Category Archives: Exploration
Grimoire: My Record system
Most witches out there have books that they keep their rituals and spells in. Many traditions call this book a Book of Shadows. In this book they write down all their rituals, all their spells, and any work that they do with spirits and spiritual beings. This record becomes in many way our personal sacred texts and documents. In some cases witches can use their experiences within their records and books to in effect create the lore for their own system and practices.
Like most witches I do have my own magical book and record system. I actually used to have several different books that I would keep. In an effort to keep all of the rituals from the different systems I studied separate as they were all separate systems I decided to keep my notes and my notes books separate. Its only recently that they have been combined back into one book, at least for the time being.
As a solitary and primarily self directed witch I have the freedom to basically record any information I want in any way that I want. This means that I can have articles from magazines in there as well as any personal reflections. My book is really personal and is my own record. Though this book will in the end be used as the basis for the tradition I would like to found and teach, in general my book is something that really only makes sense to myself.
Now I call my book a Grimoire for many reasons. The term book of shadows just never seem to fit. For one thing I have never been in the shadows with my practice at all. I have always been open and upfront about it. I have never hidden my practice. Though I might not have discussed it or brought it up in front of some family members I’ve never really made any attempts to hide the fact that I am and have always been a witch. So the concept of a book of shadows when I am not in the shadows didnt make any sense.
The other reason is that my book has more than just spells, rituals, and invocations. My book has theory and exercises. It has lore and poetry. My book basically contains the sum of my spiritual knowledge and experience over the years. In this book I have recorded the names of spirits I work with, their personalities, and much more. This book could in essence be used to teach my path to another person. It provides step by step exercises with reflections to give an idea of what could be experienced. The book even has some of the realms and other worlds I have visited listed in there with details.
I also like the term Grimoire. So I use it for my own practices. I know that its not one of the great Grimoires of Ceremonial Magic and Invocation traditions, but for me it still is a Grimoire. Other people when they have read my book will be able to look at it and perform the rituals and the works in there and have effective practices. They can use my book as a step by step manual for the works I have done.
The other thing is that I have material from the official Temple Tradition Grimoire for the first degree in my book as well. The Temple material does have its own book as well. However the material also belongs in my book as I have experiences based on the training found in the Temple tradition. That is the other reason I call my book a Grimoire. If the Temple tradition calls its ritual handbook a Grimoire, than I think I can call my book the same thing. I am after all scribing information from the Temple text into my own text as well.
One thing I am going to try and be better about is actually recording and writing down my rituals and my spells. I’m the sort of witch who may not always write down the rituals and spells that they have performed. For this reason there are large gaps in my book of dates. I also don’t have any information from my early days as a witch. That first book is long gone. So working on my Grimoire is actually one of the ways I have started to get my spirituality back on track.
I have all kinds of notes from books I have read that need to be transcribed into my Book. I am also going to sift through my diaries of a couple years. I know in several of my diary entries I have thoughts on Gods, Goddesses, and my spirituality. The notes and the diary entries will provide more material for my book and show me even more places where I have grown and where my spiritual paths have developed. I just need to spend the time to sort my notes and find out where in my book they will belong.
I do hope that in time I can create different books of Grimoire style work. I want to have a book just for Dragon work. That way in that book I have only information that relates to dragons. By separating that information it also makes it easier to find exactly what I am looking for in my books. The same goes for my work with Germanic paganism and Greek Paganism. I’m also creating a prayer book and a specific spell book. The creation of these books is part of my spiritual development and my spiritual practices. It relates to my view of the importance of the sacred scribe.
Over the next few weeks my Grimoire is going to get more information into it. I am going to be adding spells I have posted on websites and I am going to be adding in all sorts of additional correspondence information and the like. I may have to end up making the main book into separate books any way as this one is already quite full. So I may end up with theory and exercises in one book with rituals and correspondences in another book. We shall see how things develop over time.
I know that as I study Hoodoo and get recipes for various items and spells I will be including those in my book as well. I already have a few recipes for different types of water in my book. Soon I am going to add spells to the book. I just got to the spell centric section of one of the books I have been reading and working through. So that in itself is going to add a bit of stuff to my book. I’m always busy developing something spiritually between my business and this new maintenance of my Grimoire there is always something new to do and make.
We live in a world filled with a rather large variety of plants and animals. Learning about them and their lives is a fun and exciting thing to do. Working with the energy of plants and animals is something that witches do. Lately I have noticed a trend of people looking away and wanting to throw away some aspects of religious and spiritual traditions. The one aspect I see people ignoring more than others is the use of substances in spiritual and religious practices. This is something I personally want to preserve and keep around.
So today’s post is going to be on the use of Entheogens in spiritual and religious practices. As this is my personal blog I feel free to discuss this topic here. On my other blog (Seeker sight) I focus on topics and posts that can help beginners find their paths. I focus there for on subjects that are appropriate for people just starting out in their spiritual path. For me the practice and use of Entheogens even as a curious study and exploration is not something that a beginner needs to read or worry about So it gets posted here.
Using substances to experience Gods and spirits
As I mentioned the use of substances in ritual to achieve a trance state where one can engage with spirits and Gods effectively is a practice traditional among many different cultures. Different cultures have different substances that they use to engage in spirit flight or spirit activity. The various tribal shamans and witches who use these substances are instructed on their use by their masters and their teachers as well as by the plant spirits themselves.
Before I begin to describe an explain why some people may engage in the use of Entheogens let’s look at exactly what Entheogen as a term means and why the uses of these varied herbs is so successful. If the technique and uses didn’t work people would not continue the traditional practices. So they do work for a reason. Lets see what that reason is.
In his book Hedge Rider Eric De Vries defines Entheogens as:
Entheogen means bringing forth the God and is the name used for herbal substances that are used for spiritual and or magical purposes. The important thing to remember is that entheogens are rarely used for recreational purposes. Not because they have limited effect, but because they aren’t really fun
This definition right here says all that needs to be said. Entheogens bring forth the experiences of God and spirit. They are used ritually to create a trance where they can experience, interact with, and work with the force of God. Each herbal substance is going to be different and have different effects on the mind and the body. For this reason it is important to study the substances and their uses. It is also practical to actually be instructed by some one who engages in this practice. Some herbs can be very dangerous if not handled and processed properly.
At the end of the statement about not being used recreational De Vries makes a very good point. Entheogens are not used recreational. Its not that they don’t have an effect that people enjoy or can get use out of. That’s not the issue at all. The issue here is that the experiences are not “fun”. Its not something to do because you are bored. Entheogens are sacred and using them in recreational ways takes away the sacred.
In order to effectively work with the entheogen and the God force you need to work hard to establish a specific mind frame for the work. You need to train yourself to be sensitive to spirits, to calm your mind, and to be able to visualize the experiences with the Gods or spirits. Its difficult to train your mind.
The other thing is that there are some entheogens that take a lot of time and energy to prepare. One of the legendary entheogens associated with witches and witchcraft is the famous flying ointment. This was a salve that the witches spent a long time crafting and making. When the herbal mixture was applied to the body astral travel and spirit work could commence.
Sometimes these mixtures contained deadly herbs. Most of the flying ointment recipes we have found scraps of related to traditional witchcraft involve herbs like belladonna, wolfbane, nightshade, and yew to name a few. The actual recipes and proportions have long been lost. Crafting the flying ointments of the past traditional witches with those herbs is dangerous. This is why today softer and calmer herbs are used in modern flying ointments.
Today there are other more effective herbs that we know cause the same effect as the herbs mentioned above and are safer and better known. While I personally find the past recipes interesting and worth study, and I would watch some one make them, I personally have no interest in working with those. I have found other herbs give me just as powerful of a trance state while being safer. These are also herbs I have studied and done other work with.
My experience with entheogens comes in the form of herbal smokes. I have worked with catnip, mugwort, and Capillaris Herba
Artemisia capillaris also known as Yerba Lena Yesca. My smoke blend currently has a mixture of all of them for a balance. When I smoke this blend my awareness of my mental state increases. My sensitivity to smells and surroundings increases. I can through this also have more control over my awareness and more easily reach an out of body astral state for communication with spirits and deities.
Entheogens alone do not make the experience work though. I also use mental training as well as incenses, sound, lighting, and seated position to engage in trance work. The entheogens give me easier access to these mental states and often allow for more clarity of experience and extended experiences. I am relaxed which allows the trance states to come more naturally. This is also why they last longer.
Entheogens for me are one tool that I have in my bag for working with spirits. I have found it to be an effective tool. I do not smoke the mixture outside of doing some sort of spiritual work. The mixture was crafted and blessed for that sort of work and to use it on anything else to me is a waste of the mixture. It also takes away from the sacred ritual of the preparation, the working, and the blessing that comes with its use in spiritual work.
For years I was interested in the use of substances in spiritual practices. I was well aware of the use of peyote in a Native Church. I was also aware of the fact that shamans and spirit workers for centuries had engaged in this sort of spirit work. I was interested in the use and workings of substances in ritual. I was afraid of trying it, and it also felt taboo. All of the books and websites I had read on my spiritual path had all said that substances of any sort were not a part of witchcraft at all and anything saying such should walk away from that material.
There has been a trend in the modern new age and spiritual practices to discount any experiences had under the influences of any sort of substance. There have been arguments made that today we can leave those tools and practices behind us as we have other less damaging methods of gaining trance. They also claim we have a better understanding of the mind and mental processes today and through that we have learned how to get in and out of these trance states at will without the use of substances.
While all of what they say about mental processes and the ability to get in and out of trance at will without substance use today is true, it doesn’t mean that there is anything less spiritual about experiences under substances. They are sacred plants and it is a sacred tradition for many cultures. I see no reason to ignore this aspect of spirit world work traditions. I have simply chosen to work a combination of the ancient traditions and modern work for effective means of contacting spirits and doing spirit world work.
The use of all aspects of plant medicine and plant properties has always been a part of magical practices. I see no reason to change that now. To ignore traditions and valid ways of gaining knowledge and experience for me is to ignore an aspect of the practices and cultures I have studied that was sacred and important to them. If I am gaining spiritual guidance and inspiration or influences from these cultures and practices I need to be informed of all aspects of practices associated with the cultures.
So I stand outside of many people with this view on entheogens and substances. I know that and I accept that. For me I know that not everything I do and study will appeal to everyone. Not everyone will feel the same way about things as I do, and they don’t have to. So long as no one tries to stop me from using legal herbs in my entheogen work I have no problems with their objections to my use.
After writing my blog post for last weeks entry in the Pagan Blog project I have spent some time going over the first instructional Hoodoo book I read. I actually wrote a review of the book and posted it several places online. I’m realizing now just how much correspondence information was in this book to start with. Now I am adding the information to a notebook. I’m writing down the recipes and the associations.
What I have just finished reading was a section on candle lore. There is still more to this section for me to learn and write down. I have candle colors and candle movements written down from this book. The next section I’m taking notes on is interpreting candle wax. It’s going to be a busy evening of writing down associations, recipes, and notes. However writing it in the notebook, then in my records and in an online types form will help me process the information better than I do anything else.
I’ve found the behavior of candle flames section of the lore and practice to be rather interesting. Its not something I had ever considered before in my workings with various types of fire. I may just start to be more mindful when I do more candle work. This section of the book has also made me realize that I definitely need to increase my stock of candles. I don’t have nearly as many non scented small working candles as I would like.
Well that basically consists of what I have done today for an exercise. I am going to do a bit more later on. There is still time in the day. It may be 5 in the evening but that still gives me plenty of time to do more studying, do a ritual or a working. It even gives me time to do other things as well.
As I work through the chapter in the Hoodoo book on elemental magic I realize I have a lot of new ideas to work with in connection to my work with elemental forces and magic. I have always loves working with elemental magic. All of the spells I write are typically based on working magic based on a single element or maybe more based on the context. Now I have several new ideas to consider when working elemental magic.
I know that the incense list, the water list, and even some of the color symbol lists in this book is not complete. I also know that it does not represent all of Hoodoo. I do know that these specific items I have found have given me many different concepts and ideas to work with. I for example never considered looking at the behavior of candles when I work magic with them as a part of understanding if the spell is going to work or not. I also have never really considered the practice of working with dirt or earth from various locations until now.
I am grateful that I have all of these opportunities to develop my own magical theories and practices through the exploration of several different systems. I had been using some concepts found in Cunningham’s two elemental magic books for my spell work as well as the idea of ribbons and tying knots for magic. Now I am exploring other traditions and styles of working magic.
I know with Hoodoo that I have a lot to learn. I also know I should look at my own motives for wanting to learn and practice this style of magic. I have some ideas for why I might be interested but I am not sure if they are enough at times to be honest. I’m also not sure entirely if I as a white female have a right to practice an African American folk magic tradition that was developed because of slavery. There are some ethical considerations here that I am working through.
I need to in the next few days also submit my application for training in different traditions and styles of witchcraft. I am going to do my best to establish daily exercises and training practices for psychic development skills as well as magical skills in the mean time till the training starts. I know for myself that having a structure to my training imposed by a teacher has in the past always helped me maintain focus and be able to establish a daily spiritual practice.
So there is a lot brewing for me spiritually and magically right now. This is a dramatic change from a few weeks ago when I wanted to reconnect spiritually but had no motivation to do so. Now I have a lot of options and opportunities for me to study and grow. I’m trying to make decisions on where to go and what to do. Oddly enough that was my blog post today for the pagan blog project.
I do pray daily. I am currently consecrating and building power at my ancestral altar. I do need to do something about the candle I have there for them. The wick is basically unexposed and the wax walls are too high where even if it does burn the liquid wax will extinguish it instantly. I think I am going to try and soften the wax and melt is down on one side of the candle so that new wax will have a place to drip and fall while the wick can still be exposed and be lit for veneration purposes. Until I work with that I do offer them water daily and pray in the morning and at night a prayer I wrote. I also pray a slightly modified version of a prayer written by a Hoodoo author. That prayer resonated with me which is why I used it.
Right now the use of daily prayer has been the biggest way I have worked on developing a daily spiritual practice. Prayer I believe is a good first step. It offers communication and practice of talking to the spirits. It also offers time to connect mentally and spiritually with the sacred each day. So by doing so in the morning and in the evening I am effectively starting aspects of a daily practice where my spirituality and religion become part of my actual life.
The section of my book on Hoodoo I am working through taking notes and correspondences on is now focused on talismans and charms. This current section mentions several different animal parts that are traditionally used in Hoodoo work. Reading these ingredients and their uses as charms both intrigues me beyond belief and gives me the creeps at the same time. Some of the items I can sort of see getting easy of you for example raise chicken for meat or for eggs. You then would have access to chicken feet. Other things I’m not so sure about.
I do know that some of the items can also be bought frozen at regional specialty markets. I’ve gone through the local oriental markets and I have seen chicken feet in their frozen food section. So there are ways to get some of the animal part items listed with out having to kill them or physically obtain the items myself. Still its not always a comfortable thought for me. Its something that I actively struggle with in my Hoodoo studies.
This is one aspect of Hoodoo that I am still struggling with dealing with. The magical traditions and paradigms I have worked with up till now have all been very adamant about not using animal parts in their workings. When I started to look into traditional witchcraft though that aspect started to change. I started to become more aware of deeper traditions and the use of items like bones and blood of animals in rituals and spells to gain and consecrate their powers. Still because I had been raised against animal sacrifice and against the use of animal parts in spells and rituals for years the adjustment to this worldview change has been difficult.
I started to lift my ban on animal part works when I used snake skin successfully in several healing and rebirth spells. I realized then that if I was using snake skin what then would be so different about using a feather, or claws and whiskers of other animals that I could come across? Animals shed their fur. I know that house cats can and do on occasions shed their claws. If you come across these items in the wild and in nature while walking then they are gifts and I see no reason not to work with them.
To me that counts as finding the gift in nature or around you (road kill). Having your pet bring you the items also counts as finding them in nature. Here the idea is that the animal died natural causes, was killed by something else and you are taking advantage of it (like many animals and creatures in nature) or a combination of these. You didn’t kill it. You found it and used what you could for it. Bones are a good one to find and use this way.
I know some wolf refugee centers or rehab centers will gather the fur and package them for people to use in spells and rituals and other things. I have seen a few of these packaged. I may if I get a chance to visit the local wild animal shelter/rehab this spring/summer bring a bag with me specifically to look at the feathers of the birds in the area and see if I can get some to bring home.
In both of the above situations the items you find that belong to these animals are gifts from nature for you and you alone. They are to be respected and thanked. Like all gifts in nature something should be left as a token of your thanks as payment for the animals death (if they are dead) or for their shedding if they are alive. Though I dont know what I would give at the local rehab farm (set up to rehab the animals and also teach the children and adults in the state about the different wildlife we have and how to help them).
I could kill an animal to eat it. That i have no problem with. Its part of life. I personally believe in not killing an animal unless I intend to eat it. This is how I was raised. Even with eating it I would still try to find as many uses as I could for as much of the animal as possible. The skin would probably become leather for leather work.
I could also kill an animal if my survival depended on it (rabid animal attacking, bear/mountain lion attacks, etc). That though is self defense. Even if I killed an animal in self defense I would still eat it. They are meat after all. Why waste it? Though most of this sort of kill would probably get sacrificed to my Guides and Guardians that protect me in thanks for their protection.
So last night I finished the section in the book I am working through about using human parts in the spells and rituals. Once again like I felt with the animal parts I have some mixed feelings about this practice. Its something I have always had mixed feelings about. I’ve had major warnings early in my career and studies that witches don’t use those things and that doing so even with the best intentions can be incredibly dangerous.
There are somethings I have worked with already like hair and fingernails which I have no issue with. Hair is cut and can be kept and fingernails are trimmed regularly. I used hair in a mojo bag type of spell to personalize it and connect it to my fiance’. I have my own hair to be used in spells and rituals for the same reason. I don’t have any fingernail clippings but I may start keeping them.
I have thought about working with blood. Blood magic is something I have considered doing and I know that power that it would have. I just have not done it yet. Though there are a few spells and rituals I am working soon that I think a finger pricking for blood will be needed to boost the power and effectiveness of the spell. I also know that using your blood is a very traditional practice in many styles of magic. So it obviously has power and effectiveness otherwise it wouldn’t be found in so many different cultures.
Blood was mentioned in the Hoodoo book but it was not normal blood. The blood mentioned specifically in this book was menstrual blood. This is something that I have never been comfortable with. I have heard of many traditional styled female witches using their own menstrual blood in a spell and or a ritual. For them it is the ultimate power and ultimate essence of who they are. For me its just not something I would consider. Some of the traditions given even gave examples or ways that men could work magic using their mates menstrual blood. Most of it involved food of some sort. Sorry that just makes me sick to my stomach.
Semen was another item that was discussed being used in rootwork in a few different ways. I like some of the ideas and I can sort of see how one or two of them might work. Still for me its a discomforting issue. Its not something I like to think about or deal with. Now I again can see how for men or women it would be an effective and powerful way to work your will on them but still. I don’t think I could do it myself.
There were a few other items listed in the book but I’m not going to really go over all of them. They did make me think. Again I had heard of the use and working with those items but I had never considered it myself until now. One of the items mentioned I know is a major component in witches bottles for protection. That is a spell I actually considered doing in my new home and I may still make one in the spring. Its sort of hard to bury and hide the jar from site in the middle of the winter.
Its interesting how I feel I can accept certain practices and uses of body its yet others I am utterly disturbed at working with. I think part of it may also be a cultural thing. That I was taught certain things are not to be touched and thought of. They are to be done and lived with and basically ignored. I may be able to overcome some of the views and issues I have with working with human body parts or excretions but for now I think I will stick to hair, spit, and fingernails.
Its interesting just how different traditions and styles of Hoodoo can be like any other magical tradition. I have one book that is full of prayers and invocations to spirits and gods as part of their conjure practice. I loves seeing those prayers and petitions to the saints and the angels. That is what I associate with Hoodoo-prayers and petition to spirits along with magical acts.
The book I am currently working though says that its almost never used. That would be a contradiction to most people. I see it as different views. One view is much more animistic and believing in the inherent spirit of the items used in the work being the power behind the working while another works more strongly with angelic forces or other spirits for assistance. It all goes with just where in the cultural view of things you go.
I for one thing I am going to go back and forth between calling on spirits and between working with the spirit force in the herbs, stones, and other items used in the spells. I do like the idea of building working relationships with deities and with spirits through magic work and ritual work. I just don’t think that all the spells or rituals I do should revolve around that practice. Being able to work spells on my own with the nature spirits and my own spirit force is important to me.
Plus by working with the spirits of the plants or crystals or other nature based objects in the spell work I also gain even more spirit allies. So in some ways no matter how I perform my Hoodoo work I am going to be working with a spirit of some sort. This I guess just plays into one of the definitions I have come across for Hoodoo which is that is is a form of African American shamanism that survives today through folk magic.
I just finished a section on how to dispose of the tricks or working done in Rootwork best. This is the practice many people refer to as laying the tricks. I guess in some ways it could be considered how the spells are actually sent out into the world. The theories and practices in Hoodoo are definitely different from most of the European styles of magic I have studied and explored. This is actually a good thing as it expands my magical theories and philosophies.
It also gave some good reasons for why tricks would be placed where they should be. Now I knew the first time I read this book and when I wrote the review for it that there was a lot of lore in it. Now that I actually transcribe it I’m amazed at just how much lore and information there is out there for Rootwork. I haven’t even gotten to the spells section of the book. This is all a magical theory section of the book. I’m sure there is going to be even more when I actually look into some of the spells provided in this book.
I know one thing. I will have a whole lot of new correspondences to add to my BOS’s when I am finished transcribing theory notes, belief notes, and the like from my notebook to my actual BOS. I may even create a BOS just for my work and studies with Hoodoo as well as including it in my personal spell book/magical studies book and my philosophy/journey BOS book. For now I will continue to absorb as much of the information as I can through transcribing notes in my notebook.
The idea of disposing of magical supplies and spell tools after a spell has been cast is something that has always been bugging me at the back of my head. With my packet spells I have either burned them or tossed them into the trash. I know some people would shudder at the idea of simply tossing them in the trash but when you think about it the energy has been placed elsewhere. What else are you going to do with that paper? Still the idea of how to lay a trick or spell to get maximum effect as outlined in this section of theory did get me thinking.
Some of the ideas even made sense to me. The ideas between crossroads and running water seemed to fit along with other folklore beliefs I have heard about as well. In most of the religious and spiritual traditions I have studied the crossroad especially form powerful places for working magic and for spiritual practices. This is a power I have always wanted to explore.
There is a rite I read about in traditional witchcraft that seemed like it might be cool to do. Unfortunately it required a crossroads which was something I had but it wasn’t really “secluded” the roads were major roads. Here they aren’t really major roads though there are a lot of houses around the area. So I may have to be very creative as to when I find time to work the rite.
It says to do it at night when no one is around but I wonder if it could be as powerful done during the day. There is also the logistics of transporting and carrying my stang down stairs and outside without drawing the attention of or waking up my fiance’. In either case I still have to find a way to not draw attention to myself when performing the rite outside. Thankfully this is a pretty private area and a pretty quiet one. I’m sure if I were to be out with it I could make it look like a night time stroll or something.
Any way if I am meant to do that rite I will find something to make it work. Thats really how I look at it. I will know when it is right to perform that specific rite. Just like I knew it was time to start working the LBRP for myself again and that it was also time to start doing daily and nightly prayers again. I will feel a drive and a desire to perform the work so strongly that really nothing will stop me from doing that work.
For now my inspiration seems to come from mainly Hoodoo. Though I am also having an urge to go deeper into my herbal magic studies. Right now in regards to herbal magic I mostly work it in the form of incense or tinctures. I haven’t done much kitchen magic or herbal charm practices. I also haven’t done much work with herbs in potions either. I think part of the desire to learn more about herbal magic and herbal work is that I just got a long list of herbs used as charms in Hoodoo lore that makes me wonder a bit more about the lore of plants in European Folk Magic.
Hoodoo is a system of folk magic and folk wisdom that does rely heavily on herbal associations. I mean I believe that is in part where the name RootWoork for Hoodoo comes from as well. So it would make sense that as I learn about new herbs I haven’t heard of before I would also want to look at and explore the talisman or charm properties of some of the plants I have worked with before. There is some wisdom and lore out there concerning European Folk Magic and Folk Lore. I just need to find it.
I’m no longer fighting my desire to learn and practice what I read about in Hoodoo. While I am going to continue to read and research and develop my knowledge base in a text and note format I am also going to try and get some practical experience as well. I’ve found that in the past I let my fears of not doing something right or of not having enough information on a topic get the best of me and never really did the practical work. Now that needs to change. Now I just need to gather a few materials and start crafting one of my tools for Hoodoo.
As long as I have been searching for answers in my spirituality and religious practuces I have at least once a a year h as to asses my beliefs and what my practices are. The next 4 questions I answer were asked by Orion Foxwood in his book :The Faery Teachings. These questions are designed to make a seeker try to figure out what they personally understand about the universe before they become a member of any one tradition or practice. In this way a seeker figures out what they believe and understand for themselves.
The next few questions come from both the questions asked in the book and from the episode in Babyblon 5 where Dalen is asked by “Jack the Ripper “Who are you” and all she can come back with is family lineage, social status, political status, and jobs as descrpitions. She had no other answer. The trick of these questions is that it is easy to answer in labels, but its harder to define who you are at the core. In assessing yourself and your own beliefs you have to come to understand who you are and what you as an individual believes and understands reality to be.
I have personally found these four questions to be an excellent first step in find out where you belong as a person. It’s why I have taken the time to answer them here so that my followers can understand my development as well as I can come to understand myself and my views better as I work on forming this tradition and my own cohesive practice to teach my family, friends, children, and other seekers.
Four questions to assess one’s beliefs
My answers to those same questions
1: Who am I?
I am myself and no one else. I am the sum of my experiences. I am both who I was born and my experiences while a part of my biological family, the child of my first foster family and those experiences, the daughter of my two adoptive parents, and my fiance’s wife. Each of those people are me and I am all of them. I have a different role and relationship in each family and yet they are me.
Those experiences have added to who I am,
I am also the sum of all my social, spiritual, and emotional experiences up to this point.
In some ways this makes me a Christian, a Witch, a Christian Heretic, Satanist, and Witch again all at the same time. I embrace all of those titles because of them has added to my knowledge and wisdom of the universe. I am a Christian in that I accept the words and teaching of Christ as an excellent guide to life.
I also believe he was a wise and enlightened man who was the son of a God and thus a demi God until his ascension. This is why I still honor his birthday and his sacrifice. I see them as what they really were-lessons for enlightenment and the true path as outlined by his father.
I am also an event on a specific event in the world wide web of fate which includes all my previous experiences and lives. I am ultimately both just what you see in this life and the sum of any and all previous lives. Here and now I am a daughter, sister, friend, lover & wife all at the same time. I am also a witch, a teacher, a student, and a philosopher. I am many-things at once, but none of those individual things make up the totality of who I am.
I am a single event in the universe.
As a witch I only have the power to effect my own strand of fate in the universe. While having an effect on this single strand has an effect on all the strands of fate that make up reality, I can only really work changes on myself and my personal reality which is not the same any any one else reality. My reality is how I have been effected by any and all the events within my strand of fate (mostly within this current event on the strand) going back to when it was first woven into the web of life which is reality in it’s truest sense.
2: What is it (God, creator, force, ect)?
Out of all the questions that are asked this is often the most difficult question for me to answer. The simplest response that I can give in all my titles and experiences is that “IT” is ultimately a mystery. The true divine force behind the universe as far as I have been able to see and experience is really undefinable. There has only been one source which really explained what “It” or the ultimate force behind creation is. That book is The Kyballion.
It has been through reading that book which I have really started to get an understanding as to how the universe works and why there are so many different paths out there which can lead a person to “truth”. That book to me also explained why magic can work and why it might not work at times.
In simplest terms I believe the creative force of the universe to be essentially a mind of some sort which exists in a form we can not completely understand. This force is best explained as a giant living mind in which we are creations of that mind. The Kyballion identifies this force and mind as “spirit” which is essentially the unidentifiable aspect of what makes something alive different from something which is dead.
I see this mental force to be the initial force of thought which drove the universe into creation. I see this force inaction in various creation myths where some thought of some sort starts the first action which in the end creates either just Earth or the universe. I strongly believe that thought is power and that the way we perceive the universe and situations holds the key to accessing the mysteries available to us in this life time.
The concept of a “Great moving spirit” is not uncommon in various Native American traditions.
Now I do believe in many and all deities. The answer to both of those questions is yes. However that is something which I’ll get into in my next entry about beliefs.
3: Why am I here/Why do I exist?
This is a difficult question to answer.
The first answer that comes to mind is that I was brought into this world to serve the Gods I worship in some way shape or form. This is typically what I like to think and have based my life on. Under this view I believe I have a specific type or work or skill set I am supposed to use in service to my Gods.
The second answer I have is based on Wyrd which is:
I believe that the events that have occurred thus far on my chain of fate are there because of something from the past. I believe that what ever happens to any one in any life has a basis on any and all events which occurred in a previous event on your thread under another ego/body. There for I am here because of my fate and Wyrd
The third answer I have is: that I am simply here because I am.
In many ways the three answers are related. Today I still feel I am here to serve my Gods. For the longest time I thought that meant as a psychological healer (therapist of some sort) but I have come to realize that it’s not the path for me in this lifetime. While I am still meant to serve my Gods, it is not as a healer in that regards. Its more as a guide and teacher for others.
I am a natural healer, so I will not abandon that practice. I’ll just guide others and find other ways to heal people with their mental/emotional/spiritual issues.
I am here to serve and I will find my way.
4: What happens when we die?
I have many theories, philosophies, and beliefs as to what happens when we die. This belief system regarding the afterlife and how humans are both mortal and immortal at the same time actually includes several different belief systems. One thing I have accepted as I have become a witch is that as a witch I can not get out of exploring some of these mysteries while alive.
In some ways that is related directly to the etymology in different cultures regarding the terms and practices.lore surrounding witches, It is actually an aspect of being a witch that I have come to be honored to accept and proud to explore and discuss in my own path.
To put it simply I believe that all afterlives exist. I also think that if you believe strongly enough that there is nothing aside from this life then when you die your done. If you entertain in the slightest that there could be something else than something may happen to you. What ever religion or spiritual path you took the most advice in is what will happen to you.
I will discuss this more in my post about death. For now I believe in multiple types and realms in the afterlife. I also believe in reincarnation and that part of who I am now once I am dead will remain in the underworld while another part of me will be reborn.
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
So what gives about the blogs name? Forging the Pentacle?
The explanation is simple. The path I have started to develop is called Pentalism. There are five aspects to almost all parts of the practice. There are five primary influences, five Gods, Five goddesses, five parts of the soul, and more. The pentacle for me shows how while there can be five individual points, in the end they can all be connected and are always interwoven in peace. The Pentacle is an extremely sacred symbol for this path due to the importance of five. Pentalism is meant to be experienced in a group setting. However I have not really developed each of the degrees and practices (related to each of the foundational traditions of types of craft) I can’t really teach and initiate people until the first degree has been formed (I’ll develop the second degree material in my personal practice as I teach the first degree and so forth).
Ok, so that explains the name, what about content?
I already mentioned some of the content you will be seeing. There will be information on ritual content as well as some basic sabbat or holiday information. There will be some basic information about the deities involved (this is going to be an initiatory oath bound tradition). There will also be posts about failures and successes and everything in between. When I fail I want to have people laugh at it and also help me find out where I went wrong.
By writing this blog I am sharing the basic outline of what will become my tradition. I process information best when I write out my thoughts and my experiences. By putting the information and the process on a blog I hope to get input from other people in the Pagan community . I want that input to challenge me. I want people to point out mistakes in my research and logic. I also want people to tell me why they like something or find something useful. That way I can become a better writer and explore the things I write about in a different light.
This blog will also be participating in the Pagan Blog project. However all of the entries on this blog will reflect this path specifically and only this path. My other blog (Seeker sight) is more about my search for knowledge and wisdom which I can find any where. There will be some cross over as they both will cover some of the same beliefs and practices. That said both blogs should be treated as unique and individual blogs.
You said the title is “Forging the Pentacle” right? So what are your tools and what are the foundations and origins of Pentalism?
There are five primary spiritual and religious practices which form the basis of Pentalism. All of them are different forms of witchcraft as a spiritual practice. Each of them has provided me with many different ways of working my craft and my religion. They have all had an effect on how I have experienced the Gods and Goddesses of Pentalism. I don’t belong to any one of these practices, but have combined them all. Which is why I am and Pentalism will always remain an eclectic religious witchcraft tradition.
The first witchcraft path I must discuss is Wicca. When I say Wicca I don’t mean the works of Silver Raven Wolf, Edain Mc Coy, D.J. Conway, Raymond Buckland, or even Scott Cunningham to name a few. I am refering to the books by Janet and Stewart Farrar (What Witches Do, 8 Sabbats for Witches, Way of the Witches, The Witches God, The Witches Goddess), Gerald Gardner (Witchcraft Today and The meaning of Witchcraft), and some of Doreen Valientines work as well as the writings of Alex and Maxine Sanders. Those are actual Wiccan initiates who have lineage via initiation which is cross gender and that can be traces back through Gerald Gardner to the New Forest coven of witchcraft.
A brief explanation of how I define Wicca is required here. I define Wicca as an Oathbound, Mystery, Cross Gender initiatory, Orthapraxic Witchcult where every initiate is a member of the clergy That is a lot to swollow. So I am going to break it down into little bits. I’ll cover each section in it’s own paragraph. Once you’ read each paragraph you’ll see why that simple definition required extra explanation. You’ll also see why I have such a strict view on Wicca and why I am only Wiccan influenced and Inspiried.
Let’s start with the term “oath bound”. By oath bound I mean that the rites and rituals, mysteries, names of deities, and practices are known and only taught to initiates after initiation. Prior to initiation the rites and rituals a seeker and pre-initiate experience are Wiccan flavored and Inspired, but Not Wiccan. There are many religions whose practices are oath bound. In history the Eluisian mysteries come to mind as only the members of that cult ever experienced those rituals and knew what those rituals entailed. There you go. A historical reference to a religious practice and set of mysteries that are oath bound.
The next term in my definition is mystery oriented or based. So what does this mean? By Mystery I mean that there are some aspects of the religion that are based on expereince in ritual which are deeply intimate and can not truly be expressed by words. All witchcraft traditions have mysteries.
The Cross Gender initiation is self explanatory. Only men can initiate women and women can only initiate men. This goes into the power myth described in the decent of the Goddess. There is also an issue of polarity. I’m sure all the reasons for this practice are explained after initiation. It’s something I have experienced. The “public” rite I went to basically said that in their circles it’s male-female-male-female as much as possible (based on the ration of men to women). I actually think it’s a great way to raise energy.
The orthapraxic aspect of Wicca is something that many people can’t grasp coming from orthodox religions such as Christianity where having specific beliefs was the important part of the religion. In Wicca it is not the belief that is important rather it is the proper practice and performance of Wiccan rites and rituals (which can only be performed in a coven setting) that is important. It is the proper performance of these rites and rituals that allow the clergy
The witchcult aspect is important to note as well. Upon the seeker or dedicant’s initiation into Wicca they are made a witch. This is especially important if that person never identified or used that term before. All wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan. In fact most witches are not Wiccan. Wiccans are witches because they use witchcraft in both practical day to day life and in their worship of their deities. That is what makes them witches.
The final aspect of my definition of Wicca is that they are all members of the clergy. That is right. Once you have been initiated into Wicca you have become a priest or priestess of the Lord and Lady. For this reason every one is a part of the clergy. If you are not called to serve the Lord and Lady of the Isles (the two specific deities in Wicca) then you are not a proper person for Wicca.
Ok. So you explained what Wicca is. You didn’t explain why you say you are inspired by Wicca. Can we get an explanation for that please? Afterall you even said that you aren’t an initiate. There for you don’t actually know the rites and rituals of Wicca. So how are you influenced and inspired by Wicca?
There are a few reasons why I say that. The first thing is that I cleanse ad consecrate my holy water in the same fashion, often times using the same words outlined in 8 sabbats for witches. The second thing is that part of my understanding of the deities I work with (with in Pentalism) was influenced by the Oak and Holy King battles (also described in 8 sabbats for witches). Finally there is the full ceremonial outline. When a full complex ritual is performed it often includes all the elements described within Wicca. These form the first foundation of Pentalism.
The largest element found within my path is the central fact that this path is eclectic. Generic eclectic-neo pagan witchcraft can be found in many different books. My favorites include Christopher Penczak, Laurie Cabot, Ellen Dugan, and Doreen Valientine. I have however also been influenced by Starhawk, Silver Ravenwolf, Edain McCoy, D.J. Conway, Raymond Buckland, and Scott Cunningham (you see there was a reason I mentioned them before). All of these author claim to teach eclectic Wicca. There is no such thing (as shown above). There is however essentially a core tradition of eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft loosely based on Wicca and ceremonial magic as outlined by Cunningham in his book “Solitary Wicca” and “Living Wicca”. At the end of his life he did drop the association with Wicca and simply called it a witchcraft tradition, but the publisher kept the title as is.
The books by these authors all have different views of the God and Goddess and the wheel of the year. However there are some key and central similarities in the practices that lead me to believe they are essentially practicing the same religion, but not always the same way. It is a witchcraft tradition or set of traditions and way of thinking/practicing that has it’s own mysteries and basically a freelance style of ritual. Every eclectic is different, but they are all the same at the same time. We embrace the similarities and celebrate the differences. That is what being a true eclectic is all about.
The MMC concept here is one of the reasons I came to the 5 god and goddess concept for this tradition. It seemed with in the various discussions about the forms of the Goddess with in the wheel of the year there were some things described which never seemed to fit to the MMC concept. I started to see five different Gods and Goddesses described with in the lore and the rituals. That, along with the outline in Wicca lead me to the format that became the Gods and Goddesses of Pentalism.
The ideas about experimentation and the different types of ritual and altar set ups encountered through these books gave me the foundation of how to explore and experiment. That is what has lead me to know what does and doesn’t work for me in my religion and spirituality. That is how I have been able to begin to piece together this tradition. I am very thankful to be an eclectic and to have started to form a cohesive eclectic tradition that I am going to be proud to pass on to others.
Hedge witchcraft is a practice of witchcraft that not many people are aware of. While there are more books available on the subject these days, originally there were only a few websites out there that had any information out there. I am not entirely a hedge witch, but I do embrace and participate in the practices. I say I am not a hedge witch because it is not the only practice I engage in for my craft. While it has played a central role in my access to mysteries, it is not the only or the central aspect of my practice.
So what is hedge witchcraft? Hedge witchcraft is based on the concept of the hedge representing the border between the civilized world (towns, farms, and cities) from the wild (forests, open fields and stretches of road where no one is in sight) and the practitioner being able to be in both this world (civilized) and the other worlds (wilderness and forests). This is the European native form of shamanism.
One thing about hedge witches and hedge witchcraft it is essentially a solitary practice as each hedge rider must find there own way of getting into those trance states, and they need to find their own connection to deities and the sabbats. The other thing is that often time hedge witches will celebrate the sabbats through their trances. This is where the myth of the flying to the witches sabbat comes from. I haven’t used trance as a sabbat celebration yet, but I bet it would be powerful.
However due to my use of various types of trance and trance states to acces the mysteries and to contact spirits I have to add this as one of the foundations of Pentalism. It has been a major part of my practice for years. In fact it was during a workshop on “shamanic witchcraft” that I met my first formal teacher Christopher Penczak. That is also one of the reasons I consider hedge witchcraft to be one of the points on the foundation of Pentalism.
In many ways it has been equated to traditional witchcraft in it’s truest form, but I personally think there are other things. This goes into traditional witchcraft. I had mentioned it in my foundational forms, so I will discuss it briefly here. This is an aspect of the foundation I am still developing. It is a new addition to my practice, and as such it is something that needs a lot of exploration.
So what is traditional witchcraft? I thought that Wicca was a form of traditional witchcraft? Am I wrong?
There are many definitions of traditional witchcraft. The most common definition is that of “forms of pre Gardnerian witchcraft”. By default that makes Wicca not traditional witchcraft, and there are a few reasons for this. Wicca is a more ceremonial form of witchcraft than most traditional witchcraft practices. That is the first and primary difference between Wicca and traditional witchcraft. The other is more of a focus on a personal relationship with the land. While there are some correlations and the like, there are many differences between them. I have explained why Wicca is not traditional witchcraft, but I haven’t explained what it is yet. So here goes.
For me traditional witchcraft is pre-gardnerian forms of witchcraft. There are some forms of this practice which are initiatory (The new Forest Coven for example) and there are many forms which are solitary. The sources I have read on the subject come from both solitary and coven based books. So my view has a bit of both. That still doesn’t explain what exactly traditional witchcraft entails.
Well it is an underworld tradition. The rites and rituals typically involve some sort of physical and spiritual travel which symbolically and spiritually bring us to the underworld. That is where the Gods reside in this tradition. It is also where fate is woven and where the ancestors reside. That is why I say traditional witchcraft is an underworld tradition.
Traditional witchcraft also involves a lot of ancestral worship and veneration. Who and what the ancestors are and what the ancestral worship and veneration mean will be covered in another post shortly. For now they are those who have passed beyond the physical veil and into the underworld reals and they are those who are yet waiting to come back and return (they will be future witches and will create future ancestors). The ancestors are of blood and body as well as emotional and spiritual ties.
The final difference between traditional witchcraft and Wicca is the way the rites are performed and the tools used in rituals. The rituals in traditional witchcraft are less formal and theatrical/scripted. They are more spontaneous, yet they have some structure. All of these are factors in why this form of witchcraft has become part of the spiritual foundation that is Pentalism.
The final point in the Pentalist foundation is that of Hermetic witchcraft. This is a style of witchcraft in religious and spiritual terms as well as magical practices that highly engages the mind. When the tradition will be taught this will actually be the first degree. The points and lessons of this degree are outlined in the book “The Kybalion”. There will be many more essays on the Kybalion and how it relates to this tradition.
The is also tied into the first degree of the Temple tradition. That is where I have started my official training as a witch. For the last three years my magical practices and my rituals as well as meditations have been based entirely off of the teachings in the first degree of the Temple tradition as well as the Kybalion. As I begin to develop more and develop techniques for each of the key principles I can begin to further develop this.
Ok. So there you have the foundation. This should give you a basic idea as to where the ideas and concepts in this tradition are found. Things will become more clear as I post more. Every post will add insight into this path and how it comes together. This has served as your basic introduction and foundation to Pentalism. Some of the basic practices will be covered in an upcoming post. Please enjoy!