pagan-traditions

anonymous asked:

What is your favorite Finnish's myth/folk lore story ?

It’s a bit sad the original Finnish mythologies and folklores aren’t written down anywhere except for the national epoch Kalevala. I have only small, general hint-like information of this deity or that spiritual creature in Finnish mythology. Add there the fact no one here believes in old spiritual creatures, we have no “don’t go there, there are spirits!”-places or “don’t do this, it upsets spirits”-thing here and here we go. Nothing is left from old traditions. Lehto ry does work for keeping the traditional Finnish religion alive. There are some pagans who follow traditional Finnish religion.

Here are some of my faves

Liekkiö (from liekki, flame) and Ihtiriekko were spirits of deceased children, often killed at birth. While Liekkiö was harmless, appearing often as a shape of flame, and mostly bothered traveling people with crying and whimpering, Ihtiriekko tried to point out their killer and get peace for their soul. Whether people believed in Liekkiö or Ihtiriekko, it depended of the area. 

Hiidenhirvi (Hiisi Moose) was a big moose, which bothered people and caused havoc. It was from Hiitola, which in some cases means the land of dead. In one story forest spirits Hiisis created Hiidenhirvi from natural materials. Hiisi was another annoying spirit, evil one, and you wanted to avoid it. If Hiisi caught you in the forest, it took you to its home Hiitola, where you served as Hiisi family’s slave till you died. Vesihiisi (Water Hiisi) was a special type of Hiisi living in lakes and bonds.

Vetehinen (roughly translated as Waterly) was evil male water spirit, kind of like a merman. Like all evil spirits, it was the best to avoid Vetehinen. It was possible, however, to bribe Vetehinen to help you. A story goes how Vetehinen tried to turn over fisherman’s small boat (because Vetehinen is a little shit) but the fisherman cut Vetehinen’s arm off with his sword and it fell in the boat. Defeated, Vetehinen asked to get his arm back but the fisherman said he’d return the arm only if Vetehinen helped him to get some fish. Muttering and utterly pissed off, Vetehinen had no other option than help the man. The man got a boat full of fish hunted down with the help of Vetehinen, and Vetehinen himself got his arm back.

Vetehinen’s female counterpart is Näkki. While Vetehinen lived in lakes and bonds, Näkki lived in all type of waters (for what I know). Kids were warned not to go near water because Näkki can take them and drown them. This phrase is still used here; even I got told as a kid not to go alone near water because Näkki can catch me. Nowadays it serves more as a thing to scare kids so that they don’t accidentally drown themselves than a real belief of Näkki. It’s same as the phrase we use for kids who are naughty, that “If you don’t behave, Mörökölli comes and kidnaps you”. Mörökölli is considered a furry, goblin like creature.

By the way, we call seashells as Näkinkenkä, Näkki’s shoes.

Ancient Greece had Cerberus guarding the pathway to land of death; we’ve got a giant snake with multiple heads. There runs a river between the living and death near the entrance of the land of death (Manala or Tuoni), called Tuonen virta (River of Death). In Tuonen virta swims gracefully a white Tuonen joutsen, a Swan of Death.

Ajattara was a beautiful female spirit who made men get lost in the forest and then killed them. We have got a band here in Finland named Ajattara and they write and sing their songs in ancient Finnish spell casting form. FInland was definitely the land of spell casting and the spells were always sung. 

We also have got a badass female deity, Louhi. Louhi ruled the land of Pohjola (Northland, as north was considered the direction of evil) and acts as the antagonist in our national epoch Kalevala. Louhi was an old witch with a great army and she basically ruled all the lands and the men there. She had multiple beautiful daughters and also a husband, who got killed later in her front yard. Louhi is capable of changing her appearance and summon forth men for a fight. She’s very powerful at spell casting. 


Sami people up North in Lapland are better in this folklore stuff and they still have holy places which can’t be disturbed. From Sami folklore I love the belief that dead people can be summoned back to Earth in forms of bears and wolves. The latest incident, where a shaman was asked to deliver these “Lifted” (Nostettu) spirits, who caused damages in a form of wandering wolves, was held in Lapland in 1921. The shaman had been angry about it, saying that “Nowadays anyone can lift spirits, but then they have no idea how to send them back”.

EDIT: Oh and I forgot! Kola Samish people believe they are descendants of a Deerman, who was half-deer, half-man (deertaur basically). A human woman, who slept with the Deerman, gave birth to Kola Samish people from this union. The folklore tells that Deerman’s mother was a powerful witch, who could take a form of a deer. Kola Samish people have also folklores of raven and seal, who both marry a human woman. Where the Deerman taught the humanity how to hunt and thus represented forest, Raven was the symbol of air and Seal the symbol of water.  

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The Greece Runestones of Sweden

The Greece Runestones are about 30 runestones containing information related to voyages made by Norsemen to the Byzantine Empire. They were made during the Viking Age until about 1100  and were engraved in the Old Norse language with Scandinavian runes. All the stones have been found in modern-day Sweden and most of them were inscribed in memory of members of the Varangian Guard who did not make it home.

Keep reading

🌸🍃 Beltane Tips! 🍃🌸

Hello, my loves! I know it’s relatively early, but I wanted to make a post about this in advance for those who need some help / inspiration with the upcoming holiday. :-) Beltane, also known as “May Day,” is at the very beginning of May, and its purpose is to continue the celebration of Spring and fertility. We bow to the abundance of the fertile Earth, and become aware of Her opening up to the fertility God. Their union gives life to healthy and strong livestock/crops and new life in general. This is inspiring to many witches and magick workers who wish to bring change into their own lives, as well as show a passionate appreciation for life itself.

- If you’re on a bit of a schedule, there are simple things you can do to show your thanks for the planet we live on and the gift of life. Much like with Ostara, just try your best to thank nature - take a short walk, notice how green everything is, eat some fresh vegetables, and take deep breaths of morning air. 🌸

- Create a Beltane altar! Include lots of green items, inspired by the lushness of the growing grass and the leaves on the trees. Also include pastels to honor Spring, such as yellows, blues, and pinks. Incorporate these lively colors into the objects in your altar - think ribbons, decorated sticks, flowers, candles, cloths, succulents, baskets, grass, chalices and statues. Add some symbolism to represent the strong  male energy of the God, which is especially potent at this time. Think sticks, acorns, seeds, antlers - and try your hand at creating your own mini Maypole! 🌿

- If you have the environment / time to do so, gather a group of friends and have a bonfire (or even just a fire in your fireplace, if you have one)! Beltane is one out of the four fire festivals in current Pagan traditions, so its presence during this time is especially welcome. Can’t have a bonfire? Light some green candles and meditate near them, perhaps while writing a list of things you wish to renew in your life. 🔥

- Eat!!! Try and incorporate milk, honey, and/or oats into your meals during this time, as well as fruits -  peaches, mango, pomegranates, and cherries. 🍒🍯🥛🍑

I hope this guide is helpful! xoxo

The tumblr witch scene is one of the most sanitised, coddled ways to get into witchcraft.

That’s not meaning it’s a horrible way to get into it but what I’m saying is ‘emoji spells’ and crystals are very modern things. Sometimes 'New Age’ methods mimic some of the simplest things in the craft which are very appealing as an aesthetic but it’s like selling people a wheel but not the rest of the bike.

Intrinsically it’s becoming more of an aesthetic than a practice, which is fine on some levels, but it’s also pushing young practitioners into a weird space between 'New Age’ jargon and what is actually the craft. How are they expected to get their foot in the door when there’s a huge gap between the people who have actual hereditary/experimental knowledge and them? Especially when online (where older members of the community generally don’t dwell) is filled with New Age mash up info???

The festival of Giubiana, traditions in northern Italy

The Giubiana is a traditional celebration having great popularity in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, and particularly in Brianza, as well as in the region of Piedmont. During the last Thursday in January, bonfires are lit, on which the Giubiana (i.e. a puppet of an old witch) is burnt.

According to some, she is named after the ancient Roman God Jupiter, and this is why celebrations are held on Thursdays (“Giovedì”) in the Latin tradition the day of Jupiter. Furthermore, according to popular traditions, on Thursday nights (or Saturday nights) witches assembled for Sabbath.

In the days before the festival the villagers collect all that’s combustible (wood, hay, paper etc.), and put a pyre together. After a procession through the village street, the Giubiana is placed on the pyre and set on fire. The rite is both symbolic and propitiatory. The Giubiana is burnt to ashes to terminate the winter, so that the pyre flame is believed to predict an abundant harvest in the upcoming year.

There are different versions of the story: in the town where I was born the story of Giubiana is fairly different from the others which describe her as an old, ugly witch.  The story I was told takes place in the city of Cantù.

In the XII century, the cities of Como and Milan were at war: Canturium (Cantù) was one of Milan’s allies, and it was under siege. They resisted many months, and the enemy could not find a way to breach the walls. One night in January a beautiful, innocent-looking girl knocked at a priest’s door. The priest, father Lorenzo, mistook her for the Virgin Mary and invited her in. The girl was so charming that she managed to steal the keys of the city: Cantù was conquered by Como, but in the end Milan won the war and freed the city. The traitor was then sentenced to death and burnt at the stake.

Every year, in the city of Cantù and small towns nearby a life-size puppet of an old woman is burnt. The puppet is a symbol of betrayal and deceit: it is said that if it burns completely and quickly, the harvest will be good.

The “Festa della Giubiana” did not, however, originate in the middle ages: it has very ancient roots and dates back to pre-christian times.

The name Giubiana could derive from latin ‘Joviana’, and thus from the cult of the roman goddess Juno. Others think it has to do with the god Jupiter, since the celebrations are held on thursdays, in italian “giovedì” (from Giove –Jupiter).

This celebration coincides with the roman festivity of “Feriae Sementivae”, or simply “Sementivae”, the festival of sowing.

It was held in honor of Ceres (the goddess of agriculture) and Tellus (Mother Earth). The initial half of the event was a festival in honor of Tellus which ran from January 24 through January 26. The festival honoring Ceres occurred one week later, starting February 2. The purpose of The Sementina dies was to pray for a good harvest.

In this festival to celebrate the beginning of the year, Fire and Light symbolize hope and rebirth, opposed to the darkness and the cold of winter.

In my town, children are encouraged to write or draw on a sheet of paper what scares them and place it on the pyre before it is lit. They are told that the purifying force of the fire will burn and banish their fears for good.  

Spiritworker's Guide to Crafting an Enchanted Amulet

[SEE A REAL EXAMPLE OF THIS SPELL HERE]

There is one way of creating a protective amulet. This method involves taking powers and energies and adding them on to a “blank” object. This method works well and I have used it many times before.

However, many of us in spirit work are not really interested in witchcraft-based spellwork. I would like to present a new method of creating a protective amulet, by awaking the spirit within the amulet itself, and getting it to agree to protect whoever wears or holds the amulet.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Beginner

First, though, a few words on protection.

I generally expect certain nature spirits to be nice guys. Never met a vicious crystal (a few grumpy and mean ones, but never an evil rock). A few plant spirits have attacked me but I stray far from home. I do not think anyone carrying out these exercises of talking to basic, friendly spirits is going to be at risk. There are however a few notes I do have:

  • DO NOT work with any materials that make you feel uncomfortable, nervous, or worried. Such feelings are not indicative that the material has a lot of power; it means the material is WRONG for this project.
  • Stick with my recommended materials list coming up if you really want to focus on spirits that are known to be friendly towards humans.
  • It is up to you to adjust the contents of this post as you see fit, experiment, and try new magic. Once you leave the beaten trail, you need to start working within your own system of protections.


PROCESS

You will be using a rock or crystal, a natural object like a pine cone, or a collection of herbs bound in a sachet. It is vital you choose an object which you believe contains a protective spirit. If you associate bluebirds with flowers and clouds, don’t use a bluebird feather for this project.

Certain materials are more traditional because people have had success with them over and over again. I will list my recommended amulet materials next.

You will “awaken” this spirit, talk to it, get to know it, and secure its service as a protector. You can then empower the spirit and learn how to take care of it, feed it, and cleanse it.

In the end, you should have an awoken and empowered spirit vessel working as a powerful protector on your behalf.

MATERIALS

Spirit worker 101: “Protection” doesn’t work the same way with every spirit. An onyx spirit may produce an astral warrior to fight your enemies, while a cinnamon spirit may produce a wall to protect you. Which would better serve you? Choose your allies wisely; talk to many potential allies before you choose the one you really want to work with. Even better, secure several allies who can all work together to help you in powerful ways.

Here are my recommended materials:

Any black crystal or rock, or any crystal or rock known for its powers of protection. Examples are onyx, tourmaline, and hematite. Also, hag stones make excellent natural protective amulets.

A piece of wood from any holy tree (perhaps from a pagan tradition you follow), or a tree with traditional protective properties in your culture. Examples where I live are oak and pine. Dried and preserved leaves/needles, bark, acorns, or pine cones, will also work well.

Rosemary, mullein, cinnamon, cloves, basil, or bay leaf are my top six herbal allies for defense and protection. Put them in a tiny necklace jar or in a small cloth sachet.

FIRST STEPS - tl;dr: Cleanse the vessel and cast a circle.

There is one basic safety measure everyone can take when approaching a potential new spirit. You can thoroughly cleanse and purify the vessel. A harsh cleansing is not necessary; something gentle and thorough will suffice. Choose a method that will not damage the physical material you have chosen.

Incense Take some purifying incense. If you can manage it, burn or singe some bay leaf. Hold your object in the incense smoke and vividly imagine that the smoke goes not only over the object but inside of it! Imagine the gentle cleansing incense purifies the object and takes away every negative energy and ill-intent, leaving it purified and connected to Nature.

Water Place your object underneath running water (the sink or tub will do; natural is great if you can manage it). Imagine that the water streams inside of and through the object, rinsing away every negative and unwanted energy.

Earth Bury the object in natural soil for 24 hours, or three days for a very serious case. Expose the soil to sunlight and moonlight to improve the process.

Light Using your favorite energy work technique, create a ball of purifying and cleansing energies. Immerse your object inside of this sphere of energy and let it be cleansed. Draw the energy inside of your object so it is thoroughly cleansed.

After you cleanse you will want to follow a basic protective measure. This is possibly the simplest thing you can do to protect yourself at this stage. Cast a circle intended to keep spirits out.

When your object is cleansed and ready to become an amulet, go to where you would like to talk to the spirit (I usually choose my bedroom because all my magical stuff is in there). Face east. Point at the ground and envision a blue flame spring from the ground. Turn around in a clockwise motion, repeating this phrase:

“This ground be purified, protected, and blessed, in the name of my highest Powers; this circle keep all spirits out except the one I invite.”

(Alter this to refer to your higher powers by name, or reference your own power).

Once you finish the circle and return to the east, imagine the blue flame springs up in a glorious sphere that completely surrounds you, keeping out all spirits except the one you invite.

Now you are ready to begin!

TALKING TO THE SPIRIT FOR THE FIRST TIME - tl;dr: Focus on the spirit, talk to it. Ask it if it will help you make an amulet; if it says no, move on. If it says yes, continue talking and making friends.

Spirit communication is the easiest thing in the world. Don’t psyche yourself out about it. Hold your object or place it on a nice, clean surface. It should now be purified and you should be inside a protective circle (why a circle? When you call for a spirit and not in a properly warded space, any spirit may arrive. Always ward before you call spirits!).

Focus on the object. Consider what may be inside of it, what spirit may rest there.

Touch the object if you feel like it. Hold it close, put it on your forehead like me if you really get in to it. Do whatever feels comfortable. When you are ready, call to the spirit:

“Spirit of this [object], known for its protective powers, will you come greet me today? I need to speak with you.”

While you make this call, visualize or believe that your words reach the soul of the object you are talking to, igniting it and ‘waking it up’ from its slumber.

For me an action like this typically garners immediate response. If you do not receive a response, a few things may be going on: Either the spirit is not interested in speaking with you, or you don’t know how to hear it, or it didn’t hear you the first time.

Try asking one more time, and see what happens. If the spirit still does not reply, put the object down, feed it some energy, and try again later.

If you actually get a response, DO NOT expect a living fae to rise out of the physical stone, dancing in front of you like so many LSD hallucinations. You are going to receive a response within your mind 9 times out of 10. You will receive input in one form or another. Some people experience external emotions, feelings, and sensations which are not their own. Other people hear words, sounds, songs, or other verbal communication. Other people have visions of spirits within their mind. Some people simply “know”, and “know” when the spirit hears them and “know” what the spirit’s response is, without ever having any kind of tangible input. Everyone’s experience is different.

In my typical experience, I would “see” a spirit in my mind’s eye, as well as feel the spirit’s energies and intent, and hear words they speak. You may have a totally different way of communication!

For first contact, introduce yourself. “Hi, my name is Cranberry. I called you because I would love to work with you, and I think we can be of benefit to each other.” State who you are and clearly state your intentions. There is no need to beat around the bush, spirits aren’t usually offended when people seek out their aid.

Then, you wait for the spirit to respond. If you get “no way”, “not my thing,” sensations or feelings, thank the spirit and put it away and choose something else to be your amulet.

Spiritworker 101: You’re a fucking idiot if you force spirits to be your servants and slaves. They’re only eventually going to turn against you, and you’ll eventually gain a permanent spiritual reputation as an asshole that good guys won’t work with any more. There are SO MANY good and helpful spirits that will willingly work for fair pay, which we owe them. I’ve heard the most stupid, idiotic excuses that novices make to defend abuse and slavery. Fuck you if you enslave spirits.

If you get “go ahead,” “I’m interested,” or, “go on….” vibes, continue.

MAKING THE DEAL – tl;dr Be nice to the spirit and ask it to help you.

There is a difference between wild spirits that can fend for themselves, and spirits taken out of their natural environment to come live in my house. A spirit that lives in my unnatural house may not have access to the food and ability to cleanse and care for itself as it otherwise would. So right away I usually ask a spirit that lives in my house if it would like a nice, small offering. A glass of fresh water is more than enough, sometimes a bit of incense is appreciated. Occasionally a spirit will ask for a specific enchanted formula in my room that will give them a good boost.

In general, continue casting your protective circle every time you talk to this spirit. ESPECIALLY if the space you are working in is not fully warded!! If you are working in a fully warded space and you know how to connect with the spirit inside the object, then I wouldn’t worry too much about protective circles unless you really just want to be extra safe :)

Up to this point, the object has been cleansed and we are inside a protective circle. We are assuming I have just made first contact with the spirit and it has given me signals to continue. So here I will offer it a small offering such as a glass of water.

If the spirit is quiet or is not saying much, or if it asks for more info, fill the spirit in. Simply tell the spirit you seek a protective ally, one that can guard you against malicious spirits and negative energies, and protect against the ill-intent of other humans. Say why you have chosen this spirit – did it come highly recommended? Have you had a personal experience with its protective abilities? And state what you will do to pay the spirit back. Try offering a cleansing twice a month and energy feedings once a week, or both whenever necessary.

Many protective spirits I know are warriors and are proud and boastful about their abilities. They often leap at the chance to protect someone and will gladly do it. Other spirits are more cautious or coy and will not agree right away, instead wanting to talk more and get to know you more. If a spirit is not agreeing to protect you, no need to beg or convince it; thank it, put it away, and try another spirit instead. You may find it is just necessary to actually get to know spirits in general more before they agree to work with you, so in that case it is fine to spend however much time you need getting to know the spirit.

Ultimately most spirits I know will have some questions so spend some time answering anything the spirit wants to know. They may want to know if you have any enemies they must defeat, what kind of ailments you have, what energies you are facing, what kind of cleansing they will receive, what kind of food they will receive, and so on. Hash out the details and take notes as needed so you do not forget any part of the agreement being made.

In general you are making a business deal (even if you guys become great friends and allies) and you need to work out some details:

Will the spirit help you only when it is specifically called? Do you need to be aware of danger before it will kick in? Or will the spirit stay vigilant and watch? Should you tell him when to be vigilant? Do you want him always aware? The more active the spirit is, the more feedings it will require. Everything is an exchange. Do you want to be aware of when you are being protected of negative energies, or not? Do you want the spirit to alert you if it senses something nearby? Will it protect an area it is in, or only a human who specifically holds it? Work out all these details. In general, asking the spirit to give you a sense of security when it is “working” is a great idea. It lets you know within a few moments if your spirit ally is able to help you that day.

If you are making a general protective amulet, skip this step. If you know you have specific enemies, whether they be human or spirit, ask the amulet spirit what it can specifically do to protect against your enemies. Depending on how easily you can work with spirits and make amulets such as this one, it may be worth your while to spend the time finding an ally who can help you the most against specific beings you face.

Sooner or later the spirit is either going to agree or disagree. I’ve never gotten a “let me think about it” from a nature spirit before. They pretty much seem to know what they’re going to do. If the spirit disagrees, thank it and return it to where it belongs. If it agrees, you now have secured the services of a protective spirit!

TESTING YOUR AMULET -tl;drshow me what you gotttt

Now a spirit has agreed to be a protector. But in my way of working you don’t just “finish up”. For anyone interested in above-beginner energy work, spirit work, spell work, and astral travel, you need to figure out how this magic is actually literally realistically going to work on your behalf.

Once I am in communion with the spirit and they have agreed to help me, I ask to see an example of how their protective powers work against a specific enemy. For example, you can ask, “how would your charms help me against another spirit seeking to harm me?” Then wait and see what input you get.

I will get visions of how thinks “work” according to my understanding of the astral. No matter what you should gain at least a slightly better understanding of how your enchantment is going to work, even if you only get a feeling such as “security” or an image of a wall.

In general I ask these three questions:

“Can you show me how you will protect me against malicious spirits?”
“Can you show me how you will protect me against energies or spells?”
“Can you show me how you will protect me against malicious humans?**”

**These amulets are for protection during spiritual encounters, not physical encounters. Do not rely on magic to keep you physically safe.

If I am satisfied that the spirit knows what it is doing (and if you used any of the recommended materials, it should), I thank it for its time. I give it a feeding, a nice offering as thanks for making this deal, and I either “hang up” or spend enjoyable time with this spirit.

MAINTAINING YOUR AMULET AND THE SPIRIT WITHINtl;dr uphold your end of the deal, feed the spirit, be nice to it.

Once your deal has been made, try talking to this spirit regularly. This is especially nice if you have no other companions or limited spirit experience. Remember to cast your circle every time if you are working outside of a fully warded space. Try wearing or touching the amulet as you work with it :)

DON’T forget to cleanse and feed the spirit as you have agreed. If you have to “take a break”, low spoon month, etc. – see if you can’t at least say hello to the spirit and explain the situation. Otherwise, I often find these types of protective spirits to be good-natured and not prone to anger (especially rocks).

Wear or hold your amulet whenever you need it. Activate it by whatever word or signal you agreed to if it does not always remain aware.

Use this amulet as protection while doing other spirit work, astral traveling, or simply when you need it daily. Talk to the spirit within the amulet regularly; it is not a mindless spell, it is a real being. Ask it about things that happen to you and seek greater insight. A spirit that follows you around regularly may have great insight in to your life.

A spirit may be empowered in certain ways. Keeping the vessel very thoroughly cleansed and energetically fed makes a huge difference.

To energetically feed a vessel, choose one of the following methods:

Incense Take some vivifying incense, something bright and enjoyable. If you are unsure of what to choose, ask the spirit within or choose a scent you think that individual would like. If you get an unclear response, go with basil and chamomile or any stick incense. Hold the vessel over the smoke and imagine the smoke is drawn within and turns in to a feast for the spirit to enjoy. Imagine the spirit of the vessel feasting on the smoke and enjoying it immensely. If you get feelings of “no” or “stop”, the spirit does not like the incense presented and you should of course stop immediately.

Flame Light a candle of any type. Hold the vessel over the candle flame and imagine the heat and light from the candle arise and go inside the vessel, warming it and giving the spirit pure energy from which it can heal and rest.  

Offerings Gather foods, beverages, consumables (such as tobacco), and/or alcohol. Place the offerings next to the vessel and encourage the spirit to come out and enjoy all the physical offerings placed before them.

Light Using your favorite energy work technique, create a ball of energizing and healing energies. Put this energy in to the vessel and encourage the spirit to use it and enjoy it according to their greatest needs and desires.

A spirit may also be empowered by giving it various magical waters, potions, and formulas. A spirit vessel adorned with War Water can give the spirit within special abilities, in my experience UPG alert I guess I’ve never heard anyone else talk about this. I find my spirits greatly enjoy the formula Glory Water, which they request regularly. They also like a custom blend of mine called Snake Water, which is actually just a very simple and highly cleansing formula.

Store your vessel somewhere it is comfortable. I hang mine on the wall usually, you may want to keep yours on your altar or in a nice, special space. If you ever lose the need for this vessel, tell the spirit within that you have lost your need for its services and break the contract.

I HOPE THIS HELPED! MESSAGE ME WITH QUESTIONS :3

cosmic witchcraft 101: tips for beginners

It’s been a while since I was an astronomy TA, so I’ve devoted a lot of time to getting familiar with the cosmos during this first month or so of practicing cosmic witchcraft. These are a few of the most important things I’ve done to grow my craft:

  • Stargaze. Looking at pictures of the galaxy and solar system is nice, but there’s nothing like using your own eyes to gaze into the night sky. 
    • You can see quite a bit with a good pair of binoculars and you can find some small telescopes for less than $100, although you don’t really need any magnification to enjoy the beauty of the night sky. 
    • Maybe there’s an observatory in your area! Find anywhere you might get a little closer to the sky, even if it’s just an open field out of town away from light pollution.
    • For city witches, the roofs of parking garages can be great spots to look at the planets and brightest constellations.
  • Celebrate stellar events. Meteor showers, eclipses, equinoxes, solstices, there are plenty of stellar events every year and many of them already correspond with traditional pagan/Wiccan holidays! Celebrate by stargazing, watching a sci-fi movie, or performing a magickal ritual.
  • Get in tune with the moon, sun, and the planets. What phase is the moon in today? When will Jupiter set? When will Saturn rise? Astrologers utilize the motions of the planets to show us how they affect our day to day life - and even if you don’t ascribe to astrology, knowing where the planets and stellar bodies will be throughout the day will help you plan your practice and get in tune with the universe.
  • Research:
    • Astronomy. Our eyes are the only tools we have to connect with the cosmos using our own five senses (actually, there are some beautiful recordings of what space sounds like), so learning more about the universe can help us connect with the sky can help deepen our relationship with it. Try to learn something new about the cosmos every day. The more you understand the universe, the more equipped you’ll be to handle its power and energy.
    • Astrology. If you’re interested, see what astrology charts have to say about your personality and abilities. Not everyone believes in astrology, which is totally valid, but I think it’s interesting to know where the planets/sun/moon were on the day you were born. Take everything you read with a grain of salt and find out what the relationships between the planets mean for yourself. Maybe you’ll find a certain planet/constellation does have an effect on you or your life, it’s just not the one your horoscope says.
    • Astro-magic. There are a few books about astro-magic and plenty of mythology to study. You might find something another witch has to say resonates with you, or perhaps you’ll be inspired to follow your own path. Experiment! Try using certain herbs and oils for different spells. Did they work? Do you think something else would work better?
  • Get in tune with the ocean. The sun and the moon have a powerful effect on Earth’s tides. How might these influences affect your use of liquids in your practice?
  • Develop a personal relationship with the stars. The stars looked different on the day everyone was born, and the sky looks different in every city in the world. Research is important, but this is your relationship with the sky. I think the most beautiful thing about cosmic witchcraft is that even though every witch’s practice may look different, we’re all looking at the same sky.
Ancestors: What Types there are and How to work with them

Introduction:

What is Ancestral Veneration

Ancestral Veneration is one of the most ancient religious and spiritual practices.  The respect and belief in an afterlife as well as honoring ancestors can be traced back to paleolithic mankind.   It is believed that honoring our ancestors was the first religious and spiritual form of ritual work.  From ways the dead were buried to views of the afterlife ancestors and the dead were never far from the mind of our paleolithic ancestors, and for some this truth remains today.

Ancestral veneration is not worshiping our ancestors, at least not in the common sense of worship. Ancestral veneration is more like honoring the dead in a respectful way.  Its a belief that they are still with us in a spirit form.  That they can hear us and can effect our lives from the other side.  Its a belief that our ancestors like other spirits can help us become the best person we can be and to live the life that we really want and desire.

There are exchanges of offerings and gifts.  This isn’t worship.  In some ways I think of it like when I put a flower on my ancestors grave.  Its giving something to them to signify that you remember them and care for them.  These gifts can be basically anything.  Though some cultures do have rules against some items being given to different spirits.
In some cultures flowers are only for the dead and it’s ok to leave offerings to the dead till they rot as this signifies they have taken everything.  In other cultures and practices only water is offered to the dead.   Even Christianity has mention of the value of prayer for the dead.  Working with and honoring our ancestors is a powerful spiritual path and there are many ways to go about it.

The act of the gift and the offering is the important thing though.  Its through these exchanges that relationships with our ancestors can develop and grow.  Its believed that a gift will ensure a gift.  Its also believed that because the dead and our ancestors are beyond the veil they have access to energy and powers of the universe that we don’t so by asking them to help us in our work and our lives they can tap into those energies for us.  Granted they dont help us unless we help ourselves.  So the gifts symbolize our part to do our work.

Many religions and traditions have celebrations and days of the dead.  Halloween, All saints and All Souls day,  Samhain, Dia de los Muertos(Mexican Day of the dead), The Bon Festival (Japan), and Pitru Paksha (Fortnight of the Ancestors-Hindu) are different festivals in different cultures.  They have one thing in common.  They are all festivals to honor the dead and the ancestors.  These are only a handful of celebrations that exist to celebrate ancestors and the dead.  The point is that the concept of honoring the dead is still alive and well in this world today.

The practice of honoring the dead is starting to become more common in Pagan practices today as well.  Part of that is that many of us are reclaiming this practice.  It was a part of ancient pagan traditions, so the practice was largely destroyed in the west.  For many reclaiming ancestral veneration as a part of our practice not only connects us to our more recent ancestors and keeps our passed loved ones in our lives, but it also allows us to reach the deepest ancestors we have which can be powerful guides for those starting down pagan paths.

Personal Development of Ancestor work

One of the reasons I am writing this post today is in honor of a new ancestor.  A loved one of mine has just crossed the veil.  It is this passing that has once again made me think about working with my ancestors and how is really always been a central part of my practice.  I haven’t always considered the contact with my ancestors and the shrines to my past loved ones ancestral veneration.  I thought it was simply remembering them and keeping them alive.

Ancestor veneration is a large part of my practice and spiritual work.  My ancestors have a lot to teach me.   I have an ancestor altar that I pray at everyday. While it is a strong part of my practice these days, ancestral veneration and honoring has not always been a large part of my path.  In fact it was at one point something I really only did on the festival of the dead (Samhain) as that was the focus.  I thought that was really all that was needed, and at the time maybe that was for my best.

When I started to practice witchcraft I had recently lost my Grandmother.  Many of the psychics and readings I had done at the time confirmed that she was staying close to me as a spirit guide (I was having dreams of her). So I started working with my ancestors through a single ancestor as a spirit guide.  That was 17 years ago.  Now I have an altar to all my ancestors as I have learned that any of our ancestors can be our guides and guardians.

Originally I didn’t offer any prayers, or much to my ancestors.  I would simply say hello to them when I needed to feel their presence.  I had a place of memory for them where I could see them and keep them in my life.  Then when I started to explore traditional witchcraft as a religious and spiritual practice I heard of the concept of giving them offerings and having shrines and altars to them.  So I created one and started an ancestral prayer working.

The practice with ancestral veneration got even deeper when I started to explore Germanic paganism and found I had Germanic ancestry.  When I read how they honored their ancestors and the powers of wyrd and Oorlog I decided that I had to develop my relationship even further.  So I started to work them into Germanic rites and rituals through the phrases “The Alfar and the Disir”

There was a time when I stopped practicing basically everything.  Then I started to explore Hoodoo.  My interest and desires to understand magic and witchcraft returned.  Through this I found more focus on ancestors and honoring your culture.  I found that ancestors will be powerful allies in spells as well as in meditations and trance work.  So through Hoodoo my work with my ancestors started to develop further and I learned new prayers to use for my ancestors.

Now today I have a prayer I say to them every morning and I have a prayer I say every evening to my ancestors.  I give them offerings when I perform rituals and I invite them into my ritual circles.  They have a part of my day to day life and my spiritual life. I couldn’t imagine my spiritual work without my ancestors at all.  They are always there for me and they always will be.  I may not be able to physically hold them and see them, but when I need them I can feel them and I know they are always there for me.

The types of ancestors:

Being adopted my ancestors actually come in different forms and types.  Not all of my ancestors are of the blood.  Some are of the spirit and some are of the heart.  I have legal blood ancestors and blood ancestors.  I have ancestors in all of my families that I don’t know but are my allies through the bonds of the heart and the spirit.  I even have ancestors that are not really in my family at all but are in my spiritual family. All of these ancestors have roles to play in my life and I honor them all.

I dont consider ancestors limited to just the blood and the heart though.This post is going to discuss the different ancestors I have through my adoption and my spiritual practices and how I can honor and work with each of them.  For the longest time I didn’t engage in ancestral veneration because of my adoption.  I wasn’t sure if I should honor my ancestors of my adoption, my foster family, or my biological family.  Thinking about this also was painful so while I wanted to honor my ancestors I didn’t go about it until I had answered my confusion.

How I came to see the types of Ancestors

That was how I came to see the different ancestral lines.  One year I went to the local Pagan Pride day.  I typically attend a few of the workshops that go on.  This year there was one about ancestral work and contacting your ancestors.  The key component of that workshop was a meditation on ancestral lines.  During this meditation I saw three lines of ancestral blood flowing from my body.  There was a fourth that was some what gray at the time and today its now clear.

It was then I knew that I was to honor all of my ancestors.  Those of my foster family, my blood or biological family, and my adoptive family.  It was through this work that I came to see that there are many different types of ancestors and that not everyone will have access to blood ancestors.  Through these meditations and concepts I came to see that there are
four primary types of ancestral allies: You have your ancestors of the Blood, your ancestors of the heart, and the ancestors of the spirit.  Adoptive ancestors are actually a mixture of two types which I will get into in the next sections as well as being their own type of ancestor.

Ancestors of The Blood

Every one is familiar with the concept of blood ancestors.  These are those of your family or blood line that goes back generations.  These are the strongest allies that one can have.  These are the ancestors that everyone thinks about when they think of ancestors.  Ancestors of the blood also include ancestors gained through marriage and long term committed relationships.  When I got engaged to my fiance his ancestors joined mine and mine his.  We are a family unit.  These ancestors go back generations on each side.  So the lines of blood ancestors are very long.

These are the strongest allies that you can have as a spirit.  They are the ones that have your best interest at heart.   Through the strands of Fate, and the workings of Wyrd we are always directly connected to our ancestors.  Our actions reflect them as much as their actions reflect on us.  So we need to honor them in our lives and we need to keep them close to us.  Before any other spirit is petitioned the ancestors will work stronger for you and faster for you. There is little that is stronger than the power of the blood.

Adoptive Ancestors

For me I also have my adoptive ancestors,  These are the ancestors of my adoptive family.  They are the family that raised me and that belongs to me.  In ancient cultures at times the roles of the blood ancestors would be replaced by the foster and or adoptive family.  In my case I never considered them to replace the blood ancestors at all.  I considered them additional ancestors that I was blessed to have.

We have no physical blood that ties us.  However to all of the world and all legal meanings they are my flesh and blood.  That is how I feel about them as well.  In all honesty at times they are more my family than my blood and biological family simply because I have minimal contact and my relationship with that family is in its infancy (until recently was non existent).  Which is why they are both ancestors of the blood and of the heart.  The time that they spent raising me and being involved in my life can not be undone.

They gave their blood, sweat, and tears to me.  They are for my my most powerful allies.  They have been there for me more than the blood ancestors.  They were the first ancestors I have contacted and they were the first ones to make themselves known to me.  This is the ancestral line that has been the strongest for me.  My blood ancestral work is focused on more ancient pagan ancestor while my adoptive ancestral work is more with Saint and angel work (Hoodoo influences as well).

It is because my adoptive Ancestors gave so much of their blood, sweat, and tears into my life and that they took me in they are also ancestors of the heart.  They are of the blood because of the family ties and concepts but of the heart because there is no physical blood.  Its a spiritual and memory based blood love.  The bond of the heart here shows how even just being in a family for a short while can create strong family bonds.

Ancestors of the Heart

Those of the heart are the family that has passed that are not connected through marriage or blood or even legal adoption.  In my case this is where my foster family lies.  They did not adopt me but are still my family.  I have lost several members of that family and they were all close to me.  They are now my ancestors and they watch over me.  Our bond is somewhat stronger than blood or law.

These ancestors are some of my more recent ancestors.  It was my Uncle Cleve’s passing which made me think about ancestors.  He was my foster uncle and is an ancestor of my heart.  His two brothers are also my ancestors here.  I have a Grandfather here as well.  To them and to me the fact that I did not live with them, and was not legally a part of the family after my adoption never mattered.  I never stopped being their family.  That is what the ancestors of the heart are all about.

The ancestors of the heart are those that have passed on we considered family even if there was no blood between you.  These can be friends you thought of as brothers and sisters, close friends and even those who you would consider “father"or "mother” figures.  If you feel that they were and are apart of your family in your heart than they are your family and are your ancestors.  Never let anyone else tell you any different.

Ancestors of the Spirit:

Finally there are ancestors of the spirit. For me I consider any Occultist, Witch, and Magician who worked hard to preserve the magical and spiritual arts are my spiritual ancestors.  Even though I dont agree with all of their teachings and philosophies people like Gerald Gardner, Aliester Crowley, Doreen Valiente, Scott Cunningham, and many others put a lot of work into making magical spirituality acceptable and part of our day to day lives again.  Those are a few of my spiritual ancestors as a witch based on the practices I have taken into my practice.

As I explore Hoodoo and other magical systems other spiritual ancestors will come into my practice.  For example Marie Laveau is a famous Hoodoo worker in New Orleans.  In some respects I could consider her a spiritual ancestor.  Other ancestors in the case of Hoodoo would in general be any one who struggled to keep African American spiritual heritage alive through Hoodoo and Rootwork.  When a teacher passes I would add them to the spiritual ancestors as well.

You can also have ancestors of the spirit when you are spiritually adopted into a tradition.  There are many religions and paths where they are only open to people of a specific culture.  Occasionally through the practice of spiritual adoption outsiders are initiated and welcome into that spiritual family.  The ancestors of your initiator in these situations become your ancestors and guides as well.  It is a spiritual family you have entered into and like all families they will help you and work with you if you honor them as taught.


Working with your ancestors

Now that we have covered the types of ancestors out there and I have mentioned the importance of working with your ancestors its time to actually start thinking about how we can work with them.  Why do we work with them, and what the best ways of working with them are.

There are two primary ways aside from meditation and spirit travel work that a person can work with their ancestors.  These two forms are the altar and prayers.  They work well together and serve as a starting point for building power with your ancestral allies.  Unless one is experienced in astral travel and spirit communication using those tools right away to work with your ancestors is not the best of ideas.  Prayers and altar work are all you really need.

The altar

Really when it comes to working with your ancestors the only real must do I have found is having an altar of some sort where you can offer prayers and other items to them as you get to know them.  These altars can evolve and change over time. The point of the altar is to serve as a focal point in your work.  The altar is a place for you to offer your prayers and your gifts to them.

Your altar doesn’t need to be fancy.  Many people start off not knowing any of their ancestors. In which case a candle, a cup for water, and a plate for offerings is all you would need to contact them.  If you know your passed on loved ones and you have photos of them you can and should add those photos to the altar.

The altar also serves as a place of remembrance of the dead.  So its a place to put items that make you think of your ancestors as well as their photos.  You want it to look nice and appealing.  This is going to be their home for you in your house and their place in your life.  So its also important to keep the altar neat looking.

There are no limits on your ancestral altar.  Let their spirits come through.  There are reasons for the symbols I have placed on my altars.  They grew as my focus and my relationships grew.  One thing has always been common though-the focus has been on remembering them and keeping their memories alive in my life.


Ancestral Prayers

The best way to work with your ancestors even before starting an altar is simply to pray to them.  Prayers to your ancestors aren’t really any different than prayers for gods and spirit guides.  You are simply having a conversation with your ancestors.  Prayers are how we can communicate with them directly and its our best way to communicate with them.  They can communicate with us in different ways (dreams, scents, meditations, sudden insights etc) but we can really only speak to them through prayers.

The easiest prayer is simply:
“Blessed Ancestors I welcome you into my life.  May you bless and guide me and may you teach me what you yourself can”

That’s all your prayers to your ancestors need to be.  You dont need to praise them.  You don’t need to have a fancy invocation.  You simply can address them as your ancestors and they will listen to you.  You dont even really need to ask for a blessing.  You could simply say something along the lines of:
“Good Morning Ancestors.  I welcome you this day”.

All you are doing with your prayers is acknowledging that they exist and that they are apart of your world.  By giving them a simple welcome everyday you will start to feel their presence build up.  You will begin to know them and feel them like you do can with other spirits and beings that you work with.  The more attention you give them the more you will notice them.

Prayers can be more complex and verbose.  My personal prayers evolved from a simple Hello and welcome to a full blessing and daily petition for them to be here.  There is a bit of praise and there is a bit of thanks.  These prayers are offered twice daily.  I feel that they flowed from me into the written form when I was channeling spirits and writing prayers for them.  My ancestors let me know what they wanted.

Offerings and Gifts

The final way that we can work with our ancestors is in offerings and gifts.  These gifts are ways that we say thank you and show our appreciation to them.  There are many ways types of gifts that can be given to our ancestors.   You can give your ancestor basically anything you would give yourself or a person.  They are still family and they are still people.

For myself I consider flowers on graves a gift to them.  I also place flowers on the altars every so often as remembrances of them.  I try and give them their favorite flowers.  I also try and give them their favorite things.  For my grandmother I will think of her when I go bowling and send her some of that energy as play and a memory of our times together.

On holidays I will set aside a portion of the food on my plate for my ancestors.  I will let it sit till the end and eat that last.  They eat the essence of that portion while I eat my meal.  When I have finished the portion for me they will have had their fill and I can take nourishment from the food.  Other cultures burn food offerings to ancestors and spirits.  Some burry the food in the yard.   Other throw it into the woods for animals to eat.

There are some taboos in various cultures about what can and can’t be given to ancestors and the dead.  If you belong to a specific culture, religion, and or tradition I suggest that you look into ways that they honor the dead.  By honoring the traditions of your culture, your religion and your tradition you are honoring your ancestors in that way as well.   These traditions after all were ancestral in many cases.

Conclusion:

This post has covered my own discovery into the importance of ancestral veneration.  It has covered the types of ancestors and a few of the ways that we can work with our ancestors.  Your ancestors are part of who you are.  They are powerful allies that can teach you things you wouldn’t imagine and who can be there for you in ways none else can.   Your ancestors are still here in this life and in this world just in a different form.

There are many ways to work with them.  Once you start working with them you will find that there are many more ways and reasons to work with them.  I’ve been working with my ancestors actively for several years and my relationships with them continue to grow and develop.  I am constantly learning new reasons to honor them and new ways of working with them.  The more I learn the more I realize there is to learn.

These allies seem to be the ones that develop the most as I develop spiritually.  The more I understand spiritual and magical practices the stronger they seem to become and the more things we seem to be able to so together.  Its my hope that any one who has read this will start to develop their own relationships with their ancestors and start to find the power and comfort in ancestral grace and guidance.

What newbies think Heathenry is: It’s like any other Pagan tradition, but with more drinking and manliness.

What Heathenry actually is: Constant vigilance. A game of “spot the racist”. A mountain of unread books. Arguments. Discussions regarding which deity is gayest. Everything eventually becoming a conversation about Odin. “I started with one deity and now there are twelve help???”

7

Maslenitsa (Russian: Мaсленица, Ukrainian: Масниця, Belarusian: Масьленіца; also known as Butter Week or Crepe week) is an Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday, celebrated during the last week before Great Lent, that is, the eighth week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter).

According to archeological evidence from 2nd century A.D. Maslenitsa may be the oldest surviving Slavic holiday. Maslenitsa has its origins in the pagan tradition. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun-festival, personified by the ancient god Volos,and a celebration of the imminent end of the winter. In the Christian tradition, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent.
The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny - thin pancakes or crepes.

In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its traditional activity. Monday may be the welcoming of “Lady Maslenitsa”. The community builds the Maslenitsa effigy out of straw (из соломы), decorated with pieces of rags, and fixed to a pole formerly known as Kostroma. It is paraded around and the first pancakes may be made and offered to the poor. On Tuesday, young men might search for a fiancée to marry after lent. On Wednesday sons-in-law may visit their mother-in-law who has prepared pancakes and invited other guests for a party. Thursday may be devoted to outdoor activities. People may take off work and spend the day sledding, ice skating, snowball fights and with sleigh rides. On Friday sons-in-law may invite their mothers-in-law for dinner. Saturday may be a gathering of a young wife with her sisters-in-law to work on a good relationship.

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Maslenitsa 2017:  February 20 -  February 26