prayer object

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A Little Practical Magic

Here’s a “blank” invocation for anybody to use. You may print it out and modify it according to your needs. It cannot be used for anything assaultive, e. g. cursing people or making people fall in love. You can’t curse Trump with it, but you can use it for a protection against an Adversary.

The second image is my modification of the basic invocation. You can call it a spell or a prayer or a meditation object, all these words would be correct. For myself, I don’t use the word “spell” because my path has been more philosophical than magical.

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5 Things to Consider When Creating a Personal Sacred Space

It’s taken me years to create a space for myself within my home. YEARS. I feel like my space is finally the way I want and need it to be. For now. LOL! I’m always rearranging things every few weeks. For now, this is the way I love for it to be. This is where I pray, practice yoga poses (when it’s not doing me more pain than good) and meditation, listen to records, and read from my tiny library (books, zines and comics). This is my personal sanctuary and where I rest my aching body and anxious mind every single night. I’m mentally and chronically ill so some days - sometimes a week or weeks - I don’t get out of bed especially when my depression is really bad.

Here are five things to consider when creating a personal sacred space. Enjoy!

1. Use what you have

My record player sets atop a TV dinner tray. In my prayer space, my sacred objects are set upon a floral print tray I’ve used for makeup, coffee makers, and many other purposes. A Gremlins lunchbox (c. 1984) houses a tiny zine collection and an Annie lunchbox (c. 1981) houses a tiny comics collection. Other things like my floral print trash can and containers were purchased at the dollar store. 

2. Clear the clutter

Take out things that might contribute to your anxiety or remind you of things you can’t or don’t want to do (I once was able to do weights but haven’t been in over a year so I took them out). I used to have everything in my room from makeup to books to my writing/craft desk. Makeup is now on my bathroom vanity and, except for mental health and self care books, my books and desk are in the living room. Over time, I went through all of my documents and any other papers and only keep what I need. I placed them in cute folders in magazine holders on a designated shelf in my closet.  Since I removed the desk, I rarely work on the laptop and do any other work like writing or zine making in my room.

3. Surround yourself with what represents you

For the longest time my walls were bare. No art, just white walls. I didn’t start investing in art until maybe a year ago. The art in my room definitely represents who I am and makes me happy: Hopi, Otham, a river and desert person, and no doubt a Star Wars fan. (My Hopi and Star Wars art was made by a Hopi/Otham friend which I purchased from him at our tribe’s museum at First Friday’s. It was the end of the event so I bought seven pieces which was pretty much his inventory that night!) I love bright colors, floral patterns and cute things which is represented from my sheets to my trash can to small containers that hold special objects. I keep mental health, yoga, and self-care books (coloring books and paper dolls) in my room because I want them to be within reach on the days I’m struggling, especially to get out of bed. I also try to be a minimalist when it comes to buying and keeping records and comics because cost and space.   

4. Decide what kind of space you want it to be

Whether you have a tiny room, a roommate, share with a significant other, a relative, or whatever it may be, you might not have a lot of space or any space to create the sanctuary you want and need. It’s okay, I used to only have the floral print tray for my sacred objects and that was it. My room is maybe 150 sq. ft. but I managed to create “zones” which include a listening space, yoga space, prayer space, art space and a reading space. Decide what’s most important to you and create something, even if it’s an altar on a TV dinner tray!

5. Take your time

Like I said, it’s taken me years to curate this space I call my sanctuary. Take your time figuring out what means the most to you, what makes you happy, and doesn’t cost a lot of money or any money at all. It’s important to have a space that is safe and all yours. You need a place to help nurture you back to health in your body, mind and spirit. You deserve this!

Thank you for reading. Please, do share with me how you created your personal sacred space and what it means to you and your mental, spiritual and physical health. Sape!

Day 48: The Witch Master

The “witch master” is an interesting profession, or calling, in Ozark folk healing. They’re also often called “witch doctors” although that refers to the person being able to doctor the effects of witchcraft, not that the doctor is himself a witch. The witch master, along with the power doctor, are the two main users of what I consider to be the non-plant-based medicines of the Ozarks. That is to say that these two healers use prayers, charms, and physical objects such as curios to help remove the effects of witchcraft off of a person rather than plant derived medicines, although purgatives were at one time very popular with witch masters and goomer doctors.

Let’s first look at how the witch fits into the Ozark worldview. In this worldview “magic” is almost exclusively associated with witchcraft and witchcraft is always seen in the negative. Healing work, whether it is plant-based or non-plant-based, is never considered magic, even though many researchers today will mistakenly use that word when referencing these traditions. For most of the old hillfolk the mentioning of “magic” in any situation would be seen as an insult and would likely end any conversation right there. Those who are associated with “magic” are the witches. A person could be considered a witch, despite the gender, because of accusations of using some kind of supernatural power to hurt other people. Here the word witch has strong negative connotations, and witches are often seen as folks who, in making a pact with the Devil or evil “haints” (ghosts or spirits), use their gifts to cause some sort of harm to other people in the community.

An Ozark witch master, or witch hunter, would be a profession considered on the same lines as a yarb doctor or power doctor. They are a person who has a gift (that does not have its source in magic but instead in faith) for healing and for removing curses, hexes, and any other influences that comes from witches. The main difference between the healer and the witch in this context is where the gift comes from. If it comes from God it’s considered good work, but if it comes from some other place the person could be labeled as a witch. Now, this is the folklore surrounding the witch, but what is most often the case is that the local witch may in fact be a devout person but has caused some stir in the community that would lead to personal isolation and shunning. Witches are sometimes just healers who have made a few enemies.

There’s also a sort of mythological association with witches as being the source of sickness or pain itself. Sometimes the source of illness is blamed on the local “witch” who lives up in the mountains or woods, other times it’s blamed on a more transcendent, mythological witch figure (similar to the baba yaga of Slavic folklore). This witch, to whom sickness or pain is often sent back, usually doesn’t actually exist, or is sometimes associated with the ghost of a dead “witch,” but the fact remains that oftentimes, when someone feels like they have been “witched” or “hexed,” the witch master will be working, not against an actual person, but against this hag of folklore.

Vance Randolph, in his work “Ozark Magic and Folklore” lists many of the techniques of the witch master for healing their clients. Many of these techniques involve practices that many people would associate with traditional witchcraft, such as the use of poppets. In the Ozark worldview, oftentimes the magic done to a person by a witch will be reversed by the same magic, only done by a witch master. That’s to say that if the witch master feels like someone has hexed you by using your hair, the witch master may use some of your hair to counter it. Or if a doll is used against you, the witch master may use a doll against the witch.

There are several cases of witch masters using poppets to heal their clients. Sometimes a witch master will cut out the likeness of the witch out of paper then cut off various body parts over a certain amount of time, or shoot it through the heart with a silver bullet. Other times he will make a poppet out of cloth or clay then stick pins or nails in its body. There are also accounts of witch masters who perform a certain ritual with the pawpaw tree. The witch master takes some hair, nail clippings, or clothing scraps that belong to the witch, and then mixes it with beeswax (and sometimes blood) before balling it up on the end of a cedar-wood stake that is driven in the highest branching fork of a pawpaw tree. All of these techniques are aimed at sending back to the witch the harm that she sent to an innocent person. I’ve heard from people that after having gone to see a witch master they heard screaming out in the woods that they attributed to the dying witch. I’ve also heard that in one case the person who had been witched saw their assailant wither away into nothing over the course of a month.

There’s another story that a woman couldn’t get her cream to turn to butter in the churn, so naturally she suspected witchcraft, specifically witchcraft coming from her neighbor that she had quarreled with times before. So she called a witch master to help her. He came out to her house and handed her a horseshoe and told her to heat it red hot in the stove. When this was done he took it out with some tongs and after saying a prayer tossed it into the cream. After that she had no trouble churning butter, and the next time she saw her neighbor she had a big burn on the side of her face in the shape of a horseshoe.

There’s an understanding with this work, however, that the witch can struggle loose from such a reversal, if she is able to find the poppet of herself. There’s one technique mentioned by Vance Randolph, where the witch master takes a poppet made in the likeness of a witch into the woods and nails it through the heart into the north-facing side of a black-oak tree. The witch can escape her harm only if she is able to find this poppet in the woods. Great secrecy is taken by the witch master in their work in order to prevent a witch from ever interrupting what’s being performed.

We have to look at these practices from the level of the intention that is put behind them. In the Ozark worldview there are those who do harm and those who, by faith, are able to reverse that harm. With this in mind, the practices and traditions may, in some cases, seem identical to one another. For example, the use of poppets to deal out harm versus the use of poppets to reverse that harm. Faith and language is key here; it’s what separates the witch from the witch master.

The group who was praying to Cthulhu before meals was banned from doing so, because administration believed it was mocking real prayer. I heard that some people are going to start doing it tomorrow anyway, but replacing ‘Cthulhu’ with my name. I don’t understand how that makes it better? I am not a more legitimate object of prayer than Cthulhu?! What is happening. The summer is ending in a whirlwind of madness.

Cleansing Charging and Consacrating objects

Cleasing:

1. Bury on dirt
2. wash the object on running water
3. leave the object on water with salt
4. bury on salt
5. pass the object through the smoke of an incense with cleansing power
6. pass the object close to the flames of a candle or any other source of fire (be careful not to burn the object or your hands)
7. pass herbs with cleansing power on the object
8. sweep it with your magical broom

Charging:
1. leave it on the moon light (dont let the object exposed to sun light if you are using moon light)
2. leave it on the sun light
3. leave it exposed to a storm
4. wash it with moon water
5. channel your energy to the object

Consacrating:
1. rub it with oils
2. dedicate through a prayer, chant the object to the divine
3. during meditation hold the object between your hands and Imagine your energy filling the object
4. Consacrate by the four elements; chanting about the dedication of the object (pass it through water, fire, air (incense), earth (rub some dirt or salt on it)


Cleansing herbs/incense:

Alcanet
Anise
Bloodroot
Chamomile
Fennel
Verbena
Peppermint
Rosemery
Shallot
Vervain
Yucca
Eucalyptus
Mint
Sage

Oils:
Myrr
Olive
Camphor

In Optina, during the time of Elder Macarius, there was a monk who often came to the Elder for advice, obviously with a sincere desire for correction. The Elder told him that the closest path to perfection is the unceasing practice of the Jesus Prayer.

“Why that prayer in particular, Batiushka?” objected the monk. “After all, there’s nothing said about it in the Gospels.”

“And do you read the Gospels?”

“Of course – a chapter a day.”

“Well, if you read them, then you must remember the words of the Savior, ‘In My Name shall they cast out devils’.”

The Churching of Women

The mother, kneeling in the vestibule, or within the church, and carrying a lighted candle, awaits the priest, who, vested in surplice and white stole, sprinkles her with holy water in the form of a cross. Having recited Psalm 23, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”, he offers her the left extremity of the stole and leads her into the church, saying: “Enter thou into the temple of God, adore the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary who has given thee fruitfulness of offspring.” She advances to one of the altars and kneels before it, whilst the priest, turned towards her, recites a prayer which expresses the object of the blessing, and then, having sprinkled her again with holy water in the form of the cross, dismisses her, saying: “The peace and blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, descend upon thee, and remain forever. Amen.”


Our help is in the name of the Lord.
[R] Who made heaven and earth.
[Ant.] She shall receive.

Psalm 23

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof: the world and all they that dwell therein.
For He hath founded it upon the seas: and hath prepared it upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord: or who shall stand in His holy place?
He that hath clean hands and a pure heart: who hath not taken his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbor.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord; and mercy from God his Saviour.
This is the generation of them that seek Him: of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.
Who is this King of Glory? the Lord strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.
Who is this King of Glory? the Lord of hosts. He is the King of Glory.

Glory be to the, (etc.)…

[Ant.] She shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God her Saviour; for this is the generation of them that seek the Lord.

Then, reaching the left end of the stole into the woman’s hand, the Priest introduces her into the church, saying:

Enter thou into the temple of God, adore the Son of this Blessed Virgin Mary, who hath given thee fruitfulness of offspring.

She, having entered, kneels before the Altar, and prays, giving thanks to God for the benefits bestowed upon her; the Priest says:

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Our Father (inaudibly).
[V.] And lead us not into temptation.
[R.] But deliver us from evil.
[V.] O Lord, save Thy handmaid,
[R.] O my God, who putteth her trust in Thee.
[V.] Send her help, O Lord, from Thy holy place.
[R.] And defend her out out of Sion.
[V.] Let not the enemy prevail against her.
[R.] Nor the son of iniquity draw nigh to hurt her.
[V.] O Lord, hear my prayer.
[R.] And let my cry come unto Thee.
[V.] The Lord be with you.
[R.] And with thy spirit.

Let us pray: Almighty, Everlasting God, who, through the Delivery of the Blessed Virgin Mary, hast turned the pains of the faithful at childbirth into joy: look mercifully on this Thy handmaid, who cometh in gladness to Thy temple to offer up her thanks: and grant that after this life, through the merits and intercession of this same Blessed Mary, she may be found worthy to attain, together with her offspring, unto the joys of everylasting happiness. Through Christ our Lord.
[R.] Amen.

Thanksgiving After Childbirth

Gracious God, by whose providence we are made, who formest us in secret, who beholdest us when we are yet imperfect, and in whose book all shall be written: I humbly beseech Thee to accept this my acknowledgment of Thy power, and to receive this my most hearty praise and thanksgiving, which I now offer to Thy divine Majesty, for Thy favor and goodness towards me. Behold, O Lord, what Thine own hands have fashioned; and grant that this infant, which Thou hast made by Thy power, may be preserved by Thy goodness and, through the grace of Thy Holy Baptism, may be made a living member of Thy Church and be carefully brought up to serve Thee in all piety and honesty. Through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Photo: Churching of a Woman in Poughkeepsie, 1953

@adamyoungofficial Adam Young’s new score, The Ascent of Everest, is about Tenzing Norgay (not Norway) and Sir Edmund Hillary’s successful climb up the roof of the world. Often overlooked, Tenzing always insisted, when asked about who it was who reached the summit first, that they climbed as a team – the complete opposite of Edmund who bragged that he alone was the first to the top. 

Edmund considered Everest as an object of conquest, Tenzing, however, saw it as a sacred place, a place to be revered. When Tenzing Norgay reached the top he offered gifts to the mountain as a prayer – objects from him and his family, a humble blue pen from his daughter among them, now left at the bosom of the Earth’s roof.

Dear Moses Mendelssohn: Help, I’ve lost the magic of Christmas!

This is definitely not the weirdest theological cry for help put forward by confused 18th century Christians to famous Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (that prize goes to Pre-Marital Sex Catholic Student) but it is still REASONABLY weird and also pretty sweet. His correspondent Sophie Becker, sister of the clergyman who wrote JUST WANTING A HUG, was a very much non-famous young woman from Latvia who happened to be visiting Berlin. 

ANYWAY HERE’S SOME OF HER LETTER: “You are the first of whom I could believe you would understand me or offer some light where I fail to understand myself. Here I sit alone, and my mind is occupied with so many reflections on man’s fate…Suddenly a Christmas carol resounds in the street. How quickly my whole being is changed! I am a child again, and all the joys of this time that I once experienced reawaken with their religious associations…

These images appeared in such bright colours before my soul, and my involuntary tears seem to lament: They are no longer true! …Dearest friend, how did you manage, with your feeling heart, to overcome the first false religious sentiments without having become in any way colder? Now I cannot comprehend the thought of “God”. I can only admire, be amazed and fall silent when contemplating nature and its maniforld active forces. My prayers no longer become words; for words suggest some thinkable object. My prayers are mere sentiment expressed solely by tears. Hence i find no more taste in public worship and I remain cold when witnessing it.”

AND A BIT OF HIS REPLY: “So far as popular concepts of religion are concerned, it seems to me that the pleasant sentiments they evoke are for the most part, founded upon an underlying truth that has been merely obscured by a false accretion. The omnipresence of God, for example, is over-sensualised in your religion…Yet, truly speaking, we cannot, even according to reason, imagine the deity as present in a sufficiently strong fashion. No anthropomorphism is adequate to communicate to us the enthusiasm that we ought to feel when conceiving of God. Therefore I adhere to popular concepts of religion until my reason is strong enough to furnish a replacement for the loss of those pleasant sentiments. I rejoice in every religious custom that does not lead to intolerance and hatred of men. 

…You say that the philosopher does not pray - at least not aloud or in song, but at most, in thought. Dearest Sophie! When his hour comes and he is attuned to praying, the philosopher will, against his intent, burst into words and song. the most common man, it seems to me, does not sing in order that God may hear him and be pleased with his melodies. We sing for our own sakes, and this the wise man does just as the fool does. Have you ever read the Psalms with this idea in mind?? I would again recommend to you my translation of the Psalms, would I not thereby betray too much of an author’s weakness. This much is certain: the Psalms have sweetened many a bitter hour for me, and I pray and sing them as often as I feel an urge to pray and sing.”