Hallow Keepers

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The Hallow Keepers is a system of roles for participation in ADF group rituals. It makes it easy to remember who is in charge of what (and takes some pressure off the host/officiant if it’s usually just one person doing everything). Plus it’s just fun, so it’s good to use in family rituals as well, if you have participants mature enough (and willing) to take on such roles. The host of the ritual can choose to also be a Hallow Keeper, if need be, but will have plenty to do without taking a Hallow Keeper role.

The Well Keeper is in charge of…

  • water purification
  • Well Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Well
  • Ancestor invocations and their offerings, and thanking Ancestors at the end of ritual
  • the waters of life; filling cup, blessing it, passing it around the circle

The Tree Keeper is in charge of…

  • the Two Powers meditation
  • Earth Mother prayer
  • Tree Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Tree
  • Nature Spirit invocations and their offerings, and thanking Nature Spirits at the end of ritual

The Fire Keeper is in charge of…

  • lighting the Fire and keeping it burning safely
  • fire/incense purification
  • Fire Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Fire
  • Patron of Occasion invocations and their offerings, and thanking Patrons at the end of ritual

hallow keepers

sweetening spells

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Sweetening spells are not necessarily love spells. On the contrary, they are mostly used to soften the heart of someone who may not like you so well or who may potentially cause you trouble, or someone who has power over you like a judge or employer. Imagine that you have an enemy. Well, maybe not exactly an enemy, but you don’t like them and they don’t like you. But also, they have some kind of power or authority over you, so you can’t hash it out with them without great risk to your livelihood or well-being, nor can you avoid them. So you turn to magic. You could work some kind of curse on them or similarly try to drive them away. This would take some time and a great deal of effort. Your negative feelings for that person would grow and grow… and perhaps you too would be effected by your own negative efforts. Unless this person has committed heinous crimes against you, perhaps it is best to hold back on making war water and consider another option…

The time and effort put into a sweetening spell is far more pleasant and far less detrimental to your own well being. Here is a traditional method for the classic “honey Jar”:
Find a clean small glass jar with a metal lid and some good honey (or other sweetener of choice– your target’s favorite sweetener, if you know what it is). Fill the jar nearly to the top with the honey or other sweetener. Write out a petition paper with your goal and target. Fold it toward you, turn it clockwise and fold it again. Now plunge the petition paper into the jar of honey until it’s covered. Lick the honey off you fingers and say; “As this honey is sweet, so shall ________ be sweet to me.” (Alternatively, you could place the petition paper in first, then pour the honey over it.) Seal the jar with the metal lid.

At this point a lot of folks do some kind of candle magic on the top of the jar to add to the power and seal over the top, (and the whole thing later to be buried at a crossroads) but this isn’t necessary and perhaps not even desired if you want to actually use the sweetener inside for food magic. If you do want to use it for food magic, make sure all the ingredients you used are clean and edible– some people use herbs, oils, and personal effects in their honey jar spells, but I believe this was something that was added on later (inspired, perhaps, by the use of herbs and personal effects in other spells) and not a part of the original honey jar tradition. There may be some historical precedence for using the honey in the jar (besides, poor folk magic practitioners would not have wanted to be wasteful).

So if you want to use your honey jar for food magic, simply serve your target a food or beverage you made with your (clean, untainted) honey from your honey jar. This could be a little over a long period of time, like in tea, on biscuits, or you could bake a batch of honey cakes or other treats and give it to them as a gift. (Just don’t pour the petition paper into the batter!)

Another sweetening spell is the sugar cube spell: place a sugar cube over a petition paper or picture of your target. Wrap it all up in foil and carry on you or in your bag.

You can also use sweetening spells as preemptive magic (enemy preventing/friendship promoting) with people you’ve just met… Keep a small pouch in your bag stocked with gum or candy, with it a general spell paper promoting friendship and goodwill. Offer a piece of gum or candy from the bag to persons you’ve just met, or even before you introduce yourself.
Bring a sweet treat to new neighbors soon after they’ve moved in, one that you have put loving energy into making. Who can make enemies with someone who brings sweets?

Something you may have already figured out- the sweetening spell will sweeten you as well.

sweetening spells

magical decorating on the cheap

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A person’s home (or apartment) is an extension of ones-self, and if you’re Pagan, you may want your home to subtly reflect that aspect of your personality. When first starting out on your own, you may lament your bare walls and long for a non-existent decorating budget. It’s been many years, but I’ve been there. Through necessity I learned the beauty of simplicity and developed a love for junk chic. So if you’re just starting out and are dirt poor, embrace the eclectic look.

furniture
You will be surprised at what you can find for free if you know the right time and place. Go dumpster diving when school lets out in a college town. (Okay, you don’t have to actually “dive in”, most folks put their unwanted furniture on the pavement outside the dumpster.) Rich college kids don’t want to bring their furniture home with them for the summer. Keep an open mind. Found an otherwise perfectly good dresser, but it has a missing drawer? Use a large basket in place of the drawer, or put a board in the bottom of the empty drawer space and use it as a bookshelf. Old entertainment centers can be converted to bookshelves as well. Check for sturdiness, that’s what counts, then paint or sand to get the look you want, if necessary. But remember- rustic goes along nicely with a Pagan-ish theme. Find a nice strong table and miss-matched chairs if you have a dining area. Find what you can for free first, then look in thrift stores and yard sales for everything else. Or if you’re handy with tools, and have access to free or cheap pallets, make pallet furniture. The more items you can make or find with built-in storage, the better, especially if you’re living in a small space. Don’t over do it with the furniture, though. Make sure you pick things that suit the size of your space.

Some things you probably don’t need…
If your only computer is a laptop, you probably don’t need a desk. Use the kitchen counter or table for such things as paperwork and put it all away in a storage box or shelf when finished. You may not need a coffee table unless you think it would be handy for storage, and in that case, consider using a storage trunk for a coffee table. If you watch movies and shows on your computer, or other device, you don’t need a TV. That will free up space on your wall for other things, such as…

DIY faux fireplace
True, you don’t need a fireplace, but they are so classic and appealing, and you’ve made room by not getting a desk or TV, so why not? If you can’t have the real thing, at least you can have some of the beauty of one. Making your own fake fireplace can be a simple or elaborate project. One way to make one is to fit a smaller wooden box into a larger wooden box, cut a sheet of plywood to cover the space between, attach it, add molding, then paint the entire thing and tile the inside. Another way would be to take all the shelves out of an large heavy bookshelf and attach a board or wide molding to the front just under the top, and on the front sides. Still another method could be to attach a heavy shelf or mantle to the wall, and place thick boards under it on either side to help support it. In the center, place a cluster of flame-less candles, logs wrapped in string lights, or other decorative items. Use the top mantle-shelf as your household altar/shrine. The good thing about this kind of “fireplace”, is that you can take it with you when you move, or even move it when you rearrange furniture.

cinder blocks and boards
Did you use your only bookshelf to make a faux fireplace? Don’t worry, cinder blocks and boards make cheap, versatile shelving. (Just make sure your floor is sturdy and level.) You can vary the length of your boards to any size shelving system you need, and use for not only books, but for shoe racks, pantry shelving, and other kinds of storage. Cinder blocks come in a variety of styles now (and you can paint them, if you like). If you place the blocks with the holes facing out, you can place holiday string lights inside the hole in the block, or little nature collections.
If you later decide you don’t need the shelves, use the boards and blocks to make patio furniture; stack the blocks upright, and lay one down over the top of them both (with holes facing to the sides), then repeat with another set of blocks at the other end of what will be a bench. Thread 4X4s through the top holes. Cinder blocks also make nice planters, raised bed gardens, and fire pit/grill bases.

small shrines
In addition to (or instead of) using shelves or a faux fireplace for altars or shrines, you could use small hanging shelves or boxes for shrines to your deities, house spirit, or hearth spirit. Just attach a small crate to the wall, and fill it with devotional objects. You can wrap string lights around it, or seasonal greenery. You can also use a cardboard school box or cigar box for a portable shrine. Keep you ritual supplies inside and paint or decoupage your deity imagery (or tree hallow) on the inside of the lid and just open it up to have your ritual or devotions. You can make several for different purposes.

getting crafty with nature
If you have access to the gifts of Mother Nature, and I hope you do, bring a little of the outdoors inside. Bend an old wire hanger into a circle shape and tie greenery to it in layers, working your way around the circle. Another way to make a wreath is to trim some excess honeysuckle or grape vines and shape it into a circle, twisting and weaving until you get the thickness you want. Change decorations on it with the seasons and hang on your front door. If you really liked making that, make some for inside too. Make garlands by layering and tying greenery in layers to a vine, rope or heavy string. Hang your garland from your mantlepiece or shelf. Arrange nature collections in clusters or small baskets.

more crafts
Though a not so permanent decoration (they will deteriorate if the weather is too humid for too long), salt dough sculptures can add life and dimension to your walls and shelves, and are very inexpensive to make. Check out some of my past salt dough projects for inspiration.

You’ll not find a decorative art cheaper than toilet paper roll crafts, which can range from looking very natural and rustic to looking like wrought iron.

If you have old Pagan magazines or calendars, cut out your favorite pictures and decoupage them to wood scraps or nice sturdy cardboard, using thin layers of modge podge. Prop them up on a shelf and change them out seasonally. Try decoupaging pictures onto blank seven day candles for use in magic and devotion. Decoupage works best with small pictures.

Check out some of my suggested kids’ crafts for the holidays, even if you don’t have kids. You’re never too old for such things, and the beauty of simple crafts can add a lot of warmth to a home.

kitchen
If you have a small kitchen, you’ll need to go vertical with storage. Hang your cooking utensils above the stove, and install a peg rack or cuphooks near the sink for coffee cups. Use raised thumbtacks for hanging light items like strainers and flat graters. (In fact, I use raised thumbtacks for hanging pictures all throughout the house. You only need a nail or screw if the object is heavy.) You can even use tacks to hang herbs for drying, and for garlic ropes. Keep the grain dolly you made in the fall, hanging in your kitchen.

window sills
Save your glass bottles, especially blue ones. To make your own blue bottles, mix together some white glue and blue food coloring and paint the bottles with this mixture. Set the bottles in the windowsills of your front-facing windows. Not only are they pretty, but haint blue is traditionally known to ward off evil spirits. Also, keep crystals or a jar of salt in your windowsill for the same purpose. If you break a mirror, put the shards in a jar and put that in your windowsill as well. All these things make an interesting and shiny arrangement but also serve a magical purpose.

mirrors
Strategically place small inexpensive mirrors in the dark corners of your home to dissipate any stagnant or negative energy that may collect there. You can buy tiny mirrors by the package-full at craft stores. Glue them back to back on filament string interspersed with beads and hang as mobiles. Glue tiny mirrors to vases, planters, or small boxes, as you would for making a tiled surface.

thrift store finds and finishing touches
Over time, you will find items to fill your walls at thrift stores and yard sales. You’ll find nice frames to fill with pictures of friends and family. You can update just about anything with a little paint, and sand it down a little for a vintage look. Don’t forget to look for a horseshoe to go over your front door.

magical decorating

Three Easy Lughnasadh Crafts

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Lughnasadh is a celebration of first fruits and grains. It is the wake of Lugh’s foster mother, Tailtiu- Great One of the Great Earth. Lugh is a god of many skills and has many roles. His name is associated with light, but contrary to popular belief, it is the flash of lightning, not sunlight, with which he has been traditionally associated. In County Mayo thunderstorms were referred to as battles between Lugh and Balor. Balor’s evil eye represents the scorching late-summer sun. Lugh’s defeat of Balor represents August storms defeating the crop-threatening summer heat and drought.

The theme of these three crafts are wheat and blueberries. Blueberries are a traditional Lughnasadh food, and according to Mara Freeman, the Sunday nearest August 1st was called “Bilberry (blueberry) Sunday” (Kindling the Celtic Spirit). Blueberries, to me, also represent the color of the stormy skies hoped for at Lughnasadh. It is good luck and a good omen if it rains on Lughnasadh.

blueberries and wheat crafts

salt-dough blueberry beads
The first thing you’ll need to make is the salt dough blueberry beads. Take a handful of salt dough, add a generous squirt of blue food coloring, and a few drops of red food coloring. Knead in the color well. Adjust if necessary to get the color you want. Roll into blueberry sized balls, poke a hole through the middle with a skewer, and let dry.

wheat & blueberry crown
Measure two inches down from the top edge of a brown paper grocery bag and cut in a straight line to get an even strip. Fold this in half lengthwise. Wrap around your child’s head to measure for size. Remove, tape in place and trim excess. Arrange placement of blueberry beads and wheat heads. Glue in place.

wheat & blueberry necklace (or wall hanging)
With heavy-duty thread and a yarn needle, string blueberry beads and wheat heads, piercing through the middle of the wheat head. Stop and tie off when you reach the length you want. You may want to trim the long bristles of the wheat.

wheat mobile

Lughnasadh mobile
To make this craft, you’ll need: blueberry beads, wheat heads, heavy string or yarn, marker or crayon, scissors, glue, a hole-punch, stained glass paint (or white glue mixed with food coloring), painbrush, and waxed paper (or re-purpose some clear plastic packaging).
First, trace three shapes onto your wax paper or plastic packaging. Use your wheat heads to help you decide how big they need to be. My shapes were a half-circle, a circle, and a triangle, but you can choose whatever shapes you like. Paint the shapes, the color of your choosing, with the stained glass mixture. Let dry and cut out. Punch holes in the top and bottom of each shape. Arrange wheat heads on shapes with color peeping though. Glue in place and let dry. Thread onto string or yarn, interspersed with beads, tying knots to hold each item in place. Hang from a sunny window.

three Lughnasadh crafts

salt dough wheat plaque

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With Lughnasadh/Lammas coming up in a couple of weeks, a fun project to work on is a wheat plaque to decorate the family altar, hearth, or nature table. I used ordinary salt dough for this project (1 cup salt, 2 cups flour, and around 1 cup water). You can add paint or food coloring to the dough if you like, or paint after the project is completely dry.

First, I rolled out my well-kneaded dough, thickly and evenly. I used a mixing bowl and pizza cutter to get a clean even arch at the top. Then I used a ruler to cut a straight bottom edge. I used a teardrop shaped clay tool to press in tall grasses, and a knife tool for the wheat stalks. I used a couple of methods for the wheat grains; one is to press in each grain with the teardrop shaped clay tool, and the other is to make little snippets up and down the stalk with the end of a pair of small scissors. The latter method is my favorite, because it adds interesting dimensions to the plaque. I added swirls and small holes for a finishing touch. The plaque can be hung on the wall when dry (don’t forget to poke a hole in the back with the blunt end of a tack when turning over to dry the back), or propped up on a shelf.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try curving the plaque around a foil-covered vase to dry, then attach salt dough rings to the back to hold candles. If you poke holes all the way through the plaque with a straw, you can add amber colored beads that would shine in the light of the candle.

wheat plaque

magical sachets

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A little bundle of magical objects and herbs wrapped up in a flannel cloth and empowered as an active charm are traditionally called sachets in the Appalachians and Ozarks, but in other parts of the country they are known as mojo, charm, or spirit bags.

In making sachets, I use a square of flannel — not felt, felt is too thick and stiff! I use this instead of a drawstring bag, so that I can see the materials I am using and arrange them just so in the center of the fabric. I fold or bundle them up tight and tie with a cord when finished, though it is more traditional to fold it up and sew it closed. I usually use whatever color cloth suits my work. My go-to is the traditional red.

general ingredients (3 to 13 items)

  • plant materials (herbs, flowers, root, seeds, etc) a blend of several counts as 1 item
  • mineral- rock salt, charged crystal or stone (obsidian absorbs negativity)
  • a coin, usually silver (spirit money)
  • personal items of the person the sachet is for (hair/nail clippings, spit)

fixing the sachet
After arranging everything inside, closing, and sealing, the sachet is ready to fix. Consecrate it with sage or pass over a flame and through incense or breathe into it. Name it. It is a thought-form, a golem of sorts. Sweet talk it, tell it what you’re trying to achieve. Pray over it. (Being a Heathen, I use Sigrdrifa´s Prayer.)
Wrap up and tie with a miller’s knot. To feed the sachet, dress (dab) it with a tincture (see my articles on how to make ginger tincture and honeysuckle tincture). Some practitioners it spray with whiskey or rum through their teeth.

Keep the sachet against your skin for about a week (not tied around your neck where everyone can see, but tucked into a pocket, in a sock, etc.). After this, you can hide it where you want it to be doing its work. If it has to do with the home, hide it in the home. If for nightmares or prophetic dreams, under your mattress, etc. If it is primarily to work on you, continue to wear it in a pocket or shoulder bag you use every day. Feed it once a week with tincture or alcohol. Don’t show it to anyone. If anyone sees it, feed it and hide it somewhere else. Don’t let anyone else touch it, or the magic could be lost. You’d have to bury the sachet and start over.

magical sachets

color magic for kids

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Below is a sequel to All About Magic part 1, a booklet I wrote last year as an introduction to magic for kids. Print out, color, cut away the margins and fold into a book. For folding instructions see my article magic one-sheet-of-paper mini book. Have this little booklet be but a starting point in learning color magic. You can give your own examples and methods after using this fun introduction.

all about real magic part 2