crafting magical tools

Lesson 3: Witchcraft 101

Terminology and Basic Theory

By: Headmistress Trick

Live class date and time: 1/3/2017 @ 4:40pm

As with all things in the pagan community, I advise you research twice then come to your own conclusions. Your craft is YOUR CRAFT, this may not be a perfect fit for you, that it okay. We are all  the tailors of our own spiritual clothes.

This course will cover basic terms and tools, the beginner’s theory and practice of simple rituals and how to construct your own spells.

Things that will NOT be covered in this course: In-depth explanations of the various areas of magic. I will provide a basic grand overview, but the purpose of this class is not to delve into any one concentration of practice. If something you hear strikes your interest, please feel free to ask me for more information. If I don’t know about what you’re asking, I’ll find someone that does.


The Basics

The only thing you need to cast any spells whatsoever, is a witch. If you’re sitting in for this course, that’s probably you. You can call yourself any title you choose, practitioner, wizard, sorcerer, magician, crazy person, spiritualist, whatever… Anyway, to perform magick, that is the manipulation of energies to bring about an intended result. This can be done with or without the assistance of deities or entities outside one’s self.

Generally all workers,  even secular ones, have some sort of altar to use as a work space. These are highly personal spaces. They can be simple, grand, portable, stationary, cluttered, clean, whatever you like. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. In traditional Wicca, every tool has a place on the altar. This is by no means is something most practitioners still prescribe to. What you choose to have and use in your practice can be as minimalist or extravagant as you like. You can have all the tools or none of them. It is entirely up with you.

Statues, fetishes (these are small carvings,) or some kind of physical representation of gods or goddesses. Many consider this to be the house that you invite spirits, deities, or entities to inhabit when calling them for spells or rituals. Obviously if you’re secular this won’t be part of your practice.

Candles- Let’s be honest, an altar without a single candle, led or traditional, is a rare one indeed. They’ve a million uses in spells and have their own branch of magic aptly called candle magic.

Bowl- For keeping stuff in. When doing an elemental spell this is usually used to hold water, sand, salt, or dirt, but it can hold anything that needs containing.

Athame- This is a ritual knife. Some people use swords or daggers, some people use a grubby old pocket knife given to them by their great uncle. This is generally used for cutting or directing energy. It is not always sharp and there is a little bit of argument about whether it should be used for non-ritual purposes. Some say daily use dulls the magick inside it, others say it enhances it. I say, it is your knife, use it for what you like.

Bolline- A utility knife actually used for cutting physical objects. If you use your Athame as a functional knife you probably don’t need this.

Cauldron- If ever there was an image of a witch it was an old crone bent over a cauldron stirring away at something nasty bubbling over a fire. These can be used for bubbling toil and trouble, but also for a holding place for burning things.

Wand- Generally a thin stick thing for pointing and directing energy. This can be a myriad of objects from one’s fingers, pencils, spoons, actual sticks or specially crafted wands. Don’t let anyone tell you something can’t be a wand.

Mortar and Pestle- A small bowl with a little club for crushing, grinding and mixing herbs and spices. Be advised that wood, plastics and porous stones can pick up scents and flavours from the things you put in them. Do not use the same set for non-edible items that you do for ones you intend on eating.

Chalice- Fancy cup. Usually used for offering drinks to entities or passing around the group in a coven ritual. Traditionally this is in a goblet shape, but I’ve used a coffee cup in a pinch. Make sure whatever you use is food safe and easy to wash. Do not leave offerings sitting it until they get fuzzy.

Incense- This is sometimes used to represent air in elemental workings. It is best to avoid purely synthetic scents when possible. These will require some kind of holder. A fireproof container filled with sand can serve just as well in a pinch. If working in a group please be sure to ask about allergies and sensitivities to scents.

Grimoire- This is a witch’s go to book for all things that are important enough to write down. Just like a woman’s purse, one should never open and look through another person’s grimoire without express permission. Taking things that are not freely given from it is dangerous at best.

Broom- Used for sweeping energies, especially negative ones. Is wonderful for dissipating said energies.  Not for flying on. Sweep your floor and get the dust out along with the bad stuff.

Drums/bells- Sound can be useful for wards, driving away negative energy and calling attention. They’re also great for keeping time when dancing in a group.

Baskets, bottles, bins- For keeping stuff in. Don’t laugh.

Bucket of water/fire extinguisher- Candles can go from representations of fire to “oh shit my house is on fire” very quick. Safety first.

Stones, crystals, cords, fabric, oils, herbs, salt, flour, chalk - spell ingredients. They’ll end up everywhere unless you contain them in the baskets, bottles and bins I mentioned earlier.  DO NOT CAST CIRCLES OUTSIDE USING SALT. IT WILL KILL WILDLIFE.

Ritual Clothes- Special clothing is by no means a requirement, actually some people say this separates them too far from their craft, like putting on a costume. Others say it enhances the ritual experience for them. Whatever you are comfortable wearing should be what you practice in. Skyclad is a way of referring to being naked, by the way.

Divination tools- Tarot cards, runes, scrying mirrors, crystal balls, tea leaves. Only needed when planning on doing divination.

While none of these things are required to perform any spells, they can be helpful. No beginner should feel they have to break the bank to get a bunch of items they may or may not use. Be wary of materials of anything that will be touching your mouth or eyes. Cheap antique metals especially can sometimes contain lead. Used bookshops, thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales can be gold mines for things to use in your craft.

Many practitioners believe in cleansing and consecrating their tools before using them. They feel any strange energies coming into their space that wasn’t invited can contaminate their spells. There are as many methods of purification as there are stars in the sky, but some common methods are

Ground, cast a circle and call whatever energies into play that you wish to work with. Hold the item above your work space and “sweep” or “cut” away any unwanted energies while calling for the negative to be dispersed. Then you can set the item down onto your altar and  fill it with good energies and intents.

Smoke cleansing, passing a fireproof item briefly through candle flame, bathing in water (charged, rain or crystal water are commonly used for this practice), leaving it in direct sun or moonlight for a few hours or burying overnight in clean soil are also common ways of dealing with negative energies. Some believe a simple spiritual wipe down is all you need.

I have heard some practitioners say the repeat this process any time they use a tool in a ritual, and some simply when they feel the need recharging.

Whatever process you choose, make sure it is safe for you to use on the item and that you feel completely comfortable doing it. If you go into it with uncertainty or negative feelings, you’ll just be imbuing those into the item instead of cleaning it.

Now that you know what kind of tools you might be using, you probably are curious what kinds of magic you can perform. I by no means believe this is a completely comprehensive list. I’m only human after all.

Astral work- The art of using one’s mind to expand your presence and travel beyond one’s physical body.

Black/Dark/ Left Hand Path- This generally is anything that falls outside of the realm of white magic. This can include work that deals with death, blood, hexes, and gathering of power. Not always evil, not always good. This sometimes includes working with demons or fae, but certainly not always.

Cosmic- The use of planetary or celestial bodies in influencing one’s magical workings.

Candle- The use of color and shape correspondences in spells that use candles extensively.

Crystal/Stone/Lapidary- The use of correspondences of types of stones and gems in spells, using the natural energies found within  rock.

Herbalism/Green magic- The use of growing things to make your potions, spells and other magical workings. This generally includes gardening at some point.

Kitchen/Hearth/Cottage- This is household magic. Spells are woven into everyday cooking, cleaning and household tasks. This is a very vast area of magic that can encompass many other sections.

Knot/Cord/String- The use of string and cord for creating spells or charms. A very portable type of spellcasting.

Music/Sound- The use of singing, humming, playing musical instruments or otherwise creating sounds for spells.

Divination- Attempting to foretell the future through various means such as tarot, runes, scrying, reading tea leaves or palmistry.

Sigils, Symbols and Runes- Visual representations of concepts and intents in one’s craft. This can include esoteric alphabets and occult imagery.

Elemental- Working with one or all of the elements to bring about one’s intentions.

Weather- Working in conjunction with and influencing the weather

White/Light- Generally any magic that does not fall into the somewhat unsavory realm of “bad” magic. This does not mean this is the only right kind of magic to do.

There are literal hundreds of types and branches of magic, including specific pantheons of deities that I am not going to cover here, and ethnic or regional types of crafts. I always encourage you to seek out more information on your own.

Before we wind down I want to go over some other common terms that may or may not come up

Familiar- A companion, usually animal, that serves as a host to a spiritual entity or energy. They assist with workings and are generally good to have around. Please take good care of your familiars if you have them.

Coven- A group of witches or practitioners. You do not need one if you don’t want one, but they can be a great support group.

Spell- The working of magic itself.

Incantation- The spoken bit of the spell, absolutely does not have to rhyme, though that can help with memory recall. This can be in any language, though one you’re familiar with would probably be best.

Charm- An object that is created to hold an enchantment, usually carried or worn by the intended recipient.

Channeling- The controversial process of becoming host to another spirit of entity.

Three Fold Rule- The idea that whatever you send out will return to you three times over. This applies to both the good and the bad.

Potion- A mixture of ingredients usually meant to be swallowed by the person the magic is supposed to effect. Please never make a potion out of toxic or dangerous ingredients.

Ointment/Salve- Lotiony sort of stuff that goes on your skin.

Poultice- Soft wet mass of stuff you put on your skin. Usually contains herbs and other ingredients bound together with moss, gauze or flour and held on with a cloth wrapped around the body part

Correspondence- The relation between an item and the energy it influences. Like a type of stone being handy for working with psychic energies, or healing. Black candles being good for banishment and cleansing.  These are not always agreed upon by every magic user.

Enchant- to fill an item with energy or intention

Grounding- The release of negative energy and reaffirming one’s personal boundary of energy and influence

Sabbat- A festival, holiday or gathering for celebratory or ritual reasons

Pentagram vs Pentacle – If you are involved in craft that uses the star in the circle emblem, you should know that a pentagram is just the star, the pentacle is the whole thing within the circle. Calling it a pentagram makes you look like an ill informed goth kid. Always be a well informed goth kid.

Casting a circle- the act of creating both physical and metaphysical barriers for energies.

Shielding/ Warding- the creating of a protective barrier between your target and bad/unwanted things.

Binding- The attempt to hold someone or something and keep it from performing any harmful or unwanted actions.

Banishment/Purification- Casting out of bad energies or influences

Calling the Corners- The concept that the cardinal directions correspond to guardians or spiritual entities and calling upon them to serve as protectors for a ritual

Offerings/Sacrifices- Objects that are surrendered to an entity. Do not perform any kind of animal or blood sacrifice without fully understanding what you are doing and warning anyone else that might be involved in the process. Food, drinks, gifts and offerings of effort are generally more than enough to appease deities or spirits.

Please if you have any questions, please let me know. I will not be answering any questions about specific regional or cultural craft that I am unfamiliar with, but will try to find you resources or someone to speak to about them.

We will be reconvening for class on Sunday to do basic spellwork and go over some common correspondences. We will be doing a simple protection charm so please find an item you wish to enchant. It can be an item you use and keep on you daily or a found item. Any other things you would like to bring to share with the class of your own workings would be wonderful. Thank you and I hope you learned something new.

Tools of the Craft: Runes (Pt. XIV)

Oh, the beautiful working altar! It is a place of magic, with lots of shiny and smelly things on it which make me feel at home. But to the new witch, it can sometimes seem daunting, and even downright scary to look at - almost as if it came right out of some dark fantasy story.

But there’s nothing to be afraid of. Each object on the altar is merely a tool to help visually direct energy. In witchcraft, every tool has its significance and its own symbolism, and it often helps to understand what makes these tools so important. In this series of articles, I will endeavor to lift the shroud of mystery from these tools and assist in helping you understand what each tool is used for, where it comes from, and why we use it.

Runes, Part XIV: Ihwaz, the Rune of Defense

Pronunciation: “Eye-wahz”
Meaning: “Yew tree”
God/dess: Ullr
Element: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water
Tree: Yew

Few runes hold such a huge connection with the tree that corresponds to them. But Ihwaz is linked not only because of its translation but because of what the tree represents. Contrary to the connection to death as a result of the tradition of planting yew trees around grave sites, yew is actually a tree of protection (which is, in fact why the trees were planted in such a way - it’s poisonous, strong, and imposing - a natural wall complete with defenses). As such, Ihwaz holds a similar role in a casting or spread, representing endurance, continuity, and the ability to weather storms while also being able to fight back if needed.

A rune with no reverse, it also represents the cyclical movement we’ve come to recognize with such runes, and so is an important rune to find in your spread, as it can point out moments where change should be accepted and embraced. The only thing that ever stays the same is the fact that everything changes, so it’s important to embrace that.

The converse of Ihwaz is also linked to its defensive properties; it alerts you to moments when your own defenses are dormant and need to be woken, and to moments where dangers can be weathered through with patience and focused effort.

Magick

Ihwaz is the rune that has come to symbolize rune magic as a whole, since it embraces wisdom, protection, and foresight. Use this rune if you feel you are under magical attack or if you feel that you need to create a spell of protection that can also reflect the effects sent to you.

If you feel that you need to focus on developing a better way of defending yourself - maybe the need for wisdom to know the right thing to say in your defense, or perhaps need protection in terms of legal battles - incorporate Ihwaz into spells to enhance that effect.

Don’t disregard Ihwaz’s connection to yew, either. If you work spells which call for yew wood, consider incorporating Ihwaz into it, either by carving or burning the rune into the wood. This works especially well for stangs or wands.

In Conclusion…

Change is not something we should fear. It’s something we need to embrace, and sometimes something which can threaten us. It’s best to accept the changes that come our way, but when conflict comes calling, one must be ready to defend herself. As such, we must be ready to bend and snap back to where we were, and be ready to be the impenetrable yew tree that we need to be in order to weather the storm. Always the case with change, the storm will pass and we can grow into the transformation that comes with it.

Ihwaz reminds us that while it’s great and encouraged to stand our ground and defend ourselves, we should always do so with wisdom. Is this wall a wall of bitter stubbornness, or is it a defense against that which threatens those it is protecting? It’s always best to consider the situation as a whole.

Blessed Be! )O(

Modern Tools for Ancient Arts

Automatic Drip Coffee Maker — The coffee maker not only saves time, but brews flawless infusions, decoctions, and washes. Here are a few tips for using it in magickal efforts:

  • Do not use the same coffee maker to brew both ingestible teas and poisonous liquids. If you plan to use the device for brewing washes that list ingredients unsuitable for human consumption, obtain one solely for that purpose.
  • Between magickal brewings, clean the pot and filter cup with hot soapy water and bleach.
  • When brewing decoctions, place the root or bark in a coffee filter, then close the filter securely by tying it with a string or a rubber band. After the brew cycle, place the pouch in the brew pot and leave it on the warming plate for approximately thirty minutes.

Keep reading

Tools of the Craft: Runes (Pt. III)

Oh, the beautiful working altar! It is a place of magic, with lots of shiny and smelly things on it which make me feel at home. But to the new witch, it can sometimes seem daunting, and even downright scary to look at - almost as if it came right out of some dark fantasy story.

But there’s nothing to be afraid of. Each object on the altar is merely a tool to help visually direct energy. In witchcraft, every tool has its significance and its own symbolism, and it often helps to understand what makes these tools so important. In this series of articles, I will endeavor to lift the shroud of mystery from these tools and assist in helping you understand what each tool is used for, where it comes from, and why we use it.

Runes, Pt. III - Uruz, the Rune of Strength

Pronunciation: “Oo - rooz”
Meaning: “Aurochs”
God/dess: Thor, Urdl
Gender Concept: Masculine
Element: Earth
Tree: Birch

Uruz is the rune of masculinity and strength. Its translation is “Auroch” which refers to the giant wild oxen that went extinct in Europe in the early 17th century. Like the ox, it reflects strength of body and strength of spirit. It is a rune of freedom and raw power, as well as male sexual potency. It implies a coming challenge leading to a significant change in your life.

In divination, Uruz reminds us about both the strengths and dangers of creativity. It is a rune marking independence of thought and physical health, as well as asserting one’s self. As a rune of healing, it reflects energies that restore and regenerate, casting out the corruption of illness and restoring the body to its original blueprint. In your castings, it may also represent the ability to take responsibility for your actions and your ability to control your aggression.

When reversed, Uruz reflects ill health or weak mental fortitude. There is failure to think clearly, signs of weakness, or possible threats to you or your position.

Cast converse, Uruz means that you have hidden strengths that must be realized. If easy and obvious opportunities appear, don’t leap for them blindly, as they are deceptive and not helpful.

Uruz reminds us that we have the strength within us to realize our dreams, but that in this strength there is responsibility. Strength isn’t something to use as a weapon over others, but as a weapon to stop others from lording over you. Use it to stay focused and keep yourself from being knocked down. Don’t let negativity upset you - master yourself and find the strength to succeed!

Magick

In magic, Uruz is ideal for empowerment spells and male fertility spells. If you feel you’re struggling with something and want to work a spell, carve Uruz into your candles or incorporate it into your cooking (I can see Uruz being particularly useful when cooking proteins and meaty foods).

For male fertility, use Uruz on candles or in food… If you’re a hands on kind of person, you can use oil or lubrication before sex on the shaft or head of the penis to draw Uruz so as to promote duration, passion, and masculinity between the sheets.

In addition, use Uruz in healing spells. If you’re a vapo-rub kind of person, use the cream to draw Uruz before rubbing it into the skin. Same can be done with oils for healing.

Similarly, if you wish to make someone struggle with thinking clearly, or you want to turn a threat back on someone else, use the Uruz reversal.

In Conclusion…

Like the ox, we are capable of great strength if we just set our minds to the purpose. Uruz is the reminder to use that strength to the best of our abilities, but with the wisdom to use it for the right reasons. When I consider this rune, I get a strong sense of raw power - the kind of which reasonably applies to Thor and even to the Morrigan and Lugh. Uruz is both warlike and utilitarian depending upon its use, and is an excellent rune for various magics!

Warning: Impending Rant

Okay.

I have been studying and practicing magic for well over two decades at this point in my life. I love it, I live it, it is essentially the lens through which I experience life.

A few years ago I decided to take a part of this love, namely my love for crafting magical tools and apothecary items, and share it with the world as a business.

This has offered many blessings, and quite a few banes as well.

See, once you make it known that you are a spiritual worker and that you are willing to take clients, people often treat you as though you haven’t anything better to do than sit attentively listening while they unload their life struggles on you without solicitation.

You listen, you ask questions, AND THEN when you tell them that there is a fee for the services you offer, whether it be consultation, readings, products, or work, they either disappear, or want you to consult for free.

Time and experience cost money.

This is true of practically ANY profession. Does your doctor, lawyer, therapist, or professor do what they do for free? HELL NO!

Then why the fuck should I?

I have spent years of study and experience to hone my knowledge and skill set.

Additionally, I am not a full time professional practitioner. I have a forty hour a week job, a family, friends, social obligations, and a shop to run which requires work in order to provide for my clients and customers who actually pay.

So when a person wants to lay all of their worry at my feet and then look at me wide-eyed, entitled, and expecting me to invest the time and energy to not only educate them, but come up with a game plan for solving all of their woes in one fell swoop (something next to impossible), it tends at to piss me off and offend me.

I am not your priest. I am not your BFF. I am not your personal savior.

I am a magical practitioner who sincerely loves his work and his clients.

However, a client to me, is a person who sees value in what I offer and behaves in kind.

If a person shows no regard for this then they are no more entitled to my time than any stranger on the street.

It seems the busier I become the more I attract these types. And the busier I become, the less tolerance I have for them.

End Rant

(Bear in mind that this isn’t directed at anyone in particular. There are followers out there who have asked me questions very politely and patiently. These are not the people I am speaking about. This isn’t Tumblr specific.)