Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Surprise - Where Do Magic Spells Come From?

This post is taken in entirety from The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells by Judika Illes

According to the author, folklorist and scholar of magic, Zora Neale Hurston, "magic is older than writing. So nobody knows how it started." Very true, but what we do know is that magic comes from all over the globe. There is not a people or culture on Earth that did not at one time possess a magical tradition, whether they recall it today or whether or not they still use it. Some cultures and religions revel in their magical traditions. Others are ashamed of them or deny that the traditions ever existed. Some ethnic groups like to point the finger and suggest that magic comes from other people, not them, oh no, never - any practices of their own are only isolated bad habits picked up from disreputable magical wanderers or neighbors.

When a large cache of papyri from Alexandria in Egypt was found to be largely devoted to magic, scholars exulted. Not because they were neces-sarily so interested in magic, although some were, but because magic spells reveal a tremendous amount about a culture and its circumstances. Read between the lines of a spell and you will discover important details about people's expectations of life and death, their daily problems, the materials that they cherish, their spiritual outlook. For example, recently published books intended for the urban magical practitioner attempt to minimize or even eliminate the need for botanicals. Beyond their value to their intended audience, these books also transmit a crucial message to all of us regarding the state of our environment. As another example, only cultures that possess a belief in the possibility of legal justice, however remote, produce court case spells. Love spells reveal cultural sexual dynamics. So you see, magic spells have tremendous value as history, anthropology, and sociology way beyond their practical value to the spell- caster.

Translations of the Alexandrian papyri, now known as the Magical Papyri, were eagerly awaited. Stemming mainly from the second century BCE to the fifth century CE, they span a crucial, fascinating period of history: the times of Cleopatra, Jesus, the rise of Rome, the fall of Jerusalem, and the emergence of Christianity as a cohesive faith and world power.

Alexandria, although it became Egypt's capital, is not an ancient pharaonic city. It was founded by the Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great, one of several cities he named in his own honor. Its orientation is the Mediter-ranean, not the Nile, Like other older Egyptian cities. At various periods, indigenous Egyptians were not even permitted to live within Alexandria's boundaries. It was a Greek outpost in Egypt, with Greeks as the elite citi-zenry. Cleopatra, descendant of one of Alexander the Great's generals and the last of her dynasty, was the only one of her lineage who troubled to learn the Egyptian language.

The city achieved a reputation as a world-capital of magic. Alexandria supported a sizeable population of magic practitioners of all kinds - di-viners, dream interpreters, professional spell-casters - all presumably serving the needs of their specific communities rather than Alexandria as a whole, because Alexandria was a rigidly divided city. Although Alex-andria, like many cities of its time, was divided into quarters, true div-isions, like many a modern city, were cast along ethnic lines. Two of Alex-andria's quarters were Greek; one was Egyptian (the only area in which they were permitted to reside), and the fourth housed a sizeable Jewish community.

Divisions between the quarters were distinct, reflecting hostility between these communities, which periodically bubbled over into rioting and vio-lence. It was a turbulent, volatile city, demonstrating ethnic tensions only too familiar today. This may be ancient history but it's a familiar land-scape to many contemporary urban dwellers or anyone who reads a cur-rent newspaper. It was precisely the cities divisions and its multi-ethnic population and varied religious and spiritual traditions (Alexandria was also the birthplace of Gnosticism) that so excited the archeologists and scholars - it provided the potential for something like historical "control groups."

Expectation was that the orientation of the papyri would be largely Greek. In Athens, there was a tendency to associate magic with out-of-towners - Thracians or Thessalians. Would this practice continue? Would there be completely Greek magic, or would the Alexandrians transfer the outsider role to the native Egyptians? Would the Greeks, traditionally impressed by Egyptian mysticism (Pythagoras studied in Egypt) adopt some of their host country's practices? Would it be possible to clearly trace the emergence of Gnosticism as well as Pagan reactions to Christianity? Answers to these crucial questions were anticipated with baited breath as translation of the papyri progressed.

What was uncovered is a mess. The spells, on the whole, are neither clear-ly nor even mostly Greek, or Egyptian, or that third ethnic group, Judaic, but a scrambled jumble of all three, with a healthy dose of Pagan and Christian Gnosticism, together with a sprinkling of influences from other parts of the Greek and Roman empires. Any individual spell may incorp-orate the God of Israel, assorted angels, Egyptian gods, Mesopotamian gods, Greek gods, Nubian gods, Jesus Christ and Christian spirituality, bo-tanical magic, divination, names of mysterious things we have no way of presently identifying, some or all of the above, and definitely not neces-sarily in that order.

What was a poor scholar to do? How to interpret and sort this material, determine who wrote it, and to whom it truly belongs and applies?

None of the information in the papyri is mundane everyday material that you might say any individual on the street was bound to know. The spells and incantations are the height of occult knowledge. The Magical Papyri are the descendants of highly guarded spiritual secrets, the ancestors of high ritual magic. Alexandria was an intensely urban community. These spells don't reflect the knowledge common to any village wise-woman or cunning man but are highly detailed and specialized, occult in every sense, the stuff of initiates and adepts. Who wrote them? The information con-tained in them defies all attempts to pigeonhole these spells.

They derive from over centuries and so can't be attributed to one person, not even the legendary Hermes Trismegistus. Nothing in Alexandria's his-tory indicates a mingling of cultures that would provide a general inter-cultural exchange like this - quite the opposite. Furthermore, although Greek was Alexandria's lingua franca and many Jews, for instance, spoke that language rather than their own, spiritual secrets were still recorded in each community's distinct tongue. Sacred, secret spiritual texts in each possible tradition were maintained in the most obscure version possible specifically so that profane eyes could not access them. Egyptian, Greek, and Hebrew aren't even written with the same alphabets. Who had access to all this vast information? How was it transmitted?

Intense debate ensued regarding who compiled these spells and who act-ually cast them. Were they Greeks, as had originally been anticipated, or were they Egyptians? Were they Greeks gone native? Controlled attempts had been made to combine aspects of Greek and Egyptian religion, culmin-ating in the cult of Serapis. But then, why the Jewish reference? Were they Egyptians striving to Hellenize? But then why the Christian refer-ences? Maybe the spells were compiled by unemployed wizard-priests trying to find a new professional niche market, but then why don't they hew more faithfully to centuries of conservative Egyptian tradition? They couldn't be Jews, because, of course, Jews are monotheistic and don't participate in this kind of thing, but then, if not, how did the spell-casters learn all those obscure Hebrew names of power, names extremely difficult to access even within the Jewish community? But if they were Jews. what were they doing invoking Hecate, Hathor and Hermes? They couldn't be Christians because Christians forbade magic in general, because Alexandria was home to a particularly militant branch of Christianity and because the rift be-tween Christians and Pagans was especially violent and bitter in Alex-andria. But if they were not Christians, why all the references to Jesus Christ? These mysteries were not the ones that scholars had so eagerly anticipated investigating and debating.

Translation of the Magical Papyri occurred only recently. Perhaps more information will be uncovered. Volume one of The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation Including the Demotic Spells was first published in 1986. Egyptologists, anthropologists, historians, linguists, and other schol-ars continue to discuss their origin and broad scope. The only experts, I suspect, who have not been consulted are contemporary urban magical practitioners, for whom the entangled ethnic and spiritual roots of the Magical Papyri's spells would come as no surprise.

When historians counted Alexandria's four quarters, they neglected a fifth community, who quite obviously rejected, transcended, and ignored those boundaries: Alexandria's vast community of magical practitioners, a quar-ter unto themselves. Where other residents of Alexandria found divisions, these magical practitioners discovered a crossroads. Magic thrives where roads meet. What the Magical Papyri manifests is the birth of modern magic.

If you were an up-and-coming metaphysical seeker or magical practitioner back then, Alexandria was the place to go. Why? Not just to make money; you'd retain more of a monopoly by staying home as a big fish in small pond. No, you'd go to Alexandria to meet other practitioners, learn what they had to teach and share some secrets of your own. The spells of the Magical Papyri demonstrate what happens at those crossroads.

Where others obeyed the rules and kept to their own kind, magical practi-tioners went wandering, with magic as the lingua franca, the common tongue, exploring each other's secrets, deconstructing them and putting them back together in whole new confabulations. This mixing is not neces-sarily about improvement; spells that hew faithfully to one tradition work just as powerfully as blended spells. Instead it's about experimentation and the desire (common to all practitioners), to adapt something of power to one's own needs. (This process is not always a happy one. One person's sharing is another person's appropriation. The Egyptians, for example, were appalled when they learned that Greeks had discovered aphrodisiac properties in their sacred temple incense, kyphi.)

Alexandria presaged the modern city, filled with immigrants from Earth's different coroners. Previously, opportunities to meet other practitioners probably came from your own family; everyone shared the same knowledge and repertoire of tools and materials. Sure, there was the occasional wan-dering stranger, but nothing like the vast landscape of Alexandria, where practitioners from so many traditions could sit and share secrets. Magic, back then as it does today, transcends and defies boundaries of language, ethnicity, race, gender or religion to form its own community.

When I first read the Magical Papyri my immediate reaction was recog-nition: all those mixed-up, boundary-jumping spells resembled, in nature if not in specific detail, the culturally diverse magic that I learned in my own hometown, that crossroads of the modern world, New York City. New York, like Alexandria, has had its moments of tense ethnic division, but you wouldn't know it from the metaphysical community. Fearing the law, fearing ridicule, people may hold themselves aloof, at least until genuine magical credentials, knowledge, respect and curiosity are demonstrated, but then the walls come down.

One thing magical practitioners have in common all around the world is curiosity, the quest for knowledge. We are the original enquiring minds who wish to know. Obstacles to knowledge are bitterly resented and are persistently undermined. Magicians always wish to expand their power and increase their knowledge and repertoire. There is a reason that so many of the earliest books printed were grimoires, or books of magic - the same reason that Lord Thoth is patron both of scribes and magicians. Providing that a society is at all literate, magical practitioners, on the whole, are great readers, from ancient Egypt's Houses of Life to the Voodoo queens of New Orleans.

There is only one thing better than learning from a book and that's learn-ing from each other. Magical practitioners are, in general, an open-minded bunch. Put a few in a room together and fairly quickly tools will be com-pared, secrets shared, and demands for knowledge made.

Spells are constantly evolving to suit changing needs. This is particularly true where cultures live closely alongside each other. Nothing crosses bor-ders faster than a magic spell. For instance it can be almost impossible to separate totally the intermingled strands of various European magical traditions. Because certain methods, materials and styles are more popular and prevalent in one area than another doesn't necessarily mean that they originated there or, at least, not in isolation. Even the most sedentary, isolated communities received periodic magical cross-pollination from Jews, Romany, tinkers, and assorted wanderers.

These entwined traditions become even more complex in the magical and spiritual traditions of America and the Western Hemisphere.

During the height of the slave trade, people were kidnapped from, all over Africa. What were originally distinct cultures, each with specific spiritual and magical traditions, found themselves thrown together in dire circum-stances, the type of circumstances in which many reach for magic. In Haiti, the traditions of the Fon people of Dahomey were dominant and evolved into Vodoun, although not in isolation. These traditions evolved, adding components of indigenous Taino magic, diverse other African tra-ditions, French, and Spanish magic, thus also transmitting Basque, Jewish, Moorish, and Romany influences and last but not least, Freemasonry. You think this is beginning to make Alexandria look simple? Just wait.

Following later political turbulence, many Haitian refugees fled to New Orleans, where Vodoun evolved once more, retaining its frame but picking up new influences, this time from the local black population, whose own magic derived from Congolese sources rather than Fon, and also British, Italian and Native American magical traditions. New Orleans, the Crescent City, became known as the capital of American magic. Its traditions would soon be incorporated into what might be called mainstream magic, that magic most accessible to the population at large. This magic would eventu-ally be transmitted to Europe where, who knows? Maybe it's now been picked up by African emigrants to evolve and transform once more.

After extended contact, New Orleans Voodoo can be hard to distinguish from Hoodoo. Hoodoo's basic framework also derives from Africa, mainly from Congolese traditions, but again not in isolation. Deprived of the botanicals with which they had been familiar in Africa, their materia magica, enslaved African magical practitioners consulted with Native American and acquired a whole new botanical tradition, sharing magical and spiritual secrets as well. These Hoodoo doctors typify the proverbial questing, intellectually curious magicians. In addition to Native American, West and Central African roots, their tradition soon incorporated European folk magic, the Egyptian mysteries, Freemasonry and Kabbalah. The great grimoires became available to all. Transmission was cross-cultural. With the exception of a very few isolated mountain pockets, American magic in general demonstrates tremendous African influence.

Further north, Pow-Wow is the magic of German immigrants to Pennsyl-vania, the Pennsylvania Dutch (a corruption of Deutsch.) The basic frame-work is, of course, the German magic the migrants carried with them, both high ritual and folk magic, which incorporated a healthy dose of Jewish and Romany influence as well as those of neighboring European people. In America, strong further influence (and the tradition's name) came from Native Americans, especially the Iroquois, and from the Chikkeners, the so-called Black Dutch: Romany (Zigeuners) forcibly de-ported from Europe who, separated from clan and family, found discreet safety among the Pow-Wow artists.

In 1819 or 1820, dates vary, Pow-Wow artist and hexenmeister, John George Hohman compiled a canon of Pow-Wow wisdom and published it under the title The Book of Pow-Wows: The Long Lost Friend. This book, still in print, traveled to the cities of the South, carried largely by Jewish merchants, who sold it to Voodoo and Hoodoo practitioners, who incorporated it into their already multi-cultural blend of magic and, no doubt, sent some equally valuable information up North with the returning merchant, who were learning from everybody and spreading the news.

There is an important exception to this magic melting pot, of course. Very isolated areas, places where people have historically had little or no con-tact with others, maintain extremely pristine, ancient magical traditions. Like the unique creatures of the Galapagos Islands, their traditions devel-oped in isolation and thus may have very unique, easily identifiable char-acteristics. It's much easier to clearly identify a spell from Papua New Guinea, for instance, than it is to distinguish between French, German, or Swiss spells. Because these traditions are so unique and because one can identify the spells origins, it's very tempting to constantly point out which spell came from which isolated culture. The danger is that this creates a lopsided effect, akin to those old-school anthropologists who were so quick to note the curious habits of the "Natives" while failing to remark on sim-ilar practices, parallels and traditions back home.

I can't emphasize more that every distinct people, every culture, every na-tion, every religion and spiritual tradition has, at one time or another, incorporated, developed, and created magic spells. Each one of us has a ma-gical history somewhere along the line. Loss and abandonment of these traditions tends to accompany loss of cultural or religious autonomy. These spells, therefore, are our shared human heritage, not isolated odd things engaged in only by strange other people, very different from us.

In some cases, in this book, I have pointed out where spells come from and which traditions they represent, especially if there's some interesting factoid associated with it or if that knowledge may help you cast the spell, or sometimes just to give credit where credit is due for a partic-ularly beautiful spell. However, I have not done so in every case. Some-times I did not wish to keep emphasizing one culture, as if they were Earth's only magical ones, especially those cultures whose vast magical repertoire has stimulated others to vilify, stereotype and persecute them. In other cases, the roots were too tangled to identify their origins honestly.

Although many of the spells in this book are meant for use, others are included purely for historic value and perspective, so that we may remember and learn from them.

Taken in entirety from The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells by Judika Illes

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Special Stones - Peridot

Picture from The Mystic Eye

The name of the gemstone peridot is believed to come from either the Arabic word faridat meaning "gem" or the French word peritot meaning "unclear." It is also claimed to be derived from the Greek word 'peridona', which means something like 'to give richness'.  The peridot is one of the few gemstones which comes in one color only. The rich, green color with the slight tinge of gold is caused by very fine traces of iron - the intensity of the color depends on the amount of iron actually present. The color itself can vary over all shades of yellowish green and olive, and even to a brownish green. Peridot cat's eyes and star peridot are particularly rare and precious. The most beautiful stones come from the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, the peridot as a gemstone also exists in Myanmar, China, the USA, Africa and Australia. Stones from East Burma, now known as Myanmar, have a vivid light green and fine inclusions with a silky shine to them. Peridot from Arizona, where it is popularly used in native American jewelry, often has somewhat yellowish or gold-brown nuances. The earliest recorded production of peridot was in about 70 A.D. from St. Johns Island in the Red Sea, about 54 kilometers off the coast of Egypt, which was "lost" for centuries and rediscovered about1900. Almost all of the earliest known peridot gems came from this location and small amounts of material are still being produced from there today. Peridot was mined for over 3,500 years on St Johns Island, and It has now been mostly exhausted.  Having said that, the peridot is also a thoroughly modern gemstone, for it was not until a few years ago that peridot deposits were located in the Kashmir region; and the stones from those deposits, being of an incomparably beautiful color and transparency, have succeeded in giving a good polish to the image of this beautiful gemstone, which had paled somewhat over the millennia.
Peridot has been adored since ancient times and has been valued for centuries - the peridot is a very old gemstone, and one which has become very popular again today. It is so ancient that it can be found in Egyptian jewelry from the early 2nd millennium B.C., and ancient papyri record the mining of these stones as early as 1500 BC. Ancient Egyptians knew it as “the gem of the sun,” although they believed its seekers might not find it in sunlight. (Because of their brightness in the desert sun, the stones were supposedly invisible by daylight.) The ancient Romans too were fond of this gemstone and esteemed its radiant green shine, which does not change even in artificial light, but rather the stone glows a brilliant green. For that reason they nicknamed it the 'emerald of the evening' and rings of peridot were worn to relieve depression. People in the Middle Ages wore peridot to gain foresight and divine inspiration. Legend has it that pirates favored peridot to protect them against evil. It was greatly prized by Egyptian Kings, and some of Cleopatra's emeralds were in fact peridots. Anciently, large chunks of peridot were found in Hawaii, where peridot symbolizes the goddess Pele's tears. (Some Hawaiian beaches are packed with tiny grains of peridot that are too small to cut.) These large chunks found their way to the the Egyptians, who made small drinking vessels out of them. They were used in rituals, and the priests would drink soma from them. The soma would put them in touch with the nature goddess, Isis. (Legend has it that King Solomon traded many cedar trees from Lebanon for 12 soma drinking cups and 144 liters of soma. The Egyptians made this trade for ramp logs to build their pyramids at Gisa. King Solomon was said to have been made wise and enlightened by the drinking of soma from the peridot cups.)
In the middle ages, Europeans brought peridot stones back from the Crusades to decorate church plates and robes. and it can be found in Europe in medieval churches, where it adorns many a treasure. An example - one of the shrines in Cologne Cathedral, where one famous large peridot gem adorning the shrine of the Three Holy Kings in the cathedral was for centuries, believed to be an emerald. It was only identified as peridot late in the last century.) Once upon a time, ecclesiastical treasures in European cathedrals included some fine, large peridots, but wars and pillage have dispersed many of them. Peridot was also known to ancient Hebrews and is listed both as one of the stones used by Aaron and found in the text of the apocalypse (Revelations). Several experts believe that the second gemstone in Aaron’s breastplate was a peridot. (The breast plates of Solomon and the High Priest Aaron were said to carry them among them 12 stones to protect them from wounds and death in battle. These 12 stones were credited with the showing of true spiritual teaching by creating miracles of healing performed by the high priests.) During the baroque period, the rich green gemstone once again enjoyed a brief heyday, and then it somehow faded into oblivion.
This beautiful stone is worn or carried for general healing purposes, and is said to bring healing and vitality to the whole body. Peridot increases strength & physical vitality, protects against nervousness and aids in healing hurt feelings. Because of it’s yellowish green color, peridot has been believed to cure diseases of the liver and difficulties with digestion as well as protect lungs, sinuses, and wrists from illness and injury. Ground peridot, taken internally, was once used as a treatment for asthma. As with other gemstones, the color of the peridot stone is directly related to parts of the body that it can be of aid to. It aids in physical detoxification and helps problems with the kidneys, bladder, gall bladder, and the stomach. Peridot heals such illnesses as ulcers, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. It is also useful in helping to heal insect bites. Peridot has a tonic effect- it heals and regenerates tissues, strengthens the metabolism and benefits the skin. It aids the heart, thymus, and spleen. If placed on the abdomen, it aids in giving birth by strengthening the muscle contractions while lessening the pain. Peridot is also helpful in treating skin diseases and difficulties associated with the adrenal glands and endocrine systems. It is also used to treat fevers. Legends credit peridot strengthening the eyes, and several sources say that in ancient times, cups or other vessels made of peridot were used in healing because medicinal liquids drunk from them were more effective.
Peridot is also very beneficial when it comes to treating psychological afflictions as well. It is a wonderful stone to help someone who is going through depression. It is a stone of lightness that counters the effects of negative emotions. It has the ability to balance the process of emotional release and detoxifies negative emotions, bringing them to comfortable levels. Peridot fosters emotional balance, security, and inner peace. It soothes nervousness, heals emotional and physical pain, and lightens suffering. Because it is calming to the nervous system, peridot is also useful in promoting sleep. Peridot banishes lethargy, which can attack someone who is experiencing depression. The stone’s energy balances bipolar disorders. It also brings about necessary change, which is much needed to someone who is depressed. Peridot also has other psychological effects and uses. It can help one overcome hypochondria. It can greatly improve difficult relationships. It treats phobias, particularly those associated with fears of the dark, becoming like a security blanket to a small child.
It is used to stimulate the heart and solar plexus chakras allowing openness and acceptance in the intellectual pursuit of matters of the heart. (For specific chakra work, because it acts to seal the aura, it is suggested that peridot be removed while working on chakras other than the heart and solar plexus.) Peridot opens, cleanses and activates the heart, which can help one to release old baggage. All burdens, guilt and obsessions become cleared and a new psychological clarity and feeling of well-being begin. Peridot teaches that holding onto the past is counter productive. It shows you how to detach yourself from outside influences and how to look to your own higher energies for guidance. It assists in moving forward rapidly in therapeutic situations. It also helps you understand your destiny and spiritual purpose, helping you attain your full potential. All in all, the stone sharpens the mind and opens it to new levels of awareness.
Throughout history, there have been many legends that state the strong magical power that peridot possesses. Legend says that if the gem is set in gold, it will develop its full potential as a talisman and will have the power to dispel terrors of the night, fears and bad dreams. However, according to Pliny The Elder, the Great Roman authority on such matters, for peridots to work their strongest magic, they must be worn on the right arm. He also wrote that peridot is "dull during daylight hours but will glow like a hot coal by night." Peridot represents wealth and financial success (think of its green hue) and also attracts romance. It has been long considered to be an aid to friendship and supposedly frees the mind of envious thoughts. It is also supposed to protect the wearer from the evil eye and with bringing happiness, good cheer and attract lovers. A piece of peridot upon which was carved an ass was believed to assist a person with a skill or prophesy, and the engraving of a totem of a vulture allowed the stone to have control over various demonic spirits as well as the winds. It assists in finding what is lost, and strengthens ESP abilities, and has been said to make a shield of protection around the body of any wearer. According to folklore, peridot brought power and influence to its owner, as well as bringing good luck, peace, and success. Its powers include health, protection, and sleep. Peridot is said to attract love while also soothing nerves and dispelling negative emotions, and it is believed to promote sleep when worn to bed..  Peridot, further, helps to heal a bruised ego by assisting in the lessening of jealousy, anger, (it will calm a raging anger) and fear, by inspiring happiness with oneself and delight in ones own nature. Peridot is used to help dreams become a reality. The deep green hue of the peridot also suggests a connection in wealth-attracting.
The stone emits a warm and friendly energy and can be used to magnify the inner aspects of any situation. It helps one to understand ones own inner life changes, and helps a person see their own light and recognize that they are deserving of love. It also helps those who feel they have little personal power, as working with the stone, or keeping one with you, will give you that extra boost you might need. If you want to start a growth period, meditate with peridot in your left hand (the receiving one). Visualize the bright color (and the energy that accompanies it) coursing through your chakras, clearing and grounding them. Then see it clearing and grounding your aura. Tell the universe that you are ready for growth, and trust the universe to do the rest. It's ok to then visualize your chakras returning to their normal colors, it is just more intense this way! (The brighter, and more yellow the color, the more intense the experience. This is the stone of adventure. We never know what we will find, but it sure is a heck of a ride!)


Mystical Sculptress

Encyclopedia of Gemstones

Jewels For Me


Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Form A Circle - Celtic Connection's Mabon Ritual

* Celtic Connection's Mabon Ritual *
Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys
Pre-Ritual Preparation:

  • A fallen tree branch
  • several small pine cones
  • several small shells
  • dried flowers
  • other items that remind you of the late spring & summer months
  • string
  • yarn or ribbon
    • yellows
    • oranges
    • reds
    • gold
  • very thin strips of colored paper
  • silver thread
  • small bells (optional)
Find a fallen tree branch. It need not be a large one, for it will adorn your altar, then go on display in your home. The more smaller offshoots from the main branch, the better. Mine has four, which I think is awesome! With some string, tie the pine cones, small shells, dried flowers and other items to each of the offshoots. Also tie the yarn or ribbon to one end to the offshoots. Then, on the paper, write down some projects to work on during the upcoming "dark" months. Wrap these around the offshoots (like little cocoons) and tie closed with the silver thread. These you will open over the next couple of months when you start feeling lethargic or without a sense of direction. I tie on a couple of small bells, to add some ambiance to my ritual...

  • Your magical tools
  • a red altar cloth
  • a wicker basket
  • a red apple
  • assorted fruits and vegetables of the Second Harvest (berries, squash, corn, etc)
  • a bell
  • your fallen tree branch
  • a bolline
  • a sprig or two of ivy
  • an Autumn blend incense
  • any other personal props
  • a red cord, or low vibrational stones
Sweep area, moving in a deosil manner.
Outline your circle with the cord, stones, or various Harvest items such as wheat, corn, beans, etc.
Set up your altar and place the red altar cloth over it.
At center top, place the wicker basket, filled with the assorted fruit and vege-tables.
Place the apple and the bolline on your pentacle or a plate.
Place the tree branch to the right of the basket.
Place the rest of your tools and props according to your personal preference.

Take a shower or bath for purity. Sit quietly and meditate to ground and center. When you are ready, begin by playing some soothing music associated with the Sabbat and your ritual.

Cast the Circle and call Quarters..

Pick up your wand in your right hand, face your altar, and with arms stretched out above your head, say: 

"I honor Thee, Autumn Queen, and Thy consort, the God of the Harvest.
The Wheel has once more turned, and the change of season begins.
What will be is. What was will be. 
The Equinox is upon us, and the time to reflect, at hand. 
All time comes together, here and now in this sacred space. 
and I, but a moment in time, feel the change as I pass 
from one season to the next. 
The Second Harvest has been reaped, 
and the time of rest is deserved.
Go now My Mother and slumber.
Go now My Father and dream of re-birth.
I shall be here to greet Thee on Your return."
With arms still out-stretched lower your head and close your eyes. Contemplate what you have just spoken. When ready, open your eyes and lower your arms.
Pick up the apple and place it in the center of the pentacle/plate. Cut it crosswise with the bolline, to reveal the natural pentagram at it's core. Then lift half the apple, pentagram up, as if in offering, while saying: 

"As the Wheel turns, the seasons pass, 
and the years give 'way to the next. 
Guide me most Wise Ones, 
lest I forget every beginning has an ending 
and every ending is a new beginning. "
Take a bite of the apple. Put the rest aside to share later with the wildlife.
Pick up the tree branch and shake once in each direction, starting with North, saying: 

"As the days grow colder, and the nights last longer, 
may I remember the summer past. 
With sunlight fading, and hearth inviting, 
my memories will warm my soul. 
From a season of hard work and hard play, 
I hear Mother's voice calling me forward. 
While I rest, shall She lull me, 
with songs of a dream, as close to Her bosom I cling."
Face the altar and hold the branch out in front of you with both hands, saying: 

"With memories of the summer, lest I ever forget, 
and aspiring for the colder months to come, 
lest I ever stop striving, 
I honor Thee with this symbol of nature, 
keeping it and Thee in my home and heart, 
that I may see it 
and pause to reflect on the Ancient Mysteries, 
leading me to a better understanding of myself 
and of others, and all that is Life."
Put the tree branch on the alter, into the basket of fruit so that it sticks out, back in your direction. Contemplate on the various memory symbols that you have attached to it. Also contemplate on the various projects for autumn and winter that you have attached to it. Close your eyes and feel the seasons pass within the circle from summer to autumn. When ready, say: 

"Between the worlds I stand in this sacred place. 
All time is here and now.
As I leave this circle, the season shall have changed, 
and I will have changed with it.
May I use the short time of Winter Finding 
to draw the strength and power from within 
as I quest for vision, understanding, and peace."
Pick up the sprig(s) of ivy, and wrap them around your arms, from the elbow to the wrist.
Pick up the Bell with your right hand, and ring thrice, to toll the passing of the first 3 seasons of the year. Now place it in your left hand and ring once to usher in the 4th and last season of the year. Place the bell on the altar and the ivy in your cauldron (for burning later). Say: 

"In Life is Death, and in Death is Life. 
The Sacred Dance goes on and on.
From whence we came, we shall return, 
and come again. Seasons pass, and pass again, 
The circle stays unbroken. 
Heed the words of your child, here, 
through Your wisdom I have spoken."

It is now time for meditation and spellworking. Associated spellworkings would include those for protection, wealth, security, and self-confidence. If there is no spellworking, celebrate with cakes and ale, then release the circle. Clean up. You are done. Find an appropriate place in your home to display the decorated tree branch.

Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys
From Celtic Connections

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bonus Post! Mabon Associations

The sources for this information are many. I will include what I have to hand:
Net Sisters Organization

The Sabbats, a New Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy
Trancing the Witches Wheel by Jasmine Galenorn
Celebrate the Earth by Laurie Cabot
Green Witchcraft by Ann Moura
The Witches' God by Janet and Stewart Farrar

Altar Decorations:
  • Simple altar decorations can be obtained by taking a calm “pilgrimage” through your local woods and collecting leaves, acorns, berries, and other things symbolic of nature’s bounty.
  • Some chose to sprinkle Autumn leaves around the house and on the sides of walk ways as decoration, though this may not be convenient if one lives in the city or doesn’t enjoy the cleanup.
  • Alternately, the changing leaves can be dipped in paraffin and put on wax paper. After the leaves dry, they may be placed around the house or in large jars with sigils of protection and/or abundance carved lightly into them.
  • Candles should be brown or cinnamon.
  • Decorate circle with
    • autumn flowers
    • acorns
    • gourds
    • corn sheaves
    • fall leaves
  • Altar cloths can also be made of material with Fall designs.
  • A traditional practice is to walk wild places and forests, gathering seed pods and dried plants. Some of these can be used to decorate the home or altar
Herbs & Plants

  • Rue
  • yarrow
  • rosemary
  • marigold
  • sage
  • walnut & walnut leaves and husks
  • mistletoe
  • saffron
  • chamomile
  • almond & leaves
  • passionflower
  • frankincense
  • rose hips
  • bittersweet
  • sunflower
  • wheat
  • oak leaves
  • dried apple or apple seeds
  • acorns
  • asters
  • benzoin
  • ferns
  • honeysuckle
  • milkweed
  • mums
  • myrrh
  • pine & pine cones
  • roses
  • solomon's seal
  • thistles
  • cedar
  • ivy
  • hazel
  • corn
  • aspen
  • autumn leaves
  • cypress cones
  • harvest gleanings
  • grains
  • roses
  • vegetables
  • tobacco
  • hops
  • vines
  • gourds
  • pumpkin
  • statice
  • hazelnut

  • pine
  • sage
  • sweetgrass
  • myrhh
  • marigold
  • passionflower
  • fern
  • frankincense
  • spice
  • cinnamon
  • orange
  • tangerine
  • aloe wood
  • jasmine
  • musk
  • cloves
  • benzoin,
Stones - stones ruled by the Sun will help bring the Sun's energy to you

  • Brown
  • Orange
  • Violet
  • Maroon
  • Russet
  • Deep Gold
  • Red
  • Gold
  • Dark Red
  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Indigo
  • Green
Ritual Oils:
  • Apple Blossom
  • Hay/straw
  • Black Pepper
  • Patchouli
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Tangerine
  • Orange
  • Wine
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Apples
  • The gleanings of the Second Harvest corn
  • Corn bread
  • Cider
  • Beans
  • Baked Squash
  • Breads
  • Pomegranates
  • Fall Fruits
  • Corn and Wheat Products
  • Vegetables
  • Roots
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Basket of Fallen Leaves
  • Pinecones
  • Sun Wheel
  • Wine
  • Wolves
  • Gourds
  • Horns of Plenty
  • Grapes
  • Vines
  • Garland
  • Burial Cairns
  • Rattles
  • Indian Corn
  • Apples
  • Cornucopia
Spell & Ritual workings:
should be those of Protection, prosperity, security, and self-confidence. Mabon is a good time to cast spells of balance and harmony. It's also a time of change. Protection, wealth and prosperity spells including offerings to the land in preparation for cold weather and bringing in harvest are appropriate as well. Since this is a time for balance - you might include spells that will bring into balance and harmony the energies either in a room, home, or situation. Fall Equinox, also known as Mabon, occurs in the middle of September. It is the main harvest festival of the Wiccan calendar and marks the beginning of Autumn. The Goddess manifests in Her Bountiful Mother aspects. The God emerges as the Corn King and Harvest Lord.It is the festival of thanksgiving. Select the best of each vegetable, herb, fruit, nut, and other food you have harvested or purchased and give it back to Mother Earth with prayers of thanksgiving. Hang dried ears of corn around your home in appreciation of the harvest season. Do meditations and chanting as you store away food for the Winter. Do a thanksgiving circle, offering thanks as you face each direction—
  • for home, finances, and physical health North;
  • for gifts of knowledge East;
  • for accomplishments in career and hobbies South;
  • for relationships West;
  • for spiritual insights and messages Center
  • thanksgiving
  • harvest
  • introspection
    Ritual actions might include the praising or honoring of fruit as proof of
    the love of the Goddess and God, and a ritual sprinkling of Autumn leaves.
  • Wine deities
  • Aging Deities.
  • All Grape Goddesses
  • Akibimi (Japanese)
  • Cessair (Welsh)
  • Harmonica (Greek)
  • Mama Allpa (Peruvian)
  • Morgan (Welsh-Cornish)
  • Nikkal (Canaanite)
  • Ninkasi (Sumerian)
  • Rennutet (Egyptian)
  • Snake Woman
  • All Vegetable Goddesses
  • Anapurna (Indian)
  • Epona
  • Lilitu (Semitic)
  • Modron (Welsh)
  • The Muses
  • Ningal (Sumerian)
  • Pamona (Roman)
  • Sin (Irish)
  • Sophia (Greco-Hebraic)
  • All Wine Gods
  • All Non-Grain Harvest Gods
  • All Gods of Fruit
  • All Gods of Abandonment
  • Dionysus (Roman)
  • Bacchus (Greek)
  • Haurun (Canaanite)
  • Hermes (Greek)
  • Great Horned God (European)
  • Hotei (Japanese)
  • Iaccus (Greco-Tuscan)
  • Mabon (Welsh)
  • Orcus (Roman)
  • Thoth (Egyptian)

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Thursday This Is Your Spell - Faery Spell For Wisdom

Faery Spell for Wisdom
You should call the autumn fae with respect and caution. for protection use St John's Wort and violet or rosemary sprigs.
This spell is for  wisdom and  magical experience.

Recommended location to do Spellworking:
Outside at the harvest full moon, in a place that is peaceful and private.

  • decorate with seasonal foliage and herbs.
  • 2 white lit votive candles in safe holders
  • a food offering suitable for the faery
  • a  ceramic bowl or glass goblet of drinking water, to capture the moonlight and the blessings of Selene 
  • a blanket, cushion or seat to sit on
Casting the Spell:
Sprinkle colorful autumn leaves all around - but away from - the candles. Add a few natural symbolic items for what you ask such as the apple, corn, and white flowers for the Goddess. Choose simple symbols of the harvest.
To begin, take up a few of the leaves and sprinkle on the ground  in a clockwise direction to cast your circle. As you cast this circle say:

By the light of the full moon 
I cast this sacred place
my magic will hold 
and  protection in place'

Sit within the circle. Be comfortable. Close your eyes and ground and center. Release your  stress and tensions. Breathe slowly into your nose and slowly out of your mouth until you  feel ready and relaxed. Open your eyes  slowly and say:

''At this time of the harvest, under the light of the moon
I ask the faeries wisdom, ask for a boon.
Open my eyes and show me thy ways
that I may use this knowledge to the good every day '

Settle in and enjoy the night letting your mind drift and opening your heart, taking  in the impressions you are given. When you feel ready to move on, pick up your water vessel, capture the moon's reflection for a moment, then toast the moon and drink a few sips.
Thank the Goddess in your own words for her blessings.

When ready stand up and open the circle by pointing to the ground and going round the circle doesil saying:
The circle is open but ever unbroken,
release the magic the charm is spoken'
Place or scatter your offerings and give spoken quiet thanks to the faery saying:
'I thank the faeries for their time and care,
I end this spell by the powers of earth, water, fire and air ''

Snuff out the candles and clean up. Pour the water onto the garden flowers or a flower in a pot to bless the plants. Keep the herbs and dry them - place them in your kitchen to use  for protection spells.
Pay close attention for the next few days as you may receive faery gifts. You could also be blessed with heightened sensitivity to natural beauty - the colors, scents and textures of nature. They may be sensual or vibrant. You may experience precognitive dreams or be aware of energy and power within  nature. Faery gifts given are different to each person, even if doing  this working in a group or with a partner. You could also feel disconnected or lose track of time for a few days.

 Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday What Herb is This - Rue

PLEASE NOTE:  Rue may be poisonous if ingested, and it is best administered by a practitioner familiar in this product. It should not EVER be taken by pregnant women because of it may affect uterine contractions and blood flow. It should also be avoided by children and nursing women, and by those who are allergic to the plant. May cause photo toxicity in some individuals, (some people are highly sensitive to the plant's oils and can develop a severe rash when they are exposed to it and then the sun.) An excess of rue causes vomiting and can interfere with the liver's work
Also Called: Herb-of-Grace, Herb of Grace, Herbygrass, Garden Rue, Mother of Herbs, Rewe, and Goat's Rue. The name Ruta is from the Greek reuo (to set free), because this herb is so efficacious in various diseases. Rue, a hardy, evergreen, somewhat shrubby plant, is a native of Southern Europe, blossoming from June to September. Introduced by the Romans, it is not found in a wild state except rarely on the hills of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Throughout history, Rue has been used for everything from flavoring cheese to driving out evil spirits. Yet, no one use seemed to really catch on. Shakespeare called Rue the ' herb of grace' and a short time later it became associated with repentance. Sprigs of rue were used to sprinkle holy water in early Christian rituals. The species name graveolens means strong smelling. It was much used by the Ancients ; Hippocrates specially commended it, and it constituted a chief ingredient of the famous antidote to poison used by Mithridates. The Greeks re-garded it as an anti-magical herb, because it served to remedy the nervous indi-gestion they suffered when eating before strangers, which they attributed to witchcraft. During the Middle Ages, rue was hung in doorways and windows to keep evil spirits out. It was thought to protect against plague, and since people also rubbed their floors with fresh rue to keep out fleas, it probably did. It is good for purifying objects made of iron, Mars' metal, before consecrating them. Rue was sometimes called witchbane because people carried bunches to keep off witches (who must have been thick as mosquitoes in those days), and the ex-pression "rue the day" is said to come from the practice of throwing rue at an enemy while cursing him. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Italians made amulets called cimaruta from tin or silver made to resemble the tops of rue. The tip of each branch was decorated with a symbol, usually concerned with fertility : phalli, horns, solar disks, crescent moons, fish, keys, even the Sacred Heart of Jesus (how'd that get in there?). A cimaruta was meant to protect the wearer from the evil eye. Nowadays, rue is thought to be ritually helpful in developing second sight, probably because it has a long history as a medicinal herb for strained eyes (Italian Renaissance painters regularly ate rue and cress sandwiches to sharpen their eyesight), and for bringing blessings and protection to one's home. The legend of rue lives on in playing cards, where the symbol for the suit of clubs is said to be modeled on a leaf of rue.
Rue has many medicinal uses, being strongly stimulating and antispasmodic - often employed, in form of a warm infusion, as an emmenagogue. In excessive doses, it is an acro narcotic poison, (a substance that acts on the brain, spinal marrow, or both, and simultaneously irritating the parts of the body to which it is applied)  and on account of its emetic (causes emesis, that makes you want to vomit. For example, ipecac is an emetic) tendencies should not be administered immediately after eating. It forms a useful medicine in hysterical affections, in coughs, croupy affections, colic and flatulence, being a mild stomachic.The oil may be given on sugar, or in hot water.  If bruised and applied, the leaves will ease the severe pain of sciatica. The expressed juice, in small quantities, was a noted remedy for ner-vous nightmare, and the fresh leaves applied to the temples are said to relieve headache. Compresses saturated with a strong decoction of the plant, when ap-plied to the chest, have been used beneficially for chronic bronchitis. If a leaf or two be chewed, a refreshing aromatic flavor will pervade the mouth and any ner-vous headache, giddiness, hysterical spasm, or palpitation will be quickly re-lieved. Rue has also been used as a specific against epilepsy and vertigo, and for the former malady, at one time, some of this herb would be suspended round the neck of the sufferer. Rue is said to be of such effect for the preservation of sight that the painters of Pliny's time used to devour a great quantity of it, and the herb is still eaten by the Italians in their salads. It was said to make the sight both sharp and clear, especially when the vision had become dim through overexertion of the eyes. Rue has been regarded from the earliest times as successful in warding off contagion and preventing the attacks of fleas and other noxious insects - rue-water sprinkled in the house 'kills all the fleas,' says an old book. It was the custom for judges sitting at assizes to have sprigs of Rue placed on the bench of the dock against the pestilential infection brought into court from gaol by the prisoner, and the bouquet still presented in some districts to judges at the assizes was originally a bunch of aromatic herbs, given to him for the purpose of warding off gaol-fever. The juice was used against earache.
Many spiritual paths have recognized the potency of rue: It apparently got the name Herb of Grace because early Christians used it as a tool for asperging during exorcisms and before performing mass, and this herb is the only one that the Prophet Mohammed blessed. It was grown around Roman temples to Mars and is considered sacred to him as well as to Diana and Aradia. Magical uses include healing, health, mental powers, freedom and protection against the evil eye. In the Middle Ages (and later), it was considered - in many parts of Europe - a power-ful defense against witches, and was used in many spells. It was also thought to bestow second sight. Use as an asperger to cast salt water for purification of the circle or removing negativity from the home. Hanging the dried herb indoors will help yourself see and understand your mistakes. Rue can be burned to banish negativity or bad habits, and is added to incenses and poppets to prevent illness or speed recovery. Adding to baths is said to break hexes and curses that may have been placed against you. Rue should be worn to bring healing and ward off problems with health. Smelling the fresh plant is said to bring clear thinking in love and improve mental acumen. Exorcism incense and mixtures are made with it and when grown in the garden, rue protects it. It is used in home blessings and magic to bring protection and good fortune to the home and family. Rue is one of the ingredients used in the Vinegar of Four Thieves.

The Magickal Cat A Modern Herbal

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.