Magickal Living

I had a suggestion from Amy on my Facebook page asking about iPhone apps for pagans.

Can’t get much geekier than that!

So here’s what I have under the ‘Witchcraft folder’ on my iPhone:

1. Ultimate Spellcraft & Lunar Phases by Stacey Demarco (www.themodernwitch.com) provides free spells, a Wheel of the Year and brief explanations of each sabbat, moon phases for both the northern and southern hemispheres, and even an option to Cast an E-Spell!  A fun little app.

2. The White Witch – covers witchy related news, YouTube videos, photos, audio, Twitter feeds, Facebook and LiveAlbum feeds.  A one-stop resource.

3. Live Moon Pro – a Moon phase app, provides an alarm to remind you of the next moon phase, and a full calendar for future phases.  Better yet, it auto-detects your location to accurately match the correct moon phase.

4. Virtual Candle – when I need to light a candle without a candle or a match, I turn on my phone, direct my intent and light the virtual candle.  Great for meditation too (would suit those college dorms where candles aren’t allowed!).

5. Dreamcatcher – learn what all those weird and wonderful dreams are about.

6. Crystals – gives you a run down of a select few crystals – more can be included with an upgrade.

Do you have any apps that you’ve found useful on your path?

Magickal Living

Please note that the dates are only estimates and some Sabbats may fall on surrounding days rather than those specified.

Samhain: 31st October

Samhain (pronounced SOW-wen) is one of the Greater Sabbats, and always falls on the 31st October in the Northern Hemisphere (NH), and on May 1st in the Southern Hemisphere (SH). Samhain is known as the Witches’ New Year, or Festival of the Dead, and is a profound and spiritually moving event, marking the death of the Lord and the start of the New Year.
Wiccans hold celebrations to honor the dead on Samhain, having silent suppers, reliving the moments of life with a friend or loved one who has passed on during the year. If someone has not lost anyone during the year, it can be a time to support those who have, or give reverence to all the people who have passed on, and reflect on how their lives touched others around them. A place at the supper table is often set for those who’ve passed on.
On Samhain, the veil between the living and dead is said to be at its thinnest, which makes this a fantastic time for communicating with the Dead and the best night for divination and scrying. The closer to midnight, the thinner the veil. This is also a time for reassessment (like the Julian Calendar’s New Year), and for looking to the future. Using the energies at this time to seek guidance for new directions or reviewing life plans is best, and is also a fantastic time for defence/protection spells.

Yule: ~ 21st December

Trees? Decorations? Mistletoe? Sounds familiar, right? Well, you’re wrong, because we’re talking about Yule, not Christmas. Christmas, the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, has its roots in Paganism. Ancient Romans decorated their homes with boughs of green trees; the Druids honored trees and collected and hung mistletoe.
Yule (pronounced YOOL) is one of the Lesser Sabbats, and generally falls around the 21st December (give or take a couple of days) in the NH, and around the 21st June in the SH. It marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day (and longest night) of the year. It is celebrated as the time where the God is reborn and light starts returning to the Earth. Wiccans will celebrate by exchanging gifts, decorating a tree, hanging wreaths, singing, feasting and by burning a Yule log. The exchange of gifts symbolises hope, and of the gift the Lady has bestowed on the Easrth by giving life to the Lord (the Sun) once again.

Imbolc: 2nd February

Imbolc (pronounced IM-bolk), also called Candlemas, is the time of year where Wiccans celebrate the renewing fertility of the Earth. It falls on the 2nd of February in the NH, or 1st August in the SH. The Goddess is seen as recovering from childbirth (see Yule), and the God is a small child. Sometimes a sort of ‘cabin-fever’ might set in at this time, with the feeling of Spring on its way. Imbolc is a Greater Sabbat, and a time to celebrate with seeds, or with a newly germinating idea. Some covens like to initiate their members at this time of year. A holiday of purification and of renewed fertility of the Earth, Imbolc is a great time for some early spring-cleaning and getting rid of things you don’t need. Also a good time for conception and fertility spells.

Ostara: ~ 21st March

Ostara (pronounced OH-strah or OH-star-ah), also known as the Spring Equinox or Eastara, is the time of year when day and night are of equal length. It falls on the 21st March in the NH, or on 21st September in the SH.
It is the Festival of the Goddess Eostar, a form of Astarte, whose emblems are the hare and the egg of rebirth. The egg is a symbol of ‘life-in-potential’, so we imbue them with wishes we hope will manifest during the coming summer. The balance of night and day makes this time perfect to seek balance in our own lives; and it is a time of casting off the old and taking on the new (hence the term ‘Spring Cleaning’). Traditionally, the energies of this time are used to clear out on the mental and emotional levels, and take on new ways of thought and new aspirations.
In Wicca, the Lord and the Lady are seen as young and innocent, and as the days grow longer, they being to wonder about each other. In ritual, we might bless seeds for planting.

Beltane: 1st May

Beltane (pronounced a variety of ways such as BELL-tayn, BELL-tay-nyah, or BEE-yell-tayn), also spelt Beltaine and also known as May Day, is where signs of summer start to show. It is celebrated on the 1st May in the NH, or the 1st November in the SH.
This festival is where the Goddess takes on her role as ‘Mother’, and the God and Goddess are wed. Therefore, Beltane is often a time that Wiccans might choose to marry or have a handfasting (a Wiccan marriage ceremony), and it is also a time for renewal and strengthening of relationships.
Wiccans will often celebrate by leaping over a fire, or dancing around a maypole (a phallic symbol representing the Lord). This Sabbat’s energies should be used to enhance all ties with loved ones (romantic or otherwise).

Litha: ~21st June

Litha (pronounced li-THA or LEE-tha), also known as the Summer Solstice, marks the longest day of the year. It is celebrated around the 21st June in the NH, or 21st Dec in the SH.
The height of the Sun’s energy can be used in spells for energy, vitality and renewal, as well as reinforcing spells for health and prosperity. It is also a good time to communicate with fairies and forest sprites. The Lord and Lady are at their peak. As Litha is a Lesser Sabbat, Wiccans will give reverence at this time of year, but don’t usually hold large celebrations. Whilst a joyous holiday, it can also be tinged with sadness due to the days growing shorter after Litha.

Lughnassadh: 1st August

Lughnassadh (pronounced LOO-nus-uh), also spelt Lughnasadh or also known as Lammas, marks the beginning of the fall harvest, the day on which the first grain is cut, and the festival of the Celtic God Lugh. It is celebrated on the 1st August in the NH, or the 1st February in the SH.
The God starts to lose his strength as daylight hours start to shrink, but the Goddess is already pregnant with God, to be reborn again at Yule. Traditionally, this is a festival of sacrifice, with blood and wine being given back to the land in payment for the coming of the harvest. However, nowadays it is perfectly fine to sacrifice anything you see fit, such as bread and wine.
Your house and altar can be decorated with a wreath, fruits and vegetables.

Mabon: 21st September

Mabon (pronounced MAH-bon or MAY-bon), also known as Madron or the Autumn Equinox, is (like Ostara) the second time of the year where both day and night are of equal length. It is celebrated on the 21st September in the NH, or the 21st March in the SH. The Lord is preparing for death at Samhain, whilst the Lady is beginning to mourn his loss.
Being that the day and night are in equal length once again, it is again a good time for focusing on balance; however this time the focus should be on repayment and thanks, rather than on cleaning out and starting over. The energies of this season can be used for magick working on inner balance, and it’s a time to ensure all debts, both literal and spiritual, are paid off.

Magickal Living

When we begin to talk about magickal ethics, quite often the first thing that will come to a Pagan’s mind is “An it harm none, do what you will”. The Wiccan Rede has been, at least for Wiccans, the measuring stick for magickal ethics – as long as you don’t intentionally harm someone, do whatever you want. And I think that this interpretation of the Rede is solid; it would be impossible to go through life without harming something or someone at all, so it is the intention that matters.

Now for someone who might identify as a Witch, and not necessarily a Wiccan, they are not bound by any specific ethical or moral doctrine, unless they choose to be. And I must stress that just because a Witch might not be bound to Wiccan ethics or beliefs doesn’t mean that they lack ethics and/or religion – they simply (usually) lack the religious and ethical construct of Wicca.

It is my understanding, and correct me if I’m wrong, that Witches may or may not concern themselves with the potential outcome of a spell or ritual, whilst Wiccans are bound by a karmic law of some description. Basically, the way that Wiccans and Witches view the cause and effect of their magick is different. Again, this is not to imply that Witches lack respect for magickal power, nor does it imply that they are unethical.

As for the similarities between Witches and Wiccans – well, we’re all human, for a start. We all hold our own personal beliefs, values, ethics and morals aside from our religious views (or lack thereof, depending on the person). In turn, we all approach our magick in very personal ways, and these ways can be either very simple or very complex, or anywhere in between. Examples of this ‘personalisation’ of magick is evident in where we seek our guidance from and our ways of practice: kitchen witches rely heavily on uncomplicated magick, much of which originates from superstition and folklore; hedge witches (traditionally) and solitary practitioners (as a rule) do not belong to covens. Solitaries depend on self-study, insight, creativity and intuition as ‘guideposts’. Members of a coven rely on each other for this learning and guidance.

So do ‘bad’ magickal practitioners exist, and do they use their knowledge and power for personal gain and/or ill will?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes – but it’s just the same as the existence of bad Christians, bad Muslims, bad Hindus, etc. They all exist. People are people, and there are going to be bad people no matter what. This is part of human nature, and nothing to do with religious beliefs. The good news is that these ‘bad’ people are the exception, not the rule.

Like all people, Pagans face issues on a daily basis that require ethical and moral choices – followers of the Wiccan Rede, for example, face the ultimate responsibility. This Rede states that I cannot harm anything through my actions as a Wiccan, and indeed as a human being. As Pagan, I have the absolute responsibility for myself and all the people around me, and the entire planet.

Most Pagans view magick as ethically neutral; magick is gathered from the life energy of all things and is not black, white or grey. The energy is turned and directed by the practitioner towards his/her goal. Thus, it’s the practitioner’s usage of the energy that makes it black, white or grey magick. Additionally, individual views of what white, black and grey are can differ from person to person; a frustration of personalised faiths such as Wicca – defining anything in even near-concrete terms is almost impossible. Generally, to work ‘good’, ‘white’ magick, there are some general guidelines Wiccans must follow (and let me know if you are of a different Pagan path but agree with some or all of these):

  • Wiccans will often follow a three-fold or karmic law – meaning that anything sent out will come back to you; what goes around, comes around. This alone is a very good reason to make sure that your motivations are positive.
  • Following on from the above point, Wiccans believe it to be highly unethical to attempt to manipulate another person’s freewill – it cannot be done, and can only end badly if you are successful. This is especially true and most common in love magick. It often poses more questions than answers, like if that object of affection is truly in love or if it’s just the magick. In any case, this type of spell is selfish and is certainly not cast for the good of all. Many Wiccans use the Wiccan Rede (‘And it harm none, do what you will’) in spellcraft, prayer and ritual to assist in guiding energy towards the cause that it is for, and any misdirected energy can be dispelled.
  • Wiccans realise that although the human mind and spirit hold unlimited potential, the ability to recognise all possible outcomes of magick is not so unlimited. Humans are not, unlike the divine, omniscient, and sometimes our good intentions do go astray and wield negative or unwanted results. Therefore, it is generally accepted to request the higher, and wiser, powers to help direct the magick towards the best possible outcome.

Now we’ve all seen the man on the corner with his Bible, asking people to come with him and be saved by Jesus Christ. It must be said that Pagans believe in religious tolerance and respect every Path as having potential for human enlightenment. Since everyone is different, it is understandable that the Paths that each individual chooses will be equally unique. In keeping with this outlook and understanding, you’ll never find a Pagan standing on the street preaching about magick or faith (and if you do, give them a good slap for me, would you?!). Pagans believe that people must discover and choose their own Path. In actual fact, by coming from other religious backgrounds, many Pagans have done exactly this.

In closing, do not forget that there is always room for spontaneity and ingenuity in the Craft. Your Craft is just that – YOUR Craft. It’s all about YOU and what you want to do. Do not, no matter what your religious or spiritual belief(s), allow the thoughts and ideals of others override your own sense of judgment, or your beliefs or values. Your traits are what make you you, and no-one should be able to take that away from you.

Magickal Living

by Tash Jayasinghe.

It started in my nose. I used to use incense once in a full moon then found that essential oils did a better job. Now I have an ongoing love affair with aromatherapy. I use oils as soon as I wake up and sometimes when I can’t seem to get to sleep. If I have an aliment, I see what aromatherapy I can use before heading for the medicine cabinet. And while that may seem a bit full-on, it’s easier than you think.

This post will cover the basic set of oils to get you started, what a base oil is and how to use your oils in your day-to-day life.

Four oils to get you started:

  • Lavender: Everything you ever wanted in an oil. It activates the immune defense system while it relaxes you with it’s sedative effects. Lavender has anti-bacterial properties and helps cell rejuvenation. Most skin products would have lavender in them, especially those that get rid of scars or helps aging skin. Can’t get to sleep? Put a couple of drops on your pillow.
  • Tea Tree: Dab the tiniest bit of Tea Tree oil on a pimple once every night and it’ll be gone before you know it. Use it to cleanse your skin or to disinfect an area by mixing 2-3 drops with a glass of water and washing the effected area. Aromatherapy for Scentual Awareness by Judith White and Karen Day call this oil “First Aid in a bottle” but warns that it’s extremely potent so should be used sparingly.
  • Rosemary: This is for muscle aches. Mix it with a base oil and massage into the sore area. It stimulates metabolism, adds lustre to hair and prevents balding. Add 40 drops into your favourite conditioner, shake vigorously and then forget about it while it works it’s magic. Smelling Rosemary stimulates the brain. If you’re having a forgetful day, burn some rosemary oil to heighten your sensory and memory recall. Rosemary can affect people that have epilepsy.
  • Peppermint: The companion for a nauseous person. Next time you’re catching a plane or hopping on a boat, take a whiff of peppermint from the bottle whenever you feel ill and it’ll invigorate you. I know, I do this every time I take off. Yes, you can take small bottles of essential oils on a flight. Peppermint invigorates your mind and it tingles your skin when used sparingly in a base oil. I burn this in the morning to wake up. Peppermint has been a stomach remedy for eons. Make a massage oil and rub it into your stomach area. It relaxes the muscles and blocks pain. This also works for period pain. And to top it all off, inhaling peppermint clears your head, throat and nose when you’re suffering from a cold. Please note that pregnant women should only inhale and not apply peppermint.

Of course there are tens more oils out there and some of them can be really expensive so when you’re first starting off, buy these four and see if essential oils work for you. One of the best exercises to do is: go to a store that stocks aromatherapy oils and smell everything. Take notes of what appeals to you. What might be really great for others could do nothing for you. Clary Sage, an oil that’s euphoric and can break through any bad mood, smells like “yuck” to me and even though I have it, I always mask it with other smells.

Buying oils online are 20-60% cheaper than buying it in a store. Oils are extremely cheap in the States so it might do you good to compile a list of everything you want before hand and then buying in bulk from Amazon.

Base oils:
Base oils are used to mix your essential oils so they don’t burn off your skin when you apply them. Essential oils are very, very concentrated so a little goes a long way.

I’ve tried all of the base oils nature has to offer and have found that Jojoba oil is the best and the most expensive. It’s the oil that has the closest genetic make-up to our skin so it gets absorbed fairly quickly. Keep in mind that if you use a cheaper oil, say Avocado or Apricot oil, it would work the same but it’ll leave you oily and you could wait 20 minutes for it get absorbed fully. If I had to use a cheaper oil I would definitely go with grapeseed.

As a rule of thumb, mix four drops of essential oil for every tablespoon of base oil.

Never ever use plastic bowls/bottles to mix your oils. It can cause adverse effects. Instead use glass.

How to use essential oils:
Your body gets lazy so it’s always good to shake it up by changing things. An example in point is shampoo. If you change the brand of the shampoo you use, your hair has to work out how to balance against this new product so it works harder to be healthy. Same goes for your nose/face/skin. Keep yourself guessing!

Remember that these are just suggestions. You don’t need to go out and buy every single oil at once, just use the ones you have and if they don’t work, get new ones.

  • Massage oil: If it’s stress-related, make a massage oil that uses Lavender, Geranium and Cedar wood. Up for sexy time? Ylang ylang, rose and vanilla. A massage oil that includes Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Peppermint can ease tension, aches and sport injuries.
  • Moisturiser: I’ve been using a Geranium and Lavender blend on my face twice a day during Summer and once a day during Winter. Over the last year it’s cleared up my skin. You would think that applying oil to your face would make it a grease-fest but it actually dries up my T-zone and gets rid of pimples. Mix 5 mls of Jojoba or Grapeseed oil with one or two drops of a flowery oil. Lavender is great for older people while Geranium helps younger skin. Put the mixed oil on your face straight after a shower, while your pores are still open. You can triple the quantities and apply it to all over your body but it takes about 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the oil. Don’t use Peppermint, Tea Tree or Eucalyptus oil unless you want to get a slight burning sensation on your face. It’s too uber sensitive for these oils to be applied all over.
  • Oil Burner: An obvious choice to brighten a room. When I’m feeling sleepy/sad/lazy I mix up Bergamont and Sweet Orange or Lemon and Peppermint. When I’m inviting guests, again I go with the Bergamont to entice conversation and to get their brains working. If you want to meditate, go with magical lavender or something muskier like Frankincense.
  • Hair Care: If I want to have a particular smell around me but I’m going out, I put a couple of drops of essential oil into my hands, rub them together and then run my hands through my hair. It’s a subtle way of carrying the scent. It’s close to your nose so you can smell it without disturbing people by carrying around a couple of essential oil bottles. I do this if I think I’m going to be stressed. Some lavender or sweet orange and then I’m out the door. Rosemary encourages hair growth, lustre and prevents hair loss. Bung 40 or so drops in a full container of conditioner, shake it up and forget about it.
  • Bath time: Add 20 drops of your most calming oils into a warm bath. If you want silky smooth skin, also add a tablespoon of your carrier oil, or even olive oil. It does amazing things for your skin.
  • Sleep Inducer: Put three drops of lavender on the corner of your pillow. Breathe deeply. Sleep well.
  • Headache Cure: Applying a couple of drops of Peppermint or Lavender on your temples alleviates headaches. What I prefer is to carry a tissue that I’ve blotted with the oils and to smell it intermittently.
  • Clean your clothes: If you use a clothes dryer, give your clothes a scent by lacing a wash cloth with ten drops of your favourite oil and putting it in with the rest of your clothes.
  • Carpet Cleaner: Mix a cup of bicarb soda with 40-50 drops of Peppermint, Eucalyptus or Geranium. Sprinkle this all over your carpets, wait 10 minutes then vacuum up. The smell (and anti-bacterial qualities) will stay.Any mix I’ve written about here can be applied in every way described. For example, if you’re in a romantic mood, you can burn Ylang Ylang instead of making it into a massage oil. Whatever works for you, works for you. Don’t question your opinion.

For further reading, I recommend Aromatherapy for Scentual Awareness by Judith White and Karen Day.

Tash Jayasinghe is a journalist and photographer that has been obsessively practicing Aromatherapy for one year. She believes that almost everything can be cured by Lavender. Read her blog at LittleFlutters.com. Tash wants to hear how you incorporate Aromatherapy into your life so drop her a line.