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Invocation to the Holy-Stone

I have found
A holy-stone upon the ground.
O Fate! I thank thee for the happy find,
Also the spirit who upon this road
Hath given it to me;
And may it prove to be for my true good
And my good fortune

hagstones by Sara Star

When you see a holey stone or hag stone on the ground you should say something in gratitude to the spirits that left it there for you. The above is just an example from the Gospel of Aradia.

Now once you have one, what do you do with it? You can’t really hold it in front of your eyes all the time to look for the fae.*

Making a hagstone cord is a useful project. You can make it with one hag stone and multiple knots, or multiple hag stones and multiple knots. The number varies between spells. I say chose a number with meaning to you. Chumbly’s consecration has 7 knots in a black leather cord, Bramshaw’s has nine knots and up to nine hagstones on a red string.

Either way, the point is to concentrate on a different otherworld setting for each knot, including at least one at a witches sabbat. Visualization is important on this one. Each knot is a place you want to go to. Once you have tied the knots you will string the hagstone(s) on and tie it off as a bracelet.

As you string the knots through the hagstones picture you are running each destination through the gate to the otherworld, fey land, underworld, astral, and so on.

You will hold the bracelet with at least one of the stones in your off hand (non dominant hand) as you sleep. Your dreams shall be significant astral or otherworldly dreams rather than regular dreams. You will travel to one of your chosen destinations.

If you don’t remember what happened in the astral dreams, but remember you had them. Then some part of you does remember and it will still impact your knowledge and practice.

If the you find it isn’t working and you aren’t going anywhere. Meditate with your stone specifically on one of the chosen dreams and journey there in meditation. There is plenty to be done that way as well.

I have found this tool to be very powerful and my dreams have changed when I wear my hagstone cord. I know where I have gone each night, but unfortunately I cannot remember much of what happened when I wake up. But I feel different somehow and I stopped having nightmares.

*Spiderwick Chronicles art by Tony DiTerlizzi

Black, Holly. Spiderwick Chronicles. 2004 http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiderwick-Chronicles-Boxed-Set/dp/0689040342/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335197860&sr=8-1

Bramshaw, Vicki. Craft of the Wise. 2009 http://www.o-books.com/book/detail/616/Craft-of-the-Wise

Chumbly, Andrew. “What is Traditional Craft?” http://www.xoanon.co.uk/xoanontraditionalcraft.php

Leland, Charles. Aradia, Gospel of the Witches http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/aradia/ara06.htm

Traditionalwitchcraft.com wiki “Hagstone.” http://www.traditionalwitchcraft.com/Hagstone

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A photo of a magical place outdoors:

Our outdoor ritual space by Magical Musings

My coven has a few outdoor areas we work in, but the most magical is when whatever space we are in seems to lift out of place and time and we are surrounded by mist or darkness and all that is there is the magic.

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Lugh

Lugh

A favorite God

Lugh/Luga/Llew is a pan-Celtic God.  He has the city of Lyons named for him, as well as a pan-Celtic holiday, Lughnasadh held is his honor or in honor of his foster mother Tailtu in August.   He is a god of many skills, granted to him by his mother and he is a god of light, he has a very bright aura like the sun.

Many of my favorite masculine Irish figures are not gods, but rather demi-gods or heroes: Fionn, Cuchulian, Ossian, and Angus.  However, Lugh is all God, so I call him one of my favorites.

We recently held Lughnasadh and we always have an excellent loaf of bread made by one of my coven mates and this year was no different.  It wasn’t long before we had eaten all of him except for the best share which was offered to Him for fertility in our crops.

Lugh Bread

Lugh Bread

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Keeper and Companion

Keeper and Companion painting by Sara Star in sepia tone

A favourite Goddess.

One of my favorite Goddesses is Brigit. I paint her aspect as a Saint quite a lot. And I hope to paint her more in pagan art.

Brigit is so many things, a hearth goddess, a well and spring water goddess, a muse, a healer a forger. I find she is all things relating to creation the spark of inspiration the making and the repairing/treating of the created.

As an artist I find her especially helpful and I think of her often and am devoted to her.

There are so many traditions associated with Brigit. From the Brigit’s mantle that you set out to collect due on Imbolc Eve, to the Brigit’s dolly and bed, to flame cells, to well dressings.

Brigit is my ama chara, my heart kindred friend. I love her and want to be alike to her.

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Sara water 1 by aprilskiver
Sara water 1, a photo by aprilskiver on Flickr.

Picture of nature (water element)

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What’s your witchy background?

Little Witch

It all started on Halloween 1983

It began when I was very young, just  a girl and I was interested in witches and sympathetic to them and their familiars in stories–even when they were cast as the bad guys.  My mom encouraged my interest and taught me wishcraft and protection energy work.   She and my father were non-members of a new age eastern christian fusion church, Unity.  I became interested in Druidry and Irish folk custom in college, a few of my teachers were witches and druids in college, and one of my class mates was the priestess of an interfaith coven, and I started to get involved with it.  Her group broke up and decided to go totally Wiccan instead of interfaith. I moved on into a sort of Coptic/Gnostic interest in Christianity, especially iconography and Mary Magdalen and priestess and Mary Mother of God.

From there it was only a matter of time before I became pagan and witch.

Because of my background, I knew a number of solitary witches and magicians.  Friends lent me books, and one trusted friend suggested I find a group.  I shopped around a bit and eventually found Amy as she was founding her new group (she had moved to a new area too far from her old coven).  And we started, the group slowly grew, often it was only the two of us.  We studied together, she taught me a bit, and now it is at six/seven members.  I studied a ton, and I don’t recall exactly why, but Amy and I got interested in mandrakes.

My internet searches for how to grow mandrakes led me to a now defunct forum on Traditional Witchcraft.  I joined and learned and learned and researched and practiced and experimented so I could begin to give back.  Around the same time, I caught wind of Celtic Reconstructionalism–probably through one of the groups I tried out on experimental magic.

I also began to study under Jack Darkhand in the Millennium Tradition he was founding.   It is a Celtic and Witchcraft magic tradition and spirituality way.   I studied intensely his lesson for about half a year, read thoroughly on theory and spent a lot of time building my practice.  Then Jack Darkhand let me know he was dying.   Later on he and I had a small disagreement that led to us not continuing our lessons, but partin on good terms.  He died a year later and I went to his funeral to try and find other members of his tradition, but I did not, his friends told me it was a new tradition and only his widow is privy to more information than I am.  It saddens me know, because I mostly came around to his point of view on the disagreement and all those months of lessons we lost over it.

These three major sources molded me and I continue to work from lessons from all three, Traditional Craft, CR, and Jack Darkhand.  I bring all these things into the picture when I work with the coven and the other members bring their compatible but diverse backgrounds in as well.

It was ten years ago May, that I first got involved in magical and mystical traditions, and 6 years of being a pagan polytheist.

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Used book stores can be just like in the movies and books, musty crowded places run by witches, pagans or at least those who don’t mind carrying a selection of pagan books.  When you discover a used book shop that carries pre-read magic books, you have hit gold!

Vancouver, Washington:

Cover to Cover Books

(360) 993-7777

6300 NE St. James Rd., Suite 104B

Vancouver, WA 98663

Mel runs a great shop, she is very involved with the local community. I have on and off attended the Ghost Town Poetry readings that are monthly at her shop.  There are a few pagan poets who come now and then.  It can be quite inspiring and a good place to meet people.  Cover to Cover has a full wide shelf of witch and pagan books, and a few shelves of other occult and new age stuff too.  Don’t miss the shelves right by the counter, they have local Vancouver area ghost stories and a few occult thrillers by local great Lilith Saintcrow.  Look up and see some original art by local painters. And the best part? Cover to Cover has a bookstore cat, his name is Smedley.

Cover to Cover Cat

Cover to Cover's Cat

Portland, Oregon

S. M. U. T.

(503) 235-7688

7 SE 28th Ave

Portland, OR 97214

No particular reason that I can tell why this thrift/junk shop is called S. M. U. T. (So Many Unique Treasures).  There is some kitschy stuff, some retro clothes, tons of cheap records, and a bunch of paperback books.  I can usually leave with at least two or three old witchy books for 5-10 dollars.  There are so many books and the organization is a little strange, so I can easily end up spending an hour looking through everything for treasures.  One of my favorite finds that combined the kitschy and the witchy was Chant-o-Matics by Raymond Buckland–after getting my laughs out, I traded it in at Cover to Cover to get different books.  Mel got a good laugh at it too.

So Many Unique Treasures

The rummaging to be had at (S)o(M)any(U)nique(T)reasures

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The new pagan movement has been going long enough now that it began needing its own line of theology. The discipline of theology is part of the credibility of a religion and something to bring to the table at interfaith gatherings and discussions. Recently pagans have been taking a greater part in the ecumenical scene as well as the political scene to powerful effect. There are two elected pagan officials in the United States (both ran publicly as pagans in their respective races and each is from a different political party).  And I think we all remember the role Selena Fox and Circle Sanctuary Coven played in helping Wiccan veterans gain the right to pentacles on their graves. Over the last few years there was seemingly a vacant spot for much pagan theology, but pagans have stepped up to the plate and their are a lot of great books out there.

Frankly, theology is heavy stuff, and I can’t say I have read everything out there. But, I have read four very good books on specialized topics in the pagan sphere: polytheism, henotheism, pagan ethics, and magic over psychology.

A World Full of Gods by Michael Greer

This is pure theology on the subject of polytheism. This is an unapologetic appraisal of the philosophical arguments for athiesm and monotheism and the way in which polytheism trumps the issues between each an arises a viable option. Much of this book is focused on atheism and classical monotheism and so sometimes can feel a little off topic for a polytheist, but a survey of those theologies is necessary to create the space for a new polytheology. Greer is a druid, but little of his discussion focuses on anything celtic. More often than not, Hinduism as the large scale polytheist body holds the most powerful examples and has a greater history of theology for him to draw on. Believe me, it works and aids in crediting the pagan movement as what we who practice it to know it to be: a better option for living today and on this planet.

Four out of Five stars!

Devoted to You Edited by Judy Harrow

One of the ways of being polytheist, is henotheism. Henotheism is worshipping specifically one god among many. All the pagan’s focus is on that one god or goddess. This book, although it is subtitled as a Wiccan publication, actually has essays relevant to Egyptian, Celtic, Reclaiming and Greek pagan practices. While all four essays are excellent, for myself, the Essay by Alexei Kondretiv on Brigit was most excellent and relevant to my life. I am not a henotheist, I, like most pagans today, worship different gods and goddesses at different times based on the season, need, or holiday. However, henotheism is a valid and fascinating path, and understanding more about it, will help pagans understand each other.

Five stars, something for everyone!

The Other Side of Virtue Brenden Myers

There are several ethics books out there today for pagans. Myers breaks from the standard harm none rhetoric and examines an Aristotelian virtue based ethical system. Couched in classical polytheist history, virtue ethics is a great lens to focus on what the myths and legends can guide us through life choices and a code of honor. The strange part of the virtue ethics is they seem to be gendered and Myers does not spend very much time examining the female aspect or reconciling the dichotimy of a gendered virtues system. Don’t get me wrong he does address it, but I felt like I needed more, being a female reader.

Four out of Five Stars

UnderWorld Initiation by RJ Stewart

This classic out of print book is needed more today than ever. RJ Stewart takes on the emasculation of magic from psychology head on. He explains why magic falls beyond the reach of psychology and urges magicians to look deeper than the popular discipline to find enlightenment. Stewart examines the symbols in English folk songs to fish out an authentic magical tradition. He merges the trees of initiation together with the Qubala Tree of Life and makes his own corrections to the system to lead the magician on a shamanic path to underworld initiation. This book is very heavy. Often the words although plainer language than some ceremonial jargon were still over my head. I needed a dictionary on hand to expand my vocabulary. Don’t read this book while you are distracted, the meaty stuff takes quiet and concentration to absorb. I suspect I will need multiple readings of this book. However, I think that the struggle is worth it. This book delivers.

Four out of Five stars.

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Why grow herbs all year long in the messy witches garden if I’m not going to do something awesome with them. Sometimes the use for the mandrake or the blood root doesn’t come up that often, but come winter,I will be glad I harvested and prepared my horehound and ginger .
Candied Ginger by EdwardKimuck

Candied Ginger by EdwardKimuck

Last weekend, my coven mates and I skinned, sliced, and boiled a pound of fresh ginger root. After about half an hour, its flesh was soft and transparent. We drained off the water for a spicy ginger drink, and mixed the ginger with a lot of sugar and fried it in a pan until it was starting to get thicker and drier. Next we pulled out the ginger and let it dry until it was sticky. The final step was to dip it in more sugar. Result: candied ginger. I take candied ginger for stomach ailments such as the morning after a hangover or a touch of naseau. And the spicy ginger infusion that we drained off the top makes an excellent tea for colds and sinus illnesses. A little lemon or lemon herb and honey makes the drink tasty.  Depending on how strong it is you might thin the drink out with more water until it tastes right.

The next project in line is horehound candy. It takes about a quart of leaves and stem. The next step is to make a very strong infusion by boiling the herb in a pint of water for 30 minutes.  Then you strain out the herb and add 3 cups of sugar to the liquid, bring to a boil again and add 1/4 of butter to the horehound infusion.  You need a candy thermometer to know when the concoction is ready to make into lozenges about 265 degrees (121 degrees Celsius). Then you can pour the syrup into a pan until it cools, then you can cut it into squares and wrap it in wax paper. You could also use candy molds. Horehound candy, besides being delicious, a taste similar to licorice, is excellent for soothing sore throats and stopping dry coughs.

A special thanks to Sarah at Forest Grove Botanica for awarding me the Domestic Witch Blog Award. Its an honor!

The domestic witch blog award

The domestic witch blog award

I am going to award my first place slot to the witch who is making these delectable candies with me: http://magicalmuse.typepad.com/magical_musings/ It is an experiment for all of us in the coven, and it is already turning out rewards. I learned a lot about gardening from her. Magical Muse makes really fun and funky pagan and witchy arts. Her photography is phenomenal, and she is one of my closest friends.

2nd Place: Again showing my terrible bias for women I know from my area: Survival Mama deserves major accolades for her blog. It is not specifically a pagan or witchcraft emphasized blog, but the author is a person who honors and adores nature for the goddess she is: http://www.survivalmama.com. Survival Mama makes so many wonderful things from scratch, she knits, crochets and sews clothes for herself, her daughter, and her daughter’s dolls. She makes all sorts of amazing foods that I just salivate over reading her blog. The most admirable aspect of this blog is the chronicle of an attempt to live close to nature from a second floor condominium porch. If Survival Mama can live such a heathen life close to nature from her suburban high rise, I don’t know why anyone else couldn’t.

I don’t read a lot of domestic witch blogs, so unfortunately, I cannot think of a third blog to award, unless I was to throw it back at Sarah or Juniper. I just started a new job after nine months of unemployment. I have only a little bit of time online each day, and so I cut my blog roll down a ton.  This blog is still a priority of mine, so hopefully you will continue to see posts from me about my craftiness in the near future.

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my familiar cat

my familiar cat

There are many types of familiars, and one is the witch’s pet.  Within the witch community there is argument whether the witch’s familiar was a regular animal like a magical pet or if it is only something in the otherworld or created by the witch.  The folklore I have read and studied suggests to me that actual pets and animals were considered familiars.  I read a wonderful story about a minister that went to check out the rumors of a woman who kept a toad.  He “proved” that witches weren’t real by proving her familiar was a real toad and not a demon.  Toads are a common witch familiar, but the most famous of course of witch familiars is the cat.  In Irish lore, the demon cat gray malkin is witch’s familiar.

However really almost any animal can be a witch familiar, it just matters that the animal displays a magical connection to the practitioner.  Not all witches pets are familiars, but I think that when your pet displays special interests or talents you will know it.  It can’t be forced. I have had many pets in my life, but so far only one familiar, my cat.

My Cat came to my life from a box in a friends basement, although there were seven in her litter, from the first time I visited her box, she just stared up at me purred and ignored everything else, all her brothers and sisters writhing around, her mother, everything but me was not there for Cat.  I kept visiting Cat from 2 weeks to seven weeks every few days until I could wean her and take her home with me.  We brought one of her brothers along too, and he was a good cat, but not as magical as her.  My familiar displayed an interest in my magical objects right away, and always had to inspect them.  Cat will sit on top of any novel I am reading, but she just rubs her cheek on magical books.  When I started astrally traveling, I was surprised that Cat joined me right away and started showing me places and things.  Cat can do all sorts of amazing things like sprout wings in the otherworld.  My Cat is talented at charming birds, she sings to the crows and they watch her from the neighbors roof curiously.   I am so blessed with such a skilled and loving familiar.

Often it seems as though a familiar chooses you.  Many a familiar were the runt of the litter that won the witch’s heart, a stray or wild animal that came into the home and joined the household.  And of course some familiars were chosen special from a pet shop and a special ritual was done to cement the magical relationship.

The next sign that the animal is a familiar is that it displays unusual abilities, or shows an interest in participating respectfully in your witchery.  A dog might help with warding by barking or growling while the ward is being cast.  A cat might charm birds.  A familiar can usually can keep bad spirits away or at least mark their presence.

Some familiars will join you while you cross the hedge and others will invite you to see through their eyes or ride them.  Legends tell of witches who traveled to Sabbats by turning into animals or by riding their familiars there.  If your pet communicates that it wants you to try seeing things from its point of view you might be very surprised at the new world you are opened up too.  Your familiar might have you actually ride its consciousness or it might just show you new perspectives to take.

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