The following entry comes from my previous on-line diary that I thought I would duplicate here …
Within the “Charge of the Goddess” it is written … “Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you ….” which ties in very nicely with the following posting from Daily Om.
The notion of humility as a virtue brings numerous images to mind. We tend to envision those rare individuals who humbly bear life’s struggles while downplaying their own strengths. Yet humility is also associated with people whose insecurities compel them to judge themselves unfavorably as a matter of course. The true definition of humility, however, does not correspond precisely with either of these images. Humility is not passivity. Rather, it is an utter lack of self-importance. The individuals who embody the concept of humility appreciate that each human being on the planet occupies a unique place on an infinite spectrum of development. Though they can take pride in their own accomplishments, they also understand that the people they interact with each day are as valuable and have as much to offer the world as they themselves do.
To be humble is to accept that while there will always be individuals more and less advanced than yourself, those on all parts of the spectrum of development can provide you with insights that further your personal evolution. Recognizing these insights is a matter of opening yourself to the fact that not only do others think and feel differently than you, but their life experiences have shaped them in a very different way than yours have shaped you. This means that while you may have a greater understanding in some areas, others will always be able to teach you something.
When you cultivate a genuine yearning to know what skills and talents those you encounter have been blessed with, you cannot help but learn humility. You instinctively understand that emotions like envy breed resistance that prevents you from growing, and that being flexible in your interactions with others will help you connect with unexpected mentors.
When you practice humility, you want to become as accomplished and evolved as you can possibly be, yet you are willing to submit to the expertise of others to do so. You understand the scope of your aptitudes yet you choose to eradicate arrogance from your attitude, and you can distinguish the value you possess as an individual while still acting in the interests of your fellow human beings. Humility, simply put, is a form of balance in which you can celebrate your own worth while sincerely believing that every other person on the planet is just as worthy as you.
I get criticized from fellow Witches and Wizards that my teaching are dangerous for the muggles. I usually respond with an eye roll and say, “If they can’t handle, it they will run”. Lately I have been getting some really hateful feedback that my teachings are dangerous. They tell me I that I don’t understand what Im messing with. I know exactly what Im messing with! Im gonna help change the world. The orthodoxy of this world is getting ready to fall off a cliff. People have only used the ego side of their mind for far too long. So long that patriarchy is running on autopilot in the subconscious of most people. I understand that most want the autopilot life, but for those who want to take control, Magic is for them.
I realize Magic is not for everyone. One has to question why they are pursuing Magic. The more I study Magic the more I can interact with people and listen to how they have used Magic or failed at Magic. Magic is uniqued to every person. There is no right way or wrong way. Your life and your path are yours. It is totally unique to you. Everyone has their own fears, limiting beliefs, upbringing, genetics and trauma. The path of Magic is different for every single person. I will say that it is much easier for women an young people who want to learn Magic because they are more in touch with the feminine side of their mind. Ultimately Magic is about letting go. Letting go of trying to control every last thing. Letting go of all your limiting beliefs. Letting go of how you were raised. Realizing your parents, teachers or any other authority figure didn’t know jack.
Life is the pain of a God or Goddess. Magic will help you see who your are. All people are not equal. Sorry. That was made up by religion and government because they see us as herd animals. Are all people equally looking for the truth? Mankind is in such a state that even if you show them the truth or show them they are a God or Goddess, they can’t handle it. They are not ready. This world does not want anyone to ever be ready. Very few are ready to let go of the material. Its not that the rulers of this world understand Magic either. Some do, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part they are stuck in just as much ego, greed and materialism as everyone else on this planet. They just want to be in charge of everyone and most don’t want the responsibility of being in charge of themselves, so the masses happily hand off the controls.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying what you think is pleasurable, fun or good. You must engage life to actually live. Most just want the pleasurable and don’t want the pain that goes along with life. We are so worried about pain the we try to keep our kids away from pain. Parents used to tell kids, “Go play” so kids would go play out of sight and do what they wanted. Then parents said, “Go play, but only under my supervision”. This is how the term helicopter parents originated. Parents literally hovered over their kids. Today parents are bulldozers. They bulldoze the path for the kids, so their are no ups and downs. It has gotten to the point that governments are doing whatever they can to keep a recession from happening. Anything to keep the rich from feeling pain. The world is about ready to find that you can not stop duality. Having only good and pleasure with no pain will cause one to stagnate. Stagnation causes people to get left behind.
There is only one reason that people start Magic. They want to know the truth. It takes people being fed up with the way life is to start Magic. How do people get fed up? Pain and discomfort. Once you get into Magic and understand it, you realize that there must be ups and downs in your life. Magic will not stop the ups and downs, but it will help you deal with them. I’m not saying I know what happens after one dies, but I know Nature goes in cycles. I always look to Nature for my answers. Everything has cycles in Nature. You can not stop the cycles. So why wouldn’t your lives have cycles. In Magic you understand these cycles. Magic will not stop the up and down cycles within your life, but it will help you deal with them.
Magic will make you question your life and values. Using the subconscious or the sacred feminine will bring truth. It will show you the software that is running your life. It will mean the loss of certain people, things and ideas. Magic can be lonely, but as the world awakens it will get less lonely. Awakening is a form of Magic. This is why older people will not accept Magic. The lies of their life are exposed and could cause dangerous side effects. Most older people are set in their ways and will not change. If you try it will be detrimental to you, them or both. For this reason I leave my parents alone. They have an open mind for their age. As open as an old patriarchal mind can be. But the truth would literally kill them.
The path of Magic can get dark. You will have phases of being depressed and doubting yourself. You may misinterpret what the Goddess is showing you because you are trying to interpret her with the ego. The mind will still interpret all information, but if both sides are not working together you will misinterpret what the Goddess is saying. This is why there are so many religions, spiritualities, and self help categories. All the information is going through a persons human filter and their ego thinks it knows what to do. Throw out all the spiritual and religious garbage. Do you see anything in nature praying, meditating, hurting itself, secluding itself for years, recruiting others, doing sensory deprivation, going to church, going to retreats, walking on hot ashes, sweating in a tent to cleanse themselves, or any other nonsense. No! Nature does not have an ego to filter things through. Nature just is.
Magic is a hardcore path. Gurus will not give you answers they will give you things to do till you find the answers yourself. Magic takes work and effort. There is no right way for Magic, but Magic demands you do the work and be truthful to yourself. How can you expect the truth if you can’t be truthful to yourself? Magic drove me to the brink of suicide. Eckhart Tolle was on the brink. It doesn’t mean you will go to the brink. Not everyone has the same journey. You must conquer your own ego. Everyone’s experience will be different. Once you are reborn you must accept the truth that your life is yours. You are living your life as a God or Goddess. You have been told how to live your life your whole life and now you have Magic to help you live your own life.
Be prepared for all sorts of things to come up. Depression, inner demons, meaninglessness, thinking you are losing your mind, etc. Dark moments will come and go with Magic. Because we have egos you will regress back and forth between clarity and non clarity. I don’t care what these gurus, priests, monks or other spiritual leaders say, you will never get rid of the the ego. It just a matter of getting the ego to work for the subconscious instead of the other way around. You will not win every battle with yourself. You must take it slow and steady. Magic will last the rest of your life. There is no hurry to become a great Witch or Wizard. It is just like everything else. You can’t jump in and expect to be an expert dancer, musician, athlete or artist. You must work at it. Its the same logic with Magic. Sometimes when you go slower you get there faster than when you try to rush. The ten thousand hour rule works with Magic too.
It is hard to not try to make Magic dogmatic. This is why I get people telling me to leave the muggles out of Magic. I even had someone tell me I should not teach Magic to the goyim. Bad things will happen to me for doing it. That is what’s wrong with this world! Everything has to be an idealism or set in stone! I get it. Our minds want a set of points it can memorize and execute. But that is not Magic. Magic is a genuine teaching. Nothing is set in stone. Everything I teach you must be held loosely. Magic is not the truth it is a way to seek the truth and find it for yourself. Because Magic is such a good system it has been hidden so only the worthy get to use it. Bullocks! Everything these magicians see they are looking through the lens of Magic and that in itself is wrong. Magic is not the only path. If it resonates with you then great. But it is not the only way and its not just for certain people. This is the ego using your awakening in a deceptive way for its own agenda. The ego wants to be in control and will do anything to stay in control. Magic can be for anyone who wants to be responsible for themselves.
Don’t think that because Magic helped you wake up that you need to get away from the life you built and go find others who are awake. Less than 1% of the population in this world is awake. Of that 1% only a fraction are fully awake. If you drop the life you built, you will be alone. Literally. This is why most Witches and Wizards in stories are living alone in the forest or somewhere secluded. I started this website to help those who want to wake up and to attract and meet others who are awake. This world is a lonely place for the ones who have awaken. Understand that there will be peaks and valleys. Magic will not make them go away. It helps you not make rash decisions.
Ultimately Magic will help you speak your own voice. You will learn to act as yourself. Which is the hardest thing in the world to do. Magic may not be the only way, but in my opinion its the best way. Of course I am bias because it is what I am. Others need to be challenged in a different way. Zen masters know this and that is why they give students riddles, chores and activities that have no logical reasoning. They are trying to get the student to not only give up but think with their Higher Self mind. These activities silence all the other voices in our head, so our voice alone can speak. Doing something over and over again until we stop stop trying or give up makes your rational mind think you have exhausted all angles. The voices in the head cease to tell you how its done because you already tried it. That is when the Goddess speaks. It is how new ideas manifest. Magic will release the truth that lies inside you. To this world, that is the most dangerous thing of all.
If you mention the 31st of October to most people, it is not unusual for them to think of Halloween – the time when children are encouraged to dress up as wytches, ghosts and ghouls to go trick or treating. This somewhat commercialised custom I felt was more at home in America but as each year passes, it appears to increase its popularity here in Australia as well. In fact, a number of years ago the makers of a particular Irish stout were encouraging their drinkers to celebrate “the dark month“. If I was living north of the equator, this would have made sense as Halloween is based on the ancient traditions of celebrating the Celtic Festival of the Dead, Samhain, and the approaching winter. Here in Australia, however, the 31st of October actually marks the start of summer, which the ancient Celts referred to as Bealtaine – hardly a “dark month”.
Despite the hemispheric differences, displays of Halloween merchandise, and even the stereotypical “orange” pumpkin (Kratos) to be carved into jack-o-lanterns, have made their way to Adelaide (regardless of the fact that pumpkins are an autumn/winter vegetable). Many supermarkets have endless displays of lollies in readiness to cash in.
For me, the 31st of October is and will always be Bealtaine (also spelt Beltane), taken from the Gaelic word meaning “Bel-fire”, referring to the sacred purification fires which the Druids lit on hilltops at this time of the year to herald the return of life and fertility to the land. This festival is named after the God of Light, Bel (also known as Beli or Balor).
One of the popular fertility symbols of Bealtaine, which can still be seen today in various parts of Britain, is the May Pole. People would dance around this phallic symbol, intertwining red (representing the feminine – menstrual blood) and white (the masculine – semen) ribbons. The circular steps of the dancers, coupled with the weaving ribbons, symbolised the spiral of life. However, most today dancers probably are not be aware that they are actually partaking in an ancient fertility ritual, caught up in the joy and fun of it all.
With the essence of Bealtaine being on fertility, couples would jump the fires in order to conceive. Others would jump to ensure that good luck, health and safe journeys for the coming year were bestowed upon them. Cattle were also driven through the ashes, or between two such fires to ensure a good supply of milk, and to banish winter infections, before taking them to the summer pastures.
While it is not always possible to light these sacred fires in Australia because of fire bans, it is possible to form other “fertility” rituals, such as planting flowers, shrubs and trees, to celebrate this height of the growing season. The fertility aspect can also include the fertility of the mind and spirit and therefore, Bealtaine can mark the learning of ideas and ways of self-improvement.
Occultist Aleister Crowley once said that every man and woman is a star. While focusing on the fertility theme of Bealtaine, we can take Crowley’s statement and reflect on our own sexuality – a subject still viewed with much taboo in today’s modern society. How much of our own sexuality is an expression of our own true selves, and how much do we allow to be manipulated and coerced by others? Do we use our own sexuality as a weapon to get what we want, or are we afraid to use it at all?
Coupled with sexuality is our perception of our body image. Do we like our physical bodies or, as if often the case, do we wish them to conform to some almost impossible standard set by media?
Our bodies are our temples, and although we may strive for a higher spiritual goal, we are still connected to the earthy plane. This connection is through our physical bodies, and Bealtaine seems to be the appropriate time to reclaim a happy relationship with our physical form.
Daniel Littlewood states: When you love yourself – others will love you Others will respect you And when you choose You not only enhance your own life You send out energies that others, In a sad place in their lives Can reach out for, And bring into their reality.
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.*
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.
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)
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.