Magical Self Defense

In my interpretation of the Rede, ‘do what you will, if it harm none’ is an ethic that discusses personal intention.  It’s not acceptable to intentionally hurt someone, but conflict does occur.  Personalities don’t click, fates clash, and even some situations, people, and  reactions downright suck.  Bottom line, shit happens.

For times when harm comes your way (intentional and otherwise), defensive magic is appropriate. In most cases this should never intentionally hurt anyone.  It is simply a form of protection.  Here are several methods to practice.

  • Witch’s Bottle: These can be made for many different purposes.  One type works as a filter, letting good energy through and repelling bad intentions back to the originator. Ingredients include herbs, salt, sparkly objects (crystals, broken glass, etc.), pointy objects (needles, pins, and nails), and liquid (wine, apple cider vinegar, urine, menstrual blood, semen, etc.).  It’s great for home protection.
  • Shielding: A few years ago I wrote about shielding and academics, but it is also a great way to protect yourself when you’re out and about.
  • Evil Eyes: Both the Turkish talismen and the craft project are great for homes and cars.
  • Spell Bags: Throw them in your purse or the glove compartment of your car.  Obsidian, jet, rosemary, small figures of spirit animals, and a vial of salt are examples of possible ingredients.
  • Self Defense Classes: Like always, mundane world follow up is important.  Having a strategy under your belt to deal with threatening situations will provide piece of mine.

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Research Guide for Pagans

Something I have noticed as a trend on social media websites is people asking for specific information about spells or Wicca that is fairly easy to look up yourself.  I get that people have to have a jumping off point, which I feel like most Pagans, Wiccans, and witches are happy to provide (myself included!).  I also understand that people new to the religion or witchcraft might be apprehensive to start researching.  But until a few days ago I never considered that maybe people are not familiar with doing independent research.  It’s not a thing about education level or intelligence, but rather a skill that anyone can acquire.  For a Pagan, Wiccan, or witch, the ability to find accurate information or something that jives well with personal paths is a key component to building a solid spiritual base.  So here are my guidelines for doing independent research.  I am going to use the witch’s bottle as an example topic to present my methodology.

  • Books First: I cannot stress this enough.  With very few exceptions (check the back for a work cited to be sure), these contain the best research and a rich collection of information.  If you don’t have access to books on Pagan or Wiccan topics, try Google Books.  Using my example of the witch’s bottle, I used books that I know have spell indexes: Earth MagicEveryday Magic, etc.  I find a couple of examples and take note of some commonalities: pointy objects (pins, needles, rusty nails, etc), fluids (red wine, vinegar, blood, etc), and salt.  Some also say adding herbs and sparkly objects can be helpful, especially with general protection bottles.
  • Move On to the “Scholar-Web:” Before moving on to the general Internet, look at websites like JSTOR and Google Scholar for academic articles on the subject.  Again, the materials will be well sourced and researched.  The problem with this step is a lot of academic journals have a cut off access date (i.e. you need money to access the most recent scholarship).  One way to get around this is to check your library to see if they have a subscription (students, you have one through your school).  However a lot of great research on Paganism and the occult was done before the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, so it’s free!  Again using my example, I found articles on the history of the witch’s bottle and its place in folk magic.
  • Use Sites with High Accountability: Okay what do I mean by accountability?  This can be achieved in two ways: physically being able to see the person (i.e. Youtube) and the ability for discussion (i.e. WordPress, Tumblr (to some extent.  The inability to comment all of the time bothers me), etc.).  Again using my example of the witch’s bottle, I watched TipToeChick and CharmingPixieFlora’s videos on the subject and noted some ingredients and uses.
  • At This Point, Ask Any Lingering Questions: You can turn to Facebook or Tumble friends for this one. Since you already have a knowledge base on your topic, you can smell bullshit a mile away.  I didn’t really have any questions at the end of my witch’s bottle research, but I have a couple of friends I could have reached out to for advice.

© Ariadne Woods

Yule Blessing

On the year’s shortest day and longest night,

Where the Oak King battles to bring us the light,

Families gather for fun, festivities, and feast,

Bringing good cheer to the most and least.

Logs and candles burn happy and bright

To bring back the Sun with strength and might

Signaling the start of the new year to man and beast

To all corners north, south, west, and east.

To all Children of the Goddess today I invite

May you be blessed with all that you delight.

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Traveling During the Holidays

Later this week, I will be spending ten hours on a train and another two in a car to get home for the holidays.  And I am not alone.  The next few days are some of the busiest travel days of the year.  Both the journey and the time with family and friends can provide blessings, stressors, and challenges.  While you pack, make sure to throw a few items in your bag to make things easier.

Helpful Herbs

  • Echinacea: The worst is getting sick at your grandparents’ house.  Ward off infection or cut the length of colds with this remedy.  If you can’t get ahold of loose leaf or can’t travel with a tincture, most grocery stores carry tea bag versions.
  • Ginger: Great for sour throats and warming up the body.  I also recommend this if you get air or motion sick.
  • Lavender: Family can be stressful.  Lavender will help keep you calm.  Chamomile works well, too.
  • St. John’s Wort* or Similar Mood Improver If Needed: The holidays are not the most happy time for everyone.
  • Skullcap or Valerian: There may be a spring digging into your back while staying on your aunt’s couch, but at least you’ll be able to sleep.

Stones

Other Possible Magical Items

  • A Travel Altar Kit: I’ve written about these before.  Check out the post here.
  • A Protective Amulet, Talisman, Etc.: An item that makes you feel safe. For kids, this is their favorite blanket, doll, or stuffed animal.  For adults, maybe a piece of jewelry or a special scarf.

Magical Reading Suggestions

  • Persephone Unveiled by Charles Stein: For any Recon or Classical inspired path.  It’s an analysis of the Homeric Hymn of Demeter and the Eleusinian Mysteries.  He gets a little ramble-y at times, but makes several interesting points.
  • Scottish Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland: The history and practices of the Picts.
  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: A fictional account of Arthur’s life from the point of view of the women involved.  Perfect for a really long plane ride.

Mundane Suggestions

  • Bring Something To Do: If you’re going to be on a plane or train for hours on end, boredom will make the trip seem so much longer.
  • Snacks: Airport and train station food is expensive.  While you might be cool with springing for one meal, it’s easy to get the munchies.  Keep the water bottle empty, though, until you get through security.
  • Any Chargers , Headphones, or Cords:  Keeping them on hand will make your life easier if you’re suddenly out of cell battery and need to call for a cab.
  • A Hostess Gift: It’s important to be polite, even if you aren’t looking forward to the time with family.  Food or flowers are universally well received.

© Ariadne Woods

*Not everyone can take St. John’s Wort.  If you’re never tried it, double-check any interactions and start with a small dose.

Pagan Swears

Swearing is an interesting concept.  In the old-school sense of the word, swearing was pledging loyalty, honesty, fidelity, etc. by invoking a deity to hold the individual accountable to an action.  An example from mythology include Helen of Sparta’s suitors, who pledged to defend the interests of her husband in exchange for a chance at her hand (all of whom became actors in the Trojan War).   Now at least in the United States, swearing has expanded to include scatological insults and sexual innuendos.

What does any of this have to do with Paganism?  Let me share a bit of a conversation between me and a friend last night:

Me (responding to a sarcastic comment): Oh for the love of God.

My friend: Don’t you mean Goddess?

Me: Uhh, what?

My friend: I mean isn’t your patron Persephone?  So shouldn’t you invoke her to hear your frustration?

I have never thought of that before.  Yes, this particular friend is a smart ass, but he makes an interesting observation.  For Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches who respond to the Goddess more than the God (or equally), then in expressing a swear in any capacity has a bigger punch when you exclaim “Oh Goddess!”

So why don’t most Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches adjust their swears to meet their gods?  Part of it is most of use did not grow up Pagans, etc., and come from different backgrounds.  For me, I grew up Methodist and the biggest two curses you could throw at someone were “God damn it” and “Oh Jesus Christ.”   I have retained these after converting.  Another reason why is the tech-driven, second wave Pagan movement generation does not want to conform to the more abstract ideas of the first-wavers.  The first generation, i.e. the Gardner era to the mid Eighties, pioneered the religion.  Some of the practices they experimented with have stayed with us. Some, such as the attitude toward military Pagans, have shifted to be more inclusive to more people.  And some concepts have been completely rejected by the broad community, for example the Frosts’ ideas about parental initiation of children into sexual activities.  For some reason, the only Pagans, etc.  that I know that commonly use phrases like “Oh my Goddess” in everyday speech tend to hail from the older, closer to or past Croning generation of Pagans (although this is not a rule, just an observation from personal experience).  Perhaps using Goddess as a swear is one thing that did not translate to the new generation of witches.

Here’s my point of view on the subject.  When it comes to making vows or promising honesty, I invoke my gods and goddesses.  But when it comes to casual cursing, I tend to stick to my old habits.  

© Ariadne Woods

Last of the Short Days

This week is the last of the long nights before the Wheel Turns, the Oak King wins, and the Goddess gives birth to the God.  Or so it goes.  Some Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches mark it as the spiritual new year (while others do so at Samhain).  Personally, I think both days are appropriate, and the season in between is a time of reflection and sacrifice.  It is the season of figuring out what you really want in life.

And after Yule, you have to figure out how you are going to achieve these goals.  Some projects are small, like finally cleaning out the damned junk drawer.  Others, like pursuing an education or finding a new romantic partner, take much more time, effort, and planning.  The key is introspection, knowing exactly what you want.  For me, having a strong relationship with my patron goddess and taking time for myself help give me clarity and direction.

If you have not taken the last few weeks to look at your life and choices, this week is your chance.  My best advice to you is to get away for a bit.  Turn off your laptop and put your phone in a drawer somewhere.  If it’s warm, go to a park or your garden.  The key is to listen to your heart.

© Ariadne Woods

Yule Recipes

Yule can be one of the best sabats.  And the most stressful.  Lots of family and friends and parties.  So when it comes to your Yule feast, perhaps easy is the way to go.  With an exception of the cake, all of these recipes are low commitment and some can be made a head of time.  Try combining them with old, family traditions for a meaningful Yuletude feast!

  • World’s Easiest Appetizer: I know dairy products are more of a Imbolc thing, but slicing a good block of cheese will please almost everyone.  Plate it with nice crackers and grapes and your golden!  Some suggestions: brie, cheddar, and gouda.
  • Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad: I made this for my mom’s holiday party a few years ago.  It was so tasty and elegant.  A big crowd pleaser.  Plus, the tomatoes don’t have to be perfect because you’re roasting them.
  • Guinness Stew over Mashed Potatoes:  Cut 2 lbs. roasting beef into bite sized chunks.  Coat them in flour and brown with a little olive oil in a dutch oven (in batches if need be).  Set meat aside.  Add a little more oil to the pan, then 1 diced onion, half a bag of carrots diced, half a head of celery diced, a lot of thyme, and a bay leaf.  After five minutes of cooking, add 3 cloves of minced garlic.  Cook for one minute, then set veggies aside.  Deglaize the pan with 1 can of Guinness, scraping the bits off the bottom of the dutch oven as the alcohol cooks off.  Add 3 cups of beef stock, a few tablespoons of tomato paste, and 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce.  Add back into the dutch oven the beef and veggie mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and let cook for 2+ hours, stirring occasionally.  About forty minutes before the stew is done, peel, dice, and boil a 5 lb bag of potatoes. While they are cooking, heat some milk, sour creme, butter, salt, pepper, and minced garlic in a saucepan.  Drain potatoes when they’re fork tender and mash with milk mixture.  To serve, plate potatoes and cover with stew.
  • Pan Fried Green Beans: Trim the ends from a bag of green beans.  If you want, chop up a shallot or two as well.  In a little olive oil, fry the beans and shallots at a medium heat until the skin gets wrinkly.  Add two cloves of garlic, cook for another minute, then done!
  • Applesauce:  You can make your own.  Or buy it.  But it goes with nearly any meal and kids love it.
  • Bouche de Noel: It’s a cake.  That looks like a Yule log.  Nothing can be more perfect.
  • Eggnog: While I am definitely more of a Wassail kind of girl (see my Samahin recipes for the Witch’s Brew), eggnog is a traditional holiday classic.
  • Ritual Cakes and Ale: Eggnog or Wassail for the ale and holiday cookies for the cakes.  I like using a goodie that someone gave me because it brings good energy into the circle.

© Ariadne Woods