Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Effective Spellcasting:Creating a Spell Target Profile

Obligatory Pre-Raphaelite witchy Waterhouse image courtesy of Wikimedia
(say THAT 3 times fast!)

Ever wonder what causes some spells to go off like a rocket and others to fizzle?
Part of it is, of course, the items you choose for your spell and timing. The other, larger part, is emotion and directed intent.
You can have the finest spell ingredients on the planet (ahem), but without a clear idea of your end goal, the time, energy, and money that you've invested into the spell is unlikely to hit even the broad side of a barn.

Since I've written my own spells nearly from the very beginning of my practice, or at the very least tailored old ones to my need, I'm going to teach you a little something that has been quite effective in practice: The spell profile.
A spell profile is a way of defining your end goal precisely, and is a good foundation to lay your spell work on for numerous reasons. The most apparent is when working magic towards (or against) a target. An example:

Say you are having problems with someone in your workplace. They spread rumors about you, take credit for your work, are untenably lazy, or just go out of their way to make your life a living hell. You've tried every mundane means of resolution possible without results and want to give them a taste of their own medicine.
But wait. Do you want to give them a taste of their own medicine, get rid of them entirely, or just run damage control ( bind them from gossiping, taking credit where it isn't due etc)?

Take a deep breath and grab a notebook. You're probably pissed off and ready to channel that rage into a spell RIGHT NOW (and raw emotion is an effective means of raising energy), but prep work makes all the difference.

Spell goal: write down exactly what you want your end goal to be. It's okay if it's a little rambling at first; you will be narrowing it down later.

Reason for the spell: what exactly has this person done? Are there certain areas that this person routinely attacks you on?

Target's mentality, strengths, and vulnerabilities: This includes motivations. Honestly contemplate what their motivations are, what they most likely seek to accomplish, or what satisfaction they gain from hurting you. What is their mental state (are they easily swayed by suggestion), are they skilled at manipulation, do they have allies within the company that enable them to continue this behavior? Do they use their looks to gain favor, and are threatened by possible competition? Write down any tendencies you've noticed in the person. Many people operate on near-autopilot, and react instead of respond to certain situations and dialogue.

Now, read through your goals as written. You can start paring them down, or you may have gained insight and inspiration into the heart of the problem.

Method of casting: The tools you will use to accomplish your end goal. In this particular example, if you have chosen to simply bind and silence her, a poppet and Stop Gossip oil can be employed. If your target has allies that would prevent their fall, you can incorporate separation magic into your working. If you wish to sour their life, a name paper (with personal concern) and vinegar bottle spell will do the trick.To get them to leave your workplace entirely, Hot Foot or Flying Devil products are the best way to go. If you want them to get back exactly what they dole out, a mirror box (or mirror bottle) spell will reflect all of their deeds right back to them.
Re-evaluate your goal and narrow it down.

Grab a Tarot deck, or your favorite means of divination, and do a reading on the situation and the effect your spell will have. Write down your tarot spread, the cards you drew, and your interpretation of them. Note any feelings or images that pop up.
This is your last chance to pull out. Your subconscious can let you know if the whole thing will blow up in your face, if the situation is well on it's way to resolution (big boss is firing them next week, etc), or that you might just want to reevaluate the spell goal entirely. You get more flies with honey than vinegar, and a sweetener spell, or heavy protection magic for yourself may be all that is needed.

If you get a "full speed ahead" reading, you now have a very clear method of effectively casting on your target.

A note on cursing: I gave this as an example because people tend to get very emotionally invested in revenge and retribution magic, even more so than with love spells. For the same reasons, many magicians go off half-cocked without thinking of the full implications or motivations for their working. I am of the personal belief that allowing an evil to exist in the world is just as bad as perpetuating it. By allowing someone to walk all over you, you grant them the power to do it to others in the future. Witches are people who take responsibility, not ninnies who say "someone should do something about that", but rather "what can I do to change this".
We all teach each other life lessons, and refusing to engage because of fear of karmic retribution is a good way to get slapped in the face by your concept of karma.

For the Wiccans reading this, I respect your Three-Fold Law, however there are still means to accomplish your goal without violating your vow and ethical structure. This is yet another reason to clearly define your end goal before casting. Unfortunately my experience has been that the people that scream white light the loudest are the first ones to throw a curse for the tiniest slight. Don't pick an ethical structure that you can put away when it becomes inconvenient.

I could give you other examples of how to use this spell template, but frankly, you guys are clever and can work it out for yourselves.

If you're still feeling a bit lost, here's a quick example of a money spell profile which would- Include goal: comfortable prosperity, a charge of luck, promotion, job, $100, etc.

Here, you are the target. Evaluate strengths, vulnerabilities, etc. What have you done to get what you want in the mundane realm?

Define your method of casting based on your end goal.
Do a reading to see if you're on track.
Now go do that hoodoo that you do so well!

As always, if you have any questions, please write them in the comments section.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Practical Magic: Clearing Out the Winter Doldrums

Pictured: Rue (ruta graveolens) courtesy of Wikimedia

By now many of us are restless and downright claustrophobic with the omnipresent winter months. The energy your house and ritual area feels stale, heavy, and close enough to be oppressive.

This is usually caused by an excess of residual energy (from spellwork, ritual, or just everyday emotion) that isn't grounded properly. Even if you carefully ground from your magical workings, bits and pieces tend to hang around.

How to fix?
My go-to herb to combat magical muckery is rue. Renowned for breaking curses, removing negative energy, and powerful protective magical properties, rue is a good first and last line defense against general negativity as well as focused curses. If things seem to be consistently going wrong in your life, you feel distinctly uninspired, are troubled by nightmares and uneasiness in your home (when no mundane cause is apparent), or just need to get your magical juices flowing again, a ritual cleansing and purification is in order.

This is one of my very favorite Kitchen Witch recipes:

Take about a half cup of rue (ruta graveolens), wrap it up in cheesecloth, and let it brew in boiled water for about 10 minutes, or until the water has turned dark green. Add this to a wash bucket of Murphy's Oil Soap. Scrub your home from back to front, paying special attention to ritual areas, the floor, and openings (windows, doors, etc.). Toss the remaining water onto your porch and sweep it away from your home.

After most purification rituals, I generally recommend filling the space with positive energy (Nature abhors a vacuum). Rue tends to work in a double action sense (removing negativity and filling the atmosphere with bright protective energy), so this may not be necessary for you. You may choose to burn a bit of frankincense or copal on an incense charcoal block to speed the entrance of positive energy.


The Goddess Comes for You When She Will; or, you cannot push the river

Many times in the past, I have advocated the practice of aligning yourself with a patron deity or saint, as much to strengthen your spellwork as to deepen spiritual practice. Having a mentor to guide you through the ups and downs is a marvelous, enriching part of ritual work.

Though, admittedly in the past, it's usually accompanied by admonishments against calling up random gods from a table of correspondence and ordering them to make your spell go "zoom".

A number of frustrated practitioners have approached me over the years, saying that they aren't sure how to find their patron, if the one they think is their patron really IS (or just wishful thinking), or are too wound up about offending any deity to even approach and ask for mentorship and help.

I'll approach these ideas back to front, just because I like the scenic route ;)

The First Date

I'm a firm believer that the very essence of good communication is understanding what the other person MEANS, not necessarily just what words come out of their mouth. The flow and arrangement of words, pauses, and gestures really give insight into the heart of the other persons intent. In approaching a deity, a sincere attitude and well-thought offering will get you miles further in their favor than flowery but trite rhyming couplets and expensive but meaningless trinkets.
For example, if the god that you wish to engage with continually has a certain food or flower appear in their mythology,incorporate that into your offering.
Many modern practitioners believe that it "vibrates" or aligns easily with their energy, effectively filling your sacred space with so many pieces of their collected earthly consciousness that the rest can't help but follow. This relates to the principle of "like attracts like".
Speak from the heart about why you wish to have them as your patron, pay attention to any feelings that you get within the Circle. Even if they have no interest in working with you, respectfully end the ritual and thank them for their time. You CANNOT take the offering back. It's bad manners.
This is a good way to find even temporary magical partners, though I will strongly caution you to research any entity that you intend to invoke very, very thoroughly before hand.

Wishful Thinking

You feel a strong affinity with a god or goddess. Their mythology inspires and moves you. You see parallels between their life and yours.
These are all good bases for a magical partnership. But how can you "tell" if they've taken you under their wing?
It's easiest to tell if they have decidedly not. If I were to draw a parallel in the mundane world, it's kind of like trying to convince yourself that you're in love. I worked with many different goddesses before my patron chose me (and they usually choose you, not the other way around). When it happens, you WILL know. In the meantime, enjoy the ride.

The Journey is Half the Fun

"Never work with a god you couldn't have a beer with"

In other words, knowing what you do about this deity, if they were a physically manifest person and you couldn't stand their personality, don't expect it to be any different without the fleshy bits. Always remain grounded in the physical world.
That said, read and study as much as you possibly can about their mythology. Address older sources whenever possible, and stay away from books written about gods specifically for the magical crowd. These tend to be excessively watered down and "spun" to suit the authors needs. Instead of hitting the Wicca and New Age section of your library or local bookstore, haunt the ancient history (particularly of the culture they appear in most often), mythology, anthropology and archeology sections.
Many people lament the lack of "advanced" magical texts, but it's a bit of a misnomer. To get to the meat, you really have to sift through dry bones, but the discovery and application of the knowledge is itself the Advanced material. The upper echelons of magical practice really confirm it as experiential: you cannot be Told, it must be Shown.

I hope this has answered at least a few questions you might have been pondering; if you have any questions that weren't addressed, please feel free to ask in the comments!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

47° 9' S, 126° 43' W

A little something short and sweet for today, courtesy of Neil Gaiman: I Cthulhu

Monday, December 13, 2010

None the Worse for Wear

We had a lovely time at the Yule Ball, despite running a bit behind schedule and having an epic tire blow out a mere mile to the location. Some awfully kind attendees and organizers rolled up the sleeves of their smashing tuxedos, hitched up their ball gowns, and pitched in to make it happen.

There were a ton of fantastic vendors present, wonderful music, and a lovely ritual led by Soltahr.
The best part was getting to meet you guys in real life!
If you couldn't make it to this show, we hope to see you in the flesh for their Mardi Gras celebration.

More pictures to come!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sneak Peak:New Elemental Candles!

"Sylph" and "Nereid " will be making their online debut tonight in the Etsy shop.
Ac is busy pounding leather into submission/ tarot bags for the upcoming Yule Ball, so new candles and oils will be landing on the main site whenever either of us can find a handful of minutes for coding.

"Earth" and "Fire" are on their way (soon!) but I'm still designing and inking their labels. Elemental sets will be available as soon as none of the candles are naked :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Io- Easy Rainbow Scarf Pattern

Not really inspired by the mythology of Io, but by her nature.
The image was of a bright rainbow springing forth from the mouth of a river.

Intricate stitch patterns usually get buried in self striping yarn, but this dramatic drop stitch pattern nicely showcases long color changes. I found that a thicker garter stitch pattern between the drops highlighted them more dramatically.

1 skein Wisdom Yarns Poems. You may also substitute Noro Silk Garden, Crystal Palace Mochi Plus, or about 90 yards of any beautiful self striping yarn.

US #10 needles. Gauge isn't terribly important, but a loose, open, lacy look is. Use bigger needles if you want a more dramatic drop stitch pattern.

Cast on 15 stitches.

Row 1- 5 Knit
Row 6: *k1, yo, k1*
Row 7:*k1, drop yo, k1*
Row 8-11: Knit

Repeat rows 6- 11 until the scarf is the desired length. Knit the last 5 rows and bind off.

Legal blah blah: You may not sell this pattern. This is for private use only, etc. etc.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

... sometimes go awry.

Exhibit A: One of our handcrafted Van Van candles. This particular specimen is afflicted with spots.
I usually take candles that have minor cosmetic defects, melt them down, and try try again. They are structurally sound, but if the stars don't align, or the wind shifts during composition, these wonderful spell candles look a bit funky and don't get to go to the proverbial ball.

A few artisans that I've met over the years sell their mistakes or odd-balls at a steep discount. My inner anal retentive perfectionist has resisted this for awhile, but I'm honestly curious to know if you guys would be interested.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yule Ball- December 11th!

Front Range Pagan Pride has graciously invited us to attend their annual Yule Ball as vendors, and I'm very happy to announce that we WILL be attending.
Their Pagan Pride Day was an absolute blast, and we were delighted to meet so many talented artisans, dancers, musicians, and all-around fantastic people in the magical community.

All of your Lodestone & Lady's Mantle favorites will be for sale, as well as many new oils, candles, perfumes, and incenses and one of a kind items. If you're running on Pagan Standard Time for your holiday shopping, we'll have all sorts of unique gifts ready for your stocking or the Yule Tree.

You can grab tickets to the Yule Ball ahead of time or at the door. For more info, see the Front Range Pagan Pride fan page.
We hope to see you there!

Looking A Hot Mess

Ac suggested that I share some of my natural beauty concoctions on the blog. These are tried, true, and tested. Many were inherited from family or friends, or are just successful kitchen fiddlings I've used consistently over the years.
Nearly all the recipes contain ingredients that are more than likely sitting in your fridge or in the cabinet, or are easily available and inexpensive.
The holiday season is the time when you're most likely bedraggled from work, have added financial pressures (ah, gift giving), lack of sleep, and an excess of social functions. Not to mention freezing temperatures and blasting heat.
While not magical per se, it's a neat bit of folk alchemy courtesy of Mother Nature.

The "Graced by Aphrodite" Facial
Good for: dried out, dull looking skin, enlarged pores.

This facial is very, very gentle and works well for every skin type under the sun. It moisturizes skin without clogging pores, is a gentle exfoliator, and gives you a fresh glow.

A dollop of plain yogurt (use vanilla yogurt if you don't have plain)
A tablespoon of honey
A small handful of oats. You can run these through a coffee grinder for best mixing results. Lacking that, just stir them in until the mixture has thickened. Mixed in whole, it's harder to keep the clumps from falling off your face (in which case you will be harangued by a trail of hopeful kitties trying to get more). Fair warning.
For older skin, or thin skin with a tendency towards breakouts or red veins, add either a drop of chamomile natural essential oil (wretchedly expensive stuff but worth it) or brew a strong cup of chamomile tea and add a few teaspoons to the mixture.

Mix all ingredients thoroughly, until it is about the consistency of dough. For especially sallow skin, take a warm washcloth and lay it on your face to stimulate circulation. Smooth the mixture on and let it dry. Rinse with warm water, and apply a light moisturizer.