul or does the soul die/change after death? Does the soul have multiple parts (like a mind, the spirit guide, etc) or is it one thing? How does the mind relate to the soul? The body? Is the spirit and the soul the same thing?
4: What is your belief in death and the afterlife?
Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe in heaven? Hell? Do you think that there is a place where we go after we die till we are reborn or till our memory fades away? Do you believe in multiple afterlives and multiple realms of the dead?
5: What is your belief in magic?
Do you believe in magic? What is magic to you? Is it something you want to use in spirituality? Is it something you want to be a part of your religion? Are you looking to use magic for more practical means? Do you think prayers are spells and magic?
6: Religion or spirituality?
What does religion mean to me? What does spirituality mean to me? Do I need one to have the other? What do I want out of religion? What do I want out of spirituality?
Answering the questions
I just gave you a lot of questions to answer and think about. I don’t expect the answers to come to you easily. The idea is that you will think about these questions. You might be wondering how do I answer these questions? I can’t really answer that. You have to find the answers yourself. I can show you how I answered these questions myself, and continue to answer them myself.
I have a journal that I have used to write down these questions and the answers I have come up with. I have one page that lists all of the questions. I start with the first question I asked. I center myself through breath and focus. I call to my higher self and spirit asking that they provide me with the direction to go in. I then focus on the question and just start writing down my thoughts related to the question.
Don’t limit yourself. Write down all the thoughts that come into your mind when you think about the question. Don’t worry if there are questions you think of when you answer it. Write them down as part of your response. This the gives you something to work with. When you feel that you can’t say any more on the subject you have channeled all the answers you will have for the time being in regards to that question.
Write down your experiences with any of these things. If you have experienced the divine write about that in the questions about the divine. Write about spirit encounters under spirit beliefs. Experiences often say more than beliefs. If experience something you don’t necessarily need to believe in it as you have first hand knowledge and experience of it. If the experiences made you question something or want to know more about something write that in. Most pagan and spiritual paths are mystery and experience based. That is why including personal experiences with these entries is important.
What if I can’t think of anything to write? What if my answer is I don’t know? Then you start with that. Just keep working the pencil. As you repeat “I can’t think of anything to write” you will eventually find some thoughts coming into the page. If you keep repeating I don’t know eventually you will have a few thoughts or ideas filter into the writing. This is your answer. Your starting point.
Once you have answered a question give yourself a day before going on to the next question. Do not underestimate the amount of spiritual energy and mental energy used when writing these answer and thinking about these questions. You do not want to overwhelm yourself when you first begin seeking. The more time you spend writing about and thinking about spiritual concepts, practices, and the like the more comfortable and aware you will become of the energy used around you.
Using the information
Once you have answered the questions you have asked yourself give yourself a day or two before reading them. This will give your mind and your soul a little rest. You have been asking and looking deep at big questions. A day or two to wait before reading your reflections and thoughts is not a bad thing. You have given yourself a lot of information from deep down and processing it will take time,
So where do you go from here? The next thing you need to do is look at each question group specifically. Start with the deity question. If you found answers along the lines of multiple deities than you have an idea that looking at pantheons may be a good place to start. From here you can then think about any cultures you feel drawn to and start with those myths and god concepts. Then you look at the spirit question. If you already have a pantheon look within other myths and fairy tales or folklore to learn about the spirits in that culture. If you don’t have a pantheon or god concept to start with then looking into shamanic practices is a starting point. I think you see where I am going with this.
The idea is that by answering the questions you can find cultures and spiritual paths that deal specifically with those beliefs and concepts. You may find several different paths that hold similar beliefs. At this point you will be able to read and look at them all. Now is the time to write down as you read what you agree with in a path and what you don’t agree with. You’ll already have an idea of your own beliefs. So finding where you fit in is easier.
The journal you started with answering these questions is going to serve as your spiritual development journal. This is where you will continue to write down questions you have. You will write down what you agree with in certain paths, what you don’t agree with and the things you are not sure about.
As you continue you will find more questions and more answers. You may find that when you review your original answers you have questions there to explore. You may have found the answers to those questions. If you do write a page about that question, when you asked it, and when or where you found the answer in your journal. There will probably be some repetitive entries, but that’s ok. It is your journey and it is going to be unique to you and you alone.
This weeks blog post is something that has hit at me hard over the years as a practicing witch. I had for years always figured that I had to have substantial amounts of dried herbs and candle colors, oils, and other assorted objects that cost a lot of money. For that reason for many years I did not actively try and cast any spells. I felt that while I considered myself a witch, there was a lack of magical practices in my life. I felt I couldn’t craft spells because I didn’t have the best herbal selection (and I also had no real idea how to use the herbs in spells) or burn any incense or candles. I felt that there was no real way I could cast or craft any spells.
I was constantly refining my energy working techniques and manipulation of those energies, but I still felt that things were lacking. Then one day I had an idea to use yarn, paper, and pens for crafting a spell. I knew then that there were ways I could craft spells. I tried two spell experiments and both of them got me the results I wanted, though they took longer to work than I had originally anticipated. Yet they worked. I once again felt that I could call myself a witch confidently.
I feel that many new witches feel that they can’t practice spell craft because they can’t buy any fancy tools or they don’t have access to herbs, ect. This is a common issue that I have come across in my dealings with seekers on the various forums I belong to where I discuss witchcraft with seekers, newbies, experienced, and elders of all sorts. When I tell them that they don’t need anything more than their mind or even a pen and paper they seem aghast. So that is where this post is coming from.
Crafting and casting spells
In most spell books there are things like candle colors, herbs, oils, that many people don’t have access to in their early days. There may even be day and planetary associations which make no sense to a beginner. They just use the associations because they simply feel that if the spell says they need it then they must need it. This makes many feel as if they cant actually craft spells.
I mentioned above that I found a solution to my no candles and no oils or herbs situation. I started to use string of various colors, paper and pencils. I occasionally had extra coins and flowers. So I was able to work with them and make some very specific spells for specific situations. I have since through a project I participated have come to create a new specific style of spell crafting based on reworking spells published and written by others. I have also learned the simplest fact in spell crafting and casting: Use what you have on hand and what you find works.
In the process of learning the spells can be incredibly simple I also had to relearn and craft my definition of both spells and magic. So before I can address how simple a spell and magic is I have to address what magic is and what I consider spells to be. Once these two concepts have been established I can get onto explaining and elaborating on how with just a piece of paper, a pen, and your imagination you can cast
The force built up during the casting of a spell or the manipulation and direction of subtle energies towards a specific desire and goal. The process of manipulating energy towards specific goals. The result of energy manipulation and direction of intent. That is magic. Let’s break it down into simpler explanations for each section.
The first definition was “The fore built up during the casting of a spell.So Magic is the force built up during the spell. What is this force? Well this force is the intent. It is your desire and emotion. The first thing when you think about crafting and casting a spell is what are your defined needs and desires for the situations. It is through working with the emotions associated with the goal that spells gain their true power. This is the intent.
You may be asking what about the colors and the symbols that I often read about in spells and rituals. Why are they there? Those are popular herbal and color symbols that have become associated with certain magical actions and have specific properties. Their energy is there to add extra power to your spells, but how much is always up to you. What makes them have power is that you associate them with your intent and thus that has their energy. You will make this association yourself, but that comes later. For now all you need is paper and pencils or even just your mind.
Those associations hold energy and power. These energies and associations come into play within magic. They can be essential and are very nice tools and toys to play with. Yet they are not what makes the magic. What makes the magic is the intent these items and more,
Ok. So the first aspect of my definition of magic was explained. The second was the process or manipulation and direction of energy towards specific goals and intents. This is true. Spells and rituals are called magical actions because they involve the process of magic. Each spell and ritual involves the direction and manipulation of various energies. That process is magic.
When you take the emotion, intent as well as physical energy, mental focus, and the energy found within the various symbols and associations we develop over time and combine all of these various vibration frequencies into one cohesive item directing that new energetic form towards an outcome is magic.
Finally magic is the result. When you add those processes and energies together and you obtain your desire you have effectively worked magic. Thus magic is the result. You are crafting magic in the creation of the intent. You are creating the magic through the manipulation and creation of the new energetic form. Finally you receive the magic when you obtain your goal and desire.
To me magic is all of those things at once. The key behind magic is all three of those definitions in action. Intent is all you need to start magic as the actions can be mental. but every part of my definition is still in play. Learning this simple fact which while “hammered” in through many books took several years of failure with both spells and rituals. Yes I failed. It was when I started to really apply intent my spells and rituals I started to see how a simple action could actually be a spell.
One of the books that was key to this new inspiration was the book: Instant Magick by Christopher Penczak. Here I learned how to craft spells and work magic simply by focusing my mind and directing the mental energies towards the desired outcome. I had been using that type of magic for years with out knowing it. Now I had learned how to refine it and work with it.
So now that You understand what magic really is to me, the next thing to cover is spells.
Spells are a specific type of magical action. There are many types of spells. You have herbal spells which would deal with herbal lore, crystal and gem magical spells which deal with gems and crystals, you have kitchen magic (which involved food as well as oils, soaps, and other objects), you have candle magic which uses primarily candles as their magical aids, There is the art of evocation which are spells that call and work with specific spirits. Basically any action performed with an intent towards obtaining a desire and a change in your life could be considered a spell.
I have heard it argued that energy manipulation performed during healing sessions like Reiki, Polarity Treatments, Integrated Energy Therapy, and several others is not a form of magic. I would have to disagree. I would call Reiki a very specific type of magic using a specific type of energy. The energy is manipulated and directed by the practitioner who controls the intent. You will have to come up with your own decision on if energy work is considered magic or not.
Ok. Enough of a lecture. It’s time for you to get your hands dirty and explore magic and energy manipulation You have to have an idea of what energy feels like in order to be able to direct any sort of energy in spell work and magical workings. So before I give you an outline for a simple spell for you I want you to understand the nature of the energy we work with when we work magic.
Energy exercise one:
This is a very simple exercise and will form the basic of any simple energy manipulation exercise. Put aside five minutes to do this exercise.
Sit or stand in a comfortable position.
Rub your hands together vigorously for about 20 seconds.
After rubbing your hands together hold them about 5 inches apart.
Slowly move your hands close to each other until you feel a magnetic “charge” between your hands.
Feel this force and focus on it.
Eventually you’ll be able to manipulate it’s size and shape. For now just focus on holding that force as long as you can.
Release the energy after the time you set aside and record your results.
Energy exercise two:
Set aside 5 minutes.
During these five minutes focus on nothing but an emotion, a desire, a goal, or an item.
During those five minutes focus all the mental energy into your hands and form that energy into a ball
After the five minutes are up release the thoughts and the energy at the same time.
Record your results in the book.
The second energy exercise listed there is a very simple form of magic called mental magic. It was the direction of thought and energy towards a specific goal and outcome. That is indeed magic. This is the sort of spell craft that requires no tools but your own mind and your own desires.
These sort of spells are what I use more often than not. I have used these sorts of spells and magical techniques for catching buses when running late, to calm me down before a test, to grant me wisdom and a quick mind when taking tests, for protection driving and in travel, and many other items.
I know not every one is comfortable with visualization and mental exercises. I said in the beginning of this post that I would provide a simple way of casting spells using house hold objects and now I will.
To craft a simple spell using only pen and paper requires only your imagination and a willingness to give magic a try.
On the paper write out or draw in the center something that represents your goal or need
Focus your emotional thoughts end energy into the writing of the words and the drawing of the images
Fold the paper stating a rhyme or phrase about your desire over and over.
Once the folded paper with your desire has reached a small amulet/charm size that you can carry with you tie the bundle with a knot
Direct the energy raised through the chant and the actions into the object and into the universe.
Carry the new talisman with you until your desire comes true.
Now I’m sure you would like a sample spell that follows that outline so here we go:
Materials: Coin Paper Pen Green Ribbon
On the paper write your wish for money to come to you include any details you feel are necessary such as job desires (if employment is what you seek) what you need the money for and any other things that come to mind
Once you have written out a list of what you desire and need the money for place the coin in the middle of the paper Start folding the paper
As you fold the paper state: “Ever shall the money flow to me Free from debt as of now will I be”
Once the paper has been folded into a small bundle that can be kept in the wallet take out the ribbon.
Wrap the folded bundle in the green ribbon several times. As you wrap the bundle repeat the chant above. After several passes tie a knot and place the wrapped bundle into your wallet or pocket until your financial problems cease
What they are and the forms they can take
The overall purpose of this blog is to help seekers find simple advice on how to find their own way. I do this by providing lessons I have learned and by answering some of the most common questions I have been asked in my years of posting on message boards and e-mail lists regarding witchcraft, paganism, and spirituality. To be honest I understand the question as it was something I wondered about myself over the years, but have recently decided I have an understanding of how guides will manifest in a person’s life (and trust me they are not all what you would expect).
The questions I am referring to are:
- “What are spirit Guides?
- What forms can guides take?
- How do I contact them?
- Why do we need them?
This essay is going to focus specifically on the topics of what spiritual guides are and what some of the forms they can take. I figure this would be a good starting point. In order to contact and find out who/what your spiritual guides are you need to at least know what they are and the forms they can take. Next week I will write about why we need them and how to contact them.
Before I continue writing this post I need to explain how I define a guide in my path. The thing is I don’t limit guides to just spirits and other worldly beings that I work with and have contacted. Guides for me can come in the form of authors, teachers, poets, ect. For me a guide is any one who provides you something on a spiritual level that has an effect on the way you view the world.
So that means a guide could be basically anything right?
Yes. However the effect the being has on you should be quite profound. I can’t tell you what to classify as a profound experience. It’s one of those things you know when it happens. If the author inspires you to think about things in a new way they can be a guide. If they give you advice that seems to click with your intuition they are in many cases a guide.
To be honest I have learned somethings about nature simply by watching the world around me and it had an impact on my world view. In that way nature herself would be one of my most important spiritual guides. Yet she is not the only guide I have. I have given a few examples of people you may consider guides, but I think a more direct explanation of each of the examples is important.
I’ll start with the obvious concept of teachers being guides. To be honest one of my guides in recent history has become my first philosophy teacher. He is the one who has basically told me to start writing. He also suggested that I do something with my passion for philosophy, anthropology, religion, mythology, and metaphysics into something I can do with my life. He also said that I need to get into academia.
He has encouraged me to work on my dream. That’s one of the reasons I have started this project. It has helped me work on polishing my writing and getting my thoughts out clearer. It also gets my name and voice out there. Even though this information is given freely, it is still published. The material is still out there and accessible for any one who desires it.
Next you have authors. Many people read a lot of books when they are starting out. I was no different and to be honest I still read as much as I can. I have found that there are some authors who have influenced me more than others. I consider those authors to also be guides as they are providing me with text and information that I have been able to apply to my spiritual development and growth. I have been taking classes with one of those authors who is now a teacher.
If that writers work clicks with you and you suddenly seem to have a better understanding of something you have been struggling with that would be an author I would consider a guide. Now this can be poets, musicians, fictional authors, neo-pagan authors, philosophers, myths or what not. In the end what matters is if the work has an effect on your path and understanding of the universe.
Finally in the physical world you have your role models. To me a role model is someone you look up to and you try to be like. They have inspired you in some way to be the person you want to be, and you feel that they have had an impact on your life. Role models come in all shapes and sizes, and to be honest I have a few myself though if you were to ask me it would take me a minute to tell you one of them.
So far guides have essentially been people who has changed your life in some way. That’s true. They have pinpointed you and helped you out. A guide should never give you the answers and advice you seek directly. They should provide hints or insight into their own struggles or opinions, but in the end you are the one who has to do the work. This is more prevalent when you are dealing with “spirit guides”.
The key term in spirit guide is the word spirit. It has come to the point in the essay where I must actually get into the metaphysical aspect. I am ending with this so I can start the essay with a review of what spirits are and then get onto how to contact them and end with why they are so important.
So what is a spirit?
To me there are many types of spirits. I essentially see them as beings that live in this worlds and in the other worlds that do not have a physical form as we understand it in this world. They are the elves, faes and the ghosts. These are the dragons and gnomes, slyphs and undines, and angels as well. Any being mentioned in lore that does not exist in this physical world but in the spirit world are spirits.
When you deal with spirit guides there are things you need to keep in mind. The first thing is they they will trick you occasionally as a test of your own wisdom and intuition. They will also speak in riddles. Some times there are no words spoken, but you get images or sensations. The communication is going to come in which ever way they feel will get their messages across to you in a way that you will understand. You also have to know that they are no infallible. Spirits don’t know everything and its absurd to think that they do. They may have insight that we don’t due to the nature of what they are and their existence, but they don’t know everything.
Ok. So what forms can spirit guides take?
The most common form aside from an angel is that of an animal. Some people would call these beings your totems, but I do not as totem is a term that applies specifically to a Native American practice. Other paths have other terms for animal guides. Myself I just think of them as my animal guides.
The animal guide or guides you have are typically aspects of yourself that are hidden or that you need to understand. Many people have guides that represent aspects of themselves that they need to face up to and confront, others the animals have special meanings to the person. The first assumption that many people have is that the animal guide will appear in the form of an animal you like or enjoy. The fact is there is no guarantee of that fact. Your guide may be an animal that you hate, and if that is the case there is a lesson there for you.
One form that is common amongst those who follow a more ancestral worship path is to have an ancestor actually be one of your guides. Maybe this ancestor is a recently passed loved one, or maybe it’s a few further generations back. This is an ancestor that has come to help you on your way. In either case if your guide is a family member and not some magnificent being be respectful. To be honest I would prefer to have ancestral guides than an other being as they are actually tied to my blood and my wyrd and thus my fate.
There are angels. Angels are any beings that serve as messengers to the gods. They are intermediaries between the Gods and us at times. They also have wills of their owns at times. They can choose their friends and teach them their crafts. Angels are beings of mass power and should be respected as such.
There are many other beings that can be your guides over the years. Some people believe that Matron and Patron Gods can be guides, but I see that differently. Divine beings are more than guides. They are divine beings and are Gods. They rule many things and have more important things to do than to teach you. They may have lessons for you, but in the end its a riddle what those things are.
The list could go on. I have covered some of the most common guides that people see. I hope that this has been a helpful essay and will provide you with a lot of insight. Next week you will be able to have some technique and tips on how to contact the guides and why they are important. Even if you don’t know your guides right now, you do have them.
For any one who has ever gone to a temple or attended a church service of any kind you are typically familiar with some sort of altar. The altar is a place where sacred texts are placed, where candles are lit, prayers are murmurer, and worship happens. In witchcraft and magic the altar can serve as any number of things. Some paths encourage and use the word altar and others prefer terms like shrine or work bench and anything in between. There are so many different concepts and terms associated with altars here that the purpose of an altar is hotly debated.
In regards to Pentalism the altar actually has three different purposes. In an ideal situation those who follow the path of Pentalism (which can be practiced solitary as I am now) will have three different types of altars. Each of the altars would serve a different purpose. So there are three purposes to an altar in Pentalism. All three of the purposes and all three types of altars will be covered here now.
The primary purpose is to focus as the center point of worship. The next part is more spiritual than religious. This is the “shrine” type of altar. The final type of an altar is that of the workbench. All three aspects of the altar come into play in ritual. Once and a while they will also work together in the form of spell craft. That however depends on the type of spell you are working. For now I am going to focus on the spells and magical practices that would use an altar and the ritual uses of the altar.
Before I can talk about the use of an altar in magic I must discuss the use of an altar in ritual. I find that before magic is practiced some sort of spiritual and religious background is required. Having either a spiritual (which does not need to be religious) background or a religious background will allow a person to have a philosophy in which to base and construct their magic. That is why the second type and purpose of the altar discussed will be that of the shrine and the final use will be that of the magical workbench.
So in ritual the altar serves as a few things. In some ways it serves as the focal point. On the altar there are two figures or representations. One for the God and one foe the Goddess being worshiped at that time and sabbat. At times there may be two Gods and Goddesses involved in which case you would need two different representations on the altar or in the center of the circle (one for each God and Goddess).
So what does the altar have on it for content?
Aside from the representation on deity, there are the symbols of the elements and the elemental guardians. How the elements are important will be discussed in the posts of elements and spirits as well as cosmology. You also have the offering bowl for the libation and the plate for the food. There is typically something in the very center to represent the ancestors. You also have the tools for the creation of sacred space (which will be covered in the circles post) on the altar which will include wands, earth, candles, incence, and the like.
Ok. That covers the equipment. So the next thing to cover is how they are used actually in ritual. The use in ritual depends entirely on what sort of ritual you are performing. Each of the traditions and types of witchcraft that form the foundation of this tradition have different styles of rituals and different tools they use in ritual. The equipment and altar set up is going to vary.
The one common practice and use of the altar in all of the rituals is the place where the offerings to deity are placed. That is why this is the primary purpose of the altar in ritual. While all the tools used in the various forms of ritual are placed on the altar, in essence it’s key role is to hold the offering to deity in the liquid and physical state as well as the gaseous state (incense burning in ritual can been seen as offerings if they are blessed and lit with that intention as part of the ritual).
There. I have covered the basic needs and purposes of an altar when it comes to ritual. The next thing I am going to discuss is the use of an altar as a shrine. While I see all shrines as a type of altar, not all altars are shrines. I’ll eventually get to the full aspect of a shrine in a later post. For now there is a basic purpose that any seeker and any beginner to any path can use.
A shrine here is a place that is sacred. It is blessed and consecrated in the honor of the beings that the shrine is for. On the shrine you can place any images or representations of the beings you like. It also holds a place for offerings to those beings and is a place that prayers to those beings can be offered.
At this moment I have two shrines. I have one for dragons and one for the ancestors and the spirits of this land. The concept of the ancestors will be discussed tomorrow in my second A post for the pagan blog project. Ideally I would have at least five more. One for each of the elements and one for the spirit of the land and the hearth/home (which in my case is the same being as I told the spirit of the land my apartment is on that she could come in to the apartment in the winter if she felt like warming up in the cold *her home is a giant oak which has scattered hair [my own] and coins around it as offerings to her*). For now the elements will have to have their small representations on the main altar and the heart/home and land spirit shrine will be shared with my ancestral shrine.
So an altar holds offerings and ritual tools. A shrine as an altar is a place for offerings to those beings and prayers. It also contains symbols and representations of those beings. That covers the first two aspects and roles of an altar. Both of those were ritual and spiritualistic based. Can we get to the workbench and magical aspect now?
Yes we can. The third role of an altar is that of the workbench. When an altar is functioning in this form it primarily has to deal with magical work. While many witches and pagans do practice magic as a form or part of their rituals, magic does not have to take the form of ritual magic or work. Right now I am going to talk about pure spell crafting and casting that would require and altar to function as a work bench.
So before I can talk about spells and spell craft and magic I should probably define what magic is right?
Um yeah. That would be helpful. So how do you define magic?
Magic for me has three distinct definitions and aspects. There is the aspect of performing an act to cause a change in the universe. There is the act of wishing and visualizing, and finally there is the aspect of energy manipulation. The energy manipulation and the act of causing a change are often considered to be the same thing. I do not see it as such. That is why I will cover all three aspects of magic separately starting with energy manipulation.
The most common definition was coined by Alister Crowley which basically is “The art and science of causing change in conformity with one’s will”. In that aspect I take it a bit further. As a practice and process for me magic is the art and science of causing a change in ones world and the universe by manipulating and directing the subtle energies that exist in this world.
There are many ways to raise and direct this energy. There will be more information on that covered in a few more posts later. For now the most typical way of raising energy is through chanting and repetitive motion. Once the energy is raised you direct the energy out to the universe to have it manifest your goal. That is an energy manipulated specific spell.
In spell crafting a workbench may often be required. This is the magical function of an altar. While you work spells you often need a place to hold the materials you are using to craft and perform your spell. The materials you use will depend entirely on what sort of spell you are crafting and performing. The types of magic worked are so various that the tools and materials found on workbenches depends entirely on the personal flavor of each witch and spell caster.
So what sort of tools or materials can we see on an altar as a work bench? That depends on the type of magic and the spell you are performing. If you are a kitchen witch (one who performs magic and spell craft through the foods and drink we ingest) then you will have spices, meats, herbs, baking and cooking supplies and maybe candles or stones. Some one who works just herbal magic will have different herbs and a candle typically as well as a censer for burning incense. Candle magic involves candles (based on color and needs) and oils. Prayers can be magical as can wishes. It all involves the type of magic you are performing.
There are the various uses of an altar in pentalism. I mentioned that they can sometimes be mixed in ritual and spiritual work. This is true. When I discuss the wheel of the year I’ll explain a bit about fertility. For me fertility takes many forms. One of them is simply the ability to provide for yourself and have all the needs you have in your life. That is where magic can be applied in rituals. When I discusses ceremonial magic there will be more information about that.
There you have it. I hope I have given you some idea as to the role and use of an altar. I also hope I have given you some idea as to what you might put on it for yourself. My personal altar changes on
This week one of the possible prompts for the Pagan Blog Project for the letter E was eclectic paganism and eclectic witchcraft in the form of “neo-Wicca”. Over the last few days I have read several different blogs from the Pagan blog project on this topic. While there have been many valid insights there are some things I feel that I should say about myself.
Here is the first part of the prompt:
Eclectic practice is something that can be a big debate in different part s of the Pagan community. Some feel that being eclectic opens you up to a whole world of ideas and tools that with the more narrow view of a specific tradition just isn’t available. Yet others feel that being eclectic equates to a practice that is lacking in structure and commitment to anything. Are you eclectic? -Rowan Pendragon
Yes. I am eclectic. I am both an eclectic witch and an eclectic pagan. I find that the two are very different practices. While I do use my witchcraft to help me connect to deity and as a part of my worship to deity, it is primarily a non religious practice a craft. The deities I worship with my craft are responsible for the core mysteries of the witchcraft tradition I am developing and sharing through these pages and writings. That being said I do accept that witchcraft is essentially a craft and a philosophy that while spiritual in nature can be adapted to any philosophy or religion.
I however say that I am an eclectic pagan because I am not limited to one ritual set or technique. I am not limited to any one pantheon or cultural way. I do not have to worship or follow the typical 8 sabbbats found in most witchcraft traditions (which I do honor as well). I can worship any deity I want with any holiday I choose.
I have used Hellenic rituals to honor Zeus and other Hellenic Gods. I have had an ecstatic ritual invoking Pan and have been in states of ecstasy and panic created from the worship of Pan that forced me to face my sexual fears and my deepest personal fears. I have also felt the caress of Dionysus while drunk on booze and enjoying liquor. While I have only celebrated one Hellenic festival and it was years ago, I still have that deep connection to Pan.
I have held Blots and Symbels in honor of the Aesir, Vanir, some of the frost Giants. I use the Nine Nobel virtues as the corner stone of my philosophy when it comes to my world view and ethical views. I have experimented with runes and the Seax worship of Odin and Freya (it didn’t work for me). I have started to explore a few Germanic holidays that might not be followed by people other than the Asatru and Heathen recons.
I have done a full moon esbat to Diana according to The Gospel of Aradia and Strega traditions. I still have a lot to learn about Strega and the other deities. However I feel strong in my connection to Diana through the Gospel of Aradia. The most recent connection I have felt to any deity was during that ritual this past summer.
While I am interested in Celtic and Native American traditions I have not pursued them. I know that in many cases those cultures are closed to outsiders. While my own teacher (Chris Penczak) has a connection to some of the Celtic deities, I am not comfortable making that connection as I am not of that blood. From what knowledge I have been able to research even with my adoption I have no connection to Scotland or Ireland. The only possible Celtic connection to me would be in England if there are any to be found with in Anglo-saxon English culture.
I was raised in the United Church of Christ. To this day I have never accepted the core trinitarian philosophy of the UCC that God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit were one person. I do believe in Jesus and I do believe in the Holy Spirit and God. I just think that they are all separate entities. I think that they are all connected that Jesus is a Demi-God and the son of God as well as a prophet, teacher, and wise man. I believe in God. I just don’t worship Jehova/Yaweh/Allah (the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) as my exclusive god. I worship any God I chose when I chose.
As an eclectic pagan like I said I am not limited to exploring and experiencing the rituals and celebrations of just one cultural practice. That being said if I worship a deity from the Roman pantheon I try to worship them with those rituals. In that respect I have started to answer the second question asked by Rowan which was:
What are your thoughts on eclectic vs. traditional practice ?
When it comes to my religious witchcraft experiences I can’t really explain. I have a deep interest in Wicca and those traditional rites and rituals. However there are practical issues and other things that prevent that from happening. I wish I could be a part of a traditional group of some sort. I long for the commitment of repeated rituals with mass power behind them, a community, and a set of core rituals and practices that have already been developed. I long for that sort of setting.
When it comes to the exploration of the other paths I have tried to practice in the traditional way. It can be difficult. I find that the traditional practice makes the connection with the deities a lot easier as the rites are typically found with in the lore in some way.
I find security in tradition. It helps me cement my practice and create foundations that are strong. The foundations built on tradition are stronger. I believe strongly in the power of tradition, habit, and practice. To me these help develop sign posts on the path, and tradition gives validation to personal experience.
This is why I am an odd eclectic. I have explored many paths and taken several things. When I explore I use recon methodology. I read the lore and I read academic sources if they are available. I read and research the history. I have discussions with other recons. I pray and make introduction based offerings to the Gods. I use tradition.
I find that I am going to eventually find one recon path to stick to. However for now I feel that I need to explore all paths open to me at this point in time. I will always keep the worship of the various deities separate. I do not believe that they are all the same. I do not believe that all Gods are one God and all Goddesses one Goddess. I believe that all Gods are individual entities. That is why I keep the worship of the various deities separate. I find that honors and respects them.
I find that eclectic practice where you take different deities in worship them in context that they were never worshiped in before (Hindu deities in a Neo-Pagan witch) is not acceptable. While there have been some deities that have been worshiped in the context of other traditions (The Hellenic, Roman, and Kemetic deities were all interacting via the cross-cultural worship and interaction at the time) I find that in the end, the comparisons are usually fairly off and done with little deep research into the myths and lore as well as traditions of those people.
That is why I as an eclectic keep the worship of every different pantheon separate. I find that it helps me bond with them and the culture better this way. It also helps me gain a deeper understanding of the culture through the exploration of the rituals. Plus I gain a modern understanding through anthropological research.
Now I must begin the topic of “Eclectic neo-Wicca” and my feelings about that. I do not accept people who practice an eclectic form of religious witchcraft based loosely on the teachings of proper Wiccan rites as Wiccan. I do accept them as witches. In fact I firmly believe as an eclectic religious witch there is an established traditions for us.
Wait eclectic tradition?
Yes. Eclectic tradition. My personal library contains several books on “Eclectic witchcraft”, as well as Wicca and traditional witchcraft (not even mentioning my recon sources as well). I have found that essentially if you look at the books that label themselves as “eclectic Wicca” there are essentially core rites and rituals practiced. While the individual practitioner may be a soft polytheist who uses other deities aside from the MMC and horned God (which I was when I started and I will have a post on this later at some point) in their rituals the actual content of the rituals is the same. The words may be different, but the intent and the format are the same.
That is why I see eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft to be a cohesive tradition. The various deities found in the tradition are different but the ritual format and content are the same. I have found that even when looking at the various witch traditions out there: (Cabot, Temple, Blackforest, Standing Stone, and many others) they have the same core rituals and sabbats. While the individual interpretations were different and may use different deities the overall mythology is the same.
My religious witchcraft is eclectic. I have taken from traditional witchcraft (Through Robin Artisson and a few other authors), The “Wiccan literature” out there (Gardner, Frosts, Sanders), I have taken from Hermetic literature (The Kybalion), Shamanic literature, and Eclectic Witchcraft as well as some Thelemic literature (The LBRP). My practice melds all of these together into one whole unit that works. How this is developing I am still not fully aware. Its just developing.
However none of that makes my practice in any way Wiccan. Nor does it make me Wiccan. I have not been initiated into Wicca. I have not learned the rites of Wicca, nor have I experienced the mysteries of Wicca, nor do I know the names of the deities in Wicca. I am not Wiccan. I may never be Wiccan. I am a witch as the religious and magical practice that primarily drives me is derived from various forms of Witchcraft.
In discussions I have had with other people in regards to the nature of the magical craft called witchcraft one constant comment has been that witchcraft as a craft is eclectic in nature. It is something that is going to be developed individually by each witch.
As a magical practice I primarily define witchcraft as dealing with the folk lore and folk traditions of European countries both continental (German, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden) or Island (England, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland,). This magical practice contains lore from all of these sources and have adapted to include some Christian influenced charms over the years.
It is this adaptability that has allowed Witchcraft to survive. It’s no wonder that witches are often considered to be ‘cunning”. Witchcraft has many forms from protection from witches (witch bottles and many protection charms during the puritan era in America fit into this category). Some of the practices can be traced to fairy tales, and others more to local legends and traditions. The fact of the mater is that as a magical practice witchcraft has always adapted and will always be adaptable due to its eclectic nature.
As I mentioned before essentially witchcraft as a magical practice is going to be created by each individual witch. While there may be some spells and charms passed on through oral lore or in the form of a Grimiore ( or Book of Shadows) essentially every witch must find what works for them selves. This is why constant trial and error is important. That is why constant study and exploration is important.
My witchcraft involves angelic forces from time to time. It can involve elemental spirits, dragons, other spirits, ancestors, gods or just my own energy. The spells I create can involve intense energy manipulation or little to none. They can involve manipulating physical objects or they can involve simply focusing mental energy. My magic is varied and allows for experimentation and development.
The final question asked in the prompt this week by Rowan was:
how do you feel eclectic work benefits you if that’s the path you follow?
I have found several benefits to being an eclectic pagan. One of the key benefits is that I can widen my network of contacts and I can increase my experiences. I have found that by honestly going into the various Recon and eclectic or traditional groups saying that I am a seeker who seeks genuine wisdom and experiences. I do not know if my path lies along the lines of a specific tradition or if I am suited more to always be an eclectic. For now I wish to simply discuss and learn from you about your groups practices that they will be more willing to accept me.
Another benefit has been the ability to constantly explore and try new things. As I said before in this post I am not limited to any specific holiday calendar or ritual setting. By being an eclectic I have opened myself up to the possibilities to be found in any and every path out there. I don’t have to experience the mysteries of the universe (and I believe every path to have a unique set of mysteries available to them) through just one culture. I can experience many mysteries.
The largest drawback I have found to be that I have to constantly be studying. As an eclectic I have to constantly be reading and expanding my references for various paths. I have to look into history and culture. I have to look into modern telling of myths and folk lore as well as more of the literal translations of source texts.
I have to look at personal experience. I have to compare it to lore and experiences by other people. I have to keep a record of what I have done and what I hope to experience. There is a lot of exploration that comes with being an eclectic. There are times that the work may not seem worth it, but in the end I find it worth it.
I am an eclectic because I am a philosopher in the truest sense of the word. I am a lover and seeker of wisdom and knowledge. That may explain the various deities I have connections to (Zeus, Odin, Thoth, Friga, ect). I believe that there is wisdom to be found any where. You just have to be open to the possibilities.
Could I be wrong?
Yes. However I have found that the journey is worth it. I have found that in the end I seek to find wisdom where I can. I might not agree with every practice I read, and frankly not all of the rituals I have experiences have sat well with me. The fact that I keep going shows that I have the one key virtue that all eclectics need:
To be an eclectic witch and an eclectic pagan is to have the courage to explore, test, and question everything that is out there. It is to test your self and your practice. It is the courage to try things that other people might not. It is the courage to experiment and fail and try again.
Is it worth it?
I think so. I find enjoyment and pleasure out of reading about, researching, experiencing, and exploring various religions and philosophy. I find enjoyment out of pondering the nature of the universe. I find enjoyment out of exploring all avenues of wisdom and learning. I am in that ways happy to be a college student.
For those reasons and more I am an eclectic. I tread the border between being a traditionalist. I hold that traditions should remain in tact. I hold that traditions are meant to be done a specific way for specific reasons. In that way I am a traditionalist. In that I am open to more than one tradition or way of thinking I am eclectic. Just because it’s tradition doesn’t mean it’s the only way, but it also doesn’t mean that traditions should be discounted.