Tools: Knives, Athames, and Swords; and The Qualities of Different Metals

December 15, 2009

For anyone who doesn’t know, an athame is just another name for a double-edged knife, and in practice a single edged knife can just as easily be used for the same purpose. For the sake of this article I’m making no distinction in use between an athame and a knife. Anything that’s too small to be a sword is a knife, and anything too big to be a knife is a sword.

There are knives made out of glass, ivory, bone, and other materials, but for the scope of this article we’re talking about knives and swords with blades made out of metal, typically steel.

Knives and swords are elemental tools, this time the element of air. Air, like fire (wands and staves), is a masculine element, and our masculine elemental tools are tools of action. Some people are under the mistaken belief that wands and staves represent air and knives and swords represent fire. This is a stupid, idiotic, belief based on the fact that fire, like swords, hurts with no actual understanding of the properties of the various elements. Fire is the element of passion, fury, and pure force, and staves, which are naturally occurring in nature, hurt people through blunt force trauma. The metal in swords and knives is man made and thus evidence of the ingenuity of man. They are weapons of skill and precision, not purely brute force and strength. Air is the element of intelligence, science, imagination, and swiftness. If you swing a sword it moves and cuts through the air as if it were becoming part of it. Wands and staves can be set on fire.

What to look for in a sword or knife.

With knives and swords it’s important to have decent tools. Prices vary widely from store to store, but there’s no need to spend a fortune on these tools for most magical work. However a lot of what’s out there is flimsy and made for decoration, not actual use, and this won’t do at all. For starters, knives and swords are weapons that cut. A lot of their symbolism and use is tied up in this. Any knife or sword used for magical practice should have a sharp point and a sharp edge. You want decent quality metal for the blade (personally the lowest quality I would use would be 440 stainless steel). Lastly you want to make sure that the quality of the hilt is good and that the blade is securely attached to it. The last thing you want is to be waving around your sword or knife in ritual and have the blade suddenly detach and go flying across the room or into you.

For the most part knives and swords serve the same purpose in magical work. However because of mundane reasons knives are usually far more useful. Swords require a lot more space to work with than knives, and so they aren’t suited for small enclosed ritual spaces Knives are also easier to conceal on your person, and in many areas even legal to carry on you, where as swords are more difficult to hide and more commonly illegal to have in public.

Size does matter, a lot. All other things being equal, a larger blade will be able to both hold and work with larger amounts of energy. For most acts a large knife will be good enough. Smaller knives, about the size of your hand, are not as useful in magical work, and should be used for more mundane magical purposes like cutting herbs, drawing blood, or carving symbols into candles. Swords are useful for directing very large amounts of energy. Sometimes a large knife is enough to seal an entity, but with larger entities a sword may be preferable. Due to the large amount of energy they can hold swords are preferable as sentient objects. Very large swords can utilize massive amounts of energy.

Remember swords and knives are airy objects. They’re a representation of intelligence and craftsmanship. Because of this better crafted swords tend to work better. This is true of both the quality of the blade, and of the art that may decorate it (such as symbols on the blade or the beauty of the hilt). A very expensive, well made, hand-crafted sword would be best, but unfortunately most of us are going to find that out of our price range. We can still get good swords and knives at decent prices (expect to pay between $60-300 for a good sword, considerably less for a good knife if you shop intelligently). As a general rule, better technologies used in the bladework, such as with Japanese swords or the smaller, later era European swords, are going to work better. However blades that are made with technologies meant to lower the cost of the blade by sacrificing quality, such as putting a hole through the center, will be detrimental.

The typical use of the type of sword will also lend some bearing to its use in ritual. For this reason dull, purely decorative swords and knives are not very useful in ritual. By their nature they are inactive, and this is even worse with swords which represent the most active element. As another example, the tanto was traditional used to commit ritual suicide, and so tanto knives tend to be more adept at dealing with death energy and people who have been suicidal, especially those who have survived attempts, usually find themselves very compatible with the knife.

As a personal note, I would recommend against buying reproductions of famous swords from movies and video games for ritual use. The swords are generally made for decoration, not for use, and in almost every case I’ve noticed the swords are inferior to other equally priced swords. You’re paying extra for the product branding.

Cool stuff to do with a blade.

Physical Self Defense – Swords and knives were meant to hurt and kill, and so long as they’re sharp they do it well. Killing is also one area where a sword far exceeds the capabilities of a knife, and for this reason, at least traditionally, swords were present at most dangerous ceremonial rituals. On the off chance you manage to physically manifest a hostile creature during a ritual (or one manifests during something like a house cleaning), a sword will be able to hurt and maybe kill anything that has a physicality. A more common use though would be defending yourself against someone who has become possessed and violent during a ritual. Note that I would recommend doing everything possible not to hurt someone during a ritual, and that local laws concerning what constitutes self-defense and justified force vary and you should be familiar with those laws before using a sword or knife in this manner. However I’ve also been shot by a medium who accidentally became possessed during an evocation, so I can understand the need to be able to defend yourself.

Battery – This is probably the first thing most practitioners do when they get their first knife. Metal doesn’t absorb energy as easily as wood, but it does hold on to it much better. Although any energy can be used, typically practitioners will enchant the knife with their own energy when they are in a calm and balanced mood. For many practitioners, the knife they use as their battery is an essential ritual tool. It acts as an emergency failsafe should something go wrong. If a practitioner ends up completely exhausting themselves during a ritual and then finds they need more energy, like if for instance they were attacked in their weakened state, the blade is a reserve of energy they can use. If they are bound by another practitioner, they can use the energy in the blade to cast an unbinding. If they’re psychologically attacked or otherwise become emotionally unstable during ritual, they can use the energy in the blade to balance out their own energy.

The metal will not absorb energy as easily as the wood in a wand will. Because of that it often times isn’t enough just to leave a blade on an altar or to take it with you to rituals in order to make a battery. More often than not a practitioner will have to specifically charge the blade with energy. The first time you charge a blade with energy, it could take hours. However you’ll notice the metal will hold the charge very well and the blade will lose very little energy over time without use. Because of this you only have to replenish the blade after you’ve used it, and not much more than what you’ve taken out of it. After doing this several times you may even find that the blade begins to replenish itself after use.

To charge the blade, first make sure that you are in a calm, balanced, and strong state. Hold the knife or sword by the hilt and move energy through your hand, into the hilt, and then into the blade itself. You may wish to meditate or otherwise achieve trance in order to make this process easier. As I said it could take several hours to do this properly depending on how good you are at it. You can also try singing with the sword in your hand, and pushing the energy out of your mouth with the words to the song and into the blade through your hand. You can also try something similar involving dancing, and these two methods can be combined. I don’t know if this is a better method, but it’s definitely more fun than just sitting there with your sword. You can also try doing other tasks like watching TV while doing this, but the entire process will take longer. Also, if you need to you can split this ritual up over several days.

Energy Manipulation – Blades manipulate energy differently than wooden wands. Where as wands move very large amounts of energy, blades move energy in much smaller amounts. For the trade off though, blades are able to manipulate energy in a much finer manner. For instance the smaller amount of energy used by a sword can form a far more devastating attack than a wand could because the energy can be directed at a small, single, specific point. The sword is also going to be better at directing energy at a specific point rather than just pointing a large amount into a single direction hitting everything. For example if you had a barrier around your working area and someone or something wished to enter, you could use your wand to throw a massive amount of energy at the barrier knocking it down. Or you could use your sword to cut a small and specific place for someone to enter and then repair the damage afterwards.

Sealing Entities – You can seal entities into blades. You might want to do this for a variety of reasons. You may want the entity in the blade so that it would aid you in battle. You may want it in there so you can access its power during magical rituals, or to empower it with a physical form so that it can act in this world and somehow help you, or to keep it in one place so it is there to do what you need when you need it. Or you could just seal an entity in there to get rid of it and then throw the blade into the back of some closet.

Some entities will willingly enter the blade because they want to be inside it. If they cannot do this on their own, you may have to develop a method to help them in. If an entity is unwilling to enter the blade, then you would need to grab it and push it in there, like you would with energy, and then seal the blade so it cannot escape. A basic seal would be a small amount of energy entered into the blade, possibly in the formation of a sigil denoting no entry or exit or a lock or something being closed, empowered with the intent not to let anything escape. A stronger seal would be to charge wax and melt it on top of the sword and sheath in order to seal the two together. Done correctly the entity will only be able to come out and effect the physical world when the wax seal is broken.

Bigger entities are going to require bigger blades. Large knives will usually be big enough to seal most entities you’ll find, but swords are always better for sealings, especially with larger more powerful entities. Some entities, like say gods, are just going to be too big and can’t possibly be sealed into a sword (and they’d probably destroy you if you made a serious attempt at doing this).

Living Blades – Better than sealing in an entity is a living blade. Some blades do become sentient over time because of energy constantly being passed through them, although this doesn’t happen too often accidentally and is much more difficult and rarer than with wood. However, in the instance of a handcrafted blade, if the craftsman puts enough time, devotion, and enough of himself into the blade there is a chance the blade will be born as a sentient and living object. There will happen a lot more often with swords than with knives, mainly because swords take a lot more time to make and require a lot more skill. A living blade will have a personality all its own, and will have some power to act within this world. If the craftsman knows what he’s doing, he can do various things like continually charging the object during creation, casting certain spells while making it, and writing certain symbols and ruins on the sword in order to further empower it.

Sword Memory –
Living swords will naturally remember the people who have wielded them, their fighting techniques, the battles they’ve fought in and the rituals they’ve been used in. They can then, to some extent, impart this past knowledge and these abilities to whoever is currently wielding them, and even use these abilities themselves in some instances. A non-living blade can also be made to hold a memory (and by non-living I also mean nothing is sealed in it). This isn’t usually an effortless process though, and the practitioner needs to make a special effort to place the image and memory of what has occurred into the blade.

Soul Holding –
This is far more effective when done with a living sword. In that instance you would merge your soul together with that of the sword, each taking a piece of the others soul, and this would create a closer bond between you and the sword and also allow you to act at times like you were a single entity. You can also do this with a non-living blade, and the purpose in this instance is to leave a small part of your soul behind with the intent that, after death, most or all of your remaining soul will seek that piece out and also enter into the blade. From there you can continue to live on and affect the world as a blade, but the typical intent is to find a suitable host and draw them to the sword, and then over time to work your way either into possessing them or being a true walk-in, effectively achieving immortality.

Astral attacks –
Finally any of the above blade can be used for an astral type attack, so long as it has some sort of energy charge to it. In this instance you would literally attack a non-corporeal entity with the sword or knife and the blade would cut through them hurting and possibly even killing them. Living swords and swords with sealed entities will do this of their own volition. You might need to tell the sword that you need it to attack astrally, or the sword may be able to figure it out on its own. A sword which is holding a piece of your soul may be strong enough to attack astrally just because you want it to, but you might also need to treat it as if it were a battery. With a battery, the energy is already in the blade and will go through what you are hitting, but it won’t actually hurt your victim. You need to access the energy in the blade and attune it with aggression, or possibly pain, and give it an intent to hurt. So long as you’ve attuned the energy correctly and keep it that way, once you move the sword through the area where the entity is it will hit it the same as if you were cutting through a physical person. This would also hurt a physical person if you were moving the blade through them, but then so would the blade.

Sheaths

For the most part, the sheath is going to be the least important part of the sword. To cut costs, many swords out there come with very cheap sheaths. If you want to do something special with the sheath, you can always buy a better one to fit over the sword. If you just want it for a utilitarian purpose, you’re probably fine with the one you got with the sword.

If you’re planning to seal something with wax, ideally you’d want a metal sheath and a metal hilt on the blade. You’re going to want to buy this with the blade because metal sheaths have to be kind of exact. A wooden sheath would be the second best choice, especially if it had a coat of pain or some fabric covering it. Plastic sheaths are going to be useless for this. In fact, plastic sheaths are completely useless for any magical work.

If you want to put an enchantment of some sort on the sheath, a wooden sheath is the best choice. You’d ideally want a wooden sheath that looked nice, that was a work of art in its own right. You might also want to put gemstones on the sheath.

The Qualities of Some Common Metals

Steel – Steel is a masculine metal, representing air. Steel is the crystal of the metal world. It doesn’t amplify, but the metal is largely blank and can be given a wide variety of different enchantments. The only actual attributes found in steel are its strength and durability, and maybe to some extent beauty (but in a very specific way). Considering what we usually use metal for in ritual, it’s unlikely any of these attributes would run counter to our goals. It’s also purity, but only to the extent that it is pure and anything can be written on to it. Most swords and knives are going to be some kind of steel. Steel rings are also very affordable and are suitable for general enchantments and magical experiments (although if you want a very powerful ring, you may want to spring for a more expensive metal with a gemstone attached).

Silver –
Silver represents the feminine aspect of metal specifically water. Silver is a purifier. This is why, in folklore, silver weapons are ideal for fighting things which are an abomination to nature, such as vampires and werewolves. Silver is also very good at hiding things. It would be typical for a silver tool to not seem like much but actually hold a great deal of power. Something sealed into silver could also be very difficult to detect or hard to quantify. Silver is also useful with spells concerning invisibility. As for our tools, we usually see silver in jewelry (such as rings and necklaces). Some people do have silver chalices (and due to its feminine aspect silver is ideal), silver framed mirrors, and silver candle holders, but more often than not these items aren’t sterling silver but just have a coat of silver on top (be very careful, a lot of manufacturers list items with a topcoat of sterling silver as being sterling silver. Large sterling silver items are rather expensive. If you paid $20 or $40 for it, it isn’t completely silver). Due to its high cost, they don’t make silver swords, and its very rare to see a good sized silver knife (although they do exist, but they are pretty pricey). A large silver knife is a very cool tool to have though, especially if you want something for general metaphysical combat or cleaning houses.

Gold – Gold represents the masculine aspect of metal, specifically fire. Gold is good at amplifying things, and because of this it is most often used in spells to amplify wealth. It also tends to draw attention to itself, which makes it ideal for glamours and other spells which are meant to get you noticed. Whatever kind of energy, or entity, is sealed into a gold item tends to be amplified outward and is easily detectable. Because of its high cost, gold tools are usually limited to small jewelry. Smaller gold-alloy cooking knives do exist, although they are still fairly expensive. Gold is generally used sparingly for decoration on hilts and sheaths. Solid gold knives do exist, but you need to be rich (not just well-off and not Pagan rich, like Forbes rich) to afford these.

Platinum – Platinum is a feminine metal which represents the element of Earth. It’s generally associated with stability, resistance, and endurance. It’s also good for spellwork which is meant to attract physical pleasures such as sex and sexual contact, wealth, and food. Because of its high price, the fact that it is not as vibrant as gold (which is cheaper), and that it actually resembles silver (which is way cheaper), you’re not really going to see any tools made out of platinum except for jewelry.

Lead – Lead also has an Earth association. It represents stability, durability, and resistance. It’s also considered an ancient metal and represents age. Out of all metals, lead is the most protective and also is the best at keeping things sealed inside. Due to the fact that it is poisonous, you don’t typically see magical tools made out of lead.

Tin – Tin is masculine and represents strength, particularly increasing strength.

Copper – Copper is a feminine metal and is associated with love, beauty, desire, sex, fragility, and impermanence. It is ideal for casting glamours and love spells. It can also be used to cast spells meant to end things, promote decay, or for spells concerning general destruction.

Bronze – Bronze is associated with love, beauty and desire, strength, and permanence. Used as an enchanted weapon, it can attack with the destructive powers of beauty and love (properly channeled love energy is very destructive). Bronze weapons are sometimes seen as the weapons of the righteous warrior in battle. Bronze jewelry still exists today and is not very expensive. For centuries now steel has been universally used for weapons instead of bronze because it is both cheaper and makes a better blade. However prior to the discovery of steel, bronze was a common metal used in blades and recreations of copper knives and swords are still on the market, although they tend to cost a bit more than their steel counterparts (but not by much).

Planetary Associations of Metals

Sun –> Gold
Moon –> Silver
Mercury –> Mercury
Mars –> Iron (Steel)
Venus –> Copper (Brass, Bronze)
Jupiter –> Tin (Bronze)
Saturn –> Lead


Tools: Wooden Wands, Staves, and the Qualities of Different Woods

November 9, 2009

harry-potter

Section 1: Deals with how to use wands and staves in magical practices, and is meant to aid those who don’t know what a wand does or how to use it.
Section 2: Deals with the different qualities of various common woods, and is meant to aid those who want the correspondences of different woods.

Types of Wands

There are basically three types of wands that are of use to us as magicians. The first type, and the most important, are wooden wands, which will be dealt with in this article. There is a second type which is a piece of crystal in the shape of a wand, known as a crystal wand or energy wand. These are generally associated with the new age movement and are very useful. Lastly there’s a type of wand that is hand made by putting gemstones and herbs inside of a hollow pipe. I’ll discuss these types of wands in future articles. There are other types of wands, most notably a metal wand, which some stores are now selling. These things are next to useless and a waste of money. You’re better off with either a wooden wand or a knife.

How to Use a Wand

Wands are one of the magician’s five elemental tools and are fire associative. Wood is great at quickly absorbing and easily working with large amounts of energy, and so wands are used to manipulate large amounts of energy easily. Note the following exercises assume at least a passing understanding of how to manipulate energy. Without this understanding your results will not be as impressive.

Soak and Radiate:
This is not really an exercise. Just a comment about the nature of a wand. If you watch a wand you’ll notice that, all on its own, it will very easily soak up some of the energy around it. You’ll also notice that the wood will radiate this energy from it, as if it is slowly leaking out. This is the nature of wood and how it reacts with energy and why it is so good at manipulating energy as it does.

Moving Energy: Moving energy is easy enough. If you can find it in the room you can easily wave your hand to move it, or swirl it around, or whatever (you don’t even need a hand, but these things are always easier with physical aids). Now try these same exercises with your wand. You’ll notice you’re moving a much larger amount of energy around, and you’ll be doing it a lot easier than if you just used your hand.

Pulling Energy into the Wand: Put each hand on opposite ends of the wand and hold it horizontally at chest level. Now concentrate on pulling nearby energy towards yourself and into the wand. You should notice the wand works kind of like a magnet pulling in whatever stray energy may be around.

Raising Energy (Method One):
This is the same as the previous method, except this time try to pull energy from more than just the surrounding area. You can also try pulling energy from out of the ground. You’ll notice you’ll pull a lot of energy into the area very quickly.

Raising Energy (Method Two):
Pretty much the same as the last method, except instead you hold the wand in one hand and move the wand in an upward motion. This is typically the preferred method for raising energy from the ground. You can also prance around the room doing this because, um, some people like that sort of stuff. Not me! But some people.

Energizing (Screw Method): Swirl the wand over an object or person in a clockwise motion to push the nearby energy into it. Swirl counterclockwise to drain.

Directing energy: This is pretty much the same as moving energy. Hold the wand vertically and move your arm down until it is at a ninety degree angle with your body. All free energy should now rush towards whatever is being pointed at. Unless the energy is specifically charged for an act, this is generally an attack. You throw enough energy at a barrier and it will break. You throw enough energy at something living and you will kill it. It helps if the energy is aggressive and malicious, but an aggressive and malicious intent is usually enough to do it.

All of these methods are more dependent on will and intent than anything else. The motions are only meant to help focus the mind and one’s intent through physical action.


Staves

Staves work much the same as wands. They’re pretty much just really big wands. Anything you can do with a wand, you can do with a staff. The advantage of having a wand is that it is easier to carry around to rituals, it’s easier to store several of them, they’re easier to charge on an alter, they are cheaper and easier to make, and some woods can not be made into staves.

Staves have several advantages. For starters, they’re more inconspicuous, if you have a small, modest staff. If you have a ten foot tall staff with feathers and bells hanging off it, no it’s not inconspicuous. If you have a cane-like walking stick, you just use a cane to walk.

Staves are also bigger. Technically this means, all things being equal in regards to wood types and enchantments, they should be able to move larger amounts of energy. It’d be very rare though, with a properly enchanted wand, to hit a point where you felt you needed more and a staff would make much of a difference.

Also, being bigger, staves can hold larger charge for longer. This is actually the biggest advantage the staff has. Wood radiates energy, and so the charge is always disappearing. The more energy that enters a piece of wood, the quicker it will radiate out. A staff can hold a lot more energy though, so a staff will keep its charge much longer.

Because of this, and the ease of carrying it around as a walking stick, many people like to take staves to places with large amounts or unique energy in order to charge them. Properly done, this can result in a very powerful and highly charged tool when used in ritual.

Adding Gemstones to Your Wand

A lot of people like to attach gemstones to a wooden wand. Whether or not to do this is up to the practitioner and largely a matter of preference. A gemstone will hold a charge much better than wood, and so it can be used as a battery for the wand. Gemstones also amplify energy (meaning the energy coming off the wand will be increased). A gemstone may make it easier to manipulate and shape energy in a finer, less broad, way. And finally a gemstone will taint the wands energy to that of the gemstone. The exact taint is dependent on the type of gemstone used, and is beyond the scope of this article.

On the downside the gemstone will have its own personality (which you much be compatible with, in addition to that of the wood), and a gemstone will have a particular taint on the wand’s energy (which the wand ideally should be compatible with).

The Personality of Wood

Remember that wood was once a living thing, and as such each plant had its own personality, and that personality is going to carry on to the wood itself. That’s why it’s important to be sure that you are compatible with a particular wand or staff.

The Qualities of Wood

Broadly speaking, different types of wood have certain inherent qualities, and these will effect how any wooden magical tools made from them operate. Listed below are some of the most common, and also some of the most useful, types of wood you’ll find in magical tools and their general qualities:

Apple – Apple is associated with love and fertility, and is good for utilizing love and sexual energies. It works well with all sorts of love spells, lust spells, marriage spells, and fertility spells. Apple is compatible with deities of love, sex, desire, and courtship.

Ash – Ash is fire associative. All wands are fire associative, but ash is doubly so. Ash makes a very good battle wand. Its best use is for direct attacks against people and entities. It also does pretty well with death curses and with destroying crops (not really that useful in this day and age though). Because of its combative nature, it’s also good at most kinds of protection magick, like casting wards and barriers. Properly enchanted, ash can also do well in aiding all kinds of creativity. Ash is compatible to deities who are fire associative and deities of warriors and battle (Mars, Aries, Athena, Tyr).

Bay Laurel – The bay laurel is sacred to Apollo and is generally associated with immortality, eternal youth, the regeneration of youth, and healing.

Elder – Elder wood is very good at finding and absorbing negative energies. For this reason most people will find Elder, at best, difficult to work with in any kind of magick that doesn’t involve harm, vengeance, or cursing. Elder is also a very alive and vengeful type of tree, and Elder wood should never be taken off of a tree without permission from the tree, otherwise you may have to deal with the wrath of the tree. Elder wood will often work as a ward by itself, either because entities fear the elder wood, or because they fear that which is powerful enough to control the elder wood.

Elm
– Earth associative, Elm is the opposite of Ash.

Hawthorn – A fae associative wood (and surprise, you can make alcohol from it). Like oak, this is an otherworldly wood, which makes it somewhat useful for evocations, but keep in mind that it comes from fae realms and generally connects to fae realms. Hawthorn is best for magick dealing directly with fae. Fae-kin may also find the wand very compatible. The wood’s nature may also make it a good choice for fae-like endeavours. Cutting down or otherwise destroying a Hawthorn tree that fae have laid claim to will often times make them angry and vengeful.

Hazel
– Air associative. Hazel is a wood of wisdom and intelligence. Because of this, in spiritual work, many see hazel wands as a general good all-purpose wand.

Holly – Holly is associated with order and is sacred to Saturn. Generally holly won’t make a very good wand or staff. It tends to work against most magick since it is geared for balancing things, setting things right, and putting things in the boundaries that they are meant to be in. People who have strong ties to Saturn and are used to utilizing order magick might be able to find some value in a holly wand, but most people won’t get much use out of it. It would do very well for binding spells, closing portals, de-enchanting an area, and cleaning up magical messes. Items made out of holly can be very useful, especially when properly enchanted. They can help with achieving balance and order. If you find your life is in disarray, if you’re emotionally unhinged, or if you have major metaphysical issues in your home, holly can help to fix this. It can also help protect against certain kinds of spells and supernatural threats. Fae also don’t like holly and sometimes they can be driven away by it. Generally holly will try to push things out of an atypical, metaphysical, imbalanced or chaotic situation and move it towards a typical, mundane, balanced, and ordered situation. It promotes calm and peace.

Maple – Generally a wood of protection.

Oak
– Oak is an ancient tree, the species is older than this world. Oak does not originate here, it originates in other worlds, and as such it acts as a sort of anchor to these worlds and their magicks. Because of this oak is a very powerful magical wood. Groves of oak trees are a preferred place for ritual because the area is anchored into other worlds. Oak also works very well when used to move through worlds (either going out via astral projection, shadowwalking, or dreaming) or bringing things in through evocation. Oak is also associated with lightning and is sacred to all lightning associated gods (Zeus, Thor).

Pine
– A good wood for spells involving youth, the slowing of age and decay, immortality, and strength (when defined as resistance). Also a good all purpose wand for spells involving practical matters.

Poplar – Some confusingly think that poplar is good for protection spells, when in fact it’s that items made from the wood make excellent guardians. Your poplar wand isn’t so much going to be good at casting protection spells as it is going to be good at protecting you from attacks while you carry it.

Rowan
– Rowan is an excellent absorber of energy. This makes the wood superior in all kinds of protection spells. In fact just having Rowan wood on your person may be enough to completely absorb all of the energy from a hostile spell. Likewise Rowan can absorb the radiant energy from the area and from dead spirits and stray entities, rendering them harmless and invisible. Properly enchanting and using Rowan wood will magnify (and if done right filter) its absorption abilities making it more effective in these endeavors. Also due to its very high sensitivity in regards to absorbing energy they make superior dowsing rods.

Sandalwood – Sandalwood is a divine wood. It is associated with divinity, the gods, and all matters of a higher spiritual nature. Sandalwood is also an endangered and protected species, and there is a much greater demand for the wood than supply. Because of this most sandalwood is not true sandalwood, but of a related species.

Walnut – Walnut is another fire associative wood. It’s a strong wood and it’s associated with destruction. Because of this it makes a good battle wand. It differs a bit from ash though. Ash is actually associated with the battle and is good for fighting, preferable to walnut in that regard. Walnut just destroys things really well, which is always good in a fight. If you just want to destroy your enemies and leave a path of massive destruction in your wake, go with walnut. It would also work well with spells of mass destruction and death. I believe walnut may also be useful with glamour spells, and a wand used for that would be very interesting.

Willow – Willow is water associative. It’s good for both healing spells and cleansing spells. It’s also good for exorcising spirits (which is technically a cleansing spell). This makes Willow an excellent choice for besoms and brooms. In actuality what Willow is good at is washing away that which is bad, improper, or old and bringing forth that which is new or a renewal. It is because of this that willow is sometimes associated with bringing the dead to their final resting place, however willow’s association is with exercising the dead and the resulting renewal, not with the land of the dead or with death energy. Willow can also work well with death spells under very limited circumstances. Due to willow’s nature of getting rid of that which is bad, improper, or old there are some legends that the tree will uproot itself and seek out and kill travelers.

(European) Yew – First off, make sure you get European Yew and not Pacific Yew (which is more common in North America). Yew is associated with the dead and the land of the dead. Yew is very good at utilizing death energy (this is the energy of the dead, not energy that kills). It’s also good for bringing forth and controlling the dead. Yew is compatible with most Chthonic deities.


Magick Au Natural (or Skyclad), A Primer

March 16, 2009

What is Skyclad Magick

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Skyclad Magick is any working which is done nude (in other words clad only by the sky, although the term also encompasses indoor workings, which semantically should be called tracklightclad), whether these workings are done as a group or as solitary workings.

Skyclad also encompasses several different definitions. Some define Skyclad, most basically, as being without any kind of clothing. Others define it as also being without make-up, perfumes, deodorant, or shampoo. And others include those clothed in body paint as being skyclad.

The History of Skycladskyclad

It’d be nice if there was a long and revered history of ritual nudity to point to in arguing for skyclad practices, but none really exists. Although we see nudity practiced in some obscure forms of Eastern religions, we don’t see it in any of the ones that have had a major influence on the west. In the western world we can suppose that there has, in the past, been ritual nudity. Humans were most likely practicing some sort of ritual prior to the invention of clothing. We do know some of the Greeks and Romans were rather decadent and liked there orgies, and that there were probably some spiritual undertones in some of there orgy havings. But whatever was done then is largely lost, and we don’t see any clear lineage from those earlier rituals (which were small and minority rituals) up to the modern day.

Until the middle of the 20th century, Western occultism was practiced clothed. There is no evidence that traditional witches ever practiced in the nude. Ceremonial magicians have always practiced clothed. Even Allister Crowley, known for combining his sexual wants with his ritual practices, never managed to get into nude rituals, more than likely because he was too busy trying to convince male friends to have anal intercourse with him for reasons that meant he was still entirely heterosexual. There are some spells in the old grimoires that were meant to make groups of women or groups of people dance around in the nude, but that was not a part of the ritual, but rather the end result of it, after which the practitioner could then watch them dancing in the nude.

Skyclad magick and ritual nudity was pretty much spearheaded by Gerald Gardener, the founder of Wicca. The theological basis for Gardener’s skyclad rituals were based in negative Christian folklore about witches which supposed them to do secret nude rituals, and also in a mistranslation of a line in the Aradia of the Witches. It should be noted though that Gardener had a host of sexual fetishes, and that he used his spiritual position as a founder of a religion in order to recruit willing partners to participate in his fantasies which also included female domination and sado-machosism, and that he would grasp at spiritual straws to justify these acts.

After Gardener had come along, a lot of other folks started incorporating skyclad rituals into their own religions. Skyclad rituals meshed very well with the hippie movement that eventually invaded and took over most of the neopagan religions and also liked running around naked.

In recent years skyclad practices have largely fallen out of vogue. Even many Gardnerian Wiccans, who claim to practice the original form of Wicca created by Gardener, don’t practice skyclad, and they don’t follow a lot of Gardener’s more sexualized practices either. Most of the rituals that were originally meant to be done in the nude are now done clothed.

The Magick of Equality: Does Nudity Make Us Equals

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A point generally brought up by pro-skyclad Wiccans is that nudity makes us equals. We no longer have the class system attached to us. We aren’t separated between those who can afford nice clothes and those who can’t. This lack of separation would also happen if we replaced naked with modest robes.

Unfortunately beyond flashy clothes, skyclad doesn’t do much to make us equals. Some people are still pretty, and some are fat, and no amount of clothing, or lack thereof, is going to help the situation. Some of us are going to be more powerful than others. The regular religious hierarchies that exist tend to exist while naked the same as when clothed.

Cloth & Color: A Minor Variable Sidestepped

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It should be noted that the most magickal possessions most people possess (other than their bed), are their clothes. Experienced practitioners are more likely than most to have an object which puts their clothes to shame, but at the same time their clothes are going to be even more magickal than what is typical among non-practitioners. Our emotion and our energy, through out the day, taints our clothes. Washing our clothes helps, although it doesn’t nearly do enough insofar as cleansing them. The longer the clothes have been worn, the more powerful they may be. And our clothes, in turn, may taint or otherwise affect both ourselves or the ritual. When we enter a ritual clothed, we’re never entering a ritual clean. Many books recommend not only preritual baths and cleansings, but also special clean garments only adorned during ritual for this very reason.

Secondly, color is another variable. Some practitioners discard color altogether because it is not as strong a symbolism as some would like. Color does however have an, albeit minor, effect on magick workings. Some books and practitioners swear by being draped in the proper colors for the spell at hand.

However clothing and color are both minor variables in determining the success and power of ones magick. Neither is so great a factor that it can’t be overcome, or can only be over come with great effort. There are of course exceptions. Sometimes an article of clothing can become so energized that it will have a very serious effect on the ritual. However this problem can be solved simply by wearing something else.

Still, it should be noted that these things can affect ritual, and that by practicing skyclad these variables no longer need to be considered.

Simplicity, Primality, Transformation, and Butt-Nakedness

Nakedness is our most natural state of dress. It’s how we come into this world. It’s how we survived as a species prior to the advent of clothing. Our clothing ads another layer to ourselves, another level of complexity. Typically within magick and ritual one moves towards simplicity rather than complexity, one tries to remove as many layers from the problem as possible. Simplicity is seen as the better and more powerful state, the natural state of things within the universe, and it’s easiest to work ones will when that will is worked in the natural directions of the universe, not against it.

Naked, being both our natural state and primary state, allows us to become more primal in our being. For some being naked means tapping into a more primary, animalistic state. For others it is just being more free, less inhibited, and a closer approximation to their true self. In any case, in this state a practitioner’s energy is more raw, less encumbered and tainted, and the practitioner experiences a greater degree of focus and their will and desires are better focused, all of this making spellwork easier and more successful.

Finally some practitioners may use nudity as a trigger to transform them from one state to another. To move from their normal selves to their more magickal selves. To help them cast away, temporarily, their anchors and ties into the real and solid world and move into a less solid more magickal state where more things are possible. Conditioned properly, a practitioner can see a dramatic transformation between a clothed and naked state, and can amass this power with less work than what would typically be required. However one should be careful utilizing this method. There are definite drawbacks to not being able to tap most of your power unless you’re naked.

Intimacy, Nudity, and Bonding

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Most people see nudity as an intimate act. For most of us, the first people of an opposite gender who saw us naked after puberty started was a person who we engaged in some intimate carnal act with. For most of us, most of the people of the opposite gender who see us naked are people we are intimately involved with. For a lot of people, nudity is directly tied to sex. For a lot of people, casual and non-utilitarian nudity is only something that occurs between two people who are sexually involved with each other.

The point being, for a large part nudity and intimacy are one in the same. Therefor when a ritual is performed skyclad there is an added degree of intimacy between the participants, even if they don’t know each other very well. With a regular group, this intimacy helps with group bonding. But even with strangers who will never meet again, nudity will help them connect together, become one, and work the ritual as a single whole rather than a group of individuals. The individual members will also find it easier to connect to one and another, and psychic links will more easily form between them, once again making it easier for the individuals to work as a group.

Symbolism of Nudity and Opening the 3rd Eye

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When we’re naked, we’re exposed. We’ve completely opened ourselves up and exposed ourselves to everything in the nearby area. This is a literal truth on the physical level. But is also symbolic of opening ourselves up and exposing ourselves emotionally (thus intimacy, as explained above), and also opening ourselves up spiritually. Being naked is symbolic of letting down a shield, and both exposing ourselves and opening ourselves up to our surrounding environment. Especially when the symbolism of the event is acknowledged, this will make it easier for the practitioner to experience the metaphysical. For lack of a better way to describe it, it will make them more psychic and more empathic.

Sacred Nudity and Reverence

Most of us, when we present ourselves to a god, we want to present ourselves in an acceptable way. The situation may not always allow this. We might need to contact a deity right now, and we can’t wait to take a shower or dress ourselves properly. The gods understand this. But a lot for the time we do have time. And then there’s the question of how should we present ourselves. Likewise even when we don’t use a god, when we do magick most of us would like to present ourselves in a way that is becoming of the sacredness of the event.

If we have sacred clothes, like ceremonial robes, this might do. If not, we’d usually lean towards nice, clean clothes. What nice means though would be very subjective. Some might define that as expensive suits and dresses. Others as unfaded jeans and a favorite t-shirt. Some will argue that you should always address the gods in Renfair costumes, regardless of the fact that almost every god predates the renaissance style of dress, the style was only in vogue in certain regions of Western Europe and is thus regionally inappropriate for most gods, and that Renfair costumes typically lack accuracy.

Nudity is, however, always appropriate for presentation to a deity or a sacred event. Nudity is a sacred state of being. As already mentioned it’s how we come into this world. When we disrobe we’re also gracing those around us with the beauty of our physical form. We are making a sacrifice of our modesty so that others may take pleasure in our natural form. We are showing reverence to and making a gift to those around us, be they other humans, entities, or gods. When we are naked, we’re always in a sacred state. The sacredness of that state is only lost when we attempt to hide or cover ourselves, or when we try to stop or otherwise punish others for looking at us or particular body parts, staring at us, or having impure thoughts about us. When we disrobe and present ourselves as such it is a sacred gift given onto the recipient, to be used as they please and not to be taken back.

Nudity and Sexual Energy

Nudity can be utilized within ritual in order to raise sexual energy. When you get a bunch of people together, running around naked, they start getting horny, and before long you get a bunch of sexual energy that can be used and manipulated in the spellwork. For best results you want as many pretty people, both men and women, in the group as possible. Pretty people turn other people on. Ugly people may turn other people on, but not as much. Youth is also good, young people tend to have much stronger sex drives and more sexually repressed energy. You may also have much better results if participants agree to refrain from sexual acts or masturbation for a period preceding the ritual. Three days is a good amount of time. Likewise you’ll get better results if flirting and some petting is allowed during the time of the ritual, of course you don’t want anyone having orgasms during the ritual, since that would be counterproductive, you just want them getting about as close as you can get them.

In a setting like this, energy can easily be raised, even among those who are not very good at energy manipulation, by normally mundane acts like dancing around each other and various games and activities that involve touching and caressing each other.

Orgies

Generally, if you want to raise sexual energy, don’t have sex. There is a point within an orgasm when the energy will hit peak and will be at its strongest for the individual. This only lasts for a moment though, and grasping and manipulating this energy is a difficult feat. It can be done, but it is typically beyond the ability of most practitioners and beyond the scope of most rituals. But there are other things that can be done with ritual orgies, everything from connecting the group as one to amassing the energies to some ends to simply reveling in a state of primal and uncompromising sexual ecstasy and desire. I do think that this is, however, far to vast an area to go into detail in the scope of this essay.

Being Naked — Just Because

Of course there is something to be said for being naked just because. It is a sacred state of being, and so being naked is sacred. It can be its own ends, rather than a means to something else. It can be a spiritual experience in and of itself. Or possibly just something one enjoys doing. To be exposed, open, uninhibited, intimate, free, primal, and sacred all at once.


Let Us Bring Some Evil Into This World (A Call to End Inaction)

September 10, 2007

Within the realm of my blog, my book, when I speak with people, when I write people through email, I’ve been rather free about the magickal information I give out. I am very much aware of the danger this information can pose to the practitioner if it’s put to use. I’ve been hurt badly in the past, and I’m no doubt at least partly responsible for injuries that have occurred to others. Still, I continue, and will continue, as I have been, offering what information I have to anyone who truly wants to learn.

There is a disgusting trend that has emerged where information is being hidden away in fear that it may be used in such a way that the practitioner is hurt. Books are being burned or otherwise taken off the market, stores refuse to carry certain titles and authors, people are being told not to read certain works because of the ideas discussed within them, and some are asking, or even demanding, that people stop teaching spellwork, astral projection, channeling, mediumship, and the like to just anyone. Meanwhile practitioners are being urged not to practice. They are being told that they aren’t strong enough or learned enough yet to protect themselves if they chose to utilize magick. In some instances practitioners are being urged to give up magick completely as it’s far too dangerous to ever be used and instead to just be a part of a neopagan religion.

Change is upon us. If you can tap the energy of this place, the vast ocean of energy that exists around us, and fall into it, and follow it a bit into the future you’ll notice that it starts to twist and turn, that it’s twisting and turning right now. We’re heading towards an apocalypse of sort, this world is going through a great change. I can feel it, my teacher felt it, my peers feel it, and almost a hundred years ago Allister Crowley felt it. This isn’t something new.

A lot of people like to talk about this change. I’ve become certain that most can’t feel it, they’re just repeating what they’ve heard from others. They have no understanding of it. A common belief is that, once this change occurs, the veils will break and we’ll all be blessed with magickal and psychic powers. Another belief is that this effect is generational, we won’t gain these powers, but our children or grandchildren or whenever this happens will be born with it.

The truth is this change isn’t something that’s going to happen. It’s happening right now, and it’s been happening for some time. Those waiting to just wake up with their magick powers one day should give up now. It isn’t happening. No new power is coming into this world. The power has always been there, and it will always be there. Having power is a matter of grasping that power which has always been there to be grasped. What has changed is an increase in opportunity.

In the 19th century Levi’s works were only available to those who could speak French. In the early 20th century translations started appearing, but these translations along with their French counterparts were still difficult to find and treasured among those who owned them. By the 1970s increased interest in the metaphysical and cheaper printing techniques meant that Levi’s works were now more widely available, assuming you knew who he was and knew of a place that sold good occult books or a good mail order company. Today Levi’s works can be found at the local bookstore, they can easily be downloaded online, and even if you don’t know who he is typing magick into a search engine along with a week studying online should lead you to him.

Nearly all of the most famous magickal and spiritual works are available online. Every year more works are translated and better translations appear (compare Mather’s Sepher Yetzirah to Kaplan’s superior translation). Finding the exact book you want isn’t much harder than typing the name into an Amazon or Ebay search, or asking your local bookstore to order it. Meanwhile inventions like the Internet, HTML, and cheaper and more efficient POD techniques make publishing and distributing ideas, techniques, theories, and teachings easier.

Right now it is easier for a neophyte to find the information they need to begin solitary practice or work towards initiation than it has been in thousands of years. It is taking less and less work to find the necessary information, and more and more the information is simply presenting itself to people, no work required. And the situation is only going to get better, or worse depending on your perspective of it. No one is going to be gifted with magickal powers. Rather we’re being gifted with a better opportunity to acquire those powers.

This world is in the process of shifting. It’s moving towards some unforeseeable end, and currently it’s ripe to be influenced. I’ve seen factions of otherworldly beings forming. They’re parties that have an interest in where this world is heading and the final outcome of these events. They will take what they can by influence and they will take what they can by force. Wars will be fought between these powers that be, actually the battles have already started, and in the end their strength will determine the fate of this world.

Humanity has been castrated and robbed of the right to determine its own destiny. They’ve taken from us our gods and angels and heroes and villains and demons and old ones, the very things that were meant to show us what we could aspire to become.

And now the world shifts, and the power long ago taken from us is offered to us again. Some believe that we’re destroying this world, that we are a parasite to it, and that it seeks to expel us. This world clings to us and I hear it pleading with us to realize our potential and again become masters of our destiny and determine this world’s fate.

We are among the elite, and we are growing. We are those that have chosen not to cower behind a higher force, but rather to throw ourselves into the universe allowing our strength, our talent, our merits, and our character to lead us to our salvation, or our damnation. We are supposed to be the strong and the powerful who walk the path to enlightenment unhindered by fear, not the cautiously weak who chose ignorance out of fear.

A time will come when these battles come near to an end, and they will have taken what can be taken by influence, and they will have taken what can be taken by force, and the victor will determine what fate befalls all of humanity, and the only hope humanity will have to determine its own fate will be to prove themselves stronger and uninfluenced and take back by force what is rightfully theres.

Inside each of us is the potential to achieve power beyond that of even the gods. Those incarnate here have a greater right to determine the fate of this world than any other entity, and with that right comes the power to claim and defend it if we chose to.

This world does not need caution. It does not need fear. This world needs strength, and it needs practitioners that are practicing and growing in power so that they may face what is yet to come against them.

Power can only be achieved through experience. Risk is an essential element of progress. Read books. Read everything. Don’t be swayed from a particular author because they have been labeled as evil or dangerous. Look at their ideas and determine for yourself their validity. And cast spells, astral project, summon things, channel, in other words practice magick. Get into fights and mix it up with entities. Yes, all of this is dangerous. Do it anyways. Don’t wait to do things because you doubt your abilities. Your abilities will only grow through experience, and doing things now is the only way to grow your abilities. Time spent waiting for your abilities to develop from an armchair will only be time wasted.

We need to walk our paths fearlessly. We need to allow ourselves to grow spiritually. We need to have confidence in our abilities and faith not in higher powers but in our own power to protect ourselves and find salvation.

When we see ourselves as weak, we become mastered by our own limitation. When we believe that we our strong, strength tends to manifest within us.

The true master teaches empowerment, not subjugation. The true master preaches of the strength of his disciples, not their weaknesses. The true master sees himself not as having ascended to a point above others, but of having reached a higher point that others will hopefully exceed.