Friday, February 22, 2013

Spiritual Doldrums
Remember when you first took those steps along the pagan path?  How new and fresh and exciting everything was.  The smell of the incense.  The burning of the flame.  The chants and the drumming.  You were passionate about putting words to paper for that special spell or ritual.  What a great time!

Now, maybe not so much.  Doldrums is a word that comes from an area of the ocean near the equator where the wind is so light that boats can be trapped for weeks waiting for the wind to return.  We usually use the word to refer to a mental slump, depression, inactivity, or state of restlessness or unhappiness.

The doldrums can apply to our spiritual practice as well.  We feel nothing inspiring about the ritual and find excuses to miss that full moon gathering.  The drum gathers dust in the corner.  We feel so caught up in the everyday tasks of our lives, that we feel we are better served during our time alone by playing solitaire on the computer instead of meditating or doing yoga. 

When we find our spiritual practice has become stagnant, we need to find ways to change it.  Here are some ideas:
1)   Find what interests you now.  You may be an expert on herbs – is there something else you would like to learn about?  Crystals?  Chakras?  Explore other topics.

2)  Practice your kitchen witchery.  Cook.  Make a dish that reflects the season or a special treat for the full moon.  There’s nothing like appreciative comments such as “This is so yummy!” to help raise one’s spirits.

3)  Talk to other pagans.  Especially important if you are a solitary practitioner.  Join a discussion group or book club.  Attend a public ritual or a pagan festival.  No pagan is an island.

4)  Get acquainted with another deity.  That doesn’t mean you have to dedicate yourself to another God or Goddess, but studying the mythology and holding ritual for another can be enlightening and open up some interesting possibilities. 

5)  Be creative.  Write a song, a poem, a chant.  If you write three pages in your journal every day, how about changing it up a bit and do some visual journaling instead?  Put together a spiritual scrapbook or photo album.

6)  Declutter.  Do a major cleaning of your home, organize and perhaps redecorate.  Get rid of the candle stubs and that box of incense that makes you sneeze.  As you clean your altar, change it. 

7)  Adopt a park, a highway, a stream.  Commit to doing something for the environment.

8)  Instead of holding a full moon ritual, celebrate the new moon, dark moon, first quarter, the sunrise…anything that will change it up.

9)  Create an outdoor shrine.  It can be as simple as a stone circle or more elaborate with wind chimes, shells, herbs, flowers, and statuary.  Just like your indoor altar, make sure you tend to it often. 

10) Play with the elements.  Fly a kite, make s’mores by the campfire, go water skiing or rock climbing.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sweet dreams are made of this, Who am I to disagree
I travel the world and the seven seas, Everybody’s looking for something

Dreams are a great tool to use to connect with your subconscious, other realms and deity.  However, the messages are rarely clear cut, and it’s often difficult to discern if it’s truly a message or simply that over spiced taco you had for dinner.  Then there are those of us (me included) who rarely remember dreams at all.  It can be very disheartening to listen to tales from others who have dreams that occurred over several nights and are recalling them in detail.

Keep a dream journal anyway.  Even if upon wakening you can only recall a person, a color, a location, jot it down.  What you remember is usually the key…the one clue you need to decipher the message.  If ever you wake and find you clearly remember the dream, you will be so glad you have that paper and pen on your nightstand to scribble away.  I have found over the years that if I recall a dream, I better pay close attention.  For me, a remembered dream had better be remembered.

There are also hundreds of books that you can use for a reference as to what various objects mean.  Use these books lastly, if at all.  YOU are the key as to what the objects that appear in your dream mean.  Trust your instincts.  For example, often you will read that if you dream of flying in an airplane it signifies travel…either physically or you are reaching a higher level of knowledge or spirit.  If however you are scared to death of flying, or someone close died in an airplane crash, there is certainly something else going on.  What that object means to YOU should always be the first question.  If you are stumped, then check with other sources and see if it resonates.  Jot it down in your dream journal and see if a pattern develops.  Alone, that one symbol may not make any sense, but in a bigger context it just may.

Don’t ever think of yourself as a “lesser” witch if you simply don’t remember your dreams.  Everyone dreams, whether they can recall them upon wakening or not.  The messages are still getting through to your subconscious.  As I first said, dreams are a tool, but only one of many.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The circle is open but unbroken
May the love of the Goddess be ever in our hearts
Merry Meet, and Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again.

Almost every Pagan ritual ends with these works…either spoken or sung.  Most of it is pretty straight forward.  Who wouldn’t want the love of the Goddess…or peace, or joy depending on your own tradition…in one’s heart.  And yes, let’s wish each other well until we meet again.  It’s an endearing little chant but the meat of these words, the part that has the most meaning and shouldn’t be spoken so lightly is that very first line.

The circle is open but unbroken.

What does that mean to you?  For most it’s the fact that you can now move freely around the space but the bonds that have been formed are still intact.  I would add that what is spoken in sacred space is treated confidentially.  That your circle mates are treated with respect and compassion…no matter where you are.  Circle space is a magickal place  - keep that magick alive even after the release of Deity and the Elements.  
Most likely you entered the circle in perfect love and perfect trust.  In doing so, you have a created a safe environment within the circle.  You have shared with those also in attendance, a very special and hopefully meaningful ritual.  You may literally have bared your soul in sacred space.  When the ritual ends, that love and trust doesn’t dissolve.  You said it yourself…the circle is unbroken.  That connection is the very reason why some folks will not enter the circle with strangers.  Do not enter a circle lightly, and remember your commitment after the circle is open.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Candle Magick

“You didn't know that rock-n-roll burned
So you bought a candle and you lived and you learned….”
          Once Bitten Twice Shy – Great White

Substitute “rock-n-roll” with “witchcraft” and you have set the scene for my entry into spell crafting.  That’s how I started…with one simple candle (black or white depending on what I was doing) and an intention.  I quickly added incense – I found it helped.  But that was it.  For years.  One candle, a match, a cone of incense and an incense burner.  It would be nice to say that all my spells turned out exactly as I had planned, but everyone who practices would laugh hysterically, or give me that look and say “yeah, right.” 

I lived and I learned.

But candles are still my favorite tool.  As we celebrate Imbolc I figured I’d use this opportunity to go over the finer points of candle magick – everything you can do to improve the chances of the spell going exactly as planned helps.  There really is a bit more to it than just a candle, and a way to light it.  Consider -

Timing – the hour of the day, the day of the week, where we are in the lunar cycle and the season of the year are all important.  Some days are energetically better than others for specific goals, so consult sources and pick the proper time to cast the spell.

Prepare yourself – Ritual bath or shower, putting on your ritual clothing (or taking off everyday clothes) or jewelry gets you in the proper mindset.  And please be absolutely clear about what it is you are trying to accomplish.  Be as specific as possible so there can be no misunderstandings.  Write it down and read it several times.

The Candle – It is easy to buy a candle, but have you given thought to making your own?  It’s a great craft to do at Imbolc, and a handmade candle will be much more energetically charged.  Pressed for time?  You can always take a sheet of beeswax and roll it around a wick while thinking/speaking your intention as you roll.   Wax and the wicks can be purchased from local craft stores or on line.  Dipped…rolled…poured into a mold or jar…the choices are endless.

Color – Consider the color of the candle you will use.  I began by using just white or black, but there are other options.  You can easily find color associations in various sources and use that as a guide.  For example, green is often used to represent money/wealth, so if you are trying to acquire more money, green would be a good choice.  I always warn folks though to never use a color you dislike in a spell to gain something.  If you hate green, you might want to use a gold candle.  OR rework your spell that the main focus is to banish debt.   If you are making your own colored candles, use powered color or natural dyes. 

Prepare the Candle – Inscribe the candle with symbols that represent your intention…engraving from the wick end to the base so the candles burns in the correct direction.  Then anoint the candle with oil that also represents the candle’s purpose.  For example, if you are anointing a candle for love, you may wish to use an oil with rose.  If you’re not quite sure what to use, a really good virgin olive oil will work too.  Annoint the candle with the oil beginning at the center of the candle and working your way out towards each end.  Keep concentrating while you are working on your intention.    

You’ve got all you need.  Cast your circle and work your spell.

Have a very Blessed Imbolc.