The following link is to the above article by Courtney Weber. Whilst the five points raised are indeed not new (similar articles have appeared over the years), I thought I would share this article as a timely reminder for the novice seeker/neophyte as to what a coven or magickal group is not be considered a substitute for. While I do necessarily agree with all points raised, or indeed the manner or even the style in which they are raised, I do agree with the overall points made.
A coven/magickal group is not:
:: A “replacement family” for your physical family – although the bond within a close knit working group can almost replicate this.
:: A support group – if anything, the Craft (as well as most other magickal groups) focus on taking self responsibility.
:: A replacement for therapy – in many instances this point follows on from the previous one with the focus however being directed more at those who are already seeking professional assistance.
:: A place to get laid – whilst intimate partnerships may occur between members in some groups, this should not be your prime objective for joining a group.
:: A place to validate yourself – if you need external validation all the time, maybe what you actually need is to address your own areas of self worth and self esteem through gaining professional assistance.
I would also add to Weber’s list that a coven or magickal group is not a place to join simply because your friends are and you are suffering a degree of “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Likewise if you are not prepared to pull your weight. There is a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to coven work (usually by the High Priestess/leader). Stepping up and offering assistance moves you from being a spectator to gaining more about what happen behind the scenes, as well as assisting your own knowledge and experience in the work to hand … and after all, is this not why you have joined ….to gain experience and to learn?
A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew, And the young winds fed it with silver dew, And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light. And closed them beneath the kisses of Night.
And the Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
The Sensitive Plant by
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
As the sun moves into the sign of Libra, it gathers in strength and makes its way across the equator to warm the southern part of the earth. Nature echoes the increasing warmth as blossoms burst forth and new growth makes its presence felt. As the sun’s strength increases, so do the visible signs of activity upon the earth’s surface. It is as if, were you to close your eyes for a moment, you would miss the experience of another aspect of creation being reborn all over again.
In areas where the ground was still too cold to plant seeds at Imbolc, or the weather too uncertain, by the Spring Equinox (taking place on 22 September this year), both the soil and weather offer a perfect environment for seed planting.
The hours of darkness and light are equal now. Life appears with great vigour and abundance. There is an urgency in the air, as if life were both trying to make up for the months of delay during winter, and getting all the plants fully established before the heat of summer arrives. Here in South Australia, we can experience extremes in climate with both cold winters on the one hand and stifling hot summers on the other. These Summers can arrive as early as October and last until the end of March – there can be some six months of baking the ground.
Echoing what is occurring in
nature around him, the young God increases not only his strength but also his
knowledge of the role he plays within the sacred Wheel of Life. He realises his potential, his masculine
power and he ventures out into the world, ready to establish his rule and prove
his manhood. He is now mastering his own
Mysteries, that of the Divine Masculine.
His rough-and-tumble childhood games serve little purpose as he matures
into the Hunter/Warrior. Eager to
impress, to make a statement and to announce his arrival, he bounds forth with
great exertion – that is until he is distracted by the sight of his beloved
Under his nose she has blossomed
into a creature of exquisite beauty, shyly toying with him to gain his
attention. However, she is not as naïve as
she may first appear to be. She too has
been schooled in the Mysteries and knows only too well the cycle of life and
the roles that she and her beloved God will play within them.
The Goddess is ready to fulfil her role, to become pregnant in order for life to continue, while the God is holding the potent seed of life itself. The pace quickens. Their eyes meet like in a classic Hollywood romantic movie and the game commences. Both are aware of their own sexuality and their role within the Wheel of Creation.
Florida Water is a popular item from the 19th century still used in modern witchcraft. But what is the history of this magickal item? Who invented it? Why do people use Florida Water and for what purpose? Sometimes, we will use a product because it’s popular to do so without knowing its history, Therefore, I thought I’d take a look at the origins and uses of Florida Water.
Florida Water is a Cologne
Believe it or not, Florida Water got its start as an American answer to Europe’s popular Eau du Cologne in 1808. Florida Water offered a fresh citrus-spice scent, lighter than standard perfume. Considered unisex, the cologne appealed to both men and women of the Victorian era and could be purchased in pharmacies and general stores. A young lady could carry the scent in a sachet on her person. People used the cologne to freshen their sheets, among other things.
Manufactured in New York by Lanman & Kemp Barclay, a company now known as Murray & Lanman, the cologne got its name from Florida’s reputed “Fountain of Youth.” Over time, it became known as a healing tonic, which when applied could reportedly soothe headaches and cool fevers. The company touted it as “The Richest of all Perfumes.” They still craft and sell their cologne to this day, using the original recipe created 211 years ago by Robert I. Murray.
No explanation could be found for how the cologne became perceived as beneficial for health. Perhaps the name of the cologne inspired the belief. However, many of the botanical extracts in the decoction have been used for such reasons for thousands of years. So, it’s unsurprising to me that people would discover the cologne had properties which could support the body. In addition, Florida Water became a popular way to clean the home and freshen the air of a room.
Where Is the Magickal Connection?
The question remains, however, when did magickal practitioners begin to use Florida Water in their workings? Unfortunately, that part of the history is murky. Hoodoo, Santeria, and Wicca have included the cologne in their practices, along with many other magickal practitioners in this country and others, over the years.
When did the transition to include the cologne in esoteric practices occur? Unknown. But there is longstanding tradition for the magickal properties of Florida Water. So, one must conclude shared experience to have been intrinsic in the expansion from simply practical to magickal.
Regardless, this fresh scented cologne is useful for such workings as cleansing and protection. One source states Florida Water is a drawing agent for luck, love, money, etc. Not surprisingly, there is no actual “water” in the traditional preparation and while it is inexpensive to purchase there are many recipes available in books and online for making your own.
Gwyn’s Florida Water Recipe
All of the herbs listed in this recipe are dried. Buy organic when you can. Grow and dry what you are able, if you wish.
1 part orange peel 1 part bergamot 1 part lavender 1 part sage 1 part rose petals 1 part lemongrass 1/2 part bitter orange peel 2 cinnamon sticks 3 whole cloves 3 whole allspice 80 proof Vodka
Place all the herbs in a clean quart glass jar until 3/4 full. Pour vodka over top of the herbs until covered (there should be 1/4 to 1/2 line of vodka above the herbs). Place lid on jar and give a gentle, rolling mix. Place the jar in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks. Check every few days to give a turn and see if the vodka needs to be topped off again (you want to be certain the herbs remain fully covered). After 4 weeks, open jar and strain plant material through a wire mesh into another clean glass receptacle. Store in cool dry place. Use as needed.
What can you do with Florida Water?
You can purchase the original cologne from the creating company. Wear it as a light perfume or aftershave. Add some to the washing machine to freshen the laundry. Put some in the solution you use to wash the floors of your home. There are online sources from which you can purchase Florida Water, offering their own formulations, including our friends at Artes and Craft, Big Liz Conjure, and Box of Reign.
As mentioned, you can make your own version. Experiment. Do some research and give it a try. And remember, while you may be inclined to use water in your recipe (since it’s in the name), Florida Water is a cologne. Using vodka or some other clear alchohol will provide you with a longer shelf life.
Here are suggestions for magickal use:
Spritz it to purify a space before ritual. Add it to bath water for spiritual cleansing before magical working or ritual. Wipe down your altar and/or tools with a cloth after spritzing it with Florida Water. Wash your floors (and walls) with it to remove negativity from the home. Pour some in a bowl as an offering to ancestors and/or house spirits. Use it as a substitute for holy water. Use it to bless a new home. Anoint your head with Florida Water for added protection. Wash your hands with it after dealing with negative people. Use it in a spell to attract something you desire into your life. Anoint your head, neck, heart, and feet when feeling unbalanced.
*Take care to keep out of reach of children or pets.*
The full moon on Saturday 14 September 2019 at 21° Pisces joins Neptune. This full moon brings a test of faith because of Jupiter square Neptune dissapointments. Mars joins this aspect to form a T-square that increases the risk of deception and confusion because of moodiness, anger and impulsive acitons.
The September full moon is also in Constellation Phoenix. The strongest aspect to the full moon is a supportive one to Pluto so this is definitely a full moon for positive transformation and rebirth.
Sun opposite Moon brings your home, family and intimate relationships into sharper focus for the following two weeks of this moon phase. Opposing forces such as work versus home, or what you need versus what you want, create inner tension and external pressures. This can lead to conflict and crises that drain your energy.
The lunar qualities of emotions and instincts reach their peak at a full moon. So use your increased emotional strength and intuition to overcome any relationship challenges. Subconscious awareness allows for an impartial and balanced look at your personal relationships. You will clearly see any relationship dynamics or negative feelings causing disharmony.
The September full moon activates Jupiter square Neptune, the major long term challenging aspect of 2019. It is strengthening towards the last of its three exact aspects this year on 21 September. Given this final square occurs within this two-week moon phase, its effects will be particularly strong.
Jupiter square Neptune brings gullibility, suspicion, and deception that can lead to embarrassment or disappointment. And the T-square with Mars brings moodiness, anger and impulsive actions that increase the risk of delusion and scandal.
With the full moon conjunct Neptune, the emphasis of the full moon September astrology will be on confusion and deception. But Neptune also rules hopes, dreams, and spirituality, and the strongest aspect to the full moon gives great potential here. The powerful influence of Pluto makes this a full moon for positive transformations and rebirth through intense personal interaction and the purging of emotional baggage and destructive behaviours.
A full moon has a relationship to the previous new moon. The new moon on 30 August helped you get in touch with your most passionate desires and share them. It was excellent for starting something new or reenergizing something, especially of a romantic nature.
Be mindful of what you think because your thoughts become your words. Be mindful of what you say because your words become your actions. Words have power, we Witches and Pagans know that. So I want to share with you the most powerful spell that I have learned. It is simple, but kicks quite a punch. This spells contains just one word. The spell is: No.
Take a moment to practice that one, it can be tricky. Go on, I’ll wait…..no.
How was that? Try it again, let the letters roll around on your tongue. What does it feel like to say that magick word? Is this an easy spell for you or do you find yourself struggling to get it out?
Yes, this post is totally about my stuff, but I’m not alone in my challenge to not do all the things. I love teaching and ritual. I thoroughly enjoy all of my side projects. My work is fulfilling. It is lovely to be invited to go out to an event. Of course, I want to say yes to all that is asked of me. FOMO (fear of missing out) is totally a thing. And it’s so easy to just say yes to all the opportunities that cross my path. It feels good to say yes.
But it’s not healthy.
We might feel called to help out a loved one. You might find yourself giving more than you’re getting. You could even discover that you keep saying yes, when you really want to say no. Perhaps you keep saying yes because you are worried if you say no the opportunities will stop? Saying no can be really hard. It’s a word that holds a lot of power and that power can be a little intimidating, especially if we don’t have practice with it.
You don’t want to disappoint anyone. You don’t want to come across as selfish. Maybe you really really want to do it, but it conflicts with a prior commitment. All of these things are and have been true for me. No can feel like you are burning a bridge or shutting a door forever, but the good news is that’s just not true.
Discernment is our most powerful tool. Combine that tool with the power of the spell of no and you become and unstoppable force!
Saying no is about self care. This is a spell of putting your needs first. When you use this simple magickal spell you empower yourself and take control. I’ve been working on this practice for years. I’m far from perfect, but I’m getting better at it every day.
For millennia, all over the world, salt has been considered a protective and cleansing agent, both physically and metaphysically. A salt bowl in your home can absorb water, emit ions, and kill bacteria. Some people like to buy fancy salt lamps for this purpose, but a simple bowl filled with salt can do the trick, too.
1. Choose a Bowl
Choose a bowl to use for your salt bowl. You can go for something plain or fancy — whatever you prefer. I like to use a black soup bowl for the black-and-white contrast. You could use a smaller bowl if you’d like to take up less space.
If you’re going to leave the bowl out for more than a couple of days, I recommend using a non-porous bowl (i.e. not wood). However, if you’re okay with salt penetrating the porous material, and possibly ruining whatever protective cover it has, you can use whatever you wish.
2. Choose a Salt
I like to use natural sun-evaporated sea salt for my salt bowls. If you’re feeling fancy, you can buy some black sea salt, pink Himalayan sea salt, kosher diamond crystal salt, Japanese big-flake salt, or any other kind. If you don’t want to set out a whole dish of that kind of salt, mix the fancy salt with some good old regular sea salt.
3. Add Herbs and Oils, If Desired
Open your cupboards and peruse your spice rack and tea tins. You can add anything to the salt. It will add another aspect of cleansing to the dish.
I like to add juniper berries to my salt bowl because juniper is a protective herb. Add cloves and peppercorns as they are also protective and are known to banish negative energy. I also like to add a few drops of essential oils, like tea tree, lavender, or thieves blend.
Some people like to add garlic, rosemary, rue, bay leaves, and many other protective herbs. Other cultures have been known to cut lemons or limes and set them in the salt.
4. Spell Out Your Intentions
I like to mix everything together with my fingers and speak my intention out loud. I say something like, “May this salt cleanse the energy of my home and protect me from negativity.” If you can go into an altered state at this point, do so. Feel yourself become more cleansed, and align your energy with the purpose of the salt bowl.
5. Set It Out
Place your beautiful salt bowl somewhere in your home. Be conscious of the salt bowl. When you pass by it, use it as a cleanser of your energy. You can push negative energy into the salt bowl, or touch the salt with your hands to ground any errant energy.
Other people like to place salt bowls in the corners of a room. You can also sprinkle salt on your windowsills, as long as a pet won’t jump up there, and as long as the windowsills are not metal, which is susceptible to rusting in salty conditions.
Brighid’s Cross was a symbol derived from ancient solar symbols known from early times in Europe. There were several regional forms but none resemble the classic Christian cross. The crosses were made from straw, sheaves of grain, rushes, or grass, depending on the region of origin. They were hung in the house and farm buildings as protection against illness and other misfortune.
In the Scottish Highlands, women also made Brighid crosses before a wedding and placed one in the mattress of the marriage bed to ensure fertility.
Making the crosses themselves was a ritual. The exact procedure varied and in some places the crosses were made ahead of time to be distributed as part of the bríde óg procession. But in most places in Ireland, they weaving material was ceremonially brought into the house and laid under the table where the feasting would occur. After the meal, the household created the crosses. A farmer might also make circlets to hang round the necks of lambs as they were born. Any leftover materials were used to create a bed for Brigid or sprinkled in the byre for good luck. The crosses were hung the next day.
To make a Brighid’s Cross, you will need about 28 reed, each approximately 30 cms in length.
Position two reeds across each other so that they make a “+” sign. Turn the weave 90 degrees and fold the vertical reed down over the top of itself. Turn the weave 90 degrees again to repeat with the now vertical reed. Turn the reeds again 90 degrees and add the third reed, placing it to the right of the vertical folded reed and under the horizontal folded reed. Fold thee added reed, turning the weave once again to add the fourth and final reed to this round in the same fashion.
Continue to add folded reed. Avoid letting them bunch up or lie on top of those in a previous round. Build the weave outward, resting the reeds side by side. At first, you may find it difficult to hold the arms together and at right angles, but as the weave gains substance, this will prove easier. Just remember to watch for gaps and fill them by repositioning and tightening the reeds as necessary.
When all 28 reeds have been incorporated, tie each arm off about 6cms from the centre of the design. Trim the ends of the reeeds and threads.
As the reeds dry, the cross will become loose. To remedy this, untie the ends, pull the reeds tight again before retying.
Brat Bríde The brat or cloak or mantle of Brigid was a ribbon, piece of cloth, or an article of clothing. They were left outside on the evening before the feast of Imbolc to receive the blessing of Brigid as she passed through the household. After wards, the cloths and ribbons were used as talismans of protection and healing, particularly aiding childbirth. Ribbons and strips of cloth were sewn into clothing or carried in a pocket. Articles of clothing were worn in times of stress and need; for example, a woman might wear a man’s vest while giving birth. Shawls that had been blessed might be laid on ailing human or animal while a prayer of healing was recited.
Críos Bríde The críos or girdle of Brigid was a rope of plaited straw or rope three or four meters long and formed into a circle held vertically aloft while those gathered ritually passed through, reciting a charm. The ceremony appears to have symbolized regeneration.
Imbolc is taken from the Irish-Gaelic which is translated as “in the belly” (of the mother) and falls around 8 August in the Southern Hemisphere (when the sun moves into 15 degrees Leo). It represents the quickening of light and life and around us we begin to notice the first stirrings of spring as the first flowers begin to appear. These seeds have lain dormant within the earth over the cold winter months now begin to stir with life. All around us there is evidence of the earth’s slow awakening to the growing power of the sun, and we may find in ourselves this awakening as we venture more and more outdoors.
Being a festival of fire, Imbolc celebrates the light of spring piercing the darkness of winter. As new life flows through the world of nature, we celebrate the waking of the soul as our spirits begin to quicken. Now is the time look toward the future.
In contemporary witchcraft lore, at Imbolc the Goddess awakes from her slumber in the Underground and emerges youthful, bright eyed and virginal again. She is the Flower Maiden and while there is an air of innocence about Her, this is coupled with a degree of knowing, similar to retaining knowledge of a past life. She is aware of Her powers of potential and is unrestrained and full of the energy of youth. There is an air of innocent about Her, however She is not naive. It is the young God who tends to be the naive one, as He begins to understand His sacred purpose and is initiated into the mysteries of His sex.
Imbolc is a good time to contemplate what needs to take root and grow in our life, and what to be swept away in order to make room for our new plans. In doing this, it is a good idea to sit down and ponder on some searching questions, to get in touch with what is seeking the light of day within us and to be prepared to let go of anything outworn. However, it is best to proceed cautiously for it is a time to design and plan, to dig foundations rather than to build. Imbolc is the glimmering of the year’s increase, but only the first glimmering for, as in nature, the weather can still change and nip new life in the bud.
Imbolc is a good time also to cleanse ritual tools, consecrate items we have not consecrated yet, and even rearrange the altar. Add a small vase of spring flowers or a fresh white candle to capture the essence of Imbolc.
Source: Dancing the Sacred Wheel by Frances Billinghurst (TDM Publishing)
Gathering around the Cauldron meetups are specifically designed for novices to explore the practices and philosophies of magic, ritual and contemporary wytchcraft, as well as providing those who may have read a few books to gain experience by putting this knowledge into practical application.
The underlying emphasis of what will be shared during the Gathering around the Cauldron meetups will be placed on the Southern Hemisphere.
During the meetups, participants will:
:: Gain personal experience in creating a sacred space.
:: Be guided through magickal pathworkings and visualisations.
:: Work in accordance with the seasonal Southern Wheel of the Year.
:: Raise and work with energy.
:: Connect with Deity.
and much more.
Gathering around the Cauldron will be held on Thursday, 8 and 22 August, 12 September, and 14 and 28 November 2019 (7.30pm to 9.30pm).
Bookings are essential as there are limited places available. Reserve your place free through Eventbrite.
If you have booked a place then for whatever reason cannot attend, it is considered polite to let us know.
Venue: Temple of the Dark Moon covenstead, Parafield Gardens
Cost: $20 per fortnight (payable on the night)
The concept of a Queen of Witches is not new to modern traditional witchcraft. When investigating this concept from a historical perspective many common themes begin to arise, and we see the fluid stream of polytheistic syncretism. Certain names and themes circulate around this concept, shedding light on the transformative nature of pagan deities. They are not fixed in concrete and steel like the gods of modern society, but ever changing and growing like the roots of a tree, branching out above and below. For me, the Queen of the Witches is the chthonic aspect of the mother goddess embodied in the fertile earth. She draws her fertility from the dark rich soil, feeding the lifeforms of the surface. She is one of the elder gods. A nameless primal archetype of early humanity who has overtime assumed multiple forms, names and identities based on the people perceiving her.
Within the school of Traditional Witchcraft there are a handful of recurring deities that are linked in the historical procession of the primordial witch goddess; such recurring names as: Diana, Herodias, Habondia, Frau Holda and others help us piece together the etymology of the original goddess. I am generally focused on those figures found within the folklore of the British Isles and Germany via the Holy Roman Empire. Within this spectrum the earliest sources are traced back to Greece and Rome from which these themes disseminated originally. Witchcraft scholars seem particularly interested in the goddess Diana. Historical sources show that her veneration continued well into the Christian era. Her origins, like many others begin in ancient Greece before making their way to the Roman pantheon. It was a Roman custom to create composite deity names for various situations for example the Roman Juno-Lucina began as Hera-Diana in Greece. It is here that historian Carlo Ginzburg, in his famous Ecstacies, points out that the original nomenclature was written and transcribed as Hera-Diana. The Church seeking to associate goddess worship with diabolism used this as an opportunity to distort the original theme. Hera-Diana was transcribed as Hero-Diana to associate her with the biblical figure Herodias. This was reinforced at the ironically named Council of Truer in 1310, which set Herodiana next to Diana to perpetuate this distortion.
Herodias, Erodiade, and Aradia
According to the research of Raven Grimassi; “the appearance of Herodias, as a biblical figure, in connection with a goddess of witchcraft is an intentional displacement of deity figures.” (Herodias in Witchcraft) Initially it seems as though the close spelling between these two different names is what resulted in the distortion, however it played into the goal of the Church to dismiss the validity and reality of Dianic worship. This allowed church officials to connect the pagan figure Hera-Diana with the Biblical figure Herodiana or Herodias, and the Italian translation of Erodiade into one cohesive idea. The story of Herodias begins in the New Testament, much like the Old Testament’s Jezebel another wicked woman of the Bible. Herodias is known for her role in having John the Baptist beheaded for criticizing her marriage. She is depicted as one of the Bible’s many wicked women, in association with witches.
Erodiade (Herodias) remained part of Italian folklore prior to Charles Godfrey Leland and his popularization of the name Aradia. According to folklorist Sabina Magliocco, Aradia was a supernatural figure of Italian folklore that was widely known prior to the publication of the Gospel of the Witches, which wasn’t published until 1899. It seems that it is a common trend for the early Church to graft itself onto local folklore by creating Biblical connections with the intention of converting pagans, however in retrospect it seems that this only insured the survival of these entities by facilitating their transition into the new religious paradigm. Papal proclamations and decisions made in councils would determine the Church’s official stance on these issues.
Diana, as the Queen of Witches
There are a handful of female deities that most fully embody the power of the mother goddess and the craft of the witch. Diana, and her many counterparts and consorts are known for leading her followers on the winding path of spiritual discovery and personal power. The Church also recognized this powerful embodiment in the form of Diana, attesting to her connection to the Unseen. Their goal, after hundreds of years of polytheistic goddess veneration, was to convince people that Diana was an illusion created by the Devil to lead the unsuspecting away from God. By introducing the concept of deception, Church officials attempt to dismiss the validity of Dianic worship. They condemn those who believe in such illusions, however those who believe witchcraft itself is an illusion are even more deceived according to the Church. Church doctrine at the time explicitly warns of women who follow Satan, fly at night and worship Diana as found in the Canon Episcopi.
The four main points of the Canon Episcopi are outlined in the infamous Witch hunter’s manual, the Malleus Maleficarum. The first and most important of these main points is that there is only one true God and no other should be worshipped except for him. The second point mentions Diana specifically as the goddess of the pagans; it points out that she is actually the devil in disguise using glamour to deceive people. The third point continues to discuss the devil’s power of illusion, by making followers think that are flying long distances, it is actually another glamour used by the Devil. The fourth and final point again mentions Diana by name. It states that real witches make a pact with the Devil and must obey him in word and deed. The canon also encompasses all and every act of witchcraft which are many and diverse. It also states that real witches are doing much more than worshipping Diana and flying at night. It is suggested that the Canon should be extended because, “witches do much more than these women, and are of a very different kind.” I believe this quote from the Malleus Maleficarum is an example of the distinction between pagan folk practices and actual witchcraft, which was a common nuance at the time.
The image of the Queen of Witches has taken many forms over the millennia. The power to assume these cross-cultural forms is unique to the elder gods of our nameless tradition. Sects of night flying witches were known to ride with various ancestral goddesses. As the goddess of life, death, and rebirth; she presides over all aspects of our existence. She is the primordial mother of the Underworld beckoning the souls of the dead back to her embrace. According to many traditional witches, the Queen of Elfhame or goddess of witchcraft as she is known, is a counterpart to the Master of the Wild Hunt.(Craft of the Horned Piper, 17-20) During the winter months from Samhain to Yule the Wild Hunt or Furious Horde led by the Horned One and his Queen, are known across Europe for guiding the souls of the dead across the sky. Both assuming different aspects during the dark and light halves of the year.