Wytch Bottles as Countermagical Devices Through History

In 2016 Kerry Sullivan wrote a rather interesting article about the history and use of Wytch’s Bottles. Considering the first workshop for 2020 that the Temple of the Dark Moon will be offering in our “Practical Crafting” series is on Making Your Wytch’s Protection Bottle, I thought I would include part Sullivan’s article. Please click on the link above to read the article in its entirety.

According to Sullivan, witchcraft was deemed a serious threat in 16th and 17th century Europe, and court records attest to the terror evoked by suspected sorcery. Judges gave serious consideration to the danger posed by wytches, and many were hanged for it. One case, found at the Old Bailey (London, England), records a man testifying that his wife has been subject to the ill machinations of a local witch. The judge, understanding the severity of the man’s dilemma, gives him clear advice to visit an apothecary and create a witch bottle to turn the curse back on the witch that cast it. Magick was a genuine source of fear and trepidation and wytch bottles were seen as one of the best means of defense.

Wytch bottles are stoneware containers that contained a wide variety of materials believed to have specific effects if properly prepared. In particular, they were used as both counter-magical devices for those already suffering from a wytch’s curse and as prophylactic to protect the maker from negative or evil elements.  The earliest known written mention of a witch bottle comes from a book of witchcraft written in England in 1680. However, bottles have been found dating as far back as the early 1500s.

German Bellarmine Jugs were often used as “Wytch’s Bottles”.

The tradition is believed to have started in Germany around the time of the Protestant Reformation. Bottled spells are believed to have traveled to the New World with English immigrants. Researchers have noted that witch bottles tended to proliferate during times of intense social anxiety, for example during the witch hunts of the 17th century. Wytches were widely blamed whenever ill health or misfortune struck a person. Wytch bottles were not only meant to heal the afflicted but also to send the curse back to the casting wytch and hopefully kill them.

When created for counter-magical purposes, a witch bottle often contained nails, pins, herbs, and samples of the afflicted, such as urine or hair. In the Old Bailey case mentioned above, the apothecary advised the man to prepare a potion of his wife’s urine, nail clippings, and hair, combining the materials in a pot of water and boiling it. Boiling was a key part of counter-magical efforts, as it was believed to help reverse the curse. Another key ingredient, if you could get it, was sulfur. “If you think about where sulfur came from in those days, it spewed out of volcanic fumaroles from the underworld. It would have been the ideal thing to [kill] your wytch, if you wished to” said Brian Hoggard, an independent expert on British witchcraft who helped researchers understand a sealed witch bottle found in London in 2004.

Wytch bottles could also be used to invite good fortune. A common love spell called for a handful of dried and crushed flower petals (preferably from flowers given by a lover), rosemary and lavender (for love and strength), and rosewater. The cork would then be sealed with red or pink wax and set in a place where it would not be seen or disturbed.

If making your own wytch’s bottle to protect your home (or car) is something that interests you, then on Sunday, 23 February 2020 the Temple of the Dark Moon is holding a workshop on Making Your Wytch’s Protection Bottle. This workshop also falls on the eve of the dark moon, which relates to our rebirthing as we unfurl us out from the depths and emerge from the Underworld of emotion into new potentialities.

All materials are provided. Bookings are essential as there are limited places available. See the above link for more information.

Harm None, But Take No Sh*t (Mat Auryn)

One of the most misunderstood ethics found within contemporary witchcraft is what is defined as the “Wiccan Rede”. While space does not allow for me to go into great depths here, it is a topic that I regularly address in all training circles I run and which takes up a full chapter in my forthcoming book Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magickal Life (due for release this year). The following excerpt is from an article by Mat Auryn where touches on this subject through observing the increased interest in cursing. His full article can be found here.

Image Credit: Evgeniia Litovchenko | Standard License

Recently I had the honor of appearing on Madame Pamita’s “Live Magic Q&A.” Madame Pamita is one of my favorite humans ever and I had no idea what kind of questions were going to be asked, so it went into some really interesting topics. One of the topics discussed [referring to a Q&A with Madame Pamita’s “Live Magic Q&A”, an Los Angeles based tarot reader, rootworker, author, and YouTube channel host] related to cursing and hexing. My views on this topic are not as clear cut as that of a lot of other people. Being pro-curse is trendy these days, to the point where it should probably concern any serious magickal practitioner. I think this is in response to decades of having the “three-fold law” and shallow interpretations of “harm none” shoved down our throats. The topic of cursing is something that I think needs a more balanced consideration. The following are some of my thoughts on the topic. How you choose to incorporate or disregard these perspectives is up to you. You do you, Witch.

What particularly concerns me the eagerness that some are ready to curse others over trivial matters. For example, I recently saw someone on social media post about something really rude that a stranger said to them. The immediate response was a flood of people saying that he should curse the person to teach them a lesson. It genuinely makes me wonder if these people actually believe in the power of magick and what it can do, or if they’re completely void of empathy and remorse for other people. I wouldn’t go and stab someone because they hurt my ego or feelings. Sometimes the coin to pay for cursing is watching the curse unfold, which is why I give myself a three-day rule to calm down before I decide to even attempt malefica—to which I 90% of the time decide not to once I’ve calmed down and am thinking a bit more clearly – and think of more strategic ways to solve the problem then running to the magickal equivalent of violence.

One of the examples I gave to illustrate this while talking to Pamita was discussing the movie The Craft, a childhood favorite. I give this example because it’s similar to what I experienced when I was more curse-happy earlier on in my path. In the movie, Rochelle (played by Rachel True) places a curse on her racist school bully where her hair starts falling out. Rochelle’s coin to pay wasn’t going bald herself or anything like that. The coin she pays is shown when she sees the racist bully sobbing in the shower as her hair is falling out and we can see the remorse in Rochelle’s face as she realizes that even for someone like this bully, what she did to this person was cruel.

I do believe that there may be appropriate times to curse, hex, and bind during desperate circumstances—just as there are situations where you would use violence for self-defense when attacked. I am not against aggressive magick if done responsibly and willing to accept the price that action costs. I also think you should be well versed in defensive magick before you even attempt using magick as an offense. That being said, it’s important not to underestimate the power of magick, especially the consequences of cursing. Some will state that there’s no repercussions to performing cursing or binding but that defies everything we know about the world and nature. Everything we do, including mundane acts such as things we say, actions we take, and decisions we make have an effect based on that cause. Why would magick be any different?

This does not mean that our magick is going to come back on us threefold necessarily, but there are consequences to everything we do in life. Unless we think magick is somehow exempt from the way everything else in the universe functions and is seen as a completely un-natural, which I don’t. I often wonder what effect all this cursing and hexing is carrying out in the world through the chain of cause and effect like the butterfly effect. I don’t personally have an answer for that.

Another thing that I bring up with Pamita is my belief that every act of magick we engage in changes us in one way or another. That change either puts us into more alignment with our True Will or it distances ourselves from it. However, True Will is going to differ in what it looks like from person to person. But we aren’t going to discover our True Will if we’re throwing ourselves out of alignment.

I think ethics are personal when it comes to magick, but something we should definitely meditate upon if we want to grow as occultists, humans, and a collective species. Until then, the only moral guidepost I have for myself is what I feel is the occult’s version of the Golden Rule. It’s from the brilliant (though problematic) Aleister Crowley who wrote that “Love is the law, love under Will.” This means that our truest purpose for existence is to carry out our True Will and to have that in alignment with Universal Divine Will. To understand Divine Will, we have to understand that it involves love and a desire for unison. When we curse others out of the mentality of aggression against “otherness”, we’re cursing ourselves on one level because at the core we’re all one and we’re affecting one another, like cells attacking other cells within a body.

“IT IS WRITTEN that ‘Love is the law, love under will.’ Herein is an Arcanum concealed, for in the Greek Language [Agape], Love, is of the same numerical value as [Thelema], Will. By this we understand that the Universal Will is of the nature of Love. Now Love is the enkindling in ecstacy of Two that will to become One. It is thus an Universal formula of High Magick. For see now how all things, being in sorrow caused by dividuality, must of necessity will Oneness as their medicine… Understand now that in yourselves is a certain discontent. Analyse well its nature: at the end is in every case one conclusion. The ill springs from the belief in two things, the Self and the Not-Self, and the conflict between them. This also is a restriction of the Will. He who is sick is in conflict with his own body: he who is poor is at odds with society: and so for the rest. Ultimately, therefore, the problem is how to destroy this perception of duality, to attain to the apprehension of unity.
– Aleister Crowley, “De Lege Libellum

But if that unity is threatened, or the True Will is being restricted, would cursing be acceptable? That’s a question I think every practitioner should meditate on and decide for themselves. Remember that for Arjuna his dharma is to be a warrior and to fight in a war. In that vein, magick is often seen as a tool of the oppressed to balance the playing field towards justice, as we see in the mythopoetic Aradia.

But when do we truly know that we’re just when it comes to personal slights? For example, two lovers who divorce are usually going to vilify the other in their perspective and experience. That’s much harder to judge than say, the marginalization of a group of people using political power to do so. When do we step from oppressed to oppressor and start taking on their tools and inflicting it upon others? When do we become different versions of the monsters that we’re fighting? My opinion is to ask yourself if the magick you are going to cast is justified and going to bring more balance or throw things out of balance in life.

Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters

This coming Saturday evening (18 January) will see the annual Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters ritual held down at Grange, Adelaide. For over ten years I have lead a special beach side rite honouring the Yorùbá Orisha or Goddess of the living ocean Yemaya (also spelt Yemoja and Iemoja). Normally it takes place around the first Full Moon of the calendar year. However, due to personal commitments, it is taking place a week later.  After experiencing a run of extremely hot weather, Adelaide is forecasted temperatures around the mid 20Cs, bringing with it the anticipation of it being a rather pleasant evening.

Originally from West Africa where her name means “Mother whose children are like fish”, Yemaya is the owner of the Ogun River and a lake named for her.  As the African diaspora occurred, Yemaya traveled with her children to the Americas and Caribbean, where the Mother of Waters became known as Mother of Oceans. 

Being an “open” ritual, everyone is most welcome to participate in this event which will include a water blessing that included part of a prayer from Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Thanh.  After all the great waterways of the world are honoured, participants will be invited to empower their offerings with their desire which will then be presented Yemaya.

The standard offering to Yemaya is the sea-shell as this was the first gift she gave humans so that her voice could always be heard. Flowers (preferably white) are also welcomed, as is champagne, molasses, even pebbles and melon.  All offerings will be cast into the sea for Yemaya.

Slices of watermelon (sacred to Yemaya) will be shared amongst participants after a libation is given to the Goddess of the waters, the seas, the oceans and the rivers.

Water is such a precious gift that we often take for granted. Australia is currently facing an environmental crisis that is sparked from lack of water for such a long period of time, resulting in raging bush fires. There are also a growing number of communities without fresh and clean drinking water, a basic yet vitally important, necessity.

If you would like to join me on the 18th, then gather on the grassed area along the forefront in front of the Grange Hotel (look for the purple banner) by 8:00pm. Shortly after that time I will be heading down to the shore and will be commencing the rite around 8:20pm.

With respect to the recent bushfires, gold coin donations will be collected for the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to help with veterinary costs, koala milk and supplements, extra holding/rehabilitation enclosures, etc. 

Aboriginal rock art at Akurra Adnya, Flinders Ranges, South Australia (Photography by Peter Hodge)

** I have been asked in recent times why I do not honour a local Aboriginal deity. As far as I am aware the local Kaurna people (whose traditional lands include Adelaide and the Adelaide plains) do not appear to have a deity associated with rain. The closest is Akurra, the great serpent of the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Ranges, who is sometimes referred to as the rainbow serpent. There is also the snake-god, the Wollunqua, the mythical ancestor of the Wollunqua clan in the Warramunga nation (northern Central Australia).

Intention Isn’t Everything (Mat Auryn)

Making Magick Salts

One of the statements I hear a lot from other witches is the idea that “intention is everything” when it comes to magick. But is it really? As occultists one of our aims is to always better our craft with precision and become better occultists. While intention is an important ingredient in a spell, it shouldn’t be confused with the idea of will, which I feel is more important. Semantics? Totally. As witches we learn to work with the subtle, looking at subtle energies as well as slight differences of concepts to help us fine-tune our workings. As witches we understand the power of words, particularly the power of using the right words. If intention were everything, there would be little point to studying and learning to properly employ magick. We could simply buy a copy of The Secret and have a life full of everything we dreamed of.

The problem with intention is that it is vague. Intention is a ambiguously desired outcome. Intention says “I want you to be happy”, “I want a new job”, “I want a new relationship”. But as the old proverb says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Intention is good because it arouses desire within us and gets our gears in motion. Intention is more of a wish. However, intention can stop right there without will. We may even manifest our desire in a way that makes us more miserable. You could get a new job you hate, an abusive relationship or someone else may find the happiness you intend them to by losing all contact with you. You can intend to bake a cake, that doesn’t mean you’re ever going to bake a cake. It means you mean to, not that you will.

Contrary to intention, will is not a wish but rather a command. While I believe that will is birthed from intention, to will something is to tolerate nothing less than success of the desired goal. Will is a contract with the self. It sets a laser-like focus on what we wish to accomplish and how we are to achieve it. It creates a plan regarding which spirits we will petition, which actions we will take and has an undying persistence about it. Unlike intention, will does not tolerate disbelief of others, self-doubt or other energetic factors which can derail it’s outcome.

Many witches end their workings with the phrase “So mote it be” which I have observed has come to replace the idea of saying “Amen” to a prayer among many witches, but it definitely is not. While “amen” has a similar meaning, it’s often said as just a response without focus on what the word means. “So mote it be” is an anachronistic phrase meaning “so must it be” or “so it is required”. It is a command of will. We don’t end our spellwork with saying “I hope this happens” or “I wish this will come about”. It is through will that we are utilizing the sovereignty of the witch and demanding the universe to bend and shift to our command to fulfill the desire that intention aroused.

Source:
Puck’s Sake (29 April 2017)

Mat’s website: Mat Auryn – Psychic Witch

Kangaroo Island Bushfire Appeal

Green Wattle Creek blaze (Matrix News)

In recent months various parts of Australia have found itself engulfed with horrendous bushfires. While this Southern sunburnt land is no stranger to such fires, in fact they are part of the natural cycle, what is happening has been described as the worst bushfire season in modern history. Not only has it arrived early, but the ferociousness is causing a great deal of alarm, not to mention fires have devastated rare and enchanting wildlife as ‘permanently wet’ forests burn for first time.

While fires in various parts of the country had been burning for many months in 2019, it was the dramatic intensity that these fires took in late December. Since that time, the fires have continued burning, often at an uncontrollable rate, causing widespread destruction across Australia.

It has been estimated that some 12.35 million acres of land has so far been burnt across the country – that is about one and a half times to the size of Austria, or nearly the size of North Carolina, or Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland together! Some 1,200 homes in Victoria and New South Wales alone having been destroyed, and the smoke affecting air quality in New Zealand some 4,155 odd kilometres away.

South Australia, where the Temple of the Dark Moon is based, has not been excluded. There has been a horrendous fire in the Adelaide Hills area, and nearly two thirds of Kangaroo Island, south of Adelaide, which is renown for its wildlife, has been affected. As such, the Temple of the Dark Moon has decided to donated a percentage received from all events over the coming months to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, including all donations connected at the upcoming Yemaya Blessing of the Waters event on Saturday, 18 January 2020 at Grange Beach.

Koalas in a home in Cudlee Creek, South Australia, after being rescued from fires. Photograph: Adam Mudge/AP

Kangaroo Island is well known for its thriving koala population however over 150,000 hectares has been lost due to the recent fires which will effect the koala population dramatically. The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park has received a lot of concerned phone calls and messages regarding the impacted wildlife from these fires. They have started to see a large number of injured koalas, along with other native species heavily impacted by this event. Funds raised will go towards veterinary costs, koala milk and supplements, extra holding/rehabilitation enclosures, as well as setting up a building to hold supplies to treat these animals.

More information can be found through the Go Fund Me page for wildlife park.

Contact details for other organisations are:

Visions mark a New Way Forward

As this current calendar year draws to a close, to brings to an end a rather “interesting” (to say the least) year for the Temple of the Dark Moon.

This year saw the first Outer Court training circle in five years commence that delivered more challenges than the initial desired result. As such, the Temple will be taking all of the Southern summer off, instead of commencing at Lughnasadh, as what has been the norm. This will mean that no teaching on the Craft will be offered until April, the end of Autumn, when Gathering Around the Cauldron will commence on Thursday, 2 April 2020 and continue throughout the year on a monthly basis.

Between now and April, there will still be a number of events being offered, including the annual Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters that is held at Grange beach, Adelaide, as well as new practical crafting workshops on Spells, Amulets and Talismans held on Saturday, 15 February 2020 that will provide in-depth information on various highly effective techniques of spell casting as well as the purposes of using an amulet or talisman. Then on Sunday, 2 February 2020, the ever popular Making a Protection Bottle will be held.

April will also see the commencement of a six part exploration of the Tree of Life glyph that is found within ceremonial magick in the Climbing the Tree of Life series from Thursday, 16 April 2020, which will be nicely complimented with a ten part mediation series of corresponding Qabalistic archangels on Thursday evenings from 7 April 2020.

As with all events offered by the Temple of the Dark Moon, save for the Yemaya: Blessing of the Waters, it is essential to book as there are limited places available.

At this current time, there is no desire to recommence the Outer Court training circle. Those attendees who participated in the 2019 Outer Circle are fully aware of what is required of them should they wish to complete this training. My own personal commitments and focus for the new year will initially be on finalising the manuscripts of two books (including the long awaited Encountering the Dark Goddess) ready for publication.

Making the most of Mid Summer

With the South Pole of the Earth now tilted towards the sun, those of us residing south of the equator are approaching Mid Summer, the Summer Solstice, the time of when the hours of light are greatest.  However as I write, this, I am listening to the rain on my roof and thunder rolling across the sky.  But that is okay, the garden is greatful in receiving whatever rain is about at this time of the year as fruit and vegetables approach being ready to harvest.  I have also checked the long range forecast which assures me that the storms will have passed and it will in fact be a pleasant evening for when we celebrate the Summer Solstice in our sacred circle.

Now is the time to make the most of the strength of the sun’s power. The energy of the Summer Solstice can be harnessed for tackling seemingly insolvable problems, or bringing to light much needed answers that have been hidden in the darkness. 

As the sun is often considered to be a “male” symbol (whereas the moon is often perceived as female), the energy available can also be of benefit to address issues such as male potency.  Issues such as career, maximising opportunities as they present themselves, self-confidence and even inner power for anyone approaching middle age can also benefit from harnessing the power of the sun.

In the popular Rider Waite tarot deck, the 19th card is that of the Sun, depicting a naked child riding a white horse, holding a red standard, under an anthropomorphized sun, with sunflowers in the background.  The red of the standard is considered to represent the blood of renewal while the smiling sun represents accomplishment.  This is associated with attained knowledge.  the conscious mind prevails over the feares and illusions of the unconscious.  Innocence is renewed through discovery, bringing hope for the future.  It reflects happiness and contentment, vitality, self- confidence and success.

The Summer Solstice is a time to reflect on the growth of the season – not only the seeds that have been planted within the earth but also those planted within our own souls.  It is also a time of cleansing and renewal, a time of celebrating creativity in all its many expressions, as well as joyous love and growth that surrounds us.

Summer Solstice
(by Cheryl Ban, 1998)
Brown earth lay blanketed beneath
the weight of white snow
People hold within their heart
the promise of light
Light that overcomes the night
Igniting fire
That burns a hole
all the way to the hot dry summer fields
The hope that the light holds in winter
becomes in summer
the knowing of the sun’s pathway back again
We poise on the edge of these great turnings
Balanced night and day
Ah for a moment …

Revealing the Secrets of Witchcraft (Storm Faerywolf)

In his “Modern Witch” blog (18 November 2019), Storm Faerywolf explored the secrets of witchcraft, in particular the Faery tradition, of which he has been an initiated since 2002, and currently holds the Black Wand of a Faery Master. Many of the points Storm talks about could also be applied to contemporary witchcraft, which is why it has been duplicated here. Please visit Storm’s blog and web site, and subscribe to his podcast for more information about his work and that of the Faery tradition.

Witchcraft is a practice filled with secrets. But what exactly are they? Are they forbidden rituals opening doors to storehouses of unimaginable knowledge and power? Are they arcane words and symbols that can be used to influence outcomes, bless one’s allies, or even blight one’s enemies? Are they the secrets of which herbs and plants will lull the mind to sleep, or grant visions of true love? Maybe they are the closely guarded names of ancient spirits, bound to service through occulted machinations stretching back through a lineage of practitioners, each of whom have been entrusted with this knowledge under pain of oath? What spells and barbarous words have been painstakingly kept from public view, lest their power become diluted, corrupted, or abused? Perhaps this knowledge is best kept out of the hands of those who would seek such power for themselves and kept only by those who can fully understand their context and treat them as sacred. The witch knows how to keep silent, passing secrets down only to others of their kind, in lineages and witch-families since the beginning of time.

Or so the story sometimes goes.

In other stories the witch is the ultimate revealer of secrets. If you think about it, most of a witch’s job is discovering nature’s secrets for themselves… working to understand the hidden mechanisms behind what we think of as reality. It is looking beyond what we can see and touch and delving deep into the inner workings and relationships between things in order to better understand how they work together. And with that understanding, comes the faint possibility of being able to influence those connections in order to bring about a desired result.

Modern religious Witchcraft is sometimes described as a “mystery tradition”. It is not uncommon for some members to patrol the edges of their systems, guarding the secrets that lie therein. They might even use deliberate misdirection and outright false information to discourage non-members from learning too much too soon. Here we might begin to see the all-too-common conflation between mystery and secrecy; the former being the indescribable experiential core of a path, while the latter covers material specific to the particular ritual, group, coven, lineage, or tradition. Secrets must be guarded. Mysteries take care of themselves.

But why do we even keep secrets? What purpose does it serve? Before I was initiated, I might have thought that certain secrets were kept in order to prevent the ignorant from causing harm, and indeed this reason is often cited in defense of ritual secrecy. Sort of like the occult equivalent of guarding the nuclear codes, many groups profess possession of knowledge so dangerous that it threatens the very safety of the world. Or at least one’s own health and sanity.

Another reason often cited for the practice of ritual secrecy is that it helps to maintain and deepen a relationship with the groups’ egregore or “group mind” in a way that is both personal and profound. Here is where we begin to see the practice of secrecy being used as a magical device. When practiced in this way, secrecy can be a tool that creates a sense of intimacy and this helps to create a sense of energetic connection that is vital to the continued magical development of a group and its members. This might include specific symbols or ritual steps needed in order to make contact with a particular spirit or to grant access to a specific astral temple.

Secrecy can also be a tool that helps certain teachings “carry more weight”. When a secret is revealed in the context of a ritual, the revelation can be deeply moving in a way that simply conveying it as pure information might not be. The element of surprise is often utilized in occult ritual for this purpose, as it helps to further internalize the symbol or teaching.

With several years’ experience as an initiated member of a witchcraft tradition that practices ritual secrecy, I can say with confidence that secrecy in the Craft works best, in my opinion, as a personal devotion. Instead of actively trying to prevent others from learning our secrets, I simply choose to keep certain things private as part of my internal practice. I keep them secret –not necessarily to keep them away from anyone—but to keep them inside myself as a special, cherished thing. This empowers my relationship to the material and in turn makes it even more powerful for me. That power is not diminished if someone learns the secret, but neither does that release me from my practice with it. There are things that I have pledged to keep secret that are already “out there” in the public eye. But even when something that I keep secret becomes known to others I don’t suddenly give up on my internal practice. Secrecy becomes less about trying to keep others OUT… and more about trying to keep the message IN. When we restructure our relationship to secrecy in this way, I feel that we make a huge leap forward in terms of our overall mental and magical health. Whatever we decide, once we are clear about why we are keeping certain things secret, then we will have a healthier relationship to those secrets, our traditions, the mysteries, and each other.

by Storm Faerywolf

Summer Time House Protection Charm

Summer in Australia can be a rather difficult time of the year to get through, especially as the soaring temperatures often mean the threat of bush fires. Even the proposed respite of a cool change can often mean more danger as the approaching winds fan the flames. With the official summer season only having commenced just over two weeks ago, the Australian “purification season” has arrived early as parts of New South Wales and Queensland have been aflame since early September.

This ancient land upon which we live has long sought cleansing and the clearing out of the old in order to make way for the new through fire. In fact, many of our native plants only germinate through the scorching flames.  The Aboriginal people understood this and used to start small bushfires to clear the fallen bark, dried twigs and dead bushes. These fires were slow-burning and the native bush quickly regenerated after the heat of the fire. This practice also helped to prevent larger and more destructive fires, especially as the native eucalyptus gum trees contains an oil within their leaves that is susceptible to bushfires, making them burn faster and hotter.

When I read Starhawk’s book The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Natural Rhythms of the Earth (HarperOne, 2005), what struck me were the similarities between where she lived in northern California, and where I live in Australia. As such, when I wrote Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats, I sought permission to include an adaptation of a ritual that focused on protecting one’s home from bushfires. This ritual can be found on page 168 within the chapter dedicated to “Lughnasadh”, the Sabbat more often associated with bush fires – yet, as we have seen (and are seeing this year) there are always exceptions to the rules.

In light of what is currently occurring in various areas around Australia, I include the excerpt of this rite in the hope that even the visualisations may assist anyone who finds themselves in danger of purification through fire.

Visualise the boundary of the land that you wish to protect. Invoke the elements, reflecting on each in turn in their natural environment. Feel the air on your skin as a natural cool breeze; visualise the waters as the most immediate water source (this could be St Vincent Gulf or the Murray River, etc); try and understand the element of fire as an integral part of the landscape, regardless of the danger it brings in the middle of Summer. Feel the earth that is under your feet, that makes up the land upon which you reside.

In the centre of your circle, have a small earthenware bowl into which you pour some water (preferably from a local spring, although normal tap water is fine). Reflect on the water and the gratitude that comes with being provided with it. Add to the bowl a small handful of dirt from your own land. Again, when reflecting on the dirt, conjure up feelings of gratitude.

Make a fire charm that consists of the alchemical symbol for fire, an upright triangle within a circle, the latter representing containment. Starhawk uses bay laurel branches, a protection herb. However, native flora can also be used. If in a group collective, have each participant also ties onto the symbol either small branches from bushes and trees on their property and/or sprigs of herbs and plants from their gardens.

Alternatively, other protective charms can be made including Ojo de Dios (“God’s Eyes” from Central and South America) as well as pentagrams (star shaped).

Once completed, the charm is then passed around the circle whilst the participants recite a chant, such as the following which has been adapted from Starhawk:

Sacred fire that shapes this land
Summer teacher, Winter friend
Protect us as we learn anew
To work, to heal, to live with you.

When the charm has gone around the circle, all participants then hold it together and chant, raising a cone of power, a request of protection, as well as a request for knowledge. Prayers that homes and lands will be preserved can be said.

We need to learn how to integrate fire with this land, as well as how to restore the balance that has been lost. The charm can then be hung from a tall tree, preferably in an area where it can survey the land that it is to protect. It is to remain there until the rains come, where it will then be dismantled and sections of it burnt by each of the participants in their own homes as a further means of protection for the coming season.

Exploring the Archangels of Kabbalah

The Kabbalistic Tree of Life is the map of the life journey that each soul has to go through in the incarnational experience in order to reach an enlightened state of consciousness.  It is a very important symbol of creation which encompasses the entire meaning of the universe.

The Kabbalistic teachings state that the origin of the universe and the world began by God’s creation of the ten sefirot, or emanations, enumerations or characteristics of God.
Everythingbegins with Kether, the Crown, and moves down the Tree to reach Malkuth, the Kingdom.  Each sphere (sephira) corresponds to a Divine name and the unfolding of the Tree of Life illustrates the ways God has designed energy to flow into creation.  The Archangels that are related to each of these spheres express that energy throughout the universe and play a specific role in mediating the divine influence via the celestial bodies, the planets and the stars.

Commencing in April 2002, a special ten part meditation series will be taking part where each week, we will connect with each of these ten archangels found within the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.  These archangels include:

:: Kether/The Crown – Metatron
:: Chokmah – Ratziel
:: Binah – Tzaphkiel
:: Chesed – Tzadkiel
:: Geburah – Chamael
:: Tiphareth – Michael
:: Netzach – Haniel
:: Hod – Raphael
:: Yesod – Gabriel, and
:: Malkuth – Sandalphon.

This course will commence on Tuesday, 9 April 2020 and be held until June.  Bookings are essential to secure your place.

Venue: Isian Centre of Metaphysics (Parafield Gardens) from 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

Places for this 10 part course are strictly limited and therefore bookings are essential.
Cost: $100 (plus Eventbrite fees) Bookings through Eventbrite.

(Casual attendance may be available at $15 per session depending on vacancies. Please contact us for possible weekly vacancies)