Thursday, 29 September 2011
My personal thoughts about ritual wear:
I like to wear my druid robes or a witchy dress and my cloak to ritual for several reasons. I think it is respectful and it honours deity. But I also think it puts me in the right frame of mind for ritual. To put on special clothing is like a 'key' it transforms me into ritual mode.
But what colour to wear? This is what we have been debating about the most!
Having done a lot of research on this it seems that as a druid white or cream is the most standard colour for ritual robes. If you belong to OBOD you also have the option of wearing blue if you are in the Bardic grade or green if you are in the Ovate grade, the colour for the Druidic grade is white. You could also stick to the plain white robe and add a coloured cord or sash to indicate the grade you are on.
As for witchy wear, it does seem that pretty much anything goes! Although black, green and purple seem to be the most popular colours. A lot of witches also seem to dress in colours that suit the season, so would wear brown and orange for the Autumn for instance. Personally I like velvet dresses and corsets!
I think the conclusion is that you wear what you feel comfortable in. And of course budget comes into it too, not everyone has the pennies to purchase robes and cloaks - they can be pretty expensive. So I would also say don't let not having any robes stop you from attending a group ritual!
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
From his bio on his website www.christopherpenczak.com
Christopher Penczak is a Witch, teacher, writer and healing practitioner. His practice draws upon the foundation of both modern and traditional Witchcraft blended with the wisdom of mystical traditions from across the globe as a practitioner and teacher of shamanism, tarot, Reiki healing, herbalism, astrology and Qabalah. He is the founder of the Temple of Witchcraft tradition and system of magickal training based upon the material of his books and classes.
The first book in the series The Inner Temple of Witchcraft covers magick, meditation and psychic development and essentially covers the First Degree in witchcraft. Written incredibly well with just enough of the sometimes boring history before he deals with the good stuff! This book is about exploring your inner temple, your personal scared space. It contains 13 lessons with exercises, one chapter per month. It starts with the magical mind, meditation and the magic of science, going on to cover spirit and journey work too. The exercises contained in this book are truly inspiring.
The next book is The Outer Temple of Witchcraft, essentially the Second Degree. This book is written in the same easy to understand way as the first. Laid out in a similar way as the first book, with 13 lessons together with exercises for each month. This book provides you with your foundation in the craft. Covering rituals, attunements, visualisations, magic circles, tools, herb and stone craft and divination to name but a few.
Then on to The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft - shadows, spirits and the healing journey. Again 13 lessons with exercises to be done over 13 months. Covering journeying, dreamwork, totems, drumming, animal and plant medicine, soul retrieval, shapeshifting and shadow work plus much more. Building on the work done in the first two books.
And onto my particular favourite at the moment - The Temple of High Witchcraft - ceremonies, spheres and the Witches Qabalah. 13 lessons again, each with exercises. This book takes your spiritual evolution to the next level. It introduces the concepts of the Qabalah and the rituals of high magic. It guides you into the realm of creative and critical thinking, communication, knowledge and truth.
But it doesn't stop there...
The next book is The Living Temple of Witchcraft Vol I - The Descent of the Goddess. Venturing deeper into the mysteries of witchcraft, discovering a new level of wisdom, love, power and responsibility. Covering power and the right and left hand paths, healing, ethics, soul history and discovering your own spiritual laws.
The Living Temple of Witchcraft Vol II - The Journey of the God. This book deals with zodiac signs, earth stewardship, working with ley lines, ancestor work, mediumship and trance amongst many other things.
I cannot recommend these books highly enough.
And if you want to join us as we work through them together at Kitchen Witch we have a study group on our forum www.kitchenwitchhearth.com (you will need to purchase the books from a reputable retailer to work with this study group, but you don't need to buy them all at once!)
Monday, 26 September 2011
However I recently picked up the book that the film was taken from. The book carries the same title as the film and was written by Alice Hoffman.
The description of the book is very similar to the film, Alice Hoffman's website says:
For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that went wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally endured that fate: As children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their darkened house and their love concoctions and their crowd of black cats. All Gillian and Sally wanted to do was escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared brought them back to each other, and to the magic they couldn’t escape. A delicious novel about witches and real love, family life and everyday spells. A literary incantation.
Ms Hoffman is a very prolific writer and has more than thirty books to her name so far and is very well respected in the literary field. Her website is www.alicehoffman.com
If you have not seen the film - I highly recommend it, and if you have not read the book I highly recommend that too!
Saturday, 3 September 2011
The making of corndollies dates back to pre-Christian Europe, when the spirit of the corn-field (wheat or grain) lived within that crop in the field. So when the last of the crop was harvested, that grain was woven into a shape for the spirit to reside the winter, the corndollies became the winter residence of the Corn-Mother. The dolly would be ploughed back into the fields the following spring - returning the spirit to the earth.
There are many different traditions relating to the making of corndollies. From whom was responsible for their making, to the actual design. Regions developed their own particular signiture designs, many of these patterns are named for their location, for example, Norfolk Lantern, Stafford Knot or Yorkshire Spiral. Each is a complex weaving of the long stems of the grain crop.
With the coming of the combine harvester, the types of crop planted became more suitable to this machine, and moved away from the traditional corndolly materials. They were pithier, as opposed to the long, hollow stems of the older grains. However, due to the demand for traditional thatch on cottages, there is still enough of the traditional grains grown for this market, for the making of corndollies to continue.
In some traditions, the art of weaving corndollies was passed from father to son, who would take the last grain harvested, create the dolly, and make a gift to the prettiest girl in the village. In others, the last grains were given to an older woman, a crone, who would weave it for the maiden to carry to the house of the squire, where the corndolly would take pride of place atop the harvest supper table.
The corndolly is a symbol of fertility and thanks, by honouring the spirit of the grain, the farmers hope to safeguard the crop for the following year - as the very suvival of the whole community is dependent on a good harvest. The traditions of elder woman weaving the dolly for the maiden, or the father passing on his weaving skills to his son, it is all symbolic of the cycle of the seasons, of ensuring one successful crop after another.
With the coming of the Church, the practise was still continued, the last of the grain woven into Christian symbols and kept in the Church over winter, to be placed back into the plough's furrow the next spring. Harvest Festival and Plough Monday became part of the Christian calendar.
With the fertility and protection of the community in mind, the corndolly was often made as a gift or favour, presented by a hopeful suitor. Alternatively, some were woven as a token for a new-born child. Others were woven into a likeness of a nature spirit, an animal or a deity, all with the desire to find favour from that spirit.
Most of the modern opinion of the corndolly is based upon the work of Sir James George Frazer, in his influential book, The Golden Bough (1890). Whatever the true reason for them may be lost to time, as the making of the dollies had died out pre World War 2. It may well be that he romanticised their use and function somewhat. The practise was revived in the fifties and sixties, and has become a fairly thriving rural craft nowadays. But whatever their original meaning, they are a beautiful and intricate token of good luck to have, and it can't be a bad idea to honour the spirit of the grain that we depend upon...you never know!
Image from Wikipedie of Cambridgeshire handbells