Tag Archives: magic

hidden practice

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Over the years I have had a few people tell me that they can’t practice their Pagan spirituality because of their circumstances. Usually it is because of living with a conservative family member. While I have never really experienced this myself, I do get the feeling it is a common problem that affects not just the young. For some folks, hiding their true spiritual beliefs may be a matter of survival if they are dependent on others for home and shelter. Whatever your reason for not being able to practice openly, I hope the following ideas and insights may be of help to you.

church
For those of you who not only are restricted from openly practicing Paganism, but are also required to attend a mainstream church, here are a couple of strategies for you…

Before entering the church, remember this silent prayer-

“Whatever way my words may stray, it is to the Old Gods I truly pray.”

Also, when reciting prayers or singing hymns, you can quietly, or in your mind, add an “s” to the end of words like god, spirit, and lord. Likewise, replace the word “one” with “the” in things you may have to recite such as the Nicene Creed… “We believe in the Gods, the Father, the Almighty, makers of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen…”

And if you go to a church where all kneel to pray, think “this I do not to submit myself, but to dwell closer to Mother Earth”.

Adopting some form of soft polytheistic viewpoint may help ease inner conflicts as well; thinking of saints and other figures as avatars/versions of older deities, for example. Adopting some form of Pagan Gnosticism as a world view may help resolve some issues as well. Some would consider Christianity but another form of Paganism.

If you’re expected to wear a cross, find one that incorporates a tree emblem, or get a Celtic or equal-armed cross, to make it more meaningful to you.

altar
Of course, one need not have any kind of altar to practice Paganism. A person could actually do everything mentally, visualizing devotionals, rituals, energy work, everything. However, it is beneficial to have some kind of touchstone in the physical world (especially if you can’t get out in nature as much as you’d like), to prevent a feeling of disconnect or “being in one’s head” all the time. If you have a small space to yourself, preferably the top of a bookshelf, then you can establish a discreet altar. You can use animal figurines to represent gods and goddesses, as most deities have animal associations. The Yule season is a great time to find altar items with a hidden meaning: a regal reindeer figure could represent Cernunnos or other antlered gods, you may find angel figurines that remind you of certain goddesses, and some rustic or unusual “Santa” figurines are reminiscent of Pagan gods.

9th night of YuleYou may even want to adopt Christian statuary for use on your altar. How can one not think of the Star Goddess when viewing one of those statues of Mary crowned with stars and standing on a globe?

Santa Marija Assunta
daily devotions
If you don’t have a lot of privacy, you’ll have to get creative with how you commemorate even day to day devotions. There are Pagan prayers that can be used with a traditional rosary, and doing so can be a ritual in itself. Also, there are traditional rosaries that have a tree for the crucifix. Prayer for your Druid Beads by Sarva Antah is a very easily memorized set of song prayers that honors nature spirits, ancestors, and deities. Yes, doing the prayers silently counts, as does simply meditating on the spirits, and no one around you would be the wiser.

holidays
How lucky we are to live in a culture that still retains so many of the older Pagan customs. We can light candles on a Yule log or decorate an Easter egg, and no one bats an eye or even thinks about how these customs relate to Paganism. Relish the special meaning these things have for you, even as those around you give them little thought. When you light a candle, or enact any of these customs, quietly or in your mind say something like, “This I do, in honor of my gods.”
You may not have a space or privacy to give offerings, but you can eat symbolic foods as a way of showing honor. Quietly or in your mind, say this blessing:

“Spirits (or Kindreds/specific deities), taste as I taste,
and let this sacred food of (name of holiday) be as an offering to you, through me.”

Some simple ideas for symbolic foods that can be easily obtained to commemorate the holidays are: an apple slice for Samhain, pork or gingerbread for Yule, a dairy food or honey for Imbolc, an egg for Ostara, a strawberry for Beltane, an orange slice for Midsummer, bread or berries for Lammas, and fruit salad for Harvest Home.
symbolic foods of the holidays
magic
Here is where you may feel the most limited if you are of a mind to make magic a vital part of your lifestyle. Yet, it can be done. Use ordinary objects for your “tools”, and ordinary actions as your “works of magic”. Kitchen magic can be very subtle, using a wooden spoon as your wand and the entire contents of the kitchen as materials. Don’t forget about the subtle use of color magic and visualizations. You can simply send your energy out in accordance with your goal, and that requires no materials nor spoken words at all. Yes, every little thing you do (with intention) is magic! In your mind, dedicate whatever you’re doing, toward your goal.

divination
There are a number of divination methods that require no special tools. Divination of Nature requires only your observance and intuition and includes the interpretation of dreams. In bibliomancy, one flips open a book, and reads a randomly selected passage. It is possible to use an ordinary deck of playing cards for divination. Pendulum divination can be done with only a key on a string.

learning
If you are just starting out and seeking a way to learn all you need to know, I would recommend that you first learn all you can from trusted internet sources. (See my recommendations on book and internet resources.) Try to memorize what seems important, then clear your browser history. It may be tempting to obtain a lot of books, but if you have access to a good library, reading up on mythology and philosophy will give you a better foundation in the beginning. Some libraries will even order Pagan books if you put in a request. You can read them at the library if you feel it isn’t safe to bring them home.

If you are embarking on a hidden practice, take heart. Know that the circumstances holding you back are most likely temporary as are all things in life. You may even learn and grow from the experience.

Harvest Home Fruit Magic

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appleWith another harvest holiday coming up, I thought this would be an auspicious time to share with you one of my favorite tricks from ye olde kitchen witch cupboard: a simple all-purpose fruit spell.

For this easy method of magic, one chooses a fruit of the appropriate symbolism, clearly visualize your goal or desire (see associations below, or use your own intuition). Then speak the words of your spell and eat the fruit.

I find that the ever-popular apple makes a great all-purpose fruit for this spell, so I like to keep some around. If you have chosen a large enough fruit, you could also carve runes or symbols of your goal into it. You could juice it into a potion, or bake it into a pie with symbols formed in the crust. You could even slice up a piece of fruit and share it in a group spell. If using an apple, you could slice it horizontally to reveal the star in the middle, eat around the center and make a wish on the star then bury it.

Below you will find the words I have crafted for a general fruit spell, and some associations I have for some common fruits. Of course, this spell could be used for other foods as well.

“Fruit of Earth, the Mother’s gift,
with you I seek a fateful shift.
With my goal placed well in mind,
your taste brings forth my will in kind.”

Harvest Home Fruit MagicFruit Associations for Magic
Apple: health, vigor, youthfulness, wholesomeness, and love.
Blackberry: abundance, prosperity, and protection.
Cherry: love, desire, passion, and playfulness.
Blueberry: protection, happiness.
Fig: sexuality and fertility.
Grapes: fertility, prosperity.
Lemon: cleansing and purifying.
Orange: friendship, courage, luck.
Paw-paw: protection, love, or revenge.
Peach: love, beauty.
Pear: love and desire.
Persimmon: joy and wisdom.
Pomegranate: desire, commitment, mystery, lifeblood.
Raspberry: love and protection.
Strawberry: youthful attitude, love and happiness.
Watermelon: joy, freedom, prosperity.

no-sew poppet

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The use of poppets in folk magic goes back to ancient times. Though the material of choice back then was wax, practitioners have adapted through the ages to make poppets out of anything handy; plant material, yarn, and often cloth.

This method of image magic can be used for any number of goals that you can think of, but the poppet is generally used to represent a person; what is done to the poppet is done to the person in sympathetic magic. The inside of the poppet should contain a taglock of the subject of the spell, and can include other items that are involved in the goal (healing herbs, for example), and other stuffing as needed like cotton, wool, or plant materials.

Even if you can’t sew, there is a simple way to make a poppet. You’ll need a handkerchief, bandana, or just a square of fabric, the taglock and other stuffing mentioned above, and a length of string. ( If you don’t have string, rubber bands will work, but the advantage of string is that you can add knot magic to your working.) First, find the center of your cloth. Roll the outer edges toward the center. Now open up a little space in the middle and stuff. Fold over, spread out the poppet’s arms, and tie off the head. (Draw on a face and other details if you like.) Take the end strings and criss-cross in the front and tie in the back, under the arms. While doing so, you can say, “Criss-cross, cloth and moss. This I claim, _____ is your name.” or other words of your choosing, followed by the specifics of your spell.

no-sew poppet

nourishing the soul: the magic of replenishment

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Most of us magical folk know what to do if we’ve been feeling spiritually out of sorts or have had negative energies around our home; we do cleansing and purification rituals. Such rituals get rid of negativity, but often something more is needed. A second step after the purification process should be to replenish one’s spiritual energy. The unhappy occurrences that are sometimes a part of daily life (the occasional upset, argument, or near miss in traffic) can have an accumulative effect on one’s soul, and while it’s not as serious as the trauma of soul loss, it is something we need to remedy. It’s not technically  healing magic, though any work of that nature needs to be taken care of first, and purifications as well. Replenishing magic is the work of recovering, building up, and strengthening one’s spirit. Many of the things that I will describe below are things that nourish the body as well as the soul, for as we live, both the body and the soul are one.

  • Using your usual ritual format, perform a ritual to your patron deities and guardian spirits, giving special offerings and libations, and asking them for guidance and strengthening of spirit.
  • Revitalize your ongoing spiritual practice, if you feel it is lacking. Do daily devotionals of your own devising, with grounding and centering as a vital part of it. Include affirmations and chants in your practice, if you find them helpful.
  • Take a soothing balancing mineral bath with Epsom salts and milk.
  • Weather permitting, spend some time amongst trees. The effects of forest bathing are real and profound. Hug a tree and let it’s energy soak in and make you whole. Get lots of fresh air and open up windows to air out your house, if possible.
  • Drink some revitalizing peppermint tea or mint water.
  • Eat some nourishing foods; whole fruits and vegetables (with runes of power carved in), and soups made with bone broth and magic.
  • Use a spiritually reviving woodsy essential oil like cedar, sandalwood, or rosewood, in a homemade room spray and/or personal fragrance spray (2 parts distilled water, 1 part alcohol, enough essential oil to scent).
  • Wear deep red burgundy colors, and rich maroon. Colors that resemble lifeblood attract growth and vigor. Get a shawl or scarf to use for this purpose, and throws for your furniture. It’s even better if you can weave, crochet, or knit it yourself, as you can utilize knot magic in it’s making.
  • Carry strengthening stones or resins (tiger’s eye, quartz, amber, or jasper) as charms in your pocket, a sachet, or as jewelry.
  • During this period of rejuvenation, seek out some wholesome “feel good” entertainment; books, music, or movies/video clips that uplift you.

nourishing the soul: the magic of replenishment

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

honeysuckle tincture

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Those beautiful golden flowers and intoxicating scent is, to me, the embodiment of Summer.

In herbalism, honeysuckle has been used as an expectorant, a diuretic, depurative, relaxant, and an astringent. It has been used to treat the common cold and fevers, and may be be a suitable substitute for elderflower. (But as always, check with your health care practitioner for answers to questions about your health and the use of herbs.)

To capture some of that summer magic, you can use honeysuckle blossoms to make a tincture. A tincture is a liquid extract, usually made with a strong odorless 80 proof alcohol like vodka or Everclear. Tinctures can also be made with vinegar, which are usually just referred to as herbal vinegars. Vegetable glycerin can also be used to make a tincture (use half glycerite, half distilled water), and the resulting extract is called a glycerite. Glycerites are especially suitable for children, as they are sweet and alcohol-free.

Sterilize all your equipment in boiling water. Fill a canning jar with dried honeysuckle. Pour in alcohol (or your other choice of liquid) to fill the jar. Lid tightly and keep in a cool dark place. Take out and shake every once in a while. Let steep for several weeks to a month. Strain out into a bottle and keep out of direct sunlight.

They say honeysuckle is a cure for homesickness and excess nostalgia. Honeysuckle is traditionally used in love spells, and the tincture makes a powerful love elixir. Use it to dress magical objects such as charms, talismans, and sachets (mojo bags). It can also be used as a room spray.

honeysuckle tincture

Midsummer Flower Boat

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Making a Midsummer flower boat is a fun and memorable way to commemorate the Summer Solstice, that kids especially love. For your paper boat, you can use any kind of paper. Why not use something you were going to throw into the recycle bin anyway? Newspaper or what we call “good on one side paper” is fine. A rectangular shape works best.

paper boat instructions

1. Fold paper in half with the fold at the top.

2. Fold the top two corners down to meet in the center.

3. Fold one layer of the bottom strip of paper up.

4. Flip over and fold the back bottom strip of paper up to be even with the front. (Right now you have a hat!)

5. Open it up, turn it on it’s side, and press down flat.

6. Fold bottom point up to meet the top point.

7. Turn over and do the same to the back.

8. Open, turn on it’s side, and flatten again.

9. Open up into a boat!

Decorate the boat and dip the top of the sail and side ends in oil. Fill it with flowers (and prayer slips, if you like). Set it in a stream and light it on fire at the top and sides. Watch it sail it off, blazing like the summer sun, to carry your prayers and wishes to the realm of gods and spirits.

Green is Gold.
Fire is Wet.
Future’s Told.
Dragon’s Met.

Midsummer Flower BoatFor more Summer Solstice fun, see Kids’ Activities for Midsummer / Summer Solstice.

ginger tincture

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Ginger is one of those herbs that are so useful and versatile. When my daughters were young, I gave them candied ginger to head off car sickness on long trips. Not only is ginger an excellent remedy for nausea, but it is also good to take for better digestion, relieves gas and bloating, helps your body absorb nutrients and deter intestinal parasites.

Aside from taking in candied form, in a tea, or in food, ginger can also be preserved as a tincture. A tincture is simply a liquid extract. They are usually made with a strong odorless 80 proof alcohol like vodka or Everclear. Tinctures can also be made with vinegar, which are usually just referred to as herbal vinegars. Vegetable glycerin can also be used to make a tincture, and the resulting extract is called a glycerite. Glycerites are especially suitable for children, as they are sweet and alcohol-free.

I made the ginger tincture you see here with vodka. The same method can be used with apple cider vinegar. If making a glycerite, use a mixture of half vegetable glycerin and half distilled water. Sterilize all your equipment in boiling water. Peel and wash your ginger root, and slice thin. Fill a canning jar with the ginger. Pour alcohol (or your other choice of liquid) to fill the jar. Lid tightly and keep in a cool dark place. Take out and shake every once in a while. Let steep for several weeks to a month. Strain out into a bottle and keep out of direct sunlight.

preparing ginger tincture

In general, 30 drops is the usual adult dosage recommendation for alcohol tinctures. I think that’s about half a teaspoon.
For glycerites, it’s about 10 drops for up to 24 pounds of body weight, 20 drops for 24 to 48 pounds, 30 drops for 48 to 95 pounds, and 40 drops for 95 pounds and up. Consult your medical professional before taking any herbal remedies.

Another use of ginger tincture I’d like to mention is it’s use in magic. In sympathetic magic, like attracts like. Ginger is a spicy tasting root with a wonderful spicy-sweet smell. These qualities lend to it’s use in a variety of ways. It lends passion, fire, and verve to magical workings, including that of a romantic nature. Ginger in the liquid form of a tincture is especially useful as it can be used to dress magical objects such as charms, talismans, tools, and sachets (mojo bags), and even be used as a room spray.

Hallow Magic for the High Days

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Most ADF rituals emphasize worship over magical workings, or so I’ve heard. It doesn’t have to be so… why not have it all? The Druid-style rituals I piece together tend to be short and sweet, so there’s plenty of room to add a little magic. Here are some ideas I’ve had for High Day themed magical workings that are aligned with the Triple Hallows. Most of these ideas are for outdoor rituals. For some of these, you may want to have a crafting session ahead of time, then have participants bring their finished work to the ritual, ready to give it that final “oomph” of energy before activating in the Hallow.

In the following workings, I use the word “intent” a lot. What I mean by this is the goal of your magic, and the act of thinking about it and letting the energy of it flow into what your are crafting or doing. Your intent can be for increase (like for prosperity, wisdom, love, for a few examples), or your intent could be something you want to release to the universe (like negativity, bad vibes… things that hold you back) for the Kindreds to transform it into something better or make use of somewhere else.

As a general guideline, do “releasing” work in the waning part of the year (Lughnasadh to Yule) or during a waning moon, and “increasing” work in the waxing part of the year (Imbolc to Midsummer) or waxing moon. Whatever your intent, you can often change it’s nature by perspective and wording, to flow with the season. For example; if you want to do prosperity magic, but it’s a waning season/moon phase, make it a “poverty banishing” working instead.

FIRE
These are items that are fashioned to be burned in the Fire Hallow.

  • PRAYER LEAF: Hand out big Sassafras leaves (or other big leaves) and markers for participants to inscribe their intent through words symbols or pictures. This one is ideal for any High Day. I like to use it for Samhain, and with bay leaves on Imbolc. (For indoor rituals, use slips of flash paper instead; to avoid having a room filled with smoke.)
  • SUN SYMBOLS: Hand out thin straight sticks or wheat stalks and sun-colored yarn/raffia for participants to make rustic “god‘s eyes”, weaving with the energy and intent of their goal. This one is ideal for Summer Solstice.
  • HARVEST FIGURES: Hand out string, sticks, corn husks, raffia, and/or other dried plant materials for participants to shape and tie into human or animal form, representing a goal or intention completed. This one is ideal for Harvest holidays. I like to use it for the Autumn Equinox.

“At this time we shall infuse our ______ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Fire and burn them.”
After all have done this, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Sky, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

WELL
These are items that are fashioned to be placed in the Well Hallow. Consider using a flowing stream for your Well Hallow.

  • PRAYER BOATS: Hand out paper and markers/crayons for participants to make origami boats and inscribe their intent on them through words, symbols and/or pictures. I like this one for Lughnasadh/Freyfaxi.
  • FLOWERS: Let participants choose from a basket of flowers, the one that represents their intent, or make paper flowers. This one is ideal for Beltane.
  • PRAYER SLIPS: Hand out pens and strips of water soluble paper for participants to inscribe their intent. This is another good one for Imbolc.

“At this time we shall infuse our _____ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Well and set them afloat.”
After all have done this, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Waters, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

TREE
These are items that are fashioned to be hung from the branches of the Tree Hallow.

  • CLOOTIES (prayer flags): Pass around a basket of various colors of thin natural fabric cut in strips (or participants may bring their own; the magic is especially powerful when it is cloth torn from one’s own clothing). Participants choose color and pattern of cloth based on their intent and infuse them with the energy of their intent with touch and prayer. Each dip their cloth in the Well and tie to the tree. Ideal for any warm weather High Day.
  • TREE ORNAMENTS: Hand out toast, peanut butter, birdseed, string, and cookie cutters. Participants cut shapes from the toast, spread on peanut butter, and sprinkle on birdseed (all with intent!) then poke a string through for hanging. This one is a good one for Winter Solstice.
  • WISHING EGGS/SPHERES: Hand out papier-mâché eggs (with 2 holes poked in one end), paints, markers, and string. Participants use paint and markers to inscribe their intent through words, symbols and/or pictures on the eggs, then hang them on a tree or shrub with string.  Do this one for the Spring Equinox.

“At this time we shall infuse our ______ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Tree and tie them.”
After all are tied, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Land, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

Four Thieves Vinegar

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Four Thieves Vinegar is an herbal vinegar concoction originating in France at the time of the bubonic plague. There are many variations on the details, but the basic storyline goes… that during the plague, four thieves went about stealing from plague ridden areas without becoming ill themselves. After getting caught, they agreed to share their secret in exchange for their lives; they doused themselves with a certain herbal vinegar concoction before they set out.

There may be some truth to the legends, since the herbs used in the vinegar do have medicinal properties, and vinegar itself is a disinfectant. Many of the herbs in four thieves are natural flea repellants that could have offered protection against the disease carrying fleas that initially started the plague. Some folks these days use four thieves primarily as a bug repellant in the summer months. However, four thieves is more often used by folk magic practitioners as a magical formula to banish and protect.

Just as there are many variations of the legend, there just as many (or more) variations on the formula. Other ingredients used in four thieves recipes (besides the ones I use in my formula, see below) are lavender, rue, wormwood, and cinnamon. Older recipes also called for camphor. Some modern practitioners say you need to include four herbs in your formula; one for each thief.

four thieves vinegar ingredientsOzark Pagan Mamma’s Four Thieves Vinegar
apple cider vinegar
sage
rosemary
thyme
peppermint
cloves
garlic bulb
Fill a glass jar with your fresh herbs. I used a little bundle of each, filling the jar, but not over-crowding. Break apart the garlic bulb. Crush each garlic clove and peel before adding to the jar. Add a generous pinch of whole cloves. Fill jar with vinegar, seal with a lid, and place in a cool dark place for thirty days. Strain out and pour into a labeled jar.

making four thieves vinegar - Ozark Pagan MammaTo use four thieves vinegar as a floor wash, add a generous splash of it to your mop bucket of hot water along with some salt or baking soda and don’t rinse (or use instead as a final rinse). Use the in the same manner as a wall wash or to wash objects. You can also use some in a protective magical bath, or in a homemade salad dressing if you used only safe edible herbs (don’t ingest sage if pregnant or nursing). Splash where needed or use a spray bottle.

Ozark Pagan Mamma's Four Thieves Vinegar