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Getting Started

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Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:37 pm

First off, welcome - and the obligatory disclaimer :D . These are just my comments & suggestions to get a new comer started in their practice. No one can tell you how to "witch" because in doing something we love we carve our own path based on our own intuitive relationship with natural forces. Take a good look around the forum, specifically in the WITCHCRAFT & WICCA 101 Table of Contents for starters.

I really urge you to get a plain, cheap notebook you aren't afraid to blot & scribble in. Jotting things down will help you to organize your thoughts, & sort out the questions that will help you discover your personal path. Your personal journal will teach you more than any published book on the Craft. (See "Journal Prompts" pg. 3). Use it to discover & develop your intuitive awareness & to build your practice. You don't have to write volumes. Make lists. Catch the thoughts. Establish a fairly regular reading, writing/reflecting routine with books you can get. Make short notes about what you feel is workable for your situation & what book you'd read it in. Read as much as you can take in & then put some of it to use.

BASIC OUTLINE

Nine basic operational techniques to help start your practice are given below, broken down into three sets, and each will be described further along in the article. The 1st triad is on personal energy. You might want to spend a few minutes grounding, centering & shielding daily whenever you can make the time. Just about everything you do in ritual or magical pursuits will depend on how true to yourself you are in doing these three basic energy workings. Grounding balances our magic. Centering focusses & guides our magic. Shielding protects our magic. They're the foundation. If you can call to mind where to find your favorite foods at your regular grocery store, or plan your outfit for the day, you can visualize well enough. Write about your experiences as you go.

- Grounding visualization & physical tips
- Centering visualization
- Shielding visualization

Once you have established a routine and can comfortably and reliably ground, center and shield, add on the next three-some relating to sacred space. These might be done weekly:

- Cleansing space
- Sensing & Raising energy
- Creating sacred space

After getting the three personal energy steps of grounding, centering and shielding and adding on the spacial steps of cleansing space, raising energy and creating sacred space, the next step is encoding or programming energy, to your will. You might do these as needed. This sets the scene for ritual and spell casting. The first two triads gave you a teasing taste of it. You know how your energy feels by this point in the study. (If not, back up & review.) So add on the next set on coding energy:

- Directing energy with intent
- Psychically charging items
- Consecrating tools

Religious basics can only be briefly referenced in this discussion but might be broken down for study as:

- Primal Mother Goddess and Horned God concepts observed in Nature
- Your cultural or path-related Deities and their associations
- Developing your relationship with Deity
- holiday calendar & rituals

Meanwhile, in your "spare time" :) write down your current ideas on what a spiritual path means to you. What do you want from a spiritual practice? What do you want from your witchcraft study?

Do you want to engage in a form of worship? Then look into ritual methods and god-forms. Or are you seeking an understanding of the Universe? Then look into the spiritual exercises & practices. Do you want to learn just the craft-side of witchcraft? Then look into spell crafting. Do you seek an Earth-centered spiritual experience? Then look into shamanic witchcraft. If you know what you are seeking, you can better direct your interests and time.

What blocks you? Can you fit your interest into your current life, or are changes needed? What changes?

Can you be out in the open about your interest? If not, see "Broom Closet" next page.

There are many downloadable e-books on-line. Check the media section for book reviews. Maybe get a calendar that has moon phases noted on it, or print one.

Are you aware that Wicca perceives both a Goddess and a God force, not either/or. How do feel about this duality?

Do you want to work with a deity personality? It is an option not a requirement. Working with a god-form means to immerse yourself in their associated resonance, themes & symbols as a means to self-realization. It does not mean that we hand over our life decisions, as we are always responsible for our own acts and thoughts within any Pagan path. If it interests you, then research the god-forms that call to your imagination to learn what their associations are.

Do different cultures interest you? Who are their gods? What are they like? You can choose to invite the God/Goddess with their titles or as forces of nature to witness your circle casting. Don't worry about specific names yet or evocations. It takes time to know them.

And some tips:

MAKE DAILY PRACTICE ACCESSIBLE. Practice grounding, centering and shielding often while doing ordinary activities like watching TV, standing in line at the grocery store or when you shower. Touch trees, greet the Earth, Sun and Moon. Meditate in short, manageable sessions, using controlled breathing to maintain focus. It sets you up to succeed.

KNOW YOUR LOCALE. Know about your geographic location, it's history, and the lay of the land and your neighborhood. Get out and feel the sunlight, and weather. Feel the Earth's energies at dawn, noon, dusk, & midnight. Notice how Nature is different as the day changes to night & back to day.

WHEN YOU'VE RAISED ENERGY, EITHER GIVE IT A PURPOSE OR GROUND IT. This protects you from over-flow.

CLOSE WHAT YOU OPEN. Whether it's a pasture gate, an invitation to spirits or Deity, a spell or energized circle, finish what you start. Thank and release what you summon or invite. Break the connection - Every. Single. Time. It prevents attracting energy feeders.

CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. Respect the Earth. She is your Mother.

KEEP YOUR PERSONAL ENERGY BALANCED. This means be aware of your ups 'n downs, highs and lows, and the elemental forces within your body. If your mouth is dry, you need Water. If you're too warm, you have too much Fire. When you giggle too much or are Air/light-headed and hungry, you need Earthing and food. And when you're down and sluggish, a breath of Air and deep breathing will restore you.

BEWARE OF HOARDING. Have what you need and use what you have. More "stuff" does not make you a better witch. Having the creativity to use what you have will "grow" your skills as a witch.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby smogie_michele » Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:41 pm

I wish I had this advice when I first started practicing :)
A yawn is a silent scream for coffee.

Feel free to pm me if you have any questions! I am here to help.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby Bychan Wulf » Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:54 pm

It's awesome that new members can have it all in one place now. :-) It took me a few weeks to discover all these hehe
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Re: Getting Started

Postby moonraingirl » Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:57 am

This is a great post, ST. Very informative and simple are the same time
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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:45 am

Thanks for your comments.:) I hope newbies will find it helps control the information overload swirling around in their heads so it's more fun.

WHAT DOES ENERGY FEEL LIKE? People feel it different ways, as tingling, heat or warmth, pressure or tickling on the skin, a cool touch; or see it visually like mist, light, smoke or sparks. Some people mention hearing it rather like white noise too, or that it smells like ozone, like thunder & lightening. Some folks get jittery. So the body's senses do pick it up.

Scott Cunningham suggests in "Wicca-A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" to rub the hands together, then hold them with palms facing each other. Slowly separate the hands and move them together again a few times. You should feel a subtle resistance. That's the energy of your body. You can play around with it, make an energy ball & then push it into your stomach, which is a way to ground it. Or use it as a spell and fill it with thoughts of blessing & let it go like a balloon.

WHERE DOES THIS ENERGY COME FROM? It's all around us, emanating from everything that exists and is caused by the relationship between everything. It has many names: prana, manna, chi, & orgone are a few.

HOW DO WE CONNECT WITH THIS FREE ENERGY? We connect with thought, because energy follows thought. Thoughts begin in our consciousness as light, then become energy and to manifest must acquire mass. We use our force of will, our desire. We think it, we want it. We use the gift of our imagination to visualize it. And we use words, which are the sounds of thoughts, to strengthen the link. Repetition adds strength. We think it, we feel it, we say it and most important, we know it is so and give thanks.

WHAT ARE ELEMENTS? When we refer to "The 5 Elements", we're talking about the basic states of matter - solid/earth, gas/air, plasma/fire, liquid/water and the etheric/spirit. These comprise everything in our physical world. The elements are the building blocks of Nature, and they are the forces that manifest our intentions. Each state has different features that sets it apart from the others, and has it's own properties and behaviors. All 5 are always present.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby Ashrend » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:59 am

Thank you for this list. Its really helpful, feel like i skipped ahead a little so getting the basics done will really help

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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:15 pm

Thanks. I've got some more...

We hear lots of recommendations to meditate, and beginners may not have a clue what this involves. And how does someone start taming their hamster-on-a-wheel thoughts? It starts with breathing The breath carries the power. Since everybody does this, it's not that hard. Honest.

BREATH

The easiest breathing is slow, timed rhythmic in-and-out, at a comfortable level. Inhale counting one-to-four, hold-in four counts, exhale and hold-out, each for the same number of counts. So it's: in-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4, out-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4, repeat. This just quiets a person down. This is done for just a few minutes. Don't strain at it because straining is counter-productive.

A hand gesture (mudra) of holding the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger is said to aid concentration.

THREE BODIES

There are various schools of thought that depict a multi-layered model of the construction of the body, but most agree on at least 3 components of a dense physical body, inter mingled with a less dense energy body and still lesser dense spirit body. That's the basics, and depending on the source can acknowledge a body for each of the 11 dimensions science thinks there are. Each is connected to the human Consciousness - whatever that is. I don't have a clue how it works, only that it does work. Just as thoughts (desire & intent) fire the nerves that move the muscles that move the physical body, thoughts move the energy and spiritual bodies as well. The way I was taught it was that the energy body connects at the solar plexus (belly) in our physical body, and the spiritual body connects at the 3rd eye (between the eyebrows) & crown (top of the head).

GROUNDING

Grounding is a term that refers to Earthing the energy body to stabilize us, which is basic maintenance. It's simply being in touch with the Earth. While you're doing the four-count breathing is a good time to be grounding. Visualize your energy along your spine extending from the tail-bone into the Earth like a tap root on a tree, sinking into the ground to absorb nutrients and vitality on the inhales, as well as to carry away distress and anxiety on the exhales. If it's easier to see the roots going down from your feet, then do it. You control your visualization.

Some physical ways to ground are to touch the Earth with your bare feet, or even lay on the ground; hold & stroke a palm-sized stone as you rock your body side-to-side; eat root vegetables raw or roasted. To aid grounding, use a hand gesture of holding the tip of your thumb to the tip of your ring finger. If you do so every time you ground, eventually you will train yourself to automatically ground whenever you make the thumb to ring finger gesture.

CENTERING. :serpentrune:

I think of centering as locking in our position in time and space like the GPS, Global Positioning Satellite mapping. Stand facing north, and imagine the vertical line of the energy body extending along the spine, both as high as it is deep. This automatically combines grounding with centering in the same exercise. Then imagine a horizontal line intersecting the 1st in front and behind you like a North-South axis. Then add another horizontal line passing through the others going East-West. All 3 lines connect at your center and move around with you.

Experiences vary. You might experience your connection at the abdomen or the chest. Women often sense theirs closer to their abdomen, and men, closer to their chest. You are already familiar with this location. Recall a time when you've been startled suddenly and felt like you dropped into your gut or felt punched in the chest, and momentarily have all your senses on defense alert. You've just pulled your power within you & lit a fire in the belly. That's where your energy body connects to the physical counterpart. In meditation we can work from the same space. When we're not startled we know it as a quiet, still space within ourselves. We naturally pull our power into ourselves when we center.

The brain's activity is a light hypnosis Alpha state, and most of us are familiar with falling in and out of this throughout the day when we are calmly absorbed in a task and block out awareness of anything else. Alpha, as a meditation exercise let's us ask questions and get "knowing" as answers as we relax. Remain as non-judgemental as you can & evaluate the thoughts afterwards, so as not to interrupt the process. A hand gesture to aid centering is to hold the tip of the thumb to the tip of the middle finger. If you do this gesture whenever you meditate, you will train yourself to center whenever you make the gesture.

Everybody will have their own variations tailored to their own perceptions and experiences. We all travel in our dreams. And dreams are just another form of consciousness. A lot of witching is changing our consciousness at will by repositioning where we focus our awareness.

BREATHING INTO CENTER

This is a two-part breath work. Inhale into the belly so your lower abdomen inflates, then complete the inhale by breathing into your chest so the upper chest inflates. Then exhale. Use the four-count method again. Keep it comfortable and rhythmic. Counting doesn't have to be perfect, just rhythmic.

Belly-1-2, smoothly move to chest-3-4, hold-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4.

As long as you get the rhythm and stay comfortable, and focus your attention on your belly, you will get the centering effect. We can use the center breathing as a jumping off point to deeper meditation, prayer, visualization, and connecting to deity, to our higher mind, guardian spirit and to other realms because when we center, we are linked from the Mundane Center to the Underworld Center and to the Cosmic Center.

For start-up, i'll use the belly-button as a general location on which to focus, and you can refine it as you feel more awareness. Focus your attention on yours. You want to breath into your belly. Sounds weird, but think of this exercise as building inner sacred space. When we center, we pull our power into ourselves. You know you're "getting it" when you are gently aware of being you, without letting physical/body sensations distract you. You know your body is there but it's not the focus of who you are at the moment.

SHIELDING

Shielding is basic psychic protection from negative thoughts, and energy-sucking people. Ground your tap root. Breath into the belly. Imagine a golden glow radiating out from the belly to completely surround you and out-line your body. Every breath strengthens the shield. It stays in place and reinforces itself as you belly-breathe. To seal the aura, briefly see it hardened like a fighter jet's plexiglass cockpit canopy, reflecting the sky. Blue is a good spiritual protection color.

STRAY THOUGHTS

Stray thoughts will wander in. Don't make an issue of it. Just return to the breath. You decide if your meditation is worth interrupting to pay attention to the thought or return to breathing focus. Some thoughts are worth following, as in a guided meditation. You flow out on the thought from the belly, and you return through the belly. You'll always find your way back this way. No sweat.

If you want to ponder a specific matter, breath into the belly to center, then ponder from center. Pose a question. Breathe. Wait for a response from within center, and ignore the chatter. That way you aren't wandering off chasing after dreams and irrelevant side issues.

What does it mean if you feel a warm tingle? It means you have allowed your bodily sensations to distract you. Nothing more. Focus on your rhythmic breathing again, and forge onward.

This kind of breathing into an area works elsewhere as well, such as the heart and third eye areas, or crown at the top. Each area has it's usefulness, but that's not the starting place. Returning to the belly keeps us from going topsy-turvey. It pairs with grounding and that stabilizes us. The woo-woo factor is whacky enough, so stability helps a lot to keep our wits about us.


HEART TEMPLE EXERCISE

The Heart Temple is an astral realm thought-construct to develop visualization skills and sensitivity. It forges a path to communicate with your inner guidance, or "higher self" consciousness. The symbolism is meaningful to the subconscious. Nine is a number related to the triple moon and psychic sensitivity.

The temple can be any style you want. Your imagination will provide the images. You can put as much detail into it as you can, such as texture & color variations, light and shadow plays. Your imagination gets to come out and play.

Relax and deep breathe for a few minutes. Then visualize ascending nine steps to enter a temple. The only furnishing is a flame. Your imagination will design it. Go along with it.

Focus your imaginary gaze on the flame, and will it to raise higher and lower on command.

Do this nine times. Then return the flame to it's maintenance level.

Depart the temple by descending the nine steps. Return to your ordinary surroundings and ground your energy.

I've found that the Heart Temple will remain with you for your life, always available & always beneficially effective.
Last edited by SpiritTalker on Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:23 pm, edited 67 times in total.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:37 pm

THE FOUR POWERS OF THE WITCH:

Knowing, with that sense of quiet assurance that a thing is thus/so, is of Air, the Wand/Staff & east; Will is the single minded determination to stay the course & see a thing done, and of Fire, the flame, & south. Daring is sheer guts, the chutzpah to follow your inner wisdom, and is of Water & the vessel & west; Silence is the inner solitude that let's the voice of wisdom be heard, and is of Earth, the offering & north. These powers are what make our magic go.


ALTAR

Any flat surface will serve. The surface and any ritual tools or regularly used incense holders & candle holders (or dishes) should be cleansed with blessed water (see Making Holy Water further down) when the altar is set up the 1st time, or when pieces are replaced. How big your table is and if it's permanent or set up and taken down each time will effect your options.

What goes on a working altar & where?

A standard Western Occult working altar is a miniature model of cosmic forces & the Earth. It is used in rituals and spell casting. We can create a balanced energy flow with the table arrangement that will actually help our spells succeed by grouping the working tools & 4 elements by polarity. Energy flows from (-) to (+). The Cup of water with a pinch of salt represents water & earth elements. These 2 are (-) polarity, passive-feminine and placed to the left, whereas the Blade, Wand & incense as fire & air elements are (+) polarity, active-masculine & placed to the right. [To our ancient, pagan ancestors this model might have mimicked the body with the left arm holding the shield (passive) and the right arm holding the spear (active).] The Pentacle represents all 5 elements & so fits in the central "earthing" spot where the altar's energy is concentrated. Altar lights (if needed) can fit in back so they aren't knocked over. You can easily sense how the altar's energies move just by noticing how your gaze moves across the space.

Not everyone uses the Western Occult standard -/+ layout but G.B.Gardner chose that model for his Wiccan guidelines. It's also popular to arrange a magical altar to depict the 4 compass quarters like a medicine wheel where the altar mimics the Earth again. Not every path assigns the same elemental properties to the 4 directions. Whichever model you choose to follow it's best to be consistent & not mix signals within a rite. There are also altar models that mimic the night sky & draw power from seasonal constellations.

A devotional altar is meant to attract a specific deity or spirit so will have statues or other symbols representing them, and use scents and food & drink offerings that appeal to that spiritual force. These can be combined with the working altar if you choose. Holiday decorations can be added as well (see the EUTM Altar Pictures section for inspiration). A truly old practice is the offering of a perpetual light and now-a-days this is likely to be a fire-safe flameless candle or a string of Yule lights (perhaps inside a bottle).

Place an altar in the center of a ritual space if you won't knock it over, or inside the circle's rim if you like to move around. In Wicca, the Crafter usually faces across the altar toward either the star around which the heavens revolve (Polaris, North Star) or east toward the sunrise (our nearest star).

RITUAL TOOLS

The tools vary by path & personal choice as well. In the Western Occult model they are elemental symbols, acting as gateways between the mundane & etheric worlds. What they symbolize to you is the best way to select which ones to use. The standard tools are cup, blade, wand, pentacle, incense and candle holders (as incense & candles are expendable commodities), bell, cloth covering, cord and a ritual scourge (largely done away with). These tools come from ceremonial magic and were adopted for Gardnerian Wicca and aren't used in all paths.

The altar table represents the Earth. A simple altar cloth symbolizes the etheric plane & a decorated one can convey powerful sigils into the ethers. A cup holds the libation (water) as an offering; a censer holds incense (air) both as an invitation & offering; a pentacle or stone (earth) is used for protection & collects and condenses elemental energy to charge/empower spells; a candle's flame itself is the element fire & is both an offering & presence; a bell's sound clears and opens ritual space (spirit).

The staff is an old Pagan sign of authority to command and to travel freely between one realm and another & is preferred in some folk traditions. It represents the World Tree (upper, mundane & lower worlds) & connects to the Earth's & the Galactic centers. It's the broomstick that symbolizes spirit flight. A long staff isn't used in Gardnerian Wicca, but it's miniature form is the wand which is generally used like the staff to direct magical will when the blade would be too aggressive. The wand invites and directs whereas the blade commands. Both are associated with the Crafter's will and intention and both symbolize air and/or fire. Gardnerian tradition uses a dark handled, 2-edged blade which cuts only etheric energy. A black handle is preferred to absorb & channel your energy. A white handle is used on a blade reserved for physical cutting & to tell them apart in candlelight. Black and White symbolize balanced duality (the pillars of the Cosmos) as do 2 parallel, pointing fingers if you use fingers instead of a 2-edged blade to direct energy. Think of statues you've seen holding up 2 fingers to channel a blessing.

The Measure is a braided cord, plaited by your own hand, and worn around the waist during rituals. The way to measure a person is to tie a knot on one end of the cord & then measure from the knot placed at the brow (3rd eye), over the crown & down the back to the heel and tie an ending knot; then wind the cord once around the head (3rd eye), the chest (heart) and the hip (groin) & tie knots to separate each position. Leave tassels & add charms if desired. The cord holds the Wiccan's personal psychic energy signature. It is used to reinforce the Crafter's will during casting and for some types of cord magic. It also serves as a belt for a robe. The robe is optional in private practice. Putting on the ritual robe symbolizes donning the ritual attitude and persona.

CLEANSING SPACE

It's helpful to work one's magic in an energy cleansed area to reduce psychic conflicts, so we clear ourselves (with a wash) and our ritual space (of clutter) before casting. The most popular cleansing methods among Wiccans today appear to be physical sweeping with a broom to pick up debris, followed by fuming with fanned smoke from commercial incense or dried twigs of white sage bush, cedar tree or a cinnamon bark stick. Originally sprinkling with blessed salt water was the standard way to cleanse sacred space.

Make all cleansing motions in a counter-clockwise spiral to decrease unwanted energy, walking from the center towards the outside boundary so as not to trap anything within. You then fill the cleared space with some positive energy such as casting the circle, or white-light. Then seal the good vibes by air-drawing a pentagram with a hand gesture or tool-of-choice. Cleansing space can be done any time the space you're in feels sluggish.

To clear a room of unsettling energies you can place white cleansing stones like white quartz & selenite, or negativity absorbing black stones like tourmaline & obsidian, in opposite corners of a room. Or use cleansing sound by ringing a clear-toned bell.

A regular practice to protect the energies of your living space is to physically sweep toward the door you use most often so any bad ju-ju is swept outside. Then place a pinch of cleansing salt in all cleared corners and at the doors and on window sills, or tie some cinnamon sticks, rosemary twigs & a salt packet with ribbon to hang in windows. Last, seal the area by drawing a pentagram in the air with your fingers, tool or a stick of burning incense.

ALERT: While we're on the subject of cleansing, soaking crystals in salt-water can erode soft stones like angelite, turquoise & selenite. Lengthy exposure to sun might fade the colored quartz stones. Placing crystals in full, unobstructed MOONLIGHT is a safe method for cleansing any stone. Amber, Kyanite, selenite, shungite & tourmaline are self-cleansing and can also be used to clear other stones by laying them around the grimy one over night.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:37 pm

RAISING and DIRECTING ENERGY

Energy's all around us, and it's free, abundant, continuously renewing, inexhaustible and able to be channeled by our thoughts; and that's how spells are powered. We can raise energy with breath-work, or by physical exertions like dancing & drumming, clapping and rhythmic noise making. Those are self explanatory, and another way is by visualization.

We channel or direct energy with the will, holding our intention in mind. Ground and center. Bring the energy into your body by imagining the spine's tap root pulling up Earth Light into your belly. Pull up on the soles of your feet by rocking on your heels to physically reinforce the thought. Then imagine you pull Cosmic Light through the crown at the top of your head and down from the sky. Pull down by dropping your jaw to reinforce the thought. Breathe this light into your belly. Feel the energies pool, swirling together & ignite In the belly. As you exhale, PUSH up from the belly and out your arm, through your extended Index & middle fingers. (You should be pointing at the ground for now, as a test run.)

Look where you point to focus your thoughts on directing the flow of power. In order to be used, energy must be instructed in a few words to accomplish a desired goal. When energy's raised but not used, you should ground it. This protects you from overload & gives it back to Mother Earth.

You might feel an assortment of mild heat or tingling sensations. You may get light headed or giddy. Ground the energy back down the tap root, and stop pulling. Shake your arms and hands like shaking water droplets off your fingers. Shuffle your feet and break the connection. Every time you raise energy ground yourself when finished to end & break the connection. Otherwise you'll be spacey or head-achey.

CLAPPING EXAMPLE

If visualization isn't your strong point yet, you can still raise energy with physical activity like clapping. A fun way of clapping uses unique rhythm. Each X is a clap, and each - dash - is a pause:

X X X X - X X - X X,
X X X X - X X - X X,
X X X X - X X X X,
X

Repeat the whole sequence as needed then make the final single clap loud, accompanied by a shout HEY! at the same time you release by pushing out and exhaling to let it go.

CHARGING WITH INTENT

We psychically activate the intent of our spells by drawing power to center and pushing energy through the palms of the hands & and focused gaze into the item that holds the spell. We must KNOW it is accomplished. We can reinforce the intent with our words in positive, present-tense phrases. In plain English, think about what you want, feel it ignite in your gut, say it to seal it, and push it into something you are using to hold the spell.

If you hold your palms flat and facing away from you, then join your two index fingers together and your two thumbs together, you form a magical window or "triangle of manifestation" to peer through. This focusses your gaze onto the item being charged, and aims the power points in your palms towards the item as well.

Rub a bit of olive oil on the item first. A living substance like olive oil will hold a psychic charge better than the naked item because chi or orgone energy is attracted to living substances. That's one reason why spell herbs and oils are used.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:54 pm

CASTING A WICCAN CIRCLE & RITUAL
(Creating sacred space, or the temple)

Most Wiccans seem to agree the circle is cast to protect & hold our energy. The circle unites both the Cosmos above, the Unseen Realms below and the mid-Earth with it's 4 compass directions. It will form a base for a Cone of Power. This cone is shaped like a witch's hat with the brim intersecting the ground as the circle. The cone is charged with intent In the same way we charge a spell & released-to-target; thus a circle aids our ritual and magical workings. In addition, as sacred space a circle is set apart from mundane influences. It's a void "between" and out of phase with the mundane. A circle is a space where the Crafter can connect to the Earth's natural energy without cross-current interference. I imagine circle-casting is like tidying up before guests arrive & clearing enough space for everyone to sit.

Deity is addressed for religious celebrations & otherwise as the spirit guides you. They are treated like Royalty who are the last to arrive and the first to exit. It's flexible. The Quarter Calling rituals that follow the actual laying of the circle are like a formal invitation to the Powers to request the pleasure of their company. We invite the element's attendance to balance our circle's energy and move it from being a thought-form & into the physical realm. When the energy is nicely balanced we feel at-ease with a quiet assurance. When the energy is off-balance we feel tipsy or buzzed.

Candles or lanterns may be set at the four directions to provide light & mark the boundary. Showing a light is like turning on the porch light so invited guests can find our door. Stones make good markers when working outdoors. Place each light or stone as you welcome the quarter's presence. If you are not Calling Quarters then just work with the altar candles indoors, or a small fire in a metal pot outdoors. It's best to have all your necessary spell items present & to set up the altar before casting circle, as it is just bad form to break the circle to retrieve forgotten items.

If you do work with Elemental Powers or call upon any spirits then it's good hospitality to offer your guests food and drink as you would at your home I.e., the ritual meal, & is correct to offer to Deity first. It is also good to see each guest to the door when the gathering has ended to release/dismiss what was evoked.

Sweep the space clear & remove any debris or clutter. Ground and center yourself. Raise energy however you like. Bless the salt-water & incense (see "making holy water"). You can repeat any phrases as often as needed until you walk all the way around. Usually Wiccans walk the circumference three times clockwise to increase energy. Exceptions are going widdershins to stir the land force & banishing.

Walk the circumference and:

1. Consecrate by sprinkling (-) salt-water as you make the 1st circuit & then wafting (+) incense smoke around the rim to make the 2nd circuit. This introduces the 4 physical elements. You might repeat Doreen Valiente's words: "Round, round 'n round about. All good in & all bad out."

2. Use a wand or 2-finger pointing to direct your power & charge the border, saying: "As I walk the circle is cast, guarding all and holding fast."

3. State your purpose, why you are there, so all present (seen &'unseen) are informed.

That is all there is to the casting of a simple circle. Anything after this is the temple building ritual &'thanks-giving. When using only a simple circle remember to ground & dissipate the circle afterwards.

SABBAT or ESBAT RITUAL

Many Wiccans combine the circle casting with their ritual calling of four directions' elemental powers to their aid and greeting Deity. After the circle is cast you can place (or just show) a lighted candle at each direction.

Start at north & say something like "Hail to Earth. I call to you to aid my rite". Proceed east/Air, south/Fire, west/Water individually, thus illuminating & opening a door to each guest as you invite them in.

Then greet do not summon, the Deities from the circle's center, saying "Hail and be welcome here Lady and Lord of Nature."

Thereafter the Sabot's theme is observed & a simple meal is shared (see Days of Power further below.) Reflect on the passing of the season and review its mythology. Attune to the cycles of the Earth &/or commune with your Deity. Write in your journal.

At full Moon Esbats Draw Down the Moon (an example of a solitaire style DDM is on page 4), meditate and commune, or do some divination & spell work. Record in your journal.

If you do a spell (see "Simple Spells" below) you can use the Circle to support the spell energy. Consider your spell's purpose; think it - feel it - say it - release it. Each step can be fed into the Cone of Power. The circle is the base of the cone. All your magical energy is within the circle you've created. When the energy feels ready to burst it can be let go with a step toward center & the thrust of your power-hand or wand upwards to set the Cone free. Trust the system. Then you'll need to sit and catch your breath afterwards.

After the ritual observance or spell-casting, the blessing & sharing of seasonal food & drink is done as thanks giving, to refresh you and to ground your energy. Bless with a simple phrase, "In the names of the Lady and Lord of Nature, and with a grateful heart, I bless this offering to bring good cheer."

Option Note: not less than twice in a year (at Beltane', May 1st and Samhain, Oct 31st) the Great Rite is honored just prior to the ritual blessing of the meal. Some prefer to do this at all 8 holidays. This is a symbolic, ceremonial union of the male and female symbols wherein the wand, (or athame) is lowered into the offering bowl (or cup) & you would say, "As the wand is to the man, and the bowl is to the woman, let them now be joined for the joy of both and the Great Mystery that is Life" and then the regular meal blessing given above is said.

(Or an alternative, gender-free, life-affirming phrase might be used, "I walk the Land that cradles the Sea, thru which Life came forth and the Sky encompasses me. i welcome Life in joy, wisdom & harmony." Ring a bell thrice to salute Life. Then the regular meal blessing would follow.

You must also release, dismiss or farewell all who were invited. Deity is thanked not dismissed "Lady and Lord, accept my thanks for your kindness here." Face each cardinal direction one by one in reverse order thus ritually closing the doors you had opened, "Our rite is ended. If go thee must, be it with love and trust." Snuff any candles as you go.

Last, you dissipate any residue of the charged circle that remains by walking the circumference in reverse & brushing it away or imagining it sinking into the ground. Your rite has concluded. Always ground yourself when you're finished and clean up. If you worked out doors it's courteous to leave no sign of your activity behind.

A simple circle is quite workable for general meditations, astral travel, & divinations. Some people feel a full-quartered formal ritual circle is required for all magical endeavors as well as religious celebrations and others, not so much. Our consecration with salted H2O and incense brings the elemental symbols to the circle anyway. Do we "let in any bad energy" by not casting? What is bad energy? A circle is like a biologist's clean-room bubble in that it keeps out contaminants, which in our case are those natural frequencies & random emotional energies that might conflict with our intention like interferring radio waves crossing a station & scrambling the message. These things occur in nature & get called "bad" but aren't zombie-apocalypse-bad (unless we're summoning things we ought to know better than to call upon :roll: ). We live with these natural energies daily & don't want them skewing our magical pitch.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:32 pm

CONSECRATING TOOLS

Consecrating is to reserve and dedicate something for sacred use, such as our work space, the altar and tools. The expendable spell materials do not need consecrating because they are transformed when used up. Items should be appropriately cleaned first, then consecrated with Fire and Water, then verbally dedicated to a purpose. The tools mentioned with the 4 powers were wand, fire, vessel and offering. In mundane terms, that's a stick, candle, bowl, and bread. For this start-up, just the wand needs consecrating; the candle flame IS the element of Fire & needs no blessing but if you want you can consecrate whatever is used as a candle or incense holder & the bowl. The bread will get blessed when a meal is shared.

The wand, for example, might be fumigated with incense smoke (representing Air/Fire), then awakened with one's own breath-of-power (breath carries power) infusing life-force into the wood, then held high & introduced to the Four Winds (waft it around). All three ways are associated with Air the element represented by the wand (and thus simpatico). It can then be energetically psychically charged while making a statement of what it is to do, such as - "Wand of Wood, you now serve my hand, my heart and my honor. So shall you grow in power with each use by my hand alone." If you wish, trace the pentacle on it with a finger dipped in olive oil & bless it "in the name of the Lady and Lord of Nature" (or your choice of belief). Make up your own heart-felt wording.

You could awaken the tool by introducing all five elemental forces & touching the cleansed tool with a bit of each element: fuming with incense/Air, passing it through flame/Fire, dipping it in collected rain/Water, dusting it with soil/Earth from your property, and tracing a pentagram or equal arm cross sign on it with your finger. Both are symbols of the 5 elements.

SOME THOUGHTS ON WHAT TOOLS CAN MEAN

I've chosen the wand, candle-flame, bowl & offering as beginning tools because most people already have them in the house or can find them. I have not included the blade as some beginners might be under legal age, nor the pentacle which could raise some religious objections. A fancy stemmed chalice or iron cauldron can raise unwanted questions, but bowls can hold little trinkets when not being ritually used. That's useful if you want to keep your practice private.

Magical tools can represent the creative and balanced -/+ forces of Nature, passive/lunar and active/solar. Two symbols of these forces of flux and reflux are the containing vessel/bowl which is likened to the female womb & used for molding energy and the rod/wand which is phallic & male & used for directing energy. A third creative principle is union out of the dark void from which the two opposing forces originated. This transforming force can be symbolized by the flame amidst the night darkness.

Tools serve as symbols to trigger these creative associations within our minds, and thus stimulate and strengthen the focus of the magical will. Tools are symbols to our minds that open mental pathways. They act as gateways between the seen and unseen. They have no power in themselves (except what we give them) and you may freely choose not to use them. Tools do not define the witch. The witch defines the tool.

TO MAKE A WAND

Sometimes having tools makes us feel more like we belong, and a wand is simple to do. Go for a walk after a storm to find a recently fallen branch about as thick as your index finger. Leave an offering of a few strands of your hair, or a couple pinches of corn meal. Use a saw to trim your wand to the length of your elbow to finger tips. Snip off any twigs as close to the surface as possible. You can leave the bark on or trim it off with a vegetable peeler if the wood is green or utility blade if it is older. Sand the surface with a coarse-grade of sand paper, then again with a fine-grade. Paint or wood-burn any design you planned. Dab with a small amount of beeswax, furniture polish, lemon oil, linseed oil or even olive oil on a cloth to seal & protect the wood. Save the pieces to burn & use the ash for making a banishing black salt & charging assorted powders.

If you want a live branch you must appeal to the tree's living spirit for permission and wait for the response. If you don't receive it, move on. Cut in a cold season at dusk/dawn so the sap is not running, or the tree will bleed; traditionally this might be done during the "Ember Days" between Yule (Dec. 21st) and Epiphany (Jan. 6th). Cut cleanly with a pruning saw. Bury an offering of corn meal amidst the roots.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Fri Feb 10, 2017 3:42 pm

MAKING HOLY WATER

Holy water is used for cleansing and consecrating. The salt is known to neutralize psychic energy clinging to things as well as to symbolize life. The churchy-method is to bless the salt, then the water, and add them together. Trace a pentacle sign above it. Words of blessing are spoken with the "boss-voice" of authority. Use your own words or something such as:

Creature of Salt, you are a source of purity and life. I bless you in the names of the Primordial Mother and of Her son, the Horned Lord of Nature.

Creature of Water, you are life giving and cleansing. I bless you in the name of the Lady of the Moon
.

1-3 pinches of salt is then added to about a cup of water, and stirred to dissolve the salt.

If you don't work with deities, then substitute Earth and Moon as Nature.

The blessed water can be made ahead of time & stored in a lidded jar. The water itself can be tap water or from a living source. You can empower it with moonlight and quartz crystal.

In rituals you can use a similar Lady and Lord blessing for the incense. "Creature of transforming Fire and Air, I bless you in the names of the Lady and the Lord of Nature."

A thanksgiving token meal can likewise be blessed with a simple phrase, "In the names of the Lady and Lord of Nature, and with a grateful heart, I bless this offering to bring good cheer, and thank you for this bread and beer."


CHARGING MOON WATER

We can make some power-filled water by capturing the Full Moon's reflection in a clear jar or bowl of water. Full Moon empowered drinking water can be used as a base for potions, with appropriate herbs and spices steeped in the hot water like making a cup of tea, or used for consecration by adding a few pinches of salt, or herbs. Spell petition papers can be spritzed with the water and dried before inscribing, and then charged as usual.

We can use a dish pan of water set on the ground to capture the Moon's reflection and gaze at it quietly while centering to induce light trance for meditation.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Fri Feb 10, 2017 3:46 pm

LAYING THE COMPASS

There are Tradition-by-Region or folkloric Witchcraft methods to prepare a liminal area (a place between) in which to work, and I think beginners should have an inkling of multiple ways of doing things. I believe this model comes from Peter Paddon's "Grimoire for Cunning Folk." Work out doors. There is no consecration as the Land itself is sacred. There are no words to say or altar to set up, but have a bottle of water, some bread and a fire-pot with kindling set in the middle of your space. (If conditions are too dry to risk open flame then please substitute a flameless candle.) The broom handle, long staff or forked Stang is used to trace the compass (circle) onto the ground. Walk WIDDERSHINS (counter-clockwise) to stir &' summon the earth light. As with any circle, you are uniting the realms of above, mid-earth and below in a space between.

Hold the staff in the left hand which will put you outside the circle as it is drawn (left being linked to the underworld and Land). Start at North, drag the staff pressing down lightly as if to plow a furrow into the EARTH. Visualize the staff stirring and drawing up the vibrant, serpent-like land forces as you make the compass.

Make a serpent's hissing sound to induce trance as you walk, deep breathing to hiss AIR.

When you feel the Land forces response conclude circling where you started at North. lay the staff cross-wise as a threshold to step across & enter the compass; then retrieve the staff & stand it up in a prepared hole at the center of the compass to mark the place where the three worlds & cross roads meet. The staff stands as the axis-mundi, the center of the world depicted by the "serpent-rune" symbol :serpentrune: , which should be familiar by now.

Rinse your hands and face in the WATER you have prepared.

Light the FIRE in your fire pot (or candle) in the center.

The compass is made. The four elements are present. Folk methods might invite a familiar spirit & the ancestor spirits as part of their observance. The Great Ones are eternally present.

Pay a token coin to the Land Spirits for the use of the Sacred Land. Just flip a coin of any denomination over your shoulder and leave it there (option: or pour some water as an offering). State the purpose for which you've laid down the compass, state the work to be done. Then proceed with that purpose.

Offer thanks giving by breaking bread. Eat half, and drink some water. Place the rest of the bread & water directly on the ground for the earth-spirits.

When you are done, state that the task for which you came is completed. If you evoked anything be sure to thank & farewell it. Ground residual energy. Leave the offering on the ground. Gather up your few things & walk away. It's polite to not look back so the land-spirits can have their share in peace.

The standard tools are Stang for the Horned God, a libation cup for the Goddess, a fire pot or hearth stone for the Ancestors & your personal Measure cord is worn. The four direction's of the elemental associations vary by region. A common set are Air-White-North, Fire-red-East, Earth-black-South, Water-gray-West.

The concept of the "World Tree" divides the realms of our world into 3rd's. It is symbolized by a staff or broomstick. The top branches of a tree represents the upper cosmic realm home of Divinity and our links to the divine within ourselves. The tree trunk represents the middle realms of daily life, all Nature & earth beings. The roots represent the underworld, the dead, the Fae and unseen, serpentine Earth forces of life-essence. Witches ascend or descend the tree between worlds as they navigate levels of consciousness that can manifest as spirit travel. This is symbolized as a witch flying on a broom.

At Gobekli-Tepe in Turkey (a multiple stone circle, ritual site dating back to about 11,000 BCE & discovered in 1996). The Gobekli Tepi circle was oriented to the star Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, which was located in the "crotch" of a divide in an arm of our Milky Way galaxy & around which the night sky appeared to rotate. A good sized holed-stone marked the northern altar. It seems to have symbolized the birth channel of the Primordial Mother Goddess who birthed all that is, & through which souls pass in birth and death. It could be said that our earliest perceptions of deity derive from man's observations of the sky & earth. During the ice age mankind hunted by following migrations of deer herds which suggests the concept of a Horned God/dess. There are indications that the earliest means of agriculture may have first developed at Gobekli Tepi as the site was built by hunter-gatherers & the long-term work force community had to be fed. Other connections to both the re-emerging wild forest and more refined development of agriculture brought forth the Green Man, while still ever-present had been the geo-centric life-force pulsing outward from the Earth's molten core & writhing serpent-like throughout planet.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby SpiritTalker » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:05 pm

That's pretty much the basics, enough to kick start a self-made path in witchcraft. Getting the intuitive sense of it all comes from working with it, over and over. The more practice circles you work & the more full Moon's you observe the sooner you will connect with the Land's life-force & the faster you will learn what your base line, transformative energy is and how to use it to gain knowledge & fulfill your good intentions.

Don't be afraid of making mistakes. They teach us. Most of us have set our sleeves on fire at least once with a candle. Keep a water jug close by for emergencies. Use common sense fire safety. Stay away from the things that you have doubts about. Don't say words you don't understand. Research things until you Do understand. Be free to laugh at your mistakes as the Deities surely must.

I have some odds 'n ends to add.
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Re: Getting Started

Postby Ashrend » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:45 pm

A lot of information but very VERY useful, thank you for all the information.

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