Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Little Something Different

I just came across this really old post on my personal blog and thought that it would be an even better fit here. I don't remember doing this, but it sounds like it was a pretty neat exercise.

Melinda

Personalized Psalm 126

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#TBT - Improve Communication Spell



February 7, 2003

Communicate with a Loved One

            This simple spell improves communication between you and a loved one. If desired, anoint two yellow candles with a love oil of your choice, then light the candles. Hold an agate in your hands, and charge it to bring better communication between you and your partner. Lay the stone between the candles, and encircle them with pink or red-colored cord or thread. Allow the candles to burn down before moving the agate, then place the stone on your altar or carry it with you. You might want to charge a second stone and give it to your partner, letting him or her know that it is intended to promote better communication between the two of you.


As always, please let me know if you try it, as well as how it turned out!

Blessings,
Laurel

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#TBT - Self Love



17 January, 2003

Remind Yourself Love Spell

            Sometimes we supply our own worst obstacles when attracting love into our lives. This little spell will help. Light a pink candle. Write in red ink on a small piece of parchment five things that you really like about yourself. Charge a handful of rose petals and a piece of rose quartz with your intention of self-love and acceptance, then place them, along with the parchment, into a small bag. Tie everything up, and place the bag somewhere where you’ll see it often – a reminder of what’s good about you.


Take it, adapt it, and make it your own. Oh, and let me know how it worked! Feed me comments, folks!


Until next week!

Blessings,
Laurel

Thursday, August 13, 2015

THT - Creativity Spell

Spells From the Past


Today marks the beginning of a new blog series on here, inspired by the popular Throwback Thursday meme. I've been lucky enough to be published with Llewellyn since the 2002 Magical Almanac, and I've been writing for the Spell-A-Day since it's reformatting with the 2003 edition. I've been lucky enough to write for the Spell-A-Day more often than not over the past 15 years (*), which makes me feel very blessed and lucky. It also means that I've written 225 day and topic specific spells in that time. Can you believe it? Honestly, I can't. That's a lot of spells written just for publication.

The really cool thing - that I somehow forgot about - is that all of that the rights to all of that writing, spells and otherwise, revert back to me after a few years. And while I'm working on compiling all of the spells that I now have the rights to into a book, I thought it would be fun to share them as part of the #TBT meme. Check back every Thursday for a different spell or article from my writing past.

For the book I'll be doing a bit of rewriting, tidying up, and perhaps clarifying more of what I intended with the spell. For the blog, you're gettin' 'em as they were published.




4 January 2003
Spell-A-Day

Controlling Creativity


            Here’s a little spell to help you get control of your creativity. Prepare your sacred space as normal, then light two yellow or red candles and call upon your muses. Mix a half cup of sand with three teaspoons vervain in a small bowl. On the sand, focus your intention of being block-free. Suffuse the sand completely with your will. Hold an obsidian stone, ring or pendant in your cupped hands, seeing it as an empty object ready to absorb the sand’s energy. Bury the obsidian in the sand for three days. Keep the stone with you when working, taking it in hand when you feel a creative lapse.


So, there ya go! Take it and adapt it for your own use. Oh, and let me know how it turns out! I live for comments.


Blessings,
Laurel

* Does the math not quite add up? In reality, I made my first sale to Llewellyn in 2000, which is when articles for their 2003 annuals were being written. I wrote the Resolution Ritual up and sent it off in 2000. They published it in August 2002, with the year 2003 on it (just like buying a calendar for the coming year), and paid me in November of 2002. I've done it so long, my brain just does the math, except for the occasional slip when I'm looking up info and holidays for one of the Spell-A-Day almanacs.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The "Burning Times"

I suspect I'm about to open a can of worms with this post, but I really feel that it's important to know the history of your subject. So, that being said, I'd like to talk a little bit about a controversial subject within Paganism, especially in Wicca and Witchcraft - the later medieval/early modern witch hysteria that swept parts of Europe. Many Pagans refer to it as "The Burning Times" and accept that hundreds of thousands of witches were innocently burned at the stake for their beliefs.

You see, my college background, while starting out in the hard sciences, took a wonderful detour into the history department, where I devoured every medieval history class I could fit in my schedule. (Except for English Constitutional History. I'm not that big of a masochist.) And once you know the history of the time period, you realize that a lot of those Burning Times assumptions are, well, bunk. There were A LOT of reasons why so many innocent folks were tortured and killed, but being a witch as we think of them today wasn't one of them. Politics, religious struggles brought about by the Reformation, greed, fear, power struggles, contamination of the food supply...all of those played a part in what happened.

Yes, there were midwives and folk healers who were victims, but there were also widows, the disabled and crippled, and even men caught in the hysteria. Didn't like your neighbor's wife and the witch hunters were in town? Tell 'em she was a witch! Also, the witch hunters got often got a portion of the wealth belonging to their victims. A man could get wealthy as a witch hunter. Furthermore, the accused would name others while under torture, just to make it stop, even if only for a little while. Most Inquisitors when into the questioning with the opinion that the accused was indeed guilty. They just needed to make them to confess - so they could burn or hang them - and then gather the names of their dark companions.

Anyway, I was honestly going to do the research to refresh my memory and then write my own essay, but honestly, there are already a few floating around the internet. So instead, I'm going to give you some links where you can read more about it. And yes, my first link is to Wikipedia, where the article is very, very good.

Wikipedia: Witch Trials in the Early Modern Period
The background part of this is quite interesting, but feel free to skip the boring details of the middle section. Seriously, the data there started to put me to sleep, and I've even studied the topic in class.

Religious Tolerance: The Burning Times - Extermination of Witches and Other Heretics
Make sure you follow the two links at the bottom of the article. They contain more information.

eZine Articles: The Burning Times

http://paganblogproject.com/

Cast the Circle Round

Or, How I Cast My Personal Circle

Dear Evie, you asked and so I have tried to deliver.

Raising the circle, closing that final gap in time and space, feeling the energy channeling through you and out into that boundary between where you are standing and the rest of the world, feels like a moment of pure magic.

Circles are used to both contain energy raised during ritual and spellwork and to define that boundary between the sacred and the mundane, which is why so many of us choose to do most of our work within the boundaries of one. However, it’s confession time – for a long time, I didn’t bother with a circle, viewing it as either a device belonging to High Magick or to Wicca. Since I don’t identify with either of those, I felt no need to use one of their devices.

But how do you cast the circle? Really, as long as you put energy and intent into it, I’m not sure there’s any way to cast a circle incorrectly. I am sure that there are as many ways to cast a sacred circle as there are casters and rituals.

I’ve been a part of some public rituals where the circle casting was wonderfully creative and often moving. However, right now I want to talk about how I raise my own personal circle when working alone. It’s pretty much all done in my head, using visualization to both raise energy and direct it around me.

For me, the following process came naturally once I’d made the decision to really work with circle casting. It was created more by instinct that deliberate thought. If it doesn’t come as easily to you, perhaps you need to alter it for yourself, or maybe it just takes some practice to get the visualization down in your mind.

To begin, stand or sit comfortably. For me, the most comfortable position is to stand with my feet planted slightly apart. As I take the cleansing bend my arms slightly at the elbow, my forearms out-stretched and my hands palm up. I like to breathe calmly for a few minutes before taking a really deep breath and consciously letting it out. As I do so, I allow myself to ground and center with the world around and about me. Now close your eyes while continuing to breathe deeply and deliberately.

When you are ready, let your mind go elsewhere as you visualize your magic circle. For me, this is an energy-filled place of wonder. A natural stone circle with a stone, dirt area cleared in the middle where my spirit-self stands, hair blowing with the energy streams moving about. Sometimes I dip my arms down slightly and as I raise them back up, the circle’s energy shoots up around me. Other times I visualize myself turning, hand outstretched and raising the energy as I go until it connects together again, forming the circle. If I want to, I can then turn to each compass point, inviting in this particular energies as well.

That’s the visualization in my head and I’m afraid, for the sake of some sort of brevity, that I’m not doing the beauty of it justice. I have this spot so cemented in my mind that I can go there practically anytime I want, just by closing my eyes and taking that centering breath.

However, my circle casting for ritual goes one step further in that I need the circle here about my in the physical sense. To do this, I superimpose, in my mind, the area in the elsewhere over my physical environment. As the energy of the circle there is raised, it is also raised here as well. In this manner, I can cast my working circle regardless of whoever else might be moving about in the house, or regardless of whatever walls might be in the way.

It might be a little unorthodox, but I’ve found that it works very well for me. You really can feel the energy of the circle here in the physical world. To dismiss it, I simply go back to my visualized spot and dismiss it in reverse of how it was raised, but either by turning my palms downward and lowering my arms, or by turning and watching the energy seep back into earth as I go.

 Laurel

 Just a quick note about this week’s post. I asked Evie if she wanted me to write on circle casting or correspondences and this was the topic she selected, although I’ll try to get one up on correspondences for her a little later on. And this was harder to write than I thought it would be since I had to mentally deconstruct something that has become almost second nature. I’m not sure what I would call the other plane that I visualize. For me, it just is and needs no particular name.
 
http://paganblogproject.com/
 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Balder the Beautiful

[Yes, in my attempt to get caught up on the Pagan Blog Project's posts, I'm recycling yet another essay from the past. The was published in the Fall 2001 issue of The Pellet, a local newsletter put out by Circle of Gaia Dreaming, the then local CUUPS group. I wrote several deity/mythology essays for them and am really enjoying the opportunity to pull some out of the closet and blow off the dust.]

           
Balder truly was the most beloved of all the gods. He was fair of face and fair of hair. Beautiful to behold and wise to speak with, he was always kind, always happy and smiling. But one day, his brow began to look troubled. It was only a matter of time before Odin noticed his son’s sadness. Odin and Frigga, persistent parents that they are, coaxed the matter from their beloved son. Lately his sleep had been greatly troubled by heavy, burdensome dreams that left him little rest.
            Troubled by their son’s nightmares, Odin and Frigga took steps to ease his mind. Frigga sent her servants out in at direction to seek out everything, living or not, and ask them to take a most solemn vow not to harm Balder in any way. Only the mistletoe was overlooked, it being thought too weak and inoffensive to cause any harm to anyone. Relived, Frigga returned to her spinning and weaving, grateful that her son was safe.
            Meanwhile, Odin traveled to Helheim in disguise and consulted with one of the Valas, or prophetesses, on the matter of his son. She revealed that Balder would soon be slain by his blind brother, Holdur, god of darkness. His death would be avenged by a half-brother, Vali, who was yet to be born of Odin and Rinda, the earth goddess. Indeed, Vali’s sole purpose in life was to avenge the death of his brother by killing the other.
          
  Returning home, Odin learned of the precautions his wife had taken and began to relax. Perhaps Balder would be safe after all. He ordered feasting and games. Throwing sundry objects at Balder became a source of great merriment to the other gods – all except for Loki. Disguised as an old woman, he happened to be in the right place at the right time and was stopped by Frigga as he passed by her window. The goddess asked what all the laughter was about, to which Loki replied that the deities were throwing all manner of things at Balder, none of which were hitting the god. The spinning Frigga smiled and, laughing, replied that it was ok since everything had taken an oath never to harm her favorite son. A further question from the disguised trickster led to the revelation that the mistletoe had not been asked to swear to Balder’s safety.
            Learning of this weakness, Loki turned to the castle gates, where he knew mistletoe grew. Using his magic, he made it grow tall and strong, forming a sturdy spear. The god of the fire then joined the fun and asked what was happening that the others were taking turns throwing objects at his twin, Balder. He lamented that, since he couldn’t see he also couldn’t take part in the fun. This was the opportunity Loki’d been waiting for. Handing Hodur the spear, Loki promised to turn him so that he was facing the right direction to throw it at his brother. Everyone watched with anticipation as Hodur hefted the weapon and let it fly, striking Balder in the chest and killing him.
            At Frigga’s bidding, Hermod set of for Helheim to seek Hel’s goodwill towards Balder. Odin gave him Sleipner, his eight-footed mount, to speed him on his way. At first, the dark goddess would have none of it. Once someone died, they died. Visits to her abode were permanent. Finally, she relented, allowing Balder to return to the living if everything – living and non-living, would shed only one tear for the bright god. This every object under creation gladly did, except for the giantess Thok, who was perhaps Loki in disguise. She refused to shed a tear, claiming Balder had never done anything for her, so why did she care if he lived or not?
           
And so Balder remains a guest of Hel, although his stay isn’t lonely. His loving wife Nanna (Blossom) died of a broken heart upon seeing her husband laid out on his funeral pyre. The assembled gods tenderly laid her next to her husband before setting it aflame. They await the end of the world, when they will once more join the other gods in the final battle.

 
Bibliography:

Cotterell, Arthur. The Encyclopedia of Norse Mythology. London: Lorenz Books, 1999.


Guerber, H. A. Mythsof Northern Lands. New York: American Book Company, 1895.

Norse Mythology. [http://www.ugcs.Caltech.edu/~cherryne/myth.cgi/Balder.html] [Apparently this link is no longer active, but it has been over a decade since I first used it.]

http://paganblogproject.com/