Tools – Sacred Robes

April 6, 2011

I’m not a big fan of robes. I don’t own any magical robes. If I’m doing magic, I’m either doing it in my street clothes or doing it skyclad. I’m the guy showing up to rituals wearing blue jeans and a Darkwing Duck t-shirt that says “Let’s Get Dangerous”.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to working with robes, and I’d like to spend some time going over them. Spiritually speaking, robes don’t give much of an advantage over working skyclad, which from a purely spiritual standpoint is always going to be the better option. However for various reasons, such as being in public, the comfort level of the group, and the weather, working skyclad is not always a practical option.

1. The Advantages of Wearing Robes

Entering Rituals Clean

One of the big advantages of having specific ritual clothing is to better control the energy you take into a ritual. Through out the day our clothing soaks in a lot of energy, most of which comes from ourselves but some also comes from our environment. Some of this is lost when clothes are washed, after all washing clothes is a sort of cleansing ritual, however even when clothes are washed not all of the energy is removed from the clothing. This is especially true when the intent was just to get the clothes clean and not to specifically spiritually cleanse them. Over time the energy inside of clothes builds up, and so clothing that has been owned for a long time and worn a lot tends to have a good amount of energy soaked into it.

When one tries to enter into a ritual presenting a certain type of energy, or when one tries to enter into a ritual completely clean, this can be inhibited by clothing. And if you do cleansing rituals prior to magical work, such as taking a special ritual bath, wearing your everyday clothes negates the benefits of the cleansing ritual.

The only way to completely eliminate the issue of energy charged into clothing during your magical work is to either practice skyclad or wear completely new clothes at every ritual. However special ritual clothing does help to mitigate these effects.

Magical robes are not things you’re supposed to wear around the house or when you go to renfair. They’re special clothes that are only supposed to be worn during ritual. Energy is still going to get soaked into the robes, but there are two advantages to using special ritual clothing. First off the energy being soaked into the robes is usually going to be the energy you typically take into or work with while doing magical rituals. Secondly if you are always doing cleansing rituals prior to rituals in which you wear the robes, in order to do away with unwanted energy, then the energy soaked into magical robes will be minimal.

Charging Robes

Any time we bring a tool to a ritual it will become charged by it, although unless the ritual was specifically designed to charge something that charge will probably be slight. However when we consistently take the same item to ritual after ritual it becomes more and more charged. Eventually, without any real effort, we have a strongly charged magical item.

Clothes are no different. The clothes we bring to a ritual usually get a slight charge to them. However if we usually wear our street clothes, we probably aren’t going to be wearing the same clothes to every ritual. Also our street clothes are getting charged with other energy through out the day and this other energy is going to drown out a lot of what is going to be taken in during a ritual. Unless you practice a philosophy like Kitchen Witchery it would be very rare to use a magical tool for a non-magical purpose. If you were using a magical tool in your day to day life for mundane purposes it would still be charged from the rituals you were using it in, but that charge would be less than if you were only using it for ritual purposes (note: certain magical practices, like the aforementioned Kitchen Witchery, use an alternate theory on tools and an alternate method of charging those tools, and tools properly maintained according to those practices can be just as powerful, or even more powerful, than magical tools used exclusively in ritual. I understand the theories of Kitchen Witchery and how they work, and agree they do work, however it’s not what I’m talking about right now).

When we use special ritual clothing, like robes, ultimately we end up with a specially charged magical tool for magical practice. We can even take special precautions when washing our robes so that we minimize the amount of energy we use while cleansing it.

We can even take this one step further and specifically charge our robes so they are an even more powerful ritual tool, and in the same way we can add stones or sigils on to our robes to further empower them.

Magical Mood

One of the strongest arguments for robes, one I’m going to counter in a point further down, is also a common argument that is made for skyclad practices. By wearing special ritual clothing, in this case robes, we help facilitate a transformation from our mundane selves into our magical selves. By constantly reinforcing, in our heads, that when we are wearing our robes we are doing our magical work, putting on robes can instantly take us to a state where we are psychologically ready to perform magic. The robes act as a mental trigger that changes us from whatever we physically are most of the time into a spiritual being capable of performing magic.

Especially with novice practitioners, robes used in this way will help a person gain a great deal more focus and will also help them mentally prepare themselves to do rituals much faster. It’s also going to set a certain ambiance and make the practitioner feel more like a magician and make the magical acts feel more real. After all when we wear robes we’re no longer some guy in blue jeans and a t-shirt that makes some cultural reference to our childhood, we’re now like something out of the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, and our beliefs and how we feel strongly affects our magic and how successful it is. Not to mention that this idea that we are a magician helps us to tap into power reserves and knowledge we may not even know we possess.

2. Issues With Robes

Over Robes

I have to mention that most of the benefits of wearing robes only apply if robes are the only thing you’re wearing. I’ve seen a lot of groups where robes are simply put on over regular clothing, which negates most of the benefits of wearing robes. Even underwear shouldn’t be worn, unless you have special underwear you only wear during rituals.

Meet-Up Robes

Something I brought up before is that the benefits of robes are lost when robes are not kept as special clothing that is only worn for rituals. Luckily there’s only a handful of really silly folk who wear their robes everywhere. Unfortunately though I’ve noticed a lot of folks wear robes for non-magical spiritual purposes, and the people who do this the most often are the high priests and priestesses and group leaders, people who should know better. These are people who wear ritual robes to discussion groups, to meet-and-greets, and to classes they teach. These are technically spiritual meet-ups, and the robes are acceptable garments for the situation, but no magical ritual is taking place, and when robes are worn in a non-ritual setting they become less useful in a ritual setting. Many of these group leaders do so to set a tone, to look and act like a real practitioner, or to sell their spiritual beliefs. In these instances the robes aren’t really a magical tool but rather just a costume being worn.

3. Arguments Against Robes

Energy Issues Are Negligible

If you want to come into a ritual completely clean and have a completely controlled environment, the only way to do that is to do the ritual skyclad. If however that isn’t possible, the next best option is to wear robes. However the amount of energy contained within your normal clothing isn’t going to be a huge issue. It’s a minor factor that should be easily corrected by an experienced magician. This is especially true because the vast majority of the energy in your clothing is your energy, and you should be more or less compatible with it. The one exception would be clothing that isn’t yours or clothing someone else has worn. That sort of clothing can be tainted with energy that is very incompatible with you, and although the situation is still correctable by an experienced magician, it puts a greater strain on the practitioner.

Amateur Issues

If you’ve noticed, many of the ways in which robes help a magician are meant to help novice practitioners, not experienced practitioners. Experienced practitioners should be beyond any of the help that robes can offer, making robes useless for them.

Meanwhile the benefits that novice practitioners receive from using robes may actually be hurting them in the long run. Some practitioners will use the robes as a crutch early on and never learn how to operate without them. They’ll never learn how to compensate for or change the energy in their clothes, or how to mentally prepare their mind for ritual work without the robes. It’s like putting training wheels on a bike instead of learning how to ride it.

Everyday Magic

The best argument against robes is one that rests largely on personal spiritual beliefs. As a tool, robes are different from something like a wand or a sword. A wand is a tool that we use when we need it. When our wand serves a purpose within our ritual we take it out and use it, but when a wand doesn’t serve a specific purpose in our ritual, we work magic without one.

Robes, however, are something that we are always supposed to wear into ritual. Robes are not a tool that we only need some of the time. After all one of the key purposes of wearing robes is that they help us transition from our everyday mundane self into our magical and spiritual selves. Robes push us from the normal, physical world into the spiritual world where magic is real.

This concept, however, creates a separation between the physical world, where we spend most of our lives, and the spiritual world, and in doing so it restricts our spiritual activities, or at least a greater part of our spiritual activities, to a specific time of the day or specific day of the week.

This is fine if you believe that magical practice should be kept separate from the rest of our lives. In fact an argument that they should be kept separate was made by some of the early Ceremonial Magicians who were instrumental in promoting robed practice and making it as popular as it is today. In fact a lot of other modern magical practices, such as using the LBRP, are based on the foundation that our magical practice should just be one segment of our lives kept separate from the rest of it.

However the theory of spiritual separation is not universally held, and many magicians completely dismiss this idea. Personally my spirituality is not something that occurs for a few hours a week. I am a spiritual person every hour of every day. Every choice I make and action I take, every thought I have, and even my morality are all affected by my spiritual beliefs. In the same way I don’t practice magic just some of the time, and I’m not a magician for part of the week. Even on a typical day where I attend no group functions and perform no ritual magic, I can’t even begin to count all of the different magic that I perform. I start my day by hitting the snooze button and magically slowing down time outside of my bed to 1/4th speed so I can get more sleep, and I end it by doing my nightly meditations, and there’s going to be dozens if not hundreds of other magical acts in between, not to mention the fact that I’m probably going to be doing stuff in my sleep too.

My magical practice is not separated from the rest of my life, and I don’t want it to be. In fact I could argue that constant practice produces stronger magicians. There are of course downsides, mainly that you have to allow magic and spirituality and everything that comes with it to intrude upon every aspect of your life.

Robes are a Fire Hazard

Finally I have to add that robes, like any loose fitting clothing, are a fire hazard. Members of the magical community are well known for not following proper fire safety precautions, and robes, along with other ritual wear like capes and cloaks, contribute to our collective poor fire safety. Anytime a ritual uses candles or you have an outdoor ritual around a fire, robes become a fire hazard, and every year lots of practitioners accidentally set their robes, and themselves, on fire. In fact one of the best arguments I can make for skyclad practice is that if everyone practiced skyclad we’d start a few less accidental fires every year.


Tools: Sigils, Pentacles, and Jewelry

September 8, 2010

This is the fifth and final part of the series dealing with elemental tools. Earth, like water, is a feminine and thus passive elemental. Even worse though Earth doesn’t have an active form (although water does). When I talked about water element tools I talked about how they were rarely used in ritual because they were passive tools. Earth tools get used a bit more often though, and there’s two main reasons for it. First off, and most importantly, they act as a bridge to the physical world. Secondly we can do things to Earth element tools.

What Are the Earth Element Tools

There is some confusion over what constitutes Earth element tools. We know the classic tools are Sword, Wand, Chalice, Lantern (or Lamp) and something else to represent Earth. I’ve noticed a lot of magicians have just stuck something in there so that they have a fifth tool (to represent the fifth element).

Actually every single physical tool you use has an Earth association. Your wand, your sword, your chalice, your lantern, all of these are technically Earth associated tools. In the case of your wand, for instance, it is fire associative, but it is also a physical object and thus has an Earth association.

Some magic is entirely spiritual in nature, but the point of a lot of magic is to somehow affect physical reality. Spells meant to bring you money, to bring love into your life, to help you find a book, and to strike your enemies dead are all meant to ultimately affect the physical world. The point of all this magic is to take something entirely spiritual, like an idea or energy or spirit, and somehow transform that into a physical force. Our tools aid us in that endeavor by acting as a bridge between the spiritual world and the physical world. Your wand represents the element of fire, an element which is a spiritual force. Your wand however is something that is physical (and Earth associative), and so it acts as a conduit to turn this spiritual thing into a physical thing.

Earth element tools are really the exact opposite of Spirit element tools. If you remember the actual spirit element tool isn’t the lantern or the candle, it’s the flame. And that flame, like our tools, acts as a bridge between the spiritual world and the physical world. It’s a bridge that goes the other way though. If we burn a candle, or a piece of paper, or some kind of offering, the point is to take something that is physical and turn it into something purely spiritual. Our other tools however take something that is purely spiritual and give it some sort of physicality.

Rather then go on and on about every type of physical tool imaginable, I’m going to look at three tools which are usually considered Earth element tools and a few different ways they can be used. Namely sigils, pentacles, and jewelry.

Sigils

There are a few different ways to make sigils. You can copy them from a book. You can channel them. You can derive them from magical squares. And you can even create and then empower your own. Peter Carol created a method to do just that for his system of Chaos Magick that is very popular.

All a sigil is is just a symbol drawn on to some sort of physical object (like a piece of paper). Small children scribble on paper all the time. These scribbles rarely bring them great wealth or open the gates to hell or whatever else people usually do with magic. So what makes the symbols that make a sigil powerful?

The symbols of a sigil (however they’re made, so long as they are made correctly) connect to something. This may be an energy, or spirit, or idea, or place, or magician. It can really be anything. But the whole point of the sigil is that it forms a connection between something and that piece of paper, and quite possibly anyone who works with or even looks at the symbol on that piece of paper.

Suppose you have a spirit you’ve evoked. You want this spirit to do something for you, like bring you treasure or make somebody fall in love with you, it really doesn’t matter what. Some spirits may be very powerful. They may be powerful enough to manifest on their own and do your bidding or whatever. Other spirits though aren’t going to be that powerful. These spirits are entirely spiritual beings, and how the hell is a spiritual being going to drag treasure to your house? It’s like a ghost that moves around and you can see and even talk to, but it isn’t going to be able to pick stuff up and throw it at you.

So you take a symbol that this spirit is somehow connected to and write it on a piece of paper. You’ve now given the spirit a connection to that piece of paper. It can now utilize that piece of paper as a tool, and utilize some of that paper’s qualities, mainly that the piece of paper physically exists in this world and is allowed to physically effect this world. Now the spirit is capable of acting in this world.

Of course a piece of paper is a weak and flimsy thing. Paper isn’t well known for being forceful or powerful. Just like some spirits can manifest on their own some can do an awful lot with just a piece of paper. Others not so much. You could of course put your sigil on to other things though, like for instance you can carve a sigil into wood, or a metal like iron, or even into gold. And in any of these cases the spirit will be able to make use of the qualities of whatever you carve its symbol into. And wood and iron and gold all have a much greater physical mass, are much more durable, and much more powerful than paper.

Pentacles

I’m only including this one to clear up some confusion. A pentacle is not the same thing as a pentagram. These are two different words and, as such, they mean two different things. Some of the confusion stems from the fact that on several popular tarots (including the Rider-Waite) the pentacles depicted on the cards are of pentagrams.

A pentacle refers to a talisman of some sort. It is basically something with a symbol on it, like a piece of paper or a piece of metal. It sounds a lot like what I just said a sigil was. The main difference is that technically sigil refers to the symbol itself, where as pentacle refers to the entirety of the tool, both the symbol and the material it is drawn on. And yes sometimes that symbol may be a pentagram, but that isn’t always (or even mostly) the case.

Jewelry

I think we all know what jewelry is. It’s rings, necklaces, bracelets, talismans, amulets, tiaras, piercings, and just about anything else made of metal or a gemstone that can be worn on your person. We aren’t counting plastic jewelry, mainly due to the limited metaphysical properties of plastic as talked about in a previous article. That article also discusses the properties of metal and gemstones, which we’ll be making use of with magic jewelry.

When making magical jewelry we have four basic methods of enchanting jewelry.

1. Add specific energy to the piece – This is the most basic type of jewelry enchantment. Of course jewelry enchanted this way can be used as a simple battery or reserve of energy. It can also be used as a very simple type of spell. Basically the jewelry will push off large amounts of a specific energy into the surrounding area, and this energy will in turn have some effect on people in the surrounding area. It’s the same sort of an idea as a projection. A lot of the glamour rings (rings that make people more attracted to you/fall in love with you) I’ve seen, well the ones that aren’t entirely scams, use this type of magic to work.

2. Place a spell in the piece – This method is a bit more complicated and a bit more fancy, but far more versatile. To do this we find a spell or ritual, any spell or ritual at all. We then break down its physical components so it is entirely psionic. And lastly we place it into the object with the intent that the object will cast the spell on its own. There are a few different ways to go about doing this. The method that has always seemed easiest to me is to actually perform the entire spell and while doing this to pull the energy and ritual aspects from each part as the spell is being performed and place it into the object. Doing this means the spell you’re casting won’t do anything at all (because you yanked everything into the object), but then all of those acts and energies will be placed in the object and can be activated just by charging the object.

3. Connecting the object to a spirit – Another method to enchant an object is to connect the object to a particular spirit. This can be a demon, a ghost, an angel, whatever. Likewise the spirit may live inside or even be trapped inside the object. Alternatively the object may simply connect to a particular spirit that resides outside the object (in this case the object is sort of like a telephone that calls the spirit). In this case any energy put into the object is meant only to either empower the spirit or make a connection with the spirit. Whatever the object is meant to do is actually done by the spirit which resides in the object.

4. Making the object sentient – Finally you can make an object sentient. This is a lot like connecting it to a spirit. The difference is that instead of taking an already existing spirit and connecting it to the object, we make a new spirit which is the object. In other words we are making this object intelligent and giving it a soul.

Each of these four methods has various advantages and disadvantages. Method #1 is by far the easiest method, but it is also very limited and wastes a lot of energy. Method #2 is a bit more complicated but at the same time a lot more versatile in what it can do. Method #3 might not even require an energy source and you may be working with a very powerful spirit, but on the downside you need to find a willing outside spirit to connect into the jewelry and you also have to deal with that spirit. Method #4 requires you to know specific skills (how to make sentient objects), but eliminates the need to find an outside spirit and allows you to design the intelligence of the object to specifically fit you needs. On the downside the power of the object will be somewhat limited by your own power (unlike when using an outside spirit) and you will still have to deal with a sentient being (granted one you specifically designed though.

Sources of Energy

However you decide to make your jewelry you’ll still have to have an energy source for it. In order for the object to do anything it needs to expend energy, and that energy has to come from somewhere. Given time even an inanimate object will replenish the energy it expends. Gemstones are actually really good at replenishing energy, but this is still a slow process. Also these inanimate objects tend to naturally hold very small amounts of energy, and when they replenish themselves they will only replenish this very small amount. Usually that won’t be enough to do the sort of magic you want. There are several different ways to empower an enchanted object.

1. Take it from the wearer – This is by far the easiest and most common method. A piece of jewelry is designed so that it will draw energy off the person wearing it. There are of course several disadvantages to this method. First off you have to expend energy to use the object. Depending on how much energy the object needs it may exhaust you. And how effective the object is is going to be directly tied into how powerful the person wearing it is. A piece of jewelry that may work great for an adept may completely drain an inexperienced magician without having any effect.

2. Draw it from an infinite source – Basically the object is going to be tied into some source of infinite or near infinite energy. Usually an object like this is tied into a particular god who empowers it. The object may also be tied into a very powerful spirit. Another common thing to tie these objects into is the Earth. Alternatively a specific infinite place may be used, such as tying the object to one of the Sepiroth. The main disadvantage of this method is that the energy is going to be specific to what it’s being drawn off of, and that you’re going to need permission to take the energy from a god or spirit.

3. Tie the object into an energy cycle – You can also tie the object into a cycle or frequent occurrence and creates large amounts of excess energy in its wake. The most common cycle to tie an object into is the cycle of the moon. Once a month, when the cycle completes, the object will be completely charged. I personally like tying objects into lightning storms (there is a lot of excess energy floating around from the lightning during these storms). So every time a lightning storm happens these objects recharge. The main disadvantage of this method is that you can’t instantly recharge your objects and you may have to wait for some particular event to occur in order to use them.

4. Steal energy from the surrounding area – This type of object essentially operates like a psionic vampire. It looks around the area for anything besides the wearer that may have energy and drains it so that it can operate. The disadvantage to this method is that it is immoral and just as unethical as being a psionic vampire, and most magicians will regard this as a direct attack.

5. Receive energy from a sentient source – Finally you can get energy from a sentient source. This means that you either made the object sentient or you tied a spirit into the object. Both a spirit and a sentient object are going to have souls and they are going to naturally replenish energy. The sentient object or spirit may be powerful enough to completely empower the object.


Tools: Candles and Lanterns

May 15, 2010

Candles and Lanterns are the tools of the element of spirit, or akasha, or void (whatever you want to call it). It is that which flows through all things, that from which all things come forth, and that which is composed of all elements. It is a hermaphroditic element, being both completely male and female. Fire’s physical representation is the flame. Earth’s physical representation is the dirt in the ground. The physical representation of spirit is what we call in modern magical practice energy. Energy is invisible, but it is still sensible and quantifiable. Energy is what makes up your aura, your shield, it makes up the majority of your astral body and a good deal of your physical body. Energy manipulation is one of the basic magical abilities, and the vast majority of magic is dependent upon it.

The element of spirit is both active and passive at the same time, which also means that it is also neither active nor passive at the same time. It is a hermaphroditic element, being both masculine and feminine (and being both completely masculine and feminine). Spirit is seen as the first of the five elements, and Fire and Water spring forth from it (with Air and Earth coming forth from Fire and Water). Spirit is seen as the divine force. The element of spirit is also associated with our connection into the spiritual realm. Spirit is what connects us to what lies beyond our physicality. It also connects us to the divine source. And it connects us into every other thing in the universe.

It is actually the flame upon the candle or lantern that is representative of the element of spirit. This can get confusing because common sense would dictate that we should use a flame to represent fire, so candles and lanterns should be elemental tools of fire. However in practice a flame represents spirit.

Unfortunately energy, which is the manifestation that we attribute to spirit, is not recognized by the mundane world. Although energy can be sensed, manipulated, identified, and quantified by an experienced practitioner, the average person can only sense energy and only in a very limited way. Although energy can be quantified, it can not be quantified in an empirically quantified. There is no purely objective way to sense, identify, and categorize different energies. Because of this it is very difficult to find something which can be associated with spirit.

We use a flame because a flame seems to exist halfway between the two worlds (like energy), being as much physical as it is spiritual. A flame has no weight. When we light a torch, it doesn’t become heavier. It doesn’t have a physicality. We can pass our hand right through a flame. In this sense, a flame seems to be completely spiritual. Yet even the uninitiated with no ability to see spirits can see a flame. And if we touch a flame, it hurts. In this sense a flame is a very physical thing. This is very important to how we use flames in magic. Flames bridge the gap between physical actions and spiritual effects. Also if we burn something, it ceases to have a physically and instead ascends into a spiritual form.

Also of interest is that flames cast light. Since spirit is connected to the divine, this light is often associated with divine light and spiritual truth.

Using candles in magic

Candles are by far one of the most powerful and versatile magical tools. In fact it would be beyond the scope of a single blog post to completely explore the many uses and nuances of candle magic. Others have tried to condense the subject into large books and have still failed. If you’re looking for a book that goes over the basics of candle magic, I highly recommend The Magic Candle by Charmaine Day. If you’re already adept at candle magic, don’t expect to learn anything new from the book. It covers very basic theories and ideas that are key to understanding how to use candles in spellwork and ritual.

It’s important to remember that in ritual candles, particularly their flames, represent several things. They are a connection between the physical and the spiritual. They are a source of energy. They can also represent fire.

Another very important attribute of candles is that they burn. If you were to put something, like say energy, into a candle and then burn the candle, what was put into the candle would be released into the universe. If you were to carve a word or sigil into a candle, that word or sigil would go out into the universe once it burned.

Some Cool Things You Can Do With Candles (Far From All Inclusive)

Release a thought or idea into the universe: You can put a thought or idea into a candle. There are a couple of ways to do this. The simplest is to put energy into the candle containing the thought. Alternatively you can concentrate on the candle and try to push the thought into it. Then once the candle is lit and burns it will release the thought into the universe. So how is this useful?

As an example suppose you wanted someone you liked to ask you out. You would take a thought that would promote this, like “Rob is so hot” or “Rob would make such a great boyfriend”; or even something more direct like “I should ask Rob out” or “If I asked Rob out, I’m sure he’d say yes.” You concentrate on this thought and you concentrate on the person you want this thought to go to. Then you burn the candle and the thought will hopefully pop into their head.

Now suppose you didn’t concentrate on a person. Suppose you just put the thought “Rob would make such a great boyfriend” into the candle. Then you could take the candle to a crowded place, like a party, and light it. Now the thought might go into the heads of several different party guests.

As an offering to activate an altar: Candles are commonly used on altars. The main reason we do this is to attract the attention of whatever the altar is made to and activate the altar. For example if the altar were to a god, then we would be requesting the presence of that god and their energy in the room. Most of the time when a candle is lit on a deity’s altar the deity will show up. The candle can be put out before it finishes burning if needed, but if the candle is put out be careful to remember that the candle was used as an offering and who or what it was used as an offering too. The candle can be reused, but only as an offering to the same entity. If the candle was made as an offering to a deity I would highly recommend that it be reused until it is finished instead of throwing it away.

Summon a fire elemental into it:
A candle has a flame on top of it so we can summon a fire elemental into it. In fact this is one of the best and easiest places to evoke a fire elemental. Fire elementals are very useful and there’s quite a lot that can be done with them.

Energize a seance: Candles provide a source of energy. This energy can be taken and used by spirits to manifest in different ways and perform different tasks. We see this done a lot in seances. Dead spirits are typically very weak and the candles provide a source of energy they can drain in order to materialize into this world to various degrees.

Sense some entities: One trick to discover certain kinds of spirits is to turn off all the lights at night and light a single candle. Move from room to room carrying the candle. If you notice the flame dramatically decrease to almost nothing you have a spirit in the room.

This is an old trick, and it only works with certain kinds of spirits. Once again this goes back to the energy in the flame. The spirit is trying to eat the energy, or in some cases trying to eat the light, and this causes the flame to go down.

The energy trick: The energy trick was actually taught to me as a party trick, but it can be used in other ways. Basically you can push energy into a candle to charge it. You can also leave it on an altar to charge it. In either case, the candle will fill with specific energy. Later you can burn the candle to release the energy.

With this method a candle can be charged over a long period of time and release very large amounts of energy when it is burned. The first time I saw this done was by a fellow who charged and dressed a candle every day for three months on top of a Martian altar (the candle was also left on top of the altar wrapped in cloth when he wasn’t charging it). After the three months he took the candle to a party and lit it. The effect was cool to say the least.

Burn on top of a symbol: One trick is to burn a candle on top of a symbol, the idea being that the energy from the symbol will be released upward as the candle burns. One of my favorite things to use for this is tarot cards. You can find certain decks (including the Rider-Waite) online. You can print the card out on to paper, cut them out of the paper, then use them in this ritual. You can use any symbol you feel comfortable with though. You can even write a word or phrase on a piece of paper and burn that.

When doing a spell like this, it’s helpful to empower the piece of paper containing the symbol prior to burning the candle on top of it. Charge the symbol with the proper energy. Meditate on the symbol. Concentrate on the symbol and its meaning.

Trap a spirit into it: This is a fairly basic attack. You can push spirits into things to trap them. You can push a spirit into a candle and trap it inside. Then you can burn the candle with the intent of causing pain to the spirit as the candle burns. Once the candle finishes burning the spirit will be freed, albeit harmed (this is important for me because I consider it unethical to permanently imprison things and recommend not doing it except in extreme circumstances).

You can grab a spirit’s energy and directly push it into a candle. An easier method though is to first pull the spirit into yourself, then push it out of yourself into the candle. The disadvantage of this method is that it leaves you very vulnerable to both attack and possession. You have to be able to overpower the spirit and keep control of your person once the spirit is inside of you. Once you push the spirit into yourself, retaining complete control over the spirit is the only defense you’ll have against it.

Wax divination:
After a spell is performed you can divinate into the candle wax. Look into the wax and see if you see any shapes or forms. Often times these shapes will be related to the target of the spell, what has happened with the spell, and how successful it may or may not have been. Unfortunately wax divination isn’t always possible due to many modern candles being designed to burn evenly so they leave little to no wax when used properly.

Some Common Types of Candles


Pillar:
Pillar candles are the most common types of candles for spellwork. They’re easy to find, they come in a variety of colors, they’re tall enough to dress, and they’re usually big enough to carve words and symbols into. They also lie flat on a surface which is good if you want to burn a symbol under them.

Taper: Tapers are almost as common as pillars, but they’re a bit less useful. Tapers need special candle holders designed specifically for taper candles. Tapers can’t stand up on their own, so you can’t burn them on top of symbols. Lastly it’s difficult to carve words and symbols into tappers because of how thin they are.

Tea Lights: Tea lights have very limited use in ritual and spellwork. They’re small, they burn out quickly, and they’re in those little metal cases so you can’t carve into them.

Image: Image candles are candles in the shape of a person (either a man or woman). They are one of the more useful candles out there. If you want to cast a spell on someone or a spell that will affect someone, even yourself, image candles can help make the spell stronger. The idea being that we connect the candle to a specific person, then we either physically do to the candle, or enchant the candle, in the way we want to affect that person, then we light the candle and let it burn until it finishes.

7-Knob: Seven knob candles are candles that have seven different parts, the idea being that you light the candle at seven different times, each time burning off a different part. Knob candles are typically used for week long spells. Part of the ritual is performed every day over a seven day period and the candle is lit and one knob is burned. At the end of the seventh day the ritual is complete. Typically this extra attention will make spells much stronger and much more successful.

Black Candles: If candle color is important to you, black candles can be very hard to get. Magic stores are the only places that stock them year round, and they often charge more for their black candles, meanwhile their normal candles are already over-priced. From late August through the end of October is the only time of year that normal stores stock black candles, so it’s a good idea to stock up for the entire year during these two months. It’s also a good time to buy orange candles (which are also usually difficult to find).

Other things to get for your candles

Lighter: I recommend getting one of the long plastic lighters that are used for lighting grills. They’re cheap and easy to find and are great for lighting candles. Cigarette lighters don’t work very well because they’re made to be lit for only a short period of time and to be held upright. Many times a candle’s wick can take a while to light, and a disposable cigarette lighter will heat up pretty fast, burning your hand. Likewise a cigarette lighter is meant to be held upright. When you go to light a candle with it usually you’ll need to hold the lighter at a downward angle. This causes the flame to come up and burn your hand.

I do not recommend using matches in spellwork and ritual. The reason being, if you work with fire elementals they can hide in an unlit match and lay dormant for a very long time. You probably won’t even notice they’re hiding in there until you light the match. With a fire elemental inside the entire match can become engulfed within the flame and burn your finger almost as soon as it is lit. Then you panic and try to blow out the flame, but the flame’s too strong and blowing on it won’t put it out. But the bottom part of the match, which is on fire too, is weaker than it should be and weaker than the top part, and when you blow on it you can snap the top half of the match off from the bottom. Now you have a ball of fire hurling across the room until it hits the wall and lands behind the very heavy entertainment center. Then you have to frantically pull things off the entertainment center and move it so you can put out the fire behind it before it does too much damage. If you think this is too specific to be hypothetical, you’re right. I’m speaking from experience. Matches are a bad idea.

Candle Holder: Metal and wood candle holders are best. Which you choose is really a matter of personal taste. Metal holds energy better but wood will absorb it better. If you’d like to get a better idea of the specific properties of metal and wood I talk about them in greater detail in the articles dealing with Knives and Swords and Wands and Staves.

However glass candle holders are not the best choice. Glass is very fragile, and when you put lots of energy into it, it can vibrate a bit. When a glass candle holder is regularly used, sooner or later a spell is cast that is so powerful it breaks the candle holder.

Candle Snuffer:
Basic candle safety rules suggest using a candle snuffer. Blowing out a candle causes it to burn unevenly when it is relit.

When working magic a candle snuffer becomes even more important. Magical spells can do weird things to flames. Lots of practitioners develop the ability to manipulate fire, at least to a small degree, and make flames do things they shouldn’t. Lastly fire elementals can cause flames to get very high or move and jump in strange ways. In all of these cases it’s not the brightest idea to put your face close to the flame to blow it out. In some of the worst cases practitioners have had fire elementals force the flame into their mouth while they were trying to blow out the candle.

Of course it’s very rare that anyone suffers any kind of injury from blowing out candles. Most of the time nothing bad happens. Still candle snuffers are cheap and easy to use, and many practitioners (myself included) consider it a worthwhile fire safety practice.

Hurricane Glass: Hurricane glass is a piece of glass, usually shaped like an upside down vase, that you put a candle inside. You use hurricane glass when you want to light a candle inside of a draft, either from your air vents or a fan or an open window.

Dressing Cloth: A dressing cloth is a piece of cloth you use to dress a candle with oil. Generally you can use each corner to dress four different candles with one cloth, but the cloth needs to be washed after every use. These things end up being a pain to clean all the time. Most of the time I usually just use paper towel.

Dressing Oils: If you use unscented candles, you can buy oils to dress your candle with. Generally we use oils that are either associated with the type of spell we are casting, or we use oils that are associated with specific elements or gods. As a general rule, the associations for the various oils are the same as the associations for the various incenses. Just about any scent of oil can be found as an incense, and vice-versa.

Remember that essential oils are pure oils, and they need to be diluted before use. Also be careful because some disreputable companies sell already diluted fragrance oils with brand names that include the word essential, so make sure you read the small print on the bottle.

Herbs: You can make your own oil out of herbs. I plan to go into more detail on how to do this in a future post (it’s quite simple actually). Whenever you burn herbs, even as an oil around a candle, you need to be sure that you know everything about the herb you’re burning, what its effects on people are, and specifically what effect it may have on you or anyone else in your home. Even if a particular herb is normally safe, you can still have a potentially fatal allergic reaction to it.

Dressing a Candle

Dressing a candle is rubbing oil (or some other substance, like say blood) on the candle with a cloth. A lot of people prefer to charge a candle with energy while they are dressing it (for most people this makes charging the candle easier), but not everybody does this. You take your cloth and dab oil on to it. If you plan to use the cloth for more than one candle, then you would dab only one corner of the cloth. You either start at the top or the bottom, and you move the cloth around the candle in a spiral motion. Typically if you’re going down you go clockwise, if you’re going up you go counter-clockwise. Dressing a candle downward symbolizes putting something into the candle, like charging it with energy. Dressing a candle upward symbolizes something coming out of the candle (typically when it will be burned later in the ritual), like the energy the candle has been charged with being released into the room. You can also dress a candle downward, and then dress it upward, in order to symbolize something going into the candle and then coming out later on.

Candle Energy Manipulation Tips and Tricks

-One commonly used candle charging trick is to put your hand over a candle and push energy out of your fingertips into the top of the candle. While doing this move your hand in a clockwise motion over the candle. Moving your hand in a counter-clockwise motion meanwhile will discharge the energy.

Remember when you work with screws that have normal threads on them, screwing it clockwise will make it go into the hole, and screwing it counter-clockwise will make it come out. It’s a process that seeps into our brains (unless your the sort of person who routinely uses screws with left-handed threads) and we associate clockwise with going in and counter-clockwise with coming out. Also because they’re opposite motions, most of us will subconsciously come to the logical conclusion that they should have opposite effects and one should undo what the other one does.

-A lot of practitioners use specifically colored candles to help with energy manipulation. I’m going to go into more detail about this later with a post on the relationship between color and energy. It’s not as important to candle magic as some people make it out to be. Cheap candle dyes are a relatively recent invention, as is the popularity of color coded candle magic.

If there is any doubt about color, white candles will work with just about any spell. White is a blank color. All it will do is magnify the power of the spell and help push whatever is within it outward into the universe.

Candle Safety

Many magicians are very bad with fire safety. You should probably buy a fire extinguisher prior to doing any candle magic, because if you practice magic there’s a 95% chance you’re the kind of person who will set their home on fire once a month or more.

Sometimes because of magical practices we have to do things which go against general candle safety rules. We might have to let a candle burn for many hours, and we won’t be available to watch it for this entire period. We might have to light two candles right next to each other. We may put nails or other objects into the candles (note that I am not suggesting anyone do these things. These are all unsafe candle practices that no one should do. Do them at your own risk, you may burn down your home).

A lot of magic fires are due to a lack of common sense though. Don’t light candles near walls or curtains. Always use candle holders. Don’t light a dozen or more candles right next to each other. Don’t light candles in the middle of a breeze or draft. Keep flammable liquids (including Bacardi 151) away from candles. Don’t wear loose fitting clothing or robes to ritual, or if you do keep a good distance between yourself and all lit candles. Only use stable candle holders that won’t fall down when lightly tapped. If you’re saying ‘duh’ to all of these suggestions, congratulations, you’re in the top 20th percentile of all magical practitioners.

I’d also like to reiterate my other suggestions, which are specifically in regard to magical candles. Don’t use matches (because fire elementals can hide in them) and buy a candle snuffer.

This is far from an all inclusive candle fire safety list. I’d suggest extensive online and offline reading on the subject before working with candles. Granted most people in the world, by the time their parents let them use a match or lighter, know enough about candle fire safety to light a candle. However since you practice magic, I’m assuming (based on general trends) that you are not one of these people, and have no clue how to light a candle without setting yourself and home on fire.

Lanterns

Finally we get to lanterns, and by lanterns I mean oil based lanterns that have a flame. Electric lanterns, like electric candles, aren’t all that useful in ritual work.

Lanterns are cool magical tools, but most people don’t use them. In a lot of ways they serve the same purpose as candles. The main advantage to using a lantern is that a candle is disposable and lanterns are reusable. Every time we use a magical tool, it becomes more powerful and stronger. Candles we only get to use once. Likewise if we invest the time and energy into charging and enchanting a candle, once the spell is over with the candle is gone. But if we do this with a lantern, after the spell we still have a charged and enchanted lantern.

The main disadvantage to lanterns is that they aren’t disposable. One of the reasons why candles are so useful in ritual work is because the burn up. The candle, and anything we’ve put inside of it, goes out into the spiritual realm of the universe. If we put a thought into our lantern (using the same method we would with a candle), we now have to set our lantern on fire in order to send that thought into the universe (at which point we no longer have a lantern, and they cost more money than candles). So what a lantern can do is actually quite limited, which is why so few people use them.

Lanterns can be used as sources of energy during a ritual. The flame provides a constant source of energy. Meanwhile most lanterns are metal, and metal is very good at holding a charge. If there is glass on the lantern, that can be used to amplify the energy. As the lantern is used more it becomes more powerful, and it can send out more energy when lit. A good lantern, when lit, can fill a room with strong energy.

You could, if you wanted to, enchant the lantern so that produces a specific type of energy when lit. The lantern needs to be compatible with the type of energy you want it to produce. If you continually charged the lantern with that kind of energy again and again, eventually it should naturally produce only that kind of energy. If you’re a little more advanced with energy manipulation, while you’re charging the lantern you can go into it and change it’s bias so it only produces that specific type of energy. This is just a quicker method of doing the same thing.

Some reasons why you might want to enchant a lantern like this: You can give the lantern a generally favorable energy, like joy or love or calm, and you can light it when you have company in order to promote a better ambience and mood. If there’s a specific energy you prefer working with when you do your rituals you can set up your lantern to produce this type of energy for your rituals. You can also make the lantern more active. If the lantern had an aggressive and purifying energy, for instance, it could then be lit as an attack when cleaning a house of unwanted spirits. There’s actually quite a bit you can do with a lantern by modifying its energy.

You could also enchant the lantern with a thought or message so that every time it is lit, it blasts that thought into the minds of everyone near by. This really isn’t all that useful though, mainly because the message would be so specific that the lantern would probably be useless most of the time.


16 Common Incenses and Their Uses

March 22, 2010

Incense is one of the more common magical tools. Many practitioners use incense for nearly every magical act, from simple meditations to elaborate rituals. It’s not that its a very powerful or versatile tool, but it is a fairly useful one. Incense utilizes our sense of smell to help align both the practitioner and the area in which it is burned with a desired mood and energy. Some common uses for incense include:

-In spellwork and ritual incense is often burned to help raise energy, adjust the energy of the area, and/or aid the practitioner in achieving trance.

-In meditation incense is burned to help the practitioner achieve states of clarity, focus, and/or calm.

-Incense is often used as an aid to achieve astral projection and lucid dreaming.

-In cleansings and exorcisms incense is burned to purify or sanctify an area.

-Preferable incense can be burned to attract certain types of entities to an area, where as deplorable incense can be burned to repel certain types of entities from an area.

-When contacting a deity, incense which is associated with the deity is often burned both as an offering and show of respect for the deity and also to help the practitioner make a connection with the deity.

-Since incense is burned, a fire elemental can be summoned into it and held for spellwork.

-Incense can also help us connect into the ideas and energies it is associated with.

There are literally thousands of types of incense out there. Even discounting the weird blends they sell, there are still hundreds of different types of incense that can be bought, some of which are only slight variations of each other, if you’re lucky enough to have a good store nearby. If not, for instance if you’re buying your incense at the grocery store, you’ll have a much more limited selection. I’ve put together attributions for sixteen scents which are fairly common and I’ve seen most of these in stick form at the grocery store. Most everyone should be able to find at least ten of these, if not all sixteen. These sixteen are also some of the more useful types you’ll find too.

16 Common Incenses

Amber – Represents both knowledge and history. Amber is good for meditations in which you’re seeking to discover information. It’s also very good for past life regressions and divinations into the past. Air associative.

Cedarwood –
Cedar, like all wood incenses, is fire associative. It’s also generally seen as an incense denoting strength or power. It’s proper to burn this incense in a fort or castle, within an army prior to battle, or in a newly built or dedicated temple to announce ones strength and to push this strength outward into the world. It’s also a good incense for spells meant to increase virility in men.

Cinnamon –
Cinnamon is by far the most useful incense and also one of the easiest to find. To start, cinnamon is fire associative, which makes it a good choice when dealing with fire elementals and also useful for communing with fire associative deities (like Mars). It’s also associated with passion, lust, and sexual desire, which makes it good for lust spells, aphrodisiac spells, and a good choice to burn during sex. But the thing that really sets it apart is cinnamon is really good at raising energy. If you’re trying to raise energy, cinnamon is the incense you want to burn. If you want to do a very powerful spell or ritual, it’s good to burn cinnamon to help get the energy you’ll need to pull it off. Because more energy isn’t going to hurt a spell, cinnamon is a good standard incense for any spellwork or ritual. About the only time you wouldn’t want to use cinnamon is when either the fire attribute or the lust attribute would be undesirable in a given spell (such as when evoking a water elemental or when casting certain types of love spells).

Frankincense – Frankincense promotes calm and peace. It’s commonly used to relieve stress and anxiety. However it is also useful in ending conflicts and arguments, reestablishing a friendship that has ended due to conflicts (as opposed to neglect), bringing peace and resolution to enemies, and bringing peace and resolution to warring factions. It also alleviates the tension of a tense situation. In all instances, the purpose of frankincense is to end any conflict or tension and bring about a state of peace and calm. Because of its nature frankincense is often used as both a general incense for religious rituals and as an aid for meditation. Frankincense is also believed to have many healing properties, and these are related to relieving conflicts and stresses within ones body which lead to illness.

Ginger – Ginger is fire associative. It’s good for spells which incite desire or lust.

Jasmine – Jasmine is both night and love associative. Although Jasmine is associated with love, it is not associated with sex or sex appeal, although it is associated with beauty. This is where Jasmine starts to differentiate itself from Rose. In love spells, where Rose tends to utilize the entire spectrum of romance, Jasmine is more concerned with the mental and emotional connections, and although Jasmine can bring forth someone who is beautiful, this beauty is often an inner-beauty, a beauty of character, in other words someone who you would find beautiful. This also makes Jasmine a very good incense for spells which are meant to promote friendship.

Lavender –
Lavender promotes beauty. It’s a good incense for glamours and lures, and also a good incense for magick intended to actually make one more attractive. It also works well for love spells, spells meant to attract a mate, and it is a good incense to burn during romantic situations. Water associative.

Lotus – Generally associated with mental clarity, increased focus, and heightened intelligence. Because of these properties Lotus is often seen as ideal for meditation. Air associative.

Musk – Musk is Earth associative. It’s a good incense for restoring balance and order, realigning ones energies, sealing portals, creating barriers and protections, and removing the influences of negative magick. It’s also a good incense to burn to Saturn. Musk is also associated with chthonic deities and the underworld. It’s more concerned with underworld energies and accessing the underworld than bringing forth the dead. It’s a good incense to burn for certain underworld entities.

Myrrh – More than anything Myrrh is sun associative. It is often also seen as having a heavenly attribute or being of the gods. It was traditionally used as a funerary incense, but this is derived from its use to elevate one to the heavens or to curry favor with the gods, or to promote a renewal into ones next life as the sun renews itself each day, not because of a chthonic association. Because of its divine attribution, myrrh is often seen as an incense of purification and exorcism, although this has been embellished quite a bit by its prominence in Christian ritual. More than anything Myrrh acts as an amplifier for whatever spell is being performed because of its sun association. It should be noted that due to its divine association, Myrrh is a poor choice for amplifying magic which is done against the will of the gods. Myrrh is a good incense to burn to sun associative gods such as Helios, Apollo, or Ra.

Nag Champa – Nag Champa is a sacred incense (it’s a blend which consists partly of Sandalwood). Nag Champa can be burned for many of the same reasons as Sandalwood. It can be used to sanctify or purify an area. It’s also a good general purpose incense for spiritual matters. This includes acts like meditation and seeking spiritual enlightenment or evolution.

Opium – Opium is dream associative. Opium is a good incense to burn for any spell involving dreaming or sleep in any way, including spells meant to induce lucid dreaming or prophetic dreams. It’s also a good incense to burn to dream and sleep associative deities such as Morpheus.

Patchouli –
The strong smell of patchouli makes it ideal for masking the smell of pot, which is its primary usage. It’s considered happy or joy associative, and it tends to attract fae creatures.

Rose –
Rose is associative with love, sex, and desire. It’s a good incense to burn to deities that are associated with love, like Venus and Aphrodite. It’s also a good incense for love spells, spells concerned with inciting desire like lures and glamours, and spells that are meant to bring forth your desires.

Sandalwood – Sandalwood is fire and water associative along with being seen as the divine wood. Because of this Sandalwood is a good incense to burn for any deity, and it’s also a good incense to use to purify or sanctify an area.

Vanilla – Vanilla is air associative, and it’s a good general incense to burn to represent the element of air. Specifically vanilla associates with mental thought, intelligence, and all abilities conferred by these things. The incense is a good choice to burn for deities that are typically looked upon as being concerned with intelligence, like Hermes or Thoth.

Incenses and their Elemental attributions

Amber –> Air
Cedarwood –> Fire
Cinnamon –> Fire
Frankincense –> Water
Ginger –> Fire
Jasmine –> Water, to a lesser extent earth.
Lavender –> Water
Lotus –> Air
Musk –> Earth
Myrrh –> Spirit (Akasha)
Nag Champa –> All Five Elements*
Opium –> Air
Patchouli –> Fire & Earth, probably water too.
Rose –> Water, To a lesser extent fire**
Sandalwood –> Fire & Water***
Vanilla –> Air

*Is spirit associative, in the sense that it encompasses all of the four other elements.
**This refers to general or red rose incense. White rose differs in attribution.
***Also seen as spirit associative, in the sense that it is equally water and fire.


Tools: Chalices, Cauldrons, and the Properties of Water and Other Liquids.

February 13, 2010

Chalices and cauldrons are magical elemental tools associated with the element of water. This is because they’re used to hold liquid. You can literally put liquid in them for your ritual. You’ll notice I’ve been going through each of the five elemental tools one by one. To understand how chalices and cauldrons work, I need to review how water works and what it does.

Water is a feminine element, and because of this it is a passive element. Water is passive in its flexibility, it takes on the shape of its container, unlike earth which is passive in its stagnation. Because it doesn’t hold a shape water is in a constant state of flux, it can change completely moment from moment. Because of this we associate water with the future, which is ever changing, and anything else that may be associated with a state of constant change.

For many of the same reasons we associate water with emotion. Emotions, like water, are constantly changing. Emotions are passive. They are a direct result of the environment, the container a person is put within if you will. Water also has unique properties in regard to holding emotional energy, or any energy for that matter, which we’ll discuss in a bit.

Suppose I have two jars of water, each containing one liter (you can do this experiment yourself at home if you wish, there is no danger with it). If I take both jars and pour them into one bucket, what happens? I have my two liters of water, but they’ve combined together seamlessly. You can no longer tell which parts of the water came from jar one and which came from jar two. You can’t tell where one begins or the other ends. You can take this one step further and say there are no longer two separate liters of water. You could say that those two liters came together, and in their union created something new, a bit of water that is now two liters in volume.

This experiment shows where water gets a lot of its properties from. It is the element of unions. It’s the element of two things coming together. The obvious meaning is a romantic relationship, and this can be extended to make water the element of not just relationships, but also love, marriage, and sex. But it’s also the element of all other unions too, be it platonic relationships like friendship or companies merging together, or even symbiotic relationships shared by different entities.

We also said that we could take the experiment a step further, and see the two liters merging into one new entity. This is sexual union and the act of procreation, which is also associated with water. Both fire and water are elements of creation, however fire represents the masculine creative force, the act of singular creation, where as water represents the act of creation via a union of two.

Lastly we need to look at the properties of water concerning energy. Water is sort of weird because it does two completely opposite things. First off, it acts like a sponge. It will take in any energy that is around it. It will even forcefully suck it out of something. The more water you have, the more dramatic this will be. Crossing large bodies of water, especially running water, can be very draining because of this property of water.

The second thing that water does is that it gives off the energy that it takes. Water is not so great at hanging on to energy. Meaning that once water takes energy from something, you can put an item into that water in order to charge it.

Because of these properties, water in motion, running water, is generally clean and without energy, and is good for cleaning the energy from something or someone. For this reason cleansing rituals are best done in the shower. However between when the water hits your body and takes some energy from it and when it hits the drain it loses quite a bit of that energy, and so showers tend to be one of the most haunted places in a home, with spirits conjugating there and things going in and out of portals that have been created. The other really haunted place is over a bed that is slept in. Your entire life is a peep show for spiritual beings :)

Where as running water is clean and constantly giving up energy, stagnant water holds it a bit better, and is thus dirty and will charge you with whatever water is in it. In the same way if you’re in the woods you’re supposed to drink running water from a stream or the rain, not stagnant water like from a puddle.

Buying Chalices and Cauldrons

The majority of chalices and cauldrons will be metal. Sometimes you may find one made out of stone (and this is fine) or even something more exotic, like an ivory chalice. The one thing you need to stay away from are chalices and cauldrons made from plastic. These are going to prove to be vastly inferior tools. In fact plastic tools are almost always worthless, the one saving grace of a plastic chalice being that the water inside it is not plastic.

Chalices and cauldrons are feminine, and so ideally you’d want them made out of silver. Silver items tend to be pretty pricey though. Alternatively you can get one with a silver finish and this will work almost as well. A copper chalice, if you made one, would make an interesting tool and you could, no doubt, do some interesting things with it. This is far from mandatory though and a metal chalice that is neither silver nor copper will work just fine.

Cool Things to do With Chalices and Cauldrons

Chalices are unfortunately feminine, and thus passive, objects. Magick is largely concerned with action and doing, feminine objects don’t usually do things, they have things done to them. Because of this, chalices tend not to get much ritual use. Cauldrons are a bit more useful because of their larger size.

Certain religions that involve active magical practice, particularly many of the Wiccan sects and other neopagan religions influenced by Wicca, try to stress either an equality of the sexes or a feminine agenda. Because of this chalices are included in many rituals either to add balance to the masculine tools (like wands and knives) or in some extreme cases to try to elevate the role of the feminine by having it also encompass what it is not, often times devaluing the role of the masculine in the process. It’s important to remember that, in regards to spiritual practices, masculine and feminine refer to absolute and primal ideals, not gender. A boy is not spiritually masculine and a girl is not spiritually feminine (although they could represent these things). Nobody is entirely one or the other, and most people only slightly lean moreso in one direction than the other, and which direction they lean in has nothing to do with gender.

Back to the important point I was making, you probably won’t see much use out of these tools. Every once in a while they will come in handy, but unless you’re designing rituals to specifically use them, you won’t find much need for them. Some uses for them though:

Marriage Rituals: Chalices and cauldrons represent union. They are a staple of marriage rituals. You almost always see at least one if not two chalices at a wedding. Either the bride and groom should drink from the same cup to solidify their union, or the bride drinks from the groom’s cup as the groom drinks from the bride’s cup.

Energy Holder: This can be done with a chalice, to some degree, but works much better with a cauldron. During a ritual a cauldron can suck in a lot of the ritual energy. The ritual may be about empowering the cauldron, or it could just be that the cauldron is there to get the excess energy you plan on producing. Either way afterwards a lot can be done with the water. It can be bottled up and later thrown on things to release the energy on to it (this could be purifying or aggressive energy to attack with, for instance), an item (like a ring) can be dropped into the cauldron to be charged with the energy, or you could leave the cauldron open so the energy can seep out into the room to set ambience or for use in another ritual.

Sex Magick:
A lot of interesting ideas come to mind, especially with the cauldron. For one, a cauldron could be set up to capture some of the energy from the sexual act. Most people using sexual energy use the preorgasmic energy because this is very easy to raise in large amounts. However at the point of orgasim the energy surges eventually hitting a peak. Unfortunately this only lasts moments and you happen to be in the middle of an orgasm at the time, making it very difficult to utilize this energy. You can set it up to capture some of that energy into the cauldron, although the vast majority of the energy will still be lost (the cauldron is not going to be big enough to hold it all). The bigger the cauldron, the more energy you’ll be able to hold. You could also charge the cauldron beforehand in order to use the energy during sex. It could be used as an aphrodisiac, to direct or heighten the sexual experience, or it could be incorporated into a sexual ritual depending on the specific energy used. You could also incorporate the chalice or cauldron into a ritual meant to create a more meaningful and permanent union during intercourse.

Fertility Rituals: A chalice, and cauldron too, is actually fairly useful, although by no means necessary, in fertility rituals. The chalice is representative of the female, more specifically her genitals, in procreation. It represents both the sexual union of two people, and the female party in that union.

Bonding and Pacts: Remember how water represents all unions? One use of a chalice or cauldron is in a ritual designed to bond yourself to another entity. This means that the entity will somehow be attached to you or even become a part of you, or you a part of it. This is usually done for a variety of reasons, and typically both parties at least think they’re getting something they want or need out of the deal. A chalice can also be used to seal a pact with an entity.

Scrying: Water has a reflective surface. Anything with a reflective surface can be used to scry. Water is even better for scrying when you’re trying to divine the future though because the element of water represents the future. You can’t scry with a chalice, but you can with a cauldron, or even just a bowl. It needs to be a darker color though, since bright colors (and flashy designs for that matter) tend to hinder scrying.

Liquids Other Than Water

There are things other than water you could fill your chalice with other things. Generally most liquids will share some or even all of water’s properties. Traditionally most ritual liquids were either water, juices, teas, alcohol, or other drugs. I would recommend sticking to these and not trying to incorporate weird things like soda pop into rituals (soda, especially cola, is acidic and destructive, and actually would be useful in an infertility ritual. Also some people can use the high sugar content and caffeine to recharge themselves post-ritual).

Juices: Generally juices tend to have properties that are close to the fruits they are made out of. Apple juice is associated with fertility, pomegranate with the underworld, ect.

Teas: Teas are awesome drinks. They both relax you and refresh and heal you. Teas are associated with bringing one to a calm and peaceful state, recharging energy, increasing mental capabilities, and healing. The less refined the tea, the better (black is the worst, white is the best).

Alcohol: Typically the alcohol used is either beer or wine. Beer is used mainly because traditionally it has been more prevalent than anything else in some regions. Wine is preferable  to any other kind of alcohol though. When you’re drunk on wine its not as sloppy as hard liquor, or even beer. Even when you’re drunk, and you know you’re drunk and you can feel it, mentally its more like being buzzed. The loss of mental focus and intelligence, and the cloudiness that result from drinking are counterproductive to magical work. With wine, these effects are lessened. With hard liquor these effects are magnified quite a bit, and so generally we don’t use hard liquor in ritual.

All alcohol is associated with removing inhibitions and freeing oneself or bringing oneself to a more natural and honest state. Wine is associated with sacredness and the divine, and is also associated with certain gods (like Bacchus). Beer and ale is also associated with certain gods, and along with hard liquor is associated with the dulling of emotions or emotional healing. Alcohol being a drug, when used in large enough amounts it can lead to a spiritual catharsis. Alcohol can both open up your psychic senses, most commonly occurring with wine, or dull your spiritual senses, most commonly occurring with hard liquor. The actual effects, and their severity, will vary with the individual. Excessive drinking and alcohol addiction are counterproductive to any spiritual work.


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.