Archive for the Ritual Category

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 Not for publication really, gods knows there is enough of those on the market.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?

Summer Solstice Approaches

Posted in Dreams, Fairies, Garden, Midsummer, Ritual, Uncategorized on June 14, 2013 by theredlass

I have a great deal of hope set aside for this year. With the first box garden quickly growing up beautiful and the herbs starting to sprout, I feel like we are on our way to relying just a tiny bit less on grocery stores and a little bit more on ourselves. It’s a slow process of course, and we’re a long way off of chickens and such, but sometimes a dream takes time.

2013-06-13 20.28.02 2013-06-13 20.27.58 2013-06-13 20.27.43 2013-06-13 20.27.36 2013-06-13 20.27.23 2013-06-13 20.27.15 2013-06-13 20.27.14 2013-06-13 20.27.06And of course with the summer solstice nearing, I have every intention of continuing my fair house project. The ones from last year have fallen into some degree of disrepair and so I may have to take them down and replace them. I want to ensure they have fine houses to visit.

2013-06-13 20.29.09 2013-06-13 20.29.18 2013-06-13 20.29.22 2013-06-13 20.29.25 2013-06-13 20.29.29

 

6 Gallons of Love

Posted in Experament, Fun and interesting, Mead, Ritual with tags on December 2, 2012 by theredlass

While I may occasionally express irritation at how things don’t always go as I had planned with my group, I can not deny how positively lovely this little experimentation has turned out! Right now, my kitchen counter is occupied by no less than 6 gallons of beautiful, multi-colored, honey saturated wine. It bubbles away soothingly as it is infused with scent and flavor lovingly added by a dedicated group.

Our original flavors changes a little with what we had available to work with. After the initial taste test (which may or may not have required several tastes…to be sure of quality!) we got down to the business of pumping the mead into individual containers. I have to say that this batch (only the second I have ever made) turned out much more bubbly and vigorous than my first. The sweetness was much more apparent and it did not have that yeasty overtone the way my first one did. Perhaps because we added the full 20lbs of honey as oppose to just 15lbs?

We then pulled out the ingredients and began cutting, chopping, slicing and squishing what we needed. I am so glad I went ahead and splurged on a 6th 1 gallon carboy! Otherwise we would have wasted a huge amount of mead. We decided to leave one gallon plain, just so we can taste it after secondary fermentation and see if it’s any different. While some may not find this particularly interesting, I do, so I am going to post what each member did with their carboy.

Myself- I took my time slicing the peaches into little cubes (I bought frozen peaches because they are not currently in season) and dropping them into my cloudy golden mixture. I added about 4 tablespoons of pure almond extract, shaking the carboy around a few times so that the oil didn’t pool on top. Lastly, I sliced up 4 good sized pieces of candied/ crystallized ginger (this stuff was strong!) and dropped them in. I popped the cork in and shook it vigorously, making sure my additions were being… bruised?…into the liquid. We gave it a small taste but all you could really get a sense of was the almond, nothing else had really soaked in yet. But I still have high hopes. Even a day later I can see the bubbles working their way through and the color starting to drain from the peaches.

Laura- Her process was a little more automatic than the rest of ours. A few weeks ago we bought a Lingonberry syrup from Ikea which she has taken a shine too and wanted to see how it would fair with mead! She poured herself a small glass, then began adding syrup until the tartness made a nice counter to the sweet. Once she’d added about 1/2 a cup to the carboy, it took on a cute pinkish tone and she decided that was enough.

Kasii- This member went for what I think is a traditional melomel, squishing up a huge bag of blackberries and chopping up strawberries. As a last minuet addition, she put in a small handful of the pomegranate seeds, just to see if she could get the level of tartness up a mite and improve the color. The flavor was noticeable right away and I maaaaaaay have attempted to steal the cup. It’s now a deep purple red color and has the honor of being the first batch to ‘pop’…twice…as the yeast feeds. She thinks it’s cute “Ït needed to be burped!”

Kayleigh- Another melomel, but with a different flair. I sincerely pity & respect Kayleigh for sitting there and peeking, scooping, and checking 2 1/2 pomegranates to get the seeds out! Her fingers will be black till Yule! But damned if she didn’t sit there dedicated to see it through. She even added an apple (diced up) to the mix to add some of the more mellowed out flavors. I will note that while the mead itself is turning a bright purple, it is the apples color that I notice dissolving most quickly. The taste of this one was refreshingly tart and awakening. I’m really excited to see how it comes through.

Ariel/Anthony- Technically the last jug is theirs to flavor, but there was an emergency which meant they could not attend. So we took it upon ourselves to make sure their desires were carried out. I think this is the batch we are going to warm for our Yule feast as I can not think of anything better than sitting around a table with hot apple cinnamon mead! I think we ended up putting 3 apples and 5 cinnamon sticks into the brew, which now smells almost exclusively like cinnamon but tastes more like apples. It’s gaining a deeper golden brown color as the days go by and I think it will be a lovely addition to the table.

The deal, at the end of this, is that since everyone contributed (either by buy ingredients, supplies or by helping with the process) we all walk home with bottles of mead at Yule. We agreed that 8 would be set aside for the sabbat rituals so that there is always something to use for our “cakes and ale”. And to be entirely truthful, I’m not sure how much mead is going to survive Yule! Everyone including myself is looking at it with greedy eyes and we may well drink a lot of it.

The best part of this is, now that everyone had a jug (which were purchased individually) we can all start our own mead experiments! Laura and I purchased 3 jugs on our own, which means we can have 2 brews going at once. I made sure everyone knew where to get their supplies so that they could go and buy their equipment and we talked about having a mead competition next Yule (2013) with prizes for who ever has the best bottle. I know for sure I am brewing another bottle of the Snapedragon (peach, almond, ginger) if it turns out well. But I also am debating a metheglin brew with lavender, chamomile and anise seed. Haven’t come up with a name yet.

We left about an inch of mead in the bucket because it was far too yeasty to do anything with at that point. I am going into the circle today to offer the last of it to the gods in thanks for their assistance in this batch. We also decided as a group to only do a full 6 gallon brew 4 times a year. It is a lot of work and even with only having to buy ingredients, it can get expensive. Plus this will give us the added opportunity to play with seasonal flavors! So we will do a big batch on the solstices and equinoxes and the rest of the time leave it to each member to brew on their own.

THINGS I LEARNED:1) When working with a group on a large, money spending project, be sure your finances are in check BEFORE starting out. This would have been a lot less hectic had we simply gone and bought everything we would need before hand.

2) Call ahead to your supply shops and be sure they have what you need in stock. I had to visit 2 brew supply shops to get everything which included a 30 min drive the night before we flavored in order to find carboys!

3) Be perfectly clear during communications as to who is doing what and when. No major disasters here but it might have made everyone feel more comfortable if I’d be more specific about what was happening.

Samhain Batch 2012_2Samhain Batch 2012_3Samhain Batch 2012_4Samhain Batch 2012_5

This batch was started on Samhain 2012 and will be bottled on Yule 2013.

This batch was started on Samhain 2012 and will be bottled on Yule 2013.

Samhain Batch 2012_6

 

Altars to Hekate

Posted in Altar, Hekate, Ritual with tags , , on November 8, 2012 by theredlass

For a while now I have been feeling a significant pull towards the Greek all-goddess. I’ve been doing my best to learn more about her from a historical and modern ritual perspective and between Hekate’s Liminal Rights by Sorita d’Este (very dry…informative and historical but very very dry), and Temple of Hekate by Tara Sanchez I feel ready to start physically and mentally working with her to a stronger degree. Part of this (at least for me) is creating a strong presence of her in my home. I had originally created an altar to Hekate a while ago, but it was…well… Have you ever wanted really bad to produce something spectacular and had to settle for second best because it’s all that was available at the time?

Yeah her altar is kinda that.

But I really decided to make this a project! I found something at my local Pat Catans that I think I can turn into a really bad-ass altar!

Yes I know technically it’s a boat, but erase that from your mind. I see it as a shrine. An alcove dedicated to Hekate. I’ll have to paint it and give it a coat of clear so it shines. I’m thinking black on the outside, using a lovely gold mesh scarf to give it a gentle draping curtain.

Top Layer: Black, Hekate statue, candles, incense.
Middle Layer: Red, scrying mirror, offerings
Bottom Layer: White, items being charged, ritual objects

It’s a long term project but none the less I think it’s a really good way to start integrating her into my life. This is a nice way to show my dedication. It will also be the first time I do a full ritual to Hekate. Whole nine yards people. Hymns and everything.

Is it wrong to be excited enough to squee?

Samhain 2012

Posted in Circle, Ritual, Samhain with tags , , , on November 1, 2012 by theredlass

We did pretty good despite rain, cold, wind, smoke and a little confusion! The ritual took place at midnight in our new altar space with a huge fire roaring and providing a nice warmth for everyone. We had a freeze warning out for this area so we were kinda moving through the ritual fast as we could.

We setup up 4 altars, one for the Chthonic Deities, one for the Glorious Dead, one for the Ancestors, and one for Pets & Familiars. After the wordy part of the ritual everyone was given the chance to pray and make offerings at each altar, as well as look into a scyring mirror and attempt to see anything. No pressure, just to try.

Right after we did our offerings, just as we set up for meditation, a series of high, excited yips went through the year. We realized that there were coyotes in the field closest to us, scavenging about for their Samhain meal. It was a moment of sincere excitement and you could feel the group energy rising rapidly. Coyotes seemed an apt sign, as their nature makes them conveyors of death in the form of scavengers.

http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-coyote.html

Once we came inside and got everything from the ritual all cleaned up, we set about the task of mead making. We came to a decision a while ago. We made a big, 5 gallon tub of plain honey mead last night, taking turns stirring it and adding honey and water. But for the secondary fermentation, we will split up the mead into 5, 1 gallon jugs, and everyone will get the chance to experiment with flavors and spice mixtures. We will also, most likely, start another batch of mead. *grins* I think I’ve started a trend.

So far the flavor concepts we have are:
-Peach, Almond and Candied Ginger
-Apple, Cinnamon
-Pear and Clove
-Pomegranante
-Raspberry, Strawberry, Blackberry

We talked about what exactly it is we want to do in our newly formed circle, why are we making this decision, and how. We each chose  book to read for the next two months, and went over what the curriculum will look like. All in all a very satisfying night. I think we finished around 3 am.

Ritual Space

Posted in Circle, Ritual, Samhain with tags , , on October 10, 2012 by theredlass

As Samhain draws closer, my group has begun setting up our ritual space in my back yard. Being that we are going to be starting out lessons after this Samhain, we decided on having two ritual spots. Since I have the bigger back yard, more out in the country, I offered to host the Sabbats. They are kind of bigger ceremonies and celebrations, and I have the room to make it more of a fete. Moon Ceremonies (not just full moon) are being hosted by a fellow member who’s yard is smaller but more intimate.

Would anyone be interested in seeing pictures once everything is up and running?

On that note, I am setting things up for the classes so that they happen every two weeks. I wanted to do them every full moon and Sabbat, but the full moons are falling very close to the Sabbats in 2013, sometimes within the same week, so that would make thing a little overly hectic and problematic for everyone. So whenever we get together, we will celebrate whatever phase the moon is in (because hey the full moon isn’t the only important one) and have our lessons.

12 Month Challenge-via M.Shaffer: War of the Sexes

Posted in Feminism, LGBTQ, Ritual with tags , , on June 28, 2012 by theredlass

I am a proud feminist. Allow me to explain for a moment.

I think that women are currently second class citizens in America. I think that though great strides have been made within the last hundred years towards women being viewed equally, there is still a very long way to go towards true equality between the sexes. To me it has very little to do with pay scale or position and a great deal to do with perception and self limitation. I think women today are as much to blame with how we are seen and treated as they way any man treats us. We have allowed ourselves to believe that feminine power is all wrapped up in sexuality and bitchiness instead of simply having some pride and honor in our dealings. I know I’m generalizing here but every time I see a girl wearing a pair of pants that say Bitch in ghetto typography with a shirt that loudly proclaims they are “Too Cute for Math.”, all I can think about is how Susan B. Anthony must be rolling in her grave. We are our own worst enemy, and that is true of MANY different groups in America.

Okay now that I have ranted for a moment, allow me to get into this from a pagan perspective. I think part of the reason that women and men have fallen so far from a path of honor and pride is due to our lack of social recognition for what makes a man or a woman thus. We all watch National Geographic & Discovery, we’ve all seen the Taboo episodes where they discuss initiation rituals where men and women have to prove their adulthood through some trial. And while yes we all flinch at the blood rituals of Africa where a boys skin is made to ripple like a crocodile or the whipping of a new wife as she goes to her husbands house, there is something to these rituals that makes them significant.

Recognition.

Yes they are painful, brutal even, but within this is the recognition by ones family and peers that the initiate is significant. That they have achieved something that makes them worthy of note. In America we simply tend to take advantage of the concept that 18 years old means you are legally an adult. It’s an age, once you hit it you are an adult and that is that. You don’t have to achieve anything beyond breathing to accomplish it. It simply happens.

I read this story once where young men were undergoing their man making. In order to accomplish this, they have to remain awake all night long, holding their spears,  at attention without leaning or resting, no water or food, standing towards the horizon. It was the last in a series of tests including fasting, hunting, leaping over a burning pit, all to prove they were ready for the responsibilities of manhood. In another, the women had to undergo the breaking of their hymen in a ritual in order to ensure their first lovemaking would be pleasurable and their children would be conceived in joy rather than pain. It was painted as terrifying and intimidating, but in the end the girl (now woman) was praised and painted and rewarded especially well if she didn’t cry out or whimper during the ritual. She showed endurance and was treated as a woman from then on, allowed to choose who she wanted to wed.

Now I’m not suggesting these things. They would be inappropriate for our day and age just as would animal/human sacrifice. What I am saying, is that within witchcraft, we have the unique ability to organize some form of recognition for those growing up in our path. While in general I think it’s a good ideal for covens and groves to be unisex, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with gender specific covens. I think for some people they offer a desperately needed refuge from a very stereotyped culture. And this is not exclusive to women either. In our time we are seeing the shift of gender orientation and conception become more and more open. Male and female is not as cut and dry as we have always seen it to be. So my question becomes, are gender oriented covens limited by genitalia or personal perception? Could a person, born a man but who sees themselves and lives as a woman join a Dianic Wiccan group? Could a woman who identify herself as a warrior personality participate in “Warrior Games” (which are held at some events). Mind you I am not saying that I have seen any evidence that they can’t. Pagans pride themselves on being forward thinking, open minded and tolerant. So I see little reason for this to be an issue.

What I am saying is that when you form a gender oriented group you need to be aware of the ramifications and perceptions people (both within and without) are going to develop. You need to be clear about the purpose and intention of such a group? I have heard of some women’s wiccan groups that are specifically for victims of rape. Does that mean only female victims or could men find support there as well? Does that mean Male on female, female on female, male on male, female on male or all inclusive?

Yes I know it’s a very wife berth to consider thoroughly. But at the same time I think gender oriented groups have a lot to offer in solidarity and actualizing ones self. Something I have been wanting to do for a while now is to host a Red Tent event, just for a day. Talk about issues facing women today, health care (especially now that Obamacare is remaining in tact WOOT!!), life goals, self perception and body image. (I think I just now realized that the Red Tent is a sleepover for adults.) But a lot of my friends are gay and bi sexual males. Does that mean they get excluded? Does that mean their brand of feminine energy (some of which is more powerful than mine) should be cut out because they happened to be born with a dangle rather than a cleft?

It’s not an easy task. But I think when we talk about gender and sexuality in paganism, it is something we need to seriously consider.