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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in magic

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_astro-clock-italy-sm_20121115-220151_1.jpgThe secular New Year is a great time to update your calendar, whether it’s in pixels or on paper. As much as I appreciate my ephemeris and all the astrological pocket planners out there, there are some astrological events that are worth adding to your daily calendar, particularly if your spiritual practice revolves around the cycles of the Sun and Moon, or if you work magic, Here are some events that you may find are worth calendaring, so you’ll be reminded to work with — or work around — the planetary energies at the appropriate times.

Retrograde Periods for the Planets

You may want to include only the Mercury retrograde periods in your calendar, since Mercury is the planet that screws up our daily lives the most. (Did you know that Mercury rules not only communications but our daily routines and our immediate environment, as well? This is why Mercury Rx tends to be so disruptive) But there is much to be gained —  practically, magically and spiritually — from being aware of the retrograde periods of the other planets as well. I’ll write more about those retrogrades as they come around this year, and you can read more about the current Jupiter Rx here. You’ll also want to check out this listing of the dates and degrees of all the planetary retrogrades for this year.

New and Full Moons, and Eclipses

The conjunction and opposition of the Sun and Moon (new and full Moons) are points of shift in the energy of every month, and they emphasize each sign and its opposite as the Sun passes through the Wheel of the Year -- an important consideration for magickal work. Magically, you may want to plan workings to coincide with appropriate New or Full Moons (New Moon in Gemini to begin a writing project, for instance). Some magicians prefer to wait until the aspect is separating, which can bring the Moon out of the appropriate sign if the aspect occurs late in the sign.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_049.jpgWe looked at the chart of the Winter Solstice, 2012 from a mundane (world affairs) standpoint a couple of weeks ago, and this post will interpret the same chart, but from the viewpoint of the magician or spiritual seeker who is looking for clues about how to utilize the energy of this quarter to grow and transform. The Capricorn Ingress chart (another name for the chart of the Winter Solstice) can be consulted for personal insight as well as mundane, and set against one’s birth chart in the same way I set it against the chart of the USA. (If you have not read my first post on this chart, you might want to do that now, because it gives insights into and explanations of the chart’s structure that I will not repeat here.)

As we move through the difficult challenges of this transformative time, it helps to look closely at the current astrology so we can learn how to ride these waves of change into an evolutionary future, instead of a bleak, painful, or destructive one. In the same way that a farmer must consult the weather before choosing what work to do during any given day, week or month, it is useful for magicians to consult the astrological weather to determine what magical work will be most likely to meet with favorable results. More importantly, the cycles of the planets provide spiritual lessons that are uniquely suited to the time, and, if we look at them against the backdrop of our own birth charts, we will find those lessons personalized for us.

You might want to cast the chart for the moment of the solstice (12/21/12 @ 11:12 a.m. GMT — adjust for your time zone) in your location, then put that chart in a bi-wheel with your natal chart, and look in which houses of your birth chart the planets and the angles of the solstice chart fall, as well as any natal planets that are closely aspected from the solstice chart. This will tell you what issues and areas of your life will be activated. (If that last part just went right over your head, don’t worry. I will bold my conclusions, so those who don’t want the astrological techniques can skip through.)

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Thanks, Wendy! Hope your ritual goes well, and blessings of the Solstice to you.
  • Wendy L. Callahan
    Wendy L. Callahan says #
    Everything you say, particularly the steps at the end and conclusion, goes quite well with precisely how I decided to end this cyc

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Hekate is a complicated Goddess. Crossroads, entryways, and liminal spaces; journeys and war; the moon and the night and the underworld; ghosts and cemeteries; magic and herbology; pregnancy and midwifery and nursing; sailing and fishing and shepherding and dogs; all fall under her aegis. Honored originally in Anatolia, her worship spread throughout the Greek-speaking world. Adopted by the Romans (who tended to call her Hecate or Trivia), her worship spread even further. She is a major figure in the Theogony, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the Greek Magical Papyri, and the Chaldean Oracles. She even survived -- sort of -- the purging of the ancient pantheons and the conversion to Christianity as a hag figure in many folk tales and fairy tales. Today, she is honored by Pagans of many different traditions, ranging from Hellenismos to Religio to Wicca to unaffiliated, nondenominational Goddess worshippers.

It is, perhaps, not surprising that there are quite a few texts devoted to Hekate, as well as long chapters within other works. Helene P Foley's The Homeric Hymn to Demeter: Translation, Commentary, and Interpretive Essays, for instance.

For those who are curious about this Goddess, I can recommend several texts from my bookshelves. If you are looking for dense, solid academic work, there are two titles that should be at the top of your list: Restless Dead: Encounters Between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece; and Hekate Soteira: A Study of Hekate's Roles in the Chaldean Oracles and Related Literature; both by Sarah Iles Johnston. The former chronicles the evolution of Greek ideas about, and interactions with, the dead (with special attention paid to Hekate and the Erinyes), while the latter examines the evolution of ideas about Hekate herself, from Mother Goddess to mediating World Soul to Queen of Demons and Witches.

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The virtue of curiosity in your magical practice

One of the most important virtues a magician can cultivate is curiosity. While the old saying that curiosity kills the cat comes to mind, we should consider that such a saying really is a response to curiosity that favors the status quo. It discourages exploration in favor of keeping things the same. Such an attitude should be an anathema to the magician.

Curiosity is at the core of my spiritual practice. When I was much younger I was a born again Christian and I left because I realized that I couldn't find all the answers in one book and that allowing myself to be limited to what I considered to be a narrow perspective of the universe was not good. So when I discovered that magic was real I voraciously began to read books and I allowed my curiosity to explore and experiment with what I learned. Curiosity motivates me to discover my questions and answers and it is an emotion that I couldn't imagine being without.

I think that to truly make magic your own you need to be curious. It is not enough to read books and do the practices in those books, nor is it enough to learn from others and only do what those others have instructed you to do. While both activities can be useful for building a foundation, at some point you need to leave the nest and learn to fly. You need to take your magical practice and personalize it, making it your own, and to do that, it necessarily must be reflective of your interests.

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Well said! If you think about it, any seeker wanting growth and spiritual health needs curiosity. It's the only way to expand our
  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez says #
    I couldn't agree more with your every word. I follow the same approach and give the same advice that you are giving here to my own
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Thanks Carolina! It's important to encourage curiosity...it's how we grow.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

The path towards what we consider Sacred, towards what we consider Magic, can vary greatly from Pagan to Pagan; for some, big altars make them feel connected and empowered, while others prefer a much simpler, zen-type reminder of their beliefs, or even no altar at all; some Pagans are truly transformed by wearing ritual clothing, while others worship in jeans and a t-shirt, and others don't consider worship a need at all; all of them can be equally true ways to grow as a human being, which I think, in the end, that it's the only important thing.

For me, the path towards Sacredness, towards growth, is creating. Through learning how things are made, from spinning a single thread of yarn to understanding how herbs work together to create a healing medicine, I get closer and closer to Spiritual balance, to inner peace, to my idea of serving Nature and the Spirits that live in it, to mysticism and unity.

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  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez says #
    Thanks so much Taylor!
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    I look forward to reading your blog. I do a lot of work with art and magic as well.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Simple Samhain Rites

I love this time of year. Where I live, here in upstate New York, the summer’s heat has given way to autumn’s chill, the leaves are shifting into colorful hues of yellow, orange, and red, and the farmer’s markets are filled with pumpkins ready to be carved.

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  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    Thanks! It's a great idea...and then you get to eat it, too!
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Insightful... love cooking those ancestor dishes!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I’m going to change the format of this blog, as of today. Instead of the “Magickal Monday” updates, I’ll be looking at the upcoming transits once a month, just before the New Moon. The other three weeks, I’ll be writing on other astrological and astro/magickal topics. I particularly want to investigate how Pagans, Witches and other magickal people can understand our own birth charts well enough to time personal spiritual and magickal workings, and determine how the current astrological “weather” affects us on both a spiritual and a mundane level.  While astrology is a complex and many-layered topic, the basics are no more difficult to learn than Tarot — maybe less! — and learning to use your own chart as a tool for spiritual and magickal growth is an investment of time that pays off generously.

This week, I want to look at an ongoing flowing relationship between Saturn, Neptune, and Pluto in the upcoming year that is worth considering carefully, so we can weave its energy into our lives in a creative and beneficial way. Here’s what’s happening:

  • Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn are in mutual reception (each in the sign the other rules)
  • Neptune is strong in its own sign, Pisces
  • Saturn is trining Neptune and sextiling Pluto three times over the next 10 months

Now, what does that all mean? As always, a planetary configuration like this heralds a process, both culturally and individually. We can look on the progress of Saturn through Scorpio over the next 2 ½ years as an initiatory undertaking  — a deep, transformative time when, if we will discipline ourselves to fulfill the requirements of the body and the Earth, we can create with power, insight and spiritual awareness.

But there needs to be knowledge and intention to leverage the energy of these aspects. They are flowing, easy aspects that offer us a harmonious way of managing the profound, shocking energies released by the Uranus-Pluto square, but, because they are easy, they don’t force anything. We need to make a choice to tap into their energy and use it to help us navigate through the times ahead. So, here’s how to grab the brass ring…

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.


At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.

As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.

(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I talked in my first post about the importance of integrating our spiritual beliefs as Pagans with our everyday mundane lives. Most of the Witches and Pagans I know strive to do just that. I also think most of us struggle to find the time and energy to do so, when we are already overwhelmed by our busy, hectic existence and our obligations to others. Certainly I wrestle with this dilemma: how do I find the space and time to practice my Craft when I barely have time to eat and sleep? (And forget having a social life or taking a vacation. Vaca-what?)

 

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  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    That's what I do on a daily basis, and it works really well. I think it's not a bad idea, whatever your spiritual beliefs.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
How to apply art to magical work

I've always been a creative person and that creativity has extended past writing to painting, singing, and other artistic pursuits that I continue to pursue to this day. And as with all my other interests, I'm always looking for ways to apply my artistic skills to my magical work. I figure that the art gives me another way to express my magical talents as well as my creative vision.

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  • Carol Frierson
    Carol Frierson says #
    Thank you Taylor! This came to me just at the right time! This may seem a little crazy but...I have never painted before but I ha
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello Carol, I'm glad this article helps. It's not crazy. I felt such an inclination myself at one time. Good luck!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Pagans and the flustercluck over Chik-fil-a: Many of the same organizations that are responsible for anti-LGBT hate speech are involved in anti-Pagan propaganda and continue to stoke the fires of potential Satanic Panics. How do Pagans make economic choices in response to this? I advocate boycotts as a magical action in defense of our own rights.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I sometimes see way too much "hatred" in pagan activism. Its easy to point fingers and call names.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I'd like to have seen quite a bit more about the zinger at the end of your article: "Boycott is a strong word. It's also potential
  • Literata
    Literata says #
    Personally I'm thinking about adapting the approach I have used before when communicating with my elected officials: I do ritual t

 

 

O, Etsy. You purveyor of all that is desirable and yet sometimes dubious. I didn't appreciate Etsy (and probably still don't) until my hip daughter introduced me to Regretsy. Mothers of gods, what a hilarious mess.

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  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    A wonderful post. While my wife and I derive a significant portion of our income from Etsy, not selling the types of things mentio
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks, Peter. We talk so much about community in Pagandom and Heathenry but we sometimes don't walk our talk. I hear from too m

I've experimented with magic since I first started practicing when I was sixteen. I'd buy books at the local occult shop, voraciously read them and try the exercises out. Afterwards, I'd think about how I could improve the exercises or change them or experiment with them. I was never satisfied with other people's explanations of how magic worked. I'm still not satisfied with most of the explanations about how magic works, and that includes some of my explanations. That dissatisfaction, as well as an insatiable curiosity drives my desire to experiment with magic.

Magic is perceived by some as a spiritual force that complements their religious practices, and by others it is perceived as a practical methodology used to achieve measurable results that improve the lives of the practitioners. Still others think of it as a spiritual practice that allows them to commune with the world and the divine. Beyond all of that though it is a discipline, a field of study that many people contribute to on a regular basis. The challenge with any discipline is figuring out how you keep it relevant to the times and to the needs of the people.

When we look at magic as a discipline, we see that it is relevant through the diversity of the community. Whether its the reconstruction of a particular culture and its spiritual practices, or the melding of Eastern and Western magical practices, or the evolution of a given tradition as that tradition adapts to the times, there is clearly relevance in magic as a spiritual and practical discipline. So the question may come up: Why experiment with magic, especially if the practices we have already work? Do we really need to fix something that isn't broke? Aren't we just reinventing the wheel?

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  • Merle Moss
    Merle Moss says #
    The only problem I have with the idea of 'experimentation in magic(k)', is rigorously keeping the original intent clear and simple
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello Merle, That's a fair point to make. I find that applying a process approach avoid such slippage, because the intent is writ
  • B. T. Newberg
    B. T. Newberg says #
    Interesting. Thanks for this. What are your views on experimental methodology in magic?

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A cross-post this week, if I may - between here at my first blog 'home', and the wonderfully eclectic 'Witches & Pagans' site (because if you can't 'moonlight' as a Pagan, then who can?).

I am very aware that I haven't written anything at either location for a couple of weeks. I could give excuses - ultimately, the days have flown past and life has been more important. I'm sure we all know how that goes. Instead, take a wander with me, if you will.

Regular readers know that one of my favourite places for inspiration is as I walk the dog across the hilltop where I live. This evening I wandered the streets, looking out at the fierce clouds parting after an intense rain and thunder-storm just a few hours ago, the remnants of a rainbow, and the slightly 'stunned' feeling of a normal, modern, country village after a violent and unavoidable incident of Nature. The grass is rich and green, the snails appear to have made a small bypass across the path outside one particular row of houses, and the occasional early bat is swooping overhead.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat: Like Elani, you are articulating one of the major cutting edges of contemporary Paganism -- what *do* we believe? I, for one,
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Wonderful post. I think about the Gods in general, and my patron/matron Gods, all the time. But too often I forget to stop, liste

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Today is Lammas-tide, Lughnasadh, the festival of the grain harvest. Across the land, fields full of golden wheat, barley and numerous others have been growing tall, a feast for the eyes as they bend in the breeze, a feast for the birds, bees, mice and other creatures that run between the rows.

In centuries past, it would be entire communities who came out to help with the harvest, threshing, binding and preparing the crop to last them the winter. Fuel is needed for heat, nourishment and sustenance for livestock - without a successful harvest, a lean winter means walking the path between life and death.

These days, it's more the rumble of heavy-duty farming machinery at work that is heard as the harvest is gathered in - but it's no less valuable for that. Despite the knowledge that we can import food, fuel and whatever we need from other places, there's still the essential connection between us and the land as personified in the life of our fuel-stuffs. We celebrate it, we recognise and remember it. Children make corn-dollies, singers remember John Barleycorn.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    I ventured to make "corn" dollies from corn husks, only to realize that they are made from the wheat or barley. Amazing what can b

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've returned today from performing a Handfasting with my partner - not unusual at this time of year. But this was our first on a beach.

Yes, this is Britain. Yes, we've just had semi-monsoon conditions for the last few months. Summer was rumoured to have been cancelled. So much could have gone wrong.

It was beautiful. Golden sands, blue sky, bright sun, lush green grasses and flowers on the path leading from the couple's home to the beach itself... everyone commented that you couldn't have wished for a better day.

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Last time we looked at diagnosis of symptoms in Anglo-Saxon magic: now onto materials!

Once the culprit was identified it was essential to gather the materials for the charm. In most cases this meant herbs. Potions and poultices were the central part of charm remedies. One needed to remember the properties of all the herb, the best time for harvesting them, and the extent of the their interactions. Poems like the "Nine Herbs Charm" helped people memorize the properties of the most common healing herbs. In addition to herbs, there were bodily fluids like blood and spit and—well, other less charming substances.

Breath too proved an important component in charms, representing of course the substance of life itself. The church supplied additional helpful items such as communion wafers and holy water (though some church fathers might have frowned at their use in these charms).

More homey materials like milk and honey showed up in charms as well; honey is especially important because it is the basis of mead, the favorite drink of the Anglo-Saxons. Mead itself—along with wine and ale—provided a better tasting concoction with which to drink down the herbs. Of course if the herbs were made into a poultice or salve, you would need oil or wax to bind the materials together. Naturally, you would need bowls and other utensils to mix all the items together, and sometimes bandages to apply the mixture.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Brilliant, brilliant! It's just what I do--ah, well, with some exceptions. I'm working up my own (Appalachian) version of the Ni
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Grand to hear that! I look forward to hearing a regional version of a classic. A living history is magic, one that will continue.

The charms of Anglo-Saxon England consisted of words, herbs and actions. The folks who lived in the period after the Roman era and before the Norman Invasion of 1066 believed that words had a magic of their own especially when spoken aloud, but that the application of the right herbs would help the healing processes along, too. Sometimes other actions were required to create the right atmosphere or to move bad luck along to someone else. All three techniques used together was simply magic.

Among the most common uses for magic was for healing. Lacking any kind of organized medical care system, they pieced together charms and poultices to take care of the common health problems. But they also used charms to protect, both themselves and their belongings. Chief amongst their property was cattle. The Anglo-Saxon word for "cattle" (feoh) is the same as the word for "wealth" which shows how important cattle were. Charms also came in handy to enhance good luck and increase one's bounty.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    At the risk of being pedantic, the Ango-Saxon for cattle and movable property is "feoh". "Fé" is the Old Norse version of the word
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    You're right, of course! I go back and forth between OE and ON so much, I slip up on words from time to time. Good to know I've go
  • mary widner
    mary widner says #
    i enjoy reading this

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