Tales of a Southern Pagan Mom

Book of Shadows

Disposing of Spellwork Leftovers

spell disposalEvery witch tends to do things his or her own way, and the matter of what to do with remnants and leftover bits from spellwork is just as varied as anything else can be. Like many questions along the Pagan Path, there is no one ‘right’ way to do things.

Something I’ve seen come up recently is, ‘what do you do with leftover remnants of spellwork?’

By this, I assume that people are talking about things like the bottle filled with herbs, sachets or paper or even ashes or spent candles – whatever is ‘left’ when your spellwork is completed.

I don’t generally have to deal with this issue since I prefer to burn everything. I primarily work with herbs and papers and stones, which can be cleansed (usually), I burn everything in the spell-casting process. I prefer that, as there’s never anything but ash to dispose of, but I have done other spellwork that leaves bits behind. I keep ashes in my cauldron until it’s full-ish, then I either scatter them on the wind or bury them. I have brought them to the creek in the past, but I don’t anymore; I don’t like putting things into the water that shouldn’t be there.

What do with the remnants varies, in my opinion, greatly upon what the spell was for, what the remnants are and how the spell was used. Sometimes, I’ve kept the remnants as an inactive reminder or keepsake. I have several witch’s ladders that have become bookmarks, dollies that have become Sabbat decorations, and other bits and pieces here and there that just go into a jar on my altar or in my cabinet. Before I put the keepsake away, I either smudge or salt it – something to ground any leftover energy in the object, just to make sure it’s ‘done’ and safe to handle.

There are some things that I don’t keep, like Witch Ball remnants. If one breaks, it gets removed as in-tact as possible, and taken to be buried off my property or into the big trash bin outside to be taken away. I believe that protection magick remains in-tact until it’s spent; I don’t want whatever is tangled up inside it to be released near me, so I don’t and wouldn’t keep those.

Sometimes, the spell, itself, calls for the destruction of the tangible part of it. Poppets come to mind; I don’t often do poppet magick but depending on what the spell was used for, it might get burned or buried during the casting process. Most of the spellwork I do uses simple supplies that are used up in the casting process, but occasionally, I find that it suits me to do something more elaborate, at which point disposal becomes an important part of planning the work. I don’t want something lingering that could contaminate other work or energies.

Other ways to destroy remnants, aside from burning, throwing into the bin, or buried, include disposing of the remnants in water, preferably a flowing steam or river. The ocean can also be used, but I would worry about either discovery or contamination for either of those methods. Depending on what you’ve created for the working, simply dismantling the spell may work, but do consider carefully and completely cleansing everything that went into it before using it again. Spells involving something you may not want to dispose of, like tarot cards, come to mind.

How do you dispose of spell remnants?
Brightest Blessings,
RH_med small





Women of Magick and Nature 2015 Retreat


A few weekends ago, Bridey and I went to a retreat called W.O.M.A.N. – ‘Women of Magick and Nature‘. I’d learned about it earlier this year, and had been looking forward to going for some time. Despite how ‘connected’ I tend to think I am, it always surprises me to stumble upon some gem of knowledge or activity or event that is totally new to me. WOMAN has apparently been around for years, though it’s gone by several different names and changed leadership over the years – but the spirit of the gathering is in tact (at least I hope so – what I brought home from the experience was absolutely wonderful).

Over the course of the weekend, I got to meet so many bad-ass Texas witches – who have been around for years and both been instrumental in shaping the Pagan community in Southeast Texas and guiding the women who will come after them. I love that the traditions that started within Texas are being passed on, and at the same time, new life and vitality and ideas are breathed into them as new ones learn and adopt and grow. It felt good – being part of a group that, with each change of name and hands, both honors what came before while accepting and facilitating the changes to come. It’s a process that’s on-going… not without moments of frustration and sadness for what was lost, I’m sure, but overwhelmingly with love and excitement for that which is yet to come.

One of the things I was surprised to find is how much I enjoyed talking with the older women at this retreat. Having a community with a more diverse mix of ages is something that I hadn’t realized I was lacking. I remember sitting underneath the kitchen table while my mother and grandmothers and aunts and great-aunts (both those by blood and those by choice) would sit  around talking and shelling peas, or playing cards. I always assumed that I would have that when I grew up, and I suppose in some ways, I do – but there were often elements of faith discussed in those kitchen-table gatherings and that’s the part that’s been lacking. It was energizing to be in an environment where spiritual ideas and concepts were so openly discussed and considered.

In my friend group, I am one of the oldest there – my kids are older, I’ve been married for the longest… I don’t have anyone to learn from. That’s not to say that I know everything, or that those with less time on the clock can’t or don’t have things to teach me – they absolutely do, and I eagerly accept their teaching just as readily as I do that from elders  – but it’s not the same as being taught/mentored by an older woman. There’s something about the way an older woman imparts her knowledge – not universally, of course – personalities are what they are,  but in general, the wisdom of years has something unique to offer, and I’ve missed it.

It was lovely being around so many women who wanted to teach and to learn from them. There’s something about the Pagan community, about the willingness to teach and be taught, that I don’t see in other religious communities. Whereas other communities all look to a single leader or group of leaders, at events like this, the floor is open to anyone who has something to offer. We had classes and workshops all weekend long, from divination, to crafts, to astrology… it was really interesting and fun to be part of. I felt like there was plenty of room for everyone’s time and differing opinions were heard and no one was belittled or told that they were ‘wrong’… it was such a great atmosphere.

One of the things I learned that I just love is a style of stone divination. Basically, you choose small stones, one for each planet in the solar system, plus ones for the sun and moon, and (to start with), a stone to represent yourself. Using either traditional or personal correspondences for the planets/stones, cast the stones within a circle (a 3’ loop of leather cord, or on a cloth or other surface with a defined edge). Depending on your preference, you can read the stones with the center point as the present, moving outwards for a timeline, or as the edge of the circle closest to you being the present, moving further along the timeline as you move away form yourself. Stones that are closest to ‘you’ (your signifier in the spread) have more of an effect, or their influence is in play, while those farther away from you have less influence. That’s a very (very) simplistic explanation, but gives the gist of the method. It’s also highly adaptable and open to various personalizations. We were left with the instruction, “Make it your own!”, so I did.


And then, there were the rituals. I won’t go into detail, simply because I feel like those were special times to me, and private. But these ladies went all out for planning and preparation, and it was really just awesome to be part of it.

I am so glad that I went. I struggle with anxiety issues, and as a child, I’d have passed an opportunity like this up. I’d have wanted to go, and been regretful for bowing out, but the stress and dread of meeting new people and participating would have been too much, so I’d have declined or bowed out when it came time to leave. I am so glad that I’ve worked through a lot of those issues. It was still hard to walk into a room in progress (we arrived mid-class), but  without a doubt, this was one of the best things I’ve done for myself in a long time and I am so glad that I got to share the experience. There’s another retreat in the Spring, and I am hoping that I get to go!

Brightest Blessings,
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Crystals and Gems for Everyday Use

gemstonesI was asked recently about my stones and crystals, and thought I’d make a post about them; specifically, about how they’re used. But first, some basics!

Most of the Pagans I know tend to think of their stones as ‘living’ objects, and by that, I mean that they recognize the energy and effect that stones and crystals have on their user/wearer. If you’re not familiar with stones and crystals in your personal practice, they can be a useful addition. I recommend getting a couple of books on stones, both scientific/geology-related and Pagan-related, to get an idea of what it is you’re dealing with. Knowing the geological profile of a stone can help you place it into your practice and correspondences more easily, in my opinion (especially if you use non-traditional correspondences, or follow an eclectic path). DK Press has several ‘stones and gems’ books, and I found one that is organized by color that is useful for identifying stones I find in the wild. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic is another good one, and The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall is another good one.

While it’s tempting to start your stone and gem collection and pack it away, stones and crystals can’t help you if they’re tucked away in a drawer. To get the most effect, they need to be handled, loved and taken care of. It’s important to recharge your stones, too. But first, let’s talk about choosing the right stones for your collection.

Choosing Stones and Crystals

So how do you go about choosing the ‘right’ stones and crystals? Mostly, it’s by ‘feel’. Sometimes, you can be drawn to certain stones or crystals and know instantly that it’s right for you. Other times, you may need to touch and hold several in the bin before finding the ‘right’ one. It’s not uncommon for me to be walking around outside by the beach or in the woods and be drawn to something I can’t readily see, only to find a beautiful bit of sea glass or a stone that feels like it’s ‘mine’. Crystals seem to be a bit different, in that they often warm to the touch if they’re meant to go home with you! I can imagine that it has something to do with the cuts and the vibration of your personal energies, but that could be a load of hooey. In either case, crystals are easier for me to choose or recognize that it’s not meant to be mine than stones.

Can you use ‘just any’ stone or crystal? Probably, but if you don’t feel it, then chances are you won’t see the result that you were looking for.

Cleansing & Charging

Imbolc Altar (alisonleighlilly) Tags: outdoor altar pagan imbolc offerings druidry uploaded:by=flickrmobile flickriosapp:filter=nofilter

This isn’t my picture, but my set-up is very similar to this.

I’ve read a lot of different methods for cleansing and charging. As with any magickal tool, I feel like cleansing prior to use is essential. Not only does cleansing clear whatever other psychic vibrations or energy attached to it, but it also gives you a chance to impose your energy on it, and ‘tune in’ to the stone or crystal. I use crystals and stones all the time – herbs and stones/crystals are probably the most often used in my personal practice – so I want to make sure that my stones work for me. Cleansing is a vital step for best results.

Among my favorite methods for cleansing are Sun Cleansing, Moon Cleansing, and Water Cleansing. With Water Cleansing, you can use Salted Water, Moon-Blessed Water, or Holy Water to cleanse. For Sun Cleansing, I choose a day when the sun is bright and the sky is clear. The Summer Solstice is an ideal day to cleanse stones in the sun, but any day would work. If correspondences are important to you, then you might choose a day that corresponds to the stone you’re cleansing, and use other favorable trappings as well (like color of tablecloth, or herbs on the table as well). I don’t cast a Circle for cleansing stones, but I do set a small, temporary altar, with the elements represented and the stones in the center. I leave the stones out in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, and bring them in afterwards. A word about Sun Cleansing for crystals – I don’t use the sun for crystals. The UV rays can discolor your crystals, and some crystals can crack or shatter if they get too hot. They’re still the same, energetically speaking, but not as pretty.

other ways to cleanse stones and crystals

For Moon Cleansing, I recommend waiting until the Full Moon. I try to cleanse and charge my crystals by moonlight only, and every month. If I am home, it’s easy to leave them out overnight, but even just a little while under the moon can cleanse and re-charge them. You don’t have to do anything fancy; leaving them in a windowsill where the moon can touch them is perfect if you can’t get outside.

Something that is also very effective is Spirit Cleansing. Spirit Cleansing is ideal for those on a limited budget, or who practice discreetly, or just prefer to do things without a bunch of ‘stuff’. We Pagans tend to like our ‘stuff’, so sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics, and really connect with the idea that the power is in the witch. Spirit Cleansing is essentially using your own energy to cleanse and charge a stone or crystal. Using Spirit to charge is common; it’s how I charge all of my stones and crystals – but using Spirit to cleanse as well is just as effective. If you think about it, the intent is what matters. Even with other methods, you’re still drawing on your energy to set the intention. Spirit Cleansing is just a little more overt. To cleanse with Spirit, like with other methods, I don’t cast a Circle. I prefer to do Spirit Cleansing at my altar, with my altar and working candles lit. Spirit Cleansing is a little like meditation practice, in that you’re holding the stone and focusing your energy into it, and through it, and drawing your will and intent into it.

Charging your stones and crystals is something different from cleansing (though you can do both at the same time). Much like with Spirit Cleansing, charging uses either your own energy, or the energies of the elementals and things around you, combined with your will, to help the stone or crystal do the work you intend it for. One of the reasons stones and gems and crystals are effective is because you’re drawing on its own energy as well. When your intent is in alignment with the energy and purpose of the stone or gem or crystal, then it just works! Generally speaking, to charge my stones, gems and crystals, I hold it in my hands, and use visualization and focused meditation to set the intention for the stone. Some stones, I have specific goals for; others are for more general use.

Everyday Use

One of my favorite ways to use stones is by wearing them. Lots of places have necklace pendants that you can either tuck a stone into, or open and put a stone in. I have both kinds, and pendantsthey’re ideal for wearing small stones. The ones I have are large enough to put multiple stones in, which makes customization easier. Using harmonious stones or gems in one group can maximize a particular effect, or mediate the effects of one stone by using another. I wear my stones to help control anxiety and stress, and to promote compassion and harmony in my interactions with people. My son wears stones to help with gastrointestinal stress, and digestive issues. They’re also useful on the bed-side table, to help with falling asleep, staying asleep and dream-magick.

Another way to draw on the healing and/or magickal properties of crystals and stones is to make tinctures or oils with the stone or crystal inside. My jars and vials of Moon Blessed Water, for example, usually also contain a bit of moonstone, or quartz (or both). If you’re making massage oil, adding rose quartz, amethyst, tiger’s eye, or carnelian can either help with relaxation or help spice things up. For prosperity oil, gold, adventurine, unakite, goldstone, labradorite and other stones that attract wealth or luck can boost the oil’s effectiveness.

Many stones also have a deity connection; that is, a stone or crystal is associated with a particular deity. They can be used to focus on your connection and communication with a particular deity, or to establish one. In some cases, being drawn to a particular stone may be deity trying to get in touch with you! If that’s something you’re open to, a little research can go a long way towards figuring it out.

I also use stones in spellwork. Larger stone can be used as candle holders – I drip some wax onto the stone, and set the candle into it, then place it on my altar until it’s done or my work is finished. Stones are also great for long-acting spells; stones are very stable and can hold onto an intention for a long time (especially with regular care). I use them on my altar as place-holders for intention or as the visible reminder of spellwork for prosperity and protection that are either in other areas of my home or outside (like Witch Balls).

Crystal grids are another good way to maximize your intent. Laying a grid can be somewhat time-consuming, but once it’s laid, the stones use each other to stay active. The old infomercial ‘set it and forget it’ comes to mind (only don’t ‘forget it’ – you ARE the magic)…. Stone massage is another great use for your stones. Much like the very popular (and costly) ‘hot stone massage’ that many spas offer, you can achieve similar effects with your own stone collection. Certain stones are aligned with the seven chakras, and can be used to balance them, and affect your musculature and overall health. Though you can buy fancy sets of chakra stones (and there are some really nice, big flat stones that are engraved), you don’t have to go to such lengths to get the same effects that you can get from stones you find our buy in rock bins.

Crystals, stones and gems can also be used in decorating. I mentioned a while back that I was somewhat interested in Feng Shui, and found that they can be useful in bringing harmonious energies in, and helping the flow of energy in your home in general. I haven’t put this to the test, but I am fascinated by the possibilities and will probably try it and see what sticks.

Something that I’ve found to be very useful is purchasing vials of stone or crystal chips or shards. Those are very small, and can go into things like charms and spell bottles more easily than larger stones. They can also be ground in a mortar and put into things that you might not otherwise think to put them in (like sprinkling in doorways or around the foundations of your home for protection).


If you’re not currently using stones in your personal practice, I encourage you to give it a go. Start simple; your birthstone is a good place to start. Those are really easy to find and
completely inconspicuous (if discretion is important to you). From there, you can learn about the correspondences associated with it, and how you can use it to focus your energy, will, intent or spellwork. Birthstone jewelry is simple, but can be an important tool, too.

This is far from an exhaustive guide to how stones, gems and crystals can be used, nor are my methods the only ones. One of the most important facets of many Pagan paths is personalization. Trial and error are expected; ask any witch and they’ll tell you about the many mistakes and fumbles that they endured when they were new to the Craft. It’s okay to try something and if it doesn’t work for you, to scrap it. It’s also okay to try something multiple times until you get it (to a point where it feels) right, or to discard it today only to pick it up down the road.

How do you use stones in your practice?

Brightest Blessings,
RH_med small

New Shadow Book

CAM00744I have been wanting to post this for some time, and am at long last getting around to doing it – yay! I have finally created a Shadow Book that I am happy with. I’ve experimented for years with different combinations of methods for creating and maintaining my Shadow Book, or as more proper pagans than I call it, Book of Shadows (I’ve always called it a ‘shadow book’ and am too old to change that habit now, so deal with it). Here it is, in all it’s unveiled, gigantic glory!

Over the years, I’ve tried various books and journals and binders, only to find that nothing was big enough to house all of the information that I wanted handy. Or, if it was big enough, I’d find or write something that needed to go between two pages that were already written on. I’m also notoriously fickle, so I’d end up wanting to change the way the sections in the book were ordered, which is impossible in a traditionally bound book. So, frustrated, I’d try another method.

Binders worked well for me for a long time. I used two main three-ring binders, and a variety of small notebooks for reflections and journaling. That got tiresome, as everything had its specific book that I had to keep up with. I’m a pretty organized person, but that was too many books to keep up with, even for me. To make matters worse, when I was working, inevitably I’d want something that was in another book or binder, and have to stop, locate the information and then continue. Such disruptions became bothersome, to the point that it was interfering with my practice – why bother if I was constantly under-prepared (and by under-prepared, I mean some bit of information that would flicker to life in remembrance once I got started – not things I should have had prepared before beginning).

But now, I have all of my information – what would traditionally be separated into a Book of Shadows, a Book of Mirrors and a Grimoire, all between two covers. Because of the way this book is maintained, adding new information, or changing the way information is organized is a matter of removing the cover, adding or shifting pages around, and replacing the cover.

I was inspired by some of the more commercial journals that I’ve seen on YouTube, particularly Pagan Scrapbook Supply. I love her books and supplies, but I am definitely not in the market to spend in excess of a hundred dollars for something I was reasonably sure that I could make for myself. And so, I started crafting! I knew that I wanted a post-bound Book. As a formerly avid scrapbooker, post-bound albums have the best flexibility when it comes to making changes; even PSS used the same concept (but with straps instead of posts, and two instead of three). All I really needed was the front and back cover. My first version was made from an old scrapbook that I had. It was the bare-bones, cardboard covers that tied with a string that I found at a dollar-store years ago. I cut the cover down (from 12×12 to a more manageable 8.5×11) and then used a variety of glues, papers and paints to make it look like old leather. I was semi-successful. It worked, but ultimately was a little more ‘rugged’ than I wanted. As a first attempt, it wasn’t bad, but was crooked, and not as solid as I wanted.

The next version, and what I am currently using, involved a pre-made, 8.5×11 post-bound scrapbook frame that I found at the craft store (similar to this one, with extension posts and multi-size posts). With a coupon, it was $10.  I’d have done this straight away had I known that there was a commercially produced 8.5×11 size album available. All of my Books before have been printer-sized; I didn’t want to change to a larger page (or a smaller one). This album was exactly what I was looking for.

Initially, I had each page punched and inserted, but like the books in the video above, found that for maximum visibility, they needed to be mounted. So I used old file folders to create a bracket for the pages to stick to. Rather than have each page on a separate bracket, some brackets hold several pages (mounted to the fronts and backs) so that I have sections of related information where necessary. I’ve also found that plastic page protectors work in a pinch, but I dislike the look (and feel) of the plastic in my book. I do have some pages (herb info, mostly) that are currently in plastic page protectors, but will remove them eventually and mount them properly.

The image I have in the window of my book The Morrigan Raven by Peggy von Burkleo

To create the page mounting strips, I traced a plastic page protector that could hold an 8.5×11 sheet of printer paper, and traced the area where the holes are, then cut it out and replicated it (dozens of times!!). It was time-consuming, yes, but the result was exactly what I wanted. Then I coffee-stained (like tea-staining, but with coffee – smells *amazing*) the 500+ pages that I’ve collected in my various binders over the years, mounted them and added them to the book.

What I ended up with is an amazing (if slightly bulky), useful tool that houses everything I need, from basic information, to more personal reflections, correspondences, recipes, spells and relevant material all in one place. Another feature that looks odd now, but becomes less so as time goes on (and more is added), is that there is ample room for embellishments and additions to the pages. I am an avid ‘art journal-er’, and my Shadow Book is eventually going to end up with the same treatment as my art journals – as a platform for my art. In this particular case, I still need my Shadow Book pages to be legible, but adding embellishments that add to the look, feel and general attractiveness of the book is part of nurturing my spirituality that I have been neglecting lately, and I am eager to get back into the process.

Though I tend to keep the pages of my Shadow Book private (you probably won’t see me doing a flip-through on YouTube), I don’t mind answering questions about the contents, so if you have a question, please feel free to ask in the comments. As I said though, I’ve combined the elements traditionally separated into the Book of Mirrors (personal reflections; a diary of one’s path), a Book of Shadows (practices; Sabbat and Esbat Rites; history, etc.) and a Grimoire (spells, recipes, etc.). I also keep blank pages in the center of the book so that when I wish to add notes, I can write in the book itself, and then move the pages to the appropriate section later on. This keeps all of my notes and things in one place, which I find helpful (and space-saving).

The last touch, which will probably be a while in coming, will be to create the spine cover. I need to get black posterboard (or regular posterboard and cover it with fabric) to make the spine look neater; it’s not required, but it will lend a more finished look to my Book. If you’ve made your own Shadow Book, I’d love to see it! If not, I hope you’re inspired to create one of your own. It’s something I’ve found to be very rewarding. Happy crafting!

Brightest Blessings,

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Tasseography, Tasseomancy, Tassology

imageThis is a subject that I know next to nothing about, but am extremely curious about, so I thought I would write my ‘T’ post on it – Tea leaves! More specifically, the reading of them.

Some of the girls in my local Circle and I joined a tea co-op, and for $6, I now have bags upon bags of wonderful, flavored and traditional loose teas sitting in my kitchen just begging to be read.

I also come from a long line of teacup collectors, so it seems natural that tea leaf reading would be implied. However, the religion I was raised in had very strict censures on anything even remotely related to divination ‘lest the demons get ‘cha‘, (you have to say that part with one eye squinty and a really bad Southern accent to get the full effect of that statement), so I’ve never had the opportunity to play with it much.

I also didn’t know that there were special tasseography cups, so the combination of tasty loose tea,  knocking on Satan’s door via the practice of divination and another tea cup to collect? Sign me up!

To begin with, I haven’t yet bought any books or materials to go along with this art. I say ‘yet’ because of course I am going to be collecting books on the subject; I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I had The Girls over a while back with instructions to bring teacups so we can practice. We had a lot of fun trying to interpret our own cups and each others.

Some of the websites I’ve found that I plan to use are:

This seems to be a pretty good step-by-step for the beginner site. I have read through the steps, but still haven’t learned enough to go without  a refresher. This website says that since tasseography is so subjective, that reading your own leaves is preferable  and likely more useful than having someone else read for you. She likens it to the Rorschach tests – what I see may be totally different than what you see. That makes sense to me; since what I am thinking about while reading may be something totally unrelated to what you’re thinking about, and so our readings will naturally reflect our differing states of mind.  I do like that she gives a pretty long list of symbols and possible interpretations; I think that, like dream diaries, keeping a log of my own symbols and interpretations would probably be useful as well.

There’s another symbol list at mojomoon.net, but the one at tasseography.com seems to be a little more complete, and has more symbols. I tend to prefer multiple lists and usually create my own with a mixture of traditional meanings and space to write my own interpretations as well.

For practice, Reading Tea Leaves has a long list of specimen cups that you can work on to improve your reading skills. I thought that was a neat thing to offer! There’s also quite a bit of general information on tasseography as well. There’s also a symbol dictionary as well.

Serena Powers’ website has something different than other sites I’ve seen; she mentions that before you even drink the tea, the reading has begin. Signs to look for are bubbles, floating tea leaves, an accident of teaspoons… I wonder how much of this is superstition and how much of it might be considered a true part of the reading, but most superstition has roots on coincidence of facts, so who knows. It’s fun, in any case. Serena also has a symbol guide at the bottom of her page.

There is also a set of  tea leaf fortune cards that I think would be fun to play with.

What is your experience with reading tea leaves?

Brightest Blessings,

A Questioning Path

 I really like this picture. One of the reasons I chose it for this post is because it’s not just one path; it’s a path that allows for turns that interact with other people, and that can bring you back to the places you were before. I think that’s more representative of the way that life is – the choice I make today may lead me somewhere new, but it might also bring me back to a place I was before, or at least a very familiar place. I also think that this is such a valuable thing for my kids to learn as they grow and find their place in the spiritual world.

This is, in part, what happened to me. I revisited a familiar crossroads – one that I had been at before – where my needs and beliefs differed greatly from that of those around me (my family). At that time, I chose one direction… but then slowly started making choices that ultimately brought me back to that same crossroads again. This time, I have chosen a different course – one that takes me farther away from those whom I once chose to please.

While I define myself as Pagan, that’s not a tidy little word that encompasses everything about my spiritual beliefs. I think that, especially over the last decade or so, the definition of ‘Pagan’ has grown to include almost (if not more) styles of practice, belief and worship as the many Christian religions. When you hear ‘Pagan’, though there is a certain set of ideas that you can assume they might hold, the specifics of their individual beliefs are as vast as the stars. From individual direct paths like Wicca, Kemetic, Hellenic; to the various Reconstructionist or Ecclectic versions of those paths, to purely Ecclectic paths… the structure and exact definition of beliefs of each of those varies even within the coven or group themselves.

This, to me, has the potential to be an utterly amazing thing. Indeed, among the people I have met within the Pagan Community in my own Circle, and came into contact with at Pagan Pride Day, the openness and willingness of a group of people with such vastly differing beliefs to come together for a moment and celebrate both the diversity and the unity of belief is especially tantalizing to me; someone who is always questing for something that resonates for my own practice.

I don’t know where my path will lead me, ultimately. I am not dead-set on anything – I’ve had too much ‘organized religion’ in my life to feel either the need for or comfort in a truly structured, ‘THIS is how we practice’ religion of any kind. But partake occasionally? Find an element from their worship that appeals to me? Yes, please! And I am fortunate, indeed, to be part of a community that makes my questioning path both acceptable and feeds my desire to participate in and learn new things.

Brightest Blessings,

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project. To read more posts with the ‘Q’ topic, originally for the week of August 17, 2012, click the button:

Pagan Blog Project 2012

Candle Magic

It’s been a while since I participated in Pagan Blog Prompts. This have been pretty busy lately and I have been missing out!
This week’s prompt is on candle magic.

Do you use candle magic in your spells/rituals?
How do you do it?
What would you recommend for beginners?

I am a longtime fan of candle magic. It’s one of the easiest magics to learn and perform, and in its simplicity, is viable for a wide range of magical uses.

Candles hold several appeals for me. Fire is my element, and the obvious connection between candles and fire makes the magic easy for me to access. Having something to focus on (the flame), having something to write on (inscribe the wax), and even embedding objects on the wax make candles ideal for so many things.

I use a variety of candles in my personal practice: pillar candles, votives, tea lights, tapers, seven-day devotional candles, tiny tapers – even the odd jar candle has a place. Though they all serve a purpose in my practice, not all of them are ‘magic’ candles. I use tapers for my God and Goddess devotionals, I use a pillar (or two) for a Working Candle (usually inscribed with runes, symbols, words, and other tokens pertaining to my personal practice; I use a white pillar for waxing moon and a dark pillar for waning moon) and votives for various purposes – elements, devotions to specific deities or ‘for’ someone. When I do magic ‘for’ someone – more than just a candle to send healing, peaceful thoughts and energy – when I work a spell for someone (which is rare outside of my immediate family and very close friends), I use the tiny tapers. They’re meant to burn hot and fast, which means that I can work a spell and have it on its way relatively quickly – faster than votives.

If you have children, candle magic with tea lights is a great way to introduce them to spell-casting. The cups are just the right size to hold herbs or trinkets imbued with intent, and they burn fairly quickly and safely. Simple spells, like banishing bad dreams (add lavender and chamomile to the cup, then have your child write a description of the bad dream or draw a picture. Light the candle and burn the paper in the flame while saying something simple, like ‘Fire light, burning bright, take these dreams with you tonight.” Repeat as many times as it takes to burn the paper, and then ‘So mote it be’), or creating space to study for a test (add rosemary, frankincense, and sandalwood to the cup, then light the candle. Place on your desk while you study. This candle can be re-lit for each study session).

One thing that I have done in the past is to make candles similar to these:

decorated candles courtesy of Lightly Enchanted blog

The herbs, flowers and other things can be glued on with Mod Podge, school glue or with melted wax. If you’re making them with kids, then you can add bits of poems, songs or spell couplets to the outside (though use caution when burning!) or pictures that the kids draw.

In short, candle magic rocks! If you’re new to simple spell-casting, give candle magic a try.

Brightest Blessings,