Monday, August 27, 2018

Creating Balance and Harmony in Ritual

You Must Have Balance

Ever since I started learning witchcraft, just about every book I've read has emphasized the importance of balance. You must have balance for your workings to be successful. I agree with this, but as I've spent time actually doing the work, I've learned a thing or two that wasn't in books- wasn't in articles online.

This push for balance comes from the Hermetic Principles, which are outlined in The Kybalion. The Fourth Principle, the Principle of Polarity, states: 
Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its' pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.  

Wiccans have drawn many of their ways from this little book. When they applied this Principle, they also apply it to the Deities. You must invoke the God and the Goddess, you must have a Matron and Patron deity. This implies that the God and Goddess - no matter which ones - are polar opposites and that you need both to learn the 'truths'. Hmm...nope. Don't think so, sorry! I'm sure this principle applies to other things, but I don't think it can be applied to humans based on gender. 


Duality and Deity

I started writing this blog Saturday night, after having an epiphany. ButI knew it wouldn't be a very good article if I just shared my discovery without doing a little background research. One of the books I went to was Silver Ravenwolf's To Ride a Silver Broomstick. Now, I like Ravenwolf as an author - she's a good writer. But I don't like how she states her believes as dogma - I wouldn't like that even if I believed what she does, but I really don't like it because she has very different beliefs from me. For example, she states that deities exist to help humans.  I was talking with a friend (who happens to be an amazing author) about this and she said that Ravenwolf's point of view is that "humans ate the center of the universe". (literally laughed out loud at this). But I digress... the point is she and many other authors hold this believe that male and female deities represent certain things and they both must be  present in order to bring a balance of power to the ritual. I haven't been practicing as long as Ravenwolf or any other author that makes this claim, but I've learned from experience that the deities are all very different from one another, and some deities possess qualities that are said to belong only to the opposite sex. So I decided to try something different.

Calling The Three


I created a talisman for my bedroom, and as I was setting up my altar, something in me said to call upon the three deities that have the most presence in my life: the Morrigan, the Cailleach, and Lugh. I affectionately call them "the Three". I thought about what they represent, most prominently anyways, and I thought of the elements.  Not the four elements of traditional witchcraft but the elements as the Celts saw it: Land, Sea, and sky. So I arranged the candles I have dedicated to each deity in a triangle. I raised my hands in goddess position and called the Morrigan and asked her to bring the power of land - the strength of stone and stability of trees. I called to Cailleach and asked her to bring with her crashing waves of wisdom, and then asked Lugh come to my circle as rays of light come in through my window in the early morning hours. And it was incredible. The Morrigan came on a mist and rose like the standing stones she used to stop a retreating army once. Cailleach came in on a crashing wave -  I could almost smell the salt and felt that unique chill you get when you stand on a beach. When Lugh came in I felt the gentle warmth of the sun and I could feel the flames of passion spark inside me as if gas was poured onto the fire. I said the words and gave the offerings. I left the talisman on the altar to scribble down everything I said and did, as it was impromptu and I didn't want to forget what I said or what I felt. A few minutes later I returned to my altar, thanked the Three, and bid them farewell. When I went to pick up the talisman- I shit you not it was vibrating with power. I could feel the energy buzzing from it when my hand was about an inch away from it. Even though it may seem like it's not a big deal, it was one of the freakiest and most amazing things I have ever experienced. After I hung it on my wall I pulled out my computer and started this article to share my story. I suggest giving it a try - instead of routinely calling a god and goddess, really think about the deities you work with and think about their personalities, the lessons they teach, the elements they favor and call on them based on those qualities. That would create true balance. If you don't like it, then no harm done, right? But you could have an incredible ritual because of it, so just try it out. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Key Magick: Accessing the Magickal Potential of Keys

Key Magick: Accessing the Magickal Potential of Keys


Keys. They play such a major role in our mundane lives we tend to take them for granted, much less think about their magickal potential. 
Keys are so immersed in our daily lives it’s not often we stop to think about them, or how they could play a magical role in our lives. While we may not think of them we use them for both magickal and mundane purposes. Before I get to that, I feel that a little background information will be helpful (and interesting). 

Ancient Roman Key
(Photo Source: Wiki Commons)
What is a key exactly? Keys come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. They may not even have a shape or physical body, but exists in the virtual world as a series of numbers that grants access to money, bank information, email, etc. They have been used in the mundane sense for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians were the first to use locks (should’ve known - the Egyptians established a lot of firsts). They were complex wooden mechanisms used to keep jewelry and other treasures secure. The locks were made of wood and were quite intricate. The next society to use the key was - huge shocker guys - the Romans! The big, complex, wooden locks of the Egyptians was not suitable for the Romans though. First and foremost - they were too close to the sea to be able to use wood for this kind of task. The moisture in the air causes wood to expand and contract so it wasn’t practical to lock away their money with something that might not work depending on the weather. The Romans were the first to use keys close to what we know and love today. They were made of metal – some with precious metals and gems. They were small and light enough, so they could fit in a pocket. 


Magick Keys


Keys are used in witchcraft almost as much as they are in mundane life – we may not even realize it. I use a key to lock the box holding my herbs, oils, and knives I use for wand/staff creation (I have a nosey two-year-old). But that is not what I mean by magickal keys. Magick keys can open or close whatever you charge them to do. They can bring you to another realm to speak with deity or elementals or faeries, ancestors even. They can help you access your Higher Self – the mode of consciousness that does magick and interprets psychic messages. 

According to an article on The Witches Box, keys have the following uses in witchcraft:
  • For divination, the passageway ‘in’.
  • The holder of the key is allowed access to all that is unseen
  • A symbol for sealed or locked away secrets – an anchor in an obscuration spell
  • An initiatory tool held by the one that has gained access into specific spaces on the other side
  • A talisman in a protection spell
  • The amulet of the Traveler
  • Can be hung at doorways of your home for protection
  • Removing blocks
  • Opening roads
  • Calling spirits

This webpage also provides an invocation you could use to charge the key:
Sacred Key, Sacred Key,
I charge you with the task
of unlocking the path of mystery.
Grant me pass, let me in
Make available the secrets
that exist within.[1]

Using Keys for Magick

Actual keys can play a role in magick as well, and that is the point of this article. I have a skeleton key attached to a staff I made, along with Ogham symbols that can be used to access other realms.  I’ve used a key in a protection spell as well, to ‘lock’ an invisible gate around my home, preventing unwanted guests from gaining entry – of the mundane and spiritual variety. 
I have drawn keys as a sort of sigil, to help me retain information (lock it inside my memory), or to help me move closer towards my goal (unlock the next step of my journey). 

The key magick I am going to share with you is my favorite. I did not write this ritual. I found it in Llewellyn’s 2018 Magical Almanac, in an article called Key Magick by Blake Octavian Blair (page 114-122).

Key of Knowledge Talisman. 
For this working you will need: 
1.       A skeleton key
2.       Cord of choice
3.       Candle (color of choice)
4.       A bell
5.       Incense of choice (I’m partial to Dragons Blood incense sticks, because Dragons Blood adds power to any working)

Put everything on your working altar. Create a sacred space and call the quarters – use the methods and deities/spirits/entities of your tradition. Light the incense and waft the smoke over all of the tools you will be using. Make sure you thoroughly cleanse the key. Once you feel that any trace of prior intent/ purpose has been smudged away, hold the key to your heart. 
Say: 
I, (your name), ask you to assist me to empower this key for the growth of my knowledge and ease of learning. Please assist me in (state your question). 

Now hold the key to your Third Eye and repeat the same request. 
Light the candle, pass the key about the flame, then say:

I ask for the illumination of wisdom on the topic at hand. Please shed light on my situation so that I can see the best possible solutions clearly and more readily. 

Hold your intention in your heart and mind, then, holding the key cupped in your hands, blow your intention into the key three times. Tie the cord to the key and hang it around your neck. Ring the bell around the key and then around yourself. By ringing the bell, you are calling forth the wisdom and power of your spirits and the universe, empowering the intention of the key.

Liminal Deities


Liminal Deities are deities associated with liminality – and when you are between two worlds it helps to have keys to get one way or the other. For me, when I think liminal deity I think Hecate. She is the Queen of the Underworld, but she doesn’t stay down there. No, she possesses the keys to all of the realms, and her torches will help you navigate whichever realm she opens for you. I won’t lie, I had to turn to Google to find other examples that weren’t from my pantheon. I found two other deities that had qualities that could be the key to a well-rounded blog article. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a punny opportunity).

Hekate

While not many statues of Hekate depict her with a key, it often as it is mentioned in literature. Some sources say the key is the Key to Hades, that she opened the door to Hades. Other literature says that she held the keys to the cosmos. This is important in terms of necromancy. Now before you get your broom in a knot, necromancy is nothinglike that shown in television and movies (although I couldn’t help but love it in AHS Coven). Necromancy is communicating with spirits. So, if you want to communicate with an ancestor you could call to Hekate to bring that ancestor to you. She would unlock the gate keeping the souls of the dead separated from the souls of the living, so you could communicate. [2]

Portunus/Palaimon

Temple of Portunus
Photo Source: Wiki Commons
Portunus is a Roman god who rules over keys, doors, livestock and ports. It’s thought that he originally protected the warehouses where grain was stored. He came to be associated with ports because of linguistic associations. Porta means gate or door, and portus means harbor – the gateway to the sea. [3]

Like many other gods in the Roman pantheon, Portunus was adopted by the Greeks as well. The Greeks knew him as Palaimon.  Palaimon was originally a mortal boy named Melikertes/Melicertes. His parents fostered the young god Dionysus and it pissed of the goddess Hera. The angry goddess drove his father into a murderous rage, and to protect her child, Ino – his mother, jumped off a cliff into the sea with her son clutched in her arms. When they landed in the sea they were transformed into the gods Palaimon and Leukothea. Palaimon was often depicted to be riding a dolphin, or a fish-tailed child. [4]

Closing Thoughts

Keys are fascinating things. They can do so much, yet we think of them so little. We take them for granted. But writing this article has helped me see that keys are even intertwined in my magickal and mundane life than I realized. It’s fascinating. Just when I think my Craft is crafty, I will find more things to make my magick unique. 





Friday, August 17, 2018

Thoughtful Thursdays: Personal Pantheons

Thoughtful Thursdays Presents: Personal Pantheons

My Home Office 💞🙌
Hello, my lovely readers! You may have noticed that it has been a little while since I've written, and I apologize for my absence. I have been working on creating and launching Magical Musings Freelance Writing Services. There was A LOT more to starting a business than I expected! Freelance writing falls between the cracks as far as business classification (for lack of a better word), so that makes writing a business plan and obtaining funding a little tricky. (any advice is welcome! you can leave it in a comment or contact me directly). I set up a business phone, started brainstorming for branding, set up my 'office', but the bulk of my time has been spent on working on obtaining funding. Banks and investors tend to shy away from Freelancers because our business plans are not quite like those for a store or restaurant. (It doesn't help that my credit is so low it's not even funny thanks to student loans).

I have created a Go Fund Me fundraiser to obtain funds for the few things I need to get my business off the ground. Just a few dollars from you, your friend and their friend, and it's enough magic to levitate my business! If you would like to help me out,  please go to my GoFundMe page. If you can't donate, you could still help me by sharing that link with your friends and family.

Ok, so without further ado...

What is a personal pantheon?

Simply put, a pantheon is a group of gods and goddesses associated with a particular location or culture. The pantheons we know of today are most likely not exactly who the ancients were devoted to, as the deities often began as local variations, and over time they grew together. Often you will find that deities, especially Irish or Welsh Celtic, have a number of aspects and qualities.

personal pantheon is the group of gods and goddesses an individual works with. The reason I am bringing this up today is because there have been too many instances where influential authors will state that you should not choose deities from different pantheons. Are they like cats and dogs? Will they bicker and fight? My pantheon has deities from all over the place! The Morrigan from Ireland (click HERE to learn more about her), Akhilandeshvari from India (click HERE to learn more about her), Hekate is a Greek Titaness, Cerridwen who’s from Welsh tales, Lugh – another Irish Celt, and Cailleach – she has been ‘assigned’ to the “Celtic pantheon” but her history dates back far earlier than the Celtic societies. I know this from experience and from experts – Rev. Don, in First Degree Lessons in the Correllian Tradition, states
“Other people believe that you should never mix deities from one pantheon with deities from another pantheon; this is a superstition, and experience shows that it is simply not true.” (p. 152)


SIDE NOTE:
If you’re wondering about the “” around Celtic Pantheon, it’s because there really isn’t a Celtic Pantheon. The Celts lived in tribes all over Europe, so they didn’t all have the same deities, didn’t have the same customs – albeit similar but still different – anyways, if you want to learn more about this check out Morgan Daimlers blog.



Personal Pantheon Process...

So how does one come to create a personal pantheon? Establishing a personal pantheon is not as simple as picking deities out of a book. I learned this the hard way. When I became pagan I was excited at the idea of gods that could cross the Veil, that could-and did- make themselves known...and I didn’t understand that it wasn’t my choice- not fully anyway. Cerridwen was the goddess who called to me relentlessly until I finally let go of the faith of my family – I clung to it out of a sense of obligation more than anything. But anyways, excited about finally accepting that there are gods other than “the one and only,” I started going through the dozen or so books I had accumulated so far and started picking out deities I thought were interesting. No, not interesting. I’ll be honest. I picked deities I thought would make my life better. I’m not going to lie, when I began practicing witchcraft it was because my life was a mess and I was not much more than a shell of a person. I couldn’t see past my sons and my needs.

 So, when I performed rituals, I rigidly called to the deities I picked out. Sometimes they came, other times I just visualized them but they weren't present. What stands out in my mind is there was never any emotional reaction to their presence. When I first journeyed to meet Cerridwen, I wept and dropped to my knees I was so overwhelmed with emotions. It was the first time truly feeling the presence of a deity and that made me feel both sad and happy - happy right down to my soul. I felt immense gratitude and I could feel her power, her intensity. My physical body was trembling and tears streamed down my cheek. I cried the first several times I met the Morrigan - I manage to remain dry-eyed now. Even though I've interacted with the Morrigan hundreds of times, I still tremble slightly when I feel her near, still feel my heart flutter. My reactions were not as intense when I met the other deities in my pantheon but there were still intense emotions tied to the meetings. Emotions, or lack thereof, you feel in the presence of a deity will be a major indicator as to whether this god or goddess is meant to be in your life. 

Perpetual Motion...

It has been a year since I’ve been Pagan, and my personal pantheon is far from complete. I don’t know how many deities will join me, but I know that it will never be complete. Nothing in life is ever complete because everything in life is always changing, transforming, evolving.

If you have been practicing for 6 months or 6 years, don’t get your broom in a knot if your personal pantheon doesn’t feel right. If the gods you work with don’t help you improve yourself and the world around you, then scrap your list and start over. Witchcraft is about living harmoniously in nature- as a part of the world, not just a being on it to manipulate. You are just as much a part of nature as the trees outside your window.


I like to think of establishing a personal pantheon as a little like painting. I take my time deciding what I want to paint. Then I either find a collection of photos online to reference or I will sketch it in my art notebook. Next is preparing the canvas. I don’t know what it is about applying gesso, sanding it down, measuring off the canvas into sections so I get the proportions right, and so on that is so relaxing! So, fulfilling.

Closing Thoughts...

Take your time, think about what it is you want to do. What do you want to manifest - on the macro level. How do you want to influence the world around you? Keep in mind that life is like a pond and every action is a pebble thrown in. That pebble ripples outward and spreads out further than your immediate surroundings. IMO, the deities don't exist to serve us. They love us and will rain blood to defend us, but they have their own agendas. They don't ever request anything on a whim - they have a bigger plan. If your dreams, wishes, or potential can help their cause then expect a "knock on the door" - so to speak. Be patient with yourself and the deities, and you will establish a personal pantheon that suits you, your life, and has the potential to make a positive impact on the world.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thoughtful Thursdays: Devotional Practice

Thoughtful Thursday Presents: Devotional Practice

A lot of thought must go into developing a devotional practice, so I thought this would be the perfect topic for this weeks Thoughtful Thursday post. First I would like to apologize this is going up so late! I took the day off yesterday and the day before to spend time on my devotional practice- preparing and celebrating Lughnasadh. 

Devotional Practice for Hekate

At the end of every month, I perform a ritual for Hekate. She is the Queen of the Underworld, the Torch Bearer, the Keep of the Keys to All Realms. Her torches light the way to the path you must take to reach the next phase in life. She is found in liminal locations, that is places that are in two places at once - putting it simply. She is older than time, and people have been leaving offerings to her at crossroads and intersections for centuries. The ritual I perform is an adaptation of the deipnon. 

The Deipnon, meaning "evening meal" and it was how the Athenians honored Hekate each month. A portion of the last meal of the day was placed out for Hekate and the restless dead. This offering was to purify the household, atoning for any misdeed a person of the household may have committed. It also was given to gain Hekate's favor, as well as appease the vengeance of any spirits residing with her. People would place meals at crossroads or in shrines dedicated to her outside the entranceways to the home. This was done on the last day of the Athenian calendar, and many modern devotees, like myself, have adopted it as a monthly practice honoring her. The Athenian calendar, or the Attic calendar, followed the lunar cycles. The new moon marked the end of each month, which is when they would perform this ritual. So, modern devotees may perform this at the end of the calendar month or on the new moon. 

Because of the reasons behind my offering, I perform the deipnon on the last day of each month. I give offerings to thank Her for guiding me through the month, lighting the paths I needed to take to meet my goals and to ask her to do the same for the month to come. I also give offering to ask Her to protect my home - to lend me her hounds to scare away anyone or anything that means me harm. I create my own black salt which I pour in front of the threshold to keep nasty spirits and entities from wandering inside. 

Relationship Building

Devotional practice is how you build and maintain relationships with the gods. As the Morrigan is my Matron goddess, I go to her altar at least once a day to give her an offering and to communicate with her. I talk with her all throughout the day, but I make sure to go to her altar and give her my undivided attention at least once a day. If I don't have anything in particular  to ask her about I will just go and count my blessings. Gratitude is a major component of my witchcraft practice. I believe gratitude empowers much of my magickal workings. I will recognize the blessings I know/feel were from the Morrigan and tell her how they helped me. Of course, she knows this already but it's important to say so. 

I work with Lugh and Cerridwen quite often as well, so I make sure I honor them regularly as well. I have three altars - one is my Morrigan Priestess altar, and the other is my working altar. On that altar, I have a candle and offering dish for Lugh and Cerridwen. These are both in my 'witchy room' - where I meditate, cast spells, hold ritual, and store my herbs, crystals, wands, cauldrons, staff - you get the idea. Outside I have a makeshift altar for Hekate - a tree stump on the corner bu the corner of my home. It's where I leave the food for the deipnon. 

If you are polytheistic like I am I hope that you put time and thought into your devotional practice. The gods are not magickal vending machines! If you only talk to them to request their blessing on your spell or rite, they will get fed up and stop coming around when you call. I believe they love us, but I also believe they can get annoyed, even pissed off, with us at times. I know the Morrigan gets pissed when people litter! Being a people pleaser I feel compelled to pick up litter whenever I see it. The Morrigan is not the most convenient Matron goddess but it has been rewarding and fulfilling to have her in my life. All of the gods have become rewarding and fulfilling parts of my life, and I think having a regular devotional practice has made all the difference.


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