Brief Respite

Just as we all take time on the holidays to ourselves in order to recuperate – be it our pagan holidays or the other American holidays…I need a weekend off.  Yes, that’s right – an entire weekend!  I will write plenty on Labor Day, as I will have the day free.  But, tomorrow is packing, and Sunday is move-in for my college.  Perhaps after that I will resume my daily writing.

Thank you, people who have checked me out – makes it well worth it.

Until Monday!

Advertisements

Accepting Change and Self Evaluation

As I mentioned two articles ago, magick is all about creating opportunities. I’ve found however, that before you start to work for anything, you have to convince yourself that its what you want. If you are not of a pagan mindset, and are just tuning, no worries. You can refer here to my previous article, or you can just accept that ‘magick’ in this context means goal setting, decisive action, and prayer to achieve an outcome.

Looking back at my previous Books of Shadows and their entries, I find that almost every time, nearing a holiday, I write down something to the effect of:

I will stop biting my fingernails

Well…obviously, since I’m writing this, it never works out. This leads me to a new revelation about me:

I enjoy biting my fingernails

Now then…how are the gods supposed to help me stop me from doing something that I derive pleasure from? Seems like I’m stacking the cards pretty high against me. To continue with this train of thought, we come to another crossroads:

Why do I enjoy biting my fingernails?

  • It alleviates boredom
  • It makes me feel better
  • Nail bits and cuticles provide excellent chewing material

Alright, maybe you didn’t really want to know that. But trust me, its important. In my quest for magickal intervention, if I don’t get immediate results – I know what questions to ask.

  1. What events or influences could be stopping me from achieving my goal?
  2. What is the cause of these influences and events?
  3. How can I alleviate these obstacles?
    1. Should I alleviate these obstacles?
    2. What price will I pay if I do?

So, we’re on question number three. The ways to alleviate these obstacles are as follows:

  • I chew my nails when I get bored. I should alleviate my boredom through discovering techniques – games to play silently, etc.
  • I chew my nails when I am nervous or in an emotionally uncomfortable situation. I should discover techniques to alleviate my stress in those situations
  • I enjoy chewing my nails – Keeping my nails trimmed could inhibit my ability to chew my nails

What price will I pay?

  • Momentary boredom until I learn new techniques
  • Momentary stress in uncomfortable situations
  • Sadness over not being able to chew my nails\

Am I willing to pay that price? Right now, with 18 credit hours of school to look forward to; no. I often sit in my classes and let my mind wander while I play with my own hands. But, if I were, I would try again – and if I still couldn’t get to the goal I wanted to, I would reevaluate myself again.

This method of accepting change and self evaluation will aid in almost anything you do. Although emotional input is important, using logic to achieve goals is a method used by billions of people throughout the pages of history. Why should we abandon that? Let’s build on it.

In conclusion – that spell for meeting the right guy just not working? What are you doing to stop yourself? The prayer to get over your cold? What benefits do you receive from being sick that you would lose if you weren’t?

And as always, the final question to any goal setting is as follows:

What can I learn from this experience that will help me and the generations to come?

Stay tuned for something more interesting tomorrow – I think I’ll trade off between philosophical and practical articles – it may be more interesting.

The Language Of Lizards

Author’s note: I swear that the alliterations are merely a coincidence and until right this moment, I did not intentionally create titles like that.

Many times when perusing the internet, one will find “The Magic of Animals!” “Find out what your omens mean!” and other websites related to the meanings and energies of animals in the natural and magical world. Hopefully, when I speak of plants or animals, my information will be based on observation as well as the traditional energies. Today, I will be reviewing the general properties of lizards, and with that, more specifically, the beauty of geckos.

Lizards are members of the phylum Chordata, sub phylum vertebrate, class reptilia. In terms of evolution, reptiles were the first to have eggs with an amniote – a protective layer in the egg that provides nourishment. It is said that reptiles and birds are closely related, but most classification systems still place them in separate classes.

Reptiles allow the environment around them to influence them in a direct manner. Because they are ectotherms, reptiles use the world around them to help control their body temperature. When purchasing a desert lizard, you’re supposed to offer them a source of heat. If it gets too cold, they will not be as active, or live long, healthy lives.

In addition, reptiles offer the use of a closed circulation system. This means that reptiles’ blood remains in veins and arteries. This may seem odd to you if you are not biologically inclined, however, there exists such a thing as an open circulatory system in which blood kind of flows over everything in the body and eventually trickles back to the heart. With the closed circulatory system, reptiles have a three or four chambered heart.

Therefore, within this biological context, we have established several things about the general energy of lizards:

  • They are capable of using the environment to improve their quality of life
  • They are indicative of improved protection of their young
  • With the closed circulatory system, reptiles are representative of homeostasis and balance – they have a steady pulse.

Geckos

Now, onto my personal favorite, geckos. All geckos come from the family Gekkonidae. The leopard gecko, which I own, is species Eublepharis macularius.

Unfortunately, I am not going to speak about them, but instead about the Gekko gekko. The Tokay Gecko is a very interesting species. In addition to being just awesome (because that’s what geckos are, awesome), the Tokay Gecko has a special ability: it can speak. Assuming this ability on all lizards, it is easy to conclude that lizards, and geckos most especially, represent the following:

  • The power of the voice

Walking along, seeing a gecko – either on a sign, or a cartoon, or in real life if you live in that sort of area – can be a strong reminder or omen to you to speak up! Have a voice in your community, and do something. Sometimes, we wander through life and all we do is what we’re supposed to do. As a pagan, as a witch, as someone who is in love with nature and with the concept of deity, you have extra responsibilities. The gecko may be a sign for you to take action.

In addition to that, geckos and other small lizards have other energies assigned to them:

  • Moving unseen from one world into another. (Do you ever see them waltzing into your house?)
  • Determination (Ever been holding a lizard that got so scared that it removed itself from its tail so that it could run away? The tails can twitch for hours)
  • Balance – many lizards are omnivores – they eat both living prey such as crickets, and plants or fruit

I believe that the most common spiritual classification for this animal is with the Fire element. This, I agree with, as the energies assigned above lend themselves to emotional and spiritual pursuits. Fire is that passing from one world to another – from the physical, to the spiritual.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s article!

The Meaning of Magick

In the words of Doreen Valiente –

In the earth and air and sea,
By the light of Moon or Sun,
As we do will, so mote it be.
Chant the spell and it be done!

Magick is, in essence, the ability to master yourself that you may master your surroundings. This takes willpower, knowledge, planning and emotional input. In other words, you need to know about what you’re asking, you need to plan what you’re going to do, you need to devote emotion to it, and you need to use your determination to complete your goal. From such a broad goal as “prosperity” to something as detailed as “I want to get the job from that company, and I want to nail my interview tomorrow”, the achieving of magickal goals (spells) takes a practical dimension as well.

It is easy for us to blame the gods when we create this wonderful spell for making ourselves thinner, and then we continue the same routine we always do – eating cupcakes and watching TV. Or, a chant for getting a new job, and then refusing to open the yellow pages or classifieds. I’m not saying the gods couldn’t make it happen – I have had many a sign in my time. But generally, I like to think they have a ‘dumb’ requirement.

That’s right, I just did the unthinkable – I put words in our gods’ mouths. But, besides my completely unpriestesslike behavior above, let’s take a look at it logically. Let’s think of magick as the ability to remove bricks from an encased doorway or window (refer here for a picture). Let us say that there are 14 rows of bricks. The gods will, in their wisdom, take away some rows of bricks, or perhaps weaken the mortar in between them. But, the gods will not usually take away the entire obstacle. That would just be no fun. Magick, in action, creates opportunities for change. It does not necessarily create the change itself.

Over the summer I was blessed with the chance to bike 400 miles across the State of New York. It wouldn’t be that much of an accomplishment, but I prayed for 4 years for the chance, and this summer, I prayed for the ability to do it. I decided when I started, that I was going to do every single mile of the journey. And, my determination, willpower, emotional input, and knowledge helped me every step of the way. It was all of these factors that got me up those hills. Because it certainly was not my strength, or my exceptional biking ability. I had barely done any riding before I attempted the ride this year – I had too much to do.

Needless to say, I thanked the gods and I thanked myself. For whatever reason, they took down some of the barriers that stopped me from going. And I supplied the rest.

Til next time, folks! I’ll get back to the properties of lizards tomorrow – I promise.

The Peril of Pet Ownership

When I was younger, I was into caged animals (I still am – we have a bird and a gecko) and among the various furry pets, I also won myself an anole at a carnival. Now, any lizard owner knows that both anoles and geckos have a similar diet: crickets. Any parent knows that carnival animals only last a few weeks. Well, my area’s carnivals must be odd, because I had two goldfish that lasted 10 years each, and my anole lasted 3.

Anyway, obviously as a pagan and a Witch, I have respect for all of nature. Hell, our one sacred rule is, “An it harm none do what ye will”. Sometimes my friends here ask, “Well if you love the earth, then why are you killing those crickets?” Here is my response:

The natural order of things is one in which the strongest survive. I am relatively fair – if the crickets are lasting a few days, are exceptionally annoying, or escape into the general area of my room or my house, I usually re-catch them and let them go, outside. I used to have loads of guilt over feeding my pets live prey, and then I sat for a while and watched the crickets.

Crickets are nasty, vile creatures. They will chirp just to piss you off (as any lizard owner knows)…but most importantly, crickets are cannibals. They will consume each other if the other is weak or dead. Crickets will also consume larger animals if they get sick.

I have to admit, there is a beauty and a certain pleasure I receive from watching my gecko hunt. The natural process of the earth has made the gecko a creature that, prior to attacking, will vibrate its tail as a sort of warning signal. Not only is this amusing, but when he gets a cricket, it is amazing that the gecko can kill an animal so quickly: the cricket usually stops twisting and kicking within seconds, and he swallows it whole. Its about as merciful as death can get for them.

Most of the time, I do apologize to the crickets before I send them to certain death. Sometimes, I get pangs of guilt so strong when I put them in the cage that I have to look away. Its not their fault they were born and raised to die. Its much like any other stock animal we use.

I think that as long as you have respect for the animal that you are feeding to the other animal, it doesn’t matter if you use live prey, in the general scheme of things. Someday, hopefully, I will be able to build a bigger, ecosystem – like habitat for my gecko, providing him and the crickets with a more natural place to play out their survival game.

But, just so you know I’m not perfect: the joy I get when I catch a recently escaped cricket, or one that’s been chirping incessantly for the night time hours, place it in the cage, and watch my gecko eat it in two bites…is immeasurable.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the magickal properties of lizards!

Drawing Down the Moon

“Hear ye the words of the Great Goddess, who was of old called…”

Its nearing that time again! That’s right, we’re a few days from the full moon, and my heart is already calling out to the energy that has always spoken to me. Strangely enough, I’m pulled to the sun and the dark moon more often than the full moon, but even I recognize the power of the Charge in relation to my craft and path.

So, let’s say you’re like me – in a city, or unable to get in a safe spot for your moonlight reverie. What can you do to get the connection you deserve?

  1. Take a moonlight walk. The time will give you ample reason for meditation, and there’s nothing like the happiness that fills you (or me, at least), when I convene with the gods like that.
  2. Have some naked meditation. Outside or not, being somewhere private – like a bathtub, for example – where you can commune with the Goddess is something that can be valued. It is said in the charge, “Gather whenever ye have need, and better it be when the moon is full…and to be truly free, ye shall be naked in thy rites…” these things should, in the ideal world, be concurrent. But if you live in the middle of the suburbs with nosy neighbors, I’m sure the Goddess will take a compromise.
  3. Explore your creative outlets. The goddess IS creativity. Write a song, or a poem, or a story. Start a project. Learn something new. Draw, paint – it doesn’t really matter. You may find, that with your heart turned towards celebration, what you create will be memorable.

Well, in the true tradition of the Goddess, I think three examples is plenty for now. Stay tuned for the next full moon!

Homemade Altar(Outdoors)

Welcome to part two of “Homemade Altars”! You made it through my bungled attempt at speaking about something I haven’t really devoted a lot of time to – yet. But, altars outdoors, I can tell you about. I have built several, from the simple pile of rocks to an elaborate stone circle with altar, to spirit houses, and everything in between.

Keep in mind that the conditions around the place you want to build your altar are important. Are you on high ground? Because if you’re not, your altar’s surrounding area may become wet, flood, or in the very least, remain muddy long after the majority of other places in the woods.

What about property rights? I have to my name, no wooded area. The places I build my altars are usually public, state, county, or sometimes, private property. If its yours, secrecy isn’t a big thing. But, if it isn’t your property, you may find one day that you enter the area and suddenly, you find it destroyed. You want to be able to safely access the altar you’ve built, but at the same, you have to care for it – if its on the side of a well worn track, chances are that some other, less respectful members of the human race, will do something to the energy that you are trying to create.

Materials: if you’re in a wooded area and want to make a stone altar, but there are no rocks in sight, that means that you will have to carry your rocks. Generally, with any altar, you want to try to use objects and plant life that is native to the area. You don’t really want to go and buy mulch to put around your altar in the middle of a patch of woods. It just ruins the effect.

In addition, you want to make sure that your materials won’t harm the wildlife around. If you leave an offering of grapes, for example, make sure you didn’t leave something that could injure the wildlife too, such as an inordinate amount of milk chocolate, or a plastic bag, or one of those six pack plastic holders that we were always told, would kill fish. Remember, you’re not the only one using the woods. Don’t leave any hazardous materials that could run off with rain – aerosol cans, lighter fluid, etc.

Advantages to building an altar outside

  • Closer connection to nature
  • Freedom of worship in a secure area – no telephone, no screaming kids, etc.
  • Beauty of the seasons all around you
  • Freedom of the area – you can build the altar as big or as small as you want – in an enclove, or all around a tree, or in a wide open field.

Disadvantages:

  • If you’re in the north like I am, ‘skyclad’ doesn’t happen in the fall and the winter.
  • The weather can prevent a trip for you
  • Distance – it might take you a 1/2 mile walk, or a 30 minute drive, to get to your altar.
  • Natural wear and tear – you’ll find that the stones, the trees – everything undergoes the natural process. Things may fall, or break. Therefore, it might take more upkeep to keep an outdoor altar

What’s your altar look like? For a long time, I had 4 very large stones built to have a waist high altar, via a rectangular shape (we had storage underneath!). It was in the center of a stone circle, and in the south, there was a small spirit house. To the west was a creek, flowing north. In the east was a small valley for deer to bed on, and in the north, we had an open space to celebrate. The entire area was encased in a small, horseshoe shaped valley just off of a trail. We had our area destroyed, close to three times, before we left it and moved. Soon after, we disbanded, but I still visit on occasion.

Use your heart, and all will turn out beautiful.