Angels and Blessings Spiritual Light Center

Wicca - a course

I downloaded this at least ten years ago.  I have searched the article for a clue as to where I got it to no avail.  If anyone knows where it came from please let me know so I may give proper credit for it is all good material which I studied and still refer to so enjoy. 

Pagan? Wiccan? Witch? Which Witch is Which?

There are many terms used in an attempt to define the spiritual traditions of Wiccans and related paths. It is important to know and understand these terms, it will be on the test :) When someone asks you what the difference between a Wiccan and a Pagan is, you should be able to generally explain these terms to others.

What is a Pagan?

Many dictionaries may define the term Pagan as someone without a belief in god. This is a reflection of many hundreds of years of political and Christian influences. Pagan is Latin for paganus, meaning country dweller, and originally derives from the Latin word for village or rural area, pägus. It was used as a term for people living in remote areas who followed the "Old Ways" in their daily lives and spiritual traditions. As political and religious conflicts developed, "Pagan" became a derogatory term for an uncivilized, uneducated person, what we might now term as a hick or red-neck.

Most Pagans were polytheistic, and as Christianity grew, "Pagans" were considered behind the times, primitive, or hedonistic. Hedonism is the doctrine that deriving pleasure is the highest good. It is often referring to sexual pleasure and sometimes implies sexual promiscuity. From a Christian perspective, this was an immense insult. This use of the term to imply sexual promiscuity may be a result of the old customs involving orgy like rituals. When used by much of modern society, the term "Pagan" still means a hedonistic or backwards type of person, or in anthropological circles it may be used as a term for indigenous people in particular areas. However, general public awareness of the modern Pagan movement is growing.

Earth based Religions experienced a resurgence in the 1960s and an organization, The Church of All Worlds, began using the term Pagan for this movement. It has grown to reflect people traveling a path that honors and respects the earth, nature and independence. Each self titled Pagan will define the term differently, but in general it refers to a person following a nature or earth based spiritual path. This path may be polytheistic, or may be a reconstructionist religion (based on older Roman, Egyptian, Norse, Greek and/or other religions) or it may be geared towards equal rights, environmentalism or other movements, or it may be none of these.

Neo-Pagan (neo means new) is a term often used interchangeably with Pagan. It might technically be a more accurate term for modern Pagans, however like the word Pagan, each person will interpret this continually evolving path differently.

What is a Heathen?

Heathen was a term used for people who dwelled in the heaths. Like the term Pagan, Heathen was once used to describe people who lived the "Old Ways" following older spiritual paths and living in remote areas. Heathen is now sometimes used as a term interchangeable with Pagan, however it has also been adopted as a term specifically for those following Asatru and closely related paths.

What is a Wiccan?

Wicca is a Pagan spiritual path. Now we get into the nearly impossible and somewhat confusing arena of defining what a Wiccan is. Not all Pagans are Wiccans, but most Wiccans are Pagan. Like not all plants are herbs, but all herbs are plants.

Contemporary Wicca is, for the most part, a reconstructionist religion. Now wait, before any tempers flair let me say that each person, each Wiccan, each Pagan may view each of these terms differently. So is the nature of Pagan paths: independence, strong will, strong minds. For the purposes of this course we will address the most common, historical or academic definitions possible throughout these lessons.

From a historical perspective, Wicca is, by all current evidence, a reconstructionist religion. This means that although many of the aspects of Wicca can be traced to historical origins, there are also many aspects which can not. A ritual may be derived in part from the Old Ways of Pagans in ancient times, however due to persecution and the lack of literacy, there are very few accurate records of these practices. Many Wiccans (and other Pagans) fill in the missing knowledge of practices by borrowing from other paths and by using their intuition.

You may hear Pagans say, "If it works, use it" and this often refers to reconstructing rituals and spells. For example, you may discover that your ancestors would light a fire on the Winter solstice and throw holly berries on it while making wishes. (this is just an example, not derived from any historical source) Now if you wanted to incorporate this type of ritual into your family holiday celebrations, you might combine other Yule activities such as presents, trees, stockings, etc. You may also wish to make a formal ritual, and in order to get ideas and make it cohesive, you might borrow from Masonic lore, Cabbalism, or modern rituals from books.

This is not a bad thing! Many new Wiccans, and some Pagans, feel they must be following the "ancient ways" and will go to great lengths to create a "history" for themselves. Unfortunately, this can lead to many false claims of "hereditary" Witches and "Fam-trads" (family traditions supposedly passed down through the generations).

There is no need to attempt to legitimize Wicca. There is no need to claim 'authenticity.' You do not need to answer to anyone about your beliefs. After all, if the Old Ways had been allowed to progress uninterrupted without persecution, they would have continued to evolved and developed anyway.

Wiccans develop their own path, often based on the Old Ways as we know them, reconstructed by using various other sources. Much of what is thought of as Wicca today is based on the writings of Gerald B. Gardner. Gardner is occasionally called the "Father of modern Witchcraft". His book, High Magics Aid, was one of the first books to ever address the subject of Witchcraft in an approachable and positive manner. Gardner claimed that much of the material in this book was derived from a partial Book of Shadows that he had been given by a hereditary coven of which he was an initiate. This claim has been hotly debated over the years and the general consensus is that Gardner's material was a collection of magical teachings from many different sources.

Doreen Valiente was initiated into the Craft by Gardner and collaborated with him to eliminate much of the materials from his writing which were derived from Masonic materials and Aleister Crowley. A fascinating book which details much of the history of Gardner's Book of Shadows is "A Witch's Bible" by Janet and Stewart Farrar. See also The Real Book of Shadows lesson. The result of Gardner's work and his collaboration with Valiente is what is now known as the Gardnerian Tradition of Witchcraft. Over the years, many other traditions have sprouted up. To see a list of a few modern Pagan and Wiccan traditions, click here.

 

So, all of this still doesn't explain what Wicca is. Again it is difficult to define something which each person will interpret differently. Generally, a Wiccan follows at least some of the generally agreed upon beliefs of the Craft as outlined here.

The term Wicca is used in this course to refer to the self styled, eclectic beliefs of modern Wiccans. Wicca allows for a great deal of interpretation and you may develop and adapt the practices to suit your personality, your needs and your life. This evolutionary aspect of Wicca makes it less confining and your spiritual path can grow and change as you do.So what is the difference between a Wiccan and a Witch?

The debate of Witch vs. Wiccan has gone on for too long. Wiccans call themselves Wiccans or Witches interchangeably, however there some Witches who feel that much of modern Wicca is too "fluffy" (without backbone, without substance, all white light and positive vibes) and use the term "fluffy bunny" as a derogatory term for Wiccans.

To these Witches, a Wiccan isn't a "Real Witch," however the definitions used by self-proclaimed "Real Traditional Witches" is never defined either. It is easy to sympathize with their frustration as there are a few authors who pop out multiple books every year to capitalize on the Old Ways. These authors seemingly spend more time doing market research than they do practicing their spiritual path, and their books are often simplistic "how to" guides which are insulting to the Old Ways and may attract people who are not sincere in seeking a spiritual path but are instead seeking a quick fix.

However, this is no reason, no excuse, for the division of the Craft. Arguments as to who is more legitimate, which path is older, what a Real Wiccan or a Real Witch is have no place in any spiritual path. The perpetuation of these arguments are self defeating to each individual and to the Craft and Pagan movement as a whole.

Individuals participating in this argument often feel they must validate their path to others. The community as a whole suffers from infighting and what is termed "bitchcraft" because of it. This makes us look bad to outsiders and weakens our community. Those who perpetuate this war are often extremely insecure, angry (often with good cause) or frustrated. Some "non-Wiccan" Witches are not participating in bitchcraft but are instead attempting to develop pre-Gardnerian practices based on the folk traditions of their ancestors. Many of these Witches claim hereditary lineage in the Old Ways (rarely verifiable), others simply feels a close connection to a particular region where the Old Ways were practiced.

For this course the terms Wicca and Witch are used interchangeably, and Wicca is considered a Pagan path, regardless of the small movement of a few Wiccans to blend Christian practice with it.

Lets Review Some Terms

These are general definitions for the terms as used in the context of these courses.

Earth Based Religion: A spiritual path with a focus on the Earth and living inharmoniously with life and the cycles of nature.

Pagan: A person who practices an Earth based religion.

Neo-Pagan: A modern (or new/neo) Pagan, a person who is reconstructing their spiritual path based on pre-Christian religions, folk customs and various other philosophies.

Witchcraft: A Neo-Pagan reconstructionist religion. Very loosely structured with practice and worship very individualized. Witches work in Covens, Partnerships or as Solitaries. There are many types of Witchcraft, and each Witch may define his or her path differently. Some formal traditions have developed including Gardnerian, Seax-Wicca, Alexandrian, Strega, Faery and others which we will delve into later on in this course. For an overview of a few traditions and definitions for non-traditions (like Eclectic Witches) see the PaganPath Traditions Page.

Coven: A group of Witches who work together.

Partnerships: Two Witches, often but not always - life companions, working together.

Solitary: A Witch who works alone.

Note: Some covens are made up of solitary Witches who gather occasionally to work together only when there is a true need or a large Sabbat festival. Some Partners will also occasionally visit or work with Covens. Wicca: A Witch. Some Witches prefer to call themselves Witch rather than Wiccan, often in order to differentiate that they are not associated with many 'newbie' Wiccans who they feel are too "new agey" and don't follow "traditions" as strictly. This is purely a personal preference. For the purposes of this course and for most of the community, these terms Witch and Wiccan, are used interchangeably.

The Craft: Witchcraft or Wicca, also used by Masons in reference to their practices.

The Old Ways: Pagan traditions and folk customs

The Old Religion: Witchcraft . . . Strega Witches may use the Italian version, "La Vecchia Religione"

What Do Most Witches Believe?

In addition to the Thirteen Principles, there are some general beliefs which apply to most Wiccans:

Witches generally believe that living in harmony with the earth, the cycles of nature, the planets and the universe as a whole, is an integral part of their spiritual path.

Most Witches honor the changing of the seasons and the cycles of nature through eight Sabbats. These are celebrations of the Earth. Many Witches also honor the energy of the Moon through Esbats, celebrations held on the full moon.

There are thirteen full moons each year, and with the eight Sabbats this is a total of 21 celebrations or rituals. A few Witches also honor the energy of the new Moon, substituting New Moon Esbats for the Full Moon Esbats, or by celebrating both. We will go over more information on specific rituals and celebrations in later lessons.

The Sabbat festivals and Esbat rituals are often used as times to celebrate, worship and connect with natural forces and deity. Spells may be used at these times, but are not required practice. Often Sabbats are set aside for celebration or worship only and Esbats are when the magical "work" gets done.

Magic is used most often used for healing (of people, the planet, and more), prosperity, attraction, divination, employment, confidence, 'luck', love, peace, fertility, growth, banishing, binding, protection, purification, hexing/cursing, dreams, prophecy, sexuality, etc. You will be given spells, rituals, recipes and meditations for each of these areas in later lessons. Even if you are not currently interested in some of the materials given, you may wish to print them out or copy them into your Book of Shadows for future reference.

Most (but not all) Witches believe in the Threefold Law, Karma, the Rede, the Law of Three or other codes. These are not 'holy writ' or scripture (there is no such thing in the Craft) but are basic laws of life. These basic tenets are expressed in many ways in different cultures and philosophies, but all have a common thread of truth. More information on these codes can be found in the Ethics & Codes section of this course.

Most traditions of the Craft honor the "Lord and Lady" or God and Goddess. Each tradition and each Witch may view deity differently and these more advanced beliefs are discussed in the "There's a Deity on My Altar" section.

A very basic and general summary of most beliefs regarding deity:

The "Lady" or Goddess is often honored as the Triple Goddess of the waxing, full and waning or new moon. The Triple Goddess may be seen as the three fates, as the maiden - mother - crone, as planting - growth - harvest, etc. She may also go by many different names according to the tradition followed (if any) and according to the "phase" she is in. For example Diana of the waxing moon, the maiden - Selene of the full moon, the mother - Hecate of the waning or new moon, the Crone. Some traditions do not allow the name of their patron Goddess(es) to be shared with those outside of their Coven.

The "Lord" or God is often honored as the Horned God of the hunt, the sun, animals and sometimes harvest. He is the Lady's consort and is sometimes see as two fold, such as the Holly/Oak King, or threefold, etc.

More on these traditional basics of the Lord & Lady can be found in later lessons, right now it is only important to get an overview.

Nearly all Witches feel that it is important to delve within the self for answers and to connect with nature and deity on a personal level. Experimentation, independent thought and growth is emphasized in most solitary, partnership and coven practices. Women are particularly empowered in the Craft when compared to most Judeo-Christian doctrines. Women maintain an equal standing with men in almost every Craft tradition. This has attracted many feminists, and the focus on nature has attracted many environmentalists to the path, especially environmentalists who feel an affinity to Gaia theories.

Before you continue to the next lesson, I'd like you to take some time to read through this off site reading. Covenant of the Goddess offers a public FAQ here

Ethics & Codes

As mentioned in earlier lessons, most (but not all) Witches believe in the Threefold Law, Karma, the Rede, the Law of Three or other codes and creeds. It is important to remember that these are not doctrine, 'holy writ' or scripture because there is no such thing in the Craft. They are simply expressions of basic truths that are expressed in many ways throughout history and the world.

We will begin with the most basic and the most commonly held code, The Wiccan Rede. Rede is pronounced with a long E and rhymes with creed and feed. Rede means to counsel or advise, or to explain and interpret. It is a plan of action, a design, a guide to living. Note that is is not a law, a commandment or doctrine.

The Wiccan Rede is a reminder of the Threefold Law, and primarily is a guide to us when making decisions regarding our actions magically and in the mundane world. It is one of the most basic tenets of Wicca and one of the most overlooked and underestimated. Many people can repeat to you the words of the Rede, but few understand the meaning and implications of the Rede.

There are many versions of the Rede, but the most basic is as follows:

An Ye Harm None,

Do, as ye Will

There are also newer poetic versions of the Rede. These versions offer more specific interpretations which not all Wiccans necessarily agree on. Most of these versions are written in false archaic language to appear more ancient. The most popular of these goes like this:

Bide the Witch's law ye must,In perfect love and perfect trust.Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:An ye harm none, do what ye will.Lest in thy self defense it be,Ever mind the Rule of ThreeFollow this with mind and heart,Merry ye meet, and merry ye part.

(last line sometimes reads: "and merry we'll meet & merry we'll part.")

"Lest in thy self-defense it be, ever mind the Rule of Three" is the original wording, however this has been changed by some (we believe this is a trend began by the author Amber K in her book Covencraft) The changing of this line is done for different reasons depending on the Witch.

There are some Wiccans who fear retribution or "bad karma" for any type of defensive action or attack, even if it is self defense or protecting a loved one. On the other hand, there are those who feel that the Rede only applies to magic, not mundane actions, and that it is possible to defend yourself without the use of binding, defensive or attack measures (considered by some to be negative magic).

Because of differences in beliefs among Wiccans such as this, several versions of the poetic Rede are used. Wicca is a living spiritual tradition and as such will grow and evolve. Here is another version of the poetic Rede:

Bide the Witch's law ye must,

In perfect love, in perfect trust.

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:

An ye harm none, do what ye will.

What ye send forth comes back to thee,

(notice the line change above)

So ever mind the Law of Three.

Follow this with mind and heart,

Merry ye meet, and merry ye part.

We will delve into more specific areas of ethics, binding, self-defense, attack, what negative magic is to you, in the more advanced lessons which appear after the Midterm exams.

There are more elaborate and complex versions and many covens or traditions will write their own interpretation of the Rede. These versions can become quite extensive and sometimes detract for the elegant simple truth of the Rede by adding such things as guilt, fear, rules for how to cast circles and spells, etc. At the same time, some of these are quite beautiful and much of the best poetry in the Craft is versions of the Rede. Here are a few brief excerpts from longer Rede versions:

" . . . Live and let live, fairly take and fairly give.

Cast the circle thrice about to keep the evil spirits out.

To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spoke in rhyme.

Soft of eye and light of touch, speak little and listen much.

Deosil go by the waxing moon chanting out the Witches Rune.

Widdershins go by the waning moon chanting out the baneful rune.

When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to her times two . . . "

This excerpt is from a version of the Rede sometimes referred to as the "Witch's Rune"

So what does the Rede mean? This is a very difficult question to answer because each Witch has a different interpretation of the Rede. Generally, it means that you can do as you like so long as you don't harm anyone (including yourself).

Many Wiccans also believe that for every action there is a reaction. This is expressed as The Threefold Law of Returns, or the Law of Three. In this example, what you send out is returned to you threefold. The threefold appearance might be seen by some as three events, three times as good, three times worse, etc.

In the advanced lessons that appear after Midterms, we will delve into some of the interesting applications of the Rede, many of which you may not have previously considered. We will also discuss the threefold law and similar laws. For now it is important to consider some of the implications of the Rede for yourself, and to consider how what you do in magic and in the mundane world may return to you.

Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief

In 1974 the Council of American Witches was formed with 73 Witches of varying traditions. They attempted to form a statement of common principles and definitions shared by Witches in order to dispel misinformation. These principles have been incorporated into one or more editions of the U.S. Army handbook for chaplains.

Here follows the introduction that accompanied the principles, this explains them better than we can, and the 13 principles themselves. Although most Witches embrace the Wiccan Rede, many embrace some or all of these as well. We have included some comments in italics.

Introduction:

In seeking to be inclusive, we do not wish to open ourselves to the destruction of our group by those on self-serving power trips, or to philosophies and practices contradictory to those principles. In seeking to exclude those whose ways are contradictory to ours, we do not want to deny participation with us to any who are sincerely interested in our knowledge and beliefs, regardless of race, color, sex, age, national or cultural origins or sexual preference.

Principles of the Wiccan Belief:

1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.

2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called "supernatural", but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.

4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity-as masculine and feminine-and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither (gender) above the other, knowing each to be supportive to the other. This next section of #4 is often omited in recent copies, partly because of residual puritanical beliefs in the public and in some modern Witches, and partly because it is often misunderstood: We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.

5. We recognize both outer worlds and inner, of psychological, worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc.-and we see in the inter-action of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.

6. We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

7. We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it-a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft-the Wiccan Way.

8. Calling oneself "Witch" does not make a Witch-but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others or self and in harmony with Nature.

9. We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.

10. Our only animosity towards Christianity, or toward any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have clamed to be "the only way" and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.

11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.

12. We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as "Satan" or "the Devil", as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.

13. We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.

History Makers

Before we begin the "What is Wicca" section, I'd like to introduce you to a few key players and how they relate to each other. It is very important to know about the people who were influential in the development of modern Wicca so you know where certain aspects of the path originated.

Aleister Crowley

Birth/Death: Born October 12 as "Edward Alexander Crowley" to a wealthy brewing family at 36 Clarendon Square, Leamington, Warwickshire, England in1875. Died December, 1947 in a hotel in Hastings with tears streaming down his face. Last words reported to be, "'I am perplexed. Sometimes I hate myself. It was a pathetic end for the devil's disciple." Remains cremated and sent to fans in the United States.

Personal Motto: Per durabo or Frater Perdurabo (Latin: "I will endure")

A Few Books, Writings & Various Works: (Links go to Amazon.com in a new window)

The Diary of a Drug Fiend

Aceldama, A Place to Bury Strangers in. A Philosophical Poem. By a Gentleman of the University of Cambridge

The Book of the Law (one of his most famous works)

The Equinox (periodical in which he published the secret teachings of the Golden Dawn)

The Vision and the Voice

Confessions (his version of the tarot)

Eight Lectures on Yoga

Moonchild (fiction version of his vision to have a magical child with his "Scarlet Women")

Absinthe, the Green Goddess

Magick Without Tears

Magical Record (in this he alludes to having attained Ipissimus, the highest grade of the Silver Star. The Silver Star or Argentum Astrum is the order above the Order of the Red Rose and the Golden Cross)

Book of Lies

Magick in Theory and Practice (one of his better works)

The Strategem (fiction stories)

The Equinox of the Gods

The Book of Thoth Facts: An undoubtedly brilliant and yet seemingly unstable character, his writings continue to influence Pagan and magical communities and he continues to have a large number of passionate and devoted followers. (Who will undoubtedly email me in droves regarding this summary.) Crowley delved into drugs and sexuality, wrote poetry, climbed mountains, printed his personal calling cards with "Great Beast" and several people around him suffered mental and emotional breakdowns or committed suicide.

His father (brewer & Christian preacher) died when Crowley was 11 and his prim Victorian mother sent him to public school where he claimed to have been sexually abused. As a child, he tortured a cat to test the nine lives theory. He admired Oscar Wilde and tended to model himself after the playwright, even dressing in similar clothing around 1895. He claimed he could commune with the devil while in drug induced trances. He started a polygamous (multiple sexual partners) religion and indulged in animal sacrifices.

He married his first wife, Rose, at age 28 and abandoned her and their daughter. He then began to fixate on what he termed "Scarlet Women" who were initiated as his High Priestesses, only to later be rejected by him. He preferred these women to degrade him in a dominatrix fashion. He had many "Scarlet Women" (including Alostrael {born Leah Hirsig} and Dorothy Olsen) and several male partners, many of whom suffered breakdowns. Five of his lovers committed suicide including 19 year old Hanni Jaegar (Crowley was 55 at the time of their affair).

Crowley believed that he was the new messiah, claiming he had received this message from a being by the name of Angel Aiwass. His 'mission' was to begin a new religion which he called Thelema (the Greek word for Will) He also believed he was the reincarnation of several great occultists including Edward Kelly, Cagliostro, Pope Alexander VI and Ankh-f-n-Khonsu (an Egyptian priest). Around 1898 he was going by the name of Count Vladimir for a short time. In later years he also referred to himself as "the Master Therion" and as "Frater Perdurabo" in his writings. He adopted "666" as his personal moniker.

In 1905 he set his sights to climb the mountain in Nepal called Kangchenjunga. According to local myth, this mountain is the home of the Gods. During this trip Crowley beat his servants repeatedly and one died. Another servant caused an avalanche when he slipped, and there is much evidence showing that Crowley refused to help dig out the others in the climbing party who were buried. (They were all reported dead) After this trip he is quoted as saying, (I want) " . . . no more . . .Christianity, rationalism, Buddhism, the lumber of the centuries . . . I want blasphemy, murder, rape, revolution"

 

He experimented briefly in theater and by 1919 he'd made his way through many lovers and all of his family fortune. Opium, brandy, heroin, hashish, and wine helped to lighten his wallet. He was thrown out of Italy due to scandalous reports including sexual ludity in front of children and the drinking of cat and goat blood (and forcing the children to consume these things as well.)

Influences on Wicca

He did NOT consider himself Wiccan or a Witch but instead identified himself as a self-styled white magician, cabalist, Pagan, and scholar. His writings are extremely influential throughout the magickal and Pagan community and he personally influenced Gerald Gardner, Sybil Leek, Arnold Crowther and other famous Witches. These influences are explored in the individual profiles for those authors. A member of a Witches' Coven around age 24, he was kicked out of the tradition for various reasons. He then became involved in black magic and Satanism, and was not a stranger to animal sacrifice.

Opinions:

He had a huge ego, above average intelligence, was driven by sensuality, power, lust. Much of his writing is intentionally convoluted, some of it was written in a haze of drug use. His dedicated followers will tell you this is to prevent amateurs and those of less intelligence from knowing the "secrets" or from hurting themselves. I believe his writing is this way due to Crowley's desperate insecurity and desire to appear exceptionally intelligent and his inability to articulate while under the influence of numerous drugs.

His actions and writings often display a selfish disregard for others and a hunger for power. He repeatedly entered power struggles in the organizations he became a part of, shared secrets he had sworn to hold and broke several oaths entered into with groups. Due to these actions, the severe problems the people around him encountered, and his numerous writings, my opinion is that his influence in the Craft today should be respected, but seriously questioned. Perhaps after analyzation, it may be necessary for much of his influences to be rejected. His pioneering spirit paved the way for others to break away from the establishment and seek new ideas, at the same time, his ideas may not be best for everyone. His work provides a doorway to many seekers but where does this door lead? In summary: a charismatic, insecure charlatan with a dash of inspiration, a smidgen of genius and a pinch of insanity.

Most common misconceptions:

    * He did NOT write the Wiccan Rede, although his writings certainly influenced it.

    * His name is spelled Aleister not Alister

    * He was not a Wiccan or Witch

Writing Excerpt:

He who seduced me firstHe who seduced me first I could not forget.I hardly loved him but desired to tasteA new strong sin. My sorrow does not fretThat sore. But thou, whose sudden arms embracedMy shrinking body, and who brought a blushInto my cheeks, and turned my veins to fire,Thou, who didst whelm me with the eager rushOf the enormous floods of thy desire,Thine are the kisses that devour me yet,Thine the high heaven whose loss is death to me,Thine all the barbed arrows of regret,Thine on whose arms I yearn to beIn my deep heart thy name is writ alone,Men shall decipher - when they split the stone.

Affiliations & Memberships:

    * Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (London chapter, Outer Order of the Great White Brotherhood)

    * Order of the Red Rose and the Golden Cross (a Rosicrucian order Second Order of the Great White Brotherhood: here he became involved in a magickal war with Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and was expelled from the order and published secret works of the order.)

    * Ordo Templi Orientis (German occult order which practices sex magic, later headed by Crowley and now deeply influenced by him. OTO web site here.)

    * Abbey of Thelema (founder)

Claim to Fame: Quotes, invocations, definitions and other works which have endured and have been absorbed by many paths.

  * "Magic is the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with Will."

    * "Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law Love Is The Law, Love Under Will." (This "Law of Thelema" can be, and has been, interpreted in many ways and is sometimes abbreviated as the number 93 which in some numerological interpretations can be read as love and will. Thelema is the Greek word for Will.)

    * Thoth Tarot Deck (see illustrations to right)

    * Magick spelled with a K to differentiate it from stage magic or prestidigitation, or in his words, to "distinguish the science of the Magi from all its counterfeits."

    * Newspapers dubbed him "the most evil man in the world" and "the wickedest man alive"

    * Influenced Doreen Valiente's work, particularly the "Charge of the Goddess"

Back of Thoth Tarot CardsXXI The Universe Card from the Thoth Tarot

Further Reading:

    * Books and articles listed above. Many of Crowley's works have been published online and can be found through searches.

    * Aleister Crowley Scrapbook by Sandy Robertson (good pictures and newspaper clippings)

    * Eye in the Triangle by Israel Regardie (Crowley's secretary for many years) and designed by Robert Anton Wilson

    * Aleister Crowley: The Beast Demystified by Roger Hutchinson

    * The Legend of Aleister Crowley by P. R. Stephenson and Israel Regardie.

    * Old George Pickingill and the Roots of Modern Witchcraft

·        Portable Darkness: An Aleister Crowley Reader edited by Scott Michaelsen

History MakersKey players in the development of modern Wicca

Gerald Brousseau Gardner

Birth/Death: Born in Blundellsands, England on June 13th (Friday the 13th) 1884. Died of heart failure at the breakfast table on board a ship to Lebanon on February 12, 1964.

Personal Motto or Details:

A Few Books, Writings & Various Works (with excerpts):

# High Magic's Aid (a landmark work! his first book {fiction} about the Craft, Excerpt from Chapter 10 Working Together: "Upon the brazier he cast a handful of dried herbs and with the same knife sharpened the pen, sprinkled it and held it over the brazier in the cloud of perfume which rose from the herbs, then wrapped it in a new white linen clother and laid it aside. In a like manner, with their appropriate invocation and prayers he consecrated the cords and laid them aside in the linen cloth.")

# Witchcraft Today (his first non-fiction book about Witchcraft, Excerpt from Chapter 13 Recapitulation: " . . . nowadays you have to work in small rooms . . . the result of this is that the old dances are being forgotten. The dance in the circle can be kept up, as long as you dance quietly, but the calls . . . cannot be used. The spiral or meeting dance is sometimes performed if there is room. This is a sort of "follow my leader" dance, the priestess usually leading, dancing round in a right-hand spiral to the centre, when she suddenly turns and unwinds the spiral . . . they say it is called the meeting dance . . .")

# A Goddess Arrives (his second book a novel set in the year 1450 B.C.E.)

# Kris and Other Malay Weapons (he was interested in the wavy bladed kris daggers during his travels in the Far East)

# The Meaning of Witchcraft (his last book)

Facts & Influences on Wicca: These "facts" are stated here as claimed by Gardner, some of them cannot be verified.Born to a wealthy family (money from timber). He traveled extensively in his youth and studied the spiritual belief of the regions he visited. As an inspector of opium establishments and rubber plantations for the British government he made a good sum of money which allowed him to spend time dabbling into archaeology around Asia and Europe. He was involved for a time with the Fellowship of Crotona (a Masonic order) Within the Fellowship of Crotona was a secret group of supposedly hereditary Witches which met in the nearby New Forest. He was initiated into this coven by Old Dorothy Clutterbuck in 1939.

On July 31st, 1940, Gardner and his coven joined with other Witches in Southern England to work magic intended to protect England from an invasion by Hitler's troops. Stories of this gathering are told in many circles and a fictionalized version was made into a novel entitled "Lammas Night" by Katherine Kurtz.

He associated with many other famous people in occult circles including Arnold Crowther (who introduced him to Aleister Crowley in 1946) Patricia C. Crowther (Arnold's wife), Doreen Valiente (initiated by Gardner in 1953 and helped Gardner eliminate some of Crowley's works from his Book of Shadows) Raymond Buckland (initiated by Gardner's High Priestess and later brought Gardnerian Witchcraft to the U.S.) Monique Wilson (Gardner's high priestess) and many others.

Gardner's influence is widespread and many of the people he came into contact with are also famous Craft authors and elders. His most significant impact on the Craft is of course his writing. England had anti-Witchcraft laws at the time he wanted to write about the Craft. He was also sworn to secrecy about the Craft by his coven. Because of this his first book about magic was written as a fiction novel, "High Magic's Aid" and he used the pseudonym (pen name) Scire. This book did not mention a Goddess, only the Horned God.

In 1951 the anti-Witchcraft laws were repealed in England, he moved to the Isle of Man and bought the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft. Two years later he met Doreen Valiente and for the next six or seven years they worked on his Book of Shadows together. His Book of Shadows had contained rituals he reportedly inherited from his coven (nearly identical to those in High Magic's Aid) which were fragmented and incomplete. Using much of Crowley's writing he had tried to reconstruct a working tradition. Valiente helped him to remove the Crowley wording he'd incorporated and wrote many new sections.

Opinions:

An amazing person who still has a huge impact on the Craft. Some of the rituals he reconstructed have a lot of Masonic overtones (evident of his experiences in the Fellowship of Crotona). In some of his writings he seems almost preoccupied with sexuality, nudity, ritual sex, bondage and often outright sexism. (Some of this may have been a sign of the times of course, remember this was before women could even vote.) His work is fascinating, but I personally like to filter out the remnants of Masonic and Crowley influences.

Most common misconceptions:

    * He was not a student of Aleister Crowley

    * He does not appear to have attempted to capitalize on his fame and attention from the press

Affiliations & Memberships:

Claim to Fame:

    * Gardnerian Witchcraft continues to be the most practiced or adapted tradition in the Craft and Gardner is in a large part responsible for the resurgence of interest in the Craft.

    * He created a tradition (the first Modern Craft Tradition) which was completely functional as a magical and spiritual path from reconstructed rituals of the past and modern rituals.

    * He influenced many other famous Witches, such as Raymond Buckland who is also largely responsible for the resurgence of interest in the Craft. Due to his far reaching influence in the Craft and especially to rekindling interest in the Craft, he is known as the "Father of Modern Wicca"

Further Reading:

    * The books by Gardner listed above

    * The Witches' Bible by Janet & Stewart Farrar

    * books by Doreen Valiente, especially "An ABC of Witchcraft" and "The Rebirth of Witchcraft"

    * One Witch's Word by Patricia Crowther

    * COG about Gardner and the Gardnerian Tradition

·        GeraldGardner.com

History Makers

Key players in the development of modern WiccaSybil Leek

Birth/Death: Born at 11:52pm GMT in Straffordshire, England February 22 (either 1922 or 1917). Died October 26, 1983 (rumor has it from a toxic gas leaked from a derailed train near her home in Florida, however she had been ill for several years) Much confusion has surrounded the date of her birth, perhaps in part due to her funeral cards showing the date of her birth as February 22, 1917, when for years she publically gave her year of birth as 1922. The actual date of her death, October 26, is also confused with the date Anton LaVey (founder of the Church of Satan) died, which was October 29th (of pulmonary edema)

Personal Motto or Details: She was always seen wearing a crystal necklace which was passed on to her by her Russian grandmother. She was rarely seen without Mr. Hotfoot Jackson, her Jackdaw that often rode on her shoulder. A jackdaw (Corvus monedula ) is a small raven type bird.

A Few Books, Writings & Various Works (with excerpts):

A Ring of Magic Islands

Diary of a Witch (a landmark work! Excerpt regarding Aleister Crowley from Chapter 2: "When he talked about occultism, magic, and astrology, he mesmerized his audience, and then when he had almost exhausted his listeners with the magic of his voice and his use of the English language, he would change suddenly into a deep black mood.")

Moon Signs

Complete Art of Witchcraft (very popular! An excerpt regarding proselytizing/recruiting from Chapter 14: ". . . sometimes help has to be asked for. It is for this reason that I do not advocate any great surge of evangelistic enthusiasm in presenting the Old Religion to the public. It is there for those who decide that they need it.")

Sybil Leek's Book of Curses (interesting spells from around the world, An excerpt from Chapter 3: "Another good bath oil which serves as a weapon against black magic is Rosemary Oil. Anointing the nape of your neck, crown of your head and base of your throat with this will debilitate bad vibrations directed against you.")

The tree that conquered the world

Esp: The Magic Within You

Astrological guide to the presidential candidates

Star Speak: Your Body Language from the Stars

Sybil Leek's Book of the curious and the occult

Inside Bellevue

Sybil Leek's Book of Herbs

Telepatia

Your Homemade Greenhouse and How to Build It

The Sybil Leek Book of Fortune Telling

Driving Out the Devils (book on exorcism)

Numerology; The Magic of Numbers

Reincarnation : The Second Chance (excerpt from the Credo: "Although I accepted reincarnation when I was young, through my involvement with the Old Religion of Wicca, commonly called Witchcraft, there were many times when I experienced moments of doubt.")

The Story of Faith Healing

Moon Signs

My life in astrology

Astrology and Love

The Assassination Chain

The astrological guide to financial success

The Jackdaw and The Witch

The Night Voyagers: You and Your Dreams

How to Be Your Own Astrologer (excerpt from chapter one: " . . . for I have always thought of astrology as a pure science and therefore teachable by a progression of calculations, from which calculations a rational interpretation could be made.")

Herbs : Medicine and Mysticism

Phrenology

Sybil Leek's astrological guide to successful everyday living

Telepathy : The Respectable Phenomenon

Tomorrow's Headlines Today

Zodiac of Love

Bicycle: That Curious Invention

and many more . . . over 60 books and a syndicated astrology column Facts & Influences on Wicca: Sybil Leek's book, "Diary of a Witch" was published in 1968 and became the gateway into the Craft for many present-day Witches. She was a prolific writer and was home schooled until age 12. After home schooling, she attended four years in public school due to intervention by local officials. She claimed to be a hereditary Witch and was born to a family of astrologers and occultists. At age 9 she met the famous occultist, Aleister Crowley. He took her mountain climbing, read her poetry and explained the power of the vibration of words (Words of Power). He was a frequent visitor to her childhood home as were many other famous people including H.G. Wells (author of "The War of the Worlds" entire book available online, he took her to see her first eclipse) Thomas Hardy (author of "Far from the Madding Crowd") Dame Edith Sitwell (author, poet) and Lawrence of Arabia (British liaison officer and war hero during the Arab Revolt of 1916-18 and author of many books including "Seven Pillars of Wisdom")

She made many accurate psychic and astrological predictions, including that Ian Flemming (author of "Agent 007" {James Bond}) would write and become famous. She nursed soldiers in a military hospital during WW2 - owned and operated three antique/curio shops at one time - the landlord of her antique shop threatened to evict her if she did not denounce the Craft, it was shortly after this that she was evicted and moved to the U.S.- ran an astrological business, toured and gave lectures - wrote on many Pagan and secular topics - married a pianist at 16, traveled around Europe, and was widowed by age 18 - After returning home, she was initiated into the Craft in France - lived with Gypsies for a time - joined the Horsa Coven and later became their High Priestess just before the anti-Witchcraft laws were repealed - Married again and had two sons - Traveled to the U.S. in the 1960s and settled in Florida and Houston - Met Israel Regardie (Aleister Crowley's one-time secretary) in Los Angeles - teamed up with Hanz Holzer to investigate psychic phenomena - she did not approve of nudity (skyclad) in rituals - she did not condone drug use in the Craft

Sybil Leek had an enormous impact on Wicca during her lifetime and continues to influence the Craft today. She did groundbreaking work in public awareness and education and introduced many modern Wiccans to their path through her books (especially Diary of a Witch) and her lectures.

Opinions:

Her writing style is a bit dry, at times even boring, at the same time it is not to be missed as her perspective is quite unique. Leek offers us her reconstruction (using Gardnerian fill-ins) of a family tradition and a viewpoint which is down-to-earth and practical regarding modern Witchcraft. She enjoyed the adventure of a Pagan pioneer in the "early days" of the modern movement and endured the painful antagonism of a misunderstanding public and press. She fought for tolerance and shared her world with us. Check out some of her books listed, especially "Diary of a Witch" and "The Complete Art of Witchcraft" to find her best treasures. Most of her books are out of print so check out used bookstores online and off line. She is one of the very few female Wiccans of her time to speak and write with authority regarding the Craft. Alex Sanders, Gerald Gardner and other men dominated the scene then and she stuck her neck out to increase public awareness. She was also one of the first Witches to take on environmental causes.

The rituals she details in her many writings are very similar to Gardner's and she may have borrowed a few things here and there. However both Gardner and Leek shared a similar geographic background and many of the parallels may be attributable to this. Her claim of being a hereditary Witch and that her Horsa Coven was not Gardnerian may be questionable, however there is no doubt that her family was long involved in 'alternative' interests, occultism and astrology.

    * See date of death at the top of the page

    * She did not "follow" Aleister Crowley, simply knew him when she was young and last met with him in 1947.

Affiliations & Memberships: Horsa Coven, H.G. Wells, Israel Regardie, Lawrence of Arabia, Aleister Crowley

Claim to Fame: Her two most influential Craft oriented books: "Diary of a Witch" and "The Complete Art of Witchcraft"

Further Reading: Books and articles listed above, especially the two listed under "Claim to Fame" Back to the Top

The "Real" Book of Shadows!

There is no one, original Book of Shadows. Each BoS is unique to the individual practitioner. Covens will occasionally share a single BoS, or each coven member may copy out of a 'master' coven BoS and add their own work to their individual books. Many covens within a single tradition may also share a 'master' BoS which contains by-laws and tax exempt 'church' information. However even when a tradition has a 'master' BoS, it is normal for each individual to have a personal BoS.

When a coven does have a 'master' BoS, it is normal for the High Priestess or High Priest to house the book. In these formal coven structures, new initiates are allowed to copy sections of the 'master' BoS into their own personal books.

It is unlikely, rather, nearly impossible that there was ever a 'true original Book of Shadows'. Like most folk traditions and religions, teachings were passed on orally, and sometimes developed into myths and fairy tales.

There are some famous Books of Shadows, such as Gerald B. Gardner's, which contains reconstructed rituals including information from many sources such as The Greater Key of Solomon, Freemasonry, the Golden Dawn, Robert Graves, Charles Leland, Aleister Crowley, etc. ... but more on that later, meanwhile.... No discussion of the "Book of Shadows" would be complete without a reference to the pseudo-historical entry in Gerald B. Gardner's original Book of Shadows (Text B for history buffs). This passage appeared publicly around 1954 in Gerald Gardner's works and may date from a 12th century Book of Shadows.

However the authenticity, age and origins of this passage are debatable due to the references of to going "to the pyre" when Witches in England were hanged, not burned prior to Reformation. At the same time, there were not magistrates prior to Reformation. Although Witches were burned at the stake in Scotland, this passage does not appear to have originated there. Also, at the time torture was used, Witches were most likely illiterate. It is probable that this passage is actually a mixture of Victorian writing of the 1800s and orally handed down traditions.

Do you need to know all this? Maybe not. However there are two things you should know about this passage:

1. This passage is a classic found in many books and used as a first page or "Warning" in many Books of Shadows.

2. This passage is of dubious authenticity and origin.

So here follows the classic entry:

'Keep a book in your own hand of write. Let brothers and sisters copy what they will; but never let the book out of your hands and never keep the writings of another, for if found in their hand of write they may well be taken and tortured. Each shall guard his own writing and destroy it whenever danger threatens. Learn as much as you may by heart, and when danger is past rewrite your book if it be safe. For this reason, if any die, destroy their book if they have not been able to, for an it be found 'tis clear proof against them, and "Ye may not be a witch alone", so all their friends be in danger of torture. So destroy everything not necessary. If your book be found on you 'tis clear proof against you alone and you may be tortured. Keep all thoughts of the cult from your mind; say you had bad dreams, a devil caused you to write this without your knowledge. Think to yourself, "I know nothing. I remember nothing. I have forgotten all." Drive this into your mind. If the torture be too great to bear, say, "I will confess, I cannot bear this torment. What do you want me to say? Tell me and I will say it." If they try to make you speak of impossibilities, such as flying through the air, consorting with the Devil and sacrificing children and eating man's flesh, to obtain relief from torture say, "I had an evil dream, I was not myself, I was crazed."

'Not all magistrates are bad. If there be an excuse they may show mercy. If you have confessed aught, deny it afterwards; say you babbled under the torture, you knew not what you did or said. If you be condemned, fear not; the Brotherhood is powerful. They may help you to escape if you are steadfast. 'Tis sure, if steadfast you go to the pyre, drugs will help you; they will reach you a nd you will feel naught. An you go but to death, what lies beyond? The ecstasy of the Goddess.

'The same of the Working Tools; let them be as ordinary things that any may have in their houses. Let the pentacles be of wax that they may be melted or broken at once. Have no sword unless your rank allows you one, and have no names or signs on anything. Write the names and signs on in ink before consecrating them and wash off immediately after. Never boast, never threaten, never say you would wish ill to anyone. If you speak of the Craft, say, "Speak not to me of such it frightens me, 'tis evil luck to talk of it".1

There isn't a great deal of information in this passage that still applies to modern Wicca. Not all Books of Shadows are handwritten, many are printed from computer entries. Witches often keep the writings of others, especially excerpts from favorite books. Books of Shadows are very rarely destroyed due to danger or upon the death of a Witch and are often prized family heirlooms passed down to children, etc. (Note: In your presentation book, you may wish to leave instructions for others who may discover this book after you have passed away.)

There is, however, an essence of mystery and secrecy reflected in this passage that does still apply to modern Wicca. Your Book of Shadows may contain very private thoughts and workings which you would not reveal to most people, and some Wiccans are obligated to live in the "Broom Closet"*

1 This passage can be found in Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner | The Witches Way by Janet and Stewart Farrar | excerpts are found in Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein | A Witches Bible Complete by Janet and Stewart Farrar | and many other sources.

·        In The Broom Closet: A term used to refer to someone practicing Wicca secretly. There are many 'Broom Closet' Wiccans who do not reveal their spiritual path because they fear oppression and discrimination in their work and private lives.

Your Book of Shadows

The Spell Binder

When ideas come to you during your daily rituals, throughout your studies, or even while surfing online, you may wish to keep a record. Your Book of Shadows may be the second most important tool of Witchcraft (the most important being yourself). Up to this point in the course, you have been writing down your experiences and feelings in a notebook, journal or current Book of Shadows. This lesson will help you bring that notebook to life as a working tool.

The Spell Binder:

People change, and because your Book of Shadows is a direct reflection of you and your practice, it will constantly change too. Rather than purchase a leather or cloth bound tome in which to illuminate and calligraphy with beautiful lettering, it is recommended that you use a binder which is more flexible. If you make a mistake, you can pull out that page and replace it. It is possible to rearrange pages, and they are infinitely expandable. You can used different colored pages for different purposes such as organization or magical color correspondences, and you can even use black paper with the new milky white or silver gel pens to write in reverse of normal (this is sometimes easier to read in moon and candlelight).

Three ring binders can be found almost everywhere and some cost as little as a dollar or less, or if you'd like the luxury models with leather covers, you can spend several hundred times that amount.

If you like to collect spells from books or the internet, you can print them out in fancy Celtic, Theban Script, Runic, or old manuscript fonts and add them to your Book of Shadows easily. Please Note: Always quote your sources. If you are printing out web pages, be sure that the location (URL such as http://www.paganpath.com) appears on the printed page, and note the author. Anything taken from books, magazines, newspapers, etc. should also have the source and author noted. Remember that you can use the works of other authors for your own, individual, personal use, but cannot distribute them such as by placing them on your web site or passing them out to your students.

There are several important reasons for quoting your sources, four primary reasons are: 1. You may wish to refer to another area of the same book or web site and if you have the information right with the materials, you don't have to search or guess. 2. You can refer back to pages as you change and form more experienced opinions of various sources and authors. 3. When your grandchildren, friends or coven members inherit your book and wish to publish it to pay off your debts, they aren't sued for copyright infringement because they know what you wrote, and what you obtained from other sources. hehehe 4. For many works, it is a legal requirement to include the author and source if you wish to print the work. You can use several Spellbinders for various purposes. For example, if you are extremely interested in herbalism, you might wish to keep your herbal notes, recipes and spells in a separate green Spellbinder; another binder can keep your divination notes, and yet another can be your daily journal or keep your Craft poetry.

You can use different types of Spellbinders such the small sized Day Runner® six ring binders which are easy and discrete to carry, or the large four ring legal size binders to give yourself lots of room to work in. There are also presentation folders and books available which may suit your purposes. Explore the school and office supplies in your stores, it may take some experimentation, but you will find what you need.

   Although some techno-Pagans may use a 'Disks of Shadow' (jokingly referred to as                   DOS) or save information on a computer, there are many times that the lack of portability and other factors can make this inconvenient. Most 'disks of shadows' are at least partially printed out and archived.

In the next lesson, "The Presentation Book", we will explore transferring your favorite parts of your Spellbinder into a more formal book. Meanwhile, lets get started on your Spellbinder, which is your active workbook.

Assignment:

Obtain a binder. A 3 ring standard binder is recommended because templates will be made available which fit this size in later lessons for you to print.

You may also wish to purchase some plastic top loading sheet protectors. These are thin plastic envelopes which are punched to fit in your binder. Each plastic envelope can hold one or two pages and will prevent candle wax, ritual beverages, incense, dew, rain and other mishaps from destroying your work. These protectors are very useful for recipe pages in your book. We recommend the matte or satin finish protectors rather than the shiny ones because it is easier to read the glare free pages in candle and moonlight.

You may also wish to obtain some organizational tab dividers. These are available in clear or color coded and will help you to divide your Spellbinder in easy-to-reference sections.

Create a table of contents for your Spellbinder. Remember that the main benefit of the Spellbinder is the flexibility and forgiveness of mistakes. Your first table of contents will change. Here are a few sample tables of contents for you to use or adapt.

Simple Organization:

Recipes & Spells

Rituals

Journal & Poetry

Art & Symbols

Classes & Assignments

The Wheel of the Year

Correspondences

Detailed Table of Contents:

Introduction

.....My Beliefs

.....The Rede

.....Charge of the Goddess

.....Thirteen Principles

.....God & Goddess

.....Magic Ethics

.....Casting a Circle

.....Ritual Design

The Wheel of the Year

.....Sabbat Rituals

.....Esbat Rituals

.....Rites of Passage (dedications, initiations, wiccanings, cronings, handfastings, etc.)

.....Party Ideas

Magic & Spells

.....Magical Theory

.....Ethics

.....Prosperity

.....Love

.....Healing

.....Protection

.....Blessings

.....Banishing

.....Fertility

Divination

.....Astrology

.....Runes

.....I Ching

.....Tarot

.....Shells

.....Scrying

Recipes

.....Sabbat & Esbat Feasts

.....Potions

.....Unguents

.....Sachets, Pouches & "Mojos"

.....Soaps & Shampoos

.....Perfumes, Altar Oils & Candle Dressing

Learning

.....Classes

.....Assignments

Correspondences

.....Color

.....Stones

.....Incense, Oils & Herbs

Music

.....Lyrics

.....Sheet Music

.....My Favorite Ritual Tunes

Family

.....Crafts & Kids Projects

.....Stories, Myths & Folklore

Journal

.....Musings

.....Poetry

.....Art

You can either transfer your previous Book of Shadows or notebook to this new binder, or simply start out fresh with the Spellbinder. You may also wish to reserve your Spellbinder just for this class, in which case your Table of Contents might look like the table of contents for this class.

There is no assignment to turn in for this lesson, however you will have projects involving your Spellbinder workbook in future lessons so try to obtain one soon. Back to the Top


Your Presentation Book 

Please see the note at the bottom of this page

regarding the pictures used in this lesson.

"...you may find, like I have, that it is almost impossible to capture some rituals and energy-workings in words. I mainly use the entries (in a Book of Shadows) to jog my memory."

~ Yasmine Galenorn in her book:

"Embracing the Moon"

Your Book of Shadows (Bos) does not need to contain specific spells, recipes or rituals. You can put anything in it you wish to, however even if you feel that you may not need a BoS, it is important to keep at least a few notes. Most Witches find that their BoS in an invaluable tool, particularly after being involved in the Craft for many years.

Most BoS contain ritual outlines, poetry, recipes, artwork, songs, chants, the Rede, information about Sabbats, Gods & Goddesses, alphabets, symbols, correspondence charts, etc. These sections in a BoS are included in the outline in the previous lesson regarding your Spell Binder.

Your Spell Binder may be more like an active journal and recipe book of your day-to-day spiritual practices. It may contain logs of your meditations, or you may simply use it as a dream journal. No matter what you do with your Spell Binder, you may one day wish to create a more formal BoS.

A formal BoS (or what we will term here as your "Presentation Book") is the type of book you think of when you hear the words, Book of Shadows. Presentation books may be what you would teach others out of, the book you use during rituals, or the type of book you would take with you to more public gatherings. Most likely it would not contain the same type of dream and journal entries, and will be a more formal presentation of your favorite classics in the Craft such as the Rede and the Charge, or information on your version of the Sabbats & Esbats.

Presentation books are sometimes prized possessions of covens and solitaries, and are even becoming somewhat of a status symbol among Wiccans. This might not be the best development in the Craft, but there are many reasons that a presentation book can instill pride. Calligraphy and illuminations on parchment pages are a sign of the love and care a practitioner puts into their work. Simply creating your presentation book can be a form of meditation and a spiritual experience... and it can help build self esteem through your artistic or creative achievement.

A presentation book can also help create a ritualistic mood. There is much to be said regarding 'props' in rituals, particularly group rituals. A beautiful, intricate presentation book on the altar sets the mood of respect and honor for an entire ritual. Set & Setting, you will find, can influence many occasions.

What is Your Presentation Book Like?

Imagine a wise elder who lives in a cabin out in the woods. On the bookshelf of the cabin next to the fire place, on the very tiptop shelf, the elder keeps a treasured Book of Shadows. You to reach up and take the book down from the shelf. What does it look like? This is your Presentation BoS. You are the wise elder, the book is of your making.

You might think of your presentation book as a direct reflection of your view of Wicca, or as your gift to future generations. Of course, it is certainly not necessary to create a formal BoS. You may find your Spell Binder works perfectly for you and is flexible and casual. You may also choose an ornate Spell Binder such as the ones pictured on this page, which will do double duty as a flexible three ring binder and a formal presentation book.

Creating Your Presentation Book

Transferring pages from your Spell Binder to your Presentation Book can be either very simple, or extremely difficult, depending on the format of presentation book you use, and the amount of work you wish to do. "scrap booking" has become very popular in recent years and Witches can benefit from this popularity though the easy access of custom papers, adhesives, inks, punches and binders. If you would like to take a glimpse of some of the many sites available to scrap bookers, and what the fad is all about, check out ScrapObsession.com (there are several links to even more sites and suppliers on that page.)

Examples of Presentation Book Methods

Amber: Amber and her daughter are Wiccan. Amber's daughter is raising three children in the Craft so Amber intends to pass on her presentation BoS to her grandchildren. Amber enjoys book arts, and creates her own paper out of herbs, silk, and cotton fiber. She adjusts the ph of her paper to be acid free (ph 7 or higher). She has sewn the pages together in signatures and used traditional Italian marbled end papers and leather binding.

When writing in her books, she uses acid free, water proof, fade resistant pigment inks and wears cotton gloves to prevent smearing and the contamination of stains, acids, or oils from her hands on the pages. She considers herself a 'purist' and her Book of Shadows as a labor of love and a direct reflection of her spirituality. She has dedicated her BoS to her patron Deities and feels that, like a monument or shrine, the creation of the book is a ritual in itself and done as a way to honor the Gods. As a form of meditation, dedication, and relaxation, she occasionally writes in calligraphy, the best of the Spell Binder into her presentation book.

Occasionally she paints a water color illustration for her BoS and mounts it into her presentation book using archival quality adhesives. She stores her presentation BoS wrapped in glassine or various types of museum barrier sheets and places it in an archival storage box when not in use. Using these methods, she can be fairly certain that her presentation BoS will last a hundred years or more without deteriorating.

John: John loves old books, but isn't quite as motivated in book arts as Amber. He also enjoys the flexibility of his Spell Binder, which allows him to add and remove pages, or reorganize as new pages are added. He writes most of his book using special 'antique' or 'Old English' style fonts in a word processing program, and occasionally includes clip art, woodcuts, and his own computer graphics. He then prints pages onto high quality parchment paper suited to his ink jet printer. John uses a Brahm's Book of Shadows as pictured to the left to create a Presentation Book out of his Spell Binder, getting the best of both worlds.

Sara: Sara believes that any BoS she uses must be durable enough to take anywhere; hiking, to the beach, or into the kitchen. Sara purchases pre-bound blank books from Barnes & Noble, Levenger and other bookstores and office supply stores. She sometimes uses the black pre-bound sketch-type books from her art store. When she makes a mistake in her writing, she simply crosses it out. When she runs out of pages in her BoS, she simply switches to a new blank book, and copies the important sections of the previous BoS into the new one. For Sara, her daily BoS or spellbinder and her presentation BoS are one in the same and she regards them as diaries or journals. Sara uses her BoS more as a record of memoirs rather than an active reference tool.

George: George used to have a Spell Binder and a presentation BoS but has since incorporated them into the same book. George works in a corporate office and enjoys working in his BoS during his lunch break. Of course he doesn't want to advertise the fact that he's a Pagan, so he uses a zippered, leather bound three ring binder, or folio. This binder is very durable, but also discrete and fits easily into his briefcase.

Joan: Joan is proud of the fact that she is a vegetarian and feels that to live by her personal choices, she should not use leather products. She covered a second hand binder with hemp fabric and painted it with vegetable dyes. The first half of her book contains rituals she considers 'tried and true' along with her favorite poems and recipes. She prints these from her computer like John, but uses acid-free recycled paper. The second half of her book contains daily journal entries on recycled notebook paper.

Holly: Holly found the most amazing, green leather journal that just spoke to her sense of style and her focus in the Craft. It is small, so she can fit into her back pack or purse, and it has a Celtic knot hand-tooled on the cover. Within a month after she obtained it, she had filled all the pages, using it as a Spell Binder. However, her leather journal is actually a book cover for a pull out bound blank book. She purchases refills at her local office supply store.

Eso: Eso uses a presentation portfolio sold in office supply stores as a Presentation Book. It has a rich textured black cover, and holds 20 pages in protective clear plastic pouches. It is perfect for taking with him to rituals as it is small, lightweight, and weather/spill proof. It also folds open to create its own bookstand from the cover which works perfectly for hands free rituals. When he has outlined a ritual for his group in his Spell Binder, he simply removes the pertinent pages from his Spell Binder and temporarily stores them in the portfolio for the group ritual. When he returns home from the ritual, he puts the pages back into his Spell Binder and makes a few notes about how the ritual went over with the group. In this way his Spell binder remains private, and his Presentation Book is infinitely flexible.

In Summary:

Your Presentation Book and Spell Binder may be one in the same, or you may wish to create a special Presentation Book like Amber, without all the experimental and journal notes of your Spell Binder. You may find that your BoS changes with you, for example you might start out with journals and pre-bound books, change to a small and portable day-runner type organizer, and then switch to simple notebooks. Whatever you decide, the whole point of this section is for you to learn some of the many ways to make your BoS special, unique and very much YOU. Because you will grow and change, I recommend that you choose a flexible system of some sort.

Keep In Mind When Designing Your BoS:

1. Find out what you really need to have in your BoS before spending time creating a formal Presentation Book style and before spending much money. To do this, keep a Spell Binder type system and find out what you use most.

2. Consider whether you need your BoS to be with you during rituals or while making recipes. Do you need plastic sheet protectors? Do you need your book to be angled on a book stand? Does your book lie flat? (many pre-bound books don't) There are easel binders which are like a three ring binder, except the cover folds out at the bottom to create its own easel. These are convenient, but the hinges do eventually wear out. Some of these are available at binders.com

3. How long will your chosen BoS system last? How long does it need to last?

4. What appeals to you the most?

Assignment:

Review the summary of things to consider when deciding on a BoS, if any. Continue utilizing your Spell Binder and keep in mind what form of organization suits your needs. You may create a Presentation Book from your current Spell Binder as you continue through the lessons by decorating the cover, or you may wish to transfer everything to a special 3-ring binder such as the Brahm's Books of Shadows. This assignment is ongoing as your BoS will grow and change with you. Think carefully before you spend too much time or money, and have fun!

About the beautiful Books of Shadows pictured on this page:

So.... if you absolutely love the books pictured on this page and must have one because it is exactly what you had pictured in your mind's eye, here's more info about them:

Brahm & Robyn are PaganPath Members with a passion and a vision. They make these amazing Books of Shadows by hand, casting the hinges, corner guards, latches and medallions from their own designs. These books are bound in leather over a hard wood core and contain heavyweight parchment paper.

A unique feature of these books is that they have a very high quality three ring binding system. This allows you to rearrange your Book of Shadows, and add or remove pages (such as from your Spell Binder) so it will grow and change with you. The books lie flat for hands-free use. It also allows you to print pages from your computer to pop into the book. The cover pages and tabbed divider pages in their books are beautifully done and often contain reproductions by Waterhouse (one of my favorite artists).

The first one on this page with the pentacle medallion is "The Ultimate Coven Grimoire" and contains 400 heavyweight parchment pages. This book weight about 7-9 pounds, and can be used by anyone; solitary practitioners, partners or covens. The second book on this page is "The Ultimate Witch's Grimoire" and contains 200 pages of heavyweight parchment with beautiful dividers and a triquetra type medallion for protection and representative of the triple Goddess, the threefold law and many other things. This book weighs about 7 pounds.

Robyn & Brahm have graciously given us permission to use these images for this lesson. (We don't receive any "advertising" revenue for sharing this information about their books with you.) One warning, each book is made by hand and takes several days to create. Their price reflects this, but these are heirlooms and a lifetime investment.

The Elements, Part I

Most altars include representations of the four elements of life and nature; Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The elements have been used in the magic of many cultures, from Egyptians & Greeks to the Shinto of Japan. These elements will be covered in more detail in later lessons, but first the basics:

Most altars include representations of the four elements of life and nature; Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The elements have been used in the magic of many cultures, from Egyptians & Greeks to the Shinto of Japan. These elements will be covered in more detail in later lessons, but first the basics:

Earth

The Earth element symbolizes substance, matter, foundations, survival, practicality, responsibility, fertility, grounding and the manifestation* of matter. Earth is often seen as a feminine element although all polarities are contained within each element. Magic involving images, knots & cords, gardens, crystals and stones is generally categorized as Earth magic.

Air

The element of Air symbolizes communication, birth, rebirth, the spoken word, thoughts, ideas, and the manifestation of thoughts. Air is often seen as a masculine element, although again all polarities are contained within each element. Magic involving words of power and visualization generally falls under the category of Air magic as does some divination.

Fire

The Fire element symbolizes change, transformation, purification, sensuality, sexuality, passion, and manifestation of change. Fire is often viewed as a masculine element but again, all polarities are contained within each element. Magic involving candles, fires and many healings fall under the category of Fire magic.

Water

The element of water symbolizes emotions, cycles (particularly the cycle of purification brought about by birth, death and rebirth) and the manifestation of emotions. Magic involving mirrors, baths, some forms of divination and weather magic (when precipitation is the goal) generally falls under the category of Water magic.

PentacleThe Fifth Element (not the movie)

The fifth element goes by many names; Center, Ether, Aethyr, Akasha (in Hindu sankhya philosophy), the higher self, Spirit and more. The pentacle is used most often to represent this element because each point on the star can be seen as one of the four elements with the top point being the fifth. This element represents the synthesis* and manifestation of all elements. Not only does the fifth element unify the other four elements, it transcends them. The fifth element is synergistic, meaning that its total effect is greater than the sum of the individual elements. (The pentacle represents more than just the fifth element, but more on that in later lessons.)

manifestation: the act or process of something becoming 'real' in the mundane. If somethng were to 'manifest' it would mean it is becoming evident, certain, and perceivable. An accounting plan may manifest itself in the increasing success of a business. A spell may manifest itself as physical results, these physical results can be termed manifestations.

synthesis: from the Greek word syntithenai which means to put together, the combining or uniting of many parts to make a whole.

The Elements, Part II

Tool & Directional Attributes

There are basically three schools of thought as to which cardinal point (meaning which direction of the compass) each element is attributed to. There are excellent arguments for each method and essentially it is for you to decide how you will practice.

Classic Attributes 1:

Earth is in the North: Because Earth is moist, dark and solid, many traditions place its corresponding cardinal point to the North. This probably derives from European traditions located geographically in areas with large land masses and cold, moist winds to the North. Earth is represented by the pentacle and salt.

Air is in the East: because that is where the sun rises, providing light and also illumination, a new day, new ideas, etc. Air is represented by the incense smoke and the sword or athame.

Fire is in the South: where the lands are warm and sensual. Fire is represented by the wand, staff and candles.

Water is in the West: where, for European Pagans, the largest body of water was located and for Egyptians, the most important body of water, the Nile, was located. The sun also sets in the west signaling the end of a day and birth of night. The cyclical and flowing nature of water is seen in human emotions and in birth and rebirth. Water is represented as water and the chalice.

Classic Attributes 2:

The second school of thought is nearly identical to the first except the sword or athame represent fire and the wand or staff represents air. The sword, forged in fire, is thought to represent the transformational properties of fire best. The wand, originally from branches that swayed in breezes, is thought to represent ideas and air best.

Modern Attributes:

The most recent development has been to create your own attributes. Much like European Pagans did, you can develop attributes based on the area in which you are located.

For example, someone living in New York may see East as Water with the largest body of water located in that direction, and West as Earth with the continental United States in that direction.

Some practitioners look to the historical attributes of indigenous people, others simply go by intuition. Like the New York example above, some practitioners base their attributes according to land and water masses, while others stick to the sun rise and sun set method.

Another example may be a practitioner in Australia who uses the solar method so East is still Air and West is still Water like the classic attributes, however for this person, farther south is colder, and farther north is warmer and more tropical. This Australian may then use North as Fire and South as Earth.

Assignment:

Think about which of the cardinal points of the compass, North, South, East and West you would attribute each of the elements to Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Write down your reasoning and thoughts in your notebook or Book of Shadows.

Recommended Reading:

If you would like to read more about the elements, you might enjoy "Earth Magic" and "Earth, Air, Fire, Water" both by Scott Cunningham. The elements will be covered in more detail in your later lessons and you are not required to read this for the class. Back to the Top

The Elements, Part III

Tricky Tools & More

The four 'classic' tools of Wicca are the Cup/Chalice, Wand/Staff, Athame/Sword and Pentacle. These four tools can be seen as the suits in the Minor Arcana of most Tarot cards and represent the four elements. These are not necessarily the primary tools, just the classics. There are many other tools utilized in Wicca, many of which predate the classics in their historical magical uses. These tools are 'tricky' because they cannot easily be categorized under the magical attributes of a single element.

Here's a rough example: Although a cup can easily symbolize water, it can also be made of clay, glass or metal (earth), it had to be exposed to fire to be created, and air fed that fire.

It is easy to associate a cup with water, even though all elements are represented. However these tools are trickier.

The Cauldron:

The cauldron can represent all of the elements combined synergistically to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts (like ingredients in a soup-stone soup for example) It can represent akasha or spirit and may be used as a replacement for, or compliment to the pentacle. It also symbolizes water for some and replaces or compliments the chalice/cup/goblet on the altar. A cauldron also represents creation, birth, death, cycles of change and is a symbol of the Goddess. Cauldrons are very useful as a container for blending herbs, as a censor, as a vessel for scrying, etc.

An altar pentacle is often referred to as a paten. However, paten usually refers to the dish used to hold the Eucharist*. Paten is a term that also refers to a metal plate and not all altar pentacles are made of metal.

The Scourge:

The scourge has fallen out of favor in recent years, but is still used in some traditions (mostly Gardnerian and Alexandrian) to lightly scourge (beat or whip) initiates and during certain rituals. Many scourges are beautifully made of leather or knotted silk and are studded with gems in silver. The scourge symbolizes the need to learn through suffering and scourging can create altered states of consciousness. As a technique for raising power, the scourge should be wieled in such a way as to increase circulation and heat to the skin, but should not break the skin or draw blood. Some scourges are designed in such a way that they cannot cause serious injury. Scourging is often performed during the most private rituals and by covens or individuals who know each other well and trust each other completely. Solitary practitioners will sometimes use a scourge as well. We prefer to omit the scourge in our practice as we feel there are better ways to enter altered states of consciousness.

Salt & Water

Salt can represent Earth (salt mined from the Earth) or water (sea salt). Salt and water are used to consecrate tools. Salt has long been considered a purification tool and is used in the mundane world to preserve meat. Salt is also protective and water is obviously cleansing. Salt can also represent the masculine polarity (God) and water can represent the feminine polarity (Goddess).

The Besom:

The Besom is used in many rituals, particularly those involving weather magic, handfasting, cleansing and purification, or protection. There is also speculation that flying ointments were applied to broom handles prior to rites in order to be applied to delicate skin during symbolic dances. It is sometimes used to replace the wand or staff and in such circumstances it is perceived to be a masculine influence (obviously phallic). However, more commonly the broom represents Witchcraft in general as well as the union of male and female polarities. Ritual areas are swept with the besom to clear the area physically and psychically. Read more about the besom here.

The Censer:

The censer is used to burn incense and herbs. It can represent fire or air (smoke, fragrance) and less often, earth.

The Cords:

Cords are used by some traditions (much like the scourge) in initiation ceremonies, and are also used for knot magic, to mark a circle of a specific diameter, or to constrict the flow of blood in order to induce an altered state of consciousness. Again we feel there are better ways to achieve altered states, but often use cords for magic and ritual in other ways.

The Garter:

Used in magic and as a badge of rank in some traditions. Garters are also worn to let others quietly know that the wearer is a Witch. Colors and decorations are used in certain traditions to represent various things. For example a woman entering into the Crone phase of her life may wish to wear a black and red garter in honor of her Goddess. A coven may have a high priestess who wears a blue garter as a symbol of hard earned respect. She may add a silver buckle, a stone or other ornamentation to represent milestones in her reign, or to stand for each coven that has branched off from her own. Each tradition may have its own color correspondences for garter, or not use garters at all. A garter often looks like a very small belt and can be of leather, silk or other material. It is worn high on the thigh, or more commonly right below the knee. A garter can also be an amulet or talisman.

Please be sure you've read the Stone Soup story and the Scrying article referred to in the Cauldron description, and read the Besom Briefs article referred to in the Besom section.

*Eucharist: The consecrated bread used in the Christian sacrament of communion. It is consumed as a memorial of Christ's death, as a symbol of the union between Christ and the individual, and as the body of Christ. Back to the Top

Stone Soup

A Traditional Folk Tale

Stone soup is a popular folk tale. Many versions exist and this version, highly adapted specifically for the PaganPath Wicca course, remains closely based on the traditional basic story line.

An adventurer was traveling around a vast countryside. Running low on food supplies and becoming weary from the road, he decided to stop at the next village. There, he hoped to trade his labor for some food.

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As he rounded the next curve in his path, he came upon a small community of twelve shabby huts. The village was quiet, and obviously poor. There were no children playing in the center clearing, and no adults splitting wood for the coming winter.

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"That's odd," he said to himself, "villages around harvest time are usually a bustle of work."

He knocked on the first door.

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"We have nothing for you." a stooped and wrinkled crone said before slamming her door.

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"The first harvest has been so bad, there's no food to bring in from the fields." said a very tall and very thin man.

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"My small family only has a few carrots in the larder." a desperate young woman pleaded.

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"You'd better leave!" peeped a small girl covered in dirt.

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The traveler visited eleven of the twelve huts and received similar greetings at each door. Doors were slammed, sometimes curses were muttered, and again the village was silent. As he walked to the final hut, he again thought to himself how strange it was that the people in the village were so isolated from each other." Before he could explore that thought any further, his hunger got the better of him and he knocked on the twelfth and final hut.

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"I am but a lonely old woman and have no work nor food for you." stated the abrupt woman.

Before she could slam the door on the traveler, he quickly said, "Young lady, I have no desire to ask favors of you, I was simply hoping you could share some salt so that I can make my world famous soup. I have a magical stone, given to me by my great grandmother, that will make a soup fit for a king. I would allow you to have a sample of it in exchange for your salt.

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The woman's cold gray eyes studied his face for a moment. Her pinched face began to relax. She scurried back into her hut for a moment and returned with a small crock of salt. "This is all I've got, so you'd better make a soup that really is fit for a king!"

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The woman followed the traveler back to the clearing in the center of the village, clinging to her crock of salt as if it were more precious than gold. He began humming a cheery tune and opened his pack. His melody seemed out of place in the church-like stillness of the village, but he continued, louder all the time.

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The small, dirty girl appeared with a young (equally dirty) boy to watch the strange traveler. The traveler was making quite a ruckus as he tumbled objects around in his pack, but finally he withdrew a large pot and wooden spoon. His tune became quite loud now and he began belting out a lively song.

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"Oh I am a rovin' Journeyman I roam from town to town

And whenever I get a job of work I'm willing to sit doon

My kit's all on my shoulder and my graftin' tool in hand

And 'round the country I will go a rovin' journeyman"1

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Sprinting around the outskirts of the village circle, he collected stones and fallen branches. He carted his collection back to the center of the circle and formed a ring with the stones. His song ended as two thin men joined the woman with the salt and the two dirty children in the village circle.

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He stacked the fallen branches inside the ring of stones and loudly rummaged in his pack again to retrieve his flint. He could hear the men whispering to each other "fit for a king you say..." and "soup from a stone you say..." as he sparked the flint and blew on a curl of smoke rising from the branches. The fire came to life and he carried the large pot over to the village well to fill it with water. Carting the heavy, water filled pot back to the fire, he balanced the bottom of the pot on the ring of stones. Then he said, almost to himself,

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"This soup would be fit for two kings if I only had a few onions to add to it."

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One of the tall thin men left quietly, walking toward one of the smallest huts. He returned with his wife who carried a bundle of small, wilted onions in her apron.

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"Why thank you!" the traveler exclaimed in a surprised voice, "you shall have some of my world famous stone soup, fit for a king or a queen, in exchange for your gracious generosity." He flamboyantly bowed low.

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The traveler then took a small handful of salt from the crock (still held firmly by the woman with the gray eyes) and threw it in the pot. Stirring with the wooden spoon he muttered something inaudible to himself and then rummaged in his pack again. Making loud clattering sounds and humming, he produced a paring knife from the pack with a loud "ah ha!" As he peeled and cut the onions he broke into song again...

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"Off to reap the corn,

leave where I was born,

I cut a stout blackthorn,

to banish ghost and goblin

A brand new pair of brogues,

rattlin o'er the bogs

And frightenin' all the dogs

on the rocky road to Dublin."2

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The two thin men began tapping their feet, and the stooped, wrinkled crone appeared from her hut.

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"What's this I hear about making soup from a stone?" she asked accusingly. Peering into the pot she exclaimed, "There's no stone in this soup!"

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The traveler dropped the onions into the pot of water and said,

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"Why my good woman, you're right! I've nearly lost my head and forgotten the most important ingredient of all!"

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He rummaged in his pack and muttered quietly while more villagers appeared. After several minutes the villagers began shifting around impatiently and he could sense the doubt in the small crowd. Finally he discovered that a small stone had lodged itself in the bottom of the pack. He grasped it triumphantly, stood up quickly and held it aloft.

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Stone for Soup"Here is the magical stone, passed on to me from my great grandmother, that can make soup fit for a king!" The villagers leaned in close and he dropped it in the soup with a quick plunk!

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Steam from the now boiling onions and water wafted around the clearing, and soon every villager was present, drawn by hunger and curiosity. The traveler said, somewhat to himself,

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"Soup from a stone is fit for a king, but it would be even better if it had a few carrots in it."

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The desperate young woman he'd met earlier, took off briskly to her hut. She returned promptly with a small handful of withered carrots.

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"Why thank you my lady!" the traveler cried in a surprised voice, "you too shall share in this magical stone soup, fit for a king." and he bowed low.

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He cut the carrots into the soup while singing again,

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"Well a Scotsman clad in kilt left a bar on evening fair

And one could tell by how he walked that he drunk more than his share

He fumbled round until he could no longer keep his feet

Then he stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street...

About that time two young and lovely girls just happened by

And one says to the other with a twinkle in her eye

See yon sleeping Scotsman so strong and handsome built

I wonder if it's true what they don't wear beneath the kilt"3

His song trailed off as he became aware of the "mixed company" and he said, almost to himself, "This soup would truly be fit for a king if only I could find a few potatoes."

Three older boys (or were they young men?) ran from the village clearing and disappeared behind a hut. The traveler continued to sing a more appropriate song as a heavily bearded man produced a pennywistle and began accompanying him.

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"In days of old in a kingdom bold,

there lived a fearsome dragon.

And the King he was in great distress

and the countries spirits flagoned.

Until one day there came a knight,

he was handsome, bold, and charming.

And he slew the dragon with his sword

with a smile that was so disarming.

With a hey and a ho and a hey nany no,

A smile that was so disarming."4

The faces of the tired, hungry villagers began to relax, some even broke into smiles! As the song ended the three boys returned with a large basket of potatoes.

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"My my!" the traveler exclaimed, "this will truly make the stone soup fit for a king! You too shall sample this magical brew!"

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He began cutting the potatoes into the soup and sang while the bearded man played his pennywistle.

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"Now the harvest being o'er the farmer went walkin

Along the Faele River that borders his land

And 'twas there he first saw her twixt firelight and water

The tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann."5

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The thin man and his wife began to dance, and the wife threw her apron off into the small crowd. All of the children joined in the dance and a man in rags began singing with the traveler. Then, two women and three more men joined in singing, and all the remaining villagers started to dance or stomp their feet to the tune.

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The traveler pulled the stooped, wrinkled crone aside and said, "If you had a few stalks of celery, you could share this stone soup too." She ducked behind one of the huts and reappeared with two beautiful stalks of celery.

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The traveler joined in the singing again while cutting the celery up into the soup. Dancing and singing continued for a couple hours. Some of the villagers noticed that the traveler would occasionally pull someone aside, but everyone was having too much fun to dwell on the matter.

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As the sun sunk low in the sky, the traveler stood up on a nearby log and shouted over the festivities,

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"The magical soup, made from a stone, is finished. Let us all feast on this fine brew like kings and queens!"

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The villagers busied themselves getting bowls and spoons. The children were made to wash up and several jugs of water and mead appeared. Everyone ate their fill and as the children drifted off to sleep, the adults began talking.

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"It is so good the traveler came to bring us soup from a stone." Said one.

"Yes, we may have all starved if it weren't for him." said another.

"That soup truly is fit for a king!" said many.

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Many of the villagers were concerned about the first harvest of the season being poor.

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"You know Finn, I noticed that your barley didn't make it this year, but that you have some carrots. My barley did well, but my carrots were eaten by the rabbits. What if we make a trade..."

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And soon, many of the problems the village was struggling with didn't seem so terrible. Singing, talking and dancing continued half the night. Late the next morning (everyone slept a bit late) the village was bustling with children playing, villagers working on each other's huts, food and clothing being swapped, wood being chopped and so much more. No one noticed the traveler had disappeared sometime in the night . . .

 

Many years later, the villagers would still wonder about the traveler who came the year of the bad first harvest. Did he really have a magic stone, or was he just a smooth talking trickster? Still, the stooped old crone would smile wistfully when people spoke of him, knowing the true magic afoot.

The Traveler's Songs:

1. The Rovin' Journeyman (traditional)

2. The Rocky Road to Dublin (traditional)

3. The Scotsman (Mike Cross)

4. A Fairy Story (unknown)

5. The Tinkerman's Daughter (Michael McConnel) Back to the Top

Scrying Without Crying

Scrying pool, mirror, and crystal gazing ... reflect on these ideas ...

Scrying is a form of divination, but is also much more than that. By gazing into a crystal, pool, mirror or other reflective medium, a Witch is able to enter altered mind states and gain access beyond the veil. Because every person you meet will have a different way of accessing their mind states, you will hear many different scrying techniques. Some of the techniques I've come across border on the realms of superstition (which I define as fear through lack of knowledge and/or acceptance).

You might read that unless a crystal sphere is true quartz crystal, it will not work. You might hear that a perfect sphere without any visible flaws is necessary. You may hear that your scrying mirror or crystal must never be touched by sunlight. These are simply not true. There are legitimate reasons for each of these 'rules' but it doesn't mean that you have to follow them in order to scry effectively. Let's break down scrying into the basics so you can understand why these rules exist. In this way, you can determine for yourself if you wish to adhere to them, or toss them aside as rubbish.

If you wish to begin scrying, you will need some sort of a reflective surface. More about this later, lets look at what you will actually be doing with this reflective surface first.

Scrying works on the principles of what is named by some as the Ganzfeld effect or state. If you have ever had to sit in the corner as a child, staring at a blank wall until you began to hallucinate and have stories, patterns, or images appear to you, you know what the Ganzfeld effect is. If you've ever stayed awake in bed staring at the ceiling until these same things happened, then you also know what a Ganzfeld state is.

Ok, so maybe I've spoiled the mystery of scrying by breaking it down into the basics and telling you what it really is. However, scrying has a very occult side. It isn't how you get to the mind state of scrying that's important, it's the mysteries that are unveiled to you once you are there that are important. Interpreting what you see when you scry is very much like dream interpretation. There are many books that will define each image you glimpse, but essentially it boils down to what those images mean to you.

A key element in quickly attaining the correct state for scrying is flashing light. (If you are epileptic, disregard this section, if you eliminate the flickering but keep the gaze similar, you should still be able to scry.) Place flickering candles around the room you are working in. Keep them out of your direct line of vision, but at the same time, be certain that the reflection of the flame can be seen in the scrying surface. To get these 'flickering' candles, you can open a window a crack to let a draft help you out. Or, there are some candles you'll find on the market, especially inexpensive ones, which have a flame that rises and falls rhythmically. These work quite well for scrying. (I got some from a botanica in New Orleans [ F&F Botanica ] that smell strongly of petroleum. Not very attractive sounding I know, but they flicker nicely. I've also gotten some good flickeries at drug stores when they are having their after holiday sales. They go are usually 5 for a $1....black and orange after Samhain and red, green and white after Yule. These cheapies flicker nicely sans drafts.)

Try this for example, you will need:

      1) A black mirror, a cauldron filled with water (or an herbal infusion such as mugwort), or a crystal, or a shallow dish of water (made black by the addition of ink), a ring with a nice stone (like moonstone) a black stone like obsidian, a black tile, or whatever reflective medium you wish to use.

2) Five candles

To Begin:

Place the scrying medium on your altar so that you can look at it from approximately a 45 degree angle while in a very comfortable position. Arrange the candles throughout the room so that they are elevated above the scrying medium but remain outside of your direct line of sight. You may wish to cast a circle at this time or recite a blessing or charge over the medium and over the entire scrying session.

Breathe deeply and rhythmically while gazing at the medium. Imagine you are looking through a red lens so that everything you see is tinted with red. Move on through the chakra colors in a "Crystal Countdown" fashion (in The Power of the Witch by Laura Cabot) The color sequence is as follows: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. (The rainbow, easily remembered with the initials as a name...ROY G. BIV)

When you feel that you are relaxed, keep looking at the medium. Your first sessions may last 10 to 30 minutes, but work up to hour long sessions. Do not be critical of yourself or your results. If you fall asleep that's ok, if you daydream that's ok too. Just let whatever happens, happen. In this way you will quickly refine your skills. Relax your gaze as if you were attempting a 3D magic eye hidden picture. If you have trouble with those darned 3D things, don't worry, scrying is similar only in that you relax your eyes and don't really look AT the surface.

Follow Up:

After you have completed your session, jot down a few rough notes. Do what you need to do to ground yourself or clean up the area. Sometime during your day, go back to your notes and fill in more details as you remember them. I use two columns, one for the description of images seen, and one for my  translations.

Go over each image that you saw. You might consult a symbol interpretation list for dreams, you know, the kind that say a bird is an omen, a knife is a......well, you get it. You could also analyze each image by checking what it means to you. For example, a red rose may mean passion in the books, but if your best friend requested them in the hospital, your personal associations are going to be different. The conclusions you draw from your scrying sessions must eventually be your own and as you continue to practice, you will understand yourself and your visions more and more.

Insightful scrying to you all!

Most Recent Addendum to this Scrying Article

I've found that with practice, the mind becomes more comfortable in this state and you can maintain it for greater lengths of time with practice.

There are also tools that can help you become more familiar and comfortable with the state. They can also speed the achievement of the state so that practice is more convenient and frequent.

These tools can range in price from free up to thousands of dollars. One of the lower priced tools we've used specifically for the Ganzfeld field effect is a set of 'glasses' or goggles.

 

These tools are non-invasive sensory depravation devices designed to create a smooth, monochromatic field of light. We have enjoyed comparing these modern tools to some of Gardner's Eight Paths or Ways to the Center or Eight Ways of Making Magic in our personal Book of Shadows. If you purchase these, they can cost around $60 U.S. but you can also make a similar tool for next to nothing!

The color chosen for the field of light can be selected according to color therapy, magical references, or whatever you are drawn to and what works best for you. After a few minutes using this type of tool, you won't 'see' anything as your optic nerve becomes paralyzed and you 'see' black. With your mind's eye however, you will see much more!

A simple Ganzfeld 'goggle' can be made by slicing a ping pong ball in half and smoothing the cut edges with sand paper. (You can also pad the edges with headphone cushions with the centers cut out.)

Paint both halves of the ping pong ball the color you have chosen. Place them over your eyes and lay down under a bright light (or the sun with sunscreen on :) ) Keep your eyes open and stare straight ahead. After a few minutes you should no longer be able to see the color. Don't be afraid, this is normal.

Avoid making imperfections in the paint, allowing any cushions to be visible (try without them at first) or any flecks of darkness on the halves. Experiment with different variations of light brightness. Your eyes shouldn't feel any pain or sensitivity to the brightness, but there should be even, bright light.

Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration;

the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present.

A Defence of Poetry -Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1772-1834.

Besom Briefs

A besom is a broom used by some Witches, especially for Handfasting and Candlemas rites. Because we hope to offer information here that is not readily available elsewhere, we won't go into all the basics about the besom. This page is to provide you with  lesser known trivia about the besom that you might find interesting:

Many of us know about the classic uses of brooms in sympathetic magick. These rites often included riding broomsticks and jumping in the air to "show the crops how high to grow." However, there are many other myths and associations of Witches with brooms.

In Ireland, the besom was sometimes called a "Faery's Horse".

In medieval times, the broom or besom was equated with marriages outside of the church, and weddings "by the broom" were considered illegitimate.

Brooms are generally used for protection and purification purposes in magick. The symbolism of the broom (male staff often of ash wood, and female broom often of brush, broom or birch) also contributed to the word 'besom' being used as derogatory slang for an easy woman. These wild, anarchist types of associations may have been promoted by the church, but they also expose the attitude that Pagans were free spirits.

Chapter 13 of "The Magical Household" by Scott Cunningham has a great deal of entertaining lore about the besom if you are interested to learn more. This is not required reading, it is simply a book you might enjoy.

 The Wheel of the Year


An introduction to the basic Sabbats

The Wheel of the Year

There are eight Sabbats in the year. Four "Greater" and four "Lesser". Of the four "Lesser" Sabbats, two are Equinoxes and two are Solstices. Greater and Lesser are terms we will explore later but for now just remember that "Lesser" doesn't mean it is less important and "Greater" doesn't mean it is more important.

Because some of them correspond to Equinoxes and Solstices, the dates may vary from year to year. Also, some Witches celebrate Sabbats on slightly different dates. This is a brief introduction to the Sabbats and you will study each of them individually in lessons after midterm exams.

Most Sabbat celebrations involve casting a circle or creating sacred space. Within this space a solitary practitioner may honor and celebrate the season, the Earth, Nature, the cycles of life, deity and more in his or her own way. Covens usually have dancing, music, feasting (in the circle with "cakes and ale" or after the main ritual in a casual manner), re-enacting of myths or other divine dramas and much more.

Sabbat celebrations are just that, celebrations! It is important to set aside these times to do something special - to stop and smell the flowers if you will. You will find that doing so will energize you, particularly if you are able to perform any type of ritual, or part of a ritual, outdoors. Eventually you will come to the point that you can feel a Sabbat drawing near.

Notice in the picture at the top of this page that when people in the Northern Hemisphere of the world are celebrating spring at the Beltane, Pagans in the Southern Hemisphere are celebrating the harvest at Samhain. Look at the opposite side of the Wheel for any Sabbat to see which Sabbat is being celebrated in the other Hemisphere.

 

Moving clockwise (deosil) around the Wheel above,

Samhain is the first Sabbat we will discuss. It is the beginning of the Wheel of the Year and is considered the "New Year" for many Witches. Some alternative names for this Sabbat are: Hallowmas, New Year, Shadowfest, Martinmas, Summer's End, All Hallow Eve, Samhuin, etc. For some Witches, this is the third and final harvest, and for many Witches it is a time to honor and celebrate ancestors. This is a Greater Sabbat and is called a "cross quarter" because it falls about midway between an equinox and a solstice. The "veil between the worlds" is thought to be thin at this time.

Yule is also considered the New Year by some Witches, but less frequently than Samhain is. Being the Winter solstice, this is the shortest day of the year. This is a Lesser Sabbat (which doesn't mean it is less important!). Some alternative names for this Sabbat are: Mondranacht, Yule, Yuletide, Alban Arthan, New Year, etc.. A major theme of this Sabbat is the rebirth of the Sun.

Imbolc brings an increase in warmth, the waxing of the light of the Sun and for some Pagans the first stirrings of spring. Some alternative names for this Sabbat are: Imbolg, Oimelg, Feast of Lights, Candlemas, Imbollgc Brigantia, Lupercus, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, etc.. Falling about midway between the solstice and the equinox, this is one of the four Greater Sabbats or "cross quarters".

Ostara is the Vernal or Spring Equinox and is also called Eostre, Ostara, Oestara, Lady Day, Alban Eiler, Oester, etc.. It is a time of rebirth within the Earth. As an equinox, this is a Lesser Sabbat.

Beltane is a Greater Sabbat, falling between the equinox and the solstice. As with Samhain, the "veil between the worlds" is thought to be thin at this time. This is the first day of Summer and Earth is full of fertility and growth. Some alternative names for this Sabbat are: Walpurgisnacht, Beltain, Beltaine, Bealtinne, Walburga, Festival of Tana, May Eve, May Day-May 1st, Rood Day, Roodmas, Eve of St. Walburga's Day, etc.

Midsummer is the Summer Solstice. The shortest night of the year, this Sabbat is a celebration of the Sun at its peak and the warmth of the Earth. A very energetic time and traditionally a time for all types of spells and magic this Sabbat is also known as Midsummer, Litha, Alban Hefin, etc. Like Yule, this Solstice is a Lesser Sabbat.

Lammas is a time of harvest as the bounty of the earth is reaching maturity. For some Pagans it is the first of three harvest Sabbats. Also known as: First Harvest, Lughnasadh, Lughnassad, Cornucopia, Thingtide, Eve of Lady Day, Lady Day, etc. Falling between the Solstice and the Equinox this is one of the four Greater Sabbats.

Mabon is the second of three harvest celebrations for some Witches. It is a Lesser Sabbat being the Autumnal Equinox. Alternatively known as: Autumn Equinox, Winter Finding, Alban Elfed, etc. Celebrations of the harvest dominate this Sabbat.

Look closely at the Wheel of the Year at the top of this page and mark the Sabbats on your calendar so you know when they are coming up. Be sure to go outside on the Sabbat days and sense the energies around you. Make a few notes in your Book of Shadows regarding your thought, feelings, observations and the seasonal energy. You will use these notes later to construct your own special Sabbat celebrations.

First illustration, the Wheel of the Year, Copyright © 2001 PaganPath.com

Second illustration, Woodcut of Witches Celebrating by Hans Weiditz circa 1500? This jpg version of the image belongs to PaganPath.com

Third illustration, Witches concocting an ointment to be used for flying to the Sabbath by Hans Baldung Grien, Strassburg, 1514 This jpg version of the image belongs to PaganPath.com

There's a Deity on my Altar!

One more Tool!

Bolline: The bolline is not as symbolic for a Witch as it is functional. This is traditionally a white handled knife, but many Wiccans use a sharp pocket knife. Herbalists may use a small scythe as a bolline. This tool is used for carving symbols and runes on candles or other types of inscribing, to harvest or cut herbs and perform other functional duties in the mundane world. Some Witches only use the bolline in the ritual circle, others feel that all of life is magical and take it with them such as to the garden to harvest herbs. A few practitioners may use an Athame as a bolline, again with the view that all of life is magical, however many traditions specify that the Athame is never to be used to cut or carve in the mundane world with the occasional exception of serving a handfasting cake.

On to Deity!

Now you know a bit about the elements, and their representations on the altar with tools, so now we're going to move away from the elements and tools for a few lessons. Don't forget what we've gone over though, we'll pick up the elements again in later lessons.

Deity, The God & Goddess:

In this section, we enter some pretty tricky subjects. If you ask 100 Wiccans what they think Deity is, you would receive 200 different answers. Covering this topic comprehensively is beyond the scope of any single source, however Deity remains the core of Wicca. Although this is a touchy subject, we will attempt to cover many different Wiccan viewpoints. There are some Wiccans who believe to call yourself "Wiccan" means that you believe in a specific pantheon, or have a specific belief system. However, in real life, you will meet Wiccans with beliefs which vary widely from one another. One of the goals of this class is to give you an overview of these beliefs, and from there you may choose your own path. We will not entertain discussions on which belief is more "Wiccan" than another and this is counterproductive to your individual path, as well as to Paganism as a whole.

For purposes of simplification, the word Deity is used in these lessons to represent the Divine Force, the All, the One Power, or the universe as a living force. Generally, this force is beyond gender, however we witness the manifestation of the divine in all that is around us.

Because much of nature is divided into male and female principles, many Wiccans identify with the God and the Goddess. This is a very broad statement and it is important to keep in mind that some traditions and solitary Wiccans only acknowledge the Goddess in their rituals. Still other Wiccans do not see the God and Goddess as separate entities, but rather different symbolic facets of Deity. Because Deity is a creative force, the Goddess is often stressed more strongly as She is the Mother of all creation.

The point is that every Witch has a different view of Deity as is entirely appropriate. Each of us are individuals, and each of us will relate to Deity in our own way. Again, we will cover a variety of Wiccan viewpoints, but will not contribute to popular arguments of which viewpoint is more "Wiccan" than another or which is more historically accurate than another. The primary focus of this class is on modern Wicca and how it applies to your personal path.

Terms To Know

Polytheism is the belief that deity takes many forms, the belief in more than one god.

Omnipresent describes that which is present at all times in all places.

Monotheism is the belief that there is only one god.

Patriarchy is a form of organization in which the father or authoritarian male is ruler.

Matriarchy a form of organization in which the mother or authoritarian female is ruler.

Animism 1. attributing conscious life to objects and phenomena in nature 2. belief in the existence of disembodied spirits.

Personification For purposes of this lesson: to represent or symbolize a complex or abstract quality, idea, person, entity or energy. To represent an abstraction.

So let's take a look at several different Witches and their views of Deity:

MoonBeam's Views

MoonBeam identifies with the Goddess. She feels a close connection with the creative feminine energy of the Mother. She is not yet comfortable with the idea of the God, particularly the Horned God, having come from a strict Christian background. She realizes that her anxiety about the Horned God is unfounded but nevertheless she chooses to identify with the triple Goddess.

For MoonBeam, the Goddess has three faces, Artemis (or under her Roman name, Diana) the maiden of the new and waxing moon, Selene the mother of the full moon, and Hecate the crone of the waning and dark moon. She sees the Goddess reflected in myths of the three fates, the cycles of the moon and of life & death.

She feels that her focus on the Goddess is a way to heal some of her past which involved abusive relationships, and is a way to counterbalance a patriarchal society. She represents the triple Goddess on her altar with her three legged cauldron in which burns either a white (maiden), red (mother) or black (crone) candle depending on the current phase of the moon.

MoonBeam has an Irish heritage in her family  and has begun study of The Morrigan who has three phases, Ana (maiden or virgin) Babd (mother) and Macha (crone). She has not connected with this personification of the Goddess as she is only in the beginning stages of her research.

MoonBeam's favorite book is:

Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot

Pat's Views

Pat feels that Deity is omnipresent and places pictures of space on the wall above the altar to represent Deity. Pat does not separate Deity into sexual polarities and does not adhere to organizational forms such as patriarchy and matriarchy, but rather believes that gender should not matter. Pat belongs to a coven in which decisions and ritual workings are based on the unity of a circle. Each covener takes turns coming up with ideas for ritual and there is no High Priest or High Priestess.

Pat's favorite books are:

The Spiral Dance by Starhawk

The Grandmother of Time by Zsuzsanna E. Budapest

Alex's Views

Alex started his studies in a Gardnerian coven, but after only a few months with them, he moved to a city very distant from his home coven. Currently he is with an Alexandrian coven which practices according to his views of Deity. He now considers himself an Alexandrian. Alex sees the God as aspected in the Oak King of the Waxing year (Yule to Midsummer) and the Holly King of the Waning year (Midsummer to Yule). He uses oak branches and acorns, or holly to represent the God on his altar. The God in both aspects dies and is reborn. The Goddess also changes in her aspects as Earth Mother and the lunar Queen of Heaven.

Alex's favorite book is:

A Witches Bible Compleat by Janet and Stewart Farrar

Diane's Views

Diane relates to the Triple Goddess much like MoonBeam does. Diana is her maiden of the waxing moon, Selene is the mother of the full moon and Hecate is her crone of the waning moon. She also identifies with the Sun God. She sees the God in two parts, Kernunnos (balance and inspiration) and Pan (flexibility and sensuality). The pentacles Diane wears, and the one on her altar represent to her the five aspects of Deity.

Diane's favorite books are:

Earth Magic by Marion Weinstein

Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein

Terry's Views

Terry believes that Gods and Goddess are separate entities, not simply facets of the All. Terry believes that for thousands of years people have worshiped very specific Deities, and through their worship have created energy pockets, a sort of collective memory or morphogenetic fields (as Rupert Sheldrake describes them in his recent work). Terry feels a close connection to certain Deities, and has developed a relationship with some through meditation and shamanic practices. Terry utilizes the runes in his magical and divinatory practices and uses certain runes to represent Odin and other patron Deities on his altar.

Terry's favorite books are:

The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna

The Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God by Rupert Sheldrake

Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science by Matthew Fox

GreenLady's Views

GreenLady sees the Goddess as Gaea, the primal mother of all things. Her animistic-like view is that the Goddess is present everywhere, and that Mother Earth is a living entity with consciousness. She feels that the God is the Sun which brings light and life to the creative womb of the Earth. The Goddess is represented on her altar with a small Venus of Willendorf statue (such as the one in the picture) and the God is represented with grains, wheat, and sunflowers.

GreenLady's favorite books are:

The Great Cosmic Mother by Monica Sjoo

The Great Goddess: Reverence of the Divine Feminine from the Paleolithic to the Present by Jean Markale

Page's Views

Page is reading and learning. She can relate to many different views of Deity but has not yet formed her own. She has had two experiences which are helping to shape her beliefs. The first was a vision she had during an intense meditation of what seemed to her to be the Goddess. The second was a feeling of being looked after when she came very close to being in a collision in her car. She remains open to new ideas, and meanwhile places a white candle on her meditation altar.

Page's favorite books are:

The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects by Barbara G. Walker

The Goddess Companion: Daily Meditations on the Feminine Spirit by  Patricia Monaghan

Matthew's Views

Matthew grew up Catholic and felt very close to Mary throughout his life. As he adopted Wiccan views, he maintained his relationship with Mary in the guise of the Goddess and sees Jesus as a symbol of the God. To the fury and amazement of many of his Wiccan friends, he insists on placing a statue of Mary on his altar next to the cross.

Matthew's favorite books are:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (Fiction)

Practical Candleburning Rituals by Raymond Buckland

Lafayette's Views

Lafayette grew up in New Orleans and combines Voudou with his Wiccan practices. His believes that the world was created by One God, NaNa Buluku who is both male and female. Nana Buluku gave birth to Mawu, the west, moon and female and Lisa, the east, day, and male. Lafayette's' beliefs are rather complex, but to simplify them for an example: he sees Obatala and Yemonja as God and Goddess. He also recognizes many other Deities.

Lafayette's favorite book is:

Jambalaya by Luisah Teish

In later lessons, we will go over what many of these viewpoints have in common, but for now, here's your assignment!

Assignment:

Take a few days to assess how you view Deity. Write down your conclusions, thoughts, or confusion in your notebook. Be as descriptive as possible, even if you aren't sure. You are not expected to be absolute in these beliefs, just put out some ideas for your own reference later (in your notebook or book of shadows). Also mention what could be used on your altar to represent Deity to you.

Bringing it All Together

Tools, Special Touches & Covert Operations

At this point in the class, you may feel that you do not have a clear understanding of what Wiccans do. We've covered much of the linear information about Wicca; an intro to the elements, the tools, a potpourri of views of deity (some not classically Wiccan), and how to pronounce some Witchy words. However, from this section forward, you will be using your own intuition more frequently as we delve into many of the personal and intimate areas of Wicca.

It is important that you take with you from this class, a sense of understanding of Wicca, but it is much more important that you find firm footing on your chosen path. You may find from your studies that a certain tradition of Wicca appeals to you, or you may choose to delve into other magical or spiritual traditions instead. Overall, we emphasis a focus on Youism. If you are Pat, then practice Patism, if you are Sam, practice Samism. Law enforcement personnel and news reporters know that if you interview 20 people who have witnessed the same event, you will hear 20 different stories. Individuals must walk their own path and interpret their own spirituality.

In this lesson and lessons after this one, you will be bringing many of the topics we've covered to life as you begin your own practice. In this section, you will be creating your own altar or rethinking your current altar.

As you begin to practice, and as you complete future assignments, you may encounter what is sometimes referred to as the Wiccan Mysteries. We cannot create these encounters for you in mere words on virtual paper, but we can nudge you into the circumstances where they occur for many open individuals. The Wiccan Mysteries are personal encounters with deity or other energies.

It is important, now more than ever, that you write down your experiences and feelings in a notebook or your Book of Shadows.

So as we transition from basic, linear studies to hands-on experiences, here's a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“ It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Your Votive Altar!’

It is time to create, or re-evaluate your altar. It is best to start with a bare minimum of tools and create an altar that is aesthetically pleasing to you. Some people go all out in full regalia with every tool we've covered, plus bells to clear the air (or to send out energy, or to signal coven members of events in a circle, etc.) stones for various purposes, herbal mixtures, and more. Some practitioners who lean towards ceremonial magic will sometimes use an aspergillum. These are used in Catholic churches to sprinkle holy water, and look somewhat like a preforated tea ball on a stick. Brushes or bundles of herbs are sometimes used in a similar way to sprinkle consecrated water in a magic circle.

You've learned about the classic magical tools: Cup/Chalice, Wand/Staff, Athame/Sword and Pentacle, and you know about some of the primary tools such as the cauldron, besom etc. However these tools are not always utilized  by individual practitioners, particularly solitary Witches. As you become familiar with the tools and rituals, you may find that all you wish to have is an Athame, a cauldron, a broom, a candle, and a  pentacle or you may be perfectly happy with no tools at all.

 

It is not necessary to have an elaborate altar and there is much to be said for simplicity. Tools can be costly, and if you are in the "broom closet" with your beliefs, it is sometimes dangerous to have obvious tools out on an altar.

There are many types of altars....the piano top filled with family photos is really a type of ancestral altar, the executive's desk with everything in a specific place is also a type of altar. Most people naturally create altars without realizing they are doing so. A small curio shelf with a vase of flowers and a bowl of potpourri can be commonplace in a home, but for a Witch, this could be an altar too.

What does Votive mean? Votive: offered or performed in gratitude, thanks or devotion, or  to fulfill a vow.... expressing a vow, desire, or wish. You may have seen votive candles, which are usually short fat candles, they derive their name from this word because they are often used in religious ceremonies.

The altar you will be creating for this lesson is a personal daily votive altar.  On this altar, you can place a symbol or representation of deity. It can be indoors or outdoors, it can be the same altar you will later use for Esbats, Sabbats and magical rites, it can be a shelf, a flat rock, a box, a window ledge, etc. Traditional Altar design and layouts are covered in later lessons.

Your daily votive altar need not be an obvious altar to others, it is simply where you will perform a daily ritual observance, thanks, dedication, and/or asking. More on this later but for now try to think about what you will use for your daily altar, and what tools, if any, you will place on it.

Basically the 'rules' for your votive altar are:

1. Use what you have.

2. Use what works for you.

3. Use what you like. No ancient Witch or shaman had access to the tools we do today. They used what they had. One saying in the Craft is, "If it works, use it" and your altar is the same way. If you like the costume jewelry shaped like a palm tree, if it has meaning for you and you feel it should go on your altar, use it! If you found a rock or shell outside and it 'speaks' to you, use it. Your altar tools do not need to be 'traditional'. These "special touches" are you, they make your altar personal and like you, they will constantly change throughout your life as a Witch.

This lesson is a very hands-on approach and takes the form of an assignment. Think about your connection with deity and how you will represent deity on your altar. In the lesson entitled "There's a Deity on My Altar!" you thought about what you would use to represent Deity on your own altar. It is customary to place this representation on your votive altar if you wish.

 

Honoring deity or forces beyond yourself and within yourself, in the Earth and the universe, and feeling your connection to those forces is one of the primary goals of your daily ritual observance at your votive altar.

Covert Operations:

College students, those with disapproving family members or friends, or those with a strong sense of privacy may wish to keep their daily votive altar under cover. The small box pictured to the left is only about 2 1/4 inches (6cm) tall and measures 5 1/2 inches (14.5cm) by 4 inches (10cm). In the lid is a meditational image from "The Power Deck" by Lynn V. Andrews, although any image or tarot card would also be nice if this addition is desired. The contents of this covert altar can be cushioned with a napkin, closed and bound with a rubber band and stuffed into a backpack or purse. (The magickal Caboodle®)

It is nice, but certainly not necessary to represent the four elements on your votive altar. A vase of roses and a candle on a shelf can easily represent the four elements, water in the vase, roses from the earth, fire in the flame and air in the fragrance of the candle and roses. As you can see this is a very intuitive and intimate altar. You may also wish to include seasonal representations such as a colorful autumn leaf, a daffodil bloom, an acorn, etc.

Assignment

Repetition is an important factor in this lesson. Through repeating the same ritual daily, you will be training your mind in order to achieve a ritual state of consciousness later on. It is important for you to adhere to this assignment throughout the remainder of this course.

Set up your votive altar. You don't have to spend any money on fancy tools, one of the most powerful rituals I've witnessed was in a hotel room with a foil ashtray for a censor, a plastic cup for a chalice and birthday candles!

At least once each day, and preferably at the same time each day, go to your votive altar. Think about Deity, the beauty of the sunrise, the power of the cycles of life, the joy in living, how grateful you are to be alive, the simplicity and complexity of a leaf, etc. Light a candle, or incense, or sip a cup of your favorite tea  (the same one each day) or coffee.

Whatever your ritual is, try to repeat the physical actions each day. Here's an example:

At sunrise Jim goes to his votive altar which faces an Eastward window, lights a candle and says "Hail Lady of the Moon, Hail Lord of the Sun" He then sips the cup of his favorite tea and observes the beauty of the sunrise, feeling thankful.

At sunset, Jim returns to his votive altar, lights the candle again, says "Hail Lady of the Moon, Hail Lord of the Sun" and then closes his eyes and recounts the lessons of the day.

Another example:

At noon Joan takes a lunch break from her job at the local grocery store. She brings a bottle of ginseng tea with her and carries an amethyst stone in her pocket. While outwardly she appears to be having a cigarette break, a close observer would notice that she closes her eyes, breathes deeply and regularly after her cigarette and pours a small amount of the tea on the ground before returning to work. Joan likes to hold the amethyst in her hand and do a grounding and centering visualization on her lunch break. After her mini-meditation, she simply says thank you and pours out a small libation of tea as a ritual of thanks and respect. Joan essentially carries her 'altar' with her.

Another example:

Before going to bed each night, Jared plays his favorite music CD and lights a stick of incense, reflecting on the events of his day. After sorting out the activities of the day and putting them in perspective, he says "Blessing are behind me, blessings are ahead of me, I am blessed."

Another example:

Ina draws a tarot card each morning and places it in the corner her bathroom mirror. While she takes a shower, she contemplates the card, the symbolism, and the possible meaning if any to her day. In her shower she uses a special rosemary shampoo for purification and blessings. (Add one drop of pure rosemary essential oil to each ounce of your favorite shampoo.) While showering she visualizes the water washing away psychic dirt as well as physical. Some days she says an impromptu thank you to her patron Goddess, other times she simply prepares herself mentally for her day.

This assignment may seem rather simple, set up a votive altar and practice a daily ritual observance, but it is the consistency of this ritual that is important. Later lessons will cover morphogenetic fields and how rituals like this produce a road in you, much like tire tracks in your mind which lead to a ritual state. Fragrance, sound, and other aspects of your daily ritual will become memory triggers.

Please note: If you are completing this class for purely academic reasons or simply out of curiosity, you may not be participating with assignments actively in your personal life. The aspects of this course which are covered from this lesson forward may seem trivial, or even silly if you are not actually immersing yourself in the assignments. To gain a real perspective of Wicca, it is recommended that you participate in the assignments. However, this of course is optional.

If you would like to share pictures of your votive altar in the Gallery of Altars, please email pictures to support@paganpath.com or snail mail them to:

Minahan-PP.com

506 Oak Avenue

Crete, NE 68333

After you have set up your votive altar and decided on a daily ritual, keep practicing daily and making notes in your Book of Shadows or notebook.

*BoS is an abbreviation frequently used for a "Book of Shadows" or less frequently for a "Book of Spells" Other abbreviations you will see are used for traditional greetings in Witchcraft, Pagan, and Wiccan circles, particularly online: MM=Merry Meet, MP=Merry Part, MMA=Merry Meet Again, WM=Well Met, BB=Blessed Be or Bright Blessings

           The Craft Part IIEnergy: Part 1

So far in this course, we've covered some of the basics of the Craft in a fairly random order. Now that you've gone through the midterms, and demonstrated your knowledge of basic facts, we will be working beyond knowledge into the realms of wisdom.

There are many meanings of the elusive term "wisdom," however our concerns are focused on these five definitions:

   1. accumulated philosophic or scientific learning - knowledge

   2. ability to discern inner qualities and relationships - insight

   3. good sense - judgment

   4. a wise attitude or course of action

   5. the teachings of the ancient wise ones

Wisdom, like the "Mysteries"* of the Craft, cannot be taught directly. Wisdom is only gained through experience. For Witches, that experience comes through practice and experimentation. Witches work with many different forms of energy. The next few lessons will contain several exercises that will help you gain experience.

These exercises will show you some important techniques you will need for magic, spells, meditation, visualization and much more. Even if you find that Wicca is not your specific path over the years, the skills you gain (or strengthen if you are already adept) through these exercises will be helpful throughout your life on any path.

One of the most important skills for working with energy is visualization. For some, visualization is simple, for others it is the most difficult of challenges. No matter what your skill level is, these exercises will develop, enhance, and strengthen your visualization "muscles."

Color Visualization Exercise

In this exercise, you will be visualizing a single color field. Due to the nature of human vision, this is a little tricky to demonstrate. When you click here, you will go to a page that is all red. This is the first color you are to visualize. However, human vision plays tricks with us. If you stare at the center of the red page for several minutes and then look away at a white wall, you will see the opposite color when you blink, green. This is not mental visualization, it is simply a trick of human vision.

 

The red color field page is simply a demonstration of the color you are to visualize, but you can play around with the optic red/green trick if you want some simple entertainment!

Close your eyes and try to visualize just the color red filling all of your inner sight. Think about red and "see" red. This may take some time, but be patient and keep working at it. Try this several times throughout the day and before bed until you can easily accomplish this single color visualization.

If you find it frustrating or nearly impossible to do this visualization, please do not become frustrated. Each time you attempt this exercise, you are developing important "muscles." One day you will find that it is so simple for your to accomplish this visualization, that you'll wonder what the problem ever was.

You might also like to try a different color to discover whether it is easier for you to "see" them.

Once you have accomplished a clear, quick and effortless visualization of at least one of the colors, go through the rest of the colors listed here until you can do all seven just as easily. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple

If you can already do this color visualization easily, please practice this exercise throughout the day anyway and go through all the colors. Do not skip this exercise and do not move on to the next exercises without becoming proficient at all of the colors listed. This is an important step and you will be using the skills you develop now extensively in later lessons.

Feel free to take any notes regarding your exercises in your Book of Shadows or notebook if you deem it necessary.

*Mysteries: You may recall this definition of the Mysteries from the Summary prior to the Midterm Exams: "As you begin to practice, and as you complete future assignments, you may encounter what is sometimes referred to as the Wiccan Mysteries. We cannot create these encounters for you in mere words on virtual paper, but we can nudge you into the circumstances where they occur for many open individuals. The Wiccan Mysteries are personal encounters with deity or other energies."

Energy: Part 2 

Developing strong visualization skills will serve you well in many aspects of your life, not the least of which is in your spiritual development. The better you are at visualization, the better your imagination will be, your creativity will increase, and your spells will become more effective.

It is important that you do not skip any of the exercises and that you complete them in order. You will be building on the important skills that you are learning now.

Simple Shape Visualization Exercise


In this exercise, you will be visualizing a single, two dimensional shape of a solid color. Just like in the Color Visualization Exercise in the Energy 1 lesson, you should close your eyes and try to "see" the red circle below. If red is difficult for you, try one of the other colors.

  


Once you have mastered at least one of the colored circles, move on until you can easily and effortlessly visualize any color circle.


                                                                                                      

                                               

There are many books that explain how to "look" in a visualization exercise. In my experience these instructions have proven to be more of a hindrance than a help. Many of them suggest closing your eyes and looking at the space where your third eye is, in the middle of the forehead. This simply does not work in the way it is worded in the books. If you keep practicing and let your mind relax, you will find that eventually these visualizations will just come to you naturally.

Trying to force yourself to see, or trying to make your mind visualize, will not normally work. Visualization is a natural occurrence, you do it every time you dream! Proper visualization is less about control and more about allowing a natural function.

If you are trying to go to sleep when you are not tired, and you try to force yourself thinking, "I have to sleep now, I must sleep now, I need to sleep now," you may never get to sleep. But if you relax, you'll simply doze off and day dreams will turn into real dreams.

Visualization is a lot like this sleep analogy. Just relax and allow it to happen. Of course stay on track and remember that you are supposed to be visualizing a colored circle, but don't try to force it. Think about the colored circle and try to visualize it. Look at the circles on this page for a few moments if it helps. If may just take a few minutes, or it may take days or even weeks. Don't get frustrated, and don't feel bad if you fall asleep during any meditation or visualization exercise!

Feel free to take any notes regarding your exercises in your Book of Shadows or notebook if you deem it necessary.

Once you have mastered this exercise, go on to the next lesson.

 Energy: Part 3 

This lesson contains two exercises. We are now moving into more advanced visualization exercises. Once again, it is important now more than ever, that you do not skip any of the exercises and that you complete them in order. You will be building on the important skills you are learning now.

If these exercises have been difficult for you, be persistent, they will pay off well in the long run. If these exercises have been overly simplistic for you, please be patient and follow them through, they are exercising your "muscles" and getting you toned up.

Three Dimensional Shape

Visualization Exercise 1

For this exercise, it is best if you can find a simple object around your home or at a local store. You will need a plain, single colored, smooth, spherical object.

A plastic toy bath ball would suffice, or a "super ball" like those available in coin operated vending machines in many grocery stores. A smooth orange from the produce section might work for you, or even the rubberized ball bearing from a discarded computer mouse. (Color it with a Sharpie® or felt tip pen, or dunk it in paint.) Note: this will destroy the ball bearing so don't use one from a working mouse. Pet departments also carry inexpensive rubber balls that will work well for this exercise, and craft stores sometimes carry wood balls that can be painted.

The type of balls used in fast food restaurant playgrounds in the "ball pits" are ideal. Surprisingly you can buy refill balls for these through Amazon.com here! This is a box of 25 balls for about $10, but it might be easier and less expensive to just check out the toy section of your local discount store or the produce section of your local grocery store. Amazon has a larger set of 100 balls with more colors included here. It isn't necessary to buy these, I just got a kick out of discovering that Amazon has them and thought I'd share. :)

Don't forget to check garage sales or thrift stores. Any solid colored, smooth, spherically shaped item will work, a painted ping pong ball, a solid colored marble, a large bouncy ball, anything.

As a last resort, you can use the picture of the ball on this page, but please try to find a real, spherically shaped item as soon as you can.

Place the ball in front of you on a table or hold it cupped in your hands. Close your eyes and try to visualize the sphere. Open your eyes occasionally to verify the accuracy of your visualization. I find it is easier to do this exercise without holding the ball because the tactile sensations can interfere with focusing, but you may find that touching the object helps you. Try it both ways!

As always, feel free to take any notes regarding your exercises in your Book of Shadows or notebook if you deem it necessary.

Keep practicing this visualization until it is easy and effortless, then go on to the exercise below.

      Three Dimensional Shape

Visualization Exercise 2

Close your eyes and picture the sphere just as you did in the first exercise on this page. Now try to continue visualizing the sphere while changing its color. You can make the transition from one color to the next like changing the channel on a television, or by making it blink like the one on this page, or you can allow it to slowly transform into another color like red - gradually to purple - then green, etc. You do not need to make the colors change as quickly as I made them change in the picture to your left! Use whatever works best for you but keep trying until you can clearly "see" a ball transform through all the colors listed: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.

 

Feel free to take any notes regarding your exercises in your Book of Shadows or notebook if you deem it necessary.

 

Once you have mastered this exercise, go on to the next lesson when it is posted in a few days.

Energy: Part 4

We are now moving into more advanced visualization exercises. Once again, it is important now more than ever, that you do not skip any of the exercises and that you complete them in order. Keep practicing all of the exercises outlines in these Energy lessons until you are proficient at each one. You will be building on the important skills you are learning now. Soon, we will be moving from the realm of exercises into real practice. You must be proficient at visualization to be able to work with energy in later lessons.

Again, if these exercises have been difficult for you, be persistent, they will pay off well in the long run.

If these exercises have been overly simplistic for you, please be patient and follow them through, they are exercising your "muscles" and getting you toned up.

 

Like the previous lesson, Energy: Part 3, this lesson contains two exercises.

 

Complex Forms Visualization Exercise

Find a complex shape of a solid color. Good examples of this type of object are pictured below. Notice that each item is predominantly one or two colors, but is a fairly complex shape. In the last lesson, you worked with a simple geometric shape, the sphere, but now that you are working with complex shapes with more texture.

Dragon, Peppermill, Bottle, Gourd, Mortar, Chime

Place the object in front of you on a table or your altar. Close your eyes and try to visualize the object. Open your eyes occasionally to verify the accuracy of your visualization. If you simply cannot achieve a clear visualization of the item you selected, look around your home and try something else.

When you have accomplished a clear visualization of the object, try another item from around your home. Keep practicing this exercises when you come across an interesting object. You should eventually get to the point that you can glance at an object, close your eyes and pull up the image of that object within seconds. For some, this can take years of daily practice, for others it is as natural as breathing. Be patient with yourself, building these skills will be helpful in many areas of your life!

Keep practicing this visualization until it is easy, even if it takes you longer than a few seconds. The important thing is that you can visualize complex objects before you move on to the next lesson, so don't worry if it takes you several minutes to complete the visualization.

Keep practicing this exercise on a daily basis. If you are in a grocery store and see an item that would work, close your eyes for a few seconds and try to visualize it. You do not have to complete a clear visualization in the store! However, practicing this technique consistently will make everything easier in the long run.

Moving Forms Visualization Exercise

This is a three step visualization. First, visualize a solid color field like you did in the first Energy Lesson 1.Emerging Letter

Next, see a three dimensional letter of the alphabet emerging from that color. It may be easiest for you to start out with the first letter of your first name.

Finally, turn the letter around in your mind. Note the example in the picture below.

Letter Turning

Keep practicing this exercise on a regular basis with other letters, numbers, colors, etc. The more you practice, the easier it will be, even if you aren't successful at each attempt.

Feel free to take any notes regarding your exercises in your Book of Shadows or notebook if you deem it necessary.  Using Energy: Part 1

It is interesting to note that many mystics and sorcerers were considered "visionaries."

Continue to practice the visualization exercises in the previous four lessons until you are proficient at each of them. For those of you who find these exercises are simple, please continue to practice at least a few times each week to keep your visualization "muscles" toned.

With your understanding of visualization, we will now progress to using visualization as a tool for manipulating energy. This is the first lesson in which you will be gaining direct experience with the many types of energy available to the Witch. As mentioned in the Energy 1 lesson, with experience comes wisdom which cannot be taught directly. Please do not simply read these lessons, but try everything. Even if you are participating in this course for academic research purposes, it is impossible to know a path without stepping foot on it.

Visualization is a from of energy in many ways. From a modern neuroscientific perspective, thoughts (in this example, visualizations) occur when your brain sends electrical signals through nerve cells (neurons). These neurons transfer the information sent to other neurons to create action (such as the control of muscles or glands).

As you can see, visualization is a form of energy, or at least the movement of energy, but Witches use visualization more like a tool. Compare visualization to a laser beam. A laser turning on and off in a laboratory has little effect on the environment. However, when used as a tool, lasers can heal, kill, create art, enable advanced security systems, etc. Like lasers, it is the application of the energy of visualization that makes a difference.

Before we begin working with energy, let me go far afield and share with you a few theories about how energy applies to the material world. Theories of quantum mechanics were considered heretical1 as recently as the 1920s. As Witches, we are not strangers to accusations of heresy, and we have more in common with the quantum theorists than simply being labeled "ignorant usurpers." *

In Quantum Mechanics, the distinction between energy (or waves) and matter, (or particles like electrons) is blurry. Light and electromagnetic radiation behave like particles, but they are waves (energy.) To put this very, very simply; matter is or can be like energy, and energy is or can be like matter.

" . . . a photon has no rest mass, so a photon at rest would not weigh anything at all. Mind you, you do not normally find photons at rest; they are forever rushing about at the speed of light, as photons are what light is made of you see. Light . . . is made up of a lot of quanta, little packets of energy . . . these quanta, or particles, of light are called photons. Practically everything comes in quanta of some size. This gives quantum physics its name, you know. . . "2 Using color in your visualizations can also be related to quantum physics!

" (Einstein explained in a paper published in 1905) . . . the way in which electrons are knocked out of a metal surface by light . . . is due to the impact of particles of light (quanta) with the electrons in the metal. Each quantum carries a definite amount of energy, which depends only on its frequency (colour). So for pure light of a particular colour all the electrons knocked out of the metal carry the same energy."3 I believe that quantum theories, like most scientific principals, have existed since ancient times in one form or another. Magicians, sorcerers, and Witches embraced ideas about the material world that have many parallels to quantum theories.

"The alchemical tradition assumes that every physical art or science is a body of knowledge which exists only because it is ensouled by invisible powers and processes."4 All modern science originally began in the realms of midwifery, Witchcraft, alchemy, astrology and the magical arts. Aristotle's elements of earth, air, fire and water, were related to phlegm, blood, bile and black bile. Illness was caused by an imbalance of these elements in the body. Modern medicine is partially rooted in the same magickal teachings drawn on by modern Witches.

The familiar symbol for medical prescriptions, Rx, may have originally been a form of the ancient symbol for Jupiter (the Roman God).

"Rx is not, as is frequently supposed, an abbreviation of a Latin word meaning recipe or compound, but is an invocation to Jupiter, a prayer for his aid to make the treatment effective. . . sometimes in old medical manuscripts all the R's occurring in the text were crossed." 5 So now that we've gotten really off track with this lesson (or perhaps really on track), lets talk about visualization and energy again.

Alchemy is not entirely the search for a stone that would turn lead into gold. Many alchemists used that search as a metaphor for the search for moral perfection, believing that what could be accomplished in nature could be accomplished in the heart and mind.6 You will be using visualization to manipulate energy. A clear, almost tangible visualization will affect the mundane world more precisely. You should be able to feel your visualization. This exercise will help demonstrate the tangibility of visualization more clearly.

Tangible Visualization Exercise

Sit or lie with your subordinate hand facing palm up in a comfortable position. Your subordinate hand is the opposite of your dominant hand. If you write with your left hand, use your right for this exercise. If you write with your right hand, use your left for this exercise. If you are completely ambidextrous, use your left hand to connect with your right brain hemisphere more readily.

Throughout your visualizations, you may have discovered that it is easier for you to visualize certain colors. In this exercise, use whichever color is easiest for you, or whichever color you like best. In the example I will use the color blue, but again feel free to substitute any color you wish.

Visualize a blue sphere in the palm of your hand. This sphere should be similar to one you saw in the first exercise in the Energy 3 lesson. However, instead of a solid sphere, try to visualize this as a ball of colored light. This light ball may be a lamp-like sphere, or it may be glowing or pulsating. Use what works best for you.

Continue this visualization until you feel a sensation in your hand. You may feel a tickling, slight pressure, tingling, temperature changes, or any number of other sensations.

Practice this exercise at different times of the day. You may find that you are able to visualize and manipulate energy better at specific times. Record all results (even no results) of this exercise in your notebook or Book of Shadows. These notes will help illuminate your power times for later use in spells, ritual and magick.

Visualization is the first step toward "Between the Worlds" work. Between the Worlds, states of consciousness and trance will be discussed in later lessons. For now, please remember that continuing these exercises is crucial to the development of your magickal abilities.

* The following section contains more information in which you might be interested. Although you should read this section, it is not required that you read the web sites linked below unless you wish to.

In other words, info below will be on the final, but info contained in the links below will not be.

As stated in the About Course section, green italic text can be considered our opinions only and are not necessarily widely held beliefs.

Aristotle: Greek Philosopher born 384 BCE, died 322 BCE. If you are interested in knowing more about Aristotle, click here. This is not required reading for the Wicca course. To gain a better understanding of the Aristotelian elements used by most Witches, read his book On The Heavens, available in its entirety online here.

Note that the fifth element was most likely derived from the Hindu, "Akasha" (also termed Spirit, Ether, and Aethyr) and became prevalent in western occultism as recently as the late 1800s. Madame Helena P. Blavatsky may be credited with much of the popularization of the fifth element in modern occultism. Russian born, Blavatsky was one of the original founders of the Theosophical Society (September 9, 1875). To learn more about Blavatsky, read here.

For more information about Alchemy, go here. To learn more about quantum physics, try some of the books listed below and linked to Amazon.com, or go here to read online, free.

    * 1. Kaku, Michio: Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension: Oxford University Press, 1994

    * 2. Gilmore, Robert: Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics: Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, 1995.

    * 3. Gribbin, John: Schrödinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality: John and Mary Gribbin, 1995

    * 4. Hall, Manly P.: Meditation Symbols in Eastern and Western Mysticism: Philosophical Research Society, 1988

    * 5. Haggard, Howard Wilcox: Devils, Drugs, and Doctors: Pocket, 1946

·        6. Rowling, Marjorie: Life in Medieval Times: 1973

Using Energy: Part 2

In the last lesson, Using Energy 1, we compared visualization to lasers. Like lasers, visualization is a tool. The application of your visualization is what differentiates daydream visualizations and fantasy from intentional visualizations.

Your intent, your focus and your will, determine how well you apply your visualization as a tool for the manipulation of energy. We will discuss intent and will later, but for now lets focus on focus!

 

Your first exercise in using energy was to create a tangible sphere in your receptive hand. Remember that your receptive hand, or subordinate hand, is the opposite of your dominant hand. (If you write with your left hand, your right hand is subordinate or receptive. If you write with your right hand, your left hand is subordinate. If you are completely ambidextrous, use your left hand to connect with your right brain hemisphere more readily.)

You were able to focus your visualization to a place in the mundane world, your hand. You "felt" the visualization, or "felt" the energy of the visualization.

For this exercise, you will use visualization as a tool for charging an item with energy. Charging doesn't mean using your credit card! In the Craft, the term charging means to "program" an object with energy. Think of this as charging a battery with stored energy.

Focused Tangible Visualization

You will need two identical, paper envelopes and two coins. The envelopes don't have to be like those pictured below, they just need to be identical to each other. The coins should be the same currency, but with different dates. When teaching in person, I use U.S. pennies because the copper content seems to enhance the ease of which they can be charged. Older coins with silver content also seem to work a little easier, but any coin will do.

Choose coins with similar dates, but not the same dates. For example, choose two pennies dated only a year or two apart from each other, like 1998 and 1999. This will help to insure the metal content in the coins is similar. If you use two completely identical coins, scratch one of them, or mark it with a felt tip pen or nail polish, so you can tell them apart.

You Will Need: two coins and two envelopes

In your notebook or Book of Shadows, divide a page into two parts like the example at the bottom of this page. Name each column with the dates on the coins, or if your coins are identical, name each column with "marked" and "unmarked." Select one of the coins for charging and set it aside. Seal the other coin into an envelope. Don't glue the envelope shut, you'll be inserting and removing the coins several times. Tuck in the flap of the envelope, instead of moistening the glue.

Hold the charging coin in your receptive hand. Visualize a sphere of energy (you pick the color). Visualize the sphere in your hand like you did in the previous exercise, but this time it will be resting on top of the coin. See the ball of energy get smaller and smaller (but not less potent) and flatter and flatter, until you've compressed it into the size of the coin. Next, see the disk of energy sinking into the coin.

Relax for a few minutes and repeat the visualization. Hold the coin in your receptive hand, visualize a sphere of energy on top of it, compress the sphere into a disk the size of the coin and then sink it into the coin.

Relax again for a few minutes, and then repeat the visualization for a third time. This time, after you sink the disk into the coin, see the coin glow with energy and light (the same color as the sphere you visualized).

You should have now charged the coin with your energy. Place it into an envelope.

Look closely at the two envelopes. They should be identical. If you notice any differences, remove the coins and place them into new envelopes. Mix up the envelopes until you cannot tell them apart.

    Relax and do something else for a while, at least fifteen minutes. Watch TV, read a     

    book, surf the internet, eat, shower, whatever.

Mix, or "shuffle" the two envelopes a few times, and then place them in front of you on a table. Lay your receptive hand over one of the envelopes. See if you can "feel" the energy, similar to any sensations you felt in the previous exercise. Now try the other envelope. You may be able to "see" which envelope contains your charged coin, or you may be able to "feel" it.

Decide which envelope your charged coin is in and open it. Mark in your notebook or BoS which coin is in the envelope you opened.

Return the coin to the envelope, mix up the envelopes, and try guessing again. Repeat until you've "guessed" twenty times. Tally your results at the bottom of the page you are working on as shown in the picture below:

Record Keeping

Random chance for this exercise will result in 50% correct guesses. If you correctly guess the coin more than ten times, you are probably picking up on the energy. If you guess the correct coin fewer than ten times, you may be experiencing what I call "reverse psychicism." This can happen when you are unfamiliar with your energy and consistently choose the wrong coin more than could be attributed to chance.

Over the next few weeks, repeat this entire exercise four more times, including the charging proceedure for the coin. You will have a total of 100 guesses, five pages like the one pictured above. This will help you determine a little more accurately the likelihood of your ability to pick up on the charged coin. The more times you repeat this exercise, the less likely your answers will be attributable to chance.

You may consider any variances more than 51% to be likely attributable to your perceptions.

Out of 20 guesses:

    * 8 or fewer: "reverse psychicism," very good, but keep trying to guess correctly

    * 9 to 11 correct: Average Chance, keep practicing

    * 12 or more: very good!

Out of 100 guesses:

    * 48 or fewer: "reverse psychicism," very good, but keep trying to guess correctly

    * 49 to 51 correct: Average Chance, keep practicing

    * 52 or more: very good!

You may find that your abilities improve in the later experiements. For example, you may have guessed 10 correct on your first 20 tries, then 11 correct the second time around, then 13 correct and so on. You do not need to stop at 100 attempts, keep going if you need to or if you find this fun. Back to the Top