Here you will find a collection of metaphysics for the modern Witch, including magickal lore, circle casting, spellcrafting, herbs and their uses, a look into the lunar calendar, candles and colors, divination techniques, making your own grimoire, and much more.
What is the Grimoire?
Grimoire is a term that has been commonly used to describe the old European books on magic and superstition, and is derived from the word grammar. To me, it evokes an image of a treasured book of ideas, which is exactly what it is. I have never liked the term "Book of Shadows" which Gardner chose to call his book, and "Book of Light and Shadows" is a little more accurate and poetic, but too long.
The grimoire is a collection of thoughts, dreams, magickal and ritual insights and recordings, spellcraft, herbal knowledge, mythological lore, and much more. There is no set way for crafting your own grimoire. The easiest thing to do is to buy some blank sturdy books or notebooks, and just start filling them. I do this, but I also have a special book that I handmade myself, with magickally oriented numbering of leaves of pages and sections---in this book, I carefully transcribe from the other notebooks my most important findings in neat and accurate form. A lot of people have asked for my opinion for computer based books, and I have to say they have their uses. The computer is a wonderful way to write out your thoughts, but I would definitely print out or copy out a hardcopy version. It¹s far easier to reference a book than to turn on your computer every time you need to look at it. Plus, a book is something you can pass down in your family---while computer programs quickly become obsolete and far more easily damaged.
Traditional Names for the Full Moon
These names come from The Shepherd's Calendar which was published in the first decade of the 16th century.
Aries: Seed Moon - Marks the sowing season
Taurus: Hare Moon - The hare has long been associated with Spring and fertility
Gemini: Dyad Moon- Refers to the Twin aspect of Gemini
Cancer: Mead Moon - The time where the meadows or meads, were harvested for hay
Leo: Wort Moon - Gathering time for many healing herbs for use and drying.
Virgo: Barley Moon - Barley/grain harvest
Libra: Blood Moon - Time when domestic animals were killed for winter provisions
Scorpio: Snow Moon- Usually the time of the first snow
Sagittarius: Oak Moon - Sacred tree that withstands the Winter's havoc, time to gather mistletoe
Capricorn: Wolf Moon - As Winter continues, the wolf would come closer, night still has the greater hold over day
Aquarius: Storm Moon - The return of rains, violent weather bringing in the new season
Pisces: Chaste Moon - The old word for pure reflects the custom of greeting the new year with a clear soul
Understanding the Phases and Energies
We see a lot of emphasis on the sun in today's society (though this has always been true throughout time), but the moon has always had a special place in the hearts of Witches. There are 13 lunar months in a year, each made up of roughly 28 days. In each of these lunar months, the moon goes through an entire cycle: new moon, waxing, full moon, waning and back to new moon again. Basically, there are 14 days of waxing, and 14 days of waning, for the moon is new (dark) and full for a very short period of time. A good book on astronomy will give you names for the different size crescents, but what's particularly important to Witches is these 4 periods in the progression. The waxing moon indicates a period of increase, so you would preferably want to do spells of increase during this time (prosperity,
healing, etc). The full moon is a very powerful time for magickal workings, and most are appropriate on this day. The waning moon is a period of decrease, so this is a good time for banishing. The new moon is good for scrying, new projects, and exploring the mysteries of the dark. Something important to note: you work magick when you need to. So for example, if you really need a prosperity spell, and the moon is waning, then do a banishing of poverty instead.
Many calendars are available today note the phases of the moon and the exact times of astrological correspondences and new and full moon¹s. In our tradition, we don¹t get all bent out of shape concerning the exact time of something. If the time is right, it is right. If it needs to be done, then it will be done.
One belief that has come down in our Family is that there are three nights for the full moon----these being the three nights where the moon appears complete to the naked eye. These nights usually correspond to the day before, day of, and day after the exact time of the full moon.
A note on astrology: I have come to believe that the less you know about it, the better. It makes you paranoid after a while! It is very helpful for understanding Zodiac personalities, particularly for Tarot readings, but when you involve it with ritual too much, it¹s just insanity.
Spells & Spellcrafting
The best spells are those you write yourself. Here I am offering a selection of ideas for spells that you can work from and get a sense of how spells are structured from.
Cleanliness of the body, the spirit, and the house are three things that should be carefully looked at. We will look at each in turn...
Obviously, it's just proper hygiene to keep oneself clean and healthy. But there is also the idea of preparing one's body before doing special ritual or celebration. I particularly enjoy taking herbal baths before performing ritual. It refreshes the body and the soul, as well as makes a statement of preparation to those you will be working with. It's also good to eat properly beforehand...eating light foods like vegetables and such....heavy steak dinners tend to pull the body down.
To take an herbal bath
Clean out the bathtub first, and gather some herbs together, such as rosemary, rue, vervain, lavender, patchouli, etc...any of these singularly or in combination. Put them in either a tea-ball strainer or a muslin sack and suspend in the tub so that it can soak in the water. For atmosphere, light some candles, and turn the water on to the temp you like. Simple!
There are many ways to care for your spirit or psyche. Most of them involve living a healthy lifestyle, keeping your mind active, eating right, keeping a positive self-image, etc....the usually crises of everyday life. If you find things are holding you down, like anxiety, fears, jealousy, laziness, it's very good to devise a spell to get rid of them. You can take an salted-herbal bath, and sit in the tub as the water drains away, imagining that vice draining away. You can do a burning spell during the waning moon by writing down the problems on a peace of paper, burn that paper, and scatter the ashes.
Most people don't realize that living spaces quickly aquire and absorb energies. When you first move into any space, it should be properly cleaned physically and energetically. Take blessed salted water, and with either an appropriate herbal (sage, evergreen, rue, etc), bless the doorways and windows. I like to draw pentacles with my finger. You can also sprinkle the rooms, do herbal sweepings, smudge with incense, and much more. The cleansing should be updated regularly (they didn't do spring cleanings for nothing!) and done whenever you get the feeling something is out of sorts.
SisMoon, a good friend who is a priestess of the Santeria religion passes along these words of wisdom when dealing with negative or bad spirits in the house: "The best thing is to toss salt at it. If that doesn¹t work.....tell whatever good spirits you have to get out until this (the cleansing) is done...so they aren¹t cleaned by accident. you burn sulfur counter clockwise through the house. Follow it with incense clockwise....then follow that with either vervain and water or citrus leaves and water counterclockwise...the final thing is sage burning clockwise."
The most common form of spellcraft involves what we call sympathetic magick. It functions along the theory that "like attracts like" and "the part affects the whole by relation" (changes in the microcosm affect the macrocosm). The most commonly known example of this is what the public calls the "Voodoo Doll" or poppet. By creating an image of someone or something, or making something that represents them with objects/articles from that person, one can magically affect that person. Despite what most people think, the poppet is most often used for healing, binding, or banishing, not harming. Examples:
Healing: A woman who is having infertility problems. She partakes in healing rituals with her group, but would like to have a poppet made of her to conduct fertile energies. The doll is filled with herbs and stones known for womb healing fertility, and a doll or image of a baby may be placed in the poppet¹s arms. Mother goddesses will be called upon to bless the poppet, and it may undergo various rituals and rites that are known to bring about fertility (used as the Brigid doll at Imbolc, bound to the maypole at Beltane, kept upon the altar of a woman who is pregnant or recently had children.
Binding: A young man having problems with drug abuse who wishes to overcome it. Besides attending workshops and therapy, he feels extra help from the spiritual side would help. A poppet is made with healing herbs and some of
his hair, and the doll is bound with rope with intent to help stop the desires and tendencies. This symbolically helps him to control his will until he feels he can do it on his own.
Banishing: A woman is having problems with an ex-husband who keeps appearing and threatening her. She has tried restraining orders, moving, changing places of work, but he still appears. A poppet is made with a favorite old shirt of his and filled with cleansing and pricking herbs. The poppet is bound to itself (to cease harm to others), deities of strength, justice, and guardianship are called upon. The poppet is burned, some of the ashes are sprinkled on her doorstep so that she may trod over them, the rest are scattered far away from the woman¹s home.
The theories of sympathetic magick explain why one uses herbs, stones, and various objects in a spell. These things are known to have specific properties. By using them, you therefore call upon those properties that are akin to your purpose and intent.
Writing Your Own Spells
Writing your own spells is very easy, however the main ingredients are that you trust in your own ability, and a working knowledge of magickal properties. If you lack either of these, you shouldn¹t even be thinking about magick or spells until you have learned these.
Basically, spellcraft is metaphysical problem-solving. Ask yourself:
1.What is it that I wish to do that can¹t be done in a mundane manner?
2.What is it that I wish to accomplish?
3. What are possible reactions?
4. Will I accept responsibility for these actions?
After considering this, go on to the next set of questions:
1. Now that I have defined my purpose, what will help me accomplish this?
2. What herbs/candles/colors correspond?
3. What deities?
4. What is the Moon doing? (waxing/full/waning/dark/new?)
5. Is this a special of increase or decrease?
By carefully answering these questions, you can construct a quality spell.
Here is an example. Beth would like to send healing energy to Jessie, friend whom just experienced the loss of a family member. She gathers a picture of her friend, a white (or light blue candle) for healing and hope, and considers Kuan Yin, a favorite goddess who is known for her compassion. The moon is waxing, nearly full, so that evening after work, Beth settles down in front of her altar with the picture of Jessie. She meditates, lights the candle, and chants to Kuan Yin to raise energy. When she is done, she lets the candle burn out (making sure it¹s on a fireproof surface). If you still don't understand at this point, time to go read a few more books and think a bit more deeply
Colors & Candles
Studies have shown that color greatly affects our personalities. For example, green is thought to be a calming color, so it is used to paint most schools and hospitals. Places that feel cold or desolate should be painted pink or red to warm them up. We subconsciously associate certain colors with certain emotions and experiences. And this is why certain colored candles tend to be used for spellcraft: the color is associated with the desired result.
The following colors and their associations come from my own experience. You may find these akin to your own or not. If not, then you need to consider your own personal color correspondences.
Red: passion, sex, love, issues of blood, and blood-healing, mother aspect
Orange: harvest, positive energy, male mysteries
Yellow: friendship, to overcome depression, cheerfulness, promise
Green: prosperity, health, green man mysteries
Blue: personal power, healing, knowledge and understanding
Purple: divine, the fey, the unseen, blending
Pink: love, feminine mysteries, security, gentleness, youth, maiden
Brown: grounding, return to basics, re-building, clarity
Black: binding, banishing, crone and warrior aspects, death mysteries, balance
White: use-all, cleansing, purity, focus, balance, peace
Tips for Candle Magick
-If you¹re buying candles, inspect them before you buy them. Check the scent (if any), how the wick is, and the overall condition of the candle.
-If you¹re making them, remember the purpose for which you are making them.
-Always burn the candle on a fireproof surface, preferably within a proper holder
-Never leave a candle unattended, particularly with pets/children around
-Candles don¹t always have to be burned in one night. You can magickally orient the number of times you will light the candle with your purpose such as 3,5,7, or 9 nights.
Use of Symbols & Alphabets
I¹ve noticed that people like to use symbols and magickal alphabets. There are several types of the latter floating about: various styles of runic alphabets, Theban, Enochian, etc. Use of these symbols slows the mind down: we stop to consider which letter we wish to use because these systems are usually unfamiliar and awkward, therefore considering our purpose more intensely. You could just as easily do the same thing writing backwards actually. Or just be really focused as you write or carve what you are writing. Other symbols help to shorten what we wish to say with picture that talks to the majority of humanity¹s subconscious self.
A Note About Magickal "Stuff"
The use of objects in magick is to resonate with the subconscious parts of our brain that recognize the properties the objects we use. These things can help us to more deeply consider what is we are doing, thereby helping to strengthen our intentions. However, they are NOT necessary! It is a matter of how well you can focus your will.
The Magick Circle
One of the most common questions I am asked is about casting circles (the even more popular one would have to be the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft....this one to be answered somewhere else..) There are many reasons for casting a circle, depending on who you talk to. Casting a circle is creating sacred space wherever you are, making that space separate
from the mundane. Some cast a circle to contain energy, some to keep unwanted energy out. Some cast circles as way to get into a certain frame of mind for what they plan on doing. A circle can be cast in many ways as well. Some do it with great pomp and circumstance, really hauling out the ceremonial magic, others simply acknowledge the elements and directions, and
some simply just create a line within their mind. Some people only cast circles when working with groups and never when they are working by themselves (which describes most Traditional Witches). What you choose to do is up to you, as each of these ways is perfectly valid.
Any Wiccan book can give you the fancy version of casting a circle, I will try to provide for you some simple ways of creating sacred space through circle casting so that you can develop your own personal style. Most people use the elements and directions in some way. They are : East/Air, South/Fire, West/Water, and North/Earth. . You can also say above and
below, all of these bound by Spirit. Depending on where you live, you can alter the correspondences to match.
Circles are usually cast in a clockwise direction, following the elements and directions in the order previously listed. Clockwise motion, also known as deosil, is usually used most often because it is thought to be a direction of increase. Counterclockwise, or widdershins, is a direction of banishing, decreasing. Many traditions start with the East, for either direction. Circles can be cast in any place that has suitable room for your purposes. However, I discourage casting a circle anywhere near where you
sleep. This cannot be avoided for a lot of teens that practice Witchcraft unbeknownst to their parents, but if another space is available, then use it. Someone who cannot properly regain energy after being interrupted in the middle of doing something within circle can have an energy problem. The best place is a private place.
Now, if you like a visual circle, you'll need to collect a few things, at least 4 -5 candles in holders (votives in glass are fine)---you can use all one color, or have a special color for each direction/element. To get a bit more fancy, you can have an object that represents the element at each corner as well. If the surface provides, you can physically draw a circle out with a wand or athame, or the blessed piece of chalk *grin*. Set up the candles in each appropriate corner, and if you're going to have an
altar, or some place of focus, place a fifth candle here. Now, you are going to evoke the direction and element...you can do this vocally or mentally. Some people like to also invoke a deity that is associated with that direction or element as well, so how you go about it depends on what feels right to you. Here are a few examples for each direction, representing different styles:
"I call upon the guardian of the East and the element of Air to enter this circle, and be witness to and aid in my purpose here tonight--so mote it be!"
"I call upon the spirit of the South, the element of Fire to become part of this circle! Dhavata, goddess of the hearth fire, warm us with your wisdom and insight this evening, light our path! So mote it be!"
"I call upon the direction of the West and the life-giving element of Water. Bless us with your powers of rebirth and change! So mote it be!"
"I call upon the watchtowers of the North, direction of the mysterious and unseen, place of Earth, from which all things come. Cernunnos, the Horned One of the forest, bless us with your presence and preside over our circle tonight! So mote it be!
Now, if I have gone to the lengths of casting a circle like this, I like to call upon the fifth element, which is Spirit (the Divine) itself...that spark of life that connects us all. Simply follow any of the guidelines above for this. Another idea is to simply call the elements and directions, then when you get to Spirit, invoke a deity, or multiple deities at this point. If you are working in a large enough space, it would be good to travel around your circle to each of the points as you say the incantations. If you wish to draw a circle physically, I suggest after walking around the circle and doing the fifth, walk around your circle three times, drawing your circle out, and then decree that the circle is now closed, between the worlds. You now do whatever your purpose was for casting the circle in the first place. When finished, thank each of the elements, directions, and deities for being a part of your proceedings, and open the circle. Not very hard eh?
Divination is a term used for the techniques enabled for looking into the future, or for getting a better grasp of a situation or problem. There are many forms of divination, including mirror scrying, crystal gazing, reading tarot cards, palm reading, runes, lithomancy, and geomancy.
The Tarot is a system of 78 cards separated into two categories: The Major Arcana, of which there are 22 cards, and the Minor Arcana, of which there are 56 cards separated into four suits. The Major Arcana represent very broad archetypes and include such cards as The Fool, The Magician, Death, The Lovers, The Tower, and The Star. The Minor Arcana is split up into four
symbols that correspond to the four elements. Most commonly they are called Swords, Cups, Wands, and Pentacles. These cards represent details, people, and specific situations and ideas. The origins of the Tarot are clouded in mystery and point to a variety of sources, with the oldest intact deck dating to the 13th century.
I prefer to read the Tarot, since I am a visually oriented person. I enjoy the complexity of having 78 illustrated cards to work with. I use a threefold spread, laying the cards out in successive rows of three, for past, present, and future. I do this for 3-5 rows, and then pull one card at the end to "talk" about the entire spread. I find this a very simple, but powerful spread. My favorite deck is Legend: The Arthurian Tarot. I have studied the Arthurian Romances in great detail, so I am very comfortable with the stories associated with it.
In order to find the deck that suits you best, try to find a store near you that carries a selection of decks, and look through them all (most stores carry sample decks for you to handle). The imagery should appeal to you and you should feel comfortable with it. In order to learn it, shuffle the cards, lay them out in a spread, and before consulting the accompanying
book, interpret the cards for yourself, then compare the book's meanings. Also, to get used to the deck, and to have it possess your own personal energy, carry it around with you. Wrap it in a cloth special to you, and keep the cards well-protected.
Scrying is the divination art that encompasses gazing into a reflective or dark object, such as a crystal, black mirror, etc. One can use a crystal/glass ball, a black reflective surface, a dark bowl filled with water, or anything else that will that allow the mind to gently shift. Basically, one becomes comfortable in posture and stares into the surface. Eventually one¹s eyesight begins to shift and images or visions may appear. It is very hard to tell who would be a good scryer, and who would not, so
it¹s worth a try.
Donald Tyson has several excellent books on both crystal and mirror gazing.
Herbs and Witches have a long history together. Witches have used herbs for healing, midwifery, for spellcraft, decoration, cooking, and more. Because of this relationship, most herbs have both medicinal and magickal correspondences.
It doesn't take long for a Witch to accumulate a whole array of both indoor and outdoor herbs, as well as purchasing dried herbs to have a collection at your fingertips. Some herbs that I think are useful for every Witch are lavender, patchouli, sage, vervain, rue, thyme, basil, cloves, mugwort, and, well, this list could go on!
I use herbs mainly for cooking, cleaning, baths and cleansing rituals, spells, incense, and satchels. I have an array of aloe plants (they grow very easily, and are excellent for dry skin and burns, and cats don¹t eat them!), sage, basil, thyme, chives, patchouli, and parsley currently growing on my kitchen windowsill. When springtime rolls around, I plant more flowery herbs and vegetables in my front yard: lavender, dill, roses, pansies, sunflowers, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, and more. And then there are the herbs that grow naturally in my yard and nearby.
If you don't have much of a green thumb, or just don¹t have the room for a variety of plants, there are many stores that readily have dried herbs. If you¹re looking to cultivate live plants, most nurseries carry a variety of "curiosity" herbs, or you can grow them from seed. So check your local nurseries, places that carry dried herbs, etc - you'll be surprised at what¹s just around the corner from you.
Chants & Songs
I love chants and chanting. It is a wonderful thing to do with people that you work with magickally. Over the years, I have compiled and written many chants, and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ones. Unfortunately, I have lost information on authorship for some of these, so I have no one to give credit to. If you happen to know who is the author of a
particular chant, please write me so I can give credit where it is do.
Tempest¹s favorite chants and songs:
The Earth, The Air, The Fire, The Water by Libana
The Earth, The Air, The Fire, The Water
Return, Return, Return, Return (2x)
Ia Ia Ia Ia
Io Io Io Io (2x and repeat verses)
We All Come from the Goddess
We all come from the Goddess
And to Her we shall return
Like a drops of rain
Flowing to the ocean
Goddess Name Chant
Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna
Earth My Body
Earth my body, Water my blood
Air my breath and Fire my spirit
Hoof & Horn
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn
All that dies shall be reborn
Corn and grain, corn and grain
All that falls shall rise again
We are a Circle
We are a circle, within a circle
With no beginning and neverending
We are the Earth
We are the Earth
We are the Moon
Come, Rising Sun
Lead us from the Tomb!
Cauldron of Changes
Cauldron of changes, Blossom of bone
Arch of infinity, hole in the stone
We All Come from the Horned God
We all come from the Horned God
And to Him we shall return
Like a spark of fire
Leaping to the heavens.
Witches weave your circle bright
Spin a web of golden light
Earth and Air and Fire and Water
Bind us as one.
We are the Weavers (Tempest version)
We are the weavers, we are the web
We are the pattern, we are the thread
What are magickal tools and how do they work?
Magickal Tools are specific items commonly associate with various forms ofmagick and ceremonial magic. Wiccans have approximately four magickal tools that are mostly derived from ceremonial magic: the athame (ritual double-bladed dagger, pronounced ath-a-may), the chalice, the pentacle, and the wand.
-In some Wiccan Traditions, there is a black handled athame and a white handled boline, each which have specific purposes. The athame can be a symbol of air or fire, and may be used for casting circles, symbolic cutting, herb gathering or similar activites. It is not used for harm/sacrifice. It is considered a masculine object.
-The chalice or cup symbolizes water and the womb, a feminine object. It used for holding ritual wine, or blessed water.
-The pentacle symbolizes earth, and is the upright five pointed star within a circle. It may be drawn on a tile or round piece of wood and placed on the altar or hung over the altar.
-The wand is usually a decent length of a specific wood, sometimes carved, leather wrapped, or inserted with crystals. Depending of the tradition, it may be for fire or air. It can used for blessings and casting of circles.
Other objects that can be considered magickal tools:
-The stang: a full length staff, often with a crescent or fork at the top,
considered a portable altar/creater of sacred space.
-The scythe or sickle: crescent bladed knife use for the ritual gathering of herbs
-The cauldron: hearth pot, container of liquid workings
-The pin: often made of bone or special metal, used for special sewing
-The besom: a broom, usually NOT made from broom herb, cleansing, combination of male and female