Arachnophobes: reconsider your fear by getting acquainted with Bagheera kiplingi, the world’s only veggie spider. Meet this interesting critter after the jump!
Today is Ostara, a celebration of the spring equinox and the return of fertility to the land. Ostara was actually the name of a Germanic goddess. She gives her name to the festival Easter. Fertility and plenty are her domains; as such, her symbols include bunnies and eggs, but she is also associated with dawn, balance, and light.
Welcome the seasonal energies into your day by working in your garden, going on a picnic, walking in the woods, or having an Easter egg hunt with the kids. As a college student with a minuscule budget and an apartment so small it’s difficult to turn around – and as a solitary pagan – in fact, the only pagan I know in real life – I don’t have the space, time, or resources to spend on luxe altar equipment or exotic rituals. [Though how nice that would be!]
Instead, I usually use the sabbats as a time for self-reflection, journaling, meditation, and spending time in nature. My rituals are by necessity simple affairs. Often, I use what I call “skeleton rites,” bare bones rituals that can be elaborated on the fly with the addition of a circle, sigil creation, or anything else that feels necessary at the time.
If you need a simple, bare-bones Ostara rite, try this one for self-improvement:
What you will need:
- Altar adorned with seasonal imagery
- Candles, preferably green
- Pen and 2 sheets of paper. One sheet is for things you want to change, the other for things you want to grow
- Matches and a burn-safe container
- An offering to Ostara
- Anything else you want
Meditatively, prepare to make two lists of nine items. Divide each list into three parts. The first list is for anything you would like to change or get rid of, and they each are divided into three parts: first is for your personal life; the second for your interactions with others; and the third for anything that affects the land.
The second sheet of paper is for things that you want to grow within those same categories.
Now that you have your lists, light one candle, then say:
Spring is here, the sun has come
The land alights with life
Illuminate with rays of sun
Holy Goddess of the dawn
Ostara, hail and welcome
Starting with each section of your list, visualize the changes you desire. Use all of your senses to make the visualization as potent as possible.
Burn the list of things you wish to get rid of and say,
Within the holy light
Solutions come forth
These problems take flight.
As the paper catches fire and curls into ash, visualize your problems turning to smoke to be recycled into goodness by the Air.
Now do the same with the list of things to bring into your life. Say,
To fulfill these needs
And watch them grow
I now begin to sow these seeds.
Contemplate what you can do to further your goals and furthering balance in your life and in the land.
Carry out any spell work at this time.
When you are finished, leave the offering for Ostara as an expression of gratitude for her light and for the life burgeoning within the land.
Bright Ostara blessings to all of you!
I was inspired by a recent Daily Post series to experiment with other platforms. Tumblr was a mysterious, strange arena, but I decided to jump in anyway. It’s so much fun – I highly recommend other bloggers give it a shot. The tone is much more lighthearted over there than on my WordPress blog. Here is what I’ve been using it for:
- A space to connect with people who have similar interests and experiences.
- To draw in new readers to my primary home here on WordPress.
- To collect things that interest me and are [at least tangentially] related to Fractal Fortress’s tagline: art + magic = life.
I rarely reblog things that are sexually explicit [though never graphic], but I keep the focus on other things:
- Animals, whether they are cute or just plain weird
- Amusing GIFs
- Magical things like spells, altars, and tarot
- Nature and science
- Anything I find compelling or odd
Check out fractalfortress.tumblr.com to see for yourself!
Since the dawn of human consciousness, body modification has been used to align ourselves with something greater: the universe, our Selves, ancestors, and more. Today, people use tattoos, scarification, and piercings [among other techniques] for many purposes including magical work, marking a rite of passage, and much more besides.
Grimoire: Part Three in the Magical Tools series
From the ladies of Charmed to Morgan le Fay and “the blackest spells in all the Wizard World,” everyone knows that a magician needs a magical book. Throughout history magicians have used “grimoires” to detail rituals, magic spells, and communiques with the spirit realm. For example, the Sefer Raziel HaMalakh – a Kabbalistic book – features an elaborate angelology, protective spells, and methods of creating amulets, among other things. Other historical grimoires include the Galdrabok [an Icelandic tome] and the Book of Abramelin the Mage.
Modern witches too use their own personal grimoires – sometimes called books of shadows.
Grimoire or Book of Shadows?
Is it called a grimoire or a book of shadows? If you ask me, it really doesn’t matter. But opinions differ on this issue. At Garden of the Queen, makes the point that historically, these two words describe two different things:
- A grimoire technically is a book of spells and has nothing really to do with a specific spiritual path. It functions as a manual of magic — a “how to” guide.
- A book of shadows refers to the book that is typically kept by Wiccans, a tradition perhaps started by Gerald Gardner. A BoS contains many things and is sometimes used as a journal or to record dreams.
The magic book — whatever you call it — grows and changes with the practitioner. Sometimes the book may be something more like what is kept by Wiccans, but over time may evolve into something else entirely. For that reason, I feel like the difference between the two terms is slight; I use them interchangeably.
Does it have to be a book?
Some people keep their notes in specially-made leather-bound books that look like movie props. Others prefer a three-ring binder with laminate pages. Still others opt for a digital grimoire; some witches keep theirs on Pinterest.
Books and files are common grimoires in the magical community. But stretch your creativity to create something that appeals to your sense of magic:
- An altered book: a fun way to reuse a dusty old book
- A scrapbook
- A video: magicians on Youtube create instructional videos that could perhaps be called pages in a grimoire.
- A personal wiki: could easily be shared among magicians
- A blanket: this could potentially be very interesting. Imagine a blanket-grimoire with pockets to hold small treasures. Something like this could convey the tradition of the “prayer blanket.”
You might choose to write in a “secret” script – just remember that such things may make ritual harder!
I wonder if the sublime and ethereal cave art of our ancestors may in fact be magical notation from an ancient wizard’s grimoire….
What do magicians keep in their magical books?
Whatever medium you choose, over time you will find that your grimoire has built up a lot of power and energy; it becomes a totem of sorts, like all other magical tools, a friend and ally on the path. Because of this, I bless amulets on top of mine.
Anything you personally find magical, spiritual, or inspiring can be kept inside. If your book becomes stuffed feel free to use more than one. I have two: a three-ring binder and a file on my computer.
- Prayers: if you find or write an especially moving prayer, keep it in the pages of your magic book. You might also include a prayer list and a gratitude list.
- Results: if you practice divination, including a summary of how each session went can help with your accuracy. Results could be compiled from rituals too.
- Dream symbolism: some say that “an uninterpreted dream is like an unopened letter.” Try keeping Jungian archetypes, common dream symbols, and your own interpretations in your book of shadows. This makes it easier to practice various types of dream magic – as well as increasing your lucidity.
- Rituals: your favorite rituals, ones that you are likely to perform again, can be included. Sabbats, moon rituals, and morning devotions are examples of oft-repeated rites.
- Pictures: images of your patron/matron deities, altars, ancestors, or the Earth are at home in a grimoire.
- Green magic: those who are drawn to herbal lore might like the idea of including dried flora in the pages of their book.
- Correspondences: if there are magical correspondences that you keep searching “The Magician’s Encyclopedia” for, add them to your grimoire. Examples of correspondences I keep in my grimoire include moon phases, tarot, runes, and days of the week.
- A creed: do you have a magical code of ethics? Even if it’s just “The Wiccan Rede,” you might choose to put it in your grimoire.
Not everyone performs magic – not even all Pagans. I love the idea of keeping my spiritual journey chronicled in the pages of a book. You don’t have to be a magician to benefit from keeping what the author of “The Way We Pray” calls a personal sacred text. It’s essentially a grimoire that’s filled with prayers, healing lore, spiritual musings, crystal wisdom, or anything else really.
Many practitioners include a book blessing and dedication at the front.
At this point, you may choose to name your grimoire. Famous grimoires have names, after all, and every totem needs a name!
A note on correspondences:
Never fall into dogmatism with your magic. Just because someone says that Earth is a feminine Element doesn’t mean you will experience it that way. [The Ancient Egyptians saw Earth as masculine.] It’s YOUR magic – and it should be pragmatic too. So when you are compiling lists to go in your grimoire, test out each belief and don’t be afraid to step away from tradition.
Care and Feeding of Your Grimoire
In my experience, it is best if no one else’s eyes peer within. I keep it on my altar, away from negative energies. Take the following story as a warning:
I have an aunt who claims the mantle of a spiritually “enlightened” individual. After I became disenchanted with Christianity, I looked up to her because she seemed open-minded and had interesting ideas. But one day, she saw my grimoire lying on the bookcase, flung it open without invitation, and began criticizing the contents.
Don’t let that happen to your sacred text. Keep it in a secure location if busybodies are afoot. The reason for “secrecy” is simple: people tend to drain energy. You’ve probably experienced this when you told someone about a goal, only to have them shoot it down – and suddenly you don’t feel so good about it anymore. Even if they didn’t vocalize their criticism, they can sap your energy. “To Keep Silent” is one of the components of the witch’s pyramid because of this phenomenon.
It’s actually best to prevent others from handling any of your magical tools – unless you consent to their energies mixing with yours. This may be the case if you are in a coven or doing a divination reading for someone else.
Like all magical tools, your book of shadows will benefit from a periodic re-consecration and recharging. A great time to do this is during the full moon. Allow the healing rays to alight on your book. Or you may decide to use smoke cleansing or a drop of frankincense on the front.
However you use or design it, let your grimoire grow as you do, and it will become a companion on your magical journey.
- The Witch’s Pyramid: morrigandarkmoon.wordpress.com