Monday, 28 February 2011
Animal magick is the art of recognizing and working with familiars and animal spirit guides.
Animal magick shows you how to work with animals for your spiritual growth and increased magickal power. Familiars are not the stereotyped witch’s cat and cohort in crime. Real or imagined, familiars make excellent companions; they can warn you of danger, general healing energy, and love you unconditionally. If you work magick, familiars can aid in augmenting your results with their preternatural power.
Your work with your familiar/totem/guides can take on an even greater purpose, that is the remembrance and honouring of our ancestors. You can use familiars/totems/guides in meditations and magick; uncover superstitions about them, and draw associations with ancient Pagan deities. Learn to identify familiars with the descriptions of physical characteristics and magickal attributes. Use chants to invoke an animal’s greatest natural attribute. You can discover a new source of strength, wisdom and friendship in your familiar.
The word familiar in the dictionary is defined as “closely acquainted; an intimate associate or companion; a spirit often embodied in an animal and held to attend and serve or guard a person”.
To most people a familiar is a witch’s companion, a small animal that helps the witch with magick.
You may already have an actual physical familiar living in your home in the guise of a pet. Do you find yourself receiving mental messages from your familiar? This type of communication is common between people and their pet/familiar.
You may even have an astral bodied animal familiar, drawn to you by your enthusiasm for that particular creature with which it is impossible to have contact in the physical realm. Many people collect pictures or statues of a particular creature and never consciously realize they are subconsciously communicating with that creature, either as a non magick working familiar or for the magickal and spiritual powers it has.
So what is the difference between an animal totem, a familiar and an animal spirit guide?
Totems are those animals that you have had an affinity for or have seemed to have walked with you for a very long time period. They may have walked with you for many lifetimes, many years, or just have recently came into focus as you have had need of them. Your totem animal need not be limited to animals on this planet at this time, mythical creatures and extinct ones are useful totems too.
Guides are animals that come around quickly as you need help at certain times of your life and then just as quickly leave. They may linger as long as a glance or for many months. Distinguishing Guides from Totems can be difficult but not impossible. If you are needing help at the moment in your life or something happens, then the animal that has crossed your path more than likely was a guide giving you wisdom to help you along the way. You don’t choose a spirit guide, it chooses you.
Then there is animal medicine: The term medicine refers to the special powers housed in each part of creation, including the animal kingdom. By observing animals in natural surroundings and their associated behaviours, we begin to get glimpses of each creature’s medicine. This understanding in turn, helps us to connect with the animal spirit, honour it and utilize it in our witchery.
So how do you find your familiar or totem animal?
There are meditations, dreams, dancing, drumming, spells or just being particularly drawn to one animal, or seeing images of it in everyday life.
Once you find your animal you need to research it. Work to understand it. Where does it live? What does it eat? How does it act, walk, hunt, look after its young? You can expand that to cover what element it corresponds to, how does it defend itself, does it have its own legends or folklore? All these things will help you to understand your animal more and why it found you. Remember that there will be positive AND negative characteristics to any animal.
Ok what about shape shifting?
Shape shifting is a change, a way to help us become better by becoming different than ourselves. We already Shape shift everyday in many different ways to everyone we meet. We are a different person to our boss, to our coworker, a stranger, a spouse, our child. Native Americans Shape shifted to go on spiritual quests to learn answers about themselves and the world around them. So we may learn too to Shape shift to seek higher wisdom and knowledge.
Shape shifting brings us closer to our Totems. When there is a mutual comfortableness between you and your Totem or spirit guide, you can learn about many more things in the world that human eyes have forgotten to see.
So you have a totem or an animal spirit guide – but what does it mean? Each totem or spirit guide will be with you for a reason, what you need to work out and understand is why it is with you.
Say a butterfly totem came to you – the butterfly symbolizes reincarnation, magick, beauty and love. Transformation of the personality and life. Understanding where you are in the cycle of your life and using it to the fullest. Divination concerning future events that have a bearing on your cycle of life and rebirth. Relate that to your own life and situation and learn from it. The butterfly is with you to help you, assist you and guide you.
Or maybe a Griffin has joined you – seeing a Griffin is a sign of powerful new beginnings of learning how to use the psychic in a useful manner. But on the negative it is subconscious punishment for love of riches, greed or of desiring riches. Its magickal attributes are understanding the relationship between psychic energy and cosmic forces. Spiritual wisdom and enlightenment. Bringing the dark side of ourselves into submission.
What about an otter? His magickal attributes are finding inner treasures or talents; faithfulness; gaining wisdom; the ability to recover from a crisis. Be sensible, but not overly suspicious, when something or someone new enters your life. Its appearance points to a need to enjoy life rather than just endure it. Social life, friends, happiness. Guidance to uncovering talents, psychic or physical.
So once you have your totem animal, familiar and/or spirit guides is that it? Nope! Everything that is worth having takes a bit of work to keep. You need to honour your guides and make sure you stay connected with them. Apart from learning all about them as I mentioned before, you do need to reaffirm your connection occasionally. Make pictures of them, even if your art isn’t that good. Donate to wildlife charities if you have some spare cash, even small change will help. Make charms and amulets for your familiars and pets collars. Don’t ignore your spirit guides in your daily life. Take them out with you when you go anywhere, say good morning to a picture of your animal each day, put a statue on your altar, wear a pendant representing your particular animal.
In order to form a strong bond with your guide, familiar or totem mutual respect is essential. You must listen to your guide’s point of view and suggestions.
Working with animal magick take time and effort, but can be very rewarding and enlightening.
Friday, 25 February 2011
Yes, we have computer games and DS games, but thankfully both my children also love arts and crafts. In fact, no spare cardboard box is safe in our house - it is either made into a bed for a teddy or a castle for the Gormitis!
I thought I would share some of our ideas and activities for all those struggling parents out there! Or even to keep us grown ups occupied too ;-)
Floor pictures - my eldest likes to make huge 3D pictures on the living room floor using scarves, ribbons, hats, gloves, necklaces, string, and even pots and pans! It keeps her occupied for ages creating different pictures, isn't messy and takes minutes to clear away.
Pebble painting - we have a box of pebbles collected from various beaches, these we use to paint pictures on. Sometimes animals, sometimes flowers, and sometimes we decide what the spirit of the stone would look like and they become beautiful (or ugly!) faces.
Modelling - we have fimo clay, plasticine and Play Doh. All these mediums can be created into animals, people and even pretend food! Daddy doesn't know it yet but for his birthday next week, yesterday both the children created fimo characters for him, one of them looks just like him...;-)
Wands - making wands is fun and easy. We usually have a stock of 'wand shaped' sticks that we have collected on various woodland walks. Decorate them with ribbons, string, small stones and crystals and glitter.
Meditations - both my children love to have a meditation before they go to sleep. Spend some time with them writing their own ideas for meditations, maybe even including pictures that they have drawn of some of the ideas they have.
Story telling - sit with your children and read or tell myths and ancient stories to them, then depending on their ages, ask them to write their own mythical story or if they are younger, draw a picture of a mythical being.
Garbage creations - we save yogurt pots, cardboard boxes, cereal packets etc and they then get transformed into all sorts of things!
Button pictures - my grandmother always had a large jar of buttons, as a child I used to spend ages playing with them and making pictures. I now own that same jar of buttons, and have added my own to it. Button pictures can be made on a tray and then rearranged, then put back in jar for next time. Or use the buttons and stick them to a piece of card. You can also just pick one button and ask each child to create a create/picture/person around it by sticking the button on a piece of paper and the child then draws the images around it.
Plays - we are lucky enough to have a dressing up box, it contains all the various Disney outfits that the children have received along with old bits and pieces of our clothing and nannas old hats! They use the dressing up box to inspire a story, then they work out a play to act out.
Faery House - using an old shoe box, decorate the inside and out with pretty paper, stickers or paint. Inside put sparkly beads, shiny coins, pictures of faeries - anything you fancy to attract the fae. If you have the weather to venture outside you could also make a faery house with twigs, pebbles and foliage.
Collages - collage pictures can be made from all sorts of things - leaves, sticks, shells, petals, dry pasta, dried pulses, have a look through your cupboards and see what you can find.
We would love to hear your ideas too!
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
The History of Taliesin, in which we encounter the godlike figure, places his birth during the time of King Arthur, at Llyn Tegid (modern Lake Bala) in Gwynedd.
The witch Cerridwen had two children. The one, her daughter, was as beautiful a child as you could ever hope to see; the other, her son Morfran, was so ugly, ill-favored and stupid that he sickened everyone who saw him.
Ceridwen was grieved that Morfran was so horrible, and resolved by her magic arts to make him into such a great bard that no-one would mind his ugliness. She began to cast a great spell. Many were the plants that she cast into her cauldron, many the incantations said over it. An old blind man named Morda was set to keep the fires burning beneath it, assisted by a young boy, Gwion.
The Cauldron of Wisdom and Inspiration must be kept boiling for a year and a day, and then the first three drops from it would impart ultimate knowledge to the one who drank them. But the rest of the liquid would be deadly poison.
Long labored Ceridwen, roaming far to find the rare and exotic herbs she required, and so it chanced that she fell asleep on the last day of the spell. The boy Gwion was stirring the brew when three drops flew out onto his thumb, and they were scalding hot, so that he thrust it into his mouth to stop the burning. Instantly, he had the wisdom and inspiration of ages, and the first thing that occurred to him was that Ceridwen would be very angry. These were the three drops of awen, which resulted in Gwion's enlightenment.
He ran away from the house of Ceridwen, but all too soon he heard the fury of her pursuit. Using his new magical powers, he turned himself into a hare. She turned into a greyhound bitch, and gained ever more on him. He came to a river, and quick as thinking became a fish. She became an otter. He leapt from the water, and in the middle of his leap became a bird of the air. The witch Ceridwen became a hawk. In desperation, he looked down and saw a pile of wheat. He dived, landed, and as it scattered he turned into a single grain. Then she landed and became a hen, and pecked at the grain until she had swallowed Gwion.
Soon after, Ceridwen found herself with child, though she had lain with no man. When she realized that the baby was Gwion, she resolved to kill it, and Morfran wanted her to also, in revenge for his not becoming a bard. In due course, the babe was born, and Morfran would have slaughtered him on the spot, but the mother said no, because it was the most beautiful child ever seen. But she took him and, sewing him in a bag, set him adrift on the ocean.
He is then found by Elphin, son of Gwyddno Garanhir, who raises the boy and names him "Taliesin" for the radient brow the infant possesses. The infant is preternaturally gifted, able to speak at birth.
The king of the land at that time was Maelgwn, a somewhat vain man who surrounded himself with toadies and fawning sycophants. The year that Taliesin turned thirteen, Elphin received a summons from the king, demanding his presence at the Christ Mass feast at midwinter.
As they all sat around the high table, the other men vied with one another to see who could praise Maelgwn the most. Elphin was an honest man, and he couldn't honestly say that the king's bards were better or the queen a fairer woman, than those waiting at his home.
"What, so silent, Elphin? Can our loyal subject then find nothing to praise his king for?" said Maelgwn.
"Well, my lord," said Elphin, "I would say that though I am not a king, yet my wife is as fair and as virtuous as any woman in the kingdom - and my bard the best in Gwynedd."
"Insolence!" roared Maelgwn. "Throw him in our deepest dungeon! Let him be chained there until the falsity of his monstrous claim can be shown once and for all! And we think we know just how to do that..."
Taliesin was out skating. As he bent down to take the skates off, he glanced at a patch of ice, and fell into a trance, where he saw all that had befallen Elphin. When he woke, he rushed home to tell Elphin's wife.
Maelgwn had a son named Rhun, a lecher so revolting that to be seen with him would tarnish a woman's reputation beyond repair. This son he sent to Elphin's home, to seduce his wife and show the falsity of his claims. When Rhun came to the gate, he was welcomed, if not warmly, then civilly, by young Taliesin. He showed the prince into the hall, where sat a woman dressed in finery, with rings upon her fingers and a golden torque. She made him welcome and they supped together. Rhun poured cup after cup of wine for her, and foolishly she drank it all. Soon she was giggly and silly, and she assented to his request to withdraw with him to some place more private. Rhun waited until she fell asleep in a drunken stupor, then tried to remove the ring from her plump hand. It would not come off, so quick as lightning he cut the finger off, ring and all.
When Maelgwn told Elphin what had transpired, Elphin did not believe it and asked for proof. The king produced the severed finger bearing the ring. Elphin looked closely and declared it not the finger of his wife and that Rhun had been tricked.
Maelgwn was furious and challenged a competition between their bards. Elphin was taken back to his cell.
Taliesin was already seeing about provisions for the journey, while Elphin's wife looked after the poor nine-fingered maidservant. He arrived at the court two days later, and slipped through the gates. He made his way to the throne room and sat in the corner. When the king's bards filed in, he pouted his lips at them and played blerwm, blerwm on them, and the bards stood still and played blerwm, blerwm on their lips instead of praising Maelgwn. Maelgwn finally ordered a guard to strike Heinnin Fardd, his chief bard. This broke their trance enough that Heinnin Fardd could explain to Maelgwn that there was a devil in the form of a child who had cast a spell on them.
Then Maelgwn had Taliesin brought out, and questioned him.
"I have come to salvage Elphin's honor and his freedom. Taliesin am I, primary chief bard to Elphin.
"Primary chief poet
Am I to Elphin.
And my native country
Is the place of the Summer Stars.
"John the Divine
Called me Merlin,
But all future kings
Shall call me Taliesin.
Maelgwn scoffed and questioned that a mere child would be able to beat his bards who had trained for twenty years.
The contest was announced and Taliesin suggested it should be to compose a poem on the wind with the King to be the judge. Maelgwn was getting bored now, and declared that the poem had to be written in twenty minutes.
Heinnin Fardd and the king's bards huddled in the corner, consulting scrolls of rhymes and metaphors. Every so often, one let out a yelp of frustration. Taliesin lounged on the floor.
When the time was up, the king's bards stood in a line before the throne and bowed.
"O greatest of kings, hear our song.
"Knaves! Fools! Miserable swine! Was it for this that I paid you in gold and precious gems?" The court had never seen Maelgwn so angry. The bards groveled in the rushes. "Mighty king, it was not our fault! It's that demon child."
Taliesin, admittedly, was smirking in a most irritating fashion.
"So it's my turn?" he asked. He stood up straight and began. While he sang, a great wind arose and buffeted the castle, shaking it to its foundations. Maelgwn was afraid, and he called for Elphin to be brought out.
As soon as Elphin was brought out, Taliesin stopped the wind, and sang a new song that caused Elphin's chains to fall away from his ankles and wrists. Then he cried out to Elphin's wife to enter the hall, and she held her hands up so that everyone could see that she had ten fingers. Maelgwn was angrier than ever.
He then challenged Elphin, with a race between their horses. Taliesin told Elphin to accept.
On the appointed day, Elphin & Taliesin returned leading a lame old horse.
The horses started - Taliesin riding the old mare. As each horse of the king's overtook him, he struck it on the rump with a holly twig, then let it fall. As the king's horses got further and further ahead, no-one could understand why Taliesin was still smiling. He slowed down and dropped his cap - again, no-one knew why.
On reaching half way Taliesin stopped his horse for a short rest before continuing. The king's horses had long since passed them on the way back. As the king's horses passed the discarded holly twigs that Taliesin had struck them with, they stopped, reared up on their hind legs, and began to dance.
Taliesin and his mare wandered past them to the finish line. Maelgwn saw no alternative to letting them go. On the way home, Taliesin bid Elphin stop where he had dropped his cap. He had some men dig a hole at the spot, and they dug up a great chest full of treasure.
"Truly, Taliesin, never could I regret the day I pulled you out from the weir," said Elphin as they rode away.
Monday, 21 February 2011
I had a really wonderful day last weekend. A group of friends getting together to eat, chat and craft. Not all of us were crafters, but by the end of the day there were numerous finished pieces, ladders, charms, poppets and even a gorgeous Fimo figurine. But what really inspired me was that even the non-crafters made some lovely things and even discovered unknown skills, and if they hadn't given it a go, they would never have known!
It got me thinking about all the skills I have discovered myself over the past years, especially over the past couple of years. I have discovered that there are poets that I enjoy reading, and that I CAN write my own too! I have written parts of a whole story alongside compatriots, and that they have been rather good. I have discovered the art of Haiku, the not-so-simple Japanese "poems", three lines, 5 syllables in the first line, seven in the second and 5 in the third.
I used to be quite good at art at school, no good with paints, but chalk pastel was my medium. I hadn't drawn for years, got out of the habit and then I couldn't put to paper what was in my mind. But then, I was encouraged by friends. I say encouraged, had paper and pencil thrust into my hand and demanded that I draw...and now - I have then plan of launching my own cross-stitch designs.
I have been a very determined solitary all these years, then I got together with a group of like-minded people and find myself attending rituals. While I know I don't want a leading part in these rtuals (I have discovered that I definitely don't like being the focus of that much attention) I also know that I quite like sharing those experiences.
I have found that I don't have to pander to prima-donnas and that I can stand my own ground. I've found how personally empowering this can be too! And I know that if I hadn't stuck to certain decisions, if I had chosen the easy way, the more comfortable way, the way of inaction - then I wouldn't be where I am now. I am very much enjoying where I'm at, and wouldn't have it at all if I hadn't given things a try.
Love and hugs
Friday, 18 February 2011
My hero was my grandmother. She was a housewife. Her house was always clean and tidy, there were always home-cooked meals on the table everyday, and plenty of home baking. She knitted, she sewed many of my childhood clothes, and she grew the best runner beans in the whole world. I may be biased.
She could also wire a plug, change a lightbulb, paint and decorate and hang wallpaper. She knew which end of a screwdriver was which because my grandad certainly didn't. She sewed parachutes in the war, and, after she died, we found a book of poetry she had copied by hand for my grandad who spent the war in India in the paycorp. She couldn't drive, and she left all the financial stuff to grandad.
Now - I'm a housewife. By choice. I never had a career, I never knew what I wanted to do! Then I had children and discovered that THEY were my career. Except I'm a Sagittarian, and have an octopus as a totem, which basically means I'm not good at housework.
I am - when I actually get around to doing it. But there are so many other things I could be doing that are a whole lot more interesting. All those books, computer games, and to coin the phrase of a dear friend, the whole smorgasbord of magickal wondrousness.
Perhaps I am having a mid-life crisis, maybe it's the coming of spring, because I've suddenly come over all housewifely. I count myself extremely lucky that I'm in a position to choose to be a homemaker, many women would love the opportunity. But there is magick in homemaking, in food prepared from scratch, in clutter-free environments where the energies can move without stagnating.
It's my dream to have a home that works as well and as efficiently as my grandma's. Where everything had its place and everything was in its place. As I move into this new season, and a new decade for me, perhaps it is my time to achieve this goal. Though I'm afraid that due to a severe lack of green-finger I will never produce a runner-bean as tasty.
Love and hugs
Thursday, 17 February 2011
Called Storm Moon because of the unpredictable weather at this time of the year.
If you started your magickal and physical spring cleaning at the New Storm Moon ( New Storm Moon blog ) now is the time to turn again to your magickal workings. One of the reasons why it is important to watch the unfolding of the universal cycles is so that magickal operations can be timed to coincide with a favourable tide. It is a way of living in harmony with the world; knowing how to harness these natural tides to our advantage and increase our witch power.
Use the full Moon for any immediate need: a sudden boost of power or courage; a change of career; location or travel; psychic protection; healing acute medical conditions; a large sum of money needed urgently; consummation of love or making a permanent love commitment; justice, ambition and promotion. Energy working toward the surface, purification, growth, loving the self. Accepting responsibility for past errors, forgiving yourself, and making future plans.
This is the day of full power but also of instability, as astrologically the Moon is in opposition to the Sun. Since the full Moon rises close to sunset you can have the Moon rising in the East and the Sun setting in the West, a powerful backdrop for any change you intend or wish to make.
Nature Spirits - house faeries
Herbs - balm of Gilead, hyssop, myrrh, sage
Colours - light blue, violet
Flowers - Primrose
Scents - Wisteria, heliotrope
Stones - amethyst, jasper, rock crystal
Trees - rowan, laurel, cedar
Animals - otter, unicorn
Birds - eagle, chickadee
Deities - Brigit, Juno, Kuan Yin, Diana, Demeter, Persephone, Aphrodite
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
It has been a beautiful spring like day today, blue skies, crisp but fairly warm weather for the time of year and the birds have been singing in the garden.
Time for a spring clean. This time of the year encourages people to reach for their brooms and undertake household chores. For the witch, spring-cleaning is more than physical cleaning, it is also a ritual for new beginnings and positive change. To sweep through the house clearing out old negative energies and habits and filling it with love and positive energy.
Just the act of sweeping can clear out old habits or unpleasant situations, visualising them gone as you sweep. Think of the things you wish to be rid of, from draining relationships to negative thought patterns.
Clearing clutter has the same banishing effect. Let go of any negative associations, feelings or situations that have attached themselves to the object, or the person who gave it to you.
Clean the windows and then throw them open to let in the fresh, cleansing air, dispersing the old negative air inside. Draw symbols in the air in front of all the windows and doors to bless them and bring protection.
I like to do my housework with some music on, loud and energetic to aid my in my chores. You could use pagan music and chant as you go, bringing positive ideas and manifesting good will and happy energy.
As you flush the toilet - visualise all the unpleasant things and nastiness going down with the water.
Banish negative energies by dusting widdershins, then polish deosil to bring in all the good stuff!
Once I am done I like to smudge the house and bless it just to make sure.
I usually renew my witches bottles at this time, or give them a good shake and a recharge.
Go on...make like Snow White...sing with the birds too if you wish!
Monday, 14 February 2011
•which god was celebrated,
•exactly how/where the Lupercalia was celebrated, or
•what its origins were.
Lupercalia is one of the most ancient of the Roman holidays (one of the feriae listed on ancient calendars from even before the time Julius Caesar reformed the calendar). It is familiar to us today for 2 main reasons:
1.It is associated with Valentine's Day
2.It is the setting for Caesar's refusal of the crown that was made immortal by Shakespeare, in his Julius Caesar.
The name of the Lupercalia was talked about a lot in the wake of the 2007 discovery of the legendary Lupercal cave where, supposedly, the twins Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf.
Lupercalia may have started at the time of the founding of Rome (traditionally 753 B.C.) or even before. It ended about 1200 years later, at the end of the 5th century A.D., at least in the West, although it continued in the East for another few centuries. There may be many reasons why Lupercalia lasted so long, but most important must have been its wide appeal.
Why Is Lupercalia Associated With Valentine's Day?
Chronologically, Lupercalia was a full month before the Ides of March. Lupercalia was February 15 or February 13-15, a period either proximate to or covering modern Valentine's Day.
Sharing a date is not enough to connect Lupercalia and Valentine's Day closely. For that there is a thematic connection....
Lupercalia conventionally starts with the founding of Rome (traditionally, 753 B.C.), but may be a more ancient import, coming from Greek Arcadia and honoring Lycaean Pan, the Roman Inuus or Faunus. [Lycaean is a word connected with the Greek for 'wolf' as seen in the term lycanthropy for 'werewolf'.]
Tradition has the legendary twin brothers Romulus and Remus establishing the Lupercalia with 2 gentes, one for each brother. Each gens contributed members to the priestly college that performed the ceremonies, with Jupiter's priest, the flamen dialis, in charge from at least the time of Augustus. The priestly college was called the Sodales Luperci and the priests were known as Luperci. The original 2 gentes were the Fabii, on behalf of Remus, and the Quinctilii, for Romulus. Later, Julius Caesar made a short-lived addition to the gentes who could serve as Luperci, the Julii. Although originally the Luperci had to be aristocrats, the Sodales Luperci came to include equestrians, and then, the lower classes.
Etymologically, Luperci, Lupercalia, and Lupercal all relate to the Latin for 'wolf' lupus, as do various Latin words connected with brothels. The Latin for she-wolf was slang for prostitute. The legends say that Romulus and Remus were nursed by a she-wolf in the Lupercal. Servius, a 4th century pagan commentator on Vergil, says that it was in the Lupercal that Mars ravished and impregnated the twins' mother. (Servius ad. Aen. 1.273)
The Sodales Luperci performed an annual purification of the city in the month for purification, February. Since March was (early in Roman history) the start of the New Year, this was a time to get rid of the old and prepare for the new. The naked Luperci ran about the area of the Palatine settlement. Cicero [Phil. 2.34, 43; 3.5; 13.15] is indignant at a nudus, unctus, ebrius 'naked, oiled, drunk' Antony serving as Lupercus. We don't know why the Luperci were naked. Plutarch says it was for speed. While running, the Luperci struck those men or women they encountered with goatskin thongs (or perhaps a lagobolon 'throwing stick' in the early years) following the opening event: a sacrifice of goat or goat and dog. If, as some think, the Luperci, in their run, circled the Palatine Hill, it would have been impossible for Caesar, who was at the rostra, to have witnessed the entire proceedings from one spot. He could, however, have seen the climax. The naked Luperci started at the Lupercal, ran (wherever they ran), and ended at the Comitium.
The running of the Luperci was a spectacle. Supposedly Varro called the Luperci 'actors'. The first stone theatre in Rome was to have overlooked the Lupercal. There is even a reference in Lactantius to the Luperci wearing dramatic masks.
Speculation abounds as to the reason for the striking with the thongs or lagobola. Perhaps the Luperci struck men and women to sever any deadly influence they were under. That they might be under such an influence has to do with the fact that one of the festivals to honor the dead, the Parentalia, occurred at about the same time.
If the act was to ensure fertility, it could be that the striking of the women was to represent penetration. Obviously the husbands wouldn't have wanted the Luperci actually copulating with their wives, but symbolic penetration, broken skin, made by a piece of a fertility symbol (goat), could be effective.
Striking women is thought to have been a fertility measure, but there was also a decided sexual component. The women may have bared their backs to the thongs from the festival's inception. It is believed that after 276 B.C., young married women were encouraged to bare their bodies. Augustus ruled out beardless young men from serving as Luperci because of their irresistibility, even though they were probably no longer naked. Some classical writers refer to the Luperci as wearing goatskin loincloths by the 1st century B.C.
Goats and the Lupercalia
Goats are symbols of sexuality and fertility. Amalthea's goat horn brimming with milk became the cornucopia. One of the most lascivious of the gods was Pan/Faunus, represented as having horns and a caprine bottom half. Ovid (through whom we are chiefly familiar with the events of the Lupercalia) names him as the god of the Lupercalia. Before the run, the Luperci priests performed their sacrifices of goats or goats and dog, which Plutarch calls the enemy of the wolf. This leads to another of the problems scholars discuss, the fact that the flamen dialis was present at the Lupercalia (Ovid Fasti 2. 267-452) in the time of Augustus. This priest of Jupiter was forbidden to touch a dog or goat and may have been forbidden even to look at a dog. Holleman suggests that Augustus added the presence of the flamen dialis to a ceremony at which he had earlier been absent. Another Augustan innovation may have been the goatskin on previously naked Luperci, which would have been part of an attempt to make the ceremony decent.
By the second century A.D. some of the elements of sexuality had been removed from the Lupercalia. Fully dressed matrons stretched out their hands to be whipped. Later, the representations show women humiliated by flagellation at the hands of men fully dressed and no longer running about. Self-flagellation was part of the rites of Cybele on the 'day of blood' dies sanguinis (March 16). Roman flagellation could be fatal. Scourging became a common practice in the monastic communities. It would seem likely, that with the early church's attitudes towards women and mortification of the flesh, Lupercalia fit right in despite its association with a pagan deity.
In "The God of the Lupercalia", T. P. Wiseman suggests a variety of related gods may have been the god of the Lupercalia. As mentioned above, Ovid counted Faunus as the god of the Lupercalia. For Livy, it was Inuus. Other possibilities include Mars, Juno, Pan, Lupercus, Lycaeus, Bacchus, and Februus. The god itself was less important than the festival.
The End of the Lupercalia
Sacrifice, which was a part of Roman ritual, had been prohibited since 341, but the Lupercalia survived beyond this date. Generally, the end of the Lupercalia festival is attributed to Pope Gelasius (494-496). Some believe it was another late 5th century pope, Felix III. The ritual had become important to the civic life of Rome and was believed to help prevent pestilence, but as the pope charged, it was no longer being performed in the proper manner. Instead of the noble families running around naked, riffraff was running around clothed. The pope also mentioned that it was more a fertility festival than a purification rite and there was pestilence even when the ritual was performed. The pope's lengthy document seems to have put an end to the celebration of Lupercalia in Rome, but in Constantinople, apparently, the festival continued to the tenth century.
Lupercalia started out as a fun event with spectators serving occasionally as willing participants. Naked bodies were unusually exposed to view. There was a fertility component. There was good food from the sacrificial animal. Everything centered around the place where the Vestal Virgin was raped by the god Mars in order to conceive the founder of Rome, Romulus. It's this blend of fun, fertility, and erotic elements, as well as the date, that ties Lupercalia to Valentine's Day, but Lupercalia is not the direct, legitimate ancestor of the Valentine's Day holiday.
Adapted from ancienthistory.about.com
Friday, 11 February 2011
Well they aren't just beautiful and they aren't just for the bees.
Each flower has magickal properties that you can work with. Each particular flower has specific energies and each colour of flower has energies too. Work with them and see what you come up with.
Flowers also have their own language - roses for beauty, chrysanthemums for cheerfulness, daisies for innocence, lilies for purity and modesty. (from Mary M Griffin's Drops from Flora's Cup, 1845).
Use the petals in your spellwork, dry them and use them in incense or put some fresh flowers in your home. Also if you are giving fresh flowers as a present, check out the properties to correspond.
A basic chart of correspondences:
African Violet - spirituality, protection
Anemone - health, protection, healing
Aster - love
Bluebell - luck, truth
Camellia - riches
Carnation - protection, strength, healing
Chrysanthemum - protection
Clover - protection, money, love, fidelity, exorcism, success
Daffodil - love, fertility, luck
Daisy - lust, love
Dandelion - divination, wishes, calling spirits
Foxglove - protection
Geranium - fertility, health, love, protection
Heather - protection, rain making, luck
Honeysuckle - money, psychic powers, protection
Hydrangea - purification, protection
Iris - purification, wisdom
Lavender - love, protection, sleep, chastity, longevity, purification, happiness, peace
Lily - protection, breaking love spells
Magnolia - fidelity
Marigold - protection, prophetic dreams, legal matters, psychic powers
Morning Glory - happiness, peace
Pansy - love, rain magic, love divination
Poppy - fertility, love, sleep, money, luck, invisibility
Primrose - protection, love
Rose - love, psychic powers, healing, love divination, luck, protection
Snapdragon - protection
Sweetpea - friendship, chastity, courage, strength
Tulip - prosperity, love, protection
Sources: Cunningham & Ellen Dugan
Images are of items available for purchase from Kitchen Witch website
Thursday, 10 February 2011
“Rede” is a Middle English term that means to give counsel, advise, interpret, or explain. In a more archaic sense it also means to give an account or tell a story.
There are many versions of the Witches Rede and many choose to write their own based on the original version. The full witches rede is quite long, but the most quoted phrase is:
"Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill – an it harm none, do what ye will"
And the basis of the threefold law is:
"Ever mind the Rule of Three. Three times what thou gives returns to thee. This lesson well, thou must learn, thy only gets what thou dost earn."
This essentially says that whatever you do will come back to you with three times the power. Do good, and it will be revisited upon you with good things, but do evil, and you will suffer three times worse.
There are several different schools of thought on the Rule of Three and the Rede. Some Wiccans and Pagans will tell you in no uncertain terms that it’s rubbish, and that it is not a law at all, but just a guideline used to keep people on the straight and narrow. Other groups swear by it.
No one likes the idea of Pagans and Witches running around flinging curses and hexes about, so the Law of Three is actually quite effective in making people stop and think before they act. Quite simply, it’s the concept of cause and effect. When crafting a spell, any competent Witch is going to stop and think about the end results of the working. If the possible ramifications of one’s actions are likely to be negative, that hopefully would make us stop and re-think.
Although the Law of Three & the Rede sound prohibitive, many Wiccans see them instead as a useful standard to live by. It allows you to set boundaries for yourself by stopping to think about whether you are prepared to accept the consequences, whether they are good or bad for your deeds in the magickal and mundane.
Ultimately, whether you accept the Law of Three or the Rede as cosmic morality injunctions or simply a part of life’s instruction manual, it is up to you to govern your own behaviour, both mundane and magical. Accept personal responsibility, and always think before you act.
I personally would never send out a direct curse, I do live by the rede & the threefold law ... to a point. You still have a right to protect yourself and your family from pain, hurt and down right evil. It would be stupid to stand by and watch someone you love get hurt because you were worried about karma. There are ways to deal with it.
So does this mean you just have to sit there and watch someone be ill-treated or manipulated? No, I don't believe it does, and I don’t. Does it mean if someone is attacking you, psychically or physically, that you just have to leave yourself undefended? No, I don't believe it does, and I don't.
There are acceptable ways of dealing with these problems. If someone is known to be acting with evil intent and harming others, one method to prevent them doing further harm is known as 'binding'. The object of this spell is to render their evil actions ineffectual. The spell is against the deed, not the doer. This gives the doer the opportunity to change.
As for revenge? I believe the universe will take care of the rest. And I whole heartedly believe that the universe will, I have seen it happen. I had a particularly nasty experience with so called friends a few years ago. One person in particular caused an awful lot of grief for myself and my close friends. I did a spell to rid my life of negative energies and fill it with positive ones (it thankfully worked beautifully in fact even more so than I expected) I wasn't specific, but I also asked at the same time that the universe deal with the person in question and their actions as the universe saw fit. It did, that person definitely ‘reaped what they had sowed’ and I did not have to put myself in the situation of sending out a curse.
Ultimately I believe it is up to the individual to judge how they wish to live their lives. I choose to live by the rede and the threefold law as a guideline, and I believe they are good guidelines, but they are not inflexible!
I like this version of the rede found on the net (author unknown)
Bide the Wiccan Laws we must
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfil:
"and ye harm none, do what ye will."
LEST IN THY SELF-DEFENSE IT BE,
Ever mind the rule of three.
Follow this with mind and heart,
and merry ye meet
and merry ye part.
I'm a witch...I don't curse or hex...but don't mess with me, coz the universe is on my side ;-)
Image by Philip Straub
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Pansies have many folk names including, kiss-me-at-the-garden-gate, love-in-idleness, Johnny jump-ups, garden violet and heart’s ease.
According to legend, the god Eros accidentally shot one of his love-inducing arrows into the pansy, causing it to smile. The happy face of the pansy has been grinning ever since.
These bright multi-coloured flowers are incorporated into garden witchery spells and charms for easing a broken heart and for spreading cheer. Also used in love magick and rain spells, and are said to attract love if carried. Can also be used to aid reflection upon a matter or for calming racing thoughts.
In British folklore, picking this magick herb on a sunny day will make it storm, and picking one of these blossoms with dew on it will cause the death of a loved one--pretty powerful stuff! Plant pansies in the shape of a heart; if they prosper, so too will your love.
The flowers are edible and slightly sweet.
In the language of flowers the pansy says “think of me” and “happy memories”.
Planet: I have seen the pansy listed as being aligned to the planet Pluto, Saturn and Venus.
Powers: Love, rain magic, love divination
Deity: Eros, Cupid
You can get pansies in all sorts of colours, even black. A general flower colour and magickal correspondence guide:
White: The Maiden, all purpose, purification, protection, moon magick
Green: The God, element of earth, faeries, healing, money, luck, fertility
Pink: Friendship, children, affection, love
Red: The Mother, element of fire, lust, love, sex, healing, protection
Yellow: The element of air, wisdom, mental powers, divination
Orange: Energy, vitality and success
Purple: Power, psychic abilities, passion
Blue: Element of water, healing, sleep, peace
Brown and beige: home, stability, pets
Black and dark burgundy: The Crone, banishing, breaking hexes, removing negativity
Try chanting this flower fascination charm while you add these flowers into a pot or container. Repeat this flower fascination three times.
The pansy’s happy face is a blessing in the spring
Protection, joy and love this magick does bring
Purple blooms for protection and bright yellow ones for cheer
Blue shades for peace and health, red for the loved ones I hold so dear
Eros, hear my call, add your loving magick to mine
While I bless my home and family, come rain or shine
Cunninghams Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
Cottage Witchery & Garden Witchery by Ellen Dugan
Monday, 7 February 2011
Where and When to place an altar
Altars can be erected inside or outdoors, or even combined with other altars as long as the area set aside for faery is clearly marked.
An outdoor altar should be in a spot where neighbours are not likely to see it or walk through it. Your own garden is an ideal outside place. Everything you need is already there except an offering bowl. Another perfect location for an altar is in a clearing sheltered by trees and bushes. These are nature faery homes and making their living place even nicer will endear you to the faeries.
House faeries prefer to have their gifts presented indoors. A fireplace is the ideal spot because it has traditionally been the heart of the home. The modern hearth is the kitchen and food libations are often presented in this room.
If you have a nice basement well sealed against unwanted pests, this also makes a good place for an altar. Attics also work as do window gardens. Or the top of a dresser or an occasional table would work well.
Your faery altar should contain three main things:
1. a place to make faery offerings of coins, stones etc
2. a representation of one of the four elements for faeries to rest upon; a stone, bowl of water, or candle for example
3. a representation of faeries themselves such as plants that belong to them, scents they like, statues or pictures
After these elements are in place you can get creative. Flowering plants, shiny glass pebbles, reflective surfaces (faeries love to gaze at themselves), a candle dressed with essential oil. Yule tree lights, crystals, feathers and glitter. Seashells, bark and twigs.
As time progresses you will find other bits and pieces to add to your altar, or change with the seasons.
Have fun with it!
Sources: The healing power of Faery by Edain McCoy & Faeriecraft by Alicen & Neil Geddes-Ward
Image of the fae: Brian Froud World of Froud website
Thursday, 3 February 2011
February is The Storm Moon so called because of the unpredictable and changeable weather in February - and boy are we seeing some of that across the globe at the moment!
It is a month of contradictions; on one hand we see the first tentative signs of spring, yet on the other we can still get heavy snow falls and wild storms.
One day might be bright and sunny, while the next may find us snow bound.
Tiny flowers and buds begin to emerge braving the cold and seeking the weak sunshine, but also leaving themselves at risk of frost.
But we can feel the first stirrings of spring, of new life all around, bulbs are starting to emerge from the ground and the first signs of buds are starting to appear on the trees.
With this moon we can identify our first tentative steps into the realms of magick. We accept that although some deep, subconscious urge tells us that this is the path we must follow, at the same time we must also realise that there is a vast reservoir of knowledge form which we have not even drawn, and that it may take several life times before we truly come to understanding.
Here we stand, like the first flowers in the field, with the vast and confusing universe stretching out before us. the future is uncertain but with the gods of nature to accompany us, we should try to view this as an adventure that although challenging can offer a rich spiritual goal. We can and will weather the storms ahead.
Witches seem to have a special skill at accumlating clutter! So now is a good time to kick up your own storm and have a good sort out. It is important to remember that all forms of magick need to have an outlet on the physical plane in order for it to work, in other words, it requires 'earthing'.
As you spring clean in the physical, try and visualise as you go - spring cleaning old arguments, old habits and negative energies.
This is a wonderful time to make new beginnings of all types. It is especially good for getting rid of bad habits. Habitual ways of thinking that are harmful and negative can also be abandoned at this time. It is also a good time to start something creative. New projects at work can also be launched.
The first day of the New Moon is really best devoted to the planning stages of ventures. It is good to feel just a little excited and filled with anticipation, although your energy may not be at its highest. A day or two into the cycle is the time to take the initiative, apply for that job, start house hunting or any similar endeavours.
13 moons by Fiona Walker Craven
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Is it right to do? Would you do it? Who does it harm? Who ends up getting hurt?
Love magick is an interesting, problematic and debatable subject. These are my thoughts:
If you were to use a love spell or potion to draw a specific person to you then surely you are manipulating that person? Making them do something that is against their own free will? And that goes against the witches rede "do what you will, but harm to none".
Personally before I undertake a love spell, or indeed any spell come to that I ask myself does this fall in line with the rede?
Questions for you - What is my intent in performing this work? Is this spell influenced by anger, hatred, lust, greed, jealousy or envy?
If your answer is yes, then if you follow the rede you must (said in a loud boomy voice)...'step away from the spell'.
A true witch that follows the rede would not use manipulative magick to negatively influence another person for their own personal gain. One of the main ideals of this path is to live in harmony and balance with the natural rhythms of life, not to manipulate them for selfish ends.
Once you have created and released this energy, it will acquire life, form and substance. It will run it's course, and the final outcome through the laws of cause and effect may not be what you wanted. The potential for great harm to both yourself and others is very evident in such a working.
I will re-iterate these are my views on the subject, others may think differently. But for me? It ain't worth it!
Who would want a lover that was brought to you falsely anyway?
However, on the positive side of love magick - I do believe in helping the universe to provide love in your life.
♥ A love spell or working to bring love generally into your life
♥ To bring happiness and harmony to a relationship you already have
♥ To offer out to the universe a 'shopping list' of characteristics you would like a new partner to have
All fine, none of those go against the rede or play dangerously with the threefold law. Those intents are all put out there for the universe to deal with, and don't target a specific persons free will.
With Valentines Day coming up - bring some love into your life!
All images are taken from Kitchen Witch website