One of my readers asked, “How do you pick the right coven for you?”
That can be a complicated topic. Here I’ll share three helpful methods.
Devote some time with the coven members in a casual setting.
Look at getting together for coffee (or another beverage). Have some casual conversations and note how you feel when you’re in the presence of the coven members. Are you comfortable? After the get-together, do you feel good? Energized?
Or was your experience somehow different? Did you feel like you just didn’t mesh with a number of the coven members? Did they somehow look down upon you for being too much of a “newbie” – or something else?
Watch how coven members interact with each other.
Do they treat each other with respect? Is there bickering among some coven members? You’re looking for a safe and uplifting environment. Even if you’re “desperate” to join a coven, you might find that a specific coven is not (at the moment) a healthy place for you. You might even be triggered (that is, something from your past may be rising up. Someone may be acting in a cruel way like your sibling did when you were younger).
Observe whether it is too hard to get to the coven’s meeting place.
Covens work when members can consistently attend ritual. If it’s too hard to get to the meeting place, particularly if you’ve had a draining week, you might miss some gatherings.
Also, pay attention to whether the meetings run late and whether you can be safe on your way home (if you take public transportation).
Ultimately, joining a coven is for uplifting your soul. Be careful and keep looking for a good match.
“I really could use a simple format for making a spell, Moonwater,” my friend Anita said.
“Okay. I can give you the basics with a 5-Step Formula for Making a Spell,” I replied.
It comes down to these steps or what I call the “5 What’s”:
What do you want?
What will represent that element?
What do you have at hand?
What do you want?
Seems simple enough, right? Still, many people hold the thought “I want more money.” That’s too vague. What do you want the money for? Some people have a job that pays well enough but they hate that job. So what do they do? They buy expensive stuff and vacations. Perhaps, what they really want is a job that they feel good about.
Now, ask yourself: What do I want? Then ask yourself, No….What do I really want? Keep refining it until you have it. Finding the root of the need is important.
How do you pick the appropriate element? Think about your need. What element is connected to it?
Do you want to flow better at work? That relates to Water.
Do you want to think more clearly? That’s related to the element Air.
If you want more energy, you likely want to connect with the spark – with Fire.
Do you feel scattered? To connect with being grounded, focus on Earth.
Questions like these will help you pick what element is best suited for your problem or desire.
What will represent that element?
What object would make a good representation of your element? If it’s Fire, perhaps, a lit candle. If it’s water, you could use a sea shell because it comes from the sea.
What do you have at hand?
With a list of objects that can represent your element, take a look and see what you have on hand that would fit the bill. Perhaps your first thought was to use a shell as part of your spell. However, you do not have one in your home. You could simply grab a bowl and fill it with water.
The words you choose are important.
Here are three details to help you.
Choose an opening
Here’s an example:
By the powers of the Sun and Moon
Give a deadline
Here’s an example:
So make this happen nine days or less
Put in the protection phrases
Here is an example:
An it harm none.
I also include “This or better.” There are times with the God and Goddess know better than we do what would be good for our overall journey of life.
6. What moon phase?
Waxing is for gaining or adding something to your life and waning is for decrease or getting rid of something.
Additionally, give a time period for the spell to stop. You can say something like may it come to passwithin three moons. (Spells usually come to pass within one moon cycle.)
May the above details help you in forming your spell. It’s true that one may add other details to a spell. Still, the above provides you with a good start.
The various parts of your spell are like the pieces you put together when sewing a quilted blanket.
“I don’t want to make a mistake. I’m new to spellwork,” Claudia said.
Shifting the phone to my other ear, I thought, “I can empathize with this because I went through it, too.”
Years ago, when I first began with Wicca, I was really concerned about doing Wicca correctly from the start. It was very important for me to honor the God and Goddess appropriately.
Claudia asked, “How do I do dedication ceremony? It seems like there are a lot of ways to do it, depending on what kind of Traditions [Trads] are out there.”
“It’s true that there are many different types of dedication ceremonies,” I began. “Many have valuable parts and there’s no one and only way to do a dedication ceremony.”
Wicca includes various rituals that a practitioner may do. Rituals can be incredibly complex to quite simple depending on your tastes. Do you like complex and complicated or do you prefer the more simple types of rituals? The best thing that I can say is whatever you do, do it from your heart. That is what pleases the Gods.
I continued by sharing my own journey and how I chose one of the oldest Trads for learning the basics.
Claudia then asked about casting of a circle and why people enter from the East and leave from the West. I answered, “We start in the East, in the direction of the sunrise. Then you walk around deosil (clockwise or sun-wise) untill you end up back in the East. West is the direction of Death so you exit that way. When you make a circle starting in the East, it comes around to the East again, making a ‘door.’”
Think of the cycle of life and death. We are born just like the sun each day. And then the wheel turns untill we end up at death, when the sun goes down or “dies.”
Then Claudia asked about which colors are appropriate to use for your circle. You can use white. Or you can use colors that correspond to the four directions:
Another way to find a mentor is attending PantheaCon, a Pagan conference that takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area each February. Many different practitioners of Paganism (including Wicca) attend. You can then check out and ask about the different Trads, and learn from the practitioners themselves. You can check out the website of PantheaCon It would be fun to talk with you if we meet there. I often attend.
The log of wood crackled as the campfire glowed. I stretched my feet, warming them near the fire, and I recalled a question raised by someone who commented on one of my blog posts. She asked about how to find a good mentor.
So I wanted to share with you the following List to Help You Find a Good Mentor.
If you’re just beginning on your Wiccan path, you may experience the difficulty in finding the right Wiccan mentor for you.
The good news is: When you find the right mentor, magick happens!
So here are some essential questions to ask yourself as you seek a great mentor for you.
Are you safe?
Safety is the most important detail here. If you don’t feel safe or you don’t trust the person who will be mentoring you, then it’s likely a bad situation. Listen to both your mind and your intuition. Do not take unnecessary risks. Leave or avoid the person. Safety first.
Do you two get along well?
The mentor-student relationship is a special one. Feeling good and connected to a mentor helps in the learning process.
Does the person abide by the Wiccan Rede?
If the person does not live according to “An it harm none,” you cannot trust that he or she will be good to you, too. Hurting others is simply wrong. If you see that the person does things that mess with another person’s will, get away from the potential Wiccan mentor.
Does the person align with the Law of Three?
Does the potential Wiccan mentor understand and accept responsibility related to the repercussions of his or her actions? The Law of Three holds that you will receive three times what you put out into the world. People who do bad things attract three times the trouble not only to themselves but to others associated with them. Get away from those who do bad things!
Is this person compassionate and respectful?
Some mentors are tyrants. A mentor who is a tyrant fails to demonstrate compassion and respect in many areas of life. If this potential mentor has no respect or compassion for others, ask yourself, “How will he/she ultimately treat me?” Avoid this potential mentor.
Does this person manipulate others?
Pay close attention. Do you see the possible mentor manipulating other people for selfish ends? It’s a fallacy that this kind of mentor will treat you “as special.” No! If the person hurts others, then at some point, such a person will hurt you, too! Avoid this type of mentor.
Does this person come highly recommended?
A rule of thumb for working with someone new is to talk with three people who have had previous interactions with the person. Certainly, you would ask about the level of the potential mentor’s knowledge. But even more important is to ask: “Would you work with this person again?” If the person does not have three people who unreservedly recommend him or her, then beware. So many people allow their desires to blind them to the truth. Do not let this happen to you. If you hear bad news about the person, heed it!
Use the above essential questions to help you find the right mentor for you.
Be safe by using both your mind and intuition.
This information is so important that I invite you to share this post far and wide.
I didn’t know what to do. When I first started on the Wiccan path, I read some books and it appeared that I needed a bunch of tools—which I could not afford! What was I to do? Like many young people at that time, I didn’t have a lot of money.
Many books don’t tell you something important: You probably already have all the tools you need. You don’t need all the fancy trappings and trimmings to practice the Craft. Using something simple is just as effective as employing some store-bought, fancy item. Tools encrusted with gems and other trimmings don’t make for a better tool.
In fact, the most powerful tools are ones we make ourselves.
Why? As you make the tool, the tool absorbs your energy and so holds more power.
But do not fear if you’re not skilled with arts and crafts. You will do just fine with simple things you gather from within your home.
Which household items can you use for your tools of Wicca?
Altar Cloth: A large square scarf (or even sarong) will work. Just remember that the altar cloth helps to keep wax from damaging the altar. So if you do not want wax on your cloth, find some other material.
Athame: You can use a butter knife. Generally an athame is a black-handled, double edged knife. But a butter knife will work just fine. An athame doesn’t need to be sharp. It cuts energy not material things.
Bell: Any bell will work. You can even use a utensil to strike a wine glass. The bell on a cat collar will also work.
Boline: The traditional boline is a white handled knife often with a curved blade, but a steak knife will work well. This knife, unlike the athame, is used for cutting physical things like herbs. You’ll also use the boline to carve runes and names on candles.
Candles: Any kind of candles will do. Further, any inexpensive tea lights would work.
Cauldron: Any fireproof container will do. A pot works well.
Censer: A simple bowl of sand will work just fine.
Goblet or chalice:Any glass will do. A wine glass will work well. Originally, the traditional goblet was made out of wood.
Incense: You could use fresh herbs from your garden if you don’t have regular incense.
Offering Dishes: The bowls from your kitchen cabinet will work just fine.
Pentacle: A simple plate painted with a pentagram works. Pentacles were often made out of carved wax, which could thrown in a fire and melt into nothing. That’s one way that witches employed to stay hidden from the wrath of persecutors.
Salt: It’s nice to have sea salt, but the table salt will do.
Wand: A branch from a tree in your garden will work. Make sure it does not touch the ground as this would cause the loss of the power the tree gave it.
Water: You don’t need to have spring water. Tap water works fine.
As you can see, most if not all of the tools you need reside in your home already. If you can make your own tools, that’s even better. However, most of us are not metalsmiths, nor do we have a forge handy. That’s okay, since I shared handy substitute-items above.
Wicca can be done on a budget. All you need is your imagination.
How did you find the Wiccan faith? Was it through a personal connection or was it through a book or website?
Wiccans until recently were hard to find. Many followers of the path work in secret, in the shadows. Why have all the secrecy?
This secrecy was vital because throughout history and even to this present day Wiccans (and other pagans) have been and continue to be discriminated against.
Face it, we are still a minority faith in this world. Most practitioners prefer to stay in the shadows because of the possibility of retaliation and prejudice found in family, school, work, and the general public. We know too well that there are general misconceptions and fear about the Craft. So many Wiccans practice in the shadow. (After all, I call my blog and my book The Hidden Children of the Goddess.)
So how is one to find a reliable teacher while so many teachers practice in the shadows?
You need some initial education. Books can be a great way to start. Read a bunch of books and you will start to see a pattern. Your intuition will alert you to who really knows valuable material and who may be offering faulty information.
Here is a good reading list to start your path. Those of you who have been on the path for a time may want to revisit some of these books. It’s important to have a good foundation in the Craft before moving on to the more advanced practices.
Perhaps you’ve noticed our new logo for this blog. It is the heron. Why this particular bird? The heron has been a representation of the Goddess for a long time. Below is the heron’s story as told by my friend Kay Pannell.
The name Ardea Herodotus is the Linnaean classification for the heron. The Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, wrote in the 8th Century BC. His history of the fall of Troy included this:
After the fall of Troy, Prince Aeneas traveled to the area around Rome. One of the lands he visited was the land of the Rutuli, whose capitol was Ardea and whose ruler was Turnus. Turnus had been betrothed to Livinia, daughter of a neighboring king.
Unfortunately, the king decided to give her to Aeneas instead. (You’d think after Aeneas’s brother Paris took Helen of Troy away from her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, he’d have wised up about taking a woman away from a man with an army—but no). A war ensued between Aeneas’s fleet and Turnus’s army. During the hostilities, the city of Ardea was burned. Herodotus reported that from the ashes of the city a white bird arose that no one had seen before. It was the heron, and for ever afterward, the heron was called Ardea. When Carl Linnaeus began his classification in the 17th Century, he called the heron, Ardea Herodotus, for the story.
The word, Ardea, also translates as “earth goddess” in Greek.
Written by Kay Pannell
This story is here to stay. I hope you enjoyed it. Now here’s my post for this week.
How to Give Back to the Gods
How do I give back to the Gods? It’s something I think about daily. When I was younger I had no idea. But then I encountered this quote:
Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God. – Leo Buscaglia
This hits the mark I think. We may not thing we have much to give back but all of us has something, our talent—the gifts the Gods have given us.
When we use our unique gifts to help others, the Gods smile upon us. For this is why we were given the gifts. To make each other’s lives more enjoyable.
Using your talents doesn’t mean you have to make it a business. You don’t need to produce products or live on a demanding schedule to serve others.
Maybe you like to cook or bake. Prepare some food and take it to a friend who is sick. Or take it to an elderly woman who lives alone and on a fixed income. This will mean a lot to someone who needs something but has no other way to get it. (Be careful to ask about dietary needs and allergies to guard the person’s health.)
If you don’t cook, do you play music? Go to a children’s hospital and play for the kids. You don’t need to book gigs and have tons of followers. You’ll still make an important difference in the hospital.
Can’t think of some particular gift to share? Donate some of your time and do volunteer work for some charity. For example, I donated time at The Peninsula Humane Society. I helped with the small animals.
Now, I write this blog. This came as a surprise because of my dyslexia. But I was led to writing by the Gods themselves. It’s hard to argue with that.
But you don’t need the Gods’ intervention to tell you what to share with others. Try something. You won’t know what is a helpful activity until you experiment a little.
Wiccans use herbs for all sorts of things from medicine to protection. Humans have used herbal remedies made from plants for thousands of years. Herbs comprise the oldest medicines humans have had. Many Wiccans use herbs to heal and keep themselves healthy. Being witches we want to use nature as our healer when we get sick.
Before considering the use of herbs, heed these important considerations:
1) If you have a serious condition and/or illness, modern medicine should be used in conjunction with the old ways. For example, you shouldn’t skip a trip to a medical doctor because you have heard that St. John’s Wort would help with depression. Always consult with your medical doctor about herbs you’re considering because some herbs may conflict with medications your doctor has prescribed or over the counter medications–or even other herbs.
2) Avoid taking an herb that you are unfamiliar with. Some herbs can be quite dangerous if used incorrectly. Certain herbs are poisonous like Belladonna. So always talk with your herbal friendly medical doctor before taking them.
3) Some herbs you may buy at a new age store may only be graded for magickal use. This means do NOT take such herbs internally. Be certain that the herbs you buy are food grade safe. Just because feverfew tea helps reduce a fever does NOT mean that you shouldn’t use aspirin or some other modern medicine if the fever is really bad and doesn’t go down. Be smart and use your head. If your affliction is serious consult a medical doctor.
Having covered the above concerns, we will focus mainly on the magical uses of herbs.
First, we’re going to discuss a container for herbs known as a sachet. Take a small piece of cloth in a color that corresponds with the type of magick you will be doing. See this color chart below:
Black: decrease, death, revenge, retribution, contacting the dead. (I strongly suggest that you take great care if you have any thoughts about revenge or retribution. The focus points of revenge or retribution hurt the practitioner! Remember the Law of Three! I strongly recommend avoiding the use of black cloth except for the Samhain practice of contacting the dead.)
Place the piece of cloth down onto the table or working surface. Place selected herbs (about a tablespoon when all combined) in the middle of your cloth. You can use a smaller amount for a smaller more portable sachet if you like. This can be placed in your purse or pocket to be carried with you. Gather up your corners of the cloth and then tie them with some string. Make the sachet closed and secure. Now you can do a ritual to dedicate the sachet to its purpose.