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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in arts & crafts

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Focusing is an important part of practicing magic, and there are a number of tools that can help you achieve this--like the wand. Wands are directly linked to Nature and the four elements, the source of all physical life. Wood wands, in particular, are quite common because they hold elements of earth, fire, water and air. In Irish myth, oak, ash, thorn and hazel are the most noble of the trees and, therefore, the best for wand making, but you can use any that “speak” to you. One of our friends, author Pauline Campanelli, liked to use a fallen twig from her favorite twisted filbert tree! The tree is anchored in earth, draws water and nutrients from the soil, releases oxygen through its leaves, and is burned for fuel. Wood naturally conducts energy.

Other materials are popular as well, and for the same reason: conductivity. Crystal wands are great at drawing energy from your hand chakra and directing it outward, as are those made of copper. Your wand can be as simple or fancy as you like. The feel is most important. How does it rest in your hand? Does it feel too light, too heavy, or too awkward? When you extend your arm and point at an object in the distance, does it seem like a natural part of you, or does your arm get weak and shaky? When you draw a pentagram in the air, can you sense your energy moving outward through the wand? These are things to consider when making your selection. Obtaining a wand can be as simple as finding a fallen branch with an interesting twig, buying one from a Craft store or festival, or making your own. Crafting a wand yourself allows you to bind your energy to the wand at all times, not just when it's in use. In fact, you can easily craft a wand that combines wood, crystal AND copper. You will need:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Avast me Witchlings! The Summer Solstice is upon us--and this be no ordinary Sabbat! Sound the trumpets! Break out the MAGIC CONCH! Aaarrrrr!

Pirates (and Sponge Bob) aside, there really is such a thing as a Magic Conch. When you stop laughing, consider this: The life that was stirring at Imbolc blinked it's eyes at the Spring Equinox, started to bloom at Beltain, and now is in full swing--a reason to celebrate!

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His-story. It's dark, and the air is chill--Summer is a'comin in--but not quite yet. You're standing in a circle around a tall, dark object. You can just make out its narrow limbs; arms and legs formed by tightly tied bundles of twigs and straw. Suddenly, flames blaze up. In the crackling firelight you can see the figure at the center of the circle--the Wicker Man.

The lighting of the Wicker Man is a very old tradition that we know little about. Of course, there's the obvious: a Wicker Man is a human figure made out of wicker, straw or twigs, but he's built hollow so that things can be put inside him. But how this tradition started is a bit of a mystery. The ancient people who first built them--the Celts--didn't write about their practices. The first person to actually record anything about Wicker Men was Julius Caesar, and the picture he painted wasn't pretty. He wrote that the Celts created huge, human-shaped wicker figures, and inside they would put small animals, grains and slaves (yes, people), to be burned inside as an offering to the gods.

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Got plastic bags? Many businesses offer or sell reusable shopping bag swag, but we still haven't totally eliminated the old standard disposable sack. If you have any of these lying around, reuse them as much as you can, and then up-cycle them. This is important work, and one of the best ways to honor the earth and leave a smaller environmental footprint. Even the rattiest plastic bag can be made into something cool: a heavy duty tote, an apron, place or door mats, even a shower curtain; the list is endless. Use extra care when doing this work with children as ironing and cutting are involved. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Assorted plastic bags (garbage, food, store) in different colors, sizes, patterns
  • Scissors
  • Wax paper
  • Iron
  • Ironing board or table covered with a heavy towel

Cut the plastic bags so they lay flat (no handles or folds at the bottom). You'll need between five and seven layers to make one sheet of material, so plan ahead to make sure you’ll have enough! In order to know how many plastic bags you will need, you have to decide what you are making. A tote bag (which will require sewing or stapling) will require more than a change purse. Of course if you use large bags, then you will need fewer. We made an apron, and used five medium store bags for the fabric, and four smaller bags that we cut designs out of to decorate it.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Natalie Zaman
    Natalie Zaman says #
    Thanks so much for stopping by! ♥
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    So cool! Thanks for this!
Spiritual Gifts and Money – Feeling Comfortable Charging For Our Services

I loved reading the tarot so much I carried six decks with me at all times.  I gave readings in restaurants, in class, outside Starbucks, at parties, in the park, over the phone, even by instant messenger.  Reading tarot connected me with Spirit.  It was sacred to me, even if most of the people I read simply found it entertaining.

How could I charge for readings when giving them brought me so much pleasure?  Could I really refuse someone a reading because they didn’t have the $20 I felt bad about charging?  Should I read some people for free even while charging others?  Were free readings worth less than paid ones?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Very nice and I totally agree. In some quarters of our Community "money" - even the very concept - is seen as offensive and even
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thank you, Carl! I have a whole other blog post about hating v loving money brewing in me noggin'. The first draft of this post
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Well said! The question of charging for services by no means is limited to the metaphysical ones; the underlying problem is nearl
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thank you, Terence! I agree with your points as well. I hope my story does indeed resonate with some people and help them push p

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

For many, the Summers Solstice is a time for Sun, Sea and Sand, the longest day and the official start of summer in the West--a good time to create a shadow box altar to honor this turn of the wheel.

Before we get started, I want to tell you why shadow boxes are important. They are not only seasonal reminders of our 8 holy days, but they take concentration and focus. By thinking about the elements that go into the box, you are also centered on the meaning of each box. What represents Beltain? Should I include a maypole? What can I use from my environment to honor the gods at Imbolc? (The image below is a Beltane altar--in miniature!--and made from clay, beads and found objects.)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In the library of the University of South Carolina, you can peruse—with the help of a librarian and a pair of cotton gloves—a rare and marvelous text called Joshua Gordon’s Commonplace Book, which dates to 1784. Gordon’s little tome contains herbal remedies, recipes for treating livestock and human ailments, and a number of magical charms which call upon Christian concepts—the Trinity, the name of God, etc.—to do everything from revealing a thief to treating demonic torment to dealing with cuts, scrapes, and bruises. In 1820, John George Hohman produced a now (semi-)famous book called The Long Lost Friend, which outlined a number of cures from the Pennsylvania-Dutch tradition, as well as methods for magically gaining a dog’s loyalty, treating skin lesions with homemade salves, helping cherries maintain a longer shelf (or branch) life, and a method for guaranteeing a good catch while fishing which involves rose seed, mustard seed, and “the foot of a weasel.” Some houses in Berks, Lancaster, and York Counties, Pennsylvania would have had copies of Hohman’s book, and some would have manufactured their own collections of spells and recipes more in line with what Gordon did. In some places, the possession of a strange and mysterious publication known as The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses provided a person with magical powers by mere virtue of the book’s ownership—the spells within being an added bonus.

When I was training with a Gardenerian Outer Court (and I should emphasize that I never went beyond the dedicant phase, and so the inner workings of that tradition are not expressed here), I remember the concept of the Book of Shadows being explained to me as a sort of hand-copied and inherited text. Each new initiate would likely have copied down his or her own version of the High Priest and/or High Priestess’ book, and perhaps have added to it over time with new spells and rituals. Over time, the book could evolve and change, but the process would be slow and meticulous, growing with the tradition itself.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    What a great post! I'm a bit of a journal junkie , and of course my grimoire is most special to me, so I've thought about it a lot
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Lovely, Cory. Thanks!

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