How To Hold an Imbolc Candle Ritual (for Solitaries)

How To Hold an Imbolc Candle Ritual (for Solitaries)

Imbolc is a festival of light — celebrate it with candles and flames!

Hundreds of years ago, when our ancestors relied upon the sun as their only source of light, the end of winter was met with much celebration. Although it is still cold in February, often the sun shines brightly above us, and the skies are often crisp and clear. As a festival of light, Imbolc came to be called Candlemas. On this evening, when the sun has set once more, call it back by lighting the seven candles of this ritual.

** Note: although this ceremony is written for one, it can easily be adapted for a small group.

Here’s How:

  1. First, set up your altar in a way that makes you happy, and brings to mind the themes of Imbolc. You’ll also want to have on hand the following:
    • Seven candles, in red and white (tealights are perfect for this)
    • Something to light your candles with
    • A large bowl or cauldron big enough to hold the candles
    • Sand or salt to fill the bottom of the bowl/cauldron

     

    Prior to beginning your ritual, take a warm, cleansing bath. While soaking, meditate on the concept of purification. Once you’re done, dress in your ritual attire, and begin the rite.

  2. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

    Pour the sand or salt into the bowl or cauldron. Place the seven candles into the sand so they won’t slide around. Light the first candle. As you do so, say:

    Although it is now dark, I come seeking light. In the chill of winter, I come seeking life.

    Light the second candle, saying:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

  3. Light the third candle. Say:

    This light is a boundary, between positive and negative. That which is outside, shall stay without. That which is inside, shall stay within.

    Light the fourth candle. Say:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

  4. Light the fifth candle, saying:

    Like fire, light and love will always grow. Like fire, wisdom and inspiration will always grow.

    Light the sixth candle, and say:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

    Finally, light the last candle. As you do so, visualize the seven flames coming together as one. As the light builds, see the energy growing in a purifying glow.

    Fire of the hearth, blaze of the sun, cover me in your shining light. I am awash in your glow, and tonight I am made pure.

  5. Take a few momemnts and meditate on the light of your candles. Think about this Sabbat, a time of healing and inspiration and purification. Do you have something damaged that needs to be healed? Are you feeling stagnant, for lack of inspiration? Is there some part of your life that feels toxic or tainted? Visualize the light as a warm, enveloping energy that wraps itself around you, healing your ailments, igniting the spark of creativity, and purifying that which is damanged.

    When you are ready, end the ritual. You may choose to follow up with healing magic, or with a Cakes and Ale ceremony.

What You Need

  • Seven candles, white and red, and something to light them with
  • A bowl or cauldron with sand in the bottom

 

By , About.com Guide

Life As The Witch – Looking in Dorian Gray’s Mirror

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Life As The Witch

Looking in Dorian Gray’s Mirror

These days, people are not encouraged to examine themselves, deeply, if at all. We breeze through our days playing a part: the student, the grunt, the boss, the teacher, the wife, and so on. How often during your day do you batten yourself down so that the real you isn’t exposed? Do you do it because it keeps you safe, because you think who you are is unacceptable, because it would crack your mask? Living masked day in and day out can make it very difficult to see oneself clearly. Wear those masks long enough and sooner or later you’ll start to forget the person you really are and then you’ll be nothing but the hollow mask of the character you play. Shadow magick breaks through the lies, most especially the ones you tell yourself. This simple ritual will introduce you to shadow magick and the practice of looking deep within.

Materials:

A black candle

Insight oil

A small mirror

Incense, if desired (dragon’s blood or a mixture of frankincense and myrrh both work well)

Paper

Pen or pencil

To Make Insight Oil:

Grind 1 teaspoon each of dried mugwort, sage and yarrow into a fine powder. Mix with 3 tablespoon of jojoba oil in a jar with a tight fighting lid. Let steep for three to four weeks. Strain and it’s ready to use. For the most potent oil, make this ono the Dark Moon and let it steep until the next Dark Moon.

Perform this ritual at night in a quiet, private place where you won’t be disturbed. This is most effective during the Waning and Dark Moon. Also, make sure you have enough time to both perform the ritual and to decompress afterward. Looking at the shadow is emotionally taxing and can leave you wrung out. Give yourelf time to deal with whatever comes up without other responsibilities pressing on you.

Gather your materials, shut the door, close the drapes, turn off your cell phone, and turn down the lights. Sit comfortably on the floor (or on a chair at a table) with your materials in front of you.

Take a few minutes to simply breathe and let go of the stresses of the day. Ground and center as you normally do. If you find that your mind has difficulty pushing away the thoughts of the day, perhaps you need to deal with them before performing this ritual.

Light the incense if you’re using any. Anoint your third eye with a drop of Insight Oil. Think for a few minutes about why you want to see yourself more clearly. Think about what you hope to gain. Think about what challenges you expect the exercise to present. Are you really willing to see yourself without bias, warts and all? Take some time to write down these thoughts until you feel that you really understand why you’re doing this.

Anoint the black candle with the Insight Oil and light the candle. Pass the mirror just above the candle flame (just far enough that the heat doesn’t hut your fingers, but you can feel it).  Envision the heat and light of the flame passing into the mirror, cleansing its energy and empowering it. If you’re using incense, pass the mirror through the smoke while envisioning the smoke imparting its energy into the mirror.

Hold the mirror to your third eye and either think or say aloud:

“I will see myself clearly. I will see who and what I really am. Show me my strength. Show me my weakness. Show me all that I am. Show me joy and sorrow, pride and folly, success and failure. I see clearly. I see who and what I really am.”

Look in the mirror. Look at yourself, really look at yourself. Look beyond the face you present to others, look beyond your flesh. Look deeply into your own eyes. See the kernel of “you” that lives deep within your soul. What do you see?

Take a few minutes to write down what you see. Write down your strengths and your weaknesses, everything. Who is the person that lives deep inside your true heart? What in your life needs to change in order for that person to thrive?

You may find this easy or difficult. If it’s difficult, don’t worry, you’re on the right track. If it’s easy, either you’re a near bodhisattva or you just aren’t ready to see what lies below—that’s okay too. Shadow magick only works when you’re ready for it to work, so it’s okay to put it aside and come back later.

When you feel you’ve seen all of yourself that you’re able to process now, turn over the mirror and say:

“Thank you for showing me my deeper self.”

It it’s short enough, let the candle continue to burn—snuff it out if it isn’t. (The candle can be reused the next time you do this exercise.) Stand up and turn on the lights. Allow yourself some time to process the experience.

Reference:

Excerpt from

“The Masks We Wear”
by Kristin Madden
2013 Llewellyn’s Practical Magick for Everyday Living

The Witches Correspondences for Thursday, January 31st

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 The Witches Correspondences for Thursday, January 31st

 

Magickal Intentions: Luck, Happiness, Health, Legal Matters, Male Fertility, Treasure and Wealth, Honor, Riches, Clothing Desires, Leadership, Public Activity, Power and Success

Incense: Cinnamon, Must, Nutmeg and Sage

Planet: Jupiter

Sign: Sagittarius and Pisces

Angel: Sachiel

Colors: Purple, Royal Blue and Indigo

Herbs/Plants: Cinnamon, Beech, Buttercup, Coltsfoot, Oak

Stones: Sugilite, Amethyst, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire

Oil: (Jupiter) Clove, Lemon Balm, Oak moss, Star Anise

Jupiter presides over Thursday. The vibrations of this day attune well to all matters involving material gain. Use them for working rituals that entail general success, accomplishment, honors and awards, or legal issues. These energies are also helpful in matters of luck, gambling, and prosperity.

The Witches Almanac for *Thursday, January 31st


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The Witches Almanac for *Thursday, January 31st

*Thursday (Jupiter): Expansion, money, prosperity and generosity.

 

Independence Day (Nauru)

 

*Waning Moon

*The Waning Moon (from the Full Moon to the New) is a time for study, meditation and little magickal work (except magick designed to banish harmful energies).

Moon Sign: *Virgo

*Virgo: Favors accomplishment of details and commands from higher up. Focuses on health, hygiene and daily schedules.

Moon enters *Libra 1:36 am

*Libra: Favor cooperation, social activities, beautification of surroundings, balance, and partnership.

Moon Phase: Third Quarter

Incense: Clove

Color: Green

Witchcraft 101: Integrity… Making that choice! (part 4)

Witchcraft 101: Integrity… Making that choice! (part 4)
Author: Wren

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to  and what to look out for.

Part #4…

Integrity: Making a Commitment

What? Are YOU Still Here?

You have probably noticed -astute students that you are!- that I have made little mention of the Gods and Goddesses in this series. In fact, early on I cautioned you to NOT make a commitment to the Old Ones just yet. There is a real reason for this and it is now time to discuss it.

There has been a small but insistent clamor lately from those who wonder why no one is teaching the “deeper” things of the Craft. The first reason is that these are difficult issues to write about. The second reason is that they are even more difficult to actually work through. And the third reason? (I’m Celtic-I think in threes!) These are the issues that will determine if Witchcraft is really the religion for you.

You may think that you are sure already. “Of course, Witchcraft is for me! Why would I have been studying this for a year and a day if I didn’t think this was my Path?”, you may exclaim. Well, hold off on that impassioned vow. A few more moments will not make a difference…or will it?

What you have been DOING so far is studying and practicing. What you have been LEARNING is what all this study and practice means to YOU. You have been forming your own sense of…

INTEGRITY:

What is “Integrity”? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “integrity” means “The condition of having no part or element taken away or wanting; undivided or unbroken state; material wholeness; completeness; entirety.” Or better still, “The condition of not being marred or violated; unimpaired or uncorrupted; a condition of soundness.”

That is what you have been learning to do in the previous lessons. You have been doing exercises that have helped you to form your own ‘faculty of judgment’, your own ‘condition of soundness’. You have been working on building your personal integrity. You have to know what it is that you believe before you can make a decision on what is right or wrong for you.

Many problems that now exist in the Pagan community would probably never have come about if more people had taken the time and made the honest effort to find out if Witchcraft really was for them BEFORE they made a commitment to it. Instead they find themselves in situations where they are forced to either, 1. admit that they made a wrong choice, or 2. try to change the religion to fit them. Instead of Witchcraft transforming them, some attempt to transform Witchcraft to suit their particular needs and desires. They are ‘continually re-inventing’ Witchcraft and Wicca to suit themselves!

“A PROMISE IS A PROMISE”…

If you have decided that Wicca is your religion of choice, you have committed yourself to following its basic principles. One of these principles is, of course, the Rede. If you are promising to abide by the precepts of “And It Harm None..”, have you worked out what you would do if someone attacked you? Attacked your child? Does “harm none” mean you should become a vegetarian? Do you think that it is even possible to “harm none?” Well, that is what you are promising to do, isn’t it?

Traditional Witchcraft may not have a “Rede” of its own, but Witches were known as the “Wise Ones” for a good reason. They were respected. They were fair. They were healers. They helped the community. They changed things. They made good decisions. They didn’t promise what they could not deliver and they delivered what they promised. It is still the same today.

Too often folks make a promise in haste and then spend countless hours justifying why they had to break that promise “just this once” because of “conditions beyond their control.” They have their reasons-lots and lots of reasons. Truth is, they just didn’t give enough thought to their commitment BEFORE they made it. If you haven’t given serious thought and reflection to both the results and obligations contained within a promise, do not make one! And most certainly not to the Gods…

“If someone turned your body over to just any person who happened to meet you, you would be angry. But are you not ashamed that you turn over your own FACULTY OF JUDGMENT to whoever happens along…’-Epictetus

INTEGRITY REQUIRES THREE THINGS:

1. The ability to discern what is right and what is wrong.

This requires reflection, time and effort. It is a difficult process but one which cannot be avoided by anyone who truly wants to be a spiritual person. How much easier it is to find someone else to tell us what to do, what to read, what to think and how to act! But then, who would actually be living your life? Who would be in control? Who is pulling the strings? If you don’t think that you would enjoy being a puppet, then you simply must find out where your limits are, what you believe to be correct behavior and what you yourself are willing-and unwilling- to do.

Whether there is an “absolute” right or wrong is something that theologians and philosophers have been wrangling with for centuries. In fact the very thought that they could be wrong keeps many people from being willing to take a stand on anything at all!

The possibility that you may be wrong is lessened by careful study, investigation and thought. Of course, you may be honest about a belief. Later you may find out that you were honestly wrong! However, approaching each subject with an open mind; examining all the possibilities, answering all the ‘what ifs” will help you sort this out. Make no mistake about it, this is the most difficult process that you will ever undertake.

Most people and societies do agree that some things are just “more” right than others. (See ” You need to find out the measure of your own “rightness quotient”. You need to do the work of creating your personal code of behavior and ethics. Then you can hold that as a standard for decisions on what religion, what group or what Path is correct for you. And you thought that just finding a coven was hard! Finding the right coven, the right place, the right religion can change your life for the better. The wrong choice can be devastating.

If you have not done this work, then you are basically leaving yourself open to follow anything or anyone -and to do anything that they tell you. Witchcraft and Wicca are religions of personal power and responsibility. If you are not willing to do the work of discernment and introspection-to formulate a set of integrated values for yourself-then Witchcraft and Wicca are probably not for you.

INTEGRITY MEANS DOING THE RIGHT THING:

2. Acting on what you have discerned even at personal cost.

Suppose the teacher that you have been studying with begins to introduce issues or behaviors that you just don’t feel are “right’. Suppose that you now find that having sexual relations are a part of this group’s workings? What if suddenly this loving coven wants you to do a death spell against someone who has given another covenmate a hard time? What about that “harm none’ thing? What if you do not want to participate in this activity? But what if, by refusing to participate, you can no longer be part of this group? What will you do?

You may have put a lot of time and effort into a group. You may have even been initiated or attained a degree. These people are your friends-maybe you even think of them as your ‘family.” Now you face losing all this and starting over. The group may say bad things about you if you leave. You may lose your friends and their support. You have to decide- do you stay and compromise your own code of right and wrong? Do you leave? Where is your soundness, your faculty of judgment, your integrity now?

The truth is that most of us cannot say whether we really possess integrity until we are tested on it. Doing what we believe to be right-determined by the hard work of reflective discernment-even when it becomes personally painful tells us if we indeed have it or not. Didn’t I tell you that there is ALWAYS a test? This is one. There will be others. Get used to it. Witchcraft and Wicca are religions that require that we as Witches and Wiccans are equal to the challenges that life brings our way. If you can easily compromise your ethical principles or can turn your back to what you know to be right action, then Witchcraft and Wicca are not for you.

INTEGRITY MEANS KEEPING YOUR COMMITMENTS:

3. You openly declare where you stand.

Now we finally get to the Gods and the Goddesses! Do you still think that you are prepared to stand before Them and pledge your life, your heart and your hands to Their service? For that is what the religion of Witchcraft and Wicca are all about-SERVICE.

It is not about gaining power-although that will certainly be a part of your magickal life! It is about enabling others to learn ways to empower themselves.

It is not about “getting more” for you-although you will benefit in untold ways. It is about “giving more” to others in Their Name.

It is not about changing others to suit or cater to you-although others will find you nice to be around! It is about changing yourself, so that you are better equipped to do the work of the Old Ones on this Earth.

It is not about fame-although others will seek you out. It is about being available to help those in need.

It is not about pulling others down-although what is not working will fall before you. It is about building others up and creating new and healthy systems.

It is not about financial wealth-although you will always feel “rich!” It is about sharing what you have with the rest of the community.

It is about keeping promises, going the extra mile, doing what is correct and for the good of all. It is about uprightness, honor, truth, healing, giving and service.

It is above all holding high the Names of the Old Ones, keeping to their Ways, honoring all Their children, caring for the Earth and being committed to carrying out whatever tasks that They have set upon you to do. It is about Integrity-Theirs, yours, ours.

Witchcraft 101: The Rhythmic Practice Phase (part 3)

Witchcraft 101: The Rhythmic Practice Phase (part 3)
Author: Wren

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “claim” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to  and what to look out for.

Part #3…

The Rhythmic Practice Phase

How are you doing so far?

The first two lessons should have taken you about six months of study and practice to complete(if you worked at it diligently). You should now also be fairly comfortable doing the basic ritual from the previous lesson. Remember that you actually have to DO the ritual – not just read it, dream about it or visualize it. Get up on your feet, get your tools together, light those candles AND DO IT!

“Effort requires that you either answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

Teachers can always tell if someone who comes to them has done the work. The first time that a student will do a ritual or take part in one with others will clearly show his/her experience or lack of it.

If you have done the work, this does not mean that you will not be nervous your “first time out.” You will! But you will also be amazed at how quickly this nervousness will pass as the ritual progresses. Your spirit and inner child. (Him/her, again?) WILL remember all those practice sessions and soon you’ll be enjoying the whole thing immensely!

Along the way, DO Remember these four little things:

Life is always changing. Nothing stays the same.

To Know you have To Do. Experience requires action.

The quality of each experience – as you draw it forth and do it and live it – becomes the substance of your wisdom.

Yes, there will be a test on this. There is ALWAYS a test on this!

O.K., what’s next?

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters,
compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rhythms of Nature, Rhythms of Life:

The Neo – Pagan Paths that we are discussing – including Wicca and Witchcraft – are called “Earth – based” religions. The rituals and practices follow the seasonal changes of the Earth. Some Paths use the eight holidays of the Wiccan Wheel of Life; some adhere to the more traditional Four Fire Festivals calendar. Some groups have come up with their own cycles according to their belief systems. What calendar will you use?

When you have decided which Holiday calendar that you want to incorporate into your life – lesson, read all that you can about it. Take one Holiday at a time. Look for resources, descriptions and Myths about each Holiday. Think upon each one as both a special event and as a “marker” for the year.

During the Rhythmic Stage, you will explore the year through the cycles of Nature. And yes, this phase DOES last an entire year. There is no other way. You may begin to reach out a bit more during this time – exploring new contacts, taking some classes, attending public events – but the personal exploration of the Rhythmic Cycle of The Holidays should be your primary focus.

Why? It is in this cycle that you will learn much more about yourself and your place in the Universe. Everything that is exists as vibrational energy. Some things have a higher frequency, some a lower one. You will learn to “feel” the vibrational changes around you as the seasons come and go.( An essential skill to have in Magick! )

Do you get a little “spring fever” around April or May? Look at the earth. She is excited about this time of year, too! Buds are swelling on the trees and flower plants are poking their first leaves out of the ground as if to ask, “Is it safe to come out yet”?

Do you feel particularly invigorated in the Fall crisp air? Watch the squirrels run around and dig into the ground to hide their nuts. Hear the bees as they bob from plant to plant racing down the coming frost. “Hurry, hurry, hurry,” seems to rustle the drying leaves from the trees. (I’m sure you get the idea.)

There Are Patterns

“I learn by going where I have to go.” – Theodore Roethke.

Most Pagans have a  or transmigration of the soul. All things in Nature are born (germination), grow, mature, reproduce, and then decline and die. The cycle begins again. This is why reincarnation makes sense to most Pagans. By observing the Rhythmic Cycle, we reflect on this process and we may come to think that it just “seems right”. Not too surprising really. It’s “natural,” isn’t it?

You have a place in this cycle. You probably were not brought up to think in this way. Most aspiring Neo – Pagans weren’t. This year of study will show you not only where you fit into the cycle of Nature, but how your active involvement in these cycles can change your life. When you come to understand and work with the natural rhythms in the world around you, you will understand what it means to be Pagan.

Here are some reasons why “rhythmic learning” – and possibly reincarnation – works:

Effective experiential learning will affect the learner’s cognitive structures (action theories), attitudes and values, perceptions and behavioral patterns.

People will believe more in knowledge they have discovered themselves than in knowledge presented by others.

Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process.

Acceptance of new action theories, attitudes, and behavioral patterns cannot be brought about by a piecemeal approach.

It takes more than information to change action theories, attitudes, and behavioral patterns.

It takes more than firsthand experience to generate valid knowledge. Besides experience, there needs to be a theoretical system that the experiencer tests out and a personal reflection on the meaning of the experience.

(The above principles come from the work of Kurt Lewin, one of the important founding fathers of social psychology who influenced the development of the Group Dynamics movement in the early 1940’s.)

I’d add a seventh point – Make It Fun!

Hunt down seasonal objects for your altar. Think about colors for cloths and robes. Make a headpiece for each Holiday. Pick a mythic story and follow it throughout the year. Act it out! Dress the part! Dance! Sing! Write a poem! Cook up a recipe! Adopt a “totem” animal for each season. Make a special storage box for each Holiday’s special decorations. (Every Holiday will feel like Yule as you open your Holiday boxes next year. Add more goodies!)

A man of faithful thought may feel in light, among the beasts and fields,
the turning of the wheel.” – Wendell Berry

WHY Are You Doing All This?

Transformation!

Transformation begins from within. Many people turn to a religion – or to magic! – in an attempt to change the things that they perceive to stand in the way of their ‘true happiness.” Many a love spell has been cast more to ease one person’s own inner loneliness than as a real desire for an equal relationship with the object of their current “affections.”

Inner transformational work is difficult, messy and anything but instantaneous. This explains the current nervous searching out of “just the right spell” by many a new seeker to the Craft. Hoping to somehow by – pass the true work involved in developing a magickal way of life, they hope for something in the order of a Hollywood special effect. “Just say the magic words…” and your insecurity problems, heartaches and financial worries are over! Uh – uh…it just doesn’t work like that. Sorry, Mr. Spielberg….

As you work through the year of The Wheel, you will learn a lot about yourself.

Such as:

Respect – Both for the interconnection of all Life and for yourself.

Thought – How you can change your life by changing your thoughts.

Examination – Looking within yourself for answers and solutions.

Release – Letting go of old habits and emotions that no longer work.

Synthesis – How an individual can also be part of a whole.

Creativity – Trusting your intuition to help you make viable choices.

Action – Learning how to act rather than re – act.

Love – Being able to give and receive healthy love.

Strength – Inner courage to overcome circumstances without harm.

Transformation! – The realization that only you can change what is not working in your life. Only you can make your life what you want it to be. And only you – through difficult, messy and lengthy work – can make your magickal Life one of Love, Light and Power!

 

The outstanding error of learners, in whom it is excusable, and of many teachers,
who teach without wisdom is that they associate Occultism with practices
rather than with PRACTICE. I teach the LIFE of concentration and meditation…”
– P.G. Bowen

Witchcraft 101: The Beginning Practice Phase (part 2)

Witchcraft 101: The Beginning Practice Phase (part 2)
Author: Wren

Since its inception, the Witches’ Voice, has been barraged with email asking the simple question… “How do I become a Witch”? Although, it has never been the mission of the Witches’ Voice to actually teach Witchcraft we find ourselves constantly shocked at the aweful responses the Teenage Witch or new seeker receives from many that “claim” themselves “elders” of the craft. For this we apologize. We will never preach or claim to “have the answer”.There are indeed many paths and many ways, it is our goal to give you the tools to  and what to look out for.

Part 2…

The Beginning Practice Phase…

Greetings and Welcome Back to Witchcraft 101! Before you begin this next section, perhaps it will be helpful to do a little summation. If you have been working through the “Interest Phase” and the “Exploratory Phase”, you will probably now be familiar with the following concepts and have some rudimentary knowledge in…

The basic history of Witchcraft and its cultural origins.

Some of the different Traditions and Ways that Witchcraft is practiced today.

The basic ethical guidelines, such as the Rede or Law of Three.

A basic overview of karma and reincarnation (or transmigration).

An understanding on how Magick works.

Deity Names and Aspects.

The Elements and correspondences.

Basic Tools of the Craft and their use in ritual work.

Some divination, visualization and meditation techniques.

Folklore and Mythology.

Great! This is the foundation from which your continuing studies will build and grow. Along the Way, you will stop often to ponder about new materials and visions. Remember to go slowly and to reflect much on what these concepts personally may mean to you. Again, it is very important to allow these new ideas to become integrated into your spirit. This is the only way that they can become “real’ to you. They become a part of who you are and how you think and feel. One of the ways to help this process along is through “practice.”

THE BEGINNING PRACTICE PHASE:

Chances are pretty good that you have already “dabbled’ a bit with some of the techniques of ritual work. Even if you have only begun this in your mind, you are beginning to feel the stirrings of a desire to actually DO the workings that up until this point you have only been reading or hearing about. Where do you “begin”? Do you dig through your books and find a ritual that appeals to you? Do you have a specific need in your life right now? What have you put into your Journal or Book of Shadows that you have underlined as important or particularly relevant? What do YOU feel?

You will notice a lot of emphasis on “feelings” throughout these articles. What do “feelings” have to do with all of this? Well, Carl Jung said it much better than I ever could:

“Feeling informs you through its feeling-tones of the values of things. Feeling tells you for instance whether a thing is acceptable or agreeable or not. It tells you what a thing is WORTH to you….It is, like thinking, a rational function.”

BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING:

Look for SYMBOLISM-The subconscious mind works through pictures and symbols. This is why the “inner” work that you do is the starting point of all Magick. Look over your magickal tools and objects. Choose one or two at random. Touch them. Hold them in your hands. Close your eyes. What are they “saying” to your inner self? What images do they bring up and what memories do they unlock?

You are using your IMAGINATION-You are not “making things up” when you are using your imagination. At least not in the sense that most of us have been lead to believe. If you have ever been reprimanded for “day dreaming” in class or at the dinner table, you may have to re-learn and “give yourself permission” to unlock this powerful tool again. Allow yourself some “flights of fancy” time each day.

Imagination is the ability to use your mind creatively. The word “creative” is linked with “creation”. In a very real sense you are creating what you imagine. Just as a sculptor has an image of a work in his or her mind and then seeks to unlock the image from the physical materials at hand, so you create magick from the images that surface as a result of your meditations and desires. Have you used your imagination today?

Now put the symbolism and the imagination together. What symbols came into your mind and what did your imagination do with these images? Ask a question and see if the images change around or become more clear. Don’t be surprised where you may end up. Your subconscious mind is a very rich and fertile place. It is the ‘playground’ of your spirit where anything is possible. And if you “wake up” with a start and realize that you have just spent 20 minutes in reverie, you are really getting the hang of it!

The next exercise will be your first step from the mental/spiritual into the physical/spiritual realm. This is where you begin to actually DO THE WORK. You will start slowly and build on each previous step. Do not rush this process. This is very important. Let me explain a bit.

Do you remember as a child a favorite story that you never grew tired of hearing? You knew the entire book by heart. Part of its “magic” for you WAS knowing the entire story by heart. And remember how you would correct the reader of the story if they tried to skip a part or changed the words? The story for you was a ritual. The retelling of it the same way over and over was important to you. Because there were no surprises or changes, you could relax and really get “into” the entire tale in your…gasp!…imagination. (Don’t tell Grandma, but she was actually your first “Witchy” teacher!)

The gestures, tools and workings of your beginning ritual practice should be exactly the same each time that you do them during your Beginning Practice Phase. This repetition trains your subconscious mind to remember what is coming next. The subconscious is like the child who wants to hear that story the same way over and over. The “ritual”-repeated over and over- provides a safe and comforting setting for both your imagination and the symbolic elements to expand and grow. You’ll have plenty of time to “get fancy” later on.

The Practice Phase Do’s and Don’ts…

DO The BASIC RITUAL OUTLINE something like this:

Cleansing the Area.

Preparing the Altar.(nothing too elaborate, just a few of your favorite tools). Lighting the candles.

Casting the circle.

Welcoming the elements.

Welcoming the Deities.

Stating the Purpose of the ritual.

Magickal workings or devotions.

Raising the Energy. Releasing the Energy.

Grounding.

Thanking the Deities.

Thanking the elements.

Closing(or sometimes called opening) the circle.

Eating snacks!

There are many simpler or more elaborate ways to do a ritual. Many Traditions have their own formats as well. But if you know how to do this basic ritual, you will pretty much be comfortable in any open Circle that you may attend.

DO BEGIN! Start at the beginning of the above list. Make notes on each step in your journal as you begin to plan your ritual. How will you cleanse your working area? Salt and water? Besom (broom)? Incense? What will you place on your altar? (Making a list first insures that you will not forget something….”Matches, anyone?”, is the most classical “oops”!).

DO… Take time to sit quietly and center yourself before you begin. Be honest about your feelings. Are you excited…scared….nervous? That is normal. This is important stuff and not to be entered into lightly. O.K.? Now you can begin, but…

DO… Tell the Old Ones that you are “practicing’. Although They already know this (and They are ready to help you), it will be reassuring to YOU to state this in case you end up feeling that you may have “done something wrong”. You haven’t. You are “practicing” and practice involves a certain amount of trial and error. No one ‘upstairs’ is laughing at you.

DO… Perform each step slowly and carefully. Let the symbols speak to your inner self. Take time between each step to feel how the ritual has affected you and changed your surroundings. As you ground, listen for answers…listen for advice…listen to yourself…listen to the phone ringing because you forgot to take it off the hook….

DO… Listen. We ask for things and then we often do not take the time to listen for the answers. Write everything down. Doodle impressions in the margins. These symbols may be important later.

DO… this same basic ritual over and over and over again. Rather than becoming boring, you will probably find that it becomes MORE meaningful each time that you do it. And your inner child’s subconscious mind will be loving it! (Thanks, Grandma!)

DO…  to repeat the first Phases again. We are all constantly learning and going “back to basics” is always a good idea.

DON’T… worry about what you will say. Say what is in your heart. Use simple language-remember that “child” thing?-and DO remember to take deep breaths in between sentences. You want to ‘alter your consciousness”, not lose it!

DON’T… take any oaths or make lifelong dedications to the Old Ones. You have not made that decision yet. You are still trying to discover if Witchcraft is the right Path for you. This is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make in your life. Give it the respect and consideration that it deserves.

DON’T… be afraid. All those Hollywood movies may have made you a tad nervous about beginning actual ritual practice. Nothing like that will happen to you. You have done each step slowly and with much forethought. It is only when someone tries to go into places for which they are unprepared that the situation can get unpleasant. That is why teachers emphasize the NEED to go slowly. You HAVE taken the time to prepare yourself and done all the steps in order, haven’t you?

DON’T… do the ritual either too often or too little. Formulate a regular schedule-say once a week- and stick to that for a while. If you really desire to do something on a daily basis, a simple candle lighting ritual in the morning or evening will do just fine. Begin to think about Moon phases, Holidays and other times to do ritual Work. Witchcraft is based on the “rhythms’ of Nature and that will be the next step…