A Back to School Blessing

May your pencils always be sharp and pens always have ink,

May you use every cell in your brain to learn and to think.

Whether its the first day of kindergarden or senior year of college,

Apply what you learn with wisdom and knowledge.

In hard times of finals, term papers, and spelling bees,

Call on Athena, Brigid, Thoth, and Saraswati.

May the Goddess bless you with A’s, new friends, and a new set of skills,

And the God protect you from F’s and snowy day fire drills.

Be kind to other students, especially when they need a little help,

And remember to take time to run, play, and yelp.

Persevere through courses you need to give boredom a shove,

Embrace and follow your passion to find purpose and something you love.

So get on that bus and head off to school,

And remember to follow one simple rule.

Work hard for success and prosperity,

And blessings will flow with happiness for thee.

© Ariadne Woods

Five Essential Magical Herbs for Students

School is a balance of expanding the mind, communicating effectively, and dealing with stress.  For the Witch, knowing the multifaceted element of this stage of life helps to create effective education spells.  These are my top herbs when doing spellwork to help my studies.  Any herb associated with remembrance and communication is also quite effective.

  • Earl Grey Tea: This particular type of tea is blended with bergamot essence, which is known to stimulate the mind and to foster confidence.  There is also enough caffeine to make this the perfect potion for all nighters.
  • Grapefruit Peel and Essential Oil: Again, good for activating the mind and a great study aid.  The essential oil version also is known for promoting joy and happiness, so a good choice to wear during classes you hate.
  • St. John’s Wort: An age-old antidepressant, both medically and magically.  It is known as the ‘sunshine herb’ for bringing light into dark situations and problems.  I use this in spellwork when I have a difficult professor or administrator I need to confront.  DO NOT take internally if you take any prescription antidepressants.
  • Lavender: Very calming and relaxing.  Use it to help with sleep problems that may arise with dorm living and with social stress.
  • Lemon Balm: Associated with healing of the mind and success.  I use this as a tea to wash away the stress at the end of a hard school day and as part of spells to help with a difficult assignment.

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Back to School

I’m sorry, school bound Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches, but the summer holidays are almost over.  Time to start thinking about the scholar’s new year, the first day of school.  What kind of year do you want to have?  What are your goals?  These are a few tips to start the year magically and mundanely.

  • Start Getting Back Into Your Sleep Routine Now: Left to your own devises, it’s hard to maintain a consistent sleep schedule due to vacations, summer job shifts, and late night movies.  Don’t do it all at once (it won’t work).  Start by going to bed a half an hour earlier every night.  Making a routine (example brush teeth, read a book, take vitamins, turn out lights) also helps.
  • The Desk Altar: While you are free to put this on your desk at school, the intention behind this altar is to extend the feeling of scholarship into your homework space.  Mine always takes up a small corner of my desk.  You can dedicate it to any scholarly deity (examples: Athena, Thoth, Saraswati) or just to the spirit of scholarship.  Some ideas: a yellow candle, a picture of an appropriate deity, incense or potpourri made from dried orange peel and Earl Grey tea, etc.
  • Look Into Taking Off For Sabats: If you (or your kids) are in public school, this is something your parents will have to do for you.  I would not recommend doing this for every sabat (that would mean 6-7 missed days of school), but try getting off for at least Samhain and Beltane.  Although parents if your kid’s Halloween party is on Samhain, consider sending them in with a plate of cookies instead (when else in your life will you get to wear fairy wings to school!).
  • College and Boarding School Students, Research Room Restrictions: Some typical Pagan supplies are banned for safety and legal reasons.  These can include (but are not limited to) candles, incense, matches, lighters, athames (and other knives), ritual wine, certain herbs (anything experience altering namely pot and peyote), tapestries, singing bowls, bells, smudge sticks, and wind chimes.  If you need any of these things for ritual practice and cannot seem to be able to alter your practice, discuss it with your RA or campus religious figure.  The pot and wine might not go over well, though, so make a decision about those for yourself.
  • Smarter School Supplies: Eco-friendly notebooks, pencils, and binders are fairly cheap and easily accessible.  If they are a little two rich for your blood, at least buy a lunch box, water bottle, and storage boxes.
  • Buy New Pagan Books:  Learning doesn’t have to stop at the school bell, especially if you want to expand your awesome witchy knowledge.  Cool Pagan workbooks are also a great idea.  Some recommendations: Ariadne’s Thread by Shekhinah Mountainwater, Circle Round by Starhawk, and Living Earth Devotional by Clea Danaan (comes out in September, but I’m excited about it.)
  • Relax:  The school year is stressful, so enjoy the rest of the summer.

© Ariadne Woods

Witch Tips: Continuing Your Pagan Education

In the Northern Hemisphere it’s getting colder.  Where I live the leaves are absolutely gorgeous, but are falling pretty regularly.  For us college students, campus residence life (or whatever it’s called at your school) have switched from air conditioning to heating in the dorms.  We will temporarily be cut off from the vibrancy of nature.  So why not cultivate a vibrant mind?  Even if you have read all the books, there are alternative forms of getting information.  Here are some ways to get started.

  • REALLY Read Your Myths: Not to say you didn’t the first time around, but treat them this time as meditations.  Seriously contemplate a myths implications on your way of life and your relationship with the gods.
  • Podcasts and Youtube: These are two active communities full of people willing to share information and knowledge.  For students still in the introduction stages, try CharmingPixieFlora, TheShoeWhisperer, and TipToeChick.  They are people who have been practicing Paganism for a long time and are genuinely willing to help you out.  As I subscribe to all these ladies, I know things are kind of rough in the Pagan Youtube community right now, especially for Flora, so make sure to show them some love.  For people a little further down their path, I would recommend concentrating on podcasts.  They tend to have more in-depth discussions than Youtube can provide.  Right now, Selena Fox and the Circle Sanctuary group are hosting a series called Circle Craft Studies.  She covers a wide variety of topics and recommends books and articles to get more educated on a given topic.  Also, Another Pagan Podcast is by far my favorite.  They’re lively and still informative.  iTunes offers many podcasts for free, so go crazy!
  • Take a Class: I am a firm believer that sometimes it really is better to ask an expert.  I know when I started studying herbalism, I learned a lot easier in a class than I did reading from a book.  Try something you’ve never done before.  While there are a lot of great classes online, perhaps try one in your community.  That way you’ll always have that connection to at least a part of your local community.

© Ariadne Woods

Ritual and Greek Life

Although I never thought it would be my thing, last year I joined a Greek organization on my campus.  For people who aren’t familiar with these groups, they are fraternities and sororities designated to form an intensely close group of people around a specific interest.  Most often, they come together over social life i.e. partying.  My fraternity (it’s co-ed.  Hence why I am a girl in a frat) is a service group.  Looking back, I don’t think it was the best decision I’ve made because I really am not a Greek life kind of girl, but I have gotten an interesting education out if it.  When I decided t join, I really didn’t know much about it other than it was a really good public service opportunity.  I went into its beginnings blindly, thinking my initiation would just be saying a pledge and maybe a little time getting to know my brothers.

Funny enough, I often think back to that experience when I am creating Pagan ritual.

I have been doing a lot of research lately into the origins of ritual and what I have found is that groups like the Masons and Greek organizations kept a lot of old Pagan ritual practices going.  They invoke deity in their oaths, light symbolic candles, and use a top-down structure.  Sororities and fraternities also use the four principles of to know, to dare, to act, and to keep silent.  Many initiates have to have some sort of knowledge of the organization and about Greek life in general.  They also need to take the step and live their college lives according to a specific set of principles.  Last, members of Greek life do not like to share certain aspects of their ritual with other.  While obviously less of a commitment than becoming an initiate in a coven, the mirroring effect is uncanny.

© Ariadne Woods

The Academic Pagan

Colleges and universities offer a variety of courses on many, many topics.  Obviously the primary curriculum a student should adhere to is the one that will let them graduate on time.  However if you go to a university like mine, you get a little wiggle room to take some electives.

Why not take some of those classes to further your Pagan education?

A lot of literature or poetry workshop classes feature in-depth studies of mythology and classic stories.  I am in a poetry intensive right now in which every student was asked to rewrite a famous tale.  It made the students rethink their approach to mythology.

Biology classes often expand the student’s understanding of the natural world.  While yes some Pagans morally object to dissecting animals, some courses focus on the theoretical and ethical dilemmas in Biology.  Or you can talk to the professor before enrolling in the course and write a paper instead of dissecting.

There are many other topics that would enhance your Pagan learning: world religions, anthropology, civil liberties law, music, and history.  Look at what your spiritual needs are and what you are interested in knowing more  about.  The goal is to expand the mind and look at the Goddess in a new way.

© Ariadne Woods

Library Update

Okay so in the Spring I went to see if my university library had any books on Paganism.  Bit of an epic fail on my school’s part.  A couple of tomes on witchhunting, and that was it.  So I wrote a note anonymously and slipped it in the drop off box before the end of last semester.  Basically, I said that students who are Pagan or exploring Paganism may be interested in checking books out of the library, so kindly consider adding a couple Pagan-related books to the list on the next book buy.

While doing something else in the library, I decided to check to see if my note made a difference.  And to my surprise, it worked!  They bought a little Margaret Murray and a second copy of The Triumph of the Moon.  I only gave a quick glance, but I am pleased my voice made a difference.

© Ariadne Woods