I tend to be really bad at interchanging my words when it comes to cleansing and purification and I've come to realize that I probably shouldn't. So to clarify why this is probably not the best thing to do, I'd like to emphasize the difference between these words in the Craft. The textbook definition for both of these words are as follows:
Cleanse - clean, especially: to rid of impurities by or as if by washing Purify - to make pure: as a: to clear from material defilement or imperfection b: to free from guilt or moral or ceremonial blemish c: to free from undesirable elements
These definitions were taken from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. As you can see, there is some difference in these definitions just as there is a difference in these words to the Witch. So by my definition as a Witch, cleansing is the process of physically cleaning your sacred space. Sweeping the area, mopping, dusting, raking leaves, etc. When you are cleansing an area, make sure to clean it to your best expectations. If you feel you haven't cleaned the area enough to welcome sacred deities into the space then continue cleaning or wait until you have time to clean the area properly.
Purification is the ritual or ceremonial act of ridding your sacred space of negativity. This is the type of work you do when you are smudging the area with sage or using the elements to protect your space.
Brigid's Cross is a symbol that has been around for quite sometime. It is associated with the Celtic Goddess known as Brigid and also with her saintly aspect. Traditionally, it is created from rushes but it can also be made from other materials. It is represented with four arms and a square shape in the middle and has associations with the sun. These are usually created on Imbolc or St. Brigid's Day as decoration and are a symbol of the Saint/Goddess. Making the cross itself can place a person into a meditative state. They were hung over doorways and windows as a symbol of protection.
If you're wanting to make your own, the best material to use when starting out are pipe cleaners. You'll need quite a few to get a good cross going. I recommend using at least 30. There are many online tutorials and one of them can be found here.
It's beginning to be that season where it's time to go out and make a new wand. Wand's are ritual tools used in the craft to direct energy sort of like an athame. I tend to use wands for specific rituals that have to do with heavy elemental or healing magic as they belong to the element of Air. Wands are heavily used by the Druids and it's considerably their most valuable tool in ritual. I for one, believe that wands should be handcrafted as the materials are quite easy to find and they hold a very personal power.
The best time to harvest a wand is in the spring when saplings are coming to life with energy from the sun and the energy of the Earth is feeding through the tree up to its tall branches which will be budding. This energy can be harvested in your wand. Some people prefer to pick up fallen branches from the grounds as not to harm the tree it came from and also in an effort to remain eco-friendly which is absolutely acceptable and understood. However, most Druids prefer to cut a branch from the tree so they know exactly what type of wood it is and from what specific tree it came from as location can be very important when discerning the type of energy it is giving off or being used for. When harvesting your branch you want to make sure to seal the cut on the tree with some beeswax and to leave an offering for the tree it came from such as a libation of spring water, herbs, stones, or a small talisman.
A wand can be as long or as short as you wish it to be, however a good estimate would be from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger for length and about as wide as your finger. You will need to let the wand dry in the sun for at least 3 days or longer. You want to choose a branch on the tree that is mature. After the wand has dried, you can begin by stripping the bark from it. Some people choose to keep the wand in i's raw form or may wish to keep some of the bark on it. I like to take the bark off and use it later in my ritual to purify and charge it.
Once the bark has been stripped, seal it with beeswax. You may then begin to decorate your wand however you please, with stones, or wire, or leather. I prefer to decorate within the Circle so then I may purify and charge it at the same time. The best time to do this would be upon a Full Moon. There are many ways to purify and charge a wand, so choose the best way for you!
Wands can be made from materials other than wood such as stone, bone, clay, or metal. Of course, you don't have to make your own wand but it may not have the same personal touch to it as when you create your own. It's always good to have several wands available because different materials and especially different woods give off different energy. Choose what is best for you.
So, since Imbolc is a traditional times for initiations whether with a Coven or for self-initiations, I thought I would talk a little bit about them. Initiations are meant to be a very special and wonderful moment in a Witch's life. It signifies all the hard work and dedication you have to your Craft, your deities, yourself, and your Coven (if with a Coven.) These can be considered awakening to your spiritual aspects.
Initiations can be as simple or as intense as you want them to be. If you are with a Coven, you may be initiated with other initiates or endure your very own. These can be physically, spiritually, and mentally demanding of the initiate and may need to be prepared weeks in advance. Depending on you, or your Coven it can feel like a simple dedication to your deities as well. In the end, an initiation should always be a beautiful thing.
I would also like to caution those who feel obligated to do certain things in order to be initiated into a Coven. You should never feel forced to do something you don't want to do such as endure a sex magic ritual in order to be initiated. If a Coven expects you to preform an initiation skyclad, or use sex magic to be initiated and you are uncomfortable with this then please, find a Coven who does not require this. Usually, a Coven will divulge this information before you train with them if they practice skyclad or perform sex magic and will ask if you consent to this. There is nothing wrong with skyclad rituals or sex magic, however, if the Coven does not divulge this information prior to training with them and coerces you to continue to get initiated then please understand you are under no obligation and that Coven is NOT a true Coven. This is information that should always be divulged to the seeker prior to any sort of training.
So to everyone going through initiation on Imbolc, I want to congratulate you and your accomplishments!
I have known Brigid for a very long time but since Imbolc is around the corner I've decided to get to know her more intimately than before. While perusing the books as this neat metaphysical shop down the street from me, I came across a book with a blaring title that made me have to buy it. Now mind you I'm a very big fan of used books so I rarely buy them brand new, but this one called to me so loudly that I could not ignore it. The book is called Tending Brigid's Flame by Lunaea Weatherstone. I've basically dived into it and I'm learning quite a lot about Brigid not only the Goddess but also the Saint.
At first, I wasn't too thrilled to be reading about the Christianized version of my beloved Goddess but then I realized that her saintly aspect is an important part of who she is. Whether Brigid was an actual person or not, the idea of her is what is so magical. In Celtic times, she was considered to be a threefold Goddess. She had three sisters all of the same name but representing different aspects. She's the keeper of the flame within the hearth. She adores generosity and hospitality to all who are looking for an ounce of kindness. She is an Earth Goddess grounded in the warmth of the home. She is a water Goddess who watches over the sacred wells. She is a fire Goddess. She is a patroness of poetry, metalcrafting, livestock, medicine, the arts and much more! Really, there isn't anything this Goddess can't do.
She is considered the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha De Denann. She has even been said to resemble Athena and Minerva for her cunning wisdom and her craft. Imbolc is her Sabbat and her fire festival. It is also known as St. Brigid's Day and is celebrated on February 1st. She is truly a Goddess to study and can be found ingrained in the Celtic tradition. Upon this Imbolc, take time to get to know her and how you can honor her in your life. Invite her into your home where she opens doors between worlds. You'll be able to feel the warmth radiating throughout your home.
I, for one, love using this technique as I find it to be very effective for myself. Other people may prefer a different method but this is my go-to method for me in spellwork. Sympathetic Magic is defined as:
primitive or magical ritual using objects or actions resembling or symbolically associated with the event or person over which influence is sought.
*As defined by Google
Sympathetic magic encompasses a lot of things: poppets, candle magic, the Great Rite can all be examples of sympathetic magic. To use this type of magic you will need tools other than your intentions (which of course, are just as powerful). Whenever you are creating a spell, look at what you are trying to achieve. Don't immediately go to websites trying to copy spells because these spells don't have anything personal to you in them. Think about it first.
For example: Let's say you were creating a spell to help fill your life with financial abundance. What does this abundance entail? A promotion? A raise? Both? If so, what do you associate with this? What colors represent abundance to you? Which element? What God or Goddess? What herbs? What crystals? What actions?
These are just a few of the questions you should answer for yourself and then create a spell around it. Let's say you want to have a raise. You associate with money with the color green and therefore with the Earth element. You associate this with the Goddess and her ever flowing womb so you wish to incorporate your matron Goddess. Pretty soon you're encircling yourself with salt and meditating on a green candle while envisioning yourself with money and love your Goddess.
Don't be afraid to make your own spells. No matter how simple they seem, or how over the top, do what works for you. Put your heart in it and things will happen for you!