Over on The Deepest Well, Aine has a series called The Witch’s Circle. This week she began a conversation on Spells.
This time in The Witch’s Circle the discussion will be about spells. What are they? How important are they in a Witch’s/Pagan’s practice? Is there a correct way to do a spell? What about rules?
Spells, to me, are a way to focus our intent. They are more than just a bunch of words and tools and actions, the intent is the most important part. You can cast a spell silently, without tools or without motion, but you can’t cast a spell without intent. Crowley defines magic as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” .. to will something gives it intent. Spells are about causing change, and thus need intent to fuel them.
Spells can range from elaborate, ceremonial affairs to simply “thinking hard” about a particular outcome. Modern “how to be successful” gurus have already figured this out and teach it. Visualize yourself successful, they say, and thus you shall be. They tend to gloss over all the work that you have to do in the meantime to get there, but they have the general idea. You have to be able to visualize your outcome, to push your will towards it, to make change happen.
It is important to understand that spells are a way of directing our intent, our will, and not only an expression of our belief or worship of the divine. To me, Spells ARE an important part of a witch’s work as that work includes affecting change both within ourselves and within our environment. However, you can be a follower or worshiper of a pagan religion without doing spells.
As important as spells can be, there is no right or wrong way to do them. The “correct” way of to do the spell is determined by the type of spell, your traditions, and the situation. You’re not likely to have the tools for a high ceremonial spell if you’re lost in the middle of the woods! An accomplished witch should be able to cast spells no matter what the circumstances, even if he or she has a preferred method. Many of my spells involve lighting a candle, burning an offering, and possibly a piece of paper with my objective. However, I’ve also worked much more formal magic and magic with no tools.
The rules are similarly flexible … mostly. While you should only do spells that you’re okay with doing, you should always consider the repercussions of your spell. While I don’t believe in the Wiccan Three-Fold Law, I do believe that energy that you put out into the world does come back to you eventually. If your spells are focused on doing good, improving yourself, and helping others to improve if they choose, then you should be okay. Forcing another to your will is manipulative and has the potential of backfiring on you, especially if the other person figures out what’s happening!
You need to figure out what’s best for each situation before you cast any spells. Don’t forget that sometimes physical and practical solutions are the better solutions. The well placed word (or foot) can work as much magic as the most intricate of spells in the right situation.
What about you? How do you view spells?
After that first attempt at a spell, there was something about magic that drew me in. I always enjoyed reading fantasy books with magic in them, and the better thought out ones with an actual magical system were even better!
Less than a year after that first spell, I headed off for college. For a while, I was much more focused on getting situated in this strange new place (it was my first time away from my family for any length of time) than on my craft. I found a local group who met in the library monthly and went to check it out. They were more about politics and working against the system than about being wiccan, so I never went back.
In this time I learned some shielding basics and expanded my book-learning of ritual and what it meant to be a wiccan. But still, I had very little contact with actual pagans outside of the books (remember, this was before the internet!).
While I was in college, I missed having a community. I started dating a Catholic, and went back to those religious roots (I was raised Roman Catholic). I did my confirmation studies, joined the church choir and tried to be Catholic for the man I thought I loved. It turns out that he didn’t really love me, and perhaps I didn’t really love him, and I didn’t really agree with much of the Catholic religion. But I did love the ceremony!
So by the end of my undergraduate career, I was very much sure that I was a pagan.
It wasn’t until many years later that I really started to focus on any kind of real training … but that’s another story.
… or how I became a witch.
Growing up, I spoke with faeries in our garden, and in the woods, and my friends gardens, and I thought nothing of it. As I got older, I realized that other people didn’t see the beings that I did, in fact, other people rarely saw the world as I did and I stopped talking about it. After stopping talking about it, I stopped seeing them. I continued to dream about the fae, and created my own world where magic was real and shapeshifters existed openly.
And then we moved from one country to another, from one culture to another. Uprooted from everything that I had known and taken to a strange place were everyone spoke with weird accents and strange grammar. My first year here is a bit of a haze, I don’t remember much and what I do remember isn’t very pleasant. But I adapted, and my second year was much better.
It was in my second year in our new country that I discovered “Good Magic” by Marina Medici and read my first spell. It was a love spell. Yeah .. not a good choice .. but I was new to all of this. Luckily it only backfired a little bit, and we both seem to have come out of it okay.
… to be continued
Later this month, in the middle of NaBloPoMo, I’ll be moving. Part of the changes when moving is stetting up my new sacred space.
There’s a number of different things that you can do for your sacred space depending on how much space and privacy you have. The key about your space is that it’s somewhere that you can have some private time. For some of us this is easy, for others this is not so easy.
If you have a permanent space that you can dedicate to an altar I’d recommend doing so. For my altar, I put a wooden shelf on top of a bookshelf, then put a cloth on top of that to make it look a little nicer. I try to change the decorations at least every quarter. Here you can see my Yule decorations for last year.
Your sacred space can be very simply decorated, may or may not have an altar. If you have an altar, it can be decorated like a shelf of decorations or laid out like a formal altar. I’ve known people who decorated their sacred space with a meditation cushion, a wall hanging and a rug. Very simple and easily accepted by the non-pagan-friendly among us.
If you can’t dedicate a space, then it’s useful to have a “kit” that you can use. Pick a specific rug, or cloth, or cushion, or all three that you can roll up and store away when you’re not using them. When you need time in your sacred space, find a location where you won’t be bothered and lay out your rug or cloth or cushion, light a candle and know that your space is your own.
Altar or not, the most important thing about your sacred space is that it’s yours, and you can have private time there. Sacred space is more about the mindset that we get into when we get into the space. Whether that space is defined or temporary, it can be yours.
Friday’s prompt asked how we write.
For me it depends. I have a hand written journal that I keep for my morning meditations, and then a lot of different files for my other writings. There’s something much more personal for me about hand writing my thoughts, but I’ve spent so much of my live with the computer that there’s it’s own type of magic of creation with a computer.
I love journals, and I’m always happy to get more, but I rarely fill them. There’s the one I use for my meditation notes, and another that I use for classes and lectures. The others are just admired and I keep planning for what I’m going to do with them, but then I run out of time, or can’t find the time, to fill them.
The computer is much easier for me to write on, I write on my iPad, my computer at home, my computer at work, and my phone. I always have something to write on and don’t have to worry about finding a pen As a result, I do a lot of writing on the computer instead of by handwriting.
My course studies are mixed between handwritten notes and typed notes. I only hope that I can get them all organized when I need them!
How do you write?
Magic or Magick?
Different people spell it different ways. I’m talking about the spiritual, witchcraft, ceremonial type of magic here, not stage illusions.
And that differentiation is exactly why the spelling was changed from “magic” to “magick” by Aleister Crowley. Crowley wanted to be clear that he was talking about magick that was “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”, as he defined it, and not illusion or stage magic.
There are many groups today that continue to use the more modern spelling of “magick,” but there is a growing number of people who are using the older spelling of “magic”.
Personally I use “magic”. After all, what I do is magic. The guys and gals on the stage are illusionists, not magicians.
I think it’s time for us to reclaim the word. There is a difference between magic and illusion, and we will lose that differentiation if we don’t use the words.
One of the best ways to cause change is to start with yourself. You can change terminology that others use by simply changing the terminology that you use, and by not being afraid to use it.
Change can start with just one person, you.
And that’s magic!
I love reading blogs .. and following blogs. Sometimes I think I like following them more than reading them, but you get some of the most interesting things from random blogs.
Pagan Dad just started running a series of posts that I find quite interesting. In his most recent post he talks about confidence that one gets from fear.
I must not fear.Fear is the mind-killer.Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.I will face my fear.I will permit it to pass over me and through me.And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.Only I will remain.
This poem is recited in the book as an individual needs to face his or her fear.
The poem also reminds me of the Mark Twain quote:
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear”
Fear is a thing which drives us forward. If we weren’t afraid of something, it would be a lot easier to stagnate. Many people do things because of fear .. fear of losing their house or possessions or loved ones; fear of what other people think; fear of what happens if the work of high magic goes wrong!
Fear makes us pay attention, helps to push us forward, makes us care. If we had nothing to fear, nothing to lose, many things would be left undone.
The key is, as the quotes above illustrate, not to be ruled by fear, but to recognize it, face it, and use it to forge ourselves into what we truly are.
Around mid last year, I joined the ADF with the idea to get the Dedicant program done in a year. And then life happened. So here I am, almost 6 months later and I’m not very far into the program. I’ve waffled a bit, on understanding if I wanted to focus on the ADF program, or if I want to focus on the OBOD program or both. I’ve been working more with both programs lately, and I do believe that I want both. The ADF program is good for helping to establish the physical discipline of writing (something I want to do more) and a focus on scholarly work. The OBOD program seems to be more about the creative side, with more inward focus and focus on creative works (while still holding to scholarship). Each is a different side of the path and I feel the need to explore both. Only time will tell if I’ll end up with one or the other, or a blend of both, or something else entirely.
Today the online ADP Dedicant Path eCourse re-started and I attended. I really like how the program is presented and run so I’m hoping that it can help me keep on track. I also signed up for a mentor, so I’ll have someone that I can ask the detailed questions. This is a good time for me to focus on the scholarship and get more information on history. I’m quite relaxed about sources and who did what … I hope that this focus on scholarship helps.
The focus in today’s class was about getting setup, and basically what we want to get out of the class. For me, I’m looking for the scholarship and history, and incorporating that into my practice.
Today is the first day of a new experiment. I’m planning on participating in the NaBloPoMo for November in an effort to try to write more. If you’re not familar with it, NaBloPoMo is the National Blog Post Month. For me it’s an experiment to see if I can actually post daily!
I’m currently studying with the OBOD and ADF druid programs. The two programs compliment each other very well, with the OBOD program focusing on the more internal aspects, and the ADF focusing on the more academic areas. Together they make a wonderful all-around Druid program for me. I really like how the two programs meld together. Over the next month, you’ll get an insight into some of my studies and the resulting musings of my mind.
Blessed Samhain everyone!
On this Samhain day, I’d like to share with you a re-telling of the Persephone myth that I wrote for our local group’s ritual.
The Story of Persephone
Once upon a time, when the world was still young, the Harvest Goddess had a daughter, Persephone. The young woman was enamored of beautiful flowers and would often wander off to see what she could find. One day, Persephone found a particularly beautiful flower and was enamored by it’s beauty. While she was admiring the flower, a dark chariot rose up out of the ground and it’s rider reached out and grabbed Persephone around the waist. Against her will Persephone was wisked away to the Underworld.
For many months, Persephone stayed with Hades in the Underworld, pining for the Sun and land again. Again and again, Hades offered Persephone food and drink, but she refused, knowing that eating or drinking would trap her in the Underworld. Eventually, she got so hungry that she had to eat. One, single Pomegranate seed was all she ate, but it was enough.
As time passed in the Underworld, Persephone began to realize that not everything was dark and gloomy there. She began to see the beauty in the greys, both within the Underworld and within herself. All the while, Demeter walked the land searching for her daughter. As she searched, Demeter would let no grain or crop to grow.
Zeus, the king of the Gods, saw what was happening to the earth and sent Hermes to convince Hades to release fair Persephone. Hermes spoke softly to Hades and the god of the Underworld agreed.
Because she had eaten fruit in the underworld, Persephone could never fully return to the land. Zeus saw the problem and decreed that Persephone shall live for two thirds of the year with her mother and the land, and one third of the year under the earth with Hades.
On this Samhain night, Persephone returns to the underworld to take her place as it’s Queen.