One of the first things most books on witchcraft and spiritual practices say is to trust your intuition. If something feels right then do it. If something doesn’t feel right than it probably isn’t. If you feel like there is something you need to do or really should be doing than you probably should be doing those things. These feelings of something needing to be done, and of something feeling right or off are ways that our intuition comes to us and manifests in our world.
There are many different ways that a person can trust and develop a sense of their intuition. When a person learns to trust their intuition they can really have the world at their feet. By trusting and working with your intuition a person will essentially “never be guided wrong”. Your intuition is really your highest self talking to your conscious mind and telling you basically what needs to be done at that moment. Our intuition is also one of the many ways that our spirit guides can contact us.
Learning to develop a sense of your intuition is typically one of the first things that witches and pagans do. By developing their intuition a person can better understand messages sent from their Gods and spirits. It also helps them to better connect to the spiritual forces and energetic needs going on. By developing a sense of your intuition you also develop a sense of what works and will simply “know” how to work the ritual on that day for that reason. This is our spirit and ourselves working as one, and when this state is reached one really has become a witch if they practice witchcraft and aware of the spiritual nature of reality if they are not a witch.
For me I have only really recently started to work with my intuition. For years I knew I had a strong intuition and sense of energetic flows. I could read energy and see auras. I was especially sensitive to emotional energy. For me understanding my intuition and its strength was a scary process. My readings when I did them were so strong and accurate I scared myself from doing my own readings and for reading for others. Its only been recently I have realized that this intuition is a gift rather than a curse so I am actively working on recognizing my strengths and listening to my intuition.
The very first time I realized that my intuition would guide me in my magical and spiritual spells was when I created an incense I use in all my reiki and healing work sessions. When I created that first incense I didn’t know what I was making. I just grabbed the herbs I had that dealt with healing energies. I laid those herbs on the floor in front of me and I started to just grab and mix the herbs as seemed right. I don’t remember making measurements or anything along those lines. I just knew that the incense was right. I remembered to write down what I put in the incense so I could try and make it again but aside from that no record was made.
The healing incense that I sell in Mystic Echoes was inspired by and is an offshoot of that original healing incense blend. The core is the same, but there were other factors that personalized the other incense so they are not exactly the same but they are related. The tincture blend is also related. The core is the same with some modifications in both situations to be more generic than the original purely intuitive blend. You can buy those items Tincture & Incense blend
One of the many ways I have started to recognize my intuition has been in casting spells when it seems to be the right time. In the past I have felt a desire to cast a spell or thought that maybe a spell would help deal with this, and never done the work. I never really trusted myself to just do the right thing. In this sense I didn’t trust my intuition to basically tell me what I needed to do for that spell. Now I am being more active in my spell casting. I work my magic when it seems right and when it feels right.
The key way I am developing my intuition when it comes to my magical practices and my spirituality now though is through the development of products for Mystic Echoes and the writing of the exercises and content on the Seeker Sight blog that I also run. By working on both projects I am listening to my inner truths and knowledge and my intuition is guiding me.
With the products I develop for Mystic Echoes I have a concept in mind that I want to work with. I do some research. For example if I were to develop a hex breaker product or products I would look up herbs and items that correspond with hex breaking. I would then just let my intuition look over the list and decide what to use for items. In many cases it also depends on what I currently have available to work with.
I test all of those products as well. So by developing the products I am developing my spirituality, my intuition, my magical practices, and my knowledge of herbs. The herbs seem to work together because I trust that they will work together. My intuition guided me and will continue to guide me in my craft and practices.
I am not sure exactly how I define my intuition. I would call it an inner sense of knowing. I would say that for me my intuition is a combination of things I know within myself and messages and content sent to me through guides, ancestors, and maybe the divine. I don’t necessarily know the difference between which intuitive thoughts and practices are from guides and which is from deep within me. I just know that when I listen to my intuition things seem to work out in the end. When I don’t listen to my intuition things don’t always work out, or I will be tested in the same way or manner until I do listen to my intuition and then do something about it.
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.
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