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Archive for May, 2010

Author: Layla Talora Eshe
Posted: June 28th. 2009

When I first began my journey into Witchcraft, there was much to learn: history, myths and the proper way to perform spells and rituals. All kinds of new things awaited me. I eagerly delved into any books I could get my hands on and talked to anyone that would listen. I bought book, candles, oils, herbs, wands, bells, cards and anything I could get! And so my knowledge (and witchy stock!) grew.

Throughout the coming year I faithfully did rituals each Full and Dark Moon and celebrated on Sabbats. I performed spells and various other rituals in between. Taking time to research, plan and execute all my workings. I set out the proper tools and said the proper words, and was faithful to my workings. And so my practical experience grew.

What did not grow however, was my relationship with the Gods. I realized that just by simply calling myself Witch or Pagan did not give me that relationship. By doing rituals and spells and reading also did not give me that relationship. This, just like anything else would also require work. I knew that this would not be an easy task, but it was something I felt strongly about. That is what I loved about this path, the fact that I could have a close relationship with my Gods, free from restraint and restriction. I was not about to let this pass me by.

So I set out to know my Gods better, to really understand them and their place in my life. I decided to create daily devotion times to connect with my Gods. In the morning I rise and greet the new day, light a yellow candle and sit near the window as the sun rises, and speak to them.

What I say does not matter, it is not scripted or planned out; it comes simply from the heart. Some days my words are filled with hope and happiness, and some they are filled with sadness and despair. But either way I feel the Gods around me, supporting me, and giving me hope. They are there to comfort me when I need it, but also there to celebrate and be happy as well. I get whatever I need, just by simply asking, and then I can start my day with a fresh perspective.

At noon, I take a few minutes to myself to speak to them once more, discussing my morning, plans hopes and feelings, anything I like. It’s a nice break in my mundane day to reconnect with the Gods, and to take a few minutes out of the rush of jobs and housework to concentrate on my spiritual side and myself. It revitalizes me so that I can tackle the rest of my day.

Before I sleep each night I light a candle and sit near my altar and give thanks for the blessings I have, and sit in quiet reflection of the day, and plan for the next. I get ready for sleep, and wind down from the stresses of the day, this is my time to sit and talk with my Gods. While I do love the talking part I also must remember to stop and to listen to what they are trying to say to me in return.

I think at times we all, myself included, are so wrapped up in the talking and planning and thinking of the days, we forget to simply listen and to be aware of what is around us. Many messages I have received when I finally stop and listen to what the Gods are telling me. For they speak to us in many ways, through dreams and visions, in our minds and our hearts, but most of all we can see them all around us, out in nature.

They are the sun on our face, warming our souls. They are the wind at our backs, pushing us to move forward and look ahead. They are the green on the trees and in the Earth, reminding us to stay focused and grounded. And they are the rivers and oceans, reminding us to always be compassionate and hopeful throughout our lives.

But most of all they are inside of us, giving us strength, hope, love and determination. They never leave our side, even if we stray away from them for awhile, they are always there waiting for us to return to them again. Never judging us for our imperfections, but loving us despite them. The Gods love us unconditionally and without wavering, as we should all love ourselves and those around us.

I guess my point is that just because you belong to a particular faith (Wiccan, pagan, Christian, Muslim, or otherwise) does not mean you automatically get an in-depth personal relationship with the Divine. This takes work, devotion and most of all, love. This is a relationship that you will continue to nurture and grow throughout your entire life. It is important that you tend to it just as you would your garden, your pets, or any family or friendship. A relationship cannot exist without both sides working for it. The Gods are doing their share, now how about you?

To begin to have a relationship with your Gods you must go to them not only with an open heart and open mind, but also with complete, unconditional love. For this is the same way they look upon us. I think it also important to not only seek them out for help with problems, but also to seek them out for celebrations and happy times as well, to give thanks for the blessings that they bestow upon us.

Yes, it’s true; sometimes it feels like the Gods have given up on us; hen the world is black and dreary. And while we know they will not give us more then we can handle, sometimes we wish they would not trust us so much. But deep down we know that with their strength and love, we have all the tools we need to get through anything life hands us, if we just ask.

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Source: Witchvox

I need to improve my daily devotionals. I’ve been ill and stressed recently and it seems that my response is the exact opposite of what I should be doing.

I need to pick up my daily meditations again, and journey at least weekly. I keep saying I will, but then I fob it off – the same with my harp practice.

I’m only cheating myself on the harp front, but I’m letting the spirits and deities down when I don’t acknowledge them.

Like Bat said, “What’s stopping you?”

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Having slogged through By Oak, Ash and Thorn: Modern Celtic Shamanism by D. J. Conway – and it was a slog in places – I have begun reading Roebuck in the Thicket: an Anthology of the Robert Cochrane Witchcraft Tradition, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
The essays are a surprisingly easy read for the amount of information they contain, well written, well researched and, most wonderfully of all after reading Conway, I am halfway through with no mention of “Christian* brainwashing”.

Which brings me to the crux of this post: I am thoroughly sick of hearing from Complainin’ Pagans about how the Christian community is teaching bigotry and intolerance and committing what would be a hate crime, if the roles were reversed, against the poor little Pagan who aren’t hurting anyone because the Rede says… etc. etc.

The only thing I can think when I hear this is ‘Oh, grow up’.

I guess this feeling has been growing for a while. It was probably brought to a head by following Pagan groups on FaceBook, YouTube and an interesting juxtaposition of essays on WitchVox – Pagans Need to Stop Caring About What Other People Think and The Magick is in the Witch…Not the Bitch

An early paragraph from the latter reads as follows:
“The problem that most non-magickal people have with Magick, aside from centuries of brainwashing by Christianity, is the concept of a binary world. The concept of a binary world is anathema to traditional stratified religions where there is Earth, Heaven, Hell, and only The Creator and The Destroyer can manipulate “Magick” to make things happen. Even then, it is only good and “Holy” when that power comes from God or Jesus, and “evil”, “unnatural”, or “Satanic” when it comes from any other source, for as we all know, that which is not exclusively from the domain of God, comes from the Devil’s own hand.”

I wonder if the Complainin’ Pagan would be surprised to learn that I know more non-religious folk than religious ones, and the majority of Christians are – in my experience, at least – indifferent about my religion. The most interest I’ve had from a Christian was my born-again evangelical housemate at university, and she was mildly curious about the religion at best.
Where’s this brainwashed, bile-spewing Christian they keep harping on about? I’m obviously moving in the wrong (or the right) circles.

The only bad experiences I’ve had with Christians were with the Shadowmancer novel (I still feel betrayed by that book), and with a friend who I’d known for years before his conversion to Christianity, and I’d say he was more ignorant than vitriolic, asking if Paganism was Satanism and eventually – frustratingly, after the time I took trying to explain that non-Christian religion does not mean a lack of morality – denouncing the religion as ‘bullshit’ (he’s as entitled to his opinion as I am mine).

I guess what I’m saying is that yes, I used to be a Persecuted Pagan – overly defensive of my religion and ready to fight all comers – but I’ve grown out of it because I found it both unnecessary and a complete waste of energy. Now when I see it in others, I tend to see it a mark of immaturity.
I probably sound a bit smug here, but I don’t consider myself superior: it’s not that long ago I was much the same, but I find that lately I’m regarding what the Complainin’ Pagan says or advises more critically than I would normally. I’m also tending to put books back on the shelf if I find the same vitriol in print.

I understand that I am fortunate, and these defences might be necessary for some people, but I cannot believe that this degree of intolerance is so widespread that it warrants the number of Persecuted or Complainin’ Pagans I have found in the community. Furthermore, I don’t think that it helps when Pagans bang on about how Christians are universally awful and always on the lookout for new ways to stop us being the honest, good, decent people we would be if they weren’t forever having a go at us.

Why can’t you be religious or spiritual without shouting about it? What’s stopping you being a good Pagan and a good person now?

I don’t care whether Jo/e Anyman is a Satanist, Atheist, Christian, Muslim or member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. All I care is that s/he treats me with the respect I deserve as a fellow human being, and I promise to return that respect.

IIRC, about two thousand years ago a man was nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be if people could get along with each other. There’s a lesson in that somewhere…

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* You never hear about ‘Muslim brainwashing’ or ‘Jewish brainwashing’. I guess railing against the status quo is a cool now as it was when we were teens.

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Fungicide

My three year-old Canadian Maple is suffering from a touch of mildew, and I want to try making my own fungicide before trekking out to find a chemical version.

Baking Soda fungicide
Needed:

  • 1 tbsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tbsp Washing up liquid
  • Spray bottle
  • 1 gallon – 3.8 litres (6.5 pints) Water
  • Tablespoon measuring device
  1. Mix the baking soda, vegetable oil, and washing up liquid with the water.
  2. Shake solution to mix the ingredients. It is important to keep the ingredients mixed thoroughly so continue to shake the solution often while spraying.
  3. Spray on areas of your lawn or garden that is affected by fungus. The fungicide can be used on lawns and on vegetables, and ornamental plants in your landscape. One gallon of this home remedy fungicide will cover/treat approximately 1000 square feet.

Garlic and Mineral Oil Fungicide
Needed:

  • 3 oz minced garlic cloves
  • 1 oz mineral oil
  • 1 tsp fish emulsion
  • 16 oz water
  • 1 tbsp castile soap
  • Strainer
  • Cheesecloth or muslin fabric
  • Spray bottle

    Mix the mineral oil with the garlic in a glass jar, and let the mixture steep for at least 24 hours.

  1. Strain the mixture and discard the garlic. Pour the garlic oil back into the glass jar.
  2. Stir the fish emulsion and 2 cups of water into the strained garlic oil, and then add the liquid castile soap.
  3. Pour the fish emulsion mixture slowly into the garlic oil, stirring as you pour.
  4. Mix 2 tbsp. of the fungicide with 1 pint of water and put it in a sprayer to treat affected plants. Garlic and mineral oil fungicide will keep for several months if you store it in a sealed glass jar.

Garlic and Pepper Fungicide
Needed:

  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 700ml (1.5 pints) water
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 habanero or jalapeno peppers
  • 1 whole lemon
  • Strainer
  • Cheesecloth or muslin fabric
  • Spray bottle
  1. Place one large head of garlic in a blender or food processor.
  2. Add the water, vegetable oil, habanero or jalapeno peppers and whole lemon, and blend until the ingredients are finely chopped.
  3. Let the mixture sit overnight, and then pour it through a strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin fabric.
  4. Mix 4 tbsp. of garlic and pepper fungicide with 1 gallon – 3.8 litres (6.5 pints) – of water to spray on affected plants.
  5. Store any unused garlic and pepper fungicide in the refrigerator.

!! The garlic and pepper will also kill any insects on the plant

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Since my fiancé and I are going to be moving into our first house in a few months – assuming the building work goes well – I have been looking into various protective charms.
One of the charms I like the sound of is the Witch Bottle (not least because it’s local to England, has a historical record and doesn’t involve visualising ‘pure white sparkling light’ covering anything ;P).

History:
Witch Bottles have been found that date from the 17th-century, when they were buried near houses or in foundations as a way to ward of malevolent spirits [link].
They were commonly made from salt-glazed clay bellarmine wine jars [multiple sources] and, in one case at least, a glass inkwell [link], which was then filled with a mixture of ingredients, sealed and buried in order to protect the house and its occupants.

Making a Witch Bottle:
I have acquired a number of small (35 fl.oz) glass bottles, mostly empty sample bottles of vodka, which seem suitable for the task. I considered using airtight plastic jars but, to be honest, something about the plastic feels wrong, so glass it is.

What to put in them:
The research I’ve done seems to indicate that iron nails and/or pins are a staple of these bottles, as is urine, nail clippings and hair [link].
Others include a small heart-shaped piece of leather that had been pierced by an iron nail, a pinch of navel fluff, sulphur [link], small bones, thorns and bits of wood. Recently, rosemary and other herbs have become popular additions to witch bottles [link], chosen for their protective associations.

The iron is obvious – it has long been thought of as a powerful metal, offering protection from the Fair Folk and other supernatural beings in British and Irish folklore.

Nails and pins are suggested to serve the same function here as in Voodoo [link], whatever that may be.
I would speculate that their use might be to direct energy, but others have suggested that that they may be intended to impale the spell or spirit trapped by the bottle [link].
Thorns, broken glass, razor blades, poisonous plants and the like all seem to serve the same purpose [ibid, also here], but without the added potency of the iron (hawthorn thorns might afford some extra protection).
The pin-pierced heart is an old protective charm for livestock or protection from witchcraft.

Urine, nail clippings, hair (head and pubic), spit, navel fluff et cetera are always given as contents of the bottle. Although there are suggestions that they may have belonged to the witch who cast the curse, added to the bottle with the intention of returning the curse to the caster [link], it seems as though it would be very difficult to get the witch to wee into the bottle if they are the one wishing ill on the household.
More likely, in my opinion, the hair and fluff and urine was a form of sympathetic magic, either meant to mimic the person who was the target of the curse, or to turn the curse back upon the witch, causing pain to the areas associated with the bodily detritus in the jar (bladder, head, belly etc.). Sympathetic magic has a long history in the British Isles, and there may be a link to a possible reason bellarmine jars are so popular, since they have faces on them.

I have decided that I shall seal the lid with wax to keep it waterproof. For this I will be using ordinary (paraffin) candle wax.

Where to put them:
“The bottles were most often found buried under the fireplace. Other sites include under the floor, buried in the ground there, and plastered inside walls. The fireplace is, from a magical point of view, a security risk as it has a straight connection with the open skies above … Another security risk was the doorway, as doors are opened and closed several times throughout the day.” [e-cauldron]

The discoveries of a witch bottle in Greenwich in 2004 and a bottle uncovered in Pennsylvania [link] suggest that they should be buried upside down – or at least that it didn’t matter. If it was inverted on purpose, it would strengthen the ties with sympathetic magic and the intention to affect the bladder of the witch [link], or perhaps symbolise ‘the reversing or “overturning” of the witch’s intentions’ [link].

We don’t have a hearth or fireplace, so I will probably put it, upside down, under the patio or bury it next to the front door.
Another school of thought suggests burying the bottle a long way from the property to be protected, so that the curse doesn’t make it to your door but, given the locations that historical witch bottles have been found in, I – personally – feel safe disregarding this notion.

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