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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 that I think might help get a solitaire new comer started in their practice. I'm using a Wiccan structure as a starting place but there is no one right way to practice the Craft. There are preferred methods that have been shown over time to bring repeatable results for most people working within Natural laws. That's it. At all times you are free to work in ways that make sense to you. It's your 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. And that being said, much of witchcraft as a practice is altering consciousness in controlled ways. This piece is written for those interested in witchcraft but let me be clear that you are free to maintain your personal beliefs. Practicing witchcraft doesn't mean we forget how to think for ourselves.

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

PAGE ONE - the basics
PAGE TWO - supplies & spells
PAGE THREE - journaling prompts
PAGE FOUR - some rituals


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. It's useful to spend 10 minutes grounding, centering & shielding routinely throughout the day. 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. (And a tip: working magic just expands on the same 3 techniques :? ). 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 to start. 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 (expands on grounding)
- Sensing & Raising energy (expands on centering)
- Creating sacred space (expands on shielding)

After getting familiar with 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. 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 should know how your energy feels by this point in the study. (If not, back up & review.) You're ready to add the next set on coding energy:

- Directing energy with intent ... (related to grounding)
- Psychically charging items ... (related to centering)
- Consecrating tools ... (related to shielding)

Religious basics will only be briefly referenced throughout the article because I'm not Wican clergy. The topic might be broken down for you to make your own further study as:

- Primordial Mother Goddess and Horned God concepts observed in Nature
- Your cultural or path-related Deities & symbolism
- Developing your relationship with Deity
- holiday calendar & ritual form

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? How do you define witchcraft? What do you want from your witchcraft practice? There are no wrong answers; knowing what you think makes you aware of yourself & awareness is guidance.

To guide your study ask yourself: 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 your place in the Universe? Then look into the spiritual exercises & meditation 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 then 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 "pencil" out a plan within your means to adapt the situation?

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 EUTM media section for book reviews. Maybe get a calendar that has moon phases noted on it, or print one. An Internet sacred text archive can be found at http://www.sacred-texts.com/

Are you aware that Wicca perceives both a Goddess and a God force, not either/or. How do feel about this duality? Can you reconcile it to your present beliefs?

Do you want to work with an exclusive deity personality? It's not a "beginner-level" objective & is an option not a requirement. Working with a specific 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, but rather that we flow together in partnership with the god-form. If it interests you then research the god-forms that call to your imagination to learn what their associations are. The religion of Wica is separate from adopting a magical practice. People of any religion or spirituality can do magic.

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. Learn to meditate but don't be discouraged if the mind refuses to do as it's told. It's a lot like training a puppy. 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 which can be anything from a passing spirit-form to something mundane like nagging people or maybe even fleas.

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

KEEP YOUR PERSONAL ENERGY BALANCED. When you observe you have too much or too little energy, you can restore balance by adding energy to the element that is the weaker of the pair: (-)Earth with (+)Air and (-)Water with (+)Fire. Opposites are by polarity, not by position on the wheel. Be aware of your ups 'n downs that depict the elemental forces within your body. If your mouth is dry &'you're too warm then you've too much Fire & need Water. When you giggle too much or are Air-headed then you have too much Air &' need Earthing. When you're down and a sluggish stick-in-the-mud you need Air & deep breathing will restore you. If your emotions are over whelming your reasoning ability then you have too much Water energy and need some Fiery warm-up exercise to restore elemental balance.

BEWARE OF THE LURES OF SALESMANSHIP & HOARDING. Practicing Witchcraft is not expensive. Have what you find to be useful and use what you have. More "stuff" does not make you a better witch. Instead, superfluous stuff misdirects your focus. Having the creativity to use what you have on hand 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 :)
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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 & goose-bumps, or heat, a 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. Grounding un-directed energy keeps us from mis-firing.

WHERE DOES THIS ENERGY COME FROM? It comes from the Earth itself. 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.

EARTH ENERGY is living energy. It comes from the molten core and the spin of the Earth. It functions as the planet's nervous system & is geo-electro-magnetic. Lines of energy that traverse below the surface are part of the network & wherever they cross the power is magnified. Many sacred places are built at the intersections that coincide with underground springs. I believe animals use this magnetic pulse for migration navigation. This energy is channeled when we draw the circle to erect the temple/compass.
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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, rhythmic in-and-out, at a comfortable speed. Focussing on our breathing is a simple way to alter our consciousness. 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 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, like an OK sign, is known to aid concentration.

THREE BODIES

There are various schools of thought that depict a multi-layered model of the construction of the body-mind-soul, 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 additional levels of mental, emotional, true will & higher-self. Within magic a person's true will manifests their higher state of awareness. Each level contributes to the human Consciousness - whatever that is. Thoughts begin as light and acquire mass to manifest. Just as thoughts (desire & intent) fire the nerves that move the muscles that move the physical-body, thoughts move the energy-body and spiritual-body as well. There are many descriptions but the way I was shown it was that the energy-body connects at the solar plexus (belly) in our physical-body, and the spiritual-body connects with the physical- & energy-bodies at the forehead & crown. It's OK if you work with a different understanding.

GROUNDING

Grounding is a term that refers to Earthing the energy body to stabilize us. Grounding is basic maintenance as it connects us to the main energy-source we channel for our work. It's being in touch with the pulse of Earth (look up Schumann Resonance 7.83 HZ sometime.) While you're doing the four-count breathing is a good time to be grounding. While you're sitting, keep your back straight. Imagine your tail-bone extending 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 a shaft of light then do it. You control your visualization.

Some physical ways to aid grounding are to touch the Earth with your bare feet or lay flat 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 the hand gesture of holding the tip of your thumb to the tip of your ring finger. If you make the hand gesture every time you ground, you will quickly train yourself to automatically ground whenever you make the thumb to ring finger gesture.

CENTERING. :serpentrune:

Visualize centering as locking in your position in space & time in the Here & Now like the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) mapping triangulates to pin down your physical location. Imagine the vertical line of the energy body extending along the spine reaching both as high as it is deep. This automatically combines grounding with centering in the same exercise. Then imagine a horizontal latitude line going left-to-right intersecting the 1st in the belly. Then add a longitude line passing through the others going front-to-back. All 3 lines connect at your center and move around with you. This positioning helps us to hold our power &' also aids returning from meditative states.

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. You momentarily have all your senses on defense alert. You've just pulled your power within you. That's where your energy body connects to the physical counterpart. In meditation we can work from within 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. Trance-states can be safely entered into from our center.

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.

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

Inhale to raise the belly-1-2, then raise the chest-3-4, hold-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4, hold-2-3-4. Repeat until it comes naturally.

As long as you get the rhythm and stay comfortable, and focus your attention on your abdomen 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 both the Underworld Center and to the Cosmic Center.

For start-up, 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 breathe into your belly. It 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. Breathe 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 bullet-proof security glass. Blue is also a good spiritual protection color.

STRAY THOUGHTS

Stray thoughts will wander in. Don't make an issue of it or give them energy. 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.

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.

PROBLEM SOLVING

This kind of breathing into an area works elsewhere as well, such as the heart and third eye areas, or crown at the top of the head by being aware in the other areas as we belly-breathe. 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.

If you want to ponder a specific matter, breath into the belly to center, then hold your position & ponder from center. Pose a question. Breathe. Wait for a response from within center, and ignore the chatter. The brain's activity for this is a light hypnosis Alpha state, and most of us are familiar with sliding in and out of this level 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. Then, when you've returned to mundane awareness, question if the data received is reasonable. Do not just assume you've connected to divine wisdom until it's proven itself reliable over time. Write things down because memory fluctuates. The mental and ego-centered realm speaks to us in symbols that tell stories & are best evaluated as you would interpret a dream, whereas communion with your Divine Source is a relationship outside the ego's craving for recognition.

HEART TEMPLE EXERCISE

The Heart Temple is an astral realm thought-construct to develop visualization skills and psychic sensitivity. It forges a path to communicate with your true-will aka "higher self" consciousness. The will expresses through the heart center & visualization thru the 3rd eye, so it aids these as well. The symbolism is meaningful to the subconscious. The temple is you. The flame is your heart-of-being. Nine is a number related to the triple moon )O( and psychic sensitivity. Don't worry if the whole visualization doesn't flow. It takes repetition to succeed. Sometimes you can't get all 9 steps. Just Keep Going. Sometimes the flame won't budge. Stick with it. Aim for the ideal. Practice.

The temple can be any style you want. Your imagination will provide the images. You can put as much detail into it as you like 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 Feb 08, 2019 2:17 pm, edited 93 times in total.
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Re: Getting Started

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

ALTARS

Many Wiccans - but not all - prepare a working space that also serves as their meeting place with the deity concept they honor. These can be as simple or fancy as you want & are treated with utmost respect.

The altar mimics Creation. The Elements are the basic states of matter from which all things are created and magic is about creating things. Deity provides the spark that makes everything "Go" so both of these should be represented in an altar set-up. Most of what's needed can be found in your kitchen.

Equipment: cup, bowl, pentacle-plate, knife/wand
Expendables: candles, water, salt, oil, incense-herbs/spices, food/drink offerings

The basic gear represents the Elements & Deity, & either contains or moves energy. Bowls hold salt (Earth element) & H2O (Water element) & a bit of oil (Ether element) that are all used for blessings, & bowls should be fire-safe for holding incense (Air element) & doing small burning tasks (Fire element). The Elements are also symbolized by the pentacle-plate & cup that hold ritual offerings of food & drink (Earth & Water). The wand &/or blade (Air & Fire) are for focusing & directing energy. A candle multi-tasks: it makes light, flame is the element of Fire & has always been a symbol of Deity. A working altar is for ritual use & spell casting so should be left in place as long as its energy is active, ex. for the duration of the ritual or spell casting. Leave the table up permanently if it isn't needed for other purposes.

What can be used as an altar? Any flat surface that's away from flammable curtains or over-hanging shelves can be used. Tables, dressers, nightstands with drawers as built-in supply storage, folding tray-tables & wall-shelves make good altars for in-doors. Trays make small altars instantly movable. Inside a cupboard offers privacy. Out-doors the Earth itself is sacred & working right on the ground is appropriate. Boards &' bricks, tree stumps, flat rocks & folding tables are convenient.

Where should the altar be placed? - Place a working 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, when reasonably possible, the Crafter faces across the altar toward either the celestial pole star around which the heavens revolve or east toward the sunrise (our nearest star) for energy alignment.

Preparing the Altar - Tidy up the surrounding space. Then clean & purify the altar surfaces & any dishes by wiping them with holy water before setting up for the first time if it's permanent & whenever the energy feels sluggish thereafter; otherwise wipe down the table for each set-up. Anoint the surface sparingly with holy oil & wipe dry. (Blessing holy water & holy oil is covered a lot further down in the article.)

What are Elements? - The elements are Nature itself. When we refer to "The Elements" we're talking about the basic states of matter - solid/Earth, vapor/Air, plasma/Fire, liquid/Water and unmanifest energy/Ether, (although sometimes called spirit, unmanifest energy has no independent will & is not the same as a conscious entity or Abrahamic Holy Spirit.) These comprise everything in our physical world. The elements are the substance that manifest our intentions. In theory, thoughts begin as light & gain mass by attaching the elemental substance that will manifest the intent when enough mass is attained. Each element has different features that sets it apart from the others, and has it's own properties and behaviors. Earth and Water are called Negative (-) polarity, passive energy, and by association they "pacify"; Air and Fire are called Positive (+) polarity, active energy, and by association they "activate." Ether is unmanifest potential. All 5 are always present or we wouldn't be here :D & they each can be represented on an altar in various ways.

For example you can choose to represent Earth as salt, a jar of dirt from a special place or a stone, plants, fruit/grains, map, pentacle, drum, the colors black/brown; Air as incense & holder, aromas, birds, balloons, soap bubbles, kite, hand-fan, flute/harmonica, wand/athame, the colors white/yellow; Fire as matches, candle & holder, oil lamp, charcoal/ashes, lava rock, guitar/harp, athame/wand, the colors red/orange; Water as H2O in a cup or bowl, rattle/jingle bells, fish/shells, sea-glass, the colors blue/aqua; Ether as a bell, an image of spread wings, anointing oil, the altar cloth, the color purple.

Deity Symbols: we don't have to just use statues & a few symbols are shared by both deities: a candle as spiritual light, wheat, reindeer horns as both genders have antlers; the serpent (or dragon) of telluric energy. Goddess - the Moon, silver, rose, cornucopia, sewing/weaving, bear, cup, cauldron, wells, caves; God - the Sun, gold, pine cone, oak acorn, plow, fermented beverages, foliate mask, antlers & horned animals, wolf, wand/staff, athame, mountains.

What's included? - Your ritual gear needs to be at hand plus you may want handi-wipes, a lighter, the spell materials you plan to charge, your divination tools, your measure cord, & the libation offerings to be shared in a ritual. You might want the instructions for your rites & spells, your journal, & something to sit on. Seasonal decorations & cats are optional.

Witch Craft is always practical &, in a small space, the altar-light candles can do triple-duty by making light, representing deities & as elemental Fire; Water and Earth can be combined as salt-water (H2O & salt) or a water-smoothed stone; Air and Fire can be combined as the smoke & hot coal of smoldering incense or the smell & flame of a scented candle. Any water-proof or fire-safe container is acceptable & using visually pleasing containers helps set a mood. The acceptableness of respectfully using cast-off animal parts like sea shells, antlers, teeth, claws, feathers or bones on your altar is something you can decide for yourself.

Altar arrangements

The polarity altar model adopted by G.B.Gardner as guidelines for Wica uses the western occult frame-work taken from ceremonial magic. It imitates creative forces. The alchemist's understanding of polarity divides the table in 3 sections, with the (-) polarity on the left, balanced energies in center, & (+) polarity on the right; the (-) feminine, receptive, passive-energy items of Earth & Water symbols, salt-H2O & cup, bowl, cauldron on the left; and the (+) masculine, projective, active-energy items of Air &' Fire symbols, censer & candle, wand & blade on the right. (To help remember which goes where, you could think of the hunter's (receptive) shield in his left hand & the (projective) weapon in his right hand.) A pentacle represents all the elements so it goes in the center where the energy will be concentrated for charging spells. A cauldron has multiple uses as a container for water (left) or fire (right) & for spell charging (center) so it is placed in the appropriate area for the service it gives at the moment. Candles for lighting go towards the back where they won't be knocked over, a bell &' the food offering can go between them. The polarity arrangement maintains balance by duality-in-motion. Once energy is generated, it pulses, spiraling from (-) to (+) in Nature & therefore flows likewise across the table. This aids manifesting our spell work.

The wheel (an X in a circle) is a popular arrangement with emphasis on the elemental symbols placed at their corresponding true compass directions in the X. The focus is on balancing the 4 cardinal compass directions instead of balance by polarity. The wheel represents the Earth & aids the cycles of life & self-realization. North in the wheel table arrangement should actually be at the real compass North to align with the planet's energy flow no matter what direction the Crafter faces across the table (so if you face east across your altar then north is on your left). Instead of a pentacle star an equal-arm cross is compatible with this arrangement & a staff instead of wand. Altar lights are placed as needed.

The intuitive eclectic layout expresses the emotional energy of the Crafter & makes use of their gut-feeling in placing devotional, ritual & decorative items. It's a way to participate directly in a spell of personal transformation in that laying out the altar arrangement itself becomes an active working rite, expressing the Crafter's energy & prompting changes within the Crafter & their environment. A healing theme could be used, for example, to manifest good health, or a prosperity theme for attracting good fortune. The eclectic layout can be used by default without making use of it's energy-crafting potential, just "because it feels right", so it is probably the most popular arrangement.

A devotional altar is a random arrangement that focuses on honoring & expressing the Crafter's relationship with their deities, guardian or ancestors. It might include a perpetual light, incense, food/drink or flowers as offerings (which get changed out before going bad), an image or other artistic symbols associated with your deity(s) or guardian spirit, divination tools & any devotional texts or chants, prayer beads or musical aid to meditation. Devotional, ancestor & household spirit or saint shrines are often a permanent feature but once setup they can be redone as wanted. Seasonal decor is appropriate.

An Elemental working altar can be a temporary feature that would be dedicated to working in a focussed method with a single element & can be set up when the Moon is astrologically in a sign associated with the desired element; & it is placed at the corresponding direction of your working space. The Crafter uses colors & any single element-specific correspondences that appeal to them. A word of caution: include one item (or color) which is of the (-/+) polar opposite energy from the element you're focussing on. Too much of one energy can have unexpected results by tipping the balance out of alignment. Nature has to correct the imbalance. If you have the space, individual elemental altars can be placed on separate walls around a room or in the yard to make a large sacred space environment.

There are also terra-form models that mimic the night sky & draw power from relationships of the layouts of seasonal constellations & the zodiac to the task being done. In times past whole villages have been laid out to mimic the sky. Workings for The Bigger Picture miniaturized to fit a table can benefit from this layout. In the Northern Hemisphere Polaris is presently the north celestial pole star; but the south celestial pole coincides with no fixed star so the Southern Cross & stars in the constellation Centaurus are used to estimate the south celestial pole.

The Stang (forked staff) serves as the altar in shamanic crafting as the representation of Deity & the unification of the three realms: celestial-above, physical-mundane & unseen-world below. It's the broomstick that represents spirit flight when ridden. Seasonal decoration is appropriate & it sometimes holds a light. A Spirit Pouch holds mementos of the journey & symbols of one's animal spirit guide. When meditation or magic are to be done the appropriate item(s) are engaged. These are items of power items as everything in Nature is an aid to walking one's sacred path. The 4-Way Wheel can be associated with this practice.

The benefit of using an altar as more than a table is to shape & direct energy. Whichever model you choose to use for any personal practice, i feel it's best to be consistent & not mix signals within an individual ritual or spell casting; so avoid mixing the polarity model with the wheel &/or eclectic layouts; but devotional & seasonal motifs can surely be added to all working spaces if wanted. Secular Crafters needn't feel compelled to include deity images. It's your expression. Altars absorb our energy &'become stronger over time. They can become our sanctuary where we go to connect to the depths of our selves & Nature.

RITUAL TOOLS

The tools vary by path & personal choice as well. In the Western Occult model tools are elemental symbols & extensions of the Crafter. The standard tools are cup, blade, wand, pentacle, incense and candle holders, bell, cloth covering, measure-cord and a ritual scourge (largely done away with). Aside from the ritual uses already mentioned there are a few other things worth noting.

The altar table represents the physical realm & Earth. A simple altar cloth symbolizes the etheric plane on which our magical energy performs & a decorated cloth can convey powerful sigils into the ethers. A cup accumulates & shapes both fluid & etheric energy. A pentacle is used for protection but also balances elemental energy to charge/empower spells; a bell's sound clears and opens ritual space.

The wand is used to direct magical energy when the blade would be too aggressive. Held in the dominant hand, a wand both invokes and projects energy whereas the athame commands & separates. Gardnerian tradition prefers a 2-edged blade to cut both ways without clumsily turning the hand. In Wiccan practice the blade is reserved to cut only etheric energy such as cutting a door in the cast circle & severing energy attachments. It does not need to be razor sharp. It never draws blood. A black handle is preferred to absorb & channel your energy. A white handle is used on a separate blade (the boline) that's reserved for physical cutting (herbs & cords) & to tell them apart in candlelight. Black and White symbolize balanced duality (the pillars of the Cosmos). These are flexible preferences & guides. In truth any knife may be used at the Crafter's choice.

The Measure is a braided cord of any colors & is as long as the Crafter is tall. It's worn during rituals & spell work to reinforce the Crafter's magical identity. A beginning knot is tied & then the cord is measured from the bridge of the nose, over the crown of the head & down the back to the heel, & an ending knot is tied to capture the essence. Then measure around the head, chest & hips, & tie knots to separate each section. They represent the Crafter's visionary 3rd eye, will & procreative energy. Therefore a measure cord holds the Wiccan's personal psychic & creative energy signature & it can stand-in for the Crafter. The cord should be safely stored when not being worn. 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 magical persona.
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Re: Getting Started

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

CLEANSING SPACE

It's helpful to work one's magic in an energy-neutral area to reduce psychic conflicts, so we clear ourselves (with a wash) and our ritual space (of clutter) before casting. Sprinkling with salt-water is the standard way to cleanse sacred space. Among Wiccans today it's become popular to fume with fanned smoke from a white-sage smudging bundle (instead of incense) & to place Himalayan pink salt lamps in our space. The pink coloring is from iron dioxide & iron protects. Sharp sounds like clapping & bell ringing can also clear a space. Just FYI salt-water spritzing & incense fuming are traditional.

There are 3 steps to cleansing a space: clear, bless, seal. Clearing the negativity leaves a void that should immediately be refilled by projecting positive, in-flowing white light. Then seal the energy with an air-drawn pentacle.

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 on a bed of dried herbs 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.

RAISING and DIRECTING ENERGY

Energy's all around us & it's free, abundant, inexhaustible and responsive to our thoughts. We connect with the Earth's energy by grounding & breath-work & use physical exercise or simple visualization to raise the energy through our bodies.

Physically raising energy: Use a simple Ti Chi exercise. Swing the arms fore & aft &clap both in front & behind you with every swing. Do this for a minute or two. Then bring the energy within by placing your flat palms against 3 chakra areas of groin, belly &'chest. Move upwards in sequential order to raise the energy. Just breathe the chi in as you rest your hands at each location. Next rub your palms in circles across your hips, abdomen & chest moving upward to spread & mix the chi around. This exercise takes about 5 minutes & improves well being which in turn reduces anxiety & depression so common amongst empaths. Win-win.

Visualizing Raising Energy: we channel or direct energy with the will, gently 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. (When practicing you should point at a glass of tap water & think of filling the water as a test run.) It's safest to put the energy into something & not just fire off at random. Energy is real.

TIP: 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. The Witch's almighty fierce gaze is known to harness & direct power.

Every time you raise energy be sure to ground yourself when you've finished so as to end & break the connection. Otherwise you'll be spacey, head-achey & bait for energy-feeders.

CHARGING, SETTING OR ACTIVATING 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 will hold the spell. We must KNOW it is accomplished. To-Know is an altered state of consciousness. 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 is done to seal it, and push the power into something you are using to hold the spell (an object, petition or sigil.)

TIP: 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...to hold the charge.
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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 Building the temple)

We use a circle to act-out the creative principles of the Universe in the same way we use our altars to act out those same creative principles. We invite the Elemental energies & Deity to assist in building a temple upon the ring of energy we've laid as a foundation. Earth, Air, Fire & Water are positioned at the cardinal directions like the corners of a building to hold it in place. Ether is positioned at center. This balances our circle's energy & moves it from being thought-form light into acquiring mass to manifest into the physical realm. We welcome both Lady & Lord as representing the dual powers of Creation to energize the thought-form into manifestation.

Most Wiccans seem to agree the circle is cast to hold our energy & protect it from outside interference. A circle is a space where the Crafter can connect to the Earth's natural energy without cross-current "static" interference. In addition a circle forms a base for a Cone of Power. This cone is shaped like a witch's hat with the brim intersecting the ground & pointy-end above us. It's a revolving spiral of energy. The cone can be charged with intent in the same way we charge a spell & released to impact a target. Thus the circle aids both our ritual and magical workings. A nine-foot diameter circle is standard but realistically you work with the space you've got. Energy passes through walls & furniture so they are not obstacles except to our own mobility. Note: When the energy is nicely balanced we tend to feel at-ease with a quiet assurance. When the circle energy is off-balance we can feel tipsy or buzzed.

Candles or lanterns may be set at the four directions as they're called a. as a sign of welcome, b. to square the circle & c. to visibly mark the boundary. Stones make good markers when working outdoors where candles get blown out by wind.

It's good hospitality to offer your invited guests food and drink. This is in the form of the ritual meal of cakes & ale. It's proper to offer to Deity first then eat part yourself. Their portion of the offering is placed in a bowl to be taken outside later if you worked indoors & outdoors the offering is set on the ground. It is also polite at the end of the rite to see each guest to the door & release what was called.

We should have all the necessary spell items present & set up the altar before casting circle. It is just bad form to break the circle to retrieve forgotten items, but we can cut a door in the circle with the athame or lay wand/staff/broom as a threshold to step across so the circle isn't broken to leave the circle. OK - so that's the what's & why's; now to the how's.

-------------

Preparation:

. Wash up & don your ritual garb.
. Remove clutter & debris.
. Set up the altar, including materials for spells.

. Ground & center. Remember to breathe. :lol:
. Raise energy however you prefer.
. Light the altar candle(s). Bless the salt, water & incense (see "making holy water" below).

Note: You can repeat any phrases as often as needed until you walk all the way around your space. Usually Wiccans walk the circumference clockwise (deosil->) to increase energy.

Make Sacred Space - Walk the circumference -> and:

1. Purify by sprinkling (-) Earth & Water symbols of salt-water as you make the 1st circuit. You might repeat Doreen Valiente's words as you go "Round, round 'n round about. All good in & all bad out.".

2. Bless by wafting the (+) Air & Fire symbols of smoldering incense smoke around the rim to make the 2nd circuit. Steps 1 & 2 together will introduce the 4 physical elements.

3. Cast circle in a 3rd pass by projecting Earth energy through 2-fingers (index + middle), wand or blade; direct the power to charge the border repeating: "As I walk the circle is cast, guarding all and holding fast."

4. State the reason you have come so the Powers will be informed.

That is all there is to the casting of a simple circle. You can stop there if you want. The (-/+) elemental balance exists. When using only the simple circle casting as in steps 1-4 above, just walking through the circle afterwards will dissipate it & re-grounding yourself is sufficient closure. A simple circle can be used for divinations, meditation & trance. A formal ritual for religious & magical use continues building the temple by adding layers as described below.

SABBAT or ESBAT RITUAL

Many Wiccans combine the circle casting rite with their rites for calling of four directions' elemental powers and Deities to their aid. After the circle is cast you can place (or just show) a lighted candle at each direction. Some prefer to start at east (facing the Sun) & others at north (facing Polaris). Adjust the phrasing below to suit your choice. I've started at north in this example.

Calling Quarters. Face each direction in turn & illuminate it to open a door. Say the applicable quarter call as you invite them in. You can say at (N) "I call Earth for power to Grow; at (E) I call Air for power to Know; at (S) I call Fire for power to Go; at (W) I call Water for power to Flow; at (center) I call Ether to make it So. As above, so below."

Calling Deity: Then greet, do not summon, the Deities from the circle's center, saying "Hail and be welcome here Lady and Lord of Nature." (use names if known)

Seasonal Observance : Thereafter the Sabbat's theme is observed (see Days of Power further below). Some preparation ahead of time is needed. It is a time to reflect on the passing of the season and review its mythology; to 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 with Lunar forces to develop your psychism or do some divination & spell work if needed. Record in your journal.

Cone of Power - a option in spell casting is using the circle's energy to carry a spell into the Ethers. Just as you would set your intention into any spell materials, you would load the cone with intent. Feel it from the gut & send the Cone of Power to fulfill the task: "Aid friends and vanquish foes. I command you now to GO." Push! Trust the system. Rest.

You will need to sit and catch your breath after any spell casting & may welcome some food & drink so logically the Cakes & Ale rite of the meal follows.

Blessing the Meal: Bless food & drink 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, & thank you for this bread & beer." Lay 1/2 directly on the earth (or place it in a bowl to distribute outside later) & eat the other 1/2.

Option Note: not less than twice in a year (at Beltane', May 1st and Samhain, Oct 31st) the Great Rite is symbolically honored just prior to the ritual blessing of the meal. Some prefer to do this at all 8 holidays as a symbolic honoring of Divine Union wherein the athame is lowered into the offering cup & you would say, "As the blade is to the man and the cup 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 a gender-free yet life-affirming solitaire proclamation might be substituted: "I walk the Land that cradles the Sea, through which Life came forth and the Sky encompasses me. All that I see is Divinity. I welcome Life in joy, peace & harmony." Ring a bell thrice to salute Life. Then the regular meal blessing would follow. (This is not a Wiccan practice. Skip it if it doesn't appeal).]

Releasing what was Called: 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. If go thee must, be it in love &'trust." Address each direction in reverse order thus ritually closing the doors you had opened, "Powers of the center, west, south, east, north, with my thanks return whence you came forth. The rite is ended." Snuff any candles as you go.

Closing: 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.

--------------

Should we always cast a circle? Do we "let in any bad energy" by not casting? What is bad energy? A circle is like a biologist's clean-room 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. A general rule of thumb is don't conjure what you can't banish.
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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 the altar and working tools. This is done within a cast circle when the altar is first established, or any time a new tool is added or one is replaced. The expendable spell materials do not need consecrating because they are transformed when used up. Re-usable items should be spritzed with salt-water &'wiped down to remove energy from random handling & to give you a "clean slate" to be infused with your own magnetism & given it's purpose; then it's put in contact with it's own element. The basic working tools for this example are easily found: a wand, flame, vessel and the offering. In mundane terms, that's a stick, candle, bowl, and bread. For this example just the wand needs consecrating; the candle flame is the element of Fire so the candle only needs wiping down. The candle-holder & bowl are likewise wiped down & the bread & libation will be formally blessed when a meal is shared. The same for incense & wipe down the holder.

You can infuse each tool with the energy of the element it represents by putting it in direct contact with that one element, and then balance with the others by showing the tool to all 4 directions.

For this example i'm associating the wand to Air; so you'd thrice bless it with Air by 1st blowing on it with the breath of life, 2nd by passing it thru incense smoke & 3rd by vigorously wafting it around in the air. You could say - "Wand of Wood, you now serve my hand, my heart and my honor to direct my energy to my goals. So shall you grow in power with each use by my hand alone." Then present it to the four-directions saying "Fellows of North-E,S,W this is my wand." Hold the wand out to each direction in sequence around the Circle & repeat.

Supposing that as a beginner you don't have any other ritual tools, you could stop there.

You can consecrate tools as you acquire them by repeating the rite. The cup (or bowl) can be filled with it's element of Water, then emptied & refilled twice more. Say something similar for the cup (or bowl) "Cup of glass you now serve my hand, my heart & my honor to give form to fluid energy. So shall you grow in power with each use by my hand alone. Obviously if the vessel is another material then you would say so. Present it to the four ways. If a blade is used then the athame is instructed to direct the force of your magical will-power & would be passed thrice quickly thru a candle flame & presented to the 4-ways. A Pentacle (or 4-way cross) might be thrice dusted with either clean potting soil, herbs or salt to make the Earth contact, instructed to balance & nurture your magical will, & then presented to all 4 directions. You can - if you prefer a more formal approach - also consecrate the candle holders and incense holder in the same way, but a wipe-down is sufficient.

BLESSING HOLY WATER & HOLY OIL

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. Anything that symbolizes life-force has power to protect from death. The churchy-method is to bless the salt, then the water, and then add them together. Trace a pentacle sign above the mixture. 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 forces of Nature.

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

Blessing holy oil - Pour a couple of table spoons full of extra virgin olive oil into a bowl. EVOO comes from the first press of the fruit & therefore contains the most life essence. "I bless this holy oil in the names of the Primordial Mother and of Her son, the Horned Lord of Nature, that all life shall be nurtured & sustained through it's touch." Draw a pentagram in the air above the oil, then store the oil in a small jar. Add a tiny blessed quartz crystal to the jar if you have one.

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."

SOME THOUGHTS ON WHAT TOOLS CAN MEAN

I've chosen the wand, candle, bowl & offering as beginning tools because most people can find them & they are discreet. I've chosen the wand instead of the blade as some beginners might be under legal age, & bread as symbolic of Earth instead of the pentacle which could raise some religious objections from others, & a bowl in place of a fancy stemmed chalice or iron cauldron that can likewise cause unwanted interest; 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. The Moon's light is reflected sun light & is considered passive (-) whereas sunlight is generated by the Sun itself & considered active (+). Two symbols of these forces of flux and reflux are the containing vessel/bowl which is likened to the female womb, is receptive, passive (-) & used for shaping energy; the rod/wand is phallic, projective, active (+) & used for both summoning & directing energy. A third creative principle is union out of the dark void from which the two opposing forces originate. This transformative 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 of the seen and unseen. They focus power but have 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 or Staff

Sometimes having tools just makes us feel more like we belong, and a wand is fairly 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 (staffs can be as tall as you are.) 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 or utility blade. 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 or linseed oil & rub the oil in with a cloth to seal & protect the wood. Save the shavings to burn & use the ash for making a banishing black salt & charging assorted Spell 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

CHARGING MOON WATER
Making Lunar Lustral Elixir

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.

Variations on where water is taken from and when can also determine its uses. Natural spring & well water & filtered tap water are drinkable &'usable for potions & cooking, whereas natural river water &' sea water is not safe to consume, & yet still retain cleansing & life-giving energies. Tranquil waters can lend soothing energies to "peace-water". Turbulent water from waterfalls (or stirred up with a whisk) or storm water collected during a thunder storm can add potent energy to "war-water".


ANIMAL GUIDES & FAMILIARS
Pet Peeve Warning!

There has been much fictional pop-culture romanticism on these subjects that has lead to fanciful misperceptions. Concepts of animal spirit guides come from the reconstructed paths of indigenous cultures. They are not pets.

The concept of familiar spirits comes from witchcraft trial records from the mid-1300-1800s. They were either the Fae (possibly shape-shifted) working on the witch's behalf or were ancestral deceased spirits handed down over generations through a family. They are not pets.

Historical reports of animal shapes were likely to have been the visible astral-shapes taken by the witch themselves during out-of-body travel & the shapes most often recorded were resembling a hare or mouse. Toads were kept for their hallucinogenic secretions used in flying ointment. Cats are naturally stealthy hunters so controlled vermin and made good pets. Dogs herded stock animals, protected their home &'made good pets. Crows & magpies are very intelligent & could mimic words &'made good pets. Studies of historical records of familiars can be found in the writings of anthropologists Carlo Ginzburg & Emma Wilby.

Animals can truly sense different energies like a human's chemical changes & incoming weather changes which is more than a human can do. Our domestic pet buddies will naturally be interested in the energies we manipulate & we're wise to observe their behaviors that forecast changes. This doesn't make them familiars in the historical meaning of the word. If life were a Disney movie then every beloved household pet would qualify as a familiar. There are many true stories of family pets alerting their human companions to danger that saved lives.
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Re: Getting Started

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

LAYING THE COMPASS
(traditional but non-Wiccan)

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 the basis of 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 or fruit & a fire-pot with kindling & lighter set in the middle of your space. (Another tradition replaces fire with a hearth stone). The broom handle, walking-stick or iron-shod, forked Stang is used to trace the compass (circle) onto the ground. Walk WIDDERSHINS (<- counter-clockwise) to stir &' summon the earth energy. This is the geo-electro-magnetic energy of the planet right under your feet & is drawn through your staff as a go-between Earth & your body: you are drawing earth energy up to the surface. And Yes, the energy is really there. As with any circle, you are uniting the cosmic realms of above, mid-earth and under-world below in a sacred space between.

Hold the staff in the left hand (left being linked to the underworld and Sacred Land) which will put you outside the circle as it is drawn counter-clockwise. 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 3 passes to lay the compass.

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

To enter the compass without breaking the circle, lay the staff cross-wise as a threshold to step across & 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 (cosmic, physical & underworlds) & the 4 compass directions' or "cross roads" meet. The staff stands as the axis-mundi, the center of the world depicted by the "serpent-rune" symbol :serpentrune:

Rinse your hands and face with some of the WATER you have prepared.

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

(Another alternative when no fire is possible is to place the Stone in the center & "feed" it by pouring some water over it to feed the stone. This isn't from PP's trad.)

The compass is made. The elements are present & balanced. Folk methods might invite a familiar spirit & the ancestor spirits as part of their observance. Use your own words. The Great Ones are acknowledged as eternally present.

Paddon's Welsh custom is to 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. State the purpose for which you've laid down the compass & then proceed with that purpose.

Then, after you've completed what you came for, 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 ready to close Ground the residual energy. If you invited anything be sure to thank & farewell it. Leave the coin & food offerings on the earth. 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 traditional tools are Stang for the Horned God, a libation cup for the Goddess, a fire pot or a stone for the Hearth & 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. 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 (multiple stone circle ritual site dating back to about 11,000 BCE) the 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 holed-stone marked the northern altar & 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 that followed a cataclysmic comet strike, mankind hunted by following the migrations of deer herds. Reindeer 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 & seasonal pilgrims had to be fed. Other connections to both the re-emerging wild forest and more refined development of agriculture brought forth the foliate Green Man, while ever-present has been the geo-centric life-force pulsing outward from the Earth's core & writhing serpent-like throughout the planet to chase the warmth of the Sun.
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Re: Getting Started

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

DAYS OF POWER

The days of power vary by traditions. Not all standard 8 Sabbats have to be observed because we all live in environmentally different areas. There's a heap of difference between weather and seasonal patterns in the desert, the tropics, the midlands and mountains & arctic. We are free to choose to observe the dates that best enhance and express our unity with our location & not rigidly follow a calendar. It is customary to cast a full ritual circle & to welcome the Powers as part of the observance, as well as feasting and merry making with song & dance. Solitaires might consider sharing their abundance with pets & wild life.

The so-called lesser days are when the seasonal power is beginning. These solar dates are the summer and winter solstices when the Sun appears as if it crosses the Earth's equator, lengthening and shortening daylight hours; and the spring and autumn equinoxes when day and night hours are equal. Sunrise & sunset are their liminal, magical times between one season and the next. Times of transition summon power. It takes a bit over 365 days for the Earth to circle the Sun, so the dates vary from the 20th to 23rd of every December, March, June and September.

The greater days are when the season's energies crest. The more familiar themes are Celtic. The dates are October 31/November 1, February 1-2, April 30/May 1, July 31/August 1. Midnight is the magic hour, the crest of the wave when the natural force breaks free.

All-Hallows-November Eve is the end of the old year & beginning of the new. Time & space return to their primordial state "between" & await regeneration. The veil between worlds is thin. The Lord of the Wild Hunt rides the night. Death in the physical world is rebirth into the Otherworld. Imbolc or Candlemas is the February fire festival of light & renewal when the youthful Goddess emerges from winter retirement & the earth regenerates. Death in the Otherworld is rebirth into the physical world. Two main themes run through the Craft: the sacred marriage between Goddess and God on Beltane-May Eve which bestows fertility (abundance) upon the Earth and hence upon the people; and the 1st harvest as a sacrifice of the God as Green Man (John Barleycorn) on Lammas-August Eve when bread loaves are baked & sacred mead is brewed. His death manifests the annual cycle of life-death-rebirth (continuance). Just 2 concepts: fertility and death. If you understand these in relationship to each other, you will understand the Wheel of the Year, as everything dances around these two concepts.

Full Moons (Esbats) occur every 29.5 days; it takes the moon 28 days to go around the earth, and another day & a half to get out of the Earth's shadow (because the Earth moves too) when it can reflect the sunlight as full moon. The Moon's pull affects ocean tides, sap rising and falling, female menstrual cycles & male testosterone. It is a very real force. There are 12 full Moon's annually & every 3rd year there will be 1 month that will hold 2 Full Moons within the same calendar month. The 2nd moon is popularly called a "blue moon" & is considered double-lunar power.

We can expect occasional dry seasons when we feel like everything we've studied is at odds with modern mechanical & electronic living, and we're ready to quit this nonsense. This is normal. The mind grows. So get back to basics. Nature is cyclical & we are part of Nature. It just means that one layer of our learning cycle has concluded and the next has not yet begun. It passes as we make new connections & re-view old concepts at deeper levels. It passes as new opportunities to learn arrive.

That's pretty much the basics, enough to kick start a self-made path in witchcraft. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. They teach us. Most of us have set our sleeves on fire at least once. The only offense is dishonoring one's given word. The Gods do not judge us -we judge ourselves. Wiccan and witchcraft rituals are not meant to be solemn dirges. They are celebrations of Life in which moving about, dancing, laughing, noise making and enthusiasm are welcome.

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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