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Some of our altars

Pagan Blog Project: F is for Freedom

One of the good things that happens when a person chooses to go off on their own spiritual path they realize that they have a lot of personal freedom and power.  For many people this is a good thing are they felt that they had no power or freedom to really experience the Gods or spirits in the religion they original came from.

When a person start their new path the sky is the limit for them  They are not limited by anything said by anyone else.  The only thing that they are limited by is their own thoughts deed and actions.  They are free to experience spirituality and the Gods however they choose.

This new found freedom can also be scary.  Here you have to make all the choices.  No one is telling you how to worship your Gods and how to practice.  This is something that will take time to get used to.  A lot of time the Gods and the spirits are the ones that will teach you and direct you on your new paths.

By trusting your intuition and your spirit guides you will find your path.  You may be given advice like this:

This path is yours.  Walk it freely, and walk it proudly.  Only you know yourself, your path, your craft, and your Gods.  Use that knowledge to freely develop your path.

Review: The Conjure workbook by Mama Starr

The Conjure Workbook Volume 1: Working the Root is an excellent tome on Southern Conjure work. When I picked up this tome I knew that it was going to be full of Christian mysticism and biblical references. That is what Hoodoo and conjure is. The Southern Hoodoo and conjure traditions are a mixture of folk beliefs from pre-slave days in Africa and the various Christian faiths in the south. This was how the slaves were able to hold on to a bit of their previous culture and identity.

If those who are looking to learn about Hoodoo and conjure work are expecting information to come from a pagan perspective and are looking at this work they will be disappointed. Mama Starr is very clear about her roots and the roots of Southern Conjure which are in Christian belief systems of the south. While she does say that you can be of any belief system and still work the spells and rituals she provides, unless you respect the Bible and understand that it is filled with lore, spells, and practices you will not get anything out of this book.

The author begins the book by discussing the work of ancestors. Here the author begins explaining one of the core concepts and beliefs across Conjure/Hoodoo/Rootwork traditions. There is an overall belief in an existence of an afterlife and that our ancestors will be there to answer us. The author starts by describing how they help us and work with us and finally ends with setting up an altar to venerate and pray to your ancestors.

I mentioned the importance of respect for the Bible as a sacred text and as a book of power as that is the second topic discussed in the book. As I said early on the author is clear in that this book is a southern conjure book which is going to have referenced to the Bible in there. Most of the references are in the Old Testament but they are still Bible references.

After working with the ancestors is covered, crafting altars and work spaces is discussed, and the Bible is mentioned as an important source the Author gets into the spirits and beings that are often worked with in her practice of Hoodoo. Prior to reading this book I was aware of the work with the archangels and the saints. Here I learned of new spirits and beings also associated with Conjure as well as how we can even work with the prophets in the bible.

Each being mentioned came with several different prayers and ways that you can work with them. These early workings are here to give you an idea about the powers each spirit has. These workings also introduce you to the concepts of repeating works, and how actual effort is put into the work. The author makes it clear that these things are repeated several times for effectiveness.

As the book continues the author mentions and focuses on another core belief in rootworking traditions. That belief and practice is one of divination. Starr provides many different ways of working divination including a very traditional practice of reading the bones. While the actual practice of bone reading is not discussed, the author does include its history of use. The author included a photo of her own bone set.

As the book continues the author continues an easy to follow step by step instruction on workings. The author also continues her straight talk. The author is very serious about their work and their tradition. Throughout the book the author mentions how some of these works are dangerous and are not to be simply played with. She does this not to discourage people from doing these works, but to encourage people to take the work seriously.

The author does speak only of their own tradition and practices. While the author does give you all the information you need to create your own Hoodoo/Conjure practice she does encourage you to find an actual teacher to learn more complex works. As an example the author explains why some packet spells written by other authors aren’t as effective as they could be because of folding the paper of the packet in a different manner than she was taught with an explanation of why the other method may actually backfire.

This book is filled with practical information. With the authors attitude, explanations, and the step by step processes in the book the tome The Conjure Workbook volume 1: Working the Root provides everything you need to know in order to effective start working your own spells and rituals. By working the spells in the book you develop understanding of associations and correspondences which can be useful in creating your own effective spells.

Pagan Blog Project: A is for Angels

What are angels?  This is a question I have found myself asking myself recently.  I once believed that I knew exactly what angels where.  Then I heard conflicting stories of them being servants of only one specific God, the God of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and there for bound to only help and work with those who follow Yaweh/Allah/Jehova.  Other people claim that they are simply servants of divine forces and are not limited to a specific set of religions or religious beliefs.

I personally believe angels to be servants of the God Jehova/Allah/Yaweh.  Other Gods do have servants or minor Gods that work as messengers and intermediaries between them and humans but I don’t necessarily believe they are angels.  That being said I believe that so long as there is a connection in your life to those three religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) they will help and work with you.  This connection could be continuing family celebrations, a belief in them, and or a belief in Jesus or that God as a God just not the only God.

I have always held a belief in angels.  Though I have not worked with them since the early years on my path as a witch.  I knew others still worked with them magically through enochian magic, ceremonial magic, and at times Hoodoo.  These three magical traditions are associated with Christianity and angelic magic and angelic work for spiritual practices as well as magical practices.  Now I have started to work with angelic forces again.

If you want to work with angelic forces and angelic spirits you simply need to be open to their force.  The force that angelic spirits are made up is pure unconditional divine love.  If you have any sort of connection in your life to the three paths of Abraham you can work with these spirits.  You just need to open yourself up to working with them.  They will make themselves known to you.

Why those who seek spiritual connections are always studying

The last few blog entries have been focusing on why pagans and witches are very individual people and why personal truth is so important.  Today is a bit of a continuation on that theme.  Today it’s about why witches and pagans are always seemingly reading a new book or looking for new materials to study,

There is always something new to explore or even something old to reexamine.  With in the realms of spiritual practices and spiritual development there is always something new to learn about.  There are so many different cultures out there that one can always look to new cultures for further inspiration as to where they would like to go or different types of practices.

I’m going to provide a few cultural examples that you can look at to see what I mean when it comes to looking for new things to study and explore to advance your spiritual practices and development.  These are examples of things that I have looked at and thought about for my own personal studies.  Though these will only serve as examples.  From here  I will go back and talk about what exactly this means for you as a seeker and a practitioner.

The first example I am going to cover is that of Germanic Paganism and witchcraft.  These are two spiritual and religious paths that are a part of my personal practice that also inspire and help form the products that this business sells.  This is also a popular culture to explore spiritually right now with more people having interest in Germanic mythology with new pop culture references.

In Germanic paganism there is a lot of lore that can be explored.  Most people start off with the Eddas and Sagas.  With in the Eddas and Sagas there are many tales of magical practices and spiritual works.  This is where most of the concepts of Modern Germanic worship come from such as the Blot and the Sumbel.  The Eddas and Sagas while having an extensive study in themselves, is not the only source of the lore out there.

Many people are familiar with the Grimm’s brothers fairy tales.  These fairy tales actually come from the Germanic forests,  These fairy tales provide another source of wealth for practicing Germanic Paganism and witchcraft.  The tales describe many different spirits and even some of the traditional practices of the Dwarves, Witches, Elves, and other spirits found within Germanic cultures.   These tales provide even further keys into the folk knowledge that create the base of witchcraft and other magical practices.

Aside from the fairytale and the Eddas there are other sources of practical information.  The Rune poems give inspiration for the practice of rune magic which has been mentioned in the Eddas and the Sagas.  By reading the Rune poems a Germanic Pagan begins to study another wealth of information regarding the spiritual practices of the ancient Germanic Pagans.

Even within the Umbrella of Germanic Paganism and practices one could go into even more specific studies.  For example one could focus their attention on the continental practices in old Germany and Norway for example.  Focusing even further on some of those specific tribes.  One person could even focus on the Anglo-Saxon practices (England mostly here for those looking for a region).   One could go so far as to say that even the Icelandic practices and tribal setting would have been different.

While each of these tribes had a base shared language and some base cultural similarities, the names for the Gods and even some of the specific practices were different.  Though they were similar and related enough that the cultures and tribes were able to trade and intermarry and work successfully together in war and in peace.

Those are just a few examples from the Germanic cultures.  There is so much to explore and study within one area of the vast umbrella of Paganism and Pagan spirituality that one will always find something new to learn and study.  Even if a person decides to stick to a specific set of cultural practices and identities ( Germanic paths for example) there will always be something to learn.

Here is a set of examples from a different Pagan culture completely.  Hellenic Paganism or Greek style Paganism has many different facets.  This cultural style of study and practice can be even more difficult and extensive as it is so diverse.  You have on one hand the cults for each city state as well as cults of areas.

Greece because of the way it was organized for many years did not have really a cohesive religion for the culture.  They had in general a pantheon that they all shared with some common festivals, but each area was highly specific.  There were areas where people focused their entire worship on One of the Gods and you had those whose temples were only really visited once a year (The Elysian mysteries for example).

Hellenic pagans from what I have found typically follow one or two specific Gods that are their Patron Gods. While extensive research into the practices of worship in the culture is important in order to form bonds closer to their chosen deities they will most likely focus their attention on studying the cult centers and cult worship of those Gods.

The above examples were specific to Paganism in general as a study.  Now I am going to try and give some examples of magical practices from the view of a witch who is always studying and learning.  This blog does focus on all of these topics so covering both of these topics in this entry is reasonable.

Within magic and witchcraft there are many different ways to practice and types of practices that one can study.  To be honest there are so many options that a newbie often seeking to start practicing witchcraft can feel overwhelmed.  Which is why many find that mastering spellcraft can be near impossible and they wonder if they are doing it right.

In magic you have herbalism, crystal and gem magic, Galdar, Seidr, Trance work, summoning, healing work, poppet magic, astral projection, weather work, ect.  Often times a person may have so many interests that they can’t figure out where to start and will find that practices can overlap.

I’ll take Herbalism for example.  In Herbalism a witch and magician studies the herbs that they work with.  They can use them in powders and in potions as well as in oils, lotions, tinctures, soaps, and other types of charms.  There is also the healing work with herbalism.  Though while one studies making an oil for example they may learn or hear about spell oils from Hoodoo and then start to explore that for further herbal use and practices.

The examples above are one cultures examples of how deep and diverse the study of a cultures religious heritage can be.  The above examples also illustrate just one example of why it is impossible to master the spiritual crafts.  There will always be something new to learn and explore.

This is also why some witches, Pagans, and spiritual people tend to have rather extensive libraries.  Books are used as references in work and in studies and are often to valuable to just borrow from a library when it is needed.

 

Animal Familiars for Beginners Book Review

The book  by Alexandra Chauran is an excellent book for beginners in Wicca and witchcraft.  This book while it focuses on the aspect of working with animal spirits in magic and ritual also covers most of the basic concepts in Wicca.  This book overall covers the 8 sabbats, spells, meditation, trance, and spirit work.  The only aspect of Wicca that is not covered is deity worship which was not the focus of this book.  By eliminating the focus on deity chants and the worship of deities the author was able to touch on basically all Wiccan principles and focus on the work of the book which is connecting spiritually with animal spirits.

One of the definitions of a witch is “One who has a familiar spirit”.  In the media there have historically been images of cats, snakes, spider, and bats as witch familiars.  Witches and animals who help them in their work have been a part of witch lore for centuries.  Often times today modern witches wonder if the idea of working with a pet as a familiar comes from the witch trials or if it comes from an actual historical practice and if one can work with their pets as a magical ally.

The introduction of this book provides excellent insight into what sort of materials you will find within the book.  The author first starts off by talking about her personal experiences with animals both spiritual and mundane.  The author then goes on and explains what many of the benefits found in the book will be,  Finally the author ends with providing a few different real life examples of people who have had experiences with animal familiars.  The mixture of history, personal experiences (the authors and other people) and the exercises provide powerful insight to what this book has to offer.

The first chapter of this book covers the history of witches and familiars.  The author covers stories from Shakespeare to a few tales of shape shifting in the witchtrials.  The author covers here why witches have familiars, what they are, and a few of the forms they can appear in.  This is the first time the author mentions the possibility of working not at all with physical animals but animals who may not exist such as Dragons, unicorns, Mythical serpents, and the like.  Here we are introduced to the idea that the types of spirits witches can work with are not limited to just those who live and breathe in our worlds.

The second chapter is one that most modern witches and pet owners should really look into.  This was the chapter that struck me the most.  Like most witches I am an avid pet owner and I have worked some magic with my pets.  This chapter in the book gave me new reasons to consider the possibilities of working with my pets within ritual and the home.  The key points included in this chapter were things I might not have thought about such as adaptations that a witch may need to make in their practice to have their animals p[resent such as no incense for birds and the need to move altars to places where cats or dogs wont jump on them or knock over the candles and cause fire.  The second chapter focused on animals within Pagan homes and how one can work ritual with them.  The chapter ends with a simple spell that can be used to find more pagans who are pet friendly considering that some may have allergies and the like.

The third chapter is probably where the reader can most clearly see the Wiccan elements of the book.  This is the chapter on actual rituals with pet familiars.  Here the author discusses the basic components in Wiccan ritual and how you can work with animal familiars.  The circle casting involves animal spirits rather than direct elemental spirits which can be a drastic change for most who practice Wiccan style rituals.  After discussing the circle casting the author then provided several different types of spells and rituals that can be performed with pets or other animal familiars.The author then provides two different examples of how wildlife can be used and seen as a focus for the Wheel of the Year.  There are sample rituals and concepts provided through out the chapter.

The fourth chapter discusses totem animals and how they can also be considered spirit familiars.  The author starts this chapter off with a description of a Marine who got a wolf tattoo after his service.  The author provides the story as an example of how as humans we can take on the characteristics of animals both positive and negative.  The author the provides a few working examples of how we can use totem animals for strength and courage as well as other aspects we may need to bring out of ourselves in our day to day life.  The author then goes into shape shifting as a historical practice and about how we can find our totem animals.  Finally the author touches on animals as spirit guides and guardians in meditative work.

The fifth and final chapter in this book is a book on working with wildlife.   Earlier in the book the author discussed and mentioned working with incarnate animal familiars.  These are animal familiars who we may work with that are not physically present in our lives.  Here the author talks about doing meditative practices outside in nature to connect with the animals.  The author provides a few examples of how you can work in nature to work with wild animals as familiars and how you can give back to them.

Though this is a very short book each chapter provides significant information for a beginner to get started with.  The chapters are concise while providing the needed information.  This allows the reader to have a starting point for beginning their journey and allows them plenty of room to have their own experiences and develop their practices from there.  This will allow people of any experience level to gain some insight from the book and be able to try new things.

~Loona Wynd~)0(

Please comment and let me know if this book review was useful for you or not.

Witches and Personal Truth and Myteries

Religious witchcraft falls under the category of mystery religions.  In mystery religions the focus is not on worshiping the Gods through action and words but on having direct experiences with the Gods and the spirits.  Mystery religions are all about bringing forth the Gods from within you and becoming one with them.

Mystery religions are not religions of the book.  In a mystery religion it is not so much important on how the religion is practiced.  This is actually  a type of religion which is based on experience.  The lore and the rites of the religions are there to guide and direct you towards your interactions with the Gods and spirits and may even provide some context for the meetings.

The nature of these religions means that it is impossible for each witch or participant to ever have the exact same experience.  Even covens of traditional Wiccan practices like Gardnerian or Alexandriean while there is a core set of contexts and practices which provide a foundation for some what shared experiences, in the end each of the members of the covens have their own relationships and their own unique experiences.

Mystery religions can not be learned from a book.  With this statement one may be wondering why there are so many books out there on the market on witchcraft and pagan practices.  The answer is simple. The books provide key concepts and guidelines which can lead the seeker to having their own experiences.  With the books and the concepts within the books a witch is able to begin their understanding and practices for developing their own spiritual path.

This is ultimately the reason why two witches will never practice the same path even within the same tradition or base practice.  Each with must find their own way.  No one path is better than the other paths out there.  It is simply not the path for you.  Even if a path is not perfect for you there may be something in that path that will inspire you or have something to teach you.

Be open and let the spirits teach you.  Find your own wisdom and personal path.  Let your heart guide you and your path can do no wrong.  Go out there and experience life and what the spirits has to offer.  Play and go wild.  Don’t let other people tell you what to do.  This is your path and your journey.  Find your own truths and find your spirituality.

~Loona Wynd~)0(

Witchcraft not all light and love

Simple Daily Spell

One thing that many starting Pagans, witches, and magicians seek to do is find a way to  integrates their spells and rituals into their daily life and really make it a part of who they are.  When I started out in my studies and practice of witchcraft this was one thing that I too struggled with.

Here is a simple spell and ritual that you can use every morning to refresh yourself and prepare for a new day.

Materials:
SoapWater
Shampoo & Conditioner

When you get into the shower turn the water on to as hot as you can stand.

Get in the shower and let the water rinse you off.  A the water rinses your body before you soap state:

“Water water wash away
Water water cleanse today”.

Take your shampoo and soap and wash your body once.  Repeat the chant over and over again.  As you watch the soap go down the drain visulize all emotional baggage that causes you pain washing down the drain as well.

Soap yourself up and repeat the chant and ritual once more.  This time see any and all blocks in your way going down the drain.

You may shorten the chant to “wash a way cleanse today” as you get into the washing.

Use this each more to prepare for each day,

Enjoy!

Loona Wynd

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