Sunday, 29 September 2013

Angel Magic

As the 29th of September is the feast of St Michael and All Angels I thought it was appropriate to write a little about angel magic.

It is nice to have a way of communicating with your personal Guardian Angel, in ancient Greece this was referred to as your personal Demon, which shows that angels and demons were once one and the same. This is spoken about in some of the Apocryphal books of the bible and in christian myth.

According to legend Lucifer was the favourite angel of God and so had more leeway than other angels. However Lucifer got arrogant and decided he could take over from God and organised a band of rebel angels to seize power. God sent Michael as the head of his own army to battle the rebels and Michael won. Lucifer and all the rebels were cast out of heaven and consigned to the management of Hell.

Again according to legend you are allotted two spirits at birth, the guardian angel who whispers into your right ear and a little demon who whispers into your left ear. The angel is thought of as your conscience and the demon as the little voice that encourages you to be daring and naughty. These are, of course, ways of personifying concepts which can be difficult to explain otherwise - why you should choose to behave in a 'good' or 'bad' way.

There are four archangels which are associated with the elements and the four quarters of the magic circle. These four angels can therefore be used to create a protected area, which is the basic principle behind the well known magical ritual the Banishing Ritual of the Lesser Pentagram.
These four angels are:
Raphael the guardian of the east and angel of Elemental Air
Gabriel the western angel of Elemental Water
Uriel or Oriel who is the northern guardian and angel of Elemental Earth
And in the South Michael with a flaming sword, the guardian of Elemental Fire

You can create a very simple personal protection by saying aloud or in your head:
"Raphael before me, Gabriel behind me, Uriel on my left and 
Michael on my right, guard me in your circle of fire."

You can create a gemstone angel circle too by using a stone for each of the elemental angels:
Agate for Raphael, Pear or coral for Gabriel, black agate or onyx or haematite for Uriel and red jasper or garnet for Michael. In the centre put a white candle and a stone to represent your personal guardian angel, I would suggest angelite or blue lace agate unless you have already chosen one which appeals to you. Then say something like:
Holy angels I ask that you imbue this stone with your power 
and make it a special object to connect me with the 
energy and vitality of my Holy Guardian Angel.
Sit and meditate for a few minutes and if possible leave the candle to burn down. Then take the centre stone and put it in a special pouch to carry with you.
Use it as soon as possible, simple say something like:
'Guardian angel here my plea
Safely guide and watch over me.'

Friday, 27 September 2013

What's Wrong With Being Mystic?

Some years ago, I was composing an advert for Raven and I'd put something like 'Your one-stop shop for all your magical and mystical needs.' A friend who was with me at the time said, "You want to take out the 'mystic' bit, it gives the wrong impression."

I still do not understand what 'wrong impression' is implied by the word mystical.

The word 'mystic' comes from the ancient Greek and directly from the Mysteries of Eleusis, It means a person who is involved in practises relating to the Mysteries, an initiate. To me any Witch worth their salt will be involved with the Mysteries, you just can't help it if you are involved with Witchcraft.

To be an initiate of any kind means, or at least implies, that you have entered into a contract which will ensure that you are investigating, or will be taught, about concepts or practises outside the everyday sphere of mundane experience.

What you do with the knowledge is up to you and your own level of spiritual understanding.

It is possible to work Witch magic without reference to any spiritual beings, however they do tend to sneak in when you aren't expecting it. For example: a very simple traditional wishing spell is to find the waxing moon in the sky, blow her a kiss and make a wish.

To any outsider, all you are doing is blowing a kiss to a dead lump of rock which is only glowing in the night sky because the sunlight it shining on it and not on your side of the planet Earth.

But to a Mystic, anyone who is involved in the Mysteries, you know that the Moon is merely a symbol of something far greater. In this case the Moon is the symbol of the Goddess, and by blowing a kiss to the moon you are petitioning the Goddess, asking her to intercede on your behalf and ensure the success of your spell.

I shall no doubt return to this topic in the future, but that is enough to hopefully get your Mystical interest piqued.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Folk Witchery Rules!

I have made a start on the Folk Witchery book of basic and seasonal rites and rituals, and am finding it great fun.

I love the research involved in writing books, collating the information and comparing sources. One of the big problems with this book is that most folk practises are very brief and quick. For example: what is the traditional way of celebrating the new moon or full moon? answer: go outside and blow a kiss towards the moon.

There you go, that's that done.

Which is fab as far as it goes, but sometimes we want a bit more structure to our rituals, especially if you are working in a group situation. This is where the comparing and collating comes in.

There is also the fact that practises do vary from area to area around the country. At one time a big journey was going to the nearest market town, five miles away - and if you had to walk it that would take you a couple of hours at least each way. So people from another town or county really were looked on as 'foreigners'

What this boils down to is that often there is more than one way of doing a ritual.

One of the first things I had a look at was circle casting. The Gardnerian version is these days very easy to access through the writings of Janet and Stewart Farrar and others so that is likely to be the structure that people are most familiar with. However it is not the only way to cast a circle, and, as you might expect, the Folk Witchery way(s) are a lot less formal.

So I found myself constructing a simpler ritual based on the basic familiar format, and the ways I have personally worked through the years. Simpler but still rather conventional.

But again this was my version, my construction.

So I went back to folk sources again and looked at what were traditional methods of casting the circle, and found some very simple but easy to follow methods. For example, sweeping the boundary of the circle both forming the shape of the sacred area and sweeping out and away all negative energies.

But again, this is not the only way this is done. So I decided that rather than me picking what I should pass on to my readers, I should give them a variety of methods ancient and yes my modern version too - but at least they would know which was which and could make their own choices.

This is getting even more fun!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Folk Witchery Seasonal Rituals

You may have noticed that we produce a series of booklets entitled 'A Folk Witchery Book of ......' these are all based on folk lore and folk traditions of the British Isles.

Graham and I were chatting the other day about the fact that although we have published Wicca Courses and books to help people become a Witch, we have never published a book of basic rituals, Esbats, Sabbats and all the little basic consecration and circle casting rituals which we take for granted.

So we are thinking it is about time we compiled a Folk Witchery Book of Seasonal Rituals - obviously that is just a working title, but you get the general idea.

The way we have always taught Witchcraft is based on the premice that whoever is doing the Courses may well either be working with other Witches in a group, who have their own rituals, or may eventually join a particular group or tradition who do have their own seasonal and circle casting rituals. And that the person doing the course may well prefer to create their own rituals based on their own beliefs and needs.

We also are aware that all the Witch rituals currently in existence were originally devised/created by someone, and therefore the rituals you create for yourself have as much or perhaps more significance for yourself.

However there is also the flip side that it is nice to have a basic map or plan or recipe for a ritual which you can use as is or add to or even decide that it is not for you, and that you could do better.

So I now have another job to fit in amongst everything else, to create/compile a book of basic rituals for Folk Witches. I may well be trying out ideas on the blog - or works in progress. So if you have any ideas or requests for rituals you could really do with, please do get in touch.

This sounds like fun.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

How Can I Become a Witch?

That is a question I have heard numerous times over the years. And I still find it difficult to answer the question.

As far as I'm concerned, if you want to be a Witch, get on and be one. There is no one to stop you and actually no definition of what it means to be a Witch.

Some years ago now a group of Witches tried to get all Witches to sign up to a sort of covenant defining what it meant to be a Witch, largely so the Witch/Wiccan community had some sort of legal protection when stories came out in the Sunday papers which were definitely NOT what Witchcraft was about. The idea failed because as soon as you start saying 'this is what Witchcraft is' you will find a whole raft of people saying 'Oh no it isn't!'

So you still need to know where to start so I will give you a list of books for a start that I consider to be helpful and give the basics of what it means to be a conventional Witch:
Eight Sabbats for Witches by Janet and Stewart Farrar
The Witches Way by Janet and Stewart Farrar

These two have been combined and are more often available as 'The Witches Bible' or 'The Witches Bible Complete' depending on the edition.

Witchcraft for Tomorrow by Doreen Valiente
Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson
A Book of Pagan Rituals by Ed Fitch
Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft by Ray Buckland

Look out for any books by the above authors as they will be practical and useable and sensible. You can order books through your local library to have a read of them, and make lots of notes.

At Raven we also publish our own Wicca Course and Advanced Wicca Course along with all sorts of fact sheets and books which you can use to become the Witch you want to be. (Just drop me a line at Raven, 17 Melton Fields, Brickyard Lane, North Ferriby, East Yorks HU14 3HE if you would like a copy of the catalogue).

You may have noticed that I said above, the books listed will help you to become a 'conventional Witch' what I mean by that is that there are basic fundamentals which you will be expected to know about as a Witch. For example the Eight Sabbats or major Witch festivals throughout the year, and ceremonies such as Calling Down the Moon and the Charge of the Goddess.

BUT these are not necessary in order to be a Witch.

However if you are going to go 'off piste' with your Witchcraft it will make learning more difficult as you will have to find out for a start what you wish to learn about.

The conventional way to become a Witch is to find a group of Witches and after making friends with them, ask for initiation into their group. You then learn from them what they wish to teach you about Witchcraft. The difficulty with this is: firstly finding any group of Witches; and then finding a group of Witches whose philosophy or way of magical working ties in with your own.

It is nice to have a group of friends to work magic with. Group magical workings can be very different from solitary practise and it is a good experience to have. But there is nothing wrong with being a Solitary Witch, and most Witches will spend at least some time (or even the majority of their time) as a Solitary. As this is the case, there is nothing wrong with learning on your own, at least that way you can learn what you want to learn, and follow whatever winding Path your inclination or magic opens for you.

Incidentally if you are stuck with your studies, or have a magical question or problem I am more than happy to try and help you out.

More next time on how you can become a Witch.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Here is another recipe to try if you have run out of eggs and want CAKE - it is surprisingly delicious. And very easy to make - trust me I only do 'easy' cooking

285g Self Raising Flour
225g Sugar
200g Mayonnaise
4 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
8 fluid oz or 220ml Boiling Water
1 teasp Vanilla Extract

Dissolve the cocoa in the boiling water.
Mix together the flour and sugar. Add the mayonnaise and mix it in, then add the cocoa liquid and the vanilla. Mix it well and then put in a loaf tin.
Bake at 180 degrees for 40-45 mins. Test it with a skewer or a pointy knife to check the middle is cooked
Leave it to cool in the tin

The original recipe for this called for extra baking powder, but I left it out and the cake still doubled in size while cooking. The mayonnaise doesn't have to be anything fancy either, we used the cheapest Sainsbury's Basic Mayonnaise, so use whatever you have to hand.

Incidentally I use a loaf tin for cake making because I don't have any proper cake tins. If you use a round cake tin you might find this cooks more quickly so I'd say about 30 mins for a round cake.

I thought the recipe could have done with a bit more sugar as it is an intensely chocolatey flavour - but if it isn't sweet enough for you just make some butter cream for icing, or try it with ice cream as a yummy dessert