Blurb

Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Update: Available NOW!

Hi there dear Reader,

After a bit of exasperation and some challenges, the Southern Hemisphere edition of A Year With Dea: A Filianic Daybook is available for purchase. While I am confident that I have ironed out all of the issues, there may be a revision coming on this in a few months. (My anxiety tells me that I missed something huge and very important. Though I have rechecked my work several times. So, I'm going to go back through it in a few months, just to make sure that everything is entirely as it should be.)

The Northern Hemisphere edition will be re-released in a few weeks after I get everything set for the cover art. The plan is to have both books with similar cover art. Presently, I am narrowing down the right picture. Obviously, I am continuing with the theme of roses and celestial backgrounds.

I am also coming down to the finish line on the book that I referenced in both texts: Drowning in Light. If everything goes according to schedule, I may actually finish it by the end of July. My being unwell has delayed pretty much everything I've been working on, including finishing edits and formatting for publication.

Thank you for your patience with me in this process. I will be updating pages and including pictures of cover at as soon as I figure out how to make that work. (My computer has been a bit challenging. I have my expert helping me out, also known as my exceptionally supportive and patient husband. In the process, he has been teaching me how to work this stuff out myself. So, it can definitely be described as a learning process.)

Thank you again.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Godspousery Notes: I am doing what?

It has been a very long weekend for me. Partly because of the fact that there was a wedding that Beloved and I attended Saturday, and the whole day was a comedy of errors. Example: I left my eye glasses in the apartment, so he went in to get them before we left. Then he realizes he left his phone in the apartment. When he comes back out, we realized that my eye glasses were still inside, safely behind the locked front door. It was a bunch of silliness like that for the whole day.

[...]

It is now Monday evening. I am still trying to gather up the spoons to do things. I just haven't been well. I struggle with a massive sense of guilt for this. Loki rather pointedly reminds me "Needs trump opinions." It may sound like a really simple statement that anyone would agree with. I, however, need the reminder as much as my pride says I don't. I tend to default to a low opinion on myself and what I am worth. (It pretty much goes hand-in-hand with my disability and such.) So, when I have a day like today where I was exhausted most of the day and I can't stand to look at myself even obliquely in the mirror, I need the proverbial kick in the pants to pay more attention to the fact that as badly as I may feel about doing things like taking a nap or the daily anxiety medication when there is nothing in particular in that moment requiring the medication, I need these things and that is what matters.

Nothing is quite so unpleasant as when you are called out on neglecting yourself. Especially when you were convinced that you were doing just fine and not doing that. It is even more unpleasant when the reflexive guilt kicks in and then you get picked up by the scruff of the neck and told to knock it off, when you don't realize what you're doing until a few horrified moments later. At which point the guilt thing threatens to start up again and you get a proverbial shake with a second warning.

I could say that everything is fine. Beloved is employed and doing well at work. The boys are almost done with school and everything seems to be going just fine there. Heck, this is the first time in a while that I can say with confidence that I managed not to overspend money when I was doing my necessary shopping. But, I feel awful and I feel awful about feeling awful. It's a recursive state of misery that I hope will be resolved as I work with my new therapist and my psychiatrist.

Loki made a point of nudging me into the path of the new therapist. So, there is no question about what he thinks is going to help me out. I'm sure he's going to point out some other stuff as well. I did, after all, ask for some help and guidance. I am struggling right now. Please forgive me if I am not as cheerful as usual.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Divination Notes: Runes - Ansuz

The runes are a challenging divination practice. They are one one hand fairly easy to pick up and the base meanings associated with them are simple, single words. At the same time, however, there is a subtle quality to them that makes the runes highly subjective. They are the foundation of the English alphabet (combined with the Latin alphabet) and most of the runes are still in use somewhere in the world, even if it is in some later generation rendering of the glyph.

While many people think of the runes as a shorthand for magical practice, they are actually a full alphabet and it is better to understand them as an alphabet, with the shorthand being treated as acronyms, much like how the individual letters of NASA are associated with separate words (and separate, discrete1 concepts). Many people start their study of the runes with the rune Fehu. I am beginning with the rune Ansuz. This choice is because it corresponds with the letter 'A' of the modern English alphabet and will be easier to remember if we follow the alphabetical order we are familiar with in studying this ancient system of letters.

Ansuz is written in a few different ways, depending upon which runic system you are looking at. The glyph is considered by many to be derived from the neo-Etruscian character that later became 'A' in the Roman alphabet, which is in turn believed to be derived from the Phonecian aleph. There is some debate as to the meaning of this rune. Different rune poems and different cultural perspectives gave rise to a series of different ways to interpret this rune, even though is most cases it was for the same letter in the alphabets of these peoples. The Norwegian rune poems indicate that Ansuz means estuary. The Anglo-Saxon rune poems indicate that it means either mouth, oak, or ash (presumably the tree) depending upon which particular variation of the Ansuz rune is used. Interestingly, in one of the Icelandic rune poems, Ansuz indicates one of the Aesir, more specifically Oðin.

Various 'experts' on runic divination have indicated that Ansuz can be a rune interpreted as signals from the gods, communication, or as an indication of the presence of the gods. In my personal experience, Ansuz can indicate communication on its own. When it comes up in a reading with Gebo, it suggests positive or beneficial communication for the querant. If it comes up with Haglaz, it suggests muddled communication at best, at worst arguments. If Ansuz shows up in a reading with the rune Isa, it is showing failed communication or a lack of communication.

I use the term 'experts' rather loosely here because the number of people who speak and use the ancient dialect is exceptionally small. And that number does not include anyone who learned it directly, as all is a careful reconstruction done with their best guesses. Thus, I have taken the liberty of going with what I can establish based on prevailing theories. My interpretations present above, however, are based upon my experience reading them for the better part of two decades. As the popular saying goes, your mileage may vary.

~*~*~*~*
1. My use of the word 'discrete' here is in the sense of individual defined units, similar to how it is used in mathematics.

Book Update.

Hi Folks!

I'm presently working on getting the Southern Hemisphere version of A Year with Dea through the publication process. It has been something of a frustration as I make small adjustments and then the system on the website I am working through skews those adjustments and messes the whole thing up. I'm pretty sure the solution is something really simple that I just keep failing to spot. It has made my day a bit of a headache, to be honest.

The manuscript for Drowning in Light is almost complete. I expect to get the first round of serious edits done next week. After that, if everything goes according to plan, I can get the next set of edits down around mid-July. I am a little behind schedule with these books right now and I'd like to apologize for that. I have been having some technical difficulties this time with the sites that I work with to self-publish. I have finally managed to get all of the paper background work for this done, though. (Sifting through over two decades of notes is exhausting but worth it.)

As it stands right now, I am hoping to have something for you all in the immediate future. This, however, depends on my ability to get this confounded manuscript through the publication process. I'll be drawing on the technical expertise of Beloved to see just where I'm making my mistakes. I figure he's a programmer and may spot the one thing that I am not picking up on. He's good at doing that sort of thing.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Godspousery Notes: Everything Goes Sideways.

It has been a little while since I updated on this topic. Part of the reason is because I wasn't quite sure what to say and part of the reason is because life has been hectic. I was sitting here wondering why everything was in such turmoil of late. And then Loki cleared it up. At which point I felt completely foolish.

We have an agreement, him and I. There is a small list of things that I have to do, which is aimed towards improving my health and my relationships with people close to me. I had been failing to make the effort towards these things. After a week of not doing these things, my luck started to go off kilter. And the chaos field around me, for lack of a better word, activated. I wasn't putting the cause together with the effects, and getting frustrated with it all.

Loki sat me down Saturday evening and had a conversation with me. He pointed out where my failings were and where I was actually struggling. He noted that my struggles counted towards doing what I agreed to because I was making the effort. The others, I had basically given up when it got hard As a result, I started having problems that were not so bad as to actually be injurious to anyone but significant enough to catch my attention.

I was oblivious as to just how out of synch things had gotten until my slow cooker decided to try to light itself on fire. And then, later in the day, chaos happened around me when I was out grocery shopping. Things like wheels falling off of shopping carts as I passed by, items falling off of pallet jacks and landing at my feet each time I walked by one, or the biggest thing, every single cash register that was open crashing all at the same time when I walked up to check out. Synchronicity was really hard to brush off at that point.

So, after that conversation between Loki and I, I apologized for my failure to hold up my end of the agreement. I was firmly told not to apologize, just fix my behavior. I said I would. A little bit later, after the conversation had been done for a little while, I started to habitually do something that was not very good for me. Cue Loki's reminder.

A bat just appeared in the apartment. I have no idea how the little thing got in here. But I spent about an hour freaking out and trying to get it out. It kept swooping me. When I initially realized it was there, it tried to land on me. (No biting or scratches.) I managed to herd it out into the entryway and I shut the front door of the apartment, thinking the matter resolved. Go use the bathroom, come back into the kitchen to find, lo and behold, the bat had crawled UNDER my shut door. It flew around in circles for a bit. I had a minor panic attack. Then managed to get it out the backdoor.

Sometimes Loki's reminders are subtle. Other times, it is literally a bat flying at your head.

Recommendations: Alcohol for Summer rituals.

A pretty large number of modern pagan rituals include some manner of feasting. And an equally large number of them speak of having alcohol as both an offering and for imbibing. There is a plethora of options for including alcohol. The choices could theoretically become less diverse as you focused upon individual spiritual paths, but with the sheer amount of variety within those paths, it doesn't really change.

That said, there are some really nice things you can have as part of your libations that are also super tasty and within an inexpensive budget. That said, I would like to note that my experience with alcohol is a bit limited because I don't drink recreationally. So, if you have suggestions, please post them in the comments. Share what you think is tasty and delightful.

Wine
There is a really wide range of wines on the market. For my part, I have a couple of guilty pleasures that I must confess. I love Arbor Mist, pretty much anything from their product line is fantastic. The Blackberry Merlot is perfect for a summer ritual, in my opinion. I also really enjoy Riunite's Lambrusco. They're both inexpensive but they also both taste delicious.

Spirits
The list of alcoholic spirits that can be given as offerings or had as part of a celebration is easily as long as my arm. I am a little particular about my choices. I enjoy whiskey. If you're looking for a fairly inexpensive whiskey that tastes nice, I like Crown Royale. Their apple flavor is a big hit around my place. Fireball whiskey is a thing between Loki and I. It is possible, however, to infuse flavor into a bottle of whiskey. If you are infusing cinnamon, don't let it sit too long and put your cinnamon stick into a cheesecloth bag to catch the wee bits that will come off as it soaks into the alcohol.

Beer
There are countless different kinds of beer you can have. Some are flavored, some are not. If you are looking for an IPA that is not too hoppy, look into something from Southerntier Brewing company (if you are in Western NY). They actually have a range of IPA beers, so if you want something with a lot of hops, they've got one for you too. Of the flavored beers out there, I think that the best is the Peche Lambic from Lindemans. I find it at Wegmans in the beer aisle. It is delicious warm or cold, but chilled really is best.

Mead
Now, I put mead into its own category because it straddles the line between wine and beer. Honeyrun Mead's Ragnar's Dry Mead is pretty nice. Pair it with some fresh bread and cheese, and you are going to have a wonderful time. Chaucer's Cellars' Chaucer's Mead is also very good. It is a bit sweeter than Ragnar's Dry Mead, but it is like drinking pure sunshine.

But, there's some ideas for you as you get ready for your Midsummer celebrations.



(Sorry this is a few days late, thinks have been super busy here.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Video Message: What is Mindfulness?



Hi there, everybody!

In this week's video, I discuss mindfulness. It is a term that is thrown around quite a bit by people who practice meditation (among other things). It is a practice and a skill that actually does more than make your meditation session better.

Mindfulness is focused attention on what you are doing as you are doing it. Thus, if you are paying close attention to your meditation session and staying aware of what thoughts go through your mind, how you are feeling, and what you are doing; you are being mindful in your meditation practice. The same skill of paying attention to what you are doing and how you are doing it can make for being better at washing your dishes in the same way it makes you better at meditating.

Additionally, the awesome thing about mindfulness is that the more you use it, the easier it gets to use it in other areas. So, your practicing mindfulness when you meditate may lead to you being more mindful when you wash those dishes and more mindful when you are driving your vehicle - thus making you a safe driver.

It is a little hard in the beginning, but once you figure it out, it is really easy to apply in other areas. And, in my opinion, makes your life much easier.

I hope everyone has a great day!



~*~*~*~*~*~
I forget what was playing on the radio. I think it was something from Karl Jenkins. I'm not wearing a scarf today, but, you might be able to see that I dyed my hair. It is my current 'stealth' covering, which makes things easier on a few different levels right now. I'll talk a bit more about that on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Prayer with Intent.

Image from Pexels.com
I previously discussed the intersection of prayer and our deeds. Looking back over my notes on that entry, I realized, I didn't do a very good job of explaining the role intention played in prayer, hence this evening's post.

Now, many people come to prayer and think of it as a time to as the Divine for things, to praise the Divine, or possibly confess their shortcomings. These modes of prayer are indeed all forms of prayer but they all come to the session with different forms of intention. In prayer, intent plays a much larger role than your words.[1]

When one sits down to pray, the come to the session with an objective in mind. That objective is the intention behind their prayer session. Perhaps the most common intention behind prayer is asking the Divine for help realizing things and making changes to situations. Sometimes the prayers come out when we don't consciously intend them to, but that deeper intention behind the sudden prayers is what moves it forward. (Anyone who has been stuck in a highway that resembled a parking lot more than a roadway has at least once or twice asked the Divine to move traffic along so we can get to where we're going. It may not be a conscious or a formalized prayer, but "Gods, please, just move will you?" is just as much of a prayer for Divine assistance as a long, stylized prayer intoned in the fashion of the ancestors. I suspect that it is also a lot more like what the ancestors prayed too.)

The act of prayer when it is done with thoughtlessness is something of a mixed bag of results. If the prayer being said is just something done off the cuff out of some sense of 'oh, I must do this and then dust the television.' is not going to have quite the same punch as one that is said with focused intent on the act of praying and what is the goal for the prayer session. This is because there is less mental focus behind it and less intention. When that unfocused prayer is given, it is much like a roulette wheel of results, left entirely up to the whim of the Divine.

Sometimes, however, a prayer said habitually has a strong effect. This is because the prayer moves from being a focused single unit of intention to being a vehicle for a larger focus of intention. An excellent example of this is the Rosary. The individual prayers are ones that can be said habitually with not a great deal of mental or emotional effort behind the respective prayers. Collected together, they become a tool where by one focuses their intent, their mental and emotional effort towards the larger goal of that prayer session. Thus, the individual prayers become like building blocks for the larger focus. It is the ritual of the collection of prayers said in that fashion that moves the magical/spiritual energy towards the Divine.

Prayer can be a very powerful thing. All that limits you is yourself and how much effort you put behind it. Also, remember, that the Divine is highly inclined to help those who help themselves and do some leg work to help manifest the prayer's results.

Herbalism, Tools, & Treasures: Wands (Pt. 3)

In my previous two posts, I discussed the general history of wands and gave some examples of what you could use as a wand. It is, however, not something that you need to go out and purchase. It can be as simple as picking up a twig or something that strikes you as a good sized pointing tool.

To the right, you will see that I am holding a twig and a feather. These are two items that can be used to fashion a simple wand. There is no standard as to what length your wand should be or what is the best items to use when creating your own. In some witchcraft traditions[1], it is said that your wand should be the length of your forearm from elbow to finger tips. This somehow got turned into the average length of a commercial wand you can buy ready made is around 1 ft in length, with or without adornments. I, personally, choose something that feels comfortable in the hand and not long enough to be likely to poke my own eye out, usually. (I am clumsy, so safety considerations must be made. LOL)

I usually pick up wood that has been seasoned by laying out in the weather for at least a year. I do this for two reasons. First, wood that has been thus exposed to the elements has less bark attached to it and is usually fairly smooth to the touch. Since I live near a lake, I prefer to get twigs and such that are driftwood (though this lake is small enough, I honestly don't know if it technically qualifies as driftwood). The second reason why I use seasoned wood that I find laying about is because it is stronger than green (fresh cut) wood and is pretty much done drying out, so it won't change or warp on me over time, or at least be less likely to do so.

Often, I just will use the wand plain and then add it to a compost pile. I have, however, made a few that were kept as long term items. The ones that are intended for long term use will have adornments put on them. The one that I shared in my last post (with the pink string binding things together) is relatively typical. I tend towards a minimalist design. I may choose to inscribe glyphs or other symbols on them. The inscription is usually done with something like permanent ink (I love my Sharpies!). Sometimes, I may carve them into the wood with a pocket knife and then fill in the carvings with appropriately colored pen.

When inscribing things, I will choose the inscription to be focused on where it is most useful. Sometimes, I put it at the head of the wand (which is the end that I would point at where I am directing my magic). Sometimes, I put it at the butt of the wand, which serves to help draw in the specific magical energies I am using it to control. And, then there is the inscriptions that I place where I hold the wand, which act to focus my personal energy transfer from myself into the wand and then into the spell.

Some people choose to use metal or wire in their wand creation on the basis that metal is a good conductor of  electricity and is considered reasonably to be a good conductor of magical energy. Crystals are often added to include a measure of geomancy into the spell work, using the magical attributes ascribed to the stones in the spell crafting. Feathers are added because they are associated with the element of Air and spirits. Or because the person that the wand is being made for has a strong tie or alliance with a particular bird. (My quartz tipped wand that I made has a blue jay feather on it because I have a deep affection for the raucous birds and they represent, to me, spontaneous happiness. I also have something of an alliance with corvids, which blue jays are part of that family.)

Wands can also be made to look attractive just because the person owning it would like a charming and delightful (or spooky and 'otherworldly') looking tool. Honestly, I think that there are two things that must be considered with respect to wands. If you are purchasing them, consider how well they feel in your hand and if it is comfortable. Also, consider how well made they are and if they will last as long as you intend to use them. Ask yourself if this is a tool that you will be comfortable using and will it be durable enough for what you intend to do with it? If the answer to both questions is yes and you can afford it, I would probably buy it.

If you are making one, the same questions must be answered. Here, however, you also have the option of customizing the tool as many ways as you can think of. I have seen wands made with furred spots for holding, elaborate wirework that essentially formed a cage around a highly polished wooden core, and a surprising amount of jewels/gemstones affixed to it. I have also seen them made with actual bits of bone and vials to hold dried herbs (and other things). The only limits to how you customize your wand is what you are comfortable with.

The storage of wands has a little less 'controversy' surrounding them than the storage of tarot decks. And by a little, I mean to say that I think the pages of flame-wars surrounding this topic is a score or so less than the other. My position is focused upon pragmatics. Thus, when I store my wands, I do so in a manner that is more focused upon preserving their physical condition than some nebulous magical state. I place them on a high shelf not because of 'not wanting lower vibrational energy' but because I have children who will use just about anything as a drumstick. I lay them down flat so that they don't warp over time due to humidity changes in the weather (which is why it is important to store things like violin bows laying flat as well, and spindles). I have a soft cloth that I cover them with to keep them clean and free from dust.

I know some people who keep them in a special box that has magical wards inscribed on it to keep out unwanted magical energy. I know others who keep them in a drawer in their desk alongside their other stuff, because they don't have anywhere fancy to put them. And I know a few folks who keep them in a vase. So, your storage options are varied. Possibly almost as varied as your options for how to make your wands. One thing that I do try to strongly encourage people to do with their wands is to make a point of handling them on a regular basis.

This does two things. First, it serves to help you make sure they are still in good condition and not in need of repairs. Second, it helps keep it 'attuned' to you. That is, it helps it remain an effective magical tool because the association between the wand and magic remains strong. As well as it regularly imparts your spiritual energy into the tool, which will build up over time to a very strong association. (People who engage in psychometry are picking up on this sort of thing when they handle stuff.)

Next week, I will share with you some of the more ... interesting things I have known people to have used as wands. (This list will be equal parts ingenious, hilarity, and cringe, I assure you.)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Divination Notes - How to keep them?

Gentle Reader,
Image from Pexels.com

I realized that I had quite forgotten to put up the second half of the discussion on keeping divination notes. As such, I would like to apologize for this oversight and present it at this time. Just as I may have said elsewhere, the method of organization I use may not work well for you. And that is just fine, because my goal here is to provide encouragement and information.

At one point, when I started keeping notes about divination, I just wrote everything down in a jumbled mess. It made it difficult to go back and review my notes. I was a college taking Chemistry 101 and I realized something. The same methods that I used to organize my lab notes, I could apply to my divination notes (as well as a lot of other things). So, I started to formalize my divination notes.

On the first line of the page, I write down the date of the divination session, who I am reading for, and the method I used. On the second line, I note what tool I used and any details specific to how I used it (i.e. which of my tarot decks did I use and what tarot spread). In the beginning, I wrote down a diagram with numbers for the placement of the spread. Since then, I just write down what spread I'm using and then number each card for its position. If you have gotten a tarot reading from me in the past, you may have noticed the notation system. I number the position and then write down the card name before noting my impressions off of the card.

I do this also for runes when I am using a spread for them. If I am just casting them randomly, I write them down in order that I am drawn to them with out any numbering. Because numbering means that they are at a specific position in a specific spread. When I am writing notes on runes, I write the runic glyph instead of the English name of the rune. I find it easier, but some people find it easier to write down the name of the rune. Runes are a little harder to interpret than tarot and most oracle decks. Where my initial impressions off of a tarot card may get three lines each, the runes get four to five lines per rune.

After I put down my initial impressions upon my first glance through the spread, I will then put together a more cohesive read of what the entire spread has to say. This is usually around 3 paragraphs. Sometimes it is more and sometimes it is less. I label this section as the summary portion. Following the summary, I do a quick 3 card reading to confirm what the general message from the spread is. When I am using runes, I do a 3 rune reading. If I am using a different divination tool, like my crystal ball (I have 3. One is snowflake obsidion, one is flourite, and one is rose quarts. I use the flourite for divination. The other two are pretties in my collection.), I may pull three cards from what ever tarot deck is in reach. Usually, however, I just let the reading stand as per what the summary presents.

My main tool for divination is the tarot. It is the method I am most comfortable with. I can use other methods, and I do on a somewhat regular basis, but if I am going to be doing a serious divination session where I take notes, I am usually using tarot. When I am doing a divination session involving myself or something I am involved in, I add one more element to my notes. A page for recording how the matter resolved itself and what, if any, relation it has to the reading I did. This may sound a little silly to some people, but I like to keep track of how often my divination sessions get it right. I want to be able to point at my divination sessions and use them as a tool for future planning, which requires them to be somewhat reliable.

I also use this information to determine what techniques I am doing well and where I need to improve my skills. So, I tend to keep fairly detailed notes. If you don't want to do so, that's fine. Some one I knew once wrote down a single line summary of their readings. They were comfortable with it and that single line was focused upon what they felt was the most important elements of the information they pulled out of their divination session. All the divination notes are for is to act as a reminder of what you learned from your session and to keep track of what works best for you.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pagan Parenting: Ethics (Pt. 1)

Image from Pexels.com
So, my wee heathens have hit the age that they are fascinated by weapons. My eldest has been learning about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War in school. My youngest has decided that Transformers are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And they have been toodling around the yard pretending that sticks are guns, cannons, and lasers ala Star Wars. And let us not forget the swords and lightsabers.

In typical kid logic, the boys have decided that one side is good and the other is evil. And that the good always wins. As well as the evil is ALWAYS wrong and bad. They have been talking about how they are going to fight in a war for our 'independence' and make all the bad guys stop by killing them. (My eldest somehow came up with the idea that striking bad guys aka criminals aka the enemy aka the British with a shovel would kill them, but only for a little while so he has to do it more than once to make sure they are really dead.) Now, where it would be easy to let them have this image in their heads about how the world works, neither Beloved or myself can do so. Because war is not a game. Weapons are not toys. And death is something permanent and you can't bring someone back from the dead.

As such, we have been very aggressive about explaining how they should and should not use their toy weapons. We also explained why. Given that we live across the street from the local gun club, the boys have an idea that guns are not very safe (but REALLY COOL). We have gone over things like what to do if they happen to find one (which is pretty unlikely because neither of us own a fire arm) and how to safely handle them. We've gone over the safe way to handle blades as well, because even a kitchen knife could be a weapon. Some of our concerns about gun and weapon safety are based in the fact that too many children have died as a result of confusion on that basis. (I mourned Tamir Rice and all of the other children who were killed for playing with realistic toys. I still have my heart break over the thought and the injustice of it all.) Some of our concerns are based in the question of when is it right to use violence (or by logical extension a weapon)?

We have insisted that violence should be the last resort. And that it should not be initiated lightly. The lessons that my father and grandfather taught me when I was a kid have been repeated several times here. "He who makes the first fist loses." and "Never start a fight but always finish one." They have a bit more explanation with it. We make a point of being sure that the boys understand they can defend themselves or someone who needs it, but they can not be the one starting a fight.

Because violence as a tool to coerce someone or force others to do as you want is something we can't approve in a blanket sense with any good conscience.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Herbalism, Treasures, & Tools: Wands (Part 2)

In my last post for this feature, I talked a little bit about the history of wands in a general sense. Wands are used in so many different forms both magical and non-magical through out all the cultures of the worlds, it really is too broad of a topic for me to cover quickly here. Thus, I would like to note that my information here is based in a combination of personal experience and my religious education in Western magical systems (predominantly of a U.S. version of Wicca).

A quick look at the picture I just posted here, there is an assortment of items that include a few things that don't seem to belong. The first three from the left are more typical examples of wands. The first (with the bright, bright pink thread tied about the head of it and a feather hanging off) is one that I made myself. The crystal that tops it is quartz that is wrapped in wire. It was intended as a focal piece for a necklace but when I got it at the store I knew it was perfect for a new wand. The bead hanging off is a bit of moonstone from a set of meditation beads I had to restring and (despite the fact I had the full number on the cord) it was left over. The feather is one of the wing feathers of a female blue jay.

The second from the left is a stunning example of polymer clay and related materials being turned into a magical tool. The crystal at the head is also quartz. It is literally the heaviest of all the wands I own. It is a little fragile, but it directs energy nicely, so I just baby it. It was given as a gift to me from A. (which I treasure and just can't stop looking at how pretty it is). Third from the left is a polished wand of apple wood that was given as a gift from E. It is just a little heavier than the first wand pictured, but it sits nicely in the hand and has a nice warm feel to it.

Fourth from the left is a pencil. Depending on the day, it could possibly be a pen. It lacks the adornments of the first two wand examples, but it does an excellent job in their place. Beside it is the final 'wand' I use, which is a wooden spoon. This comes out of my practices as a 'kitchen witch'. The writing implement as a magical tool sounds about as silly as a spoon for most 'serious' practitioners but they meet the criteria for what is a wand.

Now, one may ask, what to all of these varied items have in common to make them good wands? The answer is actually very simple. They act as an extension of the arm and hand. Thus, they can conduct spiritual/magical energy into a specific direction or towards a specific goal. The wands with the crystals at the end are generally understood to do a better job of focusing the caster's energy. The pointed tip on the apple wand serves the same purpose (as does the pointed tip on a pencil or pen). The wooden spoon has a bit 'wider' of a range in some exercises than others because it not only transmits this subtle energy but can also act to directly impart that energy into that which it touches more readily than the others.

Copper is a popular metal used in wand making because it is an excellent conductor of electricity, and is considered to logically be equally good for conducting spiritual/magical energy. Wood is often chosen on the basis of its popular/mythic associations. Apple, for example, is connected with domestic harmony, love, and the fairy realms. Poplar (the wood that the other one is made of) is associated with martial strength, lightning, and transitions. Pine (the wood that the pencil is made from) is associated with peace, communication, and wisdom.1

The most basic wand is a tool that represents the authority of the spell caster. It is also a tool by which the spell caster enforces their will upon the universe. As such, this is why they are considered to be a magical 'weapon.' If you look into the ancient myths, you will find that there are characters who carry wands and do use them as weapons. Perhaps the most poignant is that image of Skirnir threatening Gerda in the tale of the courtship of Freyr and Gerda, pitting magic against the giantess's will with a very decisive use of his wand.

Now, there are some who would argue that the wand is a more ... polite version of waving a penis around. It is an argument that I can't really turn aside. The argument is equally valid for the aspergilium used by the Catholic church in their rituals of worship. If you look at all magical tools derived from body parts that have been turned into fetishes of some sort, the logical answer that the penis is the origin of the aspergilium is impossible to deny. The wand as a derivative of the aspergilium is another origin argument that is not too hard to accept because much of ritual equipment in the more modern occult society consists of a re-envisioned perspective upon the ritual tools and regalia of formal worship.

Next installment, I will be taking a look at how to create your own wand and how to maintain and use it.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
1. These associations are based on general common associations made in the pagan community that I live in. With a little research, you can find the different associations of trees with concepts quite easily. A good place to start is in the ancient Celtic cultures, where trees were openly revered. There is some historical documentation about this reverence (some contemporary such as the writings of Tacitus and some modern findings).