The Story of Mabon

Originally posted on Rik Potter:

Mabon is celebrated on the Autumn Equinox, which occurs sometime near September 21-23, and is known by many as the ‘Witches’ Thanksgiving‘. It is the second Harvest Festival of the Witches’ calendar, and it celebrates and gives thanks for the bountiful harvest of fruit, squash, grains, and vegetables. Mabon is also the time when we give thanks to the Goddess and God for what was “harvested” in our lives during the year, as we prepare for the Winter ahead.

Witches meet and share celebration feasts with family and friends at each of the sabbats. Though joyous, Mabon also a serious time, as Witches of many traditions prepare for the season of sleep, the dark time of Fall and Winter. Witches call to the animal spirits for guidance and insight as we enter this time of inner searching. We prepare to meet our true inner self and grow and further our…

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Ritual Etiquette

434da4168885699dfd73a7d177b0182dAs far as rituals go, I will admit that I am stricter than most and strongly prefer formal, traditional rituals as opposed to those that are more casual and relaxed. However, not all groups work the same way and I adapt whenever I need to. Over the years I have led and attended countless rituals, and there are a number of things I think need to be addressed. Depending on the structure of your coven or magickal group, whether it is casual or formal, some of these may or may not apply. These are just my own observations, you may choose to agree or disagree…

RITUAL ATTIRE

As much as I prefer the traditional robes, the hooded cloaks, the ceremony and pageantry of formal ritual, there are many groups who are more casual with their requirements in ritual attire. What you wear to a ritual will depend on a number of factors. For rituals that are open to the public, casual attire is usually acceptable unless otherwise specified, but those who wish to wear robes and cloaks are welcome to do so. Formal groups, whether public/outdoor or private/indoor will require traditional robes, cloaks and formal ritual wear no matter the weather. This is my personal preference, but admittedly I am more traditional than others,(even though it does get a bit uncomfortable when outdoors in 90 degree heat!)

Casual groups are more relaxed with their requirements and will be less strict in what attendees wear to ritual. Another factor is the amount of space available. Some groups who meet in homes have very little space, with not much room for flowing robes and cloaks. In these cases it would not be practical to wear them, especially when lighting candles or if there is going to be lots of movement. Groups who practice ‘SkyClad’ (clad only by the sky, naked) perform rituals in the nude. Although I see nothing wrong with this at all, it is not my practice and I have never participated naked in rituals, public or private. I am honestly much too self-conscious about my body. For my private rituals at home, I have special clothing set aside for this purpose, and I often wear my robes for these.

My personal opinion is that those who are leading a ritual, whether High Priest/ess or someone else, should always be dressed in proper ritual attire, whether your group is casual or formal, at least until the ritual is over. It doesn’t have to be a long, flowing robe, as long as it is something that sets you apart as the one guiding the others between the worlds. Rituals are sacred acts, it is not something we do for play or just to have fun. If I attend your ritual and you’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I will find it difficult to believe you are taking it seriously. (I said I was strict).

ALTAR TOOLS

When you attend a ritual, you may notice the beautiful altar decorated with various tools and magickal items. The general rule is, you may look but don’t touch. Why? First of all, they are not yours. Secondly, all of these items have been carefully chosen for the ritual, and have been placed where they are placed for a reason. They have been consecrated and magickally prepared with specific energies and intentions. By touching or handling them, your own energies can interfere with them and have adverse effects on the ritual. Leave them alone! Look but do not touch. It is very rude to walk up to someone’s altar and start picking things up. I understand some folks are not aware of this, but I am happy to gently remind them…

CONVERSATION

Ritual gatherings don’t have to be solemn and quiet, they are celebrations, of course. However, there comes a point when it’s time to get serious. There is usually a social time before the circle is cast when people can chat and get to know one another. Likewise, when the ritual has ended and the circle has been released, there is a time of feasting and socializing.

But when you are standing in the circle, it is a different matter. Why?

We are about to create sacred space, we are preparing to call on divine forces, and this is where your mind and energies should be focused. It is not a time to be discussing with the person next to you what you’re doing later, what you’re making for dinner tonight or what you watched on TV. Again, this is not a game. When we are in the circle, we are supposed to be of one mind and in one accord. Focus all your attention on why we are here and the purpose for the ritual. Everything else can wait until later. A good circle-caster can cast the circle strong enough to overcome any random energies, but when those in the circle are not focused, it makes his/her task much harder. This is why I like to start my rituals with a group meditation to help get everyone on the same page and in a proper ritual state of consciousness.

CELLPHONES AND ELECTRONICS

When you are standing in the magick circle, please turn your cellphone OFF. Electrical energies can interfere with the energies we are raising in the circle. Magick is delicate. Everything has to be precise and strongly directed for it to be effective. We are focusing on specific intentions and directing our energies toward their manifestation, and when a cellphone starts ringing, this causes a rift in the energy. It would be best for you to stand outside the circle, or perhaps not attend this one if you think you may be urgently needed elsewhere. I know some people like to bring their laptops into the circle (to play music or to read ritual notes, etc), but I am very leery of this practice and personally would not recommend it.

ENTERING OR LEAVING A CIRCLE

When we cast the circle, we create an invisible, energetic boundary between the physical and muggle worlds. The circle contains the energy we raise within it, and blocks out any harmful energies that we do not want. If you arrive late to a ritual and the circle has already been cast, don’t just find a spot next to someone. Please wait for the High Priest/ess or assigned person to create a doorway for you to enter. Likewise, if you need to leave the circle for whatever reason (restroom?) , wait until someone creates a doorway for you to exit and re-enter when you return, By just walking into the circle, you have broken the boundary, and the circle may need to be re-cast. We are working with unseen energies, and it is imperative that everything remain in place.

TAKING PICTURES

If you want to take pictures, please get the permission of the High Priest/ess and others present before doing so. You may be asked to stand outside the circle to take photos, or you may be asked to wait until the ritual is over. Rituals are sacred occasions, and not everyone will be willing for you to take photos that will be posted on Facebook or wherever else. Also, there may be people present who do not wish to be in your photos. Not everyone who attends a ritual is “out of the broom closet”, and would prefer not to have their faces all over the internet attending a ritual. My personal view is that I don’t really mind if people take photos before or after the ritual, I think it is important that we show others how we practice, but we must also be sensitive to others who are present and may not want their photo taken.

PRIVACY

Again, rituals are sacred occasions, and there is often a time of sharing when people ask for healing or guidance. Many times people share things that are deeply personal. Please respect the sacred space we have created, and respect the privacy of those in the circle, do not share their personal matters with others when the ritual has ended.

ARRIVE ON TIME

I am very strict on this issue, and it has annoyed people in the past, but I am unyielding on this one. When I plan rituals, I announce them plenty of time in advance, so that those who wish to attend have sufficient time to arrange their schedules so they can be there. There really is no excuse other than “I don’t want to go”. My rule is, if you think you’re going to be more than 20 minutes late, it is best not to come, and we’ll see you at the next one. I do understand people have jobs, family responsibilities, etc, however, there was ample time for planning, making arrangements to leave work early if necessary, etc. If you miss 20 minutes, you’ve missed alot. It is true that rituals don’t always start on time, and I will wait a few minutes for people who are caught in traffic, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. It isn’t fair to keep everyone else waiting because you’re going to be 20 minutes late.

RESPECT DIVERSITY

Understand that when you attend a ritual, they may do it differently than you. It doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong, they just do it a different way than you do. There are numerous methods of circle-casting, and countless ways to lead ritual. Each ritual is as different and unique as the person leading it, with elements from many different traditions and practices. Respect those differences, and acknowledge that even if it is not how you were taught, or what you prefer, it can still be meaningful and you just might learn something and make a few new friends.

RESPECT THE SACRED

Remember, rituals are sacred occasions where we work with unseen energies to create change and transformation. We invite the divine to join with us, as well as elemental forces, spirit guides and animal totems. It is a highly-charged spiritual gathering. Yes, you can laugh, you can have fun, but it is also a time to honor and respect the sacredness of the event. Please treat it as such.

Tarot: The Lightning-Bolt Spread

The Lightning-Bolt Spread uses a total of 9 cards, and draws wisdom from the three realms of the World Tree. The concept of the World Tree can be found in several religions and mythologies. It is represented as a giant tree divided into three realms: Upper, Middle and Lower Worlds. It symbolizes a direct and unbroken link between the realm of matter and the realm of spirit. It’s branches reach high into the cosmos, and it’s roots extend deep into the earth. The trunk of the tree, the Axis Mundi, provides a pathway for higher beings to descend to earth in order to assist those seeking enlightenment. Likewise, it also provides an opportunity for aspects of the shadow self to rise from the Lower World, to receive healing and transformation.

In this spread, the cards are laid out in the shape of a lightning-bolt, as shown in the photo below.

SAM_0965The upper three cards represent the Upper World. These cards reveal information about our own spirituality, our connection to our higher self, our deities and spirit guides. The wisdom in the upper three cards are direct messages to us from our divine guides.

The middle three cards focus on our lives in the material plane, the Middle World, and relate to issues concerning job, finances, career and family. These cards address matters regarding everyday life, and functioning in the physical world. The middle three cards also act as an anchor, adding extra insight to the upper/lower cards.

The lower three cards represent the Lower World, or Underworld, and shed light on issues that we keep hidden in shadow. These are things that we keep hidden from others, things that make us feel ashamed, insecure or anxious. The Lower World is the unseen realm, where we interact with the shadow self, our ancestors, and our own dark nature.

Use this spread for personal readings, shamanic journey work, or to make a connection to the World Tree through divination.

Available Now

This will be a short post, but I just wanted to let my awesome readers know that my new book is now available for purchase. It is currently available through Lulu, but in a few weeks you can also get it on Amazon and Kindle. Just click the photo below to order a copy!

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New Book Coming Soon!

My latest book, Walking a Magick Path, is now complete. I’ve ordered a proof copy and as soon as it arrives, and I’ve looked it over, I will approve it for publishing. Here is a photo of the cover.

WAMPThis will be my third book release, and I used one of my own photos for the cover this time. I hope it isn’t blurry on the actual book. If it is, I’ll just take another one, but I’m crossing my fingers that won’t be necessary. So far it looks good.

In this book, I explain the difference between practical, natural and spiritual magick. I also share the magick found within each of us, the magick that exists all around us, in the sky above and the earth below. There is a chapter on magickal ethics where I share my personal views about the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law. There are meditations in the book, as well as a list of resources for those who are seeking wisdom on their own magickal path. The aim of this book is to help people become more aware of magick and how to bring it into everyday life.

It will be ready for purchase before the month is over…

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The Magick is in You

Summer is Here

After what seemed like delay upon delay, my 3rd book will soon be ready for publication. Near the end of April, my old laptop officially kicked the bucket, and I was unable to continue work on my book. I was sharing my partner Matthew’s laptop, and his doesn’t have Microsoft Word, so my writing (at least on a computer) was temporarily suspended. Pen and paper were my closest friends for awhile. Now, I am happy to say, I am writing to you on a shiny new laptop that I received as a gift for my birthday on June 19th.

Summer began with back-to-back events. First was a public Summer Solstice ritual planned as a collaboration between my own group, The Moonlit Grove and our friends from Coven of the Sacred Path. It was a beautiful ritual, with drumming, dancing, fire, divination and lots of great food, music and conversation. I even took my Bodhran (a sort of Celtic drum) along, even though I am clueless how to play it, but I did my best. During the ritual our two separate traditions blended seamlessly together in a celebration of unity, acceptance and the transforming power of the Solstice Sun. We all drew cards from an oracle deck: my card was The Dragon, and the keywords Power and Strength. As the day drew to a close, we all gathered around the fire pit with our drums and watched the flames flicker and dance, while some of the children lit sparklers and danced in the sand. It was a magickal evening.

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The following day, a group of us (12 to be exact) took a trip to Doylestown to visit the Peace Valley Lavender Farm. They grow several varieties of English Lavender, with over 3,000 plants growing in their field. They make many products from the lavender, including essential oil, soap, shampoo, and lip balm. They even have Lavender Dark Chocolate and Dry Lavender Soda (carbonated). Everything is made on premises from the lavender grown in their field. The farm is in a beautiful location, on a rolling hill overlooking a lake and a park with hiking trails. It is a magickal place. We try to go every year in June, because that is when the Lavender is fully blooming, and they harvest it all at the beginning of July. Not far from the farm is a general store that sells Lavender ice cream, and it is made from the lavender grown at the farm. It is absolutely delicious. To learn more about the farm, here is a little clip from YouTube.

Lavender is one of my favorite plants, due to it’s soothing, calming scent. It is great for meditation, or for spells to bring peace or healing. The scent from a lavender plant can last up to 15 years. I use Lavender essential oil in my home-made candles, and often blend it with other scents, such as Vanilla or Rose. Later this year I’d like to make some Lavender Peppermint candles. The blend of Lavender and Peppermint is useful for relieving headache pain, and I seem to know several people who suffer from frequent headaches and migraines. Lavender is very therapeutic, and helps to bring a sense of relaxation and tranquility. Here a few photos from our visit.

10474238_10152466344460465_6356721191291509891_n10463869_10152466344170465_1237126788461140269_n10250147_10152466358825465_5441582451248063366_nThat’s me standing among the lavender, the photo is a little blurry. You can really smell the strong scent of lavender as you walk among the plants.

I promise to try and post more often, as it has been nearly a month since the last one. Now that I have new laptop, I can also complete my book Walking a Magick Path. Look for it sometime mid to late July. I will post a link in the “Books” section of this website once it becomes available.

smallpentThe Magick is in You

5 Books of Witchcraft & Magick for Beginners

There are many books about Witchcraft, and they can be difficult to choose from, especially for those who are new to this path and sincerely want to learn more about it. Witchcraft is practiced numerous ways, and there are many traditions, or specific types of Witchcraft. It could be that the book you picked up at the store didn’t necessarily answer all your questions.  I remember buying a book years ago that claimed to share the “theory and practice” of Witchcraft, only to discover that it was written for a specific unknown tradition. The ‘theory and practice’ expressed on the cover only applied to that tradition, one that I was unfamiliar with and really not interested in.

There are, however, some great books that discuss the overall spirituality of Witchcraft, and will give you the information you seek. I recommend these books to everyone I know, because they are very informative and written by experienced practitioners of the craft. I have been fortunate enough to meet and study with some of them, and I highly recommend their work. A few of these books may be difficult to find, as they do go out of print from time to time, but you would do well if you can get your hands on them. Purchase used copies if you can’t find them anywhere else, or contact the author.

These are my top 5 for beginners:

1. spiritwitchSpirit of the Witch: Religion & Spirituality in Contemporary Witchcraft, by Raven Grimassi.

Raven Grimassi has been teaching Witchcraft for more than 30 years, and has written several books on the subject. In this book, he shares the spiritual element of the practices and beliefs of Witchcraft. This is a great book for beginners who are seeking to understand how Witchcraft can be a deeply spiritual path. He writes in the introduction, “I wrote this book to convey a sense of what is most noble and beautiful in the spirit of the witch”. It is beautifully written, and explores Witchcraft as a religion, the use of magickal tools, deities and spirit guides, and several other topics to enlighten those who are curious about the spirituality of Witchcraft. Learn more about Raven at his website HERE.

2. The Inner Temple of WitchcraftThe Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation & Psychic Development, by Christopher Penczak.

Christopher Penczak is an award-winning author, teacher, and healing practitioner. He has studied extensively with witches, mystics, shamans, and healers in a variety of traditions from around the world to synthesize his own practice of magick and healing. This book is a must-have for beginners, and I consider it to be one of the most valuable books available on the subjects of magick and witchcraft. In it, Christopher shares the history of the witch, the importance of meditation, the various traditions of witchcraft, and many aspects of magickal practice. It is filled with exercises and meditations to do on your own, as a way to integrate the information in the book. The Inner Temple is the first of a series of seven books that explore numerous aspects of witchcraft and magick. You can learn more about Christopher at his website HERE.

3. 51k9HWifIjL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal & Practical Magick, by Ellen Dugan.
Ellen Dugan is a Master Gardener, and has been a practicing witch for nearly 30 years.  She is known as the “Garden Witch”, as she has written and taught extensively about the magickal uses of herbs, flowers and plants. She is also a psychic-clairvoyant and High Priestess of a coven in St. Louis, Missouri. Ellen teaches with a no-nonsense style, and often shares from her personal experience. Her books are a delight to read, and her classes are high energy and lots of fun. I recommend Natural Witchery to any beginner seeking to develop their intuitive skills, and learn how to use magick in practical ways.  To find out more about Ellen Dugan, visit her website HERE.

4. powerofthewitchPower of the Witch: The Earth, The Moon, and the Magical Path to Enlightenment, by Laurie Cabot.

Laurie Cabot is one of the most high-profile witches in the world, and one of the first people to popularize Witchcraft in America. She is the “Official Witch of Salem”, Massachussetts, where she lives and continues to teach. Laurie, now in her 70’s, presents Witchcraft as a Science, an Art and a Religion. I met Laurie in Salem several years ago, she is quite an enigmatic figure, walking around Salem in her flowing black robes. She has a strong, energetic presence-you know she is a Witch. A few of my friends have studied with her privately and are now priestesses and priests in her tradition. Her book, Power of the Witch, is another great book for beginners, as it covers several of the religious aspects of witchcraft, as well as history, science, witch’s holidays, hermetics and various magickal practices. To learn more about Laurie, visit her website HERE.

5. 639299The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Celtic Wisdom, by Carl McColman.

I am including this in my top five beginner books, because even though not all witches embrace Celtic mysticism, it plays a major role in my personal practice, and there are many Witches and other magickal folk who identify with Celtic paganism. Don’t let the title fool you-this is a very magickal book,and the author addresses magick in nearly every chapter. This is the perfect book for a beginner witch looking for ways to bring Celtic mystiscm into her/her practice. This book explores everything from Celtic Mythology and Druidry to Celtic Magick and Spirituality. This is truly one of my favorites. (It should be noted that this author no longer follows a pagan path, but it is still a great resource for new witches interested in Celtic Mysticism).

These are my current top 5 books for those who are new to Witchcraft and Magick, or simply want to learn more. If you are unable to locate these books, try searching for used copies, or contact the authors.