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Ostara

Blessed Ostara/Spring Equinox everyone! Finally, we are seeing the back of winter, and colour is coming back into the world (if you live in the southern hemisphere; Happy Mabon/Autumn Equinox guys!)

I keep this sabbat fairly low key. In the run up I have my traditional “spring clean” making sure everything is tidy and nice for the new season, though my two kids make it damned near impossible to keep it in that state! My altar has daffodils  brightening it up, incense is burning and there is a special feeling about the place. Spring has truly sprung!

For Ostara, though low key here, we have a special meal, I’ve made a spring lemon cake, the kids made egg decorations and I will do a small ritual this evening when I have some peace and quiet. The idea of freshness seems to be abounding right now for me, a fresh start, shaking off the dust of the winter months and letting the breeze in, so i thought I would share a couple of little things I do for the spring equinox with you, these can be used whenever you like!

Wash Away Winter Water

This is to clean your floors with as part of your “spring clean”. You can use herbal infusions, or essential oils, whatever you prefer. This is my personal mix, but feel free to dabble and try making your own.

1 cup basil infusion or 10 drops eo (essential oil)
1 cup cedarwood infusion or 10 drops eo
1 cup lemon infusion or 10 drops eo

fill the rest of your bucket/basin with hot water, and using a cloth or mop, wipe down the floors and cupboards around your home.

If you’re not sure how, to make an infusion you are basically just boiling the herbs etc in a cup of hot water. A tea strainer is ideal for this, but it is a good idea to keep a seperate one for things like this and for drinkable tea infusions. Leave to infuse for a good 5-8 minutes, though you can go longer if you like, and add to your mixture.

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Planting  Power

Spring is a great time to tend to that overgrown wreck you call a garden (shields eyes from weed infested  strip of ground outside). There are many gorgeous plants that are ideal to plant around now such as Hellbore, Tulips and Crocus’. Prepare your soil for planting your flowers, and on a little piece of paper, write a hope for the coming year. This could be for anything, but try to think on the positive, your fresh start, your new beginnings. Place the paper underneath the plant, fill in and water. This would be a great thing to do with the kids. As you tend to the plants, and as they grow and blossom, think on this hope. It should bloom with the flowers.

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An Ostara Blessing

Best served with ale, wine, mead or fruit juice 😉

For new growth and new life
For the harvest we hope to gain
For the suns embrace, for the goddess’ grace
I thank you and raise my glass

For light and for warmth
For hope and for strength
For fresh starts, and healed hearts
I thank you and raise my glass.

For seeds that are sown
The cold nights are gone
I stand here alone
I thank you and raise my glass.

Give some of your drink as offering to your deity/nature, and drink your fill.

Have a wonderful Ostara folks! However you celebrate, may you be full of hope and joy.

Until next time, Blessed Be

The Basic Witch.

Pendulum Prowess

There are many types of divination out there, from tarot, runes and scrying. My personal favourite is the old faithful, pendulums.

Pendulums can come in many shapes and sizes, the most common being the pointed crystal, but really, anything can be used as a pendulum, it’s up to you what you favour. When it comes to choosing one, don’t think about the meanings and attributes of each crystal (for once!), that clouds the judgement for this. For pendulum choosing it is all about what draws you in. If you are in a shop it is easier, look at them, touch them, do any of them feel different, special? If so then take it and love it. I’m at a disadvantage that there are no pagan type shops nearby so I rely on the internet, but never fear, the sight is just as powerful as touch. Find a good supplier and browse. Do you feel a slight tingle or unreasonably drawn to one of them? Good, that’s your pendulum. Though it feels good to go to an old fashioned shop and feel your purchase, in todays modern world that sometimes can not be done.

Crystal_pendulums

Another option is to make the pendulum yourself. It is rather simple, attach your choice of weight (this can be literally anything you feel appropriate) with glue or tie a cord around it, and fix it to a chain, leather cord or string. Most pendulums have a smaller weight at the other end, whether it be a charm or bead to hold on to whilst using the pendulum. Feel free to expand on this and really make it your own.

To get started with your pendulum you need to attune it to you. After it has been cleansed, sit down and just hold it, if it helps close your eyes. Think of what you want from the pendulum. After a short while, hold the top of the cord with your thumb and forefinger and keep your hand still. Ask it a simple question, answerable by yes like “is my name bob?” note the way the pendulum swings, usually either widdershins or deosil. They can also swing towards a certain direction. Keep a note of its answers, and throw in some trick ones like “Am I a llama?” to note which direction is no. (Note: Llamas find it difficult to use pendulums as they do not have a thumb or forefinger). Do not expect yes to be deosil and no to be widdershins, my first pendulum had it the other way around which surprised me. Soon you should be getting the same results consistently, if not, don’t despair. Put down the pendulum and try again later, these things can take time.

Pendulums are commonly used for two reasons, asking questions and finding lost items. For the former, if you are fully in tune with your pendulum you should be able to ask any yes/no answerable question and get an answer. If the pendulum does not move, then the question is unanswerable at this time. Pendulum boards are available from many new age shops, they can be useful, but not at all necessary. Obviously different from the deosil/widdershins version, but still in need of attunement.

pendulum-board
pendulum board

To find lost items, you can simply hold the pendulum and ask it where said item is, the pendulum should swing in the direction of the missing item. You could also try drawing a simple plan of your home/wherever you had the item and letting the pendulum hover over it, indicating what room it should be in.

The pendulum can be a wonderful tool, sometimes we just need that little extra help along our paths, and the pendulum is a rather useful guide. It can be beneficial to keep it on a windowsill at night to charge it, especially if it’s being used a lot. Need to bump up that energy!

Until next time, Blessed Be

The Basic Witch.

 

 

 

Oh My Goddess

The idea of deity, of a higher power has been with us since time immemorial. As a species we don’t want to feel powerless, we want to feel that there is something out there that can help us and guide us. Something more than us.

Whether you believe in deity is a personal thing. I have met atheist witches, though they do seem to be in the minority in pagan circles. Many follow certain pantheons, while others are more eclectic and honour different gods and goddesses from around the world. I seem to be of the latter, I have not really chosen which gods and goddesses i honour, they have picked me, and that is how it is meant to be.

When we start treading the paths of paganism, we generally think “who will my goddess be?” My advice would be to not force it. Don’t force anything within witchcraft and paganism, you will end  up with things that don’t feel “quite right”. Don’t just pluck a goddess out of anywhere and say “i will honour her” when you really don’t know anything about them. That can lead to disappointment.

If you feel drawn to a god or goddess or indeed an entire pantheon, do your research. Read the myths and legends, meditate on that deity, explore. More often than not something will just click with you. When that clicking happens, you’ll know exactly why. My clicking has happened with the Goddess Isis. I connect with her for her devotion to her consort Osiris, her role as mother and wife and as a protector of children. I feel her presence, and admire her completely. I am constantly striving to be a better partner to my husband and mum to my children. I believe Isis is there, giving me the strength to better myself in those roles.

Gods and Goddesses may also appear to you in dreams. I have met Cernunnos in my dreams, most notably when I was pregnant with my daughter.(Fertility is a big deal with Cernunnos).  It is a comforting thing, and can forge a great relationship. You may feel drained with such a meeting,  my mind was racing all day, so take care of yourself the next day.

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Cernunnos

Through meditation you can sometimes seek a deity too, though I would recommend casting a circle around you in case anything negative tries to come back with you. Listen to whoever you meet, they will most assuredly have something important to say.

Within magical workings, you can call upon a God or Goddess to aid you, but they tend to do so only if they agree with the workings. If casting to get a fair outcome in Court, you may call upon Jupiter, for healing spells you may invoke Brigid, but remember to thank them for their help and guidance after you are finished. Do not take without giving. An offering would not go amiss.

Prayer is not a christian construct. We would offer up our pleas and praise to our gods before our lands were converted. Don’t be afraid to speak to the gods, they will listen. They may even speak back. Dedicate part of your altar to them, make offerings to them, honour them and do not neglect them.

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Persephone

Until next time, Blessed Be

The Basic Witch

 

 

 

 

Protect yourself

Within ritual and spellcasting, you need one thing most of all. Protection. You are fixed on what you are doing, and even if you are doing something positive, negative influences can come through, like a spiritual std and the more powerful a spell you are casting, the scarier and more powerful the negative forces can be. There are things you just don’t mess with, fairy rings being one that springs to mind as an example (may be because I had a long conversation about the fae with my husband last night while he was trying to sleep!)

Many books offer very thorough rituals and activities to invoke protection. While solid and reasonable one thought comes to mind which I will convey through a meme;

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I’m lucky if I get an hour to myself, which is what I generally need to prepare and carry through my spell or ritual. Any longer than that then the cats start headbutting the door and the kids start demanding something. Your time is sacred, and while your workings deserve as much time as you can give them, I find the calling of elements and quarters a bit unnecessary. I’m not slamming them as unimportant, I just think there are other ways that are just as effective, and don’t consume so much time.

Magic is mainly all about intent, you spend your energy making something happen. The rest is just additives, little booster packs to up the power. If you are fully engaged in what you are doing then you will have no problems.

 

Simple Protection Working

Get everything ready for your spell/ritual. Light your candles, burn your incense.

Do some simple breathing exercises, this helps you to calm down and relax.

Stand up if you can. With your wand or index finger extended walk (or turn if space is limited) in the deosil (clockwise) direction. Imagine a bright blue light streaming out of the end of your wand/finger. Keep your mind focused on protection and what it is you are needing. If it helps, you can say a few words like:

Protection I seek
Protection I gain
As I cast my circle
My protection remains
So mote it be.

AQMmDFs

Feel free to write your own chant, words have power and I’ve found that there is more oomph in your own than using someone elses. That being said, theres no shame in using someone elses, as long as you mean what you say. Always read over other peoples spells before using them, some may not be exactly what you are looking for.

After you have turned full circle, you can begin. Once you are finished, do the same actions, but widdershins (anti clockwise) almost bringing the light back into you. Others simply “cut” the circle with their hand, wand or athame. It’s up to you. Offer thanks for the protection, then it is finished.

Simple really, isn’t it? I try to always make time to do this, even when making simple infusions, it can’t hurt to have a little back up can it?

Remember folks (pun coming) practice safe hex! Use protection!

 

Until next time, Blessed Be

The Basic Witch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Altar Egos

An altar is a pretty dandy thing to have. Though a lot of my spell casting is done rather casually and usually in my teeny tiny kitchen, I do more serious work at my altar. I could do more serious work in my kitchen and I’m sure the results would be the same, but the altar gives me that sense of focus, the drive and I’m sure the extra hit of energy I surely need.

So what makes an altar? There are a hundred different answers to this, as everyone has their own way of doing things, but specifically it is a sacred place to work, to honour your deities, to keep your magical tools. Some don’t work at an altar, just have it as a focal point and that’s ok. It’s yours. Do what you will. I’ll be talking about the more practical points of the altar though.

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altar at the Salem Witch Walk

So what should be on your altar? For a working one, you need items to represent the 5 elements, air, water, fire, earth and spirit. It is completely up to you to decide what you want to have on the altar to represent these, I have a shell for water, candle for fire, pebble for earth and feather for air.

Next I have two taper candles, I only light them when working, and they serve as a sort of focus for me, like a little indication that this is a sacred time.

I haven’t found a statue/ornament of my patron goddess Brigid that calls to me yet, so I have a lovely card depicting her. If you haven’t got a god/dess you’d like represented on your altar yet, or don’t believe in any deities, that’s fine.

Seasonal decor can be wonderful, it draws the mind to the passing of the wheel, to connect with what is happening in nature. You can decorate your altar to fit in with the sabbats and festivals, or just for the seasons. Bring flowers and other found treasures (pinecones, acorns, shells etc) in and place them on your altar. An altar should not be a stagnant thing. Do remember that if you take something from nature, thank it, and perhaps leave an offering to the wildlife.

Tools. If you use athames, chalices, wands etc, an altar is an appropriate place to keep them, as well as tarot cards, pendulums and runes. The altar is a dedicated magical place in your home, so it makes sense.

Anything else you thing appropriate can go on your altar. During Samhain I keep photos of loved ones that have passed, at Imbolc, there are always snowdrops.

You can really use anything as an altar, a chest of drawers, a computer console table, even a shelf. If you can’t find the room, try a portable altar. Keep your items in a small box and set it up when you need it. I have an old metal chest that I use, it’s sturdy and fits its purpose, plus it has the right feel.

Make your altar yours,  dedicate it to your deities, your ancestors or your path. With all things in witchcraft it is a personal thing. Enjoy it.

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Goddess Brigid

 

Blessed Be

The Basic Witch

 

 

 

Going it alone?

I suppose the expectation of witches is to belong to a coven. Certainly in paths like Wicca covens seem to be the norm, and seem quite idyllic. A group of like-minded people gathering together to practice and learn together! What could go wrong?

Maybe it’s my introvert side coming out, but I could not think of something worse. People are individuals, with their own thoughts, desires and attitudes. Spell working can be a delicate process and unless a coven can claim to be 100% behind each spell, each casting, each ritual, then something is due to go a bit wonky, though I will come out and say I have never been a part of a coven, though have taken part in a fair few group workings. The difference I suppose was the workings I was a part of were not for anything specific, mainly rituals of thanks, for a good season, that sort of thing. Imagine if you will, a coven working towards a healing spell. 7 out of the 8 members are totally on board, but the 8th doesn’t really like the person they are working for, doesn’t really care if they get better or not. Magic is all about intent. All that focus going towards one goal, except a person within the group is making it a bit foggy, what’s the point? Better to have one true worker, than a dodgy group one.

My other worry would be the inner politics of the group. Person A leads, but person B thinks they would do a better job, why haven’t they got the role, why are their suggestions not being taken on board. As humans we have egos, some stronger than others. Through conversations with other witches, I have heard of so much drama that comes with groups that I feel I am much better out of it. Some start with petty things, like “what offering”, others with bitching behind anothers backs. It would be nice if everyone just got along but there is always the risk, even with people who we consider friends. Magic can be such a personal experience that things are bound to erupt, too many witches spoil the cauldron.

There have been scare stories in the community about covens taking advantage of newcomers and I think if anyone has power over someone else, this can be a risk.

I class myself as a solitary practitioner (rather obvious stating that now!) and yet it still has it’s pitfalls. I’m a bit lonely. I speak to other witches online, but to know someone flesh and blood, meet for a coffee and have a nice chat about the new broomstick on the market would be dandy.

I think about how I feel when I do a spell, the energy in the room and in me, and from my fleeting moments in a group, the goodwill and “warm fuzzies” afterwards was amazing and I think how good it would be to be with others, more people would definitely give more oomph to the spell, but at what cost.

I am a little bit different in my beliefs and practices within the community. I don’t do heavy ritual, i keep things simple, small almost. That doesn’t mean I can’t pack a punch, but still, I don’t do things which a lot of people deem necessary. (more on that in a future blog post. I don’t want to feel like I have to keep up with the magickal Jones’ either.

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However, when I’m practising alone, I go at my own pace, I do what I need to do, when I need to do it. I don’t feel compelled to work something just because the group says I have to, and I can do it my way. I like the freedom a bit too much.

However if you do feel you need the company of other like minded folks, have a look into moots. These usually consist of a group of pagans (sometimes single paths, sometimes altogether) getting together for a coffee or pint, chatting and generally just being social. Sometimes they will do something together, like make some crafts, talk about moon phases, workings, gods, goddesses, the fae, its unlimited. It can be unstructured or structured. That sounds a lot more reasonable to me, perhaps a fair compromise between the two. Sometimes people from the moot will work magic together,but that is up to them, and you don’t need to involve yourself if you don’t want to.

Everything has it’s pros and cons, even when stepping into the pagan world. It can be a harsh reality, when you think you’ll find brothers and sisters in the craft to feel even worse than when you knew no one. I don’t mean to be a debbie downer, I just want you to guard yourself. I think if I found the right coven, I would probably want to be a part of it, but whats right for me might be wrong for you and vice versa. You look after you, and everything will be well.

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Necessities.

Though I am pretty anti consumerism when it comes to witchcraft, there are some things I would happily spend money on, as well, I need them. They are not bank balance breakers, and serve a purely practical purpose; to use in spells.

  • Candles. Most spells require these, whether to burn pieces of paper  or to send up your intent with the smoke and flames. Coloured candles can be appropriate for the occasion, red for passion, green for money, yellow for creativity, or you can use plain white ones. Anointing them with oils is another option, it’s completely up to you. Now I would say the more natural the better when it comes to candles, beeswax are an absolute delight to use, the smell, the feel, i could wax lyrical (pun intended) on them, however, the humble tealight, bought in bulk, is just as good, as one made by virginal mountain bees.  In favour of tealights, they’re cheap, they come in many many different colours and a lot of spells require you to let the candle burn out completely. A lot of my spell work is at night (only peaceful time I actually get) so I don’t particularly want a candle that can go on for hours and hours. A tealight is roughly 2 hours burning time, which is absolutely perfect for me, though choose to your own personal preferences.
  • Herbs. Not all of us are blessed to live in little country cottages with land to boot, or indeed houses with a garden. I’m currently living in a flat, with my husband, 2 children and far too many cats (plus the long suffering dog) in a big city. I have no garden to speak of, though I do have a lovely park nearby where the spaniel frolics, but foraging is a bit tricky there. When I attempted to grow herbs on my kitchen windowsill, my cats took it as a field day and thought they had a nice new litter tray. Ugh. So, purchase them I must (or nab some from my mother in law!) Uses are so varied for herbs, that they are worth the (little) money you should have to spend on them. From oil infusions, brews, salves, spell work, smudging and burning, plus much more, they really are necessary.
  • Essential Oils. For a quick candle anointing, to burn in an oil burner for scent, bathing, even to wear as perfume (with an appropriate carrier) essential oils are vital to me. I carry around a small bottle of sweet basil in my handbag for when I get tired, I use spike lavender under our pillows when we have the cold (sleep + clearing) , juniper berry to shake off negativity. There are so many varieties and so many uses, just make sure you purchase them from a trustworthy source. No one wants dodgy oils.
  • Fireproof bowl. You can buy cauldrons for this purpose or just use something you can burn stuff safely in. Many spells require you to burn paper, herbs, etc and its good to have something to hand where you can do that without setting fire to the rest of your home. If you have a fireplace or firepit in the garden, that will do the job nicely too.
  • Crystals. Now I’m adding them to the list because a lot of witches I know swear by them, and I must admit, I do love them too, but I wouldn’t say they are necessities, but very good little boosters, very like essential oils. Pop a moss agate in your purse for prosperity, a citrine for happiness, a garnet to spice things up in your lovelife and amethyst under your pillow for a good nights sleep. They are incredibly useful (pretty too!)

Through the course of the blog I’ll be going into these things a little deeper, as well as other subjects. Hope to meet again.

Blessed Be

The Basic Witch.

Burning Christmas candles