Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Michaelmas Magic

29th of September is Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and all Angels.
     This is one of the four Quarter Days spaced throughout the year when rent and debts were paid, loans and leases taken out and servants hired and fired. The others are Lady Day (25th March) Midsummer (24th June) and Christmas Day. Michaelmas is particularly associated with the legal profession and was the time when magistrates were elected.
     All the harvest should be gathered in by Michaelmas, so it was traditional to have a feast at this time, and in England a goose would be eaten, which is why there are traditional Goose Fairs around this time. This is said to have originated with Queen Elizabeth who was eating goose when news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada was brought to her - but as this happened in June and Michaelmas is in September, the tradition is obviously far older.
     In Scotland St Michael's Bannock or Struan Michel Cake was made. There is no recipe for this, it is a scone-like cake, made using all the different varieties of cereal grain grown on the farm and mixed together with sheep's milk. As the eldest daughter mixed the dough, she baked magic into it by chanting:
Progeny and Prosperity of Family,
Mystery of Michael,
Protection of the Trinity.
     All the members of the family should have a piece of the baked cake, and the whole cake should be eaten before the night was out.
     In Ireland a special pie was made with a ring baked into it, and whoever found the ring would be the next person to marry. In Normandy a special Mere Poulard Omelet is made at Mont St Michel, using eight eggs and lots of butter, it is said that this can only be cooked properly over a wood fire.

     St Michael the Archangel was the commander of the heavenly army in its battle against the rebel angels, led by Lucifer. It is said that today Michael triumphed and kicked Lucifer out of heaven. Lucifer fell to earth like a blazing star, and landed right in a prickly bramble bush, which he cursed as he crawled out of it. Because of this brambles should not be picked after today (or alternately after Old Michaelmas Day on the 11th October).
     Michael is a magical protector and patron saint of mariners and of horses and horsemen, so horse racing was another traditional activity today, particularly in Scotland, where local men would race their horses and place small bets on the outcome. There is also another tradition that today it was legal to 'borrow' a neighbour's horse and ride it all day, as long as it was returned, unharmed, by night fall.
     Crab apples are ripening now and it was the time to gather them. Girls would also use them to find out if their lover was true to them, by laying out the apples in a loft, in the shape of the initials of their boyfriends. When the apples were inspected again on Old Michaelmas Day, if the initials were still perfect, then you had a true love - but beware if any of the apples had gone mouldy!

A Crafty Love Spell

For those of you who miss out on the full magnificence that is the Raven Newsletter, which has just gone out with our latest Book Sale list, here is a spell which appears in the current issue.

     This spell is based on a medieval spell, but works equally well today.  And is particularly appropriate if you are a person who enjoys crafts such as hand sewing or embroidery.
     Cut out two heart shapes the same size, preferably in red velvet or felt. The hearts want to be around the same size as your hand. Sew them together but leave a small part unsewn, so you can turn the heart inside out and the seam will be on the inside. Now you will stuff the heart with any kind of filling, but if you can, incorporate something into the filling which comes from the person you desire. It could be hair, a note they have written, a piece of clothing cut up small, or if you have nothing else, write their name and date of birth on a piece of paper, roll it into a scroll and seal with red thread and red wax and pop that into the middle of the stuffing. Dried Twitch grass (couch grass or Witch grass) is traditionally used for this kind of spell as a stuffing.
     Now sew the heart closed. Then put it on your altar and work the rest of your spell naked by firelight or candle light.
     Sprinkle the heart with Consecrated Salt and Water and say:

The heart of my beloved is given unto me
His/Her name is [name] and this I know
When e'er I prick this blood red heart
Their love for me will grow.

     Now if you wear aftershave or perfume sprinkle a little of this on the heart, alternately use a Love oil or one dedicated to Aphrodite.
     Now take up some pins and stick them one by one into the heart and as you do so say:

[Name] your love and desire for me grows stronger

     When you have stuck all the pins in. Leave the heart on your altar over night. The next day take the heart and put it in your sewing kit. Use it as a pin cushion, but know that every time you stick a pin into it you are re-activating (and strengthening) the spell.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Dark Half, Light Half

     I was very tempted to subtitle this post 'or: Don't Mention Black Magic!'
     In the West some people get rather twitchy if you talk about 'working with Dark energies', but at the Equinoxes in particular, as Witches and Pagans, we are very aware of the balance shifting between light and dark.
     The main problem is that there is still a 'knee jerk' prejudice which sees: white is light is good and alternatively black is dark is evil. Whereas they may be opposites, but light and dark are complimentary and you can't have one without the other. Think of the Yin Yang symbol it is a circle which contains two teardrop shapes, one black and one white, the white teardrop has a black 'eye', and the black teardrop a white eye. This symbol graphically illustrates that these energies are complimentary, one cannot exist without the other, and each contains the potential of change into its opposite.
     I have personally been accused of being the Whitest of White Witches and also the Blackest of Dark Practitioners, both supposedly issued as insults. But as my teacher often remarked 'There are no such things as Black or White Witches, we are all shades of grey.'
     As we are just past the Equinox, let us see what that means. The Equinox is literally that time when the length of day and the length of night are exactly the same, or Equal, which is why the Equinox is also called the time of balance. However the Wheel of the Year is in constant motion, it doesn't stop, so the actual time of balance is a mere instant, which is why I prefer the idea of the Equinox as being a time of dynamic change.
     There are two times in the year when the Equinoxes occur: the Spring Equinox when the length of the nights is growing shorter and the days lengthening and the Autumn Equinox when the opposite it happening, the days are growing shorter and the nights lengthening.
     Because the nights are growing longer, this means that for the next six months there will be more hours of darkness than hours of daylight, and that is why this is called the Dark Half of the year. Not for any sinister reason, but simply because each day has less light than darkness. The further north you go, the more dramatic is the contrast between the lengths of day and night.
     However, please remember that I live in England when I speak of the Equinoxes in this way. I am referring to how they appear in the Northern half of the World. If I lived in South America or Australia we would just have experienced the Spring Equinox, and be heading into the Light Half of the year.
     So each year the Equinoxes demonstrate the nature of these Yin Yang energies: the light growing in one hemisphere precisely as the darkness is growing in the other. Each balances the other moment by moment, day by day and year by year.
    This is also why we refer to the procession of the seasons and the seasonal rituals as the Wheel of the Year, an ever turning succession of seasons and rituals, one blending into the next, until the Wheel has turned full circle and continues onwards.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

An Autumn Equinox Ritual

Here is a little Folk Witchery ritual you can use for the Autumn Equinox. In addition to your altar candles you will need two more candles, preferably one black and one white, but they could be one dark coloured and one light coloured, and a night light. The black or dark coloured candle will represent the dark half of the year and the white or light coloured candle for the bright or light half of the year.

     First cast your circle, light your altar candles and get some incense going. A mixture of frankincense and myrrh would be nice for this ritual. Consecrate some salt and water and bless yourself and anyone else who is with you.
     Light the white candle first and say:
The bright days of Summer are fading,
The light retreats, the earth quietens.
     Now light the black candle and say:
Dark nights of magic now increase,
The nights lengthen, the spirits awaken.
     Now light the night light and put it between and in front of the other two candles and say:
I stand at the point of Power,
The crack between the seasons,
The balance of Light and Dark.
I face the darkness and step forth boldly
Knowing that I carry light with me always,
As I embrace the darkness and welcome its magic.

     Now is the time to do some divination or scrying. If you have a dark glass or an obsidian mirror, that would be very appropriate, alternately use black ink in water to create a scrying surface.
     When you have finished any spell work, bless some drink and food and have a little celebration within your circle while the energies calm down. Remember to save a little to take outside afterwards as an offering to the spirits.
     Then close down your circle.

Monday, 19 September 2016

I've got that Equinox Feeling Again

Well it is coming up to the Autumn Equinox again,
     The magical time of balance poised between the Summer and Winter, when the darkness is advancing and soon the nights will be longer than the days. A time that many people think of as balance and harmony.
     And can also be one of the most disruptive times of the year, as if the Powers feel the need to get all the crap they can out of the way, by dumping it all at once on us.
     You may remember last year when I had three posts up in quick succession talking about the powers of the Equinoxes and how it isn't always a time of balance and harmony, but that things that have been jogging along nicely can suddenly jump up and bite you on the bum?
    Well we have been working on our latest Newsletter and Mail Shot - this one is a list of One Off second hand books, all of which have had to be individually looked at and contents described, together with number of pages, whether hard-back, paper-back or whatever and notes about their overall condition.
     We got that finished at the weekend, which meant that we were hoping for a bit of time to chill and maybe have a day off.
     However on Friday the internet started playing up. Weirdly I can get on Facebook, my blog and anything on You Tube with no problem, but anything else either loads e...x...t...r...e....m...e..l...y        s...l...o...w...l...y or not at all. So we asked our son Mike (the Blog of Thog) if he would have a look at the computers and talk to our internet people for us.
     He spoke to a very nice lady called Laura for two hours on Saturday. She came to the conclusion that she did not know what was happening, would have to refer the matter to a more experienced engineer, but that it was THEIR FAULT - well, sort of, yippee.
    So today we were ready to set off with bags full of envelopes (the mail shot) to send out to our customers, stuff to put in the bank, and shopping to do. Jumped in the car, turned the ignition key and ..... nothing. Not even the exhausted whine of an engine attempting to turn over.
    Back into the house we went, and I rang the AA (this was 9 am) they told us we could expect an engineer around 10.40 as their priority is people who are in tricky or dangerous situations and, being at home isn't either of those. So Graham got out his big rucksack, loaded the mail shot into it and set off to hike the two miles or more to Ferriby Post Office.
    So, at least it gave me a chance to get on with some printing and catalogue requests I hadn't managed at the weekend. Graham arrived back before the AA man arrived and helped me with folding catalogues and stuffing yet more envelopes.
     When the AA man turned up and fiddled about with the car, his conclusion was that the battery was dead, (which to be honest was what I'd thought) so I bought another one from him, and we finally set off for the bank and shops.
     While I was waiting outside Aldi for Graham, a man tapped on the side window and indicated that I had a flat tyre.
     Luckily we were near Sainsbury's which has a petrol station and air line, so we re-inflated the tyre, finished shopping and came home.
     I am hoping that this is my share of Equinox disruption dealt with - but I am asking you to read that bit very quietly.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

How Do I Use This Oil?

One thing that I do a lot is create and blend magical oils. There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of magical recipes out there, some of which are well known, others not.
     Most of the names of the oils seem to have originated with Vodun practitioners, and there are several which are said to have been created by Marie Laveau the famous 19th century Mambo from New Orleans, such as Van Van and Marie Laveau Peace.
     Because they are well known, some of these oils are part of a well established spell or ritual, or have specific spells attached to them. Others are more general purpose. You can buy books which give lists of oils, incenses and powders and a brief idea of the magical purposes they are used for. At Raven we publish Voodoo and Santeria by Merle Patrice (£2.95 plus p&p) which includes a lists of preparations together with magical uses for each. But all of this info should be just a starting point for your own imagination.
     I create new recipes every week, simply because customers ask me for a special oil for a specific ritual, magical spell, or to invoke a particular deity. All of these recipes are based both on my own experience and traditional magical properties of the essential oils and/or the plants they are derived from.
     Each oil can be used in a number of different ways, depending on what kind of magic you are aiming on performing:

Anointing a Candle: basically this is done by putting a little of the oil on your index finger and stroking this onto the candle as you chant a word or phrase which encapsulates your magical purpose. So if you were going to do a spell to increase your personal wealth, you could chant 'Money, come to me!', as you anoint the candle.
     The way you apply the oil to the candle can also vary depending on the magical working, or on your own beliefs. The traditional way to 'dress' a candle (anoint it) is to start in the middle of the candle and stroke downwards to the bottom, then from the middle upwards to the top.
    Another way to do it is to think about the purpose of the ritual and anything you wish to draw towards yourself, stroke the oil onto the candle from the tip down to the base, and anything you wish to get rid of or banish, anoint from the base to the tip.
     Some people will use a single candle on their altar to represent the purpose of the ritual, this is called the 'object' candle. At other times you may use a number of candles, or candles of different colours.

Anointing Yourself: again the way this is done depends on what you are aiming on with your magic. For good luck you could simply put some on your finger tips and touch a lottery ticket, betting slip or playing cards to activate the magic. To draw a lover, wear the oil as you would wear any perfume, a little on your wrists, throat and behind the ears, or wherever seems appropriate to you. To bring influence to bear on someone else you could put a dab in the centre of your palm, then shake hands with them, or touch something you know they will also touch, such as a door handle or even a piece or paper or a letter. In some rituals you can anoint the palms of your hands, feet and the centre of your forehead, so that you can embody the magical universe, or to awaken your own Witchy powers.

In a bath: you will only need a few drops of an oil in your bath water and I would use a little bubble bath too, to make sure that the oil disperses into the water and doesn't just stay in a blob floating on the surface. Used in the bath this makes sure the oil covers all your body and infuses your aura too, so you can become a money magnet or a love magnet. This is also a good way to use any oil before a ritual both to put yourself into the correct magical frame of mind, or to ensure that you will take the correct energies into your magical circle.

Anointing other objects: Sometimes it is nice to make a special pouch for your magical purposes, putting herbs, trinkets or other objects into the pouch, and these can all be anointed with the oil, or the fabric of the pouch can be anointed instead or as well.

Sprinkling the oil: this is often used to ensure that the whole of an area is suffused with a particular kind of psychic energy. Or you could make a large X with the oil across a path leading to an entrance to ensure that whoever uses that doorway will have to cross the X and therefore will be influenced by the magic you desire.
     Sometimes the oil (a few drops only) is added to a bucket of soapy water and this is then used to give a room or larger area a good physical cleansing while also infusing the area with the appropriate magical energy. This is often done if you are preparing a room for use as your magical temple or meditation space. You can use an oil of cleansing or of consecration.

Working with Spirits: In this case you might put a little of the oil on your fingers and then touch this to a talisman which represents the spirit, demon or deity. Or you might use it like a magical ink and go over your drawn talisman using the oil. Or you can put a drop on a deity statue as an offering.

     As you can see from the above, there are LOTS of different ways of using magical oils, and these will all add magic and atmosphere to your rituals. So don't be afraid to have a go.