Winter Solstice

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2013 by theredlass

So it comes. That time of the year when we are half way through the winter and the reclaiming of the sun is closer. The nights are still long and dark, but this gives us time for rest and recuperation. This is a time to think and consider ourselves and what are plans for the next year will be.

I have difficulty getting people to understand what the Winter Solstice/Yule truly is. After all, in it’s modern secular incarnation it looks an awful lot like Christmas. So I wanted to take the chance to explain how it has become more meaningful to my little family to celebrate our more pagan alternative.

This year my wife and I had a long conversation and basically decided to forgo Christmas. We have always celebrated both in turn, but for some reason this year we just did not feel like it. It seemed…stale. Hectic and unappealing. I am sure there are people out there who keep Christmas as the warm and loving time of year we remember from our childhoods. I am sure there are many who still see it as a sacred celebration of the return of God’s child. And this is all well and good. But what we decided to skip was the mad rush for presents, decorations, Christmas music, family visits, sweaters, holiday parties and all that stuff that just ends up being more exhausting and takes away from the meaning of the season.

-We ditched out 7 ft tall Christmas tree in favor of a slim, 5 ft.
-We decided to take every weekend after Thanksgiving and handmake our decorations. (NOTE: Look up Julbocken on Pintrest. You will fall in love!)
-We decided that the gifts we gave one another would be singular and handmade. Something we took time and effort to do for one another.
-We learned how to make homemade cheese, butter and gingerbread and will be giving out boxes to friends and family along with a home made Julbocken card! (Seriously Julbocken. They are friggin ADORABLE!)
-We refused to having anything to do with Black Friday.

We are still going over to families houses this Wednesday. Mostly because it is something that they expect and frankly my mother-in-law can COOK! but we’ve been having more fun making all our stuff for the house. We started off with the felt julbocken, then made orange slices with clove. We made cranberry and popcorn garlands and mixed cinnamon stick with dried orange peel for a candle display.

A Time For Creativity

Posted in Experience, Fun and interesting, Grimoire, Hekate on November 13, 2013 by theredlass

As the first blusterings of winter start to roll in, we naturally dwell more indoors. There is a subtle but definite shift in our habits. Meals become stockier, made to warm the belly and keep in the freezer. We sleep harder and better, cocooned in our blankets and pillows. Our clothing goes from style to comfort and we do whatever we can to maintain this till the thaw.

We are also more given to our creative impulses.

It’s something of a comfort to know that the cycle of life hasn’t really changed that much in the last few thousand years. The warm months are made for activity, action and productive work, physically based effort. The cold months are for mental awareness, letting our minds being to take over and flourish. I intend to use this winter to catch up on some much needed stocking of my witchcraft supplies, as well as trying out some new crafts I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

I’ve been wanting to make invocation candles for Hecate for some time now. I used beeswax from Mountain Rose herbs (LOVE THEM), cedarwood amber (for it’s smoky, sweet scent), yew leaves and worm wood (both of which has symbolic connection to Hecate). It went rather well, good strong scent.

Beeswax, Cedarwood Amber, Wormwood, Yew leaves, red food coloring.

Beeswax, Cedarwood Amber, Wormwood, Yew leaves, red food coloring.

melting down wax

melting down wax

almost melted

almost melted

Finished Hecate candal

Finished Hecate candal

I also need to start putting work into my grimoire. it’s funny, once I decided to make one of my own I was so nervous about putting anything down in it! Doing something “wrong”. Putting something down that would fuck it up. but I finally decided to get started. Take my time and put into it the creativity that I enjoy so much.

Fall Foliage

Really? Really, Today Show?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2013 by theredlass

So one of my the things I do to wake up and watch in the morning is the Today show on NBC. I don’t really consider it news, but it’s kind of a nice thing to have going on in the background while I have my coffee and bagel. It came as no surprise that, with Halloween around the corner, it was a topic of conversation. I was only half listening, as most of it was about the usual complaints that seem to crop up. Some schools are choosing to ban Halloween due to “safety concerns”, “peanut allergies”, “separation of church and state”. It received no more than my usual eye roll as I listened to the cast discuss if these concerns were legitimate or not.
And then Al Roker said something that made me eyeballs twitch. “I’m just not sure people want their children celebrating an unwholesome, pagan holiday.”
Excuse me?
It took me a few minutes to wind down my temper before I wrote this so that I could present my case in a competent manner.
*deep breath*
Okay, let us first discuss that Halloween, in and of itself, is not a pagan holiday. It is derived from a Catholic holiday (or two) which were based off a pagan holiday and has been diluted through the centuries into an American holiday. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s a lot of fun and represents a deep seeded psychological coping mechanism to deal with our fears. But Halloween is not, to me at least, related to the pagan celebration of Samhain. No more so than Christmas is related to Saturnalia.
So let us now tackle the unwholesome comment. I know that a lot of churches may not approve of the holiday, but I know of even more than sponsor Trunk or Treat, or full out Halloween parties in the church itself in order to provide a fun, safe environment for the children.
I’m not going into diatribe about the meaning of Samhain, because this isn’t about Samhain. It’s about Halloween. That wonderful, amazing time of year where we get in touch with our inner desire to play pretend and our inner sugar junky. It angers me enough when schools ban every kind of costume besides princess and superhero (hello gender indoctrination). Or when they say that children can not bring candy to pass out to the class because someone might have allergies. It infuriates me when beggars night is a full week before Halloween even pops up and when there is a curfew installed “for the children’s protection”. It upsets me when the media portrays Halloween in the fear mongering light as though your children are in danger of being poisoned at every turn. Just for the record, every instance where they found candy to contain poison or glass, it was found to be a relative of the child who gave it to them.
Guys, please stop turning this fun, quirky time of year into some mass conspiracy theory! Yes there is some amount of risk in allowing strangers to give your kids candy. I know it might seem ill advised to let them wall around as a zombie any other time of year. But just follow a few basic rules and everything will be fine.
1) Never let your child trick or treat alone. Go with them.
2) Only trick or treat in areas where you know people.
3) Make sure your children have a reflective patch somewhere on their costume and/or a flash light.
4) If your teenager refuses to dress up to go trick or treating, tell them to go buy a bag of candy at the store and stop being a dick.
5) Be sure to take your 10% candy tax at the end of the night. This includes first choice of all chocolate, nut and caramel filled treats. A full size candy bar is worth triple all “fun sized candy bars”. Junk candy (strawberry wrapped, candy corn and anything that can be found in the bottom of your grandmothers purse) does not count as legitimate candy and as such can not be used as taxable income.

Witch’s Are Crafty People

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2013 by theredlass

Yes I know it’s a terribly old and punny saying, but it’s also incredibly true.

Once every few years I pick my way through the obligatory Drawing Down The Moon by Margot Adler. It remains once of my favorite groundings books regarding the craft because it reminds me of certain immutable facts about our path.

Modern witchcraft is a giant patchwork quilt of concepts, ideas, practices and theories. The historical research helps, but just as often as not we are left to our own devices and must make it up as we go along. We are often having to draw from our own imagination in order to fill in the gaps for what we need to accomplish. And this leads to the crafting part of Witch Craft.

These last few weeks I have been at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. There is a person there who makes some of the most brilliant crochets I have ever seen. When I asked her where she found the patterns for her work, she chuckled and said she hates patterns, so she make it up as she goes along. Hey work is creative, well made, and very very beautiful. It made me think about how much we need to deviate from the prescribed concepts of our interests. Once you learn the basics and practice a bit, it isn’t necessary to limit yourself to what is already out there. Sometimes you need to stretch and experiment for yourself.

Of course this opens one up to mistakes and yes even disasters. But such is the nature of experimentation. You have to try and risk failure in order to achieve innovation!

Oh What A Wanderful Morning

Posted in Uncategorized on October 9, 2013 by theredlass

Okay so it’s Oh what a BEAUTIFUL morning but still…

So something I’ve been interested in for a while now is working on wands and staffs. I find them to be an almost irreplaceable part of basic Craft knowledge, especially when you factor in all the different woods, oils, crystal and rune combinations that can be applied. When I discovered that the bush right outside my door was Yew (Taxus baccata), well that just added an excuse for me to start up with my creative juices.

I selected a fine branch, relatively straight. I have a certain aesthetic I prefer when creating my wands. I like there to be a curve or bend in them so that my finger can rest comfortably on the arch while still connecting the handle to my palm. I also like to leave some bark at the handle. It feels more natural that way and it gives one the opportunity to really see how the wood is colored. I used 120 grit sanding sheets to strip the rest of the wand by hand. It didn’t take long, perhaps half an hour plus a little extra for rounding out the ends smoothly. Once I cleared off all the dust, I used organic Eucalyptus oil and spent perhaps another fifteen or twenty minuets working it into the wood fibers till everything felt shiny and smooth.

I am pretty happy with how this one turned out from the base. I will be getting my hands on a small wood burning tool soon so I can start putting runes into it. I am also tempted to set a crystal in the tip, although I’ve never had any strong proficiency with crystals myself.

Out of curiosity, would anyone here be interested in a Wand Giveaway?

Bindrune Protection Ritual

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 3, 2013 by theredlass

Bindrunes seem like strange things to our own eyes. But in truth it is no more or less complex than writing a sentence in a near dead language. Rune were the ancient form of alphabet for the Scandinavian people. They held a great deal of significance, given that most people were not literate, and so to many these strange, esoteric marking must have held a kind of mystical power. Surely if someone was capable of discerning meaning from these lines they must be possessed of great powers and magic!

Thanks to my graphic design (and typography obsessed) wife, I know that a ligature is what happens when two or more letters are placed together to form a word, or glyph which conveys meaning. She then tried to tell me about kerning which just went right over my head. For instance the ampersand “&” conveys a shorthand glyph for the word “and”. Therefor if runes are the alphabet, bindrunes are the equivalent of writing shorthand to convey meaning.

If you have been keeping track of my sporadic posts, you will note that this has been a massively problematic last few months for me. I am typically of the mind set that when something bad happens, it is due to the action or inaction of ones self. therefor when something goes wrong, you (or rather myself) is the only person who can do anything to fix this problem. I don’t cast many spells because I don’t believe the gods will do for you what you can do for yourself. I am more likely to ask for council or to be helped to see how I might solve the problem.

But when things get bad, I am not above a good Bindrune Protection Ritual.

Image

The bindrune you see under all the items is handmade. I used two layers of undyed batting and stitched the circle with brown thread to make sure the seal was good and tight. I used two shades of green and blue threat to make sure that the bindrune itself presented an aesthetically pleasing shape as well as a cohesive appearance.  The powdery circle round the rune is my own blend of mallowroot, crushed eggshells, wormwood and kosher salt. I feel it makes for a heck of a protective circle when dealing with empowering a talisman. The bell is to draw forth and cast out any fell spirits or energies which may be inhabiting the area. The incense is to make them sicken and choke and drive them away. The cauldron holds a charcoal circle and…of course…a lock of hair from myself and my wife are present.

After I cast the working, I burnt the hairs in the cauldron. I will leave the circle out for a few hours so that the power can mull over it and solidify. When I come home from work tonight, I will take the contents of the cauldron and the protection powder, sew it up in a little pouch and bury it with a sacrifice for Hekate at the cross roads.

I will write something about this in my grimoire here soon. I need to think on it and keep an eye out for what results come forth. Though I do want to mention something. I did not ask for bad things to stop happening to me. I asked that if any entity is working against me and mine, that it be cast out. I asked that if fell powers were causing problem, that they be held back or halted. I made sure to include that the results of these powers (mounting bills, increased poor temper, relationship tension) were all things I was capable of dealing with on my own. When debt is incurred, be frugal until it is paid off. When your temper is poor, take a breath and remember to think before you act. If these problem are causing relationship stress, talk with your loved one, share your grief, and remember that you are a team and can share one another burdens. Magic can’t solve these troubles for you. Only you can.

Why Bother Writing a Grimoire?

Posted in Books, Grimoire, Ritual on September 17, 2013 by theredlass

This is something I have asked myself multiple times through out the past few months. I am sure I am not alone in this process. After all, who among us does not have a few shelves lines with a multitude of books regarding witchcraft, paganism, druidry, spell, stones, herbs… So with all that information out there, why bothering writing your own book? Why not just flip back through the pages and use the ones others have written? Isn’t that easier and less time consuming?

Well yes it is. And for that fact there is nothing wrong at all with just using what is already out there. I’ve done it. A lot of us do it. And for many traditions there is most certainly right way and a wrong way to do things. So I can’t argue that it is likely easier and not necessarily any more or less sufficient to the craft than any other methodology applied.

So why bother writing your own grimoire?

Well I can’t speak for others. But I can tell you why I have begun work on mine.

I have been keeping this journal for a little over two years now. My posts are sporadic, but then again I don’t do witchery every single day so I don’t always have anything significant to post! I have spent most of my time doing everything from studying, to trying to get a group together, to growling in frustration and wanting to throw all this hocus pocus stuff out the window. And something I have come to realize is that I am less of a pagan and more of a witch than I first considered. I still use the term pagan to refer to myself with those who don’t really know, mostly because the term pagan is for many innocuous enough that they need to have it explained to them rather than draw their own misinformed conclusions. But during that time I have toyed with the idea of writing my own grimoire. Not for publication really, gods knows there is enough of those on the market.

So, why am I writing a grimoire?

1) None of the books out there singularly serves my needs.
When it comes down to it I am very much a D.I.Y, use what works sort of person. Everyone has to start somewhere, so I won’t say a word against the Silver Ravenwolfs’ and Raymond Bucklands’ of the community. But you do sooner or later reach a point where you feel you’ve gone beyond the basics and that you need to stretch your wings and fly. The best way to do this is to draw from what you have been working with and build on it. I often feel that rituals feel a bit too much like a children’s play recital. You stand there, repeating the words on the page because this is what you were told to do and personal inflection doesn’t enter into it. I did this for a few years with a druidic grove and frankly it bored me to the point of exhaustion. Creativity is a part of what we do. So embrace the creative impulse and build your own rituals.

2) Too many reference books means more time researching and less time doing!
This statement is almost going to counter my last one. If you have dozens upon dozens of reference books regarding witchcraft, then in all likelihood you are going to use them. Unfortunately, ometimes one book contradicts the other, and you end up spending a lot of time worrying about the “correct” uses of lavender & amber in a spell satchel as oppose to using what you know has worked for you before. In a grimoire, you are as much recording your own experience as you are the knowledge you have comprised over time. If you have it recorded that your results from a ritual were “such & such”, then you will probably feel more confident in repeating the process than if you take it from Guildercravens Book of Spells for Everything.

3) Writing helps with memorization.
I don’t care how long you have been studying, nobody friggin knows every crystal, stone, rock tree, bush, flower herb, god, goddess pantheon, etc in existence. Things slip from your mind now and again and especially things you have not made a habit of using. We don’t always need wormwood for a ritual, so sometimes you forget what it’s used for. Sometimes you just can’t remember if it’s better to use sandalwood oil or patchouli for your red candle if you are trying to work a spell. But if you wrote it, or typed it in my case, chances are you will retain the knowledge for just a bit longer. Not to mention it will be easier to locate.

4) Sometimes it’s better to talk to yourself.
We all have strong opinions when it comes to our practices. And the strange thing about our craft is that none of us are really wrong about any of it. Our methodology may differ, our thought process is not always a direct one, but if you look at it logically
Example:
2+2=4
Does this mean that 3+1 does not or can not =4?
Or that 5-1 does not =4?
How about 2×2?
Or 4×1?
Sometimes you need to question your own perceptions and have conversations with yourself about your practices. While it can be beneficial to have these conversations with a fellow, sometimes it’s too personal or it’s just something you need to work through for yourself. And that’s okay too.

5) I think of a grimoire differently than most people seem to.
For the most, the grimoires’ that are on the market today are all along the same vein. They are mini instruction booklets akin to how to program your VCR…or more accurately how to assemble IKEA furniture. While this is not really a problem, I see a grimoire as a combination journal, study guide, documentation, instruction, reference encyclopedia compendium. It isn’t meant to just sit there and be read! It’s meant to be expanded upon! That which does not grow, dies. And as such, while writing mine, I intend to leave plenty of room for notes at the end of each section so that I can continue to add things as the years pass.

6) I don’t practice the way a lot of people do.
Really this is true for everyone. But for the most part I have my own views as to how the universe works and the nature of…well…nature. I’d prefer to have my own pathway lit by a lantern in my hand than to have someone who isn’t from the area guiding me. Yes this can make things harder, but ultimately more rewarding.

7) You tend to appreciate something more when it’s your effort that’s gone into it.
You don’t pop out a grimoire in a bloody week or two, not unless you are just copying everything over from somewhere else. It takes time, effort and a lot of consideration. So hopefully you will see the finished product as an achievement and recognize the value of what you have to contribute to the craft at large. I know a lot of us (myself included)still feel like we don’t know what we’re doing, even though we’ve been involved for years. Well you’d be surprised to find out how much you know, how much you don’t know, and how much fun it is to discover both when you bring all that knowledge together.

Now what I would like to know is, from my followers, would you like for me to give you progress updates on how the grimoire is coming along? Would you like to see what I’m including in there or does it not particularly interest you?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers