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Do you have an altar you use in your sacred space to focus and gather your energies? Altars are an important part of practicing energy work in the craft and so we selected this subject for our Witchen Witchy Wednesday.

To start off our April WWW, we lit our green candle of connection and did a brief meditation of relaxation and grounding.

We discussed the difference between the two words, “altar” and “alter” and summed things up by saying that you come to the altar, a place to focus and gather magickal energies, to alter life circumstances, or bring about change.

We then drew up a list, although not exhaustive, of the types of altars one might set up. Here are some we mentioned:

  • Ancestor altar – a place to honor your family or other ancestors in spirit.
  • A petition altarfor bringing things into your life
  • A central or main altar which can be used for ritual purposeThis one is dedicated to the water element.
  • A kitchen altar to help your brews and such turn out right. I like to light a candle when I’m cooking up something. This sconce to Brighid by Mickie Mueller I bought on Etsy serves as a good kitchen altar and I have these lovely witchy kitchen wands that I display as well.
  • A Fireplace altar in a seldom used fireplace is a good place to do candle magick and leave candles to burn for long periods.After all, the hearth is the heart of the home!
  • Seasonal altars to honor the sabbats and esbats are a nice way to observe the changing seasons
  • There are outdoor altars, this one to honor the fae, with a place to leave offerings. We discussed some of the natural elements that could be gathered in nature to set up an altar on the spur of the moment. Here are a few:
  • Mini or portable altars were a subject we really were able to expound on. These types of altars are only limited by one’s imagination. A small container with a lid and objects to represent the tools and elements are all that are needed. This mini altar using a painted box from the craft store is still a work in progressThere are even mini travel altars made from Altoid tins!

This awesome scrying altar is amazing to behold!

Once you know what type of altar you would like to set up it is good to know the basic diagram to set up a pagan altar. The traditional altar contains two lamps of art for the god and goddess, something to represent each deity, a censor for incense, salt, a bowl of water, a chalice, athame and wand. Not all altars must contain all of these elements since not all altars are traditional, but these are good guidelines to follow. At least try to represent each of the 5 elements of air, earth, fire, water and ether on your altar, and many say your altar should face towards the east. My ritual altars face east but many others face different directions based on necessity.

Here is the result of one of our apprentices practicing setting up an altar:

We think she did a splendid job!

Do you have a great altar that you have created? If so, please share what you have done in the comment section. And if you are inspired to create a new exciting focal point for your sacred space, that is awesome! Let us know how it turns out.

Bright Witchy Blessings,

Lady Sarina

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Our coven celebrated the coming of Spring over the course of a few days amidst the chill of a still young season and the rain of California storms. On Sunday, March 18th, we gathered at dawn at the Covenstead, cast a sacred circle, and expressed our hopes for the dawning of the growing season. For some of us there were new projects, for others future travel adventures and we asked the Lord and Lady for their blessings for what lay ahead.

A lovely willow egg-shaped portal had been constructed, and we decorated it with flowers from the garden.

The entrance to the egg-shaped portal faced towards the east, and beyond the portal lay a basket of plastic eggs. Each egg contained a word to focus on for the year ahead, and a seed. Each of us chose one egg at random after stepping through the portal of rebirth and meditated for a moment on the message inside our special egg. The message later would be planted along with the seed to represent the spiritual growth of our new growing season. My message was “wondrousness”- so inspiring to get me to slow down and see the wonder in each day!

We sent requests for healing and success to the divine, and as we raised the energy to be released, the sun peeked over the horizon- truly wondrous, indeed in its timing!

The next day we set off to go camping at Sycamore Canyon, close to the ocean.

The ocean is always so inspiring to me in the many ways it shows its face to us! Sometimes its pearly sheen glows in the light, and the different shades of blue and green it takes on are astounding in their variety.

On the actual morning of the equinox we gathered on the beach with bundles of blooms.

We addressed the quarters and spoke some words to the morning sky, and then offered the flowers to Mother Ocean, asking divine blessings of protection and healing for the planet.

We enjoyed the day in the canyon and were glad we had some clear weather before the approaching storms forced us to leave.

We left knowing that the much needed rain was coming to quench the parched earth, and we felt truly blessed by our time spent in nature’s realm.

May the moist and verdant blessings of Ostara rain on your lives, as this new season of growth begins! How have you been celebrating the equinox? I’d love to hear!

Brightest Blessings,

Lady Sarina 🧚‍♀️

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Symbols, Signs and Sigils  …Witchen Witchy Wednesday 03-2018

For as long as humans have been on the planet they have had to communicate with one another. Beginning writing was just different symbols. The human brain is hardwired to respond to drawn symbols, and this is the easiest way to communicate. The brain interprets symbols in a different way than the spoken word. It’s very primordial, and directly affects the reptilian part of our brain. We all know what a moon or a sun looks like. For us as witches, those are ancient and powerful and represent our existence here on earth. No wonder we honor them!

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There are many common and well-known symbols like the sun, moon and stars, that we are very acquainted with. Nowadays a stop sign is the same symbol in many languages. The brain has become accustomed and “knows” regardless of the language. So, when you craft a symbol to a magical end, you are in essence programming the brain. The act of putting hands to work in making a symbol that means something for you sets the brain on that path.

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The symbols are many, and Psychologist Carl G. Jung looks at this in his book “Man and his Symbols”. He talks about archetypes and how we are profoundly affected through imagery, the how’s and whys are not completely clear and in my personal opinion have a great deal to do with the parts of the brain we do not use …or at lease haven’t yet discovered how they are used.

We do know symbols affect change. This is why we use imagery in ritual, and making signs and symbols furthers the affected change one is working towards. We cast a pentacle in the quarters. We know this is a powerful protection symbol. Its’ like putting a psychic lock on the space. We may wear a peace symbol to fulfill that desire inwards as well as out. So much has to do with how you view your sign or symbol. What may mean something to one person may also mean something different to another. This is very clear in the way some Christians view our pentacle, we see a sacred symbol of safety and protection that also includes the 5 elements we honor in ceremony, yet they see the devil. To this end it is very important to create your signs, symbols and sigils with intent. (what is it you really want to derive from the forming of the symbol?)

This intent takes on three levels…

  1. First you think of your desire. What do you want? How would it look? Is it a simple picture or a complex set of designs? What would you use to construct it?
  2. Next, one sets to making the symbol and as construction is occurring one visualizes in the mind what the goal is. This is paramount for a really strong connection to the symbol.
  3. After completion one activates the symbol by charging it in a manner that feels right, all the while focusing on the goal.

The symbol can be used over and over as a talisman or temporarily as in a healing sand painting, made and then washed away, or perhaps written on paper and burned. Some might consider this a fourth level that reaches the ether and feels very effective, yet a symbol that is kept also reaches the ether of the mind, where the grooves of change form.

 

We can construct these symbols or talismans with all kinds of material. The ancient runes were carved on stone wood and bone as well as the tree alphabet Ogham.  These kinds of traditional methods are inspiring, like sand painting with grains of colored sand. Now with so many craft stores the options for making beautiful and meaningful transformative symbols is endless. One might want to paint a picture of a powerful symbol or make it out of clay. Paper-Mache is fun, and casting hydro-stone is an option for an authentic look. Plain paper and pen is fine, carved wood a favorite, or lines in the sand might work. What you work with will depend on if you are keeping your symbol or releasing it. Then consider your materiel to be biodegradable or earth friendly if sending it to the wilds.

Simple sigils are potent signs we may want to keep on our person, in a wallet, for instance, directed at wealth or health. Those kind obviously would work best on some kind of paper, green construction paper, perhaps, painted with gold-colored paint for drawing wealth. Signs can be etched in metal and worn as jewelry. the only limit to creating talismans is your imagination!

PRACTICE

For a certain kind of sigil known as a magic square we need a brief lesson in numerology. Use the table below with the numbers above columns of letters to assign letters to numbers.

A magic square is one that can be added up to 15 from every angle, up down, right left. Like this:

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Now you will write what you need like “property” “Healthy” “protection” and change the letters to numbers like this, property=79675927 it adds up to 52. 5+2 =7. A square is drawn in box 7 the power number for this sigil. Circles at the beginning and end points of the word. Start at 7 with a circle and continue through the numbers for the word “property” this word ends back a 7 so draw another circle there. Now you erase the grid and are left with your sigil for property. Granted, that is vague so an added on card might say “house” or “agricultural” Can you combine the words? A start and stop symbol looks like two  triangles pointed together. This is used for another word or when 2 numbers are side by side

 

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z

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Here is a sigil done for health :

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A bind rune is a combination of rune symbols put together. One is warned to be very selective when doing this because the power of the runes is said to be so strong. This is an example of a Wunjo bindrune:

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The energies of Wunjo is Joy. Runes are a complete set of inspiring symbols derived from the Norse God, Odin. Other symbols are the Egyptian Cartouche, the Celtic Ogham, The Native American Pictographs, etc.

Our group also experimented with creating sigils by using the letters in our names or other magickal words. Simply write out the names or words and cross out any repeating letters. Take the left over letters and arrange them in a way to form a sigil of your own creation.

 

 

 

Signs and Symbols occurring in nature, such as shadows shaped like something familiar or the way moonlight appears through barren branches are ways of a divine energy letting us know intuitively that something is up. As we grow in knowledge of how we interpret certain glyphs or graphics we will become more in tune and able to know that a sign is something worth taking note. Additionally one might skry in such a way that searches for symbols to appear, in order to get an answer, or gain some clarity in which direction to turn. Caveats here are presuming everything is a “sign”.  Discernment is difficult and up to the individual practitioner. As mentioned before…what might mean something to one, may mean something else to another.

Enjoy this magickal process of creating your sigils and may you be open to receiving signs and symbols to guide you along your path!

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Blessings,

Sarina Ravensmoon

 

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We chose to start off 2018 with our January WWW making magickal ink. Why magickal ink? Well, there are many uses for this lovely tool of communication! Among those uses might be to mark your magickal tools, to write spells and petitions, to draw sigils, and, of course, to record information in your Book of Shadows.

We were really only able to scratch the surface on this wondrous topic, and although there are many types of magickal ink, we decided to make 3 kinds in our workshop: invisible ink, lampblack ink and dragon’s blood ink.

Sometimes a witch might want to write a secret message that would remain invisible until revealed at the chosen time. Citrus juice and milk are two different common liquids that can serve in this way. We used lemon juice. With a quill pen or paint brush all we needed to do was to write our messages on a parchment paper and let it dry. As the liquid dried our messages disappeared. To reveal the hidden message, simply hold the parchment over a heat source such as a candle flame or a light bulb. If you use a candle be sure to keep your paper moving and have a fireplace or fire pit to toss it into should it accidentally catch fire. Below is a picture of one successful attempt at using invisible ink.

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And one unsuccessful attempt . Ahem!

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Our next magickal ink we chose to create was lampblack ink. This is a good all purpose magickal ink. Originally made from the soot from oil lamps, this type of ink can be rather time consuming to make.  We used candles instead of oil lamps and held old metal spoons over the candle flames to gather the black and then scrap the black into a small bowl. It takes a loooong time to gather much soot and we ended up supplementing the soot with ground charcoal. If you use charcoal be sure to grind it into a powder (no chunks).

To your black powder you will want to add an equal amount of finely ground gum arabic that will serve as a binder. Then add distilled water a drop or two at a time to get an inky consistency.

0A8DAD99-45F7-4A8A-8369-403CBC78C3EDHere’s how mine turned out!

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We felt we were on a magickal inky roll, so we started on our final ink which was dragon’s blood ink made from dragon’s blood resin and gum Arabic. This is a good ink to use for writing spells of manifesting, creativity and power. Grind dragon’s blood resin and gum Arabic separately and then add equal parts,making sure you have a fine powder as a mixture. For this ink you won’t use distilled water but, rather,  99% alcohol, everclear or high alcohol vodka. Again add just a drop or two at a time. You don’t want your ink too diluted. We chose to also add a drop of cinnamon oil to give our ink some extra punch! We stored our inks in small baby food jars, but any small glass container with a lid would do.

At at this point we started to discuss ways to add to our magickal inks. To the lampblack perhaps a drop of rain water for weather magick, or a tear for emotion? And of course don’t forget a drop of your own blood! That would make your dragon’s blood ink an awesome expression of your power as a witch.

Magickal ink is a subject that could be  explored and experimented with for a life time…..and beyond. So get thee to your working altar and start mixing!

Until next time!

Brightest Blessings,

Sarina

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Our December WWW met on the first Wednesday of December to discuss warding and protection magick and to create some simple warding witch balls.

We had decided that daily magickal protection was important to all those who work on a metaphysical plane especially, and should be part of any Witchy 101 training. We started out by asking how each of us was already using some sort of protection magick. Many mentioned the use of an envisioned white light as a shield around themselves either upon arising in the morning, during spell work and divination, or before retiring at night. Some used herbs as smudge and a few used crystals around the home.

We spoke of how, after cleansing an area with the elements by asperging and smudging, we cast a protective circle prior to ritual. The cleansing was to rid the area of possible unhelpful energies, and the protective circle was to only allow in helpful energies. With that in mind, we discussed that a thorough cleansing, both physical (as in cleaning your house from top to bottom) and with a good smudging was important before setting up protection around the home. I shared a simple charm that I like to repeat as I cleanse an area:

Negative energy, you may not stay,

I release you now, be on your way!

From here on out I banish thee.

These are my words, SO MOTE IT BE!

We talked about wards, which are a type of guard in the form of symbols or enchanted objects that can be placed around the home as protective devices. We also pointed out that one can use a mental ward in the same way by, say, visualizing a pentagram or other protective symbol or object/being. We all agreed that staying positive and maintaining the highest possible personal energy was probably the most protective act that a witch could perform.

Our activity of the evening was to make witch balls to hang around the home. Mine is hanging in the window now.

Using clear ornaments from the craft store, we filled them with various protective herbs and resins such as:

Holly

Ivy

Cinnamon (powdered)

Cinnamon sticks with pins inserted

Cloves

Everlasting (to make it last!)

Frankincense tears

Cedar chips

A few drops of cedar oil

Pine

Dried red rose petals (red can be protective)

mistletoe

You could make a witch ball with any combination of protective elements you choose. We used those that we felt went with the Yule season.

To complete our wondrously witchy balls, we replaced the ornament caps, added a safety pin hanger and decorated the tops with more ivy and ribbon. We took them outside where we toasted to and broke bread with the Lord and Lady, and charged our witch balls to do their protective work.

Aren’t they enchanting???

I’d love to hear about any magickal wards you have used around your Magickal Cottage so feel free to share!

Bright Blessings,

Lady Sarina

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After an opening meditation where we focused on calming and grounding, we began our recent WWW discussion on the Book of Shadows (or BOS as it is commonly called). We had all brought some form of BOS that we had been using for a time to record our thoughts, witchy information and magickal workings.

I have to admit I have a secret yearning for a BOS with a functioning eyeball like the one featured in the movie, Hocus Pocus, pictured above. But that book may only continue to exist in my wishful thinking. Mine, at present,  is a three ring binder that needs a lot of reorganizing.

One person had recorded the types of energy workings that had been successful for them.


One of us, who was new to the path, had purchased a book and had plans for recording newly learned information in it.


Another priestess had started a beautiful hand written, hand made book that was a record of important coven teachings.


We decided that a general definition of Book of Shadows might be a good place to start since we weren’t all clear on what was the BOS’s purpose. We agreed that a BOS was a place to record important information related to witchcraft. However, someone pointed out that the term Book of Shadows referred to the fact that on this path we are dealing with our shadow selves and looking at the shadow side of life. After all, aren’t some of our greatest lessons learned through dealing with our shadow? So a BOS should also be a type of journal to record our thoughts. We also decided that it would be quite acceptable to have differents BOS for different purposes. I, for instance,plan to dedicate one to my experiences with herbs and green witchcraft. Other purposes for a BOS might be to keep a dream journal, to record divinations and insights about tarot or runes, to record coven teachings and stories of personal pantheons, and the list goes on and on. Most importantly, a BOS should be personal and useful to who you are as a witch. 

Next, we brainstormed the various forms a BOS could take. Here are some we came up with:

  1. A purchased, embellished notebook
  2. A binder with tabs to organized info by subject, decorated with a fabric cover
  3. A handmade book with personal art work
  4. An accordion file, maybe decorated in an enchanting way, like say a witchy handbag or briefcase
  5. A scrapbook type of album with all sorts of enchanting stamps, decorative papers and artistic calligraphy
  6. An online BOS with magickal fonts and clip art stored on a pc or the cloud.

The online BOS has generated some controversy among witches. The cyber savy witches will argue that online info is perfectly safe. It was pointed out by our HP, however, that there is something about writing something out by hand that makes a magickal connection in the brain. By writing something longhand we internalize it. 

We wrapped up our witchy workshop feeling inspired to create some unique and wondrous Books of Shadows. We moved the group outdoors and toasted the Lord and Lady with cakes and ale under a glowing waxing moon.


I plan to spend some of my time during the winter months working on my Books of Shadows. What a great way to spend the time of year for turning inward! 

Brightest of Blessings,

Sarina

  

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Last evening our coven got together for a Samhain dumb supper and ritual. Since the veil between the physical and astral planes is very thin right now, it is an excellent time for spirit contact and divination.

We set up our ancestor altar, filled our plates as well as an offering plate for the ancestors, listened to a short invocation and began to eat in silence. After we finished our supper and began speaking again, all present seemed to agree that the entire circle area was filled with spirit. Some got messages from loved ones, and we shared stories about those we were honoring on our altar. This was an emotional time as we felt our loved ones in spirit draw near.


We moved to the grass area of the circle where our ritual altar was set up, called the quarters and then started the evening divination for the coming year using each of the five elements. Since Samhain is considered to be the Witches’ New Year, we were asking for messages about the year ahead. 

For the east/air we used smoke to scry for messages about what new energies may be entering our lives this year. This smokey scrying tool was set up near our east quarter.


In our fiery southern quarter a candle flame was used to scry for messages about where our passions will lie in the year ahead.


In the watery western quarter a cauldron of water was a scrying tool to find out about what would be leaving our lives in the coming year.


In the earthy northern quarter a crystal ball was placed to gaze into for a sense of where we would find our grounding and stability this year.


And, finally, in the center, a blanket was placed with tarot and oracle cards to contact the Lord and Lady in the ether for any special insights or areas to focus on in the year to come. 


After our ritual was closed we went indoors and shared all the many insights we had gained through our divination. The growing season is coming to a close for many of us and it is time to turn inward. With all the parties and revelry associated with Halloween, it was nice to set aside this time to grow quiet and listen. 

May you receive helpful and bounteous messages from beyond the veil this Samhain to encourage you along your path.

Blessings,

Lady Sarina

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